We are fortunate to have a “great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us, starting with those listed in Chapter 11 of Hebrews of Scripture and continuing on to our present day.
Many people have accepted the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus and have chosen to submit their lives to Him and help others to know the amazing love, mercy, power, and grace of our Savior. In addition to reading & studying the Bible and learning from pastors, elders, Bible study leaders, fellow servants, friends, family, parents, kids, kids’ curriculum, and children’s ministry network group leaders, I have been inspired and influenced by the following godly leaders (still not an extensive list).
I’m reading through the Bible chronologically again this year, this time using “Read Scripture” (link is for app, but it can be done through e-mail as well) from “The Bible Project”. I’ve also been reading E. Stanley Jones’ devotional book, “Abundant Living”, which I strongly recommend. It can be used as a devotional or read as a book. Each day builds on the day before. I really like my hardcover, but now only used ones are available.
CURRENT DAY INSPIRATIONAL CHRISTIANS – for former skeptics, scroll down (some here may have been skeptics too, but not confirmed as such):
Francis Chan – pastor, author, speaker, & founder of “Crazy Love”; his bold preaching combined with his humor and humble demeanor made a powerful impact on my faith walk; have also used clips of his powerful visual illustrations in teaching preteens.
Dave Coppedge – instructor, researcher, speaker, author, gifted photographer, & founder of “Creation Evolution Headlines” (CEH) as well as “Chief Bwana” of “Creation Safaris”; Dave helped spark my passion for Creation science & we enjoyed going on some of his safari hikes; his amazing landscape photographs (look for them on “Flickr”) are a source of joy to me, & watching him fight cancer with such courage & grace was truly inspiring.
Raymond Damadian – Creationist inventor of the MRI who stands firm in his faith, continuing research in spite of those who told him that his idea to use magnetic imaging would never work; so many have benefited from his determination.
Ryan Frank – pastor, teacher, speaker, co-founder of “Kidzmatter Magazine”, “Kidmin Academy”, “Kidmin Mega-Con”, “Kidmin Mega-Con Online”, & “I Love Kidmin” Facebook group; I subscribe to the magazine, graduated from the Academy, attended Mega-Con, and am a member of the FB group.
Ken Ham – author, teacher, speaker, & founder of “Answers in Genesis” (AIG) as well as the founder of the “Creation Museum” and the “Ark Encounter”; his passion and diligence for upholding the authority of God’s Word in spite of opposition and seeing God bless and expand his ministry in the process was really inspirational to me; have been to both the museum and the Ark, and highly recommend both.
Hank Hanegraaff – author, speaker, known on radio as the “Bible Answer Man”, & President of “Creation Research Institute” (CRI); learned a lot listening to him and found “The Complete Bible Answer Book”, The Prayer of Jesus”, “The Covering”, “The Third Day”, & “Fatal Flaws” very helpful.
Cynthia Heald – early in my Christian walk, our women’s Bible study went through many of her studies, “Becoming a Woman …”; they helped me grow in my faith along with the help of a patient, gracious, & godly leader.
Dale Hudson – children’s pastor, coach, speaker, & founder of “Relevant Children’s Ministry” and now “Building Children’s Ministry”; have found his articles to be the best I’ve read about kids’ ministry and families.
John MacArthur – pastor of “Grace Community Church”, author, President of “The Master’s Seminary”, former President of “The Master’s University”, & founder of radio show, “Grace to You”; he has held all of these organizations to the authority of Scripture even when other large churches, colleges, & seminaries have compromised their teachings under pressure.
R. Al Mohler – author, speaker, President of “The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary”, host of “The Briefing”, a daily analysis of news & events from a Christian worldview and “Thinking in Public”, conversations with leading thinkers/writer of blog and regular commentary about moral, cultural and theological issues.; he has also held to the authority of Scripture throughout his life and reveals godly wisdom in his writings.
Beth Moore – Bible study author, teacher, & speaker of “Living Proof Ministries”; her studies spurred me to go deeper in my faith; years ago, I took her challenge to pray for a passion for God’s Word and God certainly answered my prayer!
J.I. Packer – pastor & author whose many writings have held to the authority of Scripture; he still communicates truth with boldness and godly wisdom; according to Leland Ryker, professor at “Wheaton College”, J.I. Packer “has done the task before him and left the outcome to God”; sounds like a good practice for every Christian.
Allen Parr – online teacher, speaker, author, Worship leader, & founder of “The Beat” video clip teachings and “Bible Study Made Easy”; provides solid doctrine with answers to questions that many people ask; website: allenparr.com; he will soon offer a new online course, “Defend Your Faith”.
John Piper – pastor, author, speaker, & founder of “Desiring God”; I found his book, “Reading the Bible Supernaturally: Seeing and Savoring the Glory of God in Scripture” to be excellent.
