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!

pastors_gathering_2015_bg

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

ephphatha

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

courage1

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

download (11)

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!

_uploads_2014_02_1920x4004

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.

download (10)

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

_uploads_2014_02_1920x4004

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

10929069_10203847196570305_4541619201432815975_n (1)

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.

11136135_807053192677519_4597905310388001290_o

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

images (9)

 

download (8)

 

 

 

 

 

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.

AHWEB4_FONW15S_RCL

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

maxresdefault

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.

image

  • 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

DOM_2013_10_15_tarot_card_reader_Charlie.pearce505

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!

JerusalemWesternWallDomesmall

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?

9013644_orig

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!

images (8)

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

turning-points-chapter-13-rise-spread-of-pentecostalism-9-728

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!

497x373

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