My friend Dr. Jeff Myers is on the show with me today and we’re going to talk about what it looks like for Christians to thrive in the midst of a culture in crisis. Listen in, I know you’ll be encouraged.
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Luke 16:1-12
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Dr. Jeff Myers is president of Summit Ministries. As an educator and entrepreneur, Dr. Myers has become one of America’s most respected authorities on youth leadership development. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson referred to him as “a very gifted and inspirational leader.” Evangelist Josh McDowell called him “a man who is 100% sold out to preparing the next generation to reflect the character of Christ in the culture.” Through his speaking engagements and media appearances, Dr. Myers has become a fresh voice offering humor and insight from a Christian worldview. He is the author of 14 books, including Understanding the Faith, Understanding the Times, and Understanding the Culture textbooks which are studied by tens of thousands of students. Dr. Myers holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Denver. He continues to engage college students and adult learners by serving as a trustee of Colorado Christian University and through a Signature Leadership Course offered by the Lumerit Corporation, which serves the training needs of many Fortune 100 companies. Jeff and his wife Stephanie and their family live in Colorado.
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the Heidi St. John podcast. Today is Friday, March 20th. It’s meet my friend Friday and you guys are going to be so encouraged today because, in the midst of one of the craziest times that I can ever remember, and in fact, I think most of us can ever remember. I’ve got my friend Dr. Jeff Myers on the show with me today and we’re going to talk about what it looks like for Christians to thrive in the midst of a culture in crisis. Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So thanks for tuning in today, everybody. A couple of things I want to let you know about right away. I know a lot of you follow my speaking season. I just returned a couple of days ago from my women’s conference Faith that Speaks in Los Angeles. And before that I was with my friend dr Kathy Koch, in Peoria, Illinois for the Hearts Two conference. I know many of you follow my speaking schedule. The next several events that I’m going to be at, or was scheduled to be at have been canceled. And the first one is Teach Them Diligently in Arkansas. I will also be rescheduling my appearance at the Downline Institute in Little Rock, Arkansas, and also Teach Them Diligently in Waco.
So if you guys have tickets for those events what I’ve been told right now is hang on to them. They’re looking to see about rescheduling. But due to the Coronavirus, my speaking season has very abruptly ended. One of the things that you can do in the middle of all this, is continue to find me at momstronginternational.com. We’re doing a Scripture Writing Challenge there. I know a lot of you have been doing that. What are we at like 15,000 of you now? Doing the Scripture Writing Challenge with me, that also has copy work for your children. So a lot of you are home right now and your kids are home with you.
This is a great time to get them into the Word of God. So check it out, momstronginternational.com. There’s a free Scripture Writing Challenge every day. Scriptures that you can write out with your children, copy work for your children to practice their handwriting and at the same time get to know and become familiar with God’s Word. So the Bible study is continuing to happen over there and you guys can join me, momstronginternational.com and I will let you know as far as I know my events, most of you know I wasn’t speaking in April because my daughter Savannah is going to have a baby and so I’m doing the grandma thing.
I’m staying home for April, and I will keep you posted on the May schedule. Every single weekend in May and June, I am scheduled to be on the road and so just stay tuned here and we’ll let you know as the situation obviously is changing by the minute. I know that many of you are seeing cancellations in your area for all kinds of things. Lots of events are moving online to meet the needs of people across the nation. Well, my friends at BJU Press have been planning an online event for some time now.
And guess what you guys, it’s free. That’s right. It’s free to attend. The party is going to be held on April 20th through the 24th and you’re going to find experienced homeschool moms, BJU press staff, lots of prizes and fun giveaways. And because several of the homeschool conventions have been forced to cancel, they’re also offering their convention specials during their Facebook live event as well. I’m going to be speaking there along with my friend Zan Tyler and registration is easy. Go to homeschoolhelp.com/Heidi for more information.
So I am really… You guys at the Lord is so good. Thank you so much for listening to this show for so many years for helping the podcast become the platform that it is. And I am thrilled today because I’ve followed the ministry of Dr. Jeff Myers and summit ministries for a very long time. I love his heart, particularly for young people, to see young people equipped, God’s children to be equipped to handle the culture. And we’ve had this podcast scheduled for a long time. Neither one of us do, of course, that we’d be podcasting in the midst of a pandemic, but we are, and I know that you’re going to be encouraged.
So grab your kids, your husband, your teenagers, especially gather them around, they’re not going to want to miss a second of this. Dr. Jeff Myers, welcome to the podcast.
[Jeff] Thank you, Heidi. Podcast number 900. I understand.
[Heidi] That’s right. Yeah.
[Heidi] Kind of a big deal. I’m going to have to talk to my friend Ken Ham. He was number 800. So, I’ve decided that the Lord has this one. I hit the 100 mark. Really people that are thought leaders and influencers seem to be the people that God brings. So, I’m really happy that you’re here.
[Jeff] Yeah. Or crises.
[Heidi] Right. One after the other.
[Jeff] Wait till we get the 1000. We should be wondering what’s going to happen.
[Heidi] I know, I know. Jay said that to me this morning. He was like, “Maybe we should just hang it up.” Maybe we should hang it up. I’m really excited that you’re here today. You’re doing incredible things for the kingdom. And right before we started recording, you and I were talking about obviously, the pandemic, what’s happening there at Summit Ministries because you guys are changing things on the fly right now. Like so many of us are doing, what is it looking like at Summit ministries right now?
