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Archive for March, 2010

Easter Is For Doubters!

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 Posted in encouragement, holidays, OC, Pastor's corner | 4 Comments »

Have you ever struggled with doubt when it comes to your faith? Maybe something has happened in your life that caused you to wonder if God really does keep His promises.

I have good news for you—Easter is for doubters!

No less than the apostle Thomas had his doubts about Jesus, but they gave way to belief and worship when he gathered with other believers in the presence of the risen Lord.

I believe the same can happen for you this year as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Orange County on Thursday and in Riverside on Easter Sunday.

So join me Thursday night in Orange County for our Pre-Easter celebration, as I give a message on turning your doubt into belief. We will have incredible worship led by our Harvest Worship Band and special musical guest Crystal Lewis.

For more info, click here.

Are You Mad at God?

Monday, March 29th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, questions, sermons | 10 Comments »

I’ve heard people say, “I’m mad at God! I need to forgive Him!”

You have it all wrong, friend.

Who are you to be “mad” at God? The Bible says, ”Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, ‘Why did you shape me like this?’” (Romans 9:20 THE MESSAGE)

Listen, He is the Potter, and you are the clay. He is the Shepherd, and you are the sheep. He is the Vine, and we are the branches. He is the Giver, and we are the recipients.

He is God, and you are a punk!

We may be sad, not understand, and even ask why, but we can’t be “mad” at God.

I’ve lost my faith!

Or perhaps something happened, and you’ve said, “I lost my faith” over that.

Maybe it was a tragedy or something that went wrong in your life: a sickness, a divorce, or the loss of a loved one.

I know these things hurt, but may I respectfully say that those are not things we lose our faith over. Sure, we don’t understand why, but that is when we must trust God.

If you would “lose your faith,” then perhaps you never had true faith to begin with. Or you may have misunderstood who God was.

A faith that can be “lost” is no Faith at all.

Randy Alcorn,in his book,”If God is good” wrote “A faith that can’t be shaken is the faith that has been shaken.”
When you have true faith,it will not be lost during crisis but made strong.

James reminds us “For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
(James 1:3-4 NLT)

I’m sorry Jesus did not meet your personal expectations, but He is not here to serve you. You are here to serve Him!

The sovereignty of God

Chuck Swindoll defined the sovereignty of God like this: “God is able to do what He pleases, with whomever He chooses, whenever He wishes.”

It’s fine to be sad at times, or not fully understand God’s plan and purposes. I know that I don’t.

It’s even fine to ask God why. I know that I have.

Just as long as you don’t necessarily expect an answer.

Even Jesus, on the cross of Calvary, said to the Father, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” But notice that He said, “My God, My God . . . ”

Cry out to God with your pain, not against Him. He is listening.

And remember this . . . He loves you!

What Makes You Angry?

Thursday, March 25th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, questions, sermons | 10 Comments »

I will be speaking at Harvest in Riverside this coming Sunday.
Among other things, I will be talking about anger.

So let me ask you, what makes you angry? What really ticks you off? Have you ever exploded in anger, and if so,why?

Things that bother me

I can tell you that when I’m hungry, I can get a little angry. There are a lot of other things that can irritate me, as well.

Why do people who are in the No. 1 spot at a stoplight not go when it turns green? They’re probably texting.

Why do people give their cellphones the loudest ringtone, and then let them ring five times before answering very loudly?

Why do people have to send text messages when they are having a conversation with you?

Jesus got angry

Most of these are minor things. There are times, though, when anger is not wrong at all, but actually quite right.

Did you know that Jesus Himself displayed anger? It happened on Palm Sunday.

We often think of the palm branches laid out before him as the adoring throngs cried out, “Hosanna to the son of David,” and so we should. But right after that, Jesus wept and then He displayed righteous indignation.

Why? What angers and saddens God? We will find out tonight.

Oh, and one other thing. Could you not text when we are talking?

For more info on our Orange County study, click here.

What Does It Mean To Covet?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons, worldview | 6 Comments »

People love top ten lists. The top 10 songs of all time. The worst songs of all time.

