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The Jesus Tablet?

Monday, January 25th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons | 8 Comments »

You probably have heard that Apple is supposedly going to announce a new tablet computer this week. I am interested to see what the specs are, and what it can do.

I really am a fan of technology, and without question Apple builds fantastic, groundbreaking products. In fact, this post was typed on an Apple laptop.

However . . .

The Messiah machine?

This new tablet has been hailed by some as “The Jesus Tablet,” and others are calling it “The Messiah Machine.” One article asked breathlessly, “Can Apple’s Jesus Tablet deliver a miracle?”

Whaaa . . . ? Did I miss something here? Is this new device from Apple going to somehow deliver eternal life or the forgiveness of sins?

I am being a bit facetious here, but I think some of these techheads need to seriously get a life, preferably an eternal one.

This reminds me of the the depression some were experiencing after viewing the new film Avatar, because they could not personally experience the imaginary CGI world of Pandora. I wrote a blog about that.

Taking the Lord’s name in vain

The Bible reminds us to not take the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7) This doesn’t just mean using profanity with God’s name, but also using His Holy name in a frivolous, insincere way.

Sometimes people will sell certain things to the Christian market with a token mention of Jesus or the Bible, in hopes that we will eat it up, be it movies, products, or whatever. That is using God’s name in vain, and He does not take kindly to it.

So, Jesus tablets and Messiah machines just will not do.

There is another commandment that warns against having other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). That is Commandment No. 1 in God’s Top 10.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that people who are excited about a new laptop, tablet computer, or phone are necessarily idolaters (though they could be). I am simply saying that we need to keep our priorities clear here.

Having another god speaks of anything or anyone that takes the place of the true God in their life.

In 1948, General Omar Bradley observed, “We are technological giants and moral midgets. We have discovered the mystery of the atom, but we have forgotten the Sermon on the Mount.”

Let’s love the Lord and use technology, not love technology and use the Lord.

How to Know the Will of God

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 5 Comments »

I will be back at Harvest on Sunday morning to speak on a topic that we all wonder about: the will of God.

Does God indeed have a master plan for our lives? If so, how do I discover it? How do I hear His voice? How do I know the will of God?

These are important questions, and they are not easily answered, but we will take a shot at this weekend.

You are invited to join us for our services in person, or online at harvest.org. We will have a time of Communion after the message.

Our service times are 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M. and 11:45 A.M., Pacific Time.

By the way, this will bring to a close our series of more than 30 messages that I have called Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. Next Sunday, I will launch a follow-up to the Essentials series, which I am calling Worldview. I’ll have more details on it later.

Weekend musings

To read my weekend column at WorldNetDaily, click here.

To read my weekend devotional, click here.

Keep Moving

Friday, January 22nd, 2010 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 4 Comments »

We all know people who have supposedly “fallen away,” spiritually.

Sometimes people make changes in their lives, start going to church, and get all excited about the Bible. Then suddenly they bail out, never to return.

Usually, we say, “Oh, isn’t that sad. They are backsliding.” But I suggest to you that many of these people never were true believers to begin with. The true test is where they wind up.

A true believer will always come back home eventually. A person who is not a true believer won’t.

My mother, for example, spent most of her life as a prodigal, but she came home in the end.

Backsliding

We must keep our guard up, however, because anyone can backslide and become a prodigal.

Backsliding isn’t something you “plan” on doing. You don’t call up your Christian friend and say, “Hey dude, instead of going to church tonight, you wanna go backslide instead?” There might be some Idiot who would say that, but generally you don’t plan something like that.

The point is that backsliding happens. In fact, one of the signs of the last days is that “some would fall from the faith.” It could happen to you or me, if certain precautions are not taken.

I suggest to you that there a people out there who are fully backslidden, but they don’t even know it! And that is because they don’t understand what the word “backslide” even means.

The Bible certainly warns against it. Jeremiah 3:22 says, “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” Jeremiah 2:19 tells us, “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.”

You might protest, “I don’t think I have actually backslidden!” That’s so dramatic.

“OK, so I’m not as active spiritually as I once was. I still go to church (when I can find the time). I still read the Bible (when I get around to it). I still obey God (unless it conflicts with what I want to do).”

No standing still

Listen, falling away or backsliding is something that we as Christians need to constantly be aware of. If we are not moving forward in Christ, we are naturally going backward.

There is no standing still in the Christian life. We are either progressing or regressing, moving forward or backward. The Christian life is like a greased pole; you are either climbing or slipping.

I once saw a sign along the road at the end of an airport runway that read, ”Keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger, and a danger to those flying.”

Unless we make progress in the Christian life, we jeopardize ourselves and others. In fact, the moment you cease to progress and grow as a Christian is when the process of backsliding begins.

So make every effort to move forward spiritually!

A Diamond Called Hope

Monday, January 18th, 2010 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 5 Comments »

Have you heard of the Hope Diamond?

It is a described as the most perfect blue diamond in the world. It is one of the most valuable gems on the face of the planet, worth $250 million. It has an amazing history, having passed from King Louis of France to Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great to King George of England, and ultimately to various wealthy people.