[Jeff] Well, the hardest Summit ministries is equipping and supporting the rising generation to embrace God’s truth and champion a biblical worldview. And for 58 years, we have done that through these two week long summer sessions here in Colorado and at various locations around the country and even around the world. For the very first time, it looks like we’re going to, at least for the first half of our summer, go virtual. So, it’s something we are prepared to do. Our team is this you wouldn’t have, I mean, we have kind of an unusual team.
They are amped about this because… Yesterday when they were white boarding all of the ideas they have for how we’re going to take biblical worldview training and make it personal and fun and exciting in a virtual environment. They had more than 100 ideas on their whiteboard of how this could be the very best summer of our lives. And I’m so proud of them because they’re conquering fear and dread. And that’s exactly the posture we need to have at this moment.
[Heidi] Yeah, we were talking to our kids this morning, the ones that obviously still are living at home, and just reminding them that the Bible says that the name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and they were safe. We don’t need to be afraid. And yet fear is kind of what’s permeating the culture right now. I think largely because we are in a time in human history that is virtually unknown.
[Jeff] That’s right. Nobody’s ever faced this before, but every generation has something that it faces that nobody has ever faced before. So, this could be our moment. This is our big test. Will we recoil in fear? Will we be overcome with dread? Or will we turn back and trust God for what He says in Scripture? And then in turn, bring that sense of calmness and joy to a culture that is absolutely irate right now, that life in the physical world isn’t turning out to be all that great.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s right. And I think parents, in particular Christian parents, who have been trying to shepherd their children, they’re walking through a season that they’ve never walked through before. And yet we know that the Bible doesn’t change. The Bible has not changed. God’s not up in heaven scratching His head wondering how in the world we got here. He is the same that he has always been. And we can go back to what we know to be true. And I know that’s a huge part of what you guys are doing at Summit ministries in equipping this generation.
I want to talk, there’s so many things I want to cover with you today. But I want to first start with a book project that you’re working on because I actually think it lends itself to the conversation. You’ve got a brand new book called Unquestioned Answers. And let’s give listeners the premise why you wrote the book, what it’s about. And then I want to talk about a term that you’ve coined called simplism, which I’m sort of fascinated with. So let’s start with the book Unquestioned Answers and sort of the premise for why you wrote the book. And why do you think it’s good for right now?
[Jeff] Well, I think we live in a moment in history and we tell our students at Summit ministries this all of the time, a lot of people have unanswered questions about their faith, but uncomfortably we also have unquestioned answers, things that we have come to believe that we haven’t really thought through. And in moments of crisis, we’re in a position of having to rethink what we believe, rediscover biblical truths and rid ourselves of the cliches that keep our thinking at a shallow level.
And I think, Heidi, at this moment in history, it’s so much more critical. Jesus said, we have to be fishers of men. No one ever caught a fish by skimming the surface of the water. You have to be willing to go deeper. So, we have on one hand of a simple, elegant gospel that Jesus has given us, but we have turned it into a cliche and our inability to go deep when people are ready to have deeper discussions now more than ever before can be a liability. And we can rid ourselves of it. So this book just takes on 10 Christian cliches. It’s not a rant. I just say, here are the cliches. Here’s why I think we should stop using them. And here’s what we can do instead.
[Heidi] So give me an example. So, a cliche. So for people who are listening to going, “Well, what are the 10?” They’re on the edge of their seat. “What are the 10?” Give me one. What’s one?
[Jeff] All right. The very first one, they’re all going to make people frustrated. I can tell you.
[Heidi] I love this. This is my favorite kind of conversation.
[Jeff] Well, they made me frustrated. I was frustrated as I was writing it. I was thinking, I can’t believe I’ve said this my whole life and now I’m going to have to go back and undo it. But one example is” God said it, I believe it, that settles it for me. People always say it settles it for me. And if you want to know what the key is to understanding all of these cliches, and what’s wrong about them is that they always bring it back to me. That settles it for me. It’s about me in Jesus. It’s all about me.
And I remember a pastor saying this from the pulpit. He said something very controversial. It’s actually not all that subtle of a theological issue, but in his mind it was, and so he held up His Bible and said, “If you have a problem with this, take it up with God. God said it. I believe it. That settles it for me.” And there were a lot of people who amened that in the congregation, but as a little kid I thought, “I’m not sure I can go there. I don’t know why. It seems so subtle for him when it doesn’t for me.”
And Heidi, what happened is, I just had to go back and look at what is the Bible? What is it that is true about scripture, and it’s not true because I like it or because it feels true for me, it’s true because it’s true, and in that it can give me confidence, especially at tough times.
[Heidi] So Jeff, when you are talking to parents in particular, because we grew up with these cliches, right? I mean, I grew up in the church. I could probably list at least 10, maybe even more. I was thinking about the button my grandparents gave me in the 70s that I found it. Do you remember that?
[Jeff] I do. I remember seeing that. That’s a historical artifact. You have to save that.
[Heidi] I know, right? The blue, I’ve found it button, and I think what we’ve done is we’ve over simplified it, and you’ve said something I think is really good. I think it’s pretty important for parents to understand the fact that this generation of young people are not settling for these cliches is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. Do you agree?
