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.

 

Generosity Sunday is coming September 24!

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We truly believe that some CLC’ers will look back later and say, “September was the month things turned around for our finances – it went from stress & worry to the favor of God” – because of our  ‘Moneywise” series!

And to close out the series on September 24, at each service of each CLC Chicagoland campus, that day we’re going to practice what we preach about generosity by giving away:

$50 gift cards for gasoline

$50 gift cards: GASOLINE

$200 gift cards for food

$200 gift cards: GROCERIES

 

                         

Budgeting course from HisAndHerMoney ($197 value)

Budgeting course from HisAndHerMoney ($197 value)

one month car payment (up to $350 value)

one monthly car payment               ($350 value)

one month house payment (up to $1000 value)

one monthly house payment      ($1000 value)

That’s over $11,000 in FREE giveaways on September 24!!!                                    (must be present to win)

Invite a friend to join you September 24 – six services to choose from:             (Blue Island – 11am; Hammond – 9am/11am; Tinley Park – 8:30am/10am/12pm)

Sunday reflections

It's always a JOY to see someone baptized, but especially when their JOY shows like this - congrats, Rachael Eubanks!

It’s always a JOY to see someone baptized, but especially when their JOY shows like this – congrats, Rachael Eubanks!

Tai McNeely shared her story of becoming debt-free using the principles of God's Word.

Tai McNeely shared her story of becoming debt-free using the principles of God’s Word.

Her husband Talaat was humorous, practical & challenging, as the McNeely's did an amazing job at the Tinley Park campus today-

Her husband Talaat was humorous, practical & challenging, as the McNeely’s did an amazing job at the Tinley Park campus today – and at the noon service, about 5 or 6 adults prayed to receive Christ – after a message about money management!!!

There was something for the entire family today!

There was something for the entire family today!

At Blue Island, like each CLC campus, we couldn't do what we do without faithful volunteers!

At Blue Island, like each CLC campus, we couldn’t do what we do without faithful volunteers like Dessie Bell & Rosetta Hatchett!

Tiffany Hines stepped in to lead worship at Blue Island since 3 of their praise team leaders are in Croatia - thanks, Tiff!

Tiffany Hines stepped in to lead worship at Blue Island since 3 of their praise team leaders are in Croatia – thanks, Tiff!

Pastors Dan & Torey brought the message from Proverbs: "Choose Wisely!"

Pastors Dan & Torey brought the message from Proverbs: “Choose Wisely!”

At our Hammond campus, during this interim without a worship director, the ENTIRE praise team stepped up to lead the congregation into His Presence, and Pastor Sam said it was really neat to see!

At our Hammond campus, during this interim without a worship director, the ENTIRE praise team stepped up to lead the congregation into His Presence, and Pastor Sam said it was really neat to see!

He was also encouraged by one new member, Loren Sargent, who just moved here from one of our "hero churches", Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL (average attendance more than 40,000 per Sunday! - and she says CLC reminds her of CoH!) Welcome, Loren!

He was also encouraged by one new member, Loren Sargent, who just moved here from one of our “hero churches”, Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL (average attendance more than 40,000 per Sunday! – and she says CLC reminds her of CoH!) Welcome, Loren!

Ask the Pastor

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Continuing to answer questions that we weren’t able to get to during our “Hot Seat” a few weeks back, beginning with this one from a 10-year old CLC’er who wants to know “why does God allow Lightning and Thunder?”  (she’s frightened by both & doesn’t see any purpose for them)

Well, that’s a question I’ve never been asked before.  And while the Bible doesn’t go into great detail on this subject, I can tell you that sometimes God uses lightning or thunder to accomplish His purposes.  For example:

  • Exodus 9:23-29 – lightning was used by God to show Pharaoh and the Egyptians that the earth belongs to the Lord, and frightened them into releasing Israel from slavery.
  • Exodus 20:18-20 – God used the lightning & thunder to get His people’s attention, so they would hear His Word through Moses.
  • 1 Sam. 7:10 – God used thunder to confuse Israel’s enemy, so they could defeat them.
  • 1Sam. 12:17-18 – God used thunder so Israel would know He was speaking to them.

In fact, several times in Scripture it seems thunder is symbolic of God’s voice – and while several verses indicate that we don’t really understand, we know that God can speak!  So the purpose of lightning & thunder is to demonstrate a little of God’s power.

Now, if you want a scientific explanation, this is a pretty good one.

Question 2 during the ‘Hot Seat’ was, “should believers follow the Democratic or Republican party? 

My answer is, neither!  Follow Jesus!

Finally, question 3 from the ‘Hot Seat’ was, “Has the antichrist been revealed? And will he be before the Rapture? 

My answer is I don’t know, and possibly.

Hope these helped a bit.  Feel free to weigh in if you have insight into any of these 3 questions, so we may all learn – just leave your comment below.

Who are you inviting to hear Talaat & Tai McNeely THIS Sunday at CLC-TP?

 

Moving the ball down the field

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You don’t have to be a Bears fan to know that football isn’t necessarily about the BIG plays – the game is often won by the team that steadily moves the ball down the field, turning first-downs into touchdowns.  (I guess it helps if you aren’t a Bears fan to know about touchdowns, but that’s another subject altogether)

Sometimes we have guest speakers at CLC who help us move the ball down the field – and I  “prophesy’ that this Sunday, September 10, will be on of those days at our Tinley Park campus (don’t free in Blue Island or Hammond, because you’ll get them this month, too)

After our sermon planning meeting today with our pastoral team and guest Talaat McNeely, I’m more convinced than ever that months from now, some CLC’ers will look back and say,  “September was the month when our finances turn around!” (see Esther 9:22).

Tai & Talaat McNeely will share their story and God's plan for your prosperity, using the wisdom of Proverbs!

Tai & Talaat McNeely will share their story and God’s plan for your prosperity, using the wisdom of Proverbs!

If you’re ever going to invite a friend to join you at CLC, this is the Sunday!   There will be practical help for everyone in attendance!

And stay tuned for a special announcement about our 2017 Generosity Sunday…soon!

Sunday reflections

Turn your eyes upon Jesus Look full in His wonderful face And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth
will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace!

Chris gave us some prophetic pictures in each service

My wife gave us some prophetic pictures in each service: warnings & promises!

Pastor Jon appealed for CLC'ers to step up to help the Hurricane victims - if giving online, choose "Hurricane Relief"

Pastor Jon appealed for CLC’ers to step up to help the Hurricane victims – if giving online, choose “Hurricane Relief”

Could you tell that I'm pumped about this new series?

Could you tell that I’m pumped about this new series?  Best of all, people gave their life to Christ at each service today, and that’s always worth celebrating!

I say it again: the cutest kids on earth attend CLC!

I say it again: the cutest kids on earth attend CLC! (Our KidsLife volunteers are great, too!)

some of them are rather adventurous, too

some of them are rather adventurous, too (but our KidsLife staff has it under control!)

Don't you wanna know what was so funny?

Don’t you wanna know what was so funny?

Harmony LaBeff led worship at Hammond campus today-

Harmony LaBeff led worship at Hammond campus today-

In Hammond, Pastors Dan & Torey made their teaching debut at CLC, while Pastor Sam is on vacation. I heard it was awesome & that one person received Christ there today!

In Hammond, Pastors Dan & Torey made their teaching debut at CLC, while Pastor Sam is on vacation. I heard it was awesome & that one person received Christ there today!

Lifting up holy hands unto the Lord at our Blue Island campus!

Lifting up holy hands unto the Lord at our Blue Island campus!

I love how kids can FOCUS and receive from God's Word!

I love how kids can FOCUS and receive from God’s Word!

Two Blue Island favorite worshippers: Alan Franklin & Daniel Rodriguez!

Two Blue Island favorite worshippers: Alan Franklin & Daniel Rodriguez!

Pastor Brent received a BIRTHDAY surprise from the congregation...AND their prayers for this next year!

Pastor Brent received a BIRTHDAY surprise from the congregation…AND their prayers for this next year!  AND 4 people joined CLC-BI through Growth Track today, and 1 person gave his life to Christ after the message – that’s a great birthday gift!

Ask the Pastor

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Two of the questions we didn’t have time to answer last Sunday are similar: “Pastor, my question is in times like these where we know we can’t do life without God, how can we humbly w/o getting too churchy or political conversate about the word of God with those who don’t know God?” and “I have friends who are atheists and I want to know how I can go about witnessing to them? If they don’t believe in God or the Bible, how do I talk to them about it? 

Great questions, and the topic is one that I’m sure will be more and more common in days to come, as our country is increasingly post-Christian, where a significant part of the population checks “NONE” when asked about their religious beliefs.

I’ll admit, this is not my strongest area of ministry, but let me share a few thoughts:

  1. First, I’m going to assume that the people you’re wanting to reach are genuine atheists or non-believers, as opposed to someone who is insincere but just wants to argue with you.  (I don’t know how to persuade someone who’s just trying to argue, and life is too short to spend it on them when there ARE lost people who are hungry for more in life)
  2. Secondly, none of us is capable of winning an atheist (or other unbeliever) just by our  persuasive speech. So prayer is the most-important thing you can do to engage those who don’t believe in the Bible.  God is able to bring circumstances into their life and touch their heart in such a way that they do become open and receptive to your witness.  And as John 6:44 so clearly points out, no one comes to the Lord without being attracted to Him by the Spirit’s work in their heart.
  3. Beyond that, there are “apologetic” resources available to help you with conversations designed to help your unbelieving friends find a reason to believe.  Here are a few that you might find helpful:

I hope this has been helpful, but I also invite my readers to share other tools or resources that you have found effective.  Leave your comment below-

“September IS the month that things turned around for us”

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I’ve already shared with you that as I read Esther 9:22 recently I sensed the Lord saying that in the future, CLC’ers would look back on this September as the month things turned around for them, as they went from being stressed and pressured about finances to having FAVOR!

And it all starts THIS Sunday, September 3 at each CLC campus – why not invite a friend to join you, because everyone you know is interested in help for their finances!

Take a look:

Moneywise Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Follow-up from the HOT SEAT

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This past Sunday was a lot of fun (well, for those of you listening in comfort; it did get a little hot on stage) and Chris and I were able to address a lot of your questions. (If you missed out, you can watch the replay here – 8:30am OR 10am OR 12 pm.) I hope our responses and especially pertinent Scriptures brought you some clarity.

However, there were at least 37 other questions that we did not have time to address, and our heart is to help CLC’ers with those questions, too.  So for the next several Fridays, I will be addressing those questions in my weekly feature, “Ask the Pastor”.

