Breaking news about September 15 with Bishop Tudor Bismark…..

Bishop Tudor Bismark from Harare, Zimbabwe

Bishop Tudor Bismark from Harare, Zimbabwe

We’ve been blessed for many years by Bishop Tudor’s annual visits to CLC, and we’re looking forward to Monday & Tuesday, September 14-15 when he will minister at 7pm both nights.

However, one of our elders asked Saturday, “could we do a morning session for leaders with Bishop Tudor?”.  I wasn’t sure, but I figured ‘you have not because you ask not’, so I asked yesterday.

And Bishop said ‘yes, we can do this with pleasure’!

So in addition to the Monday & Tuesday evening services, Bishop Tudor will be teaching at 10am on Tuesday, September 15.  This will be strong meat for pastors & leaders, and you’re welcome to join us!

That’s just 2 weeks from today, and I can’t wait!

Fulfilling the Vision…..

Part of our vision at CLC is “to impact children & young families…”.  It’s really a no-brainer in my book, because unless we reach the next generation, the church will soon be extinct!

Yesterday was a demonstration of walking out our vision:

here it is

first, “Ignite”, our Student worship team led us into the Presence of God in all 3 services in TP-

Later, we dedicated 5 children (and their parents) to the Lord (and Chris had a prophetic word for each child!)

Later, we dedicated 5 children (and their parents) to the Lord (and Chris had a prophetic word for each child!)

  • But the icing on the cake was last night at “KidsLife FX” (Family eXperience)-

  • FX is our quarterly production for kids AND their parents/grandparents/guardians & it’s the best-kept secret at CLC.
it's

It’s 75-minutes of high-energy family fun; including family style worship, singing, crazy games, lots of drama from some amazing youth & adult actors & best-of-all, a succinct & important life principle that is communicated to the children over & over in a variety of ways guaranteed to help your child remember!”

  • For example, last night’s theme was wisdom and the principle that was repeated throughout the games, skits & fun was “wisdom: finding out what you should do and doing it”!  Isn’t that a truth that you want YOUR children/grandchildren to know & apply to their daily lives?
King Solomon had godly wisdom to impart to a couple of cowboys (well, a cowgirl & a cowboy)

King Solomon even made an appearance to impart his godly wisdom to a couple of cowboys (well, a cowgirl & a cowboy with a BIG cowboy hat)

  • Of course, we also walk out our vision for children EVERY Sunday at CLC through the ministry of KidsLife (elementary ages) and KidsLife Jr. (preschoolers) and the results speak for themselves, as we regularly hear from parents whose children insist that they bring them to CLC each Sunday!
  • If you’d like more information about volunteering to help us fulfill our vision for reaching children, email us today!

Sunday reflections

Nothing like a FAMILY SUNDAY at CLC:
Consumed Leading Worship

We dedicated 5 of the cutest babies in all of Chicagoland today!  Congrats to (L to R)

We dedicated 5 of the cutest babies in all of Chicagoland today! Congrats to (L to R)  Nichelle  & Joseph Williams with Nyla; Meagan & Michael & Deprizio with Santino; Andrea & Chuck Chambers with Blake, Rashard & Sewit McMillian with Sara AND (not pictured at far left), Gabriella & Israel Contreras with Madison.

 

My favorite moment in preaching today had to be the Beats commercial & my Bose headphones - crashing that chatterbox!

My favorite moment in preaching today had to be the Beats commercial & my Bose headphones – crashing that chatterbox!

At NWI's Family Sunday, 6-year-old Kylie Frazier got to join her mom Candice in singing praises to the Lord!

At NWI’s Family Sunday, 6-year-old Kylie Frazier got to join her mom Candice in singing praises to the Lord!

In what has to be THE MOST IMPORTANT PIC I'VE EVER POSTED, here's the pre-service prayer team at NWI today!  Thanks to ALL our intercessors at every CLC campus - we couldn't do what we do without you!

In what has to be THE MOST IMPORTANT PIC I’VE EVER POSTED, here’s the pre-service prayer team at NWI today! Thanks to ALL our intercessors at every CLC campus – we couldn’t do what we do without you!

The experiment has begun: we're now doing one Bi-lingual service at 11am in Blue Island, with Pastor William preaching in Spanish & Pastor Moy translating into English today-

The experiment has begun: we’re now doing one Bi-lingual service at 11am in Blue Island, with Pastor William preaching in Spanish & Pastor Moy translating into English today-

It sure helps the atmosphere, with an almost-full auditorium!

It sure helps the atmosphere, with an almost-full auditorium!

Afterwards the entire campus, Latino & Anglo & African-American came together for "dinner on the grounds" & some good fellowship!

Afterwards the entire campus, Latino & Anglo & African-American came together for “dinner on the grounds” & some good fellowship!

I don't know what else may have happened at our Davao City, Philippines campus today, but I do know that our own Davis & Marisa Ferreria were there! (pictured here with Pastors Herley & Nelly Montes)

I don’t know what else may have happened at our Davao City, Philippines campus today, but I do know that our own Davis & Marisa Ferreria were there! (pictured here with Pastors Herley & Nelly Montes)

  • I also know that I’m still rejoicing over precious people who prayed to receive Christ today – must have been 15-20 in the noon service alone, with others in the earlier services & at NWI today! May we never take it for granted, but always rejoice as the angels do over even ONE person who comes to repentance!

Hope you’re planning to join me tonight at 5pm for Kidslife FX:

 

Ask the Pastor

 

1

One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, In Hosea 2:22 and Joel 2:19 it mentions about God giving to the people grain, wine and oil.  What does grain, wine and oil represent in these 2 verses?  Does it mean the same in both Hosea and Joel?  I think they mean increase (grain), possession (wine) and anointing (oil) but would love to get your take on it.”

Wow…that’s one that I’ve never been asked before…and frankly, hadn’t thought about, either – so I had to do a little digging myself.  (One of the things I love about this Friday feature – questions that make me dig!)  Here’s what I got:

  • Most of the scholars that I consulted seemed to ignore the ‘grain, wine & oil’ in their focus on the meaning of the verses, but I did find a few who simply mentioned the fact that those 3 (grain, wine & oil) are the “Mediterranean triad”, the main agricultural products in ancient Israel and the major components of the ancient Israelite diet.
  • While it’s not the question you asked, I did find Hosea 2 interesting, in that the poetic language of the prophet pictures (a) Israel will cry out to the crops of grain, wine & oil  and (b) the crops will respond by calling to the earth that produces them and (c) the earth in turn will look to the heavens, the source of the rain which makes the soil productive and (d) the heavens will then call to the Lord, the One who ultimately controls the agricultural cycle; and (e) He will respond by providing the rain that is necessary for the crops to prosper!  It seems that all things in heaven and on earth depend on God, as John Calvin said, “so that without His bidding not a drop of rain falls from heaven, and the earth produces no germ, and consequently all nature would at length be barren, unless He gave it fertility by His blessing”.  That certainly agrees with Deuteronomy 28:12there is a system and order to the universe, and God rules over it all!
  • I find no reason to think that the grain, wine and oil means anything different in Joel than it does in Hosea – those 3 are mentioned in other places (e.g., 2Chron. 32:28; Deuteronomy 7:13) and seem to be that ‘Mediterranean triad’ mentioned above.
  • Finally, I guess I’ll admit that I don’t have any insight into what the 3 products might symbolize, beyond the literal meaning – so your suggestion is as good as any.

Hope that helped (a little).  Perhaps someone reading this has an opinion on the possible symbolism of the grain, wine and oil – if so, please share with us below, along with your reasoning.

Meanwhile, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Praying to Crash that Chatterbox!

Last night's combined worship team from our 3 Chicagoland campuses led us in a great time of worship & prayer!

Last night’s combined worship team from our 3 Chicagoland campuses led us in a great time of worship & prayer!

It was a great gathering of CLC’ers from across Chicagoland as we closed out our “10 Days of Prayer”, not only as a back-to-school effort, but especially to prepare our hearts for what God will do among us during our ALL-Church campaign to “Crash the Chatterbox”, which begins THIS Sunday, August 30.

Pastor Sam Hamstra led us to pray specifically for the 4 areas of the Chatterbox that we'll focus on - insecurity, fear, shame & discouragement - by asking people who struggle in any one of those areas to raise their lights while we prayed!

Pastor Sam Hamstra led us to pray specifically for the 4 areas of the Chatterbox that we’ll focus on – insecurity, fear, shame & discouragement – by asking people who struggle in any one of those areas to raise their lights while we prayed!

I must tell you, after working on the first few messages in this series, I feel more strongly than ever that God is going to use ‘Crash the Chatterbox’ to truly change lives at CLC, setting us free from the enemy’s lies that have hindered us for too long!

If you haven’t yet purchased the book, please do so here.  And if you haven’t signed up to participate in a Life Group for the next 5 weeks, you can do so online here.  Remember the series and the groups start this Sunday, so  Do. It. Now.

One of my favorite moments last night was when Pastor Sam Hamstra, Sr. gave the blessing at the close.  It was a special moment for a father to bless, not just his son (our Pastor Sam), but all of us, with the promises of God.  Great send-off for Crash that Chatterbox!

One of my favorite moments last night was when Pastor Sam Hamstra, Sr. gave the blessing at the close. It was a special moment for a father to bless, not just his son (our Pastor Sam), but all of us, with the promises of God. Great send-off for Crash that Chatterbox!

 

The rest of the story….

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With apologies to the late Paul Harvey, I want to share ‘the rest of the story’.  Yesterday I told about our involvement in Senegal for the last 15 years.

I wrote there that it all started with a dream in 1997 or 1998…but that’s not quite true.  See, at the end of that first visit to Senegal, as we sat at lunch one day, Charles was expressing his appreciation for the small keyboard we had brought with us as a gift to the Dakar church.  It was an inexpensive thing, and we were glad to provide it to help, since music was lacking in their small congregation, so we downplayed the contribution.

Charles wouldn’t let it rest – he said, “we prayed for a long time that God would provide a keyboard for us”.

My wife, who’s always more perceptive than me, asked, “Charles, when did you start praying for that keyboard?”  (I didn’t see where this was going, and thought it was a strange question to ask).

He thought about it a while and then said, “it was about 3 or 4 years ago”.  Chris quickly did the math and we realized that Charles had begun praying for a keyboard to help the worship at their church just about the time I had the dream.

In other words, they prayed about their need in Senegal, and 5,000 miles away in Chicago, God interrupted my sleep to help meet that need.  (I wonder how many people He tried to speak to me before He nudged me in the dream.)

More importantly, please know today that YOUR prayers don’t go unnoticed either – and just because you haven’t seen the answer yet doesn’t mean that God isn’t already at work, nudging someone you don’t even know, in the middle of the night, with your answer!  As we sang years ago, “Hallelujah, He’s a Prayer-Answering God!”

And a small keyboard has turned into more than $250,000 invested, churches established, Muslims coming to faith in Christ, and lifelong friendships developed.

Look at God!

 

This award is for YOU

It all started one night in 1997 or 1998 with a simple, short dream – probably the only God-dream I’ve ever had.  In the dream, we were at the annual Conference of the denomination that we had grown up in, when the emcee suddenly announced, “And now, introducing our newly-appointed missionaries to Senegal, Jerry & Chris McQuay”.  I woke up.

knew God was not calling me back to the legalism I had left several years earlier, so I concluded that God must have an assignment for us in the nation of Senegal.  (I wasn’t even sure where Senegal was on the African continent until I consulted a globe the next day.)  But I immediately set out to find a contact in Senegal.

I would never have guessed that search would take me a few years.  Every time I was at a missions gathering, I would ask if anyone knew anything about the work in Senegal.  I contacted missions organizations.  Finally, in the year 2000, I got the email address for the International Bible Society representative in Dakar.  I wrote him to explain that I was a pastor in Chicago, wanting to bring a team to Senegal to help in some way.  Eventually he connected me with Charles Bavelloni, a young Ghanian who had gotten saved in Senegal, trained in Nigeria and then was sent back to Senegal as a CAPRO missionary.

After months of exchanging emails with Charles, Chris & I led a team of 12 CLC’ers in the Spring of 2001 to visit Senegal.  Since then, we’ve done leadership training, feeding programs, outreach concerts by SoP, numerous free medical clinics, micro-loan programs for Senegalese entrepreneurs, a miracle crusade with a gifted international evangelist, and invested more than a quarter of a million dollars to provide buildings & properties in five different cities: Dakar, Rufisque, Kaolack, Ziguinchor and Passy.  (At last count, there are only 20 evangelical church buildings in the entire country, so I like to say that CLC has provided 20% of all the church buildings in Senegal – it sounds more impressive 😉

That’s why CAPRO invited me to Lagos last week for their 40th Anniversary Celebration.  It’s also why this plaque should have YOUR name on it, Christian Life Center, not ours – You gave.  You went.  You served.  You prayed. You sang. And God gets all the glory!

plaque

Sunday reflections

We completed the “4Most” series today, despite complications for some campuses:

The set-up crew for our NWI campus had to set up in a different bldg as the theater we rent was unavailable today - the 6th building in less than 2 years that we've worshipped in!  Thank God for FAITHFUL servants!

The set-up crew for our NWI campus had to set up in a different building as the theater we rent was unavailable today – the 6th building in less than 2 years that we’ve worshipped in! Thank God for FAITHFUL servants!

  • And for the second week in a row, we had technical issues that prevented our normal transmission of the message from TP – but Pastor Sam and the good folks of NWI made things work, regardless!  They’re also excited about hosting the campus-wide Worship Encounter this Wednesday at 7pm!
  • At our Blue Island campus, our administrator, Rocio Arevalo had an emergency appendectomy this morning.  She came thru the surgery well, but her appendix had burst, so doctors advised that she’ll have a difficult recovery.  Please join us in praying for complete recovery and for her husband and baby as they move forward after the surgery.  
  • Despite the fact that 3 key staffers were absent because of Rocio’s surgery, Pastor William reports that several new families were in attendance and that they really responded to the message today!
Chris' story (and a 30-year-old doll) was a great illustration of how God can provide for our needs!

Chris’ story (and a 30-year-old doll) was a great illustration of how God can provide for our needs!

  • I was personally touched today by the number of CLC’ers in each service who acknowledged that the Word is being ‘strangled’ in their lives by financial pressures – and I know God wants to help us all be financially free!
We prayed over our Cambodia team of Tiffany Hines, Brent McQuay & Ben Stewart, as they prepare to lead a 'Friendship Camp' outreach to Buddhist youth near Phnom Penh this week!  We are "advancing the cause of righteousness" (Proverbs 10:16)

We prayed over our Cambodia team of Tiffany Hines, Brent McQuay & Ben Stewart, as they prepare to lead a ‘Friendship Camp’ outreach to Buddhist youth near Phnom Penh this week! We are “advancing the cause of righteousness” with our finances! (Proverbs 10:16)

    • I’m also praising God for several new families that I met today, and for people taking their next step to get connected at CLC!  And all of us were blessed by RJ & Brandy Zamora’s testimony.  If you missed it, here it is again:

  • 4Most is complete, so now we’re looking forward to an ALL-CHURCH campaign to  “Crash the Chatterbox” as we learn to overpower the enemies lies of insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement with the promises of God!

It’s not too late to order your copy of the book OR to sign-up for your life group to              apply what you learn!

 

Ask the Pastor

TheDarknessOfTheOuter

One of our elders writes, “In the parable of the Three Servants, Matthew 25:14-30,  I noticed the master said to the servants who doubled their talents “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” To the other servant who buried his talent, the master said to him “You wicked and lazy servant.” I noticed the contrast of “good and wicked”, also “faithful and lazy.” Why did the master call him wicked? Are we wicked when we don’t use our gifts and talents for the Kingdom of God?  At the end of the parable the useless servant was thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. That’s a pretty heavy consequence for not using your gifts & talents. Can you comment on this?”

Good question, although I’m not sure that I can add much to what you’ve already observed:

  • The Master called him wicked because he was.  After all, Proverbs 18:9 gives us another look at God’s view of slothful or lazy servants. (Destroying property is considered “wicked” by almost everyone).
  • So the answer your second question, yes, we are wicked when we don’t use the gifts & talents God has given us.  After all, they were given to us by the Lord for the specific purpose that we would use them for others (1Peter 4:10).
  • Besides, his explanation to the Master shows his bad attitude (verse 24and that he was motivated by fear (verse 25), and the fearful actually lead the list in Scripture of those who will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire! (see Revelation 21:8)
  • Finally, I agree with you that it seems like a heavy consequence to us, but perhaps that’s because we need to come into agreement with how serious the Lord views our disobedience to use the gifts He has given us so freely.

