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“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.

An interview about my son Christopher’s passing

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 Posted in encouragement, family, Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, stella | 81 Comments »

Hey everyone.

As you may know, this Friday, July 24, will mark the one-year anniversary of the passing of our firstborn son, Christopher, to heaven. I appreciate all of your prayers, and I plan on writing about this in a day or so.

Here is an interview that my son Jonathan and I recently did with Dan Wooding of the ASSIST News Service. It sums up where we are at during at this time in our lives.

The agony and joy of Greg Laurie

He talks about the tragic death of his son Christopher; his younger son, Jonathan, shares movingly about how he recommitted his life to Christ because of the death of his brother.

By Dan Wooding

Founder of ASSIST Ministries

SANTA ANA, CA (ANS) — Thursday, July 24, 2008 was the most devastating day of Greg Laurie’s life. The unimaginable happened when his son Christopher, 33, was killed in a tragic car accident on the 91 freeway on his way to work as art director of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, where Greg is the senior pastor.

Now, almost a year from the tragedy, Greg Laurie agreed to talk about his heartbreak and his younger son, Jonathan Laurie, revealed how the car accident that took his brother transformed his life – for good!

Both father and son came into the studios of Southern California’s KWVE 107.9 FM to talk with me for my Front Page Radio program.

I began by asking Greg to relive that terrible moment when he found out about the accident.

“It’s been almost a year now, Dan, and it was the most devastating experience of my life,” he said. “In fact, of all the bad experiences I’ve had — and I’ve had a few – none came even come close to what this was like. It’s the news no parent ever wants to hear you never expect to hear it.”

How did he first hear about the accident?

Greg said, “It was really strange the way I found out. My wife was leading a Bible study for Christopher’s wife Brittany and her mom. I was babysitting my granddaughter Stella. Brittany mentioned that she’d called Christopher and he’d not responded. Then I got a call from the church. They were asking, ‘Where’s Christopher?’

“So I called him and he didn’t answer; I then sent a text to him saying, ‘Where are you?’ Again, he didn’t answer. Then, from that point on, we started making calls to try and find out where he had gone. After about 45 minutes, we knew something was not right, we didn’t know what.

“Obviously we were praying; we were concerned and worried. Then, Don McClure, a pastor friend, showed up at my house and said, ‘Christopher’s been in an accident.” But he wouldn’t tell me the extent of it. I was told that some of the pastors from our church were going to come and talk to me. At this point I knew it was bad, but I was still hoping that it was not fatal.”

Greg said that when the pastors from his church arrived, one of them told him, “Christopher is with the Lord!”

Greg closed his eyes and told me, “When I heard that, it was like time stood still and the air was sucked out of the room. I couldn’t comprehend what I had just heard, and it really was, in many ways, incomprehensible. It was so hard.

“I have to say that although it was devastating and crushing, and I fell to the ground weeping, the Lord was there with me. I sensed His presence and His peace and I have never, for a moment, doubted that Christopher’s in heaven.”

I then asked Greg how his wife Cathe responded to the shocking news.

“She wept and she may have screamed. I don’t remember,” he said. “Brittany was crying also, as we all got the news at the same time. We were all crying. But we were also praying at the same time, saying things like, ‘Oh Lord, we look to you. We call on you.’”

Greg went on to say, “How could anyone survive such news if they didn’t know God? I can’t imagine trying to deal with this: without one’s faith in Christ; without the presence of the Lord; without Christian friends surrounding you and praying; knowing what to say and, hopefully, knowing what not to say,” he said. “We were surrounded by some wonderful godly people that helped us through those first few moments, those first few hours and the first few days.”

I told Greg that for anyone, this was so traumatic, but because he was so well-known in Southern California and across the world, this must have made it even more difficult to cope with. I wondered if he had thought about just giving up and retreating from the world for the time being.