I hope you’ll join me starting THIS Friday, September 1!

You’ve seen the pictures…..now it’s time to help!

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Sometimes we must do MORE than pray.  If you’ve seen the pictures I’ve seen, I know your heart is moved for the people whose lives have been turned upside-down by the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Take a moment to read this article to see how desperate the need.

CLC has a missions partner already on the ground serving people in the affected areas – every penny you give will go to help them.  The simplest way to donate is our text to give option: Simply text “Give $Dollar Amount” (ex. Give $100) to (708) 265-3315

Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.

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Sunday reflections

What do we do on Missions Sunday? Why, pray for the CLC team about to go to Croatia, of course! L to R: Danielle, Paula, Cherry, Jen, Harm

What do we do on Missions Sunday? Why, pray for the CLC team about to go to Croatia, of course! L to R: Jonathan Aguilar, Danielle Truckenmiller, Paula Hopkins, Cherry Vauters, Jen McQuay, Tiffany Davison, Charletta Young, Tenia Hoskins, Angie Simington, (Harm LaBeff is hidden behind Pastor Dan). Not pictured from TP: Sandra Norris, Ch’vez Moore, Reuben Hutcherson.

Our ministry to Kids is only possible because of great volunteers & leaders - thanks Jamie & Stacy!

Our ministry to Kids is only possible because of great volunteers & leaders – thanks Jamie Hyrn & Stacy Hunter!

well, at times it was definitely a 'Hot Seat', but all in all, today was both fun & informative. IF we didn't get to your question today, check here the next few Friday's.

well, at times it was definitely a ‘Hot Seat’, but all in all, today was both fun & informative. IF we didn’t get to your question today, check here the next few Friday’s.

In Hammond, it was certainly bittersweet to say goodbye to the only worship director in the history of our campus - Linell Muse. He's accepted a great new opportunity in Missouri.

In Hammond, it was certainly bittersweet to say goodbye to the only worship director in the history of our campus – Linell Muse. He’s accepted a great new opportunity in Missouri.

Like I say, the CUTEST kids in America attend KidsLife - including

Like I say, the CUTEST kids in America attend KidsLife – including this little guy, RJ Smith,son of Roland and Leslie.

Pastor Sam chose not to do a 'hot seat', but I hear HE was on FIRE today with his message on "Gratitude"

Pastor Sam chose not to do a ‘hot seat’, but I hear HE was on FIRE today with his message on “Gratitude” – a much needed value in our culture!

Daniel Rodriguez in worship at Blue Island

Daniel Rodriguez in worship at Blue Island

Blue Island members of the Croatia team receiving prayer from Pastors Brent & Sol - L to R: Harry Valentine, Alan Franklin, Liane Williams & Nikeva Lawrence.

Blue Island members of the Croatia team receiving prayer from Pastors Brent & Sol – L to R: Harry Valentine, Alan Franklin, Liane Williams & Nikeva Lawrence.

I hear it was a VERY Hot Seat in Blue Island, but Pastor Brent & Sol passed the test, and people were helped!

I hear it was a VERY Hot Seat in Blue Island, but Pastor Brent & Sol passed the test, and people were helped!

Some have asked about the website I recommended for cultural issues from a Biblical perspective: it’s www.bullseyechallenge.com

Now, I’m enjoying a DVR of Mr. Trubisky, hoping Bears managment make the right decision about the next starting QB for the Bears.  Later-

 

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “With our culture being so divided politically & racially, resulting in the  spread of so much hate through news media & social media, how are we as Christians to respond? Surely we must speak out against evil, but it seems when we do so, we can easily fall into the same trap of fighting hate with hate, instead of responding in love.

GREAT question, not only because it is such a hot topic currently, but also because so many of us as Christ followers seem to be unsure of how to respond, with some of us adding fuel to the fire of division with our social media posts, etc. – while still other believers remain silent and seemingly ignore the issue in the hopes of keeping peace.  Here’s my take:

  • Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers” and that means we don’t throw gasoline on the fires of division; we seek reconciliation.
  • James 3:17-18 speaks God’s practical wisdom for those times we find ourselves in these kind of situations.
  • Proverbs 18:21 in the Message translation says, “Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
    That’s a great reminder, whether we’re speaking or posting on social media, that we have a choice.  I encourage you to think about the potential affect of your words before you post and before you open your mouth. And the New Testament passage in Philippians 4:8-9 gives us great counsel for what to think about!
  • This may not be Scripture (it’s a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), but it’s undeniable truth:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction….
The chain reaction of evil — hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars — must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

That’s my position.  What’s yours?  Leave a comment below-

Join us this Sunday (Aug. 27) for the “HOT SEAT”, when our pastors will answer your spontaneous questions….it should be fun!

I’m EXCITED!

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I know; I know.  You’ve heard me say that about practically every new sermon series at CLC for how many years now.

But this time is different.

As I was doing my daily prayer & Bible reading several days ago, a portion of my reading was Esther 9:22, and here’s the part that jumped out at me: “the month when things turned around for them—changing from sorrow to joy and from mourning into a favorable day–“

When I read that, I felt the Lord saying to me that months from now, CLC’ers would look back on our September sermon series and say, that was the month when things turned around for our finances — changing it from pressure and stress and arguments into the FAVOR we now enjoy!

We’re calling the series, ‘Moneywise’ because we’re focusing on the wisdom of Solomon found in the book of Proverbs pertaining to our finances, and I can’t wait!

We’ve got some special things planned for the series, including another ‘Generosity Sunday’ when CLC’ers will receive more than $10,000 from us, as we practice what we preach about generosity, AND, some very special guests who will speak at each campus, Talaat & Tai McNeely from “His and Her Money”.  If you’re not acquainted with their story, take a look at this clip from when they were guests on the T.D. Jakes show.

I hope you’ll invite your unchurched friends, because everyone you know could use some of God’s wisdom regarding their money.  It all starts on September 3!
 

Classy people do classy things!

I just received this card in the mail today:

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If it needs explanation, the card is handwritten by Mrs. Dodie Osteen (Joel’s mother, and the matriarch of Lakewood Church). She’s 85 years old and I’m sure she has better things to do than send a thank you note to me for participating on stage at the recent “Night of Hope” at the United Center.

But I’ve learned in my years of ministry that classy people do classy things.  (Maybe I should rephrase that to say, “real leaders show appreciation to people”.

I hope I’m still practicing that at age 85.

Sunday reflections

All of the Hammond campus K-12 and Educators on the platform for prayer today!

Hammond campus K-12 and Educators on the platform for prayer today!  (Beautiful sight!)

Hammond worship was STRONG today...

Hammond worship was STRONG today…

Pastor Sam tackled the Sexual Purity message, with great feedback from parents

Pastor Sam tackled the Sexual Purity message, with great feedback from parents

After the Hammond services, they had a Back to School Bash with a special presentation by the Hammond Police Department

After the Hammond services, they had a Back to School Bash with a special presentation by the Hammond Police Department and their dogs

Meanwhile, it was a Baby Dedication Sunday in Blue Island today - love to see family members come together to dedicate a child (Congrats Daniel & Veronica and baby Jonas!)

Meanwhile, it was a Baby Dedication Sunday in Blue Island today – love to see family members come together to dedicate a child (Congrats Daniel & Veronica and baby Jonas!)

And congrats to Maria & for the dedication of their 3 children: Ruby, Julian & Monica!

And congrats to Maria on the dedication of her 3 children: Ruby, Julian & Monica!

Pastor Brent told me he was nervous about preaching the Sexual Purity message, but a guest told him afterwards, in 35 years of attending church, he had never heard this subject addressed, and he filled both sides of his outline with personal notes from the message!

Pastor Brent told me he was nervous about preaching the Sexual Purity message, but a guest told him afterwards, in 35 years of attending church, he had never heard this subject addressed, and he filled both sides of his outline with personal notes from the message!

But "how shall they hear without a translator?" says Pastor Sol!

But “how shall they hear without a translator?” says Pastor Sol!

Since it was Back to School Sunday, I think Tinley campus wins the cutest kids award!

Since it was Back to School Sunday, I think Tinley campus wins the cutest kids award!

how 'bout this little gal?

how ’bout this little gal?

Pastor Chris had some prophetic pictures to share with us: distractions, , & peace (hang on to Jesus!)

Pastor Chris had some prophetic pictures to share with us: distractions, purpose, & peace (hang on to Jesus!)

The moment we announced our new Tinley Park Campus Pastors, Jon & Rachel Jones!

The moment we announced our new Tinley Park Campus Pastors, Jon & Rachel Jones!

Honestly, I knew the Sexual Purity message was needed & I tried to include lots of humor to make it go down easier, but I'm glad it over!

Honestly, I knew the Sexual Purity message was needed & I tried to include lots of humor to make it go down easier, but I’m glad it over!

Feel free to send your congratulations to Pastors Jon & Rachel here-

Don’t forget to submit a question for next Sunday’s “HOT SEAT” here.

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “Is there a difference between conviction and condemnation? If so, how can you tell and who is the source of both?”

Great questions, because it’s such an important distinction:

Yes, there’s a very significant difference between the two, since Satan is the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10who seeks to put condemnation on followers of Christ, while one of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction to us when we’re going astray, so we can get back on the right track (John 16:7-11)

Conviction is actually a good thing, much like pain in our physical bodies.  None of us likes to feel pain (or conviction) – but both get our attention, and let us know that something is wrong.  In fact, I’m persuaded that none of us would turn to the Lord for salvation unless we first felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit, that let us know we were in the wrong and needed to turn to Christ to be saved.

Condemnation, on the other hand, is never corrective in nature, but rather is designed to make us feel hopeless, that we are unworthy or lost, and that there’s nothing we can do about it.

Further, I’ve noticed that conviction is sharp and specific – to help us realize exactly where we’re in the wrong and how we can correct it.  But condemnation is blunt and heavy and usually a general sense of guilt – that we are condemned by God and that there is no hope for us.

In one of my recent daily readings I noticed this beautiful passage: Job 5:17-18.

Thank God for the conviction of the Holy Spirit!

I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts about the differences you’ve noticed between conviction and condemnation – just leave a comment below.

While you’re at it, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

SEX and announcements and prayer

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This Sunday at each CLC campus is THE most-debated ‘TIMELESS” topic of all.  Yep, we’re talking SEX this weekend, and after meeting with our pastors yesterday, I think it may be the most helpful message of the series.

