Ah,it’s a beautiful day here in Southern California. It indeed feels and looks like spring, with temperatures around 77 today.
I, for one, am not a fan of less daylight, but more. It was strange, though, last night to still see the sun out at 8:00 P.M.
When we get to heaven, of course, we will no longer have to fall back or spring forward, as there will be no more night there.
Last Sunday at Harvest
I just finished my series of messages from the Ten Commandments, which are a part of my new series Worldview: How to Think and Live Biblically. I dealt with the the final four commandments: you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not lie, and you shall not covet.
You can watch the message online by clicking here. It’s called “More Absolute Truth.”
I will also give the same message in Orange County this Thursday night.
Thursdays in Orange County
Speaking of that Bible study, we just celebrated our first birthday! God has really blessed it in so many ways, and we have heard and seen amazing stories of lives being transformed by Jesus Christ through His Word.
We have seen some 1,200 people come to Christ in that Bible study. We give God thanks for that.
To find out more about the Thursday night Bible study,click here.
I’m coming to Miami Beach!
This coming weekend, I am flying to Miami to speak at Calvary Chapel Kendall’s 10-year birthday celebration. My friend Pedro Garcia is the pastor there.
If you are in the Miami area, come join us. For more info on that, click here.
That’s all for now. Now go out and enjoy the longer day!
We are in the midst of our new series Worldview: Learning to Think and Live Biblically on Sundays at Harvest and Thursdays at our Orange County Bible study.
We all have worldviews. The question is, do we have a biblical one?
The true believer looks to the Scripture to know right from wrong, good from evil, etc. And I can think of no better place to start than with the Ten Commandments.
We have already looked at the first six commandments in my messages, “Absolute Truth” and “Hot Button Issues.”
Now, we come to the final four commandments, which deal with sins that are very prevalent in our culture today: adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting. I would venture to guess that many do not even know what it means to covet.
We will find out this Sunday at Harvest. But be forewarned–these commandments are broken more often then we may think! Even by Christians.
It was great having Randy Alcorn with us at Harvest this last Sunday and on Thursday. What insights the Lord has given to Randy into the topics of the whys of suffering and the whats of heaven.
I had time to hang with Randy and his wife, and they are such wonderful, godly people.
If you want to see our interview, click here.
BTW, we are editing this extended conversation that Randy and I had because, as it turned out, our discussion changed a bit at every service. As a result, we would deal with some issues at one service that we did not deal with in the others.
I don’t want you to miss any of this, so we will put it all together for your viewing soon!
Harvest.org recognized by design site
Our Web site, harvest.org, was recently recognized by a top design site on a list of the most well-designed sites for non-profit organizations. We are honored and give God the glory!
My son Christopher was very involved in the initial design and he worked on it right up until the day he went to heaven, so he shares in this honor. I know he is praising and serving the Lord right now, and perhaps working on some amazing designs! I do miss him so.
If you’d like to see the list and check out some others that were recognized, click here.
And here is a link to my weekly WorldNetDaily column. If you like these columns, please let them know!
Why is there suffering in the world?
When a tsunami or earthquake hits and thousands die, we wonder, “Why?” When terrorists attack the World Trade Center and thousands die, we wonder, “Why?”
A Christian friend gets cancer, and we wonder, “Why?” A child is born with a disability, and we wonder, “Why?” A young man is killed in an automobile accident and we wonder, “Why?”
A Barna poll asked, “If you could ask God one question, and you knew He would give you an answer, what would you ask?” The most common response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”
The problem of pain
If you are sharing the gospel with somone, it won’t be long before they ask, “How could a God of love allow tragedy, pain, and suffering?”
C.S. Lewis said that “the problem of pain is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith.” More people point to the problem of evil and suffering as their reason for not believing in God than any other.
It is not merely a problem, it is the problem.
So why doesn’t God just end all evil and suffering now?
Shayna framed the question this way on my Facebook page: “Did God create evil? God created Lucifer and he fell, thus creating evil. However, if God is all knowing, then He knew we would fall, thus creating evil. But then the question may be, ‘Is evil an attribute of God?’”
The Bible has answers
There are answers to these questions and more. I dealt with this last Sunday at Harvest, as I had a biblical discussion/interview with Randy Alcorn. We will be doing this again this Thursday in Orange County, California.
If you want to tweet or text questions for us to answer, here’s how:
- Tweet your question to my Twitter account here.
- Send it via text message to (949) 464-7340.
- Leave your question on voicemail at that number.