Hope that helps.  Do YOU have anything to add, or an additional question to ask?  Please join the conversation below-

Nigeria, day 3

My final day in Nigeria was primarily spent at a Minister’s Conference for CAPRO, with special guest speaker, Patrick Johnstone, author of “Operation World”, which is considered the definitive prayer guide for the nations of the world.  His teaching on the Great Commission was not only as good as I’ve ever heard, but very thought-provoking as well!  (I’ve got a feeling it’ll show up in my teaching at our Missions Conference in October)

I was privileged to meet Patrick Johnstone a few years ago when he visited CLC, so it was great to see him again in Nigeria!

I was privileged to meet Patrick Johnstone a few years ago when he visited CLC, so it was great to see him again in Nigeria!

Just before I left the auditorium after the Minister’s Conference, a young evangelist named Joseph introduced himself to me. He works in the far north of Nigeria, in the area where Boko Haram is actively persecuting Christians & of course, where they’ve kidnapped hundreds of young girls, as you’ve heard on the news.  One thing this trip reminded me of is the price that many brave ministers and believers are paying in order to carry the Gospel to some of the most dangerous places on earth!

Evangelist Joseph and my favorite worship leader during this trip!

Evangelist Joseph and a worshipper who wanted to be included in the picture, too!

Now, I’ve made it through Lagos notorious traffic and airport security and I’m sitting in the departure lounge with a cold can of Coke Zero, waiting for my flight to Houston and then on to Chi-town by Friday morning.  Can’t wait to see CLC’ers this Saturday at the Volunteer Rally and for the finale of “4Most” this Sunday!

Life is good!

Life is good!

CAPRO 40th Anniversary Celebration

My heart is full as I write this on Thursday morning after the big celebration banquet last night.  To see and hear what God has done through CAPRO, from such humble beginnings with a few college students in northern Nigeria in 1975, to almost 700 missionaries in 36 countries and representatives on 5 continents today, is nothing short of miraculous!

I called it a 'banquet' only because a meal was served; otherwise, we had CHUCH! (this praise team insured that with anointed music & singing, as only Nigerians can!)

I called it a ‘banquet’ only because a meal was served; otherwise, we had CHUCH! (this praise team insured that with anointed music & singing, as only Nigerians can!)

The Housa tribe in northern Nigeria were totally unreached with the Gospel before CAPRO came & to hear their testimony & indigenous worship moved me to tears!

The Housa tribe in northern Nigeria were totally unreached with the Gospel before CAPRO came & to hear their testimony & indigenous worship moved me to tears!

I was honored just to be invited, but the real honor is to CLC, who has invested more than a quarter of a million dollars in Senegal, providing 4 church buildings along the way!

It all started for CLC with a simple God-dream in the late 90’s, but it has led to us investing more than a quarter of a million dollars in Senegal, providing 4 church buildings, numerous leadership trainings, free medical clinics, micro-loan programs, the Passy farm project and more – makes me want to say, “Only God”!

As past & present leaders cut the anniversary cake, we say, "Congratulations, CAPRO!"

As past & present leaders cut the anniversary cake, we say, “Congratulations, CAPRO!”

The family where it all started: David hadn't been born yet & Harvest was a baby, but Charles & Mary Bavelloni have become dear friends since introducing us to CAPRO in 2001 on our first visit to Senegal.

The family where it all started: David hadn’t been born yet & Harvest was only a baby, but Charles & Mary Bavelloni have become dear friends since introducing us to CAPRO in 2001 on our first visit to Senegal.

 

Nigeria, day 2

I’m writing this before I head to the BIG 40th Anniversary Celebration banquet/program for CAPRO, but I want to give you a quick report thus far:

Many CLC'ers know my friend, Charles Bavelloni, with whom we worked for several years in Senegal.  He now serves in southern France, working with Arab Muslim immigrants from Africa.  He sends love to CLC!

Many CLC’ers know my friend, Charles Bavelloni, with whom we worked for several years in Senegal. He now serves in southern France, working with Arab Muslim immigrants from Africa. He sends love to CLC!

  • Today’s session was concluded with Communion, and it was SO very moving for me to be surrounded by my brothers & sisters from 35 different nations, as we shared at the Lord’s Table, knowing that we are members of One body!  Holy Ghost Goosebumps for sure!
Some CLC'ers will remember Niyi & Tayo Gbade, who were with us back in February.  They have been appointed to represent CAPRO in North America, and will be basing at CLC once their visa comes through!  (Pray for that - it's been a lengthy process already)

Some CLC’ers will remember Niyi & Tayo Gbade, who were with us back in February. They have been appointed to represent CAPRO in North America, and will be basing at CLC once their visa comes through! (Pray for that – it’s been a lengthy process already)

  • Without a doubt the most thrilling part of the trip thus far was a conversation that Dale Van Steenis and I had with Sam Kputu, the International Director of CAPRO, who assured us that they plan to use the farming project in Passy, Senegal (which CLC has helped to fund) as a model for other nations.  Get this: the realistic projection is that the land will net $50,000 USD per year, which will help fund other missions projects, as well as provide employment for Senegalese believers and Bible school students!  CLC, your generous giving is making wonderful things possible in the Kingdom of God!

After tonight’s celebration, I’ll have a half-day of meetings tomorrow in Lagos before boarding my flight back to Chicago – can’t wait to see everyone Sunday!

Nigeria trip, day 1

This morning has been an amazing time, listening to field reports from various countries where CAPRO has missionaries.  (To bring you up to date, CLC began partnering with CAPRO in 2001, primarily in Senegal.  Over the years, we’ve been blessed by visits from the International Directors, including Pade Tokun and Amos Aderonmu.)

Pade Tokun was the International Director when CLC first began working with CAPRO, and has visited CLC along with our friend Charles Bavelloni.

Pade Tokun was the International Director when CLC first began working with CAPRO, and has visited CLC along with our friend Charles Bavelloni.

For those who don’t know, CAPRO currently has over 600 missionaries from 23 different nationalities who are serving in 36 nations of the world.  Personally, I’ve never met more genuine, humble, servants of God than these brothers and sisters.  It was hard not to cry as I listened to the sacrifices many of them have made (and are making) in some very dangerous places in the world, all because they carry the Gospel to people who have never heard.

Amos Aderonmu was the International Director after Pade Tokun, and he visited us at CLC about 5 years ago

Amos Aderonmu was the International Director after Pade Tokun, and he visited us at CLC about 5 years ago

The current international director, Sam Kputu, has made me feel so welcome here, and I was especially moved earlier today when he introduced all of the Executive Staff of CAPRO and then told each of us who are invited guests for this 40th Anniversary celebration how they view us as more than just donors or missions partners.  He said, "at the end of the day, we are first Christians, and you are our brothers and sisters". 

The current international director, Sam Kputu, has made me feel so welcome here, and I was especially moved earlier today when he introduced all of the Executive Staff of CAPRO and then told each of us who are invited guests for this 40th Anniversary celebration how they view us as more than just donors or missions partners.  He said, “at the end of the day, we are first Christians, and you are our brothers and sisters”.

I’m the one enjoying the fellowship of these brothers & sisters, but all of you at CLC are the reason, as they are honoring us for the work we’ve done in Senegal, where we’ve been able to invest over $250,000 – because of your faithful giving!

I’ll post more later – time for another session now-

Sunday reflections

Here’s a few tired thoughts about today at CLC:

I enjoyed worship with a 'guest' leading today (Pastor Jon!) - and I must say, even though it was an emergency fill-in, our TP Worship Director is a pretty impressive drummer!

Neither of us knew which stories about influence the other might share today, but I can't help but notice that, at least from our combined experience, having influence with others is not nearly as much about some special skill or talent as it is simply being aware of others and being willing to get out of yourself and into them!

Neither of us knew which stories about influence the other might share today, but I can’t help but notice that, at least from our combined experience, having influence with others is not nearly as much about some special skill or talent as it is simply being aware of others and being willing to get out of yourself and into them!

Praying over our kids as they return to school is ALWAYS a special time - love our children!

Praying over our kids as they return to school is ALWAYS a special time – love our children!

Our NWI campus had some technical issues that forced Pastor Sam to 'wing it' with un unplanned message, but that didn't hinder the prayer over all our Educators & Students led by teacher Stephanie Robey!

Our NWI campus had some technical issues that forced Pastor Sam to ‘wing it’ with un unplanned message, but that didn’t hinder the prayer over all our Educators & Students led by teacher Stephanie Robey!

  • Pastors Doug & Shanna reported a great Prayer Event at the Four Winds Field in South Bend last night as churches came together to pray for their region, as well as a powerful time of prayer today as they also prayed for Teachers & Students going back to school!
Our Blue Island campus is beginning to see some growth & much of it is in our Consumed Student Ministries - kudos to Profitt & Vanessa Hallom for leading our Jr Hi & Sr Hi kids there!

Our Blue Island campus is beginning to see some growth & much of it is in our Consumed Student Ministries – kudos to Profitt & Vanessa Hallom for leading our Jr Hi & Sr Hi kids there!

We're just 2 weeks away from 'Crash the Chatterbox' - have you signed up for your Life Group yet?

We’re just 2 weeks away from ‘Crash the Chatterbox’ – have you signed up for your Life Group yet?

I’m sending this from the United Club at O’Hare as I wait to board the first of two flights that will put me in Lagos, Nigeria about noon tomorrow (Chicago time).  CAPRO is celebrating their 40th Anniversary this week and they wanted to honor CLC for the work we’ve done in partnership with them in Senegal.  It’ll be a quick trip as I’ll only be on the ground about 75 hours and should be home Friday morning.

In the meantime, if you attended service at any campus or online today, how were you impacted by the Holy Spirit?  Please join the conversation & leave your comments below-

Ask the Pastor

rise_of_the_antichrist_by_moonchild17

A favorite CLC’er writes, I’m reading 2Thess. 2:1-4. Verse 3 refers to the ‘man of lawlessness’. Is this an actual person or perhaps a system of organized sin (for lack of a better phrase)?”

Great question, especially for all those ‘prophecy buffs’ who like to study end-time events in Scripture.  (I’m not one of those, but I can give you my understanding of the passage)

  • To the best of my knowledge, even the scholars are pretty much in agreement about this ‘man of lawlessness’ (‘man of sin’ in some translations) who is perhaps best known as “the AntiChrist”.
  • Again, in my understanding of prophetic scriptures, just as Jesus is God manifest in a human body, it seems the Antichrist is Satan in a human body.  He is the  ringleader for Satan’s efforts to oppose God’s people, especially the nation of Israel in the last days.  He will have unprecedented powers and exercise rulership over much of the world, at least before he is overthrown (Daniel 11:45) and thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20)
  • Obviously, we could talk much more about the AntiChrist or even join the ranks of those who like to speculate as to who he might be and whether he is already in a position of power on earth today.  Just in my lifetime, I’ve known those who predicted the AntiChrist was Mikhail Gorbachev, or Muammar Gaddafi or the Pope or even President Barack Obama!  So I think I’ll stay away from predictions-
  • If you want to read more on the subject, I suggest Daniel 7 as a good starting place.

Hope that helps.  Join the conversation today – if YOU have a question or comment, please leave it below.

 

INFLUENCE / Back-to-School

I’m excited about this Sunday’s continuation of our 4Most series – what Chris & I wish  above all things for every one of you – when we’ll talk from our hearts about having  genuine influence with others.

That IS the primary reason Jesus left us here on earth after we got born-again; otherwise, He could have just translated us to heaven right at that moment of our salvation.

And when it comes to influence, there’s a couple of groups of CLC’ers that have LOTS of it – so much so that we’re going to be praying over each one of them at every campus and every service this Sunday.  I’m talking about our educators and students, of course.  Even with the rules concerning separation of church and state, our teachers and administrators have tremendous opportunity to influence the children in their schools.

And every parent knows that the kids your children hang with have real influence on their decisions, which is why I say, “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”.  I won’t just be praying for our kids safety and protection as they return to school (even though in our world, that’s become increasingly important); I’m praying that they will be shining lights in a dark world, on-fire, born-again, passionate followers of Jesus who will influence the next generation for God!

In fact, Sunday will be the kick-off for 10 days of Prayer as we launch this school year AND prepare our hearts for the church-wide campaign to ‘Crash the Chatterbox’ when we’re expecting every CLC’er to read the book, hear the messages & attend a LifeGroup to apply it to your life.  It’s gonna be good!

Hope to see YOU there – any CLC campus, any service this Sunday!

Talking Bible: Romance / Reality / Responsibility

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Disclaimer: I may preach this someday at CLC, so if I do, I’ll want you to respond like it was the first time you ever heard such amazing truth.

Sometimes reading the Bible is a chore, especially if the chapter you’re reading is a long list of names that are difficult to pronounce.  But in my recent devotions, as I read 1Chronicles 27:25-34, it really began to speak to me about life in the Kingdom of God.

Often times, we have a romantic, idealistic idea of how wonderful life must be when you’re walking with the King – you know, going from glory to glory, feeling Holy Spirit goosebumps all day while the Hallelujah chorus plays in the background.  (Kinda like watching “The Bachelor” on TV – or at least what I imagine those not-so-reality-shows are like, since I never watch them personally – but I digress.)

The writer of Chronicles gives us a dose of reality as he lists 20 different men and the specific responsibilities they had in David’s kingdom.  Notice that it wasn’t all grace & glory – there were duties to be attended to in villages and small towns, fields & towers.  There were vineyards to tend to, wine & olive oil to be stored, cattle to be cared for, even  (my personal favorite) donkeys that someone had to be in charge of.  (Wouldn’t you love to have that on your business card: “in charge of the donkeys”)

That is reality about living in the Kingdom.  Serving Jesus has it’s moments of glory, no doubt – it is an amazing privilege to walk with Him, sense His Presence drawing near, enjoying some ‘heaven on earth’ before going to heaven.  But it’s also about responsibility.  There are duties in the kingdom, and some of them aren’t as romantic as we sometimes think – sometimes it’s more like being in charge of donkeys that have to be fed and then cleaned up after the output of their feeding.

But the part of the passage that especially spoke to me was verse 33, where, in the middle of all the important responsibilities and positions of David’s kingdom we read,  “Hushai was the king’s friend”.  

Selah.

Sometimes the most important responsibility in the glorious Kingdom of Almighty God is for you to be a friend.  Even kings need friends.  I would guess that it would be difficult for a king to find a true friend, since most everyone around him would be looking to gain something from the relationship.  But not Hushai.  He was content to give something to the relationship.

Maybe the most spiritual thing you or I can do today is find someone who needs a friend – and be one to them.

If that resonates with you today, would you leave a comment below to encourage someone else who may need a friend?

Sunday reflections

It may still be summertime vacation season, but it was a good day at CLC anyway:

She's not only the Queen of object lessons, but she looks GOOD while doing it! (today was Joseph's coat of many colors....jk)

She’s not only the Queen of object lessons, but she looks GOOD while doing it! (today was Joseph’s coat of many colors….jk)  Always fun teaching with her!

  • Even better, I’m rejoicing that someone was filled with the Holy Spirit in each service at Tinley Park today, including at least one first-time-guest!  #OnlyGod  #ButGod  #LookAtGod  Kudos also to Rosalind Wallace & Bryson Butler who were water-baptized today!
Our Blue Island congregation in worship today-

Pastor William reports 2 first-time guests in Blue Island prayed to receive Jesus today, and several others responded to the message about the Holy Spirit!

  • I’m excited about at least a dozen additional Life Group Leaders for our upcoming “Crash the Chatterbox” campaign which starts August 30.  This is the last call – if you’re interested in leading a group for 6 weeks, let our pastors know here!
Pastor Sam said the worship was as good as he could ever remember at NWI today - powerful!

Pastor Sam said the worship was as good as he could ever remember at NWI today – powerful!

  • finally, special, MEGA-KUDOS for our KidsLife team for leading a “Pajama Day” in KidsLife for all our great kids:
Even the teachers got in on the fun!

Even the teachers got in on the fun of “Pajama Sunday”!

But they were easily upstaged by these cuties!

But they were easily upstaged by these cuties!

actually, I think these guys deserve the prize for cutest PJ's

actually, I think these guys deserve the prize for cutest PJ’s (or at least for who’s wearing them)

Of course, I can't leave out the grandsons-

Of course, I can’t leave out the grandsons-

I think our Davao campus had a BIG baptismal service this weekend, but I’m waiting the official count & more pics – here’s one just so we can celebrate with them:

Do it again, Lord - here in Chicagoland, too!

Do it again, Lord – here in Chicagoland, too!

