Ask the Pastor

 

q_a

This week’s question has come numerous times from numerous CLC’ers over the last nine months or so: “What’s going on with the building we bought for the NWI campus?”

Great question, that can finally be answered.  As of just a few minutes ago, a judge in Hammond, Indiana ruled that the building is rightfully ours!  The judge gave the other group 10 days to vacate the property, and we can move in and begin the extensive rehab on February 22!

Praise God for EACH & EVERY CLC’er who prayed and stood with us in faith over these past nine months (seems like that’s about how long it takes a baby to be born!)  Make no mistake: this victory was birthed through your intercession as we now can possess the miracle God gave us last May!

I’m writing this from Romania, where I’m thankful both for the technology that allowed me to get the news moments after it happened in court, but most of all thankful to God for the VICTORY that this will mean for (I believe) hundreds of people who will come to know Jesus in that building in the months and years to come!

There WILL be a ton of work to do now to prepare the building for our Grand Opening, and we plan to do everything in our power to make that happen on Easter Sunday, March 27!  (In my best Bishop Jakes’ voice, “Get ready, get ready, get ready, CLC!)

nwi

Romania, day 3

Today was a great day with the pastors retreat here in Romania – so many of them told us afterward how relevant the teaching was for them, which is always our biggest concern on any international assignment.  Enjoy the pics:

Chris wanted you to know that I was teaching, too - so here's a shot of me from this morning

Chris wanted you to know that I was teaching, too – so here’s a shot of me from this morning

We've been amazed at how many of the pastors speak English, so we really have been able to have fellowship between sessions, engage in conversation, etc. - much different than many trips where perhaps only our host can converse with us!

We’ve been amazed at how many of the pastors speak English, so we really have been able to have fellowship between sessions, engage in conversation, etc. – much different than many trips where perhaps only our host can converse with us!

During our break this afternoon, Pastor Mihai drove us to a nearby tourist area with a ski lift.  We took a cable car to the top, about 5,000 ft above sea level!  Beautiful views!

During our break this afternoon, Pastor Mihai drove us to a nearby tourist area with a ski lift. We took a cable car to the top, about 5,000 ft above sea level! Beautiful views!

Of course, my favorite view is always of Chris (especially with Valentine's Day right around the corner)

Of course, my favorite view is always of Chris (especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner)

Like I said, beautiful views all the way up the mountain!

Like I said, beautiful views all the way up the mountain!

Romania, day 2

The retreat setting here could not be more gorgeous!  And the weather is unseasonably warm - instead of frigid temps & snow, it's been in the 40's or 50's here!

The retreat setting here could not be more gorgeous! And the weather is unseasonably warm – instead of frigid temps & snow, it’s been in the 40’s or 50’s here this week!

Chris & I had a few hours team-teaching the pastors here from SE Romania.

Chris & I had a few hours team-teaching the pastors here from SE Romania.

Here Chris was teaching with our host and long-time friend, Mihai Dumitrascu interpreting into Romanian.

Here Chris was teaching with our host and long-time friend, Mihai Dumitrascu interpreting into Romanian.

Later today we had divided sessions for men & women, and about 30 pastors had me on the 'hot seat' with some difficult questions about marriage & leading their churches.  (Glad I survived that session!)

Later today we had divided sessions for men & women, and about 30 pastors had me on the ‘hot seat’ with some difficult questions about marriage & leading their churches. (Glad I survived that session!)

Our ministry day is done, so it's time to rest & prepare for another full day of teaching tomorrow.  (One of the great surprises since we were here in 2003 is the number of pastors who speak English - on that visit it was only 2; this time there must be a dozen or more - so the fellowship around the table is much more enjoyable!)

Our ministry day is done, so it’s time to rest & prepare for another full day of teaching tomorrow. (One of the great surprises since we were here in 2003 is the number of pastors who speak English – on that visit it was only 2; this time there must be a dozen or more – so the fellowship around the table is much more enjoyable!)

Romania, day 1

panicel

We arrived in Romania without a hitch (no flight delays & our bags were first ones off the conveyor belt in Bucharest!), quickly met our long-time friends, Pastors Mihai & Neli Dumitrascu, and made the 2+ hour drive to the retreat location, Panicel Complex.

Woke up this morning to the view above, as we are situated near the Bucegi Mountains in southeast Romania.  Other than that, we’ve now had 3 meals with a few of the pastors who arrived early for a leader’s meeting, with all the rest of the pastors and their families arriving before our opening session tonight.  Last night and today has been more ‘free time’ than we know how to handle, so we are both anxious to get started with the retreat teaching this evening.

I’ll try to post some pics and news as we go, so stay tuned-

Enroute to ROMANIA

Transylvania-Romania-1

Chris & I left O’Hare last night for Romania, where we’ll reconnect with long-time friend, Pastor Mihai Dumitrascu.  Pastor Mihai and a network of Romanian pastors will retreat from their churches this week for 4-days of ministry to their own marriage and families, and they invited Chris and me to teach.

Hopefully we’ll have internet and I can post from Romania between now and this weekend, so stay tuned and pray for anointing and favor as we minister to these precious pastors, many of whom faced real persecution under Communism and even today have much opposition to the Gospel.  Pray that they will be refreshed as we minister.

My 2 Cents (Jesus)

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Super Bowl Sunday was a great day to kick-off our new series, and I’m geeked about the uniqueness of doing 4 weeks of messages with ONLY the words of Jesus as our text!

As I promised yesterday, we’re not gonna look at Old Testament verses in Leviticus about a ‘tenth of our crops belong to the Lord’, nor will we visit Malachi to hear about people “robbing God”, or even spend any time in the most practical book of the Bible, Proverbs, to get tips of managing our money wisely.  Nope, we are focused on the ‘red letters’ of your Bible, words that came straight from the lips of Jesus.

I’m hoping that you’ll plan to be a part of each Sunday in February as our pastors at each CLC campus share these topics:

Feb. 14 – “Principles”: what Jesus says about money!

Feb. 21 – “Participate”: how YOU can apply what Jesus said to YOUR finances!

Feb. 28 – Guest speaker, Joe Sangl, founder of I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.” will teach “Plan”: Why You Need One”!

And I especially hope that you will invite a friend to join you on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5pm for Joe’s “Financial Learning Experience” that will provide you with the tools that you need to get your finances in order – and does it in such a way that it’ll be the most FUN you’ve ever had at a seminar!

 

Super Bowl Sunday Reflections

Ok, I get it – the game will be starting soon and people are coming and the food isn’t ready, so you don’t have time to read a long reflection from me about today at CLC.  So here’s the highlights:

It's been a long time since I've been laughed at as much as today (but I guess that's what happens when you eat the last ice cream sandwich)

It’s been a long time since I’ve been laughed at as much as today (but I guess that’s what happens when you eat the last ice cream sandwich)

  • Most important from Tinley Park is that we counted 39 people who raised their hand for prayer to receive Christ today!  Now, that’s a SUPER Sunday!
We also had 26 people in Step 1 class - prospective NEW MEMBERS!  (Thanks to the team that makes our Growth Track work all year!)

We also had 26 people in Step 1 class – prospective NEW MEMBERS! (Thanks to the team that makes our Growth Track work all year!)

Pastor Sam is excited about 7 people who officially joined CLC-NWI today (one couple not pictured) - along with a great response to the message there!

Pastor Sam is excited about 7 people who officially joined CLC-NWI today (one couple not pictured) – along with a great response to the message there!

Pastors William & Melek made a Dynamic Duo to teach the 'Priorities' message in bilingual Blue Island!

Pastors William & Melek made a Dynamic Duo to teach the ‘Priorities’ message in Blue Island!

Alright – back to what you were doing.

Ask the Pastor

Business question

I didn’t receive any questions this week prior to leaving for our getaway in Cancun, so I’m re-posting this from 2011, in hopes that it will still speak to someone in need:

A faithful CLCer writes in response to this previous post, “Pastor, I have a situation like this, and cannot approach the person because she is unapproachable.  She stopped speaking to me because of something that I still don’t understand.  But all the damage was done by her. She told a multitude of lies and really tried to damage my reputation at work; oh, by the way, I got her the job.  I pray for myself and her, but through this post and several others I guess I might still be holding on to some unforgiveness.  My question is how do you reconcile with a person who is unapproachable?”

What a great question…..one that I suspect many readers have asked in the past or perhaps could ask even today.   Let me try to offer a little help:

First, don’t beat yourself up about this situation!  The enemy is the accuser of the brethren, so you don’t need to do his work for him by thinking negatively of yourself for not being able to reconcile this situation.

Remember (as I said in the previous post), Romans 12:18 is part of the Bible for a reason – and it begins with “IF”!  In other words, there are those situations where others just will not allow you to live with them in peace.  Obviously, I don’t know the situation that you describe – but if you are honest before God that you have done everything possible to reconcile, and the other person still refuses, then you have only 2 options that I know:

  • pray for the other individual.  As you pray, confess aloud that you forgive them for the hurt they’ve caused, and that you release them from any responsibility in the matter.  Ask God to bless them.  (In my personal experience, you may have to say those words thru gritted teeth for a while – but if you’ll continue to do so regularly, eventually your emotions will catch up to your will, and you will find that you have released them and that you truly want God to bless them.)
  • Simply let go.  By that I mean accept the fact that they are irreconcilable UNLESS God changes their heart.  Remain open to the possibility of Him doing that, but release the hurt in the meantime.

I sincerely hope this helps.  This kind of conflicts bring great pain to all of us – but God is able to be your healer, as well as the great Reconciler!

Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

February sermon series is PERFECT for inviting your friends

Money.

We all have some.

We all want enough.

Most of us got our ideas about money management from our family (sometimes that’s good; sometimes, not so good)

But in February, we’re getting our ideas about money straight from the lips of Jesus Himself, in the “red letters” of your Bible.

Join us.

Bring a friend.

Leaving on a jet plane…..

CUNFA_activities

About six weeks ago, on December 14, Chris and I were scheduled to to leave for Cancun celebrate my 63rd birthday and our 43rd wedding anniversary at a resort there.  But on December 13, I went down with a back injury and couldn’t get out of bed for 3 weeks.

That getaway was prepaid, and the only date we could reschedule without losing out was this week, so we’re headed to Cancun this morning to enjoy some sunshine and each other and return Friday in time for the CLC marriage retreat.  I think it’s gonna be just what the doctor ordered after fighting colds and losing Pedro last week-

So, I’m signing off until the weekend – see you at the Retreat or on Sunday when we kick-off the February series, “My 2 Cents” 

Sunday reflections

The first month of 2016 was a great start for CLC in the ‘year of harvest”:

Great PRESENCE in all 3 services on this Family Sunday!

Great PRESENCE in all 3 services on this Family Sunday!

Pastor Matt led us in dedicating 5 babies to the Lord (that's one way to grow a church!)

Pastor Matt led us in dedicating 5 babies to the Lord (that’s one way to grow a church!)

My oldest granddaughter encouraged EVERY CLC'er to join a Life Group!

My oldest granddaughter encouraged EVERY CLC’er to join a Life Group! [pic by Jen McQuay]

My wife was a BIG help with the message, including her illustration of sowing & reaping for the kids (and big kids, too) on this Family Sunday!

My wife was a BIG help with the message, including her illustration of sowing & reaping for the kids (and big kids, too) on this Family Sunday!

  • I’m especially grateful for numbers of people who prayed to receive Christ in each service at Tinley Park!  (The harvest has already begun at CLC!)
At our NWI campus, Pastor Sam reports a strong attendance, jam-packed altars, 3 babies dedicated and a water baptism!  Now, that's how to have church!

At our NWI campus, Pastor Sam reports a strong attendance, jam-packed altars, 3 babies dedicated (pictured with their families here) & a water baptism! Now, that’s how to have church!

Love this story from our Blue Island campus: the young man in center is Ricky; he has been raised by his mother & grandmother & realized that he had not been dedicated as a baby, so HE asked if he could be dedicated!  Pastors William & Melek led the prayer over him-

Love this story from our Blue Island campus: the young man in center is Ricky; he has been raised by his mother & grandmother & realized that he had not been dedicated as a baby, so HE asked if he could be dedicated! Pastors William & Melek led the prayer over him-

Passionate worship is a hallmark of CLC, at every campus! (Blue Island gets it!)

Passionate worship is a hallmark of CLC, at every campus! (Blue Island gets it!)

Pastors Brent & Sol preached.....

Pastors Brent & Sol preached…..

 

.....to a PACKED HOUSE in Blue Island

…..to a PACKED HOUSE in Blue Island

  • Don’t forget that February 1, 2 and 3 are days of FASTING & PRAYER, with each campus offering a corporate prayer opportunity each day.  

 

Double cuteness

Lincoln & Riley at 3 months

Lincoln & Riley at 3 months

While grieving Pedro, it sure was nice to get this shot of double-cuteness from CA last night.  Since I shared our sorrow with you, I thought I should share our joy, too!

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “I recently read about missing verses in the NIV and NLT translations and question if that is a violation of the warning in Revelations about adding or taking away from scripture. I wonder why they have hidden those verses? If some manuscripts include them, then why not include them in the translation instead of skipping that verse number? Do you think it is a violation of the warning in Revelation?”

Interesting question, although one that I’ve rarely been asked.  Let me state a couple of facts before giving you my answer:

1.  I am a pastor, not a scholar.  I’m sure others could give more precise and thorough answers in matters such as this, but my ‘bent’ is always toward helping people in their relationship with the Lord, more than giving them more ‘head-knowledge’.

2.  Just as importantly, I am personally convinced that God so wants everyone to be saved (1Timothy 2:4-7that He watches over His Word through the generations, to insure that anyone who wants to be saved will be able to find the truth.  In other words, I believe in his Providence with the various translations, that He would not allow someone to sincerely fall prey to missing on important truth because some scholarly translator accidentally or deliberately omitted a verse!

3. Having said that, let’s understand that we do not have any original manuscripts of the Bible.  (I might add, “thank God”, because if we did, someone would have made a shrine to it and some people would no doubt be worshiping the manuscript instead of the God who inspired the manuscript!). The versions of the Bible we have today are based on copies from these original manuscripts. We have thousands of fragments and copies of the original manuscripts (some dating before 100 A.D.) that are surviving today. The various translations of the Bible are a result of scholars using what they consider the best manuscript evidence available at the time of their translation.

As Christians, we believe that the original manuscripts are infallible.  However, because fallible man has been involved in copying or translating what God originally stated, MINOR errors have occurred (none that concern any major doctrine). The “missing” verses you ask about would fall into this category.

When the KJV Bible was translated in 1611, the scholars primarily used what is called the “Textus Receipts”, a highly regarded source at the time. However, since 1611, other, older source texts have been discovered that were not available to those KJV translators (i.e., the Codex Sinaiticus – found in the mid 1880’s). When these different sources are compared they sometimes (but rarely) disagree. Regarding the “missing” verses, nearly all of the ancient manuscripts we have today do not contain the “missing” verses. Therefore, scholars believe they were not part of the “autographa” and are removed from that version (the NIV places them in footnotes with an explanation). Some versions include them, but with a warning that “early manuscripts do not contain this verse”.

