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Every Bible-believing American will suffer under this legislation

OPPOSE “THE EQUALITY ACT” (H.R. 5, link to Act here)

At Christian Thinkers Society, our mission is to resource and equip pastors, ministry leaders, educators, business leaders, students, children, parents, and families with the tools, information and education necessary to be a ChristianThinker. Thousands of leaders receive our CTS emails. I would not be following my calling if I did not make you aware of something extremely concerning if you care about a Christian world and life view, which the so-called “Equality Act” utterly opposes. It will be voted on by the House this week. The Church (Capital C – all followers of Jesus) must wake up!

I wrote a book called Unimaginable: What the World Would Be Like Without ChristianityHere I thought I had discovered and raised awareness for all of the grim results when Christianity is marginalized or collapses in society. I fear we will be seeing the first signs of this if the “Equality Act” is passed.

According to Family Research Council: Every Bible Believing American Will Suffer Under this Act: “Imagine an America where religious hospitals are forced to perform abortions. Where Bible-believing churches could be forced to hire pastors and other employees who don’t follow the teachings of the church and could be required to host same-sex wedding ceremonies. Where Christianschools are forced to cater to the preferences of students who identify as transgender, threatening the privacy and safety of young girls. If the U.S. House and Senate pass the ‘Equality’ Act, this is the future that could lie before us.”

Exact wording from H.R. 5: “(2) (with respect to gender identity) an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.”; 

As a father of five children, including a daughter, I must encourage you to read Justice Alito’s dissenting opinion in BOSTOCK v. CLAYTON COUNTY, GEORGIA, here is an excerpt:

“[B]athrooms, locker rooms, [and other things] of [that] kind.” “The Court may wish to avoid this subject, but it is a matter of concern to many people who are reticent about disrobing or using toilet facilities in the presence of individuals whom they regard as members of the opposite sex. For some, this may simply be a question of modesty, but for others, there is more at stake. For women who have been victimized by sexual assault or abuse, the experience of seeing an unclothed person with the anatomy of a male in a confined and sensitive location such as a bathroom or locker room can cause serious psychological harm.”

Please be informed and then URGE your US Representative and Senator to VOTE NO on H.R. 5 – “The Equality Act.” Link: EMAIL your U.S. House Representative and urge him or her to “Vote No” on “The Equality Act” H.R. 5).

 

Read this important summary: The Inequalities of the ‘Equality Act’ – The Equality Act (H.R. 3185/S. 1858, “the Act”)

Ryan Anderson’s NY Post op-ed is a very ful summary, here.

FRC: Mary Beth Waddel: How the “Equality Act” Is Actually Unequal, Unfair, and Unjust. I also would recommend you review the Full Publication, here.

Ken Blackwell writes: The ‘Equality Act’ Would Create a Religious ‘Separate But Equal’, I urge you to read his article.  “Where the civil rights movement created real equality, the Equality Act creates a separate but equal status based on deeply held beliefs. Under the Equality Act, those who reject a historical understanding of sexuality and gender have no concerns, but those who hold to a historical understanding of sexuality and gender will have fewer professional, educational, and athletic options and face greater legal liabilities regardless of where they are or what they do. Businesses owned by people with orthodox Christian, Jewish, or Muslim beliefs should eventually expect to have higher insurance rates as well because their legal exposure will be significantly higher because of those beliefs.That’s not equality.That is a force of destruction!”

 

Our friend, John Stonestreet offers an excellent summary with the implications of the Equality Acts, here, on Breakpoint. According to John: “Late last week, Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives introduced the Equality Act, a grave threat to religious liberty and conscience rights that would, in effect, erase all legal distinctions between male and female in public life. The Equality Act would make gender identity and sexual orientation protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forcing compliance in areas such as public accommodation and education … The Equality Act still faces significant obstacles in the Senate. Here are three things you can do:

  • Contact your Representative and your Senators and let them know to oppose the Equality Act.
  • Share widely the resources and articles on the Equality Act found at BreakPoint.org.
  • Go to promisetoamericaschildren.org and sign the statement committing to prioritize children’s rights over adult happiness and share the resources found there with your pastor, church, and community.”