That’s all – I’m headed to the couch; please resume whatever you were doing before I interrupted this fine Sunday afternoon-

 

Ask the Pastor

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A friend of CLC writes, “Here is my question. I know many people who feel with all that is going on they are saying America is finished we are doomed. That God sent 9/11; that he sent Katrina and now we will get earthquakes and God will pour out his wrath because of the Supreme Court and all the other issues.”

Ahhh, yes: The Question of questions these days.

Since the Bible obviously doesn’t address these issues directly, let me give you my  ‘sanctified opinion':

  • First, in my experience over the years, it seems many Christians always see God’s judgment – either in current tragedies, OR, perhaps even more often, in their own predictions.  Some people just seem to gravitate to negative, judgment-is-coming-type-of-pronouncements.  As a pastor friend of mine says about the controversy regarding the tribulation period spoken of in prophecy, “some folks just gotta tribulate a bit!”
  • Second, this is not a new development.  It seems even when Jesus walked the earth that people often wanted to connect tragedy with judgment of sin (see Luke 13:1-5 and John 9:1-5, for just two examples of this).  As Jesus taught us in that last example, we need to be doing what He’s called us to do instead of speculating about judgment on someone for something!
  • Having said that, I cannot deny that God does send judgment on mankind.  2Samuel 21:1 is just one of many instances of this in Scripture. However, I also believe the truth of Job 1:9-10; namely, that God puts a hedge of protection around us; otherwise, we can’t even imagine the catastrophe’s and horrific judgments that Satan would gladly unleash upon us.
  • In fact, that would probably be my personal concern after recent events in our nation  – that God would remove His hand of protection, His covering, from America, which would allow the enemy to bring all sorts of pain to our world.
  • But the overriding truth that I hold to is that God already judged our sin – He did so at the Cross, when He placed His wrath upon Jesus (Isaiah 53:4-6)  Thank God that He isn’t looking to judge us; He’s looking for opportunities to save us! (2Peter 3:9)

Hope that helps a bit.  Now, it’s YOUR turn: do you have a comment to add, or a question of your own to ask?  Please join the conversation below-

 

ALL-Church campaign

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One of the blessings at CLC is that we are “one church in multiple locations”.  

One of the challenges at CLC is that we are “one church in multiple locations”.

Seriously.

While the multi-site approach to ministry enables us to reach more people in more areas that we could ever reach from one place, it also creates a real challenge for us to maintain the ‘DNA’ of the church; i.e., the same vision and values and mission of CLC.

That’s one of the reasons I’m SO excited about our ALL-Church campaign which starts  August 30 and continues through the month of September.  During this campaign, I’m asking that every CLC’er at each campus join me by:

  • reading the NY Times best-seller, “Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick (available this Sunday in the lobby of each CLC campus for $10, or in Kindle from Amazon at $7.99)
  • listening to messages each Sunday about how to overpower the lies of  insecurity, fear, condemnation & discouragement with the promises of God!
  • participating in a Life Group each week to dig deeper into these principles and encouraging fellow believers in crashing their chatterbox!

Can you imagine the UNITY when every CLC’er does this for 6 weeks?

How can you get started?  (I’m so glad you asked)

1.  Get the book this week, so you’ll be ready to start with us on Aug. 30.

2.  Choose your Life Group (every CLC Life Group will be doing this series) – you can register online or in the lobby of each campus on August 16 or August 23.

3.  Take the plunge to LEAD a Life Group book discussion in your home!  We know that we’ll need additional leaders in order to accommodate 100% participation from our church family.  Here’s the thing: if you can press ‘play’ on your DVD player, you can lead a group.  If you like snacks and good friends, even better!  Please let us know now of your interest, or stop by the Life Group display in any CLC campus this weekend.

I can’t wait to Crash the Chatterbox with you!

Crash the Chatterbox at CLC Promo from Promo Videos on Vimeo.

 

My #1 wish for you…..

If you haven’t heard already, this is our wish for you ABOVE ALL OTHERS.  I pray that the ‘light’ will come on in your life as you watch or listen-

Have a Real Relationship with God from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

What is the Holy Spirit speaking to you through this? Please leave a comment below-

I hope you’ll join us this Sunday for our 2nd wish for you!

 

Sunday reflections

Here’s a few pics & random thoughts about this Sunday at CLC:

I LOVED the fact that Harmony stepped out of his comfort zone & sang over the congregation from Jer. 31:3 in the spirit of Zeph. 3:17!

I LOVED the fact that Harmony stepped out of his comfort zone & sang over the congregation of God’s love, from Jeremiah 31:3 in the spirit of Zephaniah 3:17!

Your outpouring of love & the gifts made this birthday girl happy!

Your outpouring of love & the gifts made this birthday girl happy!

 

 

I pray that the light really came on for many CLC'ers about having a REAL relationship with God!

I pray that the light really came on for many CLC’ers about having a REAL relationship with God!

  • I was so touched to see lots of people raising their hands at each service to say that they may have had religion or rule-keeping before, but now they wanted relationship!
Lots more folks signed up for our 5k race today - have YOU registered yet?

Lots more folks signed up for our 5k race today – have YOU registered yet?

 

A record-breaking attendance today for our NWI campus at their 2nd annual "Church on the Beach"!

A record-breaking attendance today for our NWI campus at their 2nd annual “Church on the Beach”!

Pastors Sam & Taylor pictured here with 3 of the 19 CLC'ers who were baptized there today!

Pastors Sam & Taylor pictured here with 3 of the 19 CLC’ers who were baptized there today!

  • At our Blue Island campus, a new family who visited after a recent outreach event has now gotten saved and requested water baptism!
  • In South Bend, Pastor Doug reports that individuals from 6 different families joined CLC-SB at today’s membership class!
Pastor Herley reports that our Davao campus added a 4th Sunday service today & it was immediately half-full - plus they had 163 converts at their Encounter Retreat this weekend where almost all were baptized & filled with the Holy Spirit!

Pastor Herley reports that our Davao campus added a 4th Sunday service today & it was immediately half-full – plus they had 163 converts at their Encounter Retreat this weekend where almost all were baptized & filled with the Holy Spirit!

Sometimes they just like to "show off" in Davao ;-)

Sometimes they just like to “show off” in Davao ;-)

That’s it for today – gonna get the birthday lady some dinner now.  But it’s YOUR turn – if you participated in a service at any CLC campus or online today, what was your favorite moment?  Leave a comment below-

 

Ask the Pastor

are-there-any-biblical-apostles-today-21480841

One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “I want to know know why some people call themselves apostles when clearly the Bible says that in order to become one, you had to have been with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry and also to have seen the resurrected Christ. Please explain.”

Great question.  The passage you reference in regards to qualifications is Acts 1:17-22.  It is true, as we read there, that the first 12 Apostles (sometimes called, ‘the Apostles of the Lamb’, as in Revelation 21:14) had to have been with Jesus from the beginning.  I believe those Apostles are also referred to in Ephesians 2:20.  These men laid the foundation for us, and many of them were used by God to give us inspired Scripture.

However, a careful reading of the New Testament also shows that the ministry-gift or office of apostle continued beyond those first 12 apostles (see Ephesians 4:11-14).  Since those gifts were to continue until the church was in such unity and maturity that we measured up to the full standard of Christ, I must say I don’t think we’re there yet, so those gifts must still be in operation.

Some scholars even include the Apostle Paul in that latter category, while others say his Damascus Road experience allowed him to meet the Acts 1 qualifications.  This much I know, Paul himself believed in apostles who were not part of the original group, including some women as well as men (see Acts 14:14; 1Thess. 1:1 with 2:7Romans 16:7 – and note that Junia is a feminine name!)

At CLC, we definitely believe in the ministry of apostles and prophets today, as well as in Bible times.  While I must close this post before it becomes a book, let me simply say that, in my understanding of Scripture, an apostle is a ‘sent-one’ who has a fathering ministry; i.e., other pastors & churches will look to that apostle for spiritual covering and oversight.   (I thank God for men like Bishop Joseph Garlington and Pastor Eddie Cupples who have served in that role for me at CLC.)

Hope that helps.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?  Feel free to leave your question or comments below-

Remember “Get Fit”?

We started this year with a challenge for all of us to ‘get fit’ – spiritually, financially, relationally, and even physically:

Get Fit – 5K from Promo Videos on Vimeo.
Since then, I have been faithfully walking/jogging about 2 miles a day (ok, a lot more walking than jogging – but I’ve been moving it nonetheless!)

I’ve dropped a few pounds (sure, I’ve got a long way to go and I really need to work on the snacking after dinner), but more importantly, on my last check-up, my doctor said,  “whatever you’re doing, keep it up.  Your latest blood work would indicate that you’ve added about 10 years to your life!” 

That’s the #1 reason we talked about physical fitness in January – to not cut short the time we have with those we love.  I know that many of you took that to heart (literally?) and have far surpassed me in your fitness regimens since then – I’ve seen your Facebook posts and we all can see the resulting weight loss.

But I also know that some of us have procrastinated and made excuses and just not gotten started.  Here’s your chance: on August 15 we’re sponsoring that 5K race that I mentioned in the message.  Listen, even if you’re not in shape, you can walk 5 kilometers in just over an hour.  More importantly, this could be the jump-start you needed to begin an exercise program that works for you!

If you’re already fit, c’mon out and have some fun with your CLC family – and help a great cause at the same time, with all proceeds going to Together We Cope, one of our partners in the south suburbs who serve over 14,000 families every month!

What are you waiting for?  Sign-up today!

Friends for families 5K from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

A few pics & thoughts about this last Sunday of July at CLC:

See what I have to put up with all the time with our staff?  This comparison came from our awesome tech guy, Hudson, early this morning-

See what I have to put up with all the time from our staff? This comment about my wardrobe choice came from our awesome tech guy, Hudson, early this morning-

One of my favorite times in any service is when we get to pray with CLC'ers - after all, that's our first calling!

One of my favorite times in any service is when we get to pray with CLC’ers – after all, that’s our first calling!

  • I do think Annie was my favorite of our 2015 #GATM series – partly because I felt we really had a ‘rhema’ word for folks today, and I LOVE the fact that we saw several people make fresh starts with God at the 10am & 12pm services!
Speaking of 'Annie', our NWI campus should win the prize for carrying the theme into their lobby!

Speaking of ‘Annie’, our NWI campus should win the prize for carrying the theme into their lobby!

  • Even more exciting is that NWI had one salvation decision today, and already 11 people have signed-up to be water baptized next Sunday!
Pastor Jon led worship at our Blue Island campus today, and one young man received the Lord in their services today, too!

Pastor Jon led worship at our Blue Island campus today, and one young man received the Lord in their services today, too!

It was a STRONG attendance in Blue Island today, in part because Eddie & Jessica O'Farrell dedicated their daughters to the Lord today & many friends and family came to celebrate with them!

It was a STRONG attendance in Blue Island today, in part because Eddie & Jessica O’Farrell dedicated their daughters to the Lord today & many friends and family came to celebrate with them!

  • My favorite MOMENT in preaching today was at the noon service when my wife stopped me to point out in our notes what I was supposed to say next, and it turned out it was something she was supposed to say – trust me, by the time we preach it for the 3rd time in a day, both our brains are scrambled! (guess you just had to be there, but we all had a good laugh about it)
This is my youngest grandson after 3 services.  Kinda like our brains-

This is my youngest grandson after 3 services. Kinda like our brains-

  • But far and away my favorite REPORT of the day was when I heard that one of the women in our Step 4 class today asked one of our Elders about the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and when the class was over he prayed with her and she received her prayer language!  (That never gets old!!)
  • I hope you’ll join me in walking or jogging or running our 1st-ever CLC 5k on Saturday, August 15!  We’ve been waiting for this since I preached “Get Fit!” back in January-

Friends for families 5K from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

Here’s what we’ve been waiting for….

Friends for Families 5k Bandana RunGrab a friend or your family to run, walk, even stroller together and join us as we raise funds for Together We Cope. Register now at http://www.clc.tv/5k

Posted by Christian Life Center on Friday, July 24, 2015

I’m gonna participate, and I hope all my friends will, too!

Ask the Pastor

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I’ve been doing a Friday post to answer questions submitted by readers for over 10 years now, and I must say, I enjoy giving a practical Biblical answer to your questions.

However, for the past few months, I’ve not had a single question submitted :-(

Rather than continuing to use previous posts to questions from the past, I’m wondering if it’s time to drop this regular Friday post.

Would you weigh in?  If I don’t hear from you, I can safely assume it’s ok to drop this feature.  If you do want it to continue, help me by asking a question – it can be a verse that you don’t understand, a question about what the Bible might teach regarding a subject or even something in life or culture that’s troubling you.  I just need to hear from you.

Thanks!

P.S. Don’t forget – this Sunday concludes our annual “God@the Movies” series and my wife & I have a ‘word’ for you through the delightful musical, Annie!  Invite a friend-

Don’t Quit!

That could easily have been the title of the message yesterday from “McFarland USA” as part of our “God@the Movies” series.

I mentioned in each service a little paperweight that sits on my desk, as a daily reminder that I often need:

dontquit

I had promised some who asked yesterday that I would post it on my blog, but I forgot – so there it is.  If you have trouble reading it, here’s the text:

When things go wrong as they sometimes will;

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;

When the funds are low, and the debts are high;

When you want to smile, but you have to sigh;

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Sunday reflections

Week 4 of our annual “God@the Movies” series is now history – here’s a few random thoughts about today:

Pastor Jon helped us all hunger for MORE today in worship!

Pastor Jon helped us all hunger for MORE today in worship!

I always report from the adult service, but the most important ministry happens in KidsLife with the NEXT generation of CLC'ers (these 3 sure seem to be captivated by what they're learning!)

I always report from the adult service, but the most important ministry happens in KidsLife with the NEXT generation of CLC’ers (these 3 sure seem to be captivated by what they’re learning from Volunteer Henri Weatherspoon!)

In fact, no matter how much you like GATM, I'd say the most important ministry on Sunday is happening in KidsLife with the NEXT Generation of CLC'ers!  (Thanks, Kristen Carter, for serving!)

In fact, no matter how much you like GATM, the MOST FUN happens in KidsLife every Sunday! (Thanks, Kristen Carter, for serving!)

  • I’m especially thankful for people who made “fresh starts” with God today, including some in each service in Tinley Park and at least one each in NWI and Blue Island!
Every ministry counts, but our FIRST TOUCH people help each week to make a great first impression on our NWI guests!

Every ministry counts, but our FIRST TOUCH people help each week to make a great first impression on our NWI guests!

According to Pastor Sam, our entire NWI campus, including Jonathan & Natalia Lee (and daughter, Juliette) are getting into GATM!

According to Pastor Sam, our entire NWI campus, including Jonathan & Natalia Lee (and daughter, Juliette) are getting into GATM!

No wonder, with this new stage design for NWI (not to mention the lady talking on screen!)

No wonder, with this new stage design for NWI (not to mention the lady talking on screen!)

Heroes of the day: our Parking Lot Volunteers (like Len Stallworth here at our Blue Island campus) who endured the heat!

Heroes of the day: our Parking Lot Volunteers (like Len Stallworth here at our Blue Island campus) who endured the heat!

And we can't overlook an outside greeter (Bianca Medina) who welcomed newcomers despite today's heat & humidity!

And we can’t overlook an outside greeter (Bianca Medina) who welcomed newcomers despite today’s heat & humidity!

Pastor William reports that McFarland USA was a favorite in Blue Island!

Pastor William reports that McFarland USA was definitely the all-time favorite in Blue Island from any GATM we’ve done!

  • Don’t forget to start inviting your friends/family for next Sunday and “Annie”:

 

 

 

Lagniappe

I’m not Cajun, but several years ago I learned about a word they use:

la·gniappe
ˌlanˈyap,ˈlanˌyap/
noun

NORTH AMERICAN
noun: lagniappe; plural noun: lagniappes
  1. something given as a bonus or extra gift.
Origin
Louisiana French, from Spanish la ñapa .
I mention it because that’s exactly what the Lord did for me on this trip to San Diego.
To be honest, the only reason I decided to attend this conference was because the host, Pastor Sergio De La Mora, who is one of the leading Hispanic voices in our country, especially among charismatic pastors, and who leads one of the fastest-growing churches  in America, had agreed to minister at our 2016 First Love Conference.
Since we had never met and he accepted my invitation only at the word of a mutual friend, I felt it was important for me to make this trip so we could at least meet together and kinda  ‘seal’ the decision that he would come to CLC next January.
But over the last 2 days, I have really received ministry myself – especially last night from Dr. Cash Luna, the powerfully anointed pastor of a 35,000-member church in Guatemala whose 12,000-seat church building cost $180M and was completed debt-free!
Pastor Cash Luna (L) taught with much wisdom AND anointing, even through an interpreter!

