Well, the Harvest Crusades season has officially begun for me. Our outstanding Harvest Crusades team has been working hard behind the scenes for months now, but my more “official” part is now in full swing.
Today, our Harvest Crusades team is meeting with a few hundred pastors at Angel Stadium in Anaheim in preparation for our upcoming Southern California Harvest, August 15-17. I will tell you more about that really soon.
By the way, here is what the bumper sticker looks like for the Southern California Harvest:
To learn more about the Southern California Harvest Crusade, click here.
After that meeting, we fly out to Philadelphia. I have three objectives while I am there.
Objective #1: To speak to more than 300 pastors from the greater Philadelphia area at a breakfast sponsored by Christian radio station WFIL to encourage them in the work that God has called them to do. After all, pastors DO need encouragement! Registration is closed for the breakfast, but you can find out more about the event when you click here.
Objective #2: To speak in the evening to the people of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia. This is a large, vibrant church pastored by a good friend of mine, Joe Focht. My message title will be “What’s Your Story?” and it will focus on how we can more effectively share the gospel. To find out more about Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, click here.
Objective #3: I am determined to have a genuine Philadelphia cheesesteak! I have tried cheesesteaks in other parts of the country,and they just don’t compare to the original Philly version. As my friends on the East Coast say, “Forgetaboutit!” I like them with extra peppers!
These meetings are also to prepare people for our upcoming Greater Philadelphia Harvest at the Wachovia Center, October 3-5.
You can add these web banners to your own Web site to help promote the event. For more info on the Greater Philadelphia Harvest and to get a banner for your Web site, you can visit the Philly Web site by clicking here.
So please remember this trip in prayer. Thanks.
Last night, I told my life story at our Day 7 service at Harvest Christian Fellowship. To see that, click here.
It’s a story that will hopefully bring hope to those who feel the deck is stacked against them. I talked about how my mom was married and divorced seven times and I, conceived in between marriages, was illegitimate. I did not find this out until much later in life.
It’s rather disconcerting to find out that you are illegitimate. You find yourself asking, “Was I ever meant to be? Was my life an accident?” I became an angry young man.
I never had a father to guide me, for the most part, so I rebelled. My rebellion expressed itself in predictable ways, including getting in trouble with authority figures, drinking, partying and, in my case, drug use.
My older cousin Wayne, a psychologist, performed some tests on me when I was a teen and later reported, “There was a lot of anger in Greg and a lot of rebellion, although I don’t know if it was pathological or the normal family genes manifesting themselves. But all of us were a bit worried about the way this young man was going.” They had good reason to be.
Experts say that if you are a FATHERLESS CHILD, you are:
- 5 times more likely to commit suicide
- 32 times more likely to run away
- 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
- 9 times more likely to drop out of school
- 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
- 9 times more likely to end up in a state operated institution
- 20 times more likely to END UP IN PRISON.
Fatherless children have a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, suicide, poor educational performance, teen pregnancy, and criminal behavior. Not exactly a promising future.
But people’s destinies don’t have to be determined by their genes or their environment. Your future doesn’t have to be dependent on your past. There are no foregone conclusions.
We cannot change our past, but we don’t have to live in it either. The apostle Paul, formally the murderous Saul, had a lot to be ashamed for. Yet he wrote, “No, dear friends, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT).
Perhaps you were born out of wedlock, or your parents never had time for you. Know this — there are no illegitimate children in the eyes of God. Every one of us is LOVED! Even if you did not have a “hands-on” earthly Father, know that you have a Father in heaven who cares for you. God had a plan for my life, in spite of my inauspicious beginnings, and He has a plan for you.
You have His Word on it.
As you know, I am sharing my life story this Sunday night at Harvest at 6:00 P.M. We will also be showing a clip from the documentary film about my life, Lost Boy.
Here is a trailer for it. Check it out and let me know what you think!
The weekend has arrived!
I wanted to remind you again that I will be sharing my life story this Sunday night at our church. It will start at 6:00 P.M. PST, so if you can come and join us in person, please do. And if you come, let me know that you are one of my “blogging buddies!”
This service will also feature a clip from a documentary film about my life, called Lost Boy. It will all be webcast as well and archived for later viewing.
I will also be speaking Sunday morning from our new series in Acts that we are calling The Upside Down Life. The title of my message this Sunday morning is “Secrets of the Early Church, Part 2.” Among other things, I really want to focus on the place of worship in the early Church and how important it is for us today.