And yet, despite its enormous value, one of the eccentric owners of this rare blue diamond would often strap it to her pet dog’s collar. There are also stories that she would frequently misplace it at parties, and then make a children’s game out of “Finding the Hope.”

Under lock and key

The Hope Diamond ended up with New York diamond merchant Harry Winston, who ultimately donated it to the Smithsonian Museum. Today, it sits guarded behind bulletproof glass.

BTW, Winston sent the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian through the U.S. Mail in a plain brown paper bag. Imagine something worth $250 million being sent in the mail in a brown paper bag.

That’s why men should never wrap gifts.

Taking something of value for granted

Imagine the Hope Diamond on a dog’s collar or in a brown paper bag! Something so valuable, yet so unappreciated.

It reminds me of the most precious gift that God has given to us, something we may not appreciate.

I am speaking of our salvation.

God has saved us, is saving us, and will save us from future judgment. No other gift comes close to that.

A great salvation

I think that, far too often, we take the gift of personal salvation for granted. The Bible calls it “so great a salvation!”

When we believe in Jesus Christ and turn from our sins, this glorious gift (worth far, far more than the Hope Diamond) becomes ours. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8).

Let’s not take God’s salvation for granted today.

Thoughts on Backsliding, and Depression and Its Cure

Saturday, January 16th, 2010 Posted in sermons | 7 Comments »

I heard the story of a little girl who fell out of bed in the middle of the night. She cried out and her mother came running to her bedside.

Her mom asked, “What happened?” The little girl replied, “I think I stayed too close to the place where I got in!”

That happens to a lot of us, as well. We fall because, like the little girl, we are staying too close to the place where we got in. After committing ourselves to Christ, we never go forward spiritually. We never make that complete break with the past, and we end up slipping back into our old sinful behavior.

Backsliding is a powerful word, and a misunderstood one. It can happen easier than some people think.

Falling away, or backsliding, is something that we, as Christians, need to constantly be aware of. That’s because if we are not moving forward in Christ, we are naturally going backward. There is no standing still, we are either progressing or regressing.

The Lord says “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding” (Jeremiah 3:22).

This Sunday at Harvest

Backsliding will be my topic this Sunday at Harvest. I will also talk what steps to take to get right with God, if you have fallen.

I will also address the topic of “Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation?”

What to do if you are depressed

In my column this weekend at WorldNetDaily, I deal with the topic of selfishness, but I also touch on the subject of depression:

Maybe you find yourself a little depressed today. You might be down in the doldrums, even though you are in good health, you had a meal today, and you have clothes on your back and a roof over your head. But maybe you are down because you know someone else has it a little better or maybe a whole lot better than you do. If so, then I have a 10-step solution for depression . Step No. 1: Do something for someone else who has greater needs than you. Step No. 2: Repeat step No. 1 nine more times.

To read the entire column, click here.

Aid for Haiti

One place that has great needs right now is Haiti. We have all been deeply saddened by the horrific earthquake that rocked their country earlier this week.

I encourage you to support relief efforts there, especially Christian organizations that are offering spiritual hope, as well as physical aid. Samaritan’s Purse is an organization I endorse and believe in.

To learn more about what they are doing in Haiti, click here.

The Gift of Salvation

Thursday, January 14th, 2010 Posted in encouragement, essentials, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | 1 Comment »

Tonight in Orange County, I want to talk about the amazing gift of salvation.

Did you know that this wonderful gift we call salvation takes care of our past, present, and future?

  1. Salvation covers our past. As a result of believing in Jesus, I am saved from my sin. That’s because salvation is a gift from God. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
  2. Salvation takes care of our present, as well. He is saving me from the power and control of sin. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us, in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Corinthians 1:10).
  3. Salvation is also for our future. In other words, God has saved me from future judgment. Scripture tells us, “And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s judgment. For since we were restored to friendship with God by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved from eternal punishment by his life” (Romans 5:9-10).

We will learn a lot more tonight at our Bible study in Orange County, as we unpack and discover the gift of salvation, purchased for us by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Knowing God’s Will is not Always Easy

Monday, January 11th, 2010 Posted in encouragement, essentials, family, Pastor's corner, sermons | 6 Comments »

Let me say something that may surprise you: The will of God is not always easy to discern.

Most of my Christian life is one of faith, where I read Scripture and pray for wisdom. Then I make decisions and act on them, hoping that I am in His will.

I hope that is not a disappointment to you.

Mission: Impossible

You may have thought that I get a message from God every day, just like on Mission: Impossible (cue theme song).

“Good morning, Mr. Laurie. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, involves leading a person named Joe Smith to Christ. He will be pumping gas at the station across from the church at 1:35 p.m. today. This message will self-destruct in five seconds.”

Supernaturally, naturally

In real life, the chances are that I will see my “idiot light” come on, and then pull over to get some gas. Old Joe will be standing there and say, “How ya doing?” And I will find myself smack dab in the middle of the will of God as I share Christ with him.

This is also true of the Christian life, in general.

Emotions will come and go. Some days, you “feel” more spiritual than others. Some days, you are very encouraged, and other days you are discouraged.

Hold the course

The best thing to do is just hold your course.

It’s not unlike marriage. You cannot expect have a euphoric high every day, where you heart flutters whenever your mate walks into the room.

I have been married to my wife Cathe for 35 years now. If I still felt the way around her that I did when I was first getting to know her, it would be absurd.

Imagine this: your spouse walks in the room and your heart flutters, your mouth goes dry, and your mind goes blank. My wife would think I was having a heart attack!

No, we have been married all these years and we have made a life-long commitment to each other. The same is true of our commitment to God. Those emotions come and go, and come again.

The Christian life is one of faith, not mere feeling. Scripture says “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

So hold your course today.

What is Salvation?

Saturday, January 9th, 2010 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 2 Comments »

I know what you are thinking: “What is salvation? Everyone already knows that.”

I wonder. This wonderful thing God has done for those who have put their faith in Christ is a lot deeper and wider than some of us may realize.

The question of “What is salvation?” is my topic this Sunday at Harvest, as we get back into the series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know.

There are some other words I also want to explore that are often mentioned but rarely understood. Words like regeneration, justification, and adoption. Each one of those words is packed with action and power, and they are all part of this wonderful gift God has given to Christians called salvation.

So come on out to Harvest this Sunday to find out more. Our services are at 7:45 A.M., 9:45, A.M., and 11:45 A.M. This service will also be webcast live at harvest.org.

Weekend goodies

You may want to check out my weekend column at WorldNetDaily. Also, here is a link to my weekend devotion.

A New Decade Begins

Friday, January 8th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons | No Comments »

Is it just me, or did it seem like the year 2009 just sped by?

It seems the older you get, the faster time goes. When I was in elementary school, time seemed to crawl at a snail’s pace. Now, not only do years go by quickly, but so do entire decades!

Back in 2000, there was a collective sigh of relief when the ominous Y2K bug did not materialize. Embedded computer chips were supposed to stop working, commerce would end, and planes would fall out of the sky, etc. BTW, I never bought any of that.

The beginning of the decade could be summed up by a traveler named Luis Salcedo who, while boarding a flight in New Orleans on January 1, 2000, said, “Nothing to worry about now!”

Famous last words.

The wakeup call

This decade began with the global wake-up call of 9/11, as 2,973 people were murdered in cold blood. The official war against Islamic terrorism was on–and by the way, it still is!

We ended this tumultuous decade with an attempt by an Islamci terrorist to destroy an airline jet on Christmas Day. Our government has admitted there was a major breakdown in our security system.

Know this–the war on terrorism has not been stopped, not even for a New York minute. It’s time to face the facts that there are evil people willing to do the worst things imaginable.

Bad news

Yes, we live in a world filled with bad news.

This decade concluded with an economic meltdown. America has declined from the economic superpower we once were. Two of the Big Three automakers filed for bankruptcy.

This decade has seem some dramatic changes in technology as well. Did you know that texting didn’t exist at the beginning of this decade?

We started the decade with dial-up computer connections, foldable road maps, and five-pound phone books. When people wanted to trade a stock or make vacation reservation, they picked up the phone. They also licked stamps, checked answering machines, flipped Rolodexes, and inserted floppy discs.

But before the decade was over, we had Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Skype, and Hulu, along with the iPod, iPhone, and iTunes. We went from analog to digital, from tube TV to flatscreens.

Some good news

We have also seen the technology necessary for Bible prophecy to be fulfilled appear before our very eyes.

We have seen Iran and North Korea emerge as nuclear threats. We have seen the U.S. decrease as a superpower and China emerge. We have seen Israel become more isolated.

In short, we have seen many pieces of Bible prophecy begin to come true. So there is hope that we are indeed closer to the return of Jesus Christ.

I am looking forward to that. Aren’t you?

Tonight in Orange County

Thursday, January 7th, 2010 Posted in essentials, OC, sermons | 1 Comment »

I’ll be speaking tonight at our Thursday night study, which has been going on for more than eight months now. We have really seen the Lord bless this study, and best of all, we have seen more than 1,000 people make commitments to follow Jesus Christ.

Tonight, in addition to our outstanding praise band leading us in worship, Phil Wickham will join us to share some of his amazing songs. I will be sharing a message for the new year from God’s Word called “Good News in a Bad World.”

It all starts at 7:00 P.M. If you are in the Orange County area, be sure to join us. If you know someone who lives in Orange County, let them know!

Click here for all the information.

This Sunday at Harvest in Riverside

We will be back in our series, Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know, this Sunday at Harvest. I will share a message on the topic of salvation.

As Christians, we use the word “saved” a lot. But do we really know what salvation really is?

I think this message that I will share with you on Sunday may be a real ‘eye-opener’ for many. I know just preparing for it has been a great blessing.

I suggest that most believers do not realize just how awesome and vast salvation really is. It is something God has done, is doing, and will do in our future.

I’ll explain that all this Sunday at Harvest.