According to The US Pastors Council:  “Pastors of every city and town across the nation, it is again time for us to stand publicly for God’s created order of male, female, moral decency and equal justice by calling on our Congressmen and Congresswomen to vote AGAINST the “Equality Act”.  Please call starting TODAY and reference the following points:

-The Equality Act would declare that sexual lifestyles and shifting states of mind like gender confusion are the same as immutable and identifiable characteristics such as race, sex and religion. There is no credible comparison.

  1. The Equality Act compares anecdotal claims by individuals of being wrongfully treated to centuries of systemic discrimination suffered by American Blacks and other ethnic groups that were denied access to voting, jobs and equal justice.  No such class discrimination has ever been proven for LGBTQ.
  2. The Equality Act would criminalize the deeply held and practiced religious beliefs of millions of Americans of all major religions who accept God’s created order of male, female, marriage between one man and one woman and the separation of the sexes in state of undress as well as competitive sports.
  3. The Equality Act is in fact an “Inequality Act” that creates Unequal Rights for a tiny few at the expense of the freedom of the vast majority with the power of the federal government weaponized against God and America loving citizens of every color, every corner.
  4. The Equality Act is a massive “problem looking for a solution” giving federal government power over the hearts and minds of innocent citizens.”

I have contacted my congressional representative, Troy Nehls, urging him to vote NO on “The Equality Act,” H.R. 5.

​I encourage you to do the same with your representative. Let’s stay in prayer for Christians to be thinkers with an activated faith that impacts our communities. 

I also am thankful for my friend, Professor Craig Evans, providing some excellent insights from his experience living in Canada, which I encourage you to read below. It is dangerous when governments decide what truth is and who can speak truth. 

Be bold. Stand for Truth. If you would like to share this email with a friend, you may click on “No Images? Click here” in the top-right corner of this email. Once clicked, the email will open in a new web-browser. You can share the link to this email with anyone. 

​Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D. 

Reminder: Please be informed and then URGE your US Representative and Senator to VOTE NO on H.R. 5 – “The Equality Act.” Link: EMAIL your U.S. House Representative and urge him or her to “Vote No” on “The Equality Act” H.R. 5).

A word from Craig Evans:

My family I lived in Canada for 35 wonderful years. Our daughters grew up in Canada. The oldest got married and gave us a wonderful grandson. We became dual citizens. Although back in the US, my wife and I have no regrets for our long and positive stay in the big country in the north. Politically and socially, Canada is a bit to the left of the US, though at the rate the US is moving left, that might not be true for much longer. One of the biggest mistakes the Canadian government made a number of years ago was to pass a law against “hate speech.” For most people what constitutes hate speech is obvious. The problem, however, is that the law’s definition of hate speech is so broad and so ill-defined, that it boils down to how one feels. It is very subjective. Thus, the “victim” defines the alleged hate speech. This has effectively ended free speech in certain areas of life, especially as it relates to human sexuality and sexual behavior. It is very risky, for example, to discuss the negatives involved in the  homosexual lifestyle. To mention anything that is negative (physical ill-health, mental ill-health, psychological problems, and the like) is to run the risk of being accused of hate speech. Clergy dare not share the biblical perspective. To do so is to run the risk of prosecution and loss of tax exemption, among other things. Consequently, aspects of homosexuality simply cannot be discussed, no matter what the physical and psychological realities might be. We are moving in this direction in the US. We are now told that gender is simply a matter of choice, not physical genetics. This, of course, flies in the face of logic and science, but facts, it would appear, no longer matter. The new, radical political-correctness poses many dangers. Perhaps the greatest threat is to freedom of speech.  — Craig A. Evans, Richmond, Texas

Finding Peace in Anxious Times

We hide the problem behind phrases like “an unprecedented year,” “a new normal,” or “a challenging season.”

Our ministry never sleeps! By God’s grace, our Christian Thinkers Society online presence has grown tremendously since the Covid shutdowns. I have shared God’s truth boldly and loving in virtual events from Rice University, to retirement senior living facilities in Missouri, church worship services from Florida to Michigan, and groups I admire like the Colson Fellows. As you can imagine, so many are searching for answers, truth, and God’s peace. This week we added additional media assets to our ChristianThinkers.com website. I am amazed one of our videos has nearly 99,327 views! I am thankful we create and offer free content, blogs, broadcasts, podcasts and videos for Christians to become thinkers!

There is another virtual event I want to make you aware of, which is timely. Christian Thinkers must be activated in the mental wellness discussion! We hide the problem behind phrases like “an unprecedented year,” “a new normal,” or “a challenging season.” But the truth is that all of us are dealing with more strains on our mental health than we’ve ever experienced…and many in the church are surviving instead of thriving. When there’s a gap between what we think we should be feeling as Christians–joyful, grateful, blessed–and how we really feel–exhausted, worried, hopeless–it’s hard to know where to turn. I am delighted to join this panel of Christian Thinkers have been there, whether through personal experience with anxiety and depression or through extensive counseling training and practice. We want to equip you with practical advice for addressing mental health issues during difficult times, sharing:

-Insights on the reality of mental health struggles, even among believers

-Truths to apply to both everyday stress and overwhelming attacks of anxiety

-Ways to discern what habits and practices can provide peace and focus

Whether you’re looking to improve your own mental health or want to better understand and care for those you love who are struggling, this roundtable discussion is for you.

The event is free and all you need to do is register your attendance, here. 

Date And Time

Thu, March 4, 2021

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM CST

Add to Calendar

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

(more updates below)

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It has been a tough week in Texas. We lost power temporarily. By the time we blew up the air mattresses and got our five children to sleep, the power had returned. Thank you for praying for all of the families struggling with damage; as well as the first responders. A dear friend of ours, who is a nurse, was at the hospital for four days straight this week serving patients.

Excited to hold my first academic chapter published in German on the “Kingdom of God” in Mohr Siebeck’s “Jesus Handbuch” – co-authored with my friend and colleague, Professor Craig A. Evans Mohr Siebeck | Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company will also be publishing the chapter for an English version. This book will be read by “dozens” at most, but it is important to continue to shine the Light in the academic world, too! Plus, our article on the “Kingdom of God” is a very important subject.

Audrey and I want to recommend that you watch “The Chosen” with your family and friends. I cannot recommend this series enough. I first heard about “The Chosen” when I interviewed and filmed with Jerry Jenkins and Craig Evans for our radio show while season one was in creative production. Jerry’s son, Dallas Jenkins, is the director. They’ve filmed much of the show in Texas!

We have five children (ages 4 1/2 –  11) and all of us are watching the episodes together. I thank God for this media to disciple our children. There is a creative story that weaves around the canonical gospel materials and I find the program drawing us in at several points. Episode three of season one is Jesus teaching several children and I cannot tell you how much our family loved this episode. The Chosen is:

  • the first-ever multi-season show about Jesus​
  • the #1 highest crowd-funded project of all-time at $10 million from over 19,000 people​
  • translated into 50 languages and counting​
  • consistently ranked in the top 50 entertainment apps on ios and android​
  • completely free to watch on our app that connects directly to streaming devices with no fee or subscription necessary​
  • generating income for future seasons when viewers choose to “pay it forward” after viewing

How to watch “The Chosen”: This was the part where you need to pay attention because it took us a minute.

I recommend opening your smart phone and downloading “The Chosen” app on either the android or apple store. Also, you can download the family-friendly streaming app, VidAngel to watch it on your streaming devices. Of course, you can purchase the whole season on DVD, too. Check their website for more details.

I celebrate this excellent media and hope you will take advantage of these great opportunities with your friends and family …

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Jeremiah’s Surgery Update – Good News!

