Never in my life have I called Bill "Dr. Walthall" but his accomplishments through Talbot School of Theology certainly warrant the distinction. I highlight the fact here because the result of Bill's formal education and 16 years as a pastor did NOT encourage the pursuit of more and more learning but of making the Bible real and accessible to everyone.
Walk with the Word is the direct result of Bill's passion and vision for the power of personal Bible study to change lives and over 85% of what is written in the 11 chapters covering the workings of Walk with the Word come directly from Bill's own hand. I am but a "Timothy" to his "Paul" who over the years helped with Bible study seminars, web sites, coordination of programs and so on to assist Bill's ministry as it developed and complimented my own.
Perhaps the greatest example to me personally has been to see the tremendous pressures and yes, even persecution, from within and without that comes with the territory and office of "Pastor" and the refinement it brings to a man who's personal commitment to his relationship with Christ traverses such obstacles.
Thanks again, Bill.
I grew up in a denomination that in my youth — and to this day — maintained a very well-organized Bible Quiz program. Without a doubt it had a very positive and lasting effect on my life. Spending a significant portion of each of my teen years studying the Bible, memorizing verses, and hanging out and going to events with other teens just as excited and focused on God's Word was a significant reason why the hardcore troubles of drugs, alcohol, etc. never took root in my life. (Parents, take note.)
But when the first team in our local church was formed in my 7th Grade year, I was the whole team. It never occurred to me at the time that Tom was a coach, chauffeur, and leader of a team of just one. More and more kids joined in the following years, but I know if no else had ever joined during those 6 years that Tom would have never given up on just having me, so I'm deeply grateful. In fact, it wouldn't be until my 3rd year of quizzing when I actually gave my heart to Christ.
Of course, when Tom reads this for the first time, he's going to scream, throw his hands up in the air, and probably toss his pen across the room; not out of anger, but shock and surprise. I was also the most difficult kid he had to deal with and loved few things more than finding a way to annoy him. Call it a type of sibling rivalry, if you will. How I tortured that poor man at times.
It was no small thing when the Lord used Michael one evening during a mid-week youth group meeting to not only bring spiritual revival to a group of teens but to lead me to the decision to accept Jesus Christ as my personal Savior.
Looking back I realize that without formal training or "program materials" he began the process of discipleship and set the example of how to consistently lead a small group by including us in the struggles of his own journey so that it was truly a "relationship" in Christ.
Our lives have taken odd, parallel tracks so I guess you must be about to launch a website. ;-)
Thanks for everything, Mike.
For most of the years up until 6th Grade Mrs. Benefield taught "Junior Church", the place for kids during regular adult worship services. Unbeknownst to her, my parents, or probably any other human being on the planet, whatever that woman told us to do regarding the Bible I went home and did on my own. For instance, while in 5th Grade, she had the "audacity" to mention in passing that the best thing anyone could do was to go read all of the Psalms and I actually did so on my own at home and found them to be fascinating.
This is why later in life, whenever I've taught teens or children, I've always talked to them like adults, knowing that much more is getting through than you realize. Sunday School teachers everywhere should take comfort in knowing that God works on hearts every single day between Sunday lessons, often as the direct result of what is said and portrayed during that one hour you have with them each week.
Although now waiting for the rest of us in heaven, I can't help but wonder how surprised she'll be to learn of the spiritual seed and harvest resulting that I'm sure she wasn't fully aware of. Looking forward to seeing her again.