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Archive for December, 2009

Some New Year’s Thoughts

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 Posted in holidays, Pastor's corner | 9 Comments »

Is it just me, or did it seem like the year 2009 just sped by? And not only that, but we have another decade under our belt!

It seems the older you get, the faster time goes. When I was in elementary school, time seemed to crawl at a snail’s pace. Now, not only years go by quickly, but so do entire decades!

I read an interesting thing about what time it is in your life.

  • If your age is 15, the time is 10:25 A.M.
  • If you are 20, the time is 11:34 A.M.
  • If you are 25, the time is 12:42 P.M.
  • If you are 30, the time is 1:51 P.M.
  • If you are 35, the time is 3:00 P.M.
  • If you are 40, the time is 4:08 P.M.
  • If you are 45, the time is 5:15 P.M.
  • If you are 50, the time is 6:25 P.M.
  • If you are 55, the time is 7:34 P.M.
  • If you are 60, the time is 8:42 P.M.
  • If you are 65, the time is 9:51 P.M.
  • If you are 70, the time is 11:00 P.M.

I dont know where that puts you, but for me it’s about 8:00 P.M. The sad thing is that I have been known to get sleepy at 8:00 P.M.

Getting older

Now, believe it or not, getting older is not a depressing thought to me. I don’t wish that I was 21 or 31 years old again (though I would take my hair back).

That’s because each year has been an adventure, walking with Jesus Christ and watching His plan for my life unfold.

A time for change

The start of a new year is a great opportunity to make changes.

I heard about an interesting custom celebrated in Italy every New Year’s Eve. As the evening approaches, the streets are cleared. There is no traffic and no pedestrians. Even the policemen take cover.

Then, at the stroke of midnight, every house’s windows fly open to the sound of laughter, music, and fireworks. Each member of the family tosses out old dishes, detested ornaments, hated furniture and a whole catalog of personal possessions that remind them of something in the past year they are determined to wipe out of their minds.

Perhaps some of us need to do that as we say our final goodbye to 2009.

Some thoughts from the apostle Paul for 2009-2010

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. (Philippians 3:12-15)

The In-between Times

Monday, December 28th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, OC, Pastor's corner | 3 Comments »

This week is that classic in-between time before New Year’s Day,when Christmas is pretty much over, but the trappings remain.

Christmas trees being taken down, there are sales galore on all things holiday, etc. A lot of people are off of work, and it’s hard to get any business done.

It seems like we want to rush through times like this, but I have found those in-between times are sometimes the most fun. The hype of Christmas is done and the hype of the New Year is not quite here, so we can just relax for a bit and hopefully enjoy the moment.

In fact, God says to each of us, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). So don’t be in too much of a rush to get the new year and decade started. It will come soon enough.

Just enjoy the in-between moment.

Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:34 THE MESSAGE).

We are off this Thursday night

For those of you in Southern California, we are taking this coming Thursday, New Years Eve, off from our Orange County Bible study. But we will back in action on Thursday, January 7.

We will be joined for our 2010 kickoff (that sounds so futuristic, doesn’t it?) by Phil Wickham, an outstanding musical artist.

See you then.

Pray for Chuck Smith

Sunday, December 27th, 2009 Posted in Pastor's corner | 82 Comments »

Last night, Pastor Chuck Smith was taken to the hospital and had what was described by his doctor as a “mini-stroke.” His doctor expects him to make a full recovery.

Let’s remember this beloved man of God in prayer, that the Lord would touch, bless, and heal him.

Christmas in the Rear-view Mirror

Saturday, December 26th, 2009 Posted in encouragement, holidays, Pastor's corner | 11 Comments »

Well, it’s finally over.

I don’t know about you, but once the celebration of Christmas is completed, I am done. Frankly, I don’t personally want to see any more twinkling lights or hear any more holiday songs, especially ones about Santa and reindeer. I am quite content to put Christmas in the rear view mirror.

Now I have to admit, I have an ulterior motive for that personally. Honestly, for anyone who is suffering, Christmas is especially hard. If you have a loved one who is no longer with you, the celebration of Christmas only accentuates that sense of loss.

Christmas marks the passing of time

I am not exactly sure why Christmas causes such emotions. Perhaps it’s because so many December memories that you did not even know you had are activated.

But it is also because each Christmas is a marker of time. It is an indication that another year has passed.

I don’t know how 2009 was for you. Maybe it was a banner year. Maybe it was a difficult year. Maybe it was the hardest year of your life. Or perhaps it was a combination of some of those. Whatever it was, this year is almost gone, and soon it will be time to venture into another year.

So I say goodbye to the sad memories, as well as the happy ones, and I put Christmas in the rear-view mirror.

Looking ahead to Christ

But at the same time, I also look forward to what God has ahead for us all this coming year.

Let’s not forget the message we heard so many times this Christmas: Immanuel, God with us. We are not alone. The Lord will guide us this year, just as He did the last.

Yes, Christmas is in my rear-view mirror, but Christ Himself is front and center. And He is the One I am looking to this coming year.

How ’bout you?

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Friday, December 25th, 2009 Posted in sermons | 4 Comments »

May the Lord bless each and everyone of you as you celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ today.

I pray that you will be a radiant witness to family and friends. And remember to tell those that matter to you that you love them, especially your children and parents.

Christmas Eve in Orange County Tonight

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 Posted in holidays, OC, video | 6 Comments »

I am happy to announce that we will be having our first Christmas Eve service in Orange County, California, tonight at 7:00 P.M.!

This will be on the night when we have our normal O.C. Bible study, which has been going on for about eight months now. Did you know that more than 1,000 people have made professions of faith to follow Jesus Christ at this study? We thank God for that.

If you are in the Orange County area, let people know about our Christmas Eve service. For more information on the location and directions, click here.

We will also have Christmas Eve services at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside at 3:00 P.M., 5:00 P.M., and 7:00 P.M. For more information on those services, click here.

Here is a video preview for our Christmas Eve services:

The Reason for Christmas

Monday, December 21st, 2009 Posted in Parables, video | 3 Comments »

Video: During this week of busyness and last minute shopping, we should remember to focus on the true reason for Christmas.

“Christmas, B.C.” Part 2 this Sunday at Harvest

Thursday, December 17th, 2009 Posted in OC, Pastor's corner, sermons | No Comments »

It has been said that “History swings on the hinge of the door of a stable in Bethlehem.”

This coming Sunday at Harvest in Riverside, I will be speaking on the greatest story ever told.

I am speaking, of course, of the story I never tire of telling–the day that God came to this earth as a baby. Theologians call it “The Incarnation.”

There is also a lot of human drama in this story, as we read about Mary having the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world supernaturally conceived in her womb, and then having to break that news to her unsuspecting fiance, Joseph.

My objective is to strip away the layers of tradition and “religiousness” that diminish this powerful event, so we can see it in all of its unvarnished raw glory.

If you are in the area, come and visit us in person. Otherwise, you can watch one of our online services at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M., Pacific Time, at harvest.org.

Preaching to Bikers

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 Posted in family, holidays, Pastor's corner, photos | 7 Comments »

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Taking it to the streets! (photo by Jonathan Laurie)

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to preach to some bikers.

Many of them were not your “weekend warrior” wannabes like me, but real, genuine hardcore outlaw bikers. According to a police officer I spoke with, there were at least two “outlaw” gangs present.

Having said that, let me also say that they were one of the most attentive and respectful audiences I have ever spoken to!

Not only did I share the Christmas story, but also a gospel message. They stood quietly and took it in, and at the end, when I led those who wanted to accept Christ in a prayer, many of them responded.

We gave away some 250 New Believer’s Bibles that we had brought with us.

The joy on children’s faces

This was all a part of the Fred Jordan Mission’s annual toy drive, which is attended by thousands of generous bikers across the Southland. You could see the delight on the children’s faces as they were given toys and other gifts to brighten their Christmas.

This is the second year that I have gone, and I loved every minute of it! It rained pretty hard in the morning, but by the time our ride began, the roads were dry and clear.

So thanks for your prayers. And especially remember to pray for some of those bikers who hopefully made that commitment to Christ.

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My aunt, Willie Jordan. (Photo by Jonathan Laurie)


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Hangin' with the L.A.P.D. (Photo by Jonathan Laurie)


What’s in a Name?

Monday, December 14th, 2009 Posted in Parables, video | 3 Comments »

Here’s a new Christmas parable video: