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Jenny’s story and my response.

Monday, May 11th, 2009 Posted in sermons | 9 Comments »

I received this comment yesterday from Jenny, and I wanted to share it with all of you:

My sister recently sent me Greg’s book sharing the story about Christopher. I have not been able to write about my son, who came to visit his father one night after work and suddenly fell to the ground. Later, we found out he had an anueryism in his right aorta. Gone in a moment.

He and my husband were talking about the Lord and all that he was been doing in our large family of eight children and 26 grands. And thank you for saying in your book that whether you have one child or ten, you will mourn deeply for the one who left.

Levi was 33, had a wonderful wife, a 10-year-old daughter and little Sam, his son, is 2. Very, very sad still for all of us. We are a close family and I am the mom. I get calls all hours from one of my other children, crying and missing Levi. Tough job to handle, but if I can ease any pain for any of them I surely want to try. They say it’s too hard for them to see me crying and missing him, so I find my relief with the Lord and my husband of 35 years.

Yet you were also right about not knowing how the other is feeling and greiving. We both agree that this experience with grief has a life of its own. While we all appear to be functionable on the outside, we all feel this “thud” deep in our bellies all the time.

The hardest part is the inability of this society to cope with a grieving soul. As was pointed out in the book, the comments are usually more hurtful than helpful. Yet I know they can’t know what to say or how this feels. I didn’t. Here we are in a modern culture and all we are taught is to do well and succeed, never about the losses that may overwhelm us or how to love and treat people who experience the deep losses of life that are available.

Thank you for your book and especially the description of how this grief does feel. Somehow this doesn’t sound on paper like it feels in my heart. God Bless you who know and understand what I just said. We are related by circumstances and if anyone would like to respond to this, I would greatly appreciate any thoughts or support or love you have to share.

Jenny

Greg responds:

Jenny,

I am so sorry to hear about your Levi. I understand that people do not really know what to say.

So you will need to go to the Lord and draw your comfort from Him. He has promised to be “near the brokenhearted,” and you certainly qualify for that.

I was touched by your story and pray that God will bless and keep you. I know you know this, but as a reminder–Levi is in pure bliss right now. You WILL see him again. He will have a lot to show you that he has already seen and experienced in heaven.

P.S. I just gave a message this last Sunday called “Let’s Talk About Heaven!” It is archived on our homepage,so you may want to check it out by clicking here.

God bless you, Jenny.

Greg

South Dakota and Heaven!

Monday, May 11th, 2009 Posted in essentials, Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, sermons, travel | 2 Comments »

Hey everyone! This weekend is our first Harvest Crusades event of 2009! It will be our first time to visit South Dakota.

I would ask that you all would remember this event in prayer this week as it approaches. To learn more about the Black Hills Harvest, click here.

Heavenly thoughts

This past Sunday at Harvest, I was back in my series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know, and I gave a message on the topic of heaven. It was called “Let’s Talk About Heaven!”

We had a tremendous response, and I am thankful to God for that. For many, it is very hard for them to understand the topic of heaven. Yet the the Bible has a lot to say about our future home, and we would all be wise to learn more about it.

Heaven ought to draw us

I thought I would share with you a couple of quotes from that message over the next few days. Here is one from E.M Bounds that I liked and used:

“Heaven ought to draw and engage us. Heaven ought to so fill our hearts and hands, our conversations, our character, and our features, that all would see that we are foreigners, strangers to this world.

The very atmosphere of this world should be chilling to us and noxious, its suns eclipsed and its companionship dull and insipid.

Heaven is our native land and home to us, and death to us is not the dying hour, but the birth hour!”

Let’s Talk About Heaven!

Saturday, May 9th, 2009 Posted in essentials, family, Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, questions, sermons, travel | 1 Comment »

That is the topic for my message from my Essentials series this Sunday at Harvest: heaven.

I have to say, I have never, in all of my Christian life, thought as much about heaven as I have in the last 10 months for obvious reasons.

I can’t say I am anywhere near being an expert on the topic, but I want to know all I can about it. Don’t you? After all, it’s our future destination as Christians.

In my message this Sunday, I will deal with questions like:

  • “Is heaven a real place or just a state of mind?”
  • “What will we do there?”
  • “Will we recognize each other when we get there?”

