A poll by researcher George Barna revealed that about 25% of the adults in the United States would go to church if a friend would just invite them. Barna elaborated, “The best chance of getting them to a church is when someone they know and trust invites them and offers to accompany them.”
That is really an amazing statistic. Think about it for a moment: 25% of the people out there are waiting for an invitation to go to church.
- Do you have friends?
- Do you have friends who are not believers?
- Do you have nonbelieving friends you haven’t invited to church?
The key is to invite them. And more to the point, you pick them up and take them with you. Even if the pastor does not extend an invitation for people to come to Christ in the service, you could go out for lunch afterward and have that conversation with them.
Most people come to faith because someone shares the gospel with them.
With the SoCal Harvest only days away, let’s be praying for and thinking about people we can bring with us!
Next to personally knowing Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, the greatest joy I know of is leading others to Christ and watching them grow spiritually. And you can do that too. It should be a joyful, happy thing to tell others about your relationship with God and explain how they can have one too.
I have found that the happiest Christians are the evangelistic ones. And I have also found that the unhappiest Christians are the nitpicky kind. They are so busy arguing theological minutia that they miss out on opportunities. As the old country preacher Vance Havner used to say,”If we are too busy using our sickles on each other, we will miss the harvest!”
Yes, there is a happiness that we are missing out on if we are not sharing our faith. John wrote that his personal joy was made complete by sharing with others the message of Christ (see 1 John 1:4). And after all, does not Scripture tell us, in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive”?
The believers I know who make a habit of sharing the gospel are happy people.
So, do you want to be a happy Christian?
Then invite them to the SoCal Harvest which is only days away!
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
— John 16:33
When the Bible says that God will keep us, it doesn’t mean that He will always keep us from trouble. But it does mean that He will keep us while we’re in the midst of trouble.
When the Israelites saw the Egyptian army closing in on them at the Red Sea, God had allowed them to get into that situation. Why? It was so they would pray and see His glory on display. And then, when He answered them by opening up the Red Sea so they could walk through on dry ground, they saw that God walked with them through their difficulties.
God could have kept Daniel from the lion’s den. Instead, God kept Daniel in the lion’s den. God could have kept Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego from the fiery furnace. Instead, God walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Jesus could have kept the disciples from all the storms on the Sea of Galilee. Instead, He was with them as they went through the storms.
Maybe you are in trouble right now. Maybe you are frightened and unsure about your future. You don’t know what is going to happen next. Know that you’re not alone. God is with you in the midst of your troubles.
Sometimes I think we believe that we have the right to live easy, tranquil lives, and then one day we will die in our sleep. Everything will be nice, cozy, and comfortable. But the Bible doesn’t promise that. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). But He also said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Sometimes God will keep us from a problem. And sometimes He will let us go through the problem and will be with us in the midst of it.
We’ve all heard them when sharing our faith:
“How do you know the Bible is true?”
“What about the person who has never heard the gospel; will God send them to hell?”
“Why would a God of love allow suffering?”
There are answers to these questions that I want to share with you tonight at Harvest Orange County, “Answering Hard Questions Nonbelievers Ask” at 7:00 PM Pacific.
You can join us live at our new campus at 17600 Gillette Avenue, Irvine, California.
Or you can watch the live HD webcast at www.harvest.org.
“Hold me up, and I shall be safe, and I shall observe Your statutes continually.”
— Psalm 119:117
My youngest granddaughter, Allie (short for Alexandra), has a little rabbit that her older sister, Rylie, named Fuzzie.
Fuzzie spends most of his time in a cage, though it is a large one. Seems like a cruel thing to do to a rabbit, but it comes down to how you look at things.
When we get Fuzzie out for Allie she will squeal with absolute delight. And in her excitement she sometimes does not hold Fuzzie the rabbit in exactly the right way. She once picked him up by the head! But he is a resilient little guy and was just fine.
After one of these recent outings, I was returning Fuzzie and about three feet away he leapt out of my arms for the open door of his cage!
