Earthly Influences

13 Dec

In each of our lives, God uses other people to shape us. Our immediate relations probably shape us most profoundly but others, sometimes people we don’t even know, also shape us because of their example or their teaching or some quality of their life. In life and ministry, I am thankful for the many influences in my life. Those outside of family and friends and teachers and pastors who have most profoundly influenced me are listed below. I don’t agree with everything each of them has written, but each one has marked me deeply by their writings and by their lives.

1. John Piper. I first heard him at a conference in Texas in 1999. I began after that time to read many of his books. His influence on me is hard to overestimate. His passion for God is so evident and makes me want to pursue God all the more. His concern for God’s glory has influenced a life-altering shift in my thinking and living. John Piper has taught me the most about God and my relationship with Him.

2. Mark Dever. A relatively recent influence, I became familiar with Dever first through online articles and blog posts but then in 2008 I visited Capitol Hill Baptist Church, where Dever pastors. The service was so solid, so joyfully reverent that I was deeply moved. The thing was, on this particular Sunday, Dever wasn’t even preaching. He was sitting in the back in a button down shirt just being part of the fellowship of believers. After returning home I began to devour everything I could find from Dever on the church and his writings have been deeply influential. Mark Dever has taught me the most about the church and its incredible importance to God and its inestimable value to the believer.

3. John MacArthur. Let me be frank. In my early years as a Christian, I thought John MacArthur was somewhat arrogant and legalistic. I, of course, was judging him without knowing much about him but that was my first reaction. When I began to listen to his sermons and hear him on secular TV interviews and actually observe him in action, I realized it wasn’t mainly arrogance, but courage. It wasn’t legalism, but commitment to God’s Word. What has influenced me most of all about MacArthur is his preaching. He taught me to stick to the text. To dig deep. To give the church a rich diet of spiritual meat, the result of real study and meditation over the Word. He taught me that you don’t have to have gimmicks or funny stories or great outlines to be an effective preacher. John MacArthur has taught me the most about preaching and the power of the preached Word.

Those are surely my top three earthly influences in my Christian life, apart from the deeper, more subtle influence of family, friends, fellow church leaders, teachers and others.

Honorable mentions would have to be made for C.S. Lewis, Francis Schaeffer, Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, N.T. Wright and Millard Erickson. Though I wouldn’t agree with everything they say, each of these men has shaped me in deep ways.

Those are my earthly influences, who are yours? Who has impacted your life deeply through their teaching or preaching or writing or example?

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