- E-mail your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We absolutely must prepare ourselves to answer these questions about suffering. Why? Because we are all going to suffer in life. It’s only a matter of when.
In his book, If God Is Good, Randy Alcorn writes:
Most of us don’t give focused thought to evil and suffering until we experience them. This forces us to formulate perspective on the fly, at a time when our thinking is muddled and we’re exhausted and consumed by pressing issues. People who have “been there” will attest that it’s far better to think through suffering in advance.”
That’s exactly what we will do this Thursday. Think through suffering in advance.
Yesterday at Church, before I did my Q&A with Randy Alcorn, I did this short little fun interview with my granddaughter, Stella.
I think you will like it!
This Sunday, I’ll be interviewing Randy Alcorn about big life issues. It will be, as I like to call it, a “conversational Bible study.”
During each service, we will answer questions from the audience, and I invite you to send your questions about suffering or the afterlife. Here’s how you can submit your question:
- Send a text message to 951-215-6115
- Send a public tweet to @greglaurie
- Send an e-mail to email@example.com
We won’t be able to answer every question, but we will get to as many as we can.
Life begins at conception, not at birth. Listen to David’s words to God as he spoke of being in the womb:
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (Psalm 139:13-16).
Elsewhere in Scripture, God says “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my spokesman to the world” (Jeremiah 1:5).
Notice that God says “I formed you in your mother’s womb.” Each child is created by God and should be given the chance to live.
Furthermore, He didn’t say, “I waited until you were born to have a plan for you, because you were not yet a human, but only a ‘mass of tissue.’”
I myself was conceived out of wedlock, but thankfully I was carried to term. God had a plan for my life! And God has a plan for every baby who is conceived, regardless of the circumstances. In short, there are no illegitimate children.
The hidden repercussions
Despite this, abortion has grown into a $500-million-a-year industry in the United States and an estimated $10 billion-a-year industry worldwide. Since the passing of Roe vs. Wade in the early ’70s, approximately 50 million babies have been aborted. Every 15 seconds, an abortion occurs in America.
For women who get abortions, however, there are repercussions that are rarely discussed. Those who have had abortions experience much higher rates of depression and are far more likely to attempt suicide than those who have not had one.
A University of Minnesota study on teen suicide found that the rate of attempted suicide in the six months prior to the study was 10 times higher for teens who had abortions during that six-month period.
I have counseled girls who have had abortions, and the memories of the abortion can haunt them for a lifetime. They look at other children and mark how old their child would have been. The full impact of what they have done often does not sink in until much later.
What you can do
Abortion is not an answer. It leaves “one dead and one wounded.”
If you have conceived a child, you should marry the father—if it’s possible—and raise the child. If you can’t do that, then raise the child as a single mom.
If you can’t do those things, then you can still carry the child to term and put them up for adoption. As hard as that may be, at least the child will be given a chance at life. There are so many wonderful families looking to adopt a child today.
When a mother’s life is in danger
You always hear skeptics ask, “What about if the mother’s life is in danger?” I would say that even if the mother’s life is in danger, the child should be carried to term.
What mother would not sacrifice her life for her child, if they ran in front of a car? And the mother could still survive the birth anyway. To me, that is an acceptable risk.
Most of us have heard the story of football player Tim Tebow, whose parents were Christian missionaries in the Philippines. In 1987, Tim’s mother Pam contracted amoebic dysentery, the leading cause of death in the Philippines, while she was pregnant with Tim. She was very sick and very dehydrated.
When she went to see her doctors, they advised her to abort the baby, because of the powerful medicines she would have to take to survive. This was one of those “mother’s life in danger” scenarios playing out in real life.
Tim’s mom and dad decided against having an abortion. Instead, they prayed, and both the mom and the baby survived.
“We thought we lost the baby about four times,” Tim’s father Bob said. “He’s a miracle baby, so we’ve reminded him of that hundreds of times.”
Tim went on to win the 2007 Heisman Trophy, helped lead the University of Florida to two national championships, and is regarded as one of the greatest college football players of all time. But not only is Tim a great quarterback, but he is someone who loves the Lord.
God is faithful to forgive!
Now some of you might be thinking, “Greg, I’m feeling pretty condemned here because I have had an abortion!”
I am sure that is very hard for you to deal with, but here is what you need to know. God knows, and He is ready to forgive you.
Scripture tells us, “If we will confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive” (1 John 1:9). And we read in Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.”
No matter what you have done in your life, you can still come to Christ in a spirit of repentance, willing to follow Him, and He will wash you white as snow.
