Friday, December 5, 2014

Nothing is Impossible with God

by Gregory A. Johnson
By André Karwath aka Aka (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

We are trained throughout life to reason things out. We are taught human reasoning skills throughout our education, and the training continues into the workplace. Human reasoning or logic is not bad unless we apply it to God and His Word. Human reasoning is the opposite of faith. Faith is placing our total trust in God and His Word’s application to our life and impossible situations.

Faith comes and increases by the Word of God. The more of God’s Word that we believe and obey, the more faith grows in us. God speaks His Word to us through the Bible and often confirms it through prayer and through other people. The Word that God impresses on our heart through prayer or the Word spoken through others will never be in conflict with God’s written Word. The more of His written Word that we learn, understand, and obey, the more we are able to discern and identify the many voices that we hear today. Everything should line up with and be in agreement with God’s written Word. As we learn and obey God’s Word, faith grows in us.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thanksgiving: A Time of Reflection

By Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory. (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/byways/photos/62736.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Mount Hood reflected in Mirror LakeOregon, USA
by Gregory A. Johnson

My most favorite time of the year is Thanksgiving. I cannot think of much I don’t like about it.

I like turkey, and all the trimmings. Pumpkin pie ranks in the upper echelon of pies I am most fond of, with a mound of whipped cream in the shape and enormity of snow-capped Mount Hood decorating the top of my slice.

I have precious memories of times I spent with dad in the woods during this time of the year, allowing his love and respect for God’s creation to be deposited in my intellect, becoming a part of my heart and soul.

I can still smell the goodness of aromas I experienced as a child coming from mom’s kitchen as I waited anxiously to gorge on oyster dressing, fresh cranberries, and sweet potatoes along with a fat turkey leg that was always reserved for me.

Yes, I love Thanksgiving. I always have. I always will.

Although Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and be thankful for everything that God has so graciously provided, enjoying it has no relation to the abundance of what we have, or what we lack. I can remember many times during our years of pastoring small churches in impoverished parts of Appalachia, that Becky and I didn’t know where our next meal was coming from or how we were going to pay the bills, but I still had everything that I was thankful for: my wife, my children, family, friends, a roof over our heads, and most importantly, God.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How to stay strong and courageous in a world full of fear

by Gregory A. Johnson
Tamme-Lauri oak. The oldest tree in Estonia. By Abrget47j (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There is much fear in the world today. There is no safe place to live. Terror, the fruit of terrorism, grows and ripens daily. There are wars and rumors of wars. Natural disasters are frequent, intense, and brutal. Drought, famine, and disease are widespread. Pandemic viruses know no boundaries. As we live as sojourners in a world that grows increasingly out of step with the Gospel, I encourage you to be strong and courageous.

In the first chapter of Joshua in God’s Word, God is getting ready to take Joshua, and the people of Israel, on a journey out of the wilderness that they were in for forty years, delivering them to the Promised Land. It won’t be easy. They will face a lot of obstacles on the journey, but God tells Joshua repeatedly to be strong and courageous.

Likewise, Christ’s followers are on a journey. On our journey, we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Jesus is taking us out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land; it is a journey from earth to glory. We will face a lot of obstacles along the way, but Jesus encourages us to be strong and courageous.

In the midst of all that is going on in the world and in our life, how do we stay strong and courageous? Allow me to share the two ways that are revealed to us in the first chapter of Joshua.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Picture of the Throne of God

by Gregory A. Johnson

"KorenGlory" by Vasiliy Koren' (ca.1640 - early 1700s) - Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia CommonsHave you ever wondered what the throne of God will look like? God's word gives us a vivid picture of it. There is a sea of people so grand in number that they cannot be counted. Every nationality and every language is represented (Revelation 7:9, NIV).

The position of those around the throne is significant. God and Jesus are in the center, and a sea of people is surrounding them. Angels are surrounding the sea of people. The sea of people, all in white robes are in the inner circle, and the angels are in the outer circle. The angels were created to serve God, but they were never redeemed. There is no need to redeem them because they have not sinned. The inner circle is saved for the redeemed—the ones in white robes. They have been bought back from a life of sin. The purchase price was costly; it was through the blood of God’s own son.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Are we living in the last days?

By National Geographic Channel (Original here) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
by Gregory A. Johnson

Today, there is more of an infatuation with the end of days than in any other time I can recall during my lifetime. Movies have been made, books written, and predictions made. Preppers are building bomb shelters, stockpiling food, water, guns and ammunition, while buying up silver and gold. Are we living in the last days?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Gender Equality

by Gregory A. Johnson

http://picturesofpoverty.com/post/13617563492/uganda-equality-signIn Jesus' day and the days of the early Pauline church, women were not recognized or treated much better than animals. There are still parts of this world where women are not allowed to get an education, vote, or even drive a car.

