I heard from so many CLC’ers yesterday and today about how helpful the message was that I decided to post it here for the benefit of those of you who couldn’t get to CLC in person. Praying that it’s of benefit to you in getting FREE from debt:
I heard from so many CLC’ers yesterday and today about how helpful the message was that I decided to post it here for the benefit of those of you who couldn’t get to CLC in person. Praying that it’s of benefit to you in getting FREE from debt:
Today’s XO Marriage Conference was AWESOME! My first time to participate in one, but it definitely won’t be our last at CLC. Teacher’s were both hilarious & profound and seeing couples renew their vows all over the auditorium as we closed was my favorite moment:
Now, let’s have some FOOTBALL!
This morning I’m still enjoying the afterglow of our 21-days of fasting & prayer AND yesterday’s “fire-tunnel” at the Tinley Park campus.
We must have prayed for close to 1,000 people in the three services, and after looking through the testimonies submitted via Connection cards, here’s a little of what happened:
There was so much more – emotional or inner healings, acceptance of God’s forgiveness, etc., but my FAVORITE conversation of the day was with one CLC’er who described his experience in the prayer tunnel as being “like a car wash”….and said, “now I know how the car feels – I felt clean inside and out after it was over!”
What’s your story? From each campus of CLC and any service yesterday OR during the fast, share your testimony below and let’s encourage other CLC’ers with what God is doing:
This is today’s guest devotional from our Tinley Park Campus Pastor, Rachel Jones:
He SEES MeOne of the most comforting thoughts in this life is that we are not alone in it. Knowing that there is a hope beyond myself (who fails), beyond people (who will fail me), and that there’s a never failing, loving God, who is caring for me each and every moment of my life. There’s no greater peace I can have. That comfort gives me confidence to believe, and to keep going no matter what I face.Today I want to remind you of the God who SEES you. He sees you there in the season you’re in, He sees your broken heart, your wounded spirit, He sees your joy, your depression, your failures and your triumphs. God sees and He cares. In Genesis 16 we find the story of Abram, Sarai and Hagar the maidservant. Sarai wanted a child so badly, she gave her servant to her husband so that she could have a child for her. Things didn’t go as sweetly as she planned and the two women could no longer get along (Hagar despised Sari, and Sarai treated Hagar harshly) and Hagar ran away. In the midst of this great pain, a broken heart and pregnant, God came to her at her weakest. In her misery God saw her and spoke a word to her, with a promise. She was comforted and spoke these words; “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Get 16:13)It is God who has stitched us together in our mothers womb. It is He who created our life and purpose. God makes no mistakes. No matter what the world sees, God will always see beyond and He sees right to your heart, and knows your every need. Knowing that God sees, means you are never alone and not forgotten. It means you are known and that you matter. You have a place in this world that is so important that God would come and give you an encouraging word at the moment you want to give up. God says, “No, I have a plan and purpose for you. Don’t give up. Look to Me and I will be with you.” He is a God who gives and keeps His promises.No matter where you find yourself today…God sees you. He understands and He cares for you so deeply. Can I encourage you today? Do not wait until you are at your weakest to seek the One who sees you. I challenge you to seek Him now and with all your heart. “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut. 4:29) Seek Him and He will be found. God’s love is so overwhelming, the more you get to know Him, the more you grow and develop into who He made you to be. So keep going after God with your whole heart, there’s always more you can receive from Him. He’s everlasting!Will you seek God with me today? Let’s pray,Father thank you for your never failing love. Thank you for getting me, you truly understand me; when no one else does, you do. You see me wherever I am and you care for me. Thank you for seeing me, and please help me to see You wherever I am and to seek you with all my heart and soul. In Jesus name, Amen.
This is the text of today’s devotional from Blue Island Campus Pastor, Sol McQuay:
I don’t know about you but I love music, I have to have music in the background while driving, cleaning, or working. Sometimes I like to go old school and listen to the bands I used to listen to 10+ years ago because those are the ones I can sing along the best, and let’s be honest, music is more fun when you can use your oh so amazing voice and sing as loud as you can.A couple of weeks ago that was the case, I had my oldies playlist going while I washed the dishes and a song by the Newsboys came on, the chorus of the songs says “When hope is lost, I call you Savior; when pain surrounds, I call you Healer; when silence falls you’ll be the song within my heart.” And right there, in the middle of my kitchen God spoke to me and said “Who do you need me to be in your life today?”The Bible refers to God by many different names, by doing that it gives us a glimpse of His power and character. It helps us know who He is and what He desires to do in and for us. He shows His majesty, power, and love for us every single day. And He wants to meet us in our time of need. There’s nothing that is too difficult for our God. So let me ask you that same question, Who do you need Him to be in your life today?Are you in a financial need? Call on Jehovah Jireh –My God will provideStruggling with Stress, anxiety, worry? Call on Jehovah Shalom –The Lord is PeaceAre you sick? Call on Jehovah Rapha –The Lord that HealsAnd there are many more names for Him in the Bible, here’s a link to a list with scripture references for those names in the Bible. https://www.lwf.org/discover-jesus/names-of-godBut no matter what you need today, no matter if you are dealing with family issues, health, feelings of loneliness or hopelessness. God is able to meet us in our needs and to deliver us. His desire is to see you living a life that is full of His blessings, His joy, His peace. So I want to encourage today to call on the name of the Lord, call Him for who you need Him to be for you in this season and see that He is good and faithful to do big things in and for you.Let me pray for you,Lord, we thank you for being all we need, thank you because you care for us and our specific situations. I ask you give us a new revelation of who you are for us today. Help us to put our trust in you. In Jesus Name, Amen.
This is my text of today’s Facebook Live devotional:
After the fast…
Good morning everyone – welcome to Day 19 of our 21-days of Prayer & Fasting. While I still dislike fasting as much as ever (maybe more so), I will be the first to admit that these days have created a momentum at CLC and hopefully for you in your walk with the Lord as well.
In fact, I want to talk to you about next week (and the weeks after) once the prayer & fasting is over. Too many times (at least in my personal experience), once an event is over, we have a tendency to move on to the next thing. It’s easy for us to go back to unhealthy eating habits and a lessening of spiritual fervor after the fast – but I want to encourage you to be like the shepherds in the first Christmas story.
Luke 2:15 says, “When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
See, it’s one thing to be excited, stirred or even dedicated while the angels are around (so to speak ) – during these last 19 days we’ve had special prayer events, early morning prayer meetings at the TP campus and the encouragement from others who are fasting with us – which all adds up to a heightened awareness of God’s Presence that made it easier (not easy, but ‘er’) for us to maintain our spiritual disciplines. By the way, if you experienced some spiritual warfare because of the fast instead of an angelic visitation, and you’ve been miserable the last few weeks, well, humor me, because the principle I’m addressing is still the same. Here it is:
I’m encouraging all of us to follow the example of the shepherds who had that amazing experience of seeing & hearing a multitude of angels, announcing the birth of their Savior, then had to deal with their absence after those angels returned to heaven. What did they do? They hurried to act on what they had heard about!
I’ve heard several wonderful testimonies from CLC’ers during the fast – stories of a new sense of self-discipline that spilled over to other areas besides eating; stories of physical healing (even victory in losing some stubborn pounds), and stories of answers to prayer that could only be a result of God’s intervention. But what I’m reminding us is that when the fast ends, what God wants to do with us is just getting started!
I’m determined to remain disciplined, not only for the final two days of our fast, but afterwards – by spending time with Him in prayer and with His Word, and I hope you will, too. And if you ‘heard’ some specifics from the Lord during this fast, be like the shepherds – don’t delay, but act on what you heard from Him.
I’ve thought several times in the last few weeks about the first church corporate fast I ever remember being a part of. I had fasted on many occasions before that, but in the fall of 1974 our pastor called our entire church on a 3-day juice fast that ended with a midweek service, and it’s that service that I still remember, over 43y later! In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a local church service as powerful as that night – with addictions broken, people baptized in the Holy Spirit, healings manifesting, and an overwhelming sense of God’s Presence in the room. I’m convinced that all of that was a result of the corporate UNITY during our fast!
That’s exactly what I’m expecting this Sunday when we gather at each CLC location. Our pastors have planned a service that allows plenty of time for prayer and a great move of the Holy Spirit, and I hope you’ll come expecting with me.
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from our Hammond Worship Director, Tommie Billups:
Scripture- John 6
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from our Blue Island Worship Pastor, Alan Franklin:
While reading in Genesis a few days ago, I came across “The Descendants of Adam” in Genesis 5. My first thought was, “this is gonna be boring.” But I read anyway. Verse 3: Adam became the father of Seth. Seth became the father of Enosh. Enosh became the father of Kenan. Kenan became the father of Mahalalel. Mahalalel became the father of Jared. Jared became the father of Enoch. Enoch became the father of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. 23) Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him. Methuselah became the father of Lamech. Lamech became the father of Noah…
Wait a minute! Stop reading! Right in the middle of this boredom, the writer thought it was worth noticing that Enoch lived in close fellowship with God. Now this chapter just got juicy! Enoch must have been different than his forefathers and his posterity. Have you ever been to a family reunion? Think about your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents. Some of us had parents and grandparents that loved the Lord. However, some of you, you are the first person in your family to give your life to Christ. You’re different.
It’s okay to be different. When I was a child, I didn’t want to be different. You want to blend in with the other kids. You want to wear what they’re wearing, do what they’re doing and say what they’re saying. But I must admit, it felt good when a teacher would say “there’s something different about that Franklin boy”. The Bible says that we are peculiar.
Then we read about Noah in Genesis 6. Gen. 6:5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing – all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I every made them.” But Noah found favor with the Lord. (verse 9) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.
Let me ask you a question. If I asked your friends at work “who’s different”
Not only should we be different in the world? We should also be different in the church. Have you ever visited a church where you were the only one to lift your hands in worship? Religious people will look at you in a weird way. Or remember when you first came to Christ and you wanted everyone to know? You were on fire for God. Then you hung around “church people” and became “normal”. In the book of Acts, Peter and John went to a 3:00 prayer meeting at the Temple. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the temple gate (called Beautiful), so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money (something Normal) But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up.
How many normal people saw the lame man and gave him a few coins and kept going. Perhaps thousands. Peter & John were “different”. They possessed something that could change the entire destiny of a person.
Pastor Brent talked recently about being ALL IN this year. I’ve heard others this year at work and other places say “This year I’m ALL IN. We admire people that can lose the weight, be disciplined with their finances, have an incredible prayer life. Why? Because it’s different than what we’re used to seeing. And who wants Common anyway? Common is divorce. Common is fear. Common is faithlessness. Common is , depression. Normal is lying & cheating. Normal is also, “let’s go to this concert! or let’s go hear this guest speaker! There’s a packed house. Different is “Let’s go to a prayer service) You may see under 20 people there.
Different is “I may be going through a rough season, but the Joy of the Lord is my strength.”
consider these verses in Matthew 5
Different is “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.” (39)
“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”(40)
But I say, love your enemies! (43)
Pray for those who persecute you! (44)
If you love only those who love you, what rewards is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (46-48)
Jesus makes us Different. One of the most fascinating scriptures that I’ve been meditating on, for about a year now is Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne and said, Behold, I make all things new. Not better, but “NEW” “Different”
One Point: Know whose you are. When you realize who your Father is, you know that you are a citizen of a different kingdom. You know that this world is not your home. When I went to Croatia last year, I had a great time. I met some great people. The country was beautiful. The food was great. But… Croatia was not my home. As much as I enjoyed my time there, I knew I was not staying. It would be weird for me to meet with a realtor and talk about buying a home there…or for me to put in job applications over there. Why? Because I’m not planning to stay there. Some of us live our lives as if this earth is our home. They way we spend our time, talents and treasure. We have to know who we belong to.
I just heard a true story of a guy who robbed a bank in Canada. He stole 6K. He had a gun, a 1918 semi-automatic Colt. The gun itself, was worth 100K. He don’t know what he had.
Knowing we have the power of God and knowing we belong to God. Power
I thought about some people who chose to be different:
Chris Rivera went through a long rigorous process to start a christian club at his high school.
Alexis prayed for her teacher because her countenance was different. She actually prayed prophetically. When the teacher saw Terrilyn, she said, “I gotta tell you about your daughter. She changed my life”
Rodney Young refused to accept a job because it required him to travel (a couple hours car ride) to various places with another female worker.
Eric Williams served as bass player last Sunday. Then he went down and served the children after praise and worship.
