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Archive for April, 2009

Sins against the Holy Spirit

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 Posted in essentials, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | 5 Comments »

Hey everyone!

Tonight, I am speaking in Orange County, California, with the next message in my series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. The title of my message is “The Holy Spirit and You.”

If you are in the O.C. tonight, please come and join us for fantastic worship from the Harvest Praise Band and a message from God’s Word.

Understanding the Holy Spirit

I think it is really important for us to better understand the person of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes people think of the Holy Spirit as more of an “It” than a “Him.” But according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit  is not only God, but He has a will, a personality, and can even be offended!

Sins against the Holy Spirit

There are six specific sins that can be committed against the Holy Spirt. Today, allow me to focus on one that can be committed by believers.

Grieving the Holy Spirit

One of the places in Scripture where we read about grieving the Holy Spirit is in Ephesians 4:29-32. The apostle Paul writes:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not grieve God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

To “grieve” means to make sad or sorrowful. It means to cause sorrow, pain, or distress.

But what makes the Holy Spirit sad or sorrowful?

1. Foul and abusive language makes the Holy Spirit sad.

Verse 29 says, “Don’t use foul or abusive language.” The word used here speaks of something that has gone “rotten.” This includes obscene Language, profanity, dirty stories, vulgarity, double entendres, etc.

When did it become “cool” for preachers to speak this way from a pulpit? This is thought of as being “real” and “authentic.”

Guess what? You are not to speak this way, privately or publicly.

How about being “authentically godly”?

2. Bitterness makes the Holy Spirit sad and sorrowful.

The definition of “bitterness” is “an embittered and resentful spirit that refuses to be reconciled.”

Some people just “like” to be mad. They live for conflict, arguing, and fighting. This, as with all sin, only gets worse if left unchecked and unrepented of.

The sad thing is that bitter people rarely want to keep it to themselves. Instead, they spread it around. The Bible speaks of “a root of bitterness defiling many” (see Hebrews 12:15).

I have a better idea–forgive!

More on this tomorrow.

Lost Boy documentary wins film festival award

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 Posted in lost boy, Lost Boy Blog, Pastor's corner | 13 Comments »

Hey everyone! Great news on the Lost Boy film!

We entered it in the 2009 Riverside International Film festival and it won! Lost Boy: The Next Chapter won the award for the Audience Favorite Documentary.

It is worth noting that hundreds of films were submitted to this festival from all around the world and few make the final,  judging round in each category. There is only one winner per category and Lost Boy: The Next Chapter won.

We wanted this film to have both artistic integrity and be a tool for the gospel. The exciting thing is that the gospel has been proclaimed through this film at this festival, before an audience that might not otherwise hear it.

We have also entered this film in other film festivals around the country.

Lost Boy: The Next Chapter was a labor of love

I had a great team of people who helped make this film a reality, starting with Dwight Thompson, the director. Dwight is a very talented filmmaker, and this was his first foray into the documentary film world. He did a wonderful job.

Special thanks also to go Pastor Paul Eaton for his production of the film, helping to bring it to completion.

Finally, my son Christopher was also an integral part of this project, as he did all the design, graphics, and type treatments.

Little did we know that his story would become a major part of this film, resulting in an entirely new version that has just come out. He was very excited about it and had seen some of the early screenings. He told people he had really enjoyed working on it and wanted to see God use it to touch people with the gospel.

And a book nomination

It is also worth noting that Outreach Magazine has nominated the Lost Boy book as its Outreach Resource of the Year in the Evangelism category. The awards, according to the 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.

More than awards

But more important than the awards is the ministry tool that this film has been. I have personally seen this story resonate with thousands of people around the country at screenings where I have given a message afterward.

We have seen hundreds and hundreds of people come to Christ through it. So we give God the glory for it.

You may want to order a copy of the just released DVD of Lost Boy: The Next Chapter. And if you would like to see it right now, just click here.

