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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Alister McGrath: Mere Discipleship (Encore Presentation)

January 11, 2020

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The Greatest of All Virtues

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

Dear rob

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

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


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

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


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

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


Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

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

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

Sin poisons everything … we must stand for grace and truth

Recommended NT Commentaries

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

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4 Principles That Affirm God’s Power

I begin this post by wishing my amazing wife, Audrey Lynn, a very HAPPY 16th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!

Audrey is the co-founder of Christian Thinkers Society, my prayer partner, she earned the Master of Divinity while pregnant with Lily Faith, she is mom-extraordinaire, my friend, and Jesus Christ remains the center of our marriage! Here’s a photo we took yesterday after meeting with a wonderful pastor here in Houston.

– Thank you for praying for our event with Rice University Ratio Christi which was broadcast LIVE in the Lecture Hall of the Rice University Geological Building across from the Student Center – details below! Upcoming CTS events with Colson Fellows and LIVE Apologetics Outreach Events in Montana and New Jersey! Thank you for your prayers.

Steve Jobs was one of the most iconic people of our time. His innovations have shaped and connected the world. No wonder he appeared on the cover of Time eight times between 1982 and 2011. Earlier in life Steve Jobs had an unanswered question that, tragically, caused him to walk away from his Christian faith. Walter Isaacson wrote these chilling words about Jobs’s loss of faith at 13 years of age:

In July 1968 Life magazine published a shocking cover showing a pair of starving children in Biafra. Jobs took it to Sunday school and confronted the church’s pastor. “If I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I do it?” The pastor answered, “Yes, God knows everything.” Jobs then pulled out the Lifecover and asked, “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?” “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.” Jobs announced that he didn’t want to have anything to do with worshipping such a God, and he never went back to church.*

Perhaps the most prevalent unanswered question people have today is the question of tragedy, pain, and suffering. As Christian thinkers, we must be prepared to answer these questions for the young Steve Jobses of the world.

Here are four principles that affirm God’s ultimate power over and purpose for evil and suffering in our world.


In Genesis 39 God allowed Joseph to be wrongfully accused by Potiphar’s wife and then thrown into prison, where he waited 13 years before he finally had an audience with Pharaoh. Was Joseph right with God? Was he living obediently? Yes. And yet God allowed this problem to occur because He had an ultimate purpose in mind. After his trial was over, Joseph could say to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).
How do you see this principle in action in your life? That challenge in your life that you think is trying to destroy you—God is using it for good. God wants to get you to a place in your Christian life where you are utterly dependent on Him. Those experiences in Joseph’s life that were meant for evil were actually
a disguised blessing. God had a much greater purpose not only in Joseph’s life but also for all of Israel. Through Joseph’s rise to power and wise leadership, the messianic line of Abraham was saved from famine.


Often the issue is not so much a struggle with evil as the need for a personal decision: Will I trust the Lord in hard times? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would rather have died trusting God than live outside His plan. They had no guarantees that God would physically protect them from the fiery furnace, and yet they uttered three of the most courageous words in the Bible—“But if not”:

If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. DANIEL 3:17-18, ESV


When we suffer, we realize how insignificant our lives are apart from living them in the will of God. We see that the real value of life is not in the temporal realm but in eternal matters. Abraham proved his faith by his willingness to sacrifice his son of promise, Isaac (see Gen. 22). Like Abraham, we must make the decision to persevere in our faith. Let us also never forget that just as God provided the ram in Abraham’s story, God is bringing our solution in His perfect timing.


Biblical heroes like Abraham, Joseph, Job, and others did not have clarity about their trials in the midst of them. It was only later that they realized what God was doing during the crisis.

Even Jesus suffered depression and such sorrow prior to His crucifixion that He nearly died (see Matt. 26:38). So intense was His pain that He asked His Father, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” (Matt 26:39, NASB). Only a few hours later He would sense such unimaginable abandonment from His Father that He would cry out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, ESV).

The author of Hebrews recorded these profound thoughts for us:

We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. HEBREWS 4:15, NIV

Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you. HEBREWS 13:5, NIV

Jesus persevered through His suffering in obedience to His Father. Through His experience, we can be confident that He knows what we are going through when we suffer and that God will bring about His good purposes for our lives as He brought victory over evil through Jesus.

– Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

 Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), 14.

Rice University CTS Ratio Christi EVENT Pictures and Feedback

From: Carrie
Subject: Ratio Christi mtg

Message Body:
Dr. Johnston,
I was the person who asked last night, during the Ratio Christi meeting, if you had a study guide for your book. I would love it if you would share your slides and would promise not to share them outside of a small group situation. However, more importantly than that,  I just want to say how grateful I am that you wrote this book. Working with youth for many years, I have realized how important it is to make them understand the significance and beauty of the Christian movement. If you ever decide to do a study guide, I’ll push it like a drug dealer. 🙂 But, honestly, I’m going to push this book, regardless.
I thank you so much for your work. God bless you and your super cute family!

26 days until the election … did you know 1 in 4 Christians are not registered to vote? I am grateful for “My Faith Votes” 

You can access all the free non-partisan materials for your church to participate in National Voter Registration Sunday with a virtual or in-person voter drive here.

One of the most requested My Faith Votes resources every election year is their Party Platform Guide. Please check it out and vote your faith!

Rice University Ratio Christi


Would you please pray for me? As you can see from the Rice University Ratio Christi flyer above, this evening I am speaking to Rice University students (both in-person and virtually) on a very important subject – The Relevancy of Christianity. What difference does Christianity make in the world? As you know, it makes ALL the difference! What happens when God is sidelined and Christianity marginalized? Can we quantify the impact of the Gospel spiritually and transformationally in our world?

During the scheduling phone call, I was told by my host that Rice University is the most hostile university in the state of Texas to Christianity. Isn’t it wonderful we are doing an event on campus to encourage/equip the Christian students and also to reach the seekers?

From my host and new friend, Chuck McWhirter: “The event is for Rice University students only but we so appreciate the prayers of all … I think your message in that book is in direct confrontation with what the secular world is pushing as its narrative against Christianity.”

Friends, I have three prayer requests:

1. The event is for Rice University students only, but I want to ask you to pray for the Holy Spirit to speak through me as I bring God’s truth and biblical answers. University students need to know God loves them. God has a plan. God is truth.

2. Please pray for the Holy Spirit to make a powerful impact on the students that they will be inspired to boldly exemplify their faith on campus.

3. Please pray for Ratio Christi (the club hosting the event this evening) and the conference organizers. More information can be found here:

Yesterday I was interviewed on the Faith Radio Network about Suicide Prevention month, here is a link to listen to that discussion.

Thanks for your prayers for Christian Thinkers Society.

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

35 days until the election … did you know 1 in 4 Christians are not registered to vote? I am grateful for “My Faith Votes” 

You can access all the free non-partisan materials for your church to participate in National Voter Registration Sunday with a virtual or in-person voter drive here.

One of the most requested My Faith Votes resources every election year is their Party Platform Guide. Please check it out and vote your faith!

Suicide Prevention Month


#CancelNetflix – When you cancel be sure to check the “Other” box and share why … “We don’t support pedophiles” or “We don’t support child pornography”

Netflix has lost over $9 billion in market value since the #CancelNetflix hashtag went viral.

We have been Netflix subscribers since 2012. We canceled our subscription today. #CancelNetflix has been trending for days on twitter. If you are wondering why we canceled our Netflix subscription, I encourage you to read my full call to action newsletter from August 23rd “They’re coming for our kids”

Netflix has more than 182 million subscribers and added an additional 16 million subscribers during the pandemic.

Child exploitation is not okay.

Here is the link to cancel Netflix:

In my email from August 23rd (linked here, again), I offer some important protection suggestions for your family.

One word of warning: we must do more than cancel. We have to train our children and grandchildren to have a biblical worldview. Therefore, it is equally important to discuss why we stand for absolute truth and biblical values. Why we do not have to give into cultural pressure. Why we cannot be silent.

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

49 days until the election … did you know 1 in 4 Christians are not registered to vote? I am grateful for “My Faith Votes” 

National Voter Registration Sunday is just five days away. This Sunday, September 20, 2020, churches across the country will encourage their congregations to register and prepare to vote.