I hope you can join us live or watch the webcast. If you are in the Southern California area, you can also listen to our 9:45 A.M. service live on KWVE (107.9 FM).

Mother’s Day is almost here!

Most of you read my wife’s excellent column on what moms really want this Mother’s Day. I have received a lot of feedback at my blog, but even more on my Facebook page.

WorldNetDaily, where I am a weekend columnist, has also featured it this weekend. I encourage you to pass this on, especially to children who are wondering what to get Mom this Sunday. Check it out here.

South Dakota, here we come!

As you may know, we are starting our 20th year of Harvest Crusades events with our first outreach in the great state of South Dakota. If you know someone in that area, please let them know.

We will also be webcasting this one live, so click here for more info.

The Holy Spirit, Heaven, Mothers, and South Dakota

Thursday, May 7th, 2009 Posted in essentials, Harvest Crusades, holidays, OC, sermons, travel | 3 Comments »

Hey everyone!

I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on my wife Cathe’s article about “What Mothers Really Want.” You dads out there may want to make sure your kids get hold of it ASAP as Mother’s Day is this weekend.

If you missed it, click here.

Tonight in the O.C.

I will be doing the second message in our Essentials series on the person of the Holy Spirit tonight in Orange County. I want to specifically focus on the unique and wonderful work He has done, is doing, and wants to do in your life as a Christian.

If you are in the O.C. area, or know anyone there, please let them know about this.

Our Harvest Praise Band will also be performing a brand new song called “Enter In” that is about the work of the Spirit in our lives. They premiered it at Harvest on Sunday and everyone loved it!

This Sunday at Harvest

Speaking of Harvest, I will continue in the Essentials series this Sunday. My message is titled, “Let’s Talk About Heaven!” So come join us, or watch online.

Black Hills Harvest

Be praying for our upcoming outreach! As you know, we have our first Harvest Crusades event of the year coming up next weekend in South Dakota.

It’s called the Black Hills Harvest and I have already done one newspaper and two radio interviews for it. I hear there is a real anticipation building in the area, so let’s all remember it in prayer.

For more on the Black Hills Harvest, you can click here.

When You Don’t Know What to Pray, Part 2

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 6 Comments »

We don’t always know what to pray in every given situation. That is when the Holy Spirit will help you, even interceding for you (For more on this, see my previous post).

Romans 8:26-27 tells us, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

What is God’s will?

We as humans are always in interested in the here and now, what will benefit us temporarily.

God, however, sees things a bit differently. He is also interested in the “bye and bye” and the eternal.

In other words, God has a bigger plan than my personal happiness in the given moment. He desires my holiness as I am conformed into the image of Jesus Christ.

First things first

It is interesting that following Romans 8:27 is Romans 8:28. I often say, “People don’t read what follows Romans 8:28.”

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Right after that, Romans 8:29 tells us, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed  to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

We need to read Romans 8:26-29 to get the whole picture!

Let’s put this all together, because this is showing the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Allow me a very loose paraphrase/interpretation.

There are times when we are overwhelmed with the way life is going. We are so distressed that we don’t even know how to pray, so we just sigh or groan. But the Holy Spirit takes these groans and sighs and turns them to prayers to the Father.

No matter what is happening, God is going to take your present circumstances and bring good out of bad. But His ultimate goal is take all that happens, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, and make us more like Jesus. Because that is the objective and endgame for every believer.

One other thing

I have found that happiness does not come from seeking it, but from seeking God. If you dedicate your life to being happy, it’s doubtful you ever will be.

But if you focus instead on being holy, on being the person God has called you to be, you will find personal happiness as a byproduct of having your priorities in order.

When we get to heaven one day, all of this will make sense!

Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, writes, “Seeing God will be like seeing everything else for the first time. Why? Because not only will we see God, He will be the lens through which we see everything else–people, ourselves, and the events of this life.”

When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Monday, May 4th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 4 Comments »

I have been speaking on the topic of the Holy Spirit recently at church. One of the things the Holy Spirit does in our lives is help us with our prayers.

Why? Because there are times when we don’t really know what or how to pray. Maybe you are overwhelmed by a burden. You find yourself discouraged, depressed, and overwhelmed. It is at that point that the Holy Spirit will help you.

Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as a “comforter.” In John 14:16, He said, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (KJV).