Have you ever heard of people that plan a get-away to spend alone time with God. No family, no work, no cell phone, no computer. Just you and God.
Cesar drove 8 hours to Kansas City, MO to spend time with God. Of course he could have stayed in Chicago. But he felt led to spend time with God.
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Family Ministries Pastors, Ken & Patricia Earley:
A few years ago Pat and I had the honor of becoming grandparents which gave us the instant joy of buying for little girls! This past Christmas one of the items at the very top of the Christmas list was this LOL Doll.
Now while this LOL doll doesn’t look like much, it is the hottest little toy around. So much so that it became an adventure in finding it. Believe it or not enclosed in this case is a doll with clothes and accessories. Sounds simple enough right? The key is that while there is a doll at that end, each accessory is a different layer preparing you for the ultimate prize – the doll. If you don’t get through the layers, you will never reach the goal of the doll. And that’s what we want to encourage you with today – staying focused.
While achieving the goal of a new doll may not seem like much to you or I, setting goals and staying focused to do what God has called us to do is. Philippians 3:15-16 in the Message translation puts it this way: So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. As we get close to the end of the fast let’s be even more determined to lean in and hear what God is saying — what He is asking us to do — and what we will commit our hands to accomplish for His kingdom.
There is one more thing about this little doll. Each layer leads you closer to the prize. Each step that we take while following God’s direction gets us closer to where He is leading us. But the key is that you can’t skip the layers because in doing so you ruin what’s ahead. There are lessons in the layers. Each layer or step is a moment for us to learn or grow. Sometimes those layers are “wait”, some are “push” and some of those layers can be terribly uncomfortable. But the layers will not destroy us because in each layer God is with us to teach us and instruct us in the way we should go. Layers aren’t permanent – they are meant for us to get instruction, get application and then move to what’s coming next. Layers take discipline. Sometimes its not easy to “wait” or “keep going” or honestly to trust the next steps, but there is a promise waiting for us that do. Proverbs 16:20 puts it like this: Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.
As we begin this year, let’s take time to stay focused, trust the lessons in the layers, and look forward to all God has in store for us in this season.
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Children’s Pastor, Stacy Hunter:
Many may struggle like myself. The struggle with Trust issues can be a daunting task, but be encouraged that scripture states:
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8
I say this in jest, but this verse makes me feel a little better about my own issues of trust. So if you struggle in this area let this scripture be an encouragement to you as well! Though, some of us may have to work through some personal issues on trust, we can ALWAYS trust in Jesus.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
God’s love is unconditional, even if you are struggling with someone or something, a sin, bitterness, it doesn’t matter, because God still LOVES you unconditionally. He Loves You. You can trust him to make your paths straight.
This scripture asks us to trust God completely, with all our heart, not a little, or sometimes or when it’s convenient. It can be easy to trust God with unpleasant areas of our lives…especially after we have exhausted all other options. We throw up our hands and say, “God I finally give these unpleasant areas to you … anxiety, sickness, my tithe, my frustration, my children etc.” God is not a last resort, but a first and best opportunity to draw closer to him when things get rough.
The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7
Praise God! He will take care of the messes in our lives.
We have to remember to trust God with the areas we are controlling just fine. “God, I got my finances, I’m doing just fine.” God, I got my relationships, I am doing fine.” “God, I will let you know when things become unpleasant and you can fix them after I try fixing them and controlling the situation.”
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6
God wants the unpleasant areas as much as the pleasant areas. Trust fully in God! Every day give him your children, relationships, health, finances, mentally, physically, spiritually, academically, athletically, etc. Trust him with every area of your life: The big, the small, the shame, the hurts, the blessings, the good and the bad, the past, present and future. God has a plan. Trust Him. Even if your paths don’t seem very straight in this season…give it to God. Fully give it to God. Trust him. His plans are far greater than our own. He raises the dead, he heals the sick, Jesus is someone we can always count on!
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7-8
now I’m gonna settle in for some FOOTBALL!
Today’s guest devotional is from our Hammond Campus Pastor, Taylor Hamstra:
Scripture: Genesis 22:1-3 NLT
Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called. “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you. The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about.
Could you ever imagine God asking you to take your child, go up to a mountain and sacrifice him/her? What would your reaction be? Would you laugh at God or would you pretend you didn’t hear him? Think about it. So why would a loving, caring, faithful God ask Abraham to do this? Here is what new about Abraham. Year after year after year Abraham built altar’s of gratitude to God. He knew that God could be trusted. He knew that God was for HIM. Year after year He spent time in prayer with God getting to know Him intimately. So even after waiting all those years – He took a step because HE TRUSTED GOD FULLY.
So let me ask you a dangerous question – Do you trust God enough to surrender your craziest dreams on the altar to God? Will you surrender your plan, your way, and your reputation? Would you do it?
As some of you know Sam and I became foster parents over 4 years ago. We have been so blessed and honored to take care of our son for the past 4 years. Truth is just like a mother gives birth you never forget that moment in the hospital and how you instantly fall in love the second you laid eyes on your baby. That is how we felt when we meet our son at 2 ½ months in his hospital room.
You see God told us to be foster parents and we where obedient to the call. What I didn’t know that I was supposed to surrender the process and my son to the Lord. I held on so tight to my son. I was fearful and scared that I was going to lose him so many times. Just like Sarah I desired to be a mom for a long time and the thought of that being taken away from me made me sick.
Truth is I new that I put D first in my life. He was #1 before God and it was taken a toll on me. It wasn’t until January of 2016 (3years later) that I finally gave him to the Lord. I will never forget the moment I was in our offices in our Munster building along with 10 other people praying. For the first half of prayer we were on our own. I fell to my knees and said Lord take him he is yours. I can’t do this anymore. In that moment God reminded me that He loves D more then I do and what He promised has not changed.
I want to remind you today that what you are going through does not surprise God.
God is teaching us a lot in the process of surrender. He is teaching us a lot in the waiting room of life. Let me tell you that God’s goal while you are waiting is not to get you somewhere but to take you closer to HIM. While you are waiting God is making you more dependent on HIM. More LIKE HIM. God’s goal in the waiting room is to see you surrender YOUR plan and YOUR DREAM and YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE in order to pick up GOD’S PLAN and GOD’S dream for you.
Remember His promises are still Yes and Amen. Let God have your marriage, your kids, your finances, your dreams, and your goals.
Can I tell you the moment I surrendered EVERYTHING changed. I felt a weight lifted off of me and God began to move in my situation like I have never experienced. He is faithful and He always will be. Trust Him.
Father, we come to you today in complete awe of who you are. We thank you that you’re not a God that lies and that you are true to your word. Help us today to surrender everything to you. Help us to daily surrender our marriages, kids, finances and anything in between. We love you and trust you. We know Lord that nothing comes to you by surprise and that you are working all things for our good. We love you! In Jesus name, Amen!
Today’s guest devotional is from Blue Island Campus Pastor, Sol McQuay:
I’m sure you have heard the phrase “new year, new you”. This makes us think about new opportunities, new habits, new circumstances. However more often than not we enter a new year with the same issues we had the previous year. When the clock strikes 12 nothing magically changes and you find yourself in a new year with same the old you. With the same struggles, with the same old habits. And even tho it sounds quite depressing I want to encourage you to keep going. Don’t give up!
Many of us have stuff we have been battling for a long time, prayers we have prayed so many times we don’t know if we can pray it one more time. We find ourselves tired, and even discouraged.
In the book of Judges chapter 8 we read about Gideon and his 300 men, God had promised them victory over their enemies and they have been fighting numerous battles, but I want to highlight verse 4 “And Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing”. They had victory after victory but they knew that they had to keep fighting even tho their strength was fading because a battle is not won without a fight!
I don’t know what you are fighting today, I don’t know how many times you have prayed the same prayer or how many fights you have fought, but I know God has promised to deliver you, to give you success and to see you overcome, so no matter how exhausted you are, how long this battle seems to be, keep going!! Keep pursuing. Keep believing. Keep praying. Your victory is coming.
So today I want you to get this phrase in your spirit and declare it as often as you need to. I am exhausted yet pursuing financial freedom. I am exhausted yet pursuing my kids salvation. I’m exhausted yet pursuing a restored marriage. We won’t allow the enemy to distract us, we won’t allow circumstances to derail us, we won’t allow our strength to dictate the outcome. We will fight because with God on our side there’s nothing we can’t overcome!
Exhausted yet pursuing!!
Let me pray for you.
Dear Jesus, thank you because in you ALL battles are won, because we don’t have to go on our own strength. Thank you because you have already given us victory over our issues, problems, and circumstances. Help us to pursue, to persevere, to keep on going even when we feel like giving up. In Jesus Name, Amen.
Let us know in the comments what are you pursuing tirelessly this 2018, we want to agree in prayer with you.
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Missions Pastor, Jen McQuay:
Worship. Is it a Sunday morning experience or a lifestyle?
So often worship is reserved for the holy moments … the spiritual parts of our life such as church attendance, devotions, small groups and when we’re listening to worship music. But lets be honest with ourselves. In a normal week, how much time would that be spent in Worship? Not very much. So how is our worship something that is reflected in our lives daily?
The apostle Paul gives us undeniable instructions on how we live a life of worship in Romans 12. Its a simple word that isn’t always easy. Surrender. Complete Surrender. When we live each day for HIM and not for ourselves our worship is more than a Sunday morning experience.
Romans 12:1 ESV – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Another verse in ! Corinthians says it this way: whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Whatever you do — All that you do— should be giving God glory.
Our lives should be a reflection of HIM……
But how do we do that?
The very next verse that Paul writes tells us….
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Worship as a lifestyle, affects every part of you. It’s not just a conversation you have, a t-shirt you wear or a conference you attend. It is … you.
You know that you are a lifestyle worshipper when it becomes—second nature. You shouldn’t wake up in the morning and have to decide whether you’ll read your Bible or not.
Seeking God. Reading His word. Spending time in His presence. Asking for advice & wisdom. They should be a first resort and not a last.
A lifestyle of worship is a life that presents itself as a living sacrifice (surrendered) to Him – always and at all times.
If any of you are like me – it is easy to surrender and run to Jesus when there’s a tragedy but how do we make it more second nature every single day?
The 2nd verse of Romans 12 just told us what surrender looks like…….
To live a surrendered life, you have to renew your mind. Because His ways are NOT our ways. And you renew your mind, by spending time in his word. The more you know about someone, the more comfortable you are with giving them control.
As you are renewing your mind – its the heart that is most important. You need to actually have a revelation of WHO HE IS. Because you can KNOW all of the right things, and SAY all of the right things but unless you have the WHY its just information or words on a page.
Heres my profound thought for you this morning.
Information informs, but when you have a revelation of who He is it transforms you. With revelation it causes us to do by default what we may have only done before by instruction. Sometimes in Christianity we fall into a trap of settling for “information” instead of passionately seeking revelation. We know all about Jesus in our head, but we haven’t experienced him in our hearts. We find out stuff about Him when we haven’t encountered him personally.
With information we know what to do. With revelation we know what to do AND we do it. If we are strictly living from information everything that we do for God will be done from a HAVE to RULES mentality. But with true revelation our obedience and response to His words because a want to – personal desire as an expression of love.
I pray that in this 21 days of prayer and fasting – that you are being transformed. That life wouldn’t go back to “normal” on January 29th.
That every moment of every day you would worship & honor God with your life.