Pastor Cash Luna (L) taught with much wisdom AND anointing, even through an interpreter – in fact, his ministry during the conference was worth the entire trip!

We still have morning, noon and evening sessions today before heading home on a red-eye flight tonight, but I already feel that I’m coming home different, with a fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit – that’s the BEST bonus I could have received – God’s lagniappe!

The Good and the Bad….

Most days, that’s how it goes, right: some good things come into your life; some other not-so-good thing come.  The key is to keep praising IN all things!

Having Israel Houghton & BJ Wilmoth in the room last night at the "Heart Revolution INFLUENCE" Conf. was an unexpected treat!

Having Israel Houghton & BJ Putnam in the room last night at the “Heart Revolution INFLUENCE” Conf. was an unexpected treat!

We came because Pastor Sergio De La Mora has agreed to minister at our 1st Love Conf. 2016, but it was another surprise to hear from Matt & Laurie Crouch of TBN & especially Dr. Morris Cerullo!

We came because Pastor Sergio De La Mora has agreed to minister at our 1st Love Conf. 2016, but it was another surprise to hear from Matt & Laurie Crouch of TBN & especially Dr. Morris Cerullo!

The not-so-good news is that our court case was pushed to a higher court where we’ll meet sometime in the next month to try to remove our tenant in NWI.  Please continue to pray with us for God to intervene and for us to possess the property He’s given us!

Meanwhile, I’m gonna keep PRAISING HIM!

Possessing what you’ve been given

I shared with our church family last Sunday the unfortunate situation we’ve been dealing with since purchasing our ‘miracle’ – the NWI building valued at $1.4M that we bought in May for just $140,000.

I’m asking again thru the post that CLC’ers join me in praying for a swift resolution today in court to legally evict the tenant so we can finally possess the building we own.

But as I prayed earlier this morning, I had a sense that God is trying to teach me (and you) a lesson through all of this – the same lesson He had for His people Israel after bringing them out of bondage in Egypt.  That is, at least 16 times He told them that He was giving them the land (Lev. 25:2; Num. 33:53; Num. 34:2; Deut. 1:8 and at least 12 more!)

But He also told them numerous times that it was their responsibility to possess the Land that He was giving them (see Deut. 10:11; Deut. 11:8, 31; Deut. 15:4; Joshua 18:3; and Joshua 21:43 for just a few examples).

So while we want/need your prayers as we go to court today, because we do want to fully possess the property the Lord gave us as a miracle, perhaps the more important truth is – are we possessing the promises God has given to us?

Selah.

I pray that YOU will do your part in taking possession of the good things God has already given you by His Word!

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The PERFECT Sunday to invite a friend

I suppose you could argue that ANY Sunday is the right time to bring an unchurched friend to CLC.  After all, Jesus came to seek & to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and that’s the mission of The Church today (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8; 2Cor. 5:20)

But there are some sermons that are primarily directed to believers – and your unchurched friends might not enjoy a message about tithing or holiness or sexual sin.

However, our ‘God@the Movies’ series is actually designed with ‘regular folks’ in mind.  Your friends, neighbors & co-works may not be all that interested in church, but they do go to the movies, and the idea that your church is offering practical teaching based on a recent movie might pique their interest.

But beyond that, THIS SUNDAY is the PERFECT day to invite a friend to join you:

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  • McFarland USA is one of the most heartwarming, inspirational movies of this past year – it’s absolutely a ‘feel good’ movie!
  • McFarland USA is also based on a true story, which makes it more inspirational, since it shows that people like us CAN overcome great obstacles & find success!
  • Perhaps most important of all, the message that we’re going to bring is focused on a subject that every person on earth needs help with – because ALL of us have been there, and need to know the solution.  (Sorry, you’ll hafta wait to Sunday to learn our subject – no spoiler here)

For those reasons and more, I am urging you to persuade some friends, co-workers or family members to join YOU this Sunday at any Chicagoland campus of CLC (that’s 6 opportunities – 5 in English and 1 in Spanish) to hear a message from God’s Word through the lens of Hollywood!

Talking Bible: a surprising benefit of worship

Admittedly, I read a few chapters in the Bible on some days and nothing jumps out at me.  But I love it on those days that the Holy Spirit seems to illuminate a verse or passage as I read, and that happened recently as I read 2Kings 17:15.

I see 2 surprising benefits of worship in that verse:

1.  Our worth is attached to what we worship.  I guess that shouldn’t have surprised me, because our English word ‘worship’ actually comes from an older English word, “woerthship”.  In other words, when we worship, we are declaring God’s worth to us.  (That much I already knew, and probably you did, too).  But as I read 2Kings I realized that MY worth is also attached to what I worship.  I find my true value and purpose in life when I worship the One who IS so worthy!

2.  Even more surprising was the description of how Israel’s misdirected worship of idols affected them: as they worshiped idols that were worth nothing, the people also became worth nothing.  In other words, we become like what we worship!

It’s true, as we spend time in His Presence, worshiping Him for who He is, the Spirit of the Lord is changing us to be more like Him.  (see 2Cor. 3:18)

Makes me want to worship Him today!  How ’bout you?

It’s also ONE MORE REASON for you to join us for the Selah Worship Conference:

Sunday reflections

First day back in over a month – here’s a few random thoughts about CLC today:

It felt GREAT to worship with our CLC family again - we missed you during our sabbatical!  And I love that last song:

It felt GREAT to worship with our CLC family again – we missed you during our sabbatical! And I love that last song in today’s set:

  • To be honest, while Divergent was a box office hit (earning a profit of more than $200M so far), it was different than most of our “God@the Movies” in the past, as we couldn’t have much fun dealing with such a serious subject.
But it IS always good to team-teach with my better half!

But it IS always good to team-teach with my better half! 

But I'm thankful that so many CLC'ers agreed with us that it's time to wake up & make up our mind to truly serve the Lord wholeheartedly!

And I’m thankful that so many CLC’ers agreed with us that it’s time to wake up & choose to truly serve the Lord wholeheartedly!

  • Our Blue Island campus saw a great increase in local families worshipping today, including 4 families who lived close enough to walk to church!
Pastor Sam reports a "good, solid day" at our NWI campus, with several first-time guests.  (not these superheroes; they were there last Sunday!)

Pastor Sam reports a “good, solid day” at our NWI campus, with several first-time guests. (not these superheroes; they were there last Sunday!)

  • Please don’t forget to pray with us for a speedy resolution in court this Wednesday so we can move forward with the new building for NWI!

Ask the Pastor

For the past 5 weeks I’ve been answering questions about “speaking in tongues”.  Today’s questions are a variety that didn’t fit neatly into another category:

  • Can you pray in the spirit without speaking in Tongues?  I don’t know what that would look like, since in the Bible those two terms are synonymous – notice 1Cor. 14:14-16
  • What is travailing in tongues? I once had a strong strenuous prayer in tongues.  Travailing in the spirit is a fulfillment of Romans 8:26-27.  It is the most  intense form of prayer that I’ve ever experienced personally.
  • If this is something we should do privately, when someone on the platform tells everyone to begin to speak in their heavenly language, why is that ok? It’s not ok, if unbelievers are present, according to 1Cor. 14:18-25, and I don’t think we’ve ever done that at CLC.
  • Does speaking in tongues mean you are receiving a prophetic word? No, it means you’re praying in a language that you’ve never learned, as the Holy Spirit enables you to do so.  A prophetic word is given to you in your own language by someone who is gifted to speak prophetically.
  • When you speak in tongues does God answer your prayers more than if you don’t speak in tongues? The Bible doesn’t say.  My opinion would be that answers have nothing to do with the language we used while praying, but whether we had faith when we prayed that what we asked would come to pass! (see Mark 11:22-24)
  • Can you explain Acts 1:8?  Jesus promised that we would be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses, and that we would take His gospel to our city (Jerusalem), our region or state (Judea), across cultures to people who live near us but may not be like us (Samaria), and to the ends of the earth  (the Nations).  That verse embodies our missions strategy at CLC.  If there is a ‘tongues’ connection to that verse, it would be my opinion that we receive a ‘power’ when we baptized in the Holy Spirit that we didn’t have before even though we may have been a born-again believer.
  • Can you sing in tongues? A lady did it on the radio. She’s not the only one! Not only have I experienced it (along with millions of others), the Apostle Paul wrote about it in 1Cor. 14:15.
  • So, when speaking in tongues, I often feel stronger. How would you explain that phenomenon? Feelings are subjective – meaning, we all have them, but they vary from person to person.  Isaiah did prophesy that speaking in tongues brings us rest and refreshing, so perhaps that’s why you feel stronger.  (see Isaiah 28:11-12)

Perhaps you’re still not convinced.  Why not take your question to the Lord, and tell Him that you truly want everything that HE has for you.  (Don’t be surprised when He answers that request!)

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

Ask the Pastor

Well, it’s been almost a month since our LIVE Q & A about ‘speaking in tongues’, and I’m  still answering questions that we didn’t have time to cover in service that day.  One of the big ‘surprises’ for me was how many questions/concerns were submitted on May 31 about the possibility of Satan being involved:

  • Is it possible to mistake tongues for possession of a demon? Satan counterfeits EVERYTHING. How would I know that I’m speaking in tongues from Holy Spirit? There is so much about false preachers imparting false tongues. How can I be sure?  How would someone know the difference of speaking in tongue and speaking from the devil? Because there is difference?

Yes, because anything is possible. However, Luke 11:11-13 gives us assurance that our Father is good and there’s no way He would allow the enemy to override our sincere prayer to be filled with His Spirit!  I think these ‘worries’ are just a trick of the enemy to keep people from receiving the wonderful gift that God has promised them!  You do not need to worry that if you ask God to fill you that somehow the devil is going to answer your prayer with a false tongue! I do not understand the comment about “false preachers imparting false tongues”, as I’ve never heard of that happening & certainly there’s no record of it in the Bible.  

  • When speaking in tongues can the devil interpret your prayers to God? Is it true that when you pray in tongues that the devil does not have a clue as to what you are praying about?

Interesting – I’ve heard that said most of my life, by many well-meaning preachers.  However, there is NOTHING in the Bible to indicate that to be true.  To the contrary, since Satan has been around for 6,000 years and has demons in every country on earth, I’m pretty sure he can understand any earthly language, and since he used to be an archangel in heaven, he probably can understand the tongues of angels, too.

  • Do people fake speaking in tongues?

I feel certain that some have.  In fact, I’ve heard some people say that they faked it when they were part of a church like I described on May 31, where they were encouraged to repeat the same phrase over and over again until their tongue got twisted up or some other such attempt to ‘help’ the Holy Spirit.  Some people have said they faked it just so they could quit praying & get out of there! Bottom-line: just because someone may have faked it at some point in time, does not mean that the gift is not real or that God hasn’t promised it to you!

Still not sure? Why not tell God that you want everything HE has for you – and that IF this experience with the Holy Spirit is real, you want to receive! (I think He’ll honor that prayer!)

Hope this helped!  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Ask the Pastor

I’m still answering questions that I didn’t have time to cover in our May 31 LIVE Q & A on “speaking in tongues”.  Today’s questions from each campus and our online audience have to do with the “language”:

  • Is there something that determines what dialect someone speaks in during prayer?  Is a prayer language comparable to a language that is newly learned or is it comparable to one’s native tongue? If you have been filled with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues can you ask The Lord to change your language? When you talk in tongues is it always different words?

Yes, the Holy Spirit provides the language (or dialect) according to Acts 2:4.  I’m not sure what you by “comparable to a language newly learned or one’s native tongue” – and Scripture is silent about those details – but in my experience, it varies from individual to individual.  I’ve heard some people speak fluently as soon as they were baptized in the Holy Spirit, and I’ve heard others who started hesitantly, almost like a baby learning to talk, with only a few words in the beginning, and seen them grow in their experience later.  As to asking the Lord to “change your language”, in my experience, our prayer language does change from time to time, as the Spirit prompts and provides.  Just as you often use the same phrases when praying in English, you may use some of the same words or phrases in tongues – after all, it is a language.

  • How do you explain the tongue in reference to most sounding like babble vs diverse tongues , as like what was done and heard on the day of Pentecost? What about the gift of tongues, speaking in a language you don’t know but others understand?

I’m not sure how many languages you are personally familiar with, but in my travels to 25-30 different nations, I’ve often heard languages that sounded like ‘strange babble’ to me – but the people in those countries certainly understood.  As I shared on May 31, I’ve known of numerous cases where someone spoke in tongues and someone overheard them who understood everything they said – including some where English was the language the Holy Spirit gave someone in another country.  What happened in Pentecost was never repeated again in the Bible, but certainly has happened in modern times – so in my opinion, it’s neat when it does occur, but certainly not necessary.  And as you can see in Acts 2, the fact that the tongues were known to the hearers only resulted in amazement  and confusion and ridicule (note especially verses 12-13).  It wasn’t until Peter stood up and preached in one language that people heard the Gospel (notice Acts 2:14-41).

  • What is speaking in tongues? I never did and don’t understand if it Is an actual language or feeling that comes out in your language.

It is an actual language that you have not studied or learned, but the Holy Spirit gives you the ability to speak it as (a) a sign of His coming to you (Acts 2:4, or Acts 10:44-46; or Acts 19:1-6); or (b) as a privatepersonal aid to enhance your devotional life (1Cor. 14:2, 1Cor. 14:4, 1Cor. 14:18, Jude 20); or (c) as a public gift to be used in conjunction with the companion gift of ‘interpretation of tongues’ to encourage the entire congregation in a public gathering of believers (1Cor. 14:5, 1Cor. 14:26-28).

I may not have answered all YOUR questions, but I know ONE who can.  Why not make it a matter of prayer, and tell the Lord that you’re not convinced, but that IF He has more for you, you want it all! (I believe He will answer that prayer)

Hope this helps!  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

 

Ask the Pastor

If you read this post from last week, you know that I’m trying to answer questions that we didn’t have time for in our recent LIVE Q & A that closed the “God Breathed” series.  Here are several questions that were submitted about ‘how’ to receive a prayer language:

  • Why is it so difficult for me to receive my gift of speaking in tongues? I know that I’ve been baptized in the Holy Spirit. I’ve been praying and asking for the gift of my prayer language for MONTHS… Nothing yet. Am I doing something wrong? I sincerely desire to enhance my relationship with God. I have never spoken in tongues before. Is there something missing in my spiritual life? What if you’ve prayed multiple times for your prayer language and you’ve yet to receive it, what does that mean?

First, it’s impossible for me or anyone else to know why someone has not received their prayer language.  It is a gift that God wants you to have.  I will give you some possibilities, not that I’m accusing you, but for your consideration:

(a) have you truly trusted Jesus to be your Savior & made Him your Lord?  The baptism of the Holy Spirit is only promised to those who have received Jesus:  Acts 2:37-38; Acts 8:14-17Acts 19:1-6.  (b) Have you refused to forgive anyone?  (Unforgiveness creates a blockage in your heart to receive anything from God) –  Matthew 18:21-35(c) Do you have persistent, unrepented sin in your life? –  2Corinthians 6:14-18.

If you’ve met all of those requirements, then I would say it’s either a matter of hunger (Matt. 5:6or faith (Gal. 3:2or your cooperation with the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  HE promised to give you this gift, but YOU must do the speaking – so give a voice to the new language that the Spirit provides you.

  • I have been a born again believer for 16 years but I still do not speak in tongues. I have asked God for the release to speak in tongues and have had others pray for the release but I am still waiting. However, I feel excluded when CLCs congregation is asked to use their prayer language. I will continue to pray and wait, but is there anything else I should be doing while I am waiting?

I would urge you NOT to passively wait – Matt. 7:7-8.  I honestly believe that if you truly want to receive your prayer language, you should take every opportunity to pray for that experience – come forward at every service if necessary.

However, I also want to address your feeling of exclusion.  I have wracked my brain trying to recall when we have ever asked CLC’ers to use their prayer language in a public Sunday service, and I can’t recall that we ever have.  We have on a very few occasions where there were no unbelievers present for a midweek gathering or a prayer meeting encouraged everyone who has a prayer language to use it, but because of 1Cor. 14:18-25, I would never want to encourage everyone to pray in the spirit with unbelievers present.

If that last paragraph is not clear, let me quickly say I do not see a Biblical problem with anyone speaking in tongues during congregational prayer or worship so long as they are not drawing attention to themselves or disturbing others.  My understanding is that the cautions of 1Cor. 14 apply to times in a public gathering where someone would ‘speak out’ in tongues – NOT if someone spoke in tongues while everyone was singing or worshipping.

  • At my old church someone said that I didn’t have the Holy Spirit because I didn’t speak in tongues. They all spoke in tongues but no one ever translated & when I asked why they never translate they ignored me.

