Soon you will be able to dial 988. That is all it takes. Earlier this summer the Federal Communications Commission officially designated ‘988’ as a 3-Digit Number For National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I encourage you to read the important press-release and why the US has a number (similar to the emergency 911), for suicide prevention: Link to press release here. Important: 1-800-273-
8255 is the current suicide hotline; 988 will eventually redirect to it. Stay tuned.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, which is an important time to reflect on how each of us can make a difference. We have become a Church of Invisible Diseases.
The first funeral I ever officiated left an impression – it was a “Christian suicide.” While I am thankful for my seminary and theological degrees, there are specific experiences no classroom will adequately prepare anyone for. At forty-three, Kim was in the prime of her life and a devout Christian who regularly attended our church. She was married with four beautiful children, a lover of animals, and nominated by the local school district for Teacher of the Year, with twenty years of stellar performance. Even as a follower of Jesus, Kim struggled with chronic depression, and one day, she saw no way out, went into the woods, and completed suicide. My experience with Kim and her family awakened me to the stark reality of mental illness—the invisible illness—within our church families, a reality we rarely hear addressed from the pulpit. I know this because after receiving thousands of questions at our Christian Thinkers Society events, the most frequently asked relate to suicide and mental illness, topics we rarely hear addressed from the pulpit.
More Americans die by suicide than from war, cancer, and HIV/AIDS combined. Tragically, there have been scores of deaths by suicide among pastors and their children throughout North America. Until you have been brought to the brink, you may not understand the intensity of another individual’s struggle that might trigger a suicide attempt – even if they are a “minister.” What’s more, we have become a church full of invisible diseases – serious mental illness, even suicide rampages through our congregations, yet most attendees fail to see or recognize the reality of this disease. Mental illness is the elephant in the room each Sunday, yet no one feels comfortable talking about it. Yet, the ministry of Jesus focused on removing barriers to belief and restoring people who were suffering: “When Jesus heard this, he told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners’” (Mark 2:17 NLT).
Unfortunately, mental illness One LifeWay Research study noted, “Nearly 1 in 4 pastors (23 percent) acknowledge they have ‘personally struggled with mental illness,’ and half of those pastors said the illness had been diagnosed, according to the poll.” No one is unaffected by mental illness. If you have not personally struggled with mental illness, chances are that your friend, spouse, child, coworker, or neighbor has. As Christians, we need to build awareness of the problem and remove the stigma, because mental illness is widespread and affects everyone. Said LifeWay Research survey found 66 percent of pastors rarely or never address the subject of mental illness from their pulpits and the same survey revealed that the majority of churchgoers wish their pastors would discuss it.
Here are some very important reminders:
Stop the Silence
Many stigmatize the mentally ill as people in hospital gowns committed deep inside a psych ward. This is an exceptionally inaccurate depiction of someone with a mental illness. Would it surprise you to learn people with mental illnesses worship at your church and probably attend your Bible-study group with you? It is unfortunate we say so little about mental illness in the church. We act as if it does not exist. Rarely do we hear sermons or read Bible-study material on this topic. Notwithstanding, forty-eight percent, or nearly half the world’s population, will have direct experience with mental illness themselves over the course of their lifetime.
The number one problem in our churches related to matters of mental health and mental disorders is silence. Statistics reveal that one in four people suffer from mental illness. Invisible illnesses of the brain have the power to isolate you, cause you to cease to be a productive member of society, and shorten your lifespan. Mental illness is not a choice, but the good news is that it is treatable – when we shine light on the “invisible” diseases of our brain.
The Bible has much to say about mental health, right thinking, and loving God with our mind. In response to the expert in the law who asked Jesus which of the commandments was the greatest, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, see also 2 Timothy 1:7; Isaiah 26:3; 1 Peter 5:7; Romans 12:2). What is lost in that passage is the commandment to love God with our minds, our intellect, our thinking. The Bible discusses mental health; so should the church, regularly.
Stop the Shame and Exclusion
Mental illness does not separate people from the love of God, and it shouldn’t separate us from the love of our church, either. Far too often the average Christian feels ill-equipped to respond to a suicide or mental crisis. Too often, instead of integrating and assimilating those who struggle with a mental illness, we segregate and exclude them. We may not mean to, but in this process, we shame people who don’t deserve it.
It is possible for a Christian to be chronically depressed. Many Christians suffer from a myriad of mental illnesses. If you are depressed, you are not alone. Following Jesus Christ as Savior does not eradicate anyone’s behavioral weaknesses; hereditary; or biological, mental, and emotional state. Mental illness is isolating. Those who suffer feel cut off from the church and abandoned by God. People with sick brains may not simply be “fixed” at the altar by a passionate prayer or anointing oil. Does God heal? Absolutely. Does He work miracles? Absolutely. However, just as we have people who continue to struggle with physical problems, there are also those who continue to struggle with mental/emotional problems – which is defined as a physical dysfunction of the brain. We must avoid shaming them.
The Healing Equation: Be Present
Babe Ruth once said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” The church should never give up on, cast aside, or push out the mentally ill. The church needs to be present on the frontlines, ministering to all those who’ve been afflicted, by implementing a healing equation:
· Admit that every family struggles. We’re all broken. We’re all messed up. Every family needs ministry. Anxiety is real, but so is our Hope!
· Love instead of judge, condemn, and misunderstand. One of the convicting observations I made very early in my ministry is that Christians don’t gossip—they share prayer requests. One of the reasons we do not discuss mental problems in the church is due to a fear of people gossiping and ostracizing us.
