Author Archives: Greg Laurie

#1 with a Bullitt!

This spring they actually found it.

Steve McQueen’s iconic 1968 Ford Mustang GT.

Only traces of its original highland green paint job remained as it had sat unnoticed in a backyard in Mexico for years. Collectors had been searching for it for decades.

Of course, this is not just any old ’68 Stang.

This was one of the original cars used in the classic Steve McQueen film Bullitt—a film that defined “cool” for a generation of Americans.

Now, I get it. This wasn’t discovering the Ark of the Covenant or the Ten Commandments, but the discovery stopped me dead in my tracks for two reasons.

First, I own a 1968 Bullitt myself. Not the original, of course, but a very close replica. You can call it my “midlife crisis”! People either “get it” or they don’t. On more than one occasion, when I have parked it in the lot, I will return with two or more admirers (always guys) standing by it with lots of questions.

Secondly, this story was of special interest to me because I’ve just spent a year of my life working on a new biography and documentary of Steve McQueen (with Marshall Terrill).

McQueen was Hollywood’s “King of Cool” for a reason. His legacy lives on in a new generation, as his image is ubiquitous in culture (especially the hipster culture). He also still appears in modern films like the recent remake of The Magnificent Seven. Yet, for most boomers like me, we can’t forget when we saw the original version of The Great Escape, as McQueen played Virgil Hilts in a role that propelled him to super-stardom. Then there’s his role as detective Frank Bullitt. He literally flies his car through the streets of San Francisco in what is regarded by many as the greatest car chase scene in cinematic history. Steve McQueen was not cool because he drove the Bullitt car. The Bullitt car was cool because Steve McQueen drove it.

At the time, Steve McQueen was the number-one movie star in the world, and he is still used as a point of reference for masculinity and “coolness” to this day. He was (and is) the definition of an American icon.

Only in America—with America’s dream—could McQueen transform his hardscrabble beginnings into epic stardom. Yet, until late in his life he struggled to find meaning in life, and he suffered because of it.

It might have been because he was born into a home of an alcoholic mother and a father that left him early in life, but eventually he found himself on the wrong side of the law more than once. Then, as his star began to rise higher and higher, he began to chase harder and harder after every pleasure this planet had to offer.

But notwithstanding all his fame and fortune, a colossal vacuum lived rent-free in Steve McQueen’s heart, a yawning chasm, a lack of purpose rooted in the absence of functional, involved parents. He spent his whole life avoiding his mother and searching for his father—searching for someone or something to stand in for him, someone to love him.

He had the best cars money could buy, the most beautiful women at his beck and call, drugs galore, booze until the well ran dry, and much more.

While still the top movie star on the planet, and with all the money and power in the world, he decided to search for more than this world could offer. That was the story I was interested in, and I chased it till I found it. Everyone knew about McQueen’s Bullitt! But I wanted to find McQueen’s salvation.

McQueen knew he needed God, and he found his way to salvation through Billy Graham’s gospel message. In fact, Billy visited him and gave him his personal New Testament from which he shared with him the teachings of Jesus. Tragically, Steve McQueen found out he had cancer about six months after his conversion.

His newfound faith played a key role in dealing with the hardship that was to come, and he fought with great faith and courage to the very end.

As Steve’s son Chad said in a recent interview, “I think Dad was finding his way to go to the next place. I remember, he would wake me up at seven in the morning to go to church, which never happened before he got ill. So I think he was looking for peace.”

When McQueen died on an operating table in Mexico trying one last time to beat back his cancer. He died clutching Billy Graham’s Bible.

He nearly missed it, but eventually he found what so many others need today, especially at the heights of fame and fortune. He needed faith in God.

This column appeared at the Fox News website.

The Joy of Evangelism

It is my firm belief that God can use you to bring others into His kingdom. Why would God tell us to engage in this thing we call evangelism if it were not so? Know this: the calling of God is the enabling of God.

I believe that God wants to use all of us to bring people to Himself. The book of Proverbs says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). Scripture also tells us, “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who turn many to righteousness will shine like stars forever” (Daniel 12:3 NLT).

Let’s start with the question of who is called to “go into all the world and preach the gospel?” Answer: You are! We are! Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).

In the original language, these words are addressed to everyone. Not just pastors, evangelists, and missionaries, but everyone: businessmen, housewives, students . . . everyone. No one is exempted.