But we’re not only talking about SEX this Sunday.  We’re also taking time in each service to pray over all our students, from kindergarten thru high school, as well as each CLC teacher, administrator, principal and education employee as they go into a new school year.

Finally, we have some very special announcements to make, including news about our new Campus Pastor in Tinley Park!

So make plans now to join us for any of our six Sunday services: 8:30 or 10 am or 12pm in Tinley Park; 9 or 11 am in Hammond, or 11 am in Blue Island – it’ll be a Sunday to remember!

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Congratulations, Linell and Amanda!

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

With all the good reports around CLC yesterday, I left out one bit of news that is certainly bittersweet.  As you may know, Linell Muse has been a part of our CLC family for over 10 years, with the last 4 of them spent as our Worship Director at CLC-Hammond.

Earlier this year he proposed to Amanda Edwards who was a featured vocalist on our Tinley Park praise team and a finance clerk in our office. They plan to be married this December.

However, just this weekend they accepted a tremendous opportunity to serve a church in Osage Beach, MO (in the heart of the Ozark mountains), starting in September.  So we’re  rejoicing with them for a larger opportunity (and the possibility of a job in Amanda’s field of study, journalism), but we’re sad to see them go at the same time.

They’ll be around only for two more weeks, so show them some love here or here.  We certainly appreciate all their service, both in Tinley Park and in Hammond, and we pray God’s favor and blessing as they take this next big step in ministry!

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials AND a great new worship assignment, Linell & Amanda!

Congrats on your upcoming nuptials AND a great new worship assignment, Linell & Amanda!

Sunday reflections

I wish Charlottesville, VA could see this.

I wish Charlottesville, VA could see these two little girls – as God intended it to be!

So many good things happened today:

LOTS of newcomer's at the 8:30 service today, anxious to get Joel Osteen's latest book!

LOTS of newcomer’s at the 8:30 service today, anxious to get Joel Osteen’s latest book!

Nothing like the JOY of water baptism - congratulations, Shantelya Lett!

Nothing like the JOY of water baptism – congratulations, Shantelya Lett!

We prayed for this special team of 4 men headed to Haifa, Israel this week to tackle some building projects for our partners at "Return to Zion", led by Leon Mazin!

We prayed for this special team of 4 men headed to Haifa, Israel this week to tackle some building projects for our partners at “Return to Zion”, led by Leon Mazin!

And we welcomed our new Executive Pastors, Dan & Torey Goodson!

And we welcomed our new Executive Pastors, Dan & Torey Goodson!

 

I shared a teaching on "HONOR" for week 2 of our 'Timeless' series, and people game their life to Christ in each service!

I shared a teaching on “HONOR” for week 2 of our ‘Timeless’ series, and people gave their life to Christ in each service! (That never gets old!)

The cutest babies in the world are CLC babies! (This little guy is part of our Blue Island campus)

The cutest babies in the world are CLC babies! (This little guy is part of our Blue Island campus)

Pastor Brent expressed his heart on the Charlottesville, VA situation, before leading the congregation in prayer for our nation.

Pastor Brent expressed his heart on the Charlottesville, VA situation, before leading the congregation in prayer for our nation.

Then Mama Chris 'meddled' some with her teaching on Honor.

Then Mama Chris ‘meddled’ some with her teaching on Honor.

And she was FUNNY while teaching today-

And she was FUNNY while teaching today-

Meanwhile, at our Hammond campus, Pastor Sam said the 9am service worship was one of the most powerful times of worship to-date!

Meanwhile, at our Hammond campus, Pastor Sam said the 9am service worship was one of the most powerful times of worship to-date!

At each campus today, we prayed in multi-cultural circles of prayer for God to heal the racism in our land!

At each campus today, we prayed in multi-cultural circles of prayer for God to heal the racism in our land!

"Granny" Drusie Neal gave a great exhortation about surrender during worship.

“Granny” Drusie Neal gave a great exhortation about surrender during worship.

Pastor Sam preached the "HONOR" message

Pastor Sam preached the “HONOR” message to a summertime crowd of 375 people!

and 6 people joined our CLC-Hammond family today through Growth Track, step 2!

and 6 people joined our CLC-Hammond family today through Growth Track, step 2!

It was a FULL, good day at CLC!

Don’t forget our 21-days of prayer continues tomorrow at 7am!

 

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers submitted several questions he was asked by a college student: Is there a difference between receiving the Holy Spirit (like from my understanding of Ephesians 1:13) and receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, Acts 19:2-7, Matthew 3:11)? Can someone have the Holy spirit and not be baptized in the Holy Spirit? Does someone receive the Holy Spirit immediately when they become saved? And according to Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13-14, is it necessary to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost to go to heaven? And is the gift of speaking in tongues according to 1 Corinthians 12 the same thing as the evidence of speaking in tongues when the holy spirit fills someone?”

Whew!  That’s a lot of ground to cover in one post, but I’ll give it my best shot.

In order, Yes. Yes. Yes. No. No.  Now let me explain, because it seems this college student was taught many of the same ideas that I grew up with in my Pentecostal upbringing, some of which I now believe are not quite accurate with the whole of Scripture:

  • As I understand God’s Word, when any person truly believes on Jesus for salvation, he/she receives the Holy Spirit (see John 3:5Gal. 3:2;  Rom. 8:9; Eph. 1:13-14This experience is what Paul referenced in Romans 8:9 when he said without this, we don’t even belong to Christ – so clearly we cannot be saved without this!
  • However, the Bible clearly teaches that there is an experience often referred to as the “baptism” of the Holy Spirit that is given to believers to empower us to be a witness.  This experience is usually accompanied by speaking in a language that we have never learned – “speaking in tongues” or, as we usually refer to it at CLC, a “prayer language”, since the primary purpose of this gift is to enable us to have deeper intimacy with the Lord in prayer (see 1Cor. 14:2, 4, 5, 18).  The three passages listed in the second question clearly refer to this “baptism” of the Holy Spirit. Yes, a person can receive the indwelling Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation without ever going on to be baptized in the Holy Spirit for power – as we see in Acts 8:12-17.  These Samaritans clearly  believed the Gospel and had even been water-baptized, so they had the indwelling Holy Spirit when they believed, but were not baptized in the Holy Spirit until the Apostles Peter & John came and laid hands on them.
  • Since a believer receives the indwelling Holy Spirit at salvation, if for some reason they do not go on to the baptized in the Holy Spirit for power, they would still go to heaven  (in my opinion), since they belong to Christ.
  • Finally, as I understand the Scriptures, there are actually three different purposes for speaking in tongues: (1) as a ‘sign’ that a person has been baptized or immersed in the Holy Spirit.  (By the way, the term “initial evidence” is not found in Scripture, and in my experience, tends to create more arguments than attract people to receive their prayer language.  I think the examples in Acts certainly indicate that people will speak in tongues when they’re baptized with the Spirit, but I don’t make that a hard & fast rule, since it’s not possible to put God in a box.); (2) as a private “prayer language” as we see in 1Cor. 14 and Romans 8:26-27 and Jude 20), to enable us to have deeper intimacy with the Lord in prayer; and (3) as a public gift for use in Christian gatherings in conjunction with the gift of interpretation of tongues, to convey a message of encouragement to those gathered.

We covered a LOT of ground with this as briefly as I could, so I hope it helps.  Perhaps some of my readers will add to my brief answer by making their comment below.

Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Sunday reflections

The first Sunday of August was a good day around CLC:

"Mr. Tim" to many CLC kids through the years - and they all LOVE him! (So do we!)

He’s “Mr. Tim” to many CLC kids through the years – and they all LOVE him! (So do we!)

"THe JOY of the Lord is your strength", Pastor Jon!

“THe JOY of the Lord is your strength”, Pastor Jon!  Thanks for sharing it with all of us!!

Can't recall the last time I was as nervous about preaching (or as uncomfortable while preaching), but I'm grateful for His anointing & your response!

Can’t recall the last time I was as nervous about preaching (or as uncomfortable while preaching), but I’m grateful for His anointing & your response!

Worship was good at our Hammond campus (as always!)

Worship was good at our Hammond campus (as always!)

Pastor Sam said the "Integrity" message seemed to connect well in Hammond, too!

Pastor Sam said the “Integrity” message seemed to connect well in Hammond, too!

Who says kids won't pay attention in church these days?

Who says kids won’t pay attention in church these days?

Our Blue Island youth took church outside on this beautiful day-

Our Blue Island youth took church outside on this beautiful day-

Pastor Brent says a watermelon has INTEGRITY

Pastor Brent says a watermelon has INTEGRITY

One of the things I love about CLC is that you can receive  personal ministry at any service, any campus!

One of the things I love about CLC is that you can receive personal ministry at any service, any campus!

Ask the Pastor

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Well, no new questions were sent to me this week, but I was asked one question in the lobby recently, although it’s probably not one that many folks will be itchin’ to know my answer to: “When you baptize at CLC, what does the minister say – ‘in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin’ or ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit'”?

Not only is that not a hot-burner issue for most believers, but my answer is also not likely to please.  See, that’s one of the debates that’s been around almost exclusively in Pentecostal churches for the last 90 years, and it’s fueled primarily by the position of those who teach that water baptism “in Jesus name” is a requirement for salvation.

I will say this: because of my background, I have studied this issue extensively.  My conclusion, years ago, is that this is not a Biblical issue, but rather a matter of semantics.  Not only that, but I’m even more convinced that God is not looking down from heaven at the moment of one’s baptism to see if the minister says the “magic words” to insure one’s salvation!  We are saved by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, when we place our whole trust on what HE did for us, not on what we can do for ourselves!

Having said that, I will also say that a close examination of the New Testament doesn’t reveal a “formula” for water baptism, but it certainly cannot be denied that the name of Jesus plays an important role – not unlike the fact that we pray in the name of Jesus and we cast out demons in the name of Jesus.  So, while it is not a ‘test of fellowship’ at CLC, when we baptize, our pastors do say, “in the name of Jesus”, rather than the phrase, “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.  (To check out the Scriptures for yourself, look at Acts 2:38, Acts 8:14-17, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6, Acts 19:13-16, Col 3:17, 1Cor 1:13-15)

At CLC, we have chosen not to divide the body of Christ over semantics, but instead contend for clear Biblical truth rather than personal preferences or pet doctrines – and, in this instance, the clear Biblical truth is that every believer should experience water baptism in celebration of what God has done in their life!  (To schedule yours, contact us today)

Care to add to my answer?  Please leave a comment below.