“It’s very hard to explain the Trinity!”

Saturday, April 25th, 2009 Posted in sermons | 8 Comments »

Hey everyone!

I am back in my series Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know this Sunday at Harvest. My topic will be “The Holy Spirit and You.” I hope you can attend or check out the webcast.

Here is an excerpt from my message in which I will talk about the Trinity.

The Triune nature of God

The Bible teaches there is one God. Yet, the Bible also teaches that the “One God” is a Trinity, not three but still one God.

The New Testament clearly distinguishes three Persons who are all simultaneously active. They are not merely modes or manifestations of the same Person.

The Father is not the same Person as the Son. The Son is not the same Person as the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is not the same Person as the Father.

Three-in-One

There is one God, and this one true God exists in three co-equal and co-eternal Persons.

They are not three Gods and nor three Beings. They are three distinct Persons, yet they are all the one God.

They are in absolute perfect harmony, consisting of one substance. They are co-eternal, co-equal, and co-powerful.

You can’t really explain it

If we could fully explain God, then we could fully explain the Trinity,
but we can’t fully explain either. As it has been well said, “Try and explain this, and you’ll lose your mind; but try to explain it away, and you’ll lose your soul!”

John MacArthur on “Profanity in the Pulpit,” and my two cents

Friday, April 24th, 2009 Posted in essentials, Pastor's corner, Preach the Word, questions, sermons | 12 Comments »

John MacArthur, one of the greatest preachers alive, is always willing to speak his mind about what the Scripture teaches. I have many of his volumes in my library and am honored to count him as a friend.

In addition, John was one of the featured speakers at our recent Preach the Word Conference.

He recently posted an article on the topic of the frank discussion of sex in the pulpit and more that caused quite a stir. This article was brought to my attention, and I was asked my position on what he said.

My response was that I am in complete agreement with it. In fact, I wrote a similar blog post on the topic about six weeks ago.

So, here is that article for you to read again.

Reverence or Relevance?
March 11th, 2009 Posted in Pastor’s corner, sermons
It seems to me that for some we have lost the “fear of the Lord,” even in the Church.

There was a time when things were perhaps too uptight, and one spoke in whispers in the Church, and laughter was rarely heard. But today, many churches, in their attempt to be thought of as “cool” or “contemporary,” they have lost their focus.

I am not suggesting we attempt to be irrelevant and uncool, but my question is “Have we traded reverence for relevance?”

For instance, you have preachers talking in great detail about sexual issues, ranging from programs to have “sex every day for seven days” to more extreme versions in which they speak very graphically about specific sexual acts from the pulpit.

The cussing preacher

Then you have the “Cussing Preacher” syndrome. The pastor thinks it’s cool to use profanity in the pulpit so people will see him as one of them.

Is this all really necessary? I don’t think so.

Look, I have been a pastor for 35 years, and we have never had a problem reaching our culture and seeing people come to Christ. I am all for being real and authentic, but I also stand up on the platform to speak God’s Word.

1 Peter 4:11 says, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God” (NIV).

We are also told in Scripture to watch what we say. Speaking of the tongue, James writes, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who are made in God’s likeness. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:9-10 ESV).

The early Church had it right

The early Church, the Church of the book of Acts, had it right, of course. And let’s not forget they “turned their world upside down” (see Acts 17:6). Do we ever need that today!

These first-century believers were filled with both joy and the fear of the Lord.

Acts 2:46-47 tells us, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (NKJV).

This phrase “gladness and sincerity of heart” literally means “with unaffected joy!” I love that–they were not afraid to express joy in their faith.

But there also was a sense or reverence and awe among these believers.
Acts 2:43 says, “Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (NKJV).

What is the fear of the Lord?

It does not mean you should be afraid of God. To fear God means that you have a healthy respect or reverence for Him. Another translation describes it as “a wholesome dread of displeasing God.” In other words, I love God so much that I want to do all I can to keep from displeasing Him.

