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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Alister McGrath: Mere Discipleship (Encore Presentation)

January 11, 2020

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When Common Sense is No Longer Common

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 herehttps://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/19a1070_08l1.pdf

#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.org/EF/EF19G02.pdf

#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:

China orders Christians to renounce faith in Jesus & worship President Xi Jinping instead

 

CDC: The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall

John MacArthur says Grace Community Church ‘has duty to remain open’

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.

Who do I want to be during COVID-19? Fear Zone, Learning Zone, or Faith Zone?

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
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 s 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.”

Intersecting Faith in Our Culture Work, and Politics

Intersecting faith in our culture, work, and politics

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston discusses problems and possibilities for modern Christians with Dr. Bruce Ashford, provost of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Christians must have deep faith roots in order to survive and thrive. One of the ways that facilitates growth and maturity is church involvement. “Church needs to be more than the Sunday morning hour,” Ashford explains. “We’re going to have to find ways to build strong relationships and hold each other accountable.”

Ironically, the Church has often been strongest when it has been persecuted. While believers enjoy great freedoms in the United States, culture has changed, and hostility toward the message of the Bible is commonplace.

“We need to embrace the moment and strengthen ourselves as Christians – no matter who opposes us,” Ashford says.

As they immerse themselves in Scripture, Christians should not detach from cultural issues. “We are God’s agents for this era in the U.S.,” Ashford says. “We have to let the Bible narrative of the world be the true story, and we need to soak ourselves in that narrative. We are actually an act in the biblical play.”

Each form of entertainment, news, and input is important for believers, since their thinking is influenced by what they consume.

Jesus made a difference in His world, bringing the Father’s will to Earth by healing illness, preaching truth, and ultimately providing for the forgiveness of sins. Likewise, Christians should actively seek to change the world around them, rather than withdrawing from the disappointing parts of society.

“Christianity makes enormous claims. They’re true claims. When I first became a Christian I grappled with the fact that, if Jesus is Lord, how does it affect my life going forward?

Why does He matter for art or science, politics, economics, business, and entrepreneurship?” Ashford asks. “To the of our ability, we ought to carve out a society where people can live freely and where people can seek to persuade everyone in society toward a better way.”

Bruce Ashford is the provost of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a professor of Theology and Culture. He writes about the Church and its mission, politics, family issues, work, leisure, culture, and education.

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 us grow in our faith?’ And ‘Can we others as well?’ A mentor is someone who s 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 ing 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 ,” 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.