2 Minute Seminary: Dispensational and Covenant Theologies

2 Minute Seminary: Dispensational and Covenant Theologies

Here are several differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology in a 2 minute or so read.

Dispensational Theology

Dispensational theology centers around the idea that God has dealt with mankind differently throughout history based on that time period’s “dispensation” of revelation (i.e. pre-Fall, conscience, promise, Law, grace, etc.). While there are different thoughts on how many dispensations there are, most adherents believe in seven. Dispensationalists also hold to a very literal interpretation of Scripture. This literal approach is the reason most dispensationalists believe in a clear distinction between Israel and the Church—God’s specific promises to Israel in the OT were for the Jews, and some have yet to be fulfilled.

Covenant Theology

Covenant theology believes that God has worked in covenants rather than dispensations. Most covenant theologians believe in two distinct covenants: a covenant of works (pre-Fall) and a covenant of grace (post-Fall). The idea is that in the Garden of Eden, Adam’s eternal life was dependent upon his perfect obedience to God. After the Fall, mankind’s eternal life was only obtainable by grace through faith. It is important to note that many covenant theologians believe that God did not abolish the covenant of works, rather Christ came and fulfilled it to make the covenant of grace possible.

Book Recommendation: Innovation in World Mission by Derek T. Seipp

Book Recommendation: Innovation in World Mission by Derek T. Seipp

Innovation in World Mission: A Framework for Transformational Thinking about the Future of World Mission. By Derek T. Seipp. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2016, 2733 locations, $9.95 Kindle edition.


What does the future of world mission look like?  In Innovation in World Mission, Derek T. Seipp aims to answer this crucial question by examining current global trends. Seipp focuses heavily on a principle he calls “strategic drift”, or the widening gap “between what we actually do and what needs to be done (Kindle location 152).” He argues that the Church has been far more reactive than proactive when it comes to developing new strategies for missions. The book relies heavily on anecdotes from the business world to explain the dangers of not looking forward to the future. While Seipp does develop his thoughts by examining the Scripture, it is obvious that much of his thinking on innovation has been shaped from his experience in the business world.

The book is divided into 8 chapters, with chapter 1 being the most informative and chapter 8 being the most applicative. Throughout the book, however, Seipp instructs the reader to put the book down, think critically, even complete a project before continuing. I think many readers will find this helpful as they try to practice the skill of innovation in their own lives.

Chapter 1 explains the nature of our “changing world” and why innovation has been important since the beginning of time. The Creator God has created us in His image, “and we were called to be creative. When we apply that creativity to work, we simply call it innovation (Kindle location 216).” Seipp believes that a failure to innovate stems from a lack of awareness and will result in an unpreparedness for the future (Kindle location 244). In the business industry, the things that worked yesterday, may not work today. Seipp explains that “world mission is not less immune to these changes (Kindle location 189).” With several real-world examples, chapter 1 serves as a wake-up call for the global and local Church to innovate now.

Chapter 2 deals with the “mega-trends” that are contributing to the various changes we see in the world today and how these trends are affecting the Church and its mission. While only six mega-trends are listed in this chapter (globalization, technology, economic change, deculturation and reculturation, mobility, and environmental change), Seipp explains that the list is not exhaustive (Kindle location 272). I found it telling that he chose to write first and focus heavily on globalization. Globalization is good for global business: it helps stimulate global economies and essentially levels the playing ground for the poor and marginalized who previously had no opportunities (Kindle location 294). Yet, “Globalization is also changing the problems we face. Prostitution rings are now global in nature (Kindle location 320).” Seipp does a good job of explaining both the pros and cons of each trend; or it could be said that he demonstrates how they all come with their blessings and curses.

