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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Color blessed with Dr. Derwin Grey

September 14, 2019

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Rick Renner: How to know God’s will for our lives?

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston hosts evangelist and pastor Rick Renner to discuss knowing and walking in God’s will. Renner describes how he was ultimately called to be a minister in Russia. It was a journey which began with Renner studying classical Greek as a teenager, and culminated with a specific calling to move his family across the world.

In knowing God’s will, obedience at each point is vital, Renner says. “There are no shortcuts. Every step is important. Where you are right now is what’s going to prepare you for the next phase,” he says.

Renner uses the biblical story of Abraham as an illustration of someone who didn’t obey fully at each step, but who eventually surrendered to God’s plan. “The good news is, even if you’ve made mistakes, you can still get where you’re supposed to be,” Renner says.

For many people, God’s will is found in the desires and interests they already have. God awakens and utilizes the gifts for His glory. Like a shepherd guiding his sheep, the faithful often only receive direction for small distances at a time. “Sometimes God doesn’t reveal His full will to you,” Renner says. “Sometimes it’s just enough to keep you moving.”

While the Bible doesn’t promise a trouble-free path, there is a measure of protection when one is walking courageously in God’s will. “If people get a word from God and stand by it, they can change the time in which they live,” Renner says. “That’s what God has called all of us to do.”

Apart from individual callings, the Bible remains the central source for knowing God’s will. Johnston says, “There is power and authority in the Word of God. We need to speak it, know it and share it. The will of God for my life will always be found in the Word of God.”


Rick RennerRick Renner is known for his ministry in Russia and throughout the former USSR. He leads the Moscow Good News Church and has written inspiring books including the “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” series and “The Will of God: The Key to Your Success.”

Curtis Wallace: Thriving in Persecuted Countries

 

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston hosts Curtis Wallace and Brian Paradis, authors of “Lead with Imagination: Regaining the Power to Lead and Live in a Changing World.” Drawing from his experience in ministry domestically and abroad, Wallace says leadership development programs are critical.

“One person can’t do it all,” Wallace says. “Every individual has their own ministry capacity and has limits as to what he or she can do. What really separates the great ministries from the not-so-great is the ability to build a team and develop leaders on that team.”

Johnston and Wallace emphasize the importance of accountability in Christian ministry. “We need to be able to have vigorous debate and an environment where people feel safe to share ideas,” Wallace says.

Brian Paradis joins the conversation and shares wisdom from his and Wallace’s latest book. “When you can’t see what it is you want to take place, it’s hard to create it,” Paradis says. “The first step in any leadership journey is knowing where you want to go or seeing what nobody’s seen before, or understanding what the vision is.”

Part of following a vision is avoiding distractions, especially as a church leader, Wallace says. “You should do those things that only you can do because, as the pastor, you have to be freed to be effective,” he says. “If you don’t have time for prayer, study, and spending time with God, you cannot be the best that you’re going to be on Sunday. Our churches need to understand that they need to invest in teams to free the pastor to be the pastor.”

Other important concerns of leaders include acting with a loving motivation, incorporating lighthearted humor, and looking at things from others’ perspectives.

Wallace encourages individuals to not try to take on big callings alone. “If you don’t have the expertise, you need to have someone who does, and you’ve got to be willing to invest in that expertise,” he advises.


Curtis Wallace is an attorney known for assisting church and ministry leaders. Brian Paradis is a senior partner of CSuite Solutions. Together, they authored “Lead with Imagination: Regaining the Power to Lead and Live in a Changing World.”

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston on the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit can be sometimes be overlooked in the Christian life, says Dr. Jeremiah Johnston. “The Holy Spirit should not be the forgotten member of the Trinity,” he says, “There’s so much confusion when we bring up the topic of the Holy Spirit, and yet there shouldn’t be. The Holy Spirit is very clearly articulated in both the Old and New Testament.”

Johnston points to verses including Galations 5:16,“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” and Ephesians 6:18, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

“The Holy Spirit prays in us, for us and through us,” Johnston says. He works with our minds, and helps direct our steps and determine decisions in areas ranging from education to relationships.

