BEHIND THE SCENES
Mr. Siebold, my tenth grade English teacher, was a man I admired very much. Due to a birth defect his arms were abnormally short and he only had three fingers on each hand, but he did more with six fingers than most do with ten. He often worked at his desk typing with amazing breakneck speed. He influenced me greatly, causing me to like and for a while fall with love with English. He instilled in me a desire to write. He encouraged me to take his journalism class and the spark he kindled in my heart for writing simmered there for ten years.
Soon after graduating from college I wrote the Miracle on 14th Street, an eighty-one-page manuscript that sat on a self until Nancy and I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma and worked with Drs. T.L. and Daisy Osborn, renowned missionary evangelists. Dr. T.L., author of forty books, encouraged me to use my desire for writing as a tool for evangelism. So with his encouragement I pulled my dusty book off the shelf and began working on it. After printing The Miracle on 14th Street I took twenty-five copies with me to the Adult Detention Center where I often ministered. After dismissing the class, I watched those inmates carry My Miracle books down the hallway. My story eventually made its way throughout that jail preaching hope to those in desperate need of it.
Through the years I have distributed thousands of 14th Street books in jails, prisons and churches. I have traveled through the printed page into places that I would never be allowed to go, spoke with people with which I would have never been able to speak and influenced the lives of many. The next book I wrote was Capture Time a thought provoking 365-page devotional which challenges people to put first things first, last things last and in-between things in between. Capture Time is both inspirational and motivational. Principles of Prayer, my third book, evolved from a sermon series I developed from the Lord’s Prayer. The Lord’s disciples came and asked Him to teach them to pray. He gave them a prayer masterpiece which outlines the basic principles and precepts that governed His prayer life. Prayer is that time we set aside in our lives where we nurture our relationship with God and allow God to nurture relationship with us.
My greatest writing challenge has been, The Apocalyptic Puzzle, a study based on the Books of Daniel and Revelation. For years I read Revelation and was clueless of the message contained within its pages. It was not until I learned that no one can understand the Book of Revelation by reading the Book of Revelation. The Apocalypse is more puzzle than it is mystery. When one learns where the pieces of the puzzle are recorded in the writings of the prophets, and how to properly piece them together, a clear picture of what is to transpire in the not too distant future.
There are several new books I have in the works, including a daily devotional and practice advice on how to manage your thought-life. Stay tuned!
The past is a window through which we look into the future. “Whoever wishes to know the destiny of humanity must consult the past, arising from the fact that destinies are produced by men and women who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results” (Machiavelli). In order to understand where this world is heading, we must look back to the beginning and trace its steps to where we are today. Looking back will help us see what’s ahead. I love reading biographies of those brave souls who have made a positive difference in the world. Apart from the Scriptures I have loved reading about the men and women who have made a positive difference in our world: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., David Wilkerson, Rees Howells, Nicky Cruz, Kathryn Kuhlman, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver and so many others that have encouraged me in my journey through life.
MISSIONS AND TRAVEL
My first ten years were spent on my Grandfather Wilfong’s farm in Orleans, Indiana. There were about three thousand people living there then and about three thousand living there now. Traveling outside of Orange country Indiana was an unlikely prospect for me. I was a youth pastor when I received an invitation from a missionary to minister in Haiti for ten days. The poverty I saw in that island country was overwhelming. The dedication of the missionaries and Haitian pastors who preached the Gospel of Christ to the lost and perishing made a huge impression on me. That trip to Haiti was the first of fifteen I would take to Haiti, Africa, Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador and the Bahamas. I preached in the streets, the markets, the jails, prisons and in the churches. After seeing the multitudes who were destitute and living in poverty; I was never the same. I could not enjoy the prosperity of my surroundings and ignore the needs of those less fortunate than me. I felt that Jesus would not bless me if I did not become a champion for the needy who are struggling to survive in the worst of conditions. So, I have gone and I give back that which has been given to me.
Advice to Young Ministers
HOW TO SUSTAIN
I was thirty years old when a friend invited me to speak at a leadership conference at his church. After accepting the invitation, I was tormented with fear. What did I have to share? My church was small, I had no great financial or growth stories to share. I began earnestly seeking God for what He would have me have me teach at the conference. While praying, the Lord whispered these words in my heart, “Whatever is kept alive by prayer will never die.” That was the message I was to share. It was also to become the heartbeat of my spiritual life. So, whether wrestling with lack or enjoying God’s abundance He will bring us through every circumstance when our hope is sustained through the power of prayer.
Many who are passionate about serving struggle with balance. It is difficult to find the balance between our leadership responsibilities in ministry and those at home. But if we gain the whole world and, in the process, lose our family, the sweetness of accomplishment will not be enough to erase the pain of our losses. Let us seek the Lord, align priorities and live balanced lives. Without the love and support of my wife Nancy, I would have failed miserably.
HOW TO LEAD
There are two things we must have in order to be an effective leader: we must love what we are doing and believe that it is making a difference. I love the church because the church first loved me. I wasn’t looking for church, the church came looking for me. I believe in the church because the church first believed in me. Loving and believing that the service we render is making a difference is what it takes to lead. We must also take control of ourselves. If we can’t manage our own lives than we will fail in our attempt to lead others.
WHAT I WISH I WOULD HAVE KNOWN
Ministry is the hardest, meanest, toughest, cruelest work that you can do. Only those who must serve should serve. If you can take or leave ministry—leave it. Most begin serving with an unrealistic set of preconceived ideas about serving in the Lord’s work. We never expect to face rejection, be criticized, get stabbed in the back or suffer persecution from a fellow believer—but it happens. If we focus on the adversity that we face we will fail. But the most rewarding, satisfying, fulfilling and exciting work we can do in life is serving Jesus. Those who focus on the positive side of serving in the Lord’s work will live a rewarding, satisfying and prosperous life.
The Best Is Yet To Come
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
In this season of our lives, Nancy and I, are focusing on pouring what we have learned through the years into the generation of believers that are walking in our footsteps. At West Coast Church we have four staff persons in their twenties. Nancy and I are grooming these young ministers so that they will make a positive difference in those they serve. We want to teach what we have learned through the years. We want to help them avoid our mistakes, receive the blessings we have received and take advantage of the opportunities God is preparing for each of them.