Sunday reflections

Or should I say, "SNOWMAGGEDON reflections"?  I just heard on the news that it's been 9 consecutive days of measurable snowfall in Chicagoland.

Or should I say, “SNOWMAGGEDON reflections”? I just heard on the news that it’s been NINE consecutive days of measurable snowfall in Chicagoland.

But it wasn't too cold or snowy to baptize Tiffany Morrow.....

But it wasn’t too cold or snowy to baptize Tiffany Morrow…..

...love that baptism smile!

…love that newly-baptized smile!

And Aumier Safargar.... that's  2 young adult commitments to Christ!

And Aumier Safargar…. that’s 2 young adult commitments to Christ!

and despite the snow, we enjoyed some new members added to the praise team.....

and despite the snow, we enjoyed some new members added to the praise team…..

and the LOVE our children are learning in KidsLife!

and the LOVE our children are learning in KidsLife!

and more love.....

and more love…..

and more of those cuties throughout KidsLife...

and more of those cuties throughout KidsLife…

plus, God honored my 'deal' with Him - I'll teach on money if HE will draw people to salvation - and today it happened in all 3 services!

plus, God honored my ‘deal’ with Him – I’ll teach on money if HE will draw people to salvation – and today it happened in all 3 services!

Meanwhile at Hammond, our Dream Team volunteers were out there early shoveling snow & making sure everyone had safe access today.

Meanwhile at Hammond, our Dream Team volunteers were out there early shoveling snow & making sure everyone had safe access today.

 

It's volunteers like this at each campus who make this ministry possible!

It’s volunteers like this at each campus who make this ministry possible!

Our Consumed ministry at Hammond is growing!

Our Consumed ministry at Hammond is growing!

Pastor Sam did a 'live' demonstration of the Debt Snowball today-

Pastor Sam did a ‘live’ demonstration of the Debt Snowball today-

And our Blue Island campus was just as frozen as everywhere else today

And our Blue Island campus was just as frozen as everywhere else today

yet Pastor Brent said the Presence of God during worship was as strong as he could ever recall@

yet Pastor Brent said the Presence of God during worship was as strong as he could ever recall@

Sunday reflections

Prophetess Michelle McClain Walters was the guest speaker at our Hammond campus, and Pastor Sam said she was "off the charts"!

Prophetess Michelle McClain Walters was the guest speaker at our Hammond campus, and Pastor Sam said she was “off the charts”, as they enjoyed one of their highest attendances ever – 520!

She shared two great messages and prophesied accurately to so many people!

She shared two great messages and prophesied accurately to so many people!

Judah Stone led a song for the first time in fulfillment of his name (Judah means "praise")!

Judah Stone led a song for the first time in fulfillment of his name (Judah means “praise”)!

Today we unveiled the new Growth Track material at each campus, and over 20 people joined CLC!

Today we unveiled the new Growth Track material at each campus, and over 20 people joined CLC (this is Pastor Brent announcing the Blue Island class)

Our Blue Island campus is still committed to reaching their community by offering simultaneous Spanish translation (this is Pastor Sol interpreting)

Our Blue Island campus is still committed to reaching their community by offering simultaneous Spanish translation (this is Pastor Sol interpreting)

Bishop Herley Montes was their guest speaker today, with a challenge to reach out to our circle of influence to win souls.

Bishop Herley Montes from CLC-Philippines was their guest speaker today, with a challenge to reach out to our circle of influence to win souls.

I love the fact that children at every CLC campus receive attention that helps them to know God's Word.

I love the fact that children at every CLC campus receive attention that helps them to know God’s Word. (Thanks, Harry Valentine for helping them study the Bible)

While even KidsLife Jr (preschoolers) can learn how

While even KidsLife Jr (preschoolers) can learn how they are uniquely created by God and that HE loves them personally.  (see below)

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Meanwhile in Tinley Park, Pastor Jesse McCaul from Cambodia brought a great message, encouraging us to have a "Stay on the Wall Attitude"!

Meanwhile in Tinley Park, Pastor Jesse McCaul from Cambodia brought a great message, encouraging us to have a “Stay on the Wall Attitude”!

LIFE GROUPS are FUN! (can't you tell?)  Today was the kickoff for this semester that begins Feb. 18.

LIFE GROUPS are FUN! (can’t you tell?) Today was the kickoff for this semester that begins February 18.

I also love the fact that our children are learning to worship the Lord through KidsLife!

I also love the fact that our children are learning to worship the Lord through KidsLife!

And even our preschoolers can participate and learn!  (KUDOS to every member of the KidsLife team!!!)

And even our preschoolers can participate and learn! (KUDOS to every member of the KidsLife team!!!)

Because, as I've said before, the CUTEST kids in the world attend CLC! (I rest my case)

Because, as I’ve said before, the CUTEST kids in the world attend CLC! (I rest my case)

Now, let’s have some FOOTBALL!

 

My favorite story from yesterday…

This is just one look at what it was like in all 3 services at Tinley Park today with our "fire tunnel" - AMAZING!

This is just one look at what it was like in all 3 services at Tinley Park today with our “fire tunnel” – AMAZING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning I’m still enjoying the afterglow of our 21-days of fasting & prayer AND yesterday’s “fire-tunnel” at the Tinley Park campus.

We must have prayed for close to 1,000 people in the three services, and after looking through the testimonies submitted via Connection cards, here’s a little of what happened:

  • numerous people testified of having pain in their knees, feet, back or shoulder   before going through the prayer tunnel, but had NONE afterwards!
  • one first-time-guest chose to go through the prayer tunnel and told me afterwards that she had pain in one eye for several days, but she came of the prayer tunnel PAIN-FREE!
  • Several couples reported that they had marriage breakthroughs during the fast – some even said their marriage was “saved” as a result!
  • At least three people were baptized in the Holy Spirit as they walked through the tunnel!
  • One man quit smoking during the fast and told his wife yesterday he’s not going back to it – set free from nicotine!

There was so much more – emotional or inner healings, acceptance of God’s forgiveness, etc., but my FAVORITE conversation of the day was with one CLC’er who described his experience in the prayer tunnel as being “like a car wash”….and said, “now I know how the car feels – I felt clean inside and out after it was over!”

What’s your story?  From each campus of CLC and any service yesterday OR during the fast, share your testimony below and let’s encourage other CLC’ers with what God is doing:

Sunday reflections

This is just one look at what it was like in all 3 services at Tinley Park today with our "fire tunnel" - AMAZING!

This is just one look at what it was like in all 3 services at Tinley Park today with our “fire tunnel” – AMAZING!

These folks were INVALUABLE in creating an atmosphere for the supernatural in all 3 services today - they must have worshipped/sung for over TWO HOURS altogether!

These folks were INVALUABLE in creating an atmosphere for the supernatural in all 3 services today – they must have worshipped/sung for over TWO HOURS altogether!  Thanks, Pastor Jon and the entire team of musiciams & singers!!!!!

At times, it looked like a bomb had gone off in the auditorium, with folks kneeling or laying out on the floor under the Presence of the Lord.

At times, it looked like a bomb had gone off in the auditorium, with folks kneeling or laying out on the floor under the Presence of the Lord.

Many CLC'ers had personal & intimate experiences with the Lord, as at least 3 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit, others prayed to receive Christ, and several testified of healings in which the pain they felt before the service completely disappeared in the prayer tunnel!

Many CLC’ers had personal & intimate experiences with the Lord, as at least 3 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit, others prayed to receive Christ, and several testified of healings in which the pain they felt before the service completely disappeared in the prayer tunnel!

I do know God deserves all the praise for what transpired - but this lady right here was an instrument in His hands, as she not only called out several words of knowledge to get the prayer lines started, but when she prayed for people, things happened!  I'm thankful for my partner!

I do know God deserves all the praise for what transpired – but this lady right here was an instrument in His hands, as she not only called out several words of knowledge to get the prayer lines started, but when she prayed for people, things happened! I’m thankful for my partner!

Meanwhile, at Hammond campus, it was also a powerful time of worship.

Meanwhile, at Hammond campus, it was also a powerful time of worship.

Kimberly Allen was one of the prayer/prophetic team that ministered in Hammond, and it was powerful!

Kimberly Allen was one of the prayer/prophetic team that ministered in Hammond, and it was powerful!

Pastor Sam couldn't describe everything that happened, but at least 5 people made a salvation decision & people were touched everywhere during the prayer times!

Pastor Sam couldn’t describe everything that happened, but at least 5 people made a salvation decision & people were touched everywhere during the prayer times!

Today was Missions Sunday, so we prayed over our team going to Greece this week, including Mikayla & Andrea Richardson from Hammond.....

Today was Missions Sunday, so we prayed over our team going to Greece this week, including Mikayla & Andrea Richardson from Hammond…..

....and Alynn Franklin from the Blue Island campus...

….and Alynn Franklin from the Blue Island campus…

...and Kara May and five other ladies from Tinley Park!

…and Kara May and five other ladies from Tinley Park!

Pastor Brent preached about being finished with Living Beneath our Privileges and taught the Blue Island campus how to ASK!

Pastor Brent preached about being finished with Living Beneath our Privileges and taught the Blue Island campus how to ASK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the glory came as our team there ministered to so many people.

and the glory came as our team there ministered to so many people.

I love seeing people serving others & helping them connect with the Lord in prayer!

I love seeing people loving & serving others & helping them connect with the Lord in prayer!

Our team going to India this May had a meeting today - but it's not too late if you want to GO help a camp for orphans  - contact Pastor Jen (jen@clc.tv)

Our team going to India this May had a meeting today – but it’s not too late if you want to GO help a camp for orphans – contact Pastor Jen (jen@clc.tv)

This pic is only in my post today because she's my granddaughter and I think she's CUTE!

This pic is only in my post today because she’s my granddaughter and I think she’s CUTE!

 

Day 21, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is today’s guest devotional from our Tinley Park Campus Pastor, Rachel Jones:

He SEES Me
One of the most comforting thoughts in this life is that we are not alone in it. Knowing that there is a hope beyond myself (who fails), beyond people (who will fail me), and that there’s a never failing, loving God, who is caring for me each and every moment of my life. There’s no greater peace I can have. That comfort gives me confidence to believe, and to keep going no matter what I face. 
Today I want to remind you of the God who SEES you. He sees you there in the season you’re in, He sees your broken heart, your wounded spirit, He sees your joy, your depression, your failures and your triumphs. God sees and He cares. In Genesis 16 we find the story of Abram, Sarai and Hagar the maidservant. Sarai wanted a child so badly, she gave her servant to her husband so that she could have a child for her. Things didn’t go as sweetly as she planned and the two women could no longer get along (Hagar despised Sari, and Sarai treated Hagar harshly) and Hagar ran away. In the midst of this great pain, a broken heart and pregnant, God came to her at her weakest. In her misery God saw her and spoke a word to her, with a promise. She was comforted and spoke these words;  “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Get 16:13)
 It is God who has stitched us together in our mothers womb. It is He who created our life and purpose. God makes no mistakes. No matter what the world sees, God will always see beyond and He sees right to your heart, and knows your every need. Knowing that God sees, means you are never alone and not forgotten. It means you are known and that you matter. You have a place in this world that is so important that God would come and give you an encouraging word at the moment you want to give up. God says, “No, I have a plan and purpose for you. Don’t give up. Look to Me and I will be with you.” He is a God who gives and keeps His promises.
No matter where you find yourself today…God sees you. He understands and He cares for you so deeply. Can I encourage you today? Do not wait until you are at your weakest to seek the One who sees you. I challenge you to seek Him now and with all your heart. “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deut. 4:29) Seek Him and He will be found. God’s love is so overwhelming, the more you get to know Him, the more you grow and develop into who He made you to be. So keep going after God with your whole heart, there’s always more you can receive from Him. He’s everlasting!
Will you seek God with me today? Let’s pray,
Father thank you for your never failing love. Thank you for getting me, you truly understand me; when no one else does, you do. You see me wherever I am and you care for me.  Thank you for seeing me, and please help me to see You wherever I am and to seek you with all my heart and soul. In Jesus name, Amen.

Day 20, 21-Days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s devotional from Blue Island Campus Pastor, Sol McQuay:

I don’t know about you but I love music, I have to have music in the background while driving, cleaning, or working. Sometimes I like to go old school and listen to the bands I used to listen to 10+ years ago because those are the ones I can sing along the best, and let’s be honest, music is more fun when you can use your oh so amazing voice and sing as loud as you can.  
A couple of weeks ago that was the case, I had my oldies playlist going while I washed the dishes and a song by the Newsboys came on, the chorus of the songs says “When hope is lost, I call you Savior; when pain surrounds, I call you Healer; when silence falls you’ll be the song within my heart.” And right there, in the middle of my kitchen God spoke to me and said “Who do you need me to be in your life today?” 
The Bible refers to God by many different names, by doing that it gives us a glimpse of His power and character. It helps us know who He is and what He desires to do in and for us. He shows His majesty, power, and love for us every single day. And He wants to meet us in our time of need. There’s nothing that is too difficult for our God. So let me ask you that same question, Who do you need Him to be in your life today?
Are you in a financial need? Call on Jehovah Jireh –My God will provide
Struggling with Stress, anxiety, worry? Call on Jehovah Shalom –The Lord is Peace
Are you sick? Call on Jehovah Rapha –The Lord that Heals
And there are many more names for Him in the Bible, here’s a link to a list with scripture references for those names in the Bible. https://www.lwf.org/discover-jesus/names-of-god 
But no matter what you need today, no matter if you are dealing with family issues, health, feelings of loneliness or hopelessness. God is able to meet us in our needs and to deliver us. His desire is to see you living a life that is full of His blessings, His joy, His peace. So I want to encourage today to call on the name of the Lord, call Him for who you need Him to be for you in this season and see that He is good and faithful to do big things in and for you.
Let me pray for you, 
Lord, we thank you for being all we need, thank you because you care for us and our specific situations. I ask you give us a new revelation of who you are for us today. Help us to put our trust in you. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

Day 19, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is my text of today’s Facebook Live devotional:

After the fast…

Good morning everyone – welcome to Day 19 of our 21-days of Prayer & Fasting.  While I still dislike fasting as much as ever (maybe more so), I will be the first to admit that these days have created a momentum at CLC and hopefully for you in your walk with the Lord as well.

In fact, I want to talk to you about next week (and the weeks after) once the prayer & fasting is over.  Too many times (at least in my personal experience), once an event is over, we have a tendency to move on to the next thing.  It’s easy for us to go back to unhealthy eating habits and a lessening of spiritual fervor after the fast – but I want to encourage you to be like the shepherds in the first Christmas story.

Luke 2:15 says, When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

See, it’s one thing to be excited, stirred or even dedicated while the angels are around (so to speak ) – during these last 19 days we’ve had special prayer events, early morning prayer meetings at the TP campus and the encouragement from others who are fasting with us – which all adds up to a heightened awareness of God’s Presence that made it easier (not easy, but ‘er’) for us to maintain our spiritual disciplines. By the way, if you experienced some spiritual warfare because of the fast instead of an angelic visitation, and you’ve been miserable the last few weeks, well, humor me, because the principle I’m addressing is still the same.  Here it is:

I’m encouraging all of us to follow the example of the shepherds who had that amazing experience of seeing & hearing a multitude of angels, announcing the birth of their Savior, then had to deal with their absence after those angels returned to heaven.  What did they do?  They hurried to act on what they had heard about!

I’ve heard several wonderful testimonies from CLC’ers during the fast – stories of a new sense of self-discipline that spilled over to other areas besides eating; stories of physical healing   (even victory in losing some stubborn pounds), and stories of answers to prayer that could only be a result of God’s intervention.  But what I’m reminding us is that when the fast ends, what God wants to do with us is just getting started!

I’m determined to remain disciplined, not only for the final two days of our fast, but afterwards – by spending time with Him in prayer and with His Word, and I hope you will, too.  And if you ‘heard’ some specifics from the Lord during this fast, be like the shepherds – don’t delay, but act on what you heard from Him.

I’ve thought several times in the last few weeks about the first church corporate fast I ever remember being a part of.  I had fasted on many occasions before that, but in the fall of 1974 our pastor called our entire church on a 3-day juice fast that ended with a midweek service, and it’s that service that I still remember, over 43y later!  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a local church service as powerful as that night – with addictions broken, people baptized in the Holy Spirit, healings manifesting, and an overwhelming sense of God’s Presence in the room.  I’m convinced that all of that was a result of the corporate UNITY during our fast!

That’s exactly what I’m expecting this Sunday when we gather at each CLC location.  Our pastors have planned a service that allows plenty of time for prayer and a great move of the Holy Spirit, and I hope you’ll come expecting with me.

Let’s pray-

Day 18, 21 days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from our Hammond Worship Director, Tommie Billups:

Scripture- John 6

Could you imagine being asked to feed a party of 4000+ on your current salary? That’s a huge stretch, right? Now imagine being asked to feed that same party with the lunch you packed today for work or school. This is literally the miracle that took place when Jesus fed the multitude. Word was traveling fast that Jesus was in town and performing miracles and healing the sick and thousands of people followed him to see and hear what the fuss was about. After Jesus taught and performed miracles, the disciple suggested that Jesus let the crowd go to their homes and eat because it was getting late. Jesus then asked the disciples, “ How much do you think it would cost to feed these people?” They responded, “200 pieces of silver wouldn’t be enough to feed each family with one loaf of bread.” So they found a little boy who happened to have a few loaves of bread and a couple of small fishes and basically told Jesus this is the best they could do. He took it, lifted it up to heaven, gave thanks for it and was able to feed everyone and had leftovers. Jesus was able to take an insufficiency and turn it into an overflow of provision.
As I reflect back on that passage of scripture I think about when I’m in situations where I don’t have enough to do the things that I need to do, am I like the disciples? Do I magnify my insufficiency by holding tight to what I have because what I lack seems greater? or am I like the boy who willingly gave what he had and trusted God with it. While feeding the multitude is the highlight of this passage, what stood out to me was that there was so much left over. I think back on the times when I have naively trusted my own way and tried to stretch what I had and ended up being in a bigger pickle than what I started with in comparison to when I trusted God with my little and ended up with more than enough. What is your fish and loaves? What do you cling to in fear of not having enough? Trust God, give thanks for what you have and watch God turn your lack into a miracle.

Day 17, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from our Blue Island Worship Pastor, Alan Franklin:

While reading in Genesis a few days ago, I came across “The Descendants of Adam” in Genesis 5.  My first thought was, “this is gonna be boring.” But I read anyway. Verse 3: Adam became the father of Seth. Seth became the father of Enosh.  Enosh became the father of Kenan.  Kenan became the father of Mahalalel. Mahalalel became the father of Jared.  Jared became the father of Enoch. Enoch became the father of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters.  23) Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.  Methuselah became the father of Lamech. Lamech became the father of Noah…

Wait a minute! Stop reading! Right in the middle of this boredom, the writer thought it was worth noticing that Enoch lived in close fellowship with God.  Now this chapter just got juicy!  Enoch must have been different than his forefathers and his posterity. Have you ever been to a family reunion? Think about your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents.  Some of us had parents and grandparents that loved the Lord. However, some of you,  you are the first person in your family to give your life to Christ. You’re different.   

It’s okay to be different. When I was a child, I didn’t want to be different. You want to blend in with the other kids. You want to wear what they’re wearing, do what they’re doing and say what they’re saying.  But I must admit, it felt good when a teacher would say “there’s something different about that Franklin boy”.  The Bible says that we are peculiar.

Then we read about Noah in Genesis 6. Gen. 6:5 The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. So the Lord was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. And the Lord said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing – all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I every made them.”  But Noah found favor with the Lord. (verse 9) This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.

Let me ask you a question. If I asked your friends at work “who’s different”

Not only should we be different in the world? We should also be different in the church.  Have you ever visited a church where you were the only one to lift your hands in worship? Religious people will look at you in a weird way.  Or remember when you first came to Christ and you wanted everyone to know? You were on fire for God. Then you hung around “church people” and became “normal”.  In the book of Acts, Peter and John went to a 3:00 prayer meeting at the Temple. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the temple gate (called Beautiful), so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money.  Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money (something Normal) But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up.

How many normal people saw the lame man and gave him a few coins and kept going. Perhaps thousands.  Peter & John were “different”. They possessed something that could change the entire destiny of a person.

Pastor Brent talked recently about being ALL IN this year. I’ve heard others this year at work and other places say “This year I’m ALL IN. We admire people that can lose the weight, be disciplined with their finances, have an incredible prayer life. Why? Because it’s different than what we’re used to seeing.  And who wants Common anyway?  Common is divorce. Common is fear. Common is faithlessness. Common is , depression.  Normal is lying & cheating. Normal is also, “let’s go to this concert! or let’s go hear this guest speaker! There’s a packed house.  Different is “Let’s go to a prayer service) You may see under 20 people there.

Different is “I may be going through a rough season, but the Joy of the Lord is my strength.”

consider these verses in Matthew 5

Different is “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.”   (39)

“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.”(40)

But I say, love your enemies! (43)

Pray for those who persecute you! (44)

If you love only those who love you, what rewards is there for that?  Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Even pagans do that.  But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. (46-48)

Jesus makes us Different. One of the most fascinating scriptures that I’ve been meditating on, for about a year now is Revelation 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne and said, Behold, I make all things new. Not better, but “NEW” “Different”

One Point:  Know whose you are. When you realize who your Father is, you know that you are a citizen of a different kingdom.  You know that this world is not your home.  When I went to Croatia last year, I had a great time.  I met some great people. The country was beautiful. The food was great. But… Croatia was not my home. As much as I enjoyed my time there, I knew I was not staying. It would be weird for me to meet with a realtor and talk about buying a home there…or for me to put in job applications over there. Why? Because I’m not planning to stay there.  Some of us live our lives as if this earth is our home. They way we spend our time, talents and treasure. We have to know who we belong to.

I just heard a true story of a guy who robbed a bank in Canada. He stole 6K. He had a gun, a 1918 semi-automatic Colt.  The gun itself, was worth 100K.  He don’t know what he had.

Knowing we have the power of God and knowing we belong to God. Power

I thought about some people who chose to be different:

Chris Rivera went through a long rigorous process to start a christian club at his high school.

Alexis prayed for her teacher because her countenance was different. She actually prayed prophetically. When the teacher saw Terrilyn, she said,  “I gotta tell you about your daughter. She changed my life”

Rodney Young refused to accept a job because it required him to travel (a couple hours car ride) to various places with another female worker.

Eric Williams served as bass player last Sunday. Then he went down and served the children after praise and worship. 

Have you ever heard of people that plan a get-away to spend alone time with God. No family, no work, no cell phone, no computer. Just you and God.

Cesar drove 8 hours to Kansas City, MO to spend time with God. Of course he could have stayed in Chicago. But he felt led to spend time with God.

