I’m still answering questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday last month, and these 2 may help people: “Are those who die in infancy saved?”
Great question, because for anyone who has lost a child in death, besides the immediate sorrow and heartbreaking pain, is that eternal concern: is my baby in heaven?
It would be easy for me to just answer this question from sentimentality, and say, ‘of course infants go to heaven, because God is good and surely all innocent babies go to heaven’ – but sentimentality is not a Biblical reason. Many people today, even Christians, entertain a very dangerous and false teaching known as universalism, which simply says everyone will go to heaven. But the Bible does NOT teach that. Scripture teaches that we are born into sin and that we must receive Jesus as our Savior in order to be saved.
However, I believe the Bible also teaches that infants who die ARE saved, for these reasons:
- 2Cor. 5:10 clearly states that we will be judged by God for the sins we have done in our earthly body, NOT for Adam’s sin. Since infants have not committed sins, they are saved.
- In Deut. 1:35, God specifically told the people of Israel that they would not be allowed entrance into the Promised Land because of their sin, but then in Deut. 1:39, God specifically exempted their innocent children from that judgement. Since these ‘little ones’ had no knowledge of good and evil, they would not be judged for their father’s sins, but would inherit the Promised Land.
- Jesus made it quite clear in Mark 10:14 that little children belong to Him, and He welcomes them!
Yes, I believe infants and small children who die are in heaven with our loving Savior!
The second question is “where are our loved ones who died in Christ”?
I am convinced by Scripture that those who died in Christ are with the Lord – 2Cor. 5:1-8 and Phil. 1:21-24 both indicate that when we leave this life, we are immediately with the Lord – if we are believers, that is – those who did not receive Christ before death will await their final judgment in hell.
I hope this helped a bit. If you’d like to add to my answers, or perhaps ask a question of your own, please leave a comment below-
And don’t forget that THIS SUNDAY at each CLC campus is Generosity Sunday as we bring a great close to our ‘Moneywise’ series-
We’ll be headed to the airport in a couple of hours, feeling quite fulfilled in this ministry assignment – but can’t wait for this “Generosity Sunday” at each campus of CLC – it’s going to be a GREAT close to our “Moneywise” series – hope you’ll bring a friend!
We have two more sessions tomorrow afternoon and evening before heading back to the airport for the first of three flights that will get us home on Thursday afternoon. Thanks for your prayers – we feel it’s going very well based on the responses from these precious pastors!
We always insist on our CLC missions trips to include one “fun day” for the team to do some sightseeing or local activities – but when Chris and I travel for missions, we seldom practice what we preach. But this trip is an exception, and today was our fun day before the ministry begins tomorrow. (It would have been more fun had we checked the weather forecast this week instead of last week. We packed nothing but long-sleeved shirts only to get here and discover that the forecast had changed and high’s are in the 90’s for our entire stay!) Oh well, the joys of international travel.
But what was fun was our 11-hour excursion that enabled us to see practically the entire Crimean peninsula and some breathtaking views of the Black Sea, as well as a delicious lunch with our friends here. But the highlight was a visit to Livadia Palace, the site of the Yalta Conference.
It’s past our bedtime now and we’re fighting jetlag to boot, but if you’re not familiar with the Yalta Conference, read about it here. It was neat to be at the site of some US & World history and we even got a picture to prove it:
We took lots more pictures, but it’s late and we have a full day of ministry tomorrow, with a marriage seminar at a local church added to the schedule unexpectedly – that’s another rule of missions trips: always be flexible.
I’ll post again tomorrow-
Well, we made it to Zurich without any complications, so I’m typing this post while we wait for our flight to Moscow. Here are some questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday:
“If the church is set up to be a “community” and we all serve to fulfill the need for reaching people, then why do people always expect to get paid for “volunteer” work?”
While this is a valid question, it’s not one that Scripture addresses directly, so I’ll give you my opinion in just 2 words: human nature. All of us are born into this world with the nature of our father Adam, and as much as I hate to admit it, we are inherently selfish. So it only stands to reason that IF we walk by our fleshly nature, we don’t want to serve, we want to be paid.
My suggestion is that instead of judging others in the church who don’t live up to our expectations that we live by Romans 14:10, 13 instead.
Someone else asks, “So as a new employee, how do you handle back stabbers, sabotagers at work, when your boss refuses to intervene?”
I’m guessing that’s a question that almost every believer in the workplace has asked at one time or another. Again, the Bible doesn’t address this particular question directly, but I’ll give you my thoughts:
- Since your boss refuses to intervene, and you are (Biblically) under his authority, you can just learn to accept it, without participating in the backstabbing behavior yourself. There is Biblical support for us to accept mistreatment in 1Cor. 6:7 and 1Peter 2.
- Of course, you have another option: look for another job. While there’s no guarantee that you won’t face similar mistreatment at another workplace, you have a right to seek peace on your job.
Finally, a CLC’er asks, “Should pastors of “mega-churches” be rich and live excessive lifestyles or should the bulk of that wealth, if earned through ministry, go back to the church?”
Honestly, from the tone of this question, I suspect you’re not really asking a question, but instead passing judgment on some pastor(s) that you don’t agree with. The only thing that I would contribute to this discussion is a warning as to how dangerous it is for any of us to assume anything about others. For example, both Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, to name just two “mega-church’ pastors who are millionaires, refuse to take a salary from their churches and live off the royalties of their book sales. In fact, in Rick Warren’s case, after his book, Purpose-Driven Life, became so wildly successful, he paid back Saddleback Church every penny he had earned since starting the church!
Personally, I have enough to do to keep my own life in line with God’s Word, without criticizing or judging others whom I don’t even know. The whole 14th chapter of Romans again comes to mind.
Hope that helps. If you’d like to add to my answers (or disagree), please leave a comment below – or even a question of your own for another post.
Chris and I will board a Swiss Air jet in a few hours for an overnight flight to Zurich, then another flight to Moscow, and finally an S7 Airways flight to Simferopol, Crimea. This will be our first visit to Ukraine (or what was a part of Ukraine before being ‘annexed’ by Russia a few years ago).
We’re looking forward to a reunion with several pastor friends from the Perm, Russia region who will help us conduct a pastor’s retreat for some faithful Crimean pastors who have labored in very difficult circumstances.
We DO love these Russian pastors after several previous visits to various parts of their country, so please pray that we can both encourage and challenge the Crimean pastors in fulfilling their ministry. I’m not sure we’ll have internet access while there, but I’ll certainly try to keep you posted if we do.
We truly believe that some CLC’ers will look back later and say, “September was the month things turned around for our finances – it went from stress & worry to the favor of God” – because of our ‘Moneywise” series!
And to close out the series on September 24, at each service of each CLC Chicagoland campus, that day we’re going to practice what we preach about generosity by giving away:
That’s over $11,000 in FREE giveaways on September 24!!! (must be present to win)
Invite a friend to join you September 24 – six services to choose from: (Blue Island – 11am; Hammond – 9am/11am; Tinley Park – 8:30am/10am/12pm)
Continuing to answer questions that we weren’t able to get to during our “Hot Seat” a few weeks back, beginning with this one from a 10-year old CLC’er who wants to know “why does God allow Lightning and Thunder?” (she’s frightened by both & doesn’t see any purpose for them)
Well, that’s a question I’ve never been asked before. And while the Bible doesn’t go into great detail on this subject, I can tell you that sometimes God uses lightning or thunder to accomplish His purposes. For example:
- Exodus 9:23-29 – lightning was used by God to show Pharaoh and the Egyptians that the earth belongs to the Lord, and frightened them into releasing Israel from slavery.
- Exodus 20:18-20 – God used the lightning & thunder to get His people’s attention, so they would hear His Word through Moses.
- 1 Sam. 7:10 – God used thunder to confuse Israel’s enemy, so they could defeat them.
- 1Sam. 12:17-18 – God used thunder so Israel would know He was speaking to them.
In fact, several times in Scripture it seems thunder is symbolic of God’s voice – and while several verses indicate that we don’t really understand, we know that God can speak! So the purpose of lightning & thunder is to demonstrate a little of God’s power.
Now, if you want a scientific explanation, this is a pretty good one.
Question 2 during the ‘Hot Seat’ was, “should believers follow the Democratic or Republican party?
My answer is, neither! Follow Jesus!
Finally, question 3 from the ‘Hot Seat’ was, “Has the antichrist been revealed? And will he be before the Rapture?
My answer is I don’t know, and possibly.
Hope these helped a bit. Feel free to weigh in if you have insight into any of these 3 questions, so we may all learn – just leave your comment below.
Who are you inviting to hear Talaat & Tai McNeely THIS Sunday at CLC-TP?
You don’t have to be a Bears fan to know that football isn’t necessarily about the BIG plays – the game is often won by the team that steadily moves the ball down the field, turning first-downs into touchdowns. (I guess it helps if you aren’t a Bears fan to know about touchdowns, but that’s another subject altogether)
Sometimes we have guest speakers at CLC who help us move the ball down the field – and I “prophesy’ that this Sunday, September 10, will be on of those days at our Tinley Park campus (don’t free in Blue Island or Hammond, because you’ll get them this month, too)
After our sermon planning meeting today with our pastoral team and guest Talaat McNeely, I’m more convinced than ever that months from now, some CLC’ers will look back and say, “September was the month when our finances turn around!” (see Esther 9:22).
If you’re ever going to invite a friend to join you at CLC, this is the Sunday! There will be practical help for everyone in attendance!
And stay tuned for a special announcement about our 2017 Generosity Sunday…soon!
Two of the questions we didn’t have time to answer last Sunday are similar: “Pastor, my question is in times like these where we know we can’t do life without God, how can we humbly w/o getting too churchy or political conversate about the word of God with those who don’t know God?” and “I have friends who are atheists and I want to know how I can go about witnessing to them? If they don’t believe in God or the Bible, how do I talk to them about it?
Great questions, and the topic is one that I’m sure will be more and more common in days to come, as our country is increasingly post-Christian, where a significant part of the population checks “NONE” when asked about their religious beliefs.
I’ll admit, this is not my strongest area of ministry, but let me share a few thoughts:
- First, I’m going to assume that the people you’re wanting to reach are genuine atheists or non-believers, as opposed to someone who is insincere but just wants to argue with you. (I don’t know how to persuade someone who’s just trying to argue, and life is too short to spend it on them when there ARE lost people who are hungry for more in life)
- Secondly, none of us is capable of winning an atheist (or other unbeliever) just by our persuasive speech. So prayer is the most-important thing you can do to engage those who don’t believe in the Bible. God is able to bring circumstances into their life and touch their heart in such a way that they do become open and receptive to your witness. And as John 6:44 so clearly points out, no one comes to the Lord without being attracted to Him by the Spirit’s work in their heart.