[Jeff] I agree. It’s a good thing, it can be uncomfortable. There are times where I have to say, “Let me get back to you on that.” But when I say, let me get back to you on that, it’s an invitation to more conversation and what could possibly be bad about that? Conversation is at the heart of it, right? The five conversation altering words that I teach everybody I come in contact with is, “Tell me more about that.” I live in a little hippie town right at the foot of Pikes peak in Colorado. You’re going to see more Buddhist prayer flags flying from front porches. Then you will see American flags.
You will find people who are far to the left of Bernie Sanders in their political viewpoints.
[Jeff] He looks like a conservative n my town. So, I’m in a place where virtually every day, I’m having the opportunity to have conversations with people whose worldview is totally the opposite of mine. And what I’m finding is that a lot of people have unanswered questions and a lot of people also have unquestioned answers. I mean, some of the cars in our account are held together by bumper stickers, hashtag resist and all of them.
[Heidi] You’re like in a little microcosm of Portland, Oregon, which I live just outside of Portland. We’ve got a similar thing going on here.
[Jeff] I think we’re a friendly, sunny little Portland. That’s what it comes down to.
[Heidi] Yup. Yup.
[Jeff] That’s exactly right. But the truth is when I start to get into conversations with people and I show myself to be present in the conversation, show myself to be willing to listen, ask questions, engage, not have to drive toward the truth as if there’s a time limit on this—people open wide. It’s the strangest thing. I’ve actually had people, I’ll go into a restaurant and all of a sudden we’re talking about life and death and spiritual issues, and the other person’s looking at me like, “I’ve heard you say that this happens to you, but I’m actually seeing it. How does this take place?”
And it’s all just coming in with a sense of presence. Not what new agers mean by that. I’m just present in the conversation and I’m open and willing to discuss and share my heart with others and be vulnerable and to receive what other people have to say and to think about it in a very human fashion.
[Heidi] I think that’s important. Yeah, and I think people feel like, because what you’re doing really is just the gospel. I mean, you’re just loving people the way that the Lord Jesus did. And I think we’ve taken sides in the culture today to where we’re afraid. We’re afraid if I say what I really believe or like you said, I got to go straight to the gospel. “If you don’t know the Lord Jesus, you’re going to hell.” Well, that’s not where you start. That’s not where you start. When you get into a conversation with somebody in a coffee shop there.
Or if I do that here, most of the time I’m on an airplane. How do you start? I mean, are you asking questions? I’m assuming that’s what you’re doing, right? You’re getting into conversations by just talking to people about their life, right?
[Jeff] I think just talking about their life, but I wish I could tell you how it happened. I find myself just as surprised by it as anybody else. Two weeks ago when we were still traveling to speak, I stopped to have my shoes shined. They were looking pretty rough. And the guy was shining my shoes and he said, “What do you think about the coronavirus?” And we’re talking and he said, “Are you a doctor?” I said, “Well, I’m not the kind of doctor who can help you if you get sick, but I am the kind of doctor who can talk to you about the meaning of life.”
[Heidi] That’s cool.
[Jeff] He looked at me very sincerely and said, “Well, what is the meaning of life?”
[Heidi] Now see, I got to say though, Dr. Jeff, not everyone can say that. So, I can’t say, “Well, I’m the kind of doctor that can talk to you about life.” I could say, “Well, I’ve had seven kids and I know a couple of things about viruses.” How does an ordinary person like me, step into that conversation and be vulnerable because I think we’re afraid. I think we’re afraid we’re going to step into it and then we’re going to look foolish. Or we’re going to say something we didn’t mean. You know what I mean?
[Jeff] My son was playing soccer and I sat down on the grass next to some other parents and there was a mom there who is a very deeply committed, what I call “a new spiritualist”, a new ager. And she’s telling me all about the meditation techniques that she’s learning and she’s very excited about them. And I just keep listening as we’re watching our kids play soccer. And every time she says something, I say, “Oh, interesting. Tell me more about that. I’m curious how that works and how do you see this and how do you see that?”
But after about 10 minutes, because she’s also a person, she stops and says, “How do you see all of this?” And that was my opening. I said, “Well, I have a strong sense that God is not a force, but as a person.” And she said, in the most innocent possible way. She said, “Really? Why do you say that?” And that’s the opening to share the gospel. So I told her about Jesus. I said, this is how God… that God is a person. We just went through the reveals himself in the person of Jesus Christ.
Well, she’s listening very carefully. My answers are not terribly long. And she says, “Well, if God is a person, do you talk to him?” I said..
[Heidi] That’s so cool.
[Jeff] I said, I do. I talk to God through prayer. But then Heidi, when that conversation was taking place, I was at a really low point in my life and going through a very difficult circumstance and so I could feel my voice choke up because I’m the guy who just puts it all out there, right? I’m not going to hide it from you. And I said, “That’s how it’s supposed to work in theory. But right now I don’t really feel that God is hearing me.” And it was just this pause during which you could not script this.
Another lady came and sat down right in between the two of us and we looked at her and realized she had been crying and the other lady said, “Well, what’s happening?” She said, “I really don’t want to talk about it, I just had some very bad news for my family, but I really want to talk about it right now.” And this lady, the new ager I’d been talking to, put her hand on the shoulder of the newcomer and said, “It’s going to be okay, Jeff will pray for you.”
[Heidi] Oh my goodness.