· Encourage the mentally ill to serve within our church communities. Most people struggling with mental illness are extremely witty, good-humored, and highly intelligent. It is an often-overlooked fact that some of the greatest Christians of all time have had lifelong struggles with depression, thoughts of suicide, and mental illness.
Be sure to save the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in your phone contacts, as I have:
Steps of intervention
When someone close to you talks about suicide or exhibits signs of suicidal desires, you can respond by taking five specific action steps. This is a strategy of compassion, concern, and intervention.
STEP 1: CAREFULLY LISTEN AND OBSERVE THE PERSON.
When someone is struggling, do not dominate the conversation or preach at the wounded person. Emotions are raw when a person is suicidal. Think of how gently you would respond to someone who had a broken arm, wrist, or leg. Approach the person with the same care, calmness, and attentiveness. Ask the suicidal person to explain to you what is bothering them. Let them talk. Even though it may be difficult, remain calm, listen, and look the person in the eyes. When someone is suicidal, they frequently self-medicate by abusing drugs and/or alcohol. When a friend or a family member is dependent on drugs, they are communicating to you by their behavior, not just their words. Care enough not to allow their addiction to grow worse year after year. A suicidal individual is counting on you to go the extra mile by carefully observing them, listening to their words and actions, and loving them enough to intervene. Listen and keep listening.
STEP 2: IDENTIFY WITH THE HURTING PERSON. If you do not identify with the suicidal person, there is a much higher risk that you will lose them to suicide. Do not use guilt by suggesting that if they were closer with God, they would not have suicidal thoughts. That is a myth. A Christian who acts like a judgmental Pharisee overlooks the fact that statistically, most people have entertained a momentary or perhaps more prolonged thought of suicide under intense stress.
STEP 3: INITIATE A LOVING, CALCULATED RESPONSE, BEING VERY CAREFUL AND SENSITIVE. Ignoring the suicidal person is the worst possible scenario. Perhaps you were raised in a family that never addressed issues and always swept problems under the rug. That approach is dysfunctional. A healthy person seeks healing for a friend or a family member who is struggling with suicidal thoughts. Saving your family member or friend will require you to interrupt your normal schedule. That is OK. Remember that most people spell love T-I-M-E. Invest time in creating an action to bring the person out of the depth of their suicidal struggle.
STEP 4: ASK THE KEY QUESTION. Whenever you suspect that someone close to you is contemplating taking his or her life, an essential question must be asked: Do you have a plan or method to take your life? Have you considered an actual time to do it? If they have a plan, method, or timeline, they are in immediate danger. Stay with the hurting individual at all times. They should never be left alone. You must also commit to the time and expense of professional . You do not need to lead the person to heal alone. Perhaps the person might need to be hospitalized. I always encourage a reputable Christian counselor and/or psychiatrist or a trained, experienced pastor to lead an intervention with specific healing steps. Don’t do it alone.
STEP 5: ACCESS THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE.“Like” the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Facebook page: www.facebook.com/800273T
ALK. This phenomenal organization interfaces with Facebook to geographically pinpoint suicidal comments on Facebook and intervenes with responses to provide assistance. Or phone them at 800.273.TALK.If you are struggling with Unanswered Questions, check out my Bible study – Answers to Tough Questions! Many Christians consider apologetics (the study and practice of defending the faith) a discipline reserved for people in academic circles, but all followers of Christ should carefully consider why they believe what they believe. In a culture that says all beliefs are equally valid, it’s critical that we recognize the dangerous delusion of that idea and equip ourselves to speak with confidence about biblical truth. Examining the six questions in this study will move Christians beyond the cultural norm of “This is what I think” to the truth that compels others to believe.Thanks for your friendship. Most of all, thanks for your commitment to be Christian Thinker and loving God with your heart, soul, and mind.
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
Mark Lanier on Christian Justice and EvidenceMark Lanier is well known for his work as an attorney, but it is his love for the Bible that led him to establish the Lanier Theological Library, an exquisite facility with about 17,000 square feet of literary resources, artifacts, and study space in the Houston area.
Lanier originally felt he might serve the Lord as a vocational minister.
“I thought I’d love to be a preacher. I love the Lord. It occurred to me, I really ought to pursue a legal career but continue to serve the Lord bivocationally. So I became a lawyer really just to pay the bills, but my passion has always been trying to teach people the Word of God and trying to the Kingdom of Christ.”
In his theological study, Lanier has been a student of Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and Syriac.
“Language is a deep love of mine. It unlocks Scripture. Much of Scripture is understood more deeply with an understanding of the original language and civilization. Today we know [that] brain cells process thought. In the Old Testament mindset, they thought the seed of thought was the heart.”
“When you read all of these passages in the Psalms that talk about getting your heart right before the Lord, we tend, in 21st century America, to think that means to get your emotions and feelings right before the Lord. It’s not talking about emotion; it’s talking about thinking and using your thoughts to focus on God and what God wants you to do. It’s not talking about emotional religion first and foremost.”
Rather than simply being a personal choice, Christianity has served to form the basis for the Judeo-Christian legal system. It is a truth that Lanier greatly values as a law professional.
“If you remove God, at the end of the day, [the] law is what people say instead of what God says. God told Israel, ‘I’ve created male and female in my image. All people have equal dignity and rights and access to justice and all basic core human principles,’ that’s different than anything else we find culturally then and now.”
To be kept from becoming swept up in the tide of popular beliefs, Christians should renew their minds with the truths of the Bible.
“If we remove God from our system, we have removed the bedrock foundation and our system is shifting sand. We all need to be before God on a daily basis.”
