Article From the Magazine:

Soaking in the World

By David Jeremiah

The state of Florida battles sinkholes like the plagues of Egypt. As acidic groundwater dissolves underground rock formations, the surface of the earth caves in. Over 3,000 sinkholes have opened up in the Sunshine State in the last few years, swallowing streets, buildings, cars, and even people. One enormous sinkhole in Leesburg, Florida, was like a miniature Grand Canyon between city streets—it gobbled up a garbage bin, an oak tree, and part of a building.

In Guatemala, part of a neighborhood plummeted thirty stories into the earth when a sinkhole suddenly formed. Houses and families were hurtled downward 300 feet, causing several deaths. A thousand people were forced to leave their homes. In Saint-Jude, Quebec, four members of a family perished when the land beneath their home gave way and the house fell into a gigantic crater. And two years ago, a giant sinkhole swallowed the Amazonian port of Chibetão, near the city of Manaus, Brazil. Several workers were killed and much cargo lost.

Sinkholes are caused by water saturation. In some cases, underground water pipes burst or leak, causing unseen erosion. In other cases, the culprit is rainwater or underground springs. What’s shocking is the suddenness of the collapse. On the surface, everything looks fine. A building stands firmly. A highway rolls over the landscape like a ribbon. A field spreads out like a green carpet. But beneath the surface, the integrity of the earth has been compromised. When least expected, a sinkhole suddenly forms and the ground collapses.          

There’s a Lesson in Those Sinkholes

There’s a vital lesson in all that. When the influences of the world begin to seep into the Christian’s habits or heart, they can create unseen spiritual erosion. On the outside, everything seems fine—a Christian husband, a faithful pastor, a Bible teacher, a godly mother, a long-term marriage, a vibrant church. But worldly influences have a terrible way of silently eroding the foundations. The collapse may seem sudden, but the destructive seepage has been gradual.

Today’s Christians may be at an all-time “world saturation” level. Without intentional effort, we unavoidably soak in many activities that can erode our faith, our habits, or our character. It’s a good time to check our saturation levels by asking these eight questions:

  1. How much television do you watch every week? Reality shows? Dramas? Comedies? Talk shows? Some programs are relatively harmless; they can provide needed diversion in small doses. But other programs are downright harmful, and watching them is like taking a glass-bottom boat ride through the sewers. Few programs are truly edifying. Unchecked, television can douse our hearts and homes with a fire hose of worldliness. As Christians, we must consistently apply a Spirit-filled finger to the remote control.
  2. How much time do you spend idly surfing the Internet? While the worldwide web is helpful for research and study and keeping up with friends, it can also be a huge sinkhole swallowing up vast amounts of time and sanctity.
  3. What are you reading right now? It’s all right to enjoy leisure reading, and the right novels are restful and entertaining. But remember that your reading material is your mental diet, and whatever you feed your mind will influence who you are. Choose your books and magazines carefully.
  4. How much time do you spend each day soaking up the endless flow of news and commentary offered by various political or media outlets? We all have our political viewpoints, and the media has learned how to stoke our boilers. Some people almost become addicted to the continual cycles of news and commentary.
  5. Do you find yourself reaching for video games during moments of ease? Experts warn that video addictions are damaging to marriage, ministry, and mental well-being. One man admitted he played his favorite video game every day, every night, and sometimes all weekend. It crowded out his real life, including his wife and children. There have been reports of other people collapsing from exhaustion after playing games for fifty straight hours, of parents neglecting their infant children, and even of teens murdering their parents when video games were taken away. These are extreme cases, of course, but even a mild case of game-addition can seep away at the integrity of our spiritual foundations.
  6. Are your friends the kind who draw you closer to the Lord or do they tend to weaken your Christian zeal?
  7. How many movies have you watched this month? I don’t object to an occasional movie carefully chosen. But even watching the previews or reading the review of many movies is disturbing. The devil couldn’t have found a better propaganda medium for instilling worldly values into an entire generation of humanity. Hollywood morals have a way of becoming society’s mores. As Christians, we mustn’t underestimate the impact of soaking our minds in movieland.
  8. Is there anything on your computer screen or portable electronic device you’d be ashamed to show to Jesus, were He nearby (which He is)?

Think on These Things

Another way to face this issue is to do so comparatively. How much time do we spend on the above activities compared to studying the Bible and engaging in prayer? How does our prayer time line up when contrasted with our time emailing, texting, and talking on the phone? Philippians 4:8, tells us to saturate our minds with what is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. “If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things,” He said.

Similarly Romans 8:5-6 says, “Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally (worldly) minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”

It’s my belief that we need to turn off the constant streams of noise and distraction so we’ll have time to meditate on the things of God and allow His Word to seep into our conscious, subconscious, and unconscious thoughts. We need to increase our habits of holiness, remembering the old song that says: “Take time to be holy, the world rushes on."1 It’s no wonder we’re anxious, worried, nervous, discouraged, and fearful. We’ve got to fix our minds on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). We need to reform some habits to guard against sinkholes.

Dr. A. W. Tozer was a man who modeled this for us all. His biographer put it this way: “A major concern of Tozer’s was the lack of spirituality among professing Christians of his day. He zeroed in on its primary cause. He was convinced that the frenzied pace… mitigated against what he termed cultivating the knowledge of God. The average church was too busy with frivolous activities to get to know God as He deserves to be known. Everything in the Christian’s life must give way to cultivating an attitude of solitude and silence. The average Christian leaves no room for reflection and meditation on the things of God."2

Now is a good time to make some adjustments in your life. Forget resolutions. Just change some things, starting today. January is a perfect time for new beginnings. Determine from the first month of 2012 to studiously avoid sinkholes. Don’t soak in the world. Instead immerse yourself in the Word, remembering what the Lord promises in Jeremiah 31:25: “I have saturated every thirsting soul, and filled every hungry soul.”3

Let Him saturate and fill yours.        

1W. O. Longstaff, “Take Time To Be Holy” (Chicago: Hope Publishing Company, 1918).

2James L. Snyder, The Life of A. W. Tozer: In Pursuit of God (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2009), 16.

3Brenton, L. C. L. (1844). The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament Translated into English (Je 31:25). London: Samuel Bagster and Sons.

This article was first published in Turning Points Magazine & Devotional.
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