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Jeremiah Johnston: How to Find Peace (When You Don’t Know Where to Look)

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
October 21, 2022 3:00 am

Jeremiah Johnston: How to Find Peace (When You Don’t Know Where to Look)

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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October 21, 2022 3:00 am

Wondering how to find peace for real? Scholar and author Jeremiah Johnston shells out practical ways to choose and implement the shalom you crave.

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The mission from Jeremiah Johnston with creating Christian Thinkers Society is to teach Christians to become Thinkers and Thinkers to Become Christians.

Practical Ways to Implement Shalom

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Panic is as dangerous as any other pathogen, and we live in a crisis of panic right now.

There's been a 51% increase in inpatient hospitalizations among youth age 12 through 18, and the majority of those are females. And we know there's an anxiety crisis in our country. We know that this is also, I think, the most important question the church can answer. We have the answer for anxiety. It's Shalom. It's Jesus.

We need to help people get there and then live in it. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app.

Our focus is family life today. So I developed sort of a bad habit during the pandemic. You wore sweatpants every day? Yeah, that was that was what I did.

Every meeting was on Zoom. No, it was I literally started waking up, grabbing my phone. And instead of opening to the Word of God, which had been a practice of mine for decades, I found myself going to the news. I did the same thing.

Like first thing, like New York Times, like what's the latest numbers, what's happening around the world, what's the pandemic doing in Michigan? I would be anxious. I'd be scared. I'd be like, oh, my goodness, you know, it's worse than it was. How can it get worse? It kept getting worse and worse. And I just it hit me two, three weeks in like, what are you doing? You are filling your mind with negativity and you're starting a day nervous and scared. And I thought, I need to start with the Word of God.

And I'm not saying never look at the news, not know what's going on in the world. But I literally had to like discipline myself. Don't reach for that phone.

You know, you can find out later. We had to turn off notifications because they'd pop up and you're like, what? And then you get sucked into the world of fear is what I would say. And I think fear and anxiety is rampant.

It's always been a struggle. But right now, even sort of post-pandemic, it's still with us and we need to talk about it. So we got Jeremiah Johnson back in the studio with us. So great to be here. Thank you.

Love you guys. It's awesome to be here. I mean, we spent a day already talking a little bit about, I love the title of your book, Unleashing Peace, Experiencing God Shalom in Your Pursuit of Happiness. You mentioned yesterday, you went through a valley.

I want to hear more about that valley because I'm guessing there was a little bit of anxiety in that valley. Absolutely. And how did you find God's peace in the middle of that? Yeah.

You know, anxiety comes when we have large transitions in our life, major transitions, a move, a transfer, a ministry change, a health challenge, babies, triplets, triplets. Yeah. And you know, I have been just blowing and going, running and gunning my whole life, just loving the Lord and following Him and just hit a wall at the pandemic where I ended up having a major unplanned abdominal surgery where I'd have a piece of my colon cut out after 400 workouts. I mean, no one could explain to me why this was happening.

I was angry. In the midst of this, we have major events and to have those just cancel one after the other. I mean, some of that got to be financial. Oh, yes. That's how you live. Absolutely.

Absolutely. And praise God, we're a debt-free ministry, but we have to cash flow the ministry and we have to actually do ministry and it was so challenging in all those reasons, but it began to affect me mentally where I just was living in anxiety and not living in the peace of God. And I always joke with people now, you know, the worst thing you can do if you want the peace of God is to write a book on it. It took me a minute to really allow these truths to permeate my life at the most practical levels. And also, you're married and you have five kids.

Who are watching me every day, listening to me every day, emulating my moods and you know, they see all the nonverbal signals that we give. And it was challenging. And I realized I didn't have a care team. I realized that I needed to talk to professionals.

I realized that I needed to help people manage and also, you know, I'm sorry, they don't give you a manual. You can have two seminary degrees and a PhD, but they don't tell you how to handle when God's just opening all kinds of opportunities, how to regulate that and be a dad and be a husband and to do it with success. And I'm not going to leave my family behind in my ministry.

I'm going to say no for anything that gets in the way of that. And so, you know, and then the pandemic on top of that, we all kind of forgot how to be social. And it made us all socially awkward. We all have high grade, low grade PTSD coming out of this pandemic where we have to learn how to be sociable again and love people. I'm a hugger.

I'm that type A guy. I mean, I just love being around people. I love being in community. And so all of this had shifted in my life. And I saw a Christian psychologist who was life-changing to me, and he helped me really start thinking about how I was thinking and how I was processing things. And that's where so much of the truth of this book, I know it works because it works in my own life, the Word of God, but we need to have a care team. We need to establish peace for ourselves. Like you said, such a practical thing, not beginning the day in fear and panic. It turns out that panic is as dangerous as any other pathogen. And we live in a crisis of panic right now.

