Merry Christmas to all of you. It’s getting really close now.
Of course, a lot of retailers are concerned about their sales being down, because we are just not shopping to the extent that we did in the past. With many people cutting back this year on purchases this year because of the economy, retailers may feel this will be a dreary Christmas.
But I suggest that this could be a greater and more blessed Christmas than you have ever experienced. After all, what is the primary message of Christmas? The essential message of Christmas is that God came to us.
As the Scripture says, “You shall call his name Immanuel,” which, of course, means “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14).
I suggest to you that this could be the most blessed Christmas of your life. Beginning with the absence of the things that have needlessly cluttered it before, combined with the presence of the One we are celebrating.
This Sunday at Harvest.
I will be talking about that and a lot more this Sunday at Harvest in our three morning services. My message title will be “The Promise of Christmas.” I hope you will join us live or watch the webcast live or archived.
Crystal Lewis was going to sing,but got stranded in a snowstorm due to weather!
(God bless you Crystal,thanks for trying!)
But our fantastic worship team will more then rise to the occasion!
You might want to check these out.
New Christmas cartoon coming!
I just drew a special cartoon for all of you this Christmas! It will be posted here on Monday. Hope you like it.
I know we live in a “post-modern” world where moral relativism is the rule of the day. In fact, a study was just done called A 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth.
Study on American Youth in 2008
A Los Angeles-based organization said the teenagers’ response to questions about lying, stealing and cheating reveals entrenched habits of dishonesty for the workforce of the future. Boys were found to lie and steal more than girls (why does that not surprise me?). Overall, 30% of students admitted to stealing from a store within the past year, a 2% rise from 2006. More than a third of boys (35%) said they had stolen goods, compared to 26% of girls.
Your Cheating Heart
An overwhelming majority, 83% of public school and private religious school students, admitted to lying to their parents about something significant. The study found “cheating in school continues to be rampant and it’s getting worse.” Among those surveyed, 64% said they had cheated on a test, compared to 60% in 2006, and 38% said they had done so two or more times.
The report went on to say, “Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same kids have a high self-image when it comes to ethics.” Some 93% of students indicated satisfaction with their own character and ethics, with 77% saying that “when it comes to doing what is right, I am better than most people I know.”
How do you reach a culture like this?
As we look at how dark our culture is today, we wonder if we can ever really make a difference. It seems so overwhelming,it seems like darkness is spreading and light is receding.
It is like the time that Isaiah described: “Destruction is certain for those who say that evil is good and good is evil; that dark is light and light is dark; that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter” (Isaiah 5:20 NLT).
So how do you reach a culture like this? The same way the apostle Paul reached his. With the absolute truth of the Word of God!
Some might feel as though the time to present absolute truth has passed. They might say we in the Church can only ask questions, but not offer answers. As the British say, “That’s tubbish!”
The gospel is the answer
So how do we reach our culture today, then? I will deal with that in my message this Sunday at Harvest, “Reaching the iGeneration.” You can come join us live or watch the webcast as well.
This and that
You might want to check out my column with a Christmas theme posted at WorldNetDaily this weekend. If you like seeing my writing there, please let the editors know.
Simply go to www.worldnetdaily.com. You will see a banner for my column at the top of the page.
Christmas messages coming!
I am going to be doing a series of new messages on Sunday mornings for Christmas, starting December 14, and continuing on December 21 and Christmas Eve. Come and join us live, or watch online.
Christmas is a great time for sharing the gospel, as people seem to be more open to spriitual things this time of the year. And with our economy in the shape it is in, perhaps even more so.
OK, that’s all for now. Over and out.
Great entries on what you are thankful for! Keep them coming!
I want to speak Wednesday night about thankfulness and why we ought to be giving praise and thanks, not only on this special day we call Thanksgiving, but every day.
You can come join us or watch the live webcast by clicking here.
Lucy Laurie is coming!
Lucy is the name that Christopher and Brittany picked for their little daughter to come. Of course, she is already here, but not yet born.
According to the doctor, this is the week she will be born, so please be praying especially for Brittany to have a safe delivery. I will let you know as soon as she is here!
I wanted to let you all know about a few things going on this weekend.
First of all, there is my weekend column at WorldNetDaily. This week, I talk about prayer, particularly in light of our having recently elected a new President.
To read that, click here.
We also have a long-form weekend devotional available, which you can sign up for at harvest.org. This week’s devotion is on one of the keys to spiritual growth.
To read the weekend devotion, click here.
This Sunday at Harvest
I have asked James Merritt, one of our Preach the Word Conference speakers to be our special guest in the pulpit on Sunday. It is sure to be a blessed service, as James is a powerful communicator of God’s Word.
Speaking of Preach the Word, we are going to post some highlights of the conference soon for your viewing and listening pleasure. Find out for yourself why many have described this as the best conference they have ever attended.
Franklin Graham is coming!
Also, mark your calendar, because Franklin Graham is coming to speak at Harvest on Sunday, November 30 at 6:00 P.M., Pacific Time. This service will be webcast live, and musician Phil Wickham will also join us.