It sounds like your former church was out of order, according to 1Cor. 14:27-28.  And if they didn’t make a distinction between the Holy Spirit indwelling every born-again believer and the baptism of the Holy Spirit as a subsequent gift, then it sounds like they don’t understand the Biblical teaching of 1Cor. 12:13.

  • How do I speak in tongues?

First, don’t make that your objective (or obsession).  The Holy Spirit will give you the ability (Acts 2:4), but notice it was “everyone present” who did the speaking.  In other words, the Holy Spirit will give you the new words to say, but YOU must cooperate by giving voice to that language!

If you still have questions, perhaps my BEST advice is to simply encourage you to pray & say, “Lord, IF you have more for me, I want it – I want everything you promised me.”  From what I’ve observed over the years, God loves to answer that prayer!

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

I’m off, but CLC is NOT

 

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Getting ready to board a flight from DFW to O’Hare, and then Chris & I (and Pedro) are off for a 4-week sabbatical.  We’ve not done this in over 10 years, and I’m really feeling the need to recharge the batteries and get re-fueled for the next leg of our journey.

For that reason, you won’t be hearing much from me here, except for some pre-scheduled posts, primarily on Friday’s as I continue to answer questions.

However, just because we are away doesn’t mean CLC stops!  In fact, this is an incredibly busy & important time, with our first-ever Men’s Conference this weekend, hearing from NWI Campus Pastor Sam Hamstra at each campus this Sunday; the Watoto Choir visits to Blue Island and Tinley Park on June 23-24, the Reinhard Bonnke Gospel Crusade on June 26-27and our favorite summer series, “God@the Movies” starting on June 28(Phew, that’s a lot happening in the next few weeks.)  Enjoy!

One New Man

Today was a long day at TJCII (9am-9pm with few breaks), but I’m really glad I came.  These men are champions of the Messianic Jewish movement and what God is doing in these last days, and just being around them was contagious:

A panel of TJCII leaders (L to R): Don Finto, Marty Waldman, Brian Cox, Dan Juster, John Dawson and Wayne Wilks, Jr.

A panel discussion with TJCII leaders (L to R): Don Finto, Marty Waldman, Brian Cox, Dan Juster, John Dawson and Wayne Wilks, Jr.

Marty Waldman was the host of the meeting - wonderful Spirit-filled Jewish Rabbi

Marty Waldman was the host of the meeting – wonderful Spirit-filled Jewish Rabbi!

Raleigh Washington, President of Promise Keepers, spoke this afternoon.

Raleigh Washington, President of Promise Keepers, spoke this afternoon.

Dr. Daniel Juster, who invited me, is the leading Messianic theologian in the world and a CLC partner in the land of Israel.

Dr. Daniel Juster, who invited me, is the leading Messianic theologian in the world and a CLC partner in the land of Israel.

The highlight of my day was hearing from 85-year-old Don Finto, whose books about Israel helped me process what God was speaking to me several years ago!

The highlight of my day was hearing from 85-year-old Don Finto, whose books about Israel helped me process what God was speaking to me several years ago!

Now for some quick shut-eye before getting up at 3:30am to catch my flight home-

Toward Jerusalem Council II

If you’re a follower of Jesus, you’ve probably read about the early Church council that took place in Jerusalem in Acts 15.  At that time, the Church was primarily Jewish, and since more and more Gentiles were coming to faith in Christ, there was a problem: do the Gentiles need to be circumcised and follow the Jewish traditions in order to be saved?

Thank God the Church chose grace in Acts 15, and not to make things difficult on the Gentile believers.  As a result, over the next 1,900 years, the Church became predominantly populated with Gentiles.

But in these last days, Jews are beginning to turn to their Messiah, just as was prophesied in Scripture.  So now the question seems to be reversed: will the Gentile Church accept the Messianic Jewish believers?  That’s the focus of the meeting in Dallas that I’m attending, the “Toward Jerusalem Council II”.  Last night’s speaker was my long-time hero, Pastor Jack Hayford.

Pastor Jack told how Church on the Way, when he pastored there, had over 250 Messianic Jews in the congregation - perhaps the largest group of Messianic believers in the world at the time.

Pastor Jack told how Church on the Way, when he pastored there, had over 250 Messianic Jews in the congregation – perhaps the largest group of Messianic believers in the world at the time!

Rabbi Marty Waldman of Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in Dallas is our host (L) and Pastor Jack Hayford was the keynote speaker (Center).

Rabbi Marty Waldman of Baruch HaShem Messianic Synagogue in Dallas is our host (L) and Pastor Jack Hayford was the keynote speaker (Center).

Today is a full slate of speakers, both Jew and Gentile, so my heart is open and my mind is alert to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church!

Uniting Jews & Gentiles

Well, Jesus already did that at the Cross (Eph. 2:11-17), but like all the provisions of the Gospel, we still have to walk that out and appropriate what HE did for ourselves.

That’s why I’m headed to Dallas a little later today for a special by invitation only meeting, Toward Jerusalem Council II.  I’m looking forward to Pastor Jack Hayford tonight, along with Daniel Juster (who invited me) and other great men of God, both Jew and Gentile.

It’ll be a quick 40-hour trip and then Chris and I are off on vacation.  Later-

The-Calling-of-the-Gentiles-and-the-Uniting-Israel-and-Judah-Under-the-Messiah-Hosea-1-8-11-300x240

Sunday reflections

This will be a short post about today’s services at CLC, because (a) I hafta get ready to return for tonight’s ordination service at 5pm, and (b) what do you say after listening to Pastor Tim Ross three times in one day?  The man is a preaching machine!

Pastor Tim Ross has been a CLC favorite since his first visit in 2011.

Pastor Tim Ross has been a CLC favorite since his first visit in 2011.

Even when he's lying down in a fiery furnace, he's still preachin!

Even when he’s lying down in a fiery furnace, he’s still preachin!

Pastor Sam reports 2 salvation decisions at NWI, along with this cool college hangout after service.

Pastor Sam reports 2 salvation decisions at NWI, along with this cool college hangout after service.

Pastor William says the message was very well received in Blue Island as they closed in song, "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus!"

Pastor William says the message was very well received in Blue Island & worship was strong!

You still have time – ignore the rain and join us at 5pm as we ordain the Earley’s and Moran’s, officially welcome some new leaders and graduate our first School of Ministry class – and, of course, enjoy another message from Pastor Tim Ross!

P.S. For those who attended the 8:30am service, I erred in promising you that we’d have his message from yesterday’s leadership meeting online by tomorrow – as it turns out, we had a mechanical error and the message was NOT recorded.  So sorry-

Ask the Pastor

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As you probably know, last Sunday we closed the “God Breathed” series at CLC with a live Q & A on the subject of ‘speaking in tongues’.  We were overwhelmed with questions from all 3 Chicagoland campuses and our online audience, so I wasn’t able to answer them on Sunday.  So, I’ll be taking the next several Friday’s to address each of the questions you asked that weren’t covered on Sunday.  (Here’s the video if you missed)

God Breathed SHow Ben and Jerry from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

There were actually more questions about the gift of “interpretation of tongues” than anything else, so let’s start there:

  • When praying for someone in tongues, how can the other person understand you are truly praying for them?  I can speak in tongues but I don’t know what I’m saying-how can i know/discern what I’m praying for? How do you even know what you’re saying when you speak in tongues?  In order to speak the prayer language do I have to understand it?  Do people who speak in tongues understand you when you do it?

1Cor. 14:2 is very clear that speaking in tongues is NOT for people to understand, but rather is a language that we speak to God.  That’s why we usually call it a “prayer language” at CLC, since it’s intended purpose and benefit is for the individual in their personal, private times of devotion – NOT for public use, since no one understands.

  • How does the gift of interpretation of tongues manifest at CLC? What is the protocol? Can you talk about the apostle Paul’s teaching about the accompanying interpretation of tongues for public edification? How do you interpret the prophetic spiritual tongue? What does it mean to interpret tongues? Who can interpret? Why in some cases would you need a translator for those speaking in the holy language?

The gift of interpretation of tongues is the supernatural ability given by the Holy Spirit to interpret what someone has said in tongues; i.e., the ‘interpreter’ does not understand the language, but is given the interpretation on that occasion by the Holy Spirit, so that the entire congregation can receive benefit.

The “protocol” or rule for the use of that public gift to benefit the entire congregation is given in 1Cor. 14:27-28, as follows:

(a) at least 2 or at the most 3 people would speak to the congregation in tongues, one at a time (not all at once); (b) then one of them or another individual who has the gift of interpretation of tongues would tell the congregation the meaning of what had just been spoken in tongues; (c) if no one is present who has the gift of interpretation, then there should be NO speaking to the congregation in tongues, but rather quietly to oneself.

  • Can you speak and interpret your own tongue? (Praying with someone) Not if you’re following the Biblical instruction in 1Cor. 14:27-28, which requires at least one or two other people to be involved in an orderly fashion.  Is there praying in tongues, and can God hear and answer, or can gifted others interpret this prayer?  There is certainly ‘praying’ in tongues, since that is the primary purpose & use of this gift (see 1Cor. 14:2Speaking in tongues is a language that is different than any other. The interpretation and representation of what is said is not known by the speaker. Why is this? I’m not sure what you mean by a “language that is different than any other”, since the Bible word translated as “tongues” simply means “languages” and there are examples in Scripture and today of people who spoke in tongues by the power of the Holy Spirit, yet it was a known language that was understood by some others who overheard them.  As to your second question of ‘why’ the language is not known by the speaker, well, that’s the point: it is a  supernatural gift that is given by the Holy Spirit to enable you to speak a language that you have not studied and do not know; it’s a miracle!

I hope this helps, but I’ve got a suggestion if you have any questions about the Holy Spirit.  Why not ask God if HE has more for you, then tell Him if so, you want it.  That’s a prayer HE delights in answering.

Next Friday we’ll tackle the next set of questions, but in the meantime, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Welcoming TIM ROSS back to our pulpit

tim ross

I first met Tim in 2010 and was immediately impressed with his spirit and demeanor.

He first visited CLC to minister that next year for our 21st anniversary, and we all LOVED him immediately.

Seriously.  He made an amazing impact on our congregation and our leaders. In fact, I don’t recall ever falling in love with a man of God so quickly or so easily.  Tim has become the younger brother I never had, my brother from another mother.

He’s been back to minister at CLC several times since that first visit, and agreed to serve as the youngest-ever-member of our Board of Directors in 2013-2014.

He has served at two of America’s most well-known churches, first at the Potter’s House, where he was the youngest elder ever ordained by Bishop T.D. Jakes, and most recently, at Gateway Church where he has served Pastor Robert Morris.

Recently he announced his plans to open Embassy City Church in Irving, TX this September.

But THIS SUNDAY he will be ministering 4 times at CLC-Tinley Park, as he’ll bring a different message in each of our morning services AND as our special guest at 5pm when we ordain two new Associate Pastors at CLC: Josh & Heather Moran and Ken & Patricia Earley.

I can’t wait.

Introducing Jamie Grace to CLC

Who is Jamie Grace?

Well, she’s the 2012 Dove Award winner for new artist of the year.

She’s an up-and-coming star in the Christian music industry, as a musician, singer, rapper and songwriter.

More to the point, she’ll be HERE at CLC-Tinley Park this Friday, June 5 at 7pm!

Enjoy a sample of her music, and plan to join us Friday night:

Oh yeah – see you TONIGHT for CLC’s Live recording!

clc live

WHY a LIVE CD recording of CLC worship?

clc live

By now you know that TOMORROW night we’re doing our 4th Worship Project at CLC!

WHY?

  • Over 20 years ago, we received a prophecy that “music & worship would be the thing that drew people to come to CLC” and that it would fuel our growth! (That was ‘bad news’ to my ego, but ‘good news’ that took the pressure off my preaching).  Smile here.  By having a CD of CLC worship, our music (and anointing) can get out to people that may never have been here (yet)!
  • Just about every Sunday we have folks asking how they can get a song or songs that we’ve sung that day, so they can enjoy the worship at home or in their car. While we can’t do that weekly, many CLC’ers will benefit from this recording!
  • We’ve been blessed not only with anointed and talented singers & musicians at CLC, but also with a number of songwriters – and this Wednesday will feature some of the original songs that have been birthed right here at CLC.  The live CD recording will enable those songs to reach other churches and artists, who will benefit from what God is doing in our house!
  • YOU can be a part of it!  That’s right; a live recording means the audience participation is included in the CD – so if you’ve always aspired to be a recording artist, you can join about 500 of us this Wednesday at 7pm and sing your heart out!
  • Besides, it’s FUN!  Can’t wait to see you here-

THREE big events in one week?!?!? What were we thinking???

We try to be strategic in managing our calendar at CLC.

We keep in mind that people have jobs and families, too.  (Sometimes pastors forget that people have a life outside of church!)

Having said that, how in the world did we wind up with a LIVE recording, a CONCERT, and an ORDINATION service within 5 days???

Well, it’s like this:

(a) we scheduled a LIVE CD recording of our worship team in March…then pushed it back to April…then pushed it back to this Wednesday, June 3.  Those delays seemed prudent at the time, to give our team more time to be prepared for the recording, since this is only the 4th we’ve done in 25 years!

(b) we definitely wanted to bring Pastor Tim Ross back to CLC (he’s one of our favorites!)  and we knew his availability would be very limited after he launches Embassy City Church in Irving, TX this September, so when he confirmed for June 7, it made sense for him to preach the ordination of two couples from our pastoral staff, Josh & Heather Moran  and  Ken & Patricia Earley!

(c) then late last week we got a call that a popular young Christian recording artist had a last-minute cancellation during her summer tour, and wondered if CLC could host instead – so that’s how we got Jamie Grace at CLC this Friday, June 5.

I do know that you have a life, and that you’ll probably have to choose between these three events – but I think whichever one(s) you choose, it’ll be FUN!

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tim ross

Unanswered questions from Sunday’s Q&A

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Yesterday at CLC we closed our “God Breathed” series with a LIVE Q & A about speaking in tongues, and there were more than 60 questions submitted from all 3 Chicagoland campuses as well as our online audience.

Since I was only able to answer about 10-12 of those questions in each service, lots of you were probably disappointed that your question didn’t get addressed publicly.

So I’m encouraging you to check back here each Friday for the next few weeks, as I’ll try to provide answers to all of those that we didn’t have time to cover live.  Thanks!

Sunday reflections

On this 5th Sunday of May, a “Family Sunday” at CLC, this is what we did:

Our students LED worship (at least in NWI pictured here, and in TP)

Our students helped to LEAD worship (at least in NWI pictured here, and in TP)

We BAPTIZED new believers, in both TP and South Bend (Pastor Doug pictured here with 1 of 4 baptized there today!)

We BAPTIZED new believers, in both TP and South Bend (Pastor Doug pictured here with 1 of 4 baptized there today!)

We DEDICATED at least 7 babies, including Sammy Lagunas pictured here in our Blue Island campus.

We DEDICATED at least 7 babies, including Sammy Lagunas pictured here with parents Enrique & Erika at our Blue Island campus.

We celebrated PEOPLE COMING TO JESUS - more than 30 at our Davao, Philippines campus after Jon Jones preached there this morning!

We celebrated PEOPLE COMING TO JESUS – more than 30 at our Davao, Philippines campus after Jon Jones preached there this morning!

and another 80 at the Davao campus after my wife ministered there tonight!  (By the way, our Philippine team is now on their way home to us after a wonderful 2 weeks in Davao)

and another 80 at the Davao campus after my wife ministered there tonight! (By the way, our Philippine team is now on their way home to us after a wonderful 2 weeks in Davao)

At our 3 Chicagoland campuses, we enjoyed the "Ben & Jerry's show" as people submitted more than 60 questions about speaking in tongues from all our campuses AND online!

At our 3 Chicagoland campuses, we enjoyed the “Ben & Jerry’s show” as people submitted more than 60 questions about speaking in tongues from all our campuses AND online!

Behind the scenes it takes a lot of great people & equipment to make a LIVE Q&A happen!

Behind the scenes it takes a lot of great people & equipment to make a LIVE Q&A happen!

But I can’t call it a day yet – it’s almost time for our “FX – Family Experience” tonight – free barbecue at 4pm; the fun starts at 5pm at our Tinley Park campus.  See you there-

Last call for your questions

Tongues

I’ve already had several responses from people outside of CLC for this Sunday’s Q & A about “speaking in tongues”, and I’ll admit, there have been some that I’ve never been asked before.  (That’s surprising to me since I grew up in a Pentecostal church and after 42+ years of ministry, I thought I’d heard it all!)