Day 16, 21-days of Fasting & Prayer

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Family Ministries Pastors, Ken & Patricia Earley:

Stay Focused

A few years ago Pat and I had the honor of becoming grandparents which gave us the instant joy of buying for little girls!  This past Christmas one of the items at the very top of the Christmas list was this LOL Doll.

Now while this LOL doll doesn’t look like much, it is the hottest little toy around.  So much so that it became an adventure in finding it.  Believe it or not enclosed in this case is a doll with clothes and accessories.  Sounds simple enough right?  The key is that while there is a doll at that end, each accessory is a different layer preparing you for the ultimate prize – the doll.  If you don’t get through the layers, you will never reach the goal of the doll.  And that’s what we want to encourage you with today – staying focused.

While achieving the goal of a new doll may not seem like much to you or I, setting goals and staying focused to do what God has called us to do is.  Philippians 3:15-16 in the Message translation puts it this way: So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us.  If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision – you’ll see it yet!  Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.  As we get close to the end of the fast let’s be even more determined to lean in and hear what God is saying — what He is asking us to do — and what we will commit our hands to accomplish for His kingdom.

There is one more thing about this little doll.  Each layer leads you closer to the prize.  Each step that we take while following God’s direction gets us closer to where He is leading us.  But the key is that you can’t skip the layers because in doing so you ruin what’s ahead.  There are lessons in the layers.  Each layer or step is a moment for us to learn or grow.  Sometimes those layers are “wait”, some are “push” and some of those layers can be terribly uncomfortable.   But the layers will not destroy us because in each layer God is with us to teach us and instruct us in the way we should go.  Layers aren’t permanent – they are meant for us to get instruction, get application and then move to what’s coming next.  Layers take discipline.  Sometimes its not easy to “wait” or “keep going” or honestly to trust the next steps, but there is a promise waiting for us that do.  Proverbs 16:20 puts it like this: Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.

As we begin this year, let’s take time to stay focused, trust the lessons in the layers, and look forward to all God has in store for us in this season.

 

 

 

Day 15, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Children’s Pastor, Stacy Hunter:

Trust Issues.

Many may struggle like myself. The struggle with Trust issues can be a daunting task, but be encouraged that scripture states:

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8

I say this in jest, but this verse makes me feel a little better about my own issues of trust. So if you struggle in this area let this scripture be an encouragement to you as well! Though, some of us may have to work through some personal issues on trust, we can ALWAYS trust in Jesus.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

God’s love is unconditional, even if you are struggling with someone or something, a sin, bitterness, it doesn’t matter, because God still LOVES you unconditionally. He Loves You. You can trust him to make your paths straight.

This scripture asks us to trust God completely, with all our heart, not a little, or sometimes or when it’s convenient. It can be easy to trust God with unpleasant areas of our lives…especially after we have exhausted all other options. We throw up our hands and say, “God I finally give these unpleasant areas to you … anxiety, sickness, my tithe, my frustration, my children etc.” God is not a last resort, but a first and best opportunity to draw closer to him when things get rough.

The Lord is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7

Praise God! He will take care of the messes in our lives.

We have to remember to trust God with the areas we are controlling just fine. “God, I got my finances, I’m doing just fine.” God, I got my relationships, I am doing fine.” “God, I will let you know when things become unpleasant and you can fix them after I try fixing them and controlling the situation.”

Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun. Psalm 37:5-6

God wants the unpleasant areas as much as the pleasant areas. Trust fully in God! Every day give him your children, relationships, health, finances, mentally, physically, spiritually, academically, athletically, etc. Trust him with every area of your life: The big, the small, the shame, the hurts, the blessings, the good and the bad, the past, present and future. God has a plan. Trust Him. Even if your paths don’t seem very straight in this season…give it to God. Fully give it to God. Trust him. His plans are far greater than our own. He raises the dead, he heals the sick, Jesus is someone we can always count on!

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7-8

Sunday reflections

Nothing makes this pastor happier than seeing CLC'ers using their gifts to serve (and it looks like the kiddos are enjoying it, too!)

Nothing makes this pastor happier than seeing CLC’ers using their gifts to serve (and it looks like the kiddos are enjoying it, too!)

Speaking of gifts, my wife uses her in teaching, with illustrations that help us remember.  In this case, how we have to let go of the past by getting 'unstuck' from things that would pull us back there! (Thanks, Harry for being such a good sport)

Speaking of gifts, my wife uses her in teaching, with illustrations that help us remember. In this case, how we have to let go of the past by getting ‘unstuck’ from things that would pull us back there! (Thanks, Harry for being such a good sport)

My gift is yelling while I preach.....

My gift is yelling while I preach…..

Dion's gift is playing drums with a PASSION!

Darius’ gift is playing drums with a PASSION!

My heroes are the KidsLife volunteers who serve our kids so well, while their mom & dads are free to worship & receive God's Word without distraction.

My heroes are the KidsLife volunteers who serve our kids so well, while their mom & dads are free to worship & receive God’s Word without distraction.

Tunde is using his gift with JOY (counting offerings after service)

Tunde is using his gift with JOY (counting offerings after service)

With our kids learning about Jesus while having fun, our future is bright!

With our kids learning about Jesus while having fun, our future is bright!

This never gets old: Lola Dawodu was touched by the Holy 'Spirit in the waters of baptism, as Pastor Moy officiated.  I'm also thankful for people who prayed to receive Christ in each service today!

This never gets old: Lola Dawodu was touched by the Holy ‘Spirit in the waters of baptism, as Pastor Moy officiated. I’m also thankful for people who prayed to receive Christ in each service today!

To continue my theme, Mike Usher uses his gifts at our Hammond campus by playing drums with energy & anointing!

To continue my theme, Mike Usher uses his gifts at our Hammond campus by worshipping with abandon while he plays drums!

Who said church can't be ENJOYABLE?  Always glad to see smiling faces in the lobby, not just in Hammond, but at each campus-

Who said church can’t be ENJOYABLE? Always glad to see smiling faces in the lobby, not just in Hammond, but at each campus-

Churches are built on good men (and women), like Brian Robey & Gerard Terrell at Hammond!

Churches are built on good men (and women), like Brian Robey & Gerard Terrell at Hammond!

now I’m gonna settle in for some FOOTBALL!

 

 

 

 

Day 14, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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Today’s guest devotional is from our Hammond Campus Pastor, Taylor Hamstra:

Full Surrender

ScriptureGenesis 22:1-3 NLT

Some time later, God tested Abraham’s faith. “Abraham!” God called.  “Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.” “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you. The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about.

Devotion

Could you ever imagine God asking you to take your child, go up to a mountain and sacrifice him/her?  What would your reaction be?  Would you laugh at God or would you pretend you didn’t hear him?  Think about it.  So why would a loving, caring, faithful God ask Abraham to do this?  Here is what new about Abraham.  Year after year after year Abraham built altar’s of gratitude to God.  He knew that God could be trusted.  He knew that God was for HIM.  Year after year He spent time in prayer with God getting to know Him intimately.  So even after waiting all those years – He took a step because HE TRUSTED GOD FULLY.

So let me ask you a dangerous question – Do you trust God enough to surrender your craziest dreams on the altar to God?  Will you surrender your plan, your way, and your reputation?  Would you do it?

As some of you know Sam and I became foster parents over 4 years ago.  We have been so blessed and honored to take care of our son for the past 4 years.  Truth is just like a mother gives birth you never forget that moment in the hospital and how you instantly fall in love the second you laid eyes on your baby.  That is how we felt when we meet our son at 2 ½ months in his hospital room.

You see God told us to be foster parents and we where obedient to the call.  What I didn’t know that I was supposed to surrender the process and my son to the Lord.  I held on so tight to my son.  I was fearful and scared that I was going to lose him so many times.  Just like Sarah I desired to be a mom for a long time and the thought of that being taken away from me made me sick.

Truth is I new that I put D first in my life.  He was #1 before God and it was taken a toll on me.  It wasn’t until January of 2016 (3years later) that I finally gave him to the Lord.  I will never forget the moment I was in our offices in our Munster building along with 10 other people praying.  For the first half of prayer we were on our own.  I fell to my knees and said Lord take him he is yours.  I can’t do this anymore.  In that moment God reminded me that He loves D more then I do and what He promised has not changed.

I want to remind you today that what you are going through does not surprise God.

God is teaching us a lot in the process of surrender.  He is teaching us a lot in the waiting room of life.  Let me tell you that God’s goal while you are waiting is not to get you somewhere but to take you closer to HIM.  While you are waiting God is making you more dependent on HIM.  More LIKE HIM.   God’s goal in the waiting room is to see you surrender YOUR plan and YOUR DREAM and YOUR CIRCUMSTANCE in order to pick up GOD’S PLAN and GOD’S dream for you.

Remember His promises are still Yes and Amen.  Let God have your marriage, your kids, your finances, your dreams, and your goals.

Can I tell you the moment I surrendered EVERYTHING changed.  I felt a weight lifted off of me and God began to move in my situation like I have never experienced.  He is faithful and He always will be.  Trust Him.

Prayer

Father, we come to you today in complete awe of who you are.  We thank you that you’re not a God that lies and that you are true to your word.  Help us today to surrender everything to you.  Help us to daily surrender our marriages, kids, finances and anything in between.  We love you and trust you.  We know Lord that nothing comes to you by surprise and that you are working all things for our good.  We love you!  In Jesus name, Amen!

 

 

Day 13, 21-days of Fasting & Prayer

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Today’s guest devotional is from Blue Island Campus Pastor, Sol McQuay:

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “new year, new you”. This makes us think about new opportunities, new habits, new circumstances. However more often than not we enter a new year with the same issues we had the previous year. When the clock strikes 12 nothing magically changes and you find yourself in a new year with same the old you. With the same struggles, with the same old habits.  And even tho it sounds quite depressing I want to encourage you to keep going. Don’t give up!

Many of us have stuff we have been battling for a long time, prayers we have prayed so many times we don’t know if we can pray it one more time. We find ourselves tired, and even discouraged.

In the book of Judges chapter 8 we read about Gideon and his 300 men, God had promised them victory over their enemies and they have been fighting numerous battles, but  I want to highlight verse 4 “And Gideon came to the Jordan and crossed over, he and the 300 men who were with him, exhausted yet pursuing”. They had victory after victory but they knew that they had to keep fighting even tho their strength was fading because a battle is not won without a fight!

I don’t know what you are fighting today, I don’t know how many times you have prayed the same prayer or how many fights you have fought, but I know God has promised to deliver you, to give you success and to see you overcome, so no matter how exhausted you are, how long this battle seems to be, keep going!! Keep pursuing. Keep believing. Keep praying.  Your victory is coming.

So today I want you to get this phrase in your spirit and declare it as often as you need to. I am exhausted yet pursuing financial freedom. I am exhausted yet pursuing my kids salvation. I’m exhausted yet pursuing a restored marriage.  We won’t allow the enemy to distract us, we won’t allow circumstances to derail us, we won’t allow our strength to dictate the outcome. We will fight because with God on our side there’s nothing we can’t overcome!

Exhausted yet pursuing!!

Let me pray for you.

Dear Jesus, thank you because in you ALL battles are won, because we don’t have to go on our own strength. Thank you because you have already given us victory over our issues, problems, and circumstances. Help us to pursue, to persevere, to keep on going even when we feel like giving up. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Let us know in the comments what are you pursuing tirelessly this 2018, we want to agree in prayer with you.

Day 12, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Missions Pastor, Jen McQuay:

Worship. Is it a Sunday morning experience or a lifestyle?

So often worship is reserved for the holy moments … the spiritual parts of our life such as church attendance, devotions, small groups and when we’re listening to worship music.  But lets be honest with ourselves.  In a normal week, how much time would that be spent in Worship? Not very much.  So how is our worship something that is reflected in our lives daily?

The apostle Paul gives us undeniable instructions on how we live a life of worship in Romans 12.  Its a simple word that isn’t always easy.  Surrender.  Complete Surrender.  When we live each day for HIM and not for ourselves our worship is more than a Sunday morning experience.

Romans 12:1 ESV  – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Another verse in ! Corinthians says it this way:  whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Whatever you do —  All that you do— should be giving God glory.

Our lives should be a reflection of HIM……

But how do we do that?

The very next verse that Paul writes tells us….

 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Worship as a lifestyle, affects every part of you. It’s not just a conversation you have, a t-shirt you wear or a conference you attend. It is … you.

You know that you are a lifestyle worshipper when it becomes—second nature. You shouldn’t wake up in the morning and have to decide whether you’ll read your Bible or not.

Seeking God.  Reading His word.  Spending time in His presence.  Asking for advice & wisdom.  They should be a first resort and not a last.

A lifestyle of worship is a life that presents itself as a living sacrifice (surrendered) to Him – always and at all times.

If any of you are like me – it is easy to surrender and run to Jesus when there’s a tragedy  but how do we make it more second nature every single day?

The 2nd verse of Romans 12 just told us what surrender looks like…….

To live a surrendered life, you have to renew your mind.  Because His ways are NOT our ways.  And you renew your mind, by spending time in his word.  The more you know about someone, the more comfortable you are with giving them control.

As you are renewing your mind – its the heart that is most important.  You need to actually  have a revelation of WHO HE IS.  Because you can KNOW all of the right things, and SAY all of the right things but unless you have the WHY its just information or words on a page.

Heres my profound thought for you this morning.

Information informs, but when you have a revelation of who He is it transforms you.  With revelation it causes us to do by default what we may have only done before by instruction. Sometimes in Christianity we fall into a trap of settling for “information” instead of passionately seeking revelation.  We know all about Jesus in our head, but we haven’t experienced him in our hearts.  We find out stuff about Him when we haven’t encountered him personally.

With information we know what to do.  With revelation we know what to do AND we do it. If we are strictly living from information everything that we do for God will be done from a HAVE to RULES mentality.  But with true revelation our obedience and response to His words because a want to – personal desire as an expression of love.

I pray that in this 21 days of prayer and fasting  – that you are being transformed.  That life wouldn’t go back to “normal” on January 29th.

That every moment of every day you would worship & honor God with your life.

I’d love to hear from you how you make worship a lifestyle and not just a sunday morning expression.  And what revelation have you had during this 21 days that is transforming YOU as a result!  Leave your comments below-

Day 11, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Hammond Campus Pastor, Sam Hamstra:

“Hello….My Name is El Roi.”
For the past few months I have been studying and learning some of the different names of God.  It has been amazing to see how every different name of God reveals something so awesome about the character of God.
I ran into an interesting name of God in my morning devotion last week while reading about the story of Hagar in Genesis 16.   Genesis 16:13 says,
 So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,”[f] for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?
El Roi can be translated as the God who see’s.  In order to understand why Hagar calling God El Roi is so powerful, let give you a little context.
I don’t know if you have ever felt in a place like God abandoned you.  Maybe in a place where you feel forgotten?  Maybe in a place where you have been stuck asking the question, “God,where are you in all of this?” In short, you find yourself in a place you didn’t expect to be in.  I know I sure have.
This is how Hagar must have felt as she was running from Sarai in Genesis 16.  You may know the story.  Abram and Sarai are having a hard time getting pregnant, so Sarai tells Abram to go get the servant girl Hagar and have a child with her.  So Abram says, “OK!”  So he calls the servant girl Hagar and within a moment she goes from a servant of Abram to a wife of Abram.  She gets pregnant and Sarai now starts looking at her differently and starts treating Hagar so badly that she runs away.
This is where we find Hagar in Genesis 16.  On the run from Sarai…pregnant….all alone.  She had to have know about God being in Abraham’s home, but I’m not sure if she really knew God quite yet. She must have wondered if God really cared about her situation.   If God really cared about her.  If God really saw her.  And it’s in this place of where we read in Genesis 16:7 CSB.
The angel of the Lord found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur.
Let me give you some good news & some tough news we learn from the story of Hagar:
The good news is that our God is a seeking God!
She was running and the angel of the Lord found her.  Let us never forget that we serve a God who is a seeking God!  Hagar could try to run from Sarai, but she couldn’t outrun the presence of God.
So that’s the good news.  Now the tough news…
The tough news is that submission comes before God’s blessing.  
In other words obedience comes before blessing. The angel of the Lord shows up and gives Hagar some very interesting instructions.
The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, and they will be too many to count.”
Genesis 16:9-10 CSB
God says go back to Sarai, submit, and then I will bless you.  I read this and was so confused.  Why in the world would God tell Hagar to go back to a place where she was being mistreated and SUBMIT.   Well, maybe just maybe God knew that the direction Hagar was headed in was going to cause her more harm than good.  Maybe he knew that she couldn’t make it through.  Maybe God, the God who see’s, knew that it was better for Hagar to be in a God fearing home rather than to return to her homeland of Egypt where everyone worshipped false Gods.  Maybe God does really know better than we do!
God tells Hagar to go back and submit.  We don’t like that word submission in America.  The idea of purposely giving up control over a situation and give someone authority over my life?!  Yeah right!  A great lesson we learn from Hagar though is this:
“Before you can submit to the people AROUND YOU, you need to submit to what God is doing where He has placed YOU.”
God tells Hagar go back to where you came from.  That He was not finished with what He was doing in you there yet.  What a reminder that the God who made us knows our greatest need in the time of a trial is to learn to submit to His ways.
I found this in a commentary from Steven J. Cole and though it was so good:
“Some people never grow in the Lord because they have a habit of running from difficult situations where He has put them for their training. They had problems with their parents as teenagers, so they rebelled. They get a job and have problems, so they quit. They get married and have conflict, so they walk away from it. They seek counseling, but they don’t like what the counselor tells them, so they either quit or else look for a counselor who agrees with them. They join a church, but can’t get along with the people or don’t like something, so they find another church. But guess what? They discover that the new church has the same problems.”
One of the toughest realities I have learned over the past five years is that if God wanted you to be somewhere else you would be.  If He wanted you to be done with a situation you would be done with it.  I mean, think about it, He’s the same God who shut the mouths of the lions in the lions den.  Don’t you think He can pull you out of a situation if He wanted to?  I’m not saying that God causes everything, but nothing happens that catches Him off guard or that is out of His eyesight.  After all, He is the God who See’s & the God who see’s all is the God who See’s you!
It was after Hagar submitted to God’s plan that she declared
“So she named the Lord who spoke to her: “You are El-roi,”[f] for she said, “In this place, have I actually seen the one who sees me?”
Genesis 16:13 CSB
It’s often in our greatest trials when we finally learn to submit to God’s greater plan that He will in turn reveal to us a little more about the greatness of Who He really is.
What is God calling you to submit to today?  What area of your life have you been trying to run from?  What have you been trying to control?  Will you submit to His purpose today?

Day 10 – 21 days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Pastor Moy Mendez:

Title: Who told you?

Verse: Genesis 3:11 “”Who told you that you were naked?” the LORD God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”

Thesis: Adam and Eve were used to walking with God in the morning and hearing His voice. Once they sinned, a new reality materialized. The voice that once brought them comfort, confidence and congruence was replaced by with half-truths, which led to shame and guilt.

Devotion: I once read a quote on a t-shirt that said, “What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail” It really set me back to think long and hard, especially as I began to dream of the MANY things I would do including: traveling with my family to every continent in the world, speaking Chinese, Russian and Arabic, playing my violin with the worship team on Sundays, creating non-profit business in Chicago that would develop entrepreneurs in the marginal parts of the city.

The possibilities seemed grand until one word creeped into the stratosphere of my consciousness. That word was NO. Once word collapsed the lofty idea of exploring the world and my potential. The bigger question is; where did the word come from? Who told me? Better yet, who is telling you that fulfilling your dreams is impossible? We do not have to start with dreams, let us start with basic goals most Christians desire, such as; spiritual maturity, deep character, financial freedom, weight loss, healthy relationships, breaking bad habits, etc. Who is telling you NO? Who told you?

By no means am I saying that your entire dreams will come true in 2018. I understand that there may be practical areas we need start with before launching our full potential. My objective is to help you think about the origin of your negative voices and to guide you to what God is saying. The negative words your hearing might not even be coming from Satan, but possibly a past failure or someone who spoke negatively. We might just be in dire need of habit formation. All these are valid, but are you aware of who is at the helm of the voices you chose to accept? Are you allowing God to speak into your life on a daily basis?

Conclusion: 2018 will be a year I will chose to allow God’s word to shape my life. I might not travel around the world with my family or speak many languages, but I do know one thing – If I knew I could attempt to do anything and not fail, I would live by God’s word because He never fails!

Day 9 – 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Pastor Micah Remington:

In a nutshell
Become so close to God that you can recognize the sound he makes, the voice he has.
  • MeSounds I recognize
    •  What sounds do you recognize that you associate with certain people, places or things? When I was a kid, I could always recognize sound of my mother’s voice, even from far away in a store. When she both was calling me to dinner AND when I was in trouble! Especially when I was in trouble!
  • WeSounds we all can recognize
    • we all have the ability to associate sounds with specific things. Doorbells, ringtones, dogs barking are just examples.
  • God- Genisis 3:8- Intimacy knows the SOUND
    • Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
  • YouMy hope for you
    • This year my hope for us is that we would become so intimate with God that we would recognize the voice, the sound of God has when he is moving. That we would know the voice of the Lord when he wants us pray for someone, to reach out and love on others, to even step out and do miracles.
    • John 10:27-28King James Version (KJV)-27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me

    • The bible says that we can not only hear his voice, but that he KNOWS when we hear him and then we are to FOLLOW him
      • When you hear his voice, he is not just loving, but instructional. He wants to lead us to green pastures, through deserts and promised lands and to people who need him
  • We- How
    • During this remainder of these 21 days of fasting and prayer, here are some important things to remember!
      • LISTEN-Don’t just fast, but LISTEN. Listen for the sound of the voice of God
      • ASK-Don’t just listen but ASK for God to speak to you in a greater way!
      • FOLLOW-Then be ready to FOLLOW what he is saying to you. Whether it be as simple as praying for someone, going on a mission’s trip or just knowing the the loves you
      • What would our lives look life if we could recognize the sound of the Holy Spirit when he moves in such an intimate way that we moved when he moved? It is possible!

Weekend reflections (the day after)

I left my house about 5:20 Sunday morning and didn’t get back until about 8pm, so I was too wiped out to post last night (it was a good tired!)  Here’s why:

I think this pic captures the essence of this weekend - His PRESENCE was strong at each campus & each service!

I think this pic captures the essence of this weekend – His PRESENCE was strong at each campus & each service!

