James-Michael Smith: Being a PK (Preacher’s Kid), I was raised with a familiarity and general understanding of the Bible. During my high school years I determined to read the Bible all the way through and study it in-depth in order to be able to know what it is I truly claimed to believe and whether or not I actually believed it all for myself. It was also during this time that I began regularly pillaging my Dad’s library for books on everything from the Historical Jesus, to Christian Ethics, World Religions, Theology and Apologetics.
By the time I got to college, I had a hunger for Biblical and Theological studies as well as Apologetics-based Evangelism. As an art major (AFA. – Reinhardt College, BFA-Painting/Drawing – University of Georgia) I had very little book study requirements…so I used those years to study on my own. By the time I graduated, I had decided that I would probably go into the ministry of some sort, but I wasn’t sure exactly where God was leading me. I spent a year working as the Campus Outreach Intern at the UGA Wesley Foundation (www.ugawesley.org) where I did small group Bible studies, Apologetics training, and open-air preaching on campus (something I think every preacher and teacher should be required to do at least once!).
After my year on staff at Wesley, I headed north and began my M.Div studies at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA. It was during my first year at GCTS that I fell in love with the Hebrew Bible (Thank you Gordon Hugenberger, Doug Stuart, Jeff Niehaus, Gary Pratico and Walt Kaiser!). After two fantastic years in Boston, I transferred down to GCTS’ Charlotte campus (Thank you Leighton Ford!) and began attending Good Shepherd UMC. During my time as a member of GS I helped develop Fusion, the young adult ministry that a couple had started just before I arrived (Thank you Don and Cheryl!).
In 2004 a position at GS opened up and I was eventually hired as Pastor of Discipleship where I served until 2009. During my 5 years on staff I oversaw all adult Discipleship, Teaching and Small Group ministries. This was an amazing time that allowed me to continue my Biblical Studies, not in an ivory-tower academic environment, but in the day-to-day life of the local church. The classes and small groups I was blessed to lead at GS were the perfect place to learn, grow and develop my gifts and calling as a teacher (Thank you, Good Shepherd family!!).
I know that God is leading me toward further studies, and I am looking at various options for potential Ph.D study. In the meantime, I want to do everything I can to teach and equip everyone within the Body of Christ to wield the Sword of the Spirit with all their might!
What’s up with the name “Disciple Dojo”??
Great question! Anyone who knows me knows that one of my lifelong passions has been studying the martial arts. And the place where you study and train in martial arts is a Dojo. Christian Discipleship is similar to martial arts training (if you don’t believe me, just ask Paul–he says so himself in his letter to Christians in ancient Corinth [1Cor. 9:26-27]!). We have a Sensei (teacher): Jesus. We have a katana (sword): Scripture. This site, then, is intended as a virtual Dojo–where students of the Master can be sharpened, challenged, equipped and encouraged as they continue to become more and more like the One they serve.
DVD courses that JMS teaches:
-The Bible for the Rest of Us
-Revelation: A Guided Tour of the Apocalypse
-The Bible & Science: Friends or Foes
-Apocalypse Now?? What the Bible says about the End
You can get more info on them and/or purchase them here.
Here are a few YouTube clips of JMS…
Check-out his blog:
“… let me just share a few bullet point observations about the book and the controversy now that I’ve had a chance to read “Love Wins” for myself:
1) Is Rob Bell a heretic? No. For reasons that I will share in coming posts, the title of “heretic” (which, as Jake points out has not been used by Taylor, DeYoung or Piper specifically–but which HAS been used by a number of Bell’s critics in the blogosphere and online videos) is one that is SERIOUS and should not be applied to someone who openly acknowledges and confesses Apostolic Christianity…”.
Check him out on Examiner.com:
“The phrase “under God”, which was added to the Pledge of Allegiance during the Cold War, in order to set America apart from “godless Communists” . . . While I have no problem with the phrase staying in the Pledge, as a Biblical teacher I am disturbed by the zeal with which many people speak about displays of civil religion remaining in the public sphere.
The argument that America is a “Christian” (or even “Judeo-Christian”) nation founded upon Biblical principals is an ongoing one, with quotes from founding fathers strung together by both sides in proof-texting fashion. It’s an argument that I do not wish to get into at this point other than to note that the very same “Godly” founders of this nation seemed to have no problem with genocidal removal of Native Americans, Colonial slave-trading and various other less-than-Christian national practices.
What bothers me more than the removal of public displays of vague recognition of a nameless “God” is the belief that such displays in any way contribute to making this country more righteous in God’s eyes. The God of the Bible was NEVER concerned with outward displays of religious observance…even when it was specifically directed towards Him! Listen to the words He spoke to His own Covenant People regarding their public displays of religion through…”.
FREE Downloads that he offers – click here.