Greg Laurie: A Grief Observed


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Driving back from Los Angeles yesterday I tuned my radio to K-Wave FM.

“The wave of living water” was a regular source of spiritual refreshment for me back in my Cali native days, so I decided to see if I could find a little encouragement to make the miles pass a little faster.

I wasn’t disappointed.

At 9:30 the morning service from Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside came on the air.

The pastor was one of my favorite Calvary Chapel alums, Greg Laurie.

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Now Greg is well known for messages that infuse serious Bible teaching with an infectious sense of humor, so I flipped on cruise control and prepared to be blessed.

Now Greg presented a message on dealing with temptation from Luke 4 that was great.

Memorable line – “When it comes to temptation, it isn’t the bait that gets you into trouble, but the bite.”

But what really impacted me was something Greg said while giving the announcements before the message.

Announcements?

Aren’t announcements the least spiritual part of any worship service?

Believe me, I know.

Having been the one who has been asked to do announcements throughout my ministry career,  I can tell you that in most cases, the only one who pays any attention to announcements are the people who come up to you before the service and say, “Oh! Could you please announce this activity, event or need our area of ministry is having? Thanks!”

The rest of the crowd?

Not so much.

The forecast for announcements usually calls for light to moderate glassy eyes, giving way to patches of yawning and occasional periods of nodding off before you’re through.

But this time of announcements was different.

Way different.

Greg took a moment to thank those who were there for all the support and encouragement his family had recieved the previous week.

You see it was the first anniversary of the accident that claimed the life of Greg’s son, Christopher.

In fact, Greg brought up his grand daughter Lucy to wave to the crowd.

Lucy was born to Christopher’s wife within a couple of months of his home going.

Even listening in on radio, it was easy to see this was what is known as a “moment”.

And I seriously doubt if anyone slept through that particular episode of announcements.

As my wife, Pam, and I talked about this we agreed that this time of crushing grief had certainly made an impact on Greg and his ministry.

There is a sense of depth and compassion, an even more realized sense of the importance of knowing Jesus, and knowing that our eternal destiny is a certain thing when we personally receive His gift of forgiveness and a living relationship with him, as Greg speaks.

But the other thing that hit me is that watching how Greg, Cathe and their entire family have handled this tragedy has generated an intense interest in listening to what Greg has to say.

During this last year, in a very sincere and honest way, the Laurie family has allowed a very broad group of onlookers to observe how Christians grieve.

This is not grief that runs six inches deep.

This is not so plastic, pull a nose hair so you can summon a tear on cue exercise in theatrics.

It is not a “Now I am happy all the day” plaster of platitudes.

It’s real hurt that comes in waves.

It’s real hope that calms the heart.

It’s a struggle with the wrong place at the wrong time senselessness of how Christopher died.

It’s the undeniable sense of God’s presence and the comfort of His truth.

It’s all these things, sometimes thrown in a blender and set for “puree”.

It’s real.

And it’s the Lord working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

And when I see a man who loves the Lord go through all of this and hang in there – I want to hear what God is teaching Him in His Word.

Maybe that’s what Peter was getting at when he said:

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;  nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;  and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. (I Peter 5:2-4)

There’s an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

But if that’s true, then a living example must be worth 10,000.

Greg Laurie has my ear as a teacher of God’s Word, not just for his skill as a speaker, but also because of the power of his personal example in the valley of the shadow of death.

Please remember to pray for the upcoming Harvest Crusades at Angels Stadium in Southern California!

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