“Well, you know one thinks about retreating but, really, you want to be around the people you love. You want to hear their words of reassurance,” said Greg. “I was surprised at how public it was, not only in the Christian community, but it was on the front page of the local newspaper with the headline, ‘Son of evangelist killed.’ To read those words in print, though you know it’s true, and see a photograph of your son — that was really painful.

“Then people were talking about it and it was on the radio and TV news. Of course, it was an auto accident, so it was a very horrific thing.”

Greg said that despite it all, it began changing his attitude to people.

“I gained a new compassion for people who have lost children,” he said. “When a celebrity dies, everyone talks about it and people opine on it. But, I’ll tell you that every one of these people that die have a mom and a dad and they have a family. It’s devastating for them. I looked at the way some people spoke about it — so matter of factly — and I had to say to myself, ‘You know, that’s my son they’re talking about.’

“But then there were many believers that said such sweet things. My blog site was inundated with messages. I had some 15,000 messages on my blog. I, frankly, have never read all of them, but I’ve read many of them and they were very comforting to me. I still go back to them and read them and they have encouraged me along with the prayers that people offered.

“Here it is, almost a year later, and I’d like to say its all better, Dan. I feel fantastic and you know there are moments when everything aligns in my mind and my heart. I think that Christopher’s in heaven and he’s happier than he’s ever been and that I’m going to see him again. It’s glorious and I have peace and even a bit of joy. Then, five minutes later, a memory is triggered by something and the pain of missing him comes right back.

“Last night, I had dreams about him again and in them I’m having conversations with him. Usually, in my dreams, I’m with him and then he’s suddenly gone. He disappears. In one dream I had, while I was talking to him, I reached out to and he disappeared. So you can’t stop your subconscious from processing these things. It is still very painful but the Lord has been with us. We have the Lord, we have our friends, we have our faith, we have our hope for the future of reunion, we have our memories of yesterday and we have today. And today, we want to try to the best of our ability to glorify God through this and try to minister to others who are hurting.

“I’ve come into contact with many people who have lost loved ones, especially children, who’ve reached out to me. When I meet someone who’s lost a child, I stop what I’m doing and I take time for them. I listen a lot more than I used to. I used to be quicker on the draw with a verse or two. I still will share verses and encouraging words, but I’m quicker to listen and slower to speak when someone comes and tells me of their pain.”

Sitting next to his father and listening intently to the interview, was Jonathan Laurie, Christopher’s younger brother. So I asked him where he was when he first heard the news about the accident.

“I was working for a plating aerospace company in Santa Ana when my foreman came over to me and asked me how I was doing,” he recalled. “At that point, I didn’t know what had happened to Christopher, but apparently it was already going around on the channels. I didn’t have my phone with me at the time so I hadn’t heard anything. He left me alone for a few minutes with a Christian police officer friend who I knew quite well and who was a Christian man and he said, ‘You need to go home to see your parents.’ That’s when I knew something had gone wrong. When I got access to my cell phone, that’s when I began receiving text messages and phone calls. I just refrained until I got home. Actually, Don McClure, the same person informed me that told my Dad. He said that my brother ‘was with the Lord.’

“I went into shock immediately. I couldn’t comprehend it, or believe it. It took me probably an hour or so for it to really start to click — that this actually happened. It was almost like I went into a dream state. It was so surreal.”

I asked Jonathan to recall the last time he saw his brother.

“My last vivid memory of him was last Fourth of July,” he said. “We were in Montana and it was probably one of the best family vacations that I can remember.

“We were quite distant in age but, as we grew older, that gap began to close. The older I became, the closer I grew to him. We grew as friends and brothers. He was always looking out for my best interests. He kept me accountable a number of times.

“He kept his eye on me. You may think that being raised in a pastor’s home would make us instant Christians and followers of Christ. You know we always did have that faith in Jesus and we always believed in Jesus, but there was a time when I rebelled and there was a time when Christopher rebelled.

“He knew where I was at as he’d lived a similar lifestyle. He was just kind of living as a ‘prodigal son’ running from his Christianity for a short time. But we both always wanted to end up back there. It was just a matter of what it was going to take.

“Up until the time that he went home to be with the Lord, he had actually been very encouraging of me: to get my life right; to quit living this double life; to stop partying and doing all that lifestyle entails. In fact, the night before his death, I was out with friends, doing the party thing; smoking and drinking. That night I really thought about how I wanted to go see my brother the next morning and talk to him about how miserable I was. I told had him previously that I wanted to get back there and he’d asked me, ‘Well, what it is going to take?’ That next morning, I got my answer. Christopher going home to be with the Lord was my wake up call.”

Jonathan went on to say, “When I got the news at home. I just sat on my bed and looked at pictures of him. After I began to comprehend what had happened, I just began to weep. Then I went through my room and just ravaged it, grabbing all the stuff I knew that was bringing me down. I held it all in my hands, prayed to the Lord, and I said, ‘God, you know that I’ve proven to you and myself that I’m incapable of doing this on my own. I can’t stop using this stuff on my own strength so you’re going to have to help me, but I want to do this.’

“He’s been faithful to do that since I prayed that prayer and He’s been faithful to help me stay clean. I’m walking with the Lord now and I know that I honor my brother’s advice. That’s the best thing I think I can do for Christopher in heaven.”

Greg Laurie was close to tears as his son told his story.

“It is a great blessing and I have to tell you, Dan, that Jonathan has shared this testimony all over in our crusades that we’ve held in different places this last year,” said Greg. “He’s stood up in front of thousands of people and Jonathan was never that kind of a person that would want to get in front of a crowd and talk. Some people like attention but he was never that way. He was more of a quiet, soft spoken, young man. But because of this thing that has happened to him and what the Lord has done in his life, he’s gotten up boldly.

“We were just in Pennsylvania at something called the Creation Festival, a Christian event that’s been going on for over 30 years. I was speaking and I brought Jonathan out to give his testimony. He gave it before 70,000 and I’ll tell you what — those kids started listening. When he talked about the compromised life, there are just a lot of kids raised in Christian homes who know what’s right, but aren’t living it, and they’re in that miserable no man’s land.

“When one of them, like Jonathan, speaks and talks about how the Lord’s gotten a hold of him, there’s an authenticity. Not that the adults don’t have it, but they think, ‘Well, you’re an adult.’ But when it’s a fellow kid, a peer speaks, it means so much more to them.

“This is one of the good things that have come of this tragedy. There’s still a lot of pain and there’s a lot of heartache, but God promise is to work ‘all things together for good’ is true. We have seen how the Lord has brought glory to his name through Jonathan’s testimony and also through Brittany, Christopher’s wife’s testimony. We’ve all felt a greater determination to serve the Lord with even more intensity than we had before.”

“I’ve determined not to put a happy face on it, meaning I want to be real. I want to be honest. I want to be truthful about the difficulty, but I also want to be honoring to the Lord and tell people how He’s sustained us through this and how I still depend upon Him every day to make it through.”

Greg then shared the good news, that late last year, Brittany gave birth to Lucy Christopher Laurie, who joins Stella, the other daughter.

“Stella is going on to her third birthday and if a father ever doted on a daughter it was Christopher,” he said. “He was a great daddy, but he did not live to see little Lucy born, at least on earth. One wonders what people know in heaven. I think it’s entirely possible that he’s fully aware of Lucy there in heaven. But he missed the birth here on earth. She’s growing and she’s just a sweetheart, one of the happiest little babies I’ve ever seen. They’re both just sweet hearts. I love them both.”

Greg is now preparing for his latest Harvest Crusade, which have drawn nearly 3 million people to ballparks and arenas across the Southland since 1990, and will mark 20 years in Southern California with its annual evangelistic outreach at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, August 14–16.

Shortly after Christopher’s death, Greg somehow preached each night at Angel Stadium last year surrounded on stage by the designs of Christopher.

“He was the lead designer in our graphics department at Harvest and he’d done the entire campaign,” he said. “So I stood on a stage that was designed by him, surrounded by art that he’d done. Even our crusade campaign this year is sort of built off the template of what he’d designed the year before.

“When I see his art around me, it inspires me. One thing Christopher uniquely implemented in the campaign last year was an animated arrow going up to heaven. There were these little arrows constantly going up and so we kept that arrow in a lot of the design that we’ve done because it just reminds us of where Christopher is and that we are to keep ‘looking up’. As the Scripture says, ‘We are to be heavenly minded. Set your minds on things above,’ Paul says in Colossians 3, ‘not on the things of the earth.” Another way to translate that is to keep thinking heaven. I think we all need to think more about heaven because we’re all headed there as followers of Jesus.”

Mr. Potato Head

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, Pastor's corner, stella | 2 Comments »

Mr. Potato Head from when I was a kid.

Mr. Potato Head from when I was a kid.

My granddaughter Stella has a Mr. Potato Head toy. I hope I spelled “potatoe” right–remember Dan Quayle!

If you have not seen one, it is a plastic replica of the vegetable with little pieces like eyes, glasses, hats, shoes, hands, etc., that you can insert into the little holes already set in the plastic potato. There is even a Mrs. Potato Head now too.

Now, when I was a kid, we used to use actual potatoes! That’s right, real spuds that we would decorate with the little hats, eyes, etc.

Needless to say, after a while you would need a new potato, as the old one was  starting to smell a bit.

It’s more fun to be random

To have even more fun, don’t put the little accessories where they are supposed to go. In other words, put the arm where the hat should go, the eyes where the arm goes, you get the idea.

Then your little creation looks more customized, instead of the generic version that everyone else has

Spiritual Mr. Potato Head

Some people treat their faith this way. Not content to follow what the Bible teaches, they want to change things up a bit.

This is usually due to being uncomfortable with certain biblical teachings that are at conflict with what the person wants to do.

So they play “spiritual Mr. Potato Head” and put things in the wrong places as it pleases them.

But true Christianity does not work this way. God has everything in its proper place.

There is no randomness with God. No mood swings. If He says something is right, it is. In the same way, if He says something is wrong, it is.

Jesus’ friends do everything He tells them

Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). In other words, it is not for us to pick and choose the commandments of God that personally appeal to us and cast the other ones aside. Those parameters, those absolutes are there for our own good.

If God says to to do it, it is for our good. If He says to not do it, that also is for our good.

The Bible says, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). So I suggest you live the Christian life the way God intended it, not your own customized version. Ultimately, you will be very pleased with the results.

Something to think about.

Saint Christopher

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009 Posted in family, Pastor's corner, stella | 123 Comments »

topher200

Today would have been my son Christopher David Laurie’s 34th birthday.

But I cannot wish him a happy birthday, and that breaks my heart. Because he is in heaven and I am here on earth, thinking about him. Missing him. Heartbroken still, even after nine months.

I would like to tell you that it has gotten better, and that “we are back to normal” again. For some reason, people still ask me if I am “back to normal yet.”

The answer to that question is no, because our life has been forever changed. It’s a new kind of normal.

Some days are harder then others, and there is not necessarily any rhyme or reason to it all.

One thing is for sure: holidays are hardest. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and our own birthdays were tough.

But this day is especially hard, for it was his day.

What Christopher was like

Christopher was our firstborn son. Born on April 1, 1975, weighing in at 5 pounds, 7 ounces. I remember the day like it was yesterday.

Many words come to mind when I think of him:

  • Loving
  • Mischievous
  • Extremely talented
  • Opinionated
  • Insightful
  • Short–tempered, at times
  • Very generous
  • Tender-hearted and Spiritually-minded

He was an adorable baby, a cute child, and a handsome young man.

Yet surprisingly, he was not at all vain. He didn’t have time to fuss with things like that, because he was too busy living his life–Serving the Lord as well as playing with his daughter, spending time with his wife, riding his skateboard, surfing.

He was like a blur. He was always in motion.

Christopher did not simply exist. He lived life, squeezing out every drop. From the day of his birth, Christopher (or “Topher,” as we called him) was a burst of energy blazing across the stage of life.

Christopher loved to design, draw, paint, and even work on crafts at home after putting in a full day in at work.

The boy simply never sat still. Fun-loving, quick to laugh, and warm to people, that was Christopher.

He was loved

Because of my cold upbringing, I wanted him to know he was loved and cherished.

There were times that I admittedly spoiled him, but he never took advantage of it. He just seemed to revel in being loved. And when his daughter Stella was born, he surpassed me in the love he showed her. That girl was the apple of his eye.

It has been said you don’t know how good of a parent you have been until your children have children. When we saw Christopher with his daughter, we knew we had done just fine.

He has another daughter now too, who sadly he never met. He left us suddenly and unexpectedly last year, and not a day has gone by that I have not missed him with all of my heart.

Our last birthday with Christopher

Normally on his birthday, we would get together as a family and celebrate for dinner. Last year, when he turned 33, is still vivid in my mind.

Christopher went to work that day at Harvest Christian Fellowship, where he was headed up our graphics department where he was the art director. They had a Bible study with some of the people from our web department and celebrated Christopher’s birthday with food from his favorite Mexican restaurant in Riverside.

That day was Topher’s turn to speak, and he shared his testimony with them. Some of the people there had never heard the story of how he had been a prodigal for a number of years and how God had turned his life around.

How could they have ever known that would be the last birthday they would share with him? How could we have known?

Making up for lost time

But Christopher was making up for lost time and getting bolder in his faith, even having a Bible study in his home. One of his last texts to me was a request for a study Bible. We were thrilled with all the Lord was doing.

Last year, at his birthday dinner, Christopher told us that he and Brittany were going to have another child. Cathe and I were elated!

Then he laughed and said, “April fools!” We were crestfallen.

He then told us he was kidding and they really were having a baby, but it took us a while to re-adjust to the wonderful news. I told you he was mischievous!

He was so looking forward to that new arrival talked about it constantly.

The celebration of a life

Now, we remember his birthday without him.

You might say, “Greg, rejoice that he’s with the Lord!” We do, believe me.

But of course, we wish he were here with us, so we could put our arms around him and tell him we love him and wish him a “happy birthday.”

Saint Christopher

My Christopher David Laurie was and is a “saint.”

Now don’t misunderstand and think that I am saying he was perfect. No person is, and that is not what a “saint” is anyway.

The Bible refers to a true believer in Jesus Christ as a “saint.” So, in that sense, we all are. You can add the word ‘saint’ before your name too.

But today, I do not want to mourn a death as much as I want to celebrate a life. The life of Christopher David Laurie,or ‘Saint Christopher”
:)

  • Son of Greg and Cathe
  • Husband of Brittany
  • Father of Stella and Lucy
  • Brother of Jonathan
  • And child of God, now safely in heaven, having more adventure and–dare I say it–“fun” than he could have ever imagined

We miss him, but we will see him again. Until then, here on earth, we say, “Happy birthday, Toph!”

P.S. I read these verses today that encouraged me:

“In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11).

“For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to the living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17).

How to Cook a Quesadilla (starring Stella Laurie)!

Friday, March 20th, 2009 Posted in family, stella, video | 149 Comments »

OK, you guys asked for it, and here it is.

After I did the “How to Cook Scrambled Eggs” video, I mentioned that the only other thing I can make is a quesadilla. Many of you asked me to do a video for that too, so here it is.

This “how-to” video has one very special feature: my oft-mentioned granddaughter, Stella Laurie.

So watch it and have a laugh. It was done for fun. I really have no culinary skills whatsoever.

Brittany shares from her heart about Christopher

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, family, stella, video | 328 Comments »

Hello everyone!

Since the departure of my son Christopher to heaven, one of the questions I get asked the most is, “How is Brittany (Christopher’s wife) doing?”

In this video interview, we talk about that very question, and how she has put her trust in the Lord during this time. I think you will see why I dedicated my new book to her, “a courageous young woman of God.”

Let Brittany know what you think, as she’ll be reading your comments.

You belong to God

Friday, February 27th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, family, Pastor's corner, sermons, stella | 7 Comments »

So there was Paul in the midst of a tempest. Yet somehow, he had an amazing calm in the midst of this storm.

We too have our storms in life, and we wonder how to get through them.

Here are some of Paul’s secrets to surviving life’s challenges.

In Acts 27, Paul said, “For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me, and he said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul, for you will surely stand trial before Caesar! What’s more, God in his goodness has granted safety to everyone sailing with you” (Acts 27:23-24 NLT)

I pointed out in my last post that Paul realized God was with him. That gave him great confidence.

Now, here’s the second reason Paul could be strong in his storm.

He belonged to God

Again, Paul said, “Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me.”

Do you belong to Jesus? It can make all the difference.

Only the follower of Jesus Christ has this confidence. In the Song of Solomon, we read, “My beloved is mine and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16).

Over and over in Scripture, we are given the analogy of being in a relationship with God like that of a bride to a husband to whom she is deeply in love with. This reminds us of His affection and love  toward us.

But we are also given the analogy of a sheep belonging to a shepherd. In John 10, Jesus told us that He is “the good Shepherd and we are his sheep.” This reminds us of His constant care and awareness of our whereabouts.

It’s hard to be proud about being compared to a sheep. They are basically defenseless, vulnerable, dim-witted creatures. But when under the care of a loving shepherd, they are safe and content.

We are also given the analogy of a child to his father. Romans 8:15 reminds us, “For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba Father'” (NKJV). This reminds us of His tenderness and protection over each one of us.

My children have always had special access to me, as well as my total, unconditional love. That, of course, extends to my grandchildren as well.

When my granddaughter Stella sees me, she does not ask for permission to approach.  She just says “Papa!” and I stop what I’m doing and pick her up and hug her.

We are also told in Scripture that we are his very property. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “You are not your own” (NKJV). In the Greek, it is “You are not your own property. You are bought with a price.”

If something belonged to a king, it carried his seal. In the same way, 2 Corinthians 1:22 says, “He has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us” (NLT).

I read a story about an old gentlemen who known for his godly life. One day, someone asked him, “What do you do when you are tempted, old man?”

He replied, “I just look up to heaven and say, ‘Lord, your property is in danger.’ ”

Yes, we are His bride, children, sheep, and property. And when the Devil sees that “I.D. tag,” he respects it.

And just like Paul, we too can say, “I belong to God!”

This Sunday at Harvest

I will finally complete my messages from the Book of Acts this Sunday morning.

Sunday’s message is titled “The Beginning,” because the Book of Acts is a record of all that “Jesus began to do” (Acts 1:1).

You might say, in a sense, that new chapters are being written to this great book as the Church marches on.

Thursdays in Orange County

Don’t forget, our new Thursday night Bible study is launching soon in the O.C. For more info, click here.

My grace is sufficient for you

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, family, Pastor's corner, sermons, stella | 8 Comments »

You know the drill. Things are going well, no crisis, no conflicts to speak of, pretty much smooth sailing.

Then seemingly out of nowhere, a storm hits. Maybe it’s a crisis, or a hardship. Maybe it’s a personal tragedy.

So what do you do when a hurricane-force storm hits and water is filling your boat?

Answer: You take heart. Because you are not alone.