Now, what would you like to Ask the Pastor?

To my one and only…

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I don’t know how I missed the opportunity to express this yesterday (blame it on my advanced age, I guess), but it was on  August 2, 1954 that Chris Ann Hansen first entered the world in Detroit, MI.  I was toddling around my parent’s home about 600 miles away at the time, and it would be over 17 years later before I’d have the chance to look into her beautiful blue eyes for the first time – but I’m so glad the Lord brought us together!

Honestly, I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without her:

  • She is my best friend.  I’d rather spend time with her than anyone else on earth.  I value her thoughts and opinions more than anyone else I know.  I love to make her laugh, and I love laughing with her.
  • She’s an incredible cook.  I wouldn’t have near the struggle with my weight if I’d married someone else, but her home-cooked meals have been wonderful from Day 2 of our marriage until now – I never get tired of sitting down to a table that she’s prepared, whatever it is.
  • She’s an amazing mother to our children.  Oh sure, we didn’t get everything right through the years (no one does), but we got a lot more right than wrong, and mostly because of her.  Her fierce love for Chad, Jen and Brent has given them an advantage that millions of kids in our world never had.
  • She’s one of the most creatively-gifted people I’ve ever met, and it shows every time she teaches, preaches or writes almost anything.  (and to think it all started with Harry the puppet that she found in a Sunday School cabinet back in the 70’s!)
  • Speaking of preaching & teaching – I’ve teased for years that I couldn’t let her speak very often at CLC lest I be out of a job, but the honest-to-God truth is that she is an excellent communicator, and the anointing that she brings into the pulpit, whether she’s teaching or prophesying, has blessed and encouraged and challenged not just our CLC family, but thousands of pastors and leaders from Kenya to Kazakhstan and from Trinidad to Turkey.
  • She is a lover – and I’m not just talking about our private moments together – I’m talking about the way she genuinely and passionately loves others – as I’ve seen her do in country after country, not to mention her dear Heart 2 Heart ladies, and even the children and teens she has ‘adopted’ through the years, starting with Leslie in Troy and then Martha in Mt. Morris and, well, I’ve lost track of how many folks call her “Mama Chris” now.  She’s easily the most unselfish person I’ve ever known, because love gives, and that’s her.
  • She’s the epitome of growth and change.  I’ve watched her re-invent herself time after time to meet new challenges through the years.  She is constantly growing to become more of the person God always intended her to be, and that motivates me to keep improving myself, lest she outgrow me.  Suffice it to say. she’s not the shy young teenager I was first attracted to back in 1972 – she’s a woman of God who’s getting better with age!

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I’ll close, because this is supposed to be a blog, not a book, but not before I say Happy (belated) Birthday, Chris – I love you more than ever!

Chris McQuay

When the Word become real…

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Every preacher reading this post knows exactly what I mean:

  • sometimes I preach because it’s Sunday and it’s my job.
  • sometimes I preach because I’ve got a ‘Word’ and I can’t not preach!

We start a new series this Sunday at every campus of CLC that has been in planning for a long time, but after the last few days, I must warn you: I’ve got a Word from the Lord!  (and since our pastors discussed it thoroughly during our sermon planning meeting this week, we’re ALL infected!

Join us this Sunday at any campus of CLC.

And don’t say you’re weren’t warned.

“Timeless” Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

3, 4, 5

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Actually, it’s 3 for 5.

If that still doesn’t make sense, I’d like to give YOU 3 reasons that YOU should participate in our annual CLC 5this September 23:

1. Your health.  God only gave us one body, and He expects us to take care of it.  Too many of us as believers have “buffeted” our bodies at all-you-can-eat restaurants instead of the ‘buffeted” that Paul referenced about the apostles in 1Cor. 4:11.  (beatings they received!)  As out-of-shape as I am at age 64, if I can do it, you can do it!

Running or walking in one 5k may not get you in shape overnight, but it can be a great start!

2. To help others.  Your registration fee, when added to the dozens (hundreds?) of other CLC’ers who participate in the 5k, will enable us to bless some organizations in the South Suburbs who are doing good works to help people in our community.  So while you walk, jog or run, you’ll actually helping people in need.

3. To reach others.  I’ve been amazed each year to see unchurched people join us for the 5k.  In fact, I think you’ll be surprised how many of your non-Christian friends, family or co-workers will be interested in joining you for the 5k if you invite them to do so.  And in the process, the exposure to joy-filled, ‘normal’ people may give them a whole new impression of Christians.  Who knows – they may meet Jesus because they first jogged a 5k at CLC!

You can register online here OR stop by our Missions kiosk in the Tinley Park lobby this week!

5K Promo – September 23 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

Summertime special events in Hammond and Blue Island certainly helped these numbers, but I’m excited that almost 1,900 worshipped at CLC today!

The worship team led us into God's Presence in each service (as usual)

The worship team led us into God’s Presence in each service (as usual)

Harmony LaBeff introduced  a new song he wrote based on Psalm 73-

Harmony LaBeff introduced a new song he wrote based on Psalm 73-

duh

Looks like KidsLife was having fun today, too!

This lady was AMAZING today (also, as usual). Thanks, CLC, for honoring her birthday (which is actually this coming Wednesday). Her message from "The Shack" was the most powerful of our God@the Movies series and brought TONS of people to the altar for healing today!  You can feel her passion through this pic-

This lady was AMAZING today (also, as usual). Thanks, CLC, for honoring her birthday (which is actually this coming Wednesday). Her message from “The Shack” was the most powerful of our God@the Movies series and brought TONS of people to the altar for healing today! You can feel her passion through this pic-

It takes a LOT of volunteers to do Church at the Beach!  Kudos, Hammond CLC'ers!!

It takes a LOT of volunteers to do Church at the Beach! Kudos, Hammond CLC’ers!!

Part of the Praise Team (Love their stage design!)

Part of the Praise Team (Love their stage design!)

The blue shirts are lined up to share their testimony before being baptized-

The blue shirts are lined up to share their testimony before being baptized-

An estimated 450 people attended Church at the Beach today!

An estimated 450 people attended Church at the Beach today!

And after worship, communion, testimonies and 43 BAPTISMS, everyone settled to hang out at the beach!

And after worship, communion, testimonies and 43 BAPTISMS, everyone settled to hang out at the beach!

Meanwhile, it was "Praise in the Park" at our Blue Island campus.

Meanwhile, it was “Praise in the Park” at our Blue Island campus.

Praise in the Park means "praising God" outdoors, from the worship team...

Praise in the Park means “praising God” outdoors, from the worship team…

...to the KidsLife Director...

…to the KidsLife Director…

....to everyone present!

….to everyone present!  “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!”

One of the things I love most about CLC is how our volunteers serve with joy!

One of the things I love most about CLC is how our volunteers serve with joy!

after the worship, it was time for an old-fashioned church PICNIC!

after the worship, it was time for an old-fashioned church PICNIC!

I'm told the TACOS were the hit of the day!

I’m told the TACOS were the hit of the day!

the most photogenic kids in the world attend CLC!

the most photogenic kids in the world attend CLC!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m repeating this post from 2009:

Here’s the latest question I’ve received: what recommendation do you have on how to study the Bible? I find myself jumping around hoping the Lord will just point me where I should go.

Excellent question!  And what a common problem – I think a lot of believers would have to admit to ‘jumping around’.  Here’s my 2-cents on the subject:

1.  If you haven’t read the entire Bible, I always recommend a thru-the-Bible plan, such as we give out at CLC.  You can also find some great plans here.  From my standpoint, any plan is better than no plan, or as you’ve heard before, “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

2.  Since you asked about study, not just reading, I would probably start with a “Bible survey” type course – that is, one that gives you the big picture of the Bible, from Old Testament to New Testament.  I’ve taught those classes for years, and I still love doing them, because of all the ‘light bulbs’ that go off in people’s heads when they start seeing how it fits together and the foundation of major doctrines, etc.

3.  Another great method is to study a particular doctrine or topic or character in Scripture.  It’s easy to do, with a simple concordance like Cruden’s or Strong’s, that you can purchase at a Christian bookstore or with the previous links – or, thanks to the internet, do your study for free here.  For instance, if you want to study “grace” or “baptism” or “Joseph”, you simply look up all the verses with those words, and do your own study of the Scriptures, keeping in mind that no doctrine is built on one isolated verse, but (in the words of the good ‘ole KJV I grew up with), it’s “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little”.

4.  Finally, the most important key: start!  The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and there’s no better time to get started than now!  I hope that helps – I know wherever you read or study, God will speak to you – at least that’s how it works with me, and I’m always better for it.

What would you like to Ask the Pastor?

She still speaks!

Kevin Tyler & Tarshawa

Kevin Tyler Carter with his mom, Tarshawa

Hebrews 11:4 in ‘The Voice’ translation says of Abel, “And by faith he still speaks, although his voice was silenced by death.”

That verse came to my mind today as I had lunch with a CLC elder, Kevin Carter.  As most of those who read this post know, last year we said goodbye to one of the sweetest, most self-less saints of God I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.  Kevin’s wife, Tarshawa was dearly-loved by everyone at CLC who knew her, and we still miss her deeply.

But I learned today that for several years Tarshawa challenged their son, Kevin Tyler, to pursue excellence in Spelling Bees at his school.  In fact, with her encouragement, Kevin did excel, finishing as one of the top spellers in his school in 2014, 2015, and 2016, when he was the second-place finisher.  This year, he dedicated his final Spelling Bee to his mom, and won first-place for his school!  In fact, he went on to finish fourth place at the Regional Spelling Bee, which is the highest achieved by a District 162 student in history!

Join me in congratulating CLC'er Kevin Tyler Carter on this great accomplishment.  I know his mom is proud - and so are all of us at CLC!

Join me in congratulating CLC’er Kevin Tyler Carter on this great accomplishment. I know his mom is proud – and so are all of us at CLC!

 

God’s Word is TIMELESS!

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We still have one more Sunday of “God@the Movies” (at our Tinley Park campus – my wife will bring a message from ‘The Shack’ this Sunday, July 30 in all 3 services) – BUT I’m already excited about the next series, TIMELESS!

So many people (sometimes even Christians) think that the Bible is old and outdated and not in tune with today’s culture.  But I’m convinced that the principles of Scripture are just as applicable today as when they were written thousands of years ago.

I hope you’ll plan to join us each Sunday in August for TIMELESS:

“Timeless” Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

The photo booth for GATM is more popular in Blue Island than ANY other campus! (Just ask Nikeva)

The photo booth for GATM is more popular in Blue Island than ANY other campus! (Just ask Nikeva)

Even Pastors Sol & Chris couldn't resist it's allure-

Even Pastors Sol & Chris couldn’t resist it’s allure-

I heard that Pastor Chris' message from "The Shack" brought healing for several people in Blue Island

I heard that Pastor Chris’ message from “The Shack” brought many people to the altar for healing in Blue Island-

Anita Winters is just one of many passionate worshippers on our BI team

Anita Winters is just one of many passionate worshippers on our BI team

Speaking of worshippers, our CLC-West campus pastors, Josh & Heather Moran, are passionate, too!

Speaking of worshippers, our CLC-West campus pastors, Josh & Heather Moran, are passionate, too! (That’s Josh on the guitar in the background, too)

I heard great reports about Pastor Brent's message in Tinley Park from "Captain America", as he told us It's ok to disagree but it's not ok to allow disagreements to turn into division!

I heard great reports about Pastor Brent’s message in Tinley Park from “Captain America”, as he told us It’s ok to disagree but it’s not ok to allow disagreements to turn into division!

Our Hammond worship team was ON POINT today!

Our Hammond worship team was ON POINT today, and it looked like a great attendance in each service.  Best of all, I think at least 15 people prayed to receive Christ after my message from “Hidden Figures”!  Nothing like momentum, even in the summertime!

Our Blue Island and Hammond campuses have heard all 4 movie messages (Tinley Park will hear “The Shack” next Sunday) – which has been your favorite so far?  Most importantly, how has God spoken to you thru this year’s GATM?

Ask the Pastor

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One of our elders writes, I have a question from Hebrews 8:1-2.  What does it mean when it says …he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle? Is there a literal Tabernacle in heaven that was built by the Lord?” 

Great questions, and some I’ve never been asked before.

I haven’t heard anyone else address this and the commentaries that I reviewed seemed to imply that the language here was figurative; i.e., that Christ’s body is the Tabernacle, and since He is now in heaven to make intercession for us, that’s how he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, His body.

However, I’m not so sure.  For instance, in the next chapter, Hebrews 9:23-24 specifically says the items here on earth are copies of the true ones in heaven.  As I look closely at the wording, I can see where it could possibly just refer to ‘heaven’ as the ‘holy place’ and Jesus himself being the Tabernacle – but at the same time if we read it literally, I think we could make a case that there is a literal Tabernacle in heaven.

I think I understand why Peter wrote 2Peter 3:15-16 (assuming Paul is the author of  Hebrews, as I believe – although that’s debated, too!)

Instead of saying, “we’ll understand it better, by and by”, let me close by asking my readers – do you have anything to add?  If so, please leave a comment below-

Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Sunday reflections

Speaking of volunteers, the AROMA of popcorn in the lobby today was AMAZING! (Thanks, Kasiya & Bill!)

Speaking of volunteers, the AROMA of popcorn in the lobby today was AMAZING! (Thanks, Kasiya & Bill!)  I think it’s the biggest attraction of ‘God@the Movies’!

It was Family Sunday at Tinley Park and we dedicated Jean-Luc, son of Kirk & Michelle Perry

It was Family Sunday at Tinley Park and we dedicated Jean-Luc, son of Kirk & Michelle Perry

It was great having Pastor Sam Hamstra from our Hammond campus bring the word today from 'Moana'!

It was great having Pastor Sam Hamstra from our Hammond campus bring the word today from ‘Moana’!

Pastor Moy Mendez, Jacob Matyszczuk and Kyla & Sean Smith surrounded me at Tinley Park's 125th Anniversary celebration this afternoon!

Pastor Moy Mendez, Jacob Matyszczuk and Kyla & Sean Smith surrounded me at Tinley Park’s 125th Anniversary celebration this afternoon!

Our face-painting booth was a popular spot at Tinley's 125th Anniversary celebration!

Our face-painting booth was a popular spot at Tinley’s 125th Anniversary celebration!

We also offered FREE prayer (no strings attached)

We also offered FREE prayer (no strings attached)

And this dear lady took us up on the offer - she is recently divorced after 44 years of marriage, so join our team in praying for her!

And this dear lady took us up on the offer – she is recently divorced after 44 years of marriage, so please join our team in praying for her!

My wife preached from the movie, "The Shack" today at our Hammond campus - lots of tears; lots of emotional healing around the altar there!

My wife preached from the movie, “The Shack” today at our Hammond campus – lots of tears; lots of emotional healing around the altar there!

Jenny Gonzalez is an AMAZING KidsLife Director at Hammond, as you can tell by the size of her team of volunteers!

Jenny Gonzalez is an AMAZING KidsLife Director at Hammond, as you can tell by the size of her team of volunteers!

Alyssa is not only part of the Blue Island Praise Team, but today is her birthday!

Alyssa is not only part of the Blue Island Praise Team, but today is her birthday!

Toren Turner will be on her way to Panama this week with another CLC missions team (we also have teams in Tanzania & Costa Rica!)

Toren Turner will be on her way to Panama this week with another CLC missions team (we also have teams in Tanzania & Costa Rica!)

I could only preach to about half the congregation in Blue Island were it not for Pastor Sol's help in translating!

I could only preach to about half the congregation in Blue Island were it not for Pastor Sol’s help in translating!

What can I say?  I LOVE "Hidden Figures" - my favorite movie of this past year-

What can I say? I LOVE “Hidden Figures” – my favorite movie of this past year-

We're all so proud of 12-year-old Joel, who made such an impression in the Russians a few weeks ago, they're STILL talking about him there!

We’re all so proud of 12-year-old Joel, who made such an impression in the Russians a few weeks ago, they’re STILL talking about him there!

Ask the Pastor

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No new questions came in this week while I was in Siberia, so I’m reposting from 2011:

A reader recently asked, “I would like to know if you believe in the concept of reconciliation. Mainly if you believe it can really take place between two people who used to be friends but have had a rift in that relationship?”

Excellent question – and one probably almost all of us have had to grapple with at some point in our lives.

First, I must believe in the concept of reconciliation, and so must you and every other believer – for the whole Bible is the story of reconciliation, as God was not content to allow mankind to remain separated from His love.  Our mission on earth as believers is referred to as the “ministry of reconciliation” and our Gospel as the “message of reconciliation” (2Corinthians 5:18-21).  So, “YES”, I believe in the concept of reconciliation, because Jesus made it possible for me to be reconciled with God.

Secondly, I must also believe that reconciliation is possible between two people who were friends but had a rift in their relationship – because Scripture makes it clear that it is possible (Matthew 5:23-24I can’t imagine Jesus instructing us to do something that is not possible!).

Now, just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it’s easy.  As Proverbs 18:19 clearly says, restoring a friendship can be very difficult.  And according to Romans 12:18, there may be those situations where you’ve tried everything possible to restore the relationship and the other party remains unwilling.  But in my experience, if both parties truly want to be reconciled, and each is willing to swallow their pride and do what’s necessary to make things right, it IS possible for them to be reconciled.  In fact, I know that it is, because I’ve seen it done in my own life.

If you’re reading this, and even now there are people you’ve become estranged from because of some offense, I would urge you to take the initiative, make the approach, swallow your pride, forgive and ask forgiveness, and make things right (the Bible word is ‘restitution’) – you’ll be so glad you did! (I think James 5:19-20 applies here)

I’d also encourage you to join us at any CLC campus this Sunday when “God@the Movies” continues – because there are some great principles for living in each message!

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

Siberia, day 6: headed home!

Chris and I board our first flight early this morning in Siberia (Tuesday evening in Chicago) and should arrive at O’Hare Wednesday afternoon.  The media team here in Novokuznetsk provided us with some pics from our time here, so I thought I’d give you a hodgepodge of our experience with this wonderful congregation:

Hey, if you can't have fun in church, where can you?

Hey, if you can’t have fun in church, where can you?  It’s always a good sign the teaching is connecting when people are laughing!

...an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my jokes...

…an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my humor…

of course, there are more serious moments...

of course, there are more serious moments…

....and you can't just talk off the top of your head....

….and you can’t just talk off the top of your head….

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past…

I'm a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

I’m a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

That’s all – see you soon for another installment of “God@the Movies”!

 

Siberia, day 5

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight's seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men.  The leader of the orphanage they're developing, Oleg, is at the far left.  Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight’s seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men. The leader of the orphanage they’re developing, Oleg, is at the far left. Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we're standing on the bridge YOU BUILT!  The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did - it's all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we’re standing on the bridge YOU BUILT! The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did – it’s all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

We then spent 3 hours with Pastors Ilya and Janet Bantseev and their board, discussing the whole multi-site model of ministry that CLC uses and that they’ve been considering.

Tonight is our final assignment for this trip, as we teach a 3-hour seminar to their young adults.  Then we’ll grab a little sleep before heading to the airport at 5am (Tuesday at 5pm in Chicago).  Thanks for all your prayers – see you soon!

Siberia, day 4

First, we visited their Teen Challenge Women's Center, where they help women who were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or prostitution to meet Jesus and get the help they need. Chris taught about a dozen of these women at a chapel service.

First, we visited their Teen Challenge Women’s Center, where they help women who were addicted to drugs or alcohol, or prostitution to meet Jesus and get the help they need. Chris taught about a dozen of these women at a chapel service.

I loved seeing the HUNGER of these new converts, as they read with Chris in THEIR Bibles and took notes of everything she taught!

I loved seeing the HUNGER of these new converts, as they read with Chris in THEIR Bibles and took notes of everything she taught!

The women have classes in this classroom, to help them finish school, learn Bible subjects, and more.

The women have classes in this classroom, to help them finish school, learn Bible subjects, and more.

They're also taught practical skills, like jewelry making & sewing, which enables them to do fundraising to help with the expense of the center.

They’re also taught practical skills, like jewelry making & sewing, which enables them to do fundraising to help with the expense of the center.

The Women's Center also cares for the children of these women who escaped their abusive backgrounds.

The Women’s Center also cares for the children of these women who escaped their abusive backgrounds.

The Director of the center and some of her staff presented us with a Russian "nesting doll" as a gift! (fed us a great lunch, too!)

The Director of the center and some of her staff presented us with a Russian “nesting doll” as a gift! (fed us a great lunch, too!)