We WILL be fielding live questions from each Chicagoland campus of CLC as well as from our online audience this Sunday, May 31, at 8:30am, 10am and 12 noon – but you can help me get prepared by submitting YOUR question now.  Just leave your question in the comment section below, or, if you’re reading this on Facebook, by posting a question below, or via email.

Our pastoral team has some great ideas to make this a FUN experience for the entire family on this Family Sunday, so invite a friend and let’s see what God will do.

4 minutes, 29 seconds with our Philippine Missions team

We have a team of 10 CLC’ers in the Philippines right now, serving our CLC-Davao campus, and they’re having the time of their lives.  I’m SO thankful for what God is doing there at our campus, and I thought you might enjoy a look at the Youth Leaders Conference that was held there just this past Friday & Saturday. (If you look closely, you’ll get to see several of our team members).  Enjoy:

 

Sunday reflections

A few random musings on this Memorial Day weekend/Pentecost Sunday at CLC:

First, MAJOR KUDOS to Harmony LeBeff & the SoP musicians & singers, who led worship almost non-stop from 8:30am to 1pm today!

First, MAJOR KUDOS to Harmony LeBeff & the SoP musicians & singers, who led worship almost non-stop from 8:30am to 1pm today, as we celebrated Pentecost with a Holy Spirit Encounter!

AND big THANKS to our ministry team who must have prayed over more than 1,000 people who walked thru our 'Prayer Tunnel' today!

AND big THANKS to our ministry team who must have prayed over more than 1,000 people who walked thru our ‘Prayer Tunnel’ today!

It's really one of a pastor's greatest JOYS to be able to pray with folks one-on-one!

It’s really one of a pastor’s greatest JOYS to be able to pray with folks one-on-one!

Pastor Sam reports the altars at NWI were packed with people praying for healing, favor & to be filled with the Holy Spirit today! (This great worship team led people into His Presence all morning!)

Pastor Sam reports the altars at NWI were packed with people praying for healing, favor & to be filled with the Holy Spirit today! (This great worship team led people into His Presence all morning!)

Our Blue Island campus had a powerful time praying over our youth in the English service.

Our Blue Island campus had a powerful time praying over our youth in the English service.

  • Pastor Doug reports a “glorious day” today with extended worship, awesome flow of the Spirit, prayers for healing and tremendous joy & freedom at the South Bend campus!

I just realized that I forgot the most important thing today: I failed to get any testimonies from those who received healing or their prayer language in the ‘Prayer Tunnel’.  

If YOU received a physical healing at any CLC campus today, PLEASE leave a comment below or hit me with an email.

Likewise, if you were baptized in the Holy Spirit today and received your prayer language, please let us know, either below or via email.

That’s it for today – enjoy your Memorial Day holiday tomorrow!

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Ask the Pastor

Tongues

I didn’t have any questions submitted this week, but we’re gonna do something next Sunday (May 31) that we’ve NEVER done at CLC – a Q&A Sunday!

Here’s the deal: the entire month of May has been/is our Holy Spirit emphasis with the  God Breathed series. To close it off on May 31, I want to answer every question you’ve ever had about ‘speaking in tongues’ but may have been afraid to ask.

We plan to do that live, with questions texted to us from all our Chicagoland campuses and online audience (hey, like they say: “high-risk; high-reward”!) – but to get the message started, I would love to get some questions in advance so we don’t have an awkward delay while we wait for the first texts to come in.  Even if you’re not able to join us physically or for the livestream that day, we’ll get the video online afterward so you can watch it on demand and get the answers to all your questions.

No question is taboo and all the questions will be anonymous – so please leave your question below on this blog, or in the comment section of Facebook, or even via email to me – anything you’ve wanted to know about speaking in tongues or what we usually refer to as “a prayer language” at CLC.

I can’t wait!

Ask away…..

Headed home encouraged!

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I’ve been in San Bernardino, CA for the past two-and-a-half days for the Pastor’s Gathering at Rock Church.

  • I don’t recall ever being treated with more love, kindness and hospitality.
  • I certainly don’t recall ever being at a conference where the speakers were so transparent, vulnerable, and authentic.
  • For that matter, I’ve never been at a pastor’s conference with such high-powered speakers: Jim Cobrae, Bayless Conley, Diego Mesa and Jim Reeve may not be household names, but the smallest congregation of the four averages over 10,000 people in attendance each weekend.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the conference is that, instead of the usual  ‘how-to-grow-your-church-as-big-as-ours’ type sessions, each speaker instead talked about their struggles, their failures, their hurts and their disappointments – but constantly pointed us back to the faithfulness of God!

I wasn’t discouraged when I came here, but I’m glad I came.

I’m definitely coming home encouraged.

God is good!

Ups & downs, in & out, good & bad…

 

even when life is up & down, in & out, good & bad

even when life is up & down, in & out, good & bad

That’s probably not news to you, but it is a reality of life that we all must deal with.

Yesterday, I flew from Chicago to LA and had an enjoyable lunch with my eldest son, whom I only get to see once or twice a year.

Then I learned electronically that one of our staff members was having emergency surgery.

Next, I drove to the pastor’s gathering that was the purpose of my trip.  The opening session was SO refreshing and SO good that I knew I was in for a great two-and-a-half days with fellow pastors, including a dear friend from Seattle who met me here.

During the conference I got a call that someone had messed-up big-time, and that my wife and another member were NOT going to be able to travel with the team to the Philippines for the missions trip.  I spent what seemed like hours on the phone/texts with my tearful wife, the incredulous travel agent who did nothing wrong , and United Airlines before finally getting that issue resolved by mid-morning today.

And each time I focused on the speakers in San Bernardino instead of the travel fiasco in Chicago, the stuff they were sharing was as good as anything I’ve ever received at any conference, anywhere. I mean, these men are all experienced pastors, leading churches that range in size from 10,000 to 18,000 in weekly attendance, and they’ve got something to say!

I said all of that to say, that’s how life is.  You may not like it (none of us do), but you will experience heartache, challenges, tears and stress…..and moments of revelation, joy and blessing…..and maybe even on the same day!  

Deal with it!

And don’t ever forget that God is good, all the time!

Pentecost Sunday 2015

pentecost

This Sunday, May 24 is Pentecost Sunday – the 1,986th birthday of The Church of Jesus Christ as recorded in Act 2.  I call it ‘birthday’ because The Church was born with the promised coming of the Holy Spirit.

We’ve been talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit these past few Sundays as part of our “God Breathed” series.  But we’re celebrating the birthday of The Church by foregoing our ‘normal’ service in place of an Encounter service.

If you join us, you can expect 75-minutes of unreserved worship and prayer, as we invite the Holy Spirit to ‘do it again’ with every person in the room.  You will have the opportunity to receive personal prayer in the area of physical healing, financial blessing, and the full ministry of the Holy Spirit and His gifts.

I can’t wait!  I hope you’ll join us at any Chicagoland campus of CLC to celebrate Pentecost 2015!

Always Open

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I only preached 2 of our 3 Sunday services yesterday (wasn’t Todd White awesome at noon?!?), but I had one of the best compliments I’ve ever received last night and another today:

  • Alan Franklin, one of our elders at CLC and the Worship Director for our Blue Island campus (where he received the message via video) wrote, “Great word today, Pastor, (“Always Open”). I love how God uses you to make “moves of the Spirit” and “tongues” and “miracles” so reachable, not scary. It felt like those who were on the fence regarding the manifestations of the Holy Spirit were letting go of hindrances and becoming more open.”
  • Today I heard from another CLC attender who was out of state, but watched the service online.  She has struggled a bit with the whole idea of ‘tongues’ and the Holy Spirit baptism – but she told a friend that she is now open after yesterday!

God knows that I don’t tell you that to call attention to my teaching – but rather to say that yesterday’s message (in my humble opinion) is critically important for all of us.  (If you weren’t here, I would even urge you to watch it below.)  I say that because it’s one thing to say that we embrace the ‘full ministry of the Holy Spirit’ at CLC, but entirely another for us to truly be open to all of His ministry among us – and I personally don’t want to miss something God has for me because I allowed my heart to be closed.

From the beginning of CLC, I have believed that it’s possible to have a Spirit-filled church without being weird.  In fact, most of the weird stuff I’ve seen in 40+ years of ministry can be directly attributed to people who act weird, with or without the Holy Spirit!

BUT, if I have to choose between the ministry of the Holy Spirit with some strange things happening occasionally, or to have perfectly-ordered, reasonable and non-weird services without the Holy Spirit, I’ll still choose to be OPEN to what God may be doing.  Always Open!

God Breathed pt 3 always open from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

WOW!  What a Sunday at CLC:

It was so touching to baptize Dexter Oblena just one month after losing his wife to cancer - "weeping may endure for the night, but JOY comes in the morning!"

It was so touching to baptize Dexter Oblena just one month after losing his wife to cancer – “weeping may endure for the night, but JOY comes in the morning!”

  • Preached myself hoarse in the first service today; good thing I didn’t have to do all 3!  (But I must admit I had fun with the ‘indignity of the touch of Deity’)
It was a privilege to hear from Todd White in the noon service at CLC-TP!

It was a privilege to hear from Todd White in the noon service at CLC-TP!  He had so many GREAT quotables & one-liners that my Facebook page blew up afterwards!

Todd TOLD us that people are never an inconvenience; then he SHOWED us by staying in the altar to minister to each person who wanted prayer!

Todd TOLD us that people are never an inconvenience; then he SHOWED us by staying in the altar to minister to each person who wanted prayer!  Love his heart for Jesus AND people!

He actually ministered at NWI first, to a record-breaking attendance of 307!

He actually ministered at NWI first, to a record-breaking attendance of 307!

Pastors Sam & Taylor reported such an encouraging day with Todd White as the FIRST guest speaker ever at NWI as the momentum is growing there!

Pastors Sam & Taylor reported such an encouraging day with Todd White as the FIRST guest speaker ever at NWI as the momentum is growing there!

  • Pastor Doug reports another good day at CLC-South Bend, with some new leaders added to their team!
Pastor William preaching in Blue Island today

Pastor William preaching in Blue Island today

It's EXHAUSTING to be this cute!  (and she didn't even sit through 3 services in TP)

It’s EXHAUSTING to be this cute! (and she didn’t even sit through 3 services in TP)

With Kelsey’s cue, I’m gonna call it a day now – but what a wonderful day it was!

Ask the Pastor

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A friend writes, “I was walking from work with a friend recently. We encountered a woman with some type of physical disability which caused her to walk differently. It was a tad windy and she “seemed” to really labor.  I had the urge to want to put both my hands on her and say, “IN THE NAME OF JESUS, BE HEALED”…….But I did nothing….said nothing….This has happened several times in my life.  My question is…..WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?”

Good question.  And I’m sure you’re not alone, in your experience or in your question.  Let me try to make some sense of it for you.  If there’s an example in Scripture of a similar situation, I’m not aware of it.  So I’m left with trying to find some Biblical principles that could apply:

  • The urge to pray for someone and see them healed is (and should be) very normal for any believer.  After all, Jesus Himself said this is one of the ‘signs’ that should accompany us as believers (Mark 16:17-18)
  • There are plenty of examples in the book of Acts of believers who did that very thing, with wonderful results: Acts 3:1-8; 5:15-16; 8:6-8; 9:17-18; 9:32-34; 14:8-10, etc.
  • One thing is certain: 100% of those you don’t pray for will not be healed. (Well, at least not through your prayers.  I’m sure God is able to bring someone else to pray for them and see them healed.) 

Perhaps your real question is whether the ‘urge’ you sensed was God moving on you to pray for the woman, or was it ‘just you’?  To that question, I must confess, ‘I don’t know’.  Your urge may have been nothing more than the normal compassion that any believer feels when we see someone in need.  In my humble opinion, there’s nothing wrong with responding to compassion even if we don’t know that God is directing us.  Let’s suppose you did lay hands on her and pray for healing (after getting her permission, of course), and nothing happened.  You still did what you thought was the right thing to do, and your action was born out of compassion and concern for a fellow human being. What’s the harm in that?

On the other hand, what if you had prayed for her, and God answered that prayer?  Both of you would have experienced a miracle, and both your lives would have been impacted for good – perhaps even changed forever!

I’m saying, it’s never wrong to say ‘yes’ to God.

Now, let me quickly add that your question may have already been born out of a sense of guilt or shame that you failed to act when prompted.  If so, do not let the enemy beat you up with his accusations!  Remember Romans 8:1.  Repent to the Lord and purpose in your heart that you’ll respond different if HE prompts you again.  Then walk in freedom, knowing that you are a child of God and that your Father loves you!

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

BIG Expectations

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I have BIG expectations about this Sunday at CLC.  Can I be honest with you?

Some people take the approach that no expectations mean no disappointments, probably because they share Shakespeare’s philosophy (he said “expectation is the root of all heartache”).  Not me.

And I’m especially anticipating good things Sunday no matter which service you attend.  See, I’m preaching at the 8:30 and 10am services a message that I’ve already seen God use to set people free and bring healing to some in Cambodia this past March, and after our sermon-planning meeting this week, I think it’s even better than originally!

And yesterday I had a phone conversation with Evangelist Todd White who will be ministering at both the NWI service at 10am and the Tinley Park service at noon.  I was already feeling good about Todd’s visit, based on his association with Reinhard Bonnke and the videos I had seen of his ministry – but after talking with him personally, my faith is even higher that we’re going to see some wonderful things on Sunday!

I urge you to invite your friends and family members to join us – any campus, any service THIS Sunday!

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A personal rant

Warning: the post that follows has NO redeeming value.  It is strictly giving me a chance to vent after the last 2 games of the Bulls playoff series against the Cavs.

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Let me say it upfront: Lebron James is THE greatest player in the NBA today, period. His skills, both offensively and defensively, are, well, amazing.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if the Bulls simply got beat by a better team.

But the last 2 games I’ve been yelling at the TV in frustration – first, with the ref’s non-call that actually decided game 4, when the error by the Cav’s coach should have given the Bulls a free throw and the ball, with the score tied.

Then, last night’s travesty when Taj Gibson was given a flagrant 2 foul AND ejected from the game, when the replay clearly shows Dellavedova initiated the action with a ‘leg-lock’ – and the ref’s had the opportunity to review the replay.  And to add insult to injury, Dellavedova not only didn’t get called for the foul, he was allowed to continue playing.

When you add that to the fact that Lebron can push, shove, travel and more without it being called, simply because of who he is, and in my humble opinion, this series has been stacked against the Bulls.  It’s one thing to outplay your opponent; it’s another thing to have to outplay the referees.

Ok, you can go back to your day.  Not sure I feel any better after venting, so I’m headed to the prayer room now.

Another look at Todd White

I just learned from our tech team that we cannot get the necessary ‘permission’ for you to view the video I originally posted of Todd White earlier today, (because we edited it for our use at CLC) but I found another video that I thought would whet your appetite for his ministry visit to CLC this coming Sunday:

Remember, he will be ministering at our NWI Campus at 10am AND in Tinley Park at noon.  Let’s GET READY for God to breathe on CLC!

 

Introducing Todd White to CLC

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Todd White is the featured evangelist for the Youth Nights in Reinhard Bonnke’s crusade ministry.  He has also been seen in the movies, Father of Lights“, Furious Love andHoly Ghost“.

Todd was a drug addict for over 20 years before coming to Christ and eventually being set free through the ministry of Teen Challenge.  Now his ministry is characterized by the gifts of the Spirit, with healings and miracles accompanying his travels.

Here’s a video that really encouraged me – to save time, you may want to skip to about :58 and watch about 3 minutes of his story.

I’m excited about the Word I have to preach at 8:30 & 10am next Sunday, but I’m really looking forward to Todd’s ministry here at the noon service – hope you’ll join us!

A million-dollar miracle!

One of our faithful CLC’ers (who shall remain nameless since I didn’t ask her permission to share this) told me several years ago that she felt I was supposed to write a book about CLC, and that she had seen the title of the book in a dream: “Million Dollar Miracle”.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get the book written, but I have lived long enough to see the million dollar miracle:

This building was originally a Jewish synagogue in 1955 - has 26,000 sq ft. and sits on 4 acres of land, valued at $1.4M.

This building was originally a Jewish synagogue in 1955 – has 26,000 sq ft. and sits on 4 acres of land, valued at $1.4M.

We CLOSED the deal this past Friday, with Pastor Sam & Finance Director Carlton McCarthy & Corporate Secretary Jack Starks (not pictured) joining me with a copy of the deed.

We CLOSED the deal this past Friday, with Pastor Sam & Finance Director Carlton McCarthy & Corporate Secretary Jack Starks (not pictured) joining me with a copy of the deed.

It is OFFICIAL!  CLC now owns that property for 10% of it's appraised value, DEBT-FREE!

It is OFFICIAL! CLC now owns that property for 10% of it’s appraised value, DEBT-FREE!

We received commitments at each campus yesterday to help with the expected renovation costs of more than $100,000 – and it’s not too late for you to help us complete the miracle!  You can remit your offering online or at any service now through August.

We serve a miracle-working God!

 

Sunday reflections

What can I say?

I was off my game this Mother’s Day…got almost no pics…don’t wanna talk about attendance…didn’t hit the home run I wanted with our #WelcomeHomeNWI commitments,  and watched the Bulls lose a heart-breaker to the Cavs.  UGH!

Here’s what I did like about this Mother’s Day:

  • my wife’s teaching to kick-off the God Breathed series, by looking at 3 times God breathed on us – for revelation (2Tim 3:16); to revive hope in us (Ezekiel 37:9-14);  and for us to receive the power of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). Brilliant, babe!
  • Three people met the Lord in the waters of baptism today: congrats to Alicia Penney, Denotra Jawdat, and Christopher Calhoun!  (That never gets old!)
Pastor Sam says the whole NWI campus is EXCITED about having Todd White to minister there next Sunday at 10am!

Pastor Sam says the whole NWI campus is EXCITED about having Todd White to minister there next Sunday at 10am!

Our Blue Island campus had a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit at the close of the English service!

Our Blue Island campus had a powerful manifestation of the Holy Spirit at the close of the English service!

In the Spanish service, Pastor William interviewed 2 special moms (Melek Arevalo & Nancy Villacorta) for their Mother's Day message

In the Spanish service, Pastor William interviewed 2 special moms (Melek Arevalo & Nancy Villacorta) for their Mother’s Day message

  • At our South Bend campus, Pastor Shanna delivered a stirring message to one of the largest Mother’s Day attendances in recent years, and Pastor Doug says there was a LOT of love & joy in the house!
Pastora Nelly Montes brought a powerful message at our Davao, Philippines campus for Mother's Day

Pastora Nelly Montes brought a powerful message at our Davao, Philippines campus for Mother’s Day

Many people came forward to receive Christ after each of their 3 services today.

Many people came forward to receive Christ after each of their 3 services today.

 

This afternoon the Davao campus baptized 84 precious new believers!

This afternoon the Davao campus baptized 84 precious new believers!  Gotta love what God is doing at our Philippines campus!

 

 

 

 

Our NWI family

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I had the privilege last night of joining our NWI family on their “First Wednesday” service, to kick-off our “God Breathed” series there.

I wish ALL of CLC could have seen the love, the unity, and the enthusiasm at that campus – I’ve been hearing the reports of divine momentum from Pastor Sam for a while now, but it was so neat to witness it firsthand.

I’m excited about sowing a significant seed into the #WelcomeHomeNWI project this Sunday, when every campus of CLC will join together in helping our only  ‘homeless’ campus move into their own home, debt-free!

I hope you’ll pray about what your part in that project should be, and then obey whatever the Lord tells you.  Pray. and. Obey.

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Your Part in the Miracle…

I shared this with CLC last week:

I’d say GOD has done HIS part in giving us an unmistakable opening.  But His work is never complete without our cooperation.  Here’s why I think you should pray & obey:

  • Having a permanent home in NWI gives stability to our efforts.  (Some folks view portable churches as fly-by-night start-ups.  Having our own building seems to make our church ‘legitimate’ in their eyes.)
  • Having our own home frees up LOTS of volunteer hours for other ministries.  Our set-up and tear-down teams at NWI are required to spend hours every week before & after service just getting our rented space ready for people to come & worship.  When we have our own place, those hours can be used to serve people in other productive ways.
  • Perhaps most important, having a home in the community enables us to have a real ‘presence’ IN the community, and we’re already planning community outreaches utilizing sports, a community garden, a coffee bar and more, to see more changed lives in NWI! 
  • I well remember the difference our building made in the growth of CLC-Tinley Park.  If we had not stepped out in faith and made the necessary financial sacrifices back in 1999, I’m convinced our growth would have stalled-out and we’d still be a small congregation in a small building.  The momentum that Pastor Sam and our NWI congregation are experiencing right now will certainly be enhanced when they can move into their own facility debt-free!

Just a few people at NWI made advance commitments this past Sunday that totalled about $10,000!  We need every CLC’er to follow their example by doing YOUR part.  Please pray and ask the Lord what He would have you to do.  Then do what He says.  Pray and obey.

We will receive your 90-day commitments this Sunday, May 10, at each CLC campus.

 

Sunday reflections

Today was unusual at CLC – it was unusually warm for this time of year; we had an   unusual amount of absentees (I’m sure that was a combination of late night boxing fans who slept in today, plus Women’s Retreat participants who had all the church they could handle for one weekend); and we had an unusual guest speaker, a Spirit-filled, Word of Faith, Messianic Jewish Rabbi:

Curt & Christy Landry are a gift to the Body of Christ.

Curt & Christy Landry are a gift to the Body of Christ.

They presented CLC with a beautiful Shofar from Israel (his explanation of the shofar in the noon service was AMAZING!)

They presented CLC with a beautiful Shofar from Israel (his explanation of the shofar in the noon service was AMAZING!)

Pastor Sam cast vision in NWI for their new building & received almost $10,000 in commitments even though NEXT Sunday is the day people are to bring them!  (He was also excited that about 2/3's of today's audience are NEW to CLC (not part of the launch team)

Pastor Sam cast vision in NWI for their new building & received almost $10,000 in commitments even though NEXT Sunday is the day people are to bring them! (He was also excited that about 2/3’s of today’s audience are NEW to CLC (not part of the launch team)

In Blue Island, after Rabbi's ministry at the English service, the altar ministry continued for some time.

In Blue Island, after Rabbi’s ministry at the English service, the altar ministry continued for some time.

 

 

Most CREATIVE evangelism award goes to our Davao campus: since the big fight took place about noon Philippines time, instead of the usual drop-off in attendance whenever Manny fights, our pastors advertised the pay-for-view event would be streamed on the big screen at CLC.  So their building was packed and at the close of service, 83 people came forward to receive Jesus as Savior!

Most CREATIVE evangelism award goes to our Davao campus: since the big fight took place about noon Philippines time, instead of the usual drop-off in attendance whenever Manny fights, our pastors advertised the pay-for-view event would be streamed on the big screen at CLC. So their building was packed and at the close of service, 83 people came forward to receive Jesus as Savior!

  • Pastor Doug reports our South Bend campus continues to experience a real sense of momentum with 10 new people joining their membership class today after another great time of worship (and more new folks on the worship team, too!)

If that’s not unusual enough, we also have a special evening service today at 5pm where we’re expecting miracles, signs & wonders to accompany Rabbi Curt’s ministry.  (If you’re in Chicagoland, c’mon and join us!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask the Pastor

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A former CLC’er who now lives in another state writes, “I have a biblical question: can you tell me the difference between when a person has a breakthrough vs. when they are delivered?”

Hmmmm. In all honesty, I’m not sure that is a Biblical question, because I don’t think the Bible uses either term explicitly.  In fact, I did a concordance search and as I see it, neither term is used in the sense that we normally use them today.

Having said that, I can give you MY thoughts about the difference between the two terms, as commonly used in today’s “Christianese”:

  • Breakthrough, as I’ve heard it expressed, seems to imply a blockage of some sort has now been removed; e.g., “I’ve had a financial breakthrough, Praise God!”, meaning that whatever was hindering my finances or holding me back or keeping me in debt has now been defeated, and I’ve overcome it.  That breakthrough could be in regards to prayer or family relationships (i.e., communication, etc.) or finances or worship or even in regard to spiritual warfare.
  • Delivered, on the other hand, usually refers to being set free from a habit or behavior, whether through discipline or prayer or even by casting out a demon.  For example, “I’ve been delivered from gambling”.

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

Do you believe in miracles?

I do!

And I heard of one yesterday, as one of our CLC leaders who had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer sent word to us that after she had been given a CAT scan her doctor told her there is now NO TRACE of cancer anywhere in her body! (We’ll share more details & hopefully have her on video sometime soon)

More importantly, if you or someone you know NEEDS a miracle, I’m expecting some this Sunday when we kick off our new series, “God Breathed“, focusing on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

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My expectations jumped even higher after a phone call last night with our special guest, Curt Landry.  Curt and his wife have been involved in Jewish ministry ever since they came to faith 25 years ago.  As a Spirit-filled Messianic Jewish Rabbi, he travels worldwide speaking on the power of covenant restoration, healing signs and miracles, Israel and the Church, and the revelation of the One New Man spoken of in Ephesians 2, and like the New Testament examples, he ministers in the power and demonstration of the Holy Spirit  (see 1Cor. 2:4-5; Mark 16:17-18; Romans 15:19)

Curt will be preaching a 3-part series on Sunday morning (in case you want to stay for more than one service) and also ministering Sunday at 5pm in a special “healing rally” where we will specifically expect miracles from the Holy Spirit.  If you know someone who needs healing, or if you want a healing from the Lord, I urge you to join us Sunday at 5pm.

It’s the kick-off to a great month of Holy Spirit power!

Help for NEPAL

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I’m sure by now you’ve heard or seen the reports coming from Nepal after the devastating earthquake last weekend, with perhaps 10,000 killed and thousands more left homeless.

While CLC does not have a partner on the ground that we support regularly, we have learned through our friends of a trusted, proven ministry named Mountain Child.  Their founder, Jack Reid, has a local church in Kathmandu and International Organization status with Nepal that allows him access to any of the restricted areas. Jack has been working among the unreached people groups of the Himalayas for over 15 years and is strategically positioned to be an integral asset to the disaster response and recovery.

If you have been wanting to know how you can help with disaster relief, here is Jack’s appeal since the earthquake:

I am writing to you with a heavy heart. The remote areas that have defined the mission of MountainChild over the past 15+ years have been catastrophically hit by the affects of the recent earthquake. Initial reports indicate close to 90% destruction with widespread loss of life. Many of the projects and infrastructure that MountainChild has worked so diligently to build over the years has been dealt a significant blow.

What remains intact is our resolve to see Christ exalted amongst these remote communities. We have an unprecedented opportunity to unfold God’s pervasive grace upon areas that have only known martyrdom in the past. The hearts of these unreached are now open and they are crying for help. We are positioned for success through the decades of community building that now affords us the relational grid to deliver both natural and eternal results. 

A MountainChild “air team” is boarding helicopters by the end of this week to meet with remote community leaders and further assess the damage. Plans are underway to dispatch a “ground team” in an effort to reach these communities by foot. It is no exaggeration to expect up to 3-4 weeks of walking over landslides to reach these areas. We will be commandeering hundreds of donkeys to help transport crucial supplies including; tarps, rope, portable water filtration systems, medicine and food. Once on site, emergency health care will be provided along with crucial aid. This will be just the beginning. 

We need your help more than ever. Please prayerfully consider this opportunity for exalting Christ in the hearts of unreached people groups that have remained resistant to the gospel until today. I have never felt stronger in the face of hardship or the surge of faith that now is the time to hoist the flag of God’s kingdom at the top of the world. We are giving our everything to capitalize on this opportunity and I ask you to join us in the same measure. 

If you would like to help; www.mountainchild.org/wp/donate/ or contact tara@mountainchild.org for wire  transfer instructions.”

In addition, I just learned that a very generous group of donors have agreed to match every single dollar of donations given to their Emergency Relief Response for the next week up to $150,000 USD!

That means if you give $10, it will double to $20. Give $100 and it will double to $200!  Please consider giving any amount… nothing is too little… nothing is too great. To take advantage of this matching gift opportunity, donate now at their website or text your gift amount and the word RELIEF to (210) 625-5986 (e.g. $50 RELIEF)

CLC will also be making a donation, so if you prefer to give to this need through us, you can do so online here – choose “emergency relief fund”.

 

 

90 Days to Change Lives FOREVER!

As you heard on Sunday in the message, or possibly read in yesterday’s blog post, CLC is buying a building for our NWI campus, and we’re determined to move in debt-free!

That’s a tall order, as the purchase price is $140,000 and we anticipate spending another $110-150,000 in improvements before moving in – but I believe the same God who  opened this door in an unmistakable way in answer to prayer, is the God who will provide for this project through His people!

As I’ve thought and prayed about the project, here’s one way we could be debt-free:

7 people

giving

$5,000

equals

$ 35,000

12 people

giving

$2,000

equals

$ 24,000

100 people

giving

$1,000

Equals

$100,000

120 people

giving

$ 500

Equals

$ 60,000

200 people

giving

$ 100

Equals

$20,000

200 people

giving

 $50

Equals

$10,000

639 people

Giving

Total

Equals

$249,000

The only question is, what is God saying to YOU?  

Will you be one of the $5,000 donors?

Is He nudging you to give $1,000 sacrificially?

Can we count on you to do something toward providing a home for our NWI campus?

We’ll receive the commitments on Sunday, May 10 (Mother’s Day) at each CLC campus, and we hope to complete the project by August 9 (90 days later).

This project is bigger than any one of us – but TOGETHER we can have a debt-free campus in NWI, just as we do in Blue Island!

Here’s why Pastor Sam and I are asking YOU to be a part of this miracle-

Now it can be told…..

If you weren’t at CLC yesterday, you missed the BIG NEWS that I’ve been keeping quiet for the past couple weeks.

Here’s the short version: after more than 2 years of searching for a suitable building to rent for our NWI campus, Pastor Sam found a storefront in Griffith that we thought could work.  But after prayer, we felt that instead of ‘just settling’, we should take 30 days to ask God to open a door for us that would be “unmistakable” – that we would know HE had done it.

Two weeks into that prayer, Pastor Sam told me that he honestly felt he had explored all the possibilities in NWI, and that he really wanted to go ahead & sign the lease on the storefront, to which I immediately said ok – you have my blessing to do so.

That night, he got up to feed the baby and also grabbed his phone to check for messages & found a text from CLC’er Jimmy Ostrom with this link to a Hammond property for sale.

Originally built as a Jewish synagogue in 1955, it has an auditorium with seating for almost 300, a gym, offices, classrooms, commercial kitchen & plenty of parking on 4 acres of property (with a soccer field & room for recreation or community garden, etc.) – but the building had been neglected for some time and foreclosed on, so the bank was seeking to unload it for just $199k, even though the county tax appraisal put its value at $1.4M.

After bidding against 2 or 3 other churches, we were able to buy it for $140,000 – just 10% of it’s appraised value!  I’d call that “unmistakable”!

Thanks to the faithful giving of CLC’ers, we plan to pay cash for the building at closing  (which will put our bank balance dangerously low), so that this project can be debt-free when we move in!

To accomplish that, we will be receiving commitments from CLC’ers at every campus on Mother’s Day  (Sunday, May 10) to pay for the needed improvements & refurbishments and hopefully recoup the purchase price.  (Altogether, we anticipate spending about $250,000 for the purchase and improvements)

If you are part of our church family, I ask that you would take time before Mother’s Day to  pray & ask the Lord what HE wants you to do in regards to this project.  Then simply  obey.  The commitments begin on May 10 and are due in full by August 9, which gives us 90 days to complete the project.

Here’s a look at the property:

CLC Hammond

Current auditorium

Current auditorium

Gymnasium with stage

Gymnasium with stage

I’m excited!

 

Sunday reflections

I left home at 5:20am and just got back inside at about 4:20pm, so today was a Loooooong day at CLC, but it was so much fun I’m not complaining:

  • Missions Sunday was a little more special because of a visit from one of the pastors from New Testament Church in Perm, Russia (one of our favorite congregations anywhere in the world).  
Alexander from Lemont interpreted Pastor Leonid's greeting, and then his wife presented Chris with a beautiful Russian miniature teapot.

Alexander from Lemont interpreted Pastor Leonid’s greeting, and then his wife presented Chris with a beautiful Russian miniature teapot.

  • One of the highlights of the day was finally getting to share the news about the building we’re purchasing for our NWI campus (honestly, the response from our TP family, especially in the 10am service was overwhelming!)  If you weren’t there, the short version is we buying a 26,000 s.f. building on 4 acres of land that is valued at $1.4M for just $140,000 — and we’re paying cash!
  • Of course, the biggest highlight of the day in Tinley Park was seeing people pray to receive Jesus in each service, including perhaps6-10 people in the noon service.

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  • Pastor Doug reports that our South Bend campus enjoyed the guest ministry of Dale Van Steenis from our Board of Overseers and that the worship team took them to a whole new level in the Presence of God!
"USies" took the day today & here is Pastor Sam at NWI, where he said it was like a BIG PARTY today after the 'news' about their new building!  Plus they had one salvation decision along with new guests & families taking their 'next step' today!  Momentum is building at NWI!

“USies” took the day today & here is Pastor Sam at NWI, where he said it was like a BIG PARTY today after the ‘news’ about their new building! Plus they had one salvation decision along with new guests & families taking their ‘next step’ today! Momentum is building at NWI!

that’s all for today….stay tuned tomorrow for more info about #WelcomeHomeNWI

 

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “a group of us CLC’ers recently met at a local restaurant, and as we were walking out we passed a table of people where a lady was reading Tarot cards. I was shocked to see that(especially in public) as were the others in the group. Our question is, how would you (we) witness to such a group or anyone that was in a group like that?”

Interesting question.

More than anything else, I think it’s a reminder that our world has changed.  America is now what many are calling a “post-Christian nation”, which means the average person in our country hasn’t been brought up with the Judeo-Christian values that many of us have. They didn’t hear Bible stories in Sunday school.  They don’t share our understanding of right and wrong, good and evil, from a Biblical worldview.  Of course, it’s being played out in much larger circles with same-sex marriage issues that seem to be in the media almost everyday now.  My point is, we can’t assume anything about the people we meet these days, and, to be effective, we must adopt a missionary mindset.  We would never expect a missionary in another country to try to reach people without learning their language and seeing to reach them using methods that were relevant and effective in their culture.

So to answer your question, I’m not sure there would be a way, on a chance visit to a restaurant, to reach Tarot card readers (or participants).  In my mind, it would be far better and so much more effective to get to know some of the participants individually – building a friendship with them first.  After developing a genuine relationship, I’m sure the Lord would open a way to discuss the Gospel with them.  After all, the issue is not the Tarot cards; the issue is that they don’t know Jesus!

Meanwhile, you can certainly pray for an open door.  That’s not a cop-out on my part; unless the Lord open their heart, we can’t reach them.  So pray that HE will open a door for you to have influence with one or more members of that group, and be alert for those doors when they open.

I hope that helps – it’s definitely a complex issue.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Happy Independence Day, ISRAEL!

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Today is Yom Ha’atzmaut, the national day of Israel, commemorating the Israeli  Declaration of Independence in 1948. Not only are we living in the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, but one of the most remarkable and inspiring achievements in human history: A people which had been exiled from its homeland 2,000 years before, which had endured countless pogroms, expulsions, and persecutions, but which had refused to relinquish its identity—which had, on the contrary, substantially strengthened that identity; a people which only a few years before had been the victim of mankind’s largest single act of mass murder, killing a third of the world’s Jews, that people was returning home as sovereign citizens in their own independent state. Only God!

Since reaching the Jewish people with the Gospel is our #1 priority in missions at CLC, we celebrate with our Messianic partners in the Land today (and look forward to the guest ministry of Spirit-filled Rabbi Curt Landry next Sunday, May 3)

I read these today and thought I’d pass on some “fun facts” of Israel:

  • Israel is working! Israel’s unemployment rate dropped to a record low in February. For those aged 15 and over, the rate declined to 5.8% from 5.9% in January. For those between 25-64 the rate dropped dramatically from 5.4% to 4.9%.  Participation in the labor force rose to a record high of 80%.

Knesset plenum

The Knesset plenum.

  • Israel is the only country in the Middle East that based its principles of government on both democratic liberal values and on the values of the Biblical prophets.
  • Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth.
  • Israel has the world’s second highest per capita rate of published books.
  • Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with a net gain in its number of trees.
  • Israel has more museums per capita than any country.
  • Israel developed the cell phone, Windows NT and XP operating systems, Pentium MMX Chip technology, the Pentium-4 microprocessor, the Centrino Processor, voice mail technology, and AOL Instant Messenger ICQ.
  • Israel has the highest per capita rate of home computers in the world.
  • Israel designed the airline industry’s most impenetrable flight security system.

aviel perry intercepts rockets

Iron Dome System (IDF Blog)

  • Israel designed and implemented the Iron Dome Defense system.
  • Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees in the world.
  • Israel is second in the world in the number of start-up companies behind only the U.S.
  • Israel has the world’s largest per capita number of biotech start-ups.
  • Israel leads the world in the number of scientists and technicians in the workforce.
  • Israel is a world leader in water renewal, recycling, desalination, and solar heating.
  • Israel invented the drip irrigation system used around the world.
  • Israeli scientists developed the first fully computerized, no-radiation, diagnostic instrumentation for breast cancer.
  • Israel’s Given Imaging developed the first ingestible video camera, so small it fits inside a pill that can view the small intestine from the inside to detect for cancer and digestive disorders.

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!

Do you want to be FULFILLED?

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Now, that’s a dumb question.  Of course, you do.  We all do.  God created us with a desire to make our life count by making a difference in the world.

But it’s more than a desire; it’s also a promise from God.  In fact, it’s the last of the 4 Core Promises He made to His people over 3,500 years ago, that still apply to us today.

This Sunday, April 26, at every CLC Chicagoland campus, we’ll explore that 4th promise and see how YOU can live a life that is FULL and FILLED!

Oh, yeah – one more thing: the miracle that I’ve been wanting to tell you about for the last two weeks will be unveiled this Sunday, too – so if you like Good News, you don’t want to miss this Sunday at CLC!

Movie lovers, I need your help!

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For the past few summers at CLC, we’ve done a “God@The Movies” series where we teach Biblical themes illustrated by recent Hollywood hits.  It’s the hardest work I ever do in sermon prep, but the most fun in the end.

However, it all starts with choosing the right movies to feature, and I think our pastoral team is having more difficulty this year than ever before in making those choices, so I’m turning to YOU for some help.

Here are 6 of the titles we’re considering, and I need you to vote for your top 4:

We must decide soon, so vote NOW by leaving your comment below:

Digging deeper into our promise

I’ve been thinking more about Exodus 6:6, which has been part of our text for the last 4 weeks, and particularly the promise we looked at yesterday, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment“.

As I mentioned yesterday, those mighty acts of judgment are not against us, but what God promised to do to our enemy, especially because of his efforts to hinder or impede us in our walk with the Lord (see 1Thess. 2:18) – AND, it was a specific reference to what God did in sending the 10 plagues against Egypt (see Exodus 12:12)

For years, I thought the plagues were rather weird; I mean, think about it: frogs, and flies, and lice, and thick darkness – it just seems like strange stuff to inflict upon a nation.  But when I learned that each plague directly corresponded to one or more of the Egyptian gods, it took on a whole new significance.  (If you’re interested, read this article).

EGYPTIAN GODS

My point: the God you serve is the same God today! If the enemy is hindering you or trying to block your progress, rest assured that your God will bring mighty acts of judgment against him and turn everything he meant for your harm into your good (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28 & Isaiah 54:17), culminating with His final acts of judgment in Rev. 20:1-3 and verses 7-10.

Don’t you love it?  What a mighty God we serve!

Sunday reflections

Here’s my recap of today at CLC:

Love the new song, "Cornerstone" that we learned today!

Love the new song, “Cornerstone” that we learned today!

Teaching people about THEIR gifts is always a joy & Chris would have been proud of me for using an object lesson!

Teaching people about THEIR gifts is always a joy & Chris would have been proud of me for using an object lesson!

Our KidsLife volunteers get enthusiastic responses from the kids

Our KidsLife volunteers make learning the Bible FUN!

Our terrific KidsLife Jr. volunteers use THEIR gifts even to reach preschoolers on their level.

Our terrific KidsLife Jr. volunteers use THEIR gifts even to reach preschoolers on their level.

  • I met LOTS of newcomers today, and my favorite part of the day was seeing someone in each service give their life to Christ, with at least 4 people responding.
Worship at our NWI campus was great & people took to 'Cornerstone' immediately!

Worship at our NWI campus was great & people took to ‘Cornerstone’ immediately!

NWI gets the prize for a GREAT H2H retreat display!

NWI gets the prize for a GREAT H2H retreat display!

  • Pastor Sam reports a strong attendance at NWI, including some returning guests from Easter who were so impressed by the handwritten notes from our team!
Best report of the day may have come from Blue Island, where attendance was up in both the English & Spanish services AND one new guest was baptized in the Holy Spirit and another newcomer gave her life to Christ today!

Best report of the day from Chicagoland may have come from Blue Island, where attendance was up in both the English & Spanish services AND one new guest was baptized in the Holy Spirit and another newcomer gave her life to Christ today!

  • Pastor Shanna just texted me that worship was incredible today at the South Bend campus, as they tried but couldn’t stop it for almost an hour, and people were being healed, as both adults & children were on the floor, kneeling & crying in the Presence of God!  They also had a Reboot Your Marriage event this afternoon that made it a great day for sure!
Finally, Pastor Herley reported from the Davao campus how much their congregation is enjoying the "I Will!" series, as 32 people came forward to receive Jesus today!  He also requests prayer for their first Encounter Retreat of 2015, as they're expecting between 200-400 delegates.  (This is their primary event to get people baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, and delivered!)

Finally, Pastor Herley reported from the Davao campus how much their congregation is enjoying the “I Will!” series, as 32 people came forward to receive Jesus today! He also requests prayer for their first Encounter Retreat of 2015, as they’re expecting between 200-400 delegates. (This is their primary event to get people baptized, filled with the Holy Spirit, and delivered!)

That’s what I call a GOOD DAY at CLC!

Finally, for those of you who are interested, here’s a link to show how God used “mighty acts of judgment” against the Egyptian gods in fulfilling the third “I Will” for Israel!  You may also enjoy this study or this one if you really want to dig deeper.  Keep in mind that SAME God promised to redeem YOU with mighty acts of judgment against your enemy!

 

 

 

 

Ask the Pastor

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Two faithful CLC’ers both asked the same basic question this week, with one writing, “I received the gift of tongues at CLC. My question now is about someone interpreting what is being said. I have not observed someone interpreting when someone is speaking in tongues. What is CLC’s stance on this?” and the other commenting on her question, “I am with you on this one. I came from a church that sometimes during a Sunday service or whatever event, the Holy Spirit would come and speak through someone & It would be so quiet and calm, no matter what was going on – baby crying, preaching, whatever – the person who was being used to speak in this Heavenly language would be loud and clear, then shortly after this, usually the pastor, but sometimes someone else will reveal the message that was spoken. I am by no means being negative by asking this question, Why hasn’t this happened at CLC during any service since I’ve attended in 2 1/2 years?”

Great questions.  My best answer is “I don’t know”.

Here’s what I do know:

  • The gifts of tongues and interpretation of tongues are different in purpose than the “prayer language” that we usually talk about at CLC.  Our prayer language is given to us for our personal edification, and can be used in our private devotions daily.  (see 1Corinthians 14:2, 4-5, 18).  For that reason, there is no need for a public interpretation of what we’re saying when we use our prayer language.
  • However, you certainly can ask for the interpretation in your prayer times (see 1Corinthians 14:13, 28)
  • The gift of interpretation that always operates in conjunction with a ‘message’ in tongues is for PUBLIC use, as my questioner describes.  Growing up in a Pentecostal church as I did, I have witnessed this many, many times – some of which were nothing short of amazing instances of God communicating a message to His people for a specific purpose.
  • The Biblical principle for the order in which those gifts are to be used publicly is found in 1Corinthians 14:27-28.  In other words (as I read that passage), at least two people, or a maximum of three people would speak out in a public service in a language that they have never learned (through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit), one at a time, and then another individual (or even one of those who spoke in tongues), would then give the interpretation of that message, even though they didn’t understand the language naturally, but interpret by the inspiration of the Spirit.  Perhaps the easiest way to understand that is to say that the gift of tongues and interpretation operating together would be equivalent to the gift of prophecy – that is, that those in the room would have received a message from the Lord by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Now, back to the question at hand as to why this gift isn’t being seen in operation at CLC:

  • My answer of “I don’t know” is accurate because I don’t.  My observation is that this combination of gifts (tongues followed by interpretation) seems to happen primarily in Pentecostal churches, whereas churches like CLC that aren’t necessarily classified as Pentecostal, even though we embrace the full ministry of the Holy Spirit and His gifts, would primarily or typically experience the gift of prophecy instead.  (While I have no idea why that is true, it has been my observation over the past 40 years of ministry.  I can count on one hand, with fingers left over, the number of times I have witnessed tongues & interpretation in CLC or other churches that were not classified as ‘Pentecostal’)
  • One possibility is that our approach at CLC to a Sunday worship experience in which we apply the principles of 1Corinthians 14:18-25 to try to make our services  understandable and relevant and convincing to unbelievers makes it difficult to exercise those gifts – just as it affects our service length (believers might enjoy a 2+ hour worship experience, but unbelievers would likely never return); our approach to teaching, and even the use of media, comfortable chairs, etc.

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

God-breathed!

That’s the best way I know to describe last night’s service with Prophet Dennis Cramer!

At CLC, we embrace the full ministry of the Holy Spirit, which means we want all of His gifts and manifestations, just as the early Church experienced.  And from the time we began last night, until the final ‘amen’, it was a wonderful time of ‘words of knowledge’, prophetic insights, and manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

I enjoyed it so much, it’s given me fresh expectation for our next series for the month of May at CLC, which we’re calling “God breathed”, because the Hebrew word for ‘spirit’, “ruach” can also be translated ‘breath’ or ‘wind’. 

We’re expecting the wind of God to blow at CLC as Rabbi Curt Landry and my wife & I share God’s Word, and then make room for Him on Pentecost Sunday with a CLC “fire tunnel” and more.  The fun begins on May 3!

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Finding out WHY you were born!

I’ve heard John Maxwell quote Mark Twain, who said “the 2 greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why”!  If that’s true (and I think it is)  this Sunday is going to be a GREAT day for some folks at CLC.

In fact, I’ve been looking forward to THIS Sunday for months, ever since we scheduled the “I Will” series to help CLC’ers experience God’s promises.  I was especially pumped about this message, after I heard about a study that indicated over 80% of Christians in America do NOT know why they were born!  Christians!!

But after meeting with our pastors this week for our sermon planning, and the extra insights they added to my preparation, Sunday can’t get here soon enough!

If you want to know WHY you were born and what God’s purpose is for your life, you do NOT want to miss this Sunday – at any of our 3 Chicagoland locations.

Better yet, invite a friend to join you.  I’ll bet they wanna know why they were born, too.

Special WEDNESDAYS

One of the most important ministries of CLC is what we call “Life Groups”, small gatherings of adults that happen throughout the South suburbs during the week, where we pray together, laugh together, eat together, learn together, hold each other accountable, and encourage each other.  (If you heard last Sunday’s message about getting ‘free’ after you get saved, you know why it’s so important)

I say that to explain why we don’t have a regular midweek service like so many other churches.  We feel that the ministry that happens in a small group of friends is more life-changing than a Bible study taught by a pastor in the middle of the week.

However, there are a few ‘exceptions’ when we schedule a ‘special’ Wednesday.  In fact, we have 4 of those Wednesdays in the next 10 weeks, starting tomorrow:

  • April 15 – a night of prophetic ministry with Dennis Cramer.  (see this post)
  • May 6 – a Family Prayer Journey to kick-off the National Day of Prayer on May 7.
  • June 3 – A Live CD Recording of CLC Worship!
  • June 24 – all the way from Uganda, the Watoto Children’s Choir in concert!

So mark your calendar & plan to be a part of these GREAT midweek opportunities!

Our governance at CLC

If you’ve attended our Membership Class, you know that CLC is a non-denominational, pastor-led church, but that Chris & I are submitted to a Board of Directors comprised of five Apostolic Overseers who are elected by our membership annually.

These wonderful men of God, who have over well over 200 years of combined ministry experience, offer their wisdom to us every year when we come together for a day of discussion and sharing of hearts.  This year that day is tomorrow, April 14.

That means most of them will be arriving today, so I’m asking that you join me in praying for favor and blessing in our meeting tomorrow – that Chris & I would hear from God through their collective counsel.

If it helps to have a face for your prayers, here they are:

Pastor Gordon Banks, Overcomer Covenant Church, Auburn, WA

Pastor Gordon Banks, Overcomer Covenant Church, Auburn, WA

 

Pastor Eddie Cupples, founder, Love & Truth Ministries, Jackson, TN

Pastor Eddie Cupples, founder, Love & Truth Ministries, Jackson, TN

 

Prophet Dennis Cramer, Williamsport, PA

Prophet Dennis Cramer, Williamsport, PA

 

MY pastor, Bishop Joseph Garlington, Covenant Church of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

MY pastor, Bishop Joseph Garlington, Covenant Church of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Dale Van Steenis, founder of Leadership Strategies

Dale Van Steenis, founder of Leadership Strategies