An Evening Update From Audrey Johnston

Jeremiah still has that tight grip!!! Thank you so very much for all your thoughts, prayers and encouragement throughout the day. Jeremiah is doing very well, Praise the Lord! His surgery was a success, very straightforward with no complications (surgeon talk), which is extremely good news!!! He is resting tonight and will be in the hospital for 2-3days if everything goes as planned. Because of COVID procedures I am not allowed to visit him in the hospital, (thank the Lord for FaceTime) but was grateful to spend time with him in recovery after surgery. He grasped my hand so very tightly, I smiled as it brought back a memory of one of the first times Jeremiah and I met. I was signing up for youth camp and was turning in my registration at the church office. Jeremiah happened to walk by me, shaking my hand, literally crushing my hand, lol!!! I was quite shy at the time. A God moment I will not forget!

In recovery, while very dizzy and not quite awake he kept asking how the surgery went, thanking God each and every time we told him everything was great. He also continued to thank his sweet nurse Miss Kathy (over and over again ;)) for taking such good care of him. Jeremiah’s heart truly shines in ALL situations. Thank you again friends and family for all your love and support! We are blessed by you, truly!!!

Finally, I wish you could have heard the prayers of Dr. Scott McKnight (the colon surgeon) and Jeremiah, both holding hands, in the pre-op holding area. God is so good. The people of God are a blessing.

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you, Jesus, recovery and healing has begun.

Yours in Christ with hope,

Audrey L. Johnston, M.Div. Christian Thinkers Society

Personal update from Jeremiah + Watch The Chosen with your whole Family!

Two thumbs up from our youngest triplet, Jaxson! Daddy is healing and doing great, by God’s grace! Thank you so much for your prayers for me, my wife, Audrey, and our family. On January 19th, I had a portion of my colon removed because of recurrent acute diverticulitis (a sigmoid colectomy). Thanks be to God, all of the pathology was benign. I am healing! I expect to hear the “all clear” from my surgeon on March 2nd, 2021, which will conclude the six-week recovery. Thankfully, my work with Christian Thinkers Society is busier than ever and does not require me to lift more than 10lbs; however, I am ready to Audrey take out the trash and wrestle with my boys again! I wanted to close the loop by giving you this update and thanking you for praying for us. God is so good, all of the time.

Now to some important ministry updates …

Audrey and I want to recommend that you watch “The Chosen” with your family and friends. I cannot recommend this series enough. I first heard about “The Chosen” when I interviewed and filmed with Jerry Jenkins and Craig Evans for our radio show while season one was in creative production. Jerry’s son, Dallas Jenkins, is the director. They’ve filmed much of the show in Texas!

We have five children (ages 4 1/2 –  11) and all of us are watching the episodes together. I thank God for this media to disciple our children. There is a creative story that weaves around the canonical gospel materials and I find the program drawing us in at several points. Episode three of season one is Jesus teaching several children and I cannot tell you how much our family loved this episode. The Chosen is:

  • the first-ever multi-season show about Jesus​
  • the #1 highest crowd-funded project of all-time at $10 million from over 19,000 people​
  • translated into 50 languages and counting​
  • consistently ranked in the top 50 entertainment apps on ios and android​
  • completely free to watch on our app that connects directly to streaming devices with no fee or subscription necessary​
  • generating income for future seasons when viewers choose to “pay it forward” after viewing

How to watch “The Chosen”: This was the part where you need to pay attention because it took us a minute.

I recommend opening your smart phone and downloading “The Chosen” app on either the android or apple store. Also, you can download the family-friendly streaming app, VidAngel to watch it on your streaming devices. Of course, you can purchase the whole season on DVD, too. Check their website for more details.

I celebrate this excellent media and hope you will take advantage of these great opportunities with your friends and family …

More ministry updates below.

Jesus and Nicodemus

Finally, it was my joy to film with The Baptist Home, an organization that has been serving seniors for well over 100 years, providing Christlike care to the aging since 1913. I hope you will watch the interview, which aired in a three-part broadcast across their network of assisted living centers. Covid and associated fears have caused many seniors to feel isolated and alone. What a blessing it was to share about the Peace of God – Shalom – across all of the retirement centers. Please watch and share below … Also, here is the audio link: https://thebaptisthome.org/ep-7-03-dr-jeremiah-johnston-full-interview/.

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

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.