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Give Me This Mountain | Tips for Spiritual Longevity

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
February 22, 2024 3:00 am

Give Me This Mountain | Tips for Spiritual Longevity

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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February 22, 2024 3:00 am

What’s the best way to chart a course for a successful Christian life over the long haul? We might ask someone who’s walked that path over the long haul. There’s no discounting the wisdom that comes with experience. Well today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie looks back over the past 50 years of ministry at his home church, Harvest Christian Fellowship. The Lord has blessed, but it hasn’t always been easy. So today he offers some good perspective for all of us on the path of faith.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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You're listening to A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God.

Visit our website and learn more about Harvest Partners at harvest.org. Well, coming up today, Pastor Greg Laurie helps us ask the right questions. What's the best way to chart a course for a successful Christian life over the long haul? Well, we might ask someone who's walked that path over the long haul. There's no discounting the wisdom that comes with experience. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie looks back over the past 50 years of ministry at his home church, Harvest Christian Fellowship. The Lord has blessed, but it hasn't always been easy.

So today he offers some good perspective for all of us on the path of faith. So I heard about a couple that were celebrating 25 years of marriage and all their family and friends are gathered and the husband said to the wife, my dear, I love you so much. And for our 25th wedding anniversary, I'm taking you to Australia.

She was so excited. She said, I've always wanted to go to Australia. You know, koala bears, kangaroos, shrimps on the barbie. I've always wanted to go down under. I can't believe that if you're going to take me to Australia for our 25th wedding anniversary, what will you do for our 50th? He said, that's when I'll pick you up.

Okay, so these are bad jokes or dad jokes and dad jokes are basically bad jokes, right? So, but you know, 50 years, that's a milestone, something that you celebrate. It reminds us that time has passed so quickly. Billy Graham was once asked, what has been the greatest surprise of your life?

His answer was the brevity of it. How quickly life seems to pass by and it seems as you get older, it seems like life goes faster. I remember when I was in elementary school, I felt like I was attending school for like 30 years in kid time, right?

And then high school went a little bit faster and then years passed so quickly and decades start passing, time is passing. They say one of the reasons it seems as though time passes more quickly when you're older is because you do the same thing over and over again. You have the routine, so you always take a vacation to the same place. You always go out and eat in the same restaurant. You always sit in the same seat in the restaurant.

You always order the same thing off the menu. You even sit in the same place at church every Sunday and you do and I know where you all sit. I go, oh, so-and-so's not here today.

Why aren't they not here? That's how we do it as we get older. We like routine.

We like predictability. There's one place that I go where time slows down for me, the dentist. When I'm sitting in that dental chair, I feel like I'm there for a year, right? Though it may only be for an hour.

So things do seem to pass quickly, but really time is passing at the rate that it passes. I did hear about an older couple that went into a restaurant. They were both 90 and it was a very popular restaurant. It was hard to get in and so they said, could we get a table?

And the maitre d said, well, I'm sorry. There's like an hour long wait and if you can wait an hour, we'll get you a table. And the man said, young man, I'm 90 years old. My wife is 90 years old. We may not live one more hour.

They got a table immediately. So if you're old, you might try that. Hacks for old people.

I don't know if it'll work or not. Yeah, time is passing quickly. We can't control that, but we do control what we will do with that time. What should we do with our time if we're 90 or if we're nine or somewhere in between?

Here's the simple answer. We should seek to become more and more like Jesus each and every day. That's the ultimate goal for the Christian to become more like Christ and we should seek to grow spiritually. We don't want to rest on our laurels or worse, go backwards spiritually. We want to always be moving forward in the Christian life. This is why Jesus said, remember Lot's wife.

Three words. Remember Lot's wife. Why should I remember Lot's wife? Well, if you remember the story in the book of Genesis, God delivered Lot, his wife and their family from Sodom and Gomorrah. His judgment was falling on the city and he said to them, don't look back. But they did look back, or at least she did in particular, and she turned into a pillar of Saul.