I’d love to hear from you how you make worship a lifestyle and not just a sunday morning expression. And what revelation have you had during this 21 days that is transforming YOU as a result! Leave your comments below-
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Hammond Campus Pastor, Sam Hamstra:
“Hello….My Name is El Roi.”For the past few months I have been studying and learning some of the different names of God. It has been amazing to see how every different name of God reveals something so awesome about the character of God.I ran into an interesting name of God in my morning devotion last week while reading about the story of Hagar in Genesis 16. Genesis 16:13 says,So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,”[f] for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?El Roi can be translated as the God who see’s. In order to understand why Hagar calling God El Roi is so powerful, let give you a little context.I don’t know if you have ever felt in a place like God abandoned you. Maybe in a place where you feel forgotten? Maybe in a place where you have been stuck asking the question, “God,where are you in all of this?” In short, you find yourself in a place you didn’t expect to be in. I know I sure have.This is how Hagar must have felt as she was running from Sarai in Genesis 16. You may know the story. Abram and Sarai are having a hard time getting pregnant, so Sarai tells Abram to go get the servant girl Hagar and have a child with her. So Abram says, “OK!” So he calls the servant girl Hagar and within a moment she goes from a servant of Abram to a wife of Abram. She gets pregnant and Sarai now starts looking at her differently and starts treating Hagar so badly that she runs away.This is where we find Hagar in Genesis 16. On the run from Sarai…pregnant….all alone. She had to have know about God being in Abraham’s home, but I’m not sure if she really knew God quite yet. She must have wondered if God really cared about her situation. If God really cared about her. If God really saw her. And it’s in this place of where we read in Genesis 16:7 CSB.The angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.Let me give you some good news & some tough news we learn from the story of Hagar:The good news is that our God is a seeking God!She was running and the angel of the Lord found her. Let us never forget that we serve a God who is a seeking God! Hagar could try to run from Sarai, but she couldn’t outrun the presence of God.So that’s the good news. Now the tough news…The tough news is that submission comes before God’s blessing.In other words obedience comes before blessing. The angel of the Lord shows up and gives Hagar some very interesting instructions.“The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” 9 The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”Genesis 16:9-10 CSBGod says go back to Sarai, submit, and then I will bless you. I read this and was so confused. Why in the world would God tell Hagar to go back to a place where she was being mistreated and SUBMIT. Well, maybe just maybe God knew that the direction Hagar was headed in was going to cause her more harm than good. Maybe he knew that she couldn’t make it through. Maybe God, the God who see’s, knew that it was better for Hagar to be in a God fearing home rather than to return to her homeland of Egypt where everyone worshipped false Gods. Maybe God does really know better than we do!God tells Hagar to go back and submit. We don’t like that word submission in America. The idea of purposely giving up control over a situation and give someone authority over my life?! Yeah right! A great lesson we learn from Hagar though is this:“Before you can submit to the people AROUND YOU, you need to submit to what God is doing where He has placed YOU.”God tells Hagar go back to where you came from. That He was not finished with what He was doing in you there yet. What a reminder that the God who made us knows our greatest need in the time of a trial is to learn to submit to His ways.I found this in a commentary from Steven J. Cole and though it was so good:“Some people never grow in the Lord because they have a habit of running from difficult situations where He has put them for their training. They had problems with their parents as teenagers, so they rebelled. They get a job and have problems, so they quit. They get married and have conflict, so they walk away from it. They seek counseling, but they don’t like what the counselor tells them, so they either quit or else look for a counselor who agrees with them. They join a church, but can’t get along with the people or don’t like something, so they find another church. But guess what? They discover that the new church has the same problems.”One of the toughest realities I have learned over the past five years is that if God wanted you to be somewhere else you would be. If He wanted you to be done with a situation you would be done with it. I mean, think about it, He’s the same God who shut the mouths of the lions in the lions den. Don’t you think He can pull you out of a situation if He wanted to? I’m not saying that God causes everything, but nothing happens that catches Him off guard or that is out of His eyesight. After all, He is the God who See’s & the God who see’s all is the God who See’s you!It was after Hagar submitted to God’s plan that she declared“So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,”[f] for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?”Genesis 16:13 CSBIt’s often in our greatest trials when we finally learn to submit to God’s greater plan that He will in turn reveal to us a little more about the greatness of Who He really is.
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Pastor Moy Mendez:
Title: Who told you?
Verse: Genesis 3:11 “”Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
Thesis: Adam and Eve were used to walking with God in the morning and hearing His voice. Once they sinned, a new reality materialized. The voice that once brought them comfort, confidence and congruence was replaced by with half-truths, which led to shame and guilt.
Devotion: I once read a quote on a t-shirt that said, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail” It really set me back to think long and hard, especially as I began to dream of the MANY things I would do including: traveling with my family to every continent in the world, speaking Chinese, Russian and Arabic, playing my violin with the worship team on Sundays, creating non-profit business in Chicago that would develop entrepreneurs in the marginal parts of the city.
The possibilities seemed grand until one word creeped into the stratosphere of my consciousness. That word was NO. Once word collapsed the lofty idea of exploring the world and my potential. The bigger question is; where did the word come from? Who told me? Better yet, who is telling you that fulfilling your dreams is impossible? We do not have to start with dreams, let us start with basic goals most Christians desire, such as; spiritual maturity, deep character, financial freedom, weight loss, healthy relationships, breaking bad habits, etc. Who is telling you NO? Who told you?
By no means am I saying that your entire dreams will come true in 2018. I understand that there may be practical areas we need start with before launching our full potential. My objective is to help you think about the origin of your negative voices and to guide you to what God is saying. The negative words your hearing might not even be coming from Satan, but possibly a past failure or someone who spoke negatively. We might just be in dire need of habit formation. All these are valid, but are you aware of who is at the helm of the voices you chose to accept? Are you allowing God to speak into your life on a daily basis?
Conclusion: 2018 will be a year I will chose to allow God’s word to shape my life. I might not travel around the world with my family or speak many languages, but I do know one thing – If I knew I could attempt to do anything and not fail, I would live by God’s word because He never fails!
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Pastor Micah Remington:
In a nutshellBecome so close to God that you can recognize the sound he makes, the voice he has.
- Me– Sounds I recognize
- What sounds do you recognize that you associate with certain people, places or things? When I was a kid, I could always recognize sound of my mother’s voice, even from far away in a store. When she both was calling me to dinner AND when I was in trouble! Especially when I was in trouble!
- We– Sounds we all can recognize
- we all have the ability to associate sounds with specific things. Doorbells, ringtones, dogs barking are just examples.
- God- Genisis 3:8- Intimacy knows the SOUND
- Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
- You–My hope for you
- This year my hope for us is that we would become so intimate with God that we would recognize the voice, the sound of God has when he is moving. That we would know the voice of the Lord when he wants us pray for someone, to reach out and love on others, to even step out and do miracles.
John 10:27-28King James Version (KJV)-27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me
- The bible says that we can not only hear his voice, but that he KNOWS when we hear him and then we are to FOLLOW him
- When you hear his voice, he is not just loving, but instructional. He wants to lead us to green pastures, through deserts and promised lands and to people who need him
- We- How
- During this remainder of these 21 days of fasting and prayer, here are some important things to remember!
- LISTEN-Don’t just fast, but LISTEN. Listen for the sound of the voice of God
- ASK-Don’t just listen but ASK for God to speak to you in a greater way!
- FOLLOW-Then be ready to FOLLOW what he is saying to you. Whether it be as simple as praying for someone, going on a mission’s trip or just knowing the the loves you
- What would our lives look life if we could recognize the sound of the Holy Spirit when he moves in such an intimate way that we moved when he moved? It is possible!
I left my house about 5:20 Sunday morning and didn’t get back until about 8pm, so I was too wiped out to post last night (it was a good tired!) Here’s why:
This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Pastor Brent McQuay:
Today as we enter week number 2 of our 21 days of prayer and fasting we are also celebrating the life of an incredible man, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. While the sad reality of life in this country is that we still haven’t fully achieved his dream, we have made large strides towards reconciliation and I love being a part of a multicultural church that strives to bring people together regardless of skin color to worship God. While Reverend King’s statement that “the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning” may still be true in a lot of places, it isn’t true at CLC.
But this morning I don’t want to encourage you with Reverend King’s statements on race relations, it’s actually his wisdom when it comes to faith that I want to leave you with.
King once said that “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Today as you begin this second week of prayer and fasting I want to encourage you to step out in faith today. Pray with a stranger, share the gospel with a neighbor, invite a coworker to church with you. Whatever you have been holding back from God, whatever fear has been keeping you from stepping out in faith take the first step today. You don’t have to have a plan for steps 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, just start with that first step and trust that God, the architect of it all, has a beautiful staircase for you to walk up.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ERV)
5 Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. 6 With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.
Every step you take in faith trust the lord completely. Let go of the worries and the fears and keep moving forward.
I’ll leave you with one last quote from Reverend King
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
No matter how you feel in this fast, maybe you quit somewhere during that first week, today is a new day and a new opportunity for you to jump back in, to keep moving forward, to keep taking that next step in faith trusting that at the end of these 21 days you will be closer to God than at the start. Maybe you can’t fly, maybe you can’t run, but you can keep putting one foot in front of the other taking one step of faith at a time. Whatever you do don’t stop, keep moving forward
Love you guys, happy fasting, we will be back tomorrow at 6am for more but in the mean time why don’t you let us know your favorite Reverend King quote or what this day means to you below.
This is a guest post from our Hammond Campus Pastor Taylor Hamstra:
Luke 11: 5-10
5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.[a]
9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
Have you ever felt like God wasn’t hearing your prayers? Have you ever felt like God was just annoyed by your persistence in that same prayer request? I know I sure have. I think we all get to the place in our prayer lives where we ask the question of, “God are you hearing me?” Or, “God, why is this taking so long?!”
In Luke 11 the Bible clearly tells us to keep knocking, to keep asking and the door will be open to you. One of the biggest prayers I prayed took many years for God to answer, but it was through the of me asking and praying that He taught me how to not only pray without ceasing, but to understand that He is a good father and in His time He will give us the desires of our hearts.
My parents fell into a trap and became alcoholics in my teenage years of life. It wasn’t always the easiest journey as there where lots of ups and downs. At the time I didn’t understand who God really was so I became angry and I didn’t always direct my attention in a positive way. It wasn’t until I began my journey with the Lord. I was 24 years old when I gave my life to christ and the more I grew the more I could intercede on behalf of my parents. I prayed shameless persistence prayers for them, invited them to church and had many talks about who God was. Although it took time for the Lord to answer my prayers I never stopped or gave up on the fact that one day my parents would become sober. You see in the waiting God is teaching us and molding us into the people He wants us to be. What if I would have stopped praying? What if I would have just given up on my parents? I could never imagine and I could not sit here an joyful and gratefully tell you today that this year my parents will be sober for 7 years.
Today I just want to encourage you to never stop asking. The Lord hears you heart, and sees your tears. Nothing goes unnoticed by our daddy and if we just go to him with constant, shameless persistence (without embarrassment) He will give you the desires of your heart.
Father, today we come boldly before you with no shame and ask you to hear our request. We know that you are a good Father who not only sees us but hears us. Today Lord we commit to shameless persistent prayers. We know Lord that praying without ceasing will shift things and break down strongholds. Thank you for hearing us and answering our prayers in your perfect timing. We love you. In Jesus name, Amen!
Today’s post is from Tinley Park Campus Pastor Rachel Jones:
Good morning CLC family! What a great day to reflect on these words, as we assemble together at our campuses.One of my favorite songs growing up in church has always been “All to Jesus, I surrender ALL to Him I freely give…I surrender ALL…” Funny thing is every time I have said this phrase, I always had something to surrender. You would think a song I have been singing since I was a child, and actively surrendering, that at some point there would be nothing left to surrender. Thank God that is not the case, if it were, I don’t believe any of us would understand our desperate need for God.I’ve learned that surrendering to the Lord is not a one time deal; however, daily I must surrender. It is a necessary act for any believer. I could probably write a whole book about surrender, but todayI want to focus on one word and that is ALL. When we sing this song, I would gather that majority of the time we are just singing and have no idea what we are actually committing to the Lord. I remember a time in my life where I was in such a desperate place, a really dry wilderness season. It. Was. Dry. I could not hear God, see Him, feel Him and I was getting really desperate. Once you have been living in the presence of the Lord, gotten to know His voice, sense His love, peace and joy all around you, you don’t ever want to let go of that.What began to lead me into this season was my self, I began to do what I wanted without God’s consent, and little by little my surrender became less and less. To my knowledge I was still surrendered, just dabbling in my own interests. I had gotten to this breaking point, where I couldn’t fake it, and it was time for a discussion with my Creator. “God, why can’t I feel you near me? Why can’t I hear your voice? Where is my once tender heart? Where are you?” It was in that moment, the Holy Spirit showed me what He was after; what He required of me. It was my surrender. This time was different from any other time, where I willingly surrendered my life to God. This time He asked me for my surrender, and not just in words, but it was specific to every detail of my life. He showed me pictures of people in my life, things, places, dreams, thoughts, ideas, how I lived my life and more. He said, I want it ALL!” God required me to surrender specific areas, areas that I never thought to give up, EVERY person in my life; I had to give up everything to Him. I had to trust Him with my WHOLE life.This is where I began to understand that my reasonable service and greatest act of worship was to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. Romans 12:1. Surrendering ALL to the Father has been the best decision I ever made. It is from that point that my life has been walked out according to His plan and it has been the greatest adventure I could ever experience. Two of my greatest examples of this surrender are Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus himself. Mary just a teenager, not knowing how she would handle being pregnant with the Son of God; would she have morning sickness, back pain; the ridicule and doubt of others, not having any idea, responded, “be it unto me as you would have it.” Some of my favorite words in the Bible. Then Jesus, the Son of God born to die, struggled with the reality of His soon coming death, responds “…not my will but Yours be done…” Everyday we have the opportunity as the creation to trust the Creator with His plan for our lives. It is everyday we must surrender to live the BEST life. Have you surrendered all to the Lord? Have you taken a moment to realize what ALL really looks like? Lets pray.Father thank you for sending your son to surrender His life, to suffer greatly, die and be raised again, so that we would have life! I ask that you help me today to surrender all of my life to you; the people, my plans, my thoughts, my attitude, and with every decision I make, help me to surrender it to you first. Thank you for your amazing love. I surrender ALL today! In Jesus name, Amen.
