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Hey everyone!

Saturday, August 29th, 2009 Posted in essentials, family, Harvest Crusades, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | 7 Comments »

Just wanted to let you know that James McDonald will be speaking this Sunday at Harvest Christian Fellowship.

In my opinion, James is one of the most effective Bible expositors in the country today. His messages are always thoroughly Biblical and very relevant to the time we are all living in.

James is the pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago and is heard nationwide on his radio broadcast, Walk in the Word. James is a personal friend, and we have seen his faith shine even more brightly as he has been receiving treatment for prostate cancer in the last year.

It has been said, “Character is not made in crisis, but revealed,” and we certainly saw the depth of James’ commitment to Christ and His Word through this crisis. I know he will bring a powerful message that will bless you.

James will be joined by special musical guest Marty Goetz. Marty is another personal friend who has one of the most powerful ministries of music I have ever witnessed. A Jewish believer in Jesus as his Messiah, Marty writes and performs songs that honor God and bring great comfort and strength to those who hear them.

I have been taking a break with our family

I will be back in Orange County next Thursday, September 3, at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside on Sunday, September 6. We will back in the Essentials series and I will be talking about secrets to spiritual growth.

Make sure you get the word out to any people who have recently come to Christ, like those at our recent Southern California Harvest. See you all soon!

The Southern California Harvest begins tonight!

Friday, August 14th, 2009 Posted in Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, sermons | 10 Comments »

Tonight at Angel Stadium, we celebrate 20 years of stadium evangelism.

We have continued to call these events Harvest Crusades, as opposed to festivals or concerts, because we are continuing a tradition of what I call “proclamation evangelism.” This tradition goes back to D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and, of course, the man who coined the term “crusade” for these events, Billy Graham.

Harvest Crusades are events that are designed to present the message of the gospel to the nonbeliever, and then give them an opportunty to respond.

I cannot emphasize enough that this is an event for Christians to just go and “be blessed,” but also to bless others with the Good News. So pray now about someone who you can bring in person or send a link to watch this event live over the next three nights.

Our lineup for tonight

Dennis Agajanian played at our first Harvest Crusades event 20 years ago at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa, and he’ll be here tonight, sharing his unique blend of bluegrass and country music.

You have probably never heard anyone play a guitar faster than Dennis Agajanian! He has been awarded Musician of the Year, as well as Entertainer of the Year many times by the Christian Country Music Association.

The Katinas, a group of brothers from American Samoa, will lead us in energetic praise and worship.

Finally, we have Third Day. This band has set the Christian music charts ablaze for years and continues to impact people with their dynamic blend of rock and clear lyrics that point people to Christ. We have been blessed to have them at a number of other Harvest Crusades events over the last few years, but this is their first time with us here in Anaheim.

The bubble that bursts

The title of tonight’s message is “The Bubble That Bursts.” It’s the story of a man who was a world-class intellectual, builder, and hedonist. He also penned the phrase, “There is nothing new under the sun.”

His name was Solomon and he was the King of Israel. He tried to find fulfillment in all the world offers, but came up empty. His own words were, “It was empty, futile, like a ‘bubble that bursts.'”

I will focus on the fact that still there is “nothing new under the sun.” Despite our advances in technology, so many are bored and empty. Use of antidepressants is at an all-time high.

People are searching for meaning to their lives, just Solomon as did, and God has the answers we seek in life through a relationship with Him.

Whosoever

Thursday, August 13th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, essentials, Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, sermons | 6 Comments »

The Southern California Harvest is only one day away! The excitement is building for our celebration of 20 years of proclamation evangelism in Southern California.

Did you know that we have nearly 6,000 trained counselors, ushers, and other volunteers who are participating this year? That is an all-time high.

Sorry to be repetitive, but the most important thing I could tell you about this event (next to asking for your prayers) is to urge you to bring someone with you who does not know the Lord.

Pray, ask, bring

Right now, why don’t you pray, “Lord, who should I bring to the Harvest this year?” I am confident that He will bring some people to mind.

Next, pray for them by name, that God would open their hearts.

Now, go invite them personally. Or e-mail or text them. Prayerfully extend the invitation.

“But Greg, we live in another part of the country!” Fine, tell them when the event is and send them a link to the Southern California Harvest Web site. The entire event will be webcast live, and they will be archived too.

One lady wrote and told me that her husband watched the webcast and, as the invitation was being extended at the end, he got down on his knees and accepted Christ right there in front of the computer!

Listen, God’s Word does not return void, even if it’s on the Internet!

Go into all of your world

So often as believers, we are trying to “get away from nonbelievers.” We want to isolate when we ought to infiltrate.

The world around you is your mission field: the grumpy neighbor, that inquisitive co-worker, those unreceptive kids, that mom or dad who does not yet know Jesus.

