Classy people do classy things!

I just received this card in the mail today:

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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.

Sunday reflections

All of the Hammond campus K-12 and Educators on the platform for prayer today!

Hammond campus K-12 and Educators on the platform for prayer today!  (Beautiful sight!)

Hammond worship was STRONG today...

Hammond worship was STRONG today…

Pastor Sam tackled the Sexual Purity message, with great feedback from parents

Pastor Sam tackled the Sexual Purity message, with great feedback from parents

After the Hammond services, they had a Back to School Bash with a special presentation by the Hammond Police Department

After the Hammond services, they had a Back to School Bash with a special presentation by the Hammond Police Department and their dogs

Meanwhile, it was a Baby Dedication Sunday in Blue Island today - love to see family members come together to dedicate a child (Congrats Daniel & Veronica and baby Jonas!)

Meanwhile, it was a Baby Dedication Sunday in Blue Island today – love to see family members come together to dedicate a child (Congrats Daniel & Veronica and baby Jonas!)

And congrats to Maria & for the dedication of their 3 children: Ruby, Julian & Monica!

And congrats to Maria on the dedication of her 3 children: Ruby, Julian & Monica!

Pastor Brent told me he was nervous about preaching the Sexual Purity message, but a guest told him afterwards, in 35 years of attending church, he had never heard this subject addressed, and he filled both sides of his outline with personal notes from the message!

Pastor Brent told me he was nervous about preaching the Sexual Purity message, but a guest told him afterwards, in 35 years of attending church, he had never heard this subject addressed, and he filled both sides of his outline with personal notes from the message!

But "how shall they hear without a translator?" says Pastor Sol!

But “how shall they hear without a translator?” says Pastor Sol!

Since it was Back to School Sunday, I think Tinley campus wins the cutest kids award!

Since it was Back to School Sunday, I think Tinley campus wins the cutest kids award!

how 'bout this little gal?

how ’bout this little gal?

Pastor Chris had some prophetic pictures to share with us: distractions, , & peace (hang on to Jesus!)

Pastor Chris had some prophetic pictures to share with us: distractions, purpose, & peace (hang on to Jesus!)

The moment we announced our new Tinley Park Campus Pastors, Jon & Rachel Jones!

The moment we announced our new Tinley Park Campus Pastors, Jon & Rachel Jones!

Honestly, I knew the Sexual Purity message was needed & I tried to include lots of humor to make it go down easier, but I'm glad it over!

Honestly, I knew the Sexual Purity message was needed & I tried to include lots of humor to make it go down easier, but I’m glad it over!

Feel free to send your congratulations to Pastors Jon & Rachel here-

Don’t forget to submit a question for next Sunday’s “HOT SEAT” here.

Ask the Pastor

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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. 12:10who 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?

SEX and announcements and prayer

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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!

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Congratulations, Linell and Amanda!

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

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!

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials AND a great new worship assignment, Linell & Amanda!

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials AND a great new worship assignment, Linell & Amanda!

Sunday reflections

I wish Charlottesville, VA could see this.

I wish Charlottesville, VA could see these two little girls – as God intended it to be!

So many good things happened today:

LOTS of newcomer's at the 8:30 service today, anxious to get Joel Osteen's latest book!

LOTS of newcomer’s at the 8:30 service today, anxious to get Joel Osteen’s latest book!

Nothing like the JOY of water baptism - congratulations, Shantelya Lett!

Nothing like the JOY of water baptism – congratulations, Shantelya Lett!

We prayed for this special team of 4 men headed to Haifa, Israel this week to tackle some building projects for our partners at "Return to Zion", led by Leon Mazin!

We prayed for this special team of 4 men headed to Haifa, Israel this week to tackle some building projects for our partners at “Return to Zion”, led by Leon Mazin!

And we welcomed our new Executive Pastors, Dan & Torey Goodson!

And we welcomed our new Executive Pastors, Dan & Torey Goodson!

 

I shared a teaching on "HONOR" for week 2 of our 'Timeless' series, and people game their life to Christ in each service!

I shared a teaching on “HONOR” for week 2 of our ‘Timeless’ series, and people gave their life to Christ in each service! (That never gets old!)

The cutest babies in the world are CLC babies! (This little guy is part of our Blue Island campus)

The cutest babies in the world are CLC babies! (This little guy is part of our Blue Island campus)

Pastor Brent expressed his heart on the Charlottesville, VA situation, before leading the congregation in prayer for our nation.

Pastor Brent expressed his heart on the Charlottesville, VA situation, before leading the congregation in prayer for our nation.

Then Mama Chris 'meddled' some with her teaching on Honor.

Then Mama Chris ‘meddled’ some with her teaching on Honor.

And she was FUNNY while teaching today-

And she was FUNNY while teaching today-

Meanwhile, at our Hammond campus, Pastor Sam said the 9am service worship was one of the most powerful times of worship to-date!

Meanwhile, at our Hammond campus, Pastor Sam said the 9am service worship was one of the most powerful times of worship to-date!

At each campus today, we prayed in multi-cultural circles of prayer for God to heal the racism in our land!

At each campus today, we prayed in multi-cultural circles of prayer for God to heal the racism in our land!

"Granny" Drusie Neal gave a great exhortation about surrender during worship.

“Granny” Drusie Neal gave a great exhortation about surrender during worship.

Pastor Sam preached the "HONOR" message

Pastor Sam preached the “HONOR” message to a summertime crowd of 375 people!

and 6 people joined our CLC-Hammond family today through Growth Track, step 2!

and 6 people joined our CLC-Hammond family today through Growth Track, step 2!

It was a FULL, good day at CLC!

Don’t forget our 21-days of prayer continues tomorrow at 7am!

 

Ask the Pastor

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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 3:5Gal. 3:2;  Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13-14This 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?

Sunday reflections

The first Sunday of August was a good day around CLC:

"Mr. Tim" to many CLC kids through the years - and they all LOVE him! (So do we!)

He’s “Mr. Tim” to many CLC kids through the years – and they all LOVE him! (So do we!)

"THe JOY of the Lord is your strength", Pastor Jon!

“THe JOY of the Lord is your strength”, Pastor Jon!  Thanks for sharing it with all of us!!

Can't recall the last time I was as nervous about preaching (or as uncomfortable while preaching), but I'm grateful for His anointing & your response!

Can’t recall the last time I was as nervous about preaching (or as uncomfortable while preaching), but I’m grateful for His anointing & your response!

Worship was good at our Hammond campus (as always!)

Worship was good at our Hammond campus (as always!)

Pastor Sam said the "Integrity" message seemed to connect well in Hammond, too!

Pastor Sam said the “Integrity” message seemed to connect well in Hammond, too!

Who says kids won't pay attention in church these days?

Who says kids won’t pay attention in church these days?

Our Blue Island youth took church outside on this beautiful day-

Our Blue Island youth took church outside on this beautiful day-

Pastor Brent says a watermelon has INTEGRITY

Pastor Brent says a watermelon has INTEGRITY

One of the things I love about CLC is that you can receive  personal ministry at any service, any campus!

One of the things I love about CLC is that you can receive personal ministry at any service, any campus!

Ask the Pastor

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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?

To my one and only…

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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!

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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!

Chris McQuay

When the Word become real…

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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.

“Timeless” Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

3, 4, 5

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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 5this 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!

5K Promo – September 23 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

Summertime special events in Hammond and Blue Island certainly helped these numbers, but I’m excited that almost 1,900 worshipped at CLC today!

The worship team led us into God's Presence in each service (as usual)

The worship team led us into God’s Presence in each service (as usual)

Harmony LaBeff introduced  a new song he wrote based on Psalm 73-

Harmony LaBeff introduced a new song he wrote based on Psalm 73-

duh

Looks like KidsLife was having fun today, too!

This lady was AMAZING today (also, as usual). Thanks, CLC, for honoring her birthday (which is actually this coming Wednesday). Her message from "The Shack" was the most powerful of our God@the Movies series and brought TONS of people to the altar for healing today!  You can feel her passion through this pic-

This lady was AMAZING today (also, as usual). Thanks, CLC, for honoring her birthday (which is actually this coming Wednesday). Her message from “The Shack” was the most powerful of our God@the Movies series and brought TONS of people to the altar for healing today! You can feel her passion through this pic-

It takes a LOT of volunteers to do Church at the Beach!  Kudos, Hammond CLC'ers!!

It takes a LOT of volunteers to do Church at the Beach! Kudos, Hammond CLC’ers!!

Part of the Praise Team (Love their stage design!)

Part of the Praise Team (Love their stage design!)

The blue shirts are lined up to share their testimony before being baptized-

The blue shirts are lined up to share their testimony before being baptized-

An estimated 450 people attended Church at the Beach today!

An estimated 450 people attended Church at the Beach today!

And after worship, communion, testimonies and 43 BAPTISMS, everyone settled to hang out at the beach!

And after worship, communion, testimonies and 43 BAPTISMS, everyone settled to hang out at the beach!

Meanwhile, it was "Praise in the Park" at our Blue Island campus.

Meanwhile, it was “Praise in the Park” at our Blue Island campus.

Praise in the Park means "praising God" outdoors, from the worship team...

Praise in the Park means “praising God” outdoors, from the worship team…

...to the KidsLife Director...

…to the KidsLife Director…

....to everyone present!

….to everyone present!  “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!”

One of the things I love most about CLC is how our volunteers serve with joy!

One of the things I love most about CLC is how our volunteers serve with joy!

after the worship, it was time for an old-fashioned church PICNIC!

after the worship, it was time for an old-fashioned church PICNIC!

I'm told the TACOS were the hit of the day!

I’m told the TACOS were the hit of the day!

the most photogenic kids in the world attend CLC!

the most photogenic kids in the world attend CLC!

Ask the Pastor

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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?

She still speaks!

Kevin Tyler & Tarshawa

Kevin Tyler Carter with his mom, Tarshawa

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!

Join me in congratulating CLC'er Kevin Tyler Carter on this great accomplishment.  I know his mom is proud - and so are all of us at CLC!

Join me in congratulating CLC’er Kevin Tyler Carter on this great accomplishment. I know his mom is proud – and so are all of us at CLC!

 

God’s Word is TIMELESS!