There's been a 51% increase in inpatient hospitalizations this year among youth age 12 through 18, and the majority of those are females. And so I'm not a Christian boogeyman or anything. I don't always have to have a boogeyman in the room, but we should pay attention to the metrics. And we know there's an anxiety crisis in our country. We know that this is also, I think, the most important question the church can answer.

That's why I start the book this way. We have the answer for anxiety. It's Shalom, it's Jesus. We need to help people get there and then live in it. And so having lived in it through my own life, and then developing this peace plan, and y'all, I want to tell you what I did. You know, this is what comes out of writing a book, the 70,000 words on the peace of God, one page, 20 steps of how I live in the peace of God for my life.

And these are the non-negotiables. And I don't do these with perfection, but again, I've eliminated all or nothing thinking from my life. It's not all or nothing thinking. The Christian life isn't all or nothing. So, I messed up today, so I'm just not going to live for the Lord anymore.

No, but so many of us have that all or nothing thinking and that brings anxiety as well. My number one, are you ready for this, Dave? Practical ways to implement Shalom. I want to hear it. Stop obsessively checking the news. There you go. You just wrote that five minutes ago, that was your number one.

That was my number one. And because our minds are not geared to read a body count every single day. We have a lot of listeners that have kids that are teenagers and they have that phone with them and they're constantly checking that. So as parents, as your kids are getting older, how will you help navigate that? Well, first off, it's the greatest conflict in our personal home. I get it. I live in that tension with five kids and devices.

We have to limit these things in our kids' lives. There is an entire industry out there, Ann, and you know this. They are betting on the fact that they can clickbait you to death and they can get you to get engaged in all kinds of fights with people you don't even know on social media. They don't know you.

You don't know them. And you're just, it's the rage machine. And we're not going to live in the peace of God, Dave, if we're just constantly living in I'm provoked city over every thing.

I mean, the Roman Empire was way worse than it was today. Paul could have been provoked by everything every time he opened his eyes. He stayed central to the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why I love family life today.

Central to the gospel and its power to change lives. That's why it's such an honor to be on this program. Yeah, and I've even found in reference to that, I can get caught up in the comments section. Yes, absolutely.

Somebody posts something and it may be sort of just mild, but then the comments go crazy. Now when you were like walking through that valley, was worry a big part of it? Absolutely. Not knowing, we had just taken a major step of faith in 2019 and an expand as a ministry and it's like the floor fell out. I've been involved in church life for as long as I can remember and I just love it.

And this whole thing of stay home, don't talk to your neighbors, it was killing me. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God and huge for us. When stress or anxiety fills my mind, I need to replace it with key verses. That's how I'm going to have Shalom in my life. I love the language that's used in scripture to take every thought captive. When Jesus said, I came to set the captive free, I'm thinking of taking those thoughts and I'm taking them and putting them in a cell and I will not let them out. And so learning how to do that for me has been huge. I'm not going to think that and to use scripture and replacing that transforms our lives.

It literally will rewire the way you think. I can attest to that in my own life. Here's another one, 1 Peter 5, cast all your anxiety, you got to do that over and over and over. I've done that 5,000 times today. Doesn't happen once.

The force of the language is even more than casting. I like J.B. Phillips, you've got to slam dunk your worries on God. You got to just crush them down on God.

That's what he wants you to do and trust me, he can take it. Yale University's most popular class of all time is a class on happiness and the big outcome of that class is a gratitude journal. Well, the scripture has been telling us to do that for 2,000 years. They can call it a gratitude journal today at Yale. The Bible calls it counting your blessings and you're a lot healthier person when you focus on the blessings in your life. We've all been around people and benefited from people. They just focus on the positive. Don't you love being around people like that and we can't stand the negative Nellie who's always in the room and reminding us of what we can't do, didn't do, didn't happen, you know?

Yeah, we don't want that. Last week I ended up going on a walk and a lot of times I'll listen to podcasts, I'll listen to scripture. So this time I left my phone at home, went for a long walk. As I was walking and praying, it was beautiful out in Florida, I thought, Lord, for this entire time, all I'm going to do is thank you and praise you.

Yes, huge on that one. A true sabbatical is huge, a time of rest to do what feeds my soul, resting my mind, not thinking about the next sermon. The Sabbath rest is something I think we just don't think is that important. It's a 10 Commandments.

It is. It is part of Shalom. I mean, God says, rest, chill out, relax, do something fun. So in your crazy busy schedule, do you Sabbath?

Absolutely. We have a lot of fun Sabbath things too. Sabbath isn't boring.

It's fun. But even when you Sabbath, you're not thinking about… Oh yeah. You know, we can't Sabbath and check our phones 2000 times that day and be present with our family.