So Jesus says, hey, remember Lot's wife, because the first step to going back is looking back. So we want to keep our focus on what is in front of us. I read about a sign on an airport runway, a little airport, and the sign said, keep moving. If you stop, you are in danger and a danger to those who are flying. That's good advice for a pilot and it's also good advice for the rest of us. Keep moving.

If you stop, you're a danger not only to yourself but others who are flying. There's a man of God from the 1600s, an old Puritan preacher named Richard Baxter. And he wrote these words, spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of, in nothing which you might not pray for the blessing of God, in nothing with which you would not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed, in nothing if death should surprise you in the act. This deals with a lot of those gray areas of life. Is it okay for a Christian to do this or that?

Ask yourself the question and kind of run it through this list. Spend your time in nothing which you know must be repented of, in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God. What you're doing, can you ask God to bless it? If you can ask God to bless it, go for it. If you feel awkward praying about it, maybe you shouldn't be doing it. In nothing which you cannot review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed.

This is the big one. In nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act. I think that's pretty good advice. Now you that are young, listen to this. You are laying a foundation in your life today that you will build on for the rest of your life. You're making decisions today that will affect you next year, the next decade, and all the years to come. So you want to make the right decisions in life.

Because before you know it, you're well on your way in life. Now as I get older, you know I wouldn't go back in time if I was given the choice. I would like to have my hair back again though. I do miss my hair. But apart from that, hopefully you've learned a few things.

And have some things to offer to others as well. But for me, each year has been an adventure walking with Jesus Christ and watching his plan for my life unfold. And there's been a lot of twists and turns in my life. Things that didn't make sense at the time. You've heard the expression, my life flashed before my eyes.

Usually that's said by someone who had a near death experience. Well for me, my life flashed before my eyes when they made a movie out of my life called Jesus Revolution. So when I was spending time with John Irwin who was the director and also co-wrote the script with another man named John Gunn. As I was going through things, they asked me all these questions about my childhood. So I had to do a deep dive into the past and think deeply about that time. And then they came back with this script.

They summed my life up. And it was very interesting because it's not the way I would have told my story. But they picked the moments in my life that they thought were significant.

And wrapped it around the story of Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee and Kathy and all the rest of it. And I said to John, kind of kiddingly but half seriously. I said, I like your version of my life better than my version. You know because some events were brought together.

The timelines were changed a little bit. But the arc of my life because when you're going through it, you don't know what it's going to lead to. But I look back on it now and I can see God's hand was on my life from the very beginning. Psalm 16 says, the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places.

Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel in the night. Also my heart instructs me.

I've set the Lord always before me because He is at my right hand and I will not be shaken. For me the lines have fallen in pleasant places. And I can even see that in my childhood as hard as it was.

And the movie didn't show nearly how bad it was. But as hard as it was, it's been a tool that can be used to reach other people struggling in their own childhoods. And to say God's going to get you through whatever it is you're going through and my life is an evidence of that. And hopefully this will encourage you. You know it's been said, success builds barriers but failure builds bridges.

Success builds barriers. You know when you act as though you're all that and a bag of chips. And you're living your perfect little Instagram life. Because we only take pictures of the great moments. The great meal. We don't take a photograph of the worst meal we ever ate.

Though that would be an interesting post, would it not? But anyway, you know we have all the highlights. Oh look at my beautiful life and all of your images are curated so they all sort of look the same. And here's my great life that I'm living. Don't you wish you were me? Who can relate to that? And the reality is that's not really your complete life is it?

So then that might build a barrier. I wish I could be like them. Oh they have the greatest life. But failure builds bridges you know. When you say to someone hey this is my struggle or this is my question or this is my weakness. Someone suddenly says wow you're just like me aren't you?

Yes we are all the same in so many ways. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Well today Pastor Greg is reflecting on the last 50 years of his ministry.

And passing along some of the pivotal principles he's learned along the way. I look back on my life and I can see that God was in control. But I have to say one of the surprises of my Christian life is seeing some people crash and burn spiritually. People that I never thought would fall away fell away. You know it's funny you meet certain people and you say I don't know if they're going to make it as a Christian. And they end up doing really well through their Christian life. And others you think oh man they're going to make their mark in the world and change the world and God's going to use them.

And they just crash and burn because of bad decisions they made. But then there are others that start and they finish well. That's who we want to be. We want to start this race well. We want to run this race well. And we want to finish this race well.

Because that is the goal. Paul the apostle wrote in Acts 20 verse 24. He said these words to the elders of Ephesus. We've stood in the very spot where he said these words to them. He said none of these things move me.

That is a threat of imprisonment. I do not count my life dear to myself. But I want to finish my race with joy.

So here's the question. How can I finish this race with joy? How can we cross the finish line with flying colors? How can we win the race of life? What is the secret to spiritual longevity? We're all interested in longevity these days. It seems like I see so many articles now on how to live longer. If you eat this you'll live longer. If you do that you'll live longer. I actually went to a medical website. They had a list of things you should do if you want to live a longer life physically. I wrote a few of them down.

Number one. Eat like an Okinawan. So basically the people of Okinawa, Japan live longer than any other group on earth.

So they've done extensive research on this. They discovered they ate vegetables that were green and yellow in color and low in calories. And also they only ate 80% of the food on their plate.

I guess that all depends on how big the plate is though. Because you get a really big plate and only eat 80%. But then you read that and then you read another article about someone who lived to be 103. And they said the secret was they ate bacon every day. So go figure.

What is the answer? But here's another thing that this medical website said and I found this interesting. One of the secrets to living a long life is go to church. Go to church. They said go to religious services. But go to church. They said in a 12 year study of people over age 65 those who went more than once a week to church had higher levels of a key immune system protein than their peers who didn't. So when you go home from church today and one of your family members didn't come you could say I'm going to live longer than you. You should have come with me to church today. Number two, and I really like this one, number three rather, forgive.

This is on a medical website. Forgive because letting go of grudges has surprising physical health benefits. Chronic anger is linked to heart disease, strokes, poor lung health and other problems. Forgiveness will reduce anxiety, lower your blood pressure and help you breathe more easily. Isn't that interesting?

Forgive. Another one they said learn the art of the nap. I have learned this art. I don't take long naps but every day I'll take maybe a seven or eight minute nap and it really seems to help me. Those who take a nap each day according to this study are 37% less likely to die from heart disease.

Another one keep moving. Regular physical activity lowers your chance of getting heart disease, diabetes and other forms of cancer and depression. You know sometimes people are maybe in their 40s they'll say I'm getting old, really old. Yeah you're also getting fat and that might have something to do with that. Because literally if you lost 20 pounds you might feel a little bit younger. So there's things to factor in. I know I just offended many of you. But I'm just saying what I think okay. When you're old you just say whatever you think and that's what I just did. So this is good advice for physical longevity.

But what about some advice for spiritual longevity? Well we find that here in Joshua 14. Before us is the story of a man who both started and finished his race well. God is known as well as Joshua but him and Joshua were friends. Joshua and Caleb. Caleb is the man I want to talk about. Because the scene before us here in Joshua 14 is where the tribes of Israel are now receiving their inheritance that God has given to them. And now Caleb speaks up. Caleb is 85 years old and he's been waiting for this day for a long time to get his portion of the land. And in Joshua 14 verse 11 Caleb says, I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me.

Just as my strength was then, so is now my strength for war, for going out and coming in. So give me this mountain. I love this old dude. I'm raising up a bony old arm.

Give me this mountain. They're thinking this guy's crazy. Oh he wasn't crazy at all. He really had as much strength in his older years as he did in his younger years.

I remember a while ago we went to the Orange County Fair. Our family and the family of Levi Lusko. So we came to one of those high strikers. That's what they call that thing where you hit, you take the big sledgehammer and you try to ring the bell, right? So Levi says, you want to do this?

I say, let's go. So he goes in, he's young, he's strong, goes to the gym, brings that hammer down, boom. Doesn't hit the bell, doesn't ring the bell. Does it again, doesn't ring the bell.

Said, well it's my turn. I picked up the sledgehammer, brought it down, bing, rang the bell. Brought it down again, rang the bell. Not because I'm so strong, though I am, not really, but I just knew where to put that sledgehammer.

I knew the right spot to hit it at. And then Levi looked at me and said, so what do you think, Levi? He said, old man's strength. I thought, old man's strength?

What is that, like an insult? You can have old man's strength, old woman's strength like Caleb had. Why did he have this strength? He gives the answer in Joshua 14, dropped down to verse seven.

I was 40 years old, says Caleb, when Moses, the servant of the Lord, sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land of Canaan. I returned and gave an honest report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people from entering the promised land. I'll underline this. For my part, I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. Don't miss that. He's giving us a secret.

He's giving us a life hack, if you will. I wholeheartedly followed the Lord my God. If you wanna finish well, if you want spiritual longevity, you must wholeheartedly, not half-heartedly, follow the Lord your God. Look, if you're gonna be a Christian, be a Christian.

If you're gonna do this, go for it, 100%. And the problem is we have a lot of half-hearted people. But Caleb was not half-hearted. He was wholehearted. He wholeheartedly or wholly followed the Lord his God. Pastor Greg Laurie, pointing us to a wonderful example of perseverance and commitment.

Caleb wholeheartedly followed the Lord. And there's more to come here on A New Beginning as Pastor Greg continues his message called Give Me This Mountain. So how's your commitment level? Maybe today you've been encouraged to make some adjustments. But then maybe you've never really come to the Lord and asked him to forgive your sin. Pastor Greg, what would you say to the person who wants to make that change right now?

I would say that God is just a prayer away. You know, it doesn't take years to become a Christian. It doesn't take months. Frankly, it doesn't even take hours.

It can happen so quickly. It just starts with you saying to God, I know I'm a sinner. I know that you love me. I know that you sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sin and pay for those sins and then to rise again from the dead and I want him to come into my life. So here's my question to you.

Have you done it yet? Because Jesus, who did die on that cross and rose again from the dead three days later, is alive and standing at the door of your life right now and he's knocking and he's saying, if you'll hear my voice and open the door, I will come in. Would you like your sin forgiven? Would you like to know that when you die, you will go to heaven?

Do you want Christ to come into your life right now? If so, why don't you just stop whatever it is you're doing and pray this prayer with me. You could pray it out loud. You can pray it in the quietness of your own heart. But pray this prayer to God. Say, Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, but I know that you are the savior who died on the cross for my sin and rose again from the dead. I'm sorry for my sin and I turn from it now and I choose to follow you from this moment forward. I ask all of this in Jesus' name, amen. Listen, if you just prayed that prayer, the Bible promises that God has heard your prayer and has answered that prayer. The Bible says that we will confess our sin.

He's faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So, God bless you. You've made the right decision, the decision to follow Jesus Christ.

Yeah, that's right. And Pastor Greg would like to help you get started off right, living for the Lord. He'd like to send you his New Believers Bible. It features hundreds of helps for new believers, and it's written in an easy-to-understand translation. So contact us for your free copy of the New Believers Bible. Call us at 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or just go online to harvest.org and click Know God. Well, Pastor Greg, years ago, before you started preaching, some people may not know that you were a cartoonist.

True. But it's a skill that never left you, and you've taken that skill to a whole new level with a new project that we're launching just this month. It's called The Adventures of Ben Born Again and Yellow Dog. Tell us about that.