The apostle Paul taught that women were to be silent in the church and could not hold some leadership positions. In the early Pauline church, women would sit on one side of the church and men on the other. I love the apostle Paul, and I believe his writings are inspired of God. He is one of my heroes of the faith, but I must take my understanding of his teachings within the boundaries of the teachings and actions of Jesus. If I do that, I can properly interpret the Scriptures. If I don't do that, my theology will become unbalanced and the result will not look like the Kingdom according to Jesus.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Race Equality

by Gregory A. Johnson
Wikimedia Commons

Jesus made it clear that the Kingdom, which has been established in Him, is to include all people of all races, color, and creed, as indicated to us in His last words on earth prior to ascending back to the right hand of the Father.

The Gospel of Matthew concludes with Jesus informing His followers that the Kingdom is to be preached and taught in all nations: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Gospel of Mark concludes in the same manner: "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16).

Saturday, June 7, 2014

God is Always Working in Your Life

by Gregory A. Johnson

By King of Hearts (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsI was contacted by a man who had lost his business, home, wife, and children during a seven-year span. As if that were not enough heartache, he now found himself unemployed and homeless. He told me that the devil wanted him to kill himself, but he knew that the devil was a liar. Instead of suicide, he made the choice to trust Jesus, having faith that Jesus would bring him through it all.

So many precious people are in similar situations. Hopelessness abounds in our day, and can strike any of us at any time; none of us know what tomorrow will bring.

Allow me to draw your attention to something that Christ-follower Stephen said right before he was violently murdered by a group of religionists who thought they were doing God a favor. Stephen told them: “But as the time of the promise drew near, which God had granted to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt until there arose over Egypt another king who did not know Joseph. He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants, so that they would not be kept alive. At this time Moses was born”… (Acts 7:17-20 ESV).

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Surviving the Storms of Life

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Image ISS009E20440 was provided by the by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center. [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsUnder dark skies with the wind blowing wildly, causing the waves to be hurricane-like in size and strength, they were all together in the boat. Their pulses raced with anxiety. Fear was on the verge of overpowering and overwhelming them as they frantically tried steering the vessel through the madness and the fierceness of the raging sea. They would row in one direction only to have to row in the other direction as the unrelenting, powerful winds were swirling all about them. The spray was stinging their eyes, and the waves were lapping up over the sides of the boat. The boat was taking on water, and the question of survival was racing through their minds. It was the storm of a lifetime, and they could not rely on any past experiences or self-ability to get them through it.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Cross and the Empty Tomb

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Rennett Stowe from USA (Easter Lilly  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Easter Lilly
Not just during the Easter season, but each day, we are confronted with the cross of Christ and the empty tomb. What do they mean? Why are they so significant?

In the 1800's Ralph E. Hudson wrote the chorus to the sacred hymn, At the Cross: "At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!"
  • At the cross, we realize how much God loves us (Romans 5:8).  
  • At the cross, we are justified and saved from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9).  
  • At the cross, we are reconciled to God (Romans 5:10). 
  • At the cross, we experience forgiveness of sins (Luke 23:34). 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lent is a Blessed Time of Year

By Lolcatss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
by Gregory A. Johnson

Every year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter. Spanning approximately six weeks, it is a wonderful season on the Christian calendar, being observed by Christ’s followers, Protestants and Catholics alike, who desire to fast something in recognition of our Lord's sacrifice for us.

It is good to give the cost of what is given-up during Lent to the work of the ministry, and the time associated with what you give up to works of faith and justice (Isaiah 58:6-11 ESV).

What are you giving up for Lent? The Spirit within you will help you decide as you pray and ask the Lord.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jesus Christ Will Return

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Adam Smith (originally posted to Flickr as .) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsI am thankful that we are one day closer to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Media has utilized the date-setting false prophets of our day to desensitize society to the reality of the return of Christ, but that does not negate its truth. I feel the Holy Spirit compelling me, more and more, to remind people that Christ is returning as he promised, and we are to always be ready.

So many in our day, both inside and outside the walls of the church building, base what is right from wrong on what feels good, what is socially acceptable, what media and Hollywood suggests, instead of on Scripture. They are not hearing much different coming from behind the pulpits, and they are not reading the Bible on their own. Many go to church and only hear about receiving God's blessings. This bless-me-and-all-that-I-do message mimics many of the books written today by popular television preachers.