This type of interview was a first for me, and I didn't know quite what to expect, but I believe that the LORD helped me answer her questions in ways that honor Him. I hope that you will make some time to listen to the interview, and I pray that you will be blessed as you do. You can listen via the player below:
Many strive to become great today. It may be in knowledge, sports, career, politics, or wealth—many strive for greatness. There is nothing wrong with striving to become the best that you can be. Hard work is always honorable, and it is oftentimes rewarded with success, including the monetary gains that come with it.
Citizens of God's Kingdom, which Jesus is currently ruling over, do not strive for greatness in the Kingdom. They simply obey Jesus and His Word as they follow Him.
In my book, The Kingdom According to Jesus, I write about how Jesus revealed His Kingdom through His words and actions. The Kingdom revealed by Christ includes love, grace, peace, and life with race equality, gender equality, health equality, and economic equality for all. Citizens of the Kingdom make it known today through their words and actions. They are totally obedient to Jesus. They do not strive to become great in the Kingdom. They are called great because of their obedience.
Beloved, obey Jesus. He came, fulfilling the Law, establishing His Kingdom. As you follow Him with your whole heart, continuing His point-of-need ministry, you will be called great in His Kingdom.
Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19 ESV).
Jesus, I thank you for coming to this earth and fulfilling the Law. I have accepted your grace and answered the call to follow you, allowing you to lead me on this journey from earth to glory. Help me today keep my eyes fixed on you, revealing your Kingdom through my words and actions. Show me ways today that you would have me serve you. Emulate your love, grace, and peace to others through me today. I pray this in your precious name. Amen.
It is easy to grow discouraged in our day. Each of us has the difficult task of filtering out all the negative news that tries to find entry into our being on a daily basis. Many Christians in our day are guilty of spreading fear instead of encouragement. As we know, according to God's Word, fear is not of God.
I try to keep as many people as I can encouraged and uplifted throughout the week. As I discuss in the introduction of my book, Be Encouraged: A Daily Devotional, Volume 1, We are all called to be encouragers. God's Word tells us: "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near" (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).
According to God's Word, each of us is to be encouraging others as we follow Christ on our journey from earth to glory. We are to be looking for every opportunity to bring encouragement to others, because "the Day" of Christ's return is one day closer. Our redemption is drawing close. The best is yet to come!
It is good to be on the receiving end of encouragement, soaking in the encouragement brought to us by others. We all need that, and we need it in exponential measure in our day. What do we do when no one is bringing us encouragement? Or, what do we do in addition to the encouragement we are receiving? We are to keep ourselves encouraged.
Let me give you a formula for encouraging yourself. You can practice it, proving the equation in your life. The encouragement equation is this: Encouragement = Rejoicing + Patience + Praying. The basis for this formula is given to us in God’s Word: "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying" (Romans 12:12, NLT).
Our confident hope is Jesus Christ, the One we follow. Our victory today, and every day, is found in Him. When trouble comes our way, we know that it is just for a season, and as we follow Christ, He will get us through. He has already overcome the world and its troubles. That is why we can rejoice in the midst of our trouble. We know that, in Him, we will overcome!
Patience is simply waiting on the LORD to get us through whatever comes our way. We wait; He strengthens.
Praying is the privilege that we are given by God that allows us to talk to Him about everything we are going through. Prayer is where we release our life to Him, leaving our present and future in His hands, knowing that He is in total control. He is directing our steps, making a way where there seems to be none.
Beloved, always remember the encouragement equation:
Encouragement = Rejoicing + Patience + Praying
It’s an equation that we all can live by and be blessed!
THE LATEST BOOK by Gregory A. Johnson, LGF Founder
We all need help staying on a godly course to become the courageous men and women the Creator wants us to be. In Be Encouraged: A Daily Devotional, Volume 1, Gregory A. Johnson lays out a road map of prayers, scriptures, and stories that will motivate others to love and perform good works. Unlike the long-term demands of a year-long devotional, this shorter thirty-day version will be more practical to complete. The devotional can also be used during holy times, like Easter and Christmas, to reinvigorate one’s spirituality or to sustain faith during spiritual trials.
Each day begins with a theme like “How to Live With Fearless Confidence,” “Why Does God Not Answer My Prayers,” and “Where to Find Safety in a World Gone Mad.” Johnson’s provocative commentary on the day’s theme is followed by well-chosen scripture and a prayer that emboldens the reader to set forth on achieving his or her goals. The easy-to-read selections are relevant, full of conviction, and blessed by God’s grace.
