13 Practical Steps to Improve Self-Discipline

It seems to me that self-discipline is the forgotten fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23). Yet all the great men and women of God seem to be marked by it. On that point, I am often reminded of the importance of discipline by this quote from Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones:

I defy you to read the life of any saint that has ever adorned the life of the Church without seeing at once that the greatest characteristic in the life of that saint was discipline and order. Invariably it is the universal characteristic of all the outstanding men and women of God…. Obviously it is something that is thoroughly scriptural and absolutely essential (Spiritual Depression, 210).

kettlebell and dumbbellSelf-discipline is such an essential part of the Christian life that Paul’s specifically instructs older men (Titus 2:2), older and younger women (Titus 2:5), and younger men (Titus 2:6) all to be “sensible” (“self-controlled” in the ESV). Just in case someone felt left out (even though he covered every age group), Paul summarizes by saying the grace of God trains all of us to live sensibly (Titus 2:11-12, same word). Clearly this is something important enough to Paul that he instructed everyone in the church to be working at it.

I have collected a list of helpful ways to work on self-discipline which I have found particularly helpful in my own life, and I would encourage you to give some (or all) of them a try.

Continue reading →

An Important Primer on Dispensationalism

Over the last month, I have blogged a bit about what Dispensationalism is, and what it is not. Because I know it may be of interest to some, I wanted to write a brief review of a primer on dispensationalism by Dr. Mike Vlach, entitled Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths. I have really enjoyed this work, and it was just updated this past March (the previous edition is dated 2008). The updated version includes some additional material, including a significant discussion on the differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology (Chapter 5). What follows is a brief review, and I hope it will be helpful.

The biggest complement that I can give the book is that it is easy to read. Both times I read it (2012 and 2017) I read it through in one sitting. It is short and concise, which is a mark of its well-written nature. It will not waste your time. Rather, it will give the reader an important foundation for understanding dispensationalism.

The outline of the book is as follows:

  • Chapter one deals with the history of dispensationalism.
  • Chapter two talks about the beliefs that are essential to dispensationalism.
  • Chapter three addresses common myths concerning dispensationalism.
  • Chapter four talks about the concepts of continuity and discontinuity and how they relate to dispensationalism.
  • Chapter five talks about the key differences between dispensationalists and covenant theologians. Chapter six addresses common questions about dispensationalists.

Mike Vlach states in the introduction that he does not want this book to be viewed as an encyclopedia about dispensationalism. Rather, he aims this book as a “fast facts” reference about dispensationalism. I think he has ably accomplished his purpose. The book is very well organized, and easy to reference. Plus, I would add that Mike Vlach is somewhat of an authority on dispensationalism, having written quite a lot on the topic, and having partaken in conferences on the subject. So the reader is not getting “crazy” dispensationalism, but an academically respectable presentation of dispensationalism.

I had the privilege to having Mike Vlach as a professor for a couple classes, and one of his best qualities is that he is very logical and thorough in his presentations. His writing is no exception. This primer on dispensationalism ought to be the starting point for those interested in the subject as it represents a well-thought out viewpoint of dispensationalism.

Red-Letter Christians

There is an official website called www.redletterchristians.org, with the stated purpose as follows:

The goal of Red Letter Christians is simple: To take Jesus seriously by endeavoring to live out His radical, counter-cultural teachings as set forth in Scripture, and especially embracing the lifestyle prescribed in the Sermon on the Mount.

large_3750120163I think I understand the intent of this group. However, the premise is mistaken and it leads to the ultimate question:

Should we treat the words of Jesus differently than the rest of Scripture?

Continue reading →

An Exciting Next Step for Us

The year 2017 has already been an exciting year for me and my family. My wife and I welcomed our son into the world in January and I graduated with my PhD in Old Testament from Master’s Seminary this month. Although this has already been a packed year, we are not close to being done. Come June, my family and I are packing up to move to North Carolina where I will serve as a faculty member of Shepherd’s Theological Seminary (STS).

My official title at the seminary will be Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages (I know, it sounds nerdy—but I guess if the shoe fits…). I am really excited to be a part of the team and ministry there. I have been talking with the faculty and students about what God has been doing at STS, and there are many exciting things happening there. My wife and I are pumped to partner with the ministry there.

I am excited about this next season of life to be involved in discipling men and women who will be leaders in the church. I pray that God will help me pass along the things that my teachers have taught me (both from a knowledge standpoint, but also related to godly character). It is my goal as a teacher to simply stand in line with the faithful men who have gone before me and help contribute to others as many have done for me.

The school where I will be serving, Shepherd’s Theological Seminary, started in 2003 under the leadership of Pastor Stephen Davey at Colonial Baptist Church in Cary, NC. The school itself is a dispensational school similar in doctrinal beliefs to The Master’s Seminary, where I just graduated with my PhD. One of the many things that I am really excited about at Shepherds is their Israel Initiative, a program which funds a trip to Israel for students.  This means that students who go to STS have the opportunity to go to Israel as part of their educational experience. As someone who benefited greatly from my time in Israel, I think this is an amazing opportunity for students.

I am also really looking forward to working with Drs. Bookman and Pettegrew, both of whom I greatly respect. I am looking forward to learning from their extensive teaching experience, which, if I am calculating it right, is about 80 years combined.

In any case, I know this blog post is a big departure from the normal kind of posts you read on this blog. But, I thought it would be helpful to keep everyone updated on what’s going on in our family’s life. Although I don’t like to post personal things often, I will make an exception on this one because it is that exciting! Also, I’m sure the things I’m studying for classes will come up in blog articles and future podcasts, so I wanted everyone to know some of the context of what goes on in my brain (a scary place to stay for any amount of time).

Next post I will give you something biblical to mull over, I promise! For now, I just wanted to give you an opportunity to praise the Lord with us for this opportunity to be involved with strengthening the church for His honor and glory. We pray that He glorify himself in whatever way He see fit.