Monday, December 31, 2018

The Outcome of My 2018 New Year's Resolution


For the last two years I have endeavored to track every minute that I spend studying the Scriptures. The original purpose was twofold: I desired both to gain an accurate view of my life while also setting up concrete and measurable goals to challenge myself to be in God’s Word as much as possible.


Try to think of as many individuals from Church history as you can. It is likely that some of the names that popped into your mind were Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Spurgeon – individuals we hold up as giants in the faith. Why are they considered such pillars of the Church? Because they were the people who made a difference. The people who are known in Church history are those that refused to be content with the status quo. They were the men and women who purposefully focused their attention on the glory of Christ and were fixated upon making Him even more famous in the world around them.

I am not saying that being remembered is a sign of faithfulness. On the contrary, I believe there are millions of believers who we know nothing about that lived faithful lives for the glory of Christ. Regardless, whether or not we are remembered by future generations should not impact our desire to make a difference in this world. I would like to challenge you to discipline yourself by setting your mind on accomplishing great tasks in this life for our Lord. This is the challenge for us all: will we choose to set high expectations for our lives and be disciplined in order to achieve these goals that we may accomplish greatness for God? We should strive to live our lives in such a way that, at the end, we, like Jesus, our Lord and Savior, may be able to say that we glorified Him on earth, having accomplished the work that He gave us to do (John 17:4).

Year Two in Review

At the start of 2018, I decided I would again track my time in studying Scripture while also adding an intense reading plan to increase the challenge and push myself further. My goal for this year was to read through seventy-two books. This desire came as the result of a post that read, “Many CEO’s of large companies read sixty books a year.” Since the Church is a far greater enterprise than a company, I was personally challenged to go above and beyond the amount of reading accomplished by leaders in the secular world.

Well, the year slipped by and I was only able to read fifty books. Thus, I ended the year short of my goal, but I did not find this discouraging because that is still fifty books! You see, even though I fell short of my goal by twenty-two books, had I not set a goal at all, I probably would not have read near that amount. And, just to clarify, only thirty of the books were required by my seminary classes. The other twenty I read on my own time.


I challenge you to set high expectations for yourself in 2019. You may not hit your goals every single time, but at least you will have set them and pushed yourself out of complacency as you strive for excellence for Christ. If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time; but if you aim high, even if you miss, you will still hit higher than you originally would have otherwise. I’m sure you have all read the famous quote, “Aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” It is so very true! Do not just coast through life and allow it to pass you by. Grab time by the reins and make the most of your days (Eph. 5:16).

Your goals for the new year may not be the same as mine and that is okay. Perhaps it is tracking the amount of time you spend studying the Scriptures or in prayer or maybe having a number of books to read. Yet it could also be striving to share the Gospel a certain amount of times per month or volunteering with a local homeless shelter to show the love of Christ in tangible ways. Maybe you wish to push yourself in your job by taking on more responsibilities or taking on more college classes so as to graduate sooner rather than doing the bare minimum so as to grow in juggling your responsibilities and improve your time management skills. The point is that your goal for 2019 can be whatever it is that the Lord is putting on your heart. The challenge is to discipline yourself in order to strive toward achieving this personal goal.


The total time I spent in the Word of God this past year was 763 hours. After adding the past two years together, I have spent 1560 hours studying Scripture from January 1, 2017 to today. I am excited to continue to push myself in 2019 and hope this encourages you to set high personal goals in this new year!
*Click here to read last year's blog post.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Punctuation in the Name of Jesus


As we all know, punctuation is a necessary component in understanding the languages that we speak. Various markers have been constructed to pinpoint pauses, stops, and to even insert additional thoughts – all for the sake of conveying the intended meaning of the speaker/author. However, this has not always been the case.

Like anything, both the art and structure of languages have evolved over time. Further, newer linguistical discoveries dealing with world languages continue to unfold as knowledge continues to progress. Thus, many of the ancient languages [Hebrew, Greek, etc.] rarely, if ever, made use of the various punctuation marks we take for granted today. On the contrary, the original speakers would have understood their peers by other means such as the context of the discussion.

The Name of God

A world-renowned example, regarding the use of punctuation, is seen in Isaiah 9:6. This specific Bible verse just so happens to be one of the most often quoted passages in the entire Old Testament, especially during the Christmas season. Why? Because it was a prophecy to Israel about the coming Messiah who would, once and for all, deliver His people. The passage is as follows:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Did you notice what I just did? I inserted a comma after the name “Wonderful” because I believe that it fits better with the overall context of Scripture. The insertion of this punctuation mark is not something you will find in many Bible translations today, yet it could not be more necessary for a proper understanding of this passage. Yes, Jesus is not just a counselor; He is the Wonderful Counselor. However, I would argue that this term is not Scripturally meant to be an adjective, but a noun [i.e. His Name].
For example: within the book of Judges (Judg. 13:18), there is an encounter between The Angel of the LORD [Jesus in the Old Testament] and a Jewish couple. As is Isaiah 9:6, this account is also a prophetic declaration in which God promises to bring about a son. At the end of the discussion, when Manoah asks for the name of the Angel, His response is that His Name is “Wonderful!”

Another example would be found in John 14:16 where we see that Jesus promised the disciples that the Father would send “…another Counselor.” The term “another” implies that Jesus is a Counselor and, as we now know from the rest of the New Testament, the Counselor [i.e. The Holy Spirit] is the very Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6; 1 Pet. 1:11).


It is easy to read over something as seemingly insignificant as punctuation marks, especially when we have heard this verse quoted so often and always in the same manner. However, as students of God’s Word, we are called upon to do everything we can in order to gain a better understanding of the Scriptures. My challenge to you is to read God’s Name as both Wonderful and Counselor. It is not necessarily wrong to connect the two together and view “wonderful” as an adjective, but Isaiah’s prophecy is clearer when they stand alone.