You can access all the free non-partisan materials for your church to participate in National Voter Registration Sunday with a virtual or in-person voter drive here.

One of the most requested My Faith Votes resources every election year is their Party Platform Guide. Please check it out and vote your faith!

Your Family: The Most Important Ministry

Thanks for watching Justin Johnston’s latest Lego Video! Thanks for subscribing to his channel: “Justin Lego Tube” and sharing the video! (4:43 length)

A very wise friend once told me: “Jeremiah, your most important ministry is your family … never forget this.” 

I am not a perfect Dad, but I want to be.

I am not a perfect husband, but I want to be.

I will never be a perfect Christian; thank God, my Savior is perfect for me!

Notwithstanding … I will stop at nothing to put my marriage and family first. It took me about 14 years to learn this lesson (c. 2018). I hope it does not take you as long.

We need to learn to say “no” for the bigger “yes” in our lives. Yes to our walk with Christ. Yes to our family. Everything else comes next.

The good news is, we can do it! When we have our ministry priorities correct, our greater ministry (that is, the work we do outside of our marriage and family) becomes even more impactful because we minister from a place of strength. We earn the right to be heard, not because of the size of platform, or the x-factor, or any other factor other than the calling and equipping of almighty God.

I recognize this reordering of priorities does not happen overnight. Yet, with God’s , it can happen.

There are also challenges. I get it. We only have 24 hours in a day. I have a ministry that keeps me busy 8-days-per-week. I feel the tension of being a Dad to five children who each need me. They spell love T.I.M.E. So we try to meet the need day in and day out. Life is messy. Each day is different, but we must keep the priorities in place.

Here are some practical thoughts (representative, but not exhaustive):

1). Read To Your Children (the report I’ve linked here is crucial). I am currently on book 4 Prince Caspian in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Reading to Lily and Justin does not happen every night, but it occurs regularly! Remember, learning begins at birth, and it is important for children to be engaged in storytelling and interacting with the written word through books at a young age. By the age of three, children from wealthier families have heard about 30 million more words than children from lower-income families. For children entering kindergarten, 34 percent lack the basic language skills needed to learn how to read. By the time children from low-income families enter grade school, their ability to read is already an issue.

2). Find Hobbies with your Children (that do not involve screens!). During the lock-down, I have had to learn video editing. I did not enjoy learning video editing. I have a whole new appreciation for media editors. This is not my calling. I have no interest in video editing; however, my son (Justin, age 8) wanted to create a YouTube channel because he loves to share legos he builds, especially the more challenging lego builds. When Justin asked me to film him and edit the videos, the answer was yes. Then I had to learn how to edit and produce videos!

3). Be available. Children start taking at the most inconvenient moments. Have you noticed? It is never “the right time.” I recently finished writing my 10th book (64K+ words). Once upon a time, I asked the children to leave my office when I was writing previous books. I have not made that mistake in five years, but I learned from it. That is the point. Parenting is not perfect. We learn. We move forward. We can always improve. We need to be more available.

Yours, as ever

Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

Christian Thinkers Society

51 days until the election … here is an important reminder “I’m voting for an Essential Church” (please share)

A Rush of Hope

As Christian Thinkers, we are called to be the people who bring HOPE! No matter what challenges we face, hope is on our side because we serve Jesus Christ. I love constantly resourcing you with ways to be a Christian Thinker, which includes creative ways to spread the love of Jesus Christ in your community. For the first time in 30 years my friend, Pastor Greg Laurie, was not able to use Angels Stadium (Anaheim, California) for the annual Harvest Crusade. I respect Pastor Greg because instead of doing nothing, he upped his game to a Cinematic Crusade! Early this week Pastor Greg emailed Audrey and me a link to watch “A Rush of Hope” – which will be Streaming live this Labor Day weekend. The film is powerful, moving, and anchored in sharing the Hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I have included the film preview below, please check it out. A Rush of Hope is a digital event that will answer life’s biggest questions and will keep you on the edge of your seat. As I mentioned, they’re calling it a cinematic crusade, and it’s a completely new way of sharing the gospel!

