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5 Marks of a Dead Church, Part 2

July 11th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 2 Comments »

 

In my last post I listed 2 of 5 marks of a dying or dead church.
Here is a link to that post.

Here now, is Part 2 and the conclusion to that blog.

A Dead Church Has Lazy Leadership.

Complacency and lethargy set in as the church slips into spiritual cruise control, not wanting to do anything new or even rethink the way things are done. I can think of some methods and practices and programs in our own church—things we have done the same way for years—that probably need to be reexamined.
There are ways of doing things that used to work but haven’t worked very well for years.
“But we’ve always done it that way!”
Yes, but we don’t need to anymore.
Churches need to be constantly evaluating, considering, and weighing options—keeping in mind the big picture of what they were called into their communities to do.

A Dead Church Neglects Youth.

If they aren’t careful, aging congregations can so please themselves that they fail to reach the next generation. And that, my friend, spells death.
We started Harvest Christian Fellowship when I was just 20 years old. In fact, we had so many young people coming on Sunday nights that we started a Sunday morning service as an outreach to “older people”—those over 30!
Sometimes a worship pastor will want to introduce a style of music and will be told,
“The older people won’t like that.” Yes, but the younger people might like it very much—and maybe the older saints just need to flex a little.

A Dead Church Lacks Evangelistic Zeal.

If new converts aren’t coming into the church, then it’s only a matter of time until that church stagnates and becomes spiritually dead. New believers are the lifeblood of the church. We should want them . . . pray for them . . . embrace them . . . encourage them . . . minister to them in every way that we can.

Laurie, Greg (2014-05-08). Revelation: The Next Dimension (Kindle Locations 1340-1356). Allen David Books (Kerygma Inc). Kindle Edition.

5 Marks of a Dead Church, Part 1

July 9th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 8 Comments »

Is the church you are attending alive or dead?
Or perhaps somewhere in the middle?
In the book of Revelation, Jesus addresses the Church of Sardis, which He classified as “having a name that lived, but was dead” (Revelation 3).

Chuck Swindoll in his excellent commentary on the book of Revelation has an outline on “The 5 Marks of a Dead Church.”
I have taken it and added some of my own thoughts.

1. A Dead Church Worships Its Past.

Maybe some of the old-timers can relate inspiring stories of miracles, conversions, and changed lives “back in the early days.”
That’s okay as far as it goes. But we have to move on. We can rejoice in what God did twenty, thirty, or forty years ago. But what about now? God doesn’t want us to live in the past—even a glorious past. A living church lives in the present and plans for the future.

2. A Dead Church Is Inflexible and Resistant to Change.

Sometimes in the church we are flexible where we should be inflexible and inflexible where we should be flexible. In other words, we should be inflexible in the essentials. We come together to worship God and to study the Word. There’s no need to change those essential priorities.
But there are other areas where we ought to be flexible—in things like music and worship styles, which change with the years. People get very sensitive about these things.
“Well,” someone will say, “I prefer this style—it was what I was raised on, and I don’t like anything else.
Your style offends me, and it probably isn’t even valid.” But this is an area where we ought be flexible rather than rigid and unbending.

Some people don’t like it when churches embrace new technology and resist or drag their feet over changes.

I remember back in the mid-1990s when our church put up our first video screens. Some people were upset about it. Some even said, “We’re leaving the church over this! We don’t come to church to watch TV.” But it’s different now. When I speak these days, I notice some of these same people looking at the screens more than at me, though I am standing right in front of them. The fact is, the video draws you in closer, making it more intimate. I only wish they had invented HD technology when I was thirty instead of when I was 61!
I remember hearing Christians being critical of churches having websites. Now everyone has them. The point is, these new technologies are like a massive, updated Roman road system that opens up the world to us. We ought to use and leverage every technology platform—radio, TV, film, the Web, as well as social media like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and all the new ones as they emerge. This is an area in which we need to remain flexible. But there are also areas in which we must remain inflexible. For instance, the church must always be a place where God’s Word is taught and the gospel is proclaimed. The church must always be a place where the Lord is glorified through prayer and worship. We cannot “flex” in those areas. They are nonnegotiables.
I will give you the last 3 marks of a dead church in my next post.