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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:

“Timeless” Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

The photo booth for GATM is more popular in Blue Island than ANY other campus! (Just ask Nikeva)

The photo booth for GATM is more popular in Blue Island than ANY other campus! (Just ask Nikeva)

Even Pastors Sol & Chris couldn't resist it's allure-

Even Pastors Sol & Chris couldn’t resist it’s allure-

I heard that Pastor Chris' message from "The Shack" brought healing for several people in Blue Island

I heard that Pastor Chris’ message from “The Shack” brought many people to the altar for healing in Blue Island-

Anita Winters is just one of many passionate worshippers on our BI team

Anita Winters is just one of many passionate worshippers on our BI team

Speaking of worshippers, our CLC-West campus pastors, Josh & Heather Moran, are passionate, too!

Speaking of worshippers, our CLC-West campus pastors, Josh & Heather Moran, are passionate, too! (That’s Josh on the guitar in the background, too)

I heard great reports about Pastor Brent's message in Tinley Park from "Captain America", as he told us It's ok to disagree but it's not ok to allow disagreements to turn into division!

I heard great reports about Pastor Brent’s message in Tinley Park from “Captain America”, as he told us It’s ok to disagree but it’s not ok to allow disagreements to turn into division!

Our Hammond worship team was ON POINT today!

Our Hammond worship team was ON POINT today, and it looked like a great attendance in each service.  Best of all, I think at least 15 people prayed to receive Christ after my message from “Hidden Figures”!  Nothing like momentum, even in the summertime!

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?

Ask the Pastor

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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?

Sunday reflections

Speaking of volunteers, the AROMA of popcorn in the lobby today was AMAZING! (Thanks, Kasiya & Bill!)

Speaking of volunteers, the AROMA of popcorn in the lobby today was AMAZING! (Thanks, Kasiya & Bill!)  I think it’s the biggest attraction of ‘God@the Movies’!

It was Family Sunday at Tinley Park and we dedicated Jean-Luc, son of Kirk & Michelle Perry

It was Family Sunday at Tinley Park and we dedicated Jean-Luc, son of Kirk & Michelle Perry

It was great having Pastor Sam Hamstra from our Hammond campus bring the word today from 'Moana'!

It was great having Pastor Sam Hamstra from our Hammond campus bring the word today from ‘Moana’!

Pastor Moy Mendez, Jacob Matyszczuk and Kyla & Sean Smith surrounded me at Tinley Park's 125th Anniversary celebration this afternoon!

Pastor Moy Mendez, Jacob Matyszczuk and Kyla & Sean Smith surrounded me at Tinley Park’s 125th Anniversary celebration this afternoon!

Our face-painting booth was a popular spot at Tinley's 125th Anniversary celebration!

Our face-painting booth was a popular spot at Tinley’s 125th Anniversary celebration!

We also offered FREE prayer (no strings attached)

We also offered FREE prayer (no strings attached)

And this dear lady took us up on the offer - she is recently divorced after 44 years of marriage, so join our team in praying for her!

And this dear lady took us up on the offer – she is recently divorced after 44 years of marriage, so please join our team in praying for her!

My wife preached from the movie, "The Shack" today at our Hammond campus - lots of tears; lots of emotional healing around the altar there!

My wife preached from the movie, “The Shack” today at our Hammond campus – lots of tears; lots of emotional healing around the altar there!

Jenny Gonzalez is an AMAZING KidsLife Director at Hammond, as you can tell by the size of her team of volunteers!

Jenny Gonzalez is an AMAZING KidsLife Director at Hammond, as you can tell by the size of her team of volunteers!

Alyssa is not only part of the Blue Island Praise Team, but today is her birthday!

Alyssa is not only part of the Blue Island Praise Team, but today is her birthday!

Toren Turner will be on her way to Panama this week with another CLC missions team (we also have teams in Tanzania & Costa Rica!)

Toren Turner will be on her way to Panama this week with another CLC missions team (we also have teams in Tanzania & Costa Rica!)

I could only preach to about half the congregation in Blue Island were it not for Pastor Sol's help in translating!

I could only preach to about half the congregation in Blue Island were it not for Pastor Sol’s help in translating!

What can I say?  I LOVE "Hidden Figures" - my favorite movie of this past year-

What can I say? I LOVE “Hidden Figures” – my favorite movie of this past year-

We're all so proud of 12-year-old Joel, who made such an impression in the Russians a few weeks ago, they're STILL talking about him there!

We’re all so proud of 12-year-old Joel, who made such an impression in the Russians a few weeks ago, they’re STILL talking about him there!

Ask the Pastor

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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 5:23-24I 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?

Siberia, day 6: headed home!

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:

Hey, if you can't have fun in church, where can you?

Hey, if you can’t have fun in church, where can you?  It’s always a good sign the teaching is connecting when people are laughing!

...an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my jokes...

…an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my humor…

of course, there are more serious moments...

of course, there are more serious moments…

....and you can't just talk off the top of your head....

….and you can’t just talk off the top of your head….

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past…

I'm a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

I’m a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

That’s all – see you soon for another installment of “God@the Movies”!

 

Siberia, day 5

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight's seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men.  The leader of the orphanage they're developing, Oleg, is at the far left.  Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight’s seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men. The leader of the orphanage they’re developing, Oleg, is at the far left. Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we're standing on the bridge YOU BUILT!  The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did - it's all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we’re standing on the bridge YOU BUILT! The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did – it’s all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

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!

Siberia, day 4

First, we visited their Teen Challenge Women's Center, where they help women who were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or prostitution to meet Jesus and get the help they need. Chris taught about a dozen of these women at a chapel service.

First, we visited their Teen Challenge Women’s Center, where they help women who were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or prostitution to meet Jesus and get the help they need. Chris taught about a dozen of these women at a chapel service.

I loved seeing the HUNGER of these new converts, as they read with Chris in THEIR Bibles and took notes of everything she taught!

I loved seeing the HUNGER of these new converts, as they read with Chris in THEIR Bibles and took notes of everything she taught!

The women have classes in this classroom, to help them finish school, learn Bible subjects, and more.

The women have classes in this classroom, to help them finish school, learn Bible subjects, and more.

They're also taught practical skills, like jewelry making & sewing, which enables them to do fundraising to help with the expense of the center.

They’re also taught practical skills, like jewelry making & sewing, which enables them to do fundraising to help with the expense of the center.

The Women's Center also cares for the children of these women who escaped their abusive backgrounds.

The Women’s Center also cares for the children of these women who escaped their abusive backgrounds.

The Director of the center and some of her staff presented us with a Russian "nesting doll" as a gift! (fed us a great lunch, too!)

The Director of the center and some of her staff presented us with a Russian “nesting doll” as a gift! (fed us a great lunch, too!)

Most importantly, Chris was asked to counsel with this young pregnant mom who has faced serious rejection, drug use, etc. - but we believe her life is being changed!  (Aksana our interpreter is in the center)

Most importantly, Chris was asked to counsel with this young pregnant mom who has faced serious rejection, drug use, etc. – but we believe her life is being changed! (Aksana our interpreter is in the center)

Then tonight we taught a parenting seminar to a PACKED room (kept bringing in more chairs as people kept arriving!) - Pastor Ilya Bantseev is in the front row at the left.

Then tonight we taught a parenting seminar to a PACKED room (kept bringing in more chairs as people kept arriving!) – Pastor Ilya Bantseev is in the front row at the left.

For three solid hours, we taught parenting principles from Scripture (with Aksana's help translating)

For three solid hours, we taught parenting principles from Scripture (with Aksana’s help translating)

Chris was a great hit with her teaching, as always, and we did a Q&A session that seemed to seal the evening on such a practical note.  After hearing from the pastors about the needs of families here in Russia, we feel the Lord is bringing about real breakthrough for the families of this ministry!

Chris was a great hit with her teaching, as always, and we did a Q&A session that seemed to seal the evening on such a practical note. After hearing from the pastors about the needs of families here in Russia, we feel the Lord is bringing about real breakthrough for families of this ministry!

 

Siberia, day 3

Some of the congregation at one of the four weekend services here in Novokuznetsk - so neat to hear songs we know being sung in Russian!

Some of the congregation at one of the four weekend services here in Novokuznetsk – so neat to hear songs we know being sung in Russian!

The praise team may be small, but they're a talented bunch! The man in the microphone can shred a lead guitar!

The praise team may be small, but they’re a talented bunch! The man in the microphone can shred a lead guitar!

Chris preaching here that unforgiveness gives the enemy legal access to us - he can then bind us up! (Aksana on the right is her interpreter; the young woman was a volunteer for the illustration)

Chris preaching here that unforgiveness gives the enemy legal access to us – he can then bind us up! (Aksana on the right is her interpreter; the young woman was a volunteer for the illustration)

After Chris' message in the 10am service, these two ladies gave their heart to the Lord, as a deacon led them in the sinner's prayer!

After Chris’ message in the 10am service, these two ladies gave their heart to the Lord, as a deacon led them in the sinner’s prayer!

The 5pm service featured an entirely different praise team, and they were just as talented as the first!

The 5pm service featured an entirely different praise team, and they were just as talented as the first!

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-

Siberia, day 2

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

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!

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Then tonight I preached the first of their four weekend services:

This lady sang a beautiful solo of "It Is Well with my Soul" (in Russian, of course)

This lady sang a beautiful solo of “It Is Well with my Soul” (in Russian, of course)

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

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-

Siberia, day 1

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!

Ask the Pastor

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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?

Helping our brothers & sisters in the Philippines…

As always, war affects even the most vulnerable innocent ones-

As always, war affects even the most vulnerable innocent ones-

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:

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In this Friday, June 9, 2017, photo, evacuees stay at a crowded evacuation center on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. Nearly every day for the past three weeks, the Philippine military has pounded the lakeside town of Marawi with rockets and bombs as it tries to wipe out militants linked to the Islamic State group in some of the most protracted urban combat to hit this volatile region in decades. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

In this Friday, June 9, 2017, photo, evacuees stay at a crowded evacuation center on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. Nearly every day for the past three weeks, the Philippine military has pounded the lakeside town of Marawi with rockets and bombs as it tries to wipe out militants linked to the Islamic State group in some of the most protracted urban combat to hit this volatile region in decades. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

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off to Siberia

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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:

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

Sad and yet Proud on the 4th of July…

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!