Today’s post is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional by Pastor Jon Jones:
I’m excited about this season of Fasting & Prayer! I’m also excited about, in conjunction with the prayer & fasting time, that we are in the series “It is Finished!” We are coming from the standpoint of, because of the fact of what Christ Jesus did for us, that there are things we need to be finished with!
I want to mention some critical things we need to be FINISHED with… and if we would be finished with them it’ll cause us to live in a new level of peace, joy & effectiveness!
1.) Be Finished with doubting God’s love! Why is that so important! When we resolve in our minds and hearts that God loves us with an unconditional, life giving, everlasting love it gives us such confidence in Him! When Adam sat and watched the enemy trick Eve, he, in that moment, felt it best to follow Eve rather than follow God… that following Eve would be better than following an ALL KNOWING, ALL CARING, ALL LOVING GOD! Eve would have never considered what the serpent said if she really believed God loved her! When we doubt His love, we start to doubt His intentions, His honesty; His faithfulness!
2.) Be finished with doubting His FAITHFULNESS! When trying circumstances come, and they will come, already have it resolved that God loves you, that He’s a Good Father, & that He’s causing all things to work together for your good! He’s the God that will NEVER leave nor forsake you! He’s the God that will not withhold any good thing from you!
We have an enemy that hates us…. Yes…. But please know that his hatred of us stems from his hatred of God! He rebelled against God in heaven. Now, on this earth, his fight is against God. John 1:1 say “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, & the Word was God.” The Word of God is Jesus! Our enemy is on an all out attack on the Word/Jesus! Notice that at the time of the 1st sin, the fall of mankind, the enemy attacked what God said! “Did God really say that?….. “That’s not the truth.” In our lives he does the same thing…. He may not use the same words, but at the end of the day he’s saying, “Did God really say that? Does He really not want you to worry… hold a grudge (you deserve to be angry…. God is a liar)…. Does He really want you to love people like you love yourself? (that takes too much work…. God had to be kidding or lying)….”
God is faithful! To you and His WORD!!!! He cannot lie! When the Word became flesh in Jesus, the enemy attacked Him/Word, even to the point of trying to use the Word against the Word! He quoted scripture out of context to get Jesus to commit suicide! Our enemy is a liar and a manipulator….
Jesus, the Word, used the Word to defeat the enemy! We MUST do the same! But we must RESOLVE today that God’s love surpasses all our understanding; that it is everlasting! Be Finished with doubting His faithfulness! Walk in peace & joy in the Holy Ghost and carry that peace & joy EVERYWHERE you go! Be FINISHED with being tricked to keep your mind concerned about yourself instead of keeping it on Him & on the people whom he died for!
(This is a guest post from Pastor Torey Goodson, and is the text of her Facebook Live devotional today)
God has been speaking to me about Prayer. In years past I’ve prayed a lot, but as I look back my prayers were more about asking God for something or to do something and more intercessory and militant. Recently I feel God has been showing me that while all of that is good and right during the course of our day, the true intent of our quiet time with Him is for relationship. It’s for intimacy with our God.
Just like in a marriage you have times when you see each other coming and going from work and busy life schedules and you chat about the necessary things, who’s picking up the kids from practice, did you get my dry cleaning, what time will you be home, etc. Then there are times when it’s more intentional like after dinner on the couch discussing bigger matters. But then as a married couple there are the intimate times that are very necessary. Times when you shut everything else out, and go behind closed doors to be together in a very personal intimate way.
Intimacy in prayer is when we expose ourselves and our hearts to God. It’s when we get close to Him,, bringing ourselves to Him, baring our very souls. We share our deepest love and desires with Him. We tell Him how we feel and we worship Him for who He is to us. But mostly we listen for His desires for us, lean in to hear His heart.
I’ve often read the bible through in a year or done some other bible reading program. Those are great programs to do. We need to read the Word. But sometimes we need to study the Word. Take a topic, a character, a chapter or verse and study it to learn. But then there are times to let God’s Spirit lead you in what you should read. Maybe that’s just the New Testament that year or just one book of the bible.
Lately I’ve been taking one or two scriptures and reading them over and over, asking the Holy Spirit to teach me what they mean. I look up words in the scripture and relate the definitions to the scripture to enhance it’s meaning for me. I simply let His spirit lead me and speak to me. I then journal this and write out my prayers.
I’ve been learning to just sit and soak in His love, listen to a worship song and repeat the lyrics to Him, and to just express my love for who He is and what He has done or is to me in a situation. It’s simply relationship, talking and listening, just being with Him.
Our minds tell us that is too simple or we aren’t accomplishing enough…the point of relationship isn’t to accomplish a certain amount of things. It’s to KNOW one another, to give of myself and to take in what I need from Him. It’s not a formula. Although when you are starting out learning to be dedicated to prayer and bible study you must be committed to a routine to establish a new habit. Then you can be free to let Him lead your time with Him.
He loves us, guys!!! He just wants you! Take the necessary steps to learn to just be with Him and commune with His heart. You will never regret the effort it takes.
Our 21-days of Prayer & Fasting is already underway, preparing our hearts for a great prophetic weekend this Friday-Sunday!
Our guest, Gary Heyes, has been ministering in the prophetic for over 30 years and currently spends much of the year serving some of the largest ministries in Asia and the Pacific.
He’ll be ministering at our Hammond campus this Friday, Jan. 12 at 7pm.
On Saturday he’ll minister at a special ordination service in Tinley Park at 5pm. (We will ordain Pastors Dan & Torey Goodson and Pastors Moy & Eva Mendez, along with our Blue Island Worship Director, Alan & Terrilyn Franklin, our Tinley Park KidsLife Director Stacy Hunter and our Missions Director,Jen McQuay.)
Sunday morning Gary will minister at all 3 services in Tinley Park (8:30 & 10am, 12pm).
Sunday afternoon he will minister at our Blue Island campus at 5pm.
Let’s come expecting to receive from the Lord!
(This is a guest post by Pastor Dan Goodson, and is the text of his Facebook Live today)
So many of us go into a new year with great intention of changing past situations, habits, with resolutions, etc.
As I reflect on 2017, I see some wildernesses and wastelands that I am ready to leave behind. How many of you can say amen to that? It’s not to say there were no good things that happened in 2017: God brought Torey and me to CLC; we have three incredible sons; five awesome grandchildren; and a beautiful home. However, there are things from 2017 we want to leave behind.
As I was praying about 2018, I was drawn to Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
That verse is something I shared with the staff at our chapel last week and I really sense it’s a verse for many of us. Here in 2018 God is going to do a new thing in our church, our staff and in each of us as individuals.
I believe there are a lot of us who have been in the wilderness or the desert and God is ready and willing to bring us out of the wilderness or bring springs of life into the wasteland. Through these 21 days of prayer and fasting, I am standing on this verse in some very specific areas.
I want to encourage any of you who have some areas in your life, whether health, finances, relationships, etc, that during these 21 days you would ask God, what are those areas and believe His word that He will do a new thing in those situations and bring you out of that wilderness and into the light or bring streams of Hope in the wasteland you have been going through.
In Romans 5 1-5, it says this:
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
No matter what the situation or situations you are going through I believe is 2018 is a year of “New Things”
Are you ready for a change to the circumstances in your life? Well, let’s keep pressing into what God has for us in 2018!
(This is a guest post by my wife, who did the Facebook Live devotional on day 2 of our fast.)
Sunday was just one of those mornings for me. Even though I was up by 5:30, I was still struggling to get out the door in time for the first service. I was whining to God about it all, complaining about this and that, when I looked up and saw the time. My prayers turned to “Oh God, oh God, oh God, I’m such a mess. I can’t get it together.” I went on this vein for a bit until I think God had enough. He quite forcibly reminded me about our sermon series, “It is finished.” Then He asked me, “What are you finished with?” Tentatively I responded in the form of a question, “I’m finished with ineffectual praying?” I sensed His nod of approval. So I sucked it up, finished getting ready, was at church on time and was present for the amazing move of God in the third service.
We are just at the beginning of our 21 days of prayer and fasting, and I want to make sure that my prayers are effective. The last part of James 5:16 tells us that, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” NKJV In other words, has great power and produces wonderful results. I’m sure that you want that for your prayers as well.
I can tell you right off what doesn’t help your prayers be powerful and produce great results…that’s whining, pleading and complaining to God. When I checked it out scripture I found that:
Doubt and unbelief (James 1:6-7)
Selfish prayers (James 4:3)
Unforgiveness (Mark 11:25)
Living in disobedience to what pleases God (1 John 3:22)
Living in disharmony with others (1 Peter 3:7, Matt 5:23-24)
Impatience (Matt 7:7-8)
All causes our prayers to be ineffective as well. I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. I’m just giving you a friendly reminder because life has a way of causing us to forget. For prayers to have great power and produce wonderful results they need to be:
And remember it really is all about God. Prayer is effective not because great people pray, or that we pray great prayers but because we pray to a great God. Find a place of intimacy with God. There in His arms you will have confidence that God is listening, that He hears and answers. Now that’s effective praying.
(This is the text of our Facebook Live devotional for day 1)
Zech. 10:1 NKJV
Timing is everything. Farmers know that. If they don’t plant at the right time, they won’t have a harvest. Baseball players know that. If they don’t swing the bat at the right time, what could have been an extra-base hit becomes an easy out. The right action at the wrong time never yields the results we want. Timing is everything.
That’s what’s so encouraging about Zechariah 10:1, when the prophet tells us to “Ask the Lord for rain In the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone.”
In other words, Zechariah says we should ask the Lord for rain at the right time, when the Lord is willing to provide that rain to help produce and insure the harvest we all want.
That’s GOOD NEWS! Are you praying today for people you love who do not yet know Jesus? This is the time that the Lord is willing to answer those prayers, for 2Peter 3:9 tells us that the Lord is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Are you praying today for a physical healing for yourself or for someone you know? This is the right time for those prayers, because in Exodus 15:26 the Lord declares, “I am the Lord who heals you!” Notice, He didn’t say, “I was the God who used to heal people” or “Someday I will be the God who heals people”, but “I am the Lord who heals!”. In fact, the KJV that I grew up with says, “I am the Lord who healeth thee” and while we don’t use that little ‘eth’ ending any more, it’s not just outdated English; that ‘eth’ at the end means this is a continuing action; i.e., He is the Lord who continues to heal people, now and forever more! And while we’re there, don’t overlook the fact that He said He is the Lord who heals you! This is a personal promise that you can claim today – so if you’re praying for healing, you’re praying at the right time!
Maybe you’re praying for wisdom today, because you’re facing some difficult decisions in this New Year. Can I encourage you that you are praying this prayer at just the right time? Because James 1:5 says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” James went on to say that we should pray that prayer in faith, not doubting. You can expect God to answer that prayer, because this is the time that He loves to give wisdom and direction to His children – and because you are His sheep, you can and do hear His voice! That’s what John 10:27 says – “My sheep hear my voice”. In the past, when I was facing difficult decisions as a pastor, I would sometimes whine that I just wasn’t hearing God’s voice and didn’t know what to do, until one day a precious saint kindly corrected me and said, “Pastor, don’t say that – Jesus said His sheep hear His voice” – and I’ve been confessing that truth ever since!
Whatever it is that you are calling on the Lord to do today, just know that this IS the season that He is hearing and answering prayer. Let’s call on Him with confidence!
There really are no words to describe the noon service, as we literally couldn’t stop the flow of worship and for only the first or second time in 28 years at CLC, I was unable to preach because the Presence of God SO filled the house….people were laid out on the floor, weeping, standing in the aisles, praising, receiving prayer….just indescribable.
