With the beginning of a new year, it’s inevitable that resolutions are always made. How many of you have made them?
Among the top resolutions this year are to get in shape, lose weight, get more organized, read more good books, and spend more time with family and friends. The problem is sometimes we are not realistic in our resolutions.
Here are some resolutions made by some people over the years that had to be realistically changed with the passing of time.
Commit myself to reading more
- 2003: I will read at least 20 good books a year.
- 2004: I will read at least 10 books a year.
- 2005: I will read five books a year.
- 2006: I will finish Greg’s new book this tear.
- 2007: I will read some articles in the newspaper this year.
- 2008: I will try and finish the comics this year.
Commit myself to losing weight and getting in shape
- 2001: I will get my weight down below 170.
- 2002: I will watch my calories until my weight is below 200.
- 2003: I will follow my new diet until I get below 220.
- 2004: I will try to develop a more realistic attitude about my weight.
- 2005: I will work out five days a week.
- 2006: I will work out three days a week.
- 2007: I will work out one day a week.
- 2008: I will drive past a gym at least once a week.
Commit myself to getting my finances in order.
- 2004: I will pay off my bank loan promptly.
- 2005: I will pay off my bank loans promptly.
- 2006: I will be totally out of debt by next year.
- 2007: I will try to pay off the debt Interest by next year.
- 2008: I will try to be out of the country by next year.
Make a stronger spiritual commitment
- 2004: I will go to church on Sundays and Wednesdays, and get involved in the men’s or women’s Bible study.
- 2005: I will go to church on Sundays and some Wednesdays.
- 2006: I will go to church on Sundays.
- 2007: I will listen to Christian teaching programs on my way to work.
- 2008: I will read Greg’s blog when I think about it.
Most of us have made them and we quickly adjust as reality sets in. Does that mean that it is a bad thing to make resolutions or commitments? No, because if we continue to “lower the bar,” we will sink into stagnation at best and full-blown sin at worst.
We need to have goals, objectives, and things we shoot for in life. No, we must constantly be seeking to grow, learn, deepen, and obey.
Here are the words of the apostle Paul after years of walking with God:
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. I hope all of you who are mature Christians will agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. (Philippians 3:13-15 NLT).
So let’s resolve to get closer to God in 2009!
What a night! We premiered the new version of the Lost Boy film that we are now calling Lost Boy: The Next Chapter last night at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.
It was like a homecoming of sorts, as Calvary is where I first went to church, and that is prominently dealt with in the film. We had a lot of family there and saw a lot of old friends too. Pastor Chuck Smith was there and gave a gracious introduction to the film, and I spoke briefly afterward.
I was told that the facilty was packed not only in the main sanctuary, but in the overflow venues as well. I gave an invitation for people to come to Christ and we saw some 150 respond.
It was truly a glorious night!
More Lost Boy: The Next Chapter showings coming!
This new version of the documentary will be shown this Wednesday (New Year’s Eve) at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside.
In the next couple of months we will also be showing this film in San Diego, California; Dallas, Texas; and Chicago, Illinois. So stay tuned to this blog for more information.
Cathe Laurie speaks
A lady named Jennifer wrote me recently on this blog about some problems she was having in her marriage, so I asked my wife if she would respond. So here is the original letter and Cathe’s response.
I grew up with a strong faith. I moved away from that in high school. Now in my late 20s, God is calling me back.
I was married this year, and it is not going as I imagined. I have never lived in a world with so much arguing and misery. I have never prayed so much in my life, and I’ve never asked for so many prayers.
With all of the battles that I’m fighting, my biggest prayer is that God will use to me to show my husband that there is hope and happiness in life.
Your morning program is the first step I took in coming back to my faith. Some days, your words bring me to tears on the way to work because it’s a small glimmer of hope that God is talking to me.
Life is not good right now, but I have hope that things will be okay. I know that God is the only one that can help me through this and I can only keep praying that my husband will come with me.
For anyone reading this, I ask for your prayers. I know my story is small, compared to Greg’s story of losing his child, but it’s still a struggle that I will keep fighting. I know that God will use this trial in my life to be stronger, more loving and a testament to someone else, but most importantly, hopefully my husband.
Thank you for your morning program. It helps to keep hope alive in my head.
Cathe Laurie responds:
My heart, along with Greg’s, go out to you in your painful circumstances. Marriage isn’t easy, even when both parties are believers, so let me encourage you, don’t give up! Yes, there is more than a glimmer of hope that God is talking to you and wants to help you through this.
I know from what you write that you imagined a happy, fulfilled life with your husband. But happiness is not possible apart from the Source of true happiness. When you moved away from your faith in high school, you sought to realize your dream apart from the Lord and His plan for your life. That was not possible, but here is the good news, through this pain you have come back to the only One who can help you. His arms are open wide to anyone who comes seeking His forgiveness and help.
The first thing you need to do is pray specifically that God would begin by changing you. This will happen as you shift the focus of your search for happiness from seeking other things to seeking God. Put Him first in your life. He is your peace, your joy and your greatest love.
Reading God’s Word and filling your mind with His precepts you will discover the right way to live with and love your husband. Listening to Christian radio is a start, but nothing can replace your own daily study and devotion time with God.
The second thing that is very important is to get involved in a church. We can help you find one if you let us know where you live. You will find that God will instruct and encourage you through a pastor and the support and fellowship of other believers.
Lastly, know that God has much to say to a young wife in your situation. 1 Peter 3:1-6 gives you a good place to start. You can show your husband by the way you live that he too can discover the joy and peace that only comes from God. This takes time, so be patient with him, and remember how God was patient with you. You have every reason to hope God will use you as you begin to live out what you are learning.
May God be your strength and joy today,
Whew! Well, we survived Christmas!
I have to admit that this was a very tough time for us, as we observed what was always one of my favorite times of the year without our our firstborn son. I was warned by others who have had loved ones die that the “first” everything is hard.
Interestingly, when I focused on the essential message of Christmas, I appreciated it more than I ever have. That message being that Jesus came to be born, die, and rise again from the dead.
But as for all of the rest (shopping, gatherings, etc.), it was very hard because we had so many, many memories of our son. Many of you have written me and spoken about your own pain during this time of the year. Please know that I am with you on that.
I was very encouraged by your blog entries and prayers, as well as the many people I encountered when I was out and about. Thank you for your kind words and prayers!
But frankly, I’m glad Christmas is finally over. Now, onward and upward!
Lost Boy at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa this Sunday night!
As I mentioned before, Lost Boy, the documentary film of my life, is going to premiere at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa this Sunday.
By the way, the book Lost Boy has been nominated for Outreach Magazine’s Outreach Resource of the Year in the Evangelism category.
The awards, according to Outreach Magazine, are meant to celebrate and encourage excellence in resources designed specifically to help the church reach out in areas such as evangelism, compassionate service, and cross-cultural ministries locally and worldwide. The winner will be announced in the spring.
I’m just thankful this book and film have been tools that believers can use to reach out to their friends.
Anyway, back to the Lost Boy movie
We have gone back to the editing bay and added quite a few new elements to it, including new photos of my Mom (supplied by my Aunt Willie) that we recently came across from her “Marilyn Monroe” period. Also included is film footage from this year’s Harvest Crusades events in Philadelphia and Anaheim.
We also went back into the studio and completely re-shot the ending. I told the story of Christopher’s sudden departure to heaven.
Lost Boy: The Next Chapter
So we are calling this new version Lost Boy: The Next Chapter.
My son Christopher was very involved in this project, doing all the graphics and giving me a lot of input on it overall. He spoke to many about his personal excitement in seeing God use this film to touch others.
Now it’s his story too. For when it’s all said and done, it’s the story of redemption in my life, as well as the life of my son.
If you are in the Southern California area, please join us for this special showing at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa this Sunday night at 7:00. I will also be speaking after the film.
That’s all for now.
Merry Christmas to all of you!
It is rather cold for Southern California today, with rain off and on. So we are inside with our fireplace actually on!
I have been listening to Michael W. Smith’s Christmas CD (that we made available to all of you too) and have really enjoyed it. Later, we are going to have cheese fondue for lunch with our family!
Needless to say, it’s a sad day for us, as this is our first Christmas without our son Christopher.
I have to tell you, Topher loved Christmas! It was always a big deal to him as a little boy, and when he became a father, he wanted it to be a big deal for his daughters. He always was so thoughtful in his choice of gifts and often made them by hand, which was always a special treat for me. He also had fantastic “wrapping skills,” which I am completely devoid of.
Christmas in heaven
On that first Christmas night, when the angels made their announcement to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks, came this good news: “Then the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.'” (Luke 2:10)
This is how heaven celebrated the first Christmas. On this holy night, in effect, heaven momentarily came to earth.
Heaven is a heartbeat away.
In a sense, heaven and earth are always co-existing, but sometimes they can seem worlds apart and other times separated by only a thin veil. When tragedy hits, when illness prevails, heaven can sometimes seem distant.
But when we join the angels in worship, and see God in His greatness, heaven can seem so very, very close.
For us as believers, we are just a heartbeat away from heaven right now. As David put it, “There is but a step between me and death.”
Christmas in heaven is better than Christmas on earth.
As I said, this is my first Christmas on earth without Christopher. It’s been hard, because I am so programmed to go and find something for him. I still see things and think, “Christopher would like this,” or “I wish Christopher could see this!”
Then I remind myself, this is Christopher’s first Christmas in heaven! But then I wonder if he is not in heaven, saying, “Dad would like this!” Or if he is saying, “I wish my wife,daughters,brother mom and dad could see this!”
For my son,this is the most blessed Christmas ever. As Mercy Me sings, “I can only imagine.”
It is pure bliss. Not twinkling lights, but the radiant light of heaven itself. Not metal angels on trees, but real, holy angels of God all around.
You see, in heaven there is peace. On earth there is war. In heaven there is perfect harmony. On earth there is often friction among family and friends. In heaven, feasting and perfection. On earth there is fattening food and expanding waistlines.
Let your family know you love them.
We are not there yet. So we don’t need to sorrow for our loved ones who are celebrating Christmas in heaven, but we do sorrow for ourselves over their absence.
Today, however, remember to let the ones on earth you love know it. Tell them verbally. Because you never know if you or I or someone we hold dear might be in heaven next Christmas.
So have a blessed and Merry Christmas day.
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas Eve, I thought I would tell you a story. It’s a story about one of the most beloved of all the Christmas songs we sing this time of the year.
Christmas Eve services at Harvest
Speaking of Christmas Eve, we will be having live services at Harvest today.
Our Christmas eve services will be at 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. It will be a musical retelling of the story of the birth of Jesus. I will also share a brief message to help us focus on the real “reason for the season.”
These services will be webcast live and will be available in our archives. You might want to watch this service as a family.
The sadness of the holidays
One of the most familiar songs we hear during the holidays is “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the story behind it is interesting.
In 1860, Longfellow was at the peak of his success as a poet. Abraham Lincoln had just been elected President, giving hope to many.
But things soon turned dark for America and for Longfellow personally. The Civil War began the next year, and Longfellow’s wife died in a tragic accident in their home. Longfellow suffered severe burns on his hands and face while trying to save his wife.
He was so badly burned that he could not even attend her funeral.
Sorrow at Christmas
In his diary for Christmas Day 1861, he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.” In 1862, the toll of war began to mount, and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.”
In 1863, his son–who had run away to join the Union army–was severely wounded and came home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.
A new Christmas song is born
Longfellow wanted to pull out of his despair, so he decided to try to capture the joy of Christmas in verse. He began:
I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.
As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, goodwill to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother, and father against son?”
God is not dead
But he kept on going, and wrote in the sixth stanza:
And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said:
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men.”
But then, catching an eternal perspective and the real message of Christmas and Christ Himself, he wrote in the final stanza:
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”
That’s right, “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep!”
If you want a blessed Christmas Eve tonight, focus on that.
I have always believed in the promise of Christmas. There has always been something special to me about this time of the year, going back to my earliest days of childhood.
What is it that we love about Christmas, once we get past the initial trappings?
I think it is the sense of wonder, beauty, and anticipation. It is the music, the look of surprise on a child’s face, and the amazing food. It’s the companionship of family and good friends. It is also the absence of strife and meanness (that is, with the exception of the crowds on “Black Friday” at Wal-Marts in New York state).
Does Christmas deliver on its promises?
But how often does Christmas really deliver on its promises? A little bit here and there, but by and large, it ends up being the endless drone of mind-numbing ads on TV.
It is the friction and pressure that comes when we are obligated to purchase gifts for people we barely know. It is the expectation put on us by others and sometimes even ourselves.
The post-Christmas letdown
Then there is that big post-Christmas letdown. The letdown of expectations that can never really be met.
We were not able to give what we really wanted to give, or what they really wanted to receive. Or you yourself did not get what you had hoped for. Then there are those bills that come due . . .
Christmas at its worst
So what is Christmas at its worst? It is a crass, commercial, empty, exhausting, and very expensive ritual that drags on endlessly for months at a time.
Christmas at its best
What is Christmas at its best? It is a glimpse of things to come–the beauty, the worshipful music, the adoring angels, the love, the warmth, the promise, the hope . . . all things promised to us in a life to yet come.
You see, Christmas is a promise. It is a promise that has not yet been fully kept.
Christmas cannot be all that we want it to be. It’s only a holiday. Christmas cannot bring harmony to your home. Christmas cannot bring peace on Earth. Christmas cannot bring happiness.
But Christ Himself can do all of this and more. That is really what we are longing for deep inside.
- Not Christmas, but Christ.
- Not merriment, but the Messiah.
- Not goodwill, but God.
- Not presents, but His presence.
Anything or anyone short of this will disappoint. But God never will.
That’s what I want for Christmas–Jesus Christ.
So Merry Christmas!
Here’s a new cartoon I just did for you!
You might notice that the character in the category “You become Santa Claus” looks a lot like me! I guess the final phase, “You look like Santa Claus’ is what I will look like in the future!
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 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.