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My Passion for the Harvest (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
February 24, 2023 5:00 am

My Passion for the Harvest (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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February 24, 2023 5:00 am

Pastor Greg Laurie describes his troubled past, growing up in the turbulent 1960’s. As an illegitimate child, Greg questioned whether his life had any meaning or purpose. While his single mom was out partying, Greg sought solace through drugs and alcohol in his pre-teen years. Greg reminds listeners that we’re all in a search that can only be satisfied by a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ. (Part 2 of 2)


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So I was illegitimate.

And I have to tell you something. When you find out you are illegitimate that you weren't planned that is kind of disconcerting. Because you ask yourself the question was I even meant to be? Was I a mistake? Is my life an accident?

Or does God have a plan for me despite my rather inauspicious beginnings? Well that's an interesting perspective from our guest today on Focus on the Family, Greg Laurie. And we'll hear what answers he found to those questions today. Thanks for joining us.

Your host is Focus President Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller. You know John, I could relate to those questions Greg was asking because my birth wasn't planned either. I was what they call the oops baby. My closest sibling is my sister Dee and she's six years older than me.

And they're all about a year, year and a half apart. So I understand what it's like to wonder am I a mistake? Does God have a plan for me? And as we heard yesterday Greg had a tumultuous childhood because of his mother's promiscuous lifestyle. And by the time he got into high school he was doing drugs on a regular basis. But a chance meeting with a winsome Christian girl led Greg into a relationship with Jesus Christ. And he was able to quit drugs cold turkey. And as we pick up the story today Greg's figuring out what it means to be a Christian in his daily walk as a high school student in Southern California.

And this was in the late 60s, 1960s in Orange County California. Here now Greg Laurie speaking at his church Harvest Christian Fellowship on today's Focus on the Family. So now it's back at school. It's Monday and I think alright alright I'm going to go to a Jesus freak meeting. And their language mystified me. What were these people talking about? You know it's praise the Lord this and hallelujah that and the body of Christ and the blood of Jesus. And what are they saying? This is so weird. And I was having a really hard time figuring it out and deciphering the language of Christians. So I thought I don't know if I am going to make this really.

I don't know if this is going to work for me. And I remember I was walking you know along the campus and still sort of in that little in between spot and some guy who would recognize me from one of the meetings yells out to me across the lawn, brother Greg. I am like oh gee don't. Brother Greg.

Hey how you doing? Bro. Yes. I got something for you.

He is a really loud guy you know. And what is that? I got you a Bible.

And he holds up. It is not a nice looking Bible like the one I am holding in my hands. This is like a really big Bible. And it was this really distressed kind of leather.

But it had popsicle sticks glued together in the shape of a cross. Oh come on. Bro. It is the Word of God. Read it.

Right. So I take the Bible. I had a jacket and I shoved this Bible as deep into the pocket as I could. I thought I have got to hide this thing somewhere.

I am not carrying this publicly. So I hadn't gone to visit my friends for a long time. I went over to one of their homes that we would usually go to every lunch time.

We would get loaded at lunch time and go back to class. And I went over there and they hadn't seen me for a while. And I go up to this guy's house and I have got this big old Bible in my pocket.

I can't walk in with this. So there was a planter out front. There was some little greenery there. So I took my Bible out and put it in the plants.

Hit it. I was a really bold witness for Christ you know. So I walked in this room and my friend said, Greg how have you been? I said, I have been fine. Where have you been? I don't know.

Where? What have you been doing? Oh nothing.

And the Holy Spirit is speaking to my heart and He is saying, you tell them about me. And I am saying, no. No. So Greg you want to get loaded? No. Come on man. Let's get loaded.

No. I don't want to do that. Why not?

I just don't want to get loaded. They can seem really uptight. Well Greg you are acting weird. I am not acting weird.

They are all just looking at me. All of a sudden the front door opens up. My friend's mom walks in and she is holding my Bible with a popsicle sticks. I found this in the bushes.

Who does this belong to? She has kids doing drugs in her house and she is searching the bushes for a Bible. Holding up the Bible with the popsicle sticks crossed. Every eye looked at the Bible. And every eye looked at me.

Somehow they knew there was a connection. I said, that is mine. So I reach out and take it. They say, what is that? It is a bubble. A what? It is a Bible. A what? It is a Bible. A Bible.

Grab it. One of my friends said, Oh praise the Lord brother Greg. Are we going to be a Christian now? I said, no.

What we are going to do is punch you in the mouth. What do you think about that? I hadn't read 1 Corinthians 13 yet you see. I just hid the Bible.

I didn't read it. So they started to mock me and give me a hard time and harass me. And I thought, well isn't this interesting.

These are my buddies man. These are the guys I hang around with and they are giving me a hard time because I am a Christian now. And I thought, I don't want this life anymore. I am done with this. So I started going to the Christian meetings and I didn't even know about church. This is how crazy it was. I basically thought all the Christians were on my high school campus.

I didn't know there was a worldwide thing called Christianity. I am serious. I knew nothing. Nothing.

When I tell you this believe me. So a guy comes up to me. I have never met him before at school. The next day his name is Mark. He says, hey Greg I saw that you prayed and accepted Christ.

I am like, yeah. He goes, I want you to go to church with me. And I said, well where? And he goes, it is a place called Calvary Chapel. So he picks me up and he takes me to this church.

And then what do you know? But someone in the front row of the church recognizes me from school and waves, we have got a seat for you Greg. So I walk down to the front and I sit there and you know I mean I believe in Jesus alright. I do. But I just am uncomfortable with all this still.

I am not feeling like I fit in yet. And this guy comes out to speak. He is old. He is bald.

They called him Pastor Chuck Smith. I fold my arms. Adults.

What can they tell me? He smiles and it is like his face lights up like a light bulb. Wow.

I really can smile you know. And he starts to read from the Bible and teach. And it is like it makes sense. I am going, hey that makes sense. Well that is actually what I was just thinking.

Hey that is what I needed to know. And all of a sudden I am hearing the Word of God in a way I have never heard it before. So I am back to the next night. I am back to the next night.

I am going every night of the week. I can't get enough. I am just absorbing all of this information. And my life is changing. Then I remember I went down to a Christian bookstore and I found a book by Billy Graham called The Jesus Generation. And I started reading it. I like this Billy Graham guy.

I remember him from my grandparents house. This is great what he was saying. And my heart is starting to kind of burn you see. I am thinking, you know I want to help other people like me come to Jesus. Well I am a cartoonist you see.

This is what I do. And how do I use the ability of drawing cartoons for God? So I decide to illustrate one of the sermons I heard Pastor Chuck give the week before on the woman at the well. And he spoke about living water. So I drew a cartoon character with a big old hole in his heart and talked about how we all have a hole in our heart.

But if we believe in Jesus He will give us living water. And I drew this and I thought I am just going to go show this to Chuck Smith. I found out where he lived. Went over to his house. Knocked on the door. Hi Chuck.

I am Greg Laurie. And I just drew this cartoon strip and thought you might like to see it. He is like, oh.

Oh my. And Chuck says he liked it and said, why don't we print this up in a little booklet form. And so I redrew it and it became a little booklet that became known as The Living Water Track.

And we handed him out on the streets and when it was all said and done there were like three million of those crazy little things that went out. And so I began to wonder you know maybe God is calling me to be a Christian cartoonist and maybe He will even use me to speak one day. I always had this fear of public speaking. But I wanted to speak. I wanted to reach others for Jesus. I was sort of torn.

It was kind of this in between spot. But I do remember when I led my first person to the Lord it blew my mind. I was out on the beach at Huntington and I was looking for someone to talk to about God because Chuck told us we should share our faith. And there was this lady just sitting there and I thought I will talk to her. She won't get mad.

She is an older lady. And I remember I very nervously just read to her the contents of a little booklet I had, The Four Spiritual Laws from Campus Crusade for Christ. And as I read it to her I am thinking to myself, this isn't going to work. This lady isn't going to believe in Jesus.

There is just no way that God could use someone like me. But as you get to the end of the booklet there is a question it asked and the question is, is there any good reason why you should not accept Jesus Christ right now? So I asked her that and she says no. Which meant she wanted to accept Jesus. And I looked at her and I said, are you saying that you want to accept Jesus? And she said yes. And I went, oh no.

What have I gotten myself into? So in the most reverent tone I could muster I said, let's bow our head for a word of prayer. He didn't want to say heads because there is only one person you see. But Chuck would say bow our heads but there is one so I head. You can bow your head. So she prays and I am frantically searching this booklet for a prayer to pray. I find it. I lead her in this prayer. And as I am leading her in the prayer I am thinking, there is no way this is going to work.

Well you know what? After we were done praying she said, something just happened to me. And I thought, yeah something just happened to me too.

I got a taste of what it was to be used by God. Fast forward now ten years and I am pastoring the church now and I am thinking about Oscar. We have a son Christopher. And I am thinking I would love Christopher to meet Oscar.

I wonder if he is even still alive. So we had a girl in our church that worked for the Bar Association and I said, hey could you see if you could find a guy named Oscar Laurie. He would be somewhere in the east coast. Oh she found him immediately. And so I got his phone number and I called his office. And the reason I called was because I was going to be back in New York speaking at Central Park. And I thought I might just pay him a visit and maybe tell him a little bit about my new life in Christ. So I called his office and his secretary answered Oscar Laurie's office and I said, hello is Mr. Laurie in? She said, no. And I said, well would you tell him I called? She said, all right.

What is your name? I said, Greg Laurie. She said, how do you spell that? I said L-A-U-R-I-E just like he spells his last name.

This is his son. It was like a moment of silence. Ok.

I will get right back to you. And my dad calls me. He was so excited to hear from me. He says, Greg I want to see you again. And I said, well dad we will just have lunch maybe. No.

No. You have to come to our house and visit us. So I get off the train and it is like I went back in time. There is my dad again.

He was older but he looked pretty much the same. In no time at all I was calling him dad. We went back over our life and I found out that he heard about the life I was living being tossed around living here.

Living there. The crazy lifestyle I was in with my mom. And he had tried to get custody of me but my mom had fought him tooth and nail. And another thing that happened to Oscar.

He had had a severe heart attack and had just recently blacked out at the wheel of his car and had almost died. And so he was really glad he said to see me. So that night we had dinner and he married a very nice lady named Barbara who was a great cook. And she made us a wonderful Italian meal. And afterwards she said, Greg tell me your story of how you came to believe in Jesus.

And so I am telling Barbara how I came to faith in Christ. My dad is sitting on the other end of the table and I just remember he had his hand kind of up to his face sort of like both hands like this listening. I felt like I was in a courtroom and he was the judge. And it wasn't going well. He wasn't smiling. He wasn't reacting favorably.

He was an academic. And here I am this young preacher telling him these things that I believe in. So he said to me that night, Greg I need to take my walk every morning because of my heart condition. Will you walk with me? I said, yeah dad I will. So the next morning he knocks on the door of the room I am staying in and I stumble out. It is 6 o'clock New Jersey time. 3 o'clock California time. So I am really tired.

We are walking along and the cold New Jersey air is there. And he turns to me and says, Greg I listened very carefully to what you said last night. I said, yeah. He says, I want to accept Jesus Christ right now.

Well that will wake you up faster than a double cappuccino you know. And so I said, now wait a second dad maybe you don't understand what I was saying. Now let me go over it again. So I go over the whole thing again of what it means to be a Christian.

What it means to believe in Jesus. He says, yes I want to do that right now. And I said, well and we are walking at this point.

We are in a park. And I said, well what we need to do is pray. He said, all right. And he drops to his knees. Well I wasn't going to get on my knees.

But here is my dad on his knees in the park. So I get down on my knees and I put my arm around his shoulder and I lead him in a prayer to accept Christ. And immediately after the prayer he says, Jesus is just coming to my life Greg. I know it. I am sure of it.

It was one of the most dramatic conversions I have ever seen. And then he said, let's pray that God will heal my heart now. I believe God will heal my heart.

Now dad calm down. Wait a second. We don't know. No. I believe He will heal my heart.

Ok. So we prayed for his heart. He says, I think I am healed Greg. Let's go tell my doctor.

I am like, dad I don't. So we walked over to his doctor's office. He is a nice Jewish gentleman. And in comes Oscar with his son the preacher from Southern California who he just prayed with who led him to Jesus. And by the way his heart is healed. The doctor says, now Oscar we need to run some tests on you.

We don't know if you are better. Well sure enough God had touched his heart. He lived 15 more years. One down. There is a bunch more to go. See I could have a full time ministry sharing the gospel with my mom's old husbands. So I think I am on a roll.

I am going after all of them now. And I would like to tell you that we had success stories with every one but we didn't. But then there was my mom. Is my mom ever going to come to Christ?

Here I am preaching in crusades and we are seeing all these people come to faith and my own mother at least that I can see is not a Christian. And so I went and told her the story of Oscar. I thought that would really touch her heart.

Mom remember Oscar. Here is what happened. Told her the whole story. She said, that is nice. I said, well what do you think about it? She said, I don't want to talk about it.

That was my mom's standard reply to everything. I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to talk about it. And as the years passed all that rough living began to take its toll. The drinking.

The partying. Her kidneys were failing. She had to get dialysis three times a week. My mom was miserable. She hated it. She was always a strong proud woman that liked to fend for herself.

She hated to be dependent on other people. And her heart began to soften just ever so slightly every time we saw her. So I went over to her house.

She was alone. And I said, we need to talk about your relationship with God. She said, I don't want to talk about it.

I said, you are going to talk about it. See my mom ran from the Lord to the world. And I ran from the world to the Lord. And her view of Christianity was rules and regulations. And granted according to my aunt they were raised in a very strict Christian church that maybe had a few too many rules. And my mom wanted to have fun. She wanted to party.

She wanted to enjoy life. And that didn't appeal to her you see. So she ran from that. And what happens her own son becomes not only a Christian but a stinking preacher.

There was no escape for her. So I said, mother do you consider yourself a Christian? And much to my shock she said, yes I do. I said, what?

You do? She said, yes I do. I said, well I was dumbfounded to hear this because I always thought of her as just a nonbeliever.

Never thought of her as someone who maybe believed and had been running from God. And I said, well if you are a Christian why don't you go to church? And she kind of looked at me like, yeah that is true.

And then read your Bible. And she was you know listening to me. And so that Sunday she showed up here at church.

We were so excited about this change we were seeing in our life. I got her a TV with a little built-in DVD player. And I got her a bunch of Billy Graham DVDs and some Chuck Smith DVDs and threw in a couple of her son too you know. And I was just looking forward to having some wonderful years with my mom as a follower of Jesus. But then about a month later she died unexpectedly. I believe I will see her again in heaven.

And I believe she has found now what she was always looking for for her entire life in the presence of God with her as fullness of joy and on His right hand pleasures forever more. You see my life should have been a complete disaster. The deck was stacked against me in every way. Now I don't know what the pattern of sin is in your family. The Bible says that the sins of the parents can be visited on the children. And I don't believe that is speaking of some weird generational curse.

But rather it is simply saying that we often repeat the behavior of our parents. I could have ended up in a lot of places. But God intervened in my life and changed it. And God can break in and change your story too. Because the Bible says, "'If any man be in Christ, he is an altogether different kind of person. The old things have passed away.

Behold, everything becomes fresh and new.'" My mom left home and eloped and married a man at the age of 17. I became a Christian at the age of 17. In the Bible there is a story of a young boy who was 17 when his brother sold him into slavery. His name was Joseph. Betrayed by his own flesh and blood.

And then later accused falsely of rape. Everything came against Joseph. He had done nothing to deserve it. But through God's providence Joseph became the second most powerful man in the world. And one day his brothers, who had done this horrific thing to him, appeared before him and he with one word could have had them all put to death. But instead he saw his brothers and his heart broke and he began to weep and he made this statement. As far as I am concerned what you meant for evil God has turned into good and brought me to where I am today so I can save the lives of many people.

God can take bad things and turn them into good things. I mentioned my grandmother Mama Stella. She cooked everything from scratch. I mean when we had chicken it was fresh.

When we had vegetables they were from my grandfather's garden. And she made these wonderful biscuits. And when I get to heaven first thing Mama Stella. Well not first thing.