Since you’re asking me for my opinion, I do NOT believe that this is a violation of Revelation 22:18-19.  There are some cult-like branches of Christianity who teach what is often called, “KJV only” – that is, that the King James Version is the ‘true’ Word of God and the only Bible by which a person can obtain salvation.  I think such arguments are ludicrous, and remind me of the legalistic views of my past.

Instead, I believe God has preserved His Word for us!  He promised in Isaiah 40:8, 1 Peter 1:23-25 and Matthew 5:18 that He would do so. The Bible is the most tested, scrutinized, proven and enduring book in history. While there may be differences in different versions of the Bible, we can rest assured that God’s word is preserved, and I have no problem in using the NLT or the NIV or even the Message paraphrase in our services at CLC – to help people today who don’t use 1600’s Elizabethan English to understand the plain truth of God’s Holy Word!

Hope that helps.  Would YOU like to join this conversation?  Please leave a comment below – or feel free to ask a question of your own:

 

Celebrating Pedro

 

Together in Doggie Heaven now- (photo by Sheri Postma)

Together in Doggie Heaven now-
(photo by Sheri Postma)

If you hadn’t heard, we lost a member of our family yesterday, as we had to make the heart-wrenching decision to put Pedro down.  Like this post from 2013, I’m really not writing this for your benefit, but for mine – in hopes that it will be therapeutic for my family, since we’ve all been crying for over 24 hours now.

Unlike Jasper, whom we chose from a litter of puppies in nearby Lockport, Pedro was purchased in Los Angeles by our oldest son, Chad, back in 2003.  Chad and his roommate both worked in the television industry, so they would leave Pedro in the backyard all day while they were at work, and there happened to be a lemon tree in the yard, so Pedro occupied himself all day playing with lemons.  So began his lifelong obsession with a ball.

About a year later, Chad was assigned to be the accountant on the set of the TV drama “Lost” in it’s pilot season – which meant he had to move to Honolulu, where the show was being filmed.  Since pets entering Hawaii are required to be quarantined for 120 days (at a cost of over $1,000), Chad asked if we would “watch the dog” for him until he returned to LA, which he thought would be about six months.  We reluctantly agreed, since it was “only for six months”.

Even at that, Pedro nearly drove us crazy those first few weeks because of his obsession with chasing a ball.  Then my wife fell in love with the little guy, and as the months went by he became her dog, and there was no way she would let Chad have him back.

By my calculations, Pedro had more friends all around the world than any dog in history, as he literally entertained our guests from Senegal, Nigeria, Zambia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Trinidad, Cambodia, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom, and they all seemed to enjoy throwing the ball for him to chase, despite our warnings that they would wear out long before he did.

And of course, he brought laughter to every CLC’er who entered our home: pastors, elders, H2H leaders, ministry directors, staff families – you name it, everyone who came into our house had to throw the ball for Pedro.

While I’m at it, I must give a special shout-out to Sheri Postma and Carl & Nancy Harris, who loved Pedro like he was their own whenever Chris and I had to travel for missions – one reason we could accept those international opportunities is because we knew he was being loved in their homes just as he was loved in ours.

Like Jasper, it seemed his favorite times were on vacation in the Smokies or being around the pool at my in-law’s in Michigan.  He didn’t have Jasper’s love for swimming, but he delighted in flicking the ball (as only he could) into the water and then begging until one of us retrieved it for him.

He loved my wife as deeply as any animal can love and as he aged, was most content just being on her, pressed up against her on the couch or even sleeping in our bed at night.  When Jen experienced her bout with blindness last year, Pedro sensed that something was wrong and wouldn’t leave her side for those 36 days.

Pedro preferred humans over other dogs (since people could throw the ball), so even though he had over 10 years with Jasper, they basically just co-existed.  But when Jen brought Diesel into our family last April, he forced Pedro to be his friend and play together, which seemed to renew Pedro’s youth.  The two of them became two peas in a pod, following each other around the house, eating from each other’s plate (even though the food was the same) and fighting to see who could sit closest to Chris.

No dog has ever been more loved.  When Sol broke the news to Bennett yesterday that Pedro had joined Jasper and Joey in doggie heaven, his response was, “Oh man, why do they like to go there?”

But we know the answer to that, Pedro, because now you can chase a ball in doggie heaven and never stop.  Rest in peace, little buddy.  We love you!

The early years

The early years

Nothing was better than sleeping in mama's arms

Nothing was better than sleeping in mama’s arms

He really was Chris' dog, but in later years, he warmed up to me, too

He really was Chris’ dog, but in later years, he warmed up to me, too

The "boys" loved vacations in the Smokies

The “boys” loved vacations in the Smokies

The best part of vacations in the Smokies was putting his head out the window.  (We'll never forget the time he barked at a bear that dozens of tourists were trying to get a picture of, sending the bear back into the woods)

The best part of vacations in the Smokies was putting his head out of the window. (We’ll never forget the time he barked at a bear that dozens of tourists were trying to get a picture of, sending the bear back into the woods)

Sometimes he would go into the pool at Gramma Hansen's, but riding the raft with Diesel was better

Sometimes he would go into the pool at Gramma Hansen’s, but riding the raft with Diesel was the best!

When Jen was blind for 36 days in 2015, he wouldn't leave her side

When Jen was blind for 36 days in 2015, he wouldn’t leave her side

This pic says it all: "you know what to do, so don't just stand there: throw the ball!"

This pic says it all: “you know what to do, so don’t just stand there: THROW THE BALL!”

nothing like a mother's love

nothing like a mother’s love

Say hello to Jasper & Joey for us-

Say hello to Jasper & Joey for us-

Want to help people in Flint, MI with the water crisis?

flint

The first church that Chris and I served as pastors from 1977-1981 was located in Mt. Morris, a suburb just north of Flint, Michigan, and most of our members worked in Flint.  So I’ve thought of them several times since learning of the water crisis and lead poisoning that is happening there.

Today one of our members from the NWI campus suggested that there had to be something CLC’ers could do to help with this crisis, and informed me that Will County has organized a drive to help Flint residents.

If you wish to help (as Jesus suggested in Matthew 25:34-40), please drop off your donations at any of the Joliet locations mentioned in the article.

Inside Lakewood

lakewood

Yesterday Pastor Ben Stewart and I spent a day “Inside Lakewood” with other pastors from around the country.  It was my first time to be inside the largest church auditorium in America and my first time to meet Pastor Joel Osteen.

There were definitely some inspirational as well as practical moments in the time we spent there, but my favorite of all (considering our “Harvest” series at CLC, which wraps up this coming Sunday) was to hear Joel say that he believes the Lord spoke to him that 2016 was a year of acceleration, and he quoted Amos 9:13-14.

Are you ready for “your head to swim” as how quickly God does it?  Even while we wait, I’m expecting blessings everywhere we look!

(This was from the 2015 Gathering, but it gives you a little idea of what we enjoyed yesterday)

“Fast Track” for new CLC campus launches

lead-where-you-are

If you attended CLC yesterday, you probably heard this announcement already:

I was stirred during our First Love Conference by the altar response to Pastor Chris Durso’s ministry when I sensed personally that many CLC’ers were hearing God’s call to ‘step up’ into positions of leadership to which they were called.  Soon after that Prophet Dennis Cramer gave us a strong word that CLC was not to back off or slow down, but to be even more aggressive in planting churches in this region.

If you are one of those who feels a call to help launch new CLC campuses, perhaps as a Campus Pastor, a Worship Director, or a leader in ministry to childrenwe want to help you by possibly putting you on a ‘Fast Track’ development plan.   

(Who knows, you may be the next CLC campus pastor!)

If interested, please reply to this post and give me your contact information and the area of ministry to which you feel called (pastoring, worship, KidsLife, etc.)

2016 is the Year of Harvest for CLC!

Sunday reflections

I think today at CLC was an afterglow of last weekend’s “First Love Conference”:

Creative shot of Ch'vez - you could see the passion in our worship today!

Creative shot of Ch’vez – you could see the passion in our worship today!

Can't tell it from this pic where I was leading some in a prayer of salvation, but I was FEELING what I preached today!

Can’t tell it from this pic where I was leading some in a prayer of salvation, but I was FEELING what I preached today!  Praise God for people who prayed to receive Jesus each service!

Pastor Sam said the MOMENTUM keeps building at NWI, with several new people attending week after week.  Their Life Group kickoff today featured 15 groups!

Pastor Sam said the MOMENTUM keeps building at NWI, with several new people attending week after week. Their Life Group kickoff today featured 15 groups!

Chris was on FIRE with today's message at NWI, too!

Chris was on FIRE with today’s message at NWI, too!

 

Pastor Matt did a great job delivering the message at Blue Island today, with Jorge Arevalo interpreting into Spanish.  Pastor William also reports some very encouraging developments for community outreach!

Pastor Matt did a great job delivering the message at Blue Island today, with Jorge Arevalo interpreting into Spanish. Pastor William also reports some very encouraging developments for community outreach!

  • If you haven’t heard, our annual Business Meeting is in Tinley Park this Wednesday, January 27 at 7pm!

Now it’s couch time and the NFL Conference championships-

 

Ask the Pastor

ask-question-1-ff9bc6fa5eaa0d7667ae7a5a4c61330c

There were no questions submitted this week, so I’m reposting a question from 2011:

This week’s question is one that I think many people are often confused about: “The Bible states that when one truly repents to the Lord and asks for forgiveness, your sins are then “cast into the sea of forgetfulness.” How is it then that we will all be judged by Jesus for our sins if the sins are cast into the sea of forgetfulness? Also, if God remembers our sins no more, why are there still sometimes consequences for what we’ve done such as with David and Bathsheba when God allowed their child to die because of that sin, even though David repented?”

Great questions.  Let’s take them one at a time, in order:

  • To my great surprise, the phrase you quoted about “the sea of forgetfulness” is NOT found in the Bible (at least in any translation I have access to).  I’ve even said it myself, so this was a real shocker – not sure how that particular phrase came to be so accepted and used by preachers!
  • Of course, the concept you’re referring to, that God forgets our sins when we repent and ask forgiveness is found throughout Scripture, and is certainly plainly spoken in Hebrews 8:12 and Hebrews 10:17.  Thanks to the blood of Jesus, when we repent, God forgives AND forgets!
  • The confusion in part arises from your idea that “we will all be judged by Jesus for our sins”.  As a believer, you will NOT be judged by Jesus for your sins!  Your sins were already judged at the Cross, and Jesus took that judgment upon Himself by giving His life in your place! (insert “Hallelujah” here). (see John 12:31-33 and 1Tim. 5:24-25, where Paul explains that some people send their sins ahead to judgment [by confessing], while others follow along behind them [if unconfessed, our sins will condemn us at the final judgment].
  • Let me explain that a little further: as believers, our sins are already judged – we were found guilty, but Jesus took place and served our sentence of death at the Cross, so that we can be forgiven and free!  The judgment where WE will appear is called the “Judgment Seat of Christ” (see Romans 14:10; 2Cor. 5:10).  This is NOT the same as the “Great White Throne Judgement” seen in Revelation 20:11-15.  Instead, the judgment seat of Christ is the word “bema” in Greek, which refers to the platform in the Olympic games where the winners stand to receive their medals!  So the purpose of our judgment as believers is for the administration of rewards for the work we did here on earth, as shown in 1Cor. 3:10-15(The Bible speaks of various rewards, or ‘crowns’ that we can receive for our efforts in the Kingdom of God).  That’s a HUGE difference than being judged for our sins!
  • Now, your final question about consequences for our sins is a whole different topic.  Please keep in mind everything above in regards to judgment for our sins, because it’s all true in Scripture.  But consequences falls into a different category that we know as “sowing & reaping”.  Just because God forgives your sin does not mean that there are no consequences for your sin.  For example, if one of your children borrows your car and wrecks it, you would certainly forgive them for the accident, even if it was caused by them texting while driving or drinking alcohol, or whatever.  But the fact that you forgive them doesn’t change the fact that the accident caused damage – perhaps to your car, to another vehicle, or to someone’s property.  And that damage will have to be repaired, not because you’re judging them for borrowing your car, but because it’s a consequence of their actions.  Put another way, a believer could fall into the sin of adultery and then repent and get forgiveness from the Lord.  But if their adultery caused a pregnancy and a child to be born, there would obviously be consequences of their sin that they might have to deal with for a lifetime – even though God forgave them the moment they asked.

Great questions!  Hope the answers helped a bit.  Now, what would YOU like to ask the Pastor?

Well, I thought today was the day (I was wrong)

postponed_stamp-Medium

About an hour before our scheduled court appearance today to resolve the NWI building situation, we received a phone call that the bailiff changed the filing, and today was only a ‘status hearing’, not the actual court hearing – which means the judge was only meeting with the attorneys by teleconference to set a court date.

So, we did not get to have our “day in court” today (literally).

Instead, we are now scheduled for court on Friday, February 12.  Keep praying!

I’ve never in my life preached a more timely message than the one prepared for this Sunday – “Why Is My Harvest Delayed?”.  Hope to see you then-

Today is the day

faith

Many of you know something of the miracle that God did for us at our NWI Campus last year – if not, you can read about it here and here.

The rest of the story is that until now we’ve been unable to occupy the building we purchased last May because of a previous tenant who has refused to vacate the premises.

TODAY is the day that we finally go to court, believing that the nightmare will be over and we will finally be able to occupy what is legally ours.

Would you join me in praying today for a swift and final resolution in court today?

Here’s how I’m praying:

Psalm 5:12

Proverbs 21:1 (what applies to a king also applies to a judge!)

Deuteronomy 11:31

Thanks for joining me in prayer!

Why is my HARVEST delayed?

lord-of-the-harvest-001

I’m still living in the afterglow of our First Love Conference (best-ever, hand-down!), but as always, Sunday’s a-coming, and we’re in the middle of the ‘Harvest’ series that I believe is God’s theme for CLC this year.

That’s why I’m so excited about teaching this Sunday the single-most-asked-question I ever get from people – ‘Pastor, why is my harvest delayed?’ (Actually, they usually say stuff like, ‘I’m tithing, but it’s not working for me’, OR ‘I’ve prayed and prayed, but I’m not getting an answer’ OR ‘I’ve tried doing what the Bible said, but I’m not seeing any results’)

We’ll address all of those questions THIS Sunday and also share the passage of Scripture that jumped off the page at me in our prayer room one day to inspire this entire series.  Don’t dare miss this.  And if you know someone who’s ever asked those type of questions, invite them to join you this Sunday at any CLC campus -it’s gonna be good!

I received a personal prophecy; now what?

prophecy

First Love 2016 is now history.  (more on that later)

I’m reminded of the shepherds who first heard of the birth of Christ in Luke 2:15.  It was like, what do we do now that the angels have gone away?

Dozens of CLC’ers received prophetic ministry (perhaps more than 100?) during the past few days.  I well know the excitement that can bring.  But now that the prophets have gone, what you do with that prophecy can often determine whether it comes to pass, so I want to give you some tips and guidelines:

  1. Record, read and meditate (1Tim 4:14-15)

Get the audio, write out your prophecy word for word (what the prophecy said versus what we thought we heard during the excitement of the moment are often different) and read over it, allowing the    Lord to speak to you through those words again.