When things finally settled down, I invited people to the platform if they knew God had done something in or for them during that worship breakthrough:
If this was what happened the day before the fast, just IMAGINE what we’re about to experience these next 21 days!
Here’s my final installment on what I’m fasting for the next 3 weeks, and why I encourage you to join me-
3. Fasting is a great way to grow in self-discipline!
Today at CLC I shared how important it is that we be a disciplined people. Craig Groeschel may have said it best when he said, “discipline is choosing what you want most OVER what you want now!” SELAH.
It’s also true that discipline comes from the same root as ‘disciple’ and that one of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘self-control’ – and yet, many of us have become spiritually flabby, simply because we haven’t trained our body to yield to our spirit.
That’s why I said today that we should occasionally deny ourselves things that are all right, just for the purpose of mastering ourselves! And here’s the unexpected benefit of fasting – when we can exercise our will to tell our body what and when we’ll eat, we soon are able to discipline ourselves in other needed areas as well!
I’ve known of people who wanted to quit smoking, but were unable to do so – until they fasted for a few days – then the nicotine habit was broken! Maybe your lack of self-discipline shows up in your finances or the clutter in your room or automobile – it’s quite possible that after you discipline your body through fasting, that you’ll now be able to be disciplined in those other areas as well. After all, it’s the same principle: choosing what you want most OVER what you want now!
I’m honestly excited about these next 21 days. I’m expecting to hear more clearly what the Lord will speak to me. I’m believing for some prayers that we’ve prayed to be answered as a result of our corporate fasting. In fact, I’m looking for miracles to happen as we seek Him together!
Don’t forget to text the word “PRAYS” to 555-888 in order to get our daily reminders,
CLC, let’s do this!
If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you can start there.
Here’s the second reason I’ll be fasting for the next 3 weeks & encourage you to do so, too:
2. Fasting adds urgency and passion to my prayers!
Once when Jesus finished praying, His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. (read about it in Luke 11:1-8) Please note that after He gave them a model for prayer (the one we call “The Lord’s prayer”, which really wasn’t intended to merely be repeated, but rather to use as a pattern for our prayers – but that’s another subject) – Jesus then illustrated an important key to prayer that He called “shameless persistence” or “importunity”.
He told a similar story in Luke 18 to illustrate the same point. Please understand: it’s NOT that God doesn’t care about our prayers; it’s that sometimes we don’t! We pray for things, then forget all about it. We so often lack persistence when it comes to seeking the Lord.
That’s where fasting comes in – when we are earnest enough about what we want God to do that we exercise our will-power and (in affect) say, “Lord, I want you to do this for me more than I want a juicy steak or a piece of chocolate cake or whatever food you really enjoy – we just added a measure of passion and urgency to our prayer that wasn’t there before.
Let me encourage you, as you join us on a Daniel fast (think: “no meats, no sweets”) from January 8-28 to be sure you include plenty of time for prayer – because that’s one of the best reasons for us to fast!
Check back tomorrow for reason #3 – I think it may surprise you!
No new questions were submitted this week, so I want to answer a timely one of my own: WHY are we doing a 21-day Daniel Fast? What’s the purpose or benefit of fasting?
The disciples of John the Baptist asked a similar question of Jesus (Matt. 9:14-15) and He plainly said that his disciples would fast after He departed – but WHY?
I’m not addressing the physical benefits of fasting, because they’re well-known and easily found by asking Mr. Google.
I’m going to focus on 3 spiritual benefits, which I’ll address for the next 3 days:
1. Fasting is one way that I can humble myself before God!
There are numerous Biblical passages that indicate a connection between food and pride:
You probably know the promise in 2Chronicles 7:14 that if we as God’s people will humble ourselves, He will hear our prayer, forgive our sin and heal our land. Surely our country needs our prayers and the kind of national healing that only God can bring – and the starting place for that to happen is for us to humble ourselves before Him!
I’ll give you 2 more reasons this weekend, but the fact that doing without food that we enjoy is a Biblical way that we can humble ourselves is reason enough for me to recommend to us all – let’s set aside January 8-28 as a time for fasting and prayer!
Check back tomorrow for reason #2-
Honestly, today’s NY Eve celebrations were as wonderful as any I ever recall! Here’s a quick pictorial recap:
There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m re-posting this from 2013 in the hopes that it may be helpful to some who may be considering a new church home in the new year:
One of our faithful CLC-NWI members writes, “You recently pointed to a link of steps someone should follow when leaving a church under difficult circumstances. You also faced a difficult situation with a specific denomination. I’d like to have you comment on the steps you could or did not follow and how forgiveness played a part.”
Interesting question….I honestly hadn’t thought of it in regards to my experience in leaving the denomination in which I was raised. First, here’s the link I cited before.
Now, here are the 5 actions recommended by the writer & my personal experience:
On this beautiful white Christmas in Chicago, from our home to yours, Chris and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!
May you enjoy each moment with family and may you pause to remember the real reason for this season, and give Him thanks!
And for those of you for whom this holiday this year is painful, as you are not able to spend it with loved ones that you hold dear, we pray the sweet Presence of Christ will surround you and that HIS love will make the difference for you today.
We love you!
It was a Christmas Eve to remember at each CLC campus today, with a record attendance
Best of all, PRAISE God for 10 people who prayed to receive Christ afterwards!
And, most importantly as always, there were several people who prayed to receive Christ in each service at the Tinley campus today – that never gets old!
MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!
No new questions were submitted this week, so I’m gonna ask one of my own: “what’s SO amazing about Christmas? I mean, WHY is it so important to Christians, when we don’t even know the date that Jesus was born?”
I think many people wonder about this, even if they don’t voice it aloud. And not only is it true that we don’t know the date of Jesus’ birth, but most scholars believe that it was NOT even in December, but rather would have happened during a warmer time of the year when shepherds were still tending their flocks outside. So why is Christmas such a big deal?
In brief, because GOD became a MAN. That’s the mystery and beauty that we celebrate each Christmas. Because of sin, we all needed a Savior. But a great God in heaven couldn’t reach us on earth. And a holy God couldn’t take our sin upon Himself. And a just God couldn’t just ignore the penalty for our sin. He had to become one of us.
I heard a story this week that illustrates it so well. A guy received a speeding ticket and took it to a friend who was a judge, asking him to “take care of this for me”. The judge took the ticket. A week or two later, the guy saw his friend the judge again and asked, “did you write off that ticket for me like I asked?” The judge said, “no, I didn’t write it off”, to which the friend said, “why, I thought you would take care of it for me”. The judge said, “Were you guilty of speeding? The guy dropped his head and said, “yes, I was speeding”. Then the judge said, I am bound to uphold the law, so I had no choice but to fine you for breaking the speed limit. But I came down from the bench & paid your fine myself, because I told you I’d take care of it”
At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that the great God and Creator became one of us – fully God and fully man. Jesus was born of a woman, but not by the seed of a man – HE was conceived by the Holy Spirit. He became one of us so He could take our place – take the punishment for our sin on the Cross, so we wouldn’t have to die for our sins, but could receive His free gift of eternal life. What a Savior! (Matt 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-35; Rom. 5:6-8; 1Tim. 3:16; John 10:30)
May we never forget what He did for us. I hope you’ll celebrate with us this Christmas Eve at 9am or 11am at the Tinley Park or Hammond campuses, or at 11am in Blue Island.
For the past couple of years, Pastors Sam & Taylor have led our Hammond campus to provide Christmas gifts for every child at the Carmelite home in Hammond. Actually, they’ve provided every gift the child asked for each year!
But this year they decided to step up their game and bring all of those kids to the Hammond campus for a great Christmas party where they could have food and fun and then receive their gifts.
I wish every CLC’er could have been there to see the JOY on these kids’ faces – kids who have already suffered more family trauma than many of us have experienced in our lifetime. It definitely made me PROUD of CLC and what our Hammond campus is doing!
But it also made me remember the age-old cliche’ that says, “You can’t outgive God!” as Pastor Sam shared with me that he had reserved a school bus from the Illinois Bus Company of Crestwood to transport all the kids from the home to our campus last night – BUT when the company learned what we were doing, they substituted a LUXURY charter bus to bring the kids to us AND included some Christmas gifts of their own – at NO CHARGE to us!
But that’s not all: Strack & Van Til grocers make a donation of groceries each Christmas to a non-profit in Northwest Indiana, and this week they selected CLC-Hammond!
And that’s not all: there were so many groceries (100 bags in all!) that Pastors Sam & Taylor decided to help jumpstart the Hope Center food pantry at our CLC-Blue Island campus (that’s what I call generous-hearts!), so the Carmelite kids aren’t the only ones jumping with excitement – so are our Blue Island leaders
Pastors Sam & Taylor motivated our volunteers to give their time & energy to bless these kids, but then we received the surprises, so I’ll say it again, You. Can’t. OUTGIVE. God!
Today’s question is “What does the Bible say about depression and taking antidepressants?”
Interesting questions. As to depression, while the Bible seldom uses that term, it certainly doesn’t gloss over the fact that even godly people like David and Elijah and Jonah and Job and Jeremiah and, yes, even Jesus, each experienced times of depression.
So we could say it’s normal for us to experience depression over a loss or disappointment in life – circumstances can bring on depression – but we don’t have to linger there, because of the encouragement of God’s Word (Psa. 34:18) and His Presence when we worship (Hebrews 13:15).
While I’m neither a doctor or a counselor, as I understand it, depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance, for which medication can be the appropriate treatment. I know of nothing in Scripture that would forbid someone from taking an antidepressant any more than the Bible would forbid a diabetic from taking insulin or someone with high cholesterol from taking a statin drug. Keep in mind that Jesus IS a healer, and He can heal depression just as He heals any other condition. And He specifically came to offer us victory over the ‘spirit of heaviness’ (Isa. 61:3)
I hope this helps a bit. I’m also excited to tell you that the next two Sundays at CLC (December 17 and 24) we’re going to address “How to Have Peace at Christmas” and “How to Have Joy at Christmas”. I hope you’ll join us for any service these two Sundays as we experience the ministry of Jesus!
Would you like to add to my answer? Please leave your comments below-
No, I don’t really have a crystal ball. (Don’t believe in fortune-telling!)
But I do want to keep you informed about some future events at CLC:
I can already see that FEBRUARY is going to be wonderful, but I’ll tell you about that later. Meanwhile, mark your calendar for these soon-coming events as we finish strong in 2017 and get 2018 off to a great start!
This week’s question is one leftover from our “Hot Seat” Sunday a few months ago: “If God created us each differently, and set apart many nations, then why are there so many racial issues? Even amongst “christians” who see themselves as privileged, others see themselves as victimized.”
I’m not sure I fully understand your comments, but let me try to address the core question of why there are so many racial issues. (I agree, by the way – in my limited experience growing up in the South during the 60’s, and having lived in the Midwest for almost 40 years, I have personally not seen the level of division that we seem to have in the USA today)
My short answer as to ‘why’ that’s true is John 10:10. (Bear with me; I said that’s the short answer.) From the beginning of mankind, the enemy of our soul has recognized the power of unity and has made it his business to divide us. He got Adam and Eve divided in the Garden, so that Adam accused the wife who was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (read Genesis 3:12). A few chapters later God Himself showed us the power of unity (Gen. 11:5-6) and the only way to stop man’s sinful aim was to divide them, one from another.
So at the root of all racial issues is the enemy of our soul who seeks to divide white from black, red from yellow, etc., etc., etc, ad nauseum. That’s why the real answer is not to be found in legislation, because you can’t legislate a heart-change. It’s also why Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week. It’s that the enemy is stirring fear and suspicion and hatred and division, and ONLY the heart-change that results when sinful people of ANY color surrender their lives to Christ and truly get born-again.
That’s the work of the church and we dare not ignore it.
Hope this helped a bit. Could you add to my answer by leaving a comment below? Thanks – and if you’re in the south suburbs of Chicago, I hope to see you this Sunday (Dec. 10) when we host the ministry of “Potter’s Field” at 8:30am, 10am and 12pm. Don’t be late – we’re giving them the entire service!
Well, to be technical, we’re not celebrating “marriage as an institution”; we’re celebrating OUR marriage of 45 years.
At any rate, a couple of years ago Chris told me she wanted to go back to Maui for our 45th anniversary, so we’re flying out of O’Hare this morning, bound for our favorite of the Hawaiian islands, even though we haven’t been there in 10 years or so.