A cinematic crusade?

This is the biggest event Pastor Greg Laurie and Harvest has ever put on, and it’s probably the most ambitious project they’ve ever put together. Some of you may still be wondering, “What exactly is a cinematic crusade?”

Think about it this way: You might go and see a wonderful Christian film like I Still Believe or I Can Only Imagine, and you’ll be moved by the story. And then you might also watch a preacher on television, preaching and giving the gospel.

Each is a separate medium. One is a medium of entertainment storytelling. The other is a medium of communication and preaching.

Pastor Greg and his team married these two media together in something that’s unique. So it’s cinematic. It’s storytelling. I like to think of it as “weaponized art”—and I mean weaponized in the way. We might say it has gospel hooks.

So I invite you to take part. It is free and done with excellence! And not only participate, but send the link out on social media. Share using their free graphics and videos.

Don’t you think our world needs A Rush of Hope?

A Rush of Hope will be broadcast LIVE this Labor Day weekend, September 4–7. See all showtimes at

RSVP to be part of the premiere!

Also, I want to make sure you did not miss my recent blog post “They’re coming for our kids and grandkids” – be sure to check out ways we protect our families by being proactive with all of the devices in our home.

Finally, thank you for your prayers for me! I finished my 10th book manuscript this week: Unleashing Shalom! 64,567 words and 14 chapters are submitted to my wonderful editor and the good people at Bethany House/Baker Publishing Company. All of our books, Bible studies, and ministry resources are much more than a one-off book or resource; each project becomes a ministry outreach tool with live events, equipping churches with curriculum, media programs, etc. We are extremely prayerful and thoughtful with each project becaue these resources are used for years and years. I look forward to unveiling more about this new project!


Jeremiah J. Johnston, Ph.D.

Press Release

IRVINE, Calif. — “A Rush of Hope,” a cinematic crusade from Greg Laurie and Harvest ministries will release on over 100 streaming channels Sept. 4-7, 2020.

Created in partnership with the Erwin Brothers’ Kingdom Story Company, “A Rush of Hope” will include encouraging messages from Greg Laurie, outtakes from faith-based films such as I Still Believe and Woodlawn and performances by artists such as Jeremy Camp, for KING & COUNTRY and MercyMe.

“Our life is like a movie,” says the voice of Laurie in the trailer. “It has a beginning, middle and end.”

“We all have questions about this movie that we are in. Is this movie a tragedy? Is it a love story? Or is it a comedy even? Do we win in the end? Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life? And what happens after I die?

“There are answers to these questions,” Laurie says.

“A Rush of Hope” is Harvest’s creative response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the ministry to cancel its in-person crusades scheduled this year at Anaheim’s Angel Stadium. The film’s release date was originally announced for August, but it has been moved to Sept. 4-7.

“We’ve never done anything like this before,” Laurie said. “The Covid-19 pandemic has completely changed all our plans, but it has opened an incredible window of opportunity for the gospel. Now, more than ever, people are hungry for something the world cannot give them. This cinematic crusade is designed to reach as many people as possible and them answer the deepest questions of their hearts.”

The move from an in-person stadium event to a cinematic crusade follows the success of other digital ministries launched by Harvest. Greg’s podcast received over one million downloads in its first month, and Harvest at Home, the online church platform that broadcasts Greg’s live sermons, has seen over 80,000 professions of faith since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. The unprecedented success of Laurie’s online ministry was recently featured in The Wall Street Journal.

“A Rush of Hope” will be available to stream on the below social platforms Sept. 4-7:

Greg Laurie Facebook Live (crossposted with 100 media partners)

Greg Laurie YouTube Live

Greg Laurie Twitter Live

Harvest Roku channel

Harvest Amazon Fire channel

Harvest Apple TV channel

Would you like to learn more about how you experience more Shalom in your life? What are the most important six adjectives, two nouns, and one verb for you to have God’s indescribable peace in your life? Check out my message below! 

59 days until the election … here is an important reminder “I am voting for unborn babies!” … please share this image! 

Check out some important stories: