January 25, 2023 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Prominent pastor and author David Jeremiah used the Old Testament story of Caleb to outline what it means to live a life wholly for God during Liberty University’s Convocation on Wednesday morning.
Liberty Interim President Jerry Prevo introduced Jeremiah, who has spoken in Convocation on three previous occasions, most recently in 2021.
Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point Radio and Television Ministries and has been the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif., for 41 years. He has multiple family connections to Liberty, as he has two children who are alumni and has had three grandchildren attend Liberty.
Jeremiah began his message with a basketball analogy. He said he grew up playing basketball before there was a three-point line and shot clock, when a team could “take the ball out of the game” and waste time late in the game once they had built a lead. These teams were adopting the philosophy of playing not to lose instead of playing to win. He drew the comparison to those who try to live “lives of safety and security,” which is not how God has called us to live.
The Old Testament life of Caleb served as Jeremiah’s model for how to live full-out for God and not live in fear or settle into complacency. Caleb and Joshua were the only two of the 12 Israelites who were sent into the land of Canaan and returned with a message of faith in what God had promised His people.
“The other scouts who went came back with a different report, they were afraid, they were trying not to lose,” Jeremiah said. “(God) had delivered them from slavery, He had parted the waters of the Red Sea, He had accompanied them with cloud and fire in the wilderness, He gave them the law, He provided food and drink in the wilderness, He promised to make them a great nation in the land flowing with milk and honey, and here they are standing on the precipice of (receiving His promise), and they don’t have the courage to move forward.”
Christians today can sometimes view life the same way, Jeremiah explained, as they forget about the provisions and blessings God has already given them and, as a result, view the future with uncertainty.
“God asks us to do something, and we forget that the greatest heritage we have to do something new is what God has done for us in the past,” he said. “When we look over our shoulder and see how good He has been to us, we can trust a God like that, and we file our memories in such a way that they become motivation for the future.”
The bad report given by most of the scouts led to the Israelites’ punishment of wandering the desert for 40 years, and God would not allow His people into the Promised Land until all those who doubted Him had died.
“If the people had just listened to Joshua and Caleb, they would have all still been alive, but they listened to the majority… and they lost their opportunity,” Jeremiah said.
He added how somber and discouraging those 40 years must have been for Caleb, who had to watch his peers suffer in the wilderness. But Caleb did not lose his enthusiasm for life and his excitement for the future, and neither should Christians today.
“Our mindset about the future isn’t made when we are 40 or 50; our mindset about the future is made as we are developing our purpose for life,” he said. “You don’t start to wholly follow the Lord when you graduate, you don’t start to wholly follow the Lord when you get your first assignment. You start to wholly follow the Lord the moment you realize that He has called you to wholly follow the Lord. When God calls you to do something, do it immediately; don’t let (the Devil) get a foot in your door.”
Jeremiah recalled being a young pastor in Fort Wayne, Ind., and watching Liberty’s founder, the late Dr. Jerry Falwell, on the television program “The Old Time Gospel Hour.” The LBC Singers would often sing “I Want That Mountain,” a song inspired by the story of Caleb. That song became an anthem of sorts for Falwell as he pursued the vision God had given him for Liberty University.
“They were envisioning that God would give them a mountain to build a great school, and indeed God answered their prayer and Jerry persevered until it happened, and here we are today with all of these people in this room in response to (Falwell’s) request to God to give him the mountain,” Jeremiah said.
Following Convocation, staff members from multiple offices of Shadow Mountain made themselves available to students interested in paid internships and residencies.