And so we have to have those moments and they're holy moments. We just say, no, I'm not available. Sorry. I'm going to be with my kids today. I'm going to go in, have a blast, make weird noises and get down here and just have fun and travel. And I'm a big travel narrator when we travel. I'm pointing things out. I'm a travel guide in the car.

So they kind of get bored with that. But big one for me. And again, as the Lord blesses you wherever you are in life, you're going to have opportunities. And there was a time in my life I said yes to everything because I'm just trying to be faithful and see our ministry grow. I have a husband that can say that too. You know, but I had to learn.

Say what? Say yes to everything. I had to learn the power of saying no, I'm just sorry, I can't do that. And I realized I had like 11 different inboxes. And so I had to start telling people, you know, I don't respond to this inbox, kind of like text me or email me, you know, I just didn't have time. I was in a season of months of discouragement. And you know, you have to make decisions at some point at that time period, but I was in a funk. And that's where like we talked about having that care team was so helpful because sometimes you need people to come alongside and help you think right. Just say, you know, Jeremiah, you're not processing this the right way. And this is where I'm just thanking God for this teaching of Shalom, because it's all right there. We just need to do it.

We need to have a Shalom team, a care team. And so when I live in the peace of God, I then can be an agent of peace for others. And this will set you apart in your Christian life. There's this amazing story I tell in Unleashing Peace of a gentleman who was just given the highest award civilian honor the nation of Australia gives, a man they call the angel of the gap. He lived in this beautiful Sydney harbor in a very expensive area called the Gap. But it's also known for its sandstone cliffs.

It's one of the number one suicide spots in the world. And he began to notice when people would linger just a little too long by themselves at the gap at the cliffside. And he would walk up and say, Hey, do you want to come to my house for some tea?

I'm done. He wasn't trained psychologically, but he could practice what the Bible talks about the ministry of being present. And he said, don't ever underestimate the power of a smile in someone's life. And my biggest challenge is we're so busy. We never know what someone else is dealing with. And we always assume negatively that person could be going through their biggest challenge. Why don't you just smile at him and practice the ministry of presence and give him grace.

And Dawn exemplifies that for us. That was one of my favorite parts of your book is that story because it makes you realize anybody can minister to another person just by being there. You don't even have to have the right words, but you're just present.

Hey, I'm in, you know, how are you doing today? That's something that you're right, Jeremiah, as we get so caught up in our own worlds and the demands of life, it's really easy to not notice those around us. And I think another aspect of that story is all around us, people, they're struggling. It could even be our own kids.

It could be our spouse. And God's saying, I can bring my peace to them through you. Will you just be present? That's a beautiful motivation to say, if God gives me peace, it's probably not just for me. He wants me to extend it to others.

Absolutely. He wants you to be an agent of Shalom. And I'll just end with this. We all need to be saved from ourselves too.

I used to live in the UK where I did my doctoral residency in Oxford. And there's this beautiful picture of a young man who has all of these individuals holding him. He's standing outside of the walkway of a bridge over the busiest intersection in North London, Golders Green. And he was getting ready to jump and all these strangers who are walking by him collapse on the man and save him from himself.

You don't think God's providential. Someone had a rope going home from work that day. Another person is grabbing his belt buckle.

Another person has him by his calf muscles. And for me, when I saw that picture, I now show it anywhere I speak. I open the book Unleashing Peace with that story because it is an illustrated sermon for me. We have to be saved from ourselves. This is the heart of Jesus towards every person struggling right now. And God can use anyone like you said, Anne, to be a change agent in someone's life, a peace agent, a Shalom agent. And so that's my prayer.

I want to be present enough in my life to see when those people or myself, when I need to be saved from myself and I allow people to collapse around me and help me. That's the Christian life. Yeah, that's so good. You're listening to Family Life Today with Dave and Anne Wilson.

I encourage you to stick around. Dave and Anne are going to share some of their thoughts on what we've heard these past two days from Jeremiah Johnston. But you can pick up Jeremiah's full list of suggestions for making your own Shalom plan in today's show notes at Also, Jeremiah's book is called Unleashing Peace, Experiencing God's Shalom in Your Pursuit of Happiness.

You can pick up a copy at or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now here's Dave and Anne Wilson with some reflections on these past two days with our guest, Jeremiah Johnston. When Jeremiah was talking about peace, a lack of anxiety and worry, if there's anything our world needs right now, that's it, isn't it?

We all long for it, but we don't know how to attain it. Yeah, and one of the things we briefly touched on with Jeremiah, and it's in his book, Unleashing Peace, is my go-to passage, Philippians 4. It's all of our go-to passage.

All of us love this one. I love how Paul says, he says, do not be anxious about anything. It's a command. It isn't a suggestion.