You may have seen the article in the Christian Post on my message from last Sunday at Harvest. This touches on some of the things I addressed, but there is a lot more as well.
I look forward to seeing you tonight.
In case you missed it, here is the article:
Calif. Pastor Weighs in on Abortion, Homosexuality, Woods’ Buddhism
Southern California pastor Greg Laurie took on some “hot button” issues from the pulpit on Sunday, covering everything from capital punishment and homosexuality to Tiger Woods’ apology.
Commenting on the professed faith of pro golfer Woods, he stated, “Here’s the problem with Buddhism: they don’t believe in a personal God that is there to forgive a person.”
He cited Stephen Prothero, a Boston University professor on Buddhism, who said that in the Buddhist tradition “no matter what Woods says or does, he is going to have to pay for whatever wrongs he’s done.”
“There’s no accountant in the sky wiping sins off your balance sheet, like there is in Christianity.”
Woods on Friday confessed to serial infidelity and said he’ll return to the Buddhist teachings that he drifted away from as he tries to regain his balance on life.
Buddhism, however, does not offer forgiveness, Laurie pointed out. But “Christianity says there is a personal God there to forgive you who sent His son to die on the cross and pay the price for your sins so you can indeed be forgiven.”
The brief comment on the famous public apology served as Laurie’s introduction to his sermon on Christian worldview.
The well-known evangelist believes Christians are often labeled as “bigoted” for expressing their faith or taking a stand on certain issues. One example he cited was when Fox anchor Brit Hume was blasted for suggesting that what Woods really needed was a relationship with Jesus Christ to be forgiven. Amid such persecution, Laurie sought to convey to his congregation the importance of thinking and living biblically and basing their beliefs on what the Bible teaches regardless of what “we feel is right.”
Hitting some of the most controversial and widely debated issues, Laurie asked the congregation not to respond to the hot topics “emotionally” or “logically” but biblically.
Having a biblical worldview means believing that there is a living God and that He has revealed Himself in Scripture, the Harvest pastor explained.
“We accept that we have absolute truth from God,” he said. “The objective is not to conform the Bible to the changing culture but to conform the changing culture to what the Bible teaches.”
On the topic of capital punishment, Laurie pointed to one of the Ten Commandments – thou shalt not kill. The Bible, he said, doesn’t condemn all killing. Self-defense, sometimes war, and capital punishment are justifiable, he said.
“I believe in capital punishment,” Laurie stated, though he acknowledged there are “good people” on both sides of this debate. “And I believe the Bible teaches it.”
Regarding abortion, he stressed that the Bible does not give an unclear word on when life begins.
“Life begins at conception, not at birth,” he stated. “This is absolute. Each child is created by God and should be given a chance to live.”
Indicating a “no exceptions” stand against abortion even if the life of the mother may be in danger, Laurie said just as a mother would instinctively lay her life down if she sees her child about to get hit by a car, she should do the same when it comes to having the baby.
Homosexuality is another clear-cut issue, the evangelist stressed. The Bible is very clear: homosexuality is not in God’s order, he said.
“God is not anti-gay. God is anti-sin no matter how it is expressed,” he stated, adding that people are not born gay.
“I will acknowledge that as a person who is born with a sinful nature you might be attracted to members of the same-sex,” he noted. “I would also acknowledge as a person who is born a sinner you might be more prone to issues of addiction. But having said that, all of these can be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit.
“You were born a sinner in need of a savior who can change you and help you live the life He has called you to live. That’s the answer.”
“We’re all sinners,” Laurie reminded the congregation. “I’m not standing here today as some pompous preacher looking down on everyone. We’ve all broken God’s commandments in some way shape or form. We all need forgiveness. He offers it graciously and lovingly if we come to Him.”
The “Christian Worldview” sermon series at Harvest kicked off on Feb. 7.
This Sunday, we will continue in our new series Worldview: How to Think and Live Biblically, with a message on “Hot Button Issues.”
Some of the things I will say might cause some people to have a knee-jerk reaction. That is because not all believers are seeing the issues of our day through a biblical lens.
In this time of unbiblical thinking, too many people like to use phrases like:
- “I like to think of God as a loving father . . . ”
- “I like to think of God as a nurturing mother . . . ”
- “I like to think of God as a flower . . . ”
- “I like to think of God as . . . whatever.” You fill in the blank.
Whenever people start a sentence with the phrase, “My God . . . ,” trouble usually follows. They say inane things like:
- “My God is all loving and would never judge a person . . . ”
- “My God is forgiving, not wrathful, etc.”