Also, don’t forget to check out my weekend article at worldnetdaily.com.
Hey, some more thoughts on preaching, if you please.
God can be known.
Jesus says, “In the volume of the Book I have come!” There are many ways God could have come to us.
He could have dropped down visual images like photographs or paintings to describe what He wanted people to Know. And certainly God speak to us, to some degree, through the testimony of NATURE. After all, Psalm 19:1 tells us, ” The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display his marvelous craftsmanship.”
But God has chosen to primarily make Himself known to us through preaching. As I quoted in my last entry, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the Message Preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21)
And again, Paul’s words to Timothy were, “PREACH THE WORD . . . ”
When Paul was on Mars Hill in Athens, Greece, He could have used DRAMA to make his points. After all, drama started there in Greece. He could have had someone present the gospel in “three acts,” or have it put to music.
No, He PREACHED to them, “Men of Athens!”
Music, drama, and the arts all have their place, but they are nowhere near the importance of the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.
I mentioned worship earlier, and the early Church certainly placed a premium on that. But we must be careful to not “worship” worship!
The reason I say this is because a couple of years ago, I saw one of those TV infomercials for a collection of worship songs (which I think is great). But what disturbed me about this particular commercial was that they had what seemed to be “testimonies” of people who talked about how “worship music” had gotten them through hard times in their lives, and “worship music” had done this or that for them.
Now, I know God can and will work through worship, but it is GOD who works in our lives. Perhaps that is why Martin Luther called MUSIC the “handmaiden of theology.”
Yes, worship has its place, but preaching still needs to be the priority of the Church today. I know this is true, not only because the Bible says it is, but also from personal experience.
I have had the privilege of teaching for 35 years in many places, ranging from great stadiums and arenas to small home Bible studies. I can tell you that it is God’s Word preached that touches lives.
Trust me when I say the last thing I ever wanted to become was A PREACHER. I was a cartoonist, a graphic designer. This was all I ever wanted to do. I was never a speaker in school; in fact, I dreaded speaking publicly.
But the first time I did it, I saw the power of God at work. My life was touched by the teaching and preaching of God’s Word, and I still am. Like I said before, I am a preaching junkie, and I listen to it all the time to it.
The arts have their place. Thank God for Christian musicians, designers, tech people, and all the rest. I love the arts and people who are gifted in this way. I count myself as one of them.
But one thing will never change: “It pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
Here is an example of that from an e-mail I recently received:
Dear Pastor Greg, Once again I just want to let you know how thankful I am for your program A New Beginning. I considered myself a lost sinner. I lived my life with regards to no one. Till one day in a prison cell in Chowchilla CA, I heard your message on A New Beginning and I prayed with you at the end of your message and for the next 3 years that I spent there I listen to you everyday. From that day on, even know I was inside a gigantic prison wall I felt free and I felt secure and protected by the LORD especially on those extremely hard days that I went through. Accepting the LORD was the best thing I ever did in my life. Thank you Pastor Greg for all of your support and prayers. May the GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST be with you and your listeners.
Thank you. Sincerely, Juliana.
That, folks, is why I do what I do.
Earlier, I mentioned that I love preaching. I would even have to say that I am something of a “preaching junkie!” Probably a poor choice of words, I know.
What I am trying to say is I love to hear the Word of God preached. Personally, I really like to listen to Chuck Swindoll’s program, Insight for Living, every day on my iPod nano, among others.
In some churches, preaching is seen as something that is outdated, from another time. But the early Church, the Church that changed the world, had lots and lots of preaching and teaching. Acts 2:42 tells us, “they continued in the apostles’ doctrine.”
If anyone could have wanted to live in their past, or rest on their laurels, it would have been these first-century Christians. After all, they had experienced the phenomenon of the Day of Pentecost together!
But they did not try to live in experiences, as wonderul as those can be when they happen. Instead, they concentrated on Bible study!
Why? Because they were indeed “Spirit-filled!” A Spirit-filled believer will be a Bible-studying believer. These believers studied and they preached to reach their culture.
Listen, PREACHING is God’s primary way of reaching lost people. The apostle Paul reminded us, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21 NKJV).
Yes, God can BE KNOWN and made known through preaching!
I have been reading a great little book called Why We’re Not Emergent (By Two Guys Who Should Be). It is written by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Gluck.
I found this quote in their book from a leader in the Emergent Church: “To say Scripture is the Word of God is employing a metaphor. God cannot be thought of as literally speaking words, since they are an entirely human phenomenon that could never prove adequate as a medium for the speech of an Infinite God.”
Another Emergent Church leader wrote, “Our words aren’t absolutes. Only God is absolute, and God has not intention of sharing His absoluteness with anything, especially words people have come up with to talk about Him.”
That could not be more wrong. God wants to be KNOWN by us.
The apostle Paul made knowing God his very life’s purpose. We should do the same.
Take time to study Scripture today and then look for an opportunity to “preach” it to someone who needs to hear it.
I love preaching. Yes, I know that I am a preacher, so you would expect that. But not all preachers necessarily love to preach. In fact, for some, it is something they dread (and it’s probably the same for those who have to listen to them).
But I love to preach, or tell others what the Bible says. To those of us called to this, He says:
“Preach the word of God. Be persistent, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching. For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to right teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever they want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:2-3 NLT)
The King James Version translates that last sentence as “They will have ‘Itching ears,” or literally, “an itch for novelty.”
That is such an accurate description of the times in which we are living today. People are always looking for something “new” and novel or something that will make them feel better about themselves.
But here is something to consider — If it’s new, it’s not true, and if it’s true, it’s not new!
We really don’t need something “new.” We need to get back to the Word of God.
Preach the Word Conference at Harvest
This is why we are doing the a special conference on preaching here at Harvest Christian Fellowship in November. It will be a call to return to Bible exposition, featuring some of the nation’s best Bible teachers.
Chuck Smith, Chuck Swindoll, John MacArthur, Alistair Begg, James Mcdonald, Jack Graham, James Meritt, and Bob Coy will all be speaking.
You will not want to miss this, if you are called to communicate God’s Word. You don’t have to be a “preacher,” per se, but someone who feels called to bring God’s Word to others.
You may be a pastor, Sunday School teacher, or lead a home Bible study. You qualify!
Thoughts on Preaching
I want to talk a bit about preaching for a few blog entries, but let me just say a couple of things today.
A preacher is to preach the Bible with conviction.
It’s been said, “If there is a mist in the pulpit, there will be a fog in the pew.” Some preachers think their job is to share their doubts, instead of their faith. You do not find this in the Bible.
We are to teach the Word as absolute truth without apology.
What is preaching?
Martin Lloyd Jones said it is “logic on fire!” In other words, preaching is theology coming through a man who is on fire!
Yet, there are some preachers who are so BORING! They can take dynamic passages and somehow drain them of life.
Some preachers are all content but no passion. Other preachers are all passion,but no content.
We need BOTH!
C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “There must be light as well as fire.” Some preachers are all light and no fire, while others are all fire but no light.
What we need is both fire and light! What do you think?
A few posts ago, I wrote about a few things that I don’t like, including cellphones and bad drivers. In another post, I talked about things I do like: good design, lattes, iPhones, etc.
Now, allow me to get a little bit more serious. Here is something I really like. In fact, it’s something I LOVE.
Oh, I know, it’s considered quite cool today to knock the church. Some don’t even want to go anymore, deciding instead to go their local espresso joint and talk about all the things that are wrong with the Evangelical Church. Instead, they can drink coffee and discuss the latest films, tunes, or the spiritual journey of Bono, Bob Dylan, and Johnny Cash and drink a little more coffee.
As much as I like the music of all of the above, I would rather go to church and worship and hear the Word of God taught, thank you very much, on Sunday.
When Jesus walked this Earth, he only started one organization, and it’s called the church. Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18 NLT).
Hypocrites in the Church
Some might protest, “But there are hypocrites in the church!” As I said in my last post, yes, there are, and there were hypocrites in the first-century church too. They had rivalries, heresies, and some pretty radical immorality. There was even a hypocrite among Jesus’ handpicked disciples (Judas Iscariot), so this is not unique to our time.
To help us understand this, Jesus told a parable about tares and wheat that grow side by side (Matthew 13:1-9). A farmer planted his crop of wheat. At night, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat. These weeds, or tares (what is known as the “darnel seed”) look exactly like wheat for most of the growing process until the end, when they literally uproot the wheat.
Jesus said this to point out that Satan has his “tares,” or fakes, out there, so just be aware of it. It is not for us to go out and uproot the tares; that is for God to do. We just want to make sure we are the “wheat,” or the genuine article.
Three surprises when we get to heaven
There will be three surprises when we get to heaven.
- A lot of the people we thought would be there, won’t be.
- A lot of the people we never thought would be there, will be.
- WE will be there!
Now, I am joking, because if you are a believer in Jesus, you can be confident you will be in heaven one day.
But know this: wherever there is the genuine, there will be the counterfeit. Satan would love you to see a few of those counterfeits and say, “That’s it, I’m not going to church anymore. There are just too many hypocrites!” Hey, don’t let that keep you away… There’s always room for ONE MORE!!”
Listen, ALL of us have been hypocrites at times. What is the definition of the word hypocrite, as used in Scripture? It is an actor, someone who pretends to be something they really are not.
We have all pretended to be more spiritual at times than we really are. I know I have. This is not an excuse for hypocrisy, just an explanation. We all want to pray that God helps us to be the “real thing” as we follow Christ.
The Church-many critics, no rivals
It really comes down to this: Jesus was committed to the Church, and we should be too! There is just nothing this world offers that is like the Church. The Church may have many critics, but no RIVALS!
And I’m proud to be a Christian and a member of the body of Christ, the Church.
How ’bout you?
You guys have been posting some great stuff on this blog and I want to thank you. I read all of them, and I love it when you are ministering to each other. That’s what it’s all about.
This Sunday at Harvest, I will continue my series on the book of Acts, and I will be speaking on “Secrets of the Early Church.” It will be webcast live at 7:45, 9:45, and 11:45 A.M, Pacific Time. It will also be archived for future viewing. To watch click here.
In this time when so many are quick to ether criticize or attempt to reinvent the Church, I thought it would be good to go back to “the original Greek,” so to speak. So I will be looking at the Church of the Book of Acts that turned its world upside down.
But there are hypocrites in the Church!
Sometimes people will say, “The reason I don’t go to church is because there are too many hypocrites!” Guess what? There were hypocrites in the first-century Church too, as we will see. They had rivalries, heresies, and some pretty radical immorality. There was even a hypocrite among Jesus’ handpicked disciples.
To help us understand this, Jesus told them a parable about tares and wheat that grow side by side (see Matthew 13:24-30). The two look exactly the same, until the time the tare actually uproots the wheat.
Satan has his “tares,” or fakes, out there, so we need to just be aware of it. Wherever there is the genuine, there will be the counterfeit.
Satan would love you to see a few of those counterfeits and say, “That’s it, I’m not going to church anymore. Too many hypocrites!”
So, let’s not let him prevail. Let’s all pray that God will help each of us to be a consistent witness and representative of Him to a watching world.
A couple of other things…
I have an article on the importance of prayer posted at WorldNetDaily. It’s called “Prayer: Your First (or Last) Resort.”
Here is our long-form weekend devotion as well.
God bless you all, and as Billy Graham always used to say at the end of his crusade telecasts, “And be sure to go to church on Sunday!”
I’m back in California. I had a great time at the Billy Graham board meeting. Billy spoke to all of us at dinner, and it was very touching.
I had some time to talk with him and I showed him a photo of my granddaughter Stella! What can I do, I am a hopeless grandfather!
I told Billy that Stella was named after my grandmother, who I lived with for many years. We called her “Mama Stella!” She was a wonderful lady and she, along with my grandfather “Daddy Charles,” took me to church every Sunday.
I remember daydreaming and drawing cartoons on the church bulletin and not being all that interested. But it was from her I first heard about Jesus.
We also used to watch Billy Graham on a TV set that looked something like this:
We would watch Billy Graham Crusades on TV. Funny thing, back then, Billy always reminded me of Marshall Dillon of the TV show Gunsmoke, which we also used to watch along with Bonanza.
Billy looked like this back then:
Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness, looked like this:
And I looked like this:
Ah, what memories! Of course, this will all be in my book, Lost Boy, and much more.
I also had an opportunity to tour the Billy Graham library again. I was deeply moved by it. You REALLY should go there some time. It would be well worth the trip.
I signed books for an hour and a half, and met people from all over North Carolina who listen to our radio program A New Beginning and/or watch our services (live or archived), as well as listen to podcasts.
I love the way we can all connect through new media! A few of them even read this blog!
Here are a couple of photos of Billy and me at the board meeting.