Under the Influence…

…of good men.

Mitch Wilburn.  Marvin Phillips.  me

I have been so blessed throughout my lifetime to be in the presence of great men of God.  Ministers who have had a profound influence upon me.  This morning I ate breakfast with Terry Rush.  A hero of mine.  At noon  I went to a city-wide preachers lunch hosted by a local church.  Marvin was there and I just had to get a picture.  He’s another hero.  I clearly remember going to the Tulsa Workshop as a boy where I would be awed by the preaching of Terry and Marvin.  It thrills me to think all these years later they actually know my name.  I love them so much.  For years Mitch was the youth minister for the Park Plaza coC here in Tulsa.  Several years ago he was demoted to the pulpit ministry at the same church.  Since that time their growth has been through the roof.  Mitch is another hero.

Today reminded me of my personal heritage and the preachers who have shaped my life, my preaching and my ministry.  To name a few…

Randy Green- my youth minister- taught me to fall in love with Jesus.  Randy was my model in both places I was a youth minister.  Singing in a tight cluster without books or words or overheads comes directly from Randy.  All my youth group kids will know what I mean.

Rex Boyles- teacher-  Probably the smartest, wisest Bible teacher I have ever known.  He’s a genius.  And a powerful preacher.  If anyone who has heard me preach/teach were to spend any time with Rex they would soon believe I stole everything I know from him.  No one tells a Bible story better than Rex.  He also influenced me to major in textual preaching as opposed to stringing a bunch of personal stories together.

Ed Wharton- teacher-  For some reason no one has impacted my delivery more than Ed.  His physical mannerism’s delighted me to the point I soon began to adopt them without thought.  Ed’s a sharp dresser who works hard to stay sharp looking throughout the day.  No one could make combing their hair look cooler than Ed.  Not even the Fonz.  Ed’s also got the best preacher hand gestures in the business- hands down.  If you saw Ed preach you would soon see I’m a copy cat.

Lewis Robinson- preacher.  Lewis was my first co-worker in full time ministry not associated with AIM/Sunset.  Amy and I loved his preaching.  He did our wedding.  His passion and his wisdom are both great.  He influenced me in the way he interacted with people.  Even in the hardest of situations he was always kind and amazingly calm.  Things I tend not to be under duress.  To this day when I’m interacting with people in hard circumstances I remember Lewis and try to will myself to act like he would.

Terry Rush- Terry has been my preacher for many years now.  I can’t begin to list how his preaching has affected me.  Last week in Monroe I said several times, “Listen to me now!”  That’s Terry.  I also use the word “zone” a lot.  That’s Terry.  Also the way he will phrase a statement is popping out in my communication.  I can see that in my preaching and writing.  I’ll say something like, “That’s wonderfully wonderful.”  Pure Terry.  I also find myself making words up as I go along.  WAY Terry.  Though I’m not a Cardinal fan.

What about you?  Do you have a phrase or a mannerism or a style you sort of picked up without meaning to simply because you admired those things in someone you respected?  I want to hear about it.

Meanwhile, I hope all of us could say that about Jesus.



  1. Craig – you really brought me back! Remember good ol’ Ed picking up the pennies? Poor guy – how we tortured him and yet he remained cool! Oh to see Ed Wharton run a comb through his hair again! Makes me laugh just thinking about it!

    You are right to give honor to the people who inspired you. We’re all connected in deeper ways than we realize. One day some kid will be blogging about your influence on his ministry. You can count on that.

    No one could make us laugh more than Ed. I remember the pennies. And his strong man at the beach routine. And There is abundant evidence from historical sources which is adequate to prove…

  2. Though I preached 30 years, I actually sort of sneaked in through the back door and never got caught. I didn’t study to become a preacher, so I really didn’t have any training in that respect. But when I have heard Terry Rush preach, I marveled at how effective he is and I wanted to be more like him, but it doesn’t work for me to try and imitate Rush! He’s unique. I think I formed whatever “style” I have by trying NOT to be like certain preachers in my life who I found downright boring. The one different preacher was Dr. Jim Petty, when he preached in Montgomery, AL at what was Druid Hills. I have no idea what happened to him, but he was a Ph.D. psychologist and I found him fascinating … and later an influence in my life to go into psychology.

    Greg, I have a lot of respect for you. Keep teaching.

  3. P. S. I met Marvin Phillips only one time and have never heard him preach, but that chance meeting was powerful! In the few moments we exchanged nice conversation, he encouraged me like no other person.

  4. one of my favorites is “familiar scripture should be read more carefully.” or “we’re not the only Christians. we’re only Christians.”

    i remember hearing my good friend read scripture like he was speaking in a conversation … like he would talk with someone else. he did not rush through the reading like there was a race, or that he didn’t know how to use emotion when he read. that really impressed me when i heard greg read at park row.

    that’s just a few.

    Those are great sayings. Do you use them? And I love what you say about your friend’s ability to read Scripture. That alone can have an extreme impact on how those in his realm of influence will both read their Bibles and want to read their Bibles.

  5. i pick this up from someone else; “i’m nearly done and your doing very well.” I picked this one up from my brother Ian, “listen, are you listening?”
    thanks for sharing Craig.
    Ed’s encouragement for me is to preach not read your sermon.

  6. tisk, tisk … still trying to hob-nob with the big wigs aren’t we.

    (I’m SO jealous!)

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