Most importantly, Chris was asked to counsel with this young pregnant mom who has faced serious rejection, drug use, etc. - but we believe her life is being changed!  (Aksana our interpreter is in the center)

Most importantly, Chris was asked to counsel with this young pregnant mom who has faced serious rejection, drug use, etc. – but we believe her life is being changed! (Aksana our interpreter is in the center)

Then tonight we taught a parenting seminar to a PACKED room (kept bringing in more chairs as people kept arriving!) - Pastor Ilya Bantseev is in the front row at the left.

Then tonight we taught a parenting seminar to a PACKED room (kept bringing in more chairs as people kept arriving!) – Pastor Ilya Bantseev is in the front row at the left.

For three solid hours, we taught parenting principles from Scripture (with Aksana's help translating)

For three solid hours, we taught parenting principles from Scripture (with Aksana’s help translating)

Chris was a great hit with her teaching, as always, and we did a Q&A session that seemed to seal the evening on such a practical note.  After hearing from the pastors about the needs of families here in Russia, we feel the Lord is bringing about real breakthrough for the families of this ministry!

Chris was a great hit with her teaching, as always, and we did a Q&A session that seemed to seal the evening on such a practical note. After hearing from the pastors about the needs of families here in Russia, we feel the Lord is bringing about real breakthrough for families of this ministry!

 

Siberia, day 3

Some of the congregation at one of the four weekend services here in Novokuznetsk - so neat to hear songs we know being sung in Russian!

Some of the congregation at one of the four weekend services here in Novokuznetsk – so neat to hear songs we know being sung in Russian!

The praise team may be small, but they're a talented bunch! The man in the microphone can shred a lead guitar!

The praise team may be small, but they’re a talented bunch! The man in the microphone can shred a lead guitar!

Chris preaching here that unforgiveness gives the enemy legal access to us - he can then bind us up! (Aksana on the right is her interpreter; the young woman was a volunteer for the illustration)

Chris preaching here that unforgiveness gives the enemy legal access to us – he can then bind us up! (Aksana on the right is her interpreter; the young woman was a volunteer for the illustration)

After Chris' message in the 10am service, these two ladies gave their heart to the Lord, as a deacon led them in the sinner's prayer!

After Chris’ message in the 10am service, these two ladies gave their heart to the Lord, as a deacon led them in the sinner’s prayer!

The 5pm service featured an entirely different praise team, and they were just as talented as the first!

The 5pm service featured an entirely different praise team, and they were just as talented as the first!

Chris preached her heart out at the 5pm service, and it seemed almost everyone in the building responded to the altar invitation!  God is working in Siberia, and we feel privileged to be a small part of it!!

But we’re also thinking of home, so if you attended a service at any CLC campus today, please leave us a comment as to what you most enjoyed or how the Lord ministered to you through God@the Movies or the Watoto choir-

Siberia, day 2

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

The man in the center is Stanislav, from Krakow, Poland. He is a metallurgist whose company sends him to Novokuznetsk each year because of the steel industry here.

His visit this year coincided with our visit for this Family Conference, and he told me in between sessions that his marriage of 40 years is having difficulties now that he and his wife are empty nesters.  Pastor Janet Bantseev and I prayed for him and when I opened my eyes, big tears were streaming down his cheeks.  Thank God for His providential timing!

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Chris and I completed about 8 hours of teaching on the marriage relationship today, with the help of our interpreter, Aksana.

Then tonight I preached the first of their four weekend services:

This lady sang a beautiful solo of "It Is Well with my Soul" (in Russian, of course)

This lady sang a beautiful solo of “It Is Well with my Soul” (in Russian, of course)

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

As seems to be the custom here, many people came forward for prayer tonight-

I’m not sure if it’s jetlag or just exhaustion from teaching for six hours and preaching for another hour tonight, but either way, it’s time to hit the sack for some SLEEP!

Can’t wait to hear about the Watoto Choir at CLC tomorrow – if you’re reading this, shoot me a Facebook message or email or even a comment below as to how you enjoy them on Sunday-

Siberia, day 1

Oops – I forgot to take my camera to the seminar tonight, so I have no pics to show you.

Nonetheless, the opening night’s Marriage seminar went as well as we could have hoped – and we really feel needed, as I learned today from Pastor Ilya that the divorce rate here is hovering at almost 90% of marriages!

The church administrator, who is serving as our driver, told me that one of the youth programs they operate has about 40 teens and only ONE of them is living with both of his birth parents – the others are all either single-parent families or living with a step-parent!

So the need is great, but people were quite responsive to our teaching tonight, and EVERYONE here is still talking about the team of CLC’ers who served here last month – they can’t stop talking about what a blessing the team was to them!

Now it’s time for some sleep before our longest day of ministry tomorrow – a six-hour marriage seminar followed by their Saturday weekend service – should be fun!

Ask the Pastor

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No new questions were submitted this week before I left Chicago, so I’m re-posting this question from 2010:

My #1 questioner writes: “I have a question about fear.  I know that it is not a good thing to fear and we all know about the book of Job when he said that the very thing he feared came upon him.  Also, we have to be very careful about what we speak because this could cause negative things to happen.  My question is, I have always been taught that we can go to God and talk to Him about anything.  Sometimes I have certain things that frighten me and that I refuse to let myself dwell on because I don’t want the things that happened to Job happen to me.  But when I am in my prayer room I speak these things that frighten me to God(my daddy)and I tell Him these things. Would this be the same as speaking negative things out of my mouth even though I am telling them to God? “

Good question about a much-needed subject.

First, you are right that fear has a way of drawing negativity to us and becoming a “self-fulfilled prophecy”.  That’s because fear is the opposite of faith. So just as faith attracts blessing from God, fear attracts the attention of the enemy by creating an open door into our life.

However, it is my personal opinion that you CAN say anything to God, since he invited us to do so in 1 Peter 5:7.  By telling Him of your fears in prayer, you can receive His assurance and reaffirm your trust in Him (Psalm 56:3).  My only caution is to make sure that once you ‘cast your fear upon Him’ that you leave it there. In other words, don’t give your fears to God in prayer and then pick them up again when you quit praying!  Leave your fears in His hands.

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

Helping our brothers & sisters in the Philippines…

As always, war affects even the most vulnerable innocent ones-

As always, war affects even the most vulnerable innocent ones-

You may have heard that ISIS has tried to establish a caliphate in the Philippines to use as a launching pad in Asia.  Over a month ago, while our CLC team was in Davao, ISIS militants invaded the Muslim capital in the Philippines, Marawi City, which caused the Philippine president to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.

I just heard from Bishop Herley Montes that the war continues and that over 200,000 people have been evacuated from the area, with many of them fleeing to Iligan City, where CLC has a campus.  Our church there is reaching out to these Muslim refugees with food and clothing, but their resources are very limited.

We want to respond to help our brothers and sisters in Iligan City be the hands and feet of Jesus to show His love to these displaced Muslims.  If you would like to help, you can do so online here.  You can also designate an offering at any CLC campus this Sunday to “Philippine relief”.  Thanks in advance for helping us to help them!

Pictures below show the devastation from this war:

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In this Friday, June 9, 2017, photo, evacuees stay at a crowded evacuation center on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. Nearly every day for the past three weeks, the Philippine military has pounded the lakeside town of Marawi with rockets and bombs as it tries to wipe out militants linked to the Islamic State group in some of the most protracted urban combat to hit this volatile region in decades. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

In this Friday, June 9, 2017, photo, evacuees stay at a crowded evacuation center on the outskirts of Marawi city, southern Philippines. Nearly every day for the past three weeks, the Philippine military has pounded the lakeside town of Marawi with rockets and bombs as it tries to wipe out militants linked to the Islamic State group in some of the most protracted urban combat to hit this volatile region in decades. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

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off to Siberia

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Chris and I will leave O’Hare about six o’clock tonight on the first of three flights that will get us into Novokuznetsk, Siberia about five o’clock tomorrow night, Chicago time. (Novokuznetsk is 12 hours ahead of us, so it’ll be 5am Friday there)

We’ll be ministering at the same church our CLC missions team recently visited, as our friends, Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev, invited us over a year ago to return to do a Family Conference for them.  We’ll actually do 3 different seminars – one for married couples on Friday & Saturday, another for parents on Monday and a final one for single adults on Tuesday.  We’ll also minister at their four weekend services.

I hope to have internet access to keep you posted during the trip, and we certainly will appreciate your prayers.  So sorry that we’ll miss the Watoto Choir, but I know you’ll enjoy them on Sunday morning in Tinley Park and on Sunday night in Hammond!  Here’s a preview:

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

Sad and yet Proud on the 4th of July…

Is it possible to be sad and proud at the same time?  That’s me today.

While celebrating the holiday with my wife’s family in Detroit, I received the news this morning that we had lost a precious brother at CLC, as Mike Welch went to be with Jesus.

I immediately scrambled to see if any of our pastors could go to comfort the family, but each pastor was out of town for the holiday, so I just texted my condolences to Mike’s widow, Marcella.

But within a few hours I learned that 2 of our elders, 4 members of the Blue Island worship team (including a CLC trustee) and our Blue Island KidsLife Director each left their family’s holiday celebration to go and minister to Marcella and her daughter Mikayla.

I couldn’t be more proud of CLC.  This is the church being the church: loving others and preferring a brother or sister’s need ahead of our own.

Thank you, Alan & Terrilyn Franklin, Eric & Liane Williams, Len Stallworth, Nikeva Lawrence, and Harry Valentine – you’re my heroes today!

RIP, Michael - we love you!

RIP, Michael – we love you!

Happy Independence Day!

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I know.

You’re probably like most Americans, and today has likely been reduced to a day off work,  a time to be with family outdoors, a backyard BBQ, burgers & hot dogs on the grill, and maybe some red, white & blue decor before watching a fireworks show tonight.

I’m not opposed to any of that and will no doubt indulge myself today.

But I do want to take a moment to thank God that I live in this land.  For all our current wrongs, injustices and immorality, America is still the greatest nation on earth and I do subscribe to the idea known as ‘American exceptionalism’since I believe that God has a purpose for this nation.

For sure, part of that purpose is to take the Gospel to the nations of the world and American generosity has resulted in missionaries being able to reach the furthest parts of earth.  It could never happen without our independence, so on this day set aside to celebrate that declaration on July 4, 1776, I say ‘thank God’!

Enjoy your day!

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Sunday reflections

At Blue Island, "Captain America" was the featured film, as Pastor Brent taught about conflicts in relationships.

At Blue Island, “Captain America” was the featured film, as Pastor Brent taught a powerful message about dealing with conflicts in our relationships.

Blue Island went ALL OUT to capture the movie experience!