The Comforter

We have lost the meaning of the word “comforter.” It comes from the Greek word Paracletos, which means “called alongside to help,” a helper, aide, or assistant.

Some versions translate Paracletos as the word “advocate,” which is applied to Jesus in 1 John 2:1: “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (NKJV).

The purpose of an advocate is to plead the cause of another, an intercessor. This is part of the work that the Holy Spirit has come to do in your life.

Sometimes a sigh will do

Why? Because we don’t always have to put words to our prayers.

Here’s the good news–sometimes just a sigh or groan will do.  The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

Trust me, I have done this many times, especially recently. I don’t know what to say, or how to say it. I just know that I am in pain, so I sigh, I groan, and sometimes I cry.

That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.

Romans 8:26-27 tells us, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.”

What does that mean, “The Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will”? I’ll get to that tomorrow.

Comforting Those Who Grieve

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 Posted in encouragement, Pastor's corner, sermons | 3 Comments »

I was reading through some of the comments on this blog and came across this one:

Dear Pastor Greg,

Thank you for making such a difference in us!

When you came to Calvary of Albuquerque four or five months ago, my husband and I were there to hear you speak. My husband was being treated for cancer. He was so moved by your inspirational talk that he was the very first one to stand and answer your altar call, something I’d been praying for!

Just when we thought he was through the worst, he was diagnosed with yet another cancer and only three weeks later, he died.

Even though his last several months were painful and difficult, he had peace knowing he was saved. I did too. It is so painful to lose a loved one, and I’ll miss him very much – but like you and your son Chris, I know where Bill is now and I’ll see him again!

I am so sorry for your own loss, but I can’t thank you enough for your words that helped Bill then, and me now. God bless you for the work you do. I pray for you and your family.

Joyce

Joyce, I am so sorry to hear that! At the same time, I rejoice that Bill made a commitment to Christ. Now you can know with assurance that he is in heaven.

There is no pain or sorrow there, Joyce. He is in pure joy and bliss. And the good news is that you will see him again!

May God strengthen you in this time of mourning and make you aware of His presence with you.

Hope in heaven

I received another comment from a person who had lost a loved one. I am hearing a lot of these stories now, because people who have lost loved ones always seem to find each other.

Dear Greg,

I can relate to your loss. I lost my son six months ago (he was 31) from a burst appendix. I would like to know what book you recommend to read and maybe some advice as to how to get through this time of grief. My sister says you have a book that might help. She thinks it is Hope for Hurting Hearts. Could you please let me know if it is the name?

Thank you,
Marylou

Marylou, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your beloved son.

One book I would recommend is Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It is a tremendous book that will help you realize the great promises that God has for every believer regarding the future destination of all Christians.

Secondly, as you mentioned, I have written a book called Hope for Hurting Hearts that will bring encouragement to those who are mourning. This book was written in the last few months after my son’s sudden departure to heaven and I have already heard from many that it has helped them a great deal.

I call this book “a dispatch from the valley.” It’s written in “real time” from the valley of the shadow of death, and it will help you be more “heavenly-minded.”

A couple of other things

This Sunday at Harvest, I will be continuing in my series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. I will again be speaking on “The Holy Spirit and You.”

In my last message on the Holy Spirit, I primarily focused on the work He does in the world. In this message Sunday at Harvest, I will focus on the work He wants to do in the life of the Christian.

Plus, our outstanding worship team has written a brand new song about the Holy Spirit that you will not want to miss! It’s called “Enter In” and they will play it Sunday morning.

Finally, if you would like to read my weekend article at WorldNetDaily, click here. And you can read my long-form weekend devotion here.

T.H.I.N.K.!!!

Friday, May 1st, 2009 Posted in encouragement, essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 1 Comment »

Sins against the Holy Spirit,part 2.

Yesterday, we talked about sins that can be committed against the Holy Spirit, specifically grieving the Holy Spirit.

Foul and abusive language makes the Holy Spirit sad and sorrowful, as does bitterness.

So what else grieves the Holy Spirit? Coming back to Ephesians 4:29-32, the apostle Paul writes:

“And do not grieve God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

Fits of rage and uncontrolled anger make the Holy Spirit sad and sorrowful

“Rage” speaks of the person who is easily angered and who raises their voice, shouting and screaming. “Slander” is speaking evil of others behind their backs. “Malicious behavior” speaks of ill will and plotting evil against someone.

