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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Finding your calling with the Kendrick Brothers

October 12, 2019

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David Dockery on Leadership and Christian Education


Dr. Jeremiah Johnston and Dr. David Dockery discuss the intersection of education and the Christian faith. Dockery, who has written extensively, never thought he would be a university president. As the first person in his family to attend college, he grew to love the furtherance of education.

“Unfortunately, there is a sense in which people think of the Christian faith as being anti-intellectual, somewhat mindless and totally experiential in approach,” Dockery says. “The Christian faith has produced some of the great thinkers in the last 2,000 years. We believe all knowledge, truth and understanding finds its source in God.”

As a leader in higher education, Dockery speaks to the relevant issues facing students: “Being a Christian in today’s context requires some conviction and courage so it’s not just a cultural Christianity,” he says.

Christianity is not antithetical to education; in fact, the opposite is true. “There is this body of truth that is the Christian faith that has been passed along – people have thought deeply about it and it has led to this great Christian thinking that has become the foundation through which we address issues of the liberal arts, humanities, politics, philosophy, the arts, social sciences, natural sciences, media, journalism and music – the whole spectrum,” Dockery says.

Johnston offers evidence that the Bible encourages careful contemplation in Proverbs 14:15: “The simple believe anything, but the prudent give thought to their steps.” He points to other passages as well in which examination of the Scriptures is taught.

“As Christians, we’re not meant to be credulous, easily led astray and gullible,” Johnston says. “In the era of fake news and social media education, there is so much bad information.”

Johnston recommends studying the Bible and investing in tools such as a biblical dictionary and commentaries to supplement one’s study. “You can decide, ‘I’m going to be a critical Christian thinker,’” he says.

David DockeryDr. David Dockery is a longtime university administrator and is president of Trinity International University. He has served in Christian leadership roles and has authored and contributed to numerous works.

Craig Hazen on Fearless Prayer

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes Dr. Craig Hazen, known for his program leadership at Biola University and his books including “Fearless Prayer: Why We Don’t Ask and Why We Should.” The two discuss Hazen’s take on Jesus’ words in John 15:7 “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

“The passage captured my attention,” Hazen says. “I realized, ‘I’m not sure I really believe that.’”

Exploring the passage led Hazen to rediscover what prayer means. “Some people think that asking for things is a very low-level conception of prayer – that really what you want to aim for is some higher, mystical level where you’re not really asking for things, you’re just having a kind of communion with God,” Hazen says. “But the idea of asking things of God is actually central to biblical prayer. That kind of came as a shock to me.”

Hazen refers to the Lord’s Prayer in which Jesus models prayer to the Father including requests. “I think asking is not a low-level spiritual enterprise,” Hazen asserts. “It puts us in a position of depending on God. That really puts us just where God wants us. Through my study, I think we need to pray about everything – even if we think it’s a very selfish prayer. At least people are getting in front of God, and the Holy Spirit gets a chance to tinker with their soul and make it more in line with God’s Kingdom and God’s purposes. So, I say pray with abandon.”

Hazen encourages Christians to keep a journal and make note of answered prayers. “I think they need to write down their prayers every day and look back to see how God does fulfill those things,” he says. “It really is a miracle when you’re asking God the Father for something and He provides it.”

Hazen references the following verse, John 15:8: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

“If we’re tightly plugged into the vine, we will bear fruit,” Hazen says.

Johnston concludes, “Whatever you’re facing, God can meet you in prayer.”

Craig HazenDr. Craig Hazen is the founder and director of the master’s program with a concentration in Christian apologetics and director of the master’s program with a concentration in science and religion at Biola University. His recent book, “Fearless Prayer: Why We Don’t Ask and Why We Should,” explores the truth of Jesus’ promise about prayer.

Angie Smith: Real Talk About Loss


Dr. Jeremiah Johnston discusses life and ministry with Angie Smith, a writer who is known for illustrating relevant truths for women and girls. Smith details the story of losing her daughter, Audrey, shortly after birth. The grief of losing an infant is unique to the mother who carries the child, Smith says.