Blue Island went ALL OUT to capture the movie experience!  Popcorn, anyone?

Of course, the full title of today's film is 'Captain America: CIVIL WAR'!

Of course, the full title of today’s film is ‘Captain America: CIVIL WAR’!

Rosetta won today's raffle for a DVD of 'Captain America', 2 boxes of candy & 2 boxes of popcorn.  Next week could be your turn!

Rosetta won today’s raffle for a DVD of ‘Captain America’, 2 boxes of candy & 2 boxes of popcorn. Next week could be your turn!

Pastor Micah told us of the bird that sings in the dark, knowing that joy is coming in the morning!

Pastor Micah encouraged our worship by telling us of the bird that sings in the dark, knowing that joy is coming in the morning!

While Tinley Park's concession stand could compete with any theater (not to mention FREE popcorn)

While Tinley Park’s concession stand could compete with any theater (not to mention FREE popcorn)

Harmony did a great job today leading us in Communion by sharing Isaiah 52/53 about Jehovah's Suffering Servant!

Harmony did a great job today leading us in Communion by sharing Isaiah 52/53 about Jehovah’s Suffering Servant!

I had more fun preaching "How to Overcome Challenges" from the movie, 'Hidden Figures' than should be legal!

I had more fun preaching “How to Overcome Challenges” from the movie, ‘Hidden Figures’ than should be legal! Best of all, we saw 12-15 people stand and pray to receive Christ!

We were all inspired by the true story of the 3 ladies at NASA in the 1960's, but we've got a great example here at CLC in Caprice O'Bryant Gutierrez who overcame a traumatic brain injury, seizures & amnesia to become a business owner in her 20's!

We were all inspired by the true story of the 3 ladies at NASA in the 1960’s, but we’ve got a great example here at CLC in Caprice O’Bryant Gutierrez who overcame a traumatic brain injury, seizures & amnesia to become a business owner in her 20’s!

At Hammond, "Moana" was the featured movie & Pastor Sam really helped people connect w/the message!

At Hammond, “Moana” was the featured movie & Pastor Sam really helped people connect w/the message!

So much so that 4 people prayed to receive Christ, including this whole family!

So much so that 4 people prayed to receive Christ, including this whole family!

  • Perhaps the best praise report of the day in Hammond was that last week Pastor Sam led a congregational prayer for one of the members, whose daughter in California had been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. After that public prayer last Sunday, we learned today that her doctors had “misdiagnosed” her cancer and it was now Stage 1!  Praise God for misdiagnoses after prayer!!!
As always, it's strong worship that ushers in His Presence - which is far more important than any movie!

As always, it’s strong worship that ushers in His Presence – which is far more important than any movie!

I’d love to hear from YOU – what was your favorite moment in today’s services?  How did the Holy Spirit minister to you personally?  Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below-

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, but I’ll answer one that lots of people have asked in the past: why do we do a ‘movies’ series each summer?

I think there are several reasons why our “God@the Movies” series has become our most popular series of the year:

  • everyone likes a good story!  After all, that’s what makes Hollywood so entertaining – whether it’s good v. evil or the underdog who wins or any number of other popular themes, every good movie has a good story. And Jesus knew this, as evidenced by the number of stories he told.  (We call them parables, but at their core, they are stories about things we understand, to help us grasp spiritual truths)
  • movies reflect the culture of our day.  If you want to understand today’s culture, go watch a popular movie.  And while I’m not really interested in exegeting American culture, I need to understand where people are in order to reach them with the gospel.  It’s ironic how we teach missionaries to go into foreign countries and make their first priority to learn the language and culture of the people so they can reach them, but then criticize American churches who do the same thing here.
  • people can relate to the big screen.  The #1 reason we started doing this series, and have continued to do so each July is that even unbelievers can see themselves through the lens of Hollywood.  This series enables us to take movies they may already be familiar with, to bring them face to face with Biblical truths they may never have received before.  In fact, my friend Mark Batterson told me years ago that his movie series was the hardest-hitting series of the year.  I had a hard time imagining that, until we started our own, and I’ve seen it first-hand: Hollywood doesn’t pull punches, and by using current movie illustrations, we’ve been able to confront both saints and sinners with convicting Biblical truth!
  • a picture is worth a thousand words.  Every sermon needs illustrations, and what better way to illustrate the Biblical principles we’re teaching than to show a movie clip that fleshes it out in living color?
  • your unchurched friends will accept an invitation.  This is another BIG reason we do this series each year.  You have friends who might never be interested in learning about the gifts of the Holy Spirit or about ‘dangerous prayers’ (to cite just two of our 2017 sermon series), but they do watch movies.  And they may find the idea of a church preaching a movie series to be curious enough to accept your invitation.  Who are you inviting to GATM this month?
  • it’s FUN! Who said we can’t have fun in church?  I’ve never understood why some Christians look like they were baptized in pickle juice.  Jesus used humor with his disciples and I’m convinced he enjoyed a good laugh with them regularly.  GATM gives us multiple opportunities to laugh – and a merry heart does good like medicine!

I can’t wait to share “How to Overcome Challenges” with you through the lens of “Hidden Figures”, starting this Sunday, July 2 at our Tinley Park campus.  (I’ll get to Blue Island and Hammond with that message soon)

Now what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?


Night of Hope in CHICAGO!

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If you haven’t heard, a “Night of Hope with Joel & Victoria Osteen” is coming to the United Center on Friday, August 11!  (Actually, they’re doing 2 events: a matinee at 2pm and the evening event at 7:30pm)

While some Christians like to criticize Joel for a variety of issues, I’m convinced that God is using him to bring hope to many, many Americans who might never have been open to the Gospel otherwise.  For that reason, I’m proud that CLC is one of the sponsoring churches for the United Center event!

There are some benefits to our sponsorship: our ministry will be promoted from the United Center stage to thousands of people, some of whom may be looking for a Spirit-filled church in the south suburbs-

AND, we have a few tickets for CLC’ers at a discount – but please note: the information I gave last Sunday was incorrect, as I was misinformed.  The regular price of $15 on JoelOsteen.com turns into over $27.21 when the service fees are added, whereas the price for CLC’ers is just $18.00 (which includes parking at the UC).  I apologize that this is almost twice what I announced Sunday, but I was sincerely mistaken and this is our actual cost – we are not adding any markup whatsoever.  You can purchase the tickets for the 7:30pm event here, first-come, first-served.  (NOTE: we do not have tickets for the 2pm matinee event, so to purchase those tickets go to JoelOsteen.com or click here.)

We’ve also been asked to provide several volunteers to serve as ushers, greeters & retail sales at the matinee and another group for the evening event.  If you’re interested in serving at either one (and attend FREE, plus a meal is included), let us know here.

NOH Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Introducing our NEW Executive Pastors

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Our nationwide search led by the Vanderbloemen Search Group ended last Sunday night   (Father’s Day), when Dan & Torey Goodson agreed to join our CLC pastoral team!

Dan has a wealth of ministry experience: COO of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Executive Staff with several well-known megachurches, including one that has 9 campuses in 4 states (so he understands the whole multi-site approach to ministry), and more!

They have already signed a purchase contract on a house in Flossmoor and plan to move here the first week of August, but I thought you might enjoy getting acquainted here in the meantime.  They’ve also assured me that they like to connect on Facebook, so feel free to send them a friend request.

Here’s the introductory video that convinced us to bring them to Tinley Park for an onsite interview – enjoy!

They’re coming back: WATOTO Choir!

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If you’ve been a part of CLC for the past few years, you’ve probably seen the amazing Watoto Choir perform on one of their visits here. To say that they are delightfully energetic is the understatement of the year!

This team of orphans from Uganda are part of a wonderful ministry that is literally making a difference in that African nation – take a look for yourself.

I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you at our Tinley Park campus on Sunday, July 9 at any of our 3 services (8:30, 10 or 12).  

By the way, we still need one host home for Saturday nightyou can volunteer here.

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

An idea for God@the Movies

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It’s that time of year again, and I’m excited!  In case you’re not aware, the reason we do God@the Movies is simple: we’re trying to reach people who might otherwise come to church to hear God’s Word, but they do enjoy movies!

Just like Jesus taught using object lessons and current event illustrations, and just like the Apostle Paul quoted pagan Greek poets of his day (see Acts 17:27-29), we use this series to bring Biblical truths that are often hard-hitting and perhaps even more compelling than other Sunday messages, with illustrations from Hollywood on the big screen.

We DON’T do this series just to entertain the saints; we do it to reach the lost!  And here’s one way you can help with that: as a general rule, churches are the last to get on board with new technology.   Believe me, I know.  I was part of a church that preached against using radio (initially) and television (later) as opportunities to spread the gospel.

But I noticed something a few years ago that got me thinking.  One of our CLCers posted on Facebook about the “God@the Movies” series and at least two or three of her friends responded – some who are local may visit, and one even watched online from North Carolina that Sunday!

Here’s my thought: perhaps social media can remove some of the fear from witnessing and make it easier for us to invite our friends & family to CLC.  And I wonder, if one CLCer posting a simple invitation results in at least a couple of new people being introduced in person or online, what would happen if hundreds of CLCers would post on Facebook or Twitter?

It’s simple and easy to do – and you can always link to our website or to the series promo from our incredible creative team.

Let’s try it & see what God will do this weekend with “Hidden Figures” at our Tinley Park campus, or “Moana” in Hammond or “Captain America” in Blue Island.


Sunday reflections

(I know this has nothing to do w/Sunday at CLC, but it's my blog, ok?) I spent 5 days in a cabin w/our oldest granddaughter & her 2 brothers while their parents were in Siberia & we got really attached. Today on their way to service in Blue Island, Kelsey heard my voice on the livestream from the Tinley Park 8:30 service. She wasn't happy to hear my voice since I was at TP, so she said, "poppy my church"

(I know this has nothing to do w/Sunday at CLC, but it’s my blog, ok?) I spent 5 days in a cabin w/our oldest granddaughter & her 2 brothers while their parents were in Siberia & we got really attached. Today on their way to service in Blue Island, Kelsey heard my voice on the livestream from the Tinley Park 8:30 service & got excited until she found out I was at TP, not in Blue Island. So she said, “poppy my church!”  (She’s got me wrapped around her little finger!)

Worship was outstanding in all 3 services today, but the GLORY was in the House at 10am!  Thanks for leading us in, Pastor Jon & Tony Powell!

Worship was outstanding in all 3 services today, but the GLORY was in the House at 10am! Thanks for leading us in, Pastor Jon & Tony Powell!

