“Listen”—Dr. Charles Stanley’s influence

intouch.org

intouch.org

Dr. Stanley is my spiritual father figure. I love his Southern drawl, his insight into God’s Word, his beautiful photography, and his personal stories. His oft-repeated phrases “Listen” and “If you are listening, say Amen” make me chuckle as I pay closer attention. I attended his Atlanta church services twice, and met him in person once. I was just a teenager then, and so overcome with tears I couldn’t speak. But he shook my hand calmly and blessed me in God’s name. Nearly 25 years of his teaching is stored in my heart.

God used one of Dr. Stanley’s television sermons on a Sunday evening in August 1993 to prompt me toward spiritual rebirth. I went down to the basement bathroom alone and prayed the sinner’s prayer as a 15-year-old, and a supernatural peace stole over me. I didn’t know that two months later I would feel so depressed that I would consider ending my life. If I hadn’t been saved at just the right time, I’m sure I would have continued down that dark path. But God delivered me, and I learned to recognize his voice partly because of Dr. Stanley’s teaching, and what I learned in his book about the Holy Spirit.

When I was a newlywed, we sometimes substituted Dr. Stanley’s television broadcasts for church on Sunday. I don’t recommend that practice to anyone able-bodied enough to attend church, but at least we received godly teaching before we committed to church membership. Not quite a year after we married, I worked to process the events of 9/11 by reading all the newspapers in the college library, trying to understand why my country had been attacked. A few Sundays afterward, Dr. Stanley’s sermon gave me peace as he reminded me of God’s sovereignty.

When I became a mother, Christian radio became my daytime companion as I worked from home. I listened to Dr. Stanley every weekday, storing the truth he revealed in my heart. I remember him saying many times: “Obey God and leave all the consequences to Him.” I worked hard to apply that principle as I learned how to submit to my husband when I didn’t agree. This principle helped me lay aside my fears and trust God when I faced difficult choices in relationships and impossible work situations.

For many years I’ve subscribed to the In Touch magazine, a free publication by Dr. Stanley’s ministry. The articles and devotionals help me apply my faith in practical ways. One article particularly encouraged me when I felt frustrated in a dead-end job. “The Call to Create” in the October 2005 issue said that God intended me to use my gifts for His glory. I had set my talents on the back burner for years, yet I yearned to share my art and writing with the world. That article, along with the series of top-quality Christian poetry they published, encouraged me to not wait until my children are grown to get creative.

The most personal lesson Dr. Stanley taught me came from his own experience. As I struggled to give up my idol worship of my dream home and the false security it provided, the Holy Spirit led me to Dr. Stanley’s story about his cameras. He is a world-class photographer. Yet God called him once to give up his cameras, with no explanation. Dr. Stanley struggled with the decision but finally trusted God and sold all his photography equipment. He experienced a peace that passed all understanding after he let the cameras go. Not long after that, someone knocked on his door and told Dr. Stanley that God had moved them to buy the cameras and return them. As he held the equipment again, Dr. Stanley was humbled by God’s goodness. God hadn’t wanted the cameras—He wanted Dr. Stanley’s undivided devotion. I cried and cried as I heard those words. God didn’t want to take my house away. He wanted me to put all my trust in Him. I’m still living in my dream home, but I’m holding it much more loosely now. Dr. Stanley’s testimony helped me have peace in God’s providence.

If you are a fan of Dr. Stanley, how has his ministry impacted your faith?

My diverse spiritual background

bible-light-rays

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 NIV

Jesus wooed me to himself through the influence of several religions. Here is my journey.

As I have written on My Story page, my family heritage is primarily Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. I attended a LCMS grade school and church, which shaped my childhood understanding of God’s truth and his Word. I knew the Bible stories inside out and I memorized hundreds of Bible verses. I am thankful for that beginning.

From the age of 12, I watched Dr. Charles Stanley on Sunday night television. His preaching is undeniably Baptist, and it is grounded firmly in God’s Word. After one of those Sunday night sermons, I experienced spiritual rebirth at age 15. I have been listening to Dr. Stanley for almost 25 years now on television and radio. Probably no other teacher has shaped my faith more than him.

In high school I attended a small Presbyterian church. A friend in that church led me to my alma mater, Covenant College, the official school of the Presbyterian Church in America. At Covenant I gained a solid biblical worldview, and I was inspired to reform and redeem every circle of my influence. For the past 10 years or so, I’ve listened to Dr. John MacArthur, a Presbyterian Bible teacher, via radio or podcast. I also consider Tim Keller, a well-known Presbyterian pastor in New York City, a major influence.

I have some exposure to the Catholic church through my stepfather’s family and through my husband’s family and friends. The best takeaway I’ve had from Catholicism is the imagery of believers as priests, a practical application of the book of Hebrews. I have mixed feelings about Catholic teachings, but I have loving relationships with many Catholic believers.

For the past eight years I have participated in Bible Study Fellowship, a non-denominational group. I have grown so much from the BSF method: interacting with God’s Word alone, discussing it in a small group, listening to a lecture, then reading the commentary. It’s wonderful to see how God’s Word unites believers through BSF, and I’ve made many friends there.

Jesus is the thread who runs through all my spiritual influences. He gave me a love for his Word in the Lutheran church. He made me strong in the Spirit through Baptist teaching. He called me to action in the Presbyterian church. He increased my compassion through Catholic believers. He brought me to spiritual maturity through non-denominational Bible study. My story is His story. He is my Way, my Truth, and my Life.

How has God wooed you through your religious background?

Thank you Renee Espriu for inspiring this post, by your comment on My Story page.