When Paul was at sea on his way to Rome and the mighty tempest hit him and the others on board, he was able to courageously encourage others. He told them, “But take courage! None of you will lose your lives, even though the ship will go down. For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me” (Acts 27:22-23).

God was with him

How was Paul able to be so confident?

He was conscious of the presence of God in the face of danger. He knew that God was there with him.

And God is with us in our storms as well. God will always give us what we need when we need it.

You remember that Paul had what he called his “thorn in the flesh,” which was presumably some kind of physical disability or illness. He asked the Lord three times to remove it (see 2 Corinthians 12).

God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9), which is another way of saying, “I will be with you, Paul. Instead of a healing, I will personally be there in a special and sufficient way.”

Now it is the Lord

A. B. Simpson wrote these words:

“Once it was the Blessing, now it is the Lord.

Once it was the Feeling, now it is His Word.

Once His Gifts I wanted, now the Giver alone.

Once I sought Healing, now Himself alone.”

God is with you right now, regardless of the storm or even the shipwreck. We may not hear an audible voice, but you may hear that “still small voice” of God’s Holy Spirit. Or He will speak to you through His Word.

Then you, like Paul, can reassure others that “the Lord is in control.”

Time and time again, God reminded Paul of His presence.

  1. He was there when Paul was in jail in Jerusalem, as Jesus told him to “be courageous!” (Acts 23:11)
  2. It happened in 2 Timothy 4:16-17 when Paul said, “All deserted me . . . but the Lord stood by me.”
  3. And it happened here in Acts 27, in the midst of the storm.

When the boss calls you in his office . . .

You can take heart in the face of danger or uncertainty because you are aware of God’s presence with you.

When your boss says, “I’m really sorry, but I’m going to have to let you go!” Or when the doctor says, “The test results are back and I need you to come in.” Or when the telephone rings and someone says, “There’s been an accident.”

You are not alone. The Lord is standing next to you. He cares. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

I have been teaching my granddaughter Stella a new Bible verse that I will leave you with today: “Jesus said, I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)

Weekend musings: Jonathan, Orange County, and scrambled eggs

Friday, February 13th, 2009 Posted in family, lost boy, Lost Boy Blog, questions, sermons, stella, video | 90 Comments »

Hey everyone,

Wow, the video I posted of Jonathan at Prestonwood has created quite a stir. It is really effective to show, especially to young people who were raised in the Church.

Jonathan is not a “public speaker,” per se, at this point. But I asked him to tell his story and he did so honestly and, I think you will agree, poignantly.

I will be going back to Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago later this month. James MacDonald, the pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel, spoke with Jack Graham from Prestonwood, and Jack told James that Jonathan ought to do this for our screening of Lost Boy: The Next Chapter there too.

So Jonathan will do this again next Saturday and Sunday in the Windy City. Be praying!

New weekly study in OC

We have also gotten a lot of very positive response to our new OC study that will be launching in the second week of March.

People are very interested in the study itself, as well as the web connection that we are going to roll out soon. So stay tuned on that.

For more info on that, click here.

“Surviving the Shipwrecks of Life”

I am almost done with my series in the Book of Acts that I have called Upside-Down Living.

This Sunday, I will speak on “Surviving the Shipwrecks of Life.” I hope the message will be an encouragement for many, as I seek to “comfort with the comfort I have been comforted with.”

How to Cook Eggs

OK, now from the sublime to the ridiculous.

As I have shared before, I only know how to scramble eggs and make quesadillas for Stella. People have asked me what my “recipe” for eggs is.

So, in a moment of wackiness and just for fun, we decided to video the whole process. Jonathan also makes a guest appearance.

So if you want to see it, here it is.

Check out our family Christmas card!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 Posted in family, holidays, stella | 47 Comments »

Hey everyone!

I wanted you to have a look at our family’s Christmas card for this year. Just click the images below to view the front and back of the card. Hope you enjoy it.

Greg