In 2009, a Barna poll revealed that Americans are more interested in faith and spirituality than they are in Christianity.
Barna said that Americans increasingly want to shape their own faith experience, in his words, “concoct[ing] a uniquely personal brand of faith.”
“What they’ve done is they have put together a whole series of beliefs and a series of religious practices and a series of relationships and connections–all of that that makes sense to them and helps them to feel good about themselves,” Barna said.
The result of a faith of our own making and and a God made in our very own image
My question is, will this faith we have created at whim and this god we have imagined be able to save us in the final days?
The answer, of course, is no. God is who He says He is, not who simply want Him to be.
Thinking and living biblically
This Sunday at Harvest, we are beginning a new teaching series.
We have just completed our 35-message series that I called Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. We have looked at God, His attributes, and His character. We have looked at Jesus Christ, His deity, and His humanity. We examined the unseen world of angels, demons, and the devil.
We have looked at heaven, hell, and end times events. We have looked at topics like salvation, faith, the Bible, and much more.
This is the foundation that we build our lives on as Christians.
Now, we come to the follow-up series to Essentials, which I am calling Worldview: Thinking and Living Biblically.
Do you have a Christian worldview?
Not every believer necessarily has a true biblical worldview. Do you?
Find out what a Christian worldview is, and how to have one this Sunday morning at Harvest.
Our services are at 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M., and 11:45 A.M. This message will also be webcast live at harvest.org.
This and that
You can check out my weekend colemn at WorldNetDaily here.
Here is a link to my weekend devotional.
The Bible tells us that, in light of all that God has done for us, we should then present ourselves to Him. If we will do this, then we will know His will for our lives.
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:1-2:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
What does that mean, to present our bodies? It means that you give your whole self to Christ, and Christ alone.
1. We need to present our minds.
Fill your mind with the Word of God, not the junk and twisted worldview of our culture.
A recent survey revealed that America’s children and teenagers are now spending an average of more than 7 1/2 hours a day involved in electronic media (TV, video games, listening to music, surfing the Web, texting, and e-mailing).
We all need to think more about godly things! As Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).
2. We need to present our tongues.
This refers to how we use our words, what we say to others.
We do great harm and great good with our words. One world can elevate, or devastate. The Bible tells us, “So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. A tiny spark can set a great forest on fire” (James 3:5).
We need to T.H.I.N.K. before we speak (for more on this, check out my post here).
3. We need to present our hands and feet too!
Among the seven things listed in Proverbs 16 that the Lord hates are “hands that kill the innocent . . . feet that race to do wrong.” (Proverbs 16:7-8).
How much more glorious is it to have our hands and feet take the gospel to a lost and dying world! Romans 10:15 says, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
I urge you to present your body to Him today and every day!
Tonight in Orange County, I will speak on knowing the will of God. One of the things I will mention is the importance of thinking about what we say before we say it.
A helpful acronym that you can use when wondering if you should spread a certain piece of information is T.H.I.N.K. Ask yourself the following questions:
T – Is it true? In other words, this thing that you have heard about someone else, is this accurate information? Or is it just gossip or something someone heard about someone else.
Have you ever had anyone tell a lie about you? How did that make you feel?
How about someone gossiping about you? The very word “gossip” just hisses. Gosssssssip! Remember, Satan is the Father of lies.
We are far too ready to pass on information before verifying if it is true or not.
H-Is it Helpful? Will sharing this information be helpful to the other person?
I- Is it Inspiring? That is clear enough.
N- Is it Necessary? Do we really need to spread this information?
K– Is it Kind? Pretty clear there.
You might say, “Greg, if I applied that T.H.I.N.K. acronym to what I said about others, I would hardly speak at all!” Ah! Perhaps that’s not such a bad idea?
You probably have heard that Apple is supposedly going to announce a new tablet computer this week. I am interested to see what the specs are, and what it can do.
I really am a fan of technology, and without question Apple builds fantastic, groundbreaking products. In fact, this post was typed on an Apple laptop.
However . . .
The Messiah machine?
This new tablet has been hailed by some as “The Jesus Tablet,” and others are calling it “The Messiah Machine.” One article asked breathlessly, “Can Apple’s Jesus Tablet deliver a miracle?”
Whaaa . . . ? Did I miss something here? Is this new device from Apple going to somehow deliver eternal life or the forgiveness of sins?
I am being a bit facetious here, but I think some of these techheads need to seriously get a life, preferably an eternal one.
This reminds me of the the depression some were experiencing after viewing the new film Avatar, because they could not personally experience the imaginary CGI world of Pandora. I wrote a blog about that.
Taking the Lord’s name in vain
The Bible reminds us to not take the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7) This doesn’t just mean using profanity with God’s name, but also using His Holy name in a frivolous, insincere way.
Sometimes people will sell certain things to the Christian market with a token mention of Jesus or the Bible, in hopes that we will eat it up, be it movies, products, or whatever. That is using God’s name in vain, and He does not take kindly to it.
So, Jesus tablets and Messiah machines just will not do.
There is another commandment that warns against having other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). That is Commandment No. 1 in God’s Top 10.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that people who are excited about a new laptop, tablet computer, or phone are necessarily idolaters (though they could be). I am simply saying that we need to keep our priorities clear here.
Having another god speaks of anything or anyone that takes the place of the true God in their life.
In 1948, General Omar Bradley observed, “We are technological giants and moral midgets. We have discovered the mystery of the atom, but we have forgotten the Sermon on the Mount.”
Let’s love the Lord and use technology, not love technology and use the Lord.
I will be back at Harvest on Sunday morning to speak on a topic that we all wonder about: the will of God.
Does God indeed have a master plan for our lives? If so, how do I discover it? How do I hear His voice? How do I know the will of God?
These are important questions, and they are not easily answered, but we will take a shot at this weekend.
You are invited to join us for our services in person, or online at harvest.org. We will have a time of Communion after the message.
Our service times are 7:45 A.M., 9:45 A.M. and 11:45 A.M., Pacific Time.
By the way, this will bring to a close our series of more than 30 messages that I have called Essentials: What Every Christian Needs to Know. Next Sunday, I will launch a follow-up to the Essentials series, which I am calling Worldview. I’ll have more details on it later.
To read my weekend column at WorldNetDaily, click here.
To read my weekend devotional, click here.
Here is a video we recorded last Thursday at our Orange County Bible study. Questions were texted, tweeted, and e-mailed in during the study.
Greg Laurie is joined by his friend of 35 years and fellow Pastor,Don McClure.
We all know people who have supposedly “fallen away,” spiritually.
Sometimes people make changes in their lives, start going to church, and get all excited about the Bible. Then suddenly they bail out, never to return.
Usually, we say, “Oh, isn’t that sad. They are backsliding.” But I suggest to you that many of these people never were true believers to begin with. The true test is where they wind up.
A true believer will always come back home eventually. A person who is not a true believer won’t.
My mother, for example, spent most of her life as a prodigal, but she came home in the end.
We must keep our guard up, however, because anyone can backslide and become a prodigal.
Backsliding isn’t something you “plan” on doing. You don’t call up your Christian friend and say, “Hey dude, instead of going to church tonight, you wanna go backslide instead?” There might be some Idiot who would say that, but generally you don’t plan something like that.
The point is that backsliding happens. In fact, one of the signs of the last days is that “some would fall from the faith.” It could happen to you or me, if certain precautions are not taken.
I suggest to you that there a people out there who are fully backslidden, but they don’t even know it! And that is because they don’t understand what the word “backslide” even means.
The Bible certainly warns against it. Jeremiah 3:22 says, “Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding.” Jeremiah 2:19 tells us, “Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the LORD your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.”
You might protest, “I don’t think I have actually backslidden!” That’s so dramatic.
“OK, so I’m not as active spiritually as I once was. I still go to church (when I can find the time). I still read the Bible (when I get around to it). I still obey God (unless it conflicts with what I want to do).”