#CancelNetflix – When you cancel be sure to check the “Other” box and share why … “We don’t support pedophiles” or “We don’t support child pornography”
Netflix has lost over $9 billion in market value since the #CancelNetflix hashtag went viral.
We have been Netflix subscribers since 2012. We canceled our subscription today. #CancelNetflix has been trending for days on twitter. If you are wondering why we canceled our Netflix subscription, I encourage you to read my full call to action newsletter from August 23rd “They’re coming for our kids”
Netflix has more than 182 million subscribers and added an additional 16 million subscribers during the pandemic.
Child exploitation is not okay.
Here is the link to cancel Netflix: https://.netflix.
In my email from August 23rd (linked here, again), I offer some important protection suggestions for your family.
One word of warning: we must do more than cancel. We have to train our children and grandchildren to have a biblical worldview. Therefore, it is equally important to discuss why we stand for absolute truth and biblical values. Why we do not have to give into cultural pressure. Why we cannot be silent.
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
49 days until the election … did you know 1 in 4 Christians are not registered to vote? I am grateful for “My Faith Votes”
National Voter Registration Sunday is just five days away. This Sunday, September 20, 2020, churches across the country will encourage their congregations to register and prepare to vote.
You can access all the free non-partisan materials for your church to participate in National Voter Registration Sunday with a virtual or in-person voter drive here.
One of the most requested My Faith Votes resources every election year is their Party Platform Guide. Please check it out and vote your faith!
Thanks for watching Justin Johnston’s latest Lego Video! Thanks for subscribing to his channel: “Justin Lego Tube” and sharing the video! (4:43 length)
A very wise friend once told me: “Jeremiah, your most important ministry is your family … never forget this.”
I am not a perfect Dad, but I want to be.
I am not a perfect husband, but I want to be.
I will never be a perfect Christian; thank God, my Savior is perfect for me!
Notwithstanding … I will stop at nothing to put my marriage and family first. It took me about 14 years to learn this lesson (c. 2018). I hope it does not take you as long.
We need to learn to say “no” for the bigger “yes” in our lives. Yes to our walk with Christ. Yes to our family. Everything else comes next.
The good news is, we can do it! When we have our ministry priorities correct, our greater ministry (that is, the work we do outside of our marriage and family) becomes even more impactful because we minister from a place of strength. We earn the right to be heard, not because of the size of platform, or the x-factor, or any other factor other than the calling and equipping of almighty God.
I recognize this reordering of priorities does not happen overnight. Yet, with God’s , it can happen.
There are also challenges. I get it. We only have 24 hours in a day. I have a ministry that keeps me busy 8-days-per-week. I feel the tension of being a Dad to five children who each need me. They spell love T.I.M.E. So we try to meet the need day in and day out. Life is messy. Each day is different, but we must keep the priorities in place.
Here are some practical thoughts (representative, but not exhaustive):
1). Read To Your Children (the report I’ve linked here is crucial). I am currently on book 4 Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Reading to Lily and Justin does not happen every night, but it occurs regularly! Remember, learning begins at birth, and it is important for children to be engaged in storytelling and interacting with the written word through books at a young age. By the age of three, children from wealthier families have heard about 30 million more words than children from lower-income families. For children entering kindergarten, 34 percent lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read. By the time children from low-income families enter grade school, their ability to read is already an issue.
2). Find Hobbies with your Children (that do not involve screens!). During the lock-down, I have had to learn video editing. I did not enjoy learning video editing. I have a whole new appreciation for media editors. This is not my calling. I have no interest in video editing; however, my son (Justin, age 8) wanted to create a YouTube channel because he loves to share legos he builds, especially the more challenging lego builds. When Justin asked me to film him and edit the videos, the answer was yes. Then I had to learn how to edit and produce videos!
3). Be available. Children start taking at the most inconvenient moments. Have you noticed? It is never “the right time.” I recently finished writing my 10th book (64K+ words). Once upon a time, I asked the children to leave my office when I was writing previous books. I have not made that mistake in five years, but I learned from it. That is the point. Parenting is not perfect. We learn. We move forward. We can always improve. We need to be more available.
Yours, as ever
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
Christian Thinkers Society
51 days until the election … here is an important reminder “I’m voting for an Essential Church” (please share)
As Christian Thinkers, we are called to be the people who bring HOPE! No matter what challenges we face, hope is on our side because we serve Jesus Christ. I love constantly resourcing you with ways to be a Christian Thinker, which includes creative ways to spread the love of Jesus Christ in your community. For the first time in 30 years my friend, Pastor Greg Laurie, was not able to use Angels Stadium (Anaheim, California) for the annual Harvest Crusade. I respect Pastor Greg because instead of doing nothing, he upped his game to a Cinematic Crusade! Early this week Pastor Greg emailed Audrey and me a link to watch “A Rush of Hope” – which will be Streaming live this Labor Day weekend. The film is powerful, moving, and anchored in sharing the Hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I have included the film preview below, please check it out. A Rush of Hope is a digital event that will answer life’s biggest questions and will keep you on the edge of your seat. As I mentioned, they’re calling it a cinematic crusade, and it’s a completely new way of sharing the gospel!
A cinematic crusade?
This is the biggest event Pastor Greg Laurie and Harvest has ever put on, and it’s probably the most ambitious project they’ve ever put together. Some of you may still be wondering, “What exactly is a cinematic crusade?”
Think about it this way: You might go and see a wonderful Christian film like I Still Believe or I Can Only Imagine, and you’ll be moved by the story. And then you might also watch a preacher on television, preaching and giving the gospel.