Saturday night we commissioned Len & JoMarie Cooper as Elders (recognizing the role they've already fulfilled for the past few years)

Saturday night we commissioned Len & JoMarie Cooper as Elders (recognizing the role they’ve already fulfilled for the past few years)

We ordained 6 CLC pastors, with the help of all our pastors as well as Pastor Gordon Banks, Prophet Gary Heyes and Pastors Dan & Pat Johnson and Josh & Heather Moran.  What a special time - pouring the anointing oil, reading Scriptural charges, laying on hands in prayer & hearing prophetic words!

We also ordained 6 CLC pastors on Saturday evening, with the help of all our pastors as well as Pastor Gordon Banks, Prophet Gary Heyes and Pastors Dan & Pat Johnson and Josh & Heather Moran. What a special time – pouring the anointing oil, reading Scriptural charges, laying on hands in prayer & hearing prophetic words!

My favorite pic of the weekend - as we presented Certificates of Ordination, I had an "oops" moment & referred to Jen as "Worship Pastor" instead of "Missions Pastor" (don't worry, Jon's job is safe!)

My favorite pic of the weekend – as we presented Certificates of Ordination, I had an “oops” moment & referred to Jen as “Worship Pastor” instead of “Missions Pastor” (don’t worry, Jon’s job is safe!)

How to describe the ministry of Gary Heyes?  He served all 3 campuses this weekend and blessed so many CLC'ers with a word from the Lord.  He even ministered to a first-time guest who was blown away by God's love!

How to describe the ministry of Gary Heyes? He served all 3 campuses this weekend and blessed so many CLC’ers with a word from the Lord. He even ministered to a first-time guest who was blown away by God’s love!

These fine folks became MEMBERS at CLC-Hammond through our Growth Track Class!

These fine folks became MEMBERS at CLC-Hammond through our Growth Track Class!

Pastor Sam led prayers for our new Student Directors at Hammond, Christian & Cassandra Washington!

Pastor Sam led prayers for our new Student Directors at Hammond, Christian & Cassandra Washington!

My wife ministered in Hammond yesterday & Pastor Sam said her illustrations connected great!

My wife ministered in Hammond yesterday that she was finished with ‘YESTERDAY” and Pastor Sam said her illustrations connected great!

Brent's illustrations aren't as elaborate as his mom's, but he still connects!

Brent’s illustrations aren’t as elaborate as his mom’s, but he still connects!

Seems like I say it every week, but the CUTEST KIDS in the world are from KidsLife at CLC!

Seems like I say it every week, but the CUTEST KIDS in the world are from KidsLife at CLC!

Day 8 – 21 days of Prayer & Fasting

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This is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional from Pastor Brent McQuay:

Today as we enter week number 2 of our 21 days of prayer and fasting we are also celebrating the life of an incredible man, Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.   While the sad reality of life in this country is that we still haven’t fully achieved his dream, we have made large strides towards reconciliation and I love being a part of a multicultural church that strives to bring people together regardless of skin color to worship God.  While Reverend King’s statement that “the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning” may still be true in a lot of places, it isn’t true at CLC.

But this morning I don’t want to encourage you with Reverend King’s statements on race relations, it’s actually his wisdom when it comes to faith that I want to leave you with.

King once said that “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Today as you begin this second week of prayer and fasting I want to encourage you to step out in faith today.  Pray with a stranger, share the gospel with a neighbor, invite a coworker to church with you.  Whatever you have been holding back from God, whatever fear has been keeping you from stepping out in faith take the first step today.  You don’t have to have a plan for steps 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, just start with that first step and trust that God, the architect of it all, has a beautiful staircase for you to walk up.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ERV)

5 Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. 6 With every step you take, think about what he wants, and he will help you go the right way.

Every step you take in faith trust the lord completely.  Let go of the worries and the fears and keep moving forward.

I’ll leave you with one last quote from Reverend King

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

No matter how you feel in this fast, maybe you quit somewhere during that first week, today is a new day and a new opportunity for you to jump back in, to keep moving forward, to keep taking that next step in faith trusting that at the end of these 21 days you will be closer to God than at the start.  Maybe you can’t fly, maybe you can’t run, but you can keep putting one foot in front of the other taking one step of faith at a time.  Whatever you do don’t stop, keep moving forward

Love you guys, happy fasting, we will be back tomorrow at 6am for more but in the mean time why don’t you let us know your favorite Reverend King quote or what this day means to you below.

Day 7 – 21 Days of Fasting & Prayer

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This is a guest post from our Hammond Campus Pastor Taylor Hamstra:

Shameless Persistence

Scripture 

Luke 11: 5-10

5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.[a]

9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Devotion

Have you ever felt like God wasn’t hearing your prayers?  Have you ever felt like God was just annoyed by your persistence in that same prayer request?  I know I sure have.  I think we all get to the place in our prayer lives where we ask the question of, “God are you hearing me?”  Or, “God, why is this taking so long?!”

In Luke 11 the Bible clearly tells us to keep knocking, to keep asking and the door will be open to you.  One of the biggest prayers I prayed took many years for God to answer, but it was through the of me asking and praying that He taught me how to not only pray without ceasing, but to understand that He is a good father and in His time He will give us the desires of our hearts.

My parents fell into a trap and became alcoholics in my teenage years of life.  It wasn’t always the easiest journey as there where lots of ups and downs.  At the time I didn’t understand who God really was so I became angry and I didn’t always direct my attention in a positive way.  It wasn’t until I began my journey with the Lord.  I was 24 years old when I gave my life to christ and the more I grew the more I could intercede on behalf of my parents.  I prayed shameless persistence prayers for them, invited them to church and had many talks about who God was.  Although it took time for the Lord to answer my prayers I never stopped or gave up on the fact that one day my parents would become sober.  You see in the waiting God is teaching us and molding us into the people He wants us to be.  What if I would have stopped praying?  What if I would have just given up on my parents?  I could never imagine and I could not sit here an joyful and gratefully tell you today that this year my parents will be sober for 7 years.

Today I just want to encourage you to never stop asking.  The Lord hears you heart, and sees your tears.  Nothing goes unnoticed by our daddy and if we just go to him with constant, shameless persistence (without embarrassment) He will give you the desires of your heart.

Prayer

Father, today we come boldly before you with no shame and ask you to hear our request.  We know that you are a good Father who not only sees us but hears us.  Today Lord we commit to shameless persistent prayers.  We know Lord that praying without ceasing will shift things and break down strongholds.  Thank you for hearing us and answering our prayers in your perfect timing.  We love you.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Day 6 – 21 days of Prayer & Fasting

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Today’s post is from Tinley Park Campus Pastor Rachel Jones:

Good morning CLC family! What a great day to reflect on these words, as we assemble together at our campuses.
One of my favorite songs growing up in church has always been “All to Jesus, I surrender ALL to Him I freely give…I surrender ALL…” Funny thing is every time I have said this phrase, I always had something to surrender. You would think a song I have been singing since I was a child, and actively surrendering, that at some point there would be nothing left to surrender. Thank God that is not the case, if it were, I don’t believe any of us would understand our desperate need for God.
I’ve learned that surrendering to the Lord is not a one time deal; however, daily I must surrender. It is a necessary act for any believer. I could probably write a whole book about surrender, but todayI want to focus on one word and that is ALL. When we sing this song, I would gather that majority of the time we are just singing and have no idea what we are actually committing to the Lord. I remember a time in my life where I was in such a desperate place, a really dry wilderness season. It. Was. Dry. I could not hear God, see Him, feel Him and I was getting really desperate. Once you have been living in the presence of the Lord, gotten to know His voice, sense His love, peace and joy all around you, you don’t ever want to let go of that.
What began to lead me into this season was my self, I began to do what I wanted without God’s consent, and little by little my surrender became less and less. To my knowledge I was still surrendered, just dabbling in my own interests. I had gotten to this breaking point, where I couldn’t fake it, and it was time for a discussion with my Creator. “God, why can’t I feel you near me? Why can’t I hear your voice? Where is my once tender heart? Where are you?” It was in that moment, the Holy Spirit showed me what He was after; what He required of me. It was my surrender. This time was different from any other time, where I willingly surrendered my life to God. This time He asked me for my surrender, and not just in words, but it was specific to every detail of my life. He showed me pictures of people in my life, things, places, dreams, thoughts, ideas, how I lived my life and more. He said, I want it ALL!” God required me to surrender specific areas, areas that I never thought to give up, EVERY person in my life; I had to give up everything to Him. I had to trust Him with my WHOLE life.
This is where I began to understand that my reasonable service and greatest act of worship was to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. Romans 12:1. Surrendering ALL to the Father has been the best decision I ever made. It is from that point that my life has been walked out according to His plan and it has been the greatest adventure I could ever experience. Two of my greatest examples of this surrender are Mary the mother of Jesus and Jesus himself. Mary just a teenager, not knowing how she would handle being pregnant with the Son of God; would she have morning sickness, back pain; the ridicule and doubt of others, not having any idea, responded, “be it unto me as you would have it.” Some of my favorite words in the Bible. Then Jesus, the Son of God born to die, struggled  with the reality of His soon coming death, responds “…not my will but Yours be done…” Everyday we have the opportunity as the creation to trust the Creator with His plan for our lives. It is everyday we must surrender to live the BEST life. Have you surrendered all to the Lord? Have you taken a moment to realize what ALL really looks like? Lets pray.
Father thank you for sending your son to surrender His life, to suffer greatly, die and be raised again, so that we would have life! I ask that you help me today to surrender all of my life to you; the people, my plans, my thoughts, my attitude, and with every decision I make, help me to surrender it to you first. Thank you for your amazing love. I surrender ALL today! In Jesus name, Amen.

day 5, 21-days of Prayer & Fasting

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Today’s post is the text of today’s Facebook Live devotional by Pastor Jon Jones:

I’m excited about this season of Fasting & Prayer!  I’m also excited about, in conjunction with the prayer & fasting time, that we are in the series “It is Finished!” We are coming from the standpoint of, because of the fact of what Christ Jesus did for us, that there are things we need to be finished with!

I want to mention some critical things we need to be FINISHED with… and if we would be finished with them it’ll cause us to live in a new level of peace, joy & effectiveness!

1.) Be Finished with doubting God’s love!  Why is that so important! When we resolve in our minds and hearts that God loves us with an unconditional, life giving, everlasting love it gives us such confidence in Him!  When Adam sat and watched the enemy trick Eve, he, in that moment, felt it best to follow Eve rather than follow God… that following Eve would be better than following an ALL KNOWING, ALL CARING, ALL LOVING GOD! Eve would have never considered what the serpent said if she really believed God loved her! When we doubt His love, we start to doubt His intentions, His honesty; His faithfulness!

2.) Be finished with doubting His FAITHFULNESS! When trying circumstances come, and they will come, already have it resolved that God loves you, that He’s a Good Father, & that He’s causing all things to work together for your good! He’s the God that will NEVER leave nor forsake you! He’s the God that will not withhold any good thing from you!

We have an enemy that hates us…. Yes…. But please know that his hatred of us stems from his hatred of God! He rebelled against God in heaven.  Now, on this earth, his fight is against God. John 1:1 say “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, & the Word was God.” The Word of God is Jesus! Our enemy is on an all out attack on the Word/Jesus!  Notice that at the time of the 1st sin, the fall of mankind, the enemy attacked what God said!  “Did God really say that?….. “That’s not the truth.”  In our lives he does the same thing…. He may not use the same words, but at the end of the day he’s saying, “Did God really say that? Does He really not want you to worry… hold a grudge (you deserve to be angry…. God is a liar)…. Does He really want you to love people like you love yourself? (that takes too much work…. God had to be kidding or lying)….”

God is faithful!  To you and His WORD!!!! He cannot lie! When the Word became flesh in Jesus, the enemy attacked Him/Word, even to the point of trying to use the Word against the Word! He quoted scripture out of context to get Jesus to commit suicide! Our enemy is a liar and a manipulator….

Jesus, the Word, used the Word to defeat the enemy! We MUST do the same!  But we must RESOLVE today that God’s love surpasses all our understanding; that it is everlasting!  Be Finished with doubting His faithfulness! Walk in peace & joy in the Holy Ghost and carry that peace & joy EVERYWHERE you go! Be FINISHED with being tricked to keep your mind concerned about yourself instead of keeping it on Him & on the people whom he died for!

 

Day 4, 21 days of Prayer & Fasting

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(This is a guest post from Pastor Torey Goodson, and is the text of her Facebook Live devotional today)

God has been speaking to me about Prayer. In years past I’ve prayed a lot, but as I look back my prayers were more about asking God for something or to do something and more intercessory and militant. Recently I feel God has been showing me that while all of that is good and right during the course of our day, the true intent of our quiet time with Him is for relationship. It’s for intimacy with our God.

Just like in a marriage you have times when you see each other coming and going from work and busy life schedules and you chat about the necessary things, who’s picking up the kids from practice, did you get my dry cleaning, what time will you be home, etc. Then there are times when it’s more intentional like after dinner on the couch discussing bigger matters. But then as a married couple there are the intimate times that are very necessary. Times when you shut everything else out, and go behind closed doors to be together in a very personal intimate way.

Intimacy in prayer is when we expose ourselves and our hearts to God. It’s when we get close to Him,, bringing ourselves to Him, baring our very souls. We share our deepest love and desires with Him. We tell Him how we feel and we worship Him for who He is to us. But mostly we listen for His desires for us, lean in to hear His heart.

I’ve often read the bible through in a year or done some other bible reading program. Those are great programs to do.  We need to read the Word. But sometimes we need to study the Word.  Take a topic, a character, a chapter or verse and study it to learn. But then there are times to let God’s Spirit lead you in what you should read. Maybe that’s just the New Testament that year or just one book of the bible.

Lately I’ve been taking one or two scriptures and reading them over and over, asking the Holy Spirit to teach me what they mean. I look up words in the scripture and relate the definitions to the scripture to enhance it’s meaning for me. I simply let His spirit lead me and speak to me. I then journal this and write out my prayers.

I’ve been learning to just sit and soak in His love, listen to a worship song and repeat the lyrics to Him, and to just express my love for who He is and what He has done or is to me in a situation. It’s simply relationship, talking and listening, just being with Him.

Our minds tell us that is too simple or we aren’t accomplishing enough…the point of relationship isn’t to accomplish a certain amount of things. It’s to KNOW one another, to give of myself and to take in what I need from Him. It’s not a formula. Although when you are starting out learning to be dedicated to prayer and bible study you must be committed to a routine to establish a new habit. Then you can be free to let Him lead your time with Him.

He loves us, guys!!! He just wants you! Take the necessary steps to learn to just be with Him and commune with His heart. You will never regret the effort it takes.

Prophetic ministry weekend!

Prophet Gary Heyes

Prophet Gary Heyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our 21-days of Prayer & Fasting is already underway, preparing our hearts for a great prophetic weekend this Friday-Sunday!

Our guest, Gary Heyes, has been ministering in the prophetic for over 30 years and currently spends much of the year serving some of the largest ministries in Asia and the Pacific.

He’ll be ministering at our Hammond campus this Friday, Jan. 12 at 7pm.

On Saturday he’ll minister at a special ordination service in Tinley Park at 5pm.  (We will ordain Pastors Dan & Torey Goodson and Pastors Moy & Eva Mendez, along with our Blue Island Worship Director, Alan & Terrilyn Franklin, our Tinley Park KidsLife Director Stacy Hunter and our Missions Director,Jen McQuay.)

Sunday morning Gary will minister at all 3 services in Tinley Park (8:30 & 10am, 12pm).

Sunday afternoon he will minister at our Blue Island campus at 5pm.

Let’s come expecting to receive from the Lord!

Day 3, 21 days of Fasting & Prayer

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(This is a guest post by Pastor Dan Goodson, and is the text of his Facebook Live today)

So many of us go into a new year with great intention of changing past situations, habits, with resolutions, etc.

As I reflect on 2017, I see some wildernesses and wastelands that I am ready to leave behind. How many of you can say amen to that? It’s not to say there were no good things that happened in 2017: God brought Torey and me to CLC; we have three incredible sons; five awesome grandchildren; and a beautiful home.  However, there are things from 2017 we want to leave behind.

As I was praying about 2018, I was drawn to Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

That verse is something I shared with the staff at our chapel last week and I really sense it’s a verse for many of us. Here in 2018 God is going to do a new thing in our church, our staff and in each of us as individuals.

I believe there are a lot of us who have been in the wilderness or the desert and God is ready and willing to bring us out of the wilderness or bring springs of life into the wasteland. Through these 21 days of prayer and fasting, I am standing on this verse in some very specific areas.

I want to encourage any of you who have some areas in your life, whether health, finances, relationships, etc, that during these 21 days you would ask God, what are those areas and believe His word that He will do a new thing in those situations and bring you out of that wilderness and into the light or bring streams of Hope in the wasteland you have been going through.

In Romans 5 1-5, it says this:

  1. Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace[a]with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

No matter what the situation or situations you are going through I believe is 2018 is a year of “New Things”

Are you ready for a change to the circumstances in your life? Well, let’s keep pressing into what God has for us in 2018!

Day 2, 21 days of Prayer & Fasting

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(This is a guest post by my wife, who did the Facebook Live devotional on day 2 of our fast.)

Sunday was just one of those mornings for me.  Even though I was up by 5:30, I was still struggling to get out the door in time for the first service.  I was whining to God about it all, complaining about this and that, when I looked up and saw the time.  My prayers turned to “Oh God, oh God, oh God, I’m such a mess.  I can’t get it together.” I went on this vein for a bit until I think God had enough.  He quite forcibly reminded me about our sermon series, “It is finished.”  Then He asked me, “What are you finished with?”  Tentatively I responded in the form of a question, “I’m finished with ineffectual praying?”  I sensed His nod of approval.  So I sucked it up, finished getting ready, was at church on time and was present for the amazing move of God in the third service.

We are just at the beginning of our 21 days of prayer and fasting, and I want to make sure that my prayers are effective. The last part of James 5:16 tells us that, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”  NKJV  In other words, has great power and produces wonderful results.  I’m sure that you want that for your prayers as well.

I can tell you right off what doesn’t help your prayers be powerful and produce great results…that’s whining, pleading and complaining to God.  When I checked it out scripture I found that:

Doubt and unbelief  (James 1:6-7)

Selfish prayers  (James 4:3)

Unforgiveness (Mark 11:25)

Living in disobedience to what pleases God  (1 John 3:22)

Living in disharmony with others  (1 Peter 3:7, Matt 5:23-24)

Impatience (Matt 7:7-8)

All causes our prayers to be ineffective as well.  I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.  I’m just giving you a friendly reminder because life has a way of causing us to forget. For prayers to have great power and produce wonderful results they need to be:

  • Passionate, fervent, regarding something that you are really concerned about. It can’t be just pulling out a list and going through the motions.
  • 1 John 5:14, tells us that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us…so pray the will of God. Remember we’re just clay.  We don’t tell the potter what to do.  We come into agreement with what He wants.  We become His partners in prayer. One of the best ways to pray God’s will is to pray His Word.

And remember it really is all about God.  Prayer is effective not because great people pray, or that we pray great prayers but because we pray to a great God.  Find a place of intimacy with God.  There in His arms you will have confidence that God is listening, that He hears and answers.  Now that’s effective praying.

Day 1, 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting

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(This is the text of our Facebook Live devotional for day 1)

Zech. 10:1 NKJV

Timing is everything.  Farmers know that.  If they don’t plant at the right time, they won’t have a harvest.  Baseball players know that.  If they don’t swing the bat at the right time, what could have been an extra-base hit becomes an easy out.  The right action at the wrong time never yields the results we want.  Timing is everything.

That’s what’s so encouraging about Zechariah 10:1, when the prophet tells us to “Ask the Lord for rain In the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, Grass in the field for everyone.”

In other words, Zechariah says we should ask the Lord for rain at the right time, when the Lord is willing to provide that rain to help produce and insure the harvest we all want.

That’s GOOD NEWS!  Are you praying today for people you love who do not yet know Jesus? This is the time that the Lord is willing to answer those prayers, for 2Peter 3:9 tells us that the Lord is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”

Are you praying today for a physical healing for yourself or for someone you know? This is the right time for those prayers, because in Exodus 15:26 the Lord declares, “I am the Lord who heals you!”  Notice, He didn’t say, “I was the God who used to heal people” or “Someday I will be the God who heals people”, but “I am the Lord who heals!”.  In fact, the KJV that I grew up with says, “I am the Lord who healeth thee” and while we don’t use that little ‘eth’ ending any more, it’s not just outdated English; that ‘eth’ at the end means this is a continuing action; i.e., He is the Lord who continues to heal people, now and forever more!  And while we’re there, don’t overlook the fact that He said He is the Lord who heals you!  This is a personal promise that you can claim today – so if you’re praying for healing, you’re praying at the right time!

Maybe you’re praying for wisdom today, because you’re facing some difficult decisions in this New Year.  Can I encourage you that you are praying this prayer at just the right time?  Because James 1:5 says “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”  James went on to say that we should pray that prayer in faith, not doubting.  You can expect God to answer that prayer, because this is the time that He loves to give wisdom and direction to His children – and because you are His sheep, you can and do hear His voice!  That’s what John 10:27 says – “My sheep hear my voice”.  In the past, when I was facing difficult decisions as a pastor, I would sometimes whine that I just wasn’t hearing God’s voice and didn’t know what to do, until one day a precious saint kindly corrected me and said, “Pastor, don’t say that – Jesus said His sheep hear His voice” – and I’ve been confessing that truth ever since!

Whatever it is that you are calling on the Lord to do today, just know that this IS the season that He is hearing and answering prayer.  Let’s call on Him with confidence!

Sunday reflections

What better way to begin 2018 than with WORSHIP?

What better way to begin 2018 than with WORSHIP?

Pastor Brent brought the Word, "I am Finished with Undisciplined Living"

Pastor Brent brought the Word, “I am Finished with Undisciplined Living”

Every preacher's dream: to have that kind of attention from the congregation as you preach!

Every preacher’s dream: to have that kind of attention from the congregation as you preach!

Our Hammond campus started the year with a strong attendance (over 400) along with 6 salvation decisions & 5 new members in Growth Track!

Our Hammond campus started the year with a strong attendance (over 400) along with 6 salvation decisions & 5 new members in Growth Track!

Pastor Sam said worship was SWEET in Hammond today-

Pastor Sam said worship was SWEET in Hammond today-

Our Hammond campus has big expectations for our 21-days of Prayer & Fasting!

Our Hammond campus has big expectations for our 21-days of Prayer & Fasting!

Meanwhile, at the Tinley Park campus we closed the first 2 services with circles of prayer for the upcoming Daniel Fast.

Meanwhile, at the Tinley Park campus we closed the first 2 services with circles of prayer for the upcoming Daniel Fast.

Registration has begun for the XO Marriage Conference on Feb. 10 - you can sign up at www.clc.tv/xo

Registration has begun for the XO Marriage Conference on Feb. 10 – you can sign up at www.clc.tv/xo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There really are no words to describe the noon service, as we literally couldn’t stop the flow of worship and for only the first or second time in 28 years at CLC, I was unable to preach because the Presence of God SO filled the house….people were laid out on the floor, weeping, standing in the aisles, praising, receiving prayer….just indescribable.

When things finally settled down, I invited people to the platform if they knew God had done something in or for them during that worship breakthrough:

Lauren Mahwikizi testified of things "coming off her" as she was set free during worship!

Lauren Mahwikizi testified of things “coming off her” as she was set free during worship!

This sweet first-time guest tearfully told us how she had been suicidal, angry with God after her grandfather's recent death, but during the service all of that was washed away and she received comfort from the Lord.

This sweet first-time guest tearfully told us how she had been suicidal, angry with God after her grandfather’s recent death, but during the service all of that was washed away and she received comfort from the Lord.

Cynthia Coburn received a healing of her spine while we worshipped the Lord!

Cynthia Coburn received a healing of her spine while we worshipped the Lord!

Kara May told us how she had slipped & fallen on the ice this week and WAS in much pain....but not after today's breakthrough!

Kara May told us how she had slipped & fallen on the ice this week and showed us how she couldn’t move without pain….until today’s praise breakthrough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If this was what happened the day before the fast, just IMAGINE what we’re about to experience these next 21 days!

 

Why I fast (and you should, too) – part 3

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Here’s my final installment on what I’m fasting for the next 3 weeks, and why I encourage you to join me-

3. Fasting is a great way to grow in self-discipline!

Today at CLC I shared how important it is that we be a disciplined people.  Craig Groeschel may have said it best when he said, “discipline is choosing what you want most OVER what you want now!”  SELAH.

It’s also true that discipline comes from the same root as ‘disciple’ and that one of the fruit of the Spirit is ‘self-control’ – and yet, many of us have become spiritually flabby, simply because we haven’t trained our body to yield to our spirit.

That’s why I said today that we should occasionally deny ourselves things that are all right, just for the purpose of mastering ourselves!  And here’s the unexpected benefit of fasting – when we can exercise our will to tell our body what and when we’ll eat, we soon are able to discipline ourselves in other needed areas as well!

I’ve known of people who wanted to quit smoking, but were unable to do so – until they fasted for a few days – then the nicotine habit was broken!  Maybe your lack of self-discipline shows up in your finances or the clutter in your room or automobile – it’s quite possible that after you discipline your body through fasting, that you’ll now be able to be disciplined in those other areas as well.  After all, it’s the same principle: choosing what you want most OVER what you want now!

I’m honestly excited about these next 21 days.  I’m expecting to hear more clearly what the Lord will speak to me.  I’m believing for some prayers that we’ve prayed to be answered as a result of our corporate fasting.  In fact, I’m looking for miracles to happen as we seek Him together!

Don’t forget to text the word “PRAYS” to 555-888 in order to get our daily reminders,

CLC, let’s do this!

Why I fast (and why you should, too) – part 2

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If you didn’t read yesterday’s post, you can start there.

Here’s the second reason I’ll be fasting for the next 3 weeks & encourage you to do so, too:

2. Fasting adds urgency and passion to my prayers!

Once when Jesus finished praying, His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray. (read about it in Luke 11:1-8)  Please note that after He gave them a model for prayer (the one we call “The Lord’s prayer”, which really wasn’t intended to merely be repeated, but rather to use as a pattern for our prayers – but that’s another subject) – Jesus then illustrated an important key to prayer that He called “shameless persistence” or “importunity”.

He told a similar story in Luke 18 to illustrate the same point.  Please understand: it’s NOT that God doesn’t care about our prayers; it’s that sometimes we don’t!  We pray for things, then forget all about it.  We so often lack persistence when it comes to seeking the Lord.

That’s where fasting comes in – when we are earnest enough about what we want God to do that we exercise our will-power and (in affect) say, “Lord, I want you to do this for me more than I want a juicy steak or a piece of chocolate cake or whatever food you really enjoy – we just added a measure of passion and urgency to our prayer that wasn’t there before.

Let me encourage you, as you join us on a Daniel fast (think: “no meats, no sweets”) from January 8-28 to be sure you include plenty of time for prayer – because that’s one of the best reasons for us to fast!

Check back tomorrow for reason #3 – I think it may surprise you!

 

Why I fast (and you should, too)

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No new questions were submitted this week, so I want to answer a timely one of my own:   WHY are we doing a 21-day Daniel Fast?  What’s the purpose or benefit of fasting? 

The disciples of John the Baptist asked a similar question of Jesus (Matt. 9:14-15) and He plainly said that his disciples would fast after He departed – but WHY?

I’m not addressing the physical benefits of fasting, because they’re well-known and easily found by asking Mr. Google.

I’m going to focus on 3 spiritual benefits, which I’ll address for the next 3 days:

1. Fasting is one way that I can humble myself before God!

There are numerous Biblical passages that indicate a connection between food and pride:

  • Deut. 8:12-14 warns us that when we eat and are full, we can easily forget God
  • In Ezekiel 16:49, God listed the root causes of Sodom’s sin, and He didn’t mention her immorality at all – He said she had too much to eat and too much time on her hands!
  • When wicked king Ahab fasted in 1Kings 21:27-29, God said “he humbled himself”
  • King David said in Psalm 35:13 that he humbled himself with fasting
  • Ezra proclaimed a fast for the people of Israel in Ezra 8:21, 23 that they might humble themselves before God!

You probably know the promise in 2Chronicles 7:14 that if we as God’s people will humble ourselves, He will hear our prayer, forgive our sin and heal our land.  Surely our country needs our prayers and the kind of national healing that only God can bring – and the starting place for that to happen is for us to humble ourselves before Him!

I’ll give you 2 more reasons this weekend, but the fact that doing without food that we enjoy is a Biblical way that we can humble ourselves is reason enough for me to recommend to us all – let’s set aside January 8-28 as a time for fasting and prayer!

Check back tomorrow for reason #2-

 

 

Sunday reflections – closing out 2017!

Honestly, today’s NY Eve celebrations were as wonderful as any I ever recall!  Here’s a quick pictorial recap:

Kara May's expression sums up our NY Eve celebrations - so much FUN!

Kara May’s expression sums up our NY Eve celebrations – so much FUN!

I wish EVERYONE could hear the 6 testimonies we heard today - special thanks to Erin Slone, James Ineh, Paul Velez, Paula Hopkins, John Jansto & Sean Smith!!!

I wish EVERYONE could hear the 6 testimonies we heard today – special thanks to Erin Slone, James Ineh, Paul Velez, Paula Hopkins, John Jansto (left) & Sean Smith (center)!!!

EVERYBODY did get a chance to 'testify' of what God did in 2017!

EVERYBODY did get a chance to ‘testify’ of what God did in 2017!

 

 

This man brought the house down when he sang, "Worthy"!  (Thanks, Tony Powell!)

This man brought the house down when he sang, “Worthy”! (Thanks, Tony Powell!)

Seeing people come forward for prayer & personal ministry in each service never gets old!

Seeing people come forward for prayer & personal ministry in each service never gets old!

Pastor Sam says our Hammond campus had just as much fun today!

Pastor Sam says our Hammond campus had just as much fun today!

"Mama" Drusie Neal led them in prayer to close out 2017.

“Mama” Drusie Neal led them in prayer to close out 2017.

Pastor Sam

Pastor Sam brought a great close to a very fruitful year in Hammond!

If Liane Williams is any indicator, I'd say Blue Island had a great time in worship, too!

If Liane Williams is any indicator, I’d say Blue Island had a great time in worship, too!

For sure, the Prayer banners for specific requests were a hit at each campus-

For sure, the Prayer banners for specific requests were a hit at each campus-

and KidsLife is always fun, not just on New Year's Eve!

and KidsLife is always fun, not just on New Year’s Eve! (Kudos, Mr. Harry & Ms. Crystal!)

Pastor Brent encouraged our Blue Island campus to go "all in" in 2018!

Pastor Brent encouraged our Blue Island campus to go “all in” in 2018!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m re-posting this from 2013 in the hopes that it may be helpful to some who may be considering a new church home in the new year:

One of our faithful CLC-NWI members writes, You recently pointed to a link of steps someone should follow when leaving a church under difficult circumstances.  You also faced a difficult situation with a specific denomination. I’d like to have you comment on the steps you could or did not follow and how forgiveness played a part.”

Interesting question….I honestly hadn’t thought of it in regards to my experience in leaving the denomination in which I was raised.  First, here’s the link I cited before.

Now, here are the 5 actions recommended by the writer & my personal experience:

  • Share your reasons & thinking with the leaders.  I did this, kinda.  By that I mean I did share my thoughts and heart with some other ministers prior to leaving, including some in positions of authority.  But I did not seek out the specific leaders in authority over me, because my issue was doctrinal and I had no expectation of changing the entire denomination’s stance on those issues.  I guess I felt that if I couldn’t support the denomination’s teaching, I should just leave.  So I did.
  • Resolve any outstanding conflicts.  I guess I could say I did this, because I honestly had no conflicts with the denomination or it’s officials on a personal level.  There really was nothing for me to forgive, because I wasn’t offended.
  • Express appreciation for the church’s ministry in your life.  Yes, I did this, both to various ministers that I knew then, and at times, even to this day.  (I will admit that I probably should do this more, for in spite of what I perceive as legalisms and Biblical errors that I no longer support, I am very grateful for what my faith family deposited in my life that helped shape me into the man I am today)
  • Say “goodbye” to friends & family.  I did not really do this, and if I have any regrets for how I left my denomination, this would be it.  At the time, I didn’t want to influence anyone else or try to persuade them to leave with me, since my decision to leave was based on the fact that I could no longer uphold the established teachings of the denomination, so rather than hurt or influence friends, I just chose to leave. Looking back now, I’d say my motives were right but probably my actions were not, since my failure to communicate no doubt caused some confusion among my friends.
  • Be Honest with Yourself about Your Own Efforts, Motives & Failings.  This I did, because the main reason it took me so long in making my decision to leave (probably at least 4 years) was me making sure that I was hearing God, and not acting out of any other motives.  I distinctly recall conversations with some of my minister friends who were leaving the fellowship at that same time for what I considered insufficient reasons – things like church politics or their family’s desire not to keep the ‘dress codes’ any longer.  I made it clear to them that I would only leave if I became truly convinced that our teachings were not Biblical and that God was leading me to leave.
Don’t know if this helped anyone or not – I hope so.  But it was a good exercise for me personally to reflect on the decision I made over 20 years ago.  By the way, it took me a while to make the decision, but it’s one that I’ve never looked back on with regret.  Thank God for what HE is doing at CLC, and for where HE is taking us together!
Don’t forget our schedule this Sunday only (12/31/17) – 9am and 11am – when we’ll celebrate 2017 and anticipate 2018!
Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Merry Christmas, everyone!

On this beautiful white Christmas in Chicago, from our home to yours, Chris and I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

May you enjoy each moment with family and may you pause to remember the real reason for this season, and give Him thanks!

And for those of you for whom this holiday this year is painful, as you are not able to spend it with loved ones that you hold dear, we pray the sweet Presence of Christ will surround you and that HIS love will make the difference for you today.

We love you!

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Sunday reflections

It was a Christmas Eve to remember at each CLC campus today, with a record attendance

My favorite pic of the day - some of the KidsLife stars at the Hammond campus production, "Festival of Lights"

My favorite pic of the day – some of the KidsLife stars at the Hammond campus production, “Festival of Lights”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a full-fledged production, with over 70 volunteers in the cast!

It was a full-fledged production, with over 70 volunteers in the cast!

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including several angels...

including several angels…

and the entire manger scene (plus the wise men)

and the entire manger scene (plus the wise men)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kudos to Roland Smith for choreographing the dances, and to Dorothy Caldwell for directing the production!

Kudos to Roland Smith for choreographing the dances, and to Dorothy Caldwell for directing the production!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best of all, PRAISE God for 10 people who prayed to receive Christ afterwards!

Meanwhile, at Blue Island, despite these pics, it was NOT a battle of the bands...

Meanwhile, at Blue Island, despite these pics, it was NOT a battle of the bands…

...it was 2 young men using their musical talents to worship the Lord!

…it was 2 young men using their musical talents to worship the Lord!

plus a dance presentation from a combined children's and youth dance team

plus a dance presentation from a combined children’s and youth dance team

Pastor Brent did an illustrated sermon of the entire Nativity scene, showing that Jesus must be the center of our lives!

Pastor Brent did an illustrated sermon of the entire Nativity scene, showing that Jesus must be the center of our lives!

Followed by the candlelight worship to "Jesus Be the Center"

Followed by the candlelight worship to “Jesus Be the Center”

There's something sweet about families worshipping together by candlelight!

There’s something sweet about families worshipping together by candlelight!

I've said it before; I'll say it again: the CUTEST kids in the world are at CLC!

I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: the CUTEST kids in the world are at CLC!

Of the many special moments in Tinley Park today, this KidsLife Choir was definitely the crowd favorite!

Of the many special moments in Tinley Park today, this KidsLife Choir was definitely the crowd favorite, with their rendition of “Little Drummer Boy”!

And these two little guys definitely STOLE THE SHOW! (thanks for the laughs, Kaleb Grant & Jon-Jon Jones)

And these two little drummers definitely STOLE THE SHOW! (thanks for the laughs, Kaleb Grant & Jon-Jon Jones)

Kudos to Romel Moore, our very own rapper, who scored an assist with the kids!

Kudos to Romel Moore, our very own rapper, who scored an assist with the kids!

Our true drummer boy, Darius Johnson, did a mean drum solo for the finale!

Our true drummer boy, Darius Johnson, did a mean drum solo for the finale!

A surprise treat for Christmas was the Men's Septet.....and they nailed "The Greatest Gift is Love"!

A surprise treat for Christmas was the Men’s Septet…..and they nailed “The Greatest Gift is Love”!

The candlelight worship was SWEET, I don't care what anybody says!

The candlelight worship was SWEET, I don’t care what anybody says!

Blue Island won the Christmas sweater & Christmas pajama competition today, but there were some special garbs in Tinley Park today, too!

Blue Island won the Christmas sweater & Christmas pajama competition today, but there were some special garbs in Tinley Park today, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, most importantly as always, there were several people who prayed to receive Christ in each service at the Tinley campus today – that never gets old!

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

 

 

Ask the Pastor

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No new questions were submitted this week, so I’m gonna ask one of my own: “what’s SO amazing about Christmas?  I mean, WHY is it so important to Christians, when we don’t even know the date that Jesus was born?”

I think many people wonder about this, even if they don’t voice it aloud.  And not only is it true that we don’t know the date of Jesus’ birth, but most scholars believe that it was NOT even in December, but rather would have happened during a warmer time of the year when shepherds were still tending their flocks outside.  So why is Christmas such a big deal?

In brief, because GOD became a MAN. That’s the mystery and beauty that we celebrate each Christmas.  Because of sin, we all needed a Savior.  But a great God in heaven couldn’t reach us on earth.  And a holy God couldn’t take our sin upon Himself.  And a just God couldn’t just ignore the penalty for our sin.  He had to become one of us.

I heard a story this week that illustrates it so well.  A guy received a speeding ticket and took it to a friend who was a judge, asking him to “take care of this for me”.  The judge took the ticket.  A week or two later, the guy saw his friend the judge again and asked, “did you write off that ticket for me like I asked?”  The judge said, “no, I didn’t write it off”, to which the friend said, “why, I thought you would take care of it for me”.  The judge said, “Were you guilty of speeding?  The guy dropped his head and said, “yes, I was speeding”.  Then the judge said, I am bound to uphold the law, so I had no choice but to fine you for breaking the speed limit. But I came down from the bench & paid your fine myself, because I told you I’d take care of it”

At Christmas, we celebrate the fact that the great God and Creator became one of us – fully God and fully man.  Jesus was born of a woman, but not by the seed of a man – HE was conceived by the Holy Spirit.  He became one of us so He could take our place – take the punishment for our sin on the Cross, so we wouldn’t have to die for our sins, but could receive His free gift of eternal life.  What a Savior!  (Matt 1:18-23; Luke 1:26-35; Rom. 5:6-8; 1Tim. 3:16; John 10:30

May we never forget what He did for us.  I hope you’ll celebrate with us this Christmas Eve at 9am or 11am at the Tinley Park or Hammond campuses, or at 11am in Blue Island.

You can’t OUTGIVE God!

The awesome volunteers who provided so much FUN for all the kids from the Carmelite home

The awesome volunteers who provided so much FUN for all the kids from the Carmelite home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the past couple of years, Pastors Sam & Taylor have led our Hammond campus to provide Christmas gifts for every child at the Carmelite home in Hammond.  Actually, they’ve provided every gift the child asked for each year!

But this year they decided to step up their game and bring all of those kids to the Hammond campus for a great Christmas party where they could have food and fun and then receive their gifts.

I wish every CLC’er could have been there to see the JOY on these kids’ faces – kids who have already suffered more family trauma than many of us have experienced in our lifetime.  It definitely made me PROUD of CLC and what our Hammond campus is doing!

But it also made me remember the age-old cliche’ that says, “You can’t outgive God!” as Pastor Sam shared with me that he had reserved a school bus from the Illinois Bus Company of Crestwood to transport all the kids from the home to our campus last night – BUT when the company learned what we were doing, they substituted a LUXURY charter bus to bring the kids to us AND included some Christmas gifts of their own – at NO CHARGE to us!

The Carmelite kids traveled in STYLE to our Hammond campus last night - thanks to the Illinois Bus Company of Crestwood!

The Carmelite kids traveled in STYLE to our Hammond campus last night – thanks to the Illinois Bus Company of Crestwood!

But that’s not all: Strack & Van Til grocers make a donation of groceries each Christmas to a non-profit in Northwest Indiana, and this week they selected CLC-Hammond!

Officials from Van Strack & Til, surrounded by CLC-Hammond leaders (L to R: Dorothy Caldwell, Jenny Gonzalez, the grocers, Pastor Sam & Carol Terrell)

Officials from Van Strack & Til surrounded by CLC-Hammond leaders (L to R: Dorothy Caldwell, Jenny Gonzalez, the grocers, Pastor Sam & Carol Terrell)

And that’s not all: there were so many groceries (100 bags in all!) that Pastors Sam & Taylor decided to help jumpstart the Hope Center food pantry at our CLC-Blue Island campus (that’s what I call generous-hearts!), so the Carmelite kids aren’t the only ones jumping with excitement – so are our Blue Island leaders

Pastors Sam & Taylor motivated our volunteers to give their time & energy to bless these kids, but then we received the surprises, so I’ll say it again, You. Can’t. OUTGIVE. God!

The Director of the Carmelite Home with Pastor Sam and me

The Director of the Carmelite Home, Sister Maria, with Pastor Sam and me

Sunday reflections

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I've told you before, CLC kids are the CUTEST kids in the world!

I’ve told you before, CLC kids are the CUTEST kids in the world!

Uh huh! Uh huh!

Uh huh! Uh huh!

And where else can you find a barefoot violinist?

And where else can you find a barefoot violinist?

worship was wonderful today, too!

worship was wonderful today, too!

I always enjoy team-teaching....

I always enjoy team-teaching….

...with this special lady

…with this special lady

Best of all, Spencer McCarthy was water baptized, with his grandfather (Ellis) praying & his father (Carlton) officiating and Pastor Moy helping out - AND we saw about a dozen people pray to receive Christ at the close of service!

Best of all, Spencer McCarthy was water baptized, with his grandfather (Ellis) praying & his father (Carlton) officiating and Pastor Moy helping out – AND we saw about a dozen people pray to receive Christ at the close of service!

Meanwhile, at our Hammond campus we dedicated 4 babies to the Lord today!

Meanwhile, at our Hammond campus we dedicated 4 babies to the Lord today!

Pastor Sam is excited about youth helping to lead worship with 3 teens serving today!

Pastor Sam is excited about youth serving on the worship team, with 3 teens helping today…..

...even leading songs!

…even leading songs!

Curtis Hunt shared an original piece today...

Curtis Hunt shared an original piece today…

Pastor Sam's message connected well and almost 400 people were in attendance today!

Pastor Sam’s message connected well and almost 400 people were in attendance today!

I'm thankful for how CLC'ers are willing to serve in so many different areas

I’m thankful for how CLC’ers are willing to serve in so many different areas, even in the cold!

KidsLife in Blue Island is always FUN!

KidsLife in Blue Island is always FUN!

and Pastor Sol brought a great word today about being peaceMAKERS, not Peace Fakers or Peace Breakers!

and Pastor Sol brought a great word today about Christmas Peace, and challenged us to be  peace MAKERS, not Peace Fakers or Peace Breakers!

Ask the Pastor

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Today’s question is “What does the Bible say about depression and taking antidepressants?”

Interesting questions.  As to depression, while the Bible seldom uses that term, it certainly doesn’t gloss over the fact that even godly people like David and Elijah and Jonah and Job and Jeremiah and, yes, even Jesus, each experienced times of depression.

So we could say it’s normal for us to experience depression over a loss or disappointment in life – circumstances can bring on depression – but we don’t have to linger there, because of the encouragement of God’s Word (Psa. 34:18and His Presence when we worship (Hebrews 13:15).

While I’m neither a doctor or a counselor, as I understand it, depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance, for which medication can be the appropriate treatment.  I know of nothing in Scripture that would forbid someone from taking an antidepressant any more than the Bible would forbid a diabetic from taking insulin or someone with high cholesterol from taking a statin drug.  Keep in mind that Jesus IS a healer, and He can heal depression just as He heals any other condition.  And He specifically came to offer us victory over the ‘spirit of heaviness’ (Isa. 61:3)

I hope this helps a bit.  I’m also excited to tell you that the next two Sundays at CLC (December 17 and 24) we’re going to address “How to Have Peace at Christmas” and “How to Have Joy at Christmas”.  I hope you’ll join us for any service these two Sundays as we experience the ministry of Jesus!

Would you like to add to my answer?  Please leave your comments below-

My crystal ball….

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No, I don’t really have a crystal ball.  (Don’t believe in fortune-telling!)

But I do want to keep you informed about some future events at CLC:

  • Christmas Eve services ONLY at 9am and 11am (December 24)
  • New Year’s Eve services will also ONLY be at 9am and 11am, BUT will incorporate the elements of our ‘normal’ NYE celebration: 2017 video recap, testimonies, campus pastors exhortations and more!
  • MEN’s Breakfast – Saturday, January 6.  Join us at the Tinley Park campus for prayer at 8am, followed by a great breakfast and fellowship for MEN!
  • “IT IS FINISHED!” sermon series, January 7-28 – Jesus said it on the Cross, but we’re going to say it in a different way as we begin a NEW YEAR!
  • 21-days of prayer & fasting – January 8-28.  I’m calling all CLC’ers to join us in a 21-day “Daniel fast” to consecrate ourselves in this new year.  (We define a Daniel fast simply: “no meats, no sweets” for 21 days).  Most importantly, along with our fasting is setting aside these days for PRAYER, including prayer at the Tinley Park campus from 6am-7am each weekday of the fast (Hammond and Blue Island campus, please check with your Campus Pastor).  In addition, we’ll begin each prayer meeting with a short devotional from our pastors on Facebook Live.
  • Special prayer events on January 10, 17 and 24 (January 11, 18 and 25 at Hammond) – these corporate events will take our prayer time to another level!
  • Prophetic ministry services with special guest, Gary Heyes:
    • Hammond – Friday, January 12 at 7pm
    • Leaders gathering/Pastoral Ordinations – Tinley Park, Saturday, January 13 at 5pm
    • Tinley Park – Sunday, January 14 at 8:30/10am and 12pm
    • Blue Island – Sunday, January 14 at 5pm
  • Supernatural conclusion to the fast – January 28, each service/each campus

I can already see that FEBRUARY is going to be wonderful, but I’ll tell you about that later.  Meanwhile, mark your calendar for these soon-coming events as we finish strong in 2017 and get 2018 off to a great start!

Sunday reflections

At our Hammond campus today, the worship team introduced a great new song, "Reckless Love" that Pastor Sam says was fantastic!

At our Hammond campus today, the worship team introduced a great new song, “Reckless Love” that Pastor Sam says was fantastic!

He's also excited about new volunteers leading in prayer & announcements - today, Leslie Smith did great!

He’s also excited about new volunteers leading in prayer & announcements – today, Leslie Smith did great!

At Blue Island, one of today's highlights was a testimony from Mary Long. On her first visit about a month ago, the congregation learned that her brother had just died & our members rallied to provide funds for her to fly to Seattle to identify his body & then to Texas for his burial.   Pastor Brent said, "A lot of tears were shed during the testimony both by Mary and by the congregation but it was a great example of why we teach generosity".  I LOVE how CLC'ers respond to needs!

At Blue Island, one of today’s highlights was a testimony from Mary Long. On her first visit about a month ago, the congregation learned that her brother had just died & our members rallied to provide funds for her to fly to Seattle to identify his body & then to Texas for his burial. Pastor Brent said, “A lot of tears were shed during the testimony both by Mary and by the congregation but it was a great example of why we teach generosity”. I LOVE how CLC’ers respond to needs!

I also LOVE how CLC'ers serve in so many different ways - here's Tina Simental serving in the Tech Booth to make sure the correct slides are on the screens.

I also LOVE how CLC’ers serve in so many different ways – here’s Tina Simental serving in the Tech Booth to make sure the correct slides are on the screens.

And every Pastor LOVES when people engage with the message enough to take notes!

And every Pastor LOVES when people engage with the message enough to take notes!

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at KidsLife in Blue Island!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas at KidsLife in Blue Island!

Maybe this post should be called "What I love about CLC" - in this pic, it's how our church family responds to guest speakers product tables in the lobby.

Maybe this post should be called “What I love about CLC” – in this pic, it’s how our church family responds to special ‘opportunities’ – like today’s “CLC Store”

And don't forget the DONUTS before the 8:30am service!

And don’t forget the DONUTS before the 8:30am service!

Or another favorite - how you can get prayer at CLC, anytime, anywhere!  (Didn't Jesus say, 'my house will be called a house of prayer"?)

Or another favorite – how you can get prayer at CLC, anytime, anywhere! (Didn’t Jesus say, ‘my house will be called a house of prayer”?)

I don't love winter weather, but I do love the fact that it brought new drinks to our Coffee Shop!

I don’t love winter weather, but I do love the fact that it brought new drinks to our Coffee Shop!

And I LOVE the fact that kids can have FUN at church!

And I LOVE the fact that kids can have FUN at church! (Ms. Stacy is pretty awesome, too!)

Imagine a Children's Ministry where teachers can get a pie in the face.... wait, you don't have to imagine - it happened today in KidsLife because the GIRLS defeated the BOYS in a missions project to provide meals for needy children!

Imagine a Children’s Ministry where teachers can get a pie in the face…. wait, you don’t have to imagine – it happened today in KidsLife because the GIRLS defeated the BOYS in a missions project to provide meals for needy children!  (I LOVE both parts: fun & missions at a young age!)

But the highlight of today in Tinley Park was Potter's Field, as Pastor Michael Rozell demonstrated the intimacy between the Potter and the clay.

But the highlight of today in Tinley Park was Potter’s Field, as Pastor Michael Rozell demonstrated the intimacy between the Potter and the clay.

His illustrations & Pam's songs made for a powerful message!

His illustrations & Pam’s songs made for a powerful message!

Who knew that the Potter has to go deep to clean out the gunk in our lives - "because we're full of ourselves!"

Who knew that the Potter has to go deep to clean out the gunk in our lives – “because we’re still full of ourselves!”

His demonstration of the blood of Jesus gave me chill bumps!

His demonstration of the blood of Jesus gave me chill bumps!

And I LOVED the Biblical example of how the Potter made another vessel that HE had in mind all along!

And I LOVED the Biblical example of how the Potter made another vessel that HE had in mind all along!

Thank you, Pastors Michael & Pat Rozell and the team from Potter's Field Ministries - it was an AMAZING day!

Thank you, Pastors Michael & Pat Rozell and the team from Potter’s Field Ministries – it was an AMAZING day!

 

Ask the Pastor

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This week’s question is one leftover from our “Hot Seat” Sunday a few months ago: “If God created us each differently, and set apart many nations, then why are there so many racial issues? Even amongst “christians” who see themselves as privileged, others see themselves as victimized.”

I’m not sure I fully understand your comments, but let me try to address the core question of why there are so many racial issues.  (I agree, by the way – in my limited experience growing up in the South during the 60’s, and having lived in the Midwest for almost 40 years, I have personally not seen the level of division that we seem to have in the USA today)

My short answer as to ‘why’ that’s true is John 10:10.  (Bear with me; I said that’s the short answer.)  From the beginning of mankind, the enemy of our soul has recognized the power of unity and has made it his business to divide us.  He got Adam and Eve divided in the Garden, so that Adam accused the wife who was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (read Genesis 3:12).  A few chapters later God Himself showed us the power of unity (Gen. 11:5-6) and the only way to stop man’s sinful aim was to divide them, one from another.

So at the root of all racial issues is the enemy of our soul who seeks to divide white from black, red from yellow, etc., etc., etc, ad nauseum.  That’s why the real answer is not to be found in legislation, because you can’t legislate a heart-change.  It’s also why Sunday morning is still the most segregated time of the week.  It’s that the enemy is stirring fear and suspicion and hatred and division, and ONLY the heart-change that results when sinful people of ANY color surrender their lives to Christ and truly get born-again.

That’s the work of the church and we dare not ignore it.

Hope this helped a bit.  Could you add to my answer by leaving a comment below?  Thanks – and if you’re in the south suburbs of Chicago, I hope to see you this Sunday (Dec. 10) when we host the ministry of “Potter’s Field” at 8:30am, 10am and 12pm.  Don’t be late – we’re giving them the entire service!

Potter’s Field Touring Promo from Potter’s Field Ministries on Vimeo.

 

Celebrating marriage

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Well, to be technical, we’re not celebrating “marriage as an institution”; we’re celebrating OUR marriage of 45 years.

At any rate, a couple of years ago Chris told me she wanted to go back to Maui for our 45th anniversary, so we’re flying out of O’Hare this morning, bound for our favorite of the Hawaiian islands, even though we haven’t been there in 10 years or so.

I’m confident that CLC is in good hands while we’re away, so I plan to disconnect from the internet, email, and even this blog for the next 7 days, so I can focus on the beautiful blonde who has stood by my side through all the ups and downs of life since December 16, 1972.

We’ll see you on December 10 (if you’re part of the CLC-Tinley Park family) for a great Sunday with Potter’s Field.  Meanwhile, the picture above is what I’ll be viewing this evening and for the next several evenings, if she’ll keep her hands off me long enough….

Meanwhile, invite a friend for December 10:

Potter’s Field Touring Promo from Potter’s Field Ministries on Vimeo.

 

Ask the Pastor

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This week’s question was submitted during our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August: Has the anti-christ been revealed? And will he be before the Rapture? 

Interesting question, and probably one for which there are as many opinions as there are pastors.  But since you asked me, I’ll give you my opinion – since the Bible does NOT give us the answer to either question.

Here are some passages you may want to read to acquaint yourself with what Scripture says about the antiChrist: 2 Thess. 2:3; 1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:3; Rev. 13:11-18; Dan. 11:21-45.

Now, to your questions: has the antiChrist been revealed? My answer would be ‘NO’, if you mean we can identify him today.  Personally, I’m not interested in playing that game, since in the 50 years I’ve been in ministry, I’ve heard at least a dozen or so world leaders identified by someone as being the antiChrist, and none of their guesses have been correct yet!

If you mean, is the AntiChrist alive on earth today, I would say, “very possibly, maybe even likely”.  Just because I can’t identify him doesn’t mean he hasn’t already been born.

Finally, will he be revealed before the Rapture? That all depends on your view of eschatology (end-time events).  If you believe the Rapture will occur in the middle of a 7-year period of Tribulation OR if you believe the Rapture will take place after the Tribulation, then I would certainly guess that the AntiChrist would have been revealed prior to the rapture.  If you believe, as many evangelicals do today, that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation, then I’d say there’s no guarantee the AntiChrist would be known prior to the Rapture.

Finally, if your focus is on Matthew 24:14 as mine is, you can be content to let all of those ideas unfold as they will, while our priority remains on reaching people with the Gospel!

Hope that helps a bit.  Now, would you care to join the conversation by leaving your comments below?

Don’t forget to invite a friend to join us this Sunday for the kick-off of “Family Christmas”, when all first-time guests receive a free copy of Joel Osteen’s new book, “Blessed in the Darkness”!

a modern Potter on stage – helping put marriages back together!

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December 10 could be the highlight of the year at CLC-Tinley Park!

Not only is the message presentation that day in all 3 services unlike anything we’ve ever done in CLC history, but Potter’s Field Ministry regularly sees hundreds of people respond to the Gospel AND has seen hundreds of marriages healed and restored!

I’ve been looking forward to this Sunday for over a year, since we first scheduled Michael & Pam Rozell as our guests.  Take a look at this 3-minute video and invite your unchurched friends or those with troubled marriages to be your guest – it could change their life forever!

Potter’s Field Touring Promo from Potter’s Field Ministries on Vimeo.

Bring a friend, they get a FREE book by Joel Osteen!

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December at CLC really is the “most wonderful time of the year” because each Sunday in December is tailor-made for you to bring your unchurched or de-churched friends.  Our “Family Christmas” sermon series at each campus includes a message that will not only challenge and impact your family, but also relate and connect with your friends.  In fact, we’re expecting MANY people will come to faith in Christ at CLC this December!

And to ‘sweeten’ the deal and make it easier for you to invite your friends, we’re giving a FREE copy of Joel Osteen’s new book, “Blessed in the Darkness” to each first-time guest in December.  Take a look at the Facebook ad we’re doing all month:

The only question is WHO are YOU inviting?  Let’s do this!

 

#GivingTuesday & your grandfather’s Oldsmobile

Untitled design (3)First it was #BlackFriday.  Then came #CyberMonday.  Today is #GivingTuesday.

(If you haven’t heard, charities & churches have joined the digital revolution & designated today as an ‘official’ day to receive donations online.

This is not your grandfather’s Oldsmobile.

I read this morning that we’ve gotten so good at “mining data” that merchants can now predict with 87% accuracy which women in a given zip code are pregnant and what their due date is, so they can send targeted advertising to them before their baby is born!

I’m not knocking this, by the way.  On an average week, more than 50% of our contributions at CLC are NOT received in the offering buckets; they’re given online via computers or smart phones or even through text messages!  (In fact, we welcome your #GivingTuesday donations here today!)

What I am saying is this: we better get on board or the Church will be left behind.  This week we’re targeting specific audiences with Facebook ads in hopes of drawing receptive people to CLC for the month of December. But while our world is constantly changing and we must adapt our methods as well, there’s still NO substitute for the personal touch.  That’s why some of our worship leaders headed to Cook County Jail this morning, to lead worship for the inmates.  It’s why our Hammond campus is providing every gift wish for every orphan at the Carmelite Home in their city this Christmas.  It’s why our Blue Island campus is launching a brand new, “Hope Center” to feed and serve those who need a hand up in their community.

Would you make a difference this Christmas season?  Find a need and fill it.  Find a hurt and heal it.  Let’s be the hands and feet of Jesus in this digital age!

And when you see this ad, please ‘SHARE’ it in your social media.  Thanks!

Joel Osteen’s Book – Blessed in the Darkness from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

This pic says it all: Pastor Jon WORSHIPPED while preaching about Worship!

This pic says it all: Pastor Jon WORSHIPPED while preaching about Worship!

Tiffany and the team brought us into His Presence in all 3 services

Tiffany and the team brought us into the Presence of the Lord in all 3 services

Jon's worship during his preaching inspired others to worship....

Jon’s worship during his preaching inspired others to worship….

.....like this, for example

…..like this, for example

serving others is another way we worship!

…..while serving others is another way we worship!

Meanwhile, Pastor Sam says it's GREAT to see new people finding their place on the worship team in Hammond-

Meanwhile, Pastor Sam says it’s GREAT to see new people finding their place on the worship team in Hammond-

plus it's starting to look a lot like Christmas!

plus it’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Taylor (with Daniel's help) announcing the plan for their campus to provide ALL the gift list for all 79 children at a Hammond orphanage this Christmas!

Pastor Taylor (with Daniel’s help) announcing the plan for their campus to provide ALL the gift wish list for all 79 children at a Hammond orphanage this Christmas!  (That’s in addition to hosting a BIG Christmas event for the orphans)  That’s AWESOME!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thing is for sure: this series has taken worship at each campus to another level!

One thing is for sure: this series has taken worship at each campus to another level!

Not sure what this Blue Island KidsLife depicts, but it sure looks cool

Not sure what this Blue Island KidsLife depicts, but it sure looks cool

Blue Island worship director Alan Franklin closed the series today with his message, "Sing a Song"!

Blue Island worship director Alan Franklin closed the series today with his message, “Sing a Song”!

Ask the Pastor

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Today’s question was submitted during our ‘Hot Seat’ Sunday a few months ago: How can the church work to help resolve growing racial tensions across the nation?”

Great question, seeing that there seems to be as much division now as I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime, and that’s saying something when you realize that I grew up in the South in the 1960’s!

I do realize it’s a complex question for which there is no quick answer, but since you asked, I’ll give my humble opinion: I think the Church (capital ‘C’) and the local church (as in CLC) can work to resolve racial tensions in two ways: by example & through intentionality.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour of the week in America, and it remains true today.  I do not believe that’s because most churchgoers are racist; however, it’s obvious that most whites and blacks choose comfort over principle: they’re simply more comfortable worshipping with people who look like them.

We fight that battle every day at CLC, which is why our demographics no longer qualify us to be considered a multi-cultural church, as whites are often uncomfortable being the minority in the room.  However, I still contend that it is possible for churches to set the example for our culture and it is happening in some churches around the country.  Just this week I learned that one of my pastor friends has been invited to engage with governmental officials about our racial divisions simply because they learned of the outstanding example of multiculturalism at the church he pastors, and told him, “we want to see what you’ve done at your church all over our country!”

That will never happen by accident; it requires intentionality.  We’ve tried to practice that at CLC by raising awareness and keeping the issue in front of each ministry leader through the years.  But as I’ve also said from the pulpit many times, I believe it must go beyond our ‘corporate policy’ at CLC.  It’s not enough for you to attend a multicultural church; you must become a multicultural Christian.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, ask yourself, “when was the last time I had someone of another culture in my home for dinner?”  It takes intentionality to build relationships with people who don’t look like you, but the benefits are SO worth it.

I’m sure there’s much more to be said, but I’m hopeful that answer is a starting point.  What can you add to the conversation?  Please leave your comments or questions below:

ThanksLIVING!

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I’ve said it many times, but in my mind, THIS is the most Christian holiday of the year.  I say that because our culture seems to have hijacked Easter with chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, and Christmas has obviously become the most commercialized time of the year – but Thanksgiving is, well, about giving thanks – and that’s Biblical!  (See Ephesians 5:20; 1Thessalonians 5:18; and Psalm 100:4, to name just a few)

It’s also more than a day on the calendar; it’s a way of life!  (It’s also a great way to counteract all the grumbling we so often do as well.)

My prayer for every person reading this post is that you will take time to do that this week – not only as worship to God, but also to express your gratitude to people in your life that you appreciate.  And please don’t forget that thinking is NOT thanking!  Your gratitude must be expressed to benefit God or man.

Oh, just one more thing: don’t overdo it at the table this year!  The scale will thank you later-

Weekend reflections

The pictures don't do it justice: EVERY conversation I had with women who were at the Conference this weekend convincingly spoke of "changed lives" through the WORSHIP and the WORD!

The pictures don’t do it justice: EVERY conversation I had with women who were at the Conference this weekend convincingly spoke of “changed lives” through the WORSHIP and the WORD!

 

This picture tells the story of both the Conference and all 3 services in Tinley today - the GLORY of God was in the House during worship!

This picture tells the story of both the Conference and all 3 services in Tinley today – the GLORY of God was in the House during worship!

I can't say enough about Sarah Bowling's ministry all weekend.  She taught the Word with such insight & challenged our thinking with life-giving truths in each message!

I can’t say enough about Sarah Bowling’s ministry all weekend. She taught the Word with such insight & challenged our thinking with life-giving truths in each message!

"Get up. Pick up. Start walking."  - simple, practical truths from God's Word - thank you, Pastor Sarah!

“Get up. Pick up. Go walk.” – simple, practical truths from God’s Word – thank you, Pastor Sarah!

 

Creative screen pics from Andy Esparza and worship led by Tommie Billups at our Hammond Campus-

Creative screen pics from Andy Esparza and worship led by Tommie Billups at Hammond-

Junior High ministry at Hammond is GROWING!

Junior High ministry at Hammond is GROWING!

Pastor Sam Hamstra preached MORE reasons to praise!

Pastor Sam Hamstra preached MORE reasons to praise!

Excitement at our Blue Island campus over three new believers going public in water baptism today!

Excitement at our Blue Island campus over three new believers going public in water baptism today!

I LOVE seeing people take that step of obedience to meet the Lord in the waters of baptism!

I LOVE seeing people take that step of obedience to meet the Lord in the waters of baptism!

CLC Youth often exhibit unique skills.....

CLC Youth often exhibit unique skills…..

No, I wasn't teaching about the "big-mouthed frog" today, despite this pic

No, I wasn’t teaching about the “big-mouthed frog” today, despite this pic

....but I was grateful for the help from Rocio Arevalo that enabled our Spanish-speakers to receive the message!

….but I was grateful for the help from Rocio Arevalo that enabled our Spanish-speakers to receive the message!

Ask the Pastor

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I’ve decided I must move faster to retire all the leftover questions from our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August, so today let’s look at four different marriage-related questions

1) How do you get over the pain of infidelity?

  • Obviously, there is NO easy answer to this question, but in my opinion, there are two necessities: (a) the injured party must forgive.  That will probably take time and also require the guilty spouse demonstrating by his/her actions a willingness to regain trust in the marriage, but it’s impossible to get over the pain without forgiveness; and (b) in my experience, it almost always requires counseling from a third-party who can help the couple objectively.  Let me close by encouraging you that it CAN be done, as many couples have proven through the years, and your marriage can be better than before!

2) How do you deal with a controlling and verbally abusive mother-in-law that lives with you? 

  • Wowzers, no softball questions this time, huh.  In a nutshell, it will require tough love and it’s important that both husband and wife are in agreement.  If you need some Biblical support, try Genesis 2:24.  From a Biblical standpoint, there’s no doubt that the marriage takes priority over the parents, so that must be walked out in the home, especially if the in-law’s live with you.

3) How do I become a better listener when communicating with my wife? f

  • That’s a GREAT question, because most often (in my experience) we don’t recognize the need for listening to our spouse.  To answer the question, there are lots of tactics you can employ, such as repeating what you think she said and verifying with her before responding, etc.-but in brief, listening is a skill that anyone can attain by focused effort. Look at her when she’s talking to you (not staring at your phone or the TV); give her your focused attention, and you’ll both be happier!

4) I desperately want to have another child, but my husband is against it. I pray and ask God to soften his heart. Should I continue? 

  • As much as I hurt for you, I must say this is an area where husband and wife should be in agreement.  When my wife and I have disagreed on important issues, I feel that, at the very least, my timing is off.  So by all means, continue to pray – but also be open to God changing your heart.  If God does not change your desires and you still want another child, I would encourage you to pray earnestly again, and then schedule a time to talk with your husband when neither of you is stressed – so that the conversation can be rational and logical, not argumentative and demanding.  Give him reasons why you want another child along with possible solutions to any objections you think he may have in advance. Finally, leave the outcome with God, and don’t allow this to become a point of contention and bitterness in your marriage.

Whew!  I hope those brief answers were helpful.  Would you care to join the conversation?  If so, leave your comments or questions below.

By the way, since all 4 of today’s questions were marriage-related, let me encourage you to join us for our December sermon series at each CLC campus as we look at “Family Christmas” and try to help CLC’ers with the stresses that often accompany this special season – it’s gonna be good!

This will make you want to praise (and pray!)

Kevin shared his story with us at the Hammond campus yesterday

Kevin shared his story with us at the Hammond campus last Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first arrived at our Hammond campus last Sunday, Pastor Sam told me a story that I loved!  One of his former baseball teammates had promised to attend that morning, which is worth celebrating in and of itself (whenever we can bring a friend to church, it’s a good day!)

But the real story is that several years ago at the Tinley Park campus, we asked every CLC’er to write down a VIP list of people they wanted to see come to Jesus.  That list of friends and co-workers became our ‘prayer list’, and we asked God to turn their hearts to Him.

How many of you know that sometimes God answers our prayers in a way that we could never have foreseen?

Sam had put Kevin on his VIP list and began praying for his salvation.  Some time later, unfortunately, Kevin was involved in an automobile accident while intoxicated.  Because the accident also resulted in a fatality, he was sentenced to a term in prison.

While in prison, someone shared the gospel with Kevin and began a Bible study with him.  He received the Lord, and over the past couple of years has become a passionate follower of Christ.  He has completed his sentence AND two years of probation and now walks with Jesus, and came to church on Sunday to thank Sam and celebrate with us!

Kevin’s story caused me to praise the Lord on Sunday, for His amazing grace!

Kevin’s story also makes me want to pray for others who are still far from God, that HE will draw them to Himself.

Maybe it’s time for us to make out another VIP list.

This December is a GREAT time to bring your unsaved friends to CLC during our “Family Christmas” series, AND I’m excited to tell you that each first-time guest in December will receive a free copy of Joel Osteen’s newest book, “Blessed in the Darkness”.

WHO will be on your VIP list?

Sunday reflections

Worship isn't just a sermon series; it's a hallmark at CLC, at each campus!

Worship isn’t just a sermon series; it’s a hallmark at CLC, at each campus!

So is ministry to CHILDREN...

So is ministry to CHILDREN…

....and reaching YOUTH!

….and reaching YOUTH!

and, of course, nothing can take the place of balanced Bible teaching!

and, of course, nothing can take the place of balanced Bible teaching!

I was in Hammond today and worship was HOT!  Kudos, Tommie Billups & team!

I was in Hammond today and worship was HOT! Kudos, Tommie Billups & team!

It's always a joy to teach at our other campuses, and the Hammond congregation was very responsive today!

It’s always a joy to teach at our other campuses, and the Hammond congregation was very responsive today!

My wife was in her 'sweet spot' today, teaching on worship & ministering in the anointing - LOVED what God did in the altar in all 3 services today!

My wife was in her ‘sweet spot’ today, teaching on worship & ministering in the anointing – LOVED what God did in the altar in all 3 services today!

We tried, but it's just not possible to capture in one pic what God was doing today-

We tried, but it’s just not possible to capture in one pic what God was doing today-

but I know that many people received from the Lord!

but I know that many people received from the Lord!

 

Ask the Pastor

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Still answering questions from our “Hot Seat” Sunday that we weren’t able to get to in service – this week’s question is about single adults who want to get married: What should you do when you want to marry, but just can’t seem to meet anyone? Can you pray for a mate? Is that something that God sends or that you search out with his blessing?”

Great questions, especially because SO MANY single adults, both male and female, are asking those as well.  Let me try to address each:

  1. I definitely encourage you to pray.  In fact, I would say, pray first.  (Your second question about praying for a mate is answered in Genesis 24:1-51.  I suppose some might point out that it wasn’t the single adults who prayed for a spouse, but rather Abraham’s servant praying on behalf of Isaac – but as far as I’m concerned, the principle remains the same – as verse 7 promised, the Lord sent His angel ahead of them and saw to it that he found a wife for Isaac, and verse 51 declares, “the Lord has directed”)  Call me old-school if you want, but I believe that just as God brought Eve to Adam and orchestrated the events to connect Rebekah with Isaac, HE can still send you a spouse in this day and age!
  2. However, I would also encourage you to do more than pray.  Just as Adam cooperated and Abraham’s servant made the journey and sought the right woman for Isaac, it will be important for you to look for God’s choice of a spouse.  I’m not opposed to online dating services, especially those with a Christian background, like match.com or eharmony.com.  Please understand: none of these sites is perfect and there may be unscrupulous people involved – so move cautiously with real discernment!
  3. While I do NOT recommend the bar scene, it also can be wise to attend Christian events and conferences, where you have the opportunity to meet other single adults who are also believers.
  4. Don’t be afraid to let others know of your desire to find God’s choice in a mate.  It may be that your mentors or other Christians that you know and admire could make a connection for you that might eventually lead to discovering God’s choice.

The last thing I’ll say is don’t compromise!  I’ve seen so many Christians “settle” for someone that was not a strong believer or perhaps not walking with the Lord at all, out of fear that they might never marry.  Trust me, almost everyone I know in that category soon regretted their decision.  Better to be single and serve the Lord, than to be married and miserable!

I hope this helps.  My heart is touched by the many godly men and women I know who sincerely want to be married, but remain single, and I pray for anyone reading this post that God would answer your prayers for a godly mate soon!

Would you care to join the conversation?  Leave a comment below, or add a question of your own for a future “Ask the Pastor” post.

Sunday reflections

Pastor Sam said at the end of both services in Hammond today they "saw the greatest outpouring we've experienced since we started"!  People were laid out on the floor on their faces, crying out to God in such a powerful time of worship!

Pastor Sam said at the end of both services in Hammond today they “saw the greatest outpouring we’ve experienced since we started”! People were laid out on the floor on their faces, crying out to God in such a powerful time of worship!

Sam didn't say it, but I'm sure that his preaching on worship today had something to do with that outpouring!

Sam didn’t say it, but I’m sure that his preaching on worship today had something to do with that outpouring!

And the Hammond dance ministry is GROWING!

And the Hammond dance ministry is GROWING!

Meanwhile, at our Blue Island campus, worship included a French horn

Meanwhile, at our Blue Island campus, worship included a French horn

and a bilingual time of prayer & worship...

and a bilingual time of prayer & worship…

Pastor Brent kicked-off the "Made for Worship" series with  a message that enabled everyone to come into God's Presence

Pastor Brent kicked-off the “Made for Worship” series with a message that enabled everyone to come into God’s Presence

That seems to be the theme of the day, as worship in Tinley Park was POWERFUL today, too!

That seems to be the theme of the day, as worship in Tinley Park was POWERFUL today, too!

I'm celebrating that I got thru 3 sermons with no voice, thanks to a mic at close range

I’m celebrating that I got thru 3 sermons with no voice, thanks to a mic at close range

This young lady seemed to be on a mission with her doll...I guess the extra hour of sleep helped us all today

This young lady seemed to be on a mission with her doll…I guess the extra hour of sleep helped us all today

Ask the Pastor

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Believe it or not, I’m still answering questions left over from our ‘Hot Seat’ Sunday back in August.  Today’s question is “Why do some people believe in ‘generational curses’?

Good question.  My simple answer is “because they’re real”.  Let me explain:

  • Starting with Exodus 20:5, God said that He would “lay the sins of the parents upon the children” and that the entire family would be affected, for 3 or 4 generations.  Other translations of that verse indicate that He would “visit the iniquity of the fathers on the children”.  Iniquity is the proclivity or inclination toward wickedness; it literally means “crookedness”.  In other words, just as our height, weight, hair color, complexion, etc. tend to run in families, so an inclination toward certain types of sin can be passed on from generation to generation.
  • This is particularly true of certain kinds of addictive behavior – such as alcoholism, for instance.  We’ve all known families where certain sins ‘show up’ in succeeding generations – think of how often children who witnessed domestic abuse in their home grow up to be abusive adults.
  • Exodus 34:7 and Numbers 14:18 and Deuteronomy 5:9 repeat this same warning about the sins of the parents being passed on to the children – so this is not an isolated, one-time-only obscure verse of Scripture.  It is entirely possible for the tendency toward certain sins to be passed on generationally!
  • Ezekiel 18:20 also makes it clear that children are NOT punished for the sins of their parents – each of us is responsible for our own choices.  The generational curse, even in Old Testament times, was only  predictive – because of human tendencies – but not inevitable, because of our free will to choose our own behavior.

However, let me just as quickly add that we are no longer under the curse of the Old Testament!  Galatians 3:13-14 make it quite clear that Jesus took our curse upon Himself at the Cross and He defeated the Curse of sin for us!

In other words, no matter what sins are in your family’s history, the blood of Jesus has power over them all.  If you suspect that certain tendencies toward sin or addictive behavior have been passed on to you or your children, as a child of God you can renounce those sins and appropriate the shed blood of Christ for your family.  What was handed down, even for generations, can STOP with you!

I hope this was helpful, even though a thorough explanation would require more detailed teaching than this post would allow.  Would you care to add your thoughts, or even ask a question of your own?  If so, leave a comment below-

CLC-Philippines Convention, day 2

The final day of the convention started with a wonderful cultural presentation in dance, from the CLC-Koronadal campus

The final day of the convention started with a wonderful cultural presentation in dance, from the CLC-Koronadal campus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It included Christian dance...

It included Christian dance…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

....and Tribal dance.....

….and Tribal dance…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and even a Muslim cultural dance.....

and even a Muslim cultural dance…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, in the first session of the day, Chris ministered prophetically to several people, including Pastor Joel Montes pictured here

Then, in the first session of the day, Chris ministered prophetically to several people, including Pastor Joel Montes pictured here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

she also had a very specific word about political open doors for this young woman who is currently a political science major in the university - God is amazing!

she also had a very specific word about political open doors for this young woman who is currently a political science major in the university – God is amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was Brent's turn to teach about Intercessory Prayer (with Jeser making sure there were plenty of laughs included)

Then it was Brent’s turn to teach about Intercessory Prayer (with Jeser making sure there were plenty of laughs included)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Herley gave a great offering message about the difference between SEED and BREAD

Pastor Herley gave a great offering message about the difference between SEED and BREAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

perhaps the most interesting session of the day was a Q&A time with our Chicago panel (and some appropriate help from Pastors Herley & Joel)

perhaps the most interesting session of the day was a Q&A time with our Chicago panel (and some appropriate help from Pastors Herley & Joel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Joel's session this afternoon was a prophetic call to the Philippine church - POWERFUL!

Pastor Joel’s session this afternoon was a prophetic call to the Philippine church – POWERFUL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my final session I taught about "Mustard Seed Faith"

In my final session I taught about “Mustard Seed Faith”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife brought the house down (again, Jeser's humorous translation didn't hurt) - but, more importantly, she preached with a strong anointing!

My wife brought the house down (again, Jeser’s humorous translation didn’t hurt) – but, more importantly, she preached with a strong anointing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and when she finished, the whole auditorium turned into a mass prayer meeting!

…and when she finished, the whole auditorium turned into a mass prayer meeting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it for 2017 – but we’re already making plans for bigger & better in 2018 – maybe YOU should go with us!

Gonna grab a few hours of sleep before a 2am wake-up call to get to the airport for our 4am flight – can’t wait to see all of you soon!

Homeward bound!

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This is the longest missions trip Chris and I have ever taken from CLC, and as much as we’ve enjoyed each moment of ministry in Cambodia and the Philippines, I don’t think we’ll ever take such a long trip again.  We left Chicago sixteen days ago, but this morning we are homeward bound!

We’re grabbing a 4am flight from Davao to Manila (that’s 3pm Tuesday in Chicago), then connecting with a flight to Tokyo where we catch the long trans-Pacific flight to LA, and finally a flight that should get us to O’Hare early Wednesday evening.  Whew!

If we catch a break, we hope to see some of you Wednesday night at CLC; if not, I definitely can’t wait for SUNDAY when we kick-off our November series, “Made for Worship”!

CLC-Philippines Convention, day 1

There. are. no. words. This second annual CLC Convention for all 14 campuses in the Philippines was SO good, I’m determined to bring a whole bunch of CLC’ers next year so you can see firsthand what God is doing here!

The Convention opened with a terrific production: native dancers, a Philippine color guard, followed by the Philippine National Anthem and more - you really had to be here to believe it!

The Convention opened with a terrific production: native dancers, a Philippine color guard, followed by the Philippine National Anthem and more – you really had to be here to believe it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the native dancers were SO talented-

the native dancers were SO talented-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bishop Herley kicked-off the Convention with a great message about FINISHING what we've started!

Bishop Herley kicked-off the Convention with a great message about FINISHING what we’ve started!

 

Bishop Herley Montes kicked-off the Convention with a great message about  us FINISHING what we've started

I shared a teaching on “What I’m Learning through my Pain”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris and her interpreter Jeser had us all laughing, but her message on 'FAVOR' was profound!

Chris and her interpreter Jeser had us all laughing, but her message on ‘FAVOR’ was profound!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Sam closed the evening with a message titled "Fatherlessness", as he shared the story of his son, Daniel.

Pastor Sam closed the evening with a message titled “Fatherlessness”, as he shared the story of his son, Daniel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have one more day for this Convention and then all five of us from Chicago will be headed home on Wednesday.  Stay tuned for the final update-

 

Philippines, day 2 (of ministry)

Chris & Jen & I with the Jeser Molina family after the ordination.

Chris & Jen & I with the Jeser Molina family after the ordination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We left our hotel at 9am today and didn’t get back until a few minutes after 9pm – but it was a WONDERFUL 12-hour day of ministry here!

I first met Jeser in 2006, on the second day of a Global Advancer Pastor's Conference. I had noticed a group of passionate youth sitting on the front rows of the conference, and thought that Jeser might be their pastor. Instead, he was the Assistant Youth Pastor to Joel Montes - but after I talked with him, Jeser agreed to invite his pastor, Herley Montes to attend the next day, and that's how we first connected with Herley. Today, it came full circle as we ordained Jeser & his wife, Aying!

I first met Jeser in 2006, on the second day of a Global Advancer Pastor’s Conference. I had noticed a group of passionate youth sitting on the front rows of the conference, and thought that Jeser might be their pastor. Instead, he was the Assistant Youth Pastor – but after I talked with him, Jeser agreed to invite his pastor, Herley Montes to attend the next day, and that’s how we first connected with Herley. Today, it came full circle as we ordained Jeser & his wife, Aying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four years ago Pastor Herley sent Jeser & Aying to Tagum, a city of almost 300,000 people located about an hour-and-a-half drive from Davao City, to plant a CLC campus.  Starting with just their family, they have grown to more than 200 people now, and they recently moved into a beautiful facility inside a shopping mall, where we expect their growth to accelerate!

After the ordination, we presented them with a Prayer Shawl (talit) and both of us spoke prophetic words over them.

After the ordination, we presented them with a Prayer Shawl (talit) and both of us spoke prophetic words over them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their fun, quirky personality makes them a joy to be around every time we visit the Philippines.

Their fun, quirky personality makes them a joy to be around every time we visit the Philippines.

and

and their daughter, JAM, is a real diva!  (Their younger son, Thirdy, is not pictured, but he’s scared of white people, so we didn’t get to love on him)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaders from CLC-Tagum honoring their pastors

Leaders from CLC-Tagum honoring their pastors

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since our Missions Director (Jen) and two of our Campus Pastors (Brent & Sam) joined us here in Davao, we ALL had opportunity to serve the Davao City church today, and the Presence of God worked in each services, as these pictures tell the story:

Sam preached the House down at the 10am service

Sam preached the House down at the 10am service

 

 

Brent ministered at the 2pm service

Brent ministered at the 2pm service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was my turn at 4pm

It was my turn at 4pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, Chris ministered at 6pm, and the ANOINTING was SO strong - I can't describe what all God did with so many of those in attendance - but we all agreed that the CLC Convention really started TONIGHT, not tomorrow!

Finally, Chris ministered at 6pm, and the ANOINTING was SO strong – I can’t describe what all God did with so many of those in attendance – but we all agreed that the CLC Convention really started TONIGHT, not tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

some of the first-time guests who came forward to receive the Lord after one of our services in Davao

just some of the first-time guests who came forward to receive the Lord after one of our services in Davao

Jen was a blessing all day today & Wileen, one of the Davao worship leaders, received an amazing prophetic word that we expect to see fulfilled!

Jen was a blessing all day today & Wileen, one of the Davao worship leaders, received an amazing prophetic word that we expect to see fulfilled!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These kinds of scenes were everywhere in the altar tonight-

These kinds of scenes were everywhere in the altar tonight-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t wait for all 14 CLC campuses to come together tomorrow for our 2-day CLC-Philippines Convention!

If you attend ANY service at ANY CLC campus today, please leave a comment below – we miss everyone there and would love to know how things are at home!

 

Congrats, Erik & Loren Joy!

Or should I say, Mr. & Mrs. Lumagsao?

Loren Joy & Erik as the wedding began-

Loren Joy & Erik as the wedding began-

One of the most wonderful and yet surprising benefits of our relationship with CLC-Davao is that many of the leaders really get into our hearts.  Today Chris and I had the privilege of helping to officiate the wedding of Erik Lumagsao and Loren Joy Bumanlag.  Erik spent a year with us in Chicago as part of our EnTheos Leadership School/internship, and we’ve grown to love Loren Joy through our many trips to CLC-Davao.

Enjoy a few pics of their wedding:

Weddings here are A-mazing, including the decor for the reception-

Weddings here are A-mazing productions, including the decor for the reception-                             (this is just a tiny glimpse)

We had a chance to greet Erik before the ceremony began (for those who don't know, he spent a year at CLC in our internship program, before returning to Davao last year)

We had a chance to greet Erik before the ceremony began (for those who don’t know, he spent a year at CLC in our internship program, before returning to Davao last year)

Pastors Sam & Brent arrived from Chicago to attend the wedding, with minutes to spare!

Pastors Sam & Brent arrived from Chicago to attend the wedding, with minutes to spare!

Jen was one of the bridesmaids (we really do feel like FAMILY here!)

Jen was one of the bridesmaids (we really do feel like FAMILY here!)

This beautiful flower girl is Pastor Herley's granddaughter

This beautiful flower girl is Pastor Herley’s granddaughter, Macy

 

 

 

First glance of Joy on her wedding day-

First glance of Joy on her wedding day-

something I'd never seen done at a wedding before: Joy washed Erik's feet to let him know that she respects him & submits to him as the head of their new family

something I’d never seen done at a wedding before: Joy washed Erik’s feet to let him know that she respects him & submits to him as the head of their new family

Mama Chris had a prophetic word for the new couple-

Mama Chris had a prophetic word for the new couple-

part of the Filipino wedding ceremony is the signing of the Marriage Certificate

part of the Filipino wedding ceremony is the signing of the Marriage Certificate by Pastor Herley and the bride & groom

Afterward, it was time to PARTY!

Afterward, it was time to PARTY!

and Erik & Joy led the way...

and Erik & Joy led the way…

...and some tender moments, too.  Ahhh, the beauty of LOVE!

…and some tender moments, too. Ahhh, the beauty of LOVE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow will be a full Sunday, as Pastors Brent & Sam will preach the 10am and 2pm services at CLC-Davao for Pastor Herley, while Chris and I will travel to CLC-Tagum to minister and also to ordain Pastors Jeser & Aying Molina there, before returning to Davao to preach the 4pm and 6pm services.  If I have any energy left, I’ll post some more pics then-

 

Philippines, day 1

The children's ministry teachers of CLC-Davao joined us for a picture after tonight's training

The children’s ministry teachers of CLC-Davao joined us for a picture after tonight’s training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several days ago on my blog, I was asked by a young man who serves in the children’s ministry of CLC-Davao how we train our teachers at CLC-Chicagoland, and after getting permission from his pastors, we offered to do a training seminar here.

I use “we” very liberally, as I basically took 5-10 minutes to tell the Davao team how important it is for us to reach children and then gave the floor to my wife, who has over 30 years of experience in ministry to children, and she taught the seminar.

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The good news is that our daughter, Jen, finally arrived tonight, after several hours delay – since she’s a bridesmaid tomorrow at the wedding of Erik Lumagsao and his fiancee’ Joy.  I’ll keep you posted with lots of pics.

 

 

Ask the Pastor

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I’m still answering questions we didn’t have enough time to cover during our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August, and today’s question is a biggie: “what does the Bible say about women in ministry?”

 

Excellent question – one that’s been hotly debated in different church circles for years, and that I’ve answered several times through our history at CLC.

Let’s start with what I know: the Bible never contradicts itself.  NEVER.  Never, ever!  Otherwise, it loses its authority and we are left without a rudder – we simply wouldn’t know what to believe.

And since I know that the Bible never contradicts itself, I personally don’t see any way that 1Timothy 2:11-15 (or the only other passage in Bible that seems similar, 1Cor 14:34-35) could possibly mean what some have interpreted it to mean; i.e., that ministry or leadership positions in the New Testament church are reserved for men only.

I say that because there are so many other references in Scripture to women who obviously ministered publicly: John 4:39; Exodus 15:20; 2Kings 22:14; Acts 18:24-26, Acts 21:9; Romans 16:1-2, Romans 16:7; Joel 2:28 w/Acts 2:17-18

Think of women in the Old Testament who influenced nations, like Deborah and Esther.  Or how about the “ministering women” who defied the custom of the day in Palestine to follow Jesus, and  their names have been recorded for us as a memorial of them. (Luke 8:3; 24:10).  These women were among the last at the cross (Matt 27:55-56) and the first at the His tomb!  (Mark 16:1-2)

Or how about these women in the New Testament Church, who obviously had a ministry: Mary (Acts 12:12); Tabitha (Acts 9:36); Priscilla (of Acts 18 and 1Cor 16:19); or even Euodia & Syntche (Phil 4:3).

Personally, I’m convinced that Gal 3:28 makes it clear: women can fulfill any ministry that a man can fill.  In fact, my experience in ministry over the last 43 years tells me that the real issue is usually gender-bias or male chauvinism!  And in my mind, the only thing worse than human prejudice is when we try to use Bible to justify it.

I’ll get down from my soapbox long enough to try to address the specific passage you asked about – 1Tim 2:11-15, and I can tell you that ‘silence’ in verse12 is the same Greek word as ‘quiet’ in verse 2.  According to Greek scholars, it does NOT denote a verbal quiet, but a quiet as in peaceful.   (I’m not a scholar, but I’m told that there are 2 Greek words, one which indicates ‘tranquillity arising from without’, and this one, indicating ‘tranquility arising from within; meaning, ‘causing no disturbance to others’, and this word was also used in 1Pet 3:4, so it is often associated with ’meek’, to characterize the spirit or disposition of a person.

Finally, IF that one verse of Scripture is to override all the rest of the Bible and truly forbids a women to minister publicly, then why has God blessed so many women in ministry through the years, including just a few that I’ll list here:

  • Sojourner Truth –  an ex-slave, mother, evangelist, abolitionist, author, women’s rights advocate, temperance activist.  Those who knew her remembered her as a “dynamic woman with strength, integrity, poise and wit.  She was a powerful public speaker and knew large portions of the Bible by heart, but never learned how to read or write.  Sojourner Truth spent more than 50 years on the front lines.
  • Aimee Semple McPherson started a church, the Foursquare denomination, and a Bible School.  She applied for and received the first FCC license ever issued to a woman and was the first person to ever operate a Christian radio station.  In her lifetime she composed 175 songs & hymns, preached thousands of sermons and graduated over 8,000 ministers from L.I.F.E. Bible College.  It is estimated that during the Depression, some 1.5 million people received aid from her ministry!
  • Bertha Smith was a missionary to China for nearly 42 years. She retired at age 70, returned to USA where she had another ministry of almost 30 yrs, awakening American Christians to their need for revival and inspiring them to pray for an awakening in their land.  During her travels and constant speaking engagements she touched thousands of lives.  She died just five months short of her 100th birthday.  She left a legacy in the form of the Peniel Prayer Center, a retreat center for spiritual life conferences.
  • Kathryn Kuhlman was known for a worldwide ministry that began to develop in 1950. Her messages were heard all over the United States and overseas. Most of us remember her as a woman of miracles.  However, although there were thousands upon thousands of miracles, the greatest miracle to Kathryn was when a person became born again.  It was common for tumors to dissolve, cancers to fall off, the blind to see and the deaf to hear.  Migraine headaches were healed instantly.  Even teeth were divinely filled.  It would be impossible to list all the miracles that took place during her prolific ministry.

