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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Alister McGrath: Mere Discipleship (Encore Presentation)

January 11, 2020

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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Why God Loves Cities and What it Means For You

 

People are looking for interactive compassionate community members. Chris Brooks, host of the Equipped with Chris Brooks radio show, discusses what it looks like for us to embody faith and live out the implications of the Gospel in front of a watching world.

The Great Commission outlined in Matthew 28:16-20 means being around people is necessary, points out guest Chris Brooks. He disagrees with a call to separation from the world when it means disengagement. Brooks is eager to see urban areas transformed with the truth of the Gospel. “The Bible never calls us to cut ourselves off from society,” he says. “We have to live our lives. We also have to understand that we are His ambassadors. We trust the Gospel and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.”

ProfileGod has placed believers in different places, and we each have a calling and a destiny where we are, Brooks says. “Everyone needs to find their ‘where.’ God wants to do a phenomenal work,” he says. “I want us to see broken but beautiful cities as gold mines for Jesus. The Gospel works regardless of zip code. Our homes are lighthouses in this dark world.”

In reaching other people, effective ministry is made possible by the richness of one’s own relationship with God, says Brooks. “The fruit of the Spirit is far more important than the gifts of the Spirit,” he says. “I want people to know this Jesus that changed my life. I Corinthians 10:31 says ‘whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’ That’s my heart, my passion, my desire.”

Christianity has accomplished great good in the world, Johnston and Brooks emphasize. “The ethics of the Gospel include that every human being carries value,” Brooks says. “We need to pray for the welfare of the city we’re in and embrace the call to creative evangelism. God’s called us to create and not just consume culture. This generation is looking for people who embody the ethics of the Gospel – being committed to not just talking the talk, but walking the walk, and living out the implications of the Gospel in front of a watching world.”

Chris Brooks is the senior pastor of Woodside Bible Church, a multisite congregation across the metro-Detroit area. Brooks hosts “Equipped with Chris Brooks” on Moody Radio. He is the author of “Kingdom Dreaming” and “Urban Apologetics.”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Finding Your Calling with the Kendrick Brothers

 

How did film directors Stephen and Alex Kendrick find there calling? A great discussion answering your questions as well as what God has called them to do and where their journey has brought them.

The Kendrick brothers discuss their latest film, “Overcomer,” and their path to becoming celebrated filmmakers with Dr. Jeremiah Johnston. Stephen and Alex Kendrick began their path to becoming influential Christian filmmakers as children when they filmed scenes played out in their backyard. As adults, the men entered youth ministry before embarking on their first film project, “Flywheel.”

The initial project was planned as a community outreach that would show in a local theater. The outcome far exceeded the brothers’ expectations, however, and the DVD has sold 1.2 million copies to date. After “Flywheel” came “Facing the Giants,” “Fireproof,” “Courageous,” “War Room” and “Overcomer.”

As a practice, the pair have made a film about every two to three years, spending time praying as they prepare for the next one. Their creative process has often been that God inspires Alex with film scenes, and at the same time, Stephen is studying Scriptures that relate. The writing of the film then unfolds, with collaboration together and review from others.

“God puts us in synch in different ways,” Stephen says. “Ultimately, we want God’s fingerprints on everything. We seek to please Him and to tell stories that are relatable.”

Stephen says, “We realized that telling stories – especially if it connects with the audience – is a wonderful form of ministry.”

For “Overcomer,” the brothers explore what it means to have one’s identity rooted in Jesus Christ. They were particularly inspired by Ephesians 1 and 2, in which the Apostle Paul concludes, “In him, you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

The brothers say their passion remains the Great Commission, and inspiring the Church through their films and accompanying materials to live according to her calling. “It’s been harder super fulfilling and harder than I thought,” Stephen says. “In the end, if we can people and encourage them with relatable stories, that is success for us.”

Stephen and Alex Kendrick write, produce and direct inspiring, Christian-based films. Their latest film, “Overcomer,” was released in 2019.

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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 , 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 s further the Gospel message around the world and assists persecuted believers.

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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.”