This basically describes a person who is hellbent on destroying another, for whatever reason.

We have all been hurt in life

Look, all of us have been hurt in life, but we have a choice as to how we react.

We can be like the Moneylender Shylock in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, demanding our “pound of flesh.” We can say, “They did this to me, therefore I will have my vengeance!”

Or you can believe God when He says “Vengeance is mine, I will repay . . . ”

Try to T.H.I.N.K.

Augustine had a sign on his living room wall that said, “He who speaks evil of an absent man or woman is not welcome at this table.”

“But we don’t have anything to talk about now!” Perhaps you don’t.

Instead, try the acronym “T.H.I.N.K.” the next time you are not sure whether or not you should say something.

  • T- Is it Truthful?
  • H- Is it Helpful?
  • I- Is it Inspiring?
  • N-Is it Necessary?
  • K- Is it Kind?

Instead of speaking evil of someone, we are to “be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,”

“But they don’t deserve that!”

True, but neither do you or I, and God still forgave us.

Paul concludes this passage by saying, “Just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Forgiven people should be forgiving people. Otherwise, we are grieving the Spirit.

Sins against the Holy Spirit

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 Posted in essentials, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | 5 Comments »

Hey everyone!

Tonight, I am speaking in Orange County, California, with the next message in my series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. The title of my message is “The Holy Spirit and You.”

If you are in the O.C. tonight, please come and join us for fantastic worship from the Harvest Praise Band and a message from God’s Word.

Understanding the Holy Spirit

I think it is really important for us to better understand the person of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes people think of the Holy Spirit as more of an “It” than a “Him.” But according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit  is not only God, but He has a will, a personality, and can even be offended!

Sins against the Holy Spirit

There are six specific sins that can be committed against the Holy Spirt. Today, allow me to focus on one that can be committed by believers.

Grieving the Holy Spirit

One of the places in Scripture where we read about grieving the Holy Spirit is in Ephesians 4:29-32. The apostle Paul writes:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not grieve God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

To “grieve” means to make sad or sorrowful. It means to cause sorrow, pain, or distress.

But what makes the Holy Spirit sad or sorrowful?

1. Foul and abusive language makes the Holy Spirit sad.

Verse 29 says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language.” The word used here speaks of something that has gone “rotten.” This includes obscene Language, profanity, dirty stories, vulgarity, double entendres, etc.

When did it become “cool” for preachers to speak this way from a pulpit? This is thought of as being “real” and “authentic.”

Guess what? You are not to speak this way, privately or publicly.

How about being “authentically godly”?

2. Bitterness makes the Holy Spirit sad and sorrowful.

The definition of “bitterness” is “an embittered and resentful spirit that refuses to be reconciled.”

Some people just “like” to be mad. They live for conflict, arguing, and fighting. This, as with all sin, only gets worse if left unchecked and unrepented of.

The sad thing is that bitter people rarely want to keep it to themselves. Instead, they spread it around. The Bible speaks of “a root of bitterness defiling many” (see Hebrews 12:15).

I have a better idea–forgive!

More on this tomorrow.

“It’s very hard to explain the Trinity!”

Saturday, April 25th, 2009 Posted in sermons | 8 Comments »

Hey everyone!

I am back in my series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know this Sunday at Harvest. My topic will be “The Holy Spirit and You.” I hope you can attend or check out the webcast.

Here is an excerpt from my message in which I will talk about the Trinity.

The Triune nature of God

The Bible teaches there is one God. Yet, the Bible also teaches that the “One God” is a Trinity, not three but still one God.

The New Testament clearly distinguishes three Persons who are all simultaneously active. They are not merely modes or manifestations of the same Person.

The Father is not the same Person as the Son. The Son is not the same Person as the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is not the same Person as the Father.

Three-in-One

There is one God, and this one true God exists in three co-equal and co-eternal Persons.

They are not three Gods and nor three Beings. They are three distinct Persons, yet they are all the one God.

They are in absolute perfect harmony, consisting of one substance. They are co-eternal, co-equal, and co-powerful.

You can’t really explain it

If we could fully explain God, then we could fully explain the Trinity,
but we can’t fully explain either. As it has been well said, “Try and explain this, and you’ll lose your mind; but try to explain it away, and you’ll lose your soul!”