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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

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October 12, 2019

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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Open Doors, Smuggled Bibles, and The Persecuted Christian

 

What are the most dangerous countries for the persecuted Christian? David Curry, CEO of Open Doorslegacy of the book God Smuggleshares what we can learn from oppressed Christians across the world, immediate steps you can take to help, and how Bible smuggling plays into it all.

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston discusses the persecuted Church throughout the world with David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors. The ministry began through a man known as “Brother Andrew” who smuggled Bibles into regions hostile to Christianity.

“We want people to have freedoms and to have a Bible and to decide what they think,” Curry explains. “It makes for a wide-ranging ministry because we’re in 60 countries-plus that have high levels of restriction, and we’re trying to answer the question of what the Church needs in order to be salt and light.”

Johnston and Curry reflect on President Trump’s address to the 74th Assembly of the United Nations in September 2019. Curry confirms the statistic that approximately 250 million people live in areas in which they are persecuted.

“The reality remains this president is speaking out forcibly. Never in my knowledge has a US president spoken at the UN about religious liberty. It is a real issue right now,” Curry says. “It just so happens that Christians are the largest group that is persecuted for their faith.”

Curry illustrates the life of a Christian in North Korea, for example: “Many followers of Jesus Christ in North Korea – if they’re caught with a Bible, sharing about Jesus, singing a song – at a minimum they probably spend the rest of their life in prison, and sometimes worse.”

Curry is inspired by the faithfulness of such believers who remain steadfast, and even joyful. “What I have, they need, but what they’ve learned, I need,” he says.

While many Christians in the West remain unaware of the plight of other members of the Body of Christ, Curry and Johnston invite them to become involved through prayer, giving, volunteering, advocating, and even writing letters of encouragement.

“You can be part of it,” Curry says. “From the very spiritual to the very practical, there’s a lot to do. I stay encouraged because I see a lot of answers to prayer. I know the people and I am excited about what Jesus is doing.”

David Curry is president and CEO of Open Doors. The organization helps further the Gospel message around the world and assists persecuted believers.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Unanswered Prayers

Unanswered Prayers

September 28, 2019

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston brings up an important issue faced by believers: unanswered prayer. “What about the tension of those who have been walking with the Lord, and yet, their prayers have not been answered, or answered in the way they thought they should have been answered?” he asks.

Johnston notes that the issue of the silence of God is the second most common question he receives. “Many of us have struggled with this concept,” he says. “What does the Bible have to say about the silence of God?”

There are 651 prayers in the Bible, Johnston says, along with commentary about how to pray effectively. Johnston first suggests praying Scripture back to God, as demonstrated by Corrie Ten Boom. He also emphasizes praying in the name of Jesus Christ, and relying on His righteousness.

Some reasons why Christians may experience unanswered prayer include unconfessed sin, lack of faith, wrong motives, pride and selfishness, lack of compassion, lack of marriage/family unity, lack of obedience, and a lack of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Johnston references each reason’s biblical basis.

Johnston says, “There is no such thing as unanswered prayer – just different answers. God always knows what He’s doing. Often, God’s answers are ‘no’ for the bigger ‘yes’ in my life.”

To illustrate, Johnston points to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asks, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

“The bigger ‘yes’ was the salvation of humanity,” Johnston points out. “Do you see how, sometimes, God is up to something so much bigger? Sometimes, God’s answers are not at all what we would expect. God’s silence for us is real, it’s biblical, it’s personal, it’s common, and it’s not always a bad thing. If you feel God’s silence, you’re not a second-rate Christian. It really comes down to: are you going to trust God to be God in your life?”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Is suicide the unforgivable sin?

Is suicide the unforgivable sin?

The number one question Dr. Jeremiah Johnston has received in his ministry is regarding suicide and mental health in the Christian life. “Suicide is in a 30-year high in our nation – we’ve never been more connected but we’ve never been as lonely or isolated,” he says.

Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 19, he says. Rather than avoiding the topic, Johnston urges parents, caregivers, and mentors to address it: “Speaking intelligently about suicide to children and teenagers doesn’t cause it to happen; it prevents it.”

While issues on the mental health spectrum vary, most people will either personally deal with a mental health issue or have a close loved one who does. Handling mental health issues is a conundrum for many Christians, but the Bible has much to say about thinking correctly. “It’s a great book on mental health,” Johnston says. Its most important human subjects confess deep struggles, including Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul.