David Platt – pastor, author, speaker, & founder of “Radical”; bold teaching that calls Christians out of complacency, can be quite intense, but offers sound doctrine; his book, “Radical” was helpful to me.
Priscilla Shirer – Bible study author/teacher/speaker of “Going Beyond Ministries”; her studies are powerful – I’ve taken “Hearing the Voice of God”, “Armor of God”, & “Breathe”; as a mom of boys, she wrote “The Prince Warriors” book series and a kids’ study, “Unseen”, that I used with preteens (based on her excellent “Armor of God” study).
Rick Warren – pastor, author, & speaker; his book, “The Purpose Driven Life”, helped me understand as a new believer that God had a plan for my life that is unique to how He created me, that He already knows what the future holds and will prepare me in advance – that perspective helped me submit to His leading in my life and see that trials are a necessary part of spiritual growth and preparation for what God has called me to do.
Bruce Wilkinson – author, former professor, Christian teacher, & founder of both “Walk Thru the Bible” and “Teach Every Nation” (TEN); his books and TEN Bible studies have had a strong impact on my faith walk.
HISTORICAL INSPIRATIONAL CHRISTIANS:
Dietrich Bonhoffer (1906-1945) – pastor, theologian, author, musician, & rescuer of Jews during WWII until killed by Nazis.
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) – pastor, theologian, & philosopher.
Billy Graham (1918-2018) – evangelist, preacher, author, speaker, & founder of hundreds of “Billy Graham Crusades” and the “Billy Graham Evangelistic Association” (BGEA); being in the midst of thousands of other believers and the Holy Spirit powerfully at work is an experience like none other.
E. Stanley Jones (1884-1973) missionary, theologian, & author; his devotional, “Abundant Living”, builds on each day so can also be read as a book and is amazing.
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929 – 1968) – trained as pastor and influential civil rights leader who believed in equal value of all people created by God.
George Muller (1803 – 1900) – from theft to God’s servant, pastor, author, and advocate of ministry to children.
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) – mathematician, author, & theologian; bio article from “Christianity Today”: “‘When it comes to the Christian faith’, he said, ‘a wise person will gamble on it because, ‘if you win, you win everything; if you lose, you lose nothing’.”
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) – pastor & writer; quote from Spurgeon Center: “For Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the immutability of Christ was a precious doctrine full of encouragement for Christians, but terror for unrepentant sinners. Because ‘Christ’s person never changes’ those who fled to Christ found safety while those who refused him found hell.”.
John Stott (1921-2011) – pastor, theologian, & author.
A.W. Tozer (1897-1963) – preacher, author, magazine editor, & mentor; his books, “The Pursuit of God”, “The Pursuit of Man”, & “The Knowledge of the Holy” were impactful to me.
Warren W. Wiersbe – pastor, author, & radio Bible teacher for “Back to the Bible”; his Bible study teaching packets aided my understanding, as well as his books, “Strategy of Satan” and “Prayer 101”; article about his life by Ed Stetzer for “Christianity Today”; list of books (known for his “BE” series.
CHRISTIAN CREATION SCIENTISTS (current & historical):
List of scientists who have publicly dissented from Darwinian Evolution (1000 + and growing).
FORMER SKEPTICS, AGNOSTICS, or ATHEISTS (current & historical):
Os Guinness – author & social critic; website; 11 min video testimony from “Premier Christianity”.; loved his book, “Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion”.
Robert Jastrow (1925-2008) – founder of NASA’s “Goddard Institute” and director of “Mt. Wilson Institute and Observatories”, & author of “God and the Astronomer”; video clip from John 10:10 Project (book out of print).
Greg Laurie – pastor of “Harvest Church”, author, & founder of “Harvest Crusades”; being in the midst of thousands of other people and the Holy Spirit powerfully at work is an experience like none other.
C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) – author & theologian; website; so many of his books influenced me greatly – “Mere Christianity”, “The Screwtape Letters”, “The Problem of Pain”, “The Abolition of Man”, “The Weight of Glory”, “Surprised by Joy”, “The Great Divorce”, and “A Grief Observed”; in my humble opinion, all believers should at least read the first two listed, but every book is great.
Josh McDowell – author, speaker, and apologist; his website offers many resources.
Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) – scientist, mathematician, theologian, & author; writings; quite brilliant – must say that I could not read “Pensees” at the end of the day; even with a fresh brain, I needed to read some of his thoughts several times.
Ravi Zacharias – teacher, speaker, author, apologist, & founder of “Ravi Zacharias International Ministries”; (RZIM); this man is a great example of how believers should respond to the questions of our day – thoughtful, respectful, caring, and logical answers to questions while being true to God’s Word: “How do you know that Christianity is the one true worldview?” .