- Beyond that, there are “apologetic” resources available to help you with conversations designed to help your unbelieving friends find a reason to believe. Here are a few that you might find helpful:
- Strategies for dialoging with atheists
- How to witness to a closed-minded person
- How to share the gospel with an atheist
- An ex-atheist shares 3 ways to win unbelievers to Christ
- The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel (he has several other books that can be helpful in reaching unbelievers)
I hope this has been helpful, but I also invite my readers to share other tools or resources that you have found effective. Leave your comment below-
I’ve already shared with you that as I read Esther 9:22 recently I sensed the Lord saying that in the future, CLC’ers would look back on this September as the month things turned around for them, as they went from being stressed and pressured about finances to having FAVOR!
And it all starts THIS Sunday, September 3 at each CLC campus – why not invite a friend to join you, because everyone you know is interested in help for their finances!
Take a look:
This past Sunday was a lot of fun (well, for those of you listening in comfort; it did get a little hot on stage) and Chris and I were able to address a lot of your questions. (If you missed out, you can watch the replay here – 8:30am OR 10am OR 12 pm.) I hope our responses and especially pertinent Scriptures brought you some clarity.
However, there were at least 37 other questions that we did not have time to address, and our heart is to help CLC’ers with those questions, too. So for the next several Fridays, I will be addressing those questions in my weekly feature, “Ask the Pastor”.
I hope you’ll join me starting THIS Friday, September 1!
Sometimes we must do MORE than pray. If you’ve seen the pictures I’ve seen, I know your heart is moved for the people whose lives have been turned upside-down by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
Take a moment to read this article to see how desperate the need.
CLC has a missions partner already on the ground serving people in the affected areas – every penny you give will go to help them. The simplest way to donate is our text to give option: Simply text “Give $Dollar Amount” (ex. Give $100) to (708) 265-3315
Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.
Some have asked about the website I recommended for cultural issues from a Biblical perspective: it’s www.bullseyechallenge.com
Now, I’m enjoying a DVR of Mr. Trubisky, hoping Bears managment make the right decision about the next starting QB for the Bears. Later-
One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “With our culture being so divided politically & racially, resulting in the spread of so much hate through news media & social media, how are we as Christians to respond? Surely we must speak out against evil, but it seems when we do so, we can easily fall into the same trap of fighting hate with hate, instead of responding in love.
GREAT question, not only because it is such a hot topic currently, but also because so many of us as Christ followers seem to be unsure of how to respond, with some of us adding fuel to the fire of division with our social media posts, etc. – while still other believers remain silent and seemingly ignore the issue in the hopes of keeping peace. Here’s my take:
- Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers” and that means we don’t throw gasoline on the fires of division; we seek reconciliation.
- James 3:17-18 speaks God’s practical wisdom for those times we find ourselves in these kind of situations.
- Proverbs 18:21 in the Message translation says, “Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” That’s a great reminder, whether we’re speaking or posting on social media, that we have a choice. I encourage you to think about the potential affect of your words before you post and before you open your mouth. And the New Testament passage in Philippians 4:8-9 gives us great counsel for what to think about!
- This may not be Scripture (it’s a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), but it’s undeniable truth:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….
The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
That’s my position. What’s yours? Leave a comment below-
Join us this Sunday (Aug. 27) for the “HOT SEAT”, when our pastors will answer your spontaneous questions….it should be fun!
I know; I know. You’ve heard me say that about practically every new sermon series at CLC for how many years now.
But this time is different.
As I was doing my daily prayer & Bible reading several days ago, a portion of my reading was Esther 9:22, and here’s the part that jumped out at me: “the month when things turned around for them—changing from sorrow to joy and from mourning into a favorable day–“
When I read that, I felt the Lord saying to me that months from now, CLC’ers would look back on our September sermon series and say, “that was the month when things turned around for our finances — changing it from pressure and stress and arguments into the FAVOR we now enjoy!“
We’re calling the series, ‘Moneywise’ because we’re focusing on the wisdom of Solomon found in the book of Proverbs pertaining to our finances, and I can’t wait!
We’ve got some special things planned for the series, including another ‘Generosity Sunday’ when CLC’ers will receive more than $10,000 from us, as we practice what we preach about generosity, AND, some very special guests who will speak at each campus, Talaat & Tai McNeely from “His and Her Money”. If you’re not acquainted with their story, take a look at this clip from when they were guests on the T.D. Jakes show.
I hope you’ll invite your unchurched friends, because everyone you know could use some of God’s wisdom regarding their money. It all starts on September 3!
I just received this card in the mail today:
If it needs explanation, the card is handwritten by Mrs. Dodie Osteen (Joel’s mother, and the matriarch of Lakewood Church). She’s 85 years old and I’m sure she has better things to do than send a thank you note to me for participating on stage at the recent “Night of Hope” at the United Center.
But I’ve learned in my years of ministry that classy people do classy things. (Maybe I should rephrase that to say, “real leaders show appreciation to people”.
I hope I’m still practicing that at age 85.
One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “Is there a difference between conviction and condemnation? If so, how can you tell and who is the source of both?”
Great questions, because it’s such an important distinction:
Yes, there’s a very significant difference between the two, since Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10) who seeks to put condemnation on followers of Christ, while one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction to us when we’re going astray, so we can get back on the right track (John 16:7-11)
Conviction is actually a good thing, much like pain in our physical bodies. None of us likes to feel pain (or conviction) – but both get our attention, and let us know that something is wrong. In fact, I’m persuaded that none of us would turn to the Lord for salvation unless we first felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that let us know we were in the wrong and needed to turn to Christ to be saved.
Condemnation, on the other hand, is never corrective in nature, but rather is designed to make us feel hopeless, that we are unworthy or lost, and that there’s nothing we can do about it.
Further, I’ve noticed that conviction is sharp and specific – to help us realize exactly where we’re in the wrong and how we can correct it. But condemnation is blunt and heavy and usually a general sense of guilt – that we are condemned by God and that there is no hope for us.
In one of my recent daily readings I noticed this beautiful passage: Job 5:17-18.
Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit!
I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts about the differences you’ve noticed between conviction and condemnation – just leave a comment below.
While you’re at it, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
This Sunday at each CLC campus is THE most-debated ‘TIMELESS” topic of all. Yep, we’re talking SEX this weekend, and after meeting with our pastors yesterday, I think it may be the most helpful message of the series.
But we’re not only talking about SEX this Sunday. We’re also taking time in each service to pray over all our students, from kindergarten thru high school, as well as each CLC teacher, administrator, principal and education employee as they go into a new school year.
Finally, we have some very special announcements to make, including news about our new Campus Pastor in Tinley Park!
So make plans now to join us for any of our six Sunday services: 8:30 or 10 am or 12pm in Tinley Park; 9 or 11 am in Hammond, or 11 am in Blue Island – it’ll be a Sunday to remember!
With all the good reports around CLC yesterday, I left out one bit of news that is certainly bittersweet. As you may know, Linell Muse has been a part of our CLC family for over 10 years, with the last 4 of them spent as our Worship Director at CLC-Hammond.
Earlier this year he proposed to Amanda Edwards who was a featured vocalist on our Tinley Park praise team and a finance clerk in our office. They plan to be married this December.
However, just this weekend they accepted a tremendous opportunity to serve a church in Osage Beach, MO (in the heart of the Ozark mountains), starting in September. So we’re rejoicing with them for a larger opportunity (and the possibility of a job in Amanda’s field of study, journalism), but we’re sad to see them go at the same time.
They’ll be around only for two more weeks, so show them some love here or here. We certainly appreciate all their service, both in Tinley Park and in Hammond, and we pray God’s favor and blessing as they take this next big step in ministry!
So many good things happened today:
It was a FULL, good day at CLC!
Don’t forget our 21-days of prayer continues tomorrow at 7am!
One of my favorite CLC’ers submitted several questions he was asked by a college student: “Is there a difference between receiving the Holy Spirit (like from my understanding of Ephesians 1:13) and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, Acts 19:2-7, Matthew 3:11)? Can someone have the Holy spirit and not be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Does someone receive the Holy Spirit immediately when they become saved? And according to Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13-14, is it necessary to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost to go to heaven? And is the gift of speaking in tongues according to 1 Corinthians 12 the same thing as the evidence of speaking in tongues when the holy spirit fills someone?”
Whew! That’s a lot of ground to cover in one post, but I’ll give it my best shot.
In order, Yes. Yes. Yes. No. No. Now let me explain, because it seems this college student was taught many of the same ideas that I grew up with in my Pentecostal upbringing, some of which I now believe are not quite accurate with the whole of Scripture:
- As I understand God’s Word, when any person truly believes on Jesus for salvation, he/she receives the Holy Spirit (see John 3:5; Gal. 3:2; Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13-14) This experience is what Paul referenced in Romans 8:9 when he said without this, we don’t even belong to Christ – so clearly we cannot be saved without this!
- However, the Bible clearly teaches that there is an experience often referred to as the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit that is given to believers to empower us to be a witness. This experience is usually accompanied by speaking in a language that we have never learned – “speaking in tongues” or, as we usually refer to it at CLC, a “prayer language”, since the primary purpose of this gift is to enable us to have deeper intimacy with the Lord in prayer (see 1Cor. 14:2, 4, 5, 18). The three passages listed in the second question clearly refer to this “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Yes, a person can receive the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation without ever going on to be baptized in the Holy Spirit for power – as we see in Acts 8:12-17. These Samaritans clearly believed the Gospel and had even been water-baptized, so they had the indwelling Holy Spirit when they believed, but were not baptized in the Holy Spirit until the Apostles Peter & John came and laid hands on them.
- Since a believer receives the indwelling Holy Spirit at salvation, if for some reason they do not go on to the baptized in the Holy Spirit for power, they would still go to heaven (in my opinion), since they belong to Christ.
- Finally, as I understand the Scriptures, there are actually three different purposes for speaking in tongues: (1) as a ‘sign’ that a person has been baptized or immersed in the Holy Spirit. (By the way, the term “initial evidence” is not found in Scripture, and in my experience, tends to create more arguments than attract people to receive their prayer language. I think the examples in Acts certainly indicate that people will speak in tongues when they’re baptized with the Spirit, but I don’t make that a hard & fast rule, since it’s not possible to put God in a box.); (2) as a private “prayer language” as we see in 1Cor. 14 and Romans 8:26-27 and Jude 20), to enable us to have deeper intimacy with the Lord in prayer; and (3) as a public gift for use in Christian gatherings in conjunction with the gift of interpretation of tongues, to convey a message of encouragement to those gathered.
We covered a LOT of ground with this as briefly as I could, so I hope it helps. Perhaps some of my readers will add to my brief answer by making their comment below.
Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
The first Sunday of August was a good day around CLC:
Well, no new questions were sent to me this week, but I was asked one question in the lobby recently, although it’s probably not one that many folks will be itchin’ to know my answer to: “When you baptize at CLC, what does the minister say – ‘in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin’ or ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit'”?
Not only is that not a hot-burner issue for most believers, but my answer is also not likely to please. See, that’s one of the debates that’s been around almost exclusively in Pentecostal churches for the last 90 years, and it’s fueled primarily by the position of those who teach that water baptism “in Jesus name” is a requirement for salvation.
