This time of the year is a special time for me to stop and think and reflect. Over the last few days, I have especially been thankful for the men who have had the greatest influences in my life and ministry. While there are many, six are quite prominent. Here they are, listed in the order in which they entered my life.
- My Dad.
My dad and I were not necessarily close, although we have become closer with each passing year. He is the hardest working man I have ever met and knows how to do more things than just about anyone I know! As I get older, I find myself quoting him more and more (“that’ll learn ya son” and “if it ain’t one thing its another” and so forth). My dad’s primary influence in my life was that he taught me to work. When I married Bethlie he told me that he was glad we were going into the ministry, but that if God didn’t meet our needs, I should get a job and work hard to at least meet hers! He taught me to finish the job and to do it well. He showed me how to repair things, and as a result, I have saved a ton of money doing things that I didn’t have to pay others to do. I am super thankful for his influence in my life and ministry.
- Leslie Arwood
Brother Arwood is the man who lead me to Jesus! He repeatedly gave me the gospel. He prayed for me. He witnessed to me over and over. And he loved me. After he lead me to Christ he meticulously taught me how to live the Christian life. He showed me how to have devotions and how to have a prayer life. He took me soul-winning and showed me how to win souls. He taught be to preach and gave me multiple opportunities to do so. He was the man who influenced me to attend Pensacola Christian College and who challenged me to give my life for the sake of the gospel. I am especially grateful that God put this man in my life!
- Evangelist Bill Rice III
Any time I pause to think about the men who have impacted my life, I will rather quickly be reminded of Evangelist Bill Rice III. I first met Dr. Bill when I was a freshman at Pensacola Christian College. He not only preached opening revival services (with messages that convicted me and challenged me to be more like Christ), but also taught several times each semester in the Evangelism Seminar. After I graduated, Dr. Bill invited me to spend summers at the Bill Rice Ranch and our family spent 13 wonderful summers there. He influenced my life in especially two areas: the gospel and the family. Dr. Bill taught me to believe in the simplicity of the gospel and to preach it clearly. He also taught Bethlie and me how to train our children so that they would be on the right track. His influence shows up in every revival campaign I preach as well as in the day to day steps we take as a family. Without a doubt, I owe a great deal of what I am now to Dr. Bill Rice III.
- My Father-in-law, Pastor James Dennis.
Dad Dennis welcomed me into his family and always treated me respectfully and lovingly. I joined his church after Bethlie and I were married, and he was not only a wonderful pastor to me but also one of my biggest fans and supporters. I loved it that he loved souls and believed in the gospel and in revival. He constantly talked to people about Jesus – and still does. He has always believed in me and in the ministry God has given to me. I am thankful for his prayers and for his deep faith! I am a blessed man to have such a wonderful father-in-law.
- Dr. Jim Schettler
I certainly have to mention Dr. Schettler when I think of men who have especially impacted my life. He was my pastor for all of my college years and for several years afterward. He is the one man whom I have never heard preach anything less than a home-run. It is amazing the truths that I learned from his preaching. Never did I dream that God would allow me to become friends with Dr. Schettler and never did I dream that he would someday influence my own children during their college years at West Coast Baptist College. He taught me to teach the Bible. He taught me to love people. He taught me to serve the Lord with gladness. He always encouraged me and “cheered me on” to serve the Lord. Thank you, Dr. Schettler, for being my mentor and friend and for also being a mentor and friend now to my college kids.
- Pastor Dave Teis
Dr. Teis has been a dear friend for almost 25 years now. Early in my ministry our paths crossed and he graciously welcomed my family into his. He is, without a doubt, one of my children’s favorite persons. We have laughed together, prayed together, and served together. We have eaten together. A lot. Dr. Teis showed me the importance of loving God’s people. He is a friend of those who preach the gospel and of those who love Jesus. His love for God’s people provoked me to love God’s people. His love for his family provoked me to love mine. I will forever be indebted for his influence in our home. He encouraged us to obey the Bible. He taught us how to discipline and how to train. He especially showed us how to have fun serving the Lord with our family. His phone calls always edify and minister grace. And he prays for me and my family every day! I am super blessed to have such a loyal and wonderful friend in my life.
I know there are many people who impact our lives as we serve the Lord. I am thankful for all of them, but especially for these six.
How about you? Who has impacted your life the most? I would love to hear about it.
Thanks for reading,
Your sincere friend,