Jesus did not say that “the whole world should go to church,” but that “the Church should go to the whole world!”

I am just one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. I am not better than anyone, only better off.

God wants us to take this gospel message to all people; there are no exceptions.

They may be younger or older. God may lead you to share your faith with someone you are not comfortable with.

We need to be open to reach that category of people who God invites to believe–whosoever!

Jesus said, “Whosoever believes in Him should not perish . . . ” (John 3:16).

“A whole new world!” Adventures with Princess Stella

Saturday, August 8th, 2009 Posted in essentials, family, Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, sermons, stella | 18 Comments »

We recently took our granddaughter Stella to Disneyland for her third birthday.

Disneyland, the original Disney amusement park, is in my opinion still the best one. I have been to Disney World and their other parks in Florida and even visited Tokyo Disneyland years ago, but none compare to the original, envisioned and built by Walt Disney himself.  It is rife with memories, not only from my own childhood but from countless trips taking my own sons there.

When I was a boy, my father Oscar who adopted me took me on the Peter Pan ride. I screamed the whole time. I must have really thought we were flying boats in the sky!

When we used to take Christopher, we would always stop and have breakfast first in a little spot that is no longer there called The Incredible, Edible Egg. It happened to be near where the characters would appear in the park, so we told Topher (Christopher’s nickname) that it was a great spot to get a photo before the crowds formed around Mickey and friends.

The fact is, we just wanted to have breakfast, and he just wanted to get into the park and have some fun! And who could blame him?

Princess Stella

On this last trip, our whole group–Stella, her little sister Lucy, her mother Brittany, Uncle Jonathan, Grandma Cathe, and myself–went to Sleeping Beauty’s castle because Stella was going to be made into a princess! Some friends had bought her a special package to become the Disney Princess of her choice.

You have to understand, I raised boys so this whole idea of little girls and their fascination with dress-up is all new to me, but I am adapting quickly! And enjoying it too!

So we went into this little salon filled with little girls who were being transformed into their favorite Disney Princesses, from Sleeping Beauty herself to Snow White. The glitter was there in full force, along with lots of hairspray, outfits, crowns, you name it. We laughed and enjoyed every minute of it.

When Stella’s beauty makeover was completed, we went on rides and people would stop and point at her and say how cute she was. And indeed that was true. I was proud to escort Princess Stella around, that is until she got tired of me and said, “I want my mommy!”

Disneyland is an effective illusion

It seems to me that adults should not be allowed in Disneyland without kids.

The problem with going to the park with people who are older is they often complain. “The lines are too long!” “This cost too much!” “I’m hungry!” Or is that just me?

But when you take a child, Disneyland becomes, to borrow a line from one of their films, a whole new world! It’s all an illusion, but a very effective one.

The eyes of a child

It’s fun to see life through the eyes of a child, especially the Christian life. Didn’t Jesus say we “must become as little children to enter the Kingdom” (Matthew 18:3)?
That is no illusion.
When you spend time with a “child in the faith”–that is, a new Christian–you see with new eyes the things that you have perhaps begun to take for granted as you discuss great truths of Scripture with someone who is seeing them for the first time. And that can bring about a rediscovery in your own life, and before you know it, you’re in “a whole new world.”

With the Southern California Harvest only days away, I encourage you to pray about someone you know who is not yet a Christian, and plan on bringing them. Prayerfully, they will come to put their faith in Christ and you will have the joy of watching them grow spiritually before your very eyes.

It will be for them and you, “a whole new world.”

I’m speaking at Saddleback Church this weekend

As you may know, I am speaking tonight and Sunday at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, following the showing of the newly-edited film of my life, Lost Boy: The Next Chapter. I hope to see some of you there.

Don’t forget to check out my weekend column at WorldNetDaily here, and my long-form weekend devotional here.

You need to talk about it!

Friday, August 7th, 2009 Posted in essentials, lost boy, Lost Boy Blog, Pastor's corner, sermons | 3 Comments »

Hey everyone!

I will show my autobiographical film Lost Boy: The Next Chapter this weekend at Saddleback Church in Orange County. I will also speak after the screening.

This film has won two festival awards and has been nominated for a third. We have been amazed by its impact.

If you are in the area, I hope you can come and see it.

Why does God use people?

Now, back to the topic of sharing our faith.

Why do we need to tell others about Jesus? Why doesn’t God just poke His face out of the heavens and say, “Believe in Me!” Why does He want to used flawed people like us?

I don’t really know the answer to that, but I do know He does use people. In fact, the primary way God has chosen to reach people is through people. People like you and me.

Paul wrote, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!'” (Romans 10:14-15 NKJV)

People need someone to show them the way

In Acts 8 is the story of a powerful, wealthy foreign dignitary searching for God. He had not found Him in the empty rituals of the dead Judaism of the time. But he did obtain a scroll containing Isaiah 53, where he read, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter . . . ”

Philip approached him and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian responded, “How can I, unless someone shows me the way!”

That is what people need, and what many want–someone to show them the way. Someone like you.

You need to talk about it

And the primary way we are to share this message is verbally. That is not to say that you should not live it first, for indeed you should.

Some would say, “People will know that I am a Christian by the way I live. I don’t need to talk about it to others. Actually, you do.

Yes, by all means live it, but also engage people with the gospel message. We need to both initiate and verbalize our faith.

Paul tell us, “Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation” (1 Corinthians 1:21 MESSAGE).

You may not be called to be a “preacher,” per se, but every believer is called to preach the gospel. Ask the Lord for an opportunity to do that this weekend.

How do you eat an elephant?

Thursday, August 6th, 2009 Posted in essentials, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | 3 Comments »

I am speaking tonight at our Bible study in Orange County. I will give the second of a two-part message on effectively sharing your faith.

I want to talk about how to use your personal story, also known as your testimony. Finally, I want to share with you how you can actually lead a person to Christ.

For more info on the study, click here.

Did you know that 95% of Christians have never led another person to Christ?

You might protest, “But I’m not gifted as an evangelist!” That may be true, but every believer is called to evangelize.

I know the idea of evangelism seems daunting, overwhelming. We wonder how can we do it?

One bite at a time

The answer to that question is that same as the answer to the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time.

How do we fulfill the Great Commission? One bite at a time.

Go into all of your world

In Mark’s Gospel, we have a variation on this Great Commission: “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

The same could be said for world evangelism: “Go into all of your world and preach the gospel.” Go into your family, your workplace, your campus, your sphere of influence.

But what are we to do specifically to share the gospel? Let’s go back to Matthew 28:19-20: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Simply put, it means to teach them to observe what He has commanded. It means to live out our faith in this world, and also to share it with others–to teach it by word and model it by example.

Putting it all together

The full concept of “going into all the world and making disciples” is to share our faith, to seek to lead people to Christ, and then to help them mature spiritually to the best of our ability.

Colossians 1:28 says, “We proclaim Christ! We warn everyone we meet, and we teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, This we do that we may bring every man to his full maturity in Christ.”

Evangelizing and discipling not only changes others, but it changes you! I have a Disneyland story, featuring my granddaughter Stella, to illustrate that tomorrow.

But today, let’s look for opportunities to “go into all of our world” and preach the gospel.

The joy of evangelism

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, essentials, Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, sermons | 7 Comments »

Hey everyone!

In the days leading up to the Southern California Harvest at Angel Stadium, I thought I would focus on the topic of evangelism.

Before that, a couple of updates:

First, I spoke at Mariners Church in Irvine last weekend.

We had a tremendous response to the invitation to receive Christ. We had at around 330 people come forward at invitations at one of the three services I spoke at! It was fantastic!

Second, I am speaking at Saddleback Church this next weekend. This is, of course, pastored by Rick Warren, who has written the best-selling Christian book of all time (next to the Bible, of course), The Purpose Driven Life.

We will show the newly-edited Lost Boy: The Next Chapter film, and I will speak after each showing.

Now, back to our topic . . .

We over-complicate evangelism

It is my firm belief that God can use you to bring others into His Kingdom. Why would God tell us to engage in this thing we call evangelism if it were not so?

Know this: the calling of God is the enabling of God.

I believe that God wants to use all of us to bring people to Himself.

The book of Proverbs says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). Scripture also tells us, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever” (Daniel 12:3).

So, with the Southern California Harvest only days away, I thought I would talk about the who, where, why, what, when, and how of evangelism.

Who is called to share their faith?

Let’s start with the question of who is called to “go into all the world and preach the gospel?”

Answer: You are! We are! Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

In the original language, these words are addressed to everyone. Not just pastors, evangelists, and missionaries, but everyone.

Businessmen, housewives, students . . . everyone. No one is exempted.

Also, in the original language, this is a command. Jesus is not saying, “If you can find time in your busy schedule, as a personal favor to me, would you mind ‘going into all the world and preaching the gospel?”

No, as our Savior, Lord, and Commander-in-Chief. He says “Go!”

Not a suggestion

This is not “The Great Suggestion,” but rather “The Great Commission.”

If I am His disciple, I am commanded to go and make disciples of others. If I am not making disciples of others, then I’m not really being the disciple He wants me to be!

For many of us, however, it is “The Great Omission,” instead of “The Great Commission.” We are simply not doing it.

Let me say something provocative to you: to not do it is a sin! The Bible tells us, “Any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

But God doesn’t want you to share the gospel out of mere duty, but with joy and passion. One of the most exciting and fulfilling things you can do is tell others about Jesus.