It was one of those times when broken hearts were being mended in His Presence!

It was one of those times when broken hearts were being mended in His Presence!

Cary Durham brought the 1st message of the day at the 8:30 service & told us all that GOD said we are "good seed"!  (We don't have to listen to the enemy, because as Reggie Jackson observed, "Fans don't boo nobodies!"

Cary Durham brought the 1st message of the day at the 8:30 service & told us all that GOD said we are “good seed”! (We don’t have to listen to the enemy, because as Reggie Jackson observed, “Fans don’t boo nobodies!”

Our HANDSOME Outreach Pastor, Moy Mendez, showed us that he's more than eye candy by challenging us in two simple words to "Step out and Trust God" (not sure which two of those five he counted, but the message was great!)

Our HANDSOME Outreach Pastor, Moy Mendez, showed us that he’s more than eye candy by challenging us in two simple words to “Step out and Trust God” (not sure which two of those five he counted, but the message was great, and we had more fun than should be legal in church!)

Today we announced plans to launch our 4th campus and the new campus pastor, Josh Moran, brought the Word at 10am

Today we announced plans to launch our 4th campus and the new campus pastor, Josh Moran, brought the Word at 10am, reminding us that our gifts should be used for the harvest!

Chuck & Nicole Ellington delivered a great Word at the noon service!

Chuck & Nicole Ellington delivered a great Word from Psalm 105:4-5 at the noon service, encouraging us to depend on God for strength; always go to Him for help; and to remember His miracles, amazing things & fair decisions!  Good stuff!

And our kids received ministry, too - learning to worship their King!

And our kids received ministry, too – learning to worship their King!

Pastor Sam reported another great day in Hammond with strong worship, great summer attendance & many people receiving ministry at the altar today.

Pastor Sam reported another great day in Hammond with strong worship, great summer attendance & many people receiving ministry at the altar today.

Dorothy Caldwell brought a good Word about the power of prayer!

Dorothy Caldwell brought a good Word about the power of prayer!

Christian Washington taught on the process of being repurposed to be more like Christ!

Christian Washington taught on the process of being repurposed to be more like Christ!

Our Blue Island campus enjoyed the missions ministry of Dr. Patricia Bailey-

Our Blue Island campus enjoyed the missions ministry of Dr. Patricia Bailey-

Dr. Bailey demonstrated the water filters that she uses to bring clean water to some of the most difficult places on earth where she ministers

Dr. Bailey demonstrated the water filters that she uses to bring clean water to some of the most difficult places on earth where she ministers-

and even took a drink of the filthy stuff (after it had been filtered)

and even took a drink of the filthy stuff (after it had been filtered)

Practically the entire congregation came forward for prayer at the close of her message!

Practically the entire congregation came forward for prayer at the close of her message!

Father’s Day reflections

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Pastor Sol brought the message in Blue Island today & was able to share about the team that just returned from Siberia-

Pastor Sol brought the message in Blue Island today & was able to share about the team that just returned from Siberia-

At the close of service, the team who had gone to Siberia ministered in the altar to anyone who wanted prayer - including the youngest member of the team (Joel Mendez) who was just 12 years old - but he ministered in the altar with the others!

At the close of service, the team who had gone to Siberia ministered in the altar to anyone who wanted prayer – including the youngest member of the team (Joel Mendez) who was just 12 years old – but he ministered in the altar with the others!

The root beer floats were a big hit in Blue Island!

The root beer floats were a big hit with dads in Blue Island!

while the photo booth attracted dads & their kids in Tinley Park!

while the photo booth attracted dads & their kids in Tinley Park!

the Tacos for dads were also a hit, when we could keep Pastor Jon away from them-

the Tacos for dads were also a hit, when we could keep Pastor Jon away from them-

Real Men influence our children in KidsLife! (Thanks, Mr. Tim!)

Real Men influence our children in KidsLife! (Thanks, Mr. Tim!)

Beverly Zambrano met Jesus in the waters of baptism this Father's Day!

Beverly Zambrano met Jesus in the waters of baptism this Father’s Day!

Pastor Brent brought a great word & took a page from his mom's book with his sword illustration-

Pastor Brent brought a great word & took a page from his mom’s book with his sword illustration-

Worship was great at our Hammond campus, where the attendance was more than DOUBLE from Father's Day 2016!!!

Worship was great at our Hammond campus, where the attendance was more than DOUBLE from Father’s Day 2016!!!

Our very own elder Gerard Terrell provided BBQ brats for the dads....

Our very own elder Gerard Terrell provided BBQ brats for the dads….

and with root beer floats to wash them down, DADS were happy campers!

and with root beer floats to wash them down, DADS were happy campers!

 

Sunday reflections

Today was a “stand-alone” Sunday instead of doing the same series at all 3 campuses, and there are three very different but very good reports:

Let's start with Blue Island, since it may be THE highlight of the day. Since several leaders are in Siberia on a missions trip, Tiffany Hines led worship today & the Holy Spirit & God's love filled the House!

Let’s start with Blue Island, since it may be THE highlight today. Since several leaders are in Siberia on a missions trip, Tiffany Hines led worship & God’s love filled the House!

Pastor Jon was there in Brent's absence & he began the preaching time with a song....but that's as far as he got!

Pastor Jon was there in Brent’s absence & he began the preaching time with a song….but that’s as far as he got!

Before he could begin to preach, the Holy Spirit gave him a word for a woman who was visiting with her adult daughter for the first time.....

Before he could begin to preach, the Holy Spirit gave him a word for a woman who was visiting with her adult daughter for the first time…..he spoke healing over the daughter & assured her & her mom that the Holy Spirit had interrupted the service just for her!

Later, as some leaders prayed for the daughter, they learned that doctors had just discovered two tumors in her body & she is scheduled to visit the oncologist this week!  But today she gave her life to Jesus!

Later, as some leaders prayed for the daughter, they learned that doctors had just discovered two tumors in her body & she is scheduled to visit the oncologist this week. But today she gave her life to Jesus!

Jon was never able to get back to his prepared message, because he kept receiving prophetic words for people in the congregation!

Jon was never able to get back to his prepared message, because he kept receiving prophetic words for people in the congregation!

Finally he invited others who move prophetically to share that time of ministry with him - it was an AMAZING day in Blue Island! (The GIFTED series may have ended last Sunday, but we're just getting started!)

Finally he invited others who move prophetically to share that time of ministry with him – it was an AMAZING day in Blue Island! (The GIFTED series may have ended last Sunday, but we’re just getting started!)

Meanwhile, in Tinley Park, Harmony LaBeff led us in worship & a time of communion together-

Meanwhile, in Tinley Park, Harmony LaBeff led us in worship & a time of communion together-

Then we heard from two young men who have heard God's call to ministry: Jesus Mateo went first & shared with us the evidence of a spiritually prosperous life.

Then we heard from two young men who have heard God’s call to ministry: Jesus Mateo went first & shared with us the evidence of a spiritually prosperous life.

Then James Ineh challenged us to make a difference in the next generation, just as others have done in our generation!

Then James Ineh challenged us to make a difference in the next generation, just as others have done in our generation!

Speaking of the next generation, I thank God for KidsLife volunteers like Joanne Linane, who give special attention to our little ones!

Speaking of the next generation, I thank God for KidsLife volunteers like Joanne Linane, who give special attention to our little ones!

At the 10am service, Pastor Niyi Gbade delivered a powerful word about Christian hospitality, and gossip and missions! (Trust me, they all fit together in 3John!)

At the 10am service, Pastor Niyi Gbade delivered a powerful word about Christian hospitality, and gossip and missions! (Trust me, they all fit together in 3 John!)

And at the noon service Pastor Jen Remington illustrated that when we make the Word of God a PRIORITY in our daily lives, everything else that's needed will fit!

And at the noon service Pastor Jen Remington illustrated that when we make the Word of God a PRIORITY in our daily lives, everything else that’s needed will fit!

And her husband, Pastor Micah closed the service with a call for prayer.

And her husband, Pastor Micah closed the service with a call for prayer.

Certainly not to be outdone, our Hammond campus sent 45 youth to camp AT 3AM today!

Certainly not to be outdone, our Hammond campus sent 45 youth to camp AT 3AM today!

Plus the Worship & Arts team unveiled a new stage design and led the people into God's Presence-

Plus the Worship & Arts team unveiled a new stage design and led the people into God’s Presence-

One new member joined the Hammond campus & Pastor Sam preached part 1 of a 2-week series on what it means to be Fathered by God!

One new member joined the Hammond campus & Pastor Sam preached part 1 of a 2-week series on what it means to be Fathered by God!

Here’s my favorite quotes of the day, compliments of Niyi Gbade:

“where there is room in the heart, there is room in the house” – Danish proverb

“I want you to gossip.  Gossip the Gospel!”

“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you could lose” – C.S. Lewis

“Why should anyone hear the gospel three times when some have not heard it once?” – Oswald Chambers

I’d say summer is off to a good start at CLC!

Hope you’ll invite someone to join you for Father’s Day next Sunday-

 

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLCers writes, “What does the Bible say about tattoos and what I would call extreme body piercings?  Is this defacing your body?  Are tattoos “wrong” in God’s eyes?

Great question, especially since this has become such a popular practice in recent years. You asked for my thoughts, so I’ll give them:

I’m old-fashioned.  You know I grew up in an ultra-conservative, legalistic church with all sorts of dress codes that we called ‘holiness standards’.  Many times I’ve wished we could somehow have a little compromise between what seems to be accepted in today’s church versus the church of my youth.  But I digress.

Honestly, I don’t like tattoos or piercings.  We’ve had more than one ‘debate’ with our own children about them….won a few and lost a few.  But from a Biblical standpoint, I don’t feel I have adequate support from the Scriptures to forbid them at CLC, since, in all honesty, the Bible doesn’t address this specifically – unless you want to use Leviticus 19:28.  That verse may sound clear at first glance, but if you consider the context, which was about avoiding heathen practices and which also includes other prohibitions that we practice everyday (see verses 19 and 27)

Pastor Craig Groeschel answered this question via video as well as anyone can (in my humble opinion).  Take a look at this and see if it answers your question.  I would also ask anyone considering either to prayerfully consider 1Cor 6:19-20 and examine their heart-motive for ‘wanting’ the tattoo or the piercing.

Bottom line: as with all questions which involve ‘questionable’ behavior for a Christian, I recommend Col. 3:15 and Rom. 14:22-23.

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