Dr. David Jeremiah, founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California, wrote a book titled, “I Never Thought I’d See the Day! Culture at the Crossroads,” published in Oct. 2011, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. It is the fourth book in a series of books (all New York Times bestsellers) he wrote titled “Living with Confidence in a Chaotic World,” (2009); “What in the World is Going On?: 10 Prophetic Clues You Cannot Afford to Ignore,” (2010); and “The Coming Economic Armageddon: What Bible Prophecy Warns about the New Global Economy,” (August 2011). A prolific author, his latest book, “Agents of the Apocalypse: A Riveting Look at the Key Players of the End Times,” published in October 2014, is also a #1 New York Times bestseller.
The synopsis of “I Never Thought I’d See the Day! Culture at the Crossroads,” written on the back cover (paperback edition), states the following:
Many people are blind to the destructive trends of the day. At the same time, others see the dangers but are too quick to minimize the negative impact these trends are having on society. Then there are those who see the chaos all around them but believe that resistance to the prevailing culture is useless. In the middle of all this confusion, Dr. David Jeremiah issues a prophetic warning: “We must understand that we are in a war for the very heart and soul of civilization or the consequences will be catastrophic.”
In “I Never Thought I’d See the Day!,” Dr. Jeremiah identifies the nine major indicators of this looming disaster and then issues a strategy for turning the tide and equips us with the weapons we need for the battle ahead. Above all, he brings a message of hope that our “culture at the crossroads” can be put back on the right path.
In this book, Dr. Jeremiah focuses on the dramatic changes he has witnessed in recent years and how they are shaping the world and our culture today. He addresses nine developments that he never thought he’d see in his lifetime that have taken place in America, and he states in the introduction to the book:
These are large subjects, the kind of trends that develop over years. They move at a glacial pace compared to the frenetic lifestyle most Americans live, which makes them easy to miss . . . . But no one misses the effects of these changes. They contribute to the deteriorating moral and spiritual culture in which we live (p. XV).
The chapter titles give insight into those nine developments:
Introduction: A Slow Drift in the Wrong Direction
Chapter 1: When Atheists Would Be Angry
Chapter 2: When Christians Wouldn’t Know They Were in a War
Chapter 3: When Jesus Would be So Profaned
Chapter 4: When Marriage Would Be Obsolete
Chapter 5: When Morality Would Be in Free Fall
Chapter 6: When the Bible Would Be Marginalized
Chapter 7: When the Church Would Be Irrelevant
Chapter 8: When a Muslim State Could Intimidate the World
Chapter 9: When America Would Turn Her Back on Israel
Chapter 10: When Changing Your Mind Could Save Your Life
Those chapter titles read like front page news. And who could disagree that each of these topics have played a major role in the changing of America today, and the erosion that has taken place over the past several decades. The book is very comprehensive and my purpose in writing this particular blog post is to give my readers a review of the very informative contents in case they would like to read more in the book, which is available in paperback at most online and regular bookstores and on Dr. Jeremiah’s website. (See also Amazon.com and Christianbook.com.) I found a paperback copy at one of the Dollar Tree stores where I shop. It is available in English and Spanish, and is also available in large print and as an ebook.
Since there is so much information in this book and the chapter titles clearly indicate the subject matter of each chapter, the rest of this review will focus on Chapter 10 (which–in itself–is worth the price of the book). As Dr. Jeremiah notes in several statements in Chapter 10: When Changing Your Mind Could Save Your Life:
When someone my age refers to the good old days, it’s usually a reference to the 1950s. That’s the decade of my childhood, and if I can trust my memory, it was indeed different from the decade we have just completed. World War II was over, the economy was on a roll, military personnel were back home starting new families (the baby boomers were conceived in the fifties), a conservative political and cultural wind was blowing, and life was good. At least, it was a lot better than life in wartime.
Then came the 1960s, when young people rebelled against the status quo and the Vietnam War, then the seventies when the nation tried to figure out what the sixties meant, and then the eighties–the so-called “Decade of Greed.” By the time the 1990s arrived–the Digital Decade–the good old days appeared as a faint image in the rearview mirror of life. Then came the first decade of the twenty-first century, when society started pulling down long-standing pillars upon which our nation was built. . . . The changes of the last two or three decades came so fast and furious that we began to long for a simpler, quieter, more predictable time in which to live [e.g., “the good old days”] (p. 272). . . .
My point is this: There is no such thing as the good old days! Because life seems to get more and more complicated with every passing year, we all think it would be nice to reverse the passage of time and revert to the goodness we had yesterday. And never has that been truer than now (p. 273). [Dr. Jeremiah notes in the preceding paragraph before he makes this statement that the 1940s had been a decade of a “hot war,” the 1950’s were a decade of the Cold War, and also during the 1950’s the United States and the former Soviet Union “aimed enough nuclear missiles at each other to completely destroy both nations” and included nuclear-attack drills in American schools and fallout shelters in American backyards. As a young child I personally remember those days in elementary school of hiding under our school desks during the drills as if that would save us from a nuclear bomb.]
The economic upheaval beginning in 2008, was, in my view, symptomatic of greater and even more dangerous changes that had occurred in the previous several decades. Financial and economic activities that led to the collapse of 2008 were in many cases deceitful and immoral–indicative of a society that had lost its moral and spiritual compass. Any nation that is drowning in debt, at war around the world, and in danger of losing her status as an example to other nations [Note: which has been happening at an alarming rate since 2011 when this book was published] clearly has serious problems at home (pp. 273-274).
While that last paragraph might sound bleak, Dr. Jeremiah goes on to state:
I am, however, an optimist about God. And it is toward Him that we must turn our attention. But first I must sharpen the definition of optimism on the whetstone of Biblical realism. By optimism in God, I do not mean that I expect God to swoop down and erase our massive debts; put an end to threats of terrorism; cause a spiritual revival to sweep the nation that impacts school, government, and commerce; and return America to the good old days. I don’t think that’s biblically realistic, and it’s not a lack of faith that causes me to say so.
Rather, as I read my Bible I find compelling reasons to believe that the human race is on a collision course with calamity–that things are going to get worse before they get better, which will not happen until the return of Jesus Christ to earth. I believe the Bible teaches that in the last days of this age, only the return of Christ will keep humanity from destroying itself.
So what is there to be optimistic about? I am optimistic about God’s ability to keep you and me from being conformed to the chaos around us. I am optimistic about God’s ability to transform us–to raise us higher as the world sinks lower.
Regardless of what happens in the future, I need that protection from conformity and that power to be transformed, And I need it today! Even if the intensity of the storms around us doesn’t increase in my lifetime or yours, they are bead enough today to make me know that I need the protection and power to endure . . . .
This protection from conformity and power to be transformed is the only way to find peace and joy in this life. If we allow our well-being to depend on external circumstances–our financial security, our comfort, the satisfaction of material or sensual desire, or our health, we consign ourselves to lives of anxiety over events we cannot control. We are dependent on a world that cannot offer the ultimate security and meaning we desire. The only solution is to follow a different path from that of the disintegrating world around us (p. 274-275).
And as Dr. Jeremiah notes on p. 276, “In order not to be conformed, and in order to be transformed, you must sacrifice yourselves” as the apostle Paul wrote about nineteen hundreds years ago in his letter to the Christians in Rome (see Romans 1-16) who were living under severe persecution “under the hateful eye of emperors such as the demoniacal Nero, who made sport of persecuting them. And to those beleaguered believers were no doubt already sacrificing much.”
For the remainder of Chapter 10, Dr. Jeremiah uses Romans 9-12 as his text when describing “a new kind of sacrifice” that Christians must consider in order to not be conformed to our society and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. In Romans 12:1-2, the apostle Paul stated:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
As Dr. Jeremiah notes, “The idea of sacrifice is not readily embraced in our modern society” here in America (p. 277). He illustrates by using the economic downturn that began in 2008 with the collapse of the housing market–“the subprime housing debacle.” He states (pp. 277-278):
Unscrupulous lenders provided mortgages to unqualified borrowers who could not afford the payments. Loans were so easy to get that greedy investors bought property sight unseen for the sole purpose of “flipping” it at a profit in the soaring real estate market. Investment banks bundles these worthless mortgages and sold them to investors. Other banks issued insurance policies guaranteeing the worth of the bundles mortgages. It was a greed-based house of cards build on bad credit, and it came crashing down on the country. People lost their homes and their jobs, companies laid off workers, and–like throwing gasoline on a fire–our government began printing money to stimulate the economy. The U.S. Treasure began selling bonds, to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, which paid for them with newly printed dollars–the classic example of “robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
It all started because no one was willing to sacrifice–to say no to the allure of a bigger, newer home they couldn’t afford, to say no the the fees generated by writing mortgages for unqualified borrowers; to say no to the fees from selling bundled mortgages; to say no to the fees from insuring those bundled mortgages. Because no one was willing to sacrifice immediate desires for the sake of long-term integrity, we ended up where we are today.
We have been trained by our culture not to believe in sacrifice–to believe instead that we can have it all. And this carries over to our spiritual lives. As Christians, we have a healthy regard for the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for us two thousand years ago by willingly laying down His life. But we think of the sacrifice as “won and done” — since He won that victory by sacrificing Himself, it’s not something we are called to do.
So when the twenty-first-century Church reads Paul admonishing her to “present your bodies a living sacrifice” to God, it doesn’t sit too well–if for not other reason then because we’re Americans. It doesn’t fit the kind of life we all enjoy. We have everything we need either at our fingertips or at the nearby shopping mall, where we can get it instantly just by sliding a plastic card. We’re not used to having to sacrifice for much of anything.
If sacrifice is such a foreign word in this land of instant abundance, maybe we’d better talk a little about just what that word really means. Sacrifice always means one of two things:
~Somebody has to pay.
~Somebody has to die.
In the two examples of sacrifice Dr. Jeremiah gives on the following page (see p. 279), they illustrate the two definitions of sacrifice as being that we pay with either (1) our time, talent, or treasure; or we pay with (2) our very lives.
However, as Dr. Jeremiah states, “To be a living sacrifice actually combines the two common meanings of sacrifice” (p. 279-280):
The term includes the world “living,” yet we are called on to die. That’s what it means to become a Christian. We die to the people we were when we lived by the power of the sinful nature we inherited from Adam. The old self is laid upon the altar and “killed.” In it’s place, we receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, by which we live a new kind of life.
Living that new life involves the other definition of “sacrifice.” Since we “died” to our old selves, we are now new creatures, no longer living under the selfish power of the sinful nature. As new creatures we live a new kind of life, one directed by the power of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word [the Bible]. The new life will be one of giving–of sacrificing our resources, our self-centered wants, our times, for the sake of the kingdom of God.
This radical concept of self-sacrifice, which is the first idea introduced in Romans 12:1-2, is a prerequisite to the second idea; the renewing of our minds. And it is the renewal of our minds that will keep us from being conformed to the world in which we live. We cannot separate the idea of sacrifice from the concept of renewal: No one’s mind will be renewed whose body has not first been given as a living sacrifice to God.
As we can see, these two verses in Romans 12 give us a three-step process: (1) We sacrifice ourselves to God. This empties us of self so that God’s Holy Spirit can step in and (2) transform us by renewing our minds. (3) This transformation will enable us to keep from being conformed to the deadly values of the world (p. 280).
Chapter 10 continues with the details of the effect in making this sacrifice and how it can and will impact our lives. As Dr. Jeremiah states on p. 281:
We are called to give up something–to turn our backs on our former lives and put ourselves in the hands of God, who does not guarantee that we will have comfort, lifestyle, or ease we’ve been used to having. It’s a call for a radical decision.
The following pages (pp. 281-286) focus on the components of this “radical decision” which includes:
(1) Becoming vessels of mercy (pp. 281-282);
(2) It is a comprehensive decision (e.g., that our faith is not “compartmentalized” but consumes everything that we are and do–in fact, every facet of our lives (pp. 282-283);
(3) It is a costly decision–a serious commitment to Christ requires total sacrifice of one’s life. “And as Jesus told His disciples, He does not want quitters: “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62) (pp. 283-285);
(4) It is a creative decision–that we become willing to be His representatives on earth and to be open to His will and to do it (pp. 285-286);
(5) And it is credible decision–considering the sacrifice Christ made for us, what He asks in return is quite reasonable (p. 286).
The rest of the chapter focuses on “A Radical Determination” (pp. 286-291); “A Rigorous Discipline” (pp.292-297); and “A Real Demonstration” (pp. 297-299).
While this post has ended up being longer then I intended, I hope it has whetted your appetite to look beyond the surface of merely existing for the things of this world and to seek deeper meaning in what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Far too often in our society today, as Dr. Jeremiah stated above, “We have been trained by our culture not to believe in sacrifice–to believe instead that we can have it all. And this carries over to our spiritual lives.” And it is a deadly error to make if we are genuine followers of Jesus Christ. There is a cost to following Jesus Christ.
In Jesus’ parable of the sower, it was only the soil that allowed the seed to put down roots and bear fruit that was called “good.” If we are going to be disciples of Christ, we must first count the cost of following Him. (Quote source and read entire answer here.)
So let’s step off of the cultural treadmill . . .
And count the cost . . . .
YouTube Video: “Lose My Soul,” by TobyMac (with Kirk Franklin & Mandisa):