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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Alister McGrath: Mere Discipleship (Encore Presentation)

January 11, 2020

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How it Started, How it’s going!

I’ve entered a new decade of life since you last heard from me! Have you seen the “How it started, How it’s going” memes? Indeed, I experienced one of those “front number” change birthdays on August 1st – officially now 40. Similar to Saint Jerome, I must admit, I’ve always felt like an Old Soul! I enjoyed the day doing what I love – teaching God’s Word (this time at Bay Harbor Church) and spending the day with my family and dear friends in Northern Michigan, which included a boat ride on Walloon Lake and fellowship with friends around the  fireplace we’ve seen since Audrey and I lived in Oxford and visited the Cotswolds to celebrate my matriculation! Also, how do you like those Michigan lavender fields?! By the way, this email took me a minute to put together so thanks for reading it. J. Hudson Taylor said, “There are three stages in the work of God: Impossible; Difficult; Done.” I’ve lived this quote many times over in our mission with Christian Thinkers Society. God is faithful and I am reminded of that singular truth as I enter a new decade of life. In the spirit of “how it started … how it’s going” scroll to the end of the email to see one of my first “ministry” pics – youth camp, of course!

Christian Thinkers Society has been buzzing this summer and I write to share  important links, ministry updates, and other ways in which God is using CTS to inspire, Christians to think in believing and believe in thinking!” Next month, our Peace Shalom Tour begins (Ohio, Florida, see you soon!).

 Last week, Lee Strobel interviewed me for his new television program “Investigating Faith” with Lifetable TV. I really enjoyed our conversation about my book Unimaginable and what the world would be like without Christianity. We discussed the undeniable ways in which Christianity is the greatest force for good on planet earth! Lee also asked me about Christian Thinkers Society, which was fitting, because Lee has been my friend and encouraging me in ministry since the early 2000s. At the beginning of the interview, I joked with Lee about how Audrey and I were his “uber” from the airport when he visited our church sometime between 2001-2004. We go back and I am thankful for his regular encouragement in my life and enthusiasm about Christian Thinkers Society. Please check out his new tv program, too!

It was a tremendous blessing to rejoin my dear friend, Bob Sprotte (the Bob Dawg – pictured far left), for the 2nd Annual Great Lakes Symposium on Christian Worldview in Bay Harbor, Michigan, at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts. The theme was: The Image Restored: What it Truly Means to Live Life in the Image of God. I’ve had the honor to partner with John Stonestreet and The Colson Center for Christian Worldview numerous times [at least four events including the Wilberforce Weekend, a pastors gathering QnA, also their webinar, their BreakPoint broadcast, and my podcast come to mind] and each time it gets better and better. I love their ministry and am thankful for the partnerships Christian Thinkers Society enjoys because we need as many ministries on the front lines as possible inspiring Christians to love God with all of their heart, soul, and mind. I also had the delight of becoming friends with both Dr. Kathy Kock and Dr. Matthew Sleeth – they are tremendous communicators and great people (so is John Stonestreet, who also spoke). All four of us shared insights on how to live like we belong to God…in a time when a lot of other identities are crowding in. Seats are limited!(Photo credit, Lily Faith!). Here’s a YouTube Link to watch the symposium. The title of my message was “Unleashing Peace” and the theme was “Take off those graveclothes” from John 11.  Big thanks to the Bob Dawg for his leadership, love, and friendship in organizing such an outstanding outreach.

Here’s one of 23 slides I shared in my teaching at the Symposium:

My dear friend, Dr. Robert J. Morgan, interviewed me for his Robert J. Morgan podcast at the always beautiful Lanier Theological Library. I invite you to listen to our conversation here on the Robert J. Morgan Podcast. Dr. Morgan also interviewed Professor Craig Evans and me and I look forward to that podcast, too. Amazingly, later that evening, Dr. Morgan covered 3400 years of hymnody in his phenomenal lecture at the Lanier Theological Library. What a day!

Pictured below, John Stonestreet (The Colson Center for Christian Worldview) and I took questions from pastors and Christian leaders for nearly two hours. I love our pastors across the country and we have to take time to keep encouraging, resourcing, and equipping them! I’ve been asked for a recording of the session and would be happy to provide that in a future email as I do believe it was recorded. Dr. Kathy Koch was also in the audience and provided some exceptional answers to questions.

Below is a YouTube link to my birthday sermon at Bay Harbor Church. The part was hearing Justin, our nine-year-old son, pray before I preached!

Have I mentioned yet Northern Michigan is pretty incredible during the summer? Family time and ministry time together were the . The whole crew was with me and I always preach better when the Redhead is in the audience.

I was interviewed last week for this exciting series “Evidence of the Faith” with I Share Hope. Check out my presentation and others here. My topic was “Evil: Where did it come from?”

