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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Alister McGrath: Mere Discipleship (Encore Presentation)

January 11, 2020

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Please pray for Jeremiah Johnston’s surgery and healing

A Note From Audrey Johnston

Dear friend,

It is a blessing for me to have this opportunity to reach out to our Christian Thinkers Society community and request prayer for my husband, Jeremiah Johnston. On Tuesday, January 19th, Jeremiah will undergo a da Vinci robotic-assisted sigmoid colectomy (a portion of his colon will be removed) and he will be hospitalized for 2-3 days following the procedure. We are told there is a six-week recovery where Jeremiah will not be able to lift more than 10lbs (our triplets weigh more than 30lbs each!).

We have known for over a month about Jeremiah’s upcoming surgery and I am so pleased to share that God has orchestrated all of the details in a way only He can. Jeremiah and I have the peace (Shalom) of God.

Would you please join me in praying for: 1) Jeremiah’s full healing and recovery; 2) for the surgeon, nurses, and hospital team; 3) for God to be glorified in this; and 4) please remember our five children and me in your prayers.

If you would like to have more insight into robotic surgery, check out this video and website.

2021 is a very important year upcoming of ministry and outreach. We need Jeremiah well and ready for all God has for Christian Thinkers Society for the Kingdom.

1 Peter 5:7, “You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon him, for you are his personal concern.”

May I end with a “Dad-joke” – Our good friend, Dr. Craig Evans,  in conversation with Jeremiah, quoted another Bible-scholar who had a portion of his colon removed, and is now fond of saying: “I have a semi-colon.” Dad joke alert!

I will send out an email update as time allows.

Yours in Christ with hope,

Audrey L. Johnston, M.Div.

Christian Thinkers Society

My Last Name Johnston, not Johnson

 

Has your name ever been mispronounced? Multiply that dozens of times and you can relate to me. Therefore, this email is about forty-years in the making. 

My name is Jeremiah J. Johnston, with a “t.” Nice to meet you. If you would like to read my bio, you can find it here.

I am not Jeremiah Johnson (think Johnson & Johnson).

I am not Jeremiah Johnson the movie character (although I hear it is a great movie I have never seen it).

I am not Jeremiah Johnson, who recently made a prophecy concerning the recent election.

I am Jeremiah J. Johnston, a follower of Jesus, husband of Audrey, Dad of Lily Faith, Justin, Abel, Ryder and Jaxson. Outside of my walk with Jesus and family, the greatest honor of my life is serving as founder and president of Christian Thinkers Society.

Our ministry is, and has always been, Christian Thinkers Society (an apologetics ministry) and we exist to multiply and replicate Christian Thinkers! We are not Jeremiah J. Johnston ministries. Our calling and mission is to equip every single believer, from all Christian denominations, to love God with all their heart, soul, and mind; that is, have a “thinking-faith.” Our ministry DNA is inspiring Christians to stand boldly for their faith in Jesus Christ. Our anchor is the Scriptures. That will always be the case.

Thank you,

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

Unleashing Peace: Unleashing Peace: Why We Must Live on Promises, Not Explanations in 2021

Bible Text: Habakkuk 3:17-19

(see also Philippians 4:4-9; Psalm 42, 43)

Regardless of how we feel, we know God will be faithful. 

In 2021 Christian Thinkers Society launches the Unleashing Peace Shalom tour! More to come … Here’s a glimpse of the new book!

Unleashing Peace: Unleashing Peace: Why We Must Live on Promises, Not Explanations in 2021

Unleashing Peace: Unleashing Peace: Why We Must Live on Promises, Not Explanations in 2021

Bible Text: Habakkuk 3:17-19

(see also Philippians 4:4-9; Psalm 42, 43)

Regardless of how we feel, we know God will be faithful. 

In 2021 Christian Thinkers Society launches the Unleashing Peace Shalom tour! More to come … Here’s a glimpse of the new book!

But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him.

Habakkuk 2:20

Quote from Warren W. Wiersbe:

Are you Bible-ish or Bible-strong?

Improvement in mental wellness in 2020 only seen in those regularly attending worship services. 

Improvement in mental wellness in 2020 only seen in those regularly attending worship services.

Dear Friend,

A close friend texted me this morning words from the third stanza of How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord:

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

Our foundation is in God Himself. We never forget Jesus asleep in the boat during the storm. Jesus asked only one question: “Where is your faith?” (See Luke 8:25)

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Gallup polling has found the only demographic with improved mental wellness in 2020 are those regularly participating in worship services. Or to put it another way, mental illness has increased for every category except those who participate in weekly worship. I encourage you to read their report “Americans’ Mental Health Ratings Sink to New Low.” The opening words are cryptic, as much as they are a new reality: “Americans’ latest assessment of their mental health is worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades. Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults rate their mental health positively, representing a nine-point decline from 2019.” This is an opportunity for all believers to shine the light of Jesus Christ as never before. He is our hope; indeed, Jesus is our peace. In Jesus, we experience peace with God (Romans 5:1) and the peace of God (Colossians 3:15). Jesus established a lasting, eternal peace for us through his death and resurrection, which is now available to all on the basis, not of works, but faith in Him. According to Pastor Nicky Gumbel, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of Jesus in the midst of trouble.” ​

In 2021, my new book and our new ministry campaign begins: Unleashing Peace: Experiencing God’s Shalom in Your Pursuit of Happiness. 

Here is an excerpt I pray will encourage you:

We Live on Promises, Not Explanations

If we are going to experience peace, we must learn to live by faith in the promises and character of God. No one lived by faith in explanations in the Bible. All of the heroes of the Scriptures lived by faith in the promises of God. Faith is taking God at his word, not asking God for an explanation. It doesn’t mean we cannot ask God to show us why; however, in my experience God wants us to trust Him in the moment, rather than asking for the explanation. When God promises Shalompeace—a peace that passes all understanding, He means it. As a father of five children, our kiddos often want explanations on why they cannot do certain activities. Even if I explained the ramifications of why they should not do some dangerous activity, they would likely still not understand why they couldn’t do that or what is going on. In those moments, my children trust me and the promise I make to them, “follow me . . . don’t do this . . . do that. . . .” The point is they trust the promise, not the explanation. If you are injured, you may not even care how specifically the injury occurred (explanation), rather, you want the promise of the doctor for when you will be better. We live life on promises, not explanations. Life happens fast. The great Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe discussed this point at length in his Genesis commentary, both in the preface and his comments on Genesis 22:3–5, “Focus on promises, not explanations”:

Living by faith means obeying God’s Word in spite of feelings, circumstances, or consequences. It means holding on to God’s truth no matter how heavy the burden or how dark the day, knowing that He is working out His perfect plan. It means living by promises and not by explanations.[i]

One of the particularly challenging comments Wiersbe made is “Faith does not demand explanations; faith rests on promises.”[ii] This reminds me as I pray for peace and Shlaom, I trust God to bring his peace, but it does not mean I should expect a full explanation for my trial. Our job is to obey God’s word, His promises, knowing that since God is truth, He can never lie and is fully reliable! There are many positive aspects of resting in God’s promises rather than requiring explanations. For one, it allows you to stay focused on your calling, your priorities, your family, and continue moving in the direction of your values. Perhaps God will show you, in His time (not ours), why the road bent in your life.

Habakkuk is known for his powerful statement in 2:4, “The just shall live by faith,” (quoted in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38). Lesser known is the same prophet who said the “just shall live by faith” asked God for an explanation in chapter one “How long, O Lord, will I call for and you will not hear?” (1:2). Habakkuk’s calling was to prophesy the doom of Judah days before the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar (605 BC). Of course, he did not realize what God was doing. Daniel and his three friends would be taken captive in Nebuchadnezzar’s sacking of Jerusalem and you are likely familiar with the events that followed in Daniel’s life. Nevertheless, I am quite certain Habakkuk was not very excited about his prophetic assignment.