Adding to the personal anguish many people go through are feelings of guilt that they don’t feel better. It helps to remember “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In dealing with others who suffering, Johnston reminds listeners not to discount the power of their own words and involvement. “Nonexperts are just as important as experts,” he says. Christians would do well to approach suicide with a spirit of humility, an awareness of false teaching, and a remembrance of God’s great love.

More and more believers are beginning to understand the vital nature of the mental health issue, Johnston says. “When God puts a message on your heart, don’t ever take no for an answer. The church can’t be behind the times on this issue,” he emphasizes. “I truly believe this is a word from God. We don’t have to have a spirit of fear to address any subject.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Color blessed with Dr. Derwin Gray

Color blessed with Dr. Derwin Gray

The two most ethnically divided groups in America are white and black Christians. Former NFL player Pastor Derwin Gray talks about embarrassing discussions on race in the church today and the importance of being color blessed and not color blind.

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes former NFL player, pastor, and author, Dr. Derwin Gray. Gray shares his story of coming to Christ as the result of a passionate evangelist and fellow player on the Indianapolis Colts, Steve Grant.

Gray remembers the point when he began to contemplate the direction of his life. “By about my third year in the NFL, I was having this crisis,” he remembers. “Is this it? The money didn’t fix my family problems. I didn’t know I needed forgiveness; I just wanted to fix what I had done wrong. The more I tried to fix it, the worse the shame got.”

Gray became a Christian shortly after his wife, Vicki, did. “I was overwhelmed with the love of God, with the sacrifice of Christ, and with the idea that through His resurrection, I now am part of His life,” he says.

Gray became someone his Carolina Panthers teammates turned to for spiritual guidance. He launched a speaking ministry, and soon saw the need for a ministry of reconciliation between races. He references Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

“Our unity – not uniformity – is a signpost that Jesus was sent by the Father,” Gray says. “So often as American Christians, we think very individually. It’s always been about how God wants a family.”

Johnston agrees that unity among groups has always been central to the Christian faith. “I think we can make the Gospel irresistible again,” he says. “I hope one of the payoffs from this message today is developing theological underpinnings for listeners of why you do what you do.”

     Dr. Derwin Gray is founder and lead pastor of Transformation Church. He is the author of “Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart” (2010), “Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future” (2013), “Crazy Grace for Crazy Times Bible Study” (2015), and “The High-Definition Leader” (2015).

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Greatest Interviews: A Best-of Show

On episode 52 of The Jeremiah Johnston Show, Dr. Johnston looks back with fondness over the year and thanks listeners for their support. “Every broadcast has been powerful and poignant,” he says.

In commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the Faith Radio program, Johnston replays clips from several of the recent, moving episodes.

Guest Alister McGrath emphasizes that the Christian faith is meant to be lived with other Christians. “All of us need to ask, ‘Are there people who can help us grow in our faith?’ And ‘Can we help others as well?’ A mentor is someone who helps you see things in a different way,” he says.

The Bible is applicable today, and it’s important that Christians seek to offer meaning to the culture around them, McGrath says. “We listen to Scriptures for the answer and listen to our culture for the questions. We need to figure out how to do it,” he explains. “The real problem is people see Christianity as the answer to questions of the past. We need to answer the questions people are asking.”

David Limbaugh says that the Bible is self-proving. For him, the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament clarified the divinity of Jesus Christ. “It’s amazing,” he says. “You begin to see the Bible as integrated.”

Ronnie Floyd and Angie Smith talk about the devastating effects of loss of life, and how believers can remain open-hearted toward God and others. Rick Renner shares his story of God’s guidance in his life. “Sometimes it’s a process,” Renner describes. “God doesn’t always reveal His full will to you. Sometimes, He just gives you enough to keep you moving.”

Shelia Walsh focuses upon passionately following Christ rather than strict legalism. When Christians seek to obey Christ, they naturally are convicted to walk in His ways. Walsh says, “There’s never been a better day to be the fragrance of Christ in a broken world.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Unanswered Questions: A Best-Of Show

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston looks back at guests’ unanswered questions from The Jeremiah Johnston Show’s history as the program reaches its nearly one-year anniversary. Johnston talks about the early days of his ministry organization, Christian Thinkers Society.