Chapter 3 also focuses on mega-trends, but specifically those to watch for within Christendom. Seipp spends much of the chapter discussing changes occurring within the confines of missionary sending and the current climate of the American church. Being that I am a 24-year-old American missionary, I felt as though this chapter was written about me. At various times, I would audibly say “that is so true,” or I would immediately share a passage with my wife for her consideration. Regardless of age or profession, readers of this book will find Seipp’s commentary in this chapter to be spot on, if not prophetic. I must also commend him for staying impartial while discussing some of the hot-button issues within the American church (e.g. rise of Pentecostalism and New Calvinism). However, the same cannot be said of the discussion of the shift in the American Church’s understanding of Missio Dei. Seipp seemed troubled by the reality that many young missionaries are bypassing mission agencies and “the wisdom and experience from a long history of mission involvement (Kindle location 791).” Time will tell if his cause for concern is warranted.

Chapter 4 explains the vital role innovation has played throughout Church history. The Apostle Paul is sited as a Gospel innovator, whose courage to “stand up” contributed to the conversion of Roman Empire (Kindle location 833).  Seipp also takes this opportunity to appeal to the Old Testament to support his thesis, most notably 1 Chronicles 12:32. Seipp believes that the men from Issachar’s ability to “understand the times and know what Israel should do” was a prime example of innovative thinking. Seipp will go on to site this passage several more times in the book. I noticed that Seipp stressed heavily that innovation is a trained skill. He also emphasized the need for “an entire organization of transformative leaders (Kindle location 905).” There is tremendous wisdom is discussing these issues with other godly innovators. However, it is difficult to understand how to carry these principles over into the local church whose leadership differs from that of businesses and para-church organizations. Perhaps Ephesians 5:21 is the key to applying these principles in every area of life.

Chapters 5 and 6 are more explanatory than others, but for the benefit of the student of innovation. In Chapter 5, Seipp explains the role of research in decision-making and ultimately seeking God’s will. A company or business that neglects research is susceptible to “creative destruction.” In other words, “the creativity of one company of organization causes the destruction of another (Kindle location 956).” Seipp claims the principle also applies to ministries and non-profits. If the non-profit’s supporters are not engaged by the “story” they will take their money elsewhere; to put it simply: innovate or die (Kindle location 1049).  The rest of chapter deals with s-curves and the importance of capitalizing on the life cycle of a product or idea. I have personally seen s-curves being incorporated in Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) leadership training. In chapter 6, Seipp provides tools (scan hits, impact maps, and plausible scenarios) to help the Church innovate with the future in mind. This chapter is quite technical; it may seem out of place in a mission(s) textbook; however, I think it helps drive Seipp’s point home about looking to the future. It could be said that Innovation in World Mission is timely, ahead of its time, or a mixture of both.

Chapters 7 and 8 brings the book to a close by providing examples of ways to practically implement the information from the rest of the book. Seipp points to organizational leadership for successful innovation in chapter 7. He devotes a lot of time to the value of learning and dialogue within these organizations (Kindle location 1912). I found this chapter to be a little redundant a times, but I can’t deny its truthfulness regarding innovation within missions. Chapter 8 wraps things up nicely by recapping the content from the other chapters. Seipp does an excellent job of encouraging the reader to experiment, but on a small, focused scale at first. He also makes clear that failure is a good thing; it is “an opportunity to grow (Kindle location 2091).” Seipp closes out by looking to the cross. “If God simply drew a line from our past, he would have never sent his Son (Kindle location 2157).” Seipp seems to be saying that the things/ideas/events that change the world come from drawing a line from the future to today.

I would recommend Innovation in World Mission not only to new missionaries, like myself, but to anyone curious about where our world is headed. It is a wonderful resource for the local and global Church to take a step back and look at its current course. If I have any critique it would be for Seipp to have spent more time examining the Scripture. Occasionally, I felt as though he was reading some of his personal biases into the text; yet, nothing he said ever made me feel uncomfortable. Overall, Innovation in World Mission is a quick read that will help train many new innovators to carry out the Great Commission in new and exciting ways.

3 Things I Love About Thailand

3 Things I Love About Thailand

As many of you already know, my family and I have been living in Thailand now for about two and a half years. While there are many things we miss about America, we have come to love Thailand and truly consider it our home. There are so many things we love about this country, but today I will just talk about our top three.

The People

Thai children smiling

Thailand is often referred to as the “Land of 1,000 Smiles.” No matter where you go you will always encounter a friendly face. In many ways, their hospitality rivals that of Southerners in the US. Our Thai neighbors bring us fruit and vegetables all the time. It seems like everyday I walk out to the porch to see that they have left us something delicious to eat.

When we landed in Chiang Mai after our recent visit to the US, we found out that our car’s battery was dead. Thankfully, there was a man at the airport that helped us jump start the car, at midnight no less. We had never met him before, but he went out of his way to make sure we got home with our car.

Another thing I love seeing is when a Thai person’s face lights up once you start speaking Thai with them. Whether you are experienced or just starting out, Thais appreciate when foreigners make an effort to learn their language and culture.

The Food

panaeng muu curry

Thailand arguably has the best food in the world. People come from all over just to sample some of the country’s most popular dishes. Whether you like super spicy dishes or super sweet desserts, Thailand has something you will fall in love with. One of my favorite dishes is called พแนงหมู (paneang muu). It is a mild, coconut curry with pork that is usually served with rice. Believe me when I say I could eat it every day of the week.

The other great thing about the food is how cheap it is, if you eat like the locals do. In America, you would be heard pressed find good Thai food under $15-20 USD a plate. In Thailand, you will find authentic Thai food (of course) for usually around $1 USD a plate. Actually, in our หมู่บ้าน (moo-baan) or village in English, you can get some dishes for about 20 baht or 60 cents in USD. And again, it is some of the best food you will eat.

The Church

Thai Church in Chiang Mai

The Church in Thailand is small, but strong. Statistically, Christians make up less than 1 percent of Thailand’s total population (69.04 million). When we moved here, we knew that one of our main ministry focuses would be discipleship among Thai Christians. We wanted to see Thai Christian mature in their faith. However, I think we grossly underestimated how much they would help us mature in ours. Perhaps we have helped them to understand God’s Word better, but I’d argue that they have shown us what it means to live it out.

After the worship service on Sundays, we all eat lunch together and have a time of fellowship. It is the time when the three things I love about Thailand (the people, the food, and the Church) come together. It is sort of like a little taste of what heaven will be like one day.


If you have never been to Thailand, I hope you get the opportunity to visit one day. It is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people. At the same time, it is a place with tremendous needs both physically and spiritually. As the Scripture says, the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Today I have shared a few things I love about Thailand. Imagine how much more God loves these people that He would be willing to give His Son to die for them. I pray that in the days to come we would all grow in our understanding of God’s love for all the peoples of the world.

Empathy vs. Sympathy Christian

Empathy vs. Sympathy

It is relatively easy to be sympathetic towards someone. Sympathy involves simply understanding someone’s current situation and having compassion on him or her. Empathizing with someone is far more difficult. Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is going through because you have gone through it yourself. To put it another way, sympathy extends a card, whereas, empathy extends a hand. Don’t get me wrong, they are both important in life. But ask yourself this question: are you more prone to listen to someone who has never been in your situation or a close friend who has?

I think Christians do a pretty good job of being sympathetic when people are hurting. We visit people in the hospital, bring meals to the shut-ins, and provide blankets to the homeless. But, non-Christians do these things too. The thing that sets us apart from the world is not how we sympathize with people. What sets us apart is how we use the painful experiences from our past to minister to people experiencing them currently. Empathy means we cry with the person, not simply for them. It is a subtle difference, but I believe it is important one.

The Scripture says that the Church is the body of Christ. When one part hurts, we all hurt (1 Corinthians 12:26). When one person mourns, we all mourn (Romans 12:5). We are connected to each other in such a way that the spiritual health of my brother affects my spiritual health. We have been called to more than pity for others. We’ve been called to love one another from a sincere heart—a heart that feels. I think a lot of Christians, especially guys, are afraid to feel anything, citing verse like Jeremiah 17:9. But, have we forgotten that this verse is in reference to the unregenerate heart? If we have been born again then God has removed our hearts of stone and replaced them with hearts of flesh. Are they perfect? No, not at all. But, one day they will be. It is important we understand that growing in Christ-like maturity doesn’t mean we become more and more unfeeling. Rather, it actually means we feel more and more, but as Jesus would (1 Peter 2:21). And no one feels more love for the Church and for the lost than Jesus.