I’m confident that CLC is in good hands while we’re away, so I plan to disconnect from the internet, email, and even this blog for the next 7 days, so I can focus on the beautiful blonde who has stood by my side through all the ups and downs of life since December 16, 1972.
We’ll see you on December 10 (if you’re part of the CLC-Tinley Park family) for a great Sunday with Potter’s Field. Meanwhile, the picture above is what I’ll be viewing this evening and for the next several evenings, if she’ll keep her hands off me long enough….
Meanwhile, invite a friend for December 10:
This week’s question was submitted during our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August: Has the anti-christ been revealed? And will he be before the Rapture?
Interesting question, and probably one for which there are as many opinions as there are pastors. But since you asked me, I’ll give you my opinion – since the Bible does NOT give us the answer to either question.
Now, to your questions: has the antiChrist been revealed? My answer would be ‘NO’, if you mean we can identify him today. Personally, I’m not interested in playing that game, since in the 50 years I’ve been in ministry, I’ve heard at least a dozen or so world leaders identified by someone as being the antiChrist, and none of their guesses have been correct yet!
If you mean, is the AntiChrist alive on earth today, I would say, “very possibly, maybe even likely”. Just because I can’t identify him doesn’t mean he hasn’t already been born.
Finally, will he be revealed before the Rapture? That all depends on your view of eschatology (end-time events). If you believe the Rapture will occur in the middle of a 7-year period of Tribulation OR if you believe the Rapture will take place after the Tribulation, then I would certainly guess that the AntiChrist would have been revealed prior to the rapture. If you believe, as many evangelicals do today, that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation, then I’d say there’s no guarantee the AntiChrist would be known prior to the Rapture.
Finally, if your focus is on Matthew 24:14 as mine is, you can be content to let all of those ideas unfold as they will, while our priority remains on reaching people with the Gospel!
Hope that helps a bit. Now, would you care to join the conversation by leaving your comments below?
Don’t forget to invite a friend to join us this Sunday for the kick-off of “Family Christmas”, when all first-time guests receive a free copy of Joel Osteen’s new book, “Blessed in the Darkness”!
December 10 could be the highlight of the year at CLC-Tinley Park!
Not only is the message presentation that day in all 3 services unlike anything we’ve ever done in CLC history, but Potter’s Field Ministry regularly sees hundreds of people respond to the Gospel AND has seen hundreds of marriages healed and restored!
I’ve been looking forward to this Sunday for over a year, since we first scheduled Michael & Pam Rozell as our guests. Take a look at this 3-minute video and invite your unchurched friends or those with troubled marriages to be your guest – it could change their life forever!
December at CLC really is the “most wonderful time of the year” because each Sunday in December is tailor-made for you to bring your unchurched or de-churched friends. Our “Family Christmas” sermon series at each campus includes a message that will not only challenge and impact your family, but also relate and connect with your friends. In fact, we’re expecting MANY people will come to faith in Christ at CLC this December!
And to ‘sweeten’ the deal and make it easier for you to invite your friends, we’re giving a FREE copy of Joel Osteen’s new book, “Blessed in the Darkness” to each first-time guest in December. Take a look at the Facebook ad we’re doing all month:
The only question is WHO are YOU inviting? Let’s do this!
First it was #BlackFriday. Then came #CyberMonday. Today is #GivingTuesday.
(If you haven’t heard, charities & churches have joined the digital revolution & designated today as an ‘official’ day to receive donations online.
This is not your grandfather’s Oldsmobile.
I read this morning that we’ve gotten so good at “mining data” that merchants can now predict with 87% accuracy which women in a given zip code are pregnant and what their due date is, so they can send targeted advertising to them before their baby is born!
I’m not knocking this, by the way. On an average week, more than 50% of our contributions at CLC are NOT received in the offering buckets; they’re given online via computers or smart phones or even through text messages! (In fact, we welcome your #GivingTuesday donations here today!)
What I am saying is this: we better get on board or the Church will be left behind. This week we’re targeting specific audiences with Facebook ads in hopes of drawing receptive people to CLC for the month of December. But while our world is constantly changing and we must adapt our methods as well, there’s still NO substitute for the personal touch. That’s why some of our worship leaders headed to Cook County Jail this morning, to lead worship for the inmates. It’s why our Hammond campus is providing every gift wish for every orphan at the Carmelite Home in their city this Christmas. It’s why our Blue Island campus is launching a brand new, “Hope Center” to feed and serve those who need a hand up in their community.
Would you make a difference this Christmas season? Find a need and fill it. Find a hurt and heal it. Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus in this digital age!
And when you see this ad, please ‘SHARE’ it in your social media. Thanks!
Today’s question was submitted during our ‘Hot Seat’ Sunday a few months ago: “How can the church work to help resolve growing racial tensions across the nation?”
Great question, seeing that there seems to be as much division now as I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime, and that’s saying something when you realize that I grew up in the South in the 1960’s!
I do realize it’s a complex question for which there is no quick answer, but since you asked, I’ll give my humble opinion: I think the Church (capital ‘C’) and the local church (as in CLC) can work to resolve racial tensions in two ways: by example & through intentionality.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour of the week in America, and it remains true today. I do not believe that’s because most churchgoers are racist; however, it’s obvious that most whites and blacks choose comfort over principle: they’re simply more comfortable worshipping with people who look like them.
We fight that battle every day at CLC, which is why our demographics no longer qualify us to be considered a multi-cultural church, as whites are often uncomfortable being the minority in the room. However, I still contend that it is possible for churches to set the example for our culture and it is happening in some churches around the country. Just this week I learned that one of my pastor friends has been invited to engage with governmental officials about our racial divisions simply because they learned of the outstanding example of multiculturalism at the church he pastors, and told him, “we want to see what you’ve done at your church all over our country!”
That will never happen by accident; it requires intentionality. We’ve tried to practice that at CLC by raising awareness and keeping the issue in front of each ministry leader through the years. But as I’ve also said from the pulpit many times, I believe it must go beyond our ‘corporate policy’ at CLC. It’s not enough for you to attend a multicultural church; you must become a multicultural Christian. If you don’t know what I mean by that, ask yourself, “when was the last time I had someone of another culture in my home for dinner?” It takes intentionality to build relationships with people who don’t look like you, but the benefits are SO worth it.
I’m sure there’s much more to be said, but I’m hopeful that answer is a starting point. What can you add to the conversation? Please leave your comments or questions below:
I’ve said it many times, but in my mind, THIS is the most Christian holiday of the year. I say that because our culture seems to have hijacked Easter with chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, and Christmas has obviously become the most commercialized time of the year – but Thanksgiving is, well, about giving thanks – and that’s Biblical! (See Ephesians 5:20; 1Thessalonians 5:18; and Psalm 100:4, to name just a few)
It’s also more than a day on the calendar; it’s a way of life! (It’s also a great way to counteract all the grumbling we so often do as well.)
My prayer for every person reading this post is that you will take time to do that this week – not only as worship to God, but also to express your gratitude to people in your life that you appreciate. And please don’t forget that thinking is NOT thanking! Your gratitude must be expressed to benefit God or man.
Oh, just one more thing: don’t overdo it at the table this year! The scale will thank you later-
I’ve decided I must move faster to retire all the leftover questions from our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August, so today let’s look at four different marriage-related questions
1) How do you get over the pain of infidelity?
2) How do you deal with a controlling and verbally abusive mother-in-law that lives with you?
3) How do I become a better listener when communicating with my wife? f
4) I desperately want to have another child, but my husband is against it. I pray and ask God to soften his heart. Should I continue?
Whew! I hope those brief answers were helpful. Would you care to join the conversation? If so, leave your comments or questions below.
By the way, since all 4 of today’s questions were marriage-related, let me encourage you to join us for our December sermon series at each CLC campus as we look at “Family Christmas” and try to help CLC’ers with the stresses that often accompany this special season – it’s gonna be good!
When I first arrived at our Hammond campus last Sunday, Pastor Sam told me a story that I loved! One of his former baseball teammates had promised to attend that morning, which is worth celebrating in and of itself (whenever we can bring a friend to church, it’s a good day!)
But the real story is that several years ago at the Tinley Park campus, we asked every CLC’er to write down a VIP list of people they wanted to see come to Jesus. That list of friends and co-workers became our ‘prayer list’, and we asked God to turn their hearts to Him.
How many of you know that sometimes God answers our prayers in a way that we could never have foreseen?
Sam had put Kevin on his VIP list and began praying for his salvation. Some time later, unfortunately, Kevin was involved in an automobile accident while intoxicated. Because the accident also resulted in a fatality, he was sentenced to a term in prison.
While in prison, someone shared the gospel with Kevin and began a Bible study with him. He received the Lord, and over the past couple of years has become a passionate follower of Christ. He has completed his sentence AND two years of probation and now walks with Jesus, and came to church on Sunday to thank Sam and celebrate with us!
Kevin’s story caused me to praise the Lord on Sunday, for His amazing grace!
Kevin’s story also makes me want to pray for others who are still far from God, that HE will draw them to Himself.
Maybe it’s time for us to make out another VIP list.
This December is a GREAT time to bring your unsaved friends to CLC during our “Family Christmas” series, AND I’m excited to tell you that each first-time guest in December will receive a free copy of Joel Osteen’s newest book, “Blessed in the Darkness”.
WHO will be on your VIP list?
Still answering questions from our “Hot Seat” Sunday that we weren’t able to get to in service – this week’s question is about single adults who want to get married: What should you do when you want to marry, but just can’t seem to meet anyone? Can you pray for a mate? Is that something that God sends or that you search out with his blessing?”
Great questions, especially because SO MANY single adults, both male and female, are asking those as well. Let me try to address each:
The last thing I’ll say is don’t compromise! I’ve seen so many Christians “settle” for someone that was not a strong believer or perhaps not walking with the Lord at all, out of fear that they might never marry. Trust me, almost everyone I know in that category soon regretted their decision. Better to be single and serve the Lord, than to be married and miserable!
I hope this helps. My heart is touched by the many godly men and women I know who sincerely want to be married, but remain single, and I pray for anyone reading this post that God would answer your prayers for a godly mate soon!
Would you care to join the conversation? Leave a comment below, or add a question of your own for a future “Ask the Pastor” post.
Believe it or not, I’m still answering questions left over from our ‘Hot Seat’ Sunday back in August. Today’s question is “Why do some people believe in ‘generational curses’?
Good question. My simple answer is “because they’re real”. Let me explain:
However, let me just as quickly add that we are no longer under the curse of the Old Testament! Galatians 3:13-14 make it quite clear that Jesus took our curse upon Himself at the Cross and He defeated the Curse of sin for us!
In other words, no matter what sins are in your family’s history, the blood of Jesus has power over them all. If you suspect that certain tendencies toward sin or addictive behavior have been passed on to you or your children, as a child of God you can renounce those sins and appropriate the shed blood of Christ for your family. What was handed down, even for generations, can STOP with you!
I hope this was helpful, even though a thorough explanation would require more detailed teaching than this post would allow. Would you care to add your thoughts, or even ask a question of your own? If so, leave a comment below-
That’s it for 2017 – but we’re already making plans for bigger & better in 2018 – maybe YOU should go with us!
Gonna grab a few hours of sleep before a 2am wake-up call to get to the airport for our 4am flight – can’t wait to see all of you soon!
This is the longest missions trip Chris and I have ever taken from CLC, and as much as we’ve enjoyed each moment of ministry in Cambodia and the Philippines, I don’t think we’ll ever take such a long trip again. We left Chicago sixteen days ago, but this morning we are homeward bound!
We’re grabbing a 4am flight from Davao to Manila (that’s 3pm Tuesday in Chicago), then connecting with a flight to Tokyo where we catch the long trans-Pacific flight to LA, and finally a flight that should get us to O’Hare early Wednesday evening. Whew!
If we catch a break, we hope to see some of you Wednesday night at CLC; if not, I definitely can’t wait for SUNDAY when we kick-off our November series, “Made for Worship”!
There. are. no. words. This second annual CLC Convention for all 14 campuses in the Philippines was SO good, I’m determined to bring a whole bunch of CLC’ers next year so you can see firsthand what God is doing here!
We have one more day for this Convention and then all five of us from Chicago will be headed home on Wednesday. Stay tuned for the final update-
We left our hotel at 9am today and didn’t get back until a few minutes after 9pm – but it was a WONDERFUL 12-hour day of ministry here!
Four years ago Pastor Herley sent Jeser & Aying to Tagum, a city of almost 300,000 people located about an hour-and-a-half drive from Davao City, to plant a CLC campus. Starting with just their family, they have grown to more than 200 people now, and they recently moved into a beautiful facility inside a shopping mall, where we expect their growth to accelerate!