  1. War a good warfare (1Tim 1:18)

Use God’s promises to you to wage war against the enemy – prophecy can give you power to persevere until the fulfillment comes.

  1. Do nothing differently unless definitely directed

You are not responsible to bring God’s word to pass, but if your prophecy included      specific instructions, then you should act upon them immediately. (If you’re not clear about this, talk with me.)

  1. Understand that patience is necessary

God’s process for prophetic fulfillment is rarely sooner than we expect. It is almost always later, and sometimes, much later. Allow these passages to encourage you as you wait: Psalm 37:1-11, Hebrews 10:35-36, Psalm 27:14, Isaiah 40:31

If I can be of further help to you regarding your prophecy, feel free to call for an appointment. May His Word to you be completely fulfilled!

First half of FIRST LOVE Conference

There are no words to describe Saturday & Sunday morning, so I won’t try.  All I’m gonna say is you need to GET HERE to the last half of the conference (tonight & tomorrow)!

P.S. At our Blue Island campus today after Pastor Sergio De La Mora preached, 25 people gave their life to Christ!

Video from this afternoon with Chris Durso.

 

Ask the Pastor

question-mark

Today’s question came from the 11-year old daughter of one of my favorite CLC’ers: “When we die, when are we judged? Is it soon after death or at the second coming of Christ?”

Great question for someone of any age, let alone a child – and one that I’m sure many people reading this want to know as well.  Here’s my answer:

I think it all depends.

By that, I mean it depends on whether you are a born-again believer, or if you are someone who has not trusted Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

In my understanding of Scripture, a born-again believer who dies is immediately with the Lord.  I base that on Paul’s comments in 2Corinthians 5:1-8 (especially vv. 6 and 8) and Philippians 1:21-23.

In fact, as I understand Scripture, the only judgment that true believers will experience is what some refer to as the “Bema” of Christ (bema is the Greek word for the winners platform in the Olympic games), or, more commonly, “The Judgment Seat of Christ” (see Romans 14:10 or 2Corinthians 5:10).  This judgement is not about sending someone to heaven or hell.  Our eternal destination was already determined when we truly trusted Jesus for our salvation and the Scripture clearly says we ‘have’ (present-tense) eternal life.

Instead, the Judgement Seat of Christ is for the administration of rewards.  The ‘Bema’ in Bible times was the platform where the judges would lead the winners of Olympic-type games to be crowned.  (Think of the award ceremony for gold, silver & bronze medalists today).  So when believers are judged, it’s actually for the purpose of distributing rewards we can receive for the way we served Christ here on earth before we died.  I think Scripture lists about 6 or 7 different ‘crowns’ that we can receive for our reward.

But for unbelievers, it’s a much different story.  While there is some debate on this, I tend to believe that all unbelievers at death go to a place of rest, to await their final judgment.  Then, in the end, after the Second Coming of Christ, they will stand before God at the Great White Throne judgment before being cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15)

I hope that helps.  Would you like to join the conversation?  Please leave your comments or questions below and l look to next Friday’s “Ask the Pastor”.

Announcing a change for our CLC family

For those who prefer an audio-visual announcement:

For those who want it in writing:

When we first responded to the Lord’s dealings about expanding CLC by launching additional campuses, thus becoming “one church in multiple locations”, our strategy was that everything would be done live at each location: worship, children’s ministry, and even the Sunday preaching.  Our plan was that each Campus Pastor would be the primary communicator, with a rotating teaching team from Tinley Park to supplement that.

Later, for a variety of reasons, before we launched our latest campuses in NWI and Blue Island, we changed our approach to incorporate video teaching from Tinley Park as the primary method, with Campus Pastors preaching only occasionally throughout the year.  That’s the strategy currently used by many churches in America, including some of the most well-known, thriving ministries.  Video teaching definitely works!

However, in recent months, I’ve been grappling with the thought of returning to our original strategy.  I think my recent absences caused by my back injury helped settle the issue for me, as I could not have been more proud of the amazing team of pastors that God has brought together to assist me at CLC and the teaching they did while I was home in bed, flat on my back!

I have now concluded that it makes more sense for those Campus Pastors who are onsite and who know and love their members, to be the primary communicator so they can feed their people with God’s Word as well.

We will still use a rotating speaking team at each campus, so that the wonderful variety of pastors God has blessed us with will be able to benefit each campus.  And to insure that we remain one church in multiple locations”we will continue to teach the same series and the same subject at each location.  I’ll fulfill my role as Senior Pastor by pouring into our speaking team each week and then allowing them to deliver the message using their personality and gifting instead of trying to be a carbon copy of me.

By the way, I’m not retiring; I’m refiring!  My wife and I will continue to be the primary communicators at the Tinley Park campus, but we will also travel to the other campuses occasionally AND (most importantly) the Tinley Park campus will continue to enjoy ministry from the other pastors from time to time.  I think that’s a win for everybody!

 

Furniture for Missions? UPDATE!

niyi

The response to my earlier post today has been phenomenal, and it appears that the Gbade apartment will have 2 brand-new beds (so even the guest room is supplied), a dining room set and a living room set (all new!)

Perhaps the only remaining need would be a chair and desk for a small home office.

I LOVE the generosity of God’s people!

Furniture for Missions?

 

niyi

As I posted here last month, Pastors Niyi & Tayo Gbade have been appointed by our long-time partners, CAPRO, to be their first North American representatives to help mobilize the American church for missions.  Of course, the really good news about that is that they have decided to base here in Chicagoland and be a part of our CLC family!

Niyi has been out of state since his arrival, meeting with various CAPRO officials to get all their plans in order, but this week he secured an apartment in Matteson and will be moving in next weekend (probably January 23).

Since he just arrived from Nigeria last month, they literally have NO furnishings whatsoever, just the belongings that would fit in their suitcases.  I also know that they live sacrificially, as do many missionaries, and their budget is very tight, especially for Chicagoland.  So I wanted to reach out to our CLC family to see if anyone might have used furniture to donate to this faithful pastor and his wife.  Probably the most immediate need is a bed, as he plans to use a sleeping bag on the floor after arrival.  It’s a 2-bedroom apartment with another room that will serve as a small home office, so they could also use a desk and chair, as well as kitchen table, living room furniture, etc.  I’m sure almost any furnishings that you might be able to donate to help them get settled would be a huge blessing to them.  (By the way, Niyi and Tayo haven’t asked us for anything; I just have a heart to help them, so I’m making this appeal to you.)

If you have items to donate, please contact me via email or call our office at 708.429.7729 with the details.  We can also give you a letter of donation for charitable giving toward your 2016 income taxes.  Thanks in advance for being a blessing to the Kingdom!

Donate-Loading-Truck

WHY First Love?

firstlove

I shared some of this yesterday before the message, but I’d like to explain WHY we do the First Love Conference every year (for at least a dozen times now):

1.  The holiday season always brings a bit of a lull to churches: attendance lags; I suspect our daily devotional habits suffer; we eat more than we should; you get the picture.  So by launching a season of Prayer & Fasting, it kick-starts our year to get back into the kind of habits that help us draw closer to God.

2.  The first of any New Year is a time when most people begin new habits, make resolutions (that they seldom keep), but generally look for a fresh start in many areas of life.  We call it “First Love” in part because it’s a spiritual thrust at the beginning of another year.

3.  The Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7 was commended by Jesus for so many good things, but the one mark against them was that they “left the love they had at the beginning”, and He charged them to “do what you did at the beginning” lest they ceased to be a church.  So the First Love Conference is really a call to all of us at CLC to get our priorities back in order, and put Jesus first in our lives.

4.  Perhaps most importantly, we use this conference as an opportunity each year to build spiritual momentum, both personally and corporately, as we get to attend so many sessions in a short period of time that, instead of forgetting what we heard or losing what we received from the Lord, we actually get a concentrated infusion of Word and Spirit, as each session builds on the other to enhance our walk with the Lord.

5.  Finally, we get to hear from some of the most gifted ministers in the body of Christ, with this year’s line-up likely the most distinguished we’ve ever had, as each guest not only regularly ministers to thousands of people weekly, but each one is known for the anointing and spiritual giftedness.  (Check out last week’s posts here and here and here and here if you want to know more).

I pray that you will make every effort to attend as many of the sessions as possible THIS coming Saturday, Sunday and Monday!

P.S.  There’s even a special BONUS for your children on Saturday & Sunday!

Sunday reflections

I say it so often it may not have meaning to you, but today was a GOOD day at CLC:

Love the SoP who lead us into His Presence every week!

Love the SoP who lead us into His Presence every week!

Week 2 of our "Harvest" series felt extra-well received!  I know it's 2-3 weeks away, but I honestly think the 3rd and 4th message in the series will be the BEST, as we deal with "Delayed Harvests" and "Consistent Harvests".

Week 2 of our “Harvest” series felt extra-well received!  I know it’s 2-3 weeks away, but I honestly think the 3rd and 4th message in the series will be the BEST, as we deal with “Delayed Harvests” and “Consistent Harvests”.

  • I was overwhelmed at the numbers of people who stood for prayer at the close, and best of all, for the dozen or so who prayed to receive Christ today!
Pastors & Elders praying over Bob Contino-

Pastors & Elders praying over Bob Contino-

  • Of course, it was also a bittersweet day as we said goodbye to Bob Contino, who was the only person at CLC longer than my family.  It was sweet to honor him for all he’s done at CLC through the years (Youth Ministry, Worship Ministry, Drama Ministry, and the brains behind most of our Christmas productions), but certainly sad to see him go.  I especially honor him for the reason he’s leaving us: his relocation to the city combined with his job responsibilities have limited his involvement here for the last several years, so he’s joining a church close to home so he can be more involved!  No surprise for those who know & love him; it’s the kind of guy he is!
Bob greeting the congregation afterwards-

Bob greeting the congregation afterwards-

  • Pastor Sam was ecstatic about today at NWI – not only because of good service & several new Life Group leaders trained, but because their pre-service prayer meeting that was scheduled for 8am-9am continued until 9:40, with people prophesying to each other, laid out in the floor, etc. – just amazing momentum going into 1st Love!
The new prayer wall at our NWI campus.

The new prayer wall at our NWI campus.

  • Finally, Pastor William reports a great response to the message in Blue Island, with one salvation and much excitement about Pastor Sergio De La Mora coming there next Sunday at a special NOON service!

Now it’s couch time with my fingers crossed that Washington can beat the Packers!

 

For the FIRST TIME EVER at our First Love Conference!

Our First Love Conference has been a highlight at CLC for the past 12 or 13 years, with some of the finest men of God on the planet coming to bless us with the Word and an impartation from the Holy Spirit…..but we’ve NEVER brought someone in just for our most precious possession: our children!

That’s why I’m SO excited to announce that Pastor Jay Risner will be our guest for KidsLife on Saturday evening, all 3 TP services on Sunday morning, and Sunday evening!

Pastor Jay Risner

Pastor Jay Risner

Jay served in the professional entertainment industry in the late 1970’s. In 1980, Jay and his wife Debbie took what they had taught and produced in the secular entertainment world and went into full time ministry using their gifts and talents for the Lord.

In the past 30 years, he has served as Children’s Pastor for churches that exceed 10,000 in attendance, as well as coordinating Children’s Ministry for East Africa with the Assemblies of God.  In fact, he produced a children’s TV show in Kenya in 1993 that he continues to oversee today and through it is reaching over 22 million people each week!

Jay now travels across the world training children’s pastors and workers, performing in schools, ministering in large scale kid’s crusades, and developing Children’s Ministries in many nations. We’re SO excited to have him join our 2016 First Love Ministry team!

Parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles: you must get the kids in your care here for more than one of those 5 services with Jay so they can receive spiritual benefit at the same time you are!

Ask the Pastor

Business question

One of my favorite CLC’ers who now lives in Atlanta (once a CLC’er; always a CLC’er!) writes, “What did Jesus mean when he said in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give dogs what is sacred”?

That’s a great question about a puzzling passage of Scripture.  The best answer I can give you is I don’t know.

I’m not being flippant; I searched the commentaries and read what scholars have written about that verse and nothing that I read made a great deal of sense in terms of this verse having a valid application to us today.  I do suspect that Jesus’ hearers knew exactly what He meant – but let me give you just a few possibilities:

  • Dogs in Bible times were definitely not the lovable house pets that so many of us enjoy today.  They were unclean in Scripture (Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 11:26-27) and were known as wild animals who were always searching for food.  I know Jesus is NOT teaching that some people don’t deserve the hear the Gospel, because that would violate the whole of Scripture (2Peter 3:9, for just one example)
  • One possibility mentioned by the scholars is that we should not rebuke those who strongly oppose the Gospel, since such rebuke would only harden their hearts further and enrage them like a wild dog.  In other words, we want to give them every possible chance to respond to the Gospel later, so don’t rebuke their unbelief now.

This is, for me at least, one of those verses in Scripture that I simply do not know the full meaning and application of, but I do know how it is misapplied – I’ve heard self-righteous Christians use this verse to justify their harsh treatment of others, or to criticize people who didn’t agree with them.  I think if we read the context of the verse, it’s obvious that’s NOT what Jesus had in mind (Matthew 7:1-5).

I’m afraid that’s the best I can do today.  Have YOU read or heard an explanation of the verse that makes good sense and fits the whole of Scripture?  If so, please share it with us below-

If you have a question you would like to Ask the Pastor, please leave it below as well-

Welcoming Prophet Dennis Cramer to CLC again!

The only speaker for our 2016 First Love Conference who needs no introduction to most CLC’ers since he’s been a part of the team at both the 2014 and 2015 Conferences and is now a ‘CLC favorite’ is Prophet Dennis Cramer.

Prophet Dennis Cramer

Prophet Dennis Cramer

Dennis has ministered in the prophetic for over 40 years, serving churches, Christian leaders, and even governmental officials, and we can testify to his accuracy in the prophetic gift from his three visits to CLC.

He will be ministering on Sunday night, January 17 at 5pm and on Monday morning, January 18 at the 9am service.  Unlike previous years, we have not preselected any of our staff or key leaders from CLC to receive ministry, but instead he will simply follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to minister to anyone in the congregation as he is directed.

Like I said, he needs no introduction, but our Media team prepared this video and it brought tears to my eyes because what he prophesied last year is exactly what I’ve been praying for personally during our 10 days of Prayer & Fasting!  I can’t wait!

Whatever you have to do, set aside time for Sunday night and Monday morning – and tell your family & friends to join you for our First Love Conference!

 

introducing DR. DAVID IRELAND to CLC

I’m getting SO excited about our upcoming First Love Conference I can hardly stand it, and these 10-days of Prayer & Fasting are just adding to my anticipation!

I must tell you that I’m especially excited about the speaker who will close the conference for us, because I’ve been trying to get him to CLC for over 10 years!  The first time I heard him minister, he called me out of a crowd at Crusader’s Church (Apostle John Eckhardt) and prophesied over me in 1993. The next time I heard him speak was at a Willow Creek leadership conference (Pastor Bill Hybels), where he gave a brilliant talk about the need for multi-cultural churches. Dr. David Ireland is a unique gift to the Body of Christ!

Pastor David Ireland, Ph.D.

