Greg Johnston




I love my friends, and by the grace of God, I have had the privilege of knowing a lot of people as friend.  Through serving God in the ministry, I have had the privilege of getting to know many people and coming to know many of them as close and dear friends.  One of the benefits of being a pastor is that I have friends all over the country and beyond that I met through serving God. California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Honduras, and Brazil are just a few places where I have friends, not to mention all the friends I have in Mississippi!

I must admit, that I am not always the best at staying in touch with my friends, yet each and every one of them is special to me in their own particular way, and it hurts me to ever lose a friend.  In the last few months I have lost two very fine and close friends to death.  They are not really lost, because I know where they are.  It is just that I have lost contact with them until Jesus comes, or I go to be with them.  I miss them, but at least I was able to enjoy their friendship on earth, and will get to enjoy it for eternity in heaven.

There is a new way to lose a friend now that is more hurtful than death.  Now, with the advent of Facebook, if someone decides that they don’t want to put forth the effort to work through misunderstandings, they can simply “defriend” you from their Facebook account.  It probably isn’t really a new concept, but it is certainly new terminology to be defriended (as I write this my spell checker underlines it as a misspelled word!).  No one wants to be defriended, especially if they are like me and love people, even those that no longer wants to be their friend.

While there will always be misunderstandings that will sometimes result in people “defriending” you, it is good to know that there is One who will never “defriend” us; our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Even though we let Him down over and over and  sin against Him who died on the cross in our place, He will never defriend us, because He loves us.  Jesus is, ” . . . a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18: 24).  I thank God that I know Jesus as my friend, and that He knows me and loves me so much that nothing I could ever do would cause Him to defriend me.  Thank you, Jesus, my Lord, Savior, and Friend for all eternity.  I pray that you know Jesus as your Lord, Savior, and Friend too.

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Springtime Hope

Spring is my favorite time of the year, especially this year it seems.  After a very cold and dreary winter, I have looked with great anticipation for springtime to arrive.  Well it is finally here! PTL!!!!

What I love about Spring is the warmer weather, the beautiful bluebird days, and most of all, the new life I see in nature as the grass becomes green, the trees begin to bud, and flowers begin to bloom after being dormant throughout the cold days of Winter.  I usually begin to look forward to the arrival of Spring shortly after the New Year.  As January and February drag by filled with their cold gray rainy days, my desire for the warm balmy days of Spring grows greater and greater.  With each passing day, I hope to see an early arrival of springtime weather.  But, no matter how long the winter or how cold and bleak the days may be, I know that Spring is coming.  I am sure of its arrival because that is the way God designed it to be.  I know as the winter draws closer and closer to an end, that soon warm weather will replace the cold, and new life will replace the grip of death winter has had on nature.

We have the hope of another Sping coming as well, when God wraps up the disease of death caused by sin and replaces it with the new heaven and the new earth.  The Apostle Paul spoke of this coming renewal:

Romans 8: 18-25 (NLT)

18Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later. 19For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20Against its will, everything on earth was subjected to God’s curse. 21All creation anticipates the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us. 24Now that we are saved, we eagerly look forward to this freedom. For if you already have something, you don’t need to hope for it. 25But if we look forward to something we don’t have yet, we must wait patiently and confidently.

I don’t know about you, but I am patiently and confidently waiting with a springtime hope for this coming renewal of heaven, earth, and of those of us who are a part of the eternal kingdom of God.  Are you sure that you are a part of God’s kingdom? Are you certain of your salvation?  If not, now is the time to get ready.  Springtime (God’s renewal) is just around the corner.

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Needed – People of Prayer

In his book, The Power of Prayer, E. M. Bounds wrote, “We are constantly on a stretch, if not on a strain, to devise new methods, new plans, new organizations to advance the Church and secure enlargement and efficiency for the gospel. This trend of the day has a tendency to lose sight of the man or sink the man in the plan or organization. God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men.”

God is not looking for new or novel ways to reach our world for Christ.  The only way the Church can succeed in impacting our world for Christ is through people who have been radically saved and changed by the awesome power of God in their lives.  So why then are we making so little of an impact on unbelievers?  I believe that part of the reason is because we have fallen into the trap of thinking that reaching people is dependent upon our intellect, our persuasive arguments, our innovative methodology, our charisma, etc., you get the idea. The only thing God needs to make an impact on our world for Christ is men and women who are wholly dedicated to Him. Again, Bounds wrote, “What the Church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.”

You see, we are the key.  We need not be the smartest or most gifted speaker to be used by God, but we must definitely be the most dedicated to God’s use.  We must be filled to the overflowing with His presence, His power, His personality, and His passion to save the lost, and the only way to do that is through spending time with God in prayer. 

When I was a young man serving as minister of music at a church, I began to notice older couples who had lived together for years as husband and wife.  I could easily have put each of these couples together without anyone ever telling me who was married to whom, because they looked alike, thought alike, and acted alike.  The striking similarities were due to the fact that they had spent so much time together that they had actually become one in body, mind, and spirit. The same is true for the person who has walked and talked with God through years of consistent and constant communion with Him in prayer.  As we spend time with God in prayer, we become one with him in heart, mind, and spirit.  We think like God thinks, we act like God would want us to act, we talk like God would have us talk, and we love like God would have us love.  You see, we are God’s message, and we are God’s method.  But the key to being used by God is by becoming like Him, and that my friend only comes by much prayer.

Jesus put it this way: 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 4 – 5)

Let’s become people that God can use to build His kingdom by abiding in Christ through constant and persistent prayer.

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The Parable of the Fish Pond

A while back I was studying Jesus’ parable of the dragnet found in Matthew 13: 47 – 50.

47“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49“So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

My thoughts immediately began to go back to my “growing up” days on a farm where we raised catfish.  As I thought about what Jesus’ was saying, God began to formulate the following story in my mind.  I hope it will motivate all of us to be more aware that time is drawing near when those who are Christ-followers will be separated from those who are not followers of Christ.  We need to try to bring them into the kingdom of God before it is too late!

The Parable of the Fish Pond

Life was really great in the pond.  The water was deep and wide.  The fish had freedom to swim and explore the limits of the pond to their heart’s content.  They had learned all about the pond.  They knew every inch of it, but no one really knew what lay beyond the surface or past the water’s edge.  Sometimes they even speculated about the unknown beyond the surface. Continue reading The Parable of the Fish Pond

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