Laurie, Greg (2014-05-08). Revelation: The Next Dimension (Kindle Locations 1334-1339). Allen David Books (Kerygma Inc). Kindle Edition.

This Sunday at Harvest Riverside and Orange County

July 5th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 1 Comment »

Join us tomorrow at Harvest Riverside and Orange County as Will Graham brings us a message.
William Franklin Graham IV is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Will is the grandson of Billy Graham and the oldest son of my friend Franklin Graham.
Will preaches around the world and is not only gifted as an evangelist but he is also an outstanding Bible teacher.
Also joining Will is my long-time friend, Dennis Agajanian sharing in music.
You can join us in person or watch the live HD Webcast at www.harvest.org.

Happy Birthday to the United States of America!

July 4th, 2014 Posted in sermons | No Comments »

In your celebration today, pause and remember the immense privilege it is to live in this great country.
And before you dig in to have your lunch, remember to pause and pray.
Pray that God will bless America, and that America will bless God.
Here is a video where I visit some significant American landmarks and talk about the significance of this day.
At the end of it, I mention Harvest America in Philadelphia.
This video was shot last year, so disregard that part.
Harvest America is being held in Dallas, Texas this year on October 5.
For more info, go to

http://www.harvest.org/crusades/2014/dallas/home.html

Here is the link to the video about America.

An All-American Hero

July 3rd, 2014 Posted in video | 11 Comments »

A truly great American died today.
Louis Zamperini has gone to be with the Lord.

It was my privilege to get to know Louis and to interview him on a number of occasions. He truly was one of a kind. How many people do you know who shook hands with Adolph Hitler and also punched a shark in the nose? Louis did that and more.

This all happened in his remarkable life, recorded in the outstanding book Unbroken, written by Laura Hillenbrand. This book is now being made into a film that will be out by the end of the year.

I once told Louis it was as though he had lived four separate lives:

  • Louis the juvenile delinquent who developed an ability for running (which he perfected running from the police!) that carried him to the Olympics of 1936. He put in such an impressive performance that Adolf Hitler, who was in power at that point, wanted to shake his hand.
  • Louis the patriot, who joined the military to serve his country in World War 2. He became a bombardier and was shot down over the Pacific and was adrift at sea for a staggering 47 days.
  • Then there was Louis the survivor, who was captured by the Japanese and held as a prisoner of war for two years. It was during this time Louis was treated especially cruelly by a Japanese commandant that had it out for him, known as “the bird.”
  • Finally, there was Louis the follower of Jesus Christ. After returning from war, he was hailed as a hero for all he endured. He spiraled downward into alcoholism, dealing with PTSD. His wife invited him to hear a young preacher from North Carolina that was just beginning his ministry named Billy Graham. Louis went forward to accept Christ that night and spent the rest of his 97 years on earth telling others about his faith.

That faith also prompted Louis to go back to Japan and share the gospel with the very guards who had treated him so cruelly. Truly, this was an amazing life.

I am confident Jesus has already said to Louis Zamperini, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter in the joy of your Lord!”

Here is a video of an interview I did with Louis a short while ago:

Big Fireworks

June 30th, 2014 Posted in video | 51 Comments »

Nothing says 4th of July like big fireworks!

Check out this video we made last year when I visited my friend Levi Lusko in Montana for the 4th.

How to Share Your Faith

June 30th, 2014 Posted in video | No Comments »

Recently at the Harvest Orange County Car Meet, I had a talk with Barry Meguiar of Car Crazy TV. Barry loves to share his faith and gives a few tips about how he does that with fellow car enthusiasts.

Check out our conversation, as well as some really cool cars, in this video:

Behind Enemy Lines

June 30th, 2014 Posted in sermons | No Comments »

Some believers want to retreat from culture and live in a “Christian bubble.”

They want to isolate themselves from nonbelievers.
But Jesus has not called us isolate, but to infiltrate.
Our job is to permeate, to saturate.
It’s not to evade, but invade!

We are to impact culture without being compromised by it. There’s no question that this is a tricky balance. In John 17:15–16, 18 Jesus prayed, “I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Just as You sent Me into the world, I am sending them into the world” (NLT).

Did you catch that? Jesus is sending us into the world!

Yet, we are also warned, “Do not love the world or the things in the world” (1 John 2:15 NKJV).

1 Corinthians 5:9–10 tells us, “When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that” (NLT).

I do not expect nonbelievers to behave as believers. You might be surprised to know I do not correct everything a nonbeliever says.

Sometimes it seems we want to “Christianize” nonbelievers more than we want to see them truly converted. By “Christianize” I mean we want them to merely change their behavior. That, to me, is putting the cart before the horse.

My goal is to reach their heart first. Then I know that if they’ve truly met Jesus Christ, their behavior will change. Paul spoke of “becoming all things to all men,” so we are to be in this world, influence it, and not allow it to influence us. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world,” or as the Phillips version puts it, “Don’t let this world squeeze you into its mold!”

Yes, Jesus, our Commander in Chief, is sending us into this world. To do what? To “go into all the world and preach the gospel! (Mark 16:15 NKJV).

This is a battle, and we are either advancing or retreating. As believers, we must realize that we are “behind enemy lines.”

I was watching a World War 2 film, and there was a scene where the commanding officer says to the paratroopers of Easy Company behind enemy lines, “A panzer division is about to cut you off, so you guys are going to be surrounded!” The lieutenant in charge of Easy Company says, “We’re paratroopers, lieutenant. We’re supposed to be surrounded.”

We as the church are just like those paratroopers. We are “supposed to be surrounded.” We have been “dropped in” by God Himself.

We are behind enemy lines.

Know this: We are in hostile territory. Everywhere you look the enemy is at work, wreaking havoc in the lives of countless people.

So how can we impact our culture and make a difference?
We must not isolate; we must infiltrate.

Today at Harvest Riverside and Orange County

June 29th, 2014 Posted in sermons | 2 Comments »

Fewer things are harder to put up with than a good example.
And that is exactly what I want to talk about today at Harvest Riverside and Orange County.
How we can be a good example that will then “earn us the right” to share the gospel message with those that hear it?
And that is what our country needs to hear today.
My topic this morning is “America, This Is Your Wake-Up Call!”
You can join us live at one of our campuses at 8:00 AM, 10:00AM, and 12:00 PM, Pacific.
Or you can watch LIVE at www.harvest.org

Are You Satisfied with Your Present Spiritual State Right Now?

June 26th, 2014 Posted in sermons | No Comments »

You are not done as a Christian.

No matter how much you love, you ought to love more.
No matter how much you pray, you ought to pray more.
No matter how much you obey God, you ought to obey more.

Jesus said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6 NKJV).

We will not be completely satisfied until we see His face. Psalm 17:15 says, “I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness” (NKJV). Until that day comes, there will be a “divine discontent.”

Let me ask you this question: Are you satisfied with your present spiritual state right now?

Let me personally answer that: I am not.
I need more—much, much more. I have far to go.

Therefore we want to spend our time in pursuing God.
We all know that snacking between meals can spoil our appetites. In the same way, there are certain relationships, pursuits, and things that take the edge off of the godly spiritual appetite we should have. These things may be quite harmless in and of themselves.

The question to ask yourself of relationships, pursuits, and such is: Does it make me more or less hungry for spiritual things? Does it draw me closer, or does it in some way keep me away from Jesus? Is it a “wing” or a “weight” in the race of life?

If you really hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will find it.
Why? Because “where there’s a will there’s a way.”

Are you pursuing righteousness?