RIP, Michael - we love you!

RIP, Michael – we love you!

Happy Independence Day!

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I know.

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!

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Sunday reflections

At Blue Island, "Captain America" was the featured film, as Pastor Brent taught about conflicts in relationships.

At Blue Island, “Captain America” was the featured film, as Pastor Brent taught a powerful message about dealing with conflicts in our relationships.

Blue Island went ALL OUT to capture the movie experience!

Blue Island went ALL OUT to capture the movie experience!  Popcorn, anyone?

Of course, the full title of today's film is 'Captain America: CIVIL WAR'!

Of course, the full title of today’s film is ‘Captain America: CIVIL WAR’!

Rosetta won today's raffle for a DVD of 'Captain America', 2 boxes of candy & 2 boxes of popcorn.  Next week could be your turn!

Rosetta won today’s raffle for a DVD of ‘Captain America’, 2 boxes of candy & 2 boxes of popcorn. Next week could be your turn!

Pastor Micah told us of the bird that sings in the dark, knowing that joy is coming in the morning!

Pastor Micah encouraged our worship by telling us of the bird that sings in the dark, knowing that joy is coming in the morning!

While Tinley Park's concession stand could compete with any theater (not to mention FREE popcorn)

While Tinley Park’s concession stand could compete with any theater (not to mention FREE popcorn)

Harmony did a great job today leading us in Communion by sharing Isaiah 52/53 about Jehovah's Suffering Servant!

Harmony did a great job today leading us in Communion by sharing Isaiah 52/53 about Jehovah’s Suffering Servant!

I had more fun preaching "How to Overcome Challenges" from the movie, 'Hidden Figures' than should be legal!

I had more fun preaching “How to Overcome Challenges” from the movie, ‘Hidden Figures’ than should be legal! Best of all, we saw 12-15 people stand and pray to receive Christ!

We were all inspired by the true story of the 3 ladies at NASA in the 1960's, but we've got a great example here at CLC in Caprice O'Bryant Gutierrez who overcame a traumatic brain injury, seizures & amnesia to become a business owner in her 20's!

We were all inspired by the true story of the 3 ladies at NASA in the 1960’s, but we’ve got a great example here at CLC in Caprice O’Bryant Gutierrez who overcame a traumatic brain injury, seizures & amnesia to become a business owner in her 20’s!

At Hammond, "Moana" was the featured movie & Pastor Sam really helped people connect w/the message!

At Hammond, “Moana” was the featured movie & Pastor Sam really helped people connect w/the message!

So much so that 4 people prayed to receive Christ, including this whole family!

So much so that 4 people prayed to receive Christ, including this whole family!

  • 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!!!
As always, it's strong worship that ushers in His Presence - which is far more important than any movie!

As always, it’s strong worship that ushers in His Presence – which is far more important than any movie!

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-

Ask the Pastor

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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?


Night of Hope in CHICAGO!

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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.

NOH Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Introducing our NEW Executive Pastors

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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!

They’re coming back: WATOTO Choir!

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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 nightyou can volunteer here.

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

An idea for God@the Movies

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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?

It’s simple and easy to do – and you can always link to our website or to the series promo from our incredible creative team.

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.


Sunday reflections

(I know this has nothing to do w/Sunday at CLC, but it's my blog, ok?) I spent 5 days in a cabin w/our oldest granddaughter & her 2 brothers while their parents were in Siberia & we got really attached. Today on their way to service in Blue Island, Kelsey heard my voice on the livestream from the Tinley Park 8:30 service. She wasn't happy to hear my voice since I was at TP, so she said, "poppy my church"

(I know this has nothing to do w/Sunday at CLC, but it’s my blog, ok?) I spent 5 days in a cabin w/our oldest granddaughter & her 2 brothers while their parents were in Siberia & we got really attached. Today on their way to service in Blue Island, Kelsey heard my voice on the livestream from the Tinley Park 8:30 service & got excited until she found out I was at TP, not in Blue Island. So she said, “poppy my church!”  (She’s got me wrapped around her little finger!)

Worship was outstanding in all 3 services today, but the GLORY was in the House at 10am!  Thanks for leading us in, Pastor Jon & Tony Powell!

Worship was outstanding in all 3 services today, but the GLORY was in the House at 10am! Thanks for leading us in, Pastor Jon & Tony Powell!

It was one of those times when broken hearts were being mended in His Presence!

It was one of those times when broken hearts were being mended in His Presence!

Cary Durham brought the 1st message of the day at the 8:30 service & told us all that GOD said we are "good seed"!  (We don't have to listen to the enemy, because as Reggie Jackson observed, "Fans don't boo nobodies!"

Cary Durham brought the 1st message of the day at the 8:30 service & told us all that GOD said we are “good seed”! (We don’t have to listen to the enemy, because as Reggie Jackson observed, “Fans don’t boo nobodies!”

Our HANDSOME Outreach Pastor, Moy Mendez, showed us that he's more than eye candy by challenging us in two simple words to "Step out and Trust God" (not sure which two of those five he counted, but the message was great!)

Our HANDSOME Outreach Pastor, Moy Mendez, showed us that he’s more than eye candy by challenging us in two simple words to “Step out and Trust God” (not sure which two of those five he counted, but the message was great, and we had more fun than should be legal in church!)

Today we announced plans to launch our 4th campus and the new campus pastor, Josh Moran, brought the Word at 10am

Today we announced plans to launch our 4th campus and the new campus pastor, Josh Moran, brought the Word at 10am, reminding us that our gifts should be used for the harvest!

Chuck & Nicole Ellington delivered a great Word at the noon service!

Chuck & Nicole Ellington delivered a great Word from Psalm 105:4-5 at the noon service, encouraging us to depend on God for strength; always go to Him for help; and to remember His miracles, amazing things & fair decisions!  Good stuff!

And our kids received ministry, too - learning to worship their King!

And our kids received ministry, too – learning to worship their King!

Pastor Sam reported another great day in Hammond with strong worship, great summer attendance & many people receiving ministry at the altar today.

Pastor Sam reported another great day in Hammond with strong worship, great summer attendance & many people receiving ministry at the altar today.

Dorothy Caldwell brought a good Word about the power of prayer!

Dorothy Caldwell brought a good Word about the power of prayer!

Christian Washington taught on the process of being repurposed to be more like Christ!

Christian Washington taught on the process of being repurposed to be more like Christ!

Our Blue Island campus enjoyed the missions ministry of Dr. Patricia Bailey-

Our Blue Island campus enjoyed the missions ministry of Dr. Patricia Bailey-

Dr. Bailey demonstrated the water filters that she uses to bring clean water to some of the most difficult places on earth where she ministers

Dr. Bailey demonstrated the water filters that she uses to bring clean water to some of the most difficult places on earth where she ministers-

and even took a drink of the filthy stuff (after it had been filtered)

and even took a drink of the filthy stuff (after it had been filtered)

Practically the entire congregation came forward for prayer at the close of her message!

Practically the entire congregation came forward for prayer at the close of her message!

Father’s Day reflections

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Pastor Sol brought the message in Blue Island today & was able to share about the team that just returned from Siberia-

Pastor Sol brought the message in Blue Island today & was able to share about the team that just returned from Siberia-

At the close of service, the team who had gone to Siberia ministered in the altar to anyone who wanted prayer - including the youngest member of the team (Joel Mendez) who was just 12 years old - but he ministered in the altar with the others!

At the close of service, the team who had gone to Siberia ministered in the altar to anyone who wanted prayer – including the youngest member of the team (Joel Mendez) who was just 12 years old – but he ministered in the altar with the others!

The root beer floats were a big hit in Blue Island!

The root beer floats were a big hit with dads in Blue Island!

while the photo booth attracted dads & their kids in Tinley Park!

while the photo booth attracted dads & their kids in Tinley Park!

the Tacos for dads were also a hit, when we could keep Pastor Jon away from them-

the Tacos for dads were also a hit, when we could keep Pastor Jon away from them-

Real Men influence our children in KidsLife! (Thanks, Mr. Tim!)

Real Men influence our children in KidsLife! (Thanks, Mr. Tim!)

Beverly Zambrano met Jesus in the waters of baptism this Father's Day!

Beverly Zambrano met Jesus in the waters of baptism this Father’s Day!

Pastor Brent brought a great word & took a page from his mom's book with his sword illustration-

Pastor Brent brought a great word & took a page from his mom’s book with his sword illustration-

Worship was great at our Hammond campus, where the attendance was more than DOUBLE from Father's Day 2016!!!

Worship was great at our Hammond campus, where the attendance was more than DOUBLE from Father’s Day 2016!!!

Our very own elder Gerard Terrell provided BBQ brats for the dads....

Our very own elder Gerard Terrell provided BBQ brats for the dads….

and with root beer floats to wash them down, DADS were happy campers!

and with root beer floats to wash them down, DADS were happy campers!

 

Sunday reflections

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:

Let's start with Blue Island, since it may be THE highlight of the day. Since several leaders are in Siberia on a missions trip, Tiffany Hines led worship today & the Holy Spirit & God's love filled the House!

Let’s start with Blue Island, since it may be THE highlight today. Since several leaders are in Siberia on a missions trip, Tiffany Hines led worship & God’s love filled the House!

Pastor Jon was there in Brent's absence & he began the preaching time with a song....but that's as far as he got!

Pastor Jon was there in Brent’s absence & he began the preaching time with a song….but that’s as far as he got!

Before he could begin to preach, the Holy Spirit gave him a word for a woman who was visiting with her adult daughter for the first time.....

Before he could begin to preach, the Holy Spirit gave him a word for a woman who was visiting with her adult daughter for the first time…..he spoke healing over the daughter & assured her & her mom that the Holy Spirit had interrupted the service just for her!

Later, as some leaders prayed for the daughter, they learned that doctors had just discovered two tumors in her body & she is scheduled to visit the oncologist this week!  But today she gave her life to Jesus!

Later, as some leaders prayed for the daughter, they learned that doctors had just discovered two tumors in her body & she is scheduled to visit the oncologist this week. But today she gave her life to Jesus!