Since our Missions Director (Jen) and two of our Campus Pastors (Brent & Sam) joined us here in Davao, we ALL had opportunity to serve the Davao City church today, and the Presence of God worked in each services, as these pictures tell the story:
Can’t wait for all 14 CLC campuses to come together tomorrow for our 2-day CLC-Philippines Convention!
If you attend ANY service at ANY CLC campus today, please leave a comment below – we miss everyone there and would love to know how things are at home!
Or should I say, Mr. & Mrs. Lumagsao?
One of the most wonderful and yet surprising benefits of our relationship with CLC-Davao is that many of the leaders really get into our hearts. Today Chris and I had the privilege of helping to officiate the wedding of Erik Lumagsao and Loren Joy Bumanlag. Erik spent a year with us in Chicago as part of our EnTheos Leadership School/internship, and we’ve grown to love Loren Joy through our many trips to CLC-Davao.
Enjoy a few pics of their wedding:
Tomorrow will be a full Sunday, as Pastors Brent & Sam will preach the 10am and 2pm services at CLC-Davao for Pastor Herley, while Chris and I will travel to CLC-Tagum to minister and also to ordain Pastors Jeser & Aying Molina there, before returning to Davao to preach the 4pm and 6pm services. If I have any energy left, I’ll post some more pics then-
Several days ago on my blog, I was asked by a young man who serves in the children’s ministry of CLC-Davao how we train our teachers at CLC-Chicagoland, and after getting permission from his pastors, we offered to do a training seminar here.
I use “we” very liberally, as I basically took 5-10 minutes to tell the Davao team how important it is for us to reach children and then gave the floor to my wife, who has over 30 years of experience in ministry to children, and she taught the seminar.
The good news is that our daughter, Jen, finally arrived tonight, after several hours delay – since she’s a bridesmaid tomorrow at the wedding of Erik Lumagsao and his fiancee’ Joy. I’ll keep you posted with lots of pics.
I’m still answering questions we didn’t have enough time to cover during our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August, and today’s question is a biggie: “what does the Bible say about women in ministry?”
Excellent question – one that’s been hotly debated in different church circles for years, and that I’ve answered several times through our history at CLC.
Let’s start with what I know: the Bible never contradicts itself. NEVER. Never, ever! Otherwise, it loses its authority and we are left without a rudder – we simply wouldn’t know what to believe.
And since I know that the Bible never contradicts itself, I personally don’t see any way that 1Timothy 2:11-15 (or the only other passage in Bible that seems similar, 1Cor 14:34-35) could possibly mean what some have interpreted it to mean; i.e., that ministry or leadership positions in the New Testament church are reserved for men only.
I say that because there are so many other references in Scripture to women who obviously ministered publicly: John 4:39; Exodus 15:20; 2Kings 22:14; Acts 18:24-26, Acts 21:9; Romans 16:1-2, Romans 16:7; Joel 2:28 w/Acts 2:17-18.
Think of women in the Old Testament who influenced nations, like Deborah and Esther. Or how about the “ministering women” who defied the custom of the day in Palestine to follow Jesus, and their names have been recorded for us as a memorial of them. (Luke 8:3; 24:10). These women were among the last at the cross (Matt 27:55-56) and the first at the His tomb! (Mark 16:1-2)
Personally, I’m convinced that Gal 3:28 makes it clear: women can fulfill any ministry that a man can fill. In fact, my experience in ministry over the last 43 years tells me that the real issue is usually gender-bias or male chauvinism! And in my mind, the only thing worse than human prejudice is when we try to use Bible to justify it.
I’ll get down from my soapbox long enough to try to address the specific passage you asked about – 1Tim 2:11-15, and I can tell you that ‘silence’ in verse12 is the same Greek word as ‘quiet’ in verse 2. According to Greek scholars, it does NOT denote a verbal quiet, but a quiet as in peaceful. (I’m not a scholar, but I’m told that there are 2 Greek words, one which indicates ‘tranquillity arising from without’, and this one, indicating ‘tranquility arising from within; meaning, ‘causing no disturbance to others’, and this word was also used in 1Pet 3:4, so it is often associated with ’meek’, to characterize the spirit or disposition of a person.
Finally, IF that one verse of Scripture is to override all the rest of the Bible and truly forbids a women to minister publicly, then why has God blessed so many women in ministry through the years, including just a few that I’ll list here:
Sorry to wax eloquent on this subject, but I do feel passionately about how the Church has oftentimes gone into battle with one hand tied behind our back as it were, because of a refusal to allow women to fulfill the calling that God has placed upon their life to minister, simply because of their gender.
I do understand the authority that God has delegated to the husband in his household and the principle of men in leadership even in the Church. But as I’ve explained in the past about our ministry here, my wife is not “usurping” authority at CLC; I have given it to her, knowing that God has gifted her to pastor here alongside me. In addition, we sometimes invite other women pastors and leaders to minister here, including Pastor Sarah Bowling, who will minister at our upcoming Women’s Conference, Living the Dream” this November 17-18 (plus stay over for Sunday, November 19 and speak at all 3 services in Tinley Park that day)
Hope this helps a bit. Would you like to join the conversation or submit YOUR question below?
Chris and I will head to the Phnom Penh airport at 6am local time (6pm Wednesday in Chicago) for the first of three flights that will eventually get us into Davao City, Philippines late tonight.
When you look at a globe or world map, it would seem a simple hop to get from Cambodia to the Philippines, but it doesn’t work that way. We’ll be traveling for about 14 hours (including some short layovers) as we fly from Phnom Penh to Singapore, then from Singapore to Manila and finally from Manila to Davao City.
Then the fun begins on Friday night – I’ll keep you posted on the last assignment of this SE Asia missions trip-
We had WiFi issues at the hotel last night, so I was unable to post about the first day of our EQUIP seminar at New Life Fellowship. Of course, this is the primary assignment that brings us to Cambodia every six months, and the attendance this time was the largest I recall in our years of coming here. Pastor Jesse said there were some very influential people in the crowd this time, including heads of NGO’s and Cambodian ministries and senior pastors.
It’s a long day of teaching, from 8:30am to 5:00pm, but Chris makes it FUN along the way with her object lessons and illustrations and even some giveaways for the students:
Today was a real rarity for us on a missions trip – it was actually a day off! We spent the morning relaxing in the hotel, joined Pastors Jesse & Soar for lunch and some window shopping at Phnom Penh’s newest mall (which surpasses anything in Chicagoland) and mostly enjoyed their fellowship.
Tonight I gave a brief message to graduates of their Cambodian Leadership Institute before the students received their diplomas. As you look at the faces of these graduates, pray that God will use them to fulfill the special work to which they are called (Acts 13:2; Col. 4:17)
Tomorrow will be a long day of teaching for EQUIP, as hundreds of leaders from all over Cambodia will join us at New Life Fellowship for some of John Maxwell’s “Laws of Leadership”
Thanks for the prayers!
It’s always GREAT to be in service at New Life Fellowship, and today was certainly no exception. They had just moved into their new building when we were here about 6 months ago – actually hadn’t even had their Grand Opening at that time – and they’ve added over 400 people to the church family since that time!!!
Tomorrow is a national holiday here, so we can’t do the EQUIP seminar until Tuesday, but we’ll spend the day consulting with Pastors Jesse & Soar. More later-
P.S. If you attended any service of CLC at any campus today, please leave a comment below – I’d love to know how you were ministered to at home today!
His Excellency, Mr. Ly Chheng, Founder & President of Beltei International University, the most prestigious university in Phnom Penh, is always so gracious to invite us to teach leadership principles for students & faculty of his school-
It was a special joy at the end of the day to present an autographed copy of Dr. John Maxwell’s latest book to H.E. Mr. Ly Chheng and the Vice-President of Beltei, his son, Navuth Ly as well.
Tomorrow we’ll be ministering at the 3 services of New Life Fellowship for our friends and hosts, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – stay tuned for more reports from our Sunday in Cambodia-
All in all, I think it was the largest number of students & faculty we’ve ever taught in our 4 visits to Beltei over the past few years. We’re starting to know some of the faculty members by name, and it’s a privilege to sow seeds about leadership from the Bible in this predominantly Buddhist nation!
It was a special joy at the end of the day to present an autographed copy of John Maxwell’s latest book to H.E. Mr. Ly Chhen and the Vice-President of the school, his son, Navuth
I can tell you more about Day 2 of our Cambodian trip later, but the most important news is the BAGS have arrived! All 3 pictured above, including (perhaps) the most important one containing all of Chris’ teaching supplies, student giveaways & gifts for our friends!
Thanks for praying – we can now sleep well, use deodorant & wear clean undies!
I’m still answering questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August, and today’s question is “How do we reconcile the Trinity and Jesus-only doctrines? Or is it even necessary?”
In over 27 years as pastor of CLC, I’ve taught on the ‘Godhead issue about two or maybe three times, and what I’ve said each time is that, in my humble opinion, the debate between the ‘oneness’ view and the ‘trinitarian’ view is a matter of semantics. I was raised and spent the first 22 years of my ministry in the Oneness camp, and during that time, plus the last 27 years at CLC I’ve listened carefully to Trinitarian views, and I have yet to hear any Christian leader truly disagree about the Biblical truth that there is only One God.
Folks from my background described that One God by using the term ‘manifestations’ while Trinitarians use the word ‘persons’, but at the end of the day, both believe that the One True God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At CLC (and this is what I’ve said each time I’ve taught on this subject) we have chosen not to divide the Body of Christ over this issue. Personally, I wonder how much more good would have been accomplished through the years had this issue not caused a division in the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900’s, and instead both ‘camps’ would have worked together!
I hope this helped a bit. Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor? Just leave your questions or comments below-
Tonight we taught part 1 of a Marriage Seminar at New Life Fellowship in Phnom Pehn for our dear friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – and it was a blast, despite all the difficulties we’ve had in getting here. (In short, it took us about 54 hours to get from our house to the hotel here, and none of our bags made it, so we were wearing the same clothes for 3 days)
The auditorium was PACKED tonight, and about half of those in attendance were young single adults, who were hungry for every principle we taught about marriage! That’s one of the reasons we love coming to Cambodia – these folks are hungry for God’s Word!
Pray with us that our bags arrive soon – we not only need medications and clothing, but all of our teaching tools and giveaways were packed in the checked luggage, too. I’ll keep you posted going forward-
P.S. As of Thursday night, our bags have been located in Singapore and should be at our hotel by 9am Friday morning in Chicago, which means we’ll have what we need for our seminar at the University! Thanks for the prayers!
I’ve always believed in the power of prayer, but this missions trip, we experienced it first-hand.
If you haven’t heard, we left O’Hare last night on schedule without a hitch for the first few hours of flight. Then the captain announced that there was a ‘problem’ and that we were being diverted to Salt Lake City, instead of San Francisco.
I soon noticed that the plane went straight for landing, much quicker than normal, and when we landed there were all sorts of emergency vehicles on the runway following us as we taxied to the gate.
Still not sure of what all was going on; we were told there was a pungent odor in the rear of the aircraft as though something was burning.
Of course, we missed all our connections, and as I type this, we’re still not sure how or when we’ll get to Cambodia – but in spite of all the frustrations of last night, Chris and I are alive – and this is one time the outcome could have been considerably different.
So don’t take it for granted when I say, please pray for us!
And thank God for all of you who do!
I’m typing this at O’Hare airport, where Chris & I are waiting for the first of three flights (Chicago to San Francisco, San Francisco to Singapore, Singapore to Phnom Penh) that will get us into Cambodia by Wednesday morning, their time (about 10pm Tuesday in Chicago).
We’ll be there for our semi-annual assignment with EQUIP to teach leadership principles to university students & faculty, business leaders and church leaders from around the country, as well as doing a Marriage Conference for New Life Fellowship and our dear friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul!
I should have internet once we arrive, so I’ll keep you posted on our ministry there. Thanks so much for your prayers while we’re away!
We’ve now concluded the N2 International Dinners at each CLC campus and dozens of CLC’ers have already signed-up to go on one of the 8 missions trips we’re offering in 2018 – receiving a 10% discount in the process.
But this morning we felt like extending that generosity to those of you who may want to GO, but for whatever reason you weren’t able to attend one of the dinners or complete your application and put down the required $100 deposit at that time.
So from now through next Sunday, October 22, if you complete your application and submit your deposit, you, too will receive a 10% discount on the total cost of your trip(s).