I will say this: because of my background, I have studied this issue extensively. My conclusion, years ago, is that this is not a Biblical issue, but rather a matter of semantics. Not only that, but I’m even more convinced that God is not looking down from heaven at the moment of one’s baptism to see if the minister says the “magic words” to insure one’s salvation! We are saved by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, when we place our whole trust on what HE did for us, not on what we can do for ourselves!
Having said that, I will also say that a close examination of the New Testament doesn’t reveal a “formula” for water baptism, but it certainly cannot be denied that the name of Jesus plays an important role – not unlike the fact that we pray in the name of Jesus and we cast out demons in the name of Jesus. So, while it is not a ‘test of fellowship’ at CLC, when we baptize, our pastors do say, “in the name of Jesus”, rather than the phrase, “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. (To check out the Scriptures for yourself, look at Acts 2:38, Acts 8:14-17, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6, Acts 19:13-16, Col 3:17, 1Cor 1:13-15)
At CLC, we have chosen not to divide the body of Christ over semantics, but instead contend for clear Biblical truth rather than personal preferences or pet doctrines – and, in this instance, the clear Biblical truth is that every believer should experience water baptism in celebration of what God has done in their life! (To schedule yours, contact us today)
Care to add to my answer? Please leave a comment below.
Now, what would you like to Ask the Pastor?
I don’t know how I missed the opportunity to express this yesterday (blame it on my advanced age, I guess), but it was on August 2, 1954 that Chris Ann Hansen first entered the world in Detroit, MI. I was toddling around my parent’s home about 600 miles away at the time, and it would be over 17 years later before I’d have the chance to look into her beautiful blue eyes for the first time – but I’m so glad the Lord brought us together!
Honestly, I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without her:
- She is my best friend. I’d rather spend time with her than anyone else on earth. I value her thoughts and opinions more than anyone else I know. I love to make her laugh, and I love laughing with her.
- She’s an incredible cook. I wouldn’t have near the struggle with my weight if I’d married someone else, but her home-cooked meals have been wonderful from Day 2 of our marriage until now – I never get tired of sitting down to a table that she’s prepared, whatever it is.
- She’s an amazing mother to our children. Oh sure, we didn’t get everything right through the years (no one does), but we got a lot more right than wrong, and mostly because of her. Her fierce love for Chad, Jen and Brent has given them an advantage that millions of kids in our world never had.
- She’s one of the most creatively-gifted people I’ve ever met, and it shows every time she teaches, preaches or writes almost anything. (and to think it all started with Harry the puppet that she found in a Sunday School cabinet back in the 70’s!)
- Speaking of preaching & teaching – I’ve teased for years that I couldn’t let her speak very often at CLC lest I be out of a job, but the honest-to-God truth is that she is an excellent communicator, and the anointing that she brings into the pulpit, whether she’s teaching or prophesying, has blessed and encouraged and challenged not just our CLC family, but thousands of pastors and leaders from Kenya to Kazakhstan and from Trinidad to Turkey.
- She is a lover – and I’m not just talking about our private moments together – I’m talking about the way she genuinely and passionately loves others – as I’ve seen her do in country after country, not to mention her dear Heart 2 Heart ladies, and even the children and teens she has ‘adopted’ through the years, starting with Leslie in Troy and then Martha in Mt. Morris and, well, I’ve lost track of how many folks call her “Mama Chris” now. She’s easily the most unselfish person I’ve ever known, because love gives, and that’s her.
- She’s the epitome of growth and change. I’ve watched her re-invent herself time after time to meet new challenges through the years. She is constantly growing to become more of the person God always intended her to be, and that motivates me to keep improving myself, lest she outgrow me. Suffice it to say. she’s not the shy young teenager I was first attracted to back in 1972 – she’s a woman of God who’s getting better with age!
I’ll close, because this is supposed to be a blog, not a book, but not before I say Happy (belated) Birthday, Chris – I love you more than ever!
Every preacher reading this post knows exactly what I mean:
- sometimes I preach because it’s Sunday and it’s my job.
- sometimes I preach because I’ve got a ‘Word’ and I can’t not preach!
We start a new series this Sunday at every campus of CLC that has been in planning for a long time, but after the last few days, I must warn you: I’ve got a Word from the Lord! (and since our pastors discussed it thoroughly during our sermon planning meeting this week, we’re ALL infected!
Join us this Sunday at any campus of CLC.
And don’t say you’re weren’t warned.
Actually, it’s 3 for 5.
If that still doesn’t make sense, I’d like to give YOU 3 reasons that YOU should participate in our annual CLC 5k this September 23:
1. Your health. God only gave us one body, and He expects us to take care of it. Too many of us as believers have “buffeted” our bodies at all-you-can-eat restaurants instead of the ‘buffeted” that Paul referenced about the apostles in 1Cor. 4:11. (beatings they received!) As out-of-shape as I am at age 64, if I can do it, you can do it!
Running or walking in one 5k may not get you in shape overnight, but it can be a great start!
2. To help others. Your registration fee, when added to the dozens (hundreds?) of other CLC’ers who participate in the 5k, will enable us to bless some organizations in the South Suburbs who are doing good works to help people in our community. So while you walk, jog or run, you’ll actually helping people in need.
3. To reach others. I’ve been amazed each year to see unchurched people join us for the 5k. In fact, I think you’ll be surprised how many of your non-Christian friends, family or co-workers will be interested in joining you for the 5k if you invite them to do so. And in the process, the exposure to joy-filled, ‘normal’ people may give them a whole new impression of Christians. Who knows – they may meet Jesus because they first jogged a 5k at CLC!
You can register online here OR stop by our Missions kiosk in the Tinley Park lobby this week!
Summertime special events in Hammond and Blue Island certainly helped these numbers, but I’m excited that almost 1,900 worshipped at CLC today!
There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m repeating this post from 2009:
Here’s the latest question I’ve received: what recommendation do you have on how to study the Bible? I find myself jumping around hoping the Lord will just point me where I should go.
Excellent question! And what a common problem – I think a lot of believers would have to admit to ‘jumping around’. Here’s my 2-cents on the subject:
1. If you haven’t read the entire Bible, I always recommend a thru-the-Bible plan, such as we give out at CLC. You can also find some great plans here. From my standpoint, any plan is better than no plan, or as you’ve heard before, “failing to plan is planning to fail”.
2. Since you asked about study, not just reading, I would probably start with a “Bible survey” type course – that is, one that gives you the big picture of the Bible, from Old Testament to New Testament. I’ve taught those classes for years, and I still love doing them, because of all the ‘light bulbs’ that go off in people’s heads when they start seeing how it fits together and the foundation of major doctrines, etc.
3. Another great method is to study a particular doctrine or topic or character in Scripture. It’s easy to do, with a simple concordance like Cruden’s or Strong’s, that you can purchase at a Christian bookstore or with the previous links – or, thanks to the internet, do your study for free here. For instance, if you want to study “grace” or “baptism” or “Joseph”, you simply look up all the verses with those words, and do your own study of the Scriptures, keeping in mind that no doctrine is built on one isolated verse, but (in the words of the good ‘ole KJV I grew up with), it’s “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little”.
4. Finally, the most important key: start! The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and there’s no better time to get started than now! I hope that helps – I know wherever you read or study, God will speak to you – at least that’s how it works with me, and I’m always better for it.
What would you like to Ask the Pastor?
Hebrews 11:4 in ‘The Voice’ translation says of Abel, “And by faith he still speaks, although his voice was silenced by death.”
That verse came to my mind today as I had lunch with a CLC elder, Kevin Carter. As most of those who read this post know, last year we said goodbye to one of the sweetest, most self-less saints of God I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Kevin’s wife, Tarshawa was dearly-loved by everyone at CLC who knew her, and we still miss her deeply.
But I learned today that for several years Tarshawa challenged their son, Kevin Tyler, to pursue excellence in Spelling Bees at his school. In fact, with her encouragement, Kevin did excel, finishing as one of the top spellers in his school in 2014, 2015, and 2016, when he was the second-place finisher. This year, he dedicated his final Spelling Bee to his mom, and won first-place for his school! In fact, he went on to finish fourth place at the Regional Spelling Bee, which is the highest achieved by a District 162 student in history!
We still have one more Sunday of “God@the Movies” (at our Tinley Park campus – my wife will bring a message from ‘The Shack’ this Sunday, July 30 in all 3 services) – BUT I’m already excited about the next series, TIMELESS!
So many people (sometimes even Christians) think that the Bible is old and outdated and not in tune with today’s culture. But I’m convinced that the principles of Scripture are just as applicable today as when they were written thousands of years ago.
I hope you’ll plan to join us each Sunday in August for TIMELESS:
Our Blue Island and Hammond campuses have heard all 4 movie messages (Tinley Park will hear “The Shack” next Sunday) – which has been your favorite so far? Most importantly, how has God spoken to you thru this year’s GATM?
One of our elders writes, “I have a question from Hebrews 8:1-2. What does it mean when it says …he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle? Is there a literal Tabernacle in heaven that was built by the Lord?”
Great questions, and some I’ve never been asked before.
I haven’t heard anyone else address this and the commentaries that I reviewed seemed to imply that the language here was figurative; i.e., that Christ’s body is the Tabernacle, and since He is now in heaven to make intercession for us, that’s how he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, His body.
However, I’m not so sure. For instance, in the next chapter, Hebrews 9:23-24 specifically says the items here on earth are copies of the true ones in heaven. As I look closely at the wording, I can see where it could possibly just refer to ‘heaven’ as the ‘holy place’ and Jesus himself being the Tabernacle – but at the same time if we read it literally, I think we could make a case that there is a literal Tabernacle in heaven.
I think I understand why Peter wrote 2Peter 3:15-16 (assuming Paul is the author of Hebrews, as I believe – although that’s debated, too!)
Instead of saying, “we’ll understand it better, by and by”, let me close by asking my readers – do you have anything to add? If so, please leave a comment below-
Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
No new questions came in this week while I was in Siberia, so I’m reposting from 2011:
A reader recently asked, “I would like to know if you believe in the concept of reconciliation. Mainly if you believe it can really take place between two people who used to be friends but have had a rift in that relationship?”
Excellent question – and one probably almost all of us have had to grapple with at some point in our lives.
First, I must believe in the concept of reconciliation, and so must you and every other believer – for the whole Bible is the story of reconciliation, as God was not content to allow mankind to remain separated from His love. Our mission on earth as believers is referred to as the “ministry of reconciliation” and our Gospel as the “message of reconciliation” (2Corinthians 5:18-21). So, “YES”, I believe in the concept of reconciliation, because Jesus made it possible for me to be reconciled with God.
Secondly, I must also believe that reconciliation is possible between two people who were friends but had a rift in their relationship – because Scripture makes it clear that it is possible (Matthew 5:23-24 – I can’t imagine Jesus instructing us to do something that is not possible!).
Now, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s easy. As Proverbs 18:19 clearly says, restoring a friendship can be very difficult. And according to Romans 12:18, there may be those situations where you’ve tried everything possible to restore the relationship and the other party remains unwilling. But in my experience, if both parties truly want to be reconciled, and each is willing to swallow their pride and do what’s necessary to make things right, it IS possible for them to be reconciled. In fact, I know that it is, because I’ve seen it done in my own life.
If you’re reading this, and even now there are people you’ve become estranged from because of some offense, I would urge you to take the initiative, make the approach, swallow your pride, forgive and ask forgiveness, and make things right (the Bible word is ‘restitution’) – you’ll be so glad you did! (I think James 5:19-20 applies here)
I’d also encourage you to join us at any CLC campus this Sunday when “God@the Movies” continues – because there are some great principles for living in each message!
Hope that helps. Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
Chris and I board our first flight early this morning in Siberia (Tuesday evening in Chicago) and should arrive at O’Hare Wednesday afternoon. The media team here in Novokuznetsk provided us with some pics from our time here, so I thought I’d give you a hodgepodge of our experience with this wonderful congregation:
That’s all – see you soon for another installment of “God@the Movies”!
We then spent 3 hours with Pastors Ilya and Janet Bantseev and their board, discussing the whole multi-site model of ministry that CLC uses and that they’ve been considering.
Tonight is our final assignment for this trip, as we teach a 3-hour seminar to their young adults. Then we’ll grab a little sleep before heading to the airport at 5am (Tuesday at 5pm in Chicago). Thanks for all your prayers – see you soon!
Chris preached her heart out at the 5pm service, and it seemed almost everyone in the building responded to the altar invitation! God is working in Siberia, and we feel privileged to be a small part of it!!
But we’re also thinking of home, so if you attended a service at any CLC campus today, please leave us a comment as to what you most enjoyed or how the Lord ministered to you through God@the Movies or the Watoto choir-
His visit this year coincided with our visit for this Family Conference, and he told me in between sessions that his marriage of 40 years is having difficulties now that he and his wife are empty nesters. Pastor Janet Bantseev and I prayed for him and when I opened my eyes, big tears were streaming down his cheeks. Thank God for His providential timing!
Then tonight I preached the first of their four weekend services:
I’m not sure if it’s jetlag or just exhaustion from teaching for six hours and preaching for another hour tonight, but either way, it’s time to hit the sack for some SLEEP!
Can’t wait to hear about the Watoto Choir at CLC tomorrow – if you’re reading this, shoot me a Facebook message or email or even a comment below as to how you enjoy them on Sunday-
Oops – I forgot to take my camera to the seminar tonight, so I have no pics to show you.
Nonetheless, the opening night’s Marriage seminar went as well as we could have hoped – and we really feel needed, as I learned today from Pastor Ilya that the divorce rate here is hovering at almost 90% of marriages!
The church administrator, who is serving as our driver, told me that one of the youth programs they operate has about 40 teens and only ONE of them is living with both of his birth parents – the others are all either single-parent families or living with a step-parent!
So the need is great, but people were quite responsive to our teaching tonight, and EVERYONE here is still talking about the team of CLC’ers who served here last month – they can’t stop talking about what a blessing the team was to them!
Now it’s time for some sleep before our longest day of ministry tomorrow – a six-hour marriage seminar followed by their Saturday weekend service – should be fun!
No new questions were submitted this week before I left Chicago, so I’m re-posting this question from 2010:
My #1 questioner writes: “I have a question about fear. I know that it is not a good thing to fear and we all know about the book of Job when he said that the very thing he feared came upon him. Also, we have to be very careful about what we speak because this could cause negative things to happen. My question is, I have always been taught that we can go to God and talk to Him about anything. Sometimes I have certain things that frighten me and that I refuse to let myself dwell on because I don’t want the things that happened to Job happen to me. But when I am in my prayer room I speak these things that frighten me to God(my daddy)and I tell Him these things. Would this be the same as speaking negative things out of my mouth even though I am telling them to God? “
Good question about a much-needed subject.
First, you are right that fear has a way of drawing negativity to us and becoming a “self-fulfilled prophecy”. That’s because fear is the opposite of faith. So just as faith attracts blessing from God, fear attracts the attention of the enemy by creating an open door into our life.
However, it is my personal opinion that you CAN say anything to God, since he invited us to do so in 1 Peter 5:7. By telling Him of your fears in prayer, you can receive His assurance and reaffirm your trust in Him (Psalm 56:3). My only caution is to make sure that once you ‘cast your fear upon Him’ that you leave it there. In other words, don’t give your fears to God in prayer and then pick them up again when you quit praying! Leave your fears in His hands.
Hope this helped. Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
You may have heard that ISIS has tried to establish a caliphate in the Philippines to use as a launching pad in Asia. Over a month ago, while our CLC team was in Davao, ISIS militants invaded the Muslim capital in the Philippines, Marawi City, which caused the Philippine president to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.
I just heard from Bishop Herley Montes that the war continues and that over 200,000 people have been evacuated from the area, with many of them fleeing to Iligan City, where CLC has a campus. Our church there is reaching out to these Muslim refugees with food and clothing, but their resources are very limited.
We want to respond to help our brothers and sisters in Iligan City be the hands and feet of Jesus to show His love to these displaced Muslims. If you would like to help, you can do so online here. You can also designate an offering at any CLC campus this Sunday to “Philippine relief”. Thanks in advance for helping us to help them!
Pictures below show the devastation from this war:
Chris and I will leave O’Hare about six o’clock tonight on the first of three flights that will get us into Novokuznetsk, Siberia about five o’clock tomorrow night, Chicago time. (Novokuznetsk is 12 hours ahead of us, so it’ll be 5am Friday there)
We’ll be ministering at the same church our CLC missions team recently visited, as our friends, Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev, invited us over a year ago to return to do a Family Conference for them. We’ll actually do 3 different seminars – one for married couples on Friday & Saturday, another for parents on Monday and a final one for single adults on Tuesday. We’ll also minister at their four weekend services.
I hope to have internet access to keep you posted during the trip, and we certainly will appreciate your prayers. So sorry that we’ll miss the Watoto Choir, but I know you’ll enjoy them on Sunday morning in Tinley Park and on Sunday night in Hammond! Here’s a preview:
Is it possible to be sad and proud at the same time? That’s me today.
While celebrating the holiday with my wife’s family in Detroit, I received the news this morning that we had lost a precious brother at CLC, as Mike Welch went to be with Jesus.
I immediately scrambled to see if any of our pastors could go to comfort the family, but each pastor was out of town for the holiday, so I just texted my condolences to Mike’s widow, Marcella.
But within a few hours I learned that 2 of our elders, 4 members of the Blue Island worship team (including a CLC trustee) and our Blue Island KidsLife Director each left their family’s holiday celebration to go and minister to Marcella and her daughter Mikayla.
I couldn’t be more proud of CLC. This is the church being the church: loving others and preferring a brother or sister’s need ahead of our own.
Thank you, Alan & Terrilyn Franklin, Eric & Liane Williams, Len Stallworth, Nikeva Lawrence, and Harry Valentine – you’re my heroes today!
You’re probably like most Americans, and today has likely been reduced to a day off work, a time to be with family outdoors, a backyard BBQ, burgers & hot dogs on the grill, and maybe some red, white & blue decor before watching a fireworks show tonight.
I’m not opposed to any of that and will no doubt indulge myself today.
But I do want to take a moment to thank God that I live in this land. For all our current wrongs, injustices and immorality, America is still the greatest nation on earth and I do subscribe to the idea known as ‘American exceptionalism’, since I believe that God has a purpose for this nation.
For sure, part of that purpose is to take the Gospel to the nations of the world and American generosity has resulted in missionaries being able to reach the furthest parts of earth. It could never happen without our independence, so on this day set aside to celebrate that declaration on July 4, 1776, I say ‘thank God’!
Enjoy your day!
- Perhaps the best praise report of the day in Hammond was that last week Pastor Sam led a congregational prayer for one of the members, whose daughter in California had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. After that public prayer last Sunday, we learned today that her doctors had “misdiagnosed” her cancer and it was now Stage 1! Praise God for misdiagnoses after prayer!!!
I’d love to hear from YOU – what was your favorite moment in today’s services? How did the Holy Spirit minister to you personally? Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below-
There were no new questions submitted this week, but I’ll answer one that lots of people have asked in the past: why do we do a ‘movies’ series each summer?
I think there are several reasons why our “God@the Movies” series has become our most popular series of the year:
- everyone likes a good story! After all, that’s what makes Hollywood so entertaining – whether it’s good v. evil or the underdog who wins or any number of other popular themes, every good movie has a good story. And Jesus knew this, as evidenced by the number of stories he told. (We call them parables, but at their core, they are stories about things we understand, to help us grasp spiritual truths)
- movies reflect the culture of our day. If you want to understand today’s culture, go watch a popular movie. And while I’m not really interested in exegeting American culture, I need to understand where people are in order to reach them with the gospel. It’s ironic how we teach missionaries to go into foreign countries and make their first priority to learn the language and culture of the people so they can reach them, but then criticize American churches who do the same thing here.
- people can relate to the big screen. The #1 reason we started doing this series, and have continued to do so each July is that even unbelievers can see themselves through the lens of Hollywood. This series enables us to take movies they may already be familiar with, to bring them face to face with Biblical truths they may never have received before. In fact, my friend Mark Batterson told me years ago that his movie series was the hardest-hitting series of the year. I had a hard time imagining that, until we started our own, and I’ve seen it first-hand: Hollywood doesn’t pull punches, and by using current movie illustrations, we’ve been able to confront both saints and sinners with convicting Biblical truth!
- a picture is worth a thousand words. Every sermon needs illustrations, and what better way to illustrate the Biblical principles we’re teaching than to show a movie clip that fleshes it out in living color?
- your unchurched friends will accept an invitation. This is another BIG reason we do this series each year. You have friends who might never be interested in learning about the gifts of the Holy Spirit or about ‘dangerous prayers’ (to cite just two of our 2017 sermon series), but they do watch movies. And they may find the idea of a church preaching a movie series to be curious enough to accept your invitation. Who are you inviting to GATM this month?
- it’s FUN! Who said we can’t have fun in church? I’ve never understood why some Christians look like they were baptized in pickle juice. Jesus used humor with his disciples and I’m convinced he enjoyed a good laugh with them regularly. GATM gives us multiple opportunities to laugh – and a merry heart does good like medicine!
I can’t wait to share “How to Overcome Challenges” with you through the lens of “Hidden Figures”, starting this Sunday, July 2 at our Tinley Park campus. (I’ll get to Blue Island and Hammond with that message soon)
Now what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
If you haven’t heard, a “Night of Hope with Joel & Victoria Osteen” is coming to the United Center on Friday, August 11! (Actually, they’re doing 2 events: a matinee at 2pm and the evening event at 7:30pm)
While some Christians like to criticize Joel for a variety of issues, I’m convinced that God is using him to bring hope to many, many Americans who might never have been open to the Gospel otherwise. For that reason, I’m proud that CLC is one of the sponsoring churches for the United Center event!
