Praising God for His Love
"Not to us O LORD, but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1)
Today (3/31/2022) by God's love and grace, I passed my oral examination of my dissertation on God's love in 1 Corinthians 13! There is still some work to do on my final paper but "just a few hours" so I am set to graduate on May 8th with my D. Min. in Expository Preaching.
I am so thankful to Christ, to my loving wife and family, my church family supporting me and friends and supporters along the way these past 3 years.
I thought I would share the last part of my paper (and my oral examination) where I talked about how this program and paper has impacted me, and I pray it continues to.
Concluding Evaluation of the Program
I had been out of academia for thirteen years when I enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at The Master’s Seminary, so I had a learning curve to catch up with academic writing and research standards. My Greek is rusty, my Hebrew is corroded, and my tools needed sharpening! This program helped me go deeper into the text and the tool chest to examine it, and it sharpened me. It honed my exegesis and exposition, not primarily for the academic committee that would review this dissertation, but for the precious congregation entrusted to my preaching, and above all, to the Lord of His church.
The extensive reading for this program (estimated at over 20,000 pages) and extensive writing required (70-80 pages per semester) pushed me beyond limits of discipline and time management. This program forced me not only to plan and prioritize beyond my nature, it also helped me see how I work best with limited time and deadlines. The subject matter I was exposed to in the assignments was very beneficial to my soul and study. I found most weeks that something I read for class helped me in preparing that week’s message. I read on many topics what I never would have otherwise, and from some of the finest scholars in their field. I am grateful to Dr. Lawson, Dr. Duncan, and the supporting staff and the world-class lecturers who allowed me this opportunity to be in this program with them. I will especially miss the interaction and fellowship with fellow students, especially the international brethren.
Concluding Evaluation of the Project
This project stretched and stressed me greatly, but I was blessed greatly in the process. The level of reading and research has changed me and how I think and strive to love, and thankfully some of that has evidently is happening in those I love in our church. The opportunity for a deep dive into the history of Jonathan Edwards was a special bonus for me personally. Doing surveys and statistics was the least enjoyable aspect of the project, but in the end, even that was encouraging to see God’s Word making a difference in lives. The most enjoyable part of the project was the preaching, and specifically seeing and hearing how the truth convicted and compelled loving action. The feedback helped me in an intensive way pursue this call of Paul:
But the goal of our instruction is love … give attention to … exhortation and teaching. Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you … Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things … pursue righteousness, godliness, love, perseverance, and gentleness … (1 Timothy 1:5, 4:13-16 NASB, italics in original).
By God’s grace, I am thankful for His Spirit’s help in that scripture, to the praise of Jesus. I can’t say it better than Paul in that same book, as I reflect on these past months: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me … the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus … [to] God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1:12-17). I pray that while this paper and project ends, the pursuit of love will never end for me and my beloved church, as we live in His love that never ends and endures forever.
"Not to us O LORD, but to your name be the glory, because of your name and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1)
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