Each is a separate medium. One is a medium of entertainment storytelling. The other is a medium of communication and preaching.
Pastor Greg and his team married these two media together in something that’s unique. So it’s cinematic. It’s storytelling. I like to think of it as “weaponized art”—and I mean weaponized in the way. We might say it has gospel hooks.
So I invite you to take part. It is free and done with excellence! And not only participate, but send the link out on social media. Share using their free graphics and videos.
Don’t you think our world needs A Rush of Hope?
A Rush of Hope will be broadcast LIVE this Labor Day weekend, September 4–7. See all showtimes at harvest.org/hope.
RSVP to be part of the premiere!
Also, I want to make sure you did not miss my recent blog post “They’re coming for our kids and grandkids” – be sure to check out ways we protect our families by being proactive with all of the devices in our home.
Finally, thank you for your prayers for me! I finished my 10th book manuscript this week: Unleashing Shalom! 64,567 words and 14 chapters are submitted to my wonderful editor and the good people at Bethany House/Baker Publishing Company. All of our books, Bible studies, and ministry resources are much more than a one-off book or resource; each project becomes a ministry outreach tool with live events, equipping churches with curriculum, media programs, etc. We are extremely prayerful and thoughtful with each project becaue these resources are used for years and years. I look forward to unveiling more about this new project!
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
IRVINE, Calif. — “A Rush of Hope,” a cinematic crusade from Greg Laurie and Harvest ministries will release on over 100 streaming channels Sept. 4-7, 2020.
Created in partnership with the Erwin Brothers’ Kingdom Story Company, “A Rush of Hope” will include encouraging messages from Greg Laurie, outtakes from faith-based films such as I Still Believe and Woodlawn and performances by artists such as Jeremy Camp, for KING & COUNTRY and MercyMe.
“Our life is like a movie,” says the voice of Laurie in the trailer. “It has a beginning, middle and end.”
“We all have questions about this movie that we are in. Is this movie a tragedy? Is it a love story? Or is it a comedy even? Do we win in the end? Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life? And what happens after I die?
“There are answers to these questions,” Laurie says.
“A Rush of Hope” is Harvest’s creative response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the ministry to cancel its in-person crusades scheduled this year at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium. The film’s release date was originally announced for August, but it has been moved to Sept. 4-7.
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Laurie said. “The Covid-19 pandemic has completely changed all our plans, but it has opened an incredible window of opportunity for the gospel. Now, more than ever, people are hungry for something the world cannot give them. This cinematic crusade is designed to reach as many people as possible and them answer the deepest questions of their hearts.”
The move from an in-person stadium event to a cinematic crusade follows the success of other digital ministries launched by Harvest. Greg’s podcast received over one million downloads in its first month, and Harvest at Home, the online church platform that broadcasts Greg’s live sermons, has seen over 80,000 professions of faith since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The unprecedented success of Laurie’s online ministry was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal.
“A Rush of Hope” will be available to stream on the below social platforms Sept. 4-7:
Greg Laurie Facebook Live (crossposted with 100 media partners)
Would you like to learn more about how you experience more Shalom in your life? What are the most important six adjectives, two nouns, and one verb for you to have God’s indescribable peace in your life? Check out my message below!
59 days until the election … here is an important reminder “I am voting for unborn babies!” … please share this image!
Check out some important stories:
Christian Church in Iran Is Believed to Have Nearly 1 Million Members despite Violent Persecution, Survey Finds
Four years ago today our triplets finally graduated from seven weeks in the NICU and spent their first night at home! The photo above was the first Audrey took with all five children where the triplets were not connected to monitors, feeding tubes, or in their isolettes. Once they could “suck, swallow, and breath” at the same time, we were home free! God is so faithful. There were so many moments that caused us to panic, but we always prayed and trusted God. Learning we were having triplets was quite the shock! We were informed Abel likely had a hole in his heart (I have the picture they drew). We were advised Ryder “may not make it” from TTTC. Jaxson was thought to be too large for a triplet. Audrey had circulation issues carrying the boys to 33 weeks. We also had Lily Faith and Justin with us through it all. Again, God is so faithful. “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” Psalm 119:71. Affliction causes us to know God more closely.
We remain close friends with many of the angelic NICU nurses and tremendous staff at Texas Children’s Hospital. We have hundreds of people who are new to our ministry email list, so I encourage you to read a blog Audrey wrote about the experience, here. The LORD continues to use the story of these triplet boys and Audrey’s faith to reach people for Christ. As a family, we are called to ministry with Christian Thinkers Society. As you pray for me, please do not forget Audrey, Lily Faith, Justin, Abel, Ryder, and Jaxson, too!
When I think about our five children and your children and grandchildren, the rest of what I have to share with you below has my undivided attention.It has been an extremely busy month of ministry at Christian Thinkers Society. I spoke remotely LIVE last weekend in Michigan and on the first weekend of August to churches in Florida.
Would you like to learn more about how you experience more Shalom in your life? What are the most important six adjectives, two nouns, and one verb for you to have God’s indescribable peace in your life? Check out my message below!