This is something we have been doing for years as we were one of the first churches to participate in what has now become an international phenomenon, Operation Christmas Child. This is a project where you fill up a shoebox with toys and a personal letter, and they are sent to hurting children around the world with a gospel message.
I have personally seen the joy on the children’s faces when they open their box and discover what is inside.
To see more about Operation Christmas Child, click here.
There is a book that has been very popular, titled, 100 Things to Do Before You Die, written by Dave Freeman. In the book, he offered this counsel:
This life is a short journey . . . How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?
He goes on to detail some ways to “really make life count” by doing things like attending the Academy Awards, and running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain. Frankly, as I have watched some of the people running from these bulls, I think that ought to be in a book called 100 Things to Do So You Will Be Sure You Die!
The sad thing is that Dave Freeman just died at the age of 47, after hitting his head after a fall in his home. He had only accomplished Half of the items on his list.
The one thing to do before you die
But life is not just about visiting the coolest places and having the most fun. There is a place for that, but life is about glorifying God and following His will. That is the one thing we should all be doing.
The Bible tells the story of Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha, two of His friends. Martha wanted to make Jesus a gourmet feast and was working slavishly in the kitchen, while Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him. In frustration, Martha went to Jesus and demanded that He tell her sister to come and assist her.
The fact of the matter is, there is a time for work and there is a time to sit and listen to what God has to say. Mary understood that.
Seeing Martha’s frustration, Jesus said to her, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her” (Luke 10:41-42 MESSAGE).
“Only one thing is essential,” said Jesus. Mary understood that one thing was having time with God. And it also meant to glorify Him with her life.
Now, do we understand that? Because it’s not a matter of if you will die but when. So do what you need to do now, and then you can live with a clear conscience, ready to meet God at the time He appoints, whether it be today or 80 years from now.
My son, Christopher, was walking with and glorifying God when he was called home. I was proud of him then (and I told him so) and I am proud of him now.
The election is over and America has decided. We have a new President-elect, Barack Obama.
So what should be the posture of believers at this point? Scripture commands us to pray for those who rule over us.
BTW, this is something we should do, whether we voted for them or not!
Pray that the Lord will give our future President wisdom in the decisions he will make. And remember this, God is in control. Things will fall into their proper place as God brings about the events He said would transpire before His return.
Remember, history is “His story.”
A new administration
In the book of Daniel, we read about a transition of power where one administration was passing and a new one was arriving. In Daniel’s case, Darius was the new ruler over Babylon.
So what did the prophet do? Daniel studied the Scripture and prayed. But what is interesting is that Daniel prayed for himself and repented of his personal sin, as we read in Daniel 9:
It was the first year of the reign of Darius the Mede, the son of Ahasuerus, who became king of the Babylonians. During the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, was studying the writings of the prophets. I learned from the word of the LORD, as recorded by Jeremiah the prophet, that Jerusalem must lie desolate for seventy years.
So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and fasting. I wore rough sackcloth and sprinkled myself with ashes. I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: “O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and keep your commands. But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations. (NLT)
You can read the rest of Daniel 9 to see what else the prophet prayed for. But that is what we need to be doing right now as Christians, praying. The election is over, the voting is done, and the decision has been made.
Sometimes, believers can go too far one of two directions when it comes to elections, voting, and even politics in general.
One extreme is to not participate at all, and thus miss the opportunity to make a real difference with your vote and be the best influence you can be for godly principles. I’m glad enough people voted to say “Yes” to Proposition 8 here in California, because we believe in God’s order for marriage!
America has voted for change
The other extreme is to make politics your passion instead of Christ! Where you become more focused on these things instead of your primary mission, which is to preach the gospel.
America has voted for change. What that change will be remains to be seen. But the only way to bring lasting change is when it happens in the heart. And government cannot do that for us, only Christ can.
One day, He will come back and take “The government upon His shoulder” (Isaiah 9:6). But for now, we have mankind doing the job, and it will always disappoint, regardless of your party affiliation.
This Sunday at Harvest
This Sunday at Harvest, I want to talk about how the early Church used prayer so effectively, and how we can do the same, especially in these days ahead. My message will be titled “The Power of Prayer” and it is part of my series Upside-Down Living.
With this presidential election so close, and so many crucial issues at stake–like the lives of the unborn, future Supreme Court justice appointments, etc.–we as believers really need to pay attention and, most importantly, vote!
So I hope that you will familiarize yourself with each candidate’s platform and vote knowledgeably. One good Web site that will help you be informed is Wallbuilders.
I wanted to let you know about a special edition of A New Beginning that will be heard
In Southern California today that we are doing live in studio at KWVE here in Southern California.
We will talk about what the Lord did at our crusades this year, as well as focus on our upcoming Preach the Word conference. For those of you outside of Southern California, this special program will be aired sometime this week.
I will post a link to this program tomorrow, but if you want to listen live, you can go to KWVE’s Web site and listen in “real time” at 8:30 A.M. Pacific time.