The devotional is more of a spiritual experience than a how-to book. Heeding the command of Hebrews 10:24-25, Johnson asks his readers to “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” It is a reminder that the prayerfulness and stillness found in a Sunday church can also be had over Monday morning coffee or during a break in our bustling workday.
The devotional will help focus the reader’s attention to turn to God on a daily basis. With its passages celebrating hope and shouting down sin, the book serves as a powerful reminder of the divine presence in all our lives. Like all devotionals, its acts of prayer, scripture, reflection, and suggestions for action will bring you daily to a place of renewal. For instance in one entry called “How to Look At Your Circumstances Differently,” Johnson admits that he may be tired or even somewhat depressed when he goes to his place of prayer. But he comes out another person, strengthened, and full of gratefulness. The day’s prayer ends with a call to action, “Instead of being burdened and anxious, help me be patient as I pray, allowing you to work in each situation.”
Readers will enjoy the book’s practicality, relevance, and inspiration. Its down-to-earth style is cultivated by a pastor who has ministered to folks from every conceivable walk of life. Johnson answered God’s call to ministry in 1988 and hasn’t stopped since. The ordained minister is a Christ follower whose desire to encourage people to walk in the path of Jesus goes far beyond church walls and Sunday services. His ministry has reached society’s haves and have-nots alike. He has ministered in homeless shelters, halfway houses, and prisons. He has also worked for two Fortune 400 companies as well as with the governor’s office for technology in Kentucky. His devotional brings true spiritual nutrition for every hungry reader and listener.
During those times when life does not seem to be working out, feeling as if life could have been different, failing to see our impact on others not to mention the world, wishing we had not even been born, we need to realize that it truly is a wonderful life. It's hard to see this throughout the entire year as we deal with the ups and downs of life regardless of the calendar. It doesn't have to be just at Christmas time as in the climatic scene in the classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life, when George Bailey, played by the one and only James "Jimmy" Stewart, found himself in a situation that seemed impossible. George was contemplating ending his life, wishing he had never been born, failing to realize that his life had impacted so many in positive ways until he was shown by an unlikely source, Clarence Odbody (Angel, Second Class) played by Henry Travers, that if he had not been born the people of Bedford Falls would not have had such a wonderful life.
Through it all, the movie projects that God had a purpose for George Bailey and was working through him to help others in ways that would not have materialized if George had not been born. The Bailey house had a merry Christmas that year because God, answering the prayers of people who loved George, sent a messenger to show George his worth just in time.
It's a Wonderful Life is a great movie recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made. In our house, my family and I have traditionally watched it on Christmas Eve although it is a good movie to be watched any time of the year. Because of that tradition, when I think of characters of Christmas, George Bailey is one who pops into my mind.
I wrote my first book, The Characters of Christmas: God at Work in our Lives, to encourage people to realize that God is always working in our lives, even if we can not see it or feel it. The book is not about fictitious characters from a movie, like George Bailey, and it's not just a Christmas book or a book to be read at Christmas time. In the book I take real life characters and show how God worked in their life while making it relevant to each reader by showing how God is working in us, no matter what we are going through in life.
Please know today that you have value. You are favored by God. He allowed you to be born for a purpose. He is working in your life. He is working in your seemingly impossible situation. As you realize this, you will realize that it truly is a wonderful life. You don't have to wait till the Christmas season to read the book. It will speak to you no matter what season of the year or season of life that you find yourself in today. I've prayed that God will use the book as a messenger showing readers and those they recommend it to their worth. With some it will be just in time.
The LORD reveals Himself to us as we read the Scriptures, and the fear of the LORD is our response to the revelation. Some definitions of the fear of the LORD are "reverence, respect, awe, etc." While those definitions are true, the fear of the LORD is so much more. The best way to understand the fear of the LORD is to read through Psalms and Proverbs and write down the verses that contains the phrase "fear of the LORD."
...the fear of the LORD is delighting greatly in His commandments (Psalm 112:2) and knowledge of the Holy One (Proverbs 9:10)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom about God and His will (Proverbs 9:10)
The fear of the LORD brings about repentance - a change of mind, a change in our values, way of thinking, and living.
In over two decades of teaching, preaching, and pastoring, I have taught parishioners that any time you read a promise in the Bible, you need to start looking around for the conditions to obey in order to receive the promise. If you do your part in obeying the Scripture, God does His part, and the promise will be realized in you. It's a central theme throughout the Bible. The "Bible Promise" books that have been so popular over the years leave the conditions of the promises of God out, leaving people standing on the promises, but ignorant to the conditions to obey in order to receive them.