He's actually saying, this is possible. You don't have to worry. You don't have to fret. You don't have to be anxious about the big things, little things, about anything. Here's the thing about Paul, too, is you read that, and some people you think, well, you can say that.

Look how easy your life is. But Paul, for a good part of his life, he spent it in prison. He's writing this from a prison cell. And I think, as Jeremiah said, it comes down to an action, which is in this passage that I had never really seen, because he doesn't just say, don't be anxious about anything. That's what we don't do, but he says, do this. So he gives you an answer, but in every situation, so again, big ones, little ones, the one you're in right now, the one that's coming tomorrow, here's what you do, prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God. In other words, like, let it go. We talked about 1 Peter, cast it to God, and then he says something will happen.

What's he say? The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. Will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. So if you want peace, there's a way, and I would say it's not a way, it's a person. Well, it's interesting because of all the people that I know, I would say you live this out.

And we just had one of our sons visit us in Florida. He's building a ministry and he said, man, I needed this trip because I needed, it makes me teary thinking about it. I need to get some lessons from my dad because he lives his life in peace and he's, you know, there's so much going on in the world and his ministry and a lot of hard things. And yet he looks at you and you've gone through some really difficult things, but you live your life in peace. It's a peace that surpasses all understanding because it doesn't make sense. So I feel like as you're preaching that, you live this. And do you think, share with us, because I've seen you live it out beautifully, not perfectly.

How do you do it? Well, I think it's the next verse, which is what Jeremiah Johnston, when he was talking and when I read his book, Connected, that there's an action verb that connects us to peace and he calls it, it's our thinking. And it's what Paul went on to say in verse eight. And often we stop with verse seven, you know, peace that surpasses all understanding or guard our hearts and minds in Christ, we're like, oh, that's awesome. And we forget. No, no. The next thing he said is not a separate thought.

It's in context. He says, finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, here's the verb, think about such things. Peace comes through what we dwell on. What do we think about?

And Paul is saying, think about good things, pure things, right things. That's so wise. Well, I would just say it's a war. It's a battle, the battle of the mind, because your mind will go to the negative.

It'll go to the news that's often negative and you'll get scared, anxious, worried. I've done it millions of times. Me too. I'm sitting here thinking, you think I have peace all the time? It's like, it's a war. It is literally a mental battle in my mind and everyone's mind to say, I'm going to take this negative thought captive. I literally think of grabbing it and putting it in a prison cell and saying, you're not going to live in my brain. I'm going to think about what's noble and right and praiseworthy. I'm going to think about Jesus because peace isn't a feeling, it's a person. Peace is Jesus. He's the Prince of peace and when you set your heart and mind and it's guarded by Him, the result is peace.

And again, I'm not going to sit here and say, oh, it's just peace that lasts forever. No, it's like gone in five minutes sometimes. And again, you have to cast again that thought, that negative. I like that idea of casting. Just throw it.

Yeah, you can see it on a fishing pole, casting it. I love how Jeremiah brought the sense that the verb is, it's like, with force. You don't just sort of flippantly, okay, God, no, it's like, I need you so bad. I'm bringing this to you right here, right now. Will you guard my heart and mind in you? And he's like, yes, I got it. You may have to cast it 5,000 times today.

Every time that your mind starts to go to anxiety, don't worry about anything. With prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. Why do I have that memorized?

Because I've done it a million times and that's where peace is. It's in a person, Jesus, and the closer we walk with Him, the greater the depth of the peace we feel. Yeah, that's such beautiful stuff from Dave and Anne. We have Family Life's president, David Robbins, with us today. And David, tell us about what's been on your heart as you've been reflecting about who we are as Family Life and what Family Life Blended has to offer. You know, talking about Shalom in our own lives and in our homes reminded me of a conference Family Life Blended hosted this past weekend. It was a blast to have people present with us personally and live streaming all over the world.

And God kept meeting people in the chaos and crazy that we all have in our homes. But blended families navigate unique complexities. And one attendee wrote in and said, this has been life changing to be an understatement.

There is nothing like this. We are so encouraged and blessed by family life and family life blended. And I just want to say for those of you listening who are part of family life by giving and passing on our resources to other people and events and other things we host, you are making a unique contribution to every home. Our vision is that every home would have the opportunity to be a godly home. And there are homes with all types of unique complexities. And that's why it's so important to have events that you make possible. We're so grateful for your heart and your passion for every home.

It is important. Thank you so much, David. And when you do partner with us, we'd love to send you a copy of Jackie Hill Perry's book Holier Than Thou. It's our thanks to you when you partner financially today with us.

You can give online at or you can give us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Why does God set rules for us?

Seems kind of weird sometimes, right? Well, next week on Family Life Today, Jen Wilkin talks with David Ann Wilson about how the rules enable relationship with him. That's next week. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-15 11:36:53 / 2022-11-15 11:49:02 / 12

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