Pastor David Ireland, Ph.D.

Pastor Ireland was a civil engineer by profession before surrendering to the call of ministry.  Since then, the church he founded in northern New Jersey has grown to more than 8,000 members and is both multisite and multicultural.  In addition, he has served as a chaplain for both the NFL and the NBA, and has ministered at the U.S. Pentagon as well as appearing on the Dr. Phil Show, CBS Evening News and the 700 Club. Like I say, he is a unique gift.  And perhaps best of all, his pastor is my pastor, Bishop Joseph Garlington!

He’ll be speaking on Monday, January 18 at both 9am and 7pm services, so if you don’t receive M. L. King, Jr. Birthday as a day off of work, you should take a personal day or vacation day and plan to get in on the last day of our First Love Conference!

Tell everybody you know NOT to miss out on Monday at First Love Conference!

 

introducing SERGIO DE LA MORA to CLC

As I posted previously, our 2016 First Love Conference features some younger leaders who are making a huge difference in the Kingdom of God, and that’s certainly true of our Sunday speaker in Tinley Park and Blue Island, Pastor Sergio De La Mora!

Pastor Sergio De La Mora

Pastor Sergio De La Mora

Pastor Sergio has a dramatic testimony of being delivered from gangs and drugs, but more importantly, the church that he planted in San Diego has become one of the fastest-growing churches in America for the past several years.  He has become one of the leading Hispanic voices in America, especially among Evangelical or Charismatic believers, and now serves on the Board of Directors for Joel Osteen’s ministry.

Pastor Sergio will minister at the 8:30 and 10am services in Tinley Park and then preach a special noon service at our Blue Island campus (normally it’s 11am, but we’re changing the time that day only so our bilingual campus can enjoy a bilingual preacher!)

I spent a little time with Pastor Sergio last summer at a conference he hosted and I must tell you: he is an on-fire preacher who will fire you up with the Word of God!

Tell your family & friends & let’s get ready for a great visitation of the Holy Spirit during our First Love Conference!

 

Introducing CHRIS DURSO to CLC

If you’re part of our church family, you know that our 10-days of Prayer & Fasting is already well underway, as literally hundreds of CLC’ers participated online yesterday in a 24-hour prayer chain, and we’ve already conducted 7 corporate prayer meetings across our 3 campuses (and 43 more to go – join us at 6am or 6pm at your campus!)

All of this is to prepare our hearts for what God wants to do in 2016, and specifically to position us to receive rhema words at our annual First Love Conference Jan. 16-18.

Since the Lord has been dealing with us about the next generation of CLC, several of our pastors asked me when we first began planning this year’s conference if we could invite some younger speakers.  (Actually they pointed out that most of our speakers have been even older than me, but I tried not to be offended at that.  Smile here.)

That’s why I’m excited to introduce Pastor Chris Durso to CLC, who will help open the conference on Saturday, January 16, as well as minister in both Tinley Park and NWI on January 17.

Pastor Chris Durso

Pastor Chris Durso

Chris is one of the leading young voices in America, having recently been a featured speaker at Catalystperhaps the premiere conference for young leaders in our country.  He  leads a ministry to young adults called “Misfit NYC” at Christ Tabernacle in Queens that has quickly become one of the largest youth ministries in America.

Invite your friends & family, young or old, & let’s come expecting great things!

Sunday reflections

It was SO good to be back at CLC today after being home in bed for 3 consecutive Sundays.

It was SO good to be back at CLC today after being home in bed for 3 consecutive Sundays.

If you attended the noon service, it was awful to know that the video failed & I should have given my best one more time. Please accept our apologies for the video glitches.

More than anything else in this report, I just want to say that I really believe 2016 is a Year of Harvest for CLC, and I hope you will share my expectation for the next 10 days of Prayer & Fasting.

In case you haven’t heard or we weren’t clear in our communication, we’re asking every CLC’er to join us for a 24-hour chain of prayer tomorrow, January 4 online.  You don’t have to leave your home to participate – just choose the hour(s) that work for you and go to www.clc.tv/prayer and login to participate in the chat (basically it means you’ll pray with others by typing your prayer in the chat room)

In addition to that, from 6-7am and 6-7pm each day of the 10 days (January 4-13) at both Tinley Park and Blue Island campuses, we will have LIVE prayer gatherings in the auditorium for anyone who is physically able to join us.  The same thing is true at NWI from 6-7pm for each of the 10 days.  You don’t need to sign up; just show up & pray with us!

At NWI, Pastor Sam reports that folks are expectant & excited about 10 Days of Prayer AND about Harvest!

At NWI, Pastor Sam reports that folks are expectant & excited about 10 Days of Prayer AND about Harvest!

At our Blue Island campus, Pastor William called on a real farmer (Francisco Simental was a farmer in Mexico before moving to Chicago) to help explain the process of planting & waiting for the harvest!

At our Blue Island campus, Pastor William called on a real farmer (Francisco Simental was a farmer in Mexico before moving to Chicago) to help explain the process of planting & waiting for the harvest!

Of course, don’t forget to choose YOUR fast from the three we’re suggesting:

  • water/juice fast – no food for 10 days
  • Daniel fast – no meats, no sweets for 10 days
  • partial fast – one meal a day after 4pm

I’m expecting a Harvest in 2016!

 

Ask the Pastor

ask-question-1-ff9bc6fa5eaa0d7667ae7a5a4c61330c

I love this week’s question from one of our KidsLife boys.  His mom writes: “I was reading devotional with the kids last night and we read Genesis 1:26 and it began “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…” Andy my 11 year old said, “Mom, why did God say “us” if He is the only creator?”

Tell your son how great it is that he noticed that!  It shows that he’s reading/listening carefully, which is important for all of us when we approach God’s Word.  Now let me try to answer his question:

  • Probably the simplest answer (although I must admit, it’s not my personal view) is that the Trinity (The Father, Son and Holy Spirit) were speaking together, so the plural pronoun was used.
  • (In case you’re wondering, the reason I don’t take that view, in part, is because the Hebrew word ‘Elohim’ which is translated “God” in that verse and many others in the  Old Testament, is always used with singular verbs – and the clear understanding of the Jews is that their God is one (see Deuteronomy 6:4)
  • I personally think this is a case of the “Majestic plural” (often called the ‘royal we’).  You’ve probably heard some important person say, We are glad to be here”, even though only one person was speaking.
  • The good news is that each one of us is truly made in God’s image – and because of what Jesus did on the Cross for us, we can become more and more like Him!

I’m SO glad for children like this young man who receive God’s Word with careful attention and a curious mind!  How about you?  Do YOU have a question for me?  Please join the conversation by leaving your comments or questions below-

 

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “There are references in scripture to Jesus’ brothers and sisters and James who was the leader of the church in Jerusalem is identified as Jesus’ brother. If that is the case, why do you think Jesus would ask from the cross for John to look after his mother, Mary, instead of one of his siblings? We also know Peter was married (Jesus healed his mother-in-law from a fever), but I haven’t seen any reference to Peter’s wife in scripture. Are there any theories about what happened to her?”

Both great questions!  Since Scripture doesn’t answer either directly, I’ll give you my speculation (which is worth about as much as yours):

  1. After reading John 19:26, I think it’s likely he chose John because he was Jesus’ closest follower.  It’s pretty clear from the Gospel that bears his name that John, even in humility, recognized that he was the closest follower of the inner 3 of Peter, James and John. (see John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20) Couldn’t that be reason enough for him to be chosen to care for Mary?
  2. The only Biblical reference to Peter’s wife (other than the healing of her mother that you cited is 1Corinthians 9:5.  I checked some of the scholars and the only thing I found is that one of the Church Fathers, Clement of Alexander (150-215 A.D.) reported that as they led Peter away to be crucified, he encouraged his wife by saying, “Remember, dear one, the Lord”.  If that account is true, it would indicate that she outlived Peter, but I couldn’t find any references to her beyond that.

Hope that helps.  If any of my readers can add to this conversation, please do – why do you think Jesus chose John over one of Mary’s own children?  Leave your comment below-

Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

 

 

A really EASY way to help some VERY needy children…..

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Every now and then a ‘deal’ comes along that’s almost “too good to be true”.  Our Communications Pastor, Josh Moran, just recently alerted us to a  social media campaign that allows us to help kids through Compassion International.

Here’s how it works:

  • every time you worship at CLC in December, just “check in” on your Facebook page.  
  • for every 6 Facebook check-ins at any campus in December, Compassion will provide a day of care for a child in extreme poverty.

What does a “day of care” mean?

Compassion works with local churches around the world to identify kids who don’t have sponsors but are facing especially tough circumstances. Those churches then demonstrate the love of Jesus by provide everything these kids need – food, clothing, shelter, education, a safe place to play, and spiritual teaching.

This is a great opportunity to help some kids who truly need it.

You’ve probably heard of Compassion already; they’ve been caring for children in Jesus’ name since 1952 and currently manage sponsorships for over 1.7 million kids. Even with that many children being cared for, though, there are many more still waiting for sponsors – these are the ones we’ll be helping.

So there you have it – it won’t cost us a penny (just a few seconds of time) and needy kids benefit…..PLUS you’ll be letting all your friends & family know about CLC in the process, and who knows what will happen from there.  Perhaps a simple ‘check-in’ on Facebook will lead to someone visiting CLC and having their whole life changed!

If you don’t know how to check-in on Facebook, just ask any of our staff this Sunday!

Some news from the Middle East that you’ll LIKE

I know that every time you hear or see anything on the national media about the Middle East, it’s a cause for concern or shaking your head at another tragedy, but I just received some news from one of CLC’s missions partners that you’ll like:

At a “Power to Change”  campaign by our friends with Great Commission Media Ministry in Beirut, Lebanon right after Thanksgiving, they were given the opportunity to hold a special event where the Gospel was boldly proclaimed to 1,500 people who crammed into the auditorium AND the entire 2.5 hour event was televised live over 3 television channels, including Lebanese state TV which  is seen throughout Lebanon by millions of Lebanese and Syrians. This is a miracle. When asked by our leaders if Lebanon TV understood the nature of the event to be televised, they responded “Yes, we do. Lebanon needs change!”

The outdoor broadcast unit

The outdoor broadcast unit

The venue was overflowing with people hungry for the Gospel!

The venue was overflowing with people hungry for the Gospel!

Our partner was told that Lebanese people do not respond to altar calls, and that they would not come forward for prayer - BUT they gave an invitation anyway, and he couldn't count the number of people who streamed forward to receive Jesus!

Our partner was told that Lebanese people do not respond to altar calls, and that they would not come forward for prayer – BUT they gave an invitation anyway, and he couldn’t count the number of people who streamed forward to receive Jesus!

 

In addition, during the month-long media campaign over 30,000 orders for books and DVDs with transformation stories and the Life of Jesus. Orders are coming in from the Beqaa Valley, from Syria and Jordan as well as other Islamic countries. Lebanon is Hezbollah territory.

The Power to Change book - a roadmap to new life in Jesus!

The Power to Change book – a roadmap to new life in Jesus!

Several notable individuals have called to order their personal copy of the “Power to Change” book in Arabic, including:

  • the MAYOR of Beirut
  • A Beirut Supreme Justice who ordered the book for himself and ALL of his judges
  • A famous Middle Eastern singer who was used by Coca-Cola to introduce the soft drink to the Middle East.
  • The widow of a former President of Lebanon also called the office, saying that she is seeing the campaign message everywhere and wants to know more.

Each call in Beirut is a miracle as we are dealing with an Islamic nation. Calls present a risk to the caller.

Altogether, they logged 58 million impressions and over 20 million hits on the campaign Facebook pages and the website – from all over the Middle East.

Some of their teams have ministered to Syrian refugees in Bekaa Valley just 8km from ISIS soldiers.  There are more than 2 million refugees from Syria & Iraq in the valley!

CLC, your missions giving is making a difference in the Middle East!

Off to LA

Chris and I are leaving today to spend a few days in Los Angeles.  What will we be doing there?  Helping Chad & Dorothy with these guys:

Riley Kai (L) and Lincoln James (R).

Riley Kai (L) and Lincoln James (R).

After some Nonny & Poppy time, we’ll be back for a GREAT KidsLife Production next Sunday – who are YOU inviting?

Sunday reflections

I should have posted before watching the Bears game…now I’m in a bad mood 😉             But at least it wasn’t a bad day at CLC:

  • Great Presence during worship in Tinley Park as Pastor Jon and Harmony and the SoP led us in “You Make Me Brave” and “No Longer Slaves”, which really fit our current “Fear Not” series!
  • Several people prayed to receive Christ, which is the greatest ‘Fear Not’ decision anyone can make!
  • Special THANKS to ALL the CLC volunteers who helped us pack enough boxes of food at the Thornton Township Food Pantry to feed 1,000 needy families!
After great worship time at NWI, people prayed for each other to be brave in doing what God is calling them to do.

After great worship time at NWI, people prayed for each other to be brave in doing what God is calling them to do.

Highlight of the weekend in Blue Island was the Christmas Parade yesterday, where our campus entered a live float of singers & musicians.

Highlight of the weekend in Blue Island was the Christmas Parade yesterday, where our campus entered a live float of singers & musicians.  Here are some of those who represented CLC-

Nikeva Lawrence & others from the BI worship team during the parade

Nikeva Lawrence & others from the BI worship team sang during the parade

Kudos to Daniel & Veronica Rodriguez who coordinated the parade activities for our BI campus

Kudos to Daniel & Veronica Rodriguez who coordinated the parade activities for our BI campus

Now I’m gonna go nurse my wounds from the Bears game….

Ask the Pastor

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No one asked a question for me this week, so I’m using one of my own: Who are the featured guest speakers at our annual First Love Conference in 2016?

So glad you asked – take a look here:

I hope you’ll mark your calendar now for January 16-18, 2016!

 

Telethon for Tots

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I’m really excited to announce an original CLC production coming to our Tinley Park campus on Sunday, December 13 at 8:30 & 10am and 12pm.  Written and produced by CLCers Joel & Andrea Johnson and our wonderful KidsLife team that serve our children all year round, this is one Sunday you won’t want to miss:

Mark your calendar now – but even better, invite a friend or family member to meet you at CLC on December 13 for this delightful production!

Welcome, Pastor Niyi Gbade

Niyi Gbade & his wife, Tayo during my visit to Nigeria last August

Niyi Gbade & his wife, Tayo during my visit to Nigeria last August

I’m so pleased to introduce Pastor Niyi Gbade from Nigeria to our CLC family, as he arrives in Chicago this afternoon.

Niyi has served with our partners at CAPRO, the indigenous Nigerian missions agency that recently celebrated 40 years of ministry, almost from their beginning.  An ordained Anglican minister, Niyi and his wife Tayo are full of the Holy Spirit and have given themselves to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

After filling a variety of leadership roles for CAPRO through the years, they were recently appointed to serve as the first full-time representatives for CAPRO in North America, and they are choosing to be based here at CLC!

While they will be traveling throughout the USA to mobilize missions and promote the work of CAPRO, they’re also willing to serve us at CLC, to further our missions efforts as well.  Niyi will be in meetings this weekend in Texas, but should be in service by next weekend and start getting acclimated to Chicagoland prior to his wife joining him here in January.  Please help welcome them to our CLC family!

The Christmas Hope project

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Some of you already heard about this last Sunday, but for the benefit of everyone else (and because I’m excited about this seasonal opportunity for us to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate), take a look at this video with all the details as to how YOU can be involved in spreading HOPE this Christmas:

Christmas Hope Project Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

I can’t speak for each campus since I was only in Tinley today, but there was such a sweet anointing in each service this Thanksgiving weekend:

On this Family Sunday, our Consumed Student Ministry led worship-

On this Family Sunday, our Consumed Student Ministry led worship-

Baby dedications always contribute to a sweet Spirit: David & Latthaniah Wells presented Ahlena today.

Baby dedications always contribute to a sweet Spirit: David & Latthaniah Wells presented Ahlena.

Baby dedication: Rob & Evisha Sills with Nolan (in Rob's arms)

Rob & Evisha Sills presented Nolan (in Rob’s arms) to the Lord today.

Pastors Brent & Sol presented Kelsey to the Lord today

and Pastors Brent & Sol presented Kelsey to the Lord (with Jaeden & Bennet looking on)

The first week of "Fear Not" seemed to connect.....

The first week of “Fear Not” seemed to connect…..

...but the solo of "Be Born in Me" by Amanda Edwards REALLY brought the message home!  Thanks for being such an instrument in God's Hands today, Amanda!

…but the solo of “Be Born in Me” by Amanda Edwards REALLY brought the message home! Thanks for being such an instrument in God’s Hands today, Amanda!

The Presence in the altar afterwards was indescribable!  (Kudos to Pastor Jon for leading that very special time)

The Presence in the altar afterwards was indescribable! (Thanks to Pastor Jon for leading that very special time)

At NWI today, a combined youth/adult team led worship.

At NWI today, a combined youth/adult team led worship for Family Sunday.

  • AND our KidsLife students raised $125 for “Feed My Starving Children”, so they got to throw a pie in the face of their leaders, Jenny & Ben Gonzales (sorry, no pic) 
  • Kudos also to Mike Usher and Antonio Aranda as they stepped up to lead our CSM ministry there.
Pastor Matt DeLaTorre did a great job bringing the Word in Pastor William's absence today at our Blue Island campus.

Pastor Matt DeLaTorre did a great job bringing the Word in Pastor William’s absence today at our Blue Island campus.

  • In addition to volunteers for the “Christmas Hope Project”, our Blue Island campus is also taking a big role in the Christmas Parade there this coming Saturday.

The only thing that’ll make this day any better is some Thanksgiving leftovers….think I’ll have some now-

Ask the Pastor

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A faithful CLC worshipper writes, “I’ve read the story about the Pool of Bethesda in John 5 many times but it caused me to wonder, how did the man who was healed get to the pool? The Bible says he didn’t have anyone there with him so did he stay there day and night? The waters could have been stirred at anytime so I could believe someone would stay and never leave hoping for healing. Or did family bring him everyday so he could eat, sleep in his own bed and be cared for?

Interesting questions, all.  I can see that you really gave the passage some thought, which is great for us to do when we read Scripture.  Let’s take your questions one at a time:

1.  The Bible doesn’t say how he got to the pool, so we can only speculate that his friends or family must have brought him there.

2.  Verses 3-4 indicate that the waters were stirred “at a certain time” when an angel visited the pool.  We don’t know if that was annually or monthly or sporadically.  If you read from a modern translation, that part of the story is omitted because it does not appear in some of the ancient manuscripts.  (Personally, I believe it should be part of the story and was probably left out only because some scribes found it hard to believe and chose to omit).  I agree with you that it’s entirely possible he stayed there day and night.

3.  We simply don’t know if his family brought him each day so he could rest at home – so it’s possible, but not certain.

Boy, I wasn’t much help on this one, was I – because the Bible simply doesn’t give us those details.  I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with family & friends, anyway-

Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

 

Dreaming of a trip to the Holy Land?

 

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Several CLC’ers have asked when we will take another tour of Israel, and I’m excited to finally announce that my wife & I will be hosting a trip there November 28-December 7, 2016!

Not only is a trip to the Holy Land the trip of a lifetime for any believer, but I’m especially excited to announce that through our partnership with Messianic congregations in the Land, we’ve connected with a Messianic (a Jew who has received Jesus as Lord & is filled with the Holy Spirit) experienced tour guide to lead the trip!  (If you’ve ever traveled to Israel with an Arab or a secular Jew as your guide, you know what a blessing it will be to have a brother in Christ leading us to the Biblical sites!)

As in our previous CLC trips, we’ll take time to do some ministry in Israel and be able to celebrate Shabbat with a Messianic family, as well as experience a worship service with one of our Messianic partners in the Galilee region.

Best of all, we’re able to offer this entire trip cheaper than any of our prior trips.  We’ll have complete information and pricing soon, but I wanted to let you know today so you can begin planning to be a part of this trip of a lifetime just one year from now!

If you want a brochure as soon as they’re available, let me know here.

Sunday reflections

Well, the first snow of this winter is history, along with it’s affect on our attendance this Sunday at CLC:

The Praise Team wasn't affected by the snow & ice - they still brought the Presence!

The Praise Team wasn’t affected by the snow & ice – they still brought the Presence!

Today was the last time we're talking about Faith Promise commitments for 2016 - but it's not too late for you to make one!

Today was the last time we’re talking about Faith Promise commitments for 2016 – but it’s not too late for you to make one!

Pastor Sam brought a WORD today: "my time is limited, so I must limit how I spend my time" / "we are busy but barren" / "let's focus on what's unique to us"

Pastor Sam brought a WORD today: “my time is limited, so I must limit how I spend my time” / “we are busy but barren” / “let’s focus on what’s unique to us” / KUDOS, Sam!!!

With her hubby preaching the lights out at Tinley Park, Pastor Taylor Hamstra was holding the fort at NWI.

With her hubby preaching the lights out at Tinley Park, Pastor Taylor Hamstra was holding the fort at NWI.

With Pastor William on vacation, Pastor Matt DeLaTorre closed the "Choose Life" series at Blue Island, with Jorge Arevalo interpreting.

With Pastor William on vacation, Pastor Matt DeLaTorre closed the “Choose Life” series at Blue Island, with Jorge Arevalo interpreting.

In spite of the snowy attendance AND a disappointing Bears loss, I’m still praising the Lord this Sunday afternoon (hope you are, too!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ask the Pastor

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Another week went by with NO questions…..which has me questioning:

  • does that mean I’ve done such a great job of answering questions that you don’t have any more questions?
  • OR could it mean that I’ve done such a poor job of answering questions that you don’t see the need to ask any other questions?
  • OR does it just mean that you’re too busy to write a question in the comment section below?

I’m here for you, every Friday, so let me hear from you….

Meanwhile, don’t forget that THIS SUNDAY is the close of our “Choose Life” series, and, as usual, we’ve saved the best for last!  Join us at any CLC campus for the finale-

Don’t forget – leave YOUR question(s) in the comment section below:

 

Christmas & Evangelism

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If you think about it, those two words go together like apple pie and ice cream.

After all, evangelism is all about tell people the ‘Good News’ about our Savior.

And Christmas is all about that ‘good news’ that the angels announced so long ago.

We haven’t even finished our current series, “Choose Life” yet, but I’m already excited about four great opportunities for you to bring an unsaved friend to CLC this November 29, Dec. 6, 13 and 20.

Our “Fear Not” series will focus on three times an angel appeared during the Christmas story, to Mary (Nov. 29), to Joseph (Dec. 6) and to the shepherds (Dec. 20) and WHY they said, ‘fear not’ each time.  Each of these messages will be ideal for bringing an unsaved friend – but especially the December 20 message.

And on December 13 our delightful kids from KidsLife will perform, “Telethon for Tots”, and it’s another great opportunity to bring unsaved friends and family members.

Let’s make this Christmas the BEST time of sharing the Good News of Jesus!

Fear Not Series Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

New rules for our missions travel

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It’s MONDAY morning in the Singapore airport as I type this, and Chris & I were able to grab about 5 hours sleep last night in the transit hotel here.  That plus a shower makes me feel pretty good as we begin this long day of travel (30 hours until we get to O’Hare).

But this trip has given us some new rules for our future travels – don’t know why it’s taken me this long to figure it out:

1.  We’re not ever going to start a long international trip on Sunday after preaching three services at CLC.  Everything goes better after a night’s sleep!

2.  We’re not ever going to arrive at our destination and begin ministry immediately after a long trip.  From now on, I’m giving my aging body a day to recuperate before diving in.

In case you’re wondering why I bothered telling YOU this, it’s so you’ll help keep me accountable if I’m ever tempted to do it the way we’ve done it for the last 15 years – we’ve decided we’re just getting too old for this!

Love you all – see you Tuesday!

Sunday reflections

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By the time you read this, we’ll either be asleep in Singapore or onboard a plane for Tokyo – but I promise you that my pastoral heart will be wanting to know how was everything at CLC today?

We’ve got a great staff, so I don’t worry about things when we’re away on missions, but I just like to hear about the services and how the Holy Spirit may have ministered to YOU.

So, if you attended any service at any campus of CLC today (even online), please let me know what you received from the Lord today.  What was your favorite part of the service?

Leave your comment below and make this pastor’s heart glad.  Thanks!

Cambodia, day 5

Sorry – no pics today since we were team-teaching at New Life Fellowship.  But I can tell you it was a GREAT day here in Phnom Penh – kinda like we saved the best for last!

Pastor Jesse McCaul had asked that we teach on marriage, so we used our recent ‘Mate-enance’ series notes and tried to combine two weeks at home into one week here.  The first service was a bit of an experiment, but the second service was wonderful!

Not only were we able to help several married couples (numerous comments afterward confirmed that), but we also had a mass renewal of vows after each service AND, best of all, once everything else was complete, our interpreter gave a salvation invitation and several people responded in each service, some with tears streaming down their face!  Chris and I LOVE what God is doing at New Life Fellowship!

Then Pastors Jesse & Soar grabbed a pizza and took us to their home for a relaxed lunch before getting us to the airport for the first of four flights that will eventually get us home on Monday night.  We love the McCaul’s and they referred to us as “mom & dad” today – so we really do feel like part of the family here.

Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, Josiah & Jessica

Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, Josiah & Jessica

We’ll overnight at a hotel in the Singapore airport tonight since we have about a 10-hour layover there so I may be able to post again before returning home.  Thanks for all your prayers – see you soon!

Cambodia, day 4

We finally had a short day of ministry, just teaching from 8:00-11:30am today as we concluded the MLM Seminar, “Failing Forward” at New Life Fellowship:

Chris demonstrated that in times of stress & pressure, whatever is IN us is what comes out!  (You may not see it, but only water came out of this sponge - and if we're full of Jesus, HE will come out of us!)

While Pastor Samdy interpreted, Chris demonstrated that in times of stress & pressure, whatever is IN us is what comes out! (You may not see it, but only water came out of this sponge – and if we’re full of Jesus, HE will come out of us!)

Before we concluded, we played a 'review' game with the delegates, as they shared some of the truths they learned.

Before we concluded, we played a ‘review’ game with the delegates, as they shared some of the truths about ‘failing forward’ that they learned.

Their responses let us know that they GOT it - and that's music to any teacher's ear!

Their responses let us know that they GOT it – and that’s music to any teacher’s ear!

We've still got a couple of services on Sunday, but Chris posed for a pic with Soar McCaul, wife of NLF's senior leader, Jesse McCaul, our dear friends!

We’ve still got a couple of services on Sunday, but Chris posed for a pic with Soar McCaul, wife of NLF’s senior leader, Jesse McCaul, our dear friends!

One more night’s sleep in Phnom Penh, then we’ll teach the “Mate-Enance” series here tomorrow before beginning the long journey home-

Cambodia, day 3

Today was a full day of teaching leadership principles to church leaders, pastors, Christian business men and non-profit leaders throughout the country of Cambodia:

Just as a candle has to have oxygen to burn, so we can snuff out our fears by not providing food thru our thoughts!

Just as a candle has to have oxygen to burn, so we can snuff out our fears by not providing food thru our thoughts!

There was a genuine anointing to teach today, but I think the highlight was seeing how eagerly the leaders discussed with each other what they were learning.

There was a genuine anointing to teach today, but I think the highlight was seeing how eagerly the leaders discussed with each other what they were learning.

There's nothing like seeing HUNGER on the faces of those who come to learn!

There’s nothing like seeing HUNGER on the faces of those who come to learn!

One of the most encouraging sights was seeing the young man in the white checked shirt (near center of pic) who attended the previous two days of training for university students, but showed up early this morning at New Life and stayed through every session, even participating in the group discussion.  Draw him to salvation, Lord!

One of the most encouraging sights was seeing the young man in the white checked shirt (near center of pic) who attended the previous two days of training for university students, but showed up early this morning at New Life and stayed through every session, even participating in the group discussion. Draw him to salvation, Lord!

It’s only 6:30pm in Phnom Penh, but we’re about ready for bed again – just not as young as we used to be.  One more day of seminar teaching tomorrow-

 

 

Cambodia, day 2

The second and final day of our seminar for the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports was even better than the first:

To make the review more interesting, Chris made a game of it - the team that could throw the most mini-marshmallows in a cup could answer questions

To make the review more interesting, Chris made a game of it – the team that could throw the most mini-marshmallows in a cup could answer questions – needless to say, they got into it!

During the lunch break, we gave away more than 100 Bibles to students who had never had one before!

During the lunch break, we gave away more than 100 Bibles to students who had never had one before!

One of the Bibles went to this young Buddhist monk-in-training.  When I saw him thumbing thru it, I asked if I could take his picture.  May he hunger for Your truth, oh Lord!

One of the Bibles went to this young Buddhist monk-in-training. When I saw him thumbing thru it, I asked if I could take his picture. May he hunger for Your truth, oh Lord!

These 2 young women showed so much interest we invited them to join us for lunch, and I fully expect to see them at New Life Fellowship this Sunday.

These two young women showed so much interest we invited them to join us for lunch, and I fully expect to see them at New Life Fellowship this Sunday.

After lunch there were more games as a tool to help them retain the truths we had taught - this one about the importance of relationships.

After lunch there were more games as a tool to help them retain the truths we had taught – this one about the importance of relationships.

There was even a bubble blowing contest (Chris lost; the young man to her right was the winner!)

There was even a bubble blowing contest (Chris lost; the young man to her right was the winner!)

In case you're wondering, I didn't just take pictures; I taught, too (here with the help of Samdy interpreting)

In case you’re wondering, I didn’t just take pictures; I taught, too (here with the help of Pastor Samdy interpreting)

The most impressive object lesson of the day was this "stick thru a balloon" feat - the students applauded, and even I was impressed when Chris pulled it off.

The most impressive object lesson of the day was this “stick thru a balloon” feat – the students applauded, and even I was impressed when Chris pulled it off.

Leaders are good listeners!

Leaders are good listeners!

Just like words we speak, it's easy to get the toothpaste OUT of the tube, but we can never put it back once it's released.

Just like words we speak, it’s easy to get the toothpaste OUT of the tube, but we can never put it back once it’s released, as these students learned.

