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Don’t worry, pray!

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons, travel | 4 Comments »

Why should we pray? There are many things I could say in response, but here is another reason why.

Prayer is the way by which God helps us to overcome our anxiety and worry.

We all know that life is full of troubles. We all struggle with concerns about our health, safety, family, finances, etc.

In light of that, what should we do? Answer: Pray!

It’s been said, “If your knees are shaking, kneel on them!”

God’s cure for worry

So, the next time you are suddenly gripped with worry, turn it into a prayer.

The apostle Paul reminds us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Peace guaranteed

Notice that Paul doesn’t say, “Pray about everything . . . if you do this, your problems will go away.” Rather, it says, “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.”

Now that is not to say that God cannot or will not remove your problem (or problems) because He sometimes does just that. But often, He will give us His strength and peace in the midst of the problem. In other words, we are able to put things into the proper perspective.

If you have a “Big God”–by which I mean that you see God for who He really is–you will have “small problems.”

It comes down to this:

  • Big God/small problems
  • Big problems/small God

This Thursday

I will speak more on this important topic on Thursday night in Orange County. For more info, click here.

Also, I will speak on the same topic this coming Sunday at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside. For more info on that, click here.

I am coming to NYC this weekend!

I am speaking in New York City this coming Saturday, September 19. I will be joining my friends Raul Ries, Bob Coy, and Mike Finizio for a spiritual growth conference called How to Walk.

For more info on that, click here.

Are you a praying person?

Monday, September 14th, 2009 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 5 Comments »

One of the clear marks of a true Christian is that they pray . . . a lot!

After his unexpected and radical conversion, the notorious Saul of Tarsus began to pray.In fact, when the Lord sent Ananias to go to him with words of encouragment, He said, “Behold, he is praying” (Acts 9:11).

Are you known as a person of prayer? The Bible tells us that we are to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

We should pray always

This verse tell us we should be praying with “all prayer.”

We use the word “pray” a lot. It is a pretty general term. But know this–you can pray publically and privately, verbally and silently. You can be kneeling, standing, sitting, laying down, or even driving. You can pray with your eyes open or closed!

You can pray anywhere!

The main thing is to pray! You can pray in any position, at any time, anywhere.

Sometimes we think that the Lord will hear our prayers better if they are prayed in a church building. But that is not necessarily true.

  • Daniel prayed in a lion’s den.
  • David prayed in a field.
  • Peter prayed in (and on) the water.
  • Jonah’s prayer was heard from the belly of a whale!

Surely God will hear your prayer wherever you are. The main thing is that you are “praying always.”

Don’t stop praying

The word “all” in this verse speaks of the frequency of prayer–morning, afternoon, and evening. We are to “pray without ceasing, for this is the will of God . . . ”

Daniel had enemies who set a trap for him because they knew he prayed. So what did he do after this decree was signed that no one could pray to God?

“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room, with its windows open toward Jerusalem. He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God” (Daniel 6:10).

Do your enemies know you pray? Let’s all look for opportunities to pray this week.

This Sunday at Harvest

Saturday, September 12th, 2009 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | No Comments »

This weekend, I am speaking on the topic of ”The Secret to Spiritual Growth, Part 2.”

Sometimes we wonder why some Christians are successful and other are failures. Why do some run the race of life and win, while others lose? Why do some succeed while others fail miserably?

It’s because of the hundreds of choices that we make every single day. We make our choices and our choices make us. We will talk about that together.

Service times at Harvest are 7:45 A.M., 9:45 .m., and 11:45 A.M. Come and join us or watch the live webcast online. Also, the 9:45 A.M. service will be broadcast live on KWVE (107.9 FM) in Southern California.

This and that

You might want to check out my column at WorldNetDaily. In this week’s article, I talk about Solomon. To read it, click here.

Finally, to read my long-form weekend devotional, click here.

The Secret to Spiritual Growth, Part 2

Thursday, September 10th, 2009 Posted in essentials, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | No Comments »

That is my topic tonight at our Bible study in Orange County, and also this Sunday morning at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside.

For more info on the O.C. study, click here.

We all want to experience spiritual growth and success. Sadly, we all know people who have been spiritual failures in life. Perhaps we regard ourselves that way.

Some have grown in leaps and bounds spiritually, while others have not grown at all. Some have done great things for God and His Kingdom, while others have done nothing.

You might say, “Well, Christianity just didn’t work for me!” Listen, Christianity is not a product that works for some and not for others. Plain and simple: Christianity is Christ. He can and will work in any life that is truly dedicated to Him.

G. K. Chesterton said, “Christianity has not be tried and found wanting. It’s been found difficult and not tried.”

Why do some succeed spiritually, while others fail? The short answer: Because they choose to.

They want it, so they go for it. Others don’t really want it, so they don’t go for it.

You might protest, “That sounds like you think living the Christian life is human effort.” I am not saying that. Scripture clearly says that it is not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by His mercy He has saved us (see Titus 3:5).

Work out your own salvation

But clearly there are some things that only God can do, and some things that only you can do.

Paul reminds us that we are to work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). That does not say that you should work for your own salvation but work out your salvation. Another translation says to “carry to the goal and fully complete with self distrust.”

The following verse explains it: “For it is God who works in you both to will and do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

We can work it out

As the Beatles famously sang, “We can work it out.” We need to work out what God has worked in. God enables us to do this, but we must also apply ourselves.

Let me say it again, there are some things only God can do, and some things only I can do.

Only God can save a person. Only God can forgive and forget our sins. Only God can change the human heart.

But at the same time, only I can believe. Only I can repent. Only I can follow. God will not do those things for me, as He has given me a free will to choose.

We will explore spiritual growth more in our message tonight and Sunday.

The Secret to Spiritual Growth

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, sermons | 7 Comments »

This Sunday at Harvest, I will be back in our Essentials series, speaking on “The Secret to Spiritual Growth.”

There are certain basics that every believer needs to practice in order to grow spiritually and have a successful Christian life. You do not “outgrow” your need for them, any more than you “outgrow” your need to eat, drink, and breathe.

Yes, these are indeed essentials.

We will also be showing a recap video highlighting what the Lord did in this year’s Southern California Harvest.

Our services are at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M.. Our second service is also broadcast live on KWVE (107.9 FM). You can also watch our live webcast, which will be archived for viewing later.

P.S. Thanks for all your kind comments about our Parables from the Beach series. There are more to come.

It kind of cracked me up how many of you commented on my pink shirt! :)

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!

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.