To make it really easy, you can even access the application online here and pay your deposit online!
This offer will not be repeated after October 22, so take advantage NOW!
I’m still working on questions from our ‘Hot Seat’ Sunday that we didn’t have time to answer. This week I’ll tackle two:
As I understand Scripture, no Christian has to worry about “losing” their salvation, because God has promised that HE will keep us from falling (Jude 24) and that no one can pluck us out of his hand (John 10:28-29)
However, I also understand that Scripture indicates we have a free will of our own, and I do believe that we can choose to walk away from God’s grace and forfeit our salvation.
This is a hotly-debated subject among Christians for many, many years, and I’m not likely to resolve it in this post. If you want to look into it further, I have written about it here.
This expression is used in 2Corinthians 12, and Paul said it was a messenger of Satan to torment him. Even though he asked the Lord three times to take it away, God told him that His grace would be sufficient for him to bear that thorn.
Ever since then, Bible students have wondered exactly what that ‘thorn’ might have been. Some have suggested it was a problem with his eyesight, as could be intimated from Galatians 4:15 and Galatians 6:11, thinking that his vision was so bad that he had to write very large letters in order to see what we wrote.
The bottom-line is that no one knows what his thorn in the flesh was, and I think that’s on purpose – because each of us also have weaknesses and challenges, and just as God promised Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you”, so we also can take hope and courage that His grace will be sufficient for us, no matter what our issue may be.
I hope this helps. Would you like to add to my answers? If so, please leave a comment below, or perhaps even a question of your own for a future ‘Ask the Pastor’ post.
Let’s look at 3 similar questions that we didn’t have time to answer during our “Hot Seat” Sunday – all 3 are great questions because many believers are in this same situation:
First, I recommend that you pray. Sincerely. Earnestly. Recognize that YOU cannot change the heart of your spouse, but God can. After you have invested time in real prayer, when you sense the time is right, then talk. Not in a heated, emotionally-charged discussion, but in a logical, reasoned manner – explaining to your spouse how important your faith is to you, and how important you feel it is to your relationship. Seek to understand why your spouse has walked away from the Lord. Once you understand why, you may be able to help. If not, then seek counsel. Hopefully, your spouse will receive the helpful counsel from your pastor or a trusted counselor. I pray that this helps and that your spouse will return to walk with the Lord – keeping in mind James 5:20
Honestly, my heart goes out to any believer who is in an “unequally yoked” marriage, meaning one in which your spouse is not walking with the Lord, while you are. I can’t even imagine the profound sadness of not being able to share your most important relationship of all with the person that you love and want to spend the rest of your life with. Whether your spouse opposes your faith and merely tolerates it, it hurts.
First, I hope you’ll attend our seminar at CLC-Tinley Park tomorrow (Oct. 7, at 9am) because our guest teachers have lived and work among Muslims for many years and have godly wisdom to help us reach Muslims for Christ. But for my part, I think perhaps the starting place would be for you to kindly (not in an argumentative way) explain to your husband WHY you love Jesus, and how important it is to you that your children grow up to know the Lord as you do. Hopefully, he will agree that you can bring the children to church and teach them God’s Word. But whether he does or not, I encourage you to be very intentional in living a godly life before your children, sharing your values and your heart with them regularly, so that even if their father prevents them from going to church, you are bringing church to them! The verses above also apply to your situation, and God is able to work in the hearts of your children! Never underestimate your motherly influence in their lives!
I hope that helps. If you’d like to add to my answer, please leave your comments below – or ask a question of your own.
Just a quick reminder that THIS SATURDAY (October 7), from 9am-11:30am at our Tinley Park campus we’ll host a great seminar on “Reaching our Muslim Friends”.
Since all of us have opportunities in our neighborhoods, our workplace and in school to make friendships with Muslims, this is a GREAT one-time opportunity to learn from our special guests who wrote this material after spending years working among Muslim people.
Make plans now to join us and let’s learn together!
I often tease my pastor friends that we have the “greatest job security in the world”, because people will always need a pastor, just like sheep need a shepherd.
But during this Pastor Appreciation Month, I thought it appropriate to honor the men that God has used in my life to shepherd me, from my earliest memories:
and a special thanks to the men who have walked alongside Chris and me at CLC, as our Apostolic Overseers:
and finally, my fellow-laborers at CLC through the years:
and my one and only Chris, whose dedication to God & His people never cease to amaze-
this is for you, with my love:
It will be a great 2 days for women to renew your dedication to God and His dreams for your lives, to revive those dreams and move forward into the fulfillment of God’s promises to you!
You can get more information at your Heart to Heart meetings or simply register here. Your registration fee includes all sessions on Friday and Saturday, conference giveaways, before party on Friday evening, Saturday lunch and the after party on Saturday night.
(Pastor’s are FREE)
(Now I just need to find out if us guys can sneak in)
I’ve heard a few stories since last week’s “GENEROSITY SUNDAY” that blessed my socks off and I thought you could use a little encouragement on this Monday morning:
Generosity begets generosity! How will YOU be generous this week?
As we continue looking at questions we weren’t able to get to during our “Hot Seat” last month, let’s address two more today: “Will those who have never heard of Christ or the gospel go to hell?”
Great question that has been asked for about as long as the church has existed! Let me quickly tell you WHY I believe the answer is unequivocally, ‘YES’:
Finally, another CLC’er asks, “Is CLC primarily a mission minded church?”
Hmmmm, primarily is a very strong word, so I’m not sure that we can ‘claim’ that, but I hope it’s true of us, since the Great Commission of Jesus is definitely the primary reason for the Church to exist – otherwise, The Church of Jesus Christ would have died out in the first century. The Great Commission is the LAST instruction that Jesus gave to The Church, so it was the primary thing on His mind. My greatest desire is that CLC would always be a missions-minded church!
To that end, we’re starting our “N2 (neighbors & nations) series” this Sunday, with special guests from Costa Rica (Bruce Crawford speaking at our Blue Island campus), the Philippines (Herley Montes speaking at our Hammond campus) and Nigeria (Chinedu Oranye speaking at our Tinley Park campus). It’s going to be a great kick-off Sunday and I hope you’ll plan to join us!
Hope that helps a bit. Would you like to add to my answers by leaving a comment below?
I’m excited about our next sermon series, “N2 – Neighbors & Nations” as we focus on the mission of CLC, not only in the Nations, but also here in Chicagoland.
One of the wonderful benefits of living in the third-largest city in America is that the Nations have already come to us! CLC currently has about 40 different nations represented in our church family, and certainly many more nationalities in our jobs and our neighborhoods.
That’s why I’m pleased to announce that on Saturday, October 7 from 9am-11:30am we will be offering a special seminar, “Reaching Our Muslim Friends”. Often times we’re not sure how to begin a conversation with people of another religious background, but this seminar will give us the tips and tools to get started.
The seminar is taken from a larger resource, The Oasis Course, and will be presented at CLC by our friends, Chinedu & Taiwo Oranye, who served the Muslim community as missionaries in Oman for several years.
Mark your calendar and make plans to join us on October 7!
I’m still answering questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday last month, and these 2 may help people: “Are those who die in infancy saved?”
Great question, because for anyone who has lost a child in death, besides the immediate sorrow and heartbreaking pain, is that eternal concern: is my baby in heaven?
It would be easy for me to just answer this question from sentimentality, and say, ‘of course infants go to heaven, because God is good and surely all innocent babies go to heaven’ – but sentimentality is not a Biblical reason. Many people today, even Christians, entertain a very dangerous and false teaching known as universalism, which simply says everyone will go to heaven. But the Bible does NOT teach that. Scripture teaches that we are born into sin and that we must receive Jesus as our Savior in order to be saved.
However, I believe the Bible also teaches that infants who die ARE saved, for these reasons:
Yes, I believe infants and small children who die are in heaven with our loving Savior!
The second question is “where are our loved ones who died in Christ”?
I am convinced by Scripture that those who died in Christ are with the Lord – 2Cor. 5:1-8 and Phil. 1:21-24 both indicate that when we leave this life, we are immediately with the Lord – if we are believers, that is – those who did not receive Christ before death will await their final judgment in hell.
I hope this helped a bit. If you’d like to add to my answers, or perhaps ask a question of your own, please leave a comment below-
And don’t forget that THIS SUNDAY at each CLC campus is Generosity Sunday as we bring a great close to our ‘Moneywise’ series-
We’ll be headed to the airport in a couple of hours, feeling quite fulfilled in this ministry assignment – but can’t wait for this “Generosity Sunday” at each campus of CLC – it’s going to be a GREAT close to our “Moneywise” series – hope you’ll bring a friend!
We have two more sessions tomorrow afternoon and evening before heading back to the airport for the first of three flights that will get us home on Thursday afternoon. Thanks for your prayers – we feel it’s going very well based on the responses from these precious pastors!
We always insist on our CLC missions trips to include one “fun day” for the team to do some sightseeing or local activities – but when Chris and I travel for missions, we seldom practice what we preach. But this trip is an exception, and today was our fun day before the ministry begins tomorrow. (It would have been more fun had we checked the weather forecast this week instead of last week. We packed nothing but long-sleeved shirts only to get here and discover that the forecast had changed and high’s are in the 90’s for our entire stay!) Oh well, the joys of international travel.
But what was fun was our 11-hour excursion that enabled us to see practically the entire Crimean peninsula and some breathtaking views of the Black Sea, as well as a delicious lunch with our friends here. But the highlight was a visit to Livadia Palace, the site of the Yalta Conference.
It’s past our bedtime now and we’re fighting jetlag to boot, but if you’re not familiar with the Yalta Conference, read about it here. It was neat to be at the site of some US & World history and we even got a picture to prove it:
We took lots more pictures, but it’s late and we have a full day of ministry tomorrow, with a marriage seminar at a local church added to the schedule unexpectedly – that’s another rule of missions trips: always be flexible.
I’ll post again tomorrow-
Well, we made it to Zurich without any complications, so I’m typing this post while we wait for our flight to Moscow. Here are some questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday:
“If the church is set up to be a “community” and we all serve to fulfill the need for reaching people, then why do people always expect to get paid for “volunteer” work?”
While this is a valid question, it’s not one that Scripture addresses directly, so I’ll give you my opinion in just 2 words: human nature. All of us are born into this world with the nature of our father Adam, and as much as I hate to admit it, we are inherently selfish. So it only stands to reason that IF we walk by our fleshly nature, we don’t want to serve, we want to be paid.
My suggestion is that instead of judging others in the church who don’t live up to our expectations that we live by Romans 14:10, 13 instead.
Someone else asks, “So as a new employee, how do you handle back stabbers, sabotagers at work, when your boss refuses to intervene?”
I’m guessing that’s a question that almost every believer in the workplace has asked at one time or another. Again, the Bible doesn’t address this particular question directly, but I’ll give you my thoughts:
Finally, a CLC’er asks, “Should pastors of “mega-churches” be rich and live excessive lifestyles or should the bulk of that wealth, if earned through ministry, go back to the church?”
Honestly, from the tone of this question, I suspect you’re not really asking a question, but instead passing judgment on some pastor(s) that you don’t agree with. The only thing that I would contribute to this discussion is a warning as to how dangerous it is for any of us to assume anything about others. For example, both Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, to name just two “mega-church’ pastors who are millionaires, refuse to take a salary from their churches and live off the royalties of their book sales. In fact, in Rick Warren’s case, after his book, Purpose-Driven Life, became so wildly successful, he paid back Saddleback Church every penny he had earned since starting the church!
Personally, I have enough to do to keep my own life in line with God’s Word, without criticizing or judging others whom I don’t even know. The whole 14th chapter of Romans again comes to mind.
Hope that helps. If you’d like to add to my answers (or disagree), please leave a comment below – or even a question of your own for another post.
Chris and I will board a Swiss Air jet in a few hours for an overnight flight to Zurich, then another flight to Moscow, and finally an S7 Airways flight to Simferopol, Crimea. This will be our first visit to Ukraine (or what was a part of Ukraine before being ‘annexed’ by Russia a few years ago).
We’re looking forward to a reunion with several pastor friends from the Perm, Russia region who will help us conduct a pastor’s retreat for some faithful Crimean pastors who have labored in very difficult circumstances.
We DO love these Russian pastors after several previous visits to various parts of their country, so please pray that we can both encourage and challenge the Crimean pastors in fulfilling their ministry. I’m not sure we’ll have internet access while there, but I’ll certainly try to keep you posted if we do.