The whole family and I visited my publishing headquarters and we enjoyed seeing Dwight Baker, Rod Jantzen, and the amazing team at Baker Publishing in Ada, Michigan. I’m pictured above with Dwight Baker, the third-generation president of Baker Publishing Group, which his grandfather, Herman, started in 1939. Did you know the word Shalom appears 550 times in the Scriptures? I am excited my new book Unleashing Peace will show you how to experience God’s Shalom no matter what you are facing! We all need more of God’s Shalom (peace) and the Lord of peace is with us! I love partnering with Bethany House and Baker Publishing to provide content for Christian Thinkers everywhere!

Question: Who brings their whole family to publishing meetings at Baker Publishing headquarters? – I do.

Ministry life does not have to be dull! It certainly isn’t for CTS!

Speaking of publishing, I received the new paperback edition (Bloomsbury T&T Clark- Library of Second Temple Studies) of Scribes and Their Remains, which Craig Evans and I co-edited and both contributed two chapters – 352 pages! The principal theme of the book: the text as artifact.

As pictured below, I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and sharing from my heart in a mentoring session with very impressive gap-year students.

As promised, this is how it started (pictured below)… youth ministry with my brother-in-law, Christian Newsome. He’s an awesome pastor and great guy. Those were the days. Little is much when God is in it!

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

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Tragic Loss: Prayers Requested for my sister and her family, please

 

On Monday morning I received a “911” text from my mother, Cristie, who informed us that my little sister, Jenilee Mullikin, had lost their baby, Wesley Vance Mullikin (Jenilee was 25 weeks along in pregnancy). I am asking for you to read her story below, to please pray for Jenilee, Jeff, Sadie, and Savannah; and finally, if you feel led to their family here I paste in a link to assist with meals, etc: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/nk8zw7. Wesley’s funeral service will be observed next week. Jenilee said, “We do not grieve like those who have no hope, because we know when little Wesley opened his eyes the very first thing he saw was Jesus.” I am so thankful the Scriptures say “we weep with those who weep.” Jenilee and Jeff’s faith, in this adversity, inspire us all. – Jeremiah J. Johnston

From Jenilee Mullikin: The Psalmist writes that before we are even formed in the womb that all our days are ordained and written in the Lord’s book. It’s comforting to reassure myself that although the last few days have been an utter shock to us, the Lord knew they were coming. He knew that we would go into our routine 25-week appointment and be told that our baby boy no longer had a heartbeat. And although we may never know the exact moment that he passed from his cozy spot in my belly, the Lord knows exactly when it was and was there to welcome him home.

The Lord knew we would have to deliver him via C section the very next morning. He knew that when our doctor delivered him, there would be only the sound of silence. He knew how much we would yearn for the ear-splitting baby cry. He knew that we would deliver our son, Wesley Vance Mullikin, born still on June 29, 2021.

He knew every single tear that would flow from our eyes. He alone is the only one who knows why He passed. He knew our hearts would be raging within us, screaming out, “Why God? Why us?”

He knew I would hear another baby cry in the middle of the night while in the hospital bed and wish it could be my own. He knew that Jeff and I would hold him one final time, saying goodbye to him after only just meeting him. He knew we would leave the hospital with the heavy weight of empty arms. He knew I would be thankful for the pain of my incision because it would mirror some of the pain of my heart.

He knew the girls would cry when we told them, jealous for a brother they had been waiting for. He knew my milk would come in and there would be no baby to nurse. He knew that today Jeff would pick a burial plot and plan for a memorial. He knew it all. And even now, He knows our pain intimately, because He too has lost His only son.

I will never ever know why this happened and why it had to be our family. Like Martha I want to yell and say, “Lord WHERE were you? If you had been here, he wouldn’t have died.” And I want to fall on my face and join hands with Jesus and I want to weep with him.

We begin now to put one foot in front of the other. While we are weak, we think of Jesus saying, “My GRACE is sufficient for you, for my POWER is made perfect in WEAKNESS”. We stand in the strength of our Savior and we stand on the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not grieve like those who have no hope, because we know when little Wesley opened his eyes the very first thing he saw was Jesus.

I mourn because I will never rock him in the middle of the night while the rest of the world sleeps. I won’t get to see his first smile or hear him say, “Dada”. I won’t get to see Savannah push him in the swing or Sadie sneak snacks for him from the fridge. I won’t get to see Jeff teach him how to swing a bat or watch as he runs the bases after his dad’s games. I won’t ever know the sound of his sweet voice or what color his eyes would have been. I won’t get to see him graduate or get married or have a child of his own. And it seems so very unfair.

Although his life was so very short, we will never forget him. He was here. He was real. We saw his tiny ears and fingers and toes. And the Lord allowed us the opportunity to meet him on his way to Heaven. God, will you tell him how much I love him?

Jenilee posted this originally on her Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/jenilee.johnston.