Reflecting on the success of his goals is reminiscent of Acts 14:27, when early believers reported on what God had done among them, he says. “Little is much when God’s in it,” Johnston says.

At the encouragement of his wife, Johnston welcomed questions from the audience during the early days of ministry. That set the tone for much of his focus going forward, and paved the way for the book, “Unanswered: Lasting Truth for Trending Questions,” as well as a study and tour.

From the inception of his ministry until the present time, Johnston became known for welcoming and addressing controversial and difficult queries. He encourages people to ask meaningful questions. “It is not ungodly to ask God ‘why?’” he says.

Out of thousands of questions, the top topics Johnston has received have been 1) suicide and mental health, 2) the silence of God, 3) the paranormal, 4) the resurrection of Jesus, 5) the Bible, and 6) evil, suffering, and pain.

Through his radio program, Johnston has welcomed pastors, speakers, writers, scholars, professors, and professionals who share their own unanswered questions. Knowing that others with powerful faiths have struggled is an encouragement to anyone who might be tempted to feel isolated in his or her pain or doubt, Johnston says.

Among the guests unanswered questions were sentiments surrounding loss of loved ones, God’s lack of interference, suffering, unfairness, expressing the Gospel, healing, pain in children, the creation story, waiting, reaching loved ones, and the fragility of life.

In each of these matters and more, Johnston reminds listeners that it’s not a sin to ask God questions. In doing so, believers learn more about God and His Word, and deepen their relationships with Him.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Mental Health, the Most Important Question in Apologetics

 

Issues of mental health and wellness are not generally well-addressed in the church setting across the board, says Dr. Jeremiah Johnston. He believes questions surrounding mental health are some of the top apologetics needs of our time.

“The Christian truth should be able to withstand the most difficult questions,” he says. “The job of apologetics is answering questions people have about the faith today.”

A secular worldview that espouses no life purpose and design leads to horrible results, Johnston says, including devaluing human life. “If there is no God, there is no humanity and it becomes law of the jungle. I can walk by this ‘animal’ not created in God’s image. I can walk by them and feel no shame if they end their life. That’s what fills the void if there is no Christ,” he says. “Most people find it difficult to believe that God really loves them. We must remind people that God loves them.”

Johnston discusses mental health needs in the workplace with John Gibson, an experienced business leader. “You just have to teach people that caring about people should be the number one issue,” Gibson begins.

Gibson relays stories about his work experiences, and says helping create a successful workplace environment is paramount. Caring about one’s employees or coworkers comes from a faith-filled life, he says. “That kind of love and caring comes from a heart that loves our Lord and serves Him,” he says.

In addressing mental health in the workplace, Gibson advises work leaders to educate themselves, establish processes for handling issues, and care about employees. Finally, he reminds employers to look after their own needs as well. “Ask for help,” Gibson concludes. “The Christian life is not meant to be lived in isolation.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

‘The Dark Side:’ What to do in Spiritual Battles

 

The story of the fallen angel, Lucifer, who set out on a path of rebellion against God, is central in Genesis and Revelation, book-ending the Bible. Dr. Jeremiah Johnston explores the antagonist of the Christian faith.

“If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’re in a battle,” Johnston says. “No one wants to be in a battle, but let’s face it, as Christians, we’re in a spiritual battle.”

Revelation 12 describes Satan as a dragon, a serpent, as an accuser, as the devil, and as someone who leads the whole world astray. 2 Corinthians 11:14 describes Satan as a being who masquerades as an angel of light. John 8:44 says he was a murderer from the beginning and a liar. In John 10:10, Jesus describes the devil as a thief who steals, kills, and destroys.

Thankfully, believers know that Satan is a defeated foe whom God threw out of heaven and whom Jesus conquered. The Bible promises in James 4:7 that if Christians submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee. Furthermore, the devil’s accusations against believers are countered by God’s grace because there is no condemnation for those who belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1).

During his earthly ministry, Jesus encountered and healed the demonically possessed. His ability to exorcise became well-known in the region. “It was known that if you invoked the name of Jesus, the demons ran,” Johnston explains.

I John 4:4 further illuminates the victory over darkness Christians have because of Jesus: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

While Scripture records that Jesus was tempted by Satan, Jesus overcame the trials. “Anytime you move for God in your life, anytime you take a step of faith, reach someone, or shine the light of Jesus Christ, you can immediately expect demonic opposition. Spiritual attacks are going to come, but we can be victorious. Make sure you pray, study Scripture, and never forget who you are in Christ,” Johnston advises.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Virtuously Integrating Faith with Culture

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston discusses culture and reaching others with Dr. Karen Swallow and Dr. Josh Chatraw. The guests recently authored, “Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues.” The book provides a panoramic view of Christian responses to the pressing issues of our time. The writers explore aspects of culture including formal ideas and worldviews that are passed on, precognitive assumptions, and social and physical dimensions of life.

“We’re all swimming in this thing called culture,” Chatraw explains. “Culture is inevitable. It’s the phone I use, this radio podcast. We can’t jump out of culture; we can jump out of particular parts of culture.”

To have a historical, ideological, and intellectual framework for current cultural issues, Christians do well to educate themselves by reading. “All that good books can do for us, and even truth itself, is something we still have to receive and apply,” Swallow says. “Good books can expand our understanding and knowledge, but only if that’s what we are really pursuing. When we read good literature, we express the image of God in us. We understand ourselves and our world through language. We are narrative creatures who live our lives with an understanding of story. We are expressing our humanity and expressing God’s image within us.”

Not only reading, but listening well, is imperative in order to understand and converse regarding other perspectives. Of course, knowing Scripture is the basis for our beliefs as Christians.

As Chatraw points out, I Peter 3:15 says we should have a conversant faith that hinges upon gentleness and respect.

Johnston says, “Are you a good listener? If we’re not good listeners, we’ll never be good at evangelism. If I’m not a good listener, I’ll never be good at witnessing. I want to empathize. When you look at the episodes in the gospels, in these long conversations that Jesus had with individuals, notice what a great listener He was. What a great reminder to us today.”


Dr. Joshua D. Chatraw and Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, authors of “Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues,” address hot-button issues including sexuality, gender roles, immigration, and more. Prior is a professor of English at Liberty University, and Chatraw is the director of the Center for Apologetics and Cultural Engagement for Liberty University.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Dr. Carol Tanksley on Fear, Anxiety, and Grief

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley, a physician and author known by many as “Dr. Carol.” They discuss the emotional health and the value of life. Dr. Carol Ministries reaches people with a holistic approach gained through her experience as a physician and her theological education, earning her the moniker, “Doctor-Doctor.”

Rather than viewing people as comprised of different facets, Tanksley views humans as holistic beings. “The way some groups in Christianity talk about our humanness is that I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body. Not that that’s wrong, but God didn’t create us as separate pieces,” she says. “You can’t separate the different parts of our humanness from each other – the physical, emotional, relational, spiritual parts – any more than you can separate the flour, sugar, eggs, and salt in a loaf of bread. We are baked together into an integrated whole. Because we are integrated, whole human beings, God’s best for us demands that He has access to all these other areas of our lives.”

Christians find that their physical actions, their relationships, and their mental focus all play an integral role in their faith walks. When facing anxiety, Christians do well to remember that they can choose their focus to a great extent. “If you want positive resilience, it’s important to keep the bad stuff out and keep the good stuff in,” Tanksley says. “We have a choice about the food our minds take in. We have a choice and it makes a difference.”

Since grief is unavoidable in life, people are served by learning how to manage it. “Healing doesn’t just drop on you. For me, I didn’t want to work on the grief, but I realized that was the thing that would help me go through it,” Tanksley says.

In helping others through their pain, Johnston and Tanklsey emphasize the ministry of presence. Johnston recounts a time when he simply read in the Psalms and prayed over a suffering person. “I want to say this to those who may be suffering: know that your profound grief is never wasted. God will and can bring good from it. God will restore your joy,” Johnston says.


Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley (MD, MDiv and DMin) is an OB-Gyn, a speaker, and an author. Her books include, “Overcoming Fear & Anxiety Through Spiritual Warfare,” “Live Healthy, Live Whole: Your Prescription for Healthy Living, Loving Relationships, and Joyful Spirituality,” and the recent, “The Christian’s Journey Through Grief: How to Walk Through the Valley with Hope.”