The Lord’s response to Habakkuk’s request for an explanation is profound: “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5). Though perplexed, Habakkuk learned to trust God because of who God is! It is interesting, God gave Habakkuk a vision of what He was doing and Habakkuk nearly collapsed! (see Habakkuk 3:16) Only then did Habakkuk utter the great faith statement of the Bible, we have to live by faith! Habakkuk chapter three, according to Dr. Charles Ryrie, is “a great psalm of praise, scarcely equaled anywhere else in the Old Testament.”[iii] I see the progression:

1) Lord, I need an explanation. God replies that he couldn’t handle the explanation;

2) I will live by faith, and

3) Praise erupts!

“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet and makes me walk on my high places”—all his confidence was in the Lord God.
Sincerely,

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

[i] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 9.

[ii] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 110.

[iii] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, Expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 1442.

We are the people of Hope – no matter the crisis

Improvement in mental wellness in 2020 only seen in those regularly attending worship services.

 

A close friend texted me this morning words from the third stanza of How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord:

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

Our foundation is in God Himself. We never forget Jesus asleep in the boat during the storm. Jesus asked only one question: “Where is your faith?” (See Luke 8:25)

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Gallup polling has found the only demographic with improved mental wellness in 2020 are those regularly participating in worship services. Or to put it another way, mental illness has increased for every category except those who participate in weekly worship. I encourage you to read their report “Americans’ Mental Health Ratings Sink to New Low.” The opening words are cryptic, as much as they are a new reality: “Americans’ latest assessment of their mental health is worse than it has been at any point in the last two decades. Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults rate their mental health positively, representing a nine-point decline from 2019.” This is an opportunity for all believers to shine the light of Jesus Christ as never before. He is our hope; indeed, Jesus is our peace. In Jesus, we experience peace with God (Romans 5:1) and the peace of God (Colossians 3:15). Jesus established a lasting, eternal peace for us through his death and resurrection, which is now available to all on the basis, not of works, but faith in Him. According to Pastor Nicky Gumbel, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of Jesus in the midst of trouble.” ​

In 2021, my new book and our new ministry campaign begins: Unleashing Peace: Experiencing God’s Shalom in Your Pursuit of Happiness. 

Here is an excerpt I pray will encourage you:

We Live on Promises, Not Explanations

If we are going to experience peace, we must learn to live by faith in the promises and character of God. No one lived by faith in explanations in the Bible. All of the heroes of the Scriptures lived by faith in the promises of God. Faith is taking God at his word, not asking God for an explanation. It doesn’t mean we cannot ask God to show us why; however, in my experience God wants us to trust Him in the moment, rather than asking for the explanation. When God promises Shalompeace—a peace that passes all understanding, He means it. As a father of five children, our kiddos often want explanations on why they cannot do certain activities. Even if I explained the ramifications of why they should not do some dangerous activity, they would likely still not understand why they couldn’t do that or what is going on. In those moments, my children trust me and the promise I make to them, “follow me . . . don’t do this . . . do that. . . .” The point is they trust the promise, not the explanation. If you are injured, you may not even care how specifically the injury occurred (explanation), rather, you want the promise of the doctor for when you will be better. We live life on promises, not explanations. Life happens fast. The great Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe discussed this point at length in his Genesis commentary, both in the preface and his comments on Genesis 22:3–5, “Focus on promises, not explanations”:

Living by faith means obeying God’s Word in spite of feelings, circumstances, or consequences. It means holding on to God’s truth no matter how heavy the burden or how dark the day, knowing that He is working out His perfect plan. It means living by promises and not by explanations.[i]

One of the particularly challenging comments Wiersbe made is “Faith does not demand explanations; faith rests on promises.”[ii] This reminds me as I pray for peace and Shlaom, I trust God to bring his peace, but it does not mean I should expect a full explanation for my trial. Our job is to obey God’s word, His promises, knowing that since God is truth, He can never lie and is fully reliable! There are many positive aspects of resting in God’s promises rather than requiring explanations. For one, it allows you to stay focused on your calling, your priorities, your family, and continue moving in the direction of your values. Perhaps God will show you, in His time (not ours), why the road bent in your life.

Habakkuk is known for his powerful statement in 2:4, “The just shall live by faith,” (quoted in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38). Lesser known is the same prophet who said the “just shall live by faith” asked God for an explanation in chapter one “How long, O Lord, will I call for and you will not hear?” (1:2). Habakkuk’s calling was to prophesy the doom of Judah days before the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar (605 BC). Of course, he did not realize what God was doing. Daniel and his three friends would be taken captive in Nebuchadnezzar’s sacking of Jerusalem and you are likely familiar with the events that followed in Daniel’s life. Nevertheless, I am quite certain Habakkuk was not very excited about his prophetic assignment.

The Lord’s response to Habakkuk’s request for an explanation is profound: “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5). Though perplexed, Habakkuk learned to trust God because of who God is! It is interesting, God gave Habakkuk a vision of what He was doing and Habakkuk nearly collapsed! (see Habakkuk 3:16) Only then did Habakkuk utter the great faith statement of the Bible, we have to live by faith! Habakkuk chapter three, according to Dr. Charles Ryrie, is “a great psalm of praise, scarcely equaled anywhere else in the Old Testament.”[iii] I see the progression:

1) Lord, I need an explanation. God replies that he couldn’t handle the explanation;

2) I will live by faith, and

3) Praise erupts!

“The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet and makes me walk on my high places”—all his confidence was in the Lord God.
Sincerely,

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

[i] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 9.

[ii] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 110.

[iii] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, Expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 1442.

The Greatest of All Virtues

“And when He had given thanks (εὐχαριστέω), He gave …” Mark 14:23

Dear rob

A passage not often associated with “thanksgiving” is the story of Jesus’s astonishing miracle in Luke 17. Jesus heals ten lepers and only one (“a foreigner,” by the way) bothered to return with gratitude (see Luke 17:11–19). Saying “Thank You” should never be difficult. No one more than Jesus exemplified a lifestyle of thankfulness. An important word in our Christiantradition – eucharisteó: to be thankful – is forever in our hearts as we reflect on Jesus’s “giving thanks.” Immediately, in Mark’s Gospel, we are told, “He gave.” It is a subtle reminder that thankfulness only happens as we “give thanks.” Jesus, always the genius, was on to how important it is for us to experience gratitude.

This year I am grateful for the ways in which Audrey and I, along with our five children pictured above, have learned to pray with more empathy for so many who have suffered and struggled. Who hasn’t this year? Even in our home, we have felt the effects of pandemic-induced anxiety in our children, which God has used to bring us closer to each other and Him. I am also thankful for laughter in the midst of struggles. We have laughed. We have laughed a lot this year. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Joy, peace, gratitude, these are disciplines, not talents we are born with! We know, no matter what, God is always in control. Even so, as one great Christian Thinkers said, “it’s always easier to obey God than to trust God” (Jerry Bridges). I am also thankful for ChristianThinkers, like you, around the globe who continue to stand with us in grace and truth. 

So, was Jesus on to something related to gratitude? I think so. 

Did you know, according to UC Davis Professor Robert Emmons, “gratitude blocks toxic emotions”?[i] Did you know experiencing gratitude can strengthen your immune system and even lower your blood pressure?[ii] Experiencing gratitude will make you stronger and healthier.

My friend, Dr. Gregory Jantz, who started The Center, A place for Hope, says, “What has gratitude got to do with spirituality? Everything, because gratitude is a form of prayer. We are thankful to someone. Thirteenth-century German mystic Meister Eckhart summed it up: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”[i] Experiencing Gratitude can even strengthen your immune system and lower your blood pressure. Experiencing gratitude will make you stronger and healthier. Gratitude confirms we did not accomplish anything on our own.

Don’t forget: gratitude can be expressed in a range of creative ways. According to the science of well-being, we need to cultivate certain habits to be happy. Perhaps one of the strongest indicators of your personal mental health, right now, is your ability to experience and cultivate a life of gratitude. In Christiancircles, we call this “counting our blessings.” Thankfulness: The Greatest of Virtues and parent of all others (said Cicero)!

Paul has been called the “Apostle of Thanksgiving,” which is rather interesting because most of his opponents doubted God was with Paul because had many problems and so much affliction (read 2 Corinthians). 

“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Paul taught us to give thanks “for all things”: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Paul taught that not being thankful was the first step in apostasy: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:21).

What qualities are going to define you? Our family will be defined by gratitude. 

Amen. Thank you for standing with Christian Thinkers Society in prayer!

Sincerely,

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

Important: Here’s what it is like from the front lines of ministry in a pandemic

 

As you prayerfully evaluate the current cultural and social climate, I want to continue guiding you by the hand through recent live ministry events across America with the Christian Thinkers Society. There are tremendous signs of hope as Christians continue thinking, worshipping, serving, and doing outreach, and yet, there are causes for concern, too. For example, a week ago, I spoke five times in New Jersey at Southridge Community Church for their Accelerate weekend (and the church is celebrating her 150th anniversary!) – Southridge is located in Hunterdon County, considered a bedroom community of New York City.

One story stood out to me: a gentleman in his 70s was hospitalized for over 80 days due to Covid. There are weeks of his life he doesn’t remember from the hospitalization. Even so, this dear man and his wife continued their faithfulness to their local church and attended our Accelerate event! Ministry in a pandemic continues to look different. Even though I was speaking in-person inside the church worship center, we still had to utilize live streaming, breakout rooms, masks, and social distancing. But one thing remained the same – all were challenged to engage with the truths of our faith thoughtfully and boldly! It was refreshing to hear feedback such as “overflow rooms needed” and “bursting at the seams” Sunday morning from church staff full of excitement, all while implementing the strict social distancing guidelines! I want to commend church staffs who are leading out, not being silent, finding ways to gather, worship, and reach out during the pandemic in the powerful Name of Jesus!  Here’s a question for you to consider? Should we continue to minister in a pandemic or should we just shut everything down?

 

I want you to know that Christianity emerged in a world of immense suffering and low life expectancy. Life expectancy in the time of Jesus and the early church averaged twenty years of age. Skeletal remains suggest that as many as one-quarter (25 percent) of the Roman Empire, on any given day, was sick, dying, or in need of immediate medical attention; often, only one-third of the skeletons found in archeological digs from that time are those of adults. Infant mortality was as high as 30 percent; fewer than 49 percent of children saw their fifth birthday. Even in the glorious city of Rome, infant mortality was common. Near the catacomb of San Panfilo, 83 of the 111 graves are of children. Only 40 percent of the population lived to the age of twenty. With this in mind, Jesus’ reputation as a famous Miracle Worker and Healer guaranteed that people would try to see Him (See, for instance, Mark 5:28; 6:56; 8:22; 10:13). The church grew and grew fast, even though there were 1,000 ways to die in the Roman Empire.

These facts should challenge each of us not to be silent, to continue to worship and be the church in the world. The church never takes a time-out.

Sincerely,

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

Paul had to learn the discipline of peace … check out this important clip for experiencing God’s Shalom in our lives!

Jeremiah takes you on a tour of the recent event in Billings, Montana! Ministry events look different because of Covid. People came from all Montana and even Wyoming! We used five ballrooms, five jumbo screens, etc, to accommodate appropriate distancing. And it all went GREAT! #apologetics #christianthinkerssociety #unimagimablebook

Sin poisons everything … we must stand for grace and truth

Recommended NT Commentaries

Friends who joined Chris Brooks Equipped Radio and me today on Moody Radio – attached are recommended NT commentaries and guide to interpretation. See you next week for Theological Thursdays!

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