Now we have a book that explains how to read and understand Scripture finding the conditions that lead to fulfilled promises, and it is written by a friend and mentor of mine, Robert P. Holland, who has been pastoring since 1965. First a word concerning Pastor Holland, and then I will talk more about his book which I have completed reading and highly recommend for all those who are serious about understanding and receiving the promises of Holy Scripture.
Pastor Holland is one of my heroes of faith. I have known him for two decades and had opportunity to sit under his ministry for a short season prior to pastoring my first church in the early 1990s. Pastor Holland has a keen understanding of Scripture that is reflected in his life. He portrays the image of Christ more than any other person I have had the privilege of knowing. His ability to communicate and teach the Word is a gift given to us by God. Those who have had the privilege of sitting under his ministry have not experienced a famine of the Word under it, and have instead been given a bountiful feast that brings growth in the Lord.
I just finished reading his book, Some Understand 1 + 6 = 7, and highly recommend it. The book begins with an explanation of the title which is fundamental to the 44 chapters which follow. In each chapter, which Pastor Holland refers to as "Wisdom and Promise workshops", a Scripture promise and its conditions (Pastor Holland refers to as "Wisdom") are identified and proper exegesis, application and exhortation is given.
For those who will read the book, I believe that the Holy Spirit will bring attention to the areas of life where proper wisdom is not applied, and where promises are not being realized, allowing for proper application of Scripture to take place. I"m sure that every reader who has a desire to please God and live for Him will be able to properly apply wisdom and receive promises as they prayerfully read and glean from each chapter.
There have been some great books that I have read that I commit to reading again. With this book, I plan to incorporate it into my daily discipline of reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture, by reading a chapter each day for a while to come. In the days ahead, I will also be tweeting (@Gregory_Johnson) some quotes from the book and posting some quotes on my Facebook page (GregoryAJohnsonPage).
I encourage you to get a copy of the book today, read it, and let God speak into your life as you discover the wisdom and promises that God would have you receive. The book is available as a paperback and as an ebook on Amazon. Click here and get your copy today - Some Understand 1 + 6 = 7: Finding Wisdom and Receiving Promises.
I just completed writing my first book and it is available on Amazon. The title is "The Characters of Christmas: God at Work in our Lives".
In this simple and easy to read book, I attempt to take the characters of Christmas – Mary, Joseph, Herod and the Magi – and bring to the readers attention that nothing is impossible for God, God’s plan for us is best, God delivers us from evil and God is at work in our lives. I call these God themes. God themes are found throughout the Bible. Although the word “Christmas” is in the title of this book and I use the characters of Christmas throughout, these God themes are relative to us during any calendar season or any season of life.
My prayer is that the words written will encourage, strengthen and build faith in each reader. May God open the windows of heaven and pour out all of His spiritual blessings on each one as they read.
The book is only available as an e-book. You can read it on your Kindle or you can read it on you Windows PC, Ipad, Iphone, Mac, Blackberry, Android or Windows 7 phone by downloading the FREE Kindle reading apps. Click here to download the FREE Kindle reading apps.
Rob Wells, who is a close friend of mine and one of six on the Loving God Fellowship Board of Directors, gave me a book to read titled So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore. I have finished reading it and I am adding it to my recommended books list.
The main character of the book is Jake. When the book begins, Jake is a minister on staff at a large church. Each of the thirteen chapters tells of a separate conversation that Jake has with John, a man who keeps appearing in Jakes life. John takes Jake on a spiritual journey that will take him out of his comfort zone and lead him into a freedom in Christ that He had never experienced before.
I could so relate with Jake in this book. As I read through the chapters, I found that Jakes journey resembled the one that I have been on, almost in detail. I was once the senior associate pastor of a large church and resigned without disclosing the true reasons in order to protect the church while being shunned by many as the senior pastor set out to publicly ruin my character in order to protect his own in case I went public with what I knew. I refused to retaliate or defend myself. It was one of the hardest and loneliness periods of my life, but it would lead me into the freedom in Christ that I now experience and will spend the rest of my life trying to lead people into.
If you are frustrated with just going through the motions of Christianity and are looking for something deeper and more meaningful, you need to read this book. It is published by Windblown media who published The Shack which is also on my recommended book list. If you liked The Shack, you will like So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore.
Many today believe that the Kingdom of God is related to some future event tied to a timetable that God has hidden in Scripture and revealed to those who can tie current events to it. Many believe that if they attend church and live a good moral life, that one day they will die and go to heaven and participate in this kingdom for eternity. They enter into what I call a “waiting pattern” and are not actively participating in or furthering God’s Kingdom on earth as Jesus taught and led by example.
I grew up in the church and used to believe this way until I read the Gospels over and over again on my own and realized that Jesus was teaching something much different and that He was living a life for us to follow. It was eye opening and life changing revelation to me. It’s so much more than church activity and living good and it has nothing to do with waiting. I’ve been on a mission the past 18 years trying to get people to see what Jesus is really teaching about the Kingdom of God and what it really means to follow Him. Those that are familiar with my preaching and teaching through churches I’ve had the privilege to pastor or through LovingGodFellowship.org can attest to this.
I recently finished reading The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth that Could Change Everything by Brian D McLaren. My heart resonated with McLaren’s words as he delves into what Jesus was really saying about the Kingdom and how we are a part of it now and can be instruments utilized in its expansion. It’s what I’ve been preaching, teaching and attempting to live for the past 18 years of my life.
I hope and pray that many will read McLaren’s book with open eyes and heart. Be warned though that it may rattle what you have been taught in the church as McLaren delves into what Jesus was teaching. It may change the reader’s way of thinking which could result in a change in behavior and an expansion of the Kingdom of God in our day. I’ve added it to my list of recommended books. It’s a great read for everyone desiring to truly follow Christ and understand His teachings.
If you want to stay safe and just be a church attendee, this book is probably not for you. But if you want to go on an adventure and make a difference with your life as you follow Christ, you will devour this book. I did. It spoke to my soul and gave me great encouragement as it refreshed my resolve to be brave and follow Christ in what I call "point of need ministry."
I love when Haugen talks about the great commandment of loving God and people. How can we love God who we can not see when we don’t love our neighbor who we do see? If we love our neighbor who we do see, we will follow Jesus and seek justice for them. This will cost us something. It will require action from us as we do something with our life to make a difference for those who are oppressed.
My favorite chapter in the book is titled “Would You Rather be Safe or Brave?” You can be a Christian and be safe, but you can not be safe and follow Christ. To follow Christ you must be brave because it may cost you your life. It just takes courage.
Rescue the oppressed,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow. (Isaiah 1:17 NRSV)
If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
Then your light will rise in the darkness,
And your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will Guide you always;
He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
And will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
Like a spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:10-11)
Newton was a living testament to the power of God's transforming grace. In his early days, He captained slave ships bringing slaves from Africa. After experiencing God's amazing grace, he became a minister and worked in abolishing the slave trade along side William Wilberforce.
Newton wrote the great hymn "Amazing Grace" that has been sung in churches across the land. If you were raised in the church like I, you will have at least a portion, if not all, of the great hymn memorized.
Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That sav'd a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev'd;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ'd!
Thro' many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
'Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promis'd good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the vail,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call'd me here below,
Will be for ever mine.
In 1962, slavery was finally made illegal throughout the world, but yet slavery still exists in our day through sex trafficking, bonded labor and child labor. According to Strom's research and documented in the epilogue, it is estimated that there are 12 million slaves today. The U.S. Government estimates that there are 15,000 to 18,000 trafficked into America each year.
In the epilogue of Strom's well written book, she informs how we can be twenty-first century abolitionists. I recommend you read this book and get involved in being a twenty-first century abolitionist. We can make a difference in our day just as Newton did in his day.
I believe the 2009 ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publisher Association) Christian Book of the Year recipient is very well deserved. It is the The ESV Study Bible , which I have used this year in my personal Bible reading. I highly recommend it and encourage you to get a copy to use and read in 2010. It would also make a very good Christmas gift for those on your list that love to read and study the Word of God.
Grace begins and ends prayer. Grace is what we call what is left over after the scouring of the self, the dying into self. Grace is what was there before we ever looked at ourselves in prayer. Grace gives us our initial impulse to pray.
Does the compassionate life not demand that we be present to those who suffer; does it not require that we enter into solidarity with the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden; does it not motivate us both to move into the thick of life and to experience the hardships of existence in solidarity with the outcasts?
- Henri Nouwen,
Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life
Copyright 2005-2013 Loving God Fellowship, Inc. Compliance with copyright restrictions requires that no portion of this site (written, audio, or visual) may be reproduced in any form without written permission of Loving God Fellowship, Inc.
"Loving God Fellowship" and the Loving God Fellowship logo are registered trademarks of Loving God Fellowship, Inc.