Also, in the original language, this is a command. Jesus is not saying, “If you can find time in your busy schedule, as a personal favor to Me, would you mind going into all the world and preaching the gospel?” No, as our Savior, Lord, and Commander-in-Chief. He says “Go!” This is not “The Great Suggestion,” but rather “The Great Commission.”

If I am His disciple, I am commanded to go and make disciples of others. If I am not making disciples of others, then I’m not really being the disciple He wants me to be! For many of us, however, it is “The Great Omission,” instead of “The Great Commission.” We are simply not doing it.

Let me say something provocative to you: to not do it is a sin! The Bible tells us, “Any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

But God doesn’t want you to share the gospel out of mere duty, but with joy and passion. One of the most exciting and fulfilling things you can do is tell others about Jesus. This message God has given us was meant to be shared, not hoarded. You were blessed to be a blessing. When you do not share, you begin to stagnate; when you do, you revive. Scripture tells us that those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed (see Proverbs 11:25).

We have a choice: evangelize or fossilize!

Wow, what an incredible Harvest America we had Sunday, June 11!

This could not have happened without the faithful and generous support of Harvest Partners like yourself! We can’t thank you enough and are asking the Lord to encourage you right where you are in your walk with Him!

Here are some of the stats:

Stadium Attendance: 38,000
Stadium Professions of Faith: 2,904
Host Sites: 3,758
Host Site Attendance: 83,700
Live Unique Viewers: 42,305
Online Professions of Faith: 494
Countries Viewed From: 83
Facebook Live Viewers: 120,642

In case you didn’t get to catch the Harvest America event, you can click here to watch it. (You might want to also invite someone who doesn’t know the Lord to join you in watching this life-changing event.)

Thank you again—it seems we can’t say it enough!

If you would like to watch a short recap of what happened at Harvest America, click here.

Tell Your Story

“Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” So the people came streaming from the village to see him.
John 4:29-30

One of the most effective tools you have in your evangelistic toolbox is telling your story, your personal testimony about how you came to believe in Jesus. After a conversation with Jesus at the well, the Samaritan woman—minutes old in the faith—immediately went out and told others. The Bible tells us that “many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, ‘He told me everything I ever did!'” (John 4:39).

It is the power of a changed life. Use your story, because it is a way to preach to a person without preaching at a person. People don’t like to be preached to. Your story is a bridge. You can say, “Let me tell you my story. I didn’t always believe these things. Here is what I used to be. Here is the way I used to live. Here is what I used to think. But here is what I heard, and this is how it changed my life.” They can argue with a sermon, but they can’t argue with your story. They can’t argue with what God has done for you. So use that story to build the bridge.

Telling your story is a powerful bridge for the gospel message. It is merely a bridge to tell His story. It is not about you; it is about Him. So when you tell your story, don’t glorify or exaggerate your past. Sometimes I have heard people give their testimonies, and the story gets more dramatic with the telling. Sometimes Christians want to make their story more dramatic to be more impressive. Just tell the truth.

Don’t boast about what you gave up for God, but about what God gave up for you. We gave up guilt. We gave up judgment. We gave up Hell. And in their place, God gave us purpose and meaning and Heaven. And remember, it is not about you. It is about Him.

Help share the Good News!

People often refer to the gospel as the “Good News.” And we are declaring 2017 as the Year of Good News! So what exactly is the Good News?

The apostle Paul summed up the gospel when he wrote, “It is this Good News that saves you if you firmly believe it…. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said” (1 Corinthians 15:2-3 NLT).

To help you know what the gospel is and to share it, here are some important reminders about the gospel:

  • We all stand as sinners before a holy God (Romans 5:6-8)
  • Jesus Christ is the only way to God (John 14:6)
  • The cornerstone of the gospel is Christ’s death and resurrection

Knowing what the gospel is, what should our response be?

  • Realize that you are a sinner and ask God for forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9)
  • Recognize that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you (Romans 5:8)
  • Repent of your sin (Acts 3:19)
  • Receive Jesus Christ into your heart and life (Revelation 3:20)

So next time someone asks, “What’s so good about the gospel!” You can tell them the news and why it is good!

If you haven’t added your voice yet to the Year of Good News, click here.

When We Need Revival

Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. (Revelation 2:4)

If you want to experience revival in your life, then hang out with a brand-new believer. It is the
best thing you can do for your own spiritual health. A brand-new believer is fired up and has questions that will have you digging back into the Scriptures again. You stabilize that new Christian, and he or she reenergizes you. Everyone benefits.

On the other hand, if you hang around with jaded Christians, with those who have even become cynical, then you need some new friends. Sometimes people worry about new believers not changing quickly enough, but I am more concerned with older believers who have stopped changing altogether. They are settled in their ways. Maybe they have traded in old vices like immorality, drinking, drugs, or profanity and replaced them with new ones like pride, backbiting,gossip, or bitterness.

I find it interesting that 80 to 90 percent of the Christians who personally share their faith have been believers for two years or less. In other words, most people who come to Christ through personal evangelism have done so because someone young in the faith shared the gospel with them.

I think this is because new believers are still discovering what God has done for them. They are still excited about it. As we get older in the faith and have walked with the Lord for a time, we start taking these things for granted sometimes. That means we need revival. We need to be brought back to that place where we once were, where we realize how important it is to share with others what Jesus has done for us.

If we have no desire to share our faith, then we need personal revival. Revived people are evangelistic people because their evangelism is a result of a Christ-filled life.

Four Keys to Answered Prayer

Have you ever been frustrated because your prayers seem to go unanswered?  Do you find yourself asking God, “Doesn’t Your Word say, ‘You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you’?” (John 15:7 NKJV).  Before you begin wondering if God is not listening, think about what the first part of that verse says, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you. . . .” (John 15:7).

To abide in Christ means you are living in continual fellowship with God.  In time, you become so in tune with God and His Word, you begin to know what He wants.  That is when you will really begin seeing answered prayer.

To help you abide in Christ and have a time of intimate prayer, here are four relevant reminders on answered prayer.

  1. Answered prayer begins with seeking God’s will on earth—not your will in heaven (see Matthew 6:33).
  2. Before God answers your prayers, you first need to confess your sins to God (see Psalm 66:18).
  3. Answered prayers are prayers that include praise (see Luke 11:2).
  4. God answers prayers that are based upon His promises (see Exodus 32:14).

Apply these biblical principles to your daily prayer life and witness mighty and powerful things result from your prayers.

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” Jeremiah 33:3

The Value of a Soul

I have been asked, “Why do you go out and do Harvest Crusades? Why do you travel to different areas of the country, taking time away from your church and your family to do this? What’s your motive?”

Why do I go out and do this?

Is it the thrill of speaking in front of large crowds? No, I can’t say that’s it because, in many cases, the crowds may be smaller than our combined attendance at Harvest Christian Fellowship on a given Sunday.

Is it the thrill of travel? Absolutely not. The novelty of travel wore off a long time ago.

Is it because it’s a lot of fun? Well, we do have a lot of fun. But it isn’t all fun. In reality, it’s a lot of work.

Jesus told the story of a shepherd who had 100 sheep and one went astray. What did the shepherd do? Did he say, “Win a few, lose a few. Too bad”?

No, he left the 99 and went after that one sheep. You see, God doesn’t just value multitudes; He values individuals. He values the human soul.

Several years ago, my neighbor told me about a man named Roy who lived in our neighborhood. Roy had a very serious heart ailment, and there was nothing more that could be done for him. So he had been discharged from the hospital and was basically sent home to die.

My neighbor said to me, “Roy is not a Christian, but he has been to one of your crusades. Maybe you should try and talk to him.”

One morning, my wife and I were out walking when my neighbor pointed out Roy to us. So we walked over to him and introduced ourselves. As we talked, it became clear that Roy was not a believer. He had a lot of questions.

Every day, we ran into him and would talk a little bit more. Then I gave Roy a copy of one of  my books which presented the gospel message. I encouraged him to take the book home and read it and then asked if we could talk again.

Roy came back the next day and said, “I read your whole book.” He had more questions. We talked a little bit more, but Roy still did not seem ready to make a commitment to Christ.

One morning, as we were having family devotions, I looked out the window. There was Roy, standing in front of our house. He was out on a walk and had stopped to rest, right in front of our house.

Here we were, reading the Bible, and Roy was standing there. I sensed it was time. So I walked outside and said, “Roy, let’s talk a little more.” As we talked, I said, “Roy, I think you need to settle this right now. You need to get right with God. Why don’t you pray right now and give your life to Christ?”

He said, “I’m ready to do that.”

“Great,” I said. So we prayed, and Roy asked the Lord to come into his life.

The next morning, we saw Roy. He had a big smile on his face. He said he had just been singing “Jesus Loves Me.” Every time we saw Roy, it seemed like he had grown a little more.

His son-in-law told me later that Roy went to his whole family and announced, “You are looking at a brand-new Christian right now!”

Some time later, Roy’s son-in-law knocked on our door. He said, “Roy died last night. I wanted to tell you.”

Certainly there was sadness. But there also was the joy of knowing that Roy was in his new body in heaven. I thought to myself, “What if I had been too busy?” We can make up so many excuses. But God had provided me with a wonderful opportunity to talk with Roy.

So why take the time to share the gospel and hold events like the Harvest Crusades? The answer is obvious: it’s the value of a soul.

God values the Roys of the world. He values you. And He values me. Yet in our culture today, we often place the greatest value on that which, for the most part, has no value. Meanwhile, we completely ignore that which has the greatest value.

Is anything worth more than a soul? The answer, obviously, is no. God values the human soul. And so should we.

We Love Hearing from You!

Recently, Pastor Greg received an e-mail from a Harvest Partner that blessed us as we heard firsthand how the ministry was impacting her walk.

Hello Pastor Greg,
I would like to thank you for your faithfulness as a devoted servant of God in Christ Jesus. I am a Harvest Partner and have listened to you for the past 10 years. I have truly experienced lessons of discipleship through your ministry. Thank you for making the word of God plain enough for me to understand and gentle enough for me to obey.

God is doing miraculous things in my life, taking me to new levels. I am now teaching Sunday school at my church (using a bit of your teaching style of course)! As a registered nurse, I am also seeking to use my talents for God’s kingdom through medical missions. I apologize for not thanking you sooner, please credit to my head and not my heart.

Yours in Christ,

If you also have benefitted by the ministry of Harvest, we would love to hear from you! Comment below.

The Person God Uses

Have you ever wanted to be used by God?

I believe it is a God-given desire to want to serve the Lord. But maybe you’ve wondered what qualifications the Lord looks for in the life of a man or woman that He would use. In the book of Joshua, we can find at least seven principles that apply to the person God uses.

Principle one: God uses people who realize they are weak. In Joshua 1, God told Joshua to “be strong and courageous” a total of three times in four verses. Why? It was probably because He knew Joshua was afraid—and understandably so.

Moses was gone. Now God had raised up Joshua to lead the people of Israel, and he hardly felt adequate for the task.

It isn’t a bad thing to discover that we are weak. In fact, it is quite good. As Warren Wiersbe has said, “You can never be too small for God to use—only too big.”

Principle two: God uses people who are faithful. Joshua had been Moses’ helper, or as the New King James Version puts it, “Moses’ assistant” (see Joshua 1:1). Joshua was the guy who was there to help Moses get the job done.

He had been born in Egypt and, along with Caleb, would be the only Israelite from the great Exodus to survive the wilderness wandering and make it into the Promised Land. Joshua was a faithful man and a worthy successor to Moses.

Principle three: God uses people who study and live by His Word. God told Joshua, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night . . . ” (1:8 nkjv). If you want to be used by God, then you need to know the Word of God. “Meditate in it day and night,” God said to Joshua.

The word meditate means, “to ponder, to consider, to contemplate.” This is where you will have the authority when you are used by God.

Principle four: God uses the person who is patient and waits on His timing. Imagine wandering around the wilderness for 40 years, and finally you are on the brink of entering the Promised Land. Then God says, “Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land . . . ’” (1:11 nkjv).

We need to learn to wait on God’s timing, because there is a time and a way to do what God calls us to do.

Principle five: God uses the person who cares about lost souls. There was a lost soul to be saved before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, and her name was Rahab. God would not judge Jericho until Rahab had been reached and told what to do to avoid this judgment that was coming when the Israelites attacked.

God’s heart always is to save people. Every soul is precious to Him. God always cares about individuals, and so should we.

Principle six: God uses the person who sets himself or herself apart. Joshua told the people, “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” (3:5 nkjv). The word sanctify means, “to set yourself apart, to live a holy life.”

It comes down to this: if you want to be used by God, then you will want to live a life that is right before Him. You don’t need to be perfect. But you need to be someone who is attempting to live a godly life.

Principle seven: God uses the person who knows how to work with others. A good leader will communicate with and encourage the people he or she works with.

That is what Joshua did. He called the people together and encouraged them. They were about to undertake a very difficult task. It was going to take faith. He was saying to the people, “Hear what God is saying to you, and let’s move forward.”

Joshua was communicating with the people he was leading, and he was encouraging them. If you want to be used by God, then this is what you need to do.

The Bible says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chronicles 16:9 nkjv). Will you be that person He can use?

Click here to download a PDF of Seven Principles to Be Used card.