[Jeff] And I looked at her and she just looked at me and winked and said, “And he’s very good at that.”
[Heidi] Oh wow.
[Jeff] You can’t make that kind of thing happen. All you can do is prepare yourself, be present..
[Heidi] Be available.
[Jeff] Be available. I do sometimes spark it a little bit. “Hey, I like to think about spiritual things. Is that weird or do you ever think about spiritual things? Do you think of yourself as a spiritual person? What does that mean to you?” I think in the times of the Coronavirus, I think this is going to be so easy. You won’t even believe it. It’s just saying to somebody, how are you personally doing? How are you handling this? I know it’s a lot of stress. Look, I’m a person who prays. You may not think a lot about that, but I’d like to be able to pray for you. Would that be okay?” If the person, very few people, almost nobody ever says, “No, no I’m not really comfortable with that.”
[Jeff] I had that happen one time in a restaurant with a server. By the way, most servers in restaurants love to be prayed for. So you’re going to go get some food. You’re going to do a take out now, right?
[Heidi] Right. Right.
[Jeff] The person comes out and just ask, “How are you doing personally?” Bring along an extra $10 bill in addition to your regular tip and say, “Can you just give me one or two things, tell me your name and one or two things I can pray for you about.” This is so easy, in a time of fear and uncertainty and dread. People are open, open, open, spiritually.
[Heidi] I think that’s true. And honestly, we’re living in a time right now where we’ve got people on the internet, and social has made us so unsocial. We don’t know how to talk to people. And I like to tell parents, listen, “If you know the Lord Jesus as your savior, you have the hope of heaven inside you.” What the entire world is looking for. And I love Jeff, the gentleness in which you approach people and how you are are putting yourself out there to be someone who ministers hope and encouragement.
A couple of years ago I was on an airplane and sat down, I think I was flying by myself, which I don’t normally do, but I sat down next to a young couple and I noticed, I mean, within 20 minutes of the flight, something was terribly wrong. The wife was sitting facing the window and I had an aisle seat and her husband was in the middle of us, and I said, “I’m so sorry, I can’t help but notice. Are you okay?” And he said, “No.” They had just found out that her father had been killed in an accident.
And so I said, “I don’t know how you feel about prayer, but I am a person who believes that God is with us when we’re suffering and I have walked through suffering, could I pray for you?” And his wife turned and said, “We don’t believe in God, but we sure need help.” And so, he held his wife’s hand and I prayed for them. And when the prayer was over, they began to tell me about a 10 year struggle they’d had with infertility and wanted to know if I would pray about that.
I think we don’t realize because the culture has told us we’re enemies, right? Everyone’s our enemy. And true, some people are right, adversarial in nature, but I think most people, they really do genuinely need and want to hear about the hope of heaven and the hope that we have as Christians.
[Jeff] Yeah. And so what if they are antagonistic? That’s the beauty of living in a town like mine is that when everybody totally disagrees with you and their worldview then you just have to live the gospel. You can’t just go back and rely on snappy little responses and things like that. The other day I went over to the grocery store, and I bought a bunch of gift cards, 10 bucks, and I thought, “Okay, Lord, who should I give them to?” And I saw one man, the store probably didn’t like me doing this inside the store, but an elderly man and tattered coat shuffled by.
He had his little cart filled with some snacks and some cat food, and you could see right away he cares about his cat and he’s trying to find… He’s finding his favorite snacks, comfort food, right? And so I approached him. My heart was pounding. I said, “Sir, I’d like to bless you by giving you a gift card.” And he just said, “Oh no, that’s fine. I have everything I need.” I said, “Well, I’ve already paid for it. It’s free. Could help you pay for your groceries.” He said, “It’s free. You’re just giving it to me?”
I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “Oh, thank you so much. I’ve seen this happen on television, but I didn’t know in real life you have just made my day.” I said, “No sir, you just made mine.” I went for a run yesterday. I saw several of our neighbors out. Stopped, talked to them, I waved and smiled at every car that went by. You know there were 19 cars that went by and 17 of them waved back and smiled. One of them honked, waved real big. This is our time where we can really connect with people. I’m not going to be overcome with fear. I’m going to be a person of courage. There’s a lot of scary stuff happening. The new normal isn’t normal. But that doesn’t change the truth of God’s Word.
[Heidi] No. And you talk about something in your book that you call simplicism. And when we were talking before the show, before we recorded the show, I love the idea behind what you’re saying because I think it helps us to share and live out the gospel in a way that people can understand on a core level. So what do you mean? Because you’ve coined this term simplism, and how is it different, because I know people are going to have that simplicity. Like let’s Marie Kondo like, but that’s not what you’re saying. What do you mean?
[Jeff] Oh well, Marie Kondo has turned simplicity into a virtue. It’s the virtue of living and uncluttered life. Uncluttering, but I’ll always have books and so, I’ll always be cluttered. I just think that’s going to be the way.
[Heidi] Yep. All of the books?
[Jeff] Yeah. What touches you spiritually, I think is one of the things. Not clothes, I’ll throw out all my clothes, but the books, those are..
[Heidi] Yeah, the books are staying.
[Jeff] Yeah, the books are going to stay.
[Heidi] Step around the books, step over the books. The books are staying.
[Jeff] So, simplicism is different than simplicity. It’s not… Simplicity is the virtue of living and uncomplicated life, simplicism is a conviction that something isn’t really true unless it’s easy to understand and summarize. So nothing is complicated in the world of ideas. We can summarize things with a cliche with a bumper sticker and that’s all the deeper we need to go. That’s simplicism. So I think I coined that term, but you know-
[Heidi] I think you did.
[Jeff] You need to Google, there might be 10,000 hits.
[Heidi] Well we can just trademark it right here.
[Jeff] Okay, let’s do it.
[Heidi] So now it’s official. There you go. So, let’s talk about this for just a second because I think it definitely goes into what’s happening with the Coronavirus, right? And what’s happening with Christians in the culture right now. How can they take this term and have it be something that they can be looking out for and have it be turning into a blessing in the midst of the struggle that we’re facing right now?
[Jeff] Well, let me give an example of another one of the unquestioned answers from the book. And there are several of these. I’m trying to flip through and realize which one of these is not going to make people mad on the podcast. They all are.
[Heidi] You know what, so you’ve never been on my podcast before, but everybody that listens to this is used to that.
[Heidi] We’re used to it because I routinely talk about politics here. I routinely talk about education, so they’re used to. So go ahead and make them mad, they can handle it.
[Jeff] Okay. So here’s an example. One of the things you often hear Christians say is: love the sinner hate the sin. Love the sinner, hate the sin.
[Heidi] I like that. What’s wrong with that?
[Jeff] Well, God loves sinners and God hates sin, right? So what could possibly be wrong with it? Here’s the issue with it. Well, a couple of things. First, when we say it, if you think back when you’ve said it, when I think back on when I have said it, the context is always when I think that the other person’s sin is worse for them than mine is for me.
[Jeff] Which means I stop understanding the nature of sin. The proper posture of every human being in the face of sin, is as if we have tumbled headlong over a cliff only to find ourselves firmly in the saving grasp of the only one who could save us. So I’m learning that when I say, if I were to say to somebody, “I love you, but I hate your sin.” And by the way, the conversation almost always is in the context of same sex attraction.
[Jeff] If I say, “I love you, but I hate your sin,” the only thing the person hears is what comes after but. And remember that people today, they think what we would think of as sin. They think of as their identity. This is who I am.
[Heidi] So, you’ve just said you hated them.
[Jeff] I just said I hate you. I love you, I hate you. So, it causes people to seize up in confusion. This is how we teach our students at Summit Ministries to do this. Be curious, ask, don’t tell. Lead with questions. So when I meet someone who’s involved in something, say, “Hey, I want to know your story a little bit. Tell me about you, and then tell me more about that. How do you see that? How did you arrive at that conclusion?” People will say to me very often, I could never believe in the God who would allow evil.
And people’s frustration is going to be manifest, right, in times where everybody’s stuck at home, and nobody’s sure what’s going to happen next, and my 401k is shot, and all of that. Hey, look, if God was really powerful, wouldn’t He stop all this bad stuff from happening? In my heart, I want to just say, “Oh well, let me give you the three reasons why your perspective on this is wrong.”
But what I do, and what I teach students to do is back off and say, “Oh wow. It sounds like that question comes from a pretty deep place, how did you get there? Did something happen to you that really disappointed you? Why is that disappointing to you?” Dig in a little bit, before I get to giving the answers. Now the Unquestioned Answers book is 200 some pages long because you don’t just leave it at the question.
[Heidi] That’s right.
[Jeff] You want to be able to be able to say, “Okay, here’s what to do next, here’s the step one, step two, step three.” But first you lead with those questions.
[Heidi] I love it. And really you’re highlighting the importance of relationship. And that’s another thing I feel like social media has really hurt us, because I’ve watched Christians lob Bible verses at each other over the internet, the wall of the internet, you know, “Let me hit you with my Bible, upside your head.” And we wonder why we’re not making headway. And I think it’s because we’ve forgotten the preciousness of other people. The preciousness of the relationship that that other person is in, and honoring their emotion. Right? And so I love that you’re encouraging, especially young people. How do we engage in the culture right now? It’s so important.
And I’m going to pivot just a little bit, because now the main thing we’re talking about, right? I mean, even here at the podcast, I’m constantly talking about the culture in political things and same sex attraction. I’ve had wonderful guests on the show who have been at the forefront of helping a Christian define an apologetic that’s going to be both loving and truthful. But I would say the bigger conversation we’re having in this moment is dealing with a culture in crisis, like for real. So the coronavirus has really thrust us into a season that none of us have ever been in before.
I looked at the news this morning, what the Dow had plunged like 20,000 points. It’s kind of crazy town, here in Vancouver it’s a little bit of a ghost town. They’ve shut down the restaurants and the barbershops, and if it’s not what they’re calling an essential, they’re asking people to stay home. And it’s eliciting a fear that I’ve never seen before. I mean, I’ve seen fear about all kinds of things, but this is a whole new level. And what does it look like, Jeff, to be a Christian right now in a culture of fear? How can our being filled with the Holy spirit actually give us an opportunity to share with those around us right now? Especially when they’re telling us to stay home, social distancing, all the things.
[Jeff] Yes. Right, right. Well, I want to make it worse before it gets better. I think fear is a correct word. It’s a strong emotion that surfaces when we become aware of a potential danger. But we are moving very quickly from fear to dread. Dread is fear on steroids. It is an extreme uneasiness in the face of pain and evil and uncertainty. And both fear and dread are mobsters that force us to empty our emotional bank account under the threat of impending doom. And it’s worst…
[Heidi] And it moves us to panic, right? That’s where the panic comes from?
[Jeff] Panic is the reaction, it’s trying to restore balance to our lives, that’s why the panic has been so weird. People go to the store and buy toilet paper.
[Heidi] Yeah. 10 cases of toilet paper.
[Jeff] They’ve got 10 cases of toilet paper, because panic is that natural human reaction to try to restore balance. So fear and dread are the emotions we feel, panic is the response, and it’s worse for kids. And I think one thing everybody listening right now has to realize is that events like this can be traumatic for kids and unresolved trauma in childhood can mane people for life. I’m not trying to be negative about this. I just want to set up the biblical response for the true power that it really has.
And the research is also showing us that high quality caregiving through nurturing relationships is the thing that can restabilize children. Not only does it restabilize them spiritually and emotionally, but it can actually affect the structure of their brains. So I’m going to recommend, and in fact we’ve got a special report we’re going to release today and it’s on 10 steps to triumphing over fear and dread.
And it includes 50 little Scripture verse cards that you can use to start memorizing. Okay? The memory is going to be really important. It has powerful benefits. Psychologically, intellectually, memorization tells our brain what to focus on. It frees up our mental capacity to stay trained on what’s most important. It improves our overall memory. I mean, we need to remember things right now. The ability to focus is extremely important. And it also makes us more creative. So I think we’re going to be turning back to that.
And these 50 verses are all deep things that go right into your heart about what God says about our fear and what He says about his power. So anyway, that’s all by way of the background, Heidi. But to get to your question, I think this is our time to declare and stand with the rising generation, especially with our kids, we will not live in fear. Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid I will put my trust in you.” The Bible does not tell us to run and hide. It does not. It tells us to engage, not escape. Fear can paralyze us. We are called to be a blessing to others. That’s Galatians:3. Fear hordes, but we share, that’s Ephesians 4:28. Fear curses its bad fortune, but we wisely try to understand the times— 1 Chronicles 12:32.
Fear resigns itself to fate, but we are to be giving the reason for the hope that we have, 1 Peter 3:15. So it’s crucial to live with courage rather than anxiety, even though anxiety might be the natural response, and then to begin pulling our children close and enabling them to do that same thing.
[Heidi] It’s so powerful and I’m so glad that you’re here Jeff for such a time as this, because I can literally feel the shackles come off. Parents who are sitting at home and they’re afraid and they’re right to point out that we’ve never been here before, and we don’t know what’s coming. It seems like it changes daily. I mean, by the time this podcast airs on Friday, we could have a different scenario playing out, but it doesn’t change the truth of the word. And I’m always telling parents, you can’t pass on what you don’t possess.
And so if we want our children to come through this, I love that you said the things that happened in childhood, they really can scar you for life. It’s true. I’m living proof of that. Having grown up in an abusive home. And I think helping our kids come through this with an emotional health, and a spiritual health, that really does sit and rest squarely on parents to say ” Know the Word of God. Be in God’s word.” Direct your children back to the Prince of peace.
You know, we think of peace as an emotion, but the Bible says peace is a fruit of the spirit. And that comes as we walk in right relationship with the Lord. When you look at parents who are dealing with something that we’ve never dealt with before, and you’re looking at a generation, I’m thinking of the 10 year old right now, he’s going to come out of this in a couple of years and they’re going to be the teenagers who are then going to be the adults. And you talk about Scripture memorization. I think I want to camp on it for just a second.
Because you’re going to be sending these things out in an email, which we’re going to talk about. But how can you get your 10-year-old and your 13-year-old and maybe you’re like me. I told you why I measure my life in pregnancies. Like how many children do we have in different ages? Talk to the parents who are like, “Man, I’d really like to start memorizing scripture, but I’ve never done it before.” Where’s a good place… How can we kind of get into this rhythm of learning to memorize God’s word?
[Jeff] Well, I’m trying to learn how to teach it all right now.
[Heidi] Yeah, and it’s good right? Because, we’re doing it really in real time. A lot of us go to church, we can’t even go to church now, right? The churches have been… I don’t know if they have done that there yet? But they’ve done it here. The churches are closed.
[Jeff] The churches are closed. So you’re doing virtual worship services and all of that. So we’re going to learn to do a lot of things at home that we would typically gather together with other people to do. And hopefully that will be short term, but we really have no sense of it. I don’t think we’re to be the sort of people who say, “Well, maybe two weeks from now it’ll be different. Maybe three weeks from now it’ll be different.” We look at the new normal, and ask how do we make the most of this.
The author of Hebrews says, “we are not of those who shrink back.” This is our time to press forward. So how do we press into things? So for example, you might say to your child, in times that are really, really important, people buckle down and memorize the things that are most significant. During the time of the early part of America, people would memorize the declaration of independence or key parts of it. Not because they hadn’t ever read it before, but because they didn’t just want it on a piece of paper somewhere on the desk, they wanted it in their hearts, so that they could call up that courage that came from it.
I had such a weird dream the other night. Aliens landed in my dream and they came to the door and I started talking to them and they said, “Can we come in?” And I said, “Absolutely not.” And they said, “Well, we have to.” I said, “Haven’t you ever heard of the United States constitution?” This is all in my dream.