Jon was never able to get back to his prepared message, because he kept receiving prophetic words for people in the congregation!

Jon was never able to get back to his prepared message, because he kept receiving prophetic words for people in the congregation!

Finally he invited others who move prophetically to share that time of ministry with him - it was an AMAZING day in Blue Island! (The GIFTED series may have ended last Sunday, but we're just getting started!)

Finally he invited others who move prophetically to share that time of ministry with him – it was an AMAZING day in Blue Island! (The GIFTED series may have ended last Sunday, but we’re just getting started!)

Meanwhile, in Tinley Park, Harmony LaBeff led us in worship & a time of communion together-

Meanwhile, in Tinley Park, Harmony LaBeff led us in worship & a time of communion together-

Then we heard from two young men who have heard God's call to ministry: Jesus Mateo went first & shared with us the evidence of a spiritually prosperous life.

Then we heard from two young men who have heard God’s call to ministry: Jesus Mateo went first & shared with us the evidence of a spiritually prosperous life.

Then James Ineh challenged us to make a difference in the next generation, just as others have done in our generation!

Then James Ineh challenged us to make a difference in the next generation, just as others have done in our generation!

Speaking of the next generation, I thank God for KidsLife volunteers like Joanne Linane, who give special attention to our little ones!

Speaking of the next generation, I thank God for KidsLife volunteers like Joanne Linane, who give special attention to our little ones!

At the 10am service, Pastor Niyi Gbade delivered a powerful word about Christian hospitality, and gossip and missions! (Trust me, they all fit together in 3John!)

At the 10am service, Pastor Niyi Gbade delivered a powerful word about Christian hospitality, and gossip and missions! (Trust me, they all fit together in 3 John!)

And at the noon service Pastor Jen Remington illustrated that when we make the Word of God a PRIORITY in our daily lives, everything else that's needed will fit!

And at the noon service Pastor Jen Remington illustrated that when we make the Word of God a PRIORITY in our daily lives, everything else that’s needed will fit!

And her husband, Pastor Micah closed the service with a call for prayer.

And her husband, Pastor Micah closed the service with a call for prayer.

Certainly not to be outdone, our Hammond campus sent 45 youth to camp AT 3AM today!

Certainly not to be outdone, our Hammond campus sent 45 youth to camp AT 3AM today!

Plus the Worship & Arts team unveiled a new stage design and led the people into God's Presence-

Plus the Worship & Arts team unveiled a new stage design and led the people into God’s Presence-

One new member joined the Hammond campus & Pastor Sam preached part 1 of a 2-week series on what it means to be Fathered by God!

One new member joined the Hammond campus & Pastor Sam preached part 1 of a 2-week series on what it means to be Fathered by God!

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-

 

Ask the Pastor

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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.

Bottom line: as with all questions which involve ‘questionable’ behavior for a Christian, I recommend Col. 3:15 and Rom. 14:22-23.

Hope that helps.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Hot topics? I need your feedback…

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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:

Preaching is a two-way street!

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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!

Supernatural LIVING

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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.

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Pentecost Sunday reflections

Steve Thompson was AMAZING in Tinley Park!

Steve Thompson was AMAZING in Tinley Park!

Robby Dawson (according to Pastor Sam) gave a gave a great, powerful, convicting, life giving word in Hammond!

Robby Dawson (according to Pastor Sam) gave a gave a great, powerful, convicting, life giving word in Hammond!

Pastor Brent closed the 'GIFTED' series in Blue Island with a message about Passover, Pentecost & Tabernacles.

Pastor Brent closed the ‘GIFTED’ series in Blue Island with a message about Passover, Pentecost & Tabernacles.

KidsLife in Tinley Park also has some CUTE kids (lately I'm emphasized the other campuses, but I've decided it's ALL-CLC!)

KidsLife in Tinley Park also has some CUTE kids (lately I’m emphasized the other campuses, but I’ve decided it’s ALL-CLC!)

Well, I guess the Blue Island kiddos do cute stuff in their class-

Well, I guess the Blue Island kiddos do cute stuff in their class-

Worship at Hammond was anointed!

Worship at Hammond was anointed!

I love being part of a church where we not only can FEEL something, but we can LEARN something, too!

I love being part of a church where we not only can FEEL something, but we can LEARN something, too!

 

Steve Thompson gave us such a profound, yet simple message as to WHY we were placed on earth!

Steve Thompson gave us such a profound, yet simple message as to WHY we were placed on earth!

Robby Dawkins also ministered prophetically & prayed for healing for several people in Hammond!

Robby Dawkins also ministered prophetically & prayed for healing for several people in Hammond!

I'm also glad to be part of a church that reaches across cultures & languages to reach people!

I’m also glad to be part of a church that reaches across cultures & languages to reach people!

If YOU attended any service of CLC today, at any location or online, what/s your favorite memory? Leave a comment below-

It’s a MEN’S Trifecta!

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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 2:1-4and 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!

The final ‘activation night’

Evangelist Robby Dawkins did an awesome job in DEMONSTRATING how any believer can heal the sick!

Evangelist Robby Dawkins did an awesome job in DEMONSTRATING how any believer can heal the sick – he didn’t do the stuff himself; he EQUIPPED us to do it, which is exactly what these three activation nights were designed to do!

The Blue Island worship team did a GREAT job leading us into God's presence & it was great having Pastor Jon home from the Philippine trip to help lead them.

The Blue Island worship team did a GREAT job leading us into God’s presence & it was great having Pastor Jon home from the Philippine trip to help lead them.

And what a nice surprise to have Terrell Wilson back on stage to do what only he can do with 'Te Amo'!

And what a nice surprise to have Terrell Wilson back on stage to do what only he can do with ‘Te Amo’!

Most important of all were the healings that happened all over the house - and so neat to see this little girl follow Robby's instructions to minister healing to N'kyenge Brown, whose mother told me afterwards that she hadn't been able to move that freely in so long!

Most important of all were the healings that happened all over the house – and so neat to see this little girl follow Robby’s instructions to minister healing to N’kyenge Brown, whose mother told me afterwards that she hadn’t been able to move that freely in so long!

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!

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Ask the Pastor

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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:

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!

Want to experience healing?

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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!

Sunday reflections

Worship was strong today, despite the holiday weekend attendance-

Worship was strong today, despite the holiday weekend attendance-

Our GIFTED series is showing up in many ways - Pastor Josh gave a prophetic word while hosting today

Our GIFTED series is showing up in many ways – Pastor Josh gave a prophetic word while hosting today

This is a great pic for a "caption contest" - what would you suggest?

This is a great pic for a “caption contest” – what would you suggest?

Today was my favorite teaching of the series, but I'm mostly grateful for several folks who received healing in our altars today!

Today was my favorite teaching of the series, but I’m mostly grateful for several folks who received healing in our altars today!

Look at those facial expressions & tell me Blue Island worshipers are PASSIONATE!

Look at those facial expressions & tell me Blue Island worshipers are PASSIONATE!

And the Blue Island campus continues to win the 'cutest kid' award in every age class!

And the Blue Island campus continues to win the ‘cutest kid’ award in every age class!

Pastor Brent taught 'Do What Jesus Did' and the altar was full of people believing for a miracle of healing.

Pastor Brent taught ‘Do What Jesus Did’ and the altar was full of people believing for a miracle of healing.

Strong worship at our Hammond campus today, plus good sign ups for summer semester of Life Groups and more people in Growth Track!

Strong worship at our Hammond campus today, plus good sign ups for summer semester of Life Groups and more people in Growth Track!

Plus Pastor Sam said the message connected well & lots of people received prayer for healing today - that's a win in my book, holiday or no holiday!

Plus Pastor Sam said the message connected well & lots of people received prayer for healing today – that’s a win in my book, holiday or no holiday!

Ask the Pastor

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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!

How would YOU describe the second ‘Activation night’?

For sure, the highlight of the evening was the anointed ministry of Apostle Matthew Stevenson from All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago.

For sure, the highlight of the evening was the anointed ministry of Apostle Matthew Stevenson from All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago.

And much like last week when 784 people crammed into our building (with a 550-seat auditorium), last night we topped that, as our ushers counted 845 people and even when I drove away, I saw cars parked along Ridgeland Avenue for a quarter-of-a-mile! Special thanks to Pastors Josh & Moy AND a whole host of volunteers who managed to get a seat for all 945 people!

And much like last week when 784 people crammed into our building (with a 550-seat auditorium), last night we topped that, as our ushers counted 845 people and even when I drove away, I saw cars parked along Ridgeland Avenue for a quarter-of-a-mile! Special thanks to Pastors Josh & Moy AND a whole host of volunteers who managed to get a seat for all 945 people!

Our Hammond campus served as great hosts, providing front-line worship singers & musicians (with backup from Tinley Park), as well as KidsLife and First Touch ministries - kudos Pastor Sam & all your team!

Our Hammond campus served as great hosts, providing front-line worship singers & musicians (with backup from Tinley Park), as well as KidsLife and First Touch ministries – kudos Pastor Sam & all your team!

More than 100 kids received loving ministry from our great volunteers!

More than 100 kids received loving ministry from our great volunteers!

Including the youngest kiddos!

Including the youngest kiddos!

Best of all, EVERYONE got to participate in the activation exercises - even those who sat in the lobby!

Best of all, EVERYONE got to participate in the activation exercises – even those who sat in the lobby!

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!

Why ‘activation nights’?

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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!

A valuable lesson

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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:

  1. The revelation – what God actually says to you
  2. The interpretation – how you understand what He said
  3. 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!

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Sunday reflections

I LOVE the fact that CLC doesn't just have talented musicians, but musicians who are WORSHIPERS!

I LOVE the fact that CLC doesn’t just have talented musicians, but musicians who are WORSHIPERS!  Bass Guitarist Jonathan Aguilar is one of them!

And I LOVE seeing FAMILIES worship Jesus together!

And I LOVE seeing FAMILIES worship Jesus together!

Train up a child....

Train up a child….

Gonna miss Pastor Jon for the next 10 days while he ministers in the Phiippines with our team that's enroute there now

Gonna miss Pastor Jon for the next 10 days while he ministers in the Phiippines with our team that’s enroute there now.  Today he challenged us to take God at His Word!