No standing still
Listen, falling away or backsliding is something that we as Christians need to constantly be aware of. If we are not moving forward in Christ, we are naturally going backward.
There is no standing still in the Christian life. We are either progressing or regressing, moving forward or backward. The Christian life is like a greased pole; you are either climbing or slipping.
I once saw a sign along the road at the end of an airport runway that read, ”Keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger, and a danger to those flying.”
Unless we make progress in the Christian life, we jeopardize ourselves and others. In fact, the moment you cease to progress and grow as a Christian is when the process of backsliding begins.
So make every effort to move forward spiritually!
Tonight at our O.C. Bible study, I am going to answer questions from those of you who text or tweet me between 7:00 P.M.-8:00 P.M. PST. I won’t be able to answer all your questions, but I will get to some of them. We’ll also capture it on video and post it this weekend at harvest.org.
If you want to send in a question, there’s three ways you can do it:
- UPDATE: QUESTIONS ARE NOW DISABLED
Have you noticed how much cell phones are a part of our lives now? It seems like everyone has them, even the children.
My granddaughter Stella has a Dora the Explorer toy phone where Dora asks you a question. Then when you are answering, she seems to become disinterested and changes the subject quickly. Then she says she is your best friend and hangs up!
I was a bit offended until I reminded myself that it is, after all, a computer chip I am interacting with, not the real Dora (who herself is simply a drawing).
Next, they will have cell phones for dogs and cats, though I am not sure the latter would ever use them.
I was with some friends the other night and everyone was reading texts and e-mails on their iPhones, so I texted them a question. I figured that wold be the best way to communicate.
When cell phones first came out, they were enormous, about the size of a World War II walkie talkie with a battery life of about eight minutes. Now they are so small and powerful, with the ability to check e-mails, play video games, take photos and videos, and send text messages.
Sometimes they even make phone calls! (Though mine does not do that function particularly well and often drops calls)
We take our phones with us everywhere, we consult them constantly, and we panic when the battery begins to fade. We can’t seem to live without them!
What if we treated our Bible like our cell phone?
Someone sent me an e-mail that asks the fascinating question, “What if we treated our Bible like our cell phone?” So check this out.
Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purse or pocket?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we used it when we traveled?
What if we used it in case of emergency?
This is something to make you go . . . Hmm, where is my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing. Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.
Makes you stop and think, where are my priorities?
And no dropped calls!
Have you heard of the Hope Diamond?
It is a described as the most perfect blue diamond in the world. It is one of the most valuable gems on the face of the planet, worth $250 million. It has an amazing history, having passed from King Louis of France to Marie Antoinette, Catherine the Great to King George of England, and ultimately to various wealthy people.
And yet, despite its enormous value, one of the eccentric owners of this rare blue diamond would often strap it to her pet dog’s collar. There are also stories that she would frequently misplace it at parties, and then make a children’s game out of “Finding the Hope.”
Under lock and key
The Hope Diamond ended up with New York diamond merchant Harry Winston, who ultimately donated it to the Smithsonian Museum. Today, it sits guarded behind bulletproof glass.
BTW, Winston sent the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian through the U.S. Mail in a plain brown paper bag. Imagine something worth $250 million being sent in the mail in a brown paper bag.
That’s why men should never wrap gifts.
Taking something of value for granted
Imagine the Hope Diamond on a dog’s collar or in a brown paper bag! Something so valuable, yet so unappreciated.
It reminds me of the most precious gift that God has given to us, something we may not appreciate.
I am speaking of our salvation.
God has saved us, is saving us, and will save us from future judgment. No other gift comes close to that.
A great salvation
I think that, far too often, we take the gift of personal salvation for granted. The Bible calls it “so great a salvation!”
When we believe in Jesus Christ and turn from our sins, this glorious gift (worth far, far more than the Hope Diamond) becomes ours. The Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8).
Let’s not take God’s salvation for granted today.