I think Fuzzie likes to be there.
For us, this seems like a confining place to put a rabbit. But judging by his actions, Fuzzie, an actual rabbit who lives in a cage, does not see it that way.
He does not see the cage as a place that keeps him imprisoned from the outside world but a place that keeps him safe . . . from Allie!
In the same way, we look at Gods’ Word, which contains absolutes. He gives us things we are to do and things we are not to do.
Some people don’t like those absolutes and commandments. They see them as a cage, keeping them from what they think they really want.
But when we come to realize that God’s rules and laws are not designed to “ruin our fun,” but to provide a place of safety and security, we find that instead of being confining and restricting, His commandments are actually very liberating.
That’s how long it’s been since I last spoke with our oldest son, Christopher David Laurie—or as we called him, Topher.
He left us unexpectedly and tragically on July 24, 2008 at 9:01 in the morning. It was an automobile accident. People ask me, as the years pass, if it gets any easier dealing with the death of a child. The answer is yes, and no.
Yes, the pain is not what it was in the immediate aftermath of hearing the unthinkable news that Christopher was no longer with us. It was so severe, I honestly wondered at times if I could make it. My wife, Cathe, has been my support in so many ways. That pain is gone, and replaced by a deep abiding sadness and longing to see him again.
Yet in this sadness, I have hope. I have the hope that I will see my son again in Heaven. That’s because Jesus said I would. He promised me, and all of us, that He has gone to prepare a place for us (John 14). And that place, of course, is Heaven.
Heaven is a real place for real people to do real things. In fact, if anything, here on earth we are seeing the imitation. Heaven is the real thing.
Losing my son has caused me to, in a sense, have a “foot in Heaven.” I am far more mindful of the shortness of life and the nearness of eternity.
There are many good things that have happened despite this tragedy, because God promised there would be. For example, we are launching a new church campus in Orange County next week that came out of this pain.
The radical transformation of Christopher’s brother, Jonathan, from a prodigal into a preacher has been nothing short of breathtaking.
Other bold ventures of faith that we have undertaken and are undertaking have been a direct result of wanting to use my pain for something good—to try, in my own feeble way, to bring hope to others who are hurting.
Not a day goes by that I do not hear from people who have lost loved ones—especially children—and they tell me that seeing our family go on gives them hope that they can too.
Christopher would be 40 years old now. He was so talented and full of life. I think of all he might have accomplished with his life. But it was not to be. But when I get to Heaven, I know it will all make sense. Until then I will trust the Lord, I will continue to miss my son, and I will seek to do all I can for God’s kingdom.
P.S. – I received a beautiful letter from Cliff and Ann Barrows the other day. Cliff, of course, is the longtime associate of Billy Graham:
“Dear Greg and Cathe,
The seventh anniversary of your precious son “Topher’s” home going is soon upon you. I know this is much in your heart with Cathe. Just know we join in rejoicing he is walking around Heaven together with the saints and friends that have gone before. They are praising God together!
We join you, dear Greg and Cathe. Ann and I send our love and remembrance in grieving the absence of his presence in your lives today.
‘Strength for today. . . .Bright hope for tomorrow’
Cliff and Ann Barrows”
What a perfectly written letter at a difficult time. Thank you, Cliff and Ann, and all the others who have reached out to us.
Tell Someone is my definitive new series on the topic of bringing others to Jesus.
I have just written a book by the same name and we will be capturing this as a film series for LifeWay. They have an extensive worldwide network, enabling this new series to ultimately be seen around the world.
It kicks off this coming Sunday, July 26. I will also be teaching it on two Wednesdays in Riverside on July 29 and August 4, and in Orange County on Thursdays, July 30 and August 5. The series concludes on Sunday, August 9.
I believe if you will apply these principles we will share from Scripture you can and will lead others to Christ. It’s the perfect way to prepare for the upcoming 26th SoCal Harvest.
I had the opportunity to visit the Walt Disney family museum recently in San Francisco.
