Our church’s senior pastor covered the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Philippians in our summer series this past weekend and prompted me to do some thinking back with one of his suggested applications.
In the greeting to what many call his “favorite church” Paul writes in verse 3, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (NIV). Another rendering “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (NLT). Underscoring Paul’s example, our pastor encouraged us to “remember the people who have given you joyful memories.”
Last night and today I have spent some time thinking back with joy about the many people who impacted me in terms of my Christian life and over 45 years of vocational ministry. There’s no way I can remember and list all of them, but I would like to list several whom God used to make a significant impact upon me.
Charles Carter, a young minister of a small church who welcomed my brother and me and baptized us into Christ.
John Russell, our first and only youth minister at that same church until I graduated from high school. No one has had a greater impact on me than John.
Most of the elders at Forest Dale Church of Christ during my junior high and senior high years; and Harvey Bream who was a member at our church and later president of Cincinnati Christian University.
Royce Cheeseman and Paul Lowry, elders at Northeast Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio, where I served as a youth minister intern the summer of 1970.
Jim Irby, minister, and the elders of Bridgetown Church of Christ in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I served for almost five years as youth minister.
Jim Smith and Jack Cottrell, professors at Cincinnati Christian Seminary.
Charly Williams, Jerry Finnie, and Jim Tyler who served as elders during my nine years as minister of Delaware Valley Church of Christ in the Philadelphia area, and Hugh Thomson who was a great friend and father figure to me.
Bruce Metzger, who was Professor of New Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary and one of the smartest and kindest teachers I ever sat under.
Floyd Strater, Ralph Dornette, LeRoy Lawson, Ben Merold, Larry Winger, and Joe Grana – all area leaders in Southern California who welcomed me and encouraged me during my 30 years there.
Max Whiteman, Don Funkhouser, Greg Miller, Joe Anderson, Joe Bunker, Greg Flannery, Dave Hahn and other Vision Planning Team Members and elders who served in leadership with me during my 30 years at Discovery Christian Church.
As I continue to think back I know others will come to mind, but this list is a good beginning point of those who made a difference in my life and ministry and whom I remember today with great joy and gratitude.
As I review this list I am aware that I have not included any women. It isn’t because I don’t remember any women with joy or that I am a chauvinist. My life and ministry would not have been as joyful, productive, and enriched as it has been without the support of and care from many wonderful Christian women who made a difference in my life. I thank God for them, the men I have listed, and many others God has used to bless my life.
Following Paul’s example, and taking our pastor’s challenge, as I think about these and remember them with joy I thank God. Maybe this will encourage you to do some reflecting as well.
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