Look, I am all for relevance. We need to make sense to the people we are reaching. But let’s not lower our standard in order to extend our reach.

Let’s not trade reverence for relevance.

I think for us to seek to live godly lives is very relevant, and very different than what this world has to offer. That’s how we will turn our world upside down, instead of the world turning us upside down.

Why I do what I do

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 Posted in essentials, Harvest Crusades, Pastor's corner, sermons | 7 Comments »

People sometimes ask me why I do what I do.

Simple answer. I believe what the Bible says.

I don’t say that to boast, because God has given me that faith, just as He has given you. But I do believe with all of my heart the following things:

  • Life comes and goes very quickly.
  • Life is “a vapor of smoke,” as the Bible says.
  • There really is an eternity, and both heaven and hell.
  • Only those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ will go to heaven.
  • I need to tell that to as many people as possible.

Now that is not all that I believe, but those are some big truths that are at the forefront of my heart and mind.

I recently received this e-mail from Lisa in Philadelphia, where we held a Harvest Crusades event last year, that illustrates why it is important to preach the gospel:

“Where do broken hearts go, can they find their way home?” The answer is YES, if you go home to Jesus. Back to loving arms that help you see it through.

My younger brother went to sleep one night and never woke up. He was 23 years old and had just graduated from college. He moved to Philadelphia after he graduated to take a break before he would go on to fullfill his dream of becoming a pilot.

I found out the Harvest Crusade was coming to Philadelphia. My younger brother gave his life to the Lord and exactly one month later, God called him home on November 3, 2008.

My brother lives today because of this ministry, and yes, we do have a broken heart because he is gone but he is in the arms of Jesus and that’s where I will meet him again.

Amen to that Lisa. You will see your younger brother again in heaven, because of what Jesus did for him on the cross, when He died and rose again from the dead.

I am speaking tonight in the O.C.

Speaking of the resurrection, that will be my topic tonight in O.C. at our Bible study. My message is from our Essentials series and the title is “What the Resurrection of Jesus Means to You.”

I hope all of you in the Orange County area can come and be part of this. For more info, click here.

I will be on TBN live tonight around the world

Before tonight’s study, I am going to tape a interview at the TBN studios that will be aired on their Praise the Lord program, which is seen around the world.

You can view it if you get TBN on your antenna, cable or satellite system. The program starts at 7:00 P.M., Pacific Daylight Time.

Walt Disney and the Church, Part 2

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 Posted in encouragement, Pastor's corner | 2 Comments »

Despite the fact that the odds were against them, the believers in the first-century Church pressed on. And they succeeded magnificently.

About 200 years after the birth of the Church, an early church father named Tertullian made this statement about the impact of the gospel: “We have filled every place among you, cities, islands, fortresses, towns, marketplaces, the very camp, tribes, companies, palaces, the senate, the forum. We have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods.”

Don’t you love that? Tertullian is saying, “There is no stone that has been left unturned. There isn’t one little crevice or corner where the gospel has not gone. We have invaded your culture.”

And as you look back, you see that the Roman Empire eventually crumbled, while the message of Christ spread across the world.

We have that same task before us today. We need that “stick-to-it-ivity” of the early Church.

The Magic Kingdom

Walt Disney was an optimist. He loved to bring fairy tales and children’s stories to life, like Pinocchio, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mary Poppins, and many others. These stories resonate with us because, deep down inside, we all want to “live happily ever after.”

Here is the good news: Jesus Christ will one day return to earth and establish His Kingdom. Then, and only then, will we really “live happily ever after.” Until then, we are to preach the gospel and try to impact our culture.

Walt Disney left us the Magic Kingdom in Disneyland, and it has entertained millions. Walt was driven to reach his goals, but as wonderful as many of them were, they pale in comparison to what the Church is called to do.

Jesus has left us with the task of preaching the gospel of His Kingdom. There is no more important thing than that.