Well, God has a top 10 list too. And one of the most often overlooked commandments in Gods top 10 is “You shall not covet” (Exodus 20:17).

Let’s not misunderstand. You can admire your friend’s car, and even buy one just like it, but that is not coveting. Perhaps it’s copying, but it is not coveting.

Now if you were to go over and take it, that would be coveting. You look at it, admire it and your will desires it. The body moves over to possess it, and you step into the driver’s seat, turn on the key to start the engine, and you are off!

That is coveting, which has led to action! Actually, that would also be grand theft auto!

Coveting is underestimated

It is not wrong to desire a wife, but to desire another man’s wife is coveting.

Coveting is a powerful and underestimated sin. It can cripple you spiritually and ultimately destroy you. It must not be underestimated or left unchecked.

Think of some of the people in the Bible who threw it all away, because of greed and covetousness.

  • Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, coveted and lost everything.
  • Adam and Eve just had to have that forbidden fruit.
  • For 30 pieces of silver, Judas betrayed Jesus.

The Bible gives this clear warning about the powerful sin of coveting: “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6:10 KJV).

This verse is often misquoted as “Money is the root of all evil,” but that is not what the Bible says. It says “The love of money is the root of all evil: which while some have coveted after they have erred from the faith . . . ”

We might think that this is only the sin of the wealthy, but that is not necessarily the case. This is a description of a person who is obsessed with money and possessions, and will pay any price to get what they want. They will even sacrifice their spiritual life in the process.

Be content instead of coveting

It is not a sin to want to be successful in business and make a good living, but when you become obsessed with those things, it can become coveting. When they become the most important thing in your life, and you will do whatever it takes to get it, coveting has become idolatry, something that Colossians 3:5 warns us about.

So, let’s all seek to be satisfied with what the Lord has given to each of us. You may not get everything in life you had hoped for materially. You may not even get much at all.

But if you are a Christian, you have Jesus, and Jesus has you. As the old song says, “I’ve got Jesus, and that’s enough!”

Scripture reminds us, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Attention, Women! Men Don’t Like to Share Their Food!

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons, worldview | 4 Comments »

Girls! I have to let you know something about most of us guys . . .

We don’t like to share our food!

Oh, we may smile and allow your fork to come our direction and grab a bite of something off our our plate. But just know this, we really would rather you did not.

In this regard, we are not unlike dogs with freshly poured food in their bowls. Don’t interfere with an eating dog or, for that matter, an eating man either.

Girls like to split things

When you go to a restaurant with men and women, each will view the menu in their own way.

For me, personally,I generally know what I want within two minutes. For my wife, picking a meal is an an ordeal, and she will deliberate over it for some time.

Ironically, this even happens even at restaurants we have been to many times, that have small menus.

Her solution is to ask if I want to split something.

Guys usually don’t like to split a food order, unless we are trying to save some money. So I usually say, “No, thanks,” before she’s even finished the sentence.

If there is another girl present, they will split this and that and have themselves a royal little feast, while I and any other guys present will hover over our order and eat it as quickly as we can.

Don’t Covet

That brings me to why I brought all this up in the first place. The tenth and final commandment deals with the topic of coveting.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. (Exodus 20:17)

This may seem irrelevant to us today, as you probably cannot recall the last time you coveted your neighbor’s donkey or ox. But the gist of the commandment is the phrase, “Or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

“Panting for something”

Coveting isnt simply desiring something we don’t have. To covet is to be devoured by desire for something that is not tours.

The New Testament translates the Hebrew word for coveting with the Greek word translated as lust. It means “to eagerly desire that which belongs to another, to set the heart on something.”

The literal translation would be “to pant after something.” So, just like a dog pants for his food, we lust after things that are not ours to take.

We usually want what we can’t have. If you don’t believe me, just ask Adam and Eve.

More on this topic tomorrow.

My Son Jonathan is 24 Years Old Today!

Monday, March 22nd, 2010 Posted in family, Pastor's corner, photos | 63 Comments »

A proud dad and his son in New York City, 2009.

That’s right. Jonathan Allen Laurie was born 24 years ago. My wife Cathe and I are so proud of him and we thank God for the kind, gentle, and loving young man he has grown up to be.

As you know, since his brother’s early departure to heaven, Jonathan has gone through one of the hardest crises a person can face on this earth. He was very close to Christopher, and I know his brother is proud of him today, because my oldest son is very much alive–not on earth, but in heaven.

Jonathan has dramatically deepened his commitment to Christ and is serving the Lord. He has always been soft-spoken, for the most part, but he has bravely taken his story and shared it, challenging thousands of people to trust God, no matter what comes your way in life.

So today, we celebrate his birth, his life, and his future.

You can leave a birthday greeting for him, if you would like, right here.

Little White Lies

Saturday, March 20th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons, travel, worldview | 4 Comments »

I am in Miami, Florida, this weekend with my son Jonathan. I am here to speak at Calvary Chapel Kendall, which is pastored by my friend Pedro Garcia.

I will speak at their service tonight and two times tomorrow.

If you know anyone in the area, please let them know. For more info, click here.

Now for some final thoughts on the topic of lying.

We may lie more than we think

We tend to rationalize the act of telling ‘little white lies.” One form of them is gossip, which I talked about in my last post, but another way that we can lie is through flattery.

Flattery is among the most subtle forms of deceit. One definition of flattery is “saying things to a person’s face that you would never say behind his back.

Contrast that to backbiting, which is saying something behind a person’s back that you would never say to their face.

It’s tempting to flatter someone, like your boss, in order to get something from them. You know, someone who has something you want.

So you tell them they’re better than they really are. Saying things to them you don’t really believe.

That is a form of lying.

Another way that we lie is through exaggeration. This is especially easy to do. We talk about the fish that got away. We may exaggerate our skills in order to get a promotion.

Another way we lie is by keeping silent.

How can saying nothing be a lie? This would be those occasions when we hear somebody say something we know for a fact is not true and we remain silent. They may be slamming a friend or someone you know.

Yet you don’t say a single word in their defense.

It is slander by silence, complicity by passivity.

May we all make every effort to tell and walk in the truth. As Scripture says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).

Why We Are Tempted To Lie

Friday, March 19th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons, travel, worldview | 1 Comment »

I am speaking this weekend in Miami, Florida, at Calvary Chapel Kendall, where my friend, Pedro Garcia, is pastor. They are celebrating their tenth anniversary as a church, and I will speak at all of their weekend services.

For more on that, click here.

Why do we lie?

Yesterday on my blog, I raised the question, “Why do we lie?” We know that it’s wrong, so why do we do it?

Often, it’s because we have been caught doing something wrong.

An article from the Washington Post Magazine reported that “People lie 92% of the time to save face, and 98% to keep from offending someone else.”

It’s not always easy to tell the truth.

We have all been faced with those situations when telling the truth is not easy. When the wife (or any girl) asks the man, “Honey, do I look fat in this?”

When you are a guest in someone’s home, and the meal was horrible, they ask you, “How was it?” And you have to scramble to say, “I have never eaten anything like that in my life!”

Or maybe someone sings and does horribly, but then asks, “How was it?” We try not to state the obvious and yet not lie outwardly, like, “It was one of the most fascinating performances I have ever heard. Your voice was distinct and stood out from all the rest.”

Then there are those little white lies that lead to bigger ones:

  • Your child answers the phone, and you tell the kids to say, “I’m not home,” when you really are.
  • You say, “I forgot,” when you really didn’t
  • Or “It’s good to see you,” when it isn’t
  • Or “I love your outfit,” when you really hate it
  • Or “The check’s in the mail,” when it isn’t
  • Or “I was just getting ready to call you,” when you weren’t
  • Or “I had no idea,” when you did
  • Or “I’ll be praying for you,” or even worse, “I have been praying for you,” when you haven’t

Now, you might say “I never lie, ever!” Maybe you do more than you think.