That's right. Well, yes, so these are our cartoons. I've never written a cartoon, so I needed a team of people to help me, and I found a very competent group of people that have helped me to write these, produce these. Even the voice actor is someone that's done professional work in cartoons, and the folks I've worked with have worked on other well-known animated films like The Iron Giant or Kung Fu Panda, and, you know, really gifted people that know how to communicate in this medium.

And so it's been a learning experience for me, but something I've really enjoyed along the way. And really also developing these characters more too because we had to figure everything out, like how tall is Ben Born Again and how tall is Yellow Dog compared to Ben Born Again and what does Ben Born Again's little VW bus actually look like and what does this skateboard look like and what color is it, what do the backgrounds look like and what does this voice sound like. And so we worked with all these things and developed it, and then it's almost like these characters have just come to life before my eyes and they're developed and now it's almost like it's sort of writing itself a little bit as we've sort of defined what Ben's role is, what Yellow Dog's role is, and soon we'll introduce other characters to the strip as well. So the first one is called Bridge Out and it's effectively an evangelistic cartoon.

Still very entertaining, lots of gags, very funny, but it brings across the message of the gospel. We have another one that deals with the theme of temptation and how to overcome it and the title of the cartoon is Never Kiss a Jellyfish Goodbye. So Yellow Dog's out in the ocean and Ben calls him in and so they get in the VW van, they're driving away and Yellow Dog obviously has had something happen to his face and Ben said, what happened? And he said, well, I was out playing with the jellyfish and I kissed it goodbye. So Ben now is warning Yellow Dog about things he should be careful of and things he should avoid. Never kiss a jellyfish goodbye or hug a puffer fish or, and then there's a whole list of things. In fact, let me just play a little excerpt from it so you can hear the conversation between Ben and Yellow Dog about these things.

Oh, this hurts. Yellow Dog, how did a jellyfish get on your face? Oh, well, I was swimming the shore and thought I'd just give this little guy a kiss goodbye. Yellow Dog, you never kiss a jellyfish.

Well, in case you're wondering, they do not taste like jelly. Oh, but he was just so cute, I couldn't resist. Like the time you kissed that dolphin goodbye? And when you hugged that octopus.

Yeah, or pet that electric eel or hug that puffer fish. Do you see a pattern here? When you embrace the wrong things, you get nothing but pain and suffering. You know what?

You're right. Every time I go to Krispy Krunch Donuts, I try to eat just one. And then I eat 12. And then you get sick.

I can resist anything but temptation. So Ben explains a Bible story now to Yellow Dog that's also animated. And he tells the story of Adam and Eve eating of the forbidden fruit.

And so Yellow Dog learns how to overcome temptation. But lots of gags, lots of laughs as you watch it. But it has poignant, powerful truth in it. And I think that the humor can be a great way to build a bridge to a listener. And so we have a lot of that in these cartoon adventures that we're calling The Adventures of Ben, Born Again, and Yellow Dog.

Yeah, that's right. And we're so anxious for you to see it. The first episode is available right now.

You can watch it today for free. Just use our new Harvest Plus app. Or, of course, you can find it at our website, Harvest.org. Spiritual lessons through the fast-paced Adventures of Ben, Born Again, and Yellow Dog. You know, it fits right in with our mission of going into unexpected places to reach unexpected people with an unexpected message. And you can help us continue to reach out with this animated series. Thanks for your partnership today. And Pastor Greg would like to send you something tangible to say thanks. It's a redesigned copy of The Living Water Tract in comic book form.

That's the project that started it all back in the 1970s. So get in touch today. You can call anytime 1-800-821-3300. That's 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to Harvest.org. Well, next time, Pastor Greg brings us more encouragement and insight from a look at the example of Caleb in Joshua 14. Join us here on A New Beginning with pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins. A New Beginning is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. If this show has impacted your life, share your story, leave a review on your favorite podcast app, and help others find hope.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-22 04:27:54 / 2024-02-22 04:39:19 / 11

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