 

It's always FUN to team-teach with this lady & today was no exception.  She received several words of knowledge about healing in each service and the line of folks coming to be healed was LOOOONG!

It’s always FUN to team-teach with this lady & today was no exception. She received several words of knowledge about healing in each service and the line of folks coming to be healed was LOOOONG! Praise God for those who received!!! We’re making the supernatural  natural at CLC!

Pastor Sam reported a good day at the Hammond campus, with at least 10 first-time guests AND 15 different life groups for the summer semester!

Pastor Sam reported a good day at the Hammond campus, with at least 10 first-time guests AND 15 different life groups for the summer semester!

Dorothy Caldwell shared a 'word' from the Lord during the worship transition.

Dorothy Caldwell shared a ‘word’ from the Lord during the worship transition.

Anita Winters is just one of our passionate worshipers at our Blue Island campus!

Anita Winters is just one of our passionate worshipers at our Blue Island campus!

Jack Hayford once told me, "no matter who is on stage with the microphone, the pastor is the worship leader of the congregation!"

Jack Hayford once told me, “no matter who is on stage with the microphone, the pastor is the worship leader of the congregation!”

Do you think Blue Island has the cutest kids at CLC?

Do you think Blue Island has the cutest kids at CLC?

If you said 'no', you may need to reconsider!

If you said ‘no’ above, you may need to reconsider!

We love our BI-Youth leader, Profit Hallom!

We love our BI-Youth leader, Profit Hallom!

Ask the Pastor

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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-

NEWS FLASH: change of location!

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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!

What. A. Night.

Apostle John Eckhardt did an amazing job of leading us in prophetic activations!

Apostle John Eckhardt did an amazing job of leading us in prophetic activations!

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:

Activating the prophetic

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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 presenceintimidate 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 supernaturalnatural part of our lives!

Mother’s Day reflections

MOM: we honor you on this special day!

MOM: we honor you on this special day!

I didn't get to hear her, but I 'heard' that my wife did a great job teaching about the speaking gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t get to hear her, but I ‘heard’ that my wife did a great job teaching about the speaking gifts of the Holy Spirit, and I know that more CLC’ers were baptized in the Holy Spirit today!

Today's focus was on our MOM's and we prayed in each service for them: for those who've lost their mom (or a child); for those who desperately want to have children, but haven't; those who have suffered a miscarriage; those who have experienced abortion. Each of them deserve our compassion & a prayer of blessing!

Today’s focus was on our MOM’s and we prayed in each service for them: for those who’ve lost their mom (or a child); for those who desperately want to have children, but haven’t; those who have suffered a miscarriage; those who have experienced abortion. Each of them deserve our compassion & a prayer of blessing! At Hammond campus, the front of the church was FILLED with moms as Pastor Taylor led us in prayer for them.

The Hammond campus also honored moms with a cupcake reception after service

The Hammond campus also honored moms with a cupcake reception after service

and I had fun sharing some practical truths & tips about the gifts that enable us to 'speak like Jesus' (supernaturally!)

I had fun sharing some practical truths & tips about the gifts that enable us to ‘speak like Jesus’ (supernaturally!)

There's NO mom in this picture, but those faces will make ANY mom melt!

There’s NO mom in this picture, but those faces will make ANY mom’s heart melt!

Mom's with their family make great pics!

Mom’s with their family make great pics!

see what I mean?

see what I mean?

It's extra-nice when mom's & son's pose together!

It’s extra-nice when mom’s & son’s pose together!

Kudos to EVERY mom & the photographers at each campus who helped make this a special day!

 

 

Ask the Pastor

 

shutterstock_148655030 (1)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.

more Holy Spirit baptism ‘stories’

 

18401893_1310945635609554_1853063711106528315_oThis 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!

Gifted Series – Amanda Edwards Testimony from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Gifted Series – Kanesha Bryant Testimony from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Setting the atmosphere

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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!

Sunday reflections

This pic has nothing to do with today's CLC recap, other than that it was taken at our Blue Island campus. (I just love these 2 girls!)

This pic has nothing to do with today’s CLC recap, other than that it was taken at our Blue Island campus. (I just love these 2 girls!)

At the Tinley Park campus, I enlisted the help of 15 CLC'ers who shared their stories of being baptized in the Holy Spirit - L to R: Wes & Neesha Stringfellow & Sherece Thompson.

At the Tinley Park campus, I enlisted the help of 15 CLC’ers who shared their stories of being baptized in the Holy Spirit – L to R: Wes & Neesha Stringfellow & Sherece Thompson.

Dawn Simental & Nikki Ferreria shared their stories.

Dawn Simental & Nikki Ferreria shared their stories.

Jared & Nikki Bosi told us how they received while in college-

Jared & Nikki Bosi told us how they received while in college-

L to R: Katie Jager, Tiffany & Ross Grimes encouraged many with their testimony!

L to R: Katie Jager, Tiffany & Ross Grimes encouraged many with their testimony!

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!

After hearing those testimonies, our altars were full of hungry CLC'ers, and we think at least 18 were baptized in the Holy Spirit at the TP campus!

After hearing those testimonies, our altars were full of hungry CLC’ers, and we think at least 18 were baptized in the Holy Spirit at the TP campus!

Our Hammond campus went into His Presence with the help of this Praise team!

Our Hammond campus went into His Presence with the help of this Praise team!

Pastor Taylor not only blessed the Hammond campus today, but in TP we heard how her witness prompted her friend Katie Jager to come & be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Pastor Taylor not only blessed the Hammond campus today, but in TP we heard how her witness prompted her friend Katie Jager to come & be filled with the Holy Spirit!

One of CLC's Apostolic Overseers, Dale Van Steenis, ministered at the Hammond 9am service and at least 7 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit!

One of CLC’s Apostolic Overseers, Dale Van Steenis, ministered at the Hammond 9am service and at least 7 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit!

My wife ministered at the Blue Island campus on the same topic of "The Gift"

My wife ministered at the Blue Island campus on the same topic of “The Gift” (with an object lesson, of course!)

After she preached, the altar was full of CLC'ers who wanted MORE from the Lord!

After she preached, the altar was full of CLC’ers who wanted MORE from the Lord!

Chris also received prophetic words for almost everyone who came forward, as Blue Island enjoyed a powerful move of the Spirit!

Chris also received prophetic words for almost everyone who came forward, as Blue Island enjoyed a powerful move of the Spirit!

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!

Ask the Pastor

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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?

National Day of Prayer

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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.

Fasting for MORE

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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!

Today is a special day because….

…..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.

Sunday reflections

 

Today was the day we said "farewell" to our Executive Pastors & their 8 children as they move to Nashville tomorrow.

Today was the day we said “farewell” to our Executive Pastors & their 8 children as they move to Nashville tomorrow.  We love you, Pastors Ben & Nili Stewart!

Boy, something broke as we closed worship at the noon service & the Presence of God was overwhelming!

Boy, something broke as we closed worship at the noon service & the Presence of God was overwhelming!

Baby dedications are always special....

Baby dedications are always special….

....but today was

….but today was

.....triply so!

…..triply so!

My wife absolutely preached today!

My wife absolutely preached today!

then she had the children lead us all in praise & worship to conclude the message

then she had the children lead us all in praise & worship to conclude the message

But we still had to say, 'farewell' to our friends, the Stewart family.

But we still had to say, ‘farewell’ to our friends, the Stewart family.

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!)

Pastor Sam reports another great Family Sunday in Hammond, with family communion...

Pastor Sam reports another great Family Sunday in Hammond, with family communion…

.....great worship

…..great worship

.....and a praise dance from the KidsLife Dance Team

…..and a praise dance from the KidsLife Dance Team

Our Blue Island campus expanded this Family Sunday to be a "Kids Day" with a special dramatic presentation about humility

Our Blue Island campus expanded this Family Sunday to be a “Kids Day” with a special FX presentation about humility

Joe Alexander & others helped bring the message home in a variety of ways

Joe Alexander & others helped bring the message home in a variety of ways

For sure, the presentation had the kid's rapt attention!

For sure, the presentation had the kid’s rapt attention!

And there were even a couple of pinata's at the end!

And there were even a couple of pinatas at the end!

This picture sums it up: FAMILY Sunday at CLC!

This picture sums it up: FAMILY Sunday at CLC!

 

 

 

Nigeria, day 2

CAPRO International Council (when I see the pic I remember that the International Director told me that they wanted me on the CIC to add VALUE, not just COLOR!

CAPRO International Council (when I see the pic I remember that the International Director told me that they wanted me on the CIC to add VALUE, not just COLOR!)

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!

Ask the Pastor

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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.

  1. 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?

 

Nigeria, day 1

 

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

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!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D'voire and the International Office here in Lagos.  I'm excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D’voire and the International Office here in Lagos. I’m excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Tomorrow we’ll be in meetings from morning until dinner time, when I’ll head back to the airport for my return flight home.

Ben & Jerry’s story…..

No, not the ice cream. (Although I’ll take a pint of Chunky Monkey if you’re buying)

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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!

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God@the Movies! (We need your help!!)

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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!

 

 

Off to Nigeria (but not for long)

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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!

“That’s what I love about this family”

Riley & Lincoln, my youngest grandkids are pictured at the top (from months ago)

Riley & Lincoln, my youngest grandkids are pictured at the top (from months ago)

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!)

Headed to Sox park, but not for the game….

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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!

Sunday reflections

We're not waiting on Jesus; Jesus is waiting on us!

We’re not waiting on Jesus; Jesus is waiting on us!

 

Pray for the team of 4 CLC'ers who will lead a Youth Camp for orphan boys this week in INDIA!

Pray for the team of 4 CLC’ers who will lead a Youth Camp for orphan boys this week in INDIA!

I LOVE the fact that our children are learning to worship Jesus! Kudos to every KidsLife volunteer!

I LOVE the fact that our children are learning to worship Jesus! Kudos to every KidsLife volunteer! (this girl’s expression in worship is priceless!)

At each service in Tinley Park today people came forward to receive Christ! (that never gets old!)

I felt impressed this week to have CLC’ers make the altar call during the teaching & offer to bring people forward, and at EACH service in Tinley Park today people came forward to receive Christ! (that never gets old!)

In Blue Island, Pastor Brent taught the same message about the Second Coming, and people responded.

In Blue Island, Pastor Brent taught the same message about the Second Coming, and people responded.

There's more than one way to GROW a church! (Blue Island is growing with BABIES!)

There’s more than one way to GROW a church! (Blue Island is growing with BABIES!)

Dr. Patricia Bailey was our guest at the Hammond campus today

Dr. Patricia Bailey was our guest at the Hammond campus for Missions Sunday today while Pastors Sam & Taylor are on vacation.

Dr. Bailey brought a strong message in both services before leaving for Somalia tonight to work in that famine-stricken country.

Dr. Bailey brought a strong message in both services before leaving for Somalia tonight to work in that famine-stricken country.

And for some reason, she was ministering to folks even in the lobby today (would someone from the Hammond campus explain to me WHY!)

She even ministered in the lobby afterwards to those who made a donation to help the work in Somalia.

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!

Reflections on the Bethel Leadership Advance

Since this was my FIRST visit to Bethel after hearing of the ministry for several years, I came away with several observations that I’ll share at the close of this post-

For ME personally, Kris Vallotton's teachings were the highlights of the conference. His 'prophetic roundtable' teaching this morning about raising our children in a prophetic environment was priceless!

For ME personally, Kris Vallotton’s teachings were the highlights of the conference. His ‘prophetic roundtable’ teaching this morning about raising our children in a prophetic environment was priceless!

I could not have been more impressed with Children's Pastor Seth Dahl!

I could not have been more impressed with Children’s Pastor Seth Dahl!

Brent and I had to leave before the final session because of our return flight to Chicago, so we missed Pastor Bill Johnson's closing message. The last teaching we heard was from Kris Vallotton whose business analogies from his past were spot-on for church leaders - VERY practical!

Brent and I had to leave before the final session because of our return flight to Chicago, so we missed Pastor Bill Johnson’s closing message. The last teaching we heard was from Kris Vallotton whose business analogies from his past were spot-on for church leaders – VERY practical!

My reflections, in no particular order of importance:

1. I’m impressed with Pastor Bill Johnson’s ability to gather and keep a team of ministry “stars“.  Bethel is definitely not built on one man’s ministry (truth be told, no church ever is!) It seemed throughout the conference that every pastor on his team has a unique and outstanding ministry of their own. It takes a humble and secure leader to attract and keep such a team intact – and Pastor Bill does it well, allowing each team member to fulfill their calling.

2. I am particularly impressed with their children’s ministry.  Children’s Pastor Seth Dahl shared a story this morning that may have been the highlight of the conference (and after last night’s testimonies from ex-inmates-who-are-now-ministers, that’s quite a statement!)  He told how a woman from another state had visited Bethel recently.  She had brain cancer and came to Bethel specifically to receive a healing prayer – but the Sunday she visited, their ‘healing rooms’ ministry was closed because of other meetings that occupied their space.  So a friend of hers texted Seth to see if he could arrange for someone to pray for her.  He brought her to the 1st & 2nd grade classroom and asked the children to pray for her.  Those first and second grade children zealously prayed and prophesied over her and finally one little boy spoke over the microphone, “Lord, just flick that cancer off her like a bug!” Seth was so touched by that faith-filled prayer that he had ALL the kids do a prophetic act, by flicking their finger and repeating the boy’s prayer.  The woman returned to her home and after her next doctor’s exam, the MRI showed NO Cancer in her body!  Would to God all our children learned to operate in faith like that!!!

3. I’m definitely impressed with their prophetic teams from the School of Supernatural Ministry. The last thing that I experienced before leaving Bethel’s campus was my appointment to receive a prophetic word.  The teams of three that ministered to our pastors included students from six different countries (two each on a team) and a child each from Bethel’s Children’s Ministry, and each of our pastors received ‘words’ that were accurate and affirming, even from the children.  That doesn’t happen without practical training in the supernatural, and I love it.

Of course, there’s more I could say, but those are my big observations.  I’m returning home tomorrow with a heart of expectation that what God is doing in Bethel and Redding, CA, He is able to do in CLC and Chicagoland!

Maybe the most amazing testimony I’ve ever heard…

I had no idea what to expect when Kris Vallotton called Ron & Dawn to the stage to share their testimony

I had no idea what to expect when Kris Vallotton called Ron & Dawn Adkins to the stage to share their testimony at the Bethel Leadership Advance last night

First, it was Ron's turn to share how he got into trouble before he was a teen and eventually received FIVE 99-year prison sentences, which led to him being in solitary confinement in a Texas prison for more than 10 YEARS!

First, it was Ron’s turn to share how he got into trouble before he was a teen and eventually received FIVE 99-year prison sentences, which led to him being in solitary confinement in a Texas prison for more than 10 YEARS!

Another crime committed while IN prison resulted in a total sentence of 500 years - but he got radically saved while in prison & miraculously was paroled a few years ago & now ministers in prisons!

Another crime committed while IN prison resulted in a total sentence of 500 years – but he got radically saved while in prison & miraculously was paroled a few years ago & now ministers in prisons! His ministry is appropriately called, “Radical Restoration Ministries”!

Then it was Dawn's turn to tell how she was a homeless prostitute with 46 felonies on her record in Florida. But on her last arrest, she turned to Jesus - was miraculously pardoned from prison and now ministers on death row (now called 'Life Row'!) and has opened 6 homes for women ex-inmates!

Then it was Dawn’s turn to tell how she was a homeless prostitute with 46 felonies on her record in Florida. But on her last arrest, she turned to Jesus – was miraculously pardoned from prison and now ministers on death row (now called ‘Life Row’!) and has opened 6 homes for women ex-inmates!

Ron & Dawn met a couple of years ago and married last year, to serve God together in ministry!

Ron & Dawn met a couple of years ago and married last year, to serve God together in ministry!

These words & pics don’t do it justice – you had to be there to hear it in person! Check them out here.

We serve a MIGHTY God and there’s NOTHING He can’t do!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m re-posting from 2013:

When I announced our newest series here, I received several questions that we may not have addressed last Sunday in the message, “Living Single”, so let’s try here:

  1. One question had to do with “the church” as a place to potentially find one’s future mate – if the church is not a welcoming environment, then where & how can a Jesus-follow look for their mate? 
  • Personally, I don’t think there’s any better place to find a mate.  Chris & I met in church, and so have innumerable other happy husbands-and-wives.  If the church you attend frowns on that, I’d have a respectful conversation with the pastor to find out why.  Of course, there are cyber options out there – but be careful!
2. Another reader wrote, “I’m 38, never married, no children, professionally successful & a home owner…..how do I present myself as not being “too independent” to a suitor while still continuing to “handle my business” for my home?
  • Honestly, call me naive I guess, but I can’t imagine any ‘Mr. Right’ having an issue with a successful woman.  And if he is intimidated or scared-off by your facts, in my opinion, he’s not the man of your dreams.  For sure, your successful career should be an asset, not a hindrance to a godly man (read Proverbs 31:10-31 again to see how an independent and successful wife blesses her husband and family!)

3.  Another CLCer said, “We have been together for 10 years,have children together, joint bank accounts, live together,etc…but he won’t marry me!”

  • I don’t see a question there.  Probably because you already have your answer: if he’s getting what he wants without making a commitment to marry you, he’s not likely to ever get married.  Quit putting out and see what happens.  As I said last Sunday, God’s “rules” are for our good.  Living together outside of marriage may be culturally acceptable, but it’s NOT God’s plan, and it won’t lead to what you want in life.

4.  A faithful CLCer wrote, “As a single woman who’s never been married & doesn’t have children, I struggle constantly with the “why not me, God?” question. Honestly, I feel as if God blessed me with this immense compassion & ability to love, yet I haven’t met the right man to share that love with & have a family with. I’m 35 and every year that passes, I become more & more discouraged & feel that I will forever be single. It’s frustrating because I ask God & myself why did He build my heart this way & not lead me to the one earthly man that I could share it with?

  • This is the kind of heart-cry that gets to me.  I feel your pain; I’ve heard it from so many singles thru the years.  I really only have 3 responses: (1) 1Cor. 7:17 that we opened & closed with last Sunday.  Your marital status does NOT define your life!   (2) I do NOT believe the Bible teaches that there is “one earthly man” for you; i.e., I don’t find the concept of “soul-mate” in Scripture.  Instead, I believe that there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of loving, godly, male followers of Christ that you could build a happy life with – not just one.  In some instances, that may have been the problem – that you’ve been looking for Mr. Perfect, instead of Mr. Right. and (3) Don’t give up!  Keep praying & stay hopeful.  I’ve known many believers who married the person of their dreams later in life, and found true happiness together – perhaps in part because they were each more mature, more complete in themselves and more ready to share their joy with another.

I hope this helps a bit.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

 

Bethel Leadership Advance

Of course, Bethel is known for WORSHIP, and I've seen why first-hand!

Of course, Bethel is known for WORSHIP, and I’ve seen why first-hand!

This Advance is quite different than others they've done (according to our pastors who've been here before) - with several panel discussions on the schedule.

This Advance is quite different than others they’ve done (according to our pastors who’ve been here before) – with several panel discussions on the schedule (from L to R: Kris Vallotton, Bill Johnson, Candace & Eric Johnson)

Bill Johnson's session this morning was worth the cost of coming here - amazing insights in his teaching!

Bill Johnson’s session this morning was worth the cost of coming here – amazing insights!

So this conference and my trip is about half-over, and I still have high expectations for the remaining sessions, including an appointment for each of us with one of their prophetic teams tomorrow.

I must say the highlight thus far has been the opportunity for extended conversations with Pastors Sam & Taylor and Brent….guess we had to get out of the office to truly connect 😉

Bethel Church conference

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For years I’ve read and heard about Pastor Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  If you’re not familiar, they’re the home of Jesus Culture and some of the greatest worship music on the planet.  Of course, they’re probably known best for some amazing miracles and healings that occur regularly, along with the anointed team of pastors & leaders, including Kris Valloton, Danny Silk and others, in addition to Bill Johnson.  They also operate a Supernatural School of Ministry, which attracts thousands of students from all over the world.