The problem with those kinds of statements is that they are essentially thinking of God as one thing, to the exclusion of something else.
Your god may only be a figment of your imagination
When people say those things, they are breaking the first of the Ten Commandments that warn us to “have no other God” before Him” (Exodus 20). That’s because they are not describing the God of the Bible, but their version of Him.
If you say things like that, you are remaking God in your own image. You are attempting to worship God the way you want Him to be, rather than the way He actually is.
God is . . .
We tend to emphasize the things about God we like, and minimize the rest. Who are you to “edit God?”
According to Scripture, God is both loving and righteous. He is both forgiving and just. He is compassionate and holy.
He does judge sin, and we should be glad that He does. Otherwise, we would never see a final court of arbitration and there would be no justice in this life, or the one to come.
So let’s be thankful that God is exactly who He is, not something we want Him to be. Rather than remake God in my image, I need to be remade in His image.
There is only one God, and that is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God who loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sin.
There is only one Book, and that is the Bible. The debate must start and end there. Otherwise, we are not thinking right, and we do not have a biblical worldview.
What is a biblical worldview?
According to John MacArthur, a biblical worldview is based on two major presuppositions:
The first will be the eternal existence of the personal, transcendent, triune, Creator God. Second, the God of Scripture has revealed His character, purposes, and will in the infallible and inerrant pages of His special revelation, the Bible, which is superior to any other source of revelation or human reason alone.
In short, there is a living God and He has revealed Himself in Scripture.
We as Christians believe that we have absolute truth from God. We develop our Christian worldview from what the Bible teaches. Period.
The goal is not to conform the Bible to an ever-changing culture, but to conform culture to what the Bible teaches.
So join us this Sunday at Harvest for one of our services, or watch the live webcast. Our service times are 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M.
Don’t forget to check out my weekly column at WorldNet Daily by clicking here.
And you can read my long-form weekend devotion by clicking here.
Love is what I will be speaking about tonight in Orange County, California.
We hear a lot today about love from our culture, ranging from songs to movies, etc. But what is love exactly? Many philosophers and others have opined on love over the years.
Plato said that love is a grave, mental disease.
Oliver Wendell Holmes was far more optimistic about love, saying, “Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.”
Another said, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”
Even another said, “Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.”
So what exactly is love? The Bible tells us that God is love.
One of the clearest definitions of true love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. . . . Isn’t always “me first” . . . Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others . . . Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. (THE MESSAGE)
If you love God,do what He says!
That is a perfect example of God’s love for us! And our love for Him should be a response to that.
The Bible says, “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And one of the ways we show that love is through our obedience to Him.
It’s one thing to say, “I love God,” but it’s another to do what he says.
Getting to the very heart of the commandments, Jesus said:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There are no other commandments greater than these.
We will continue our look at the Ten Commandments tonight, finishing the first four commandments. I hope you can join us.
In my last post, I talked about how idolatry is alive and well today. The apostle John wrote, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
So,what other things can potentially become idols in our lives? Remember, an idol is anyone or anything that takes the place of God in our lives.
Some people worship their own bodies
Some people who worship at the Church of the Perfect Physique. There is never quite enough exercise, weightlifting, running, etc. It can become addicting.
There, of course, is a place for physical exercise, and some Christians could use a lot more of it. As J.Vernon McGee once said, “The only exercise some Christians get is jumping to conclusions and running down others!”
Paul put it in perspective when he wrote to Timothy:
Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. This is true, and everyone should accept it. (1 Timothy 4:8-9)
The unobtainable you
Some people become completely obsessed with their appearance, trying to attain some kind of perfection.
Some girls are trying to be something that is not attainable. In a recent survey, 94% of girls under the age of 18 said that they wished they were more beautiful. At the same time, 85% of women over the age of 40 said that they are not as attractive as the average woman.
One reality TV star had 10 plastic surgery procedures done in one day. She is only 23 years old. She said in an interview afterwards, “I am beyond obsessed.”
Again, as with physical exercise, there is a balance here. There is nothing wrong with a Christian girl wanting to be attractive, but she must simply keep her priorities straight.
The right balance
The Bible tells us that girls should be thinking more about their inner beauty than their outer beauty.
The apostle Peter helps us find the balance when he writes:
Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
Let’s keep the Lord at the forefront of our lives, and put the spiritual before the physical. This is what Jesus meant when He said to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
In other words, seek God’s rule and reign ahead of anything else in your life.