Sorry to wax eloquent on this subject, but I do feel passionately about how the Church has oftentimes gone into battle with one hand tied behind our back as it were, because of a refusal to allow women to fulfill the calling that God has placed upon their life to minister, simply because of their gender.

I do understand the authority that God has delegated to the husband in his household and the principle of men in leadership even in the Church.  But as I’ve explained in the past about our ministry here, my wife is not “usurping” authority at CLC; I have given it to her, knowing that God has gifted her to pastor here alongside me.  In addition, we sometimes invite other women pastors and leaders to minister here, including Pastor Sarah Bowling, who will minister at our upcoming Women’s Conference, Living the Dream” this November 17-18 (plus stay over for Sunday, November 19 and speak at all 3 services in Tinley Park that day)

Hope this helps a bit.  Would you like to join the conversation or submit YOUR question below?

Travel day!

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Chris and I will head to the Phnom Penh airport at 6am local time (6pm Wednesday in Chicago) for the first of three flights that will eventually get us into Davao City, Philippines late tonight.

When you look at a globe or world map, it would seem a simple hop to get from Cambodia to the Philippines, but it doesn’t work that way.  We’ll be traveling for about 14 hours (including some short layovers) as we fly from Phnom Penh to Singapore, then from Singapore to Manila and finally from Manila to Davao City.

Then the fun begins on Friday night – I’ll keep you posted on the last assignment of this SE Asia missions trip-

Cambodia, day 7

This man is an Under Secretary of State for the nation of Cambodia and THE most popular motivational speaker in the country, with more than a million followers on Social media!  He attended EVERY meeting we did this week - the marriage seminar, the Sunday services, the 1.5 days of Leadership Seminar and a special "Training the Trainers" event this afternoon!

This man is an Under Secretary of State for the nation of Cambodia and THE most popular motivational speaker in the country, with more than a million followers on Social media! He attended EVERY meeting we did this week – the marriage seminar, the Sunday services, the 1.5 days of Leadership Seminar and a special “Training the Trainers” event this afternoon!

AND he bought our lunch today at a 5-star Intercontinental Hotel, along with one of his assistants and Pastor Mara

AND he bought our lunch today at a 5-star Intercontinental Hotel, along with one of his assistants and Pastor Mara

Chris was her usual amazing self during the seminar

Chris was her usual amazing self during the seminar

and she managed to do some object lessons along the way.....

and she managed to fit in some object lessons along the way…..

So many people wanted the training in how to teach others that it became wall-to-wall people!  Such fun!

So many people wanted the training in how to teach others that it became wall-to-wall people! Such fun!

This sweet young lady is from Harare, Zimbabwe - but came here on her own a few months ago to serve the church in Cambodia!

This sweet young lady is from Harare, Zimbabwe – but came here on her own a few months ago to serve the church in Cambodia!  She’s as sweet as her smile!

Pastor Jesse McCaul closed the seminar with a strong 'word' to the delegates about the ripe harvest fields of Cambodia!  He is such a great leader and has become a true friend....we simply LOVE what God is doing here!

Pastor Jesse McCaul closed the seminar with a strong ‘word’ to the delegates about the ripe harvest fields of Cambodia! He is such a great leader and has become a true friend….we simply LOVE what God is doing here!

Cambodia, day 6

We had WiFi issues at the hotel last night, so I was unable to post about the first day of our EQUIP seminar at New Life Fellowship.  Of course, this is the primary assignment that brings us to Cambodia every six months, and the attendance this time was the largest I recall in our years of coming here.  Pastor Jesse said there were some very influential people in the crowd this time, including heads of NGO’s and Cambodian ministries and senior pastors.

It’s a long day of teaching, from 8:30am to 5:00pm, but Chris makes it FUN along the way with her object lessons and illustrations and even some giveaways for the students:

she wasn't expecting this close-up, but I couldn't resist a shot of her "vision" glasses!

she wasn’t expecting this close-up, but I couldn’t resist a shot of her “vision” glasses!

She also helped the students to catch God's vision for their lives!

She also helped the students to catch God’s vision for their lives!

My favorite was when she taught the people to be God's "catalyst" in this nation and used a little science experiment to illustrate.  Since she tried it at Beltei with a 2-liter of Coke, and it didn't work, she tried a smaller bottle this time & was completely unprepared for the EXPLOSION of foam that resulted!

My favorite was when she taught the people to be God’s “catalyst” in this nation and used a little science experiment to illustrate. Since she tried it at Beltei with a 2-liter of Coke, and it didn’t work, she tried a smaller bottle this time & was completely unprepared for the EXPLOSION of foam that resulted!

Honestly, I think the students enjoy the little giveaways more than anything else - no matter how cheesy, they rush to the stage to get them after a session!

Honestly, I think the students enjoy the little giveaways more than anything else – no matter how cheesy, they rush to the stage to get them after a session!

Lunch break brought a nice surprise - I think most CLC'ers will recognize the young lady on the right!  Meychen is doing a great job of leading New Life's internship program, and she recently got engaged!

Lunch break brought a nice surprise – I think most CLC’ers will recognize the young lady on the right! Meychen is doing a great job of leading New Life’s internship program, and she recently got engaged!

Cambodia, day 5

Pastor Chuck McCaul (Jesse's father) is the founder of the Cambodian Leadership Institute

Pastor Chuck McCaul (Jesse’s father) is the founder of the Cambodian Leadership Institute

Today was a real rarity for us on a missions trip – it was actually a day off!  We spent the morning relaxing in the hotel, joined Pastors Jesse & Soar for lunch and some window shopping at Phnom Penh’s newest mall (which surpasses anything in Chicagoland) and mostly enjoyed their fellowship.

Tonight I gave a brief message to graduates of their Cambodian Leadership Institute before the students received their diplomas.  As you look at the faces of these graduates, pray that God will use them to fulfill the special work to which they are called (Acts 13:2; Col. 4:17)

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Tomorrow will be a long day of teaching for EQUIP, as hundreds of leaders from all over Cambodia will join us at New Life Fellowship for some of John Maxwell’s “Laws of Leadership”

Thanks for the prayers!

Cambodia, day 4

Preaching at New Life Fellowship with the help of Executive Pastor Samady translating into Khmer.

Preaching at New Life Fellowship with the help of Executive Pastor Samady translating into Khmer today was a joy!

It’s always GREAT to be in service at New Life Fellowship, and today was certainly no exception.  They had just moved into their new building when we were here about 6 months ago – actually hadn’t even had their Grand Opening at that time – and they’ve added over 400 people to the church family since that time!!!

One reason we love NLF so much is because of the GREAT worship teams they have - they really know how to flow in the anointing!

One reason we love NLF so much is because of the GREAT worship teams they have – they really know how to flow in the anointing!

Since I preached both services this morning, Chris gave me a breather tonight & really delivered her heart to the people, with Pastor Samady translating again.

Since I preached both services this morning, Chris gave me a breather tonight & really delivered her heart to the people, with Pastor Samady translating again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow is a national holiday here, so we can’t do the EQUIP seminar until Tuesday, but we’ll spend the day consulting with Pastors Jesse & Soar.  More later-

P.S. If you attended any service of CLC at any campus today, please leave a comment below – I’d love to know how you were ministered to at home today!

 

Cambodia, day 3

This is how we were greeted upon arrival at Beltei International University this morning-

This is how we were greeted upon arrival at Beltei International University this morning-

His Excellency, Mr. Ly Chheng, Founder & President of Beltei International University, the most prestigious university in Phnom Penh, is always so gracious to invite us to teach leadership principles for students & faculty of his school-

His Excellency, Mr. Ly Chheng, Founder & President of Beltei International University, the most prestigious university in Phnom Penh, is always so gracious to invite us to teach leadership principles for students & faculty of his school-

Kinda weird to see a pic of yourself on the back wall of the platform...

Still kinda weird to see a pic of yourself on the back wall of the platform…

Chris was on her usual game with lots of object lessons & illustrations today that helped us connect with the students

Chris was on her usual game with lots of object lessons & illustrations today that helped us connect with the students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a special joy at the end of the day to present an autographed copy of Dr. John Maxwell’s latest book to H.E. Mr. Ly Chheng and the Vice-President of Beltei, his son, Navuth Ly as well.

Tomorrow we’ll be ministering at the 3 services of New Life Fellowship for our friends and hosts, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – stay tuned for more reports from our Sunday in Cambodia-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I think it was the largest number of students & faculty we’ve ever taught in our 4 visits to Beltei over the past few years.  We’re starting to know some of the faculty members by name, and it’s a privilege to sow seeds about leadership from the Bible in this predominantly Buddhist nation!

It was a special joy at the end of the day to present an autographed copy of John Maxwell’s latest book to H.E. Mr. Ly Chhen and the Vice-President of the school, his son, Navuth

Wanna see what an answered prayer looks like?

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I can tell you more about Day 2 of our Cambodian trip later, but the most important news is  the BAGS have arrived!  All 3 pictured above, including (perhaps) the most important one containing all of Chris’ teaching supplies, student giveaways & gifts for our friends!

Thanks for praying – we can now sleep well, use deodorant & wear clean undies!

Ask the Pastor

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I’m still answering questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday back in August, and today’s question is “How do we reconcile the Trinity and Jesus-only doctrines?  Or is it even necessary?”

  • I appreciate the second question as much as the first, because in my view, it’s not necessary to reconcile the two, since I really believe it comes down to semantics; i.e., both sides believe the same thing, but use different terms to describe those beliefs.

In over 27 years as pastor of CLC, I’ve taught on the ‘Godhead issue about two or maybe three times, and what I’ve said each time is that, in my humble opinion, the debate between the ‘oneness’ view and the ‘trinitarian’ view is a matter of semantics. I was raised and spent the first 22 years of my ministry in the Oneness camp, and during that time, plus the last 27 years at CLC I’ve listened carefully to Trinitarian views, and I have yet to hear any Christian leader truly disagree about the Biblical truth that there is only One God.

Folks from my background described that One God by using the term ‘manifestations’ while Trinitarians use the word ‘persons’, but at the end of the day, both believe that the One True God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At CLC (and this is what I’ve said each time I’ve taught on this subject) we have chosen not to divide the Body of Christ over this issue. Personally, I wonder how much more good would have been accomplished through the years had this issue not caused a division in the Pentecostal movement in the early 1900’s, and instead both ‘camps’ would have worked together!

  • While the questioner didn’t ask about water baptism, it’s been my experience that this is the main “sticking point” for the debate between the Oneness (or Jesus-only) view versus the Trinitarian view – so I’ll go ahead and address this issue as well. At CLC, because of our understanding of Scripture, we only baptize by full immersion. We believe that is the only Biblical practice and we encourage those who were baptized thru sprinkling or pouring water to be re-baptized by immersion. When it comes to what some call a ‘baptismal formula’, we use the name of Jesus in all our baptisms – BUT, we do not view that as a ‘test of fellowship’, and we accept into membership those who were baptized by immersion after coming to faith in Christ, regardless of what ‘formula’ the minister baptizing them used.) Again, we refuse to be divisive over non-essential issues.

I hope this helped a bit.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?  Just leave your questions or comments below-

Cambodia, day 1

To see people coming to the altar for prayer after a MARRIAGE seminar was very encouraging!

To see people coming to the altar for prayer after a MARRIAGE seminar was very encouraging!

Tonight we taught part 1 of a Marriage Seminar at New Life Fellowship in Phnom Pehn for our dear friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – and it was a blast, despite all the difficulties we’ve had in getting here.  (In short, it took us about 54 hours to get from our house to the hotel here, and none of our bags made it, so we were wearing the same clothes for 3 days)

The auditorium was PACKED tonight, and about half of those in attendance were young single adults, who were hungry for every principle we taught about marriage!  That’s one of the reasons we love coming to Cambodia – these folks are hungry for God’s Word!

Pray with us that our bags arrive soon – we not only need medications and clothing, but all of our teaching tools and giveaways were packed in the checked luggage, too.  I’ll keep you posted going forward-

P.S. As of Thursday night, our bags have been located in Singapore and should be at our hotel by 9am Friday morning in Chicago, which means we’ll have what we need for our seminar at the University!  Thanks for the prayers!

thanks for PRAYING yesterday!

I’ve always believed in the power of prayer, but this missions trip, we experienced it first-hand.

If you haven’t heard, we left O’Hare last night on schedule without a hitch for the first few hours of flight.  Then the captain announced that there was a ‘problem’ and that we were being diverted to Salt Lake City, instead of San Francisco.

I soon noticed that the plane went straight for landing, much quicker than normal, and when we landed there were all sorts of emergency vehicles on the runway following us as we taxied to the gate.

Still not sure of what all was going on; we were told there was a pungent odor in the rear of the aircraft as though something was burning.

Of course, we missed all our connections, and as I type this, we’re still not sure how or when we’ll get to Cambodia – but in spite of all the frustrations of last night, Chris and I are alive – and this is one time the outcome could have been considerably different.

So don’t take it for granted when I say, please pray for us!

And thank God for all of you who do!

Off to Cambodia

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I’m typing this at O’Hare airport, where Chris & I are waiting for the first of three flights (Chicago to San Francisco, San Francisco to Singapore, Singapore to Phnom Penh) that will get us into Cambodia by Wednesday morning, their time (about 10pm Tuesday in Chicago).

We’ll be there for our semi-annual assignment with EQUIP to teach leadership principles to university students & faculty, business leaders and church leaders from around the country, as well as doing a Marriage Conference for New Life Fellowship and our dear friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul!

I should have internet once we arrive, so I’ll keep you posted on our ministry there.  Thanks so much for your prayers while we’re away!

Want to GO on missions AND save money, too?

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We’ve now concluded the N2 International Dinners at each CLC campus and dozens of CLC’ers have already signed-up to go on one of the 8 missions trips we’re offering in 2018 – receiving a 10% discount in the process.

But this morning we felt like extending that generosity to those of you who may want to GO, but for whatever reason you weren’t able to attend one of the dinners or complete your application and put down the required $100 deposit at that time.

So from now through next Sunday, October 22, if you complete your application and submit your deposit, you, too will receive a 10% discount on the total cost of your trip(s).

To make it really easy, you can even access the application online here and pay your deposit online!

This offer will not be repeated after October 22, so take advantage NOW!

2108 Trip with sign

Sunday reflections

Yes, she's my daughter. But I can still say "thanks" for the great job she's doing as our Missions Director - putting on 3 different Int'l Dinners these past 3 Sundays & coordinating all our missions trips (and today she was our service host) Kudos, Jen!

Yes, she’s my daughter. But I can still say “thanks” for the great job she’s doing as our Missions Director – putting on 3 different Int’l Dinners these past 3 Sundays & coordinating all our missions trips (and today she was our service host) Kudos, Jen!

We always focus on the platform, but the most important ministries often happen outside the auditorium - like greeters who welcome people (kudos, Jerome!)

We always focus on the platform, but the most important ministries often happen outside the auditorium – like greeters who welcome people (kudos, Jerome!)

And faithful folks at the Info Desk, who answer questions & offer assistance to so many!

And faithful folks at the Info Desk, who answer questions & offer assistance to so many!

Using other languages for some verses these past 2 weeks brought a new dimension to worship & today the GLORY came - so glad "The Cross Has the Final Word!"

Using other languages for some verses these past 2 weeks brought a new dimension to worship & today the GLORY came – so glad “The Cross Has the Final Word!”

I love team-teaching with this lady, and today was no exception!

I love team-teaching with this lady, and today was no exception!

Our Blue Island campus worship is anointed!

Our Blue Island campus worship is anointed!

Caught in the act! (of having FUN at KidsLife, that is)

Caught in the act! (of having FUN at KidsLife, that is)

Pastor Brent unveiled plans for a community "HOPE CENTER" in Blue Island, starting with a food pantry - and we already have volunteers ready to serve!

Pastor Brent unveiled plans for a community “HOPE CENTER” in Blue Island, starting with a food pantry – and we already have volunteers ready to serve!

Today was Tommy Billup's first day to lead worship at Hammond, and Pastor Sam said the 11am worship BROKE OUT into a powerful time of prayer!  Kudos, Tommy!

Today was Tommy Billup’s first day to lead worship at Hammond, and Pastor Sam said the 11am worship BROKE OUT into a powerful time of prayer! Kudos, Tommy!

He was able to share his heart for missions today, and there was also one person who gave their life to Christ afterwards!

He was able to share his heart for missions today, and there was also one person who gave their life to Christ afterwards!

and we LOVE kids at the Hammond campus (just like every CLC campus!)

and we LOVE kids at the Hammond campus (just like every CLC campus!)

 

 

Ask the Pastor

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I’m still working on questions from our ‘Hot Seat’ Sunday that we didn’t have time to answer.  This week I’ll tackle two:

  • Can Christians lose their salvation?

As I understand Scripture, no Christian has to worry about “losing” their salvation, because  God has promised that HE will keep us from falling (Jude 24and that no one can pluck us out of his hand (John 10:28-29)

However, I also understand that Scripture indicates we have a free will of our own, and I do believe that we can choose to walk away from God’s grace and forfeit our salvation.

This is a hotly-debated subject among Christians for many, many years, and I’m not likely to resolve it in this post.  If you want to look into it further, I have written about it here.

  • What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?

This expression is used in 2Corinthians 12, and Paul said it was a messenger of Satan to torment him.  Even though he asked the Lord three times to take it away, God told him that His grace would be sufficient for him to bear that thorn.

Ever since then, Bible students have wondered exactly what that ‘thorn’ might have been.  Some have suggested it was a problem with his eyesight, as could be intimated from Galatians 4:15 and Galatians 6:11, thinking that his vision was so bad that he had to write very large letters in order to see what we wrote.

The bottom-line is that no one knows what his thorn in the flesh was, and I think that’s on purpose – because each of us also have weaknesses and challenges, and just as God promised Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you”, so we also can take hope and courage that His grace will be sufficient for us, no matter what our issue may be.

I hope this helps.  Would you like to add to my answers?  If so, please leave a comment below, or perhaps even a question of your own for a future ‘Ask the Pastor’ post.

Sunday reflections

Sergei Zhuravle, worship pastor of the 3500-member New Testament Church in Perm, Russia BLESSED us by joining our worship team today - LOVE the anointing of worship in different languages!

Sergei Zhuravle, worship pastor of the 3500-member New Testament Church in Perm, Russia BLESSED us by joining our Tinley Park worship team today – LOVE the anointing of worship in different languages!

Bishop Herley Montes brought a great word to all of us on "How to Have Treasure in Heaven" - will YOU win a soul in 2017?

Bishop Herley Montes brought a great word to all of us on “How to Have Treasure in Heaven” – will YOU win a soul in 2017?

Even our KidsLife children were seeking after the Lord today!

Even our KidsLife children were seeking after the Lord today!

Our Hammond campus worships, and they're looking forward to Tommie Billups as their new Director

Our Hammond campus worships, and they’re looking forward to Tommie Billups as their new Director

Dr. Chinedu Oranye brought a great word in Hammond-

Dr. Chinedu Oranye brought a great word in Hammond-

In Blue Island today, my wife delivered her HEART for missions as only she can.

In Blue Island today, my wife delivered her HEART for missions as only she can.

And our Blue Island Kidslife team made learning FUN today-

And our Blue Island Kidslife team made learning FUN today-

Ask the Pastor

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Let’s look at 3 similar questions that we didn’t have time to answer during our “Hot Seat”  Sunday – all 3 are great questions because many believers are in this same situation:

  • What do you do if you marry someone who started as a Christian but doesn’t want to be a practicing Christian anymore?

First, I recommend that you pray.  Sincerely. Earnestly. Recognize that YOU cannot change the heart of your spouse, but God can.  After you have invested time in real prayer, when you sense the time is right, then talk.  Not in a heated, emotionally-charged discussion, but in a logical, reasoned manner – explaining to your spouse how important your faith is to you, and how important you feel it is to your relationship.  Seek to understand why your spouse has walked away from the Lord.  Once you understand why, you may be able to help. If not, then seek counsel.  Hopefully, your spouse will receive the helpful counsel from your pastor or a trusted counselor.  I pray that this helps and that your spouse will return to walk with the Lord – keeping in mind James 5:20

  • How can I be a light in my marriage? We are unequally yoked.

Honestly, my heart goes out to any believer who is in an “unequally yoked” marriage, meaning one in which your spouse is not walking with the Lord, while you are.  I can’t even imagine the profound sadness of not being able to share your most important relationship of all with the person that you love and want to spend the rest of your life with.  Whether your spouse opposes your faith and merely tolerates it, it hurts.

There could be several options, depending on exactly why your spouse is not a believer – but the Biblical answer is found in 1Peter 3:1-2 and 1Cor. 7:12-16.  Your lifestyle can win your spouse!

  • How can I raise my children when their father is following the Muslim religion?

First, I hope you’ll attend our seminar at CLC-Tinley Park tomorrow (Oct. 7, at 9am) because our guest teachers have lived and work among Muslims for many years and have godly wisdom to help us reach Muslims for Christ.  But for my part, I think perhaps the starting place would be for you to kindly (not in an argumentative way) explain to your husband WHY you love Jesus, and how important it is to you that your children grow up to know the Lord as you do.  Hopefully, he will agree that you can bring the children to church and teach them God’s Word.  But whether he does or not, I encourage you to be very intentional in living a godly life before your children, sharing your values and your heart with them regularly, so that even if their father prevents them from going to church, you are bringing church to them!  The verses above also apply to your situation, and God is able to work in the hearts of your children!  Never underestimate your motherly influence in their lives!

I hope that helps.  If you’d like to add to my answer, please leave your comments below – or ask a question of your own.

Just a reminder…..

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Just a quick reminder that THIS SATURDAY (October 7), from 9am-11:30am at our Tinley Park campus we’ll host a great seminar on “Reaching our Muslim Friends”.

Since all of us have opportunities in our neighborhoods, our workplace and in school to make friendships with Muslims, this is a GREAT one-time opportunity to learn from our special guests who wrote this material after spending years working among Muslim people.

Make plans now to join us and let’s learn together!

To my pastors…

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I often tease my pastor friends that we have the “greatest job security in the world”, because people will always need a pastor, just like sheep need a shepherd.