The seminar was closed by an officer of the Ministry of Education, and HE encouraged the delegates to attend New Life this weekend to hear more from us - that's what I call FAVOR!

The seminar was closed by an officer of the Ministry of Education, and HE encouraged the delegates to attend New Life this weekend to hear more from us – that’s what I call FAVOR!

After a great dinner tonight at the home of Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, we just got back to our hotel for a good night’s rest before we teach the church leaders from around the country tomorrow – and I must say I’m looking forward to some familiar faces! G’nite-

 

Cambodia, day 1

Chris & I were both so wiped out after our first day of ministry here that I fell asleep on the way to the hotel, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat and went to bed rather than posting about the first day:

As before, theCambodian  Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports opened the day with a formal ceremony to welcome the delegates.  This official from the Ministry of Education really "teed it up for us" by telling the students how important the principles we were teaching would be to their future success!

As before, theCambodian Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports opened the day with a formal ceremony to welcome the delegates. This official from the Ministry of Education really encouraged the students  to receive by telling them how important the principles we were teaching would be to their future success!

Another Cambodian government official, Mr. Cheoun (who first invited us to do the seminars) was interviewed about the importance of these meetings.

Another Cambodian government official, Mr. Cheoun (who first invited us to do the seminars) was interviewed about the importance of these meetings.

As usual, the "queen of object lessons" made the lessons more fun for everyone!

As usual, the “queen of object lessons” made the lessons more fun for everyone!

It was so great to see the University students eager to interact and ask questions between sessions!

It was so great to see the University students eager to interact and ask questions between sessions!

They especially enjoyed the opportunity to discuss what they were learning, including these young Buddhist monks-in-training.

They especially enjoyed the opportunity to discuss what they were learning, including these young Buddhist monks-in-training.

There was even time for some games to reinforce what they were learning.

There was even time for some games to reinforce what they were learning.

We’ll be leaving soon for the final day of teaching these university students and Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports leaders, so stay tuned-

The FIRST sermon we heard last Sunday

It’s always a joy to see believers go into the waters of baptism, but it’s even more joyful when we get to hear their testimony beforehand.  This past Sunday kicked that up a notch, because James Elzy really blessed us all with his story of his brokenness after losing his wife, but how his daughter introduced him to CLC and how we’ve become his family now.

Pastor Brent led us in praying for James after he shared his testimony

Pastor Brent led us in praying for James after he shared his testimony

While he had the microphone, James went on to preach to everyone present who had not yet been water baptized, to follow his example!   “What are you waiting on?”  I think it was his first sermon and I know it was the first one we heard on Sunday – and it was GOOD preaching!

James Elzy after his baptism (thanks Pastors Ken & Ben for assisting)

James Elzy after his baptism (thanks Pastors Ken & Ben for assisting)

I’m sitting in the Tokyo Haneda airport waiting for a flight to Bangkok, but I’m thinking about how much I love our CLC family!

Leaving on a jet plane…

ana

By the time you read this, Chris and I will be somewhere over the Pacific enroute to Phnom Penh, Cambodia by way of Bangkok, Thailand, Tokyo, Japan, and Los Angeles. (Yep, it’s another one of those 40-hour travel days, as we left Chicago on Sunday afternoon and won’t arrive in Phnom Penh until Tuesday morning!)

We’ll hit the ground running, with a 2-day Leadership Seminar for the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports, as well as about 200 of the top university students of Cambodia.  Then we’ll teach a different seminar for EQUIP at New Life Fellowship (our Cambodian partners) for Christian leaders throughout the country.

I’ve attached our schedule for those of you who are willing to pray for us during this time of ministry – thanks in advance for those prayers!  Cambodia trip Prayer Requests

Finally, since it’s after midnight in Chicago as I type this, I’m going to read Day 1 of our 30-day challenge with “The Word of God Plan” from Bible.com.  (Notice that you can choose the translation you want to use each day – maybe you’ll even want to experiment with a few to see which speaks to you most)  I really hope you’ll join me!

Sunday reflections

This has been the most interesting Sunday I ever recall.  (I’ve been taught to use the word “interesting” when you don’t want to grumble or complain)

  • I feel I owe an apology to everyone who attended the 8:30am service in Tinley Park (and everyone from our NWI campus, since that’s the video feed they received) – it’s been a LOOOONG time since I just dropped the ball with the message that badly.

    Although Harmony was forced to play drums today, Tiffany Hines & the team led us into God's Presence without a hitch.

    Although Harmony was forced to play drums today, Tiffany Hines & the team led us into God’s Presence without a hitch.

KidsLife is in great hands with these STARS: (L to R) Marque Couser, Stacy Hunter & Joel Johnson!

KidsLife is in great hands with these STARS: (L to R) Marque Couser, Stacy Hunter & Joel Johnson!

Thankfully, the Word 'came alive' at 10 and 12!

Thankfully, the Word ‘came alive’ at 10 and 12!

I’m also excited for ALL the CLC’ers who are going to join us in reading the Word daily for the next 30 days, using “The Word of God” Bible reading plan.  (If you haven’t already, download the Bible App to your phone and then choose this reading plan)

I love the fact that Sam & Taylor aren't just Campus Pastors at NWI; they're worshippers, too!

I love the fact that Sam & Taylor aren’t just Campus Pastors at NWI; they’re worshippers, too!

Talk about 'receiving God's Word' - look at these faces in rapt attention!  Didn't Jesus say "a little child will lead them"?

Talk about ‘receiving God’s Word’ – look at these faces in rapt attention! Didn’t Jesus say “a little child will lead them”?

Perhaps best of all, our NWI campus served 95 volunteer hours in their community this past week!

Perhaps best of all, our NWI campus served 95 volunteer hours in their community this past week!

There was a real touch of the Holy Spirit at our Blue Island campus, and 2 people prayed to receive Christ!

There was a real touch of the Holy Spirit at our Blue Island campus, and 2 people prayed to receive Christ!

  • After the 3rd service, we grabbed a quick sandwich enroute to O’Hare to catch our first flight that will eventually get us to Cambodia by Tuesday morning – and it took us over an hour to check-in because of a glitch that prevents us from checking our bags thru to Phnom Penh.
  • Then my carry-on triggered the most (cough) thorough body search I’ve ever experienced before I was approved to go beyond security to our gate.  All of these are what Andy Stanley calls “rich people” problems, since the vast majority of our world never sees the inside of an airport.

BUT God is good, all the time!

I’ll check in with you from Cambodia.  Bye for now-

 

Ask the Pastor

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No one submitted a question for me this week, so I’m re-posting from November of 2011, in hopes this Q & A is still relevant for someone reading today:

A faithful CLCer writes, “My friend and I just discovered the pagan roots of the celebration we call Christmas and were thinking about not celebrating it the conventional way and time. But by doing that are we acting as those under the law or are we just being responsible for what we now know?”

Interesting question.  Let me begin by applauding your sincerity in wanting to please the Lord fully, as evidenced by your willingness to go against peer pressure and all of our culture in order to not do something that might be displeasing to the Lord – I wish every believer were so motivated! (It also fulfills 2Cor 5:9 and 1Thess. 4:1)

As to whether you are being legalistic or responsible, I’m not sure I could answer that, since only you would know your true motive.

However, in my humble opinion (since you asked me), I think you may be starting down a slippery slope IF your motivation is to avoid the ‘pagan roots’ of Christmas.  I say that because virtually everything has some pagan roots – (including our calendar & the days of the week!) and if we start “majoring on minors” it won’t be long until you can’t observe any holiday or enjoy almost any tradition – because almost all of them have some kind of pagan roots somewhere.  Most of this is so because after the Roman Empower Constantine declared himself a Christian in the early 300’s A.D., the Roman church made it a ‘strategy’ whenever engaging in missionary activity among the heathens to incorporate any of the pagan’s holidays & beliefs into their practice of Christianity.  That strategy or practice is usually called syncretism.

My personal practice with my own family (and my suggestion to you) is that you observe the holiday according to your belief’s; i.e., just because someone somewhere at sometime in the past observed Christmas in a certain way doesn’t have to dictate to me how I celebrate.  For instance, I understand that colored eggs and marshmellow bunnies don’t have anything to do with the Resurrection of Jesus, but as long as I know the meaning of the holiday and celebrate His Resurrection (actually, every day!), then I don’t see the harm of allowing my children or grandchildren to enjoy the festivities — and I do know that some well-meaning Christians have ‘scarred’ their children by requiring them not to participate in similar activities, causing the children to feel they were missing out and making them feel isolated among their classmates, sometimes even to the point of ridicule, etc.

That’s my opinion.  Pastor Mark Beeson has this great post on his blog about observing Halloween, which may have some similar principles to what I’ve stated here.  The only Scripture that comes to mind that might have some bearing on this whole issue is Romans 14, so I’d encourage you to read it carefully to see all the principles involved.

Hope that helps.  Let’s keep the conversation going: what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor? Please leave a question or comment below-

Choose Life!

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Decisions, decisions!

All of us face so many choices every single day.  Some are fairly easy: what shall I eat? (Although getting my wife to choose a restaurant is anything but easy: “I don’t know, where do you want to eat? Anywhere is fine with me.  How about ____? No, not there!”, etc, etc, etc.)  But I digress.

Others have eternal consequences (as Adam and Eve learned).

For the next three weekends, Pastors Brent and Sam will join me to show you how you can make three right choices that will bring amazing benefits to your life as a result.

I hope you’ll join us and invite a friend, too!

Choose life promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Sunday reflections

I live for days like today at CLC.

When you talk about the thing closest to the heart of God, HE shows up.  And today HE showed up through the ministry of Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope!

As usual, Pastor Jon & Harmony helped us open our hearts to the Lord through worship

As usual, Pastor Jon & Harmony and SoP helped us open our hearts to the Lord through worship

Rob Hoskins is one of the greatest missionary statesmen I've ever met, and today CLC got to see why.

I especially appreciated his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit & his obedience to return to the pulpit to lead a prayer for all our unsaved children & grandchildren - it was a POWERFUL moment!

I especially appreciated his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit & his obedience to return to the pulpit to lead a prayer for all our unsaved children & grandchildren – it was a POWERFUL moment!

CLC had the incredible privilege of being the FIRST church to see the newly released Bible App for Kids Storybook - and you bought out every copy we had (we're ordering more for next week)

CLC had the incredible privilege of being the FIRST church to see the newly released Bible App for Kids Storybook – and you bought out every copy we had (we’re ordering more for next week)

It’s an amazing resource for kids & grandkids and would make a great Christmas gift – read more about it here.

Our NWI campus is doing a "Hope Week" serving their community with 7 different projects and a goal of 152 hours of service! Whether around the corner or around the world, we're on mission!

Our NWI campus is doing a “Hope Week” serving their community with 7 different projects and a goal of 152 hours of service! Whether around the corner or around the world, we’re on mission!

Our Blue Island campus today said 'goodbye' to their KidsLife Director, Maria Moore, and her family, as they're moving to Florida.

Our Blue Island campus today said ‘goodbye’ to their KidsLife Director, Maria Moore, and her family, as they’re moving to Florida.

Pastor William & my wife both said there was a  tangible move of the Holy Spirit at the close of service after Chris shared her heart for missions.

Pastor William & my wife both said there was a tangible move of the Holy Spirit at the close of service after Chris shared her heart for missions.

Now it’s time to crank up the DVR and watch another Bears loss-

Ask the Pastor

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A faithful CLC’er writes, I’ve struggled with these bible verses especially in the AMP version; Matt 7:7-8. My struggle is with the ‘ask and keep on asking part’ especially. Do we really have to ask over and over for the same thing? Doesn’t that mean you don’t believe that God has heard your prayer? Or that you don’t trust that if the answer is No, then He knows best concerning the matter/request? Doesn’t it become a bit like manipulation where you keep asking because you’re hoping the answer will change to what you want it to be if the answer is No? And if the answer is ‘Yes, but not right now’, and you keep on asking, isn’t that just….. pestering? For instance: The church in Senegal that prayed for a keyboard, and God spoke to you in America concerning going to Senegal about the same time they made the initial request. (you shared this in a post a few months ago) Years later they get the keyboard from you. If they had not kept praying, would it really have made a difference to what God had already responded to?”

Phew!  Excellent questions – and it’s a topic that many believers wonder about. Let’s tackle all six questions, one at a time:

  1. There is no question that Jesus did teach the value of persistence in prayer in this passage. The Greek verb form used here (in the King James Version it always ends in “eth”) definitely refers to a continuing action; asking again and again as opposed to asking only one time.
  1. Having said that, let me add that perhaps a ‘key’ to each of your questions has to do with the absence of a ‘word’ from the Lord regarding your request. In other words, IF the Lord speaks to your heart in prayer that (a) He has already heard your request and the answer is on the way, or (b) He has heard your request but the answer is ‘no’ and that He doesn’t want you to pray for it anymore, then of course, you should quit asking – and praise Him for His answer.
  • But in the absence of that kind of direction from the Lord, I do not believe your           continued seeking is an indication of a lack of trust at all. The parable of the unjust judge (Luke 18) also sheds light on this question – and it’s not (as some believers have supposed) that God is compared to an unjust judge who needed to be pestered into answering the widow’s request; it’s that God is contrasted with the unjust judge – God doesn’t require our continual begging! However, often times we need to be persistent, because it’s our desire that wanes. (I’ve prayed about some things in the past and a day or two later forgotten that I even asked for them – so fickle can we be as humans. I think God wants to give us those things that are truly our heart’s desire!) Persistence is one way we can prevail over our own lethargy and mediocrity in prayer! 
  1. I don’t think a repeated request indicates we don’t trust that God knows best, because we have the example of the greatest of the apostles, who sought the Lord three times for his ‘thorn in the flesh’ to be removed and God said ‘no’ – finally telling Paul that “my grace is sufficient” (2Cor.12:7-10).
  1. I don’t think that’s manipulation because we’re not in a position to manipulate God, since He does all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11) and He won’t be intimidated or manipulated by any man!
  1. It wouldn’t be pestering if you didn’t already hear God’s ‘yes’ in your heart – but it certainly sounds like childlike faith that keeps asking for God to do what we need.
  1. As to the Senegal example, I have no way of knowing whether their prayer would have prompted Him to speak to me in a dream had they not continued seeking – after all, He knows the end from the beginning! (Isa. 46:10)

Bottom-line?  Let’s pray in faith & expectation, and persist in prayer until God tells us to stop asking or that the answer is on the way!

Hope this helped a bit.  Perhaps YOU have additional insight on this question about prayer – if so, please join the conversation below-

Meanwhile, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

The most audacious vision, ever!

That's how I felt when I first met Rob Hoskins and heard the vision of OneHope.

That’s how I felt when I first met Rob Hoskins and heard the vision of OneHope.

Their vision is simply, “God’s Word. Every Child”.

By that, they mean to get God’s Word to every child.  On the planet.

And what’s even more audacious is that they are well on their way to accomplishing it, with more than one billion (yes, billion with a ‘B’!) already served!

I won’t spoil Sunday by telling you more now, but I hope you’ll join us at CLC (Tinley Park and NWI campuses) as the President of OneHope, Rob Hoskins, closes out our 2015 Missions Emphasis series.  Invite a friend!