How so?

1. Gossip and backbiting.

Gossip topples governments, wrecks marriages, ruins careers, and destroys reputations. It causes nightmares, spawns suspicion, and generates grief.

Scripture tells us, “A gossip tells secrets, so don’t hang around with someone who talks too much” (Proverbs 20:19 NLT).

There are certain people who I know can keep a confidence. There are others I know who, if I say, “Don’t tell anyone,” it will be on CNN that night!

The problem is that a gossip tells only half a truth, then spins it and mixes it with a lie.

Maybe you are like the guy who said, “I will never repeat gossip, so please listen carefully the first time!”

Have you heard the latest?

Gossip often veils itself in seemingly acceptable forms, such as:

  • Have you heard?
  • Did you know?
  • I don’t know if I believe it’s true, but I heard that . . .
  • I wouldn’t tell you, but I know it won’t go any further . . .

We can even rationalize the sin of gossip as a Christian and say, “I am telling you this so you can pray for them.”

Now, it is not wrong to convey accurate information. But the question is, are you sure that it’s true? Have you checked your facts? Have you gone to the person and confirmed it?

More on ways that we lie tomorrow.

You Can’t Hide Your Lying Eyes

Thursday, March 18th, 2010 Posted in Pastor's corner, sermons, worldview | 1 Comment »

Tonight in Orange County, I am wrapping up a miniseries on the Ten Commandments as part of my new series Worldview: How to Think and Live Biblically. Among other things, I will speak on the topic of lying.

There is no better place to start in establishing what is absolute truth than with the Ten Commandments that were written by God, with His own finger.

In God’s Top 10, the Ten Commandments, Commandment No. 9 is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

Strictly speaking, this commandment originally referred to perjuring oneself in a judicial trial. Yet it certainly applies to lying in general.

To know what a lie is, I must first understand what truth is!

George Barna conducted a poll and asked adults if they agreed with the following statement: “There are no absolute standards for morals and ethics.” Incredibly, seven out of 10 said they agreed with it!

God hates lying

The Bible has a lot to say about this topic. In the Book of Proverbs, God speaks of the seven things He hates:

There are six things the LORD hates–no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong, a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

The word “hates” means “To hate personally, a personal enemy.” I sure don’t want to be doing something that God specifically says he hates. Do you?

It is worth noting that two of the seven things that God hates are related to dishonesty.

Lying is destructive

Why does God react so strongly to lying? Because it’s so destructive. 

Elsewhere in Proverbs, we read that “Telling lies about someone is as harmful as hitting him with an axe, or wounding him with a sword, or shooting him with a sharp arrow” (Proverbs 25:18).

From this, we can safely conclude that God really hates lying of any form.

He hates it because He is the Source of truth. He used that very word to describe His character. Jesus said, “I am the Truth” (John 14:6). Scripture tells us, “It impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18).

In dramatic contrast, Satan is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). When we lie, we are behaving more like children of the devil than children of God.

Have you been telling lies about others lately? God says of the liar, “I will not allow deceivers to serve me, and liars will not be allowed to enter my presence” (Psalm 101:7).

This means if you are telling lies, you are in sin against God!

Scripture tells us, “Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds” (Colossians 3:9).

We know it’s wrong, so why do we lie? Why do we lie to each other?

I will deal with that in my blog tomorrow.

Stella Sing, Sing, Sings!

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010 Posted in family, Pastor's corner, stella, video | 17 Comments »

As you might recall, I interviewed Stella a few weeks ago when Randy Alcorn spoke at Harvest. She was a bit shy, but she did her “ABC’s” for us.

So, a few days later at our Orange County Bible study, I called her up again before I interviewed Randy.

First, watch her at Harvest on Sunday by clicking here.

Now, watch her four days later. She really came out of her shell!

This time, we sang Chris Tomlin’s song, “Sing, Sing, Sing,” plus we did John 14:6 together. I love how Stella took control of that microphone.

So enjoy!