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