OneHope in 30 seconds! from OneHope on Vimeo.

 

I LOVE technology!

Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s more of a love-hate relationship.

I love what technology enables us to do, but since I’m not particularly adept at using it, I sometimes hate it when things go wrong or I can get it to do what others can.

But I digress.  What I ESPECIALLY love about technology is that it enables us to reach further & better than we ever could before.

For instance, this past Sunday when I delivered my heart to CLC about why missions is so important, there were more than 300 people who weren’t in the building, but who received my message online via our livestream!  (Kudos to Pastor Josh Moran & his whole media team that enabled them to receive as though they were in the room!)

And even though a few days have passed, here is YOUR opportunity to get the message, too – so anyone who wasn’t at CLC last Sunday can hear my heart:

Departure – Why Go? – Week 2 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Praise God for technology!

 

 

WHERE will YOU go in 2016?

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Last Sunday I made my case that each of us is responsible for the Great Commission, and that there are 3 ways we can go:

  • in Prayer
  • in Pocketbook
  • in Person

You can make your commitment for the first 2 ways by taking one of the posters of a CLC missions partner off the wall at CLC, or via our website.

To go in person in 2016, we’re offering 5 opportunities:

  • SENEGAL – March 11-19 (cost is $2100)
  • Philippines – July 15-26 (visiting both PCF in Manila & our Davao campus – cost is $2500)
  • COSTA RICA – July 18-24 (a great family trip, serving at-risk children – cost is $1300)
  • Kenya October 20-November 3 (cost is $3600, including an optional safari!)

The final opportunity is to visit ISRAEL – we’re still working on the details, but it promises to be the trip of a lifetime, walking in the Land where Jesus walked, late November-early December is our target and we believe we’ll be able to keep the cost below $3,000!

Where is God calling YOU to go?

International dinner recap

Last night was perhaps the best-attended & best-overall International Dinner in our history at the Tinley Park campus (I even thought the FOOD was the best ever!) – enjoy a recap of the evening thru pictures:

Part of the FUN each year is the variety of international dress that we see & last night the "McQuay girls" brought it from (L to R) Nigeria, Mexico & Senegal!

Part of the FUN each year is the variety of international dress that we see & last night the “McQuay girls” brought it from (L to R) Nigeria, Mexico & Senegal!

This year we made it a contest for 'most authentic' or 'most beautiful' ethnic garment & the award went to a Nigerian guest!

This year we made it a contest for ‘most authentic’ or ‘most beautiful’ ethnic garment & the award went to a Nigerian guest!

There must have been an age limit for the contest - otherwise, I think this Mexican princess would have to win!

There must have been an age limit for the contest – otherwise, I think this Mexican princess would have to win!

This choir of next generation singers really blessed me when they sang an African song in the dialect!  Kudos!!!

This next generation choir really blessed me when they sang an African song in the dialect! Kudos!!!

We were SO blessed by the stories of the revival in Iran from ELAM ministry representatives, Dan & Carmen Hale!

We were SO blessed by the stories of the revival in Iran from ELAM ministry representatives, Dan & Carmen Hale!

One of the highlights of the night was the unveiling of our 2016 CLC Missions trips – but I’ll save that info for another post.  Stay tuned!

Before I forget, MEGA-kudos to all the amazing Volunteers who made the evening so special – there were too many for me to remember them all here, but you know who you are, and we love and appreciate each one of you – from those who did the grunt work of turning a church auditorium into a banquet facility, to those who brought ethnic foods for us to enjoy, for the kitchen workers & servers, to those who helped at the various displays and even for the special Eritrean coffee time at the end of the evening. 

If you attended last night’s dinner, what was your favorite part?  Join the conversation below-

Sunday reflections

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I bled today. A lot. All over people.

That’s the only way I know to describe today at CLC.  It was my ONE Sunday of 2015 to share my heart for missions with our church family – and I can’t recall the last time I so wanted to reach people’s heart with my heart as today.

I guess we’ll know in the weeks ahead whether my mission was accomplished.

I do know from a few conversations between services that some CLC’ers heard God’s voice today, and that’s all any preacher could ever ask or want.  Some of them will be going in person and others in prayer, and I expect their lives to be changed as a result.

Meanwhile, Chris brought the message at our NWI campus today, and from what I heard, she bled a lot, too!

Meanwhile, Chris brought the message at our NWI campus today, and from what I heard, she bled a lot, too!  Pastor Sam said “many people grabbed posters after service”, and they had a LOT of people sign up to serve during “Hope Week” November 2-7!

AT our Blue Island campus, after a guest missionary shared, the altar filled up with people who were willing to do "whatever God is calling them to do"!

AT our Blue Island campus, after guest missionary, Martha Berberian shared, the altar filled up with people who were willing to do “whatever God is calling them to do”!

That’s about all I have time to report, since I’m packing for my trip to LA tomorrow to help with the twins (my son returns to work and Dorothy can’t drive for 2 weeks because of the C-section, so I’ll play chauffeur and get to lay hands on my newest grand babies, too) and planning to attend the Tinley Park campus International Dinner tonight.

So, if you attended any service at any CLC campus today, what were your thoughts?  Please leave a comment below

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “I’ve meant to ask this for ages – 1Cor. 11:7-10 – context, please?”

Oh, my.  You have stumbled upon a passage that was a major part of the legalism in which I grew up.  My former denomination used that passage (actually verses 5-16 of that chapter) to reach that women should not cut their hair, ever!  And most of those churches taught it as a salvation issue: if a woman cut her hair, she would be considered unsaved.

So, when I began making the transition from the legalism of my original faith family and into the ‘non-denominational world’ of which CLC is a part, that passage of Scripture was difficult for me.  My heart knew that it couldn’t really mean what I had been taught all those years, but my head couldn’t explain what those verses do mean.  It’s one of the reasons that my personal transition was not an overnight decision, but actually took several years.

I’m still not sure that I know exactly what Paul tried to teach the Corinthians in those verses, but I’ll give it my best shot:

1.  This is the ONLY passage in Scripture that deals with this subject, so I’m inclined to believe that it primarily dealt with a local issue in Corinth in that period of time (as opposed to a principle or problem that applies to all believers everywhere today.)

2.  The clear issue is that of authority; the application has to do with a veil or head-covering or one’s hair.  

3.  In Paul’s words, because man was created first, then the woman, a man should not cover his head since he was made in God’s image.  But a woman, who came from man (referring to Eve being made from Adam’s rib)should wear a covering to show that she is under a man’s authority.  I’m not sure exactly how this is to be interpreted for our day, since veils or hats or hair length do not carry any connotation regarding authority in our society.

This may be where some folks have insisted that young men should not wear a cap or hat in church.  I don’t teach that at CLC because I don’t believe that’s an application for today.

4.  When Paul mentions in verse 10 that women must show that they’re under authority “because the angels are watching”, I think he’s referring to the fact that heaven recognizes order, and that the angels are always in submission to God.  If Christian women were to disregard or rebel against the authority over them, they would become bad examples to any angels who observe that behavior.  In my understanding, it’s really not just about women; it applies to all of us as believers – that we must remain “under authority” lest we tempt or discourage heavenly angels from likewise being submitted to God – or worse yet, attract attention from fallen angels who would interpret that favorably, since they also rebelled against God’s authority over them. (see Matt. 8:8-10 for an example of the benefit of being ‘under authority’)

I hope that helps a bit, although this is two weeks in a row that the question was better than my answer, I’m afraid!  Perhaps YOU would like to join the conversation and give us your understanding of this passage – if so, please leave a comment below.

Or, if YOU have a question for Ask the Pastor, please leave it below-

Thanks for the prayers…please keep it up!

Chris and I are thankful beyond words for our church family and friends around the world who have been praying for our newest grandchildren, who were born last Sunday at 33 weeks (about a month earlier than the doctors had hoped).

Lincoln James McQuay

Lincoln James McQuay weighed 4 lbs, 2 oz. at birth, and has been doing pretty well for a preemie.

Riley (the girl) weighed 3 lbs, 8 oz., but was quickly diagnosed with a listeria infection that the doctors immediately began treating with antibiotics.

Riley Kai McQuay (his sister) weighed 3 lbs, 8 oz., but was quickly diagnosed with a rare, serious bacterial infection called ‘listeria’ that the doctors immediately began treating with antibiotics.  

 

Last night the doctors did a spinal tap, since meningitis often results from the listeria infection.  Chad just texted me, “Preliminary findings seemed promising except for the fact her white blood cell count has continued to skyrocket. So for now, they are treating it as meningitis. In the meantime, Riley has had a rough morning. They couldn’t find a vein in arms or legs, so they needed to run an IV though the scalp. Needless to say, Dorothy can’t hold her today, which she was hoping to do. Riley is also having more labored breathing so they needed to up her oxygen.”

We’ve already seen God’s hand in several miracles with these grandchildren, but we do ask for your continued prayers for full healing and growth, and of course, for their parents, Chad & Dorothy.  Thanks so much!

The reason I have a heart for MISSIONS…..

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I would estimate that no part of our vision and strategy at CLC gets pushback or sincere questions like our missions vision.  When people learn that CLC tithes all our income to missions, and that our annual missions budget equals about 17% of our total expenditures, they often react with, “Why do we spend so much on reaching people overseas, when we have so many needs of our own, right here at home?”

This Sunday I want to answer that question more clearly than ever before. As our Missions Emphasis series “DEPARTURE” continues, this is my only opportunity to really share my heart about missions, and I’m going all out.  I hope every CLC’er will join us this Sunday to hear the answer to “Why Go?”

I can’t wait.

P.S. Don’t forget, our annual International Missions Dinner at the Tinley Park campus is this Sunday, October 25 at 5:30pm – and we’ll unveil all our 2016 Missions Trips, so get your FREE ticket this week!

For all my PASTOR friends

Ben on the far left, with his wife, Nili on the far right, and 6 of their 7 children

Ben on the far left, with his wife, Nili on the far right, and 6 of their 7 children

For any growing church, two of the most important areas are leadership development and leading your staff.  We are SO blessed at CLC to have the ‘best’ I’ve seen at those two areas of ministry in our Executive Pastor (and my friend), Ben Stewart!

I’m not only posting my gratitude for his assistance (after all, it is Pastor Appreciation month), but I’m also sharing the blessing he is to us with this article he recently wrote for Worship Facilities magazine.

Pastor, read it and glean from the wisdom we enjoy at CLC all year long.

Kudos, Pastor Ben!

Good news about Jane Walker

If you enjoyed Jane Walker’s ministry visit at CLC yesterday, I’ve got good news & more good news.  First, the good news – if you weren’t able to purchase items from her table yesterday, we’ve decided to keep them on display throughout our Missions Emphasis – and they make great Christmas gifts:

JEWELRY: bracelets & necklaces made from soda can tabs by the mother's at the dumpsite!

JEWELRY: bracelets & necklaces made from soda can tabs by the mother’s at the dumpsite!

Men's wallets & ladies purses, made from those same soda can tabs!

Men’s wallets & ladies purses, made from those same soda can tabs!

Lovely bags for the women in your life-

Lovely bags for the women in your life-

Even a case for your iPad or other tablet

Even a case for your iPad or other tablet

and now the MORE good news:

Next JULY CLC will take a missions trip to visit PCF in Manila & see the work firsthand (plus visit our CLC-Davao campus with Pastors Herley & Joel Montes at the end of the trip!)

Next JULY CLC will take a missions trip to visit PCF in Manila & see the work firsthand (plus visit our CLC-Davao campus with Pastors Herley & Joel Montes at the end of the trip!)

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the PCF items, they’ll be available through November 1.

Sunday reflections

Today was a momentous day, for CLC and for my family (not so much for the Bears or Cubs, unfortunately):

Jon & the Servants of Praise led us into The Presence like always - may we never take it for granted!

Jon & the Servants of Praise led us into The Presence like always – may we never take it for granted!

There really are no words to describe Jane Walker, the single mom who, as a baby Christian, began a work in the poorest squatter area of Manila, Philippines that has grown into an amazing ministry that feeds & educates over 800 students in a multi-million dollar school & ministers to 4,500 people weekly - all because she said YES!

There really are no words to describe Jane Walker, the single mom who, as a baby Christian, began a work in the poorest squatter area of Manila, Philippines that has grown into an amazing ministry that feeds & educates over 800 students in a multi-million dollar school & ministers to 4,500 people weekly – all because she said YES!

  • Pastor William reports a great day at Blue Island, with new adult guests, a great beginning to the KidsLife Christmas program, and new members being trained for the worship ministry there.
Love the MISSIONS DISPLAY that Pastor Sam & our NWI campus created, with posters from all 31 of our CLC mission partners

Love the MISSIONS DISPLAY that Pastor Sam & our NWI campus created, with posters from all 31 of our CLC mission partners.  We also had a GREAT international dinner at NWI tonight, with Jane Walker sharing more of her journey with us & we unveiled our 2016 missions trips.

It was momentous for our family because of the premature arrival of our TWIN grandchildren! This is Lincoln James McQuay who weighed in at 4 lbs, 2 oz. His little sister, Riley, weighs 3 lbs, 8 oz, but has an infection & some breathing difficulties, so no pics to show you yet. Please continue to pray with us for her health.

It was momentous for our family because of the premature arrival of our TWIN grandchildren! This is Lincoln James McQuay who weighed in at 4 lbs, 2 oz. His little sister, Riley, weighs 3 lbs, 8 oz, but has an infection & some breathing difficulties, so no pics to show you yet. Please continue to pray with us for her health.

 

I don’t want to talk about the Bears or the Cubs tonight.  (I prefer to think of things that are lovely and of good report)

Ask the Pastor

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My favorite CLC ‘questioner’ writes, “Even Christians sometimes question why God allows bad things to happen to good people. I have come to terms with that over the years, but when I turned to the 20th chapter of Leviticus a few days ago, for the first time in my life I had trouble even reading a passage from the Bible. God didn’t just allow bad things to happen to sinners, He ordered that sexual sinners be put to death in a very cruel manner. I have a problem reconciling that with the God I love and serve today.”

Great question.  Hard question.  You’re certainly not alone in struggling with those aspects of the Old Testament in contrast with the love & grace of the New Testament, and I’ll admit it can be difficult to reconcile.  But let me try anyway:

1.  God was determined that HIS people live differently than the heathen nations around them, and by expressing His abhorrence and recommended public punishment, He was certainly giving the Jewish people a strong deterrent to sexual sins.

If you want to know how wicked those heathen nations near Israel were, from my research I learned that in 1930 archeologists discovered the Ras Shamra religious epic literature from Ugarit in North Syria. Thousands of clay tablets stored in what seems to be a library between two great Canaanite temples dating from the fourteenth or fifteenth century B.C. give a full description of the Canaanite religion.  Much of what was unearthed in this library would be “X-rated” even by today’s standards.

Besides that, Leviticus 18 gives details of many of the sinful religious practices of the Canaanites, which included child sacrifice to the god Molech, incest, bestiality, homosexuality and cultic prostitution.  The bottom-line is that these Canaanite cults were utterly immoral, decadent, and corrupt, which no doubt justifies God’s instruction to destroy their followers, and harshly judging the Jewish people whenever they adopted those pagan sins because of the danger they represented to corrupting God’s chosen people, Israel.