There are some benefits to our sponsorship: our ministry will be promoted from the United Center stage to thousands of people, some of whom may be looking for a Spirit-filled church in the south suburbs-
AND, we have a few tickets for CLC’ers at a discount – but please note: the information I gave last Sunday was incorrect, as I was misinformed. The regular price of $15 on JoelOsteen.com turns into over $27.21 when the service fees are added, whereas the price for CLC’ers is just $18.00 (which includes parking at the UC). I apologize that this is almost twice what I announced Sunday, but I was sincerely mistaken and this is our actual cost – we are not adding any markup whatsoever. You can purchase the tickets for the 7:30pm event here, first-come, first-served. (NOTE: we do not have tickets for the 2pm matinee event, so to purchase those tickets go to JoelOsteen.com or click here.)
We’ve also been asked to provide several volunteers to serve as ushers, greeters & retail sales at the matinee and another group for the evening event. If you’re interested in serving at either one (and attend FREE, plus a meal is included), let us know here.
Our nationwide search led by the Vanderbloemen Search Group ended last Sunday night (Father’s Day), when Dan & Torey Goodson agreed to join our CLC pastoral team!
Dan has a wealth of ministry experience: COO of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Executive Staff with several well-known megachurches, including one that has 9 campuses in 4 states (so he understands the whole multi-site approach to ministry), and more!
They have already signed a purchase contract on a house in Flossmoor and plan to move here the first week of August, but I thought you might enjoy getting acquainted here in the meantime. They’ve also assured me that they like to connect on Facebook, so feel free to send them a friend request.
Here’s the introductory video that convinced us to bring them to Tinley Park for an onsite interview – enjoy!
If you’ve been a part of CLC for the past few years, you’ve probably seen the amazing Watoto Choir perform on one of their visits here. To say that they are delightfully energetic is the understatement of the year!
This team of orphans from Uganda are part of a wonderful ministry that is literally making a difference in that African nation – take a look for yourself.
I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you at our Tinley Park campus on Sunday, July 9 at any of our 3 services (8:30, 10 or 12).
By the way, we still need one host home for Saturday night – you can volunteer here.
It’s that time of year again, and I’m excited! In case you’re not aware, the reason we do God@the Movies is simple: we’re trying to reach people who might otherwise come to church to hear God’s Word, but they do enjoy movies!
Just like Jesus taught using object lessons and current event illustrations, and just like the Apostle Paul quoted pagan Greek poets of his day (see Acts 17:27-29), we use this series to bring Biblical truths that are often hard-hitting and perhaps even more compelling than other Sunday messages, with illustrations from Hollywood on the big screen.
We DON’T do this series just to entertain the saints; we do it to reach the lost! And here’s one way you can help with that: as a general rule, churches are the last to get on board with new technology. Believe me, I know. I was part of a church that preached against using radio (initially) and television (later) as opportunities to spread the gospel.
But I noticed something a few years ago that got me thinking. One of our CLCers posted on Facebook about the “God@the Movies” series and at least two or three of her friends responded – some who are local may visit, and one even watched online from North Carolina that Sunday!
Here’s my thought: perhaps social media can remove some of the fear from witnessing and make it easier for us to invite our friends & family to CLC. And I wonder, if one CLCer posting a simple invitation results in at least a couple of new people being introduced in person or online, what would happen if hundreds of CLCers would post on Facebook or Twitter?
Let’s try it & see what God will do this weekend with “Hidden Figures” at our Tinley Park campus, or “Moana” in Hammond or “Captain America” in Blue Island.
Today was a “stand-alone” Sunday instead of doing the same series at all 3 campuses, and there are three very different but very good reports:
Here’s my favorite quotes of the day, compliments of Niyi Gbade:
“where there is room in the heart, there is room in the house” – Danish proverb
“I want you to gossip. Gossip the Gospel!”
“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you could lose” – C.S. Lewis
“Why should anyone hear the gospel three times when some have not heard it once?” – Oswald Chambers
I’d say summer is off to a good start at CLC!
Hope you’ll invite someone to join you for Father’s Day next Sunday-
One of my favorite CLCers writes, “What does the Bible say about tattoos and what I would call extreme body piercings? Is this defacing your body? Are tattoos “wrong” in God’s eyes?
Great question, especially since this has become such a popular practice in recent years. You asked for my thoughts, so I’ll give them:
I’m old-fashioned. You know I grew up in an ultra-conservative, legalistic church with all sorts of dress codes that we called ‘holiness standards’. Many times I’ve wished we could somehow have a little compromise between what seems to be accepted in today’s church versus the church of my youth. But I digress.
Honestly, I don’t like tattoos or piercings. We’ve had more than one ‘debate’ with our own children about them….won a few and lost a few. But from a Biblical standpoint, I don’t feel I have adequate support from the Scriptures to forbid them at CLC, since, in all honesty, the Bible doesn’t address this specifically – unless you want to use Leviticus 19:28. That verse may sound clear at first glance, but if you consider the context, which was about avoiding heathen practices and which also includes other prohibitions that we practice everyday (see verses 19 and 27)
Pastor Craig Groeschel answered this question via video as well as anyone can (in my humble opinion). Take a look at this and see if it answers your question. I would also ask anyone considering either to prayerfully consider 1Cor 6:19-20 and examine their heart-motive for ‘wanting’ the tattoo or the piercing.
Hope that helps. Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
I need YOUR help today.
We want to do a series at CLC this August on some of today’s “hot topics” – you know, the stuff that you sometimes struggle with; perhaps things once considered taboo but now you see other Christians practicing; questions that this generation is asking that you’re not sure how to answer.
We’ll only have 2 or 3 weeks to address the topics you suggest, but then on August 27 we’ll conclude the series with a “hot seat” Sunday, as the audience can text their questions or topics and I’ll answer them in real time. Should be fun!
But right now I need you to leave a comment below as to some topics you’d like to hear addressed from Scripture:
I know that my non-Pentecostal, non-charismatic pastor friends may not relate to this post, and I offer them my sympathy – but based on my experience over the last 48 years of preaching, I can say without hesitation that the congregational response contributes greatly to the overall experience!
Sure, it’s the pastor’s job to share something from God’s Word that has already blessed his or her life – but when the listeners respond with a nod (not to be confused with a ‘head bob’ of those trying desperately to stay awake – although I guess that is a response to the message as well), or an ‘amen’ or some applause or laughs at his or her jokes, or maybe even a standing ovation when appropriate – EACH of those responses not only encourage the preacher, but in my experience, actually draws out even better preaching!
I mention that today because at CLC we are committed to developing other ministers and communicators of the Word, and the only way any pastor, teacher or communicator can develop their gift is by practice. No one has all the needed skills on their first attempt. (When I think about the poor folks in several Arkansas churches who sat through my early attempts at preaching, I get downright embarrassed.) But I also still remember precious saints who encouraged me in those early years, by their responses to the Word, even when it was delivered by a stumbling, stuttering teen (me)!
We’re going to use a couple of the remaining Sundays of June at CLC to hear from some of our developing communicators. Some of them are already pastors who’ve not had many opportunities to preach on Sunday; others have never preached to any audience. I’m urging you to come prepared to help in their development. If they preach really well, let them know with a hearty ‘amen’! If they don’t preach so well, encourage them anyway with a hearty ‘amen’! Laugh at their jokes. Tweet their best quotes. Encourage them! Who knows, you may be helping to develop the next T.D. Jakes or Steven Furtick!
Besides, YOU will get more out of the message yourself, like the story of the country preacher I heard years ago. He entered church with his young son one Sunday, and dropped a coin into the offering box in the back. Not many came that Sunday, and those who did didn’t seem too excited about what was said. After the service, the preacher and son walked to the back, and he emptied the box. Out fell one coin. The young boy said, “Dad, if you’d have put more in, you’d have gotten more out!”
I have every confidence that God is going to use you and our developing communicators – and everyone will receive in the process, because preaching is a two-way street!
The GIFTED series ended yesterday with an amazing message from Steve Thompson about living a supernatural life (not just on Sundays) and today I heard a great testimony:
one of the members of our Praise Team (Marnie Robinson) went in for a doctor’s appointment this morning, and noticed a woman in a wheelchair. The Holy Spirit whispered to her that she should pray for the woman, so Marnie approached her and learned that the woman’s pastor was there with her. After getting permission to pray, she asked her pain level and the lady said it was a ‘7’. After they prayed, her pain level dropped to ‘3’. So (just like Robby Dawkins taught us last week during the Activation Night), Marnie asked if they could pray again and believe God to take the pain completely away. They prayed and He did! On a Monday morning in the marketplace!
I’m excited that while the series ended, what God is doing among us is just beginning!
As I announced yesterday in Tinley Park, we will be continuing a monthly gathering to share stories, answer questions, do some teaching and practice more activations as all of us grow in this supernatural life. If you’d like to be a part of that group and you didn’t already sign up, please do so here.
If YOU attended any service of CLC today, at any location or online, what/s your favorite memory? Leave a comment below-
In Deuteronomy 16:16 the Lord commanded that all men of Israel should appear before Him three times a year – and one of those special times was the feast called Pentecost!
As it’s turned out, at CLC we have three special times in June for men – and we’re CALLING every man of CLC to join us:
1. Pentecost Sunday – Sunday, June 4! Not only is this the birthday of THE Church (see Acts 2:1-4) and the climax of our ‘GIFTED’ series, but our special guest, Steve Thompson is a “man’s man”, having just completed a hike from South Rim to North Rim of the Grand Canyon two weeks ago! You don’t want to miss him!
2. Father’s Day – Sunday, June 18! This special day is all about YOU, men – with a unique & special treat for all men in attendance that day!
3. 2nd Annual Men’s Event – Saturday, June 24! There will be LOTS of testosterone at CLC-Tinley Park that Saturday with competitive events, lots of good food, practical breakouts for husbands, fathers, single men, finances, men of God, successful men & our very special guest, Pastor Dan Johnson!
It’s a MALE Trifecta, and it’s all happening in June!
Personally, I am still blown-away by the numbers of people who attended each of these past 3 Wednesdays – and especially by how many CLC’ers made it each week! It shows me the hunger that God’s people have to ‘make the supernatural natural’ at CLC, and we’ll have a special announcement to make this Sunday about that.
Speaking of this Sunday, June 4 – don’t forget it’s Pentecost Sunday and it will be a fitting climax to our ‘GIFTED’ series, as author Steve Thompson will minister in Tinley Park, Robby Dawkins will be at our Hammond campus, and Pastor Brent has a special message for Blue Island – may the close of the series be the icing on the cake!
No new questions came in this week, so I’m repeating this post from a few years ago:
An anonymous reader asks, “Have you ever encountered skepticism from individuals raised with a different religion? How did you deal with it? I am going through this with my spouse and do not want to push him into anything, but I would love for him to join the kids and I in our faith.”
Great question, and one faced by numerous spouses through the years. Here’s my best take on what you can do:
I assume that by “a different religion” you actually mean a “different expression of Christianity”, like Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc., as opposed to a different religion, like Islam or Buddhism. (I am MUCH more familiar with the first than the second, although I suppose most of my suggestions would be similar).
The single-best advice I can give comes straight from God’s Word in 1Pet. 3:1-4, where we learn that your loving conduct in the home will do more to win your spouse than anything you might say to them!
Once you’ve ‘covered that base’ by sweet, loving, Christ-like behavior in front of them, if your spouse hasn’t already initiated the conversation about your faith by asking questions, I’d say it’s time for you to broach that subject. Here are my tips:
- Bathe this whole situation and your spouse in prayer! That should go without saying, but 2Cor. 4:4 makes it clear that the reason your spouse doesn’t believe is because the god of this world has blinded his/her eyes to the Gospel! That’s the real issue – not their background, culture, upbringing or anything else – they don’t believe because Satan has blinded them – so the answer is for you (and others you can enlist) to pray fervently and persistently for the Lord to open their eyes!
- Make sure your spouse is not in a defensive posture before you begin the conversation – in other words, look for a time when he/she is able and willing to talk, rather than during a heated discussion about something else, or when they are occupied with other pressing matters (whether live or on TV).
- it’s always best to answer their questions, instead of trying to force the conversation. This is the method that Jesus used consistently (study John 4:4-29 to see how He tactfully yet effectively led the Samaritan woman to truth)
- Beyond that, especially if you have a good marital relationship (meaning your spouse genuinely loves you and your children), then a gentle (not nagging, but loving) conversation in which you explain how important it is to you that he/she would at least attend church with you as a family, can be a great beginning! I’ve known of lots of unsaved spouses who started attending church to support their children’s participation in a holiday presentation or came to visit just because of their spouse’s invitation, only to eventually find that they enjoyed the services, felt drawn by the Presence of God, and gave their life to Christ!
I’m sure there are some folks reading this who won their spouse to the Lord despite dissimilar backgrounds: what would YOU add to this list? Please leave your suggestions in the comment section below.
Hope this helps! Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
Don’t forget – this Sunday, June 4 is PENTECOST SUNDAY with special guest Steven Thompson at our Tinley Park campus & Robby Dawkins at our Hammond location. Hope to see you!
Years ago, when I was in Bible college preparing for ministry, a wise pastor told us, “whatever you want your people to experience, preach it until it happens”.
That’s no doubt why, in this month when we’ve been emphasizing the SUPERnatural ministry of Jesus through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we’ve experienced the supernatural.
This past Sunday I had the privilege of praying for at least 5 or 6 people or more who came to the altar because of pain in their body and left pain-free – all because Jesus is still Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals all sickness and disease! (Exodus 15:26, Psa. 103:3, 1Pet. 2:24)
That’s also why I’m so excited about the final one of our ‘Activation Nights’ this Wednesday, May 31 at 7pm, when Evangelist Robby Dawkins will demonstrate and activate the healing gifts of the Holy Spirit at CLC.
I hope you’ll invite someone who needs to be healed and come expecting!
During this ‘GIFTED’ series, one of my favorite CLC’ers asked, “Is there any indication at all in scripture that Jesus had a prayer language or spoke in tongues with an interpreter?
Great question, and one that others are probably asking, too. Here’s my answer:
NO. There is never any mention of Jesus speaking in tongues (“prayer language”, as we often say at CLC) or using the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues.
However, that does not disturb me in the slightest as to the importance of praying in tongues in the life of a believer today, for these reasons:
- Jesus predated the advent of tongues as a sign of the Holy Spirit baptism. In fact, Jesus ascended into heaven at the end of the four Gospels (recorded in Acts 1), but the first instance of anyone speaking in tongues was about a week later, in Acts 2:4. Acts 2:32-33 makes it even clearer: Jesus was the one who baptized those 120 believers with the Holy Spirit, but He was already in heaven when it happened to them. Thus, we can see that He was not living on earth when the Holy Spirit was poured out, with one of the signs of that outpouring being the ability to speak a language we never learned. So Jesus didn’t have a prayer language for the same reason that Abraham or Moses or David or any other ‘hero’ from the Old Testament did not – that gift was not offered during his lifetime.
- If I may elaborate on that point a bit further, Jesus Himself told us that the Holy Spirit couldn’t come until He ascended back into heaven – notice John 14:12 and 16:7. So again, there was no need or opportunity for Jesus to experience a miraculous prayer language, since the Holy Spirit could not be poured out until He ascended back into heaven.
- Also, I should point out that Jesus was not baptized in the Holy Spirit in the same way that we are today, because He was the Holy Spirit embodied (Col. 2:9), and the Scripture plainly says that He had the Holy Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34). He had no need of a ‘sign’ because He was the only begotten Son of God!
- For what it’s worth, I have heard some well-meaning but Biblically misinformed folks say that Jesus spoke in tongues while on the cross in Mark 15:34. However, those words were the common Aramaic that Jesus spoke – definitely not in tongues, as can be seen in that the people who heard him rushed to respond.
I hope that helps. Perhaps someone reading this can offer additional explanations – or maybe you also have a question to Ask the Pastor. Please leave your comments below-
Meanwhile, I’m excited about this Sunday when we’ll explore the ‘power gifts’ of faith, working of miracles and healings! It’ll be a great Memorial Day weekend at each CLC campus, and we’d love to have you join us!
That’s my report – but I’d love to hear from YOU – what was your favorite moment of the evening?
I know it’s a holiday weekend, but I invite you to join us Sunday as we explore the ‘power gifts’ (faith, working of miracles & healing) – ‘Do What Jesus Did!’, and of course, the final activation night with Robby Dawkins on May 31 at 7pm!
We’re well in week 3 of this 5-week series about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I’m sure some people are still wondering, “what’s the big deal?” and “why an ‘activation’ night”?
The big deal in a nutshell is what Jesus promised in John 14:12; namely, that you and I would do the same works that He did, because of the Holy Spirit He would send to us!
This is not just a cute title for some sermons. This is a promise of Jesus: that we will be able to speak like He spoke, know like He knew, and even do what He did!
In my observation these past 48 years of ministry, the ONLY reason that we aren’t doing all of that is fear of embarrassment – the fear of looking stupid if we try something and fail. And that’s where these ‘activation nights’ come in.
As you saw last Wednesday (if you attended), an activation is simply a safe way for us to try to use the gifts Jesus promised us, without the fear of embarrassment.
Did you learn to talk as a baby without first trying to make some sounds?
Did you learn to walk as a child without first trying to take some steps, even though you were clumsy in the beginning?
Did you learn to ride a bike with some ‘training wheels’ attached initially, to give you more confidence until you could ride without fear?
Tonight you’ll have a chance to ‘activate’ the gifts of the word of knowledge, word of wisdom and discerning of spirits with the guidance of a man who uses those gifts effectively to serve others – Dr. Matthew Stevenson.
See you at 7pm at the Tinley Park campus.
P.S. Apostle Stevenson invited his church to join us, so I suggest you arrive early to get a seat!
I learned a valuable lesson (well, actually re-learned it again) last week after we were SO overwhelmed with almost 800 people coming to our first “Activation night” during our GIFTED series.
In any prophetic message, there are always three components:
- The revelation – what God actually says to you
- The interpretation – how you understand what He said
- The application – what you do with what you heard
Earlier this year, I really, really sensed the Lord speak to me that this series on the gifts of the Spirit was NOT to just be a sermon series, but that we should include “activations” to help our people put the teaching into practice by stepping out in the gifts. I even sensed three men immediately that I wanted to lead those activations, and as soon as I contacted them, each one quickly accepted the invitation for the only possible dates that would work for us!
I knew God had spoken to me and I knew He was at work in arranging this for us. I also has sensed that this was NOT just to be for our Tinley Park campus, but it was for ALL of CLC – that each campus was to be impacted by these activations.
When I sat down with our pastors to apply what I had heard from the Lord, I thought the best way to accomplish it was to move the application nights around so that each campus could experience one in their building, even while challenging the other two campuses to support the activation nights as though it was their own. Sounds logical, right?
But my application was obviously off, when almost 800 folks came to experience the ‘speaking gifts” with Apostle John Eckhardt last Wednesday and by Thursday morning when I met with our pastors, we knew we had no choice but to host the remaining two activations in our largest facility, the Tinley Park campus.
As each of us continues to step out and “make the SUPERnatural natural at CLC”, let it be a valuable lesson that we must humbly seek Him for the application to what He reveals to us by His Spirit.
Can’t wait to see what He will do in us this Wednesday at 7pm with Dr. Matthew Stevenson in the house!
During our current “GIFTED” series, someone asked me, “are all of the gifts in Scripture given when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit? What about the gifts in Romans 12 that we study during the CLC Growth Track?
Great question, and since we don’t have time to address it during our current series, let me do so here:
First, there are three primary listings of ‘gifts’ in the New Testament, and I see a clear distinction in each set:
- Romans 12 lists six “grace gifts” that I believe are given to us by our Heavenly Father at our natural birth. These are often called ‘motivational’ gifts, and they can be readily seen even in our children, as they affect our approach to life. If little Johnny spills his milk, the prophetic-gifted person responds with, “I told you to be more careful”, while the mercy-gifted person comforts Johnny with, “It’s ok, Johnny” and the helps-gifted person will grab a paper towel to clean up the spill and get Johnny a fresh glass of milk, etc. These gifts show how God has wired us from birth, and can really be helpful for us to recognize, since they can show us where we will be most fulfilled in our career and our ministry!
- 1Corinthians 12 lists nine “gifts of the Spirit” that are clearly given by the Holy Spirit when we are baptized in the Spirit. They are the focus of our current series, and, as we are seeing, they are supernatural gifts from the Holy Spirit, that enable us to speak things we could not speak without His enablement, and know things we could not know without His enablement, and do things we could not do without His enablement.
- Ephesians 4 lists five “gifts from Christ” that are actually gifted-people who serve the body of Christ; i.e., they are gifts to the Church.
- I’m not at all sure that these lists are exhaustive and there may well be other gifts (some teachers have counted 27 or more); however, these are the only ‘lists’ provided in Scripture.
Thus we receive gifts from the Trinity: some gifts from the Father at our natural birth, some gifts from the Holy Spirit when we are baptized in the Spirit, and some gifts from Jesus as members of His Church.
Clearly, these are definitely different gifts, given to us at different times and certainly for different purposes. Our ‘GIFTED’ series is only looking at the nine enablements of the Holy Spirit.
And since you asked, I would encourage every person reading this to discover your gift this Sunday (May 21) at your campus of CLC in the Growth Track class. Not only will you learn about the importance of your gifts, but you’ll even take a spiritual gift profile that will reveal your primary giftings, and as I said before, this discovery can be of great benefit, both in the marketplace and in ministry.
Hope that helps. Would you care to add to my answer by leaving a comment below? Or perhaps you have a story to share as to how your gifts have proven to be a blessing to your life? Let’s encourage one another-
As you know (if you were present) or may have heard (if you weren’t here), last night’s first ‘Activation” for our ‘GIFTED’ series may have been the LARGEST-attended midweek event in our history!
People double-and-even-triple-parked in our parking lot, plus some parked along the side of 183rd Street and Ridgeland Avenue and still others on the grassy areas of our property and still others used our carports for parking, just so they could get into the building – and then we filled every single chair in the auditorium, brought in another 40 or so folding chairs, which soon filled and still had others who sat in the lobby or stood in the service, just so they could participate! It was CRAY CRAY, as our kids would say.
But it was CRAY CRAY GOOD, as hundreds of people stirred up the gifts of the Spirit in their life through a series of activations led by Apostle John Eckhardt.
We’re expecting that the next two Wednesdays could very well be just as slammed, with such popular guests coming to help us activate other gifts of the Spirit, and we concluded that our Tinley Park location is the only one large enough to handle the crowds, So instead of moving these next two activations to our other locations, we’re changing the plan to have BOTH May 24 and May 31 events at the Tinley Park campus, while having our Hammond and Blue Island campuses host the services.
Please help us GET THE WORD OUT since we had already advertised the other locations, and we don’t want anyone to miss out because they show up at the wrong address!
Meanwhile, let’s fast and pray and come EXPECTING!
The first of our three ‘activations’ for the ‘GIFTED’ series exceeded my expectations in every way – and that’s a mouthful, because I had HIGH expectations!
First of all, John Eckhardt demonstrated why he is so highly respected as a true Apostolic leader and a man of God. He not only did an amazing job of leading the congregation in 10-12 prophetic ‘activation’, but after ministering for 90 minutes or more, he then voluntarily went to the book table and signed books for people for as long as anyone wanted – I left about 10pm and he was still there signing books for people! That shows the heart of a servant-leader!
Secondly, there were 784 people in the building last night, and our auditorium only seats 550! As a result, I’m told that cars were triple-parked in the parking lot and the grassy areas of our property and that some even parked alongside 183rd Street and Ridgeland at the edges of our property (that sounds dangerous, but that’s the report I received) That shows how hungry people (and CLC’ers) are for the supernatural!
Thirdly, (and most importantly), every single person I spoke with afterwards had a story to tell – how they personally heard from God through the prophetic activations! Every. one.! That shows how much God wants us to make the supernatural natural at CLC!
P.S. MEGA-KUDOS to our Children’s Director, Stacy Hunter for seeing the crowds & volunteering to add children’s ministry for kids over 5 years old (the original plan was just to care for kids under 5) and to her amazing children (Cameron, Caleb & Jenna) & other volunteers who jumped in last-minute to minister to over 50 kids so that people who came for the prophetic activations had a place to sit. Stacy, we love you!
We’re just getting started – don’t miss THIS Sunday at each CLC campus as we explore the knowing gifts of the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom and discerning of spirits.
If you were present last night, please share your thoughts/experience below to encourage others:
Had a neat report from Mother’s Day at the Tinley Park campus – when my wife encouraged everyone to listen for a ‘word’ to share with a neighbor, one of our members said she heard the Lord speak, “the Champ is here”. She immediately thought of Muhammed Ali, who used to say that chant before a boxing match, to announce his presence; intimidate the enemy; and rally his fans. She felt the Lord was saying to her (and to CLC), “The Champ is here” in order to announce His Presence; intimidate the enemy, and rally His people! (Sure sounds like a word to me!)
I also had a chance to practice what I preached Sunday. I told everyone in 9am service at our Hammond campus to just look at a neighbor and ask, “If Jesus were here right now, what would He say to them? (and remember, He’s in a good mood)”.
In the next service worship set, I noticed a young man interacting and receiving prayer from “mama Drusie” (a beloved older member there) and was just ‘daydreaming’ how he was showing such deference and humility as he received prayer from this precious senior saint and how God was going to honor that and use him in wonderful ways, when it dawned on me that I wasn’t daydreaming; God was speaking to me! So I shared my ‘word’ with the young man and hoped God would use it to bless him!
Whether those two incidents are encouraging to you or not, one thing is for sure: God is going to use Apostle John Eckhardt tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 17) to impart spiritual gifts and activate CLC’ers in the prophetic at 7pm at our Tinley Park campus.
I hope you’ll come early and come expecting, as we make the supernatural a natural part of our lives!
Kudos to EVERY mom & the photographers at each campus who helped make this a special day!
One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “I’ve been having a discussion about tithing, specifically tithing on a large sum of money, like a $100,000 settlement. One thinks it’s ok to tithe in monthly increments while I feel that the tithe should be done in lump sum… as the money is given to you. I strongly believe that only tithing 2% when the money is received can result in the other 98% being cursed. I know the financial disadvantages that failure to tithe can cause. I also know how easy it is for money allocated towards tithing to find other places to go. Please advise.”
Interesting question, and one that I’ve never been asked before. Here’s my thoughts:
- First, the tithe, in Scripture, is based on our increase (see Deut. 14:22, 14:28, 26:12-13 and Prov. 3:9). I mention that because when it comes to businesses, for example, the tithe is not based on their entire income, because in order to receive that income, they had expenses like overhead, cost of supplies, payroll for employees, etc, etc. – so the business should tithe on their profit, not on their gross sales. Similarly for the sale of a home and possibly a settlement as was mentioned here. Instead of tithing on the sale price of a home or the full settlement received, I think a person could deduct the purchase price of the home when they bought it and only tithe on the profit or increase they received, and that a person who received a settlement could deduct any true expenses they had in order to obtain the settlement, such as legal fees that were necessary in order to receive.
- Second, and more direct to the question, is that the tithe is NOT just any tenth; it is specifically the first tenth of our increase (see Exodus 23:19; Proverbs 3:9), which is why the tithe is synonymous with “firstfruits” throughout Scripture. That’s because tithing has never been a money issue; tithing has always been a faith issue. It takes faith to give God the first tenth of my income instead of paying all my bills and then giving God the last tenth (or worse yet, a tip out of what’s left!)
- I tend not to think in terms of a ‘curse’ being on us or our money in this day of God’s grace (unlike Old Testament times such as Joshua 6:18, 7:11-15 or Mal. 3:8-11), but I can’t disagree with the questioner that only submitting a portion of the tithe would bring about financial disadvantage, rather than the blessing of God. And I wholeheartedly agree that it is SO easy for money allocated to tithes to go elsewhere – that’s why the first withdrawal from my bank account after payday is my tithe!
Hope this helps a bit. Perhaps YOU have thoughts to add to my answer. If so, please leave your comment below or even ask your own question for me.
This past Sunday was anything but superficial, as the Holy Spirit was outpoured at CLC shortly after we heard from 15 CLC’ers who shared their story with us.
However, there were a couple of other testimonies that we captured on video since neither person was available to share on Sunday. Enjoy!
I’m still floating after the move of the Spirit we enjoyed this past Sunday at CLC-Tinley Park (and from the reports I heard, at our other campuses as well).
But when I saw the picture above and noticed the all-out praise from everyone on stage, it reminded me of an important principle: we set the atmosphere for others to receive!
For instance, our First Touch Team (parking lot, ushers, greeters, info desk) plays such an important role of welcoming people to CLC. The atmosphere they set by their smiles, warmth, handshakes, and all-around welcoming attitude does cause even anxious newcomers to feel accepted and even wanted at CLC.
Just last night I received a text about a woman who attended Sunday for just the second time ever, and her 2-year old cried so much she had to leave the auditorium during the message and stay with him in our nursery. But the point of the text is that our Nursery team showed so much LOVE to the little boy that she still had a good experience, even though she didn’t get to be in the service! (Kudos to CLC KidsLife Jr. workers!!!)
My point is this: each of us can help to set an atmosphere, not only to welcome people or help them feel loved, but also to welcome the Presence of our Great God into the room, so that everyone in the House can receive from Him! (Thank God for a great Worship team at CLC who set the example for us each Sunday, but it’s not just about those on stage – it’s up to each of us to set that atmosphere through our worship!)
I’m convinced that we’re going to a new place in the Spirit at CLC, but setting the atmosphere makes it possible!
Special thanks also to Tim & Melanie Hilton, Tenita Ramey, Sean Smith, & Tamika Steele for sharing their stories of how having a prayer language has changed their life!
I’d say we’re off to a great start in the ‘GIFTED’ series. Although I don’t think we reached the 3 dozen Holy Spirit baptisms I prayed for all week, we did reach dozens, plural, with at least 25 people filled today. (I should have a more complete report after we process the Connection Cards tomorrow).
And as one of our elders said, “This is only the beginning!”
Please join me in fasting at least one day this week as we continue to go deeper in the things of the Spirit in this series!
There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m reposting from 2011-
This week’s question is, “In Genesis 4:1, does scripture specifically say that Cain was Adam and Eve’s first child and Able was their second child? I know they had more children because Cain must have taken one of his sisters to be his wife.”
Interesting question; one I’ve never been asked before. I went to several translations and commentaries, including the Amplified Bible, which offers the strongest indication by saying “next” in regards to Abel’s birth. However, the rather obvious answer is that the Bible does NOT specifically say that Cain was their first child. I suppose one could argue that they could have had a daughter first – although Eve’s exclamation about Cain’s birth certainly seems to me like a strong indicator that he was her firstborn.
I did discover one thing in my research that I didn’t know: some scholars believe that Cain and Abel were twins, and that children in those early days of man’s history were usually born in pairs. It’s an interesting idea to say the least, and one that I can’t refute with Scripture.
And I do agree with my questioner that Cain must have married his own sister – I just can’t see any other possibility in the Biblical record.
Hope that helped a bit. Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
Today is the USA National Day of Prayer.
I’m not sure we needed politicians to call for a day of prayer, but I’m glad they did.
More importantly, I know our nation needs prayer.
Most importantly, I’ve seen how God can answer prayer – even miraculously.
America could use some miracles.
Our prayer room is open now until 7pm for anyone who wants to stop in to pray.
Tonight in our Youth Auditorium at the Tinley Park campus we’ll have a special corporate prayer meeting from 7pm-8pm.
I hate fasting. I enjoy eating. But I love what fasting & prayer produces; how it helps us get beyond our flesh and opens our spirit to receive from God.
That’s why I’m calling all CLC’ers to join me in fasting at least one day each week during this month of May, to prepare ourselves for what God will do at CLC during our ‘GIFTED’ series.
Personally, I’m hungry for MORE of the work of the Holy Spirit at CLC. I’m hungry to see more healings among us. I’m hungry to see more miracles and supernatural, unmistakable answers to prayer at CLC. I’m hungry for God to do what only HE can do, instead of our services consisting of just the best that we can do.
Are you hungry?
Then join me in doing what we don’t want to do (giving up meals for a day) in order to receive what we do want – more!
…..our CLC Apostolic Overseers are in town!
“In the multitude of counselors there is safety” – So says the wisest man who ever lived, in Proverbs 11:14.