The media is coming for our children and grandchildrenMy sisters read The Babysitters Club series growing up. When Lily Faith stopped by my office while I was working away, I gave little thought when she told me she was going to watch a new Netflix series The Babysitters Club because it has a “TV-G” rating, which alerts parents the content is safe for all ages. Big mistake! I happened to walk through our living room while the show was on and it was featuring paranormal as normal with fortune-telling and other nonsense. We, of course, immediately turned off the series. My point is, if it can happen in my home, I know it can happen in yours, too. The series was once a wholesome experience that many young girls grew up with, learning lessons like hard work, friendship, forgiveness, honesty, and responsibility. This new Netflix version repeatedly celebrates transgender children, homosexuality, witchcraft, and the occult! (movieguide)
Our friends at Movieguide wrote:
The writers for The Baby-Sitters Club show on Netflix have now come forward to openly admit that they are working to reshape America and its culture through our children. Netflix gave one of the writers, Rose Dommu, control of their official Twitter account to spell out what the show was trying to accomplish. The outcome was an astonishing in its honesty and is a horrifying affirmation of what we’ve been saying at Movieguide for years … Hollywood [is] intentionally exposing children to transgenderism and radically reshaping their worldview.
What’s more, Netflix is now under fire for sexualizing children in a new French film called “Cuties” – I want you to see the Netflix Customer Service response. Their “non-answer” is an answer related to pedophilia. Sadly, this is the tip of the iceberg friends. The media is coming for our children. It is the perfect storm because so many families have allowed our kids to have more “screen time” during the pandemic.
We have to protect the hearts and minds of our children and grandchildren. Our ministry, Christian Thinkers Society, is dedicated to ing you do this through equipping your family with a biblical worldview.
I have some ful immediate recommendations for you:
1. Consider subscribing to Minno Kids as an alternative to Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus. Our ministry is not being compensated in any way for this recommendation. I subscribe to this personally for my family. Our kids LOVE the content. It is fun and biblically-based.
2. Subscribe to my friend, Dr. Ted Baehr’s site, MOVIEGUIDE.
This is not only for kid’s content. Ted’s ministry reviews all movies and most of the TV shows. Audrey and I regularly use MOVIEGUIDE before viewing a film or show. It’s a blessing to our spiritual lives. We want to watch content that inspires our walk with Christ and commitment to our family. We also don’t want to waste time watching something we will eventually turn off.
True story, after spending the evening with Dr. and Mrs. Baehr, in their home in California, Audrey and I decided to name our daughter Lily. Mrs. Baehr’s first name is Lillie!
3. Daily screen time for kids 5 to 7 averages 4:30 hours! Teens spend upwards of 9 hours per day connected. Our kids’ digital world is not threat-free! Add filter software to all of your kids’ devices (ipad, iphone, tablet, etc). 41% of kids have contacted dangerous or undesirable strangers. 34% of middle and high school students have experienced cyberbullying. 31% of kids have sent or received messages with sexual content. We use Qustodioon our kids’ devices. It is excellent. We receive a daily report of their usage, we pay for all of the blocking features, Again, our ministry is not being compensated for this recommendation. This is what I pay for in our home to protect my family. Please take a minute to protect your family. I’m looking at all the Dad’s out there to lead the way in this. We are the pastors and protectors of our home.
Finally, please pray for me. I eclipsed 50,000 words on my new book! It is due September 1 to my publisher and will be closer to 60,000 words. I have much more to share with you about this project and the corresponding ministry. If you wanted to, it would be a great idea to look up the 550 passages on Shalom in the Bible. After “Jesus,” “Shalom” is the greatest Word in the Scriptures! Right now, I ask for your prayers as I finish writing during non-stop ministry, and of course, taking care of my family. It is all a blessing. God never calls us where he doesn’t equip us!
Be committed to being a Christian Thinker — every single day. Don’t let your mind be pushed in by the world, but let it be transformed and renewed by the Word of God!
Yours, as ever
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
Check out some important stories:
Dear Friend, This week the CDC released the first definitive quantitative study on the mental health toll of the pandemic on Americans. I have said (repeatedly) the church’s response to mental illness is one of the most important apologetics issues of our time.
This Sunday, August 16, I will be speaking at 9:00 and 10:45 am (eastern) at Harbor Light Community Church in beautiful Northern, MI (I will be teaching LIVE from Houston where the heat index is over 100F!). Please join us for the services, where I will address the six adjectives, two nouns, and one verb that guarantee God’s peace in your life! Website for LIVE stream: https://hlcc.online.church
CDC: One-quarter of young adults contemplated suicide during pandemic (June 2020 Report). Pastors and concerned Christian Thinkers please review the full report, here.
The percentage of respondents who reported having seriously considered suicide in the 30 days before completing the survey (10.7%) was significantly higher among respondents aged 18–24 years (25.5%).
The toll is falling heaviest on young adults, caregivers, essential workers, and minorities. Anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts are skyrocketing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study completed in June by the CDC suggests. The mental health challenges are, by far, revealing that fear of the virus is more dangerous and damaging than the virus itself. Symptoms of anxiety disorder and depressive disorder increased considerably in the United States from April–June of 2020, compared with the same period in 2019.
– 30.9 percent of respondents said they had symptoms of anxiety or depression. – 26.3 respondents reported trauma and stress-related disorder because of the pandemic. Another 13.3 percent of respondents said they have turned to substance use, including alcohol and prescription or illicit drugs, to cope with stress from the pandemic. What are the “drivers of adverse mental and behavioral health during COVID-19”? According to the CDC, contributing factors to the sharp rise in mental pain may be attributed to social isolation, absence of school structure, unemployment, and other financial worries, and various forms of violence (e.g., physical, emotional, mental, or sexual abuse) serve as additional stressors.
What can we do immediately?
#1 Talk to Someone. ACCESS THE NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE If you or someone you know needs , contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This number should be saved in your phone contacts. “Like” the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Facebook page. This phenomenal organization interfaces with Facebook to geographically pinpoint suicidal comments on Facebook and intervenes with responses to provide assistance.
#2 Stop the Silence. The real problem we currently face is that people see Christianity as an answer to yesterday’s questions, and hence of no relevance today. What we need to do is translate our faith language into what C. S. Lewis calls the “cultural vernacular.” We need actually to think about how we translate our faith language into today’s language but also answer the questions people are asking. They are still asking deep questions about meaning, about value. One of the questions our culture is asking is this: Do I really matter? Science might tell us how we came to be here; faith tells me why I am here. If you are a pastor, you must address mental wellness from the pulpit. If you lead Christian education, your Bible study groups must address mental wellness from a biblical worldview. If you are a Christian leader, you must know how to discuss the life and health of the mind. If you are a parent, you certainly need to know how to identify mental health issues with your children. As a parent, you must also know the message of Jesus is the way to peace and happiness. This is a message our kids need today. If you are an educator, you already know how important this issue is and why we must be conversant. Before we can become conversant and have the confidence to address issues related to mental wellness, we must be educated by what the Bible says about the Shalom of God in our lives. We also need to know coping methods and intervention steps.
#3 The Church is Central in the Healing Equation. A wide range of research persuasively shows individuals experiencing psychological distress are more likely to seek from clergy (a pastor, priest, or rabbi) before any other professional group, including mental health experts. This reveals what you may already know, the church is central in the healing equation for the multitudes who are seeking peace and joy but struggling with anxiety. There is a great opportunity for Christian leaders and the global church to be present ministering to the afflicted, but as Saint Paul said, “there are many adversaries” (1 Cor 16:9). Some of the most vocal adversaries, sadly, come from within certain Christian circles. This must stop. It is okay to ask for and talk to someone. We also need to pray for our leaders. Some Christian leaders are not capable or prepared to minister through this mental pain crisis. Why? Because many of them – are themselves – barely coping and suffer in silence.
#4 Rediscover a theology of Shalom. Next to Jesus, Shalom is the most powerful word in the Scriptures. We have missed the mark in passing on what I call a “theology of Shalom” in our Christian lives. Jesus had a famous sermon called the Sermon the Mount (see Matthew 5–7). There’s no doubt he preached this sermon more than once. It was effective. If you don’t understand a theology of Shalom in your life, you may have missed the entire point of the Sermon on the Mount. While this book is not an exegesis for Jesus’s famous sermon (there are more books on the sermon than one can count!), we do stand on the foundation Jesus laid, as God’s son, which is a theological blueprint presupposing peace and happiness (or shalom), that is sorely lacking in so many Christian lives today. God wants us to experience joy and that’s what we experience when we have a faith in God that is guided by the facts of Scripture. The words “joy” and “rejoice” occur almost 300 times in Scripture. Several times in his letter to the Christians of Philippi, Paul speaks of joy and urges the people to rejoice. This is what the Psalmist says, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Ps 37:4).
Would you please pray for me as I finish my next book The Spirituality of Happiness and Peace (published by Baker/Bethany House) – what does it mean for God’s people to have Shalom? Do you have His peace? At times, I feel like I am a professional worrier! You might feel that way, too. God wants to unleash his Shalom into our lives. I will submit the manuscript to the publisher, Lord willing, on September 1.
I have included some very important links below. Please stay informed. Be a conversant Christian Thinker! Let’s also stay in prayer.
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
Christian Thinkers Society
Not sure why Wallmart is misspelled in this meme? Is a ‘Christian Thinker’ an oxymoron? Well, for some the descriptor may be correct.
Dear , Far too many Christians are soft targets for the ebbs and flows of cultural narrative and misinformation. Being a Christian in today’s context requires some conviction and courage so it’s not just a cultural Christianity. 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.
Unfortunately, there is a sense in which people think of the Christian faith as being anti-intellectual, somewhat mindless, and totally experiential in approach. The fact is 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, yet this is not always reflected in the day-to-day reality of Christian living.
How can you “think Christianly”? I am glad you asked.
Here are 3 Ways to Think Christianly.
Ben Davis, Caldron Pool
#1 All Truth is God’s Truth
In his Faith Seeks Understanding and in his All Truth is God’s Truth, published a few years later, Professor Arthur Holmes (1924 – 2011, long-time professor of Philosophy and English Literature at Wheaton College) made the important point that Christian faith and truth go hand in hand. Christian faith is not and should not be in conflict with truth. The God of Christian faith is a God of truth. He is not a God of error or falsehood. We, humans, are fallible creatures, who must learn and must be taught. We learn from what God has revealed in his Word and in his World. Each s us understand the other. Just as surely as we do not possess all that is to be known with respect to the World, so we do not know all that is to be known with respect to the Word of God. Both must be studied with an open, honest mind. Education is vital. Do you educate yourself in God’s Word? How much time do you spend knowing God in His Word?
#2 Faith is Not Stupid
Faith and the mind are not at odds; faith is not believing nonsense, faith is not embracing unreasonable, illogical things. In short, faith is not stupid. Some people seem to have faith in faith (as Dawkins and other atheists have in fact pointed out). Faith is intelligent; it is educated; it is learned; it is hungry for understanding. A healthy faith is a seeking faith. A healthy faith is not satisfied to be ignorant, to be naïve, to remain in the dark, or to pass on misinformation.
Here’s a great example from recent media of Christian Faith, would you stand alone? Orlando’s Jonathan Isaac first in NBA bubble to stand during anthem
#3 Ideas Are Powerful
Can we really describe the full measure of a human being, if we limit our knowledge to the brute facts of biology? If our anthropology fails to take into account the spiritual and moral dimensions of humanity, will we truly discover the essence of humanity? I probe this very important question in my recently published book, Unimaginable: What our World would be like without Christianity. In several chapters, I describe the horrors that overtook our world in the twentieth century will anti-Christian and anti-God worldviews dominated the social and political landscapes of several countries when the philosophies of men like Friedrich Nietzsche and Karl Marx inspired men like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin. Embracing a new worldview that declared God was no more these men erased humanity too. Humans were now nothing more than two-legged animals. No longer made in the image of God, humanity now could be treated like animals. Unwanted humans were rounded up and enslaved, millions were murdered. I mention these atrocities only to underscore the point that thoughts do matter. A worldview is not of little consequence. Today our society is in the midst of a great struggle between two competing and often diametrically opposed worldviews: One worldview is the worldview that has dominated the West for centuries and in the last two centuries has made inroads into the east. That is the worldview of Christianity. It is a worldview that says the World was made by an intelligent, loving Creator. It is a worldview that offers the explanation for the ongoing astonishing discoveries of science. This worldview affirms that humanity is made in the image of God and that therefore human life if precious, that it has purpose and has a destiny.
But this Christian worldview is being pushed aside by an increasingly hostile alternative worldview, a worldview that says there is no God and that we humans have no purpose, that we are nothing more than a cosmic accident; that we have no future, that we have no destiny; that our future ultimately is oblivion. This is the philosophy of nihilism, “nothingness,” from the Latin word nihil, which means “nothing.” The Nihilists affirm that there is no ultimate truth, there is no right or wrong, there are no morals, there is no God, and that we humans are not especially important; we are no more than smart, two-legged animals. Someday the human race will be extinct. It will be the end. Game over.
Before coming to Texas, I taught at Acadia Divinity College, part of Acadia University, located in eastern Canada. Acadia University is Canadian Ivy League. To get into this university you have to be a straight-A student. I kid you not! Acadia is Canada’s Harvard—or maybe I should say Harvard is America’s Acadia! On one occasion Acadia University Professor of Philosophy and atheist Paul Abela presented a lecture he called, “The Struggle for Meaning.” In this lecture he asserted that life had no meaning, that life was hardly more than an agonizing struggle with unending pain, sickness, and weakness. “If we could hear all of the world’s insects and animals, it would be a never-ending scream.” Professor Abela could see nothing in the world that gave him hope. Humanity was nothing more than an unfortunate biological accident. Someday it will end. What a relief!
Can you imagine a worldview more dismal than that? I feel sorry for Professor Abela. What hope can he share with his family, with his students? None. Is it any wonder that suicide among today’s youth is on the rise? Many youth, including children, simply have no hope. They have no hope because they have embraced a worldview that is pessimistic—and worse, it is nihilistic: there simply is nothing, nothing to live for.
Jesus offers a better way. We have to share “the Truth” because He, Jesus, The Truth, sets us free.
Here’s a great example from recent media about the power of ideas and standing for truth: SBA List Responds to PP’s Removal of Margaret Sanger’s Name from Manhattan Facility
Yours in Truth,
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
What do we do when “common sense” ceases to be “common”? Are you awake? Or are you allowing the drifting cultural narrative to lull you to sleep? Do you allow the media to inform, or worse, influence your worldview? With the points I share in this update, I wonder why common sense has disappeared.
Are you committed to being a “Christan Thinker” loving God with your heart, soul, and mind? The mission of the Christian Thinkers Society is to inspire Christians to become Thinkers and Thinkers to become Christians.
Now it is time for real talk. Here are 5 issues that are concerning me right now. I want you to be informed and conversant as a Christian Thinker.
Favoring Casinos over Churches Why We Must Pray For Our Nation. By a vote of 5-4, the US Supreme Court yesterday denied an injunction from Nevada churches seeking to be allowed to operate under the same COVID-19 standards as casinos and movie theaters. Chief Justice Roberts, a GW Bush appointee, joined with the progressive Justices to deny the injunction. Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh, and Gorsuch all dissented. I paste Gorsuch’s dissent below because it is so short—and on point. If you are a person of faith, you should be very concerned about this.
#1 State bans against worship services (Christian, Jewish, and Muslim, mind you) while strip-clubs, abortion clinics, and “essential business” thrives. With social distancing and appropriate precautions, churches should be able to meet safely.
Judge Alito on the prolonging of state bans against church services: “The problem is no longer one of exigency, but one of considered yet discriminatory treatment of places of worship.” Read it for yourself here: https://www.
#2 Elections Matter. There are biblical principles for political engagement. Believers, we need to “vote Christianly” to protect the Judea-Christian heritage of America. I have written extensively in my book Unimaginable on what happens when God is sidelined and Christianity is marginalized in society – evil reigns. We are there now. Do not be discouraged. Our faith thrives under adversity, as long as Christians speak up for and live the truth. (I include an interview below on this subject).
I also want to equip you with an excellent guide on how to vote your faith. This is the most important election of our time: https://downloads.frc.
#3 Does it seem strange to you that we cannot attend baseball games, but it is okay to sit in an airplane packed airplane? There is really not much more I can offer here. Common sense? Where does this end?
#4 People Are Losing Hope. Suicides are escalating. Please be informed. According to the APA, suicide rates were already skyrocketing BEFORE Covid-19: see here. Calls to suicide prevention lines are surging. See: “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on suicide rates.” I am extremely concerned about the mental health toll on our families, children, spouses, co-workers, and friends. Remember, Christians are the people who bring hope! Our hope is not based in feeling but on the facts of God’s undying love for humanity.
