[Easley:] Today on incontext we are delighted to have Dr. David Jeremiah in studio. David, thanks for stopping by the station.
1 #200 February 6, 2009 Interview: David Jeremiah [Jeremiah:] What I ve learned during my times in cancer is a simple le...
#200 – February 6, 2009
Interview: David Jeremiah
[Jeremiah:] What I‟ve learned during my times in cancer is a simple lesson. It‟s the first thing I told our people when I came back to the pulpit. I said, “Folks, I want you to listen to this very carefully, God is enough.” I‟ve preached this all my life, but when I went through the difficulties of cancer, I found out that it‟s not only true because it‟s in the Bible, it‟s true because I‟ve seen it work and I know that in the darkest moment, God was there and He was enough. [Easley:] Today on inContext we are delighted to have Dr. David Jeremiah in studio. David, thanks for stopping by the station. [Jeremiah:] Well, I‟m honored to do that. [Easley:] David, you are the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. You‟ve been there how many years? [Jeremiah:] Twenty-seven. [Easley:] Twenty-seven. Do you walk on water? [Jeremiah:] No, no. [Easley:] Pretty close? [laughter] [Jeremiah:] I don‟t walk on water. But you do earn some idiosyncrasy points if you hang around that long. [Easley:] Yeah. They give you a lot of rope, don‟t they? Your preaching at Shadow Mountain has become Turning Point, an international radio and television ministry. You‟ve published, what, twenty plus books now? [Jeremiah:] I think somebody told me twenty-eight. [Easley:] Twenty-eight plus books and, well, it‟s just a treat to have you here at Moody. Thanks again. [Jeremiah:] Thank you. [Easley:] David, I want to jump to a couple of things that have been watershed in your life. You have had a number of brushes with cancer. [Jeremiah:] Mmm hmm. [Easley:] Take us back there a little bit. What‟s that like the first time you hear a doctor say, “We need to get some more tests.”? [Jeremiah:] Well, the way it happened to me, I went into the hospital to just get one of those one day executive physicals, where you do the whole thing and then in the afternoon they tell you about all of your tests. So, I did really well and at the end they did
a digital exam of my abdominal cavity and the guy said, “Hey, you‟ve got something in here that doesn‟t belong here [Easley:] Hmm. [Jeremiah:] - and we need to look at it.” [Easley:] No pain, no signs prior to that? [Jeremiah:] No, but fatigue. [Easley:] Okay. [Jeremiah:] Had some fatigue and I just thought I was working too hard. And so I went across the street to the radiology department and they basically said, “We think you probably have lymphoma, but we don„t know that.” [Easley:] And what year is this? [Jeremiah:] This was 1996, I guess, that„s the date. So I went home and my wife happened to be out of town at the time. I was home by myself. It‟s the only night I can ever remember that I did not sleep one wink all night long. Just looked at the ceiling, and wondered, “What in the world is going on here?” The next day I got with some buddies who I looked to and we talked about what to do and I‟ll tell you what, it was just such a whirlwind thing. By the time that day was over, I was pretty much on my way to Mayo Clinic. I got there. I had an exploratory surgery. They told me I had stage four Non-Hodgkin‟s Lymphoma. Went back home after the surgery and immediately got into chemotherapy and got it into remission and stayed in remission for three years. [Easley:] Mmm hmm. [Jeremiah:] And then in „98 it came back and I had a stem cell transplant and I‟ve been free from cancer now for ten years. [Easley:] Now, for friends that don„t know what this type of procedure and surgery is, this is a major deal. [Jeremiah:] Yeah, you know, and I didn‟t really know for sure what I was getting in to. But let me tell you what happens is before you go into have this treatment, they harvest your stem cells; and that‟s a process called pheresis, where they do this and I ended up with eighteen bags of stem cells and they were frozen. [Easley:] Whoa. [Jeremiah:] And this was done before it even came back. This was preventative. [Easley:] Right. Right. [Jeremiah:] So, when it came back, I go into the hospital and on a given day, you know,
you have a catheter and they feed the most toxic chemicals you can imagine into your system and if you didn‟t have the stem cells to reinvest in your system, you‟d die. [Easley:] You‟d die. You‟d die. For folks that don‟t understand, I mean, the process of chemotherapy is in essence to kill everything in you but you. [Jeremiah:] Right. [Easley:] And then bring you back. [Jeremiah:] Right. [Easley:] And this, of course, is why people get so ill and emaciated. [Jeremiah:] You know, I had a kind of an interesting thing on Easter. This happened during Easter season and on Easter my white count was as low as it could go, it was down in the hundreds [Easley:] Wow. [Jeremiah:] - and on Easter it went to 28,000. And actually went too high, they had to bring it back down. So I always tell everybody, I don‟t know what the resurrection‟s like but it‟s something like what happened to me [laughter]. [Easley:] Close, yeah [laughter]. Now how did your wife respond? How did your kids respond? Dad‟s got cancer, he might die. [Jeremiah:] Well, you know, I look back at that. I have some lingering reminders of it. First of all, I have what they call peripheral neuropathy, which I don‟t have feeling in some of my fingers and my toes and sometimes that - I was in Israel recently and it kicked up and it was very, very difficult. But outside of that, the reminders that I have is every time I look at my wife and my kids I‟m just so grateful that I‟m able to be here. I think when I was going through this back in the days when it was happening to me, I had no fear about myself, but I just felt so bad that I thought I wouldn‟t get to see my grandchildren, I wouldn‟t get to see my kids get married and I was going to leave my wife. And God didn‟t do that. He let me go through this an He‟s given me great energy and productivity and so now I‟m just so grateful. [Easley:] You‟ve had wonderful opportunities to encourage other folks that face cancer in a whole new way. [Jeremiah:] Oh yeah. Well, yeah, it‟s very unusual that I go through a month without calling two or three people around the country, most of whom I‟ve never met. And I‟m calling them to let them know. Last week, it‟s so interesting, I was in South Carolina last week and one of our trustees lives there and I was visiting with him. I was doing an event there. And while I was there his wife was going into the hospital for some diagnosis and they found a tumor. [Easley:] Hmm.
[Jeremiah:] And I ended up being in the room with him throughout the evening. Here‟s a guy that, I mean, the possibility of me being in South Carolina at this particular time [Easley:] Right. [Jeremiah:] It turned out this tumor was not malignant. They just found that out this afternoon. She‟s so blessed. But she couldn‟t get over the fact that God put me in this guy‟s room to be with her husband the night she was going through that. And, you know, that‟s the thing God does and when you‟ve been through it yourself, and you then have an empathy and a way to talk to people about it. One of the things I always tell people: Don‟t borrow from tomorrow what you don‟t know yet. It‟s so easy to jump way ahead and start thinking about all the stuff that could happen to you. We talked about that. So, yeah, it is a new ministry. [Easley:] Did you have some doubts? Some nights where you thought, “Why Lord?” [Jeremiah:] Well, I knew some of the reasons why. I mean I knew that there were lots of things God wanted to teach me and that He teaches people like me who are type A by putting us in situations where there‟s not anything we can do to help ourselves. [Easley:] Mmm hmm. [Jeremiah:] We can only look up into His face. And I mean, I prayed and asked God to extend my life and I told Him that I wanted to learn what I could learn through this. Help me learn it right so I don‟t have to have a refresher course and all that kind of stuff, but [Easley:] We rush to that a lot, you know. I‟ve had some challenges physically and you say, “Okay, Lord, teach me what I need to know and then get me back to health so I can get back to the way I was.” [Jeremiah:] Yeah. [Easley:] And I think, as your second round of cancer reminded you, we‟ve got no guarantees. [Jeremiah:] You know, you asked me about my children in that thing and I was going to mention this as an interesting thing. My son at the time this happened was a quarter back at Appalachian State University and I was flying back to see his games pretty routinely during the season; and I look back on this and I don‟t know why this is true, but the hardest thing I had to do was after Daniel had played, they had played Furman, and we‟d eaten and I said, “Danny, before I get on the plane to go home, I need to tell you something.” [Easley:] Mmm. [Jeremiah:] And I had to tell him that my cancer had returned and I just lost it. And I never forget that and he was such a great encouragement and he said, “Dad, you‟re going to do fine. Just go back and do what you did before. You know, fight this. You know, God will help you.”
But, you know, those moments are frozen in your memory. [Easley:] Mmm hmm. We‟re talking to David Jeremiah today. Dr. Jeremiah is the host of Turning Point heard on, what five hundred radio stations around the country? [Jeremiah:] Yes, something like that. Yeah. [Easley:] And then Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California. David as you look at the landscape of evangelical Christianity, you and I both have a passion for exposition; that we teach folks the Scripture. This is falling off the scene. We‟re dinosaurs. [Jeremiah:] Oh yeah. Right. [Easley:] What do you think? What do you feel when you look at pulpits that are moving away more and more from Scripture and what‟s your view of the church, where we are? [Jeremiah:] You know, what‟s so sad about that is, that really is the only thing we have to offer to this culture. And if we don‟t do that, we don‟t have anything to give them. The idea that you can do church without the Bible and without understanding the Scripture and what it means, to me, is the most unbelievable disconnect. And we salute it today in our culture. [Easley:] Is it pragmatism because it‟s successful? Is that the simple reason people are drawn to this? [Jeremiah:] I think, you know, what it is more than anything else, Michael, it‟s market driven. It‟s, “What will the market bear?” How can we, you know, recently we‟ve learned that just putting people in seats isn‟t ministry. Ministry is transformational and the only thing that‟s going to transform the lives of people is the written word of God. So if you walk away from that, what are you doing? You know, you‟re making people feel better on their way to disaster. And so, you know, I feel so like you said sometimes, is the day of the teaching of the Word of God over? And I know it‟s not. And frankly, we‟ve never had such great response through what we do on the radio and the teaching of the Scripture. [Easley:] Mmm hmm. [Jeremiah:] People are hungry for it and it‟s becoming very difficult for many of them to find it. You know, and I don‟t have an Elijah complex by any means. There are a lot of great guys out there doing what we do, but it is not the standard that it once was. [Easley:] We hear the same thing at Moody Radio constantly. People are writing emails and letters, “This is the only place I can find exposition.” And the concern I have, the concern we have at the Institute, is that either we‟re not training them at the schools, in the pulpit historically is changing so much that young men aren‟t, you know, compelled to this thing. I mean, what‟s your diagnostic? [Jeremiah:] I‟ll tell you the one thing I believe more than anything else is, it‟s hard work.
[Easley:] Yeah. [Jeremiah:] I mean I just finished, I‟ve got one more message next week, I‟ve waited to do this until I was so old that if I didn‟t do it right [laughter], people would be all right. [Easley:] Be all right. [Jeremiah:] But I just finished teaching the Song of Solomon. [Easley:] Uh huh. [Jeremiah:] And we‟ve had incredible, incredible sessions. But, you know, it‟s a scary book because there‟s some passages in there you just want to jump over and I promised them the first week, I said, “Folks, I won‟t embarrass you and I won‟t lose my dignity during this series. But I‟m going to talk about this. This is not a metaphor.” [Easley:] Right, right. It‟s not Christ‟s love for the church? [Jeremiah:] No, this is Solomon‟s love song and it‟s an incredible [Easley:] It‟s explicit. [Jeremiah:] It‟s explicit, but I had to work hard at that. [Easley:] Hmm. Right. [Jeremiah:] I mean, I didn‟t just get up and tell a bunch of stories. I‟m not saying that it‟s not hard - it‟s hard to speak about anything today, but it‟s really an intense labor to go back to the Scriptures and find out what they meant then and then try to bring it into the world today and realize these principles are timeless. But you can‟t do that Saturday night. You can‟t get that out right of the web, you‟ve got to work at it and I think - I had a young pastor come through Turning Point not long ago and he said, “Jeremiah, how do you do what you do?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Oh, you know.” I said, “Let me show you something.” And I took him down and showed him the archive room. And the archive room has got everything I‟ve ever sent there. I mean for twenty-seven years. [Easley:] Wow. [Jeremiah:] He went, “Oh, my goodness.” I said, “You‟ve got to commit yourself to something. You‟ve got to stay at it. You‟ve got to commit yourself to stay at it. Fight it if you really believe it. You‟ll find that in the first couple of years. And then after you know you believe it, never waiver from it.”
Yeah, you‟re going to have new illustrations. I mean, I use video sometimes, not a lot, but sometimes I use videos. I always use Powerpoint. But I never have changed the message because the message is not mine to change. And that‟s the difference. [Easley:] Right. Right. Tommy Nelson says that teaching the Song of Solomon is the mother load of church growth. [laughter] [Jeremiah:] Yeah, Tommy Nelson, he did our seminar for us years ago. You know, the weekend thing he does on the Song of Solomon and all I could say is, “Tommy, how you get by with all this is what I don‟t know.” But I was a little more milder than he is. [Easley:] Sure, sure. [Jeremiah:] Yeah. [Easley:] David, you‟re completing a new work called What In the World is Going On? It‟s going to be released by Thomas Nelson. So what else is going on? [Jeremiah:] Well, let me tell you about this book. I don‟t know that I‟ve ever had a time when people were coming to me and saying, “You know what about this? What about the oil shortage? What about Israel?” I mean one guy said to me one day, he said, “You know, Israel is one nineteenth the size of California -” [Easley:] Yeah. [Jeremiah:] “ - so what is this Israel business?” [Easley:] Yeah. All the interest. [Jeremiah:] “Why is everybody always talking about that?” So I did a chapter on the Israel connection. I did a chapter on oil called “The Crude Awakening.” [Easley:] That‟s good. That‟ll preach. [Jeremiah:] I did a chapter on the rise of Islamic terrorism. I did whole little history of Islam and I was fair, wasn‟t mean spirited, but just talked about what‟s going on with that. I did a chapter on the new axis of evil which is really the Ezekiel thirty-eight passage. What‟s happening with all that. And I did a chapter on ancient Rome, modern Europe, which is the reconfiguration of the Roman Empire and what‟s happening in Europe. And it‟s amazing to me that this whole pattern of what‟s happening has never happened before. This is a unique [Easley:] There‟s a convergence in there. Yeah.
[Jeremiah:] We have never, ever lived in a time like this. When I see these events and realize, “Hey, I‟m alive now. I‟m here. I‟m watching all this happen and none of this has happened before.” And so, I just began to answer these questions and then last year I did a series of messages and I called it “What In the World is Going On?” We had the highest attendances we‟ve ever had, which is interesting because so many of the young guys say, “You preach on prophesy? Are you crazy? Nobody cares about prophesy.” [Easley:] People are hungry. [Jeremiah:] Absolutely. They want to know, how does the Bible explain the scary times I live in now and what does it have to say about the future and how can I gain some confidence about my life in light of all this?” [Easley:] Do you think things are getting better? [Jeremiah:] No, they‟re not getting better. [Easley:] Do you believe in a literal return of Jesus Christ? [Jeremiah:] I absolutely do. [Easley:] Do you think Israel plays a role in that? [Jeremiah:] I believe that 1948 was the most important date in the prophetic calendar and until that date to be able to say these things are happening now in our lifetime would have been very difficult. [Easley:] Is America a world power? [Jeremiah:] No. [Easley:] Who‟s the world power? [Jeremiah:] The world power will be the coalition of nations in Europe and with Russia having a major, major part in all of that and Arabian consolidated power. [Easley:] China? [Jeremiah:] China will, if I understand prophesy correctly, be a part of the Eastern coalition and marches across the Euphrates with two hundred million man army, which everybody says, “That‟s impossible.” But it‟s not impossible. [Easley:] I remember the first time I went to Israel, we were on Mount Carmel [Jeremiah:] Yeah. [Easley:] - and it was a clear day and you can see the airstrip where the full wing is underground there of the F-14s, I believe.
[Jeremiah:] Mmm hmm. [Easley:] And I remember our military group with us trying to envision how many troupes you could actually assemble in that area. There are a number of staging events in Israel, if you believe in a literal fulfillment of these prophesies. [Jeremiah:] Absolutely. [Easley:] That there will be some serious battles and wars in Israel. [Jeremiah:] Well, there‟s certainly going to be. The Armageddon War, of course, and you go to the Plain of Armageddon in Megiddo and you see that and, of course, every military leader from the beginning of history who‟s ever fought in a war says it‟s the greatest battle field in all the world. And the beauty of all this is, you know, the prophesies that tell us what‟s going to happen, part of them are frightening, except we‟re not going to be here. [Easley:] Are you discouraged about the future? [Jeremiah:] Absolutely not. [Easley:] Even though it‟s going to get worse and worse? [Jeremiah:] I think what‟s happening today, even with the squeeze that we‟re feeling right now financially, it‟s going to make us better. I believe that God‟s people are going to see that it‟s easy to get our values misplaced [Easley:] Wait, wait. We have already misplaced our values. [Jeremiah:] Right. That‟s true. But I think that the pressure of the financial situation is helping them to see how that has happened. [Easley:] Okay. [Jeremiah:] And, I don‟t know, I have a lot of friends who are pastors who, I mean, they‟re wringing their hands. What are we going to do? [Easley:] What do you tell your grandchildren? [Jeremiah:] Yeah, right. [Easley:] Yeah. I mean, I think for you and me and those of us that are a little older, we kind of say, “Hey our time here is short. The Lord‟s going to come or we‟re going to see Him first.” But you‟ve got grandchildren still on this planet. [Jeremiah:] Yeah. I do. And I think the hope of my grandchildren is the hope that I have. I believe that the Lord will return to take us to be with Him before all this breaks loose. My greatest responsibility is to get my grandchildren saved and most all of them are except for the ones who are too little to understand the Gospel.
[Easley:] They don‟t have a chance with you. [laughter] [Jeremiah:] Yeah, right. [Easley:] You‟re working on it. When you look at young men and women, college, teenagers today, we toss around these words. We overuse relativism [Jeremiah:] Mmm hmm. [Easley:] - and, you know, moral relativism and so forth. What do you see for young people today? Where‟s your concern? Where are you excited? [Jeremiah:] You know, I did a thing last year and we did a whole bunch of rallies built around this thing called “Signs of Life.” And it was the idea that we‟d lost sight in our evangelical churches and in many of the evangelical constructs, we‟ve lost sight of the importance of the Great Commandment. We know the Great Commission: to preach the Gospel to everybody. [Easley:] Mmm hmm, [Jeremiah:] But the Great Commandment: to love our neighbor‟s as ourselves. That‟s where are kids are today. We did these events, we did a thing in San Diego when I finished this series, we found the poorest school in San Diego County and did a one day extreme makeover with six hundred people; craftsmen. And poured a bunch of money into this school and went down there on a weekend and totally made it new for a bunch of Hispanic kids. And we had a camera crew there the Monday when they came back. And then we worked with the people there. We did a big rally in the park and handed out copies of the Hispanic Bible and preached the Gospel and what we found was our older people came, they had fun. But the people that made that happen were our young people, they were college age kids. What we‟ve missed, I think, for them, is that they are hungry to put - you know, the Five Signs of Life in this book are “Dusty Shoes“, “Rolled Up Sleeves,” “Outstretched Arms-” I can‟t remember the other two but these are all about taking the Gospel and putting it into flesh and blood and making it work. [Easley:] Al Mohler said that this generation is high on passion but low on truth. [Jeremiah:] Absolutely. [Easley:] That they have this zeal to do something. The idea of community and authenticity and setting a high bar, but they don‟t know why. [Jeremiah:] That‟s why it was so much fun to teach them the truth for twelve weeks and then say, “Okay, now, now that we know the truth, let‟s go do it.” And we started doing these rallies all over the country and arenas, part of Turning Point, and we called them Signs of Life Rallies. And we, actually, we partnered with Feed the Children and they brought a truck in full of thirty thousand pounds of food and essentials
and we employed the pastors who came to these events and said, “Come to the pastor‟s breakfast, we‟ll download this stuff and you take it to the poor people in your community.” We taught it and then we gave them a way to put it into action. [Easley:] Yeah. [Jeremiah:] You know, I think we have to do a lot more of that in our churches. We are citadels of truth but sometimes we are really short on the application of how it works every day in life. [Easley:] David, if you had a minute to talk to somebody and you were going to share with them the most important thing to you that you‟ve learned in your experience. [Jeremiah:] What I‟ve learned during my times in cancer and other stages in my life is a simple lesson. It‟s the first thing I told our people when I came back to the pulpit. I said, “Folks, I want you to listen to this very carefully, God is enough. He„s enough for every situation you„ve faced. He was enough on the cross through His Son Jesus Christ to pay for your sin and He„s enough to take you all the way to heaven. And when you go through the difficult things you„re facing in your life right now, if you know Him, He„s enough.” I‟m not saying that in a simplistic way. I‟m not naïve about it. I‟ve preached this all my life, but when I went through the difficulties of cancer, I found out that it‟s not only true because it‟s in the Bible, it‟s true also because I‟ve seen it work and I know that in the darkest moment, my most difficult day, God was there and He was enough. [Easley:] David Jeremiah. Thanks for stopping by inContext. [Lepine :] And Michael, you know, as I‟m listening to Dr. Jeremiah share his story I can‟t help but think of Psalm forty where David writes: I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth— Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD. Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust And I think that is the testimony that we have heard from David Jeremiah today. And I want to let our listeners to know that David Jeremiah has been a regular guest at Moody events in past years. At our pastor‟s conferences and at our Founder‟s week events and if you are interested in listening to some of the messages that he has preached in these special settings, they are available online at moodyaudio.com. You can go to that website and just search by speaker or by name. There‟s a wide variety of audio
messages available there and a great way to load up your iPod or burn some CDs and have some great listening as you commute or as you work out each day. Again, the website is moodyaudio.com. And speaking of having great messages to listen to on a regular basis, the messages we‟ve been listening to over the last several weeks from the Gospel of John are available on CD as well. And if you come to the inContext website, incontextradio.org, and click on the resources tab, you‟ll find a number of CD series from the Gospel of John and you can feel free to select some of those and ask to have them sent to you. All of the details on how you can receive them are on our website. Again, it‟s incontextradio.org, or feel free to call us at 1-877-3CONTEXT. That‟s 877-326-6839. We hope you have a great weekend and can be back with us on Monday when we‟re going to continue our study in John‟s Gospel. Michael will be in John chapter twenty and we‟ll learn about the doubts of one of the disciples who said, “I‟m not going to believe unless I can touch His hands and His side.“ Michael talks about Doubting Thomas on Monday‟s edition of inContext with Michael Easley.