Do you know what Jesus’ incarnation tells us about God? It tells us that He is a God of empathy. He doesn’t just know about the human experience, He has lived it Himself. Hebrews 4:15 says:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus has been through it all. He has been tempted. He has suffered trails. He has lost loved ones. He even experienced death. And He did it all for us. Jesus is sympathetic and emphatic towards humanity as He is both our high priest and perfect sacrifice. A priest knows that the sacrifice is painful for the animal, but he doesn’t feel the cut of the knife. Jesus understood the wrath of God that we deserved and took our place instead. There is no greater display of empathy than this that Jesus would take the judgement for our sins upon Himself. If this is the way in which God loves us, how should we be loving others? How does our empathy towards people point them to the empathy of God?

3 Reasons Why Your Church Needs an Online Presence

3 Reasons Why Your Church Needs an Online Presence

Is it okay if I step up on my soapbox for a moment? This is a subject that I am very passionate about. In fact, one of the main reasons I freelance as a web designer is because I want to help churches develop their own online presence and ministries. I believe it is important for three reasons. Let me tell you why.

1. People will ask Google before they ask you.

If we have a question about something we know nothing about, what is they first thing we do? We pull out our smart devices, open our browsers and search for the answer. We trust Google with everything nowadays. Where’s the closest library? Is there a swimming pool nearby? Where can I find a Thai restaurant in Atlanta? And about 90% of the time, we find exactly what we are looking for. So, if someone in your neighborhood searches for “churches near me,” you want to make sure your church is listed. Not only that, your church needs to have a good looking, winsome website. In today’s world, your website is essentially your church’s first impression. It tells people everything they need to know about your congregation before you go. Your church could have the best music, best preacher, and the sweetest people in the world; if your website looks sloppy, people will not want to visit. It is as simple as that.

2. Believers are spending more and more time on their phones.

According to the Barna Group’s “State of the Bible 2018” study:

More than half of [Bible] users now search for Bible content on the internet (57%) or a smartphone (55%), and another 42 percent use a Bible app on their phones.

We live in a day when people don’t have to wait until Sunday or Wednesday night to hear a sermon. We have 24/7 access to Bible teaching via the internet. I have heard from several pastors that they are working on developing blogs and podcasts to keep up with the growing need for biblical resources online. Your church’s online presence isn’t just for nonbelievers; it is also for your members. Your church’s website and social media pages should serve as a tool for helping your congregation grow in spiritual maturity. With a website you can upload sermon audio, post your church’s statement of faith, explain the Gospel in a video, etc. And your members can access these things at any time. Don’t waste this opportunity to edify and strengthen your brothers and sisters in Christ.

3. The Gospel is in everyone’s pocket. They just need to be notified.

Let’s just admit it. We all love seeing that we have notifications on social media. There is something about that little red bell that makes us feel like others care about us. Most of our notifications are simply likes on our selfies and comments on the funny meme we shared. Church, we are missing so many opportunities here. Through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat we have a direct connection to our friends’ lives. We have been given a digital soapbox to share the Gospel with them wherever they are. Someone’s eternity could change with one post, message, or share.

This has huge implications for missions as well. In fact, I know of many people here in Thailand who live in very remote areas in the mountains. They may not have cars or fancy homes, but they have Facebook and email. I should note that nothing will ever take the place of face-to-face witnessing and evangelism. But, God is doing some incredible things through Internet evangelism ministries like GlobalRize (who are always in need of volunteers, by the way).  We would be foolish to neglect this incredible opportunity in the history of world missions.


I hope this has helped you understand how important an online presence is for the local church. If you are interested in learning about how to develop one for your local church, please do not hesitate to contact me. I would love to talk with you. In the meantime, feel free to check out my web design portfolio for some examples of websites I have designed in the past. May the Lord bless you as you seek to make Him know all over the world [wide web].