The NEW Friday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is an opportunity for blogging about anything. Unlike the other days of prescribed themes, this day is for blogging about an issue that I couldn’t fit anywhere else or couldn’t wait until next week to write.
I love asking the question, “Who are your influences?” You can learn a lot about a person by finding out who has spoken into their lives through their writings, preaching, relationships, etc. You can learn much about an individual’s current convictions and goals by looking at who has discipled them in the past and in the present.
Today, I am going to answer my own question. Who are my influences? Here are five extra-biblical individuals that have helped shaped my life.
#1 – J.C. Ryle. This English pastor lived in the 1800’s and was a contemporary of Charles Spurgeon. He wrote Expository Thoughts on the Gospel, Practical Religion, Five English Reformers, Light from Old Times, etc. However, the magnum opus of Ryle’s is Holiness: It’s Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots. This book came to me, in God’s providence, at a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of the distance that my sin brings between God and I. His 1st chapter, which is simply titled “Sin,” is one of the most important chapters ever written outside of the Bible. As far as his pastoring style, it was simplistic and consistent. One of my favorite practices of Ryle was that he wrote tracts (or mini-pamphlets) on a weekly basis for individual families in his congregation and then walked through his town delivering the in person almost every night!
#2 – John Piper. He was the former Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He is also the founder of Desiring God ministries and chancellor or Bethlehem College and Seminary. Oh, and he has written over 55 books. His obsession with God’s glory is infectious. One of the most important contributions he has made to the church today is that he has helped communicate the brilliance of Jonathan Edwards to a modern audience, who also had a contagious love for God’s glory. Admittedly, when I first entered college, I wasn’t a huge Piper “fan” – mainly because I didn’t understand him. But the more I read of Piper’s writings and listened to him preach, the more I came to realize His deep affection for making God’s glory centered in all things. He is a living example to me of I Corinthians 10:31 and Philippians 2:12-13. In recent years, Piper has fallen under some rightful scrutiny for aligning himself some men and women who are in the fringes of evangelicalism, but my own opinion about these alignments is that he does it in the spirit of I Corinthians 13:7 who believes the best in others.
#3 – Kevin DeYoung. DeYoung has one of the most followed blogs on The Gospel Coalition, and he serves as the Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He has also written a number of very helpful books: Why We Love the Church: In Praise of Institutions and Organized Religions, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will, What is the Mission of the Church?, The Hole in Our Holiness, and Taking God at His Word. I have a hard time finding a pastor and author alive today who seems to better understand the society around him and know the precise way to encourage or exhort the church in how it can better fulfill it’s Commission. He seems to eloquently express what the church needs to be spending it’s minutes and seconds on and not be an entity that wastes it’s existence. Everything he writes, I read. He has the balance, biblically, I aspire to.
#4 – John MacArthur. How do we introduce this man? He has written who knows how many books – I think over 100. He has published commentaries on every book of the New Testament. He is he Pastor-Teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. It’s hard to find another person who has had more influence on my preaching and view of church ministry. I went to The Masters College and The Masters Seminary because of him – not knowing what I was getting myself into. His obsession with the Word of God spilled over onto me. God’s precious Book is his love and life-long commitment, and his reverence for it has convicted me more than once of on my need to be in the Word constantly and to commune with God always.
#5 – Doug Heck. He has mentored me for more than the ten years I have served with him formally in ministry. We have had a unique relationship as a father/son duo in ministry and I rarely meet people who love their congregation more than he does. His pastoral care has been a tremendous blessing to my own immediate family and something I aspire to emulate as I grow older.
Who are your influences?