We respected the Bible in our home. My siblings and I regularly attended Sunday school and vacation Bible school, and my mother listened to the Moody Bible Institute (WMBI) radio station every day, so we heard some of the greatest preachers of our time. I. A few days before my sixteenth birthday, while attending a Youth for Christ (YFC) rally, I heard Billy Graham speaking, and that day I trusted Jesus as my Savior and felt a call to the ministry.
The YFC leaders in our city set up a follow-up class for those of us who had been saved, so I went to Mr. Ed Bihl’s home every Thursday evening for weeks. Mr. Bihl was a gifted Bible teacher, and we began by studying the book of Hebrews. That was a pretty tough diet for me as a teenager, but I stayed with it and prayed that one day I would know my Bible as well as he did. Determined, I borrowed a Scofield Reference Bible from the local library—I was the only one to take it out—and read the notes carefully. Much of it was over my head, but some of the material stayed with me. My Swedish uncle, Simon Carlson, rejoiced when he heard I was planning to enter the ministry, and he brought me a box of books on Bible study from his personal library to facilitate my studies.
After completing one year at Indiana University, I studied at Northern Baptist Seminary near Chicago. What a faculty they had—men and women who not only knew the Bible but loved it and taught it superbly! In chapel, my classmates and I heard excellent guest speakers: men and women who exalted the Lord and His Word. If I have had any success in ministry, it is because my instructors loved and knew the Bible and clearly and systematically taught it to their students.
When I was called to pastor my first church, I determined to preach the Word and exalt Jesus. I shared God’s Word four times a week: I taught a Sunday School class, preached Sunday mornings and evenings, and led a prayer meeting and Bible study each Wednesday evening. Along with my seminary assignments, this was quite a challenge, but the Lord graciously helped me. Each morning I had my devotions, meditating on the Word, praising the Lord, and praying, a practice I have followed all of my Christian life. The Bible was my food and my guide. It taught me, cleansed me, encouraged me, and warned me.
For ten years I pastored the Calvary Baptist Church in Covington, Kentucky, just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. It was my responsibility and joyful privilege to prepare an exposition of the Sunday school lessons for our classes and teachers. We studied our way through the Bible, book-by-book, in seven years. What an experience! It kept me reading, meditating, studying, and praying. That was the beginning of what is now the BE series, expositions of every book of the Bible. The Lord enabled me to write over one hundred and seventy Bible studies, which I trust have helped Bible students around the world.
I love hearing other servants of the Lord preach and teach, for they enrich me, correct me, confirm me, and encourage me. I still have much to learn! In my books, I have shared what the Lord has taught me through His Word. In my latest book, Delights and Disciplines of Bible Study, I share the approaches I have taken to studying the Bible. I pray that this book will enable other Bible students to investigate the Bible with enrichment and enjoyment and be able to share its spiritual treasures with others.
God bless you as you read, study, meditate, and teach His Word!