After I have worshiped Jesus for 3,000 years. Ok. Mama Stella I need some biscuits. But I would watch her make them. The ingredients weren't appealing in and of themselves. Vegetable oil. Self-rising flour. And of course buttermilk. And I don't know about you but I think buttermilk is sick tasting. And I don't mean that in the youthful way like sick as in good. I mean sick as in sick.

Not good. In the same way God takes the events of our lives, the good things, the so-called bad things, and puts them in the oven of adversity and when it is all done we say it is good. And here is what the Bible says in Psalm 139 16. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book.

Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Then Psalm 22. I was thrust upon you at my birth.

You have been my God from the moment I was born. See I never had an earthly father. But one day I discovered I had a Father in heaven. And David said, Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up. My father Oscar once showed me our family crest for the Laurie family.

The family I was adopted into. It is an image of a stump that has been cut off and has a fresh growth coming out of it with the word rapulalot which means it buds afresh. And I remember when he showed that to me and I thought that is my life.

It was cut off. But God brought new growth out of it. And God can do that for you as well. Because you see we are all in a search. We are just like that prodigal son.

We are running from God. But I want you to know the same Jesus that changed my life can change your life right now. Forget the past. Don't live in the past.

Don't be crippled by the past. God had a plan for me even though I was illegitimate because there are no illegitimate children in the eyes of God. He loves every single one of us. What a great summation of the life of Pastor Greg Laurie as recorded at his church Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California on today's Focus on the Family. And John the Lord has used this man in such mighty ways. I'm sure many of our listeners are familiar with Pastor Greg's Harvest Crusades which began back in the 1990s and swept across North America.

He even did a couple here I think in Colorado Springs. If you count the people who attended in person plus those who viewed the events via the webcast Pastor Greg was able to reach more than 9.4 million people. Isn't that amazing. And that's what God can do with a life any life no matter how that person came to be conceived no matter what their upbringing a life that's submitted to the lordship of Jesus Christ is a life that can be used by God. And Jim you mentioned earlier about how you could relate to Greg's story.

In many respects you're kind of the same kind of testimony. Maybe that's true but it's been such an awesome experience to be used by God through the work we do here at Focus on the Family and to see our reach extend all the way around the world through this broadcast and other resources that we offer is so rewarding. We have an amazing staff here and I'm so grateful to be part of Focus on the Family's efforts to lead people to Christ strengthen or save their marriages and improve their parenting skills. What a great opportunity. And often I have donors come up to me and say we do ministry through Focus on the Family. You've got the vehicle the broadcast the resources the staff and we're happy to provide the fuel to keep the vehicle going. So let me encourage you to think of Focus on the Family as your ministry opportunity as well.

Here's one example of our impact from Crystal in California. She said I experienced a lot of hardship growing up and it seemed like I was living a replay of my childhood and I didn't know how to stop it. Focus on the Family rescued me from those bad patterns and with God's grace gave me the tools I needed in my marriage and also in my parenting. Thank you. And I would say that's the Lord we're just the tools being used. Yeah it's wonderful when people like Crystal are able to find help through this ministry I'm so glad that she could do that. Well there's a lot of people John just like Crystal who need our help together. So please partner with Focus on the Family by making a donation and when you make a donation of any amount we'll send you Pastor Greg's behind the scenes look at the Jesus movement in Southern California. It's called Jesus Revolution How God Transformed an Unlikely Generation and How He Can Do It Again Today. And when you get the book from us we'll include a free audio download of this entire presentation with quite a bit of extra content. Donate and help us continue serving families who need the Lord. Just give us a call 800 the letter A in the word family or follow the link in the show notes to donate to the work of Focus on the Family and request your copy of the book Jesus Revolution. And remember that exclusive extra content in the audio download as well.

And it may be that you've seen some of the ads for the Jesus Revolution that's a major motion picture out a limited time run in theaters. Be sure to look for the listings in your area. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team thanks for listening to this Focus on the Family podcast. If you would please do a couple of things to help us out here. Help spread the word by leaving a rating in your podcast app and then think of somebody and tell them about this presentation from Greg Laurie. Share the gospel and the hope that Greg found. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-24 07:15:30 / 2023-02-24 07:26:41 / 11

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