[Heidi] In the recesses of your mind, you’re now quoting the constitution?
[Jeff] Right, yeah. So I’m quoting the constitution to them in my dream. But if I didn’t have those things in my heart, I wouldn’t be able to draw them out at the proper moment. And it is a moment by moment, right? If God is really present as He says He is, and there isn’t any moment of our lives where He’s not present with us. So any time, and any moment where anxiety begins to take hold is a moment where we are forgetting the presence of God. It’s not that he’s not present, it’s just that we’re forgetting it.
So how do we remind ourselves of it? David said in Psalm 1:19, “I love your law. I think about it day and night.” That is the idea. So I don’t know the 10 points I’m working on, I wanted to make 10 things that can help conquer fear and dread. So I mean this is all still coming together, but the first one is, you say to your 10-year-old, “The world can come apart at the seams for all I care, we stay focused on God as our source of strength. Our source of strength is never, never in whether we can get out of the house and drive our car. Our source of strength is never in our ability to secure our retirement. Our source of strength is never in whether our school is open or closed. Our source of strength is in God.”
[Heidi] Just listening to you say it. It’s peace, it’s this peace that comes over. So we don’t need to panic. We don’t need to live in dread. Because, we have access to the Prince of peace. I love that.
[Jeff] Yeah. I think the second thing is to say, now what we have to decide is if God’s strength is our source of our strength, then what do we do differently? And I think we commit to press on in God’s strength. You know Scripture talks about this a lot. It talks about life is a race that we press on in the midst of our difficulties. And I remember Elisabeth Elliot saying many years ago, “If you’re not sure what to do, just do the next thing.”
[Jeff] Don’t try to make a down payment on a debt that you may never owe. That’s what anxiety does to us, right? We have to be wise, we have to be discerning. The long-term is important, but right now just do the next thing. And I think that’s the idea of pressing on. In my little town in Manitou Springs, there are a lot of people who are runners. They’re crazy hippies. I mean run up and down.
[Heidi] I know.
[Jeff] Is that right? You’ve seen them.
[Heidi] Oh, yes.
[Jeff] And so I hang out with these people, and well, to be honest, I’m one of these people. And I remember I was training for the Pikes Peak Marathon, which is this ridiculous race where we run from the town 6,400 feet above sea level, Manitou Springs, so the proper-
[Heidi] Up to where normal people can’t breathe.
[Jeff] Oh yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly right. So the tireder you get the less oxygen you have to replenish you.
[Heidi] So of course, naturally why would we run to Pikes peak? Of course.
[Jeff] And as I’m talking about it, I realize this doesn’t even… I put it into words and it’s as absurd as it sounds.
[Heidi] You know, in Portland they’re doing the naked bike ride. I think that on some level it’s sort of the same thing, just a different kind of crazy.
[Jeff] It’s a little different kind of crazy. Yeah, yeah. We won’t claim all of the Portland crazies…
[Heidi] Don’t, run for your life.
[Jeff] But I was training, training, training, and then on the day of the race I start running up the mountain, which I had done dozens of times. And my mind is like, “You know what? Lots of people have already quit. You can tell they’re just walking.” They ran through town when everybody was watching. Now they’re walking, you could walk too, you could walk and this is really hard. And I literally said to myself, I said, “Stop it. Stop it. We can run this. We have done it dozens of times. We’re going to keep going.” And it was as if somehow physiologically, my body adjusted to account for that preparation and that new mental state.
So God has designed us in such a way that when we will just stop the sense of worry and focus in on the next thing, that we have the ability in His light to take that next step.
[Heidi] Well that is comforting in and of itself. It’s knowing we don’t have to have all the answers for tomorrow, or for next week or for the next announcement that comes from the White House, or from your city government or whatever it is. We just need to do that thing that’s in front of us, and stay prayerful about how the Lord would have us respond. I think it’s so powerful. Before we go today, I really want to… I want people to be able to find you.
I think you’re going to come up with a new title. You might be like America’s doctor after this. I feel comforted just having talked to you. And I wonder, so people can find you at summit.org. I know for sure because the camps that you guys do, which I’m a huge fan of obviously a lot of them not happening right now because of the virus. But you said you’re moving these things to an online format. Is this for teenagers, right?
[Jeff] That’s right. Yeah. These will be for students who are aged 16 to 25, because we’re accounting for the fact that growing up is not the same as it used to be.
[Jeff] But these programs, for the first part of the summer, they’ll be virtual and then we’ll see where it goes for the rest of the summer, but these programs will be two weeks long. They will bring together the top Christian thought leaders in the United States of America, with young adults in a very personal kind of format where you can ask questions and they will answer them and they will talk with you. And we will be together even if we’re all in our houses, even if we have a pajama day.
[Heidi] Right, right. This is the introvert’s dream come true. Every introvert in the United States right now is like, “Finally.”
[Jeff] It’s going to be so fun. If you have questions, there’ll be people who are waiting to dialogue with you about your questions. People waiting to talk to you on the phone. We’re going to be able to have small groups and all of these kinds of things. But the whole point of it is we need more than ever young adults in this country, and not just a few, but massive numbers, to embrace God’s truth and to champion a biblical worldview, which means they take it to college with them, and they have it in their psychology class just as much as they have it in their residence hall. They take it into the workplace with them.
Our graduates are in the military, they are in business, they are in medicine, they’re in science, they’re in every imaginable area of life. Taking that biblical worldview with them everywhere they go. So we kind of have a choice and do we back away right now, or do we say, “Well, nope, this is the time”? Just like Esther, we have come to a Royal position for such a time as this, and we will double down and doing what God tells us to do.
[Heidi] I love that. And they can find you at summit.org and they can find the information they need, right about these summer camps. And even though they’re happening virtually, I just want people to hear it again. They are going to continue. They’re just going to happen virtually. And I think God’s going to do an amazing thing. I actually think you guys could see more students than you’ve ever seen before. And I certainly hope that’s the case.
[Jeff] Well, we’re already starting to see that because see sports camps are not happening. Mission trips are not happening. We actually sell out every summer. We can have 180 students each session times seven. That’s it. That was our total crowd. Well, virtually now we can have lots more. And we actually have hundreds of small group leaders, who are prepared to invest personally in the lives of young adults. So we think this could be really, really an incredible moment.
And there’s more about the book too, Unquestioned Answers book at summit.org. And just throw this out there as a possibility. I listen to a lot of audio books. The audio book reader for Unquestioned Answers is Michael Beck. He’s the guy who reads John Grisham’s books.
[Heidi] That’s not bad. That’s not bad.
[Jeff] And his voice is so fascinating and compelling, consider getting the audio book. The book has lots of stories and examples and things like that you could just listen to with your family. And if you’re looking for activities that don’t involve playing video games, this could be one of them.
[Heidi] I love it. I love it. And is the book out right now?
[Jeff] The book is out right now. Yeah. Just came out. So you can get it at Amazon. They’ve got a big stockpile of them so they can send them out. The audio book of course you can get anytime, Kindle wherever. Wherever you buy books is where you can get Unquestioned Answers.
[Heidi] I love it. And then you’re, you’re doing something new. Every Saturday morning you’re going to be… People can subscribe and they’ll get an email and tell listeners really quickly what you’re talking about doing.
[Jeff] Yeah, this is called the Summit Starting Point. So it’s a straightforward little… It’s an email that you can read in 15 seconds and act on in minutes, to encourage the rising generation and grow in your own faith. So it has a conversation spark, a question that you can use, to connect with those in the rising generation, especially your kids. Second, a heart prayer for growing your relationship with others. Third, a shareable verse that you can use to encourage yourself and others.
And then fourth is a helpful resource that Summit ministries can provide for free, a video clip or a little article, something like that that relates to the topic at hand. So it’s very simple. We need simple things right now. We don’t want to be… We don’t want to get involved in simplism, but we do want to have uncomplicated emails coming in, right?
[Heidi] I love that.
[Jeff] Read it in 15 seconds, act on it within minutes, and it’ll come out every morning.
[Heidi] That’s awesome. That’s awesome. For those of you who are listening, and you what? This is funny. Jeff, you’re going to think this is funny, but try not to laugh too hard. So I travel for a living. I speak all over the nation and everywhere I go, women come up to me and say, “Oh my goodness, I listened to you in the shower.” You know how many people are listening to this in shower right now? There’s a lot. All right, so there’s a lot. So those of you who are listening to this shower, don’t freak out because I’m going to put all this information in the show notes today.
So finish rinsing your hair and all this information will be here, and you can download all the information you need to know. We’ll link back to summit.org. You can find out how to sign up for the email that Jeff is going to be sending out every Saturday morning. And then Jeff, you and I were talking briefly about a declaration about not living in fear. Can you talk to us about that for just a minute?
[Jeff] Yeah. We’ll be sending this out to everybody. We can find an email address for who’s a person of faith in the United States of America, probably even around the world. But it’s just going to be very simple. It’s a declaration to stand with the rising generation and say, “We will not live in fear. We will not live in fear.”
[Heidi] I love it.
[Jeff] That is at the heart of it. You know declarations like that… I don’t know. Some people would say, “Well, that’s just kind of a gimmick.” But it’s not. When you declare something to be true and you begin to align your thoughts with God’s truth, then the presence of the Holy spirit begins changing you.
[Heidi] That’s right.
[Jeff] And we become people who instead of running and hiding, running away from the situation, we become the people who run toward it. And I will tell you, Heidi, among other things, I am a student of Christian history. The times where the church grew the most were times of crisis when believers ran toward it rather than away from it.
[Heidi] It’s true. It’s so powerful. Dr. Jeff Myers it’s been an absolute joy to have you here today. I think you’ve brought a lot of calm and just peace to listeners who are just watching a changing world, rapidly changing around them. And so I really appreciate you coming on and I hope we can talk again soon.
[Jeff] I’m looking forward to it Heidi, thank you so much for your work and congratulations on episode 900.
[Heidi] Thank you.
[Jeff] I loved it.
[Heidi] I don’t know, I might just stop with this one. Maybe we should just hang it up and go home?
[Jeff] We’re going to press on remember?
[Heidi] That’s right. Oh, that’s right. I’m going to go back and get my notes out again. We’re going to press on. You guys I know you’ve been blessed by listening to Dr. Jeff Myers. For more information on Dr. Myers and what he is doing for the rising generation, you can find out all about his ministry at summit.org. I will link back to these things in the show notes today, and as always, I just want to remind you that you are who God says you are. God said in His word that He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. Stay faithful everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
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Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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