This message God has given us was meant to be shared not hoarded. You were blessed to be a blessing.

When you do not share, you begin to stagnate; when you do, you revive. Scripture tells us, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25).

We have a choice: evangelize or fossilize!

Weekend update

Saturday, August 1st, 2009 Posted in Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, sermons | 9 Comments »

Hey everyone!

I wanted to let you know that I am speaking tonight at Mariners Church in Irvine, California. This is in preparation for the upcoming Southern California Harvest at Angel Stadium, which is now only 12 days away!

My topic at Mariners tonight is “Down-to-Earth Talk about Heaven.”

It starts at 5:00 P.M. So if you are in the area, come join us.

You also might want to check out my weekend column at WorldNetDaily. The topic is “The misunderstood Commandment.” Click here to read the column.

Well,that’s all for now.

K.O.K.D. (Does anyone know what that means?)

The best way to fight temptation

Friday, July 31st, 2009 Posted in encouragement, essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 8 Comments »

Temptation. There is no escaping it. But know this–it can have an help you to deepen and grow spiritually, causing you to cling that much tighter to the Lord Himself.

It’s been said, “Christians are a lot like teabags. You don’t know what they are made of until you put them in hot water.”

Perhaps you in the “hot water” of temptation right now. God has given you a weapon to use, and it’s called the Bible.

Jesus was tempted

When Jesus faced His temptation in the wilderness, He gave us an example to follow, a template to apply.

Being God, He could have sent Satan away or even removed Himself from the place where the enemy was. Instead, He faced Satan as a man and stood on ground that we too can occupy.

When tempted, each time Jesus quoted the Scripture. We read in Luke 4:12, “And Jesus answered and said to him, ‘It is written, “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”‘”

It is written

You need to know and quote Scripture when you are tempted. The psalmist wrote, “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word” (Psalm 119:9) and “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You!” (Psalm 119:11)

It’s good to carry a Bible in your briefcase, backpack, or purse. But the best place to carry the Word of God is in your heart!

Why? Because Satan can quote Scripture to you too!

Satan entices you, trips you up, and then tells you “God will not forgive you!” We pull out the sword and reply, “It is written, ‘If we confess our sin . . . ” (1 John 1:9).

Satan whispers in your ear, “You’ve sinned, and now God condemns you!” We can come back with, “It is written, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation” (Romans 8:1).

The devil tells us, “You’re not going to make it. I’ll get you. You’ll fall again!” You reply, “It is written, ‘And I will give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).

You can also say, “Being confident of this very thing that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it unto the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Even when tragedy hits

Perhaps when tragedy hits, the enemy will say, “Your life is over, and ruined. God has abandoned you.”

You come back with God’s Word! It is written, “He causes all things to work together for good to those that love Him” (Romans 8:28).

When a loved one dies, the enemy says, “That’s it. They are gone. Death is the end!” You reply, “It is written that to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord” (see 2 Corinthians 5:8). Jesus also said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).

I encourage you to memorize and use the Word of God when being tempted. It will make all the difference.

When does temptation come?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009 Posted in essentials, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | 4 Comments »

Hey everyone!

On Thursday night in O.C., I am giving the first part of a two-part message on the topic of effectively sharing our faith.

We have all had experiences where we have done it ineffectively, right? I know I have.

So if you are in the O.C. area, I hope you can come. If not, it will be posted online in HD in a few days.

Now, to our topic today . . . temptation.

Have you ever been minding your own business, when “wham!”, you are hit with a heavy-duty temptation. It might be an evil thought, a lustful one, or even doubt.

You wonder, where did that come from? Answer: the devil.

Yes, we play a part in our own temptation, but there is clearly an enemy who comes with his enticments. He knows how to “package his wares” and make bad things look good. That’s because “things forbidden have a certain charm.”

After the dove

It is important to know that temptation and attack often come after times of great blessing.

It was after a time of great blessing in the life of Jesus that He was tempted by Satan. Jesus had just been baptized by His cousin John the Baptist. The Holy Spirit had descended on Him in the form of a dove, and the Heavenly Father proudly said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

But Luke’s Gospel tells us, “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil” (Luke 4:1-2).

It was after the dove that the devil came. After the blessing comes the trial. The two often go hand in hand.

After God speaks

Times of attack often come after “mountaintop” experiences.

We read of when Jesus was on the mountaintop with Moses and Elijah. Once again, God spoke, “This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!”

As they descended from the mountain, a man with a demon-possessed child is waiting. Whenever God speaks, the Devil will be there to oppose.

So what is the solution? It is to be aware of this truth, and always keep your guard up. Then the next time those “flaming arrows” of temptation come your way, you will know to put up your shield!