I have always been a fan of Walt Disney and admire his vision to create so many things that have become a part of our culture, not only in America but the world. Disney had an amazing imagination that was given to him by God.
According to Walt Disney, the idea for a Disney-themed amusement park came to him while sitting on a park bench. He thought about creating a new kind of amusement park while he watched his daughters ride the Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round. The park bench that Walt Disney sat on while he imagined what would become Disneyland, is the one I am seated on in this photo.
It’s a good reminder to us that God has given us our imaginations. Instead of being told what we can’t do as followers of Jesus Christ, we should use our God-given minds to think of new and fresh ways to offer glory to God and bring the gospel to our generation.
“And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, ‘Look, God’s home is now among His people! He will live with them, and they will be His people. God Himself will be with them.'”
— Revelation 21:2-3
One day, Cathe was driving with our youngest son, Jonathan, who was then age 3. She was talking about the Rapture and how we would be caught up to heaven. The more she talked, the quieter Jonathan got. Finally, he blurted out, “Mom, I don’t want to go to heaven! I don’t want to leave this beautiful world that God made!” It’s hard for a 3-year-old to wrap his mind around heaven.
Sometimes Christians say, “When I die I will be with the Lord forever in heaven!” While it is true that when a believer dies they go to heaven, it is not true that we stay there forever. Because one day, heaven is going to come to earth.
My friend Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven writes, “We won’t go to Heaven and leave Earth behind. Rather, God will bring Heaven and Earth together into the same dimension, with no wall of separation, no armed angels to guard Heaven’s perfection from sinful mankind.”
God is not going to abandon His creation; He’s going to restore it! Have you ever seen a perfectly restored classic car? (Guys especially see this as a thing of beauty.) Well, God is into restoration too—restoration of lives, bodies, and even our planet!
God’s perfect plan is to “bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:10 NIV).
Jesus will make earth into heaven and heaven into earth. Just as the wall that separates God and mankind is torn down in Jesus, so too the wall that separates heaven and earth will forever be demolished.
As we approach Independence Day, let’s all be praying for a spiritual awakening in America.
We need to turn to God in prayer and turn back to His Word. Peter Marshall, former Chaplain to the US Senate, once said, “The choice before us is plain: Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration.”
America has seen a number of revivals historically, called “awakenings.” The first was during the 1700s, and was led by such men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield. During just two years of this revival (from 1740 to 1742) some 25,000–50,000 people were added to the New England churches. This, out of a population of only 300,000!
The second great awakening (1790s to 1840) was led by many, including Charles Finney. It was during the time of the “wild west.” The law was disregarded and sexual sin was rampant. The “camp meetings,” where crowds numbers as high as 15,000, would be held for several days at a time. Thousands came to faith. More than 10,000 in Kentucky alone, between 1800 and 1803.
The third great awakening in America was from about 1857 to 1859. How this revival began is unique. A 48-year-old businessman named Jeremiah Lanphier began a prayer meeting on Fulton Street in New York City. It began slowly and soon exploded. The New York Stock Market crashed around this time and soon Lanphier’s prayer meeting was attended by hundreds.
Prayer meetings broke out all over New York City, filling theaters on Broadway. Within six months, 10,000 people gathered daily for prayer throughout the city! It is reported that 50,000 New Yorkers were converted from March to May. During that single year, the number of reported conversions throughout the country reached an average of 50,000 a week for a couple of years. Over one million people came to Christ in this brief period.
I think you could include the Jesus Movement as a genuine American revival as well. The church was influenced globally by what God did in the Jesus Movement. But that was over 40 years ago; the kids of this movement are now grandparents! (I know because I am one of them.)
Now we look at the current generation and we realize we need another revival. Our hearts cry out, “Lord, do it again!”
The prophet Habakkuk understood this when He prayed this prayer: “I have heard all about you, LORD, and I am filled with awe by the Amazing things you have done. In this time of our deep need, revive your work, as you did in years gone by. Show us your power to save us. And in your anger, remember your mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NLT and NASB).