Would you please pray for me as I finish my next book The Spirituality of Happiness and Peace (published by Baker/Bethany House) – what does it mean for God’s people to have Shalom? Do you have His peace? At times, I feel like I am a professional worrier! You might feel that way, too. God wants to unleash his Shalom into our lives.
#5 Stop Being Triggered. Have a conversation. Stop cancel culture. Be informed before you speak. Better yet, pray before speaking. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Speak the truth in love. Be the church that never sleeps.
Here are some other stories we are following at Christian Thinkers Society:
Let’s stay humble, informed, compassionate, but be bold for truth!
Let us “think Christianly.”
Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
Christian Thinkers Society
JUSTICE GORSUCH, Dissenting: This is a simple case. Under the Governor’s edict, a 10-screen “multiplex” may host 500 moviegoers at any time. A casino, too, may cater to hundreds at once, with perhaps six people huddled at each craps table here and a similar number gathered around every roulette wheel there. Large numbers and close quarters are fine in such places. But churches, synagogues, and mosques are banned from admitting more than 50 worshipers—no matter how large the building, how distant the individuals, how many wear face masks, no matter the precautions at all. In Nevada, it seems, it is better to be in entertainment than religion. Maybe that is nothing new. But the First Amendment prohibits such obvious discrimination against the exercise of religion. The world we inhabit today, with a pandemic upon us, poses unusual challenges. But there is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel.
My friend, Warren Cole Smith, interviewed me a while back on the BreakPoint Podcast.
What would the world be like without Christianity? Historian and author Jeremiah Johnston asks that question in his new book, “Unimaginable.” And today on the BreakPoint podcast, Warren Cole Smith interviews Jeremiah Johnston about his sobering conclusions. Click here to listen.
Never trade what you do know for what you don’t know! This is one of the most important principles of being a “Christian Thinker,” especially in a COVID-19 world. We have a choice to make: We can focus on the problems or we can trust the promises. Our emotions can lie to us, and we need to counter our emotions with truth. We rest in who we are in Christ and the promises of God are for today.
There are 31,102 verses in the Bible (23,144 in the Old Testament and 7,958 in the New Testament). What verse would you guess is the most-searched-for Bible verse? It’s not John 3:16. In fact, for three-years-in-a-row this is the verse:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
Jesus likely preached the “Sermon on the Mount” several times (see Matthew 5-7). In Matthew 6:25-34, three times Jesus says, “Do not worry!” This is a command. It is far easier to write the words “do not worry” than apply them to life, but one of the greatest promises of the Bible accompanies the promise. God’s peace will guard your hearts and minds. When we cannot see the hand of God, we must trust His heart and character (I have written about this theme extensively in my Bible study Unanswered: Lasting Truth for Trending Questions).
Audrey and I are blessed with five children. One of our children has struggled with severe anxiety at times since the schools were closed in March. We have seen how fear can paralyze anyone, even those in our family. How should we respond as Christian Thinkers? I have a special message for you. We can live in the “protective presence of God,” which promises God’s presence in our lives, no matter our situation. We mix the promises of God with faith and rest. 1 Peter 1:3-9 says we have a “living hope”
We live in faith, not fear. Like you, as Audrey and I have prayed, ministered, written, flexed, and lived in 2020, we have noticed many people living in the “fear zone” (see image above) rather than the “faith zone.” I ask you to prayerfully review the infographic above and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart about where you are and where He needs you to be.
We also pray. Our family continues praying for all on the front lines. What a reminder to live in the present and enjoy it immensely. We have grace for today and present pleasures (time together) are among God’s good gifts.
We Think Christianly. Being a Christin Thinker means we do not allow our minds to be corrupted by culture. Being a Christian Thinker means we do not allow false-information to steal our joy and hope. Being a Christian Thinker means we anchor every emotion and feeling to the truth of God’s changeless character and unbreakable word. Being Christian Thinkers ensures we are never silenced.
We bring hope. As followers of Jesus, we are the people who bring hope. Hope comes when we have a plan. I hope you enjoy a special Sunday sermon for you today linked below. Authentic Christian faith is never surprised by adversity or problems.
Thank you, Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.
Watch Dr. Johnston’s recent message “The Protective Presence of God”
The Jeremiah Johnston Show Podcast
Watch this clip right now. You can share it, too. Truth never changes.
– Jeremiah and Audrey Johnston
Since Hurricane Harvey, I use twitter to stay current with the news and try to retweet our Fort Bend County officials (here in Houston, TX), where possible. I watched this exceptional clip from Billy Graham via twitter. It is 50 seconds worth your time. You can copy the YouTube link and share it with friends here: https://youtu.be/t7rdbHaoMZ4.
In the sermon clip, Billy states:
“Habakkuk said, “Lord please tell me what you’re doing.” And God said, “No, I’m not going to tell you, Habakkuk. Because if I told you what I was doing you wouldn’t believe it.”
If God today told us what He’s doing in the world, we wouldn’t believe it.
Don’t you think God’s given up, and God’s abdicated, and God’s left the throne. He hasn’t.
He’s still on the throne. And those of us that know Him, put our trust in Him and Him alone.
I don’t put my trust in Washington. I don’t put my trust in the United Nations. I don’t put my trust in myself. I don’t put trust in my money.
I put my trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
When all the rest of it fails and crumbles and shatters, He’ll be there.”
Thank you, Jesus. We trust you, and you alone. We will put our trust in God and God alone. Thank you Billy Graham! “For I am doing something in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.” Habakkuk 1:5
Never forget, we (followers of Jesus) are the people who bring hope.
Jeremiah and Audrey Johnston