Honestly, I’ve never understood why anyone wouldn’t want good counsel from others. As a pastor, I know that I’m in over my head, and I need the wisdom that can be found from other godly men who love me and who love CLC. That’s why we created a board of Overseers back in 1993, knowing that I would soon be walking away from the only faith family I had ever known, and that I needed godly counsel.
They have served us SO well through these last 24 years, and they have become my closest friends in the process. I thank God for Pastors Joseph Garlington, Gordon Banks, and Eddie Cupples, as well as Prophet Dennis Cramer and Dale Van Steenis!
All five of these men are in town (well, Bishop is arriving this morning) and they’ll spend all day with us as we look at CLC’s future. I look forward to our time of prayer, conversation, laughter and counsel!
Together, they make CLC a safe place for you and me.
My favorite conversation of the day was with a young boy (8 years old) who approached me in the lobby and said, “Pastor Jerry, if I don’t make it to the NBA or the MLB, I want to be a pastor just like you when I grow up” (I mean, #3 choice behind major-league baseball or the National Basketball Association ain’t bad!)
Today has been a very FULL day of meetings and deliberations for CAPRO. I’m still not sure how I got here, but I’m humbled at the responsibility we carry for 700 missionaries in 35 different nations, most of them located within the 10/40 window of the most unreached peoples on earth.
What CAPRO has been able to do in the past 42 years of missions ministry is nothing short of a miracle of God’s grace, especially considering their limited resources. Even more astonishing is that 80% of their financial support comes from within Nigeria! (Humbling for this American to realize that God uses people outside of the USA to accomplish His work!)
We finished our deliberations here about noon on Friday, Chicago time, and after a hair-raising, two-and-a-half-hour drive to the Lagos airport in rush hour traffic and an even crazier check-in experience at the airport, I’ll be boarding my return flight soon. See you Sunday!
One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “In Luke 21 Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and just when I think He is talking about end times, He states that this generation will not pass from the scene until all of these things come to pass. Is He assigning a different definition for generation? If not, that generation has long since passed from the scene so has that prophesy been fulfilled?”
Great questions. Let’s take them one at a time.
- The first thing I notice is that Jesus actually spoke here of several different signs, not just the destruction of the temple that he started with. And as he described various signs, he included several “time” words;
- notice verse 9, “the end won’t follow immediately“
- verse 12, ‘before all this occurs…”
- verses 20-24 clearly speak of what happened in 70 A.D. when the Roman general Titus surrounded Jerusalem and eventually destroyed the city, not leaving one stone of the Temple atop another.
- I think the last half of verse 24 is particularly significant as it describes a time when the “period of the Gentiles will come to an end”. From history we know that after Jerusalem was defeated/destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D., it was under Gentile control until 1967 during what’s known as “The 6-day War”, when Israel seized control of Jerusalem from the nation of Jordan. If my understanding of Luke 21:24 is correct, since 1967 we have been living on “borrowed time”, since the period of the Gentiles was over and Jesus could have returned for His Church (except for Matthew 24:14 as I shared last Sunday at CLC)
2. Clearly (at least to me), that last part of verse 24 marks a different period of time than the earlier prophecies in verses 9, 12, and 20 thru the first part of verse 24. And your question about the meaning of a generation doesn’t appear until verse 32. So I don’t think Jesus is assigning a new definition to ‘generation’; I just think he’s referring to the generation that sees the period of the Gentiles end.
3. Another indication that it is that later generation that Jesus references is verses 29-32 and the illustration of the fig tree sprouting leaves. The fig tree is found many times in Scripture and has often been thought to represent the nation of Israel. If so, then verse 29 speaks of Israel becoming a nation in 1948. So perhaps the best understanding of these verses in context of Luke 21 is that the generation that is alive for Israel’s statehood and the period of the Gentiles being fulfilled will still be alive at the coming of Christ – which definitely speaks of the nearness of His return.
As I mentioned last Sunday, I’m no prophecy scholar and I could be off – but I hope this has helped your questions a little. Perhaps someone reading this post has some other passages that shed light on your question – if so, please share it with us below.
Until then, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
My first day here for CAPRO meetings was spent with several hours of discussion with the subcommittee dealing with Resource Development. Honestly, it could have been depressing, since the needs are so great and the ‘bread and fish’ so small, but I really felt we made some progress and I was even able to contribute a few ideas that may work even in an African context.
I wish everyone could see how much this ministry accomplishes on so little in the way of resources – it’s really a modern-day testimony to God’s favor and the miraculous!
Tomorrow we’ll be in meetings from morning until dinner time, when I’ll head back to the airport for my return flight home.
No, not the ice cream. (Although I’ll take a pint of Chunky Monkey if you’re buying)
This Sunday will be our farewell service for the Ben Stewart family, so I want to give my tribute to them here.
In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Ben’s parents, Gary & Deb Stewart joined CLC. Although they were only part of our church family for about four years (if my memory is accurate). They were and are salt-of-the-earth-kind-of-people that churches can be built on, and were a great blessing here before a job transfer took them to Dallas.
About 17 years ago, as a newly-married couple, Ben and Nili came to Chicago to visit his parents, and attended a Sunday service at CLC. Even though we only had a short conversation after church (maybe 15 minutes), it was one of those ‘instant connections’ and before we parted that day, I asked Ben to contact me if he ever decided to leave Lake Charles, LA where he was a youth pastor.
A few years went by and we reconnected at a pastor’s conference, where I learned that he had left Lake Charles and was now serving a church in Lubbock, Texas. I ‘chastised’ him for not contacting me in advance, and told him again, “if you ever decide to leave Lubbock, please call me – I’m interested in hiring you”.
Same story…a few years later, we saw each other at yet another pastor’s conference where I learned that he was now serving Jesse DuPlantis Ministries in New Orleans, and I almost yelled this time, “I told you to contact me in advance. Please: if you ever decide to leave JDM, please let me know!”
That’s how, in the Fall of 2011, my phone rang and Ben was on the other end, saying, “I don’t know if you were serious, but you told me to call if I sensed a transition coming in ministry – and I do.” It was basically a done deal over the phone (for me, at least), but a few weeks later, he and his family drove to Chicago to look at CLC’s need for an Executive Pastor, and by the end of the year, they were here on location.
This is where words fail to describe the difference they have made. I can honestly say it was the best hiring decision I’ve ever made, as Ben has simply made each member of our team more effective in ministry with his coaching and encouragement. If you’ve been around him for 5 minutes, you know how he genuinely and deeply loves people, and that’s the greatest secret of his success. He has overseen the launch of our latest 2 campuses in Hammond and Blue Island, not only in coaching and developing our pastoral teams there – but he even jumped in physically when we purchased a building in need of rehab at both locations – it seems like there’s practically nothing that Ben can’t do, and do well.
He has made my job so much easier, as he has lifted so much of the day to day load off my shoulders and freed me to focus on the big picture for CLC and spend my time in prayer & the Word. He’s also been my go-to person on a daily basis, providing me with a godly sounding board for all sorts of ideas, affirming those from God and helping me recognize the ones that resulted from bad pizza late at night.
If you can’t tell, I love Pastor Ben and his wonderful wife and their amazing 8 children. I loved him for those 10-12 years I pursued him to join our staff, and I’ve loved him even more since we’ve worked side-by-side these past 5+ years.
It’s going to be hard to say goodbye on Sunday, but not quite as hard as it could be because we’ve already made plans to stay connected and he agrees that he will always be part of our CLC family.
I hope you’ll join me in preparing a love-gift for their family and/or a card or note of your heartfelt appreciation – I know that’ll mean much to them in the days ahead.
See you Sunday!
It’s definitely the most-popular sermon series of the year at CLC, and it’s coming in just over two months (July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30).
I’m inviting YOU to help us by nominating the movie(s) that you would love to hear us teach from this July. Keep in mind that while we prefer new flicks that have been in the theater this past year, it’s necessary that the DVD has been released no later than June, 2017 (since otherwise we couldn’t use the clips as illustrations). If you’re not sure, you can always check here.
IMPORTANT: our pastoral team will meet on Tuesday, May 2 to make the choices for 2017, so you must respond quickly!
Leave your nominations below or email them directly to me. If your nomination is chosen and reached us first, we’ll present you with a prize on the day we preach your movie!
I left the office yesterday afternoon for an evening flight to Frankfurt and then my connecting flight that should get me into Lagos, Nigeria about 10:30 Wednesday morning in Chicago.
This may be the shortest missions trip I’ve ever made, as I’ll be in meetings on Thursday and Friday as part of the CAPRO International Council before flying home, arriving back at O’Hare on Saturday morning.
As the International Chairman told me last November, I’m hoping to add value, not just color to the CAPRO team – so please pray for wisdom in all our deliberations about the missions work CAPRO’s 700 missionaries do in 35 nations across the world.
See you Sunday!
This past Sunday morning my daughter received this picture in a text from my daughter-in-love. Jen had bought the ‘onesie’ outfits for Lincoln and Riley about a year ago and we loved the picture of them.
However, this past Sunday the text from Dorothy explained that she has a friend who is actively serving Syrian refugees in Germany, and that the friend had learned of a Syrian family who also had twin preemies, who were the same birth weight as our twins!
Dorothy sent them some infant clothing, including the onesie outfits, and when my wife & daughter saw the pic during service on Sunday, they were moved to tears – and then Chris heard the Lord whisper, “That’s what I love about this family!”
You may not think God speaks like that to people, but I do. And I do think His heart is touched that even our daughter in law wants to help the needy in the Nations. May those Syrian twins come to know Jesus and serve Him well in years to come!
And I’m still rejoicing that CLC sends 70% of our monthly missions support to the 10/40 window! (I also think God loves that about our CLC family!)
I’m headed to Guaranteed Rate Field (still think that’s the dumbest name for a stadium I’ve ever heard) as the Sox play the Royals tonight – but I’m not going for the game. (In fact, I haven’t been to a Sox game in at least 2 or 3 years, maybe longer.)
Instead, I’m headed there for a planning meeting with Champions Network, because Joel Osteen will be at the United Center for a “Night of Hope” this August 11. In case you’re not aware, Joel regularly ministers to full stadiums for these events, and 50% of those who attend are unbelievers/unchurch folks and 70% of them respond to his call for repentance and trust in Christ as these events!
I’m excited that CLC has been invited to help as a sponsoring church and the potential to see hungry people brought into the Kingdom on August 11!
As you probably know, we have campuses in Mindanao, Philippines – and I just heard from Pastor Herley Montes at our Davao City campus – they baptized 130 new converts this week! Rejoice with them at the pic below:
And if you missed today, perhaps this video will enlighten you about the 10/40 window:
The amazing news is that CLC is actively engaged in 28 of the 56 nations within the 10/40 window, and 70% of our monthly missions support goes to the 10/40 window nations!
After service, one widow donated $1,000 and pledged $4,000 more to help others go on missions trips!
And another CLC’er heard the Holy Spirit whisper that there was someone at CLC who wanted very much to go on a missions trip but didn’t have the funds, and that he was to donate $2,100 to help make it possible!
Now, that’s what I’d call a GREAT Missions Sunday!