I think every pastor on staff at CLC has attended a conference here in the past except me and Chris, and she wasn’t able to join me this time.  But I am meeting Pastors Brent and Sam & Taylor tonight, so the four of us will get to take in what God is doing here.

I’ll try to let you know each day-

Easter weekend reflections

If there was a contest for BEST Easter outfit, Caleb Hunter wins it hands-down (sorry, Moy)

If there was a contest for BEST Easter outfit, Caleb Hunter wins it hands-down (sorry, Moy)

Major KUDOS to our Life Worship team for leading us into His Presence all 5 services this weekend!

Major KUDOS to our Life Worship team for leading us into His Presence all 5 services this weekend!

Easter isn't complete without the kiddos & their Easter egg hunt

Easter isn’t complete without the kiddos & their Easter egg hunt

As a special treat for KidsLife, Jay Risner was our special guest - and LOTS of kids prayed to receive Jesus today!

As a special treat for KidsLife, Jay Risner was our special guest – and LOTS of kids prayed to receive Jesus today!

Seeing those cardboard testimonies on the Cross moved me each time!

Seeing those cardboard testimonies on the Cross moved me each time!

Pastor Sam is rejoicing over 566 people in attendance at our Hammond Campus, along with 10 salvation decisions!

Pastor Sam is rejoicing over 566 people in attendance at our Hammond Campus, along with 10 salvation decisions!

I love see our Youth using their gifts to serve God!  Kudos, Rory!

I love see our Youth using their gifts to serve God! Kudos, Rory!

Pastor Brent explained why the Resurrection is important in Blue Island-

Pastor Brent explained why the Resurrection is important in Blue Island-

I admit I'm prejudiced, but this was my favorite of all the cardboard testimonies

I admit I’m prejudiced, but this was my favorite of all the cardboard testimonies…..

....he's my middle grandson (and his head didn't even break!)

….he’s my middle grandson (and his head didn’t even break!)

True stories.....

True stories…..

.....Only Jesus could do this!

…..Only Jesus could do this!

You'd never guess this to see her now....

You’d never guess this to see her now….

.....only Jesus!

…..only Jesus!

So we’re praising God for this weekend:

Tinley Park campus, 2014 in attendance; about 35 salvation decisions;

Hammond campus: 566 in attendance; 10 salvation decisions

Blue Island campus: 300 in attendance;

for a grand total of 2,880 in attendance and 45 people who made a fresh start with God!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m re-posting from 2011:

A non-CLC reader asks, “In Matthew 27:52, it says “and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” Does the Bible give any more information on these saints who arose?  Where did they go? Did they continue living? Where were there spiritual bodies before they arose? Also, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, does the Bible say anything else about him?”

Wow….so many questions, and all so good!  Let’s try to answer them, one at a time:

1.  Yes, the full description is giving in the verse you quoted AND the next verse (Matthew 27:52-53).

2.  So, according to v. 53, they went into the city of Jerusalem where they appeared to many people.

3.  No further information is given anywhere else in the Bible, so we are left with 2 possible conclusions: (a) either they continued living until they died (again), or (my best guess, since Hebrews 9:27 says we’re all destined to die once), (b) they remained in Jerusalem until they ascended into heaven with Christ at the end of his earthly appearance.

4.  Before they arose, their spirits would have been in Abraham’s bosom, awaiting the resurrection, just like all of the righteous dead from Old Testament times.  (Some have speculated that these saints in particular may have been martyrs from Old Testament times, or possibly even saints who had seen Jesus, but died before him, such as Joseph, John the Baptist and others – but that is strictly conjecture since the Scripture doesn’t give us any clues as to their identity)

5.  Yes, in John 12:9-11 we read of Lazarus being at a supper with Jesus, and he (Lazarus) actually became the ‘attraction’ that brought many people to that dinner, as people had heard of his resurrection of the dead, and because of his testimony, many were believing on Christ – so much so that the leading priests plotted to kill him, too!

In fact, we’ll look at that last passage about Lazarus in our Easter celebrations this weekend – it all starts tonight at 7pm, then Saturday at 5pm & Sunday at 8:30, 10 and 12.  It’s not too late to invite someone to be your guest!

Hope that helps.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Praying for Easter

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I’m way late with this post, and I take the blame for my failure to promote this during our recent Sunday services.

But with ALL the preparation for Easter weekend: adding two additional services on Friday & Saturday, recruiting additional volunteers, bringing a special guest for KidsLife to impact our children, planning special stage design, using a creative ‘hook’ to reach people in each service and more, the fact remains that the most important factor for Easter weekend is PRAYER!  After all, if people are to be reached with the Gospel, it will ONLY happen as the Spirit draws them!

Would you join me in praying specifically for our 9 Easter services (5 in Tinley Park, 2 in Blue Island and 2 in Hammond)?  Here are my requests:

  1. For the anointing of the Holy Spirit to shine through everything we do.
  2. For your friends and family that you’re inviting, that God would touch their hearts to accept your invitation, and attend with you this weekend.
  3. For people who aren’t walking with God to begin a real relationship with Jesus!

If you’ll pray those prayers with me, leave an ‘amen’ (which means, ‘so be it’) below-

Sunday reflections

Palm Sunday w/a donkey - (on the left; that's my favorite Children's Director, Stacy Hunter on the right)

Palm Sunday w/a donkey – (on the left; that’s my favorite Children’s Director, Stacy Hunter on the right)

Palm Sunday baptisms: Grant Durham

Palm Sunday baptisms: (1) Grant Durham

Palm Sunday baptisms: Nya Brunson

Palm Sunday baptisms: (2) Nya Brunson

Palm Sunday baptisms: (3) Thelma Haffner

Palm Sunday baptisms: (3) Thelma Haffner

Palm Sunday baptisms: (4) Aila Haffner

Palm Sunday baptisms:
(4) Aila Haffner

Our guest, Justin Kron, enlightened all of us with the truth about Jesus our Passover Lamb!

Our guest, Justin Kron, enlightened all of us with the truth about Jesus our Passover Lamb!

As a result of Justin's teaching, celebrating communion will never be the same again!

After Justin’s teaching, celebrating communion will never be the same again!

My 2 favorite girls, with Donkey Molly on Palm Sunday

My 2 favorite girls, with Donkey Molly on Palm Sunday

Our Hammond campus set a new record attendance for a regular Sunday, with 408 worshippers today!

Our Hammond campus set a new record attendance for a regular Sunday, with 408 worshippers today!

The donkey was a BIG hit & his 3-year old son was the inspiration for Pastor Sam's message on "Why the Donkey?"

The donkey was a BIG hit & his 3-year old son was the inspiration for Pastor Sam’s message on “Why the Donkey?”

I LOVE the kids at every CLC campus - this little guy is from CLC-Blue Island

I LOVE the kids at every CLC campus – little Fernando is from CLC-Blue Island

And the 2 donkeys were a big hit at  Blue Island!

And the 2 donkeys were a big hit at Blue Island!

Our Blue Island campus said their goodbyes to Pastor Ben today by presenting him an autographed "I Am for Blue Island" t-shirt

Our Blue Island campus said their goodbyes to Pastor Ben today by presenting him an autographed “I Am for Blue Island” t-shirt

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “When a person is baptized with The Holy Spirit are they able to operate in all the gifts? Again, I have heard people say a person may never speak in tongues even though they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Yet, I have also heard that Holy Spirit will move on you and you can operate in all the gifts at any given time. Your thoughts?”

Great questions.  Actually, we’re planning an entire 5-week series called “GIFTED”, starting May 7 that should answer these questions in much more depth, but let me give my perspective here:

  1. The ‘debate’ among Spirit-filled churches seems to be whether the gifts are simply resident within the Holy Spirit, in which case any believer can be “used” in any of the gifts at any time, OR whether the gifts of the Spirit are given to individual believers to possess and utilize as the Lord wills. As is so often the case in Biblical debates, I tend to think it’s a “both/and” question rather than an “either/or” matter.
  2. For instance, 1Cor. 12:7-10 certainly seems to indicate the gifts are given to  individual believers, while verse 11 could be interpreted to mean that the Holy Spirit has all the gifts and decides at any given moment to use whom He wills.  My pastor when I first entered the ministry taught (for instance) that the gift of healing was not  “the gift to heal” as if some individuals had a gift to heal others, but rather the person who was healed had received a gift.  I’m inclined to think it can work both ways; i.e, when we are born again, the Holy Spirit chooses to give us certain gift(s) that we can exercise by faith.  However, when we are faced with a certain need and there is no one present who possesses the specific gift that would help the situation, then I believe the Holy Spirit could “move” on any believer present, to manifest that gift and meet the need, as we willingly cooperate with the Spirit.
  3. In regards to your first question, I have met individuals who claim that they possess or were used in all of the 9 gifts listed in 1Cor. 12 – but I’m not sure I believe them.  Certainly Jesus exercised all of those gifts, but I tend to think that most of us fall short of His example.
  4. As to the ‘tongues’ question (is it possible to be baptized in the Spirit but not speak in tongues), there are as many different opinions on that subject as there are people, it seems.  From my understanding of Scripture, I don’t personally see any example of someone in the NT Church who was baptized in the Spirit but did not speak in tongues (or as we prefer to say at CLC, “have a prayer language”). But I gave up arguing that people must speak in tongues in order to be baptized in the Spirit several years ago, since that only seems to stir up arguments and strife.  I much prefer to focus on all the benefits of having a prayer language, and encourage every believer to experience and use that gift in their own walk with the Lord.

I hope that helps.  Feel free to leave a comment below to give your thoughts on these questions, or to ask your own question.

Meanwhile, let this be the first public announcement that I’m SO excited to make – in the ‘GIFTED’ series, when we teach about the specific “speaking” and “knowing” and “doing” gifts, we will follow up the Sunday teaching by having a Wednesday “activation” service with three of the most gifted leaders I’ve met: Apostle John Eckhardt, Apostle Matthew Stevenson and Evangelist Robby Dawkins.  We’ll give you all the details later, but mark your calendar now for May 17, May 24 and May 31 for what is sure to be a highlight of 2017 at CLC!

Leaving on a jet plane……

With apologies to John Denver....but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

With apologies to John Denver….but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

It’s been a great trip:

  • deepening some strategic relationships for the Church here in Cambodia,
  • sowing good seed in a young man that Chris and I both perceive has great potential for the Kingdom of God in an almost totally-unreached Muslim nation (when he himself surrenders to Christ)
  • strengthening the leaders of the Cambodian church
  • planning the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, who have become dear friends over these past few years of our involvement here.

but we’re ready to be home for a great Palm Sunday celebration (with the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem….or, maybe one like it) and a great word from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron as to why ‘only Jesus’ could be our Savior! (Your celebration of Communion will never be the same again after this Sunday!)

And that means EASTER is just days away!  WHO are you inviting to be your guest?

see you soon-

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Cambodia, day 7

The new property is very near the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot's regime in the 1970's.

While we were together with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul today, he showed us some of their plans for the future.  He casually mentioned that the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970’s was nearby and asked if we’d like to see it, so we had a short tour of the horrible atrocities done here.

We had visited the Museum in 2013 on our first visit to Cambodia, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem - so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

We had visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 2013 to honor the 3 million who died during the Pol Pot regime, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

One more day of meetings with the pastors here and then we’ll board our flight for home!  So looking forward to week 2 of “Only Jesus” as we hear from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron!

Cambodia, day 6

If I'm honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching - I love this candid shot from one of today's discussion times.

If I’m honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching – I love this candid shot from one of today’s discussion times.

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP "battle of the bands", featuring an all-girl band.....

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP “battle of the bands”, featuring an all-girl band…..

.....and a shy all-boys band.....

…..and a shy all-boys band…..

.....and, of course, the WINNERS (can't you tell?)

…..and, of course, the WINNERS (can’t you tell?)

Chris gave her all in today's teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) - and we're both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Chris gave her all in today’s teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) – and we’re both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Now that the hard work is over, we’re looking forward to a chance to connect & plan for the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul!

Cambodia, day 5

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar!

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar! (MeyChen was translating for some of the seminar attendees)

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship - here's the coffee bar

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship – here’s the coffee bar in the lobby

Here's the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here’s the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here's a great information desk at the main entrance

Here’s a great information desk at the main entrance

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they're learning during the seminar

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they’re learning during the seminar

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today's competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY!

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today’s competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY! (the engineering feat was building a tower with spaghetti noodles, yarn, masking tape & marshmallows)

Honestly, four consecutive days of teaching for hours each day has both of us wiped out, but the good news is that we have only a half-day of ministry tomorrow as we finish the last seminar!  This bed has never looked so good……

 

 

Sunday reflections

Sorry for poor lighting, but I preached to a full house at the TSK campus of New Life Fellowship tonight, with the translation from my friend, Pastor Samady.

Sorry for poor lighting, but I preached to a full house at the TSK campus of New Life Fellowship tonight, with the translation from my friend, Pastor Samady.

First, MY reflections from tonight’s services at New Life Fellowship in Cambodia:

  • I’m supposed to be here to give, but tonight I received as one of the young leaders from New Life Fellowship gave a ‘word’ that spoke directly to my heart! (Thank you, Jesus!)
  • I don’t have any pics, but Chris ministered a message about healing at the main campus of New Life, and many people responded – healings, demonstrations of the Holy Spirit, and more – powerful!
  • The highlight came after the service, as a young student from Turkmenistan that we first met about a year ago during one of our seminars agreed to meet us for dinner.  I have sensed that the hand of God was on him in a special way – learned today that he is a Muslim and tonight was his FIRST time ever in any church.  At dinner afterwards we were able to share with him and God gave Pastor Jesse a word of knowledge that I believe really helped to open his heart to the Lord.  Pics later!
Here's the promised pic - Pastors Jesse & Soar are the foreground and the young man from Turkmenistan is across from Chris and me.

Here’s the promised pic – Pastors Jesse & Soar are the foreground and the young man from Turkmenistan is across from Chris and me.

But just as importantly, I’m SO anxious to know how things were at CLC today, so I need YOUR reflections, too.  For the first time in a long, long time, I shared a message via video at each campus as we kicked off the “Only Jesus” series, and curious minds want to knowHOW WAS IT?

If you attended any service at any campus or online today, please leave your comments below:

  • what did you LEARN about the Virgin birth?
  • did you leave with a greater appreciation for the Word of God?
  • What impacted you the most?
  • (Be honest) was it difficult to receive from a video?

Feel free to expand beyond my questions to give YOUR report of how God ministered to you through the opening of our April series: 1920 x 300

Cambodia, day 4

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we've experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception - strong anointing in the House!

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we’ve experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception – strong anointing in the House (and love their new stage design in the beautiful new building they just moved into this month!)

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit! We love being with him!!

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit!   Chris & I love being with him!!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

After the two morning services in the brand-new building (actually located inside a shopping mall, so the location couldn’t be better to reach Cambodians) and a quick lunch with friends, we had a little time to get rest before the two evening services – one at the new location and one at their other campus in a different part of the city.  I’ll report on those services when we return tonight-

Cambodia, day 3

During today's opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

During today’s opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder.  I'm very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder. I’m very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

As yesterday, we had a battle of the "Air Rock Bands" - and these girls were good...

As yesterday, we had a battle of the “Air Rock Bands” – and these girls were good…

.....but 1st Place went to this animated group!

…..but 1st Place went to this animated group!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the "tallest tower" with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the “tallest tower” with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

In between the fun activities, Chris & I spent about six hours teaching four of Dr. John C. Maxwell’s “Laws of Leadership” to students & faculty alike, and they were like sponges, drinking in every word we said.  I believe much good seed was sown today!

Tomorrow we will minister at four different services at two different locations for New Life Fellowship and our partners and friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – looking forward to a great day!

Cambodia, day 2

This "air band" pretty well summarizes our day - even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

This “air band” pretty well summarizes our day – even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

Our first seminar for EQUIP on this trip was at VisionFund Cambodia, which is the microfinance arm of World Vision.  They serve over 250,000 families in Cambodia, which makes them the largest microfinance ministry in the world, as they offer small loans & other financial services to poor families, helping them to grow small businesses and enable their children to grow up with improved health and education.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, we taught about 75 of VisionFund's managers from around the country.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, who translated, we taught about 75 of VisionFund’s managers from around the country.

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything - even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game.....

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything – even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game…..

.....or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmellows!

…..or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmallows!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

But the enthusiasm of this "air rock band" knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

But the enthusiasm of this “air rock band” knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Now some more sleep to try to kick the jet lag that’s hindering both of us before we head to the leading university in all of Cambodia, Beltei International, for another seminar tomorrow-

Ask the Pastor

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One of our elders recently asked me a question that also came up during the outstanding Marriage Retreat last weekend, so I thought it was worth repeating here for others: “What does a wife who is believer and her husband is not…do in regards to tithing?
I’ve heard people say if her husband tells her she can’t tithe she shouldn’t. Is it ok for her to tithe even though it may cause arguments? I’ve always wondered what to tell women when they ask me this. I always think of the scripture in Acts 4:19. What if her husband wanted her to lie, steal, stay home from church, or watch pornography? Does she submit to these things because he is the head?

Great question, and, honestly, I think your logic is spot-on. Here’s my answer:

  1. I think the starting place is always good communication. If an unbelieving husband is opposed to his wife tithing their income, she should start with a calm, logical appeal as to why she wants to tithe. (If she’s convinced from God’s Word that there is a blessing when we honor God with the first tenth of our income, her husband may well agree once he hears her reasoning.)
  2. Perhaps I should have said, even before she appeals to her husband’s logic, the wife should first pray that God will open his heart. The Holy Spirit can do more to persuade even an unbeliever’s heart than the wife’s logic.
  3. However, if neither prayer nor a reasoned appeal has worked and the husband still forbids his wife to tithe, here is my recommendation:
  • if the husband is the sole wage-earner in the marriage (meaning the wife is not gainfully employed outside the home and thus has no income of her own), then she should not tithe.  After all, the tithe is 10% of one’s increase, and since she has no income and her husband forbids her to tithe off his income, it’s a moot point.
  • However, I’ve known several cases where the unsaved husband gives his wife an “allowance” to operate the household, buy groceries, etc. and the believing wife was so convinced of the blessing of tithing that she gave 10% of her allowance.
  • Finally, if the wife has a job and her own source of income, then I certainly think the verse already mentioned, Acts 4:19, is applicable, and the wife should be obedient to the Lord with her income.

Hope that helps.  I’d love to hear from others who’ve had personal experience in this situation, or who have stories to share of what others have done in this regard.  Please leave your comments below-

Cambodia, day 1

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong.  With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home!

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong. With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home! (And I don’t mind showing Cubbie blue!)

I guess keeping everyone posted from this trip applies even when nothing happens.  For the first time in a long time (ever?), we deliberately planned a day of rest before diving into our leadership seminars here.  By that I mean our flight arrived about midnight local time last night and today we did nothing  except sleep, eat, and study a bit for our week of ministry here.

Our first of three seminars begins tomorrow at 8am (8pm Thursday, Chicago time) and I should have some pics and reports for you after that.  Until then, I’m gonna give in to jetlag and sleep some more!

Have you considered the significance of the Virgin birth?

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I’m writing this post from an airport lounge in Seoul, South Korea while Chris & I are enroute to Cambodia – but what’s on my mind right now is my message for THIS Sunday to kick-off the series, “Only Jesus”.

I preached my first sermon over 48 years ago, but in all that time I have never done a message about the Virgin birth – perhaps because it’s such a basic staple of the Christian faith.  But in this year when the Lord said CLC is going “back to the basics”, I discovered some wonderful truths as to WHY Jesus was born of a virgin.

I also discovered some myths and mistaken beliefs along the way, and I think this Sunday’s teaching will enlighten and inspire you with the reliability of God’s Word.  I’ll get to share much of this message with each campus of CLC via video, so no matter where you attend, I hope you’ll invite an unchurched friend to join you for a learning experience that I’m praying will enable some to take that first step of faith in Jesus as Savior, and cause the rest of us to have a fresh appreciation for WHO He is and WHAT He has done!

Only Jesus!

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