And yet, far too often we listen to the naysayers and don’t think we can succeed. Look at what Disney accomplished. Can we not do even more? We are bringing the Eternal Kingdom that will last forever.

Yes, the odds are against us, but remember that God is for us! And if God is for us, who can be against us?

Walt Disney and the Church

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009 Posted in Pastor's corner | 8 Comments »

I have been reading an interesting book titled How to Be Like Walt by Pat Williams. It’s the story of how Walt Disney impacted the culture and world.

Today, we take a place like Disneyland for granted, but Disney made the place a reality against all odds.

He started in animation and constantly adapted the latest technology to reach a broader audience and always proved the critics wrong. He brought sound and color to animation and redefined the genre, introducing the first full-length animated motion picture, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Disney moved on to live action films and had success after success. He then began to envision a place where families could come into a clean, safe environment, and visit the world of yesterday and tomorrow. The result was Disneyland and later Disney World.

It was said that Walt Disney had “One foot in the past and the other in the future.” He loved nostalgia, patriotism, hard work, values, and the idea of living a life of integrity and honor. He also loved to dream of what could be, and, unlike many, most of his dreams became reality.

Walt was constantly told it could not be done, and that only spurred him on. He had, according to this book, a ”stick-to-it-ivity.”

There is a lot the church can learn from Disney

The odds are against us. We have our marching orders from Jesus to “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” And we live in such a dark world today that we wonder if we can really make a difference.

Consider this: the Church of the first century had it really hard too. Their world in that day, as with our world today, was messed up, big time!

We think conditions are bad in the twenty-first century (and indeed they are) but the world of the first century wasn’t a walk in the park, either. In fact, it was a most difficult time and place to bring the gospel.

Believers in those days lived under the iron fist of the godless and powerful Roman Empire. Immorality was rampant, divorce widespread, slavery the order of the day, and infanticide a regular practice. In city after city, prostitutes walked the streets and plied their trade openly.

The religious establishment of the day was corrupt to the core. Thousands of people openly practiced idolatry, spiritism, and outright demon worship. Temples erected to false gods stood on seemingly every corner.

What’s more, everywhere the believers went bringing the gospel message, they were harassed, ridiculed, physically assaulted, imprisoned, or—in some cases—put to death.

Yet within three decades, those original 120 disciples had multiplied and changed the world. They had a call to fullfill, a task to complete, and they “stuck to it.”

So what can we learn from them? More on this tomorrow.

Weekend musings

Friday, April 17th, 2009 Posted in family, lost boy, Lost Boy Blog, OC, Pastor's corner | 4 Comments »

We had a great night at our O.C. Bible study with the showing of the newest version of Lost Boy: The Next Chapter.

I am actually taking a break right now, so I wasn’t there at the showing. But some 1,400 people came, saw the film, and heard a testimony from my son Jonathan and a message by my friend Levi Lusko.

BTW, if you want to view the film, you can do so for free by clicking here. It is also available to purchase on DVD for ministry use here.

This Sunday

I will be gone this Sunday, so Levi will be speaking at Harvest at all three morning services.

Levi is only in his 20s, but has been gifted by God as a very effective Bible teacher and evangelist. Only a couple of years ago, he planted a new church in Montana called Fresh Life Church that has exploded in growth and is touching many people.

I know you will be blessed if you tune in to the webcast or hear Levi Lusko in person.

New Web site

A lot of you have responded to the news of our upcoming new Web site rollout, especially the new women’s microsite that will be called Virtue. It won’t be long before both sites are live. I will keep you posted.

A few more thoughts on discipleship

Yesterday, I mentioned that I had just completed a new book on discipleship. Here is another excerpt from it for you to peruse.

Foundational to discipleship is loving God more than anyone or anything else. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26). A statement like that sounds shocking. But as we balance this verse with other Scripture, we know clearly Jesus is not commanding the hatred of people, especially members of our own family. Why would God tell us to honor our fathers and mothers and also demand that we hate them? Jesus even told us to “love [our] enemies” (Matt. 5:44), so we need to get the big picture here.

In context, Jesus was not saying we should hate people, per se. Essentially He was saying that we should love God more than anyone or anything else—so much so that our love for those people or things would seem like hatred in comparison.

Jesus was basically saying, “If you want to be my disciple, then love me more than anyone or anything else.” It makes perfect sense when you think about it. If you want to live your Christian life to its fullest, then love Jesus more than anyone or anything else.

People have been kept back from following Jesus by their fear of what others might think.  They know that if they give their life to Christ, they will lose a lot of so-called friends. If they give their life to Christ, it would mean the end of a relationship. If they give their life to Christ, it would cause friction in their home. That is what holds them back. But Jesus says, “If you really want to be my disciple, you must love me more than anyone or anything else.”

Here is what it comes down to: You either will have harmony with God and friction with people, or you will have harmony with people and friction with God. If you are living the way that God wants you to live, then it is going to seriously bother some people. You need to know that. Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” (Luke 6:26 NIV). If you are really a follower of Jesus Christ and living as you ought to, there are going to be certain people that don’t like you for that reason alone. Don’t be hurt by that. Understand it is par for the course. As Jesus said, “ ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20 NIV).

A disciple loves God more than anyone or anything else.

Lost Boy in the O.C. and Riverside

Thursday, April 16th, 2009 Posted in family, lost boy, Lost Boy Blog, OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | 3 Comments »

Hey everyone!

I wanted to let you know that we are showing the newly-edited, full-length documentary film Lost Boy: The Next Chapter tonight at our Thursday night O.C. Bible study. It will be followed by a testimony from my son, Jonathan Laurie.

In an e-mail to some of our O.C. community, Jonathan wrote:

You’re probably asking yourself how the son of Greg Laurie wasn’t a Christian his whole life, or what it took for me to gain this eternal perspective. Well, you will have to come on out this Thursday night to find out!

I encourage all of you in the Orange County area to do just that tonight!

Lost Boy at film festival

The Lost Boy documentary is also being featured at the Riverside International Film Festival. It is one of 120 films, including full-length features, documentaries and shorts from more than 30 countries, that will be screened at the festival.

Lost Boy: The Next Chapter will be shown next Tuesday at 6:30 P.M., at the Regal Cinemas Riverside Plaza Stadium 16. This is the first film festival that will be showing Lost Boy and we are honored to be included.

It is our hope that the light of Jesus Christ will shine in this setting through our story.

New book on discipleship

I have just put the finishing touches on a new book on discipleship that will be coming out soon. Here is an excerpt from it:

It is my conviction that every disciple is a believer, but not every believer is necessarily a disciple. Anything short of discipleship is settling for less than what God desires. Jesus clearly calls all believers to be disciples. But when we fail to respond to His call, we fall short of His perfect will and miss out on living the Christian life as it was truly meant to be lived.

What we often perceive as the Christian life is, in many ways, not what the Bible really teaches. We need to ask ourselves whether we are living the Christian life as it was meant to be lived. Is your life challenging? Exciting? Does it have purpose and direction? Or do you find yourself depressed and afraid? If your Christian experience is dull, unfulfilling, or even boring, then it is time to seriously examine the statements of Jesus concerning discipleship.

Ray Stedman wrote, “The chief mark of the Christian ought to be the absence of fear and the presence of joy. We have often quoted the description of a Christian as one who is: completely fearless, continually cheerful, and constantly in trouble. It is that presence of joy and absence of fear that marks our genuine Christianity and proves that we really are what we claim to be.”

That is what the world needs more of today: Christians who are full of joy and completely fearless. In short, we need disciples.

As they say in those old Looney Tunes cartoons, “That’s all (for now), folks!”

What Easter Means to You

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009 Posted in essentials, video | 1 Comment »


What Easter Means to You from harvest.org on Vimeo.