In 1974, John Piper became what has turned out to be my most influential life-long mentor. He was my professor for 5 courses in Greek exegesis, which he taught while I was a student at Bethel College. I learned from him a way of reading the text, proposition by proposition, after having diagrammed the Greek text word by word. He taught me how to ask questions of the passage and how to dig and dig into it, before grabbing a commentary too quickly. He also taught me to humble myself, and after I’ve done my own in-depth study to read carefully the insights of others who have diligently studied the same passage. I remember him saying, “Don’t just look for their conclusions but look especially for their arguments.” In all this, I learned from him how to read the Bible supernaturally. “Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.” The Holy Word of God was not just to be analyzed, but trusted, delighted in and proclaimed.
Dr. Piper referred frequently to his mentor, Daniel Fuller. Dr. Fuller is the man who over 60 years ago created the arcing method I learned in the 70’s, have taught as a Pastor at Bethlehem for more than three decades, and continue to teach to our students at Bethlehem College & Seminary. When John preached at my wedding, he and Noel gave us the best wedding gift we received: a mimeographed copy of Fuller’s unpublished Unity of the Bible, which I read with great eagerness on our honeymoon. After graduating from college, Julie and I decided God was leading us to continue studying the Bible at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena.
When I first met Dr. Fuller in the fall of 1978, he said he was intimidated that we moved all the way to California to study with him. This Friday, I’m going to fly to California, meet Pastor John who is already out there visiting family, and together we are going to visit Dr. Fuller to thank him for his investment in our lives. He is now 91 and completely blind. The last time I saw him was a few years ago. We met in his living room. He was wearing what looked like the same light blue sweater he wore at Fuller Seminary when I was his student. (John thinks it was the same sweater he was wearing in 1968!). In his living room Dr. Fuller wanted to share with me something new he learned in Romans 8, so he opened up his Greek New Testament and read to me a portion using a magnifying glass. I will never forget that moment. If God gives me life and mental endurance I want to do the same with my former students when they drop in on me years from now.
So in this season of Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful to God for two of my life-long mentors. I am thankful for all of you who pray for and give to Bethlehem College and Seminary.
1. Please pray for those applying to the seminary; applications are due in about a week.
2. Please pray for our students to have a refreshing respite over Thanksgiving and strength for the final push to the end of the semester by mid-December.
3. Please pray for cheerful and generous year-end giving to allow our students to graduate with little or no debt, freed to go immediately into ministry.
4. Please pray for God to use the next issue of Serious Joy that focuses on our alumni to inspire many to pray and give.