“If you will ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, what can you expect?” Johnston asks. “He will strengthen you. He will immediately assist you in your prayer life and will give you discernment in your life. If you need more inner courage or fortitude, more spiritual stamina, we can persevere because of the Holy Spirit. He will lead you into truth, not confusion, and into holiness. You will know the will of God for your life. He will always give you hope.”

He advises taking a blank piece of paper, writing one’s name at the bottom, and asking God for directions. “Too often we want to see the will of God before making the decision to do it, but that attitude won’t work,” Johnston says. “We need to present ourselves to the Holy Spirit.”

David Dockery on Leadership and Christian Education

 

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston and Dr. David Dockery discuss the intersection of education and the Christian faith. Dockery, who has written extensively, never thought he would be a university president. As the first person in his family to attend college, he grew to love the furtherance of education.

“Unfortunately, there is a sense in which people think of the Christian faith as being anti-intellectual, somewhat mindless and totally experiential in approach,” Dockery says. “The Christian faith has produced some of the great thinkers in the last 2,000 years. We believe all knowledge, truth and understanding finds its source in God.”

As a leader in higher education, Dockery speaks to the relevant issues facing students: “Being a Christian in today’s context requires some conviction and courage so it’s not just a cultural Christianity,” he says.

Christianity is not antithetical to education; in fact, the opposite is true. “There is this body of truth that is the Christian faith that has been passed along – people have thought deeply about it and it has led to this great Christian thinking that has become the foundation through which we address issues of the liberal arts, humanities, politics, philosophy, the arts, social sciences, natural sciences, media, journalism and music – the whole spectrum,” Dockery says.

Johnston offers evidence that the Bible encourages careful contemplation in Proverbs 14:15: “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” He points to other passages as well in which examination of the Scriptures is taught.

“As Christians, we’re not meant to be credulous, easily led astray and gullible,” Johnston says. “In the era of fake news and social media education, there is so much bad information.”

Johnston recommends studying the Bible and investing in tools such as a biblical dictionary and commentaries to supplement one’s study. “You can decide, ‘I’m going to be a critical Christian thinker,’” he says.


David DockeryDr. David Dockery is a longtime university administrator and is president of Trinity International University. He has served in Christian leadership roles and has authored and contributed to numerous works.

Craig Hazen on Fearless Prayer

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes Dr. Craig Hazen, known for his program leadership at Biola University and his books including “Fearless Prayer: Why We Don’t Ask and Why We Should.” The two discuss Hazen’s take on Jesus’ words in John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

“The passage captured my attention,” Hazen says. “I realized, ‘I’m not sure I really believe that.’”

Exploring the passage led Hazen to rediscover what prayer means. “Some people think that asking for things is a very low-level conception of prayer – that really what you want to aim for is some higher, mystical level where you’re not really asking for things, you’re just having a kind of communion with God,” Hazen says. “But the idea of asking things of God is actually central to biblical prayer. That kind of came as a shock to me.”

Hazen refers to the Lord’s Prayer in which Jesus models prayer to the Father including requests. “I think asking is not a low-level spiritual enterprise,” Hazen asserts. “It puts us in a position of depending on God. That really puts us just where God wants us. Through my study, I think we need to pray about everything – even if we think it’s a very selfish prayer. At least people are getting in front of God, and the Holy Spirit gets a chance to tinker with their soul and make it more in line with God’s Kingdom and God’s purposes. So, I say pray with abandon.”

Hazen encourages Christians to keep a journal and make note of answered prayers. “I think they need to write down their prayers every day and look back to see how God does fulfill those things,” he says. “It really is a miracle when you’re asking God the Father for something and He provides it.”

Hazen references the following verse, John 15:8: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

“If we’re tightly plugged into the vine, we will bear fruit,” Hazen says.

Johnston concludes, “Whatever you’re facing, God can meet you in prayer.”


Craig HazenDr. Craig Hazen is the founder and director of the master’s program with a concentration in Christian apologetics and director of the master’s program with a concentration in science and religion at Biola University. His recent book, “Fearless Prayer: Why We Don’t Ask and Why We Should,” explores the truth of Jesus’ promise about prayer.