She encourages believers to take their pain and doubts to God. “God is not intimidated by you being angry; He knows how you feel,” Smith says. “You might as well bring your feelings to Him.”

To deal with one’s own trauma, Smith counsels others to take the time needed, and say “no” to additional responsibilities as necessary.

In comforting those who have suffered loss, Smith advises against pat answers. It’s okay to say you simply don’t know why something happened, she says. “What we do know is that we live in a sin-filled world,” she says. “There is so much freedom in knowing you don’t have the perfect answer. I know every single thing that comes to me has been sifted through God’s hands.”

A thinking faith is one that allows believers to ask questions and to exist in the tension between the known and the unknown. “In my mind, I always picture myself being in front of God in heaven and praying that He will say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ And then I’ll ask, ‘Where is she?’” Smith says. “For me, it’s accepting the ‘why?’”

Johnston then answers a question from Rick through about the books he reads. Johnston shares his latest reads entailing habit formation, Bible study, wealth-building and biographies.

Angie Smith is a writer and wife of Todd Smith, lead singer of Dove Award-winning group, “Selah.” She is the author of several books including, “I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Joy and Grief,” “What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms,” and “Mended: Pieces of a Life made Whole.” She holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Vanderbilt University and lives with her husband and daughters in Nashville, Tennessee.

Warren Cole Smith: The Colson Center

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes guest Warren Cole Smith, vice president of Mission Advancement at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. A seasoned writer and Christian leader, Smith shares what he’s learned by working in publications and ministry, and as a husband and father.

Reflecting on his career path, he reminisces about educational and vocational choices along the way. He advises, “Go through the door that’s open in front of you. Every step of the way I was learning, growing, and developing. Praying and getting counsel has been really important in helping me know what the right next step was.”

Smith says he pursued his passions and found that doing what God put on his heart was a blessing to others too. “Books had an impact on me; they moved me, instructed me, and discipled me,” he says. “You really have to be discerning about what God is calling you to and match that up.”

In his book, “Restoring All Things: God’s Audacious Plan to Change the World Through Everyday People,” Smith and his co-author, John Stonestreet, give examples of God working through regular people in extraordinary ways.

“Someone once told me that the Bible was written by three murderers: Moses, David, and Paul,” Smith says. “You might think that what you’ve done makes you unfit for service, but listen, God only uses broken vessels. We wanted to motivate an army of little platoons – men and women in their local communities who are doing work for the Kingdom. We are all called to some aspect of God’s great restoration work in the world.”

With other people and with one’s family members, Smith says that humility goes a long way. “Don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry,” he says. “I think it enhances our credibility when we’re able to say, ‘I don’t have all the answers.’”

Warren SmithWarren Cole Smith is vice president of Mission Advancement at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. An inspired writer, he is an author, co-author, and editor. Smith is also a speaker and radio personality.

Jerry B. Jenkins and Craig Evans: Dead Sea Rising

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston hosts special guests, the author and contributor of “Dead Sea Rising: A Novel,” a fictional story with a backdrop of accurate archeology. Dr. Jerry B. Jenkins collaborated with Dr. Craig Evans, a New Testament scholar, in the telling of the story.

Jenkins says, after becoming a Christian at an early age, he felt a calling for Christian ministry. He thought initially it would be in a traditional role such as a pastor, but he used his writing expertise instead to tell the story of the Gospel in untraditional ways. “Dead Sea Rising” is his 195th book; his titles have been on the New York Times bestselling list more than 20 times.

“I can exercise my gift and see results that evangelists and pastors see,” Jenkins says.

Although he has been broadly successful, Jenkins notes that his measure of accomplishment is different than it is for most authors. “It’s not about good reviews, sales and royalty checks,” he says. “To me, success is obedience. I obey by fulfilling that call.”

Jenkins says, “People listen to stories; they might or might not listen to a lecture or read an academic book, but they’ll read a story. I always teach writers that an article or a book should always be more than just about something – it should have a purpose – and the purpose is to see the truth.”

Jenkins says his work with Dr. Evans on the recent story was especially meaningful because Evans was able to provide solid, historical information and contextual guidance for the adventure story.

Evans emphasizes, “Real archeology is exciting too. You don’t have to distort it. It involves all kinds of crazy things. You can tell exciting, fictional stories and yet still be accurate.”

In the show, Dr. Johnston answers several questions through from listeners about the nature of God, the afterlife and even about having curiosity as a Christian.

“God loves you, and you can stand blameless because of the work Jesus did for you on the cross,” Dr. Johnston says.

Jerry JenkinsJerry B. Jenkins is a renowned Christian novelist, celebrated for books including the “Left Behind” series. As a New York Times bestselling author, he also helps aspiring writers become successful. Dr. Craig Evans is the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University. As a New Testament scholar, he has been called upon to contribute in many and academic projects.


Unanswered: The #1 Reason People Leave The Faith


Dr. Jeremiah Johnston broaches the sensitive topic of suffering in his message. “All of us have had experiences of suffering in our lives,” he says. “How do we even begin to understand all the promises that God has made to His people, and then we see all the problems God’s people experience?”

He points to Paul’s heart outpouring in 2 Corinthians 1. Paul writes in verses 8 and 9, “We do not want you to be uniformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death.”

Johnston says the takeaway for modern believers is:

  • I can and should be honest about my problems and pain
  • I come to know God better through my pain and suffering
  • My response to suffering determines my future
  • I do not suffer in vain; God’s plan and blessings are not cancelled by my trials

“God works in different ways; it’s our job to trust Him,” Johnston says. “Only when our circumstances exceed our ability to handle them do we really trust God.” As Paul concludes in the passage, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.”

Johnston continues the conversation with Dr. Craig Evans, the John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins at Houston Baptist University. Evans, a distinguished scholar and author, contrasts the pre-Christian and post-Christian worlds. “Where faith takes hold, societal standards go up. That’s the change that Jesus brought,” he says.

While the Bible does not promise deliverance from every dark situation, it does offer assurance of God’s presence, the two men conclude. Ultimately, suffering with the knowledge of God’s goodness and in dependence upon him is more meaningful than living on one’s own apart from His divine grace.


Unanswered: A Bible-ish Christianity


Today’s believers, especially in the United States, have an incredible amount of resources from which to choose, says Dr. Jeremiah Johnston. “Bibles and Bible-related materials is a $2.5 billion business in the United States, and yet Christians are increasingly illiterate when it comes to the Bible,” he says. “We have to stop giving lip-service and get in the pages.”

For Johnston, a new appreciation for Scripture came when he studied the early manuscripts while he was a student at the University of Oxford. “When we think about the Bible we have today, it’s an absolute miracle that we even have it,” he says. “The Bible is the best-seller of all time, and yet most Christians don’t know enough about it. If we really believe it’s God’s Word, shouldn’t we pay it a little more respect by getting to know the stories and the amazing adventure of how the Bible came to be?”

Making daily Bible reading a set habit can serve as a guardrail for one’s life, Johnston says, guiding a Christian into obedience, conviction and God’s will. “Have you noticed how confused you can become when you get away from God’s will for your life?” he asks. “It’s amazing how the fog of life lifts when you’re committed to the lamp of God’s truth.”

The Bible is good for a person’s whole being, as said in Jeremiah 15:16: “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight…”

As well as reading the Bible, Christians should understand that their lives are also a representation of the Gospel, Johnston says. He encourages the faithful to write out their testimonies and share a transformed life with those around them.

Unanswered: Is Paranormal the New Normal?


Fascination with the paranormal is not something that’s on the fringes of society, says Dr. Jeremiah Johnston. Instead, dabbling in the darkness has become a cultural phenomenon evidenced in things like scary movies, psychic consultations and witchcraft.

            “Human beings are spiritual beings,” Johnston says. “We hunger for the spiritual, but when we’ve sent God out the door, we mock the Christian faith. We buy into the lies and become entrapped and confused.”

            Johnston illustrates the prevailing confusion by pointing out that some psychics and others working in the paranormal industry claim to be Christians. “The paranormal is a slippery slope,” Johnston says. “Once you open the door to the spirit world, it will only affect your life negatively.”

            Johnston says that Christians must compare what they see in the world with the truth of God’s Word. He gives these points:

  1. We need to recognize that the paranormal is attractive and has become normal in our society.
  2. It preaches a false gospel, makes promises it can’t keep, and will always bring the participant into bondage and confusion.
  3. Only Jesus Christ can set us free. Only in Him can each of us experience lasting peace and can know the truth.

Believers are instructed in I John 4:1 to “not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Also, they are instructed in I Timothy 4:7: “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

Johnston warns that the things God forbids can seem appealing. “How do we respond to the fascination – and even attraction – with the paranormal world around us?” he asks.

Johnston reminds listeners that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), and that we are to be sober-minded since “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).

He answers a question from Jaden through about doubting one’s salvation. Johnston reminds him that when believers have thoughts that don’t align with the Bible, we can “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).


What Christians must understand about Suicide and Mental Health


Radio show host, Dr. Jeremiah Johnston, opens the show with a question for
listeners: “What is the most important apologetics question of our time?”

He says, “The Church has an amazing opportunity right now. If the Church can articulate an answer to this question in a biblically powerful way, this could be the key to unlocking a serious revival in our Church.”

Many people in the Church struggle with mental illness either personally or through the connection of a loved one. The number one question that Christian Thinkers Society receives revolves around suicide and mental health.

“I want to equip you and help you minister to people who are hurting,” Johnston says. He says that, 1) Christians should stop the silence surrounding mental illness, 2) we must stop the shame and exclusion, and 3) we need to understand mental illness and be present.

Johnston gives examples of Christians who have struggled with mental illness in history and today. Yet, most pastors rarely, if ever, address mental health. “Mental illness is no one’s fault,” he says. He draws parallels between common physical infirmities and mental ones.

“Do you know the Bible has a lot to say about mental health, right thinking, loving God, and training our mind?” Johnston asks.

Mark 2:17 “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”

Matthew 22:37 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Johnston advises Christians with these thoughts: 1) Every family struggles, 2) make a commitment to love instead of judge, condemn, and misunderstand, 3) build support groups for every age level for addressing mental health disorders, and 4) encourage the mentally ill in our church communities to serve.

Selma asks through if it is alright for a Christian to help a person end his or her life. Johnston tells her that God is the controller of all life. “It is terrible to watch people we know and love suffer,” he says. “But when people suffer, you never know how God is using the suffering to win other people to Jesus Christ.”


Unanswered: Body of Proof – Evidence for the Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central point of Christianity, and has been since the earliest days of the faith. Followers of Christianity do not have to take the bodily resurrection of Jesus on faith alone, says Dr. Jeremiah Johnston.

 “The claim that Jesus was truly resurrected assumed a heavy burden of proof. What persuaded Jesus’ followers to speak of Jesus’ resurrection was their conviction that Jesus had died, had been buried in a known place, and had exited that place,” he says. “These factors, in combination with His appearances, convinced His followers that Jesus was indeed the bodily resurrected messiah.”
Early believers had little to gain in their society and everything to lose for believing in the risen Lord. Jesus was a pariah in both Roman and Jewish cultures. Yet, His resurrection gave proof that He was Lord, and that followers of Christ could experience eternal life as well. John 14:19: “Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”
  Johnston says, “I have great news for you today. Jesus Christ rose from the dead and He lives, and there are great evidences for that belief.”
 He advises that 1) we must recover a resurrection-centric faith, 2) we should refresh our minds with evidence of the resurrection, and 3) we should recommit to live the mission of the resurrection.
“No matter what life throws at you, the resurrection promises that God is a God of new beginnings,” Johnston says. “The resurrection changes everything.”
The fact that Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to disciples and followers changed the course of history, and Christianity continues to influence the world for good. The hope that is found through Jesus is the basis for the Gospel. Paul writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (I Corinthians 15:14). He goes on to say, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (I Corinthians 15:20).
“Wherever you’re at, I pray this program equips you with evidence for the faith,” says Johnston. “Let the power of the resurrection fuel you this Christmas season to be bold for your faith.”