But during this Pastor Appreciation Month, I thought it appropriate to honor the men that God has used in my life to shepherd me, from my earliest memories:

  • George L. Glass, Sr.
  • Marvin Rutledge
  • Jimmy Greer (who baptized me)
  • Roy L. Jones
  • F.R. Reed (who was like a father to me and under whose ministry I began preaching)
  • William Sciscoe (who was there for me after I lost Pastor Reed)
  • Bishop Joseph Garlington

and a special thanks to the men who have walked alongside Chris and me at CLC, as our Apostolic Overseers:

  • John Nordstrom
  • Eddie Cupples
  • Dale Van Steenis
  • Gordon Banks
  • Dennis Cramer

and finally, my fellow-laborers at CLC through the years:

  • Stephen & Shae Wasmundt
  • Brian & Natalie Page
  • Dan & Pat Johnson
  • Eric & Kristen Stone
  • Doug & Shanna Neal
  • Benjamin & Nili Stewart
  • Tony & Angie Gilmore
  • Brent & Sol McQuay
  • Sam & Taylor Hamstra, Jr.
  • Jon & Rachel Jones
  • Micah & Jen Remington
  • Moy & Eva Mendez
  • Ken & Patricia Earley
  • Dan & Torey Goodson

and my one and only Chris, whose dedication to God & His people never cease to amaze-

this is for you, with my love:

Living the Dream!

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Our bi-annual Women’s Conference is just around the corner this November 17-18, with special guest speaker Sarah Bowling!

It will be a great 2 days for women to renew your dedication to God and His dreams for your lives, to revive those dreams and move forward into the fulfillment of God’s promises to you!

You can get more information at your Heart to Heart meetings or simply register here.  Your registration fee includes all sessions on Friday and Saturday, conference giveaways, before party on Friday evening, Saturday lunch and the after party on Saturday night.

(Pastor’s are FREE)

(Now I just need to find out if us guys can sneak in)

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Testimonies from our “Generosity Sunday”

That's what I'd call a FUN day in Church, CLC-style!

It was even BETTER than I realized at the time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard a few stories since last week’s “GENEROSITY SUNDAY” that blessed my socks off and I thought you could use a little encouragement on this Monday morning:

  • one of the CLC’ers who won a $50 gift card to Speedway told us that she actually came to church that day “on fumes” and didn’t know how she would get back home unless someone had mercy and bought her some gas!
  • another CLC’er who won one of the $200 gift cards to Walt’s Food Center was unemployed and said “I didn’t know how I was going to eat this week!”
  • Finally, at our Hammond campus, when the BIG award was chosen (a house payment up to $1,000), Pastor Sam had to draw 4 names, because the first 3 names chosen each decided to pass and let someone else receive the award!

Generosity begets generosity!  How will YOU be generous this week?

Sunday reflections

Worship at our Tinley Park campus was ON FIRE today!

Worship at our Tinley Park campus was ON FIRE today!

We enjoyed the music & voice of Tommy Billups with the team today, too!

We enjoyed the music & voice of Tommy Billups with the team today, too!  (Tommy is going to be the NEW Worship Director at our Hammond campus!)

Dr. Chinedu Oranye delivered a 'Word' to us today - SO good!

Dr. Chinedu Oranye delivered a ‘Word’ to us today – SO good!

And he used Pastor Jon's hairstyle as an example of how we all follow someone-

And he used Pastor Jon’s hairstyle as an example of how we all follow someone-

Tommy & his wife Azania & their children were announced at the Hammond campus today

Tommy & his wife Azania & their children were announced at the Hammond campus today

Bishop Herley Montes from the Philippines brought the Word at Hammond as to how we can build treasures in heaven.

Bishop Herley Montes from the Philippines brought the Word at Hammond as to how we can build treasures in heaven.

Our CLC pastors LOVE Bishop Herley!

Our CLC pastors LOVE Bishop Herley!

Sometimes a KidsLife Director gets to 'perform' in order to keep the kids attention!

Sometimes a KidsLife Director gets to ‘perform’ in order to keep the kids attention!

Bruce Crawford of the Abraham Project in Costa Rica was our guest at the Blue Island campus today - when you hear his testimony, you know why CLC'ers LOVE him and the Abraham project!

Bruce Crawford of the Abraham Project in Costa Rica was our guest at the Blue Island campus today – when you hear his testimony, you know why CLC’ers LOVE him and the Abraham project!

Ask the Pastor

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As we continue looking at questions we weren’t able to get to during our “Hot Seat” last month, let’s address two more today: Will those who have never heard of Christ or the gospel go to hell?”

Great question that has been asked for about as long as the church has existed!  Let me quickly tell you WHY I believe the answer is unequivocally, ‘YES’:

  • because God would never have sent His only begotten Son to die for our sins, if we could be saved without such a cost (1Peter 1:18-19; 2Cor. 5:21; John 3:16-18)
  • because otherwise, the damnable doctrine called “universalism“, that has been rejected by The Church for it’s entire history, would be true.  (Universalism basically says that God is do loving that, at the end, He will allow everyone into heaven because He doesn’t want to send anyone to hell.
  • because otherwise, we do lost people a disservice by sending missionaries to preach to them, because then those who heard the gospel and rejected it would be lost, whereas they would have been ok before the missionary came. Yet Jesus clearly told us to go and preach to everyone (Mark 16:15)

Finally, another CLC’er asks, “Is CLC primarily a mission minded church?”

Hmmmm, primarily is a very strong word, so I’m not sure that we can ‘claim’ that, but I hope it’s true of us, since the Great Commission of Jesus is definitely the primary reason for the Church to exist – otherwise, The Church of Jesus Christ would have died out in the first century.  The Great Commission is the LAST instruction that Jesus gave to The Church, so it was the primary thing on His mind.  My greatest desire is that CLC would always be a missions-minded church!

To that end, we’re starting our “N2 (neighbors & nations) series” this Sunday, with special guests from Costa Rica (Bruce Crawford speaking at our Blue Island campus), the Philippines (Herley Montes speaking at our Hammond campus) and Nigeria (Chinedu Oranye speaking at our Tinley Park campus). It’s going to be a great kick-off Sunday and I hope you’ll plan to join us!

Hope that helps a bit.  Would you like to add to my answers by leaving a comment below?

Reaching our MUSLIM friends

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I’m excited about our next sermon series, “N2 – Neighbors & Nations” as we focus on the mission of CLC, not only in the Nations, but also here in Chicagoland.

One of the wonderful benefits of living in the third-largest city in America is that the Nations have already come to us!  CLC currently has about 40 different nations represented in our church family, and certainly many more nationalities in our jobs and our neighborhoods.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that on Saturday, October 7 from 9am-11:30am we will be offering a special seminar, “Reaching Our Muslim Friends”.  Often times we’re not sure how to begin a conversation with people of another religious background, but this seminar will give us the tips and tools to get started.

The seminar is taken from a larger resource, The Oasis Course, and will be presented at CLC by our friends, Chinedu & Taiwo Oranye, who served the Muslim community as missionaries in Oman for several years.

Mark your calendar and make plans to join us on October 7!

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Generosity Sunday reflections

There's JOY in giving & receiving! Fresh out of college, in her own apartment & CLC will be making the rent payment for Jacqueline Hackmon!

There’s JOY in giving & receiving! Fresh out of college, in her own apartment & CLC will be making the rent payment for Jacqueline Hackmon!

Before all the giveaways began, Pastor Jon & Tiffany led us into the Presence of the Lord - STRONG presence today!

Before all the giveaways began, Pastor Jon & Tiffany led us into the Presence of the Lord – STRONG presence today!

We gave away over $6,000 worth of awards in Tinley Park today (over $12k campus-wide) just for the JOY of giving!

We gave away over $6,000 worth of awards in Tinley Park today (over $12k campus-wide) just for the JOY of giving!

I've always wondered about pastors who didn't worship with their congregation, and I'm glad that CLC pastors set the right example!

I’ve always wondered about pastors who didn’t worship with their congregation, and I’m glad that CLC pastors set the right example!

Our Blue Island worship team knows HOW!

Our Blue Island worship team knows HOW!

Lots of FUN giving stuff away in Blue Island today-

Lots of FUN giving stuff away in Blue Island today-

including a mortgage payment for the winner: Eric Williams, who spent all week in Texas helping with Hurricane Harvey relief! (God knows how to reward us!)

including a mortgage payment for the winner: Eric Williams, who spent all week in Texas helping with Hurricane Harvey relief! (God knows how to reward us!)

Our Hammond campus was ON FIRE today, with the largest non-Easter attendance ever - 501!

Our Hammond campus was ON FIRE today, with the largest non-Easter attendance ever – 501!

That record attendance was possible because of NEW FAMILIES like these two!

That record attendance was possible because of NEW FAMILIES like these two!

John won a car payment and promptly gave it back for someone else!

John won a car payment and promptly gave it back for someone else!

After Talaat & Tai McNeely shared their great teaching on "The Prosperity Plan", 8 precious people gave their life to Christ!

After Talaat & Tai McNeely shared their great teaching on “The Prosperity Plan”, 8 precious people gave their life to Christ!

That's what I'd call a FUN day in Church, CLC-style!

Just as in times past, there were reports at each campus of people who won an award (even the $1,000 awards for a house payment) and turned around and gave it to someone else in need – because generosity begets generosity! That’s what I’d call a FUN day in Church, CLC-style!

Ask the Pastor

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I’m still answering questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday last month, and these 2 may help people: “Are those who die in infancy saved?”

Great question, because for anyone who has lost a child in death, besides the immediate sorrow and heartbreaking pain, is that eternal concern: is my baby in heaven?

It would be easy for me to just answer this question from sentimentality, and say, ‘of course infants go to heaven, because God is good and surely all innocent babies go to heaven’ – but sentimentality is not a Biblical reason.  Many people today, even Christians, entertain a very dangerous and false teaching known as universalism, which simply says everyone will go to heaven.  But the Bible does NOT teach that.  Scripture teaches that we are born into sin and that we must receive Jesus as our Savior in order to be saved.

However, I believe the Bible also teaches that infants who die ARE saved, for these reasons:

  • 2Cor. 5:10 clearly states that we will be judged by God for the sins we have done in our earthly body, NOT for Adam’s sin.  Since infants have not committed sins, they are saved.
  • In Deut. 1:35, God specifically told the people of Israel that they would not be allowed entrance into the Promised Land because of their sin, but then in Deut. 1:39, God specifically exempted their innocent children from that judgement. Since these ‘little ones’ had no knowledge of good and evil, they would not be judged for their father’s sins, but would inherit the Promised Land.
  • Jesus made it quite clear in Mark 10:14 that little children belong to Him, and He welcomes them!

Yes, I believe infants and small children who die are in heaven with our loving Savior!

The second question is “where are our loved ones who died in Christ”?

I am convinced by Scripture that those who died in Christ are with the Lord – 2Cor. 5:1-8 and Phil. 1:21-24 both indicate that when we leave this life, we are immediately with the Lord – if we are believers, that is – those who did not receive Christ before death will await their final judgment in hell.

I hope this helped a bit.  If you’d like to add to my answers, or perhaps ask a question of your own, please leave a comment below-

And don’t forget that THIS SUNDAY at each CLC campus is Generosity Sunday as we bring a great close to our ‘Moneywise’ series-

 

Crimea, day 5

A good marriage requires good LISTENING skills!

A good marriage requires good LISTENING skills (says the queen of object lessons!)

Our friend and son of Bishop Grabovenko from the largest Russian network of pastors, David Grabovenko arrived this morning and helped translate some marriage discussion exercises we gave the pastors.

Our friend and son of Bishop Grabovenko from the largest Russian network of pastors, David Grabovenko arrived this morning and helped translate some marriage discussion exercises we gave the pastors.

Of course, Anna (center) was our primary interpreter for the entire seminar-

Of course, Anna (center) was our primary interpreter for the entire seminar – we’ve loved her since our first visit to Russia over 7-8 years ago.

This Russian pastor became a 'punching bag' to illustrate what happens when we attack our spouse verbally.

This Russian pastor became a ‘punching bag’ to illustrate what happens when we attack our spouse verbally.

Again tonight as an icebreaker, we had couples take a turn at Jenga after they shared a principle they learned during the seminar

Again tonight as an icebreaker, we had the pastor couples take a turn at Jenga after they shared a principle they learned during the seminar

The highlight of the seminar came at the close when each pastor couple renewed their marriage vows - lots of love & hugs in the room tonight!

The highlight of the seminar came at the close when each pastor couple renewed their marriage vows – lots of love & hugs in the room tonight!

I love witnessing those 'special moments' with faithful shepherds!

I love witnessing those ‘special moments’ with faithful shepherds!

 

This 14-year old boy has an amazing gift for art, and he surprised us with a beautiful pencil drawing!

This 14-year old boy has an amazing gift for art, and he surprised us with a beautiful pencil drawing!

Bishop Edward leads the largest network of Russian churches and was unable to join us, but his wife Larissa was SO encouraging to us with her kindness throughout the retreat !

Bishop Edward leads the largest network of Russian churches and was unable to join us, but his wife Larissa was SO encouraging to us with her kindness throughout the retreat!

Of course, we couldn't have ministered at all without our interpreter-friend, Anna!

Of course, we couldn’t have ministered at all without our interpreter-friend, Anna!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll be headed to the airport in a couple of hours, feeling quite fulfilled in this ministry assignment – but can’t wait for this “Generosity Sunday” at each campus of CLC – it’s going to be a GREAT close to our “Moneywise” series – hope you’ll bring a friend!

Crimea, day 4

This little guy has captured my eye each day, but he's too bashful to pose for my camera!

This little guy has captured my eye each day, but he’s too bashful to pose for my camera!

Each teaching time always begins with some worship - today led by our friend, Pastor Sergei from Perm (he's coming to visit us at CLC in a few weeks)

Each teaching time always begins with some worship – today led by our friend, Pastor Sergei from Perm (he’s coming to visit us at CLC in a few weeks)

This afternoon we had separate sessions for men and women - and these guys kept me on my toes with their questions!

This afternoon we had separate sessions for men and women – and these guys kept me on my toes with their questions!

To open tonight's session, we used a balloon game where each table had to keep their balloon in the air without using their hands

To open tonight’s session, we used a balloon game where each table had to keep their balloon in the air without using their hands

I gotta tell you: they were competitive! And they kept those balloons in the air much longer than I expected-

I gotta tell you: they were competitive! And they kept those balloons in the air much longer than I expected-

It was important to have a little fun & release some stress, because tonight's teaching was pretty intense as we challenged each couple to examine their own relationship for "hidden" dangers

It was important to have a little fun & release some stress, because tonight’s teaching was pretty intense as we challenged each couple to examine their own relationship for “hidden” dangers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have two more sessions tomorrow afternoon and evening before heading back to the airport for the first of three flights that will get us home on Thursday afternoon.  Thanks for your prayers – we feel it’s going very well based on the responses from these precious pastors!

Crimea, day 3

Chris reminded us all that we sometimes have to REFOCUS in marriage, to see what our partner is doing right, instead of only what they do wrong! (the Queen of illustrations strikes again)

Chris reminded us all that we sometimes have to REFOCUS in marriage, to see what our partner is doing right, instead of only what they do wrong! (the Queen of illustrations strikes again)

We began the retreat with an icebreaker where each wife kissed her husband's face as many times as possible in 30 seconds. The winner was determined by counting the 'lips' on his face.

We began the retreat with an icebreaker where each wife kissed her husband’s face as many times as possible in 30 seconds. The winner was determined by counting the ‘lips’ on his face.

and the Russians REALLY got into this contest!

and the Russians REALLY got into this contest!

The winning couple (although the lighting in this pic doesn't reveal it) - they said they won because he had more space on his face than anyone else (his bald head!)

The winning couple (although the lighting in this pic doesn’t reveal it) – they said they won because he had more space on his face than anyone else (his bald head!)      

another of the couples in an icebreaker game before tonight's session began-

another of the couples in an icebreaker game before tonight’s session began-

 

 

 

 

This is just ONE of the pastoral couples who have touched our hearts. Their story of sacrifice and faith really inspired us today-

This is just ONE of the pastoral couples who have touched our hearts. Their story of sacrifice and faith really inspired us today-

just before Chris concluded our teaching tonight I took this shot of a few of the pastors in attendance

just before Chris concluded our teaching tonight I took this shot of a few of the pastors in attendance-

 

 

 

Crimea, day 2

Of course I always think our KidsLife kids are the cutest in the world, but these Crimean kids are stiff competition - CUTE!

Of course I always think our KidsLife kids are the cutest in the world, but these Crimean kids are stiff competition – CUTE!

The worship team today in Crimea - I didn't know any of the songs they sang, but I sure knew the Spirit they entertained!

The worship team today in Crimea – I didn’t know any of the songs they sang, but I sure knew the Spirit they entertained!

Anna is our veteran interpreter from the New Testament Church of Perm, and with her help today we saw 8-10 adults stand to give their hearts to Jesus after the Word!

Anna is our veteran interpreter from the New Testament Church of Perm, and with her help today we saw 8-10 adults stand to give their hearts to Jesus after the Word!

We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Crimean specialties (the bread will be served at the marriage supper of the Lamb - take my word for it!) with our host Pastor Sergei (in center w/striped shirt) and his friend, an Armenian pastor who also owns the restaurant where we ate.

We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Crimean specialties (the bread will be served at the marriage supper of the Lamb – take my word for it!) with our host Pastor Sergei (in center w/striped shirt) and his friend, an Armenian pastor who also owns the restaurant where we ate (at the left) – Pastor Sergei’s wife at the right.

They insisted on taking us for a walking tour of their town, situated right on the Black Sea.

They insisted on taking us for a walking tour of their town, situated right on the Black Sea.

We were especially fascinated with their story of the Crimean Karaites, a small group who claim to be Jews.  Their synagogue pictured here is hundreds of years old.

We were especially fascinated with their story of the Crimean Karaites, a small group who claim to be Jews. Their synagogue pictured here is hundreds of years old.

There was a whole section of town dedicated to these people and we couldn't resist a little fun pic to end our day here.

There was a whole section of town dedicated to these people and we couldn’t resist a little fun pic to end our day here.  The real ‘fun’ starts tomorrow with the pastor’s retreat where we’ll be ministering twice a day.  

Crimea, day 1

For some reason this lake near the Black Sea attracts many, many SWANS, and our hosts thought you'd like to see-

For some reason this lake near the Black Sea attracts many, many SWANS, and our hosts thought you’d like to see-

We always insist on our CLC missions trips to include one “fun day” for the team to do some sightseeing or local activities – but when Chris and I travel for missions, we seldom practice what we preach.  But this trip is an exception,  and today was our fun day before the ministry begins tomorrow. (It would have been more fun had we checked the weather forecast this week instead of last week.  We packed nothing but long-sleeved shirts only to get here and discover that the forecast had changed and high’s are in the 90’s for our entire stay!)  Oh well, the joys of international travel.

But what was fun was our 11-hour excursion that enabled us to see practically the entire Crimean peninsula and some breathtaking views of the Black Sea, as well as a delicious lunch with our friends here.  But the highlight was a visit to Livadia Palace, the site of the Yalta Conference.

It’s past our bedtime now and we’re fighting jetlag to boot, but if you’re not familiar with the Yalta Conference, read about it here.  It was neat to be at the site of some US & World history  and we even got a picture to prove it:

Posing with the main characters of the conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin Delanor Roosevelt & Joseph Stalin (at the monument outside the Livadia Palace)

Posing with the main characters of the conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt & Joseph Stalin (at the monument outside the Livadia Palace)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took lots more pictures, but it’s late and we have a full day of ministry tomorrow, with a marriage seminar at a local church added to the schedule unexpectedly – that’s another rule of missions trips: always be flexible.

I’ll post again tomorrow-

Ask the Pastor

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Well, we made it to Zurich without any complications, so I’m typing this post while we wait for our flight to Moscow.  Here are some questions left over from our “Hot Seat” Sunday:

If the church is set up to be a “community” and we all serve to fulfill the need for reaching people, then why do people always expect to get paid for “volunteer” work?”

While this is a valid question, it’s not one that Scripture addresses directly, so I’ll give you my opinion in just 2 words: human nature.  All of us are born into this world with the nature of our father Adam, and as much as I hate to admit it, we are inherently selfish.  So it only stands to reason that IF we walk by our fleshly nature, we don’t want to serve, we want to be paid.

My suggestion is that instead of judging others in the church who don’t live up to our expectations that we live by Romans 14:10, 13 instead.

Someone else asks, “So as a new employee, how do you handle back stabbers, sabotagers at work, when your boss refuses to intervene?”

I’m guessing that’s a question that almost every believer in the workplace has asked at one time or another.  Again, the Bible doesn’t address this particular question directly, but I’ll give you my thoughts:

  • Since your boss refuses to intervene, and you are (Biblically) under his authority, you can just learn to accept it, without participating in the backstabbing behavior yourself.  There is Biblical support for us to accept mistreatment in 1Cor. 6:7 and 1Peter 2.
  • Of course, you have another option: look for another job.  While there’s no guarantee that you won’t face similar mistreatment at another workplace, you have a right to seek peace on your job.

Finally, a CLC’er asks, “Should pastors of “mega-churches” be rich and live excessive lifestyles or should the bulk of that wealth, if earned through ministry, go back to the church?”

Honestly, from the tone of this question, I suspect you’re not really asking a question, but instead passing judgment on some pastor(s) that you don’t agree with.  The only thing that I would contribute to this discussion is a warning as to how dangerous it is for any of us to  assume anything about others.  For example, both Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, to name just two “mega-church’ pastors who are millionaires, refuse to take a salary from their churches and live off the royalties of their book sales.  In fact, in Rick Warren’s case, after his book, Purpose-Driven Life, became so wildly successful, he paid back Saddleback Church  every penny he had earned since starting the church!

Personally, I have enough to do to keep my own life in line with God’s Word, without criticizing or judging others whom I don’t even know.  The whole 14th chapter of Romans again comes to mind.

Hope that helps.  If you’d like to add to my answers (or disagree), please leave a comment below – or even a question of your own for another post.

 

To Russia, with love…

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Chris and I will board a Swiss Air jet in a few hours for an overnight flight to Zurich, then another flight to Moscow, and finally an S7 Airways flight to Simferopol, Crimea.  This will be our first visit to Ukraine (or what was a part of Ukraine before being ‘annexed’ by Russia a few years ago).

We’re looking forward to a reunion with several pastor friends from the Perm, Russia region who will help us conduct a pastor’s retreat for some faithful Crimean pastors who have labored in very difficult circumstances.

We DO love these Russian pastors after several previous visits to various parts of their country, so please pray that we can both encourage and challenge the Crimean pastors in fulfilling their ministry.  I’m not sure we’ll have internet access while there, but I’ll certainly try to keep you posted if we do.