2.  Whereas the problem today with capital punishment is the difficulty in our society of making a righteous judgment (consider how many innocent people have been condemned to die) – keep in mind that the One who is altogether righteous, the Holy One of Israel is completely qualified to judge – so He is not being morally unjust to take human life as He sees fit.

3.  Most importantly, we must never forget that God’s judgment is always tempered with His mercy, as demonstrated when God pronounced judgment on the very first sin in this world, that He did not do so until He first promised mankind that a Redeemer would come (Genesis 3:15), AND, when Jesus did come, He took the curse of all our sins upon Himself; indeed He became a curse for us, in purchasing our salvation (Galatians 3:13-14)

know that explanation doesn’t remove all our difficulty with the passages you cite, but I hope it helped some.  Perhaps YOU would like to join the conversation by leaving your comments below-

Meanwhile, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

7 Ways to Support Your Pastor on Sunday

I don’t do this often, but today’s post is actually written by Pastor Ron Edmondson, whom I’ve never met in person, but whose blog I read regularly (and often pass on to our team at CLC).  I can’t improve on this one because everything he says here fits:

senior-pastorMy ministry allows me to interact with dozens of pastors each week. It appears there are some common experiences on Sunday morning for many of us.

The bottom line: Sunday mornings are a stressful time for pastors.

I also know most people who love their church — and love their pastor — want to help any way they can to make the Sunday morning experience the best it can be. I get asked this question constantly. Pastor, how can I best support you? What a great question

That’s the purpose of this post. Here are some ways you can help your pastor on Sunday morning.

I should note. I have been in churches whcih, for the most part, do each of these well.

Here are 7 ways you can help your pastor on Sunday:

Pray

Pray for your pastor. Ask God to open the ears of the people, to guide your pastor’s heart and to bless the services with His Spirit.

Don’t critique

Sunday morning is not the best time to bring complaints. You might be surprised how often this happens to pastors. (Probably not Sunday afternoon either.) It is very distracting when the pastor is about to speak to hear criticism which will have to be dealt with later. It weighs very heavy on the mind and gets in the way of focusing on the message. Hold those until Monday, but even then, ask yourself if sharing it is personal to you or genuinely helpful to the entire body.

Don’t share something you want us to remember

Most likely we will forget what you told us by the time Sunday is done. Send us an email later or call us Monday morning. If it must be shared on Sunday, please write it down for us so we can remember the details. Our minds are so clouded on Sunday thinking about a million different things. And, we try hard to make our focus about a message we hope God will use.

Be Kingdom-minded

Think of others interests even ahead of your own. (That’s Biblical.) Keep in mind the temperature in the room may not be your ideal temperature, but it may be exactly the right temperature for someone else. Your song may not be sung today, but it could be the song which leads another to the throne of grace. The message may not address what you’re dealing with right now, but for someone else, it might be life-changing. Be a part of the crowd that says, “I love what helps another” and you’ll help your pastor and the church greatly on Sunday mornings.

Volunteer

The work of the church can’t function with only a few people. I’ve never met the church which had too many people volunteering in preschool ministry, too many greeters, or too many people willing to do whatever it takes.

Introduce us to visitors

We love to meet visitors, most especially those seeking a church home. It is comforting when the church is bringing people with them or meeting new visitors as they arrive.

Pray

It really does begin and end with prayer. More than anything, we want your prayer support. The Spirit of God seems to respond when you do.

Introducing Jane Walker…

Jane

I’m SO excited about this weekend at CLC, when we finally get to welcome Jane Walker to our pulpit.  We’ve been trying to get her here since 2008, when we first met. Here’s what I wrote about her then:

I met a Christian yesterday in Manila. If you’ve never heard the incredible story of Jane Walker, it’s virtually impossible to describe her and the work she’s doing among the ‘poorest of the poor’ who literally live on the garbage dump of Manila, Philippines.

Check our her Philippine Community Fund – but understand that no website can do it justice. Jane is a single mom who first visited the Philippines on a missions trip about 19 years ago and who now serves these children and families in the name of Jesus.

I first learned of her through some pastor friends who described her efforts here, which garnered her the 2009 “Woman of the Year” award  in her native Great Britain. But nothing could have prepared me for what we saw, smelled, and felt as our team walked through the garbage dump with her and saw first-hand the love of Christ that compels her to do what she does.

Here’s a 7-minute video that explains how & why Jane started her ministry there:

And another 6-minute video that describes the scope of her work there:

I hope every CLC’er will join us THIS Sunday (October 18) to hear what God is doing through her ministry – and know what HE is able to do through us as well!

Let this whet your appetite for our new series, ‘DEPARTURE’!

I read this report this morning, and couldn’t wait to share it with you: it’s the kind of news you won’t get from the mainstream media in America.

God is at work in these turbulent times!

I hope you’ll come expecting this Sunday when we begin our DEPARTURE to look at what God is doing around the world through missions at CLC!

Final installment of “Mate-enance” for your marriage

For those who asked, here’s last Sunday’s message:

Mate-enance pt 2 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

I was thrilled to meet several guests Sunday who came because a friend or family member had specifically invited them for this series – so feel free to share this video with anyone you know who needs some help in their marriage (which is probably everyone you know!)

 

We’re emphasizing MISSIONS at CLC…

For the next 3 weeks MISSIONS will be our focus at CLC, and it all started with a bang yesterday:

Eric & Meaghan Condon, who feel called to go as full-time missionaries, are leading our KidsLife missions emphasis.

Eric & Meaghan Condon, who feel called to go as full-time missionaries, are leading our KidsLife missions emphasis – including this contest between the boys & the girls, to see who can raise the most money to help feed hungry children around the world.

Our kids are raising their awareness & compassion by collecting quarters - and yesterday they raised over $250, which will help feed 1,150 children! (each sticker in the pic represents a child being fed thru KidsLife)

Our kids are raising their awareness & compassion by collecting quarters – and yesterday they raised over $250, which will help feed 1,150 children! (each sticker in the pic represents a child being fed thru KidsLife)

  • We also introduced, prayed & encouraged the kids about missions!!  I heard that as they were praying for different countries, one of our first graders prayed for Cambooboo (Cambodia).  Gotta love kids!

Our CLC-Blue Island International Dinner officially kicked-off our 2015 Missions Emphasis - and this 'China doll' (Neiley Arevalo, daughter of Pastors William & Melek) was there early to set the stage!

Our CLC-Blue Island International Dinner officially kicked-off our 2015 Missions Emphasis – and this ‘China doll’ (Neiley Arevalo, daughter of Pastors William & Melek) was there to set the stage!

Kudos to our Entheos team for helping serve the food!

Kudos to our Entheos team for helping serve the food!

Some of us ate on the floor, as is the custom in India.

Some of us ate while seated on the floor, as is the custom in India.

It was a full house as we worshipped together.

It was a full house as we worshipped together.

Brother Giovanni spoke from his missionary experience in both Ethiopia and India, as Pastor William translated.

Brother Giovanni spoke from his missionary experience in both Ethiopia and India, as Pastor William translated.

The Debela family won a prize for authentic national attire, representing Kenesa's homeland of ETHIOPIA!

The Debela family won a prize for authentic national attire, representing Kenesa’s homeland of ETHIOPIA!

With over 40 nations represented in our CLC family, the International Dinner is a great time to proudly represent our heritage - as the  family did with Honduras last night!

With over 40 nations represented in our CLC family, the International Dinner is a great time to proudly represent our heritage – as the Hector & Sara Mendez family did with Honduras last night!

  • NWI is next, on October 18 with special guest Jane Walker from the Philippines. Then Tinley Park will feast on October 25 with guests from ELAM, a ministry experiencing amazing revival in IRAN!  Plus our 2016 Missions trips will be revealed – so get your tickets in the lobby of your campus this week!

(Kudos to Cesar Giron for the photos from Blue Island)

 

Sunday reflections

As I type this, I’ve just started the DVR playback, but I already know the Bears came from behind to beat the Chiefs 18-17, so I really think today was a win-win (a win for my favorite team & a win at CLC):

Can I just say I LOVE this team!  Thanks to ALL of the SoP for what you do every week to lead us all into His Presence!

Can I just say I LOVE this team! Thanks to ALL of the Servants of Praise for what you do every week to lead us all into His Presence – today was no exception!

For sure, we had everyone's attention when the balloon popped today - in every service!  Remember to deal with your anger quickly - don't let it build!

For sure, we had everyone’s attention when the balloon popped today – in every service! Remember to deal with your anger quickly – don’t let it build!

I was moved by couples who came forward by prayer in each service!  Big thanks to our altar ministry team for serving so faithfully!

I was moved by couples who came forward by prayer in each service! Big thanks to our altar ministry team for serving so faithfully!

 

My FAVORITE ministry is praying for CLC'ers!

My FAVORITE ministry is praying for CLC’ers!

  • We rejoice over people who prayed to receive Christ in each service today!
CLC is all about reaching the Next Generation, and at NWI, they're already serving to help us worship!

CLC is all about reaching the Next Generation, and at NWI, they’re already serving to help us prepare our hearts in worship!

  • Pastor Sam says ALL the tickets for the NWI International Dinner were already claimed a full week in advance!  Missions is in the heart of CLC!
For this 'Mate-enance' series at Blue Island, Eric & Liane Williams provided some 'married music'!

For this ‘Mate-enance’ series at Blue Island, Eric & Liane Williams provided some ‘married music’!

Great reports about the teaching in Blue Island from Pastors William & Melek, who not only team-taught, but they did it in 2 languages, too!

Great reports about the teaching in Blue Island from Pastors William & Melek, who not only team-taught, but they did it in 2 languages, too! (Chris & I have never done that!)

  • Our MISSIONS EMPHASIS kicks-off in a few hours with Blue Island’s International Dinner – and excitement is building as each ticket was given out.  Maybe more pics tomorrow-

Now I’m gonna settle in and watch that Bears win!

Ask the Pastor

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One of our CLC leaders writes, “Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur just passed. Are we supposed to honor the feasts? Are there any other Jewish practices that we should honor? If so, do we do them, or why don’t we do them at CLC?”

Great questions, especially because SO many believers are largely unaware of our Jewish heritage.  Let me tackle your 4 questions, one at a time:

1.  I would say, “NO”, if by “supposed to” you mean “required to” in Scripture.  I don’t see any New Testament teaching or example that would indicate that Christians are required or expected to observe Jewish feasts.  However, I would also say that I don’t see any teaching or example in the New Testament that would forbid us to do so.  To the contrary, I find the Apostle Paul continuing to observe Jewish feasts and customs even after he came to faith in Christ (1Cor. 16:8, Acts 18:18, Acts 21:24)

2.  As to whether we can honor other Jewish practices, I would say ‘YES, if we clearly understand that we are no longer under any obligation to the Old Testament laws, but we  choose to celebrate the fact that Jesus fulfilled those practices.  There are 7 major feasts in the OT calendar, besides other practices that I think could legitimately be observed – again, providing we understand that we are doing so as a choice, not an obligation.

For example, I would say that ALL of us could benefit from the weekly observance of a Sabbath – it’s a healthy way to live!

3.  There are no Jewish festivals that we currently observe at CLC, primarily for the reason stated above.  We have on several occasions scheduled a seder meal during the Easter season, and it is a wonderful experience to look back at all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled and were foreshadowed in the annual meal observed by Jewish families.

This is a much larger subject than I have time to cover in this post, but I’ll close by saying that our heritage in the Old Testament observances of Israel is incredibly rich, and most Christians simply don’t know the beauty of what Jesus has done for us, in light of those Old Testament practices.  Feel free to dig deep and study for yourself!

I hope that helps.  Perhaps you would like to join this conversation by leaving your thoughts about Jewish festivals below.  Or, maybe YOU have a question that you’d like to Ask the Pastor?  Please leave it in the comments below, or on the Facebook post-

Talking Bible: NO MORE!

i-am-not-a-doormat-so-do-not-walk-all-over-me

Don’t you love it when your Bible talks to you?  Mine did recently during my devotions, from Isaiah 51:23.  Read it slowly.

Yep, that’s what it says.  You read it right.  GOD says that your enemy forced you to bow down and then walked on you were dirt.  Your enemy treated you like a road to walk on.

Selah.

How does that make you feel?

It made my blood boil when I read it, and something on the inside of me rose up and said,  “No more!”

You. don’t. have. to. lay. down. and. be. a. road. for. the. enemy.

Read Luke 10:19-20.  Read it aloud to yourself.  Make it your confession.

“I don’t have to be a road for the enemy to walk on anymore.  Not physically.  Not emotionally.  Not in my family.  Not in my marriage. Not on my job.  Not with my finances. No, No, No.  No more!

More MARRIAGE Mate-tenance!

Those who know me know that I’m not into self-promotion, but after this past Sunday several CLC’ers have asked about more marriage teachings, so one of our pastors suggested that I do this:

Marriage Myths from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

10 Habits of Happy Couples from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Rules of Engagement Pt. 1 – Singles from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Rules of Engagement Pt. 2 – Family from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Rules of Engagement Pt. 3 – Family from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

We’ve done a lot more thru the years, but this is all I found on Vimeo – and it should be enough to scratch your itch for a few hours.

Don’t forget to invite a friend to join us THIS Sunday for part 2 of ‘Mate-tenance’!  (we think it’s going to be even more helpful than last week!!)

 

Announcing MATE-TENANCE Marriage Retreat!

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I’ve continued to hear great feedback from CLC’ers about last Sunday’s message, and I’m really excited to announce our 2016 CLC ‘Mate-tenance’ Marriage Retreat coming on February 5-6!

When we talked about scheduled maintenance last Sunday we mentioned specifically the need for a daily ‘FaceTime’ and a weekly ‘Date Night’, but there’s one more important  mate-tenance item, and that’s an occasional ‘getaway’ for the two of you to have time together without the kids or work interfering. And even better than that is to have the opportunity to receive godly principles & encouragement from fellow believers who are striving to build strong marriages as well!

The location of the 2016 gathering is really a reTREAT, as we’ll meet together at the amazing Drake Hotel of Oak Brook.  I can’t even describe the elegance of this historic property which has recently been restored to its original glory, but I promise that you will love the surroundings for this romantic getaway.

Save the date! (And save some money – we’ll have full details soon, but our goal is to keep the cost of the entire retreat under $200/couple).  

If you weren’t at CLC last Sunday, here’s the message:

Mate-enance Week 1 from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Mate-tenance series

a-pair-of-wedding-rings-sit-on-an-open-bible-data

Yesterday was probably more fun than a pastor should be allowed to have in church!

But I’ve been thinking today about the series and the responses that we had from CLC’ers yesterday.  My first (and biggest) conclusion is that two weeks is not long enough for this topic!  In fact, I promise that we will tackle another series in 2016 for both marriage and parenting, which is another hot topic where we all need God’s help.

Finally, although we didn’t mention this yesterday, Genesis 2:24-25 actually contains four ‘laws’ for marriage as God intended it:

1.  The law of priority – a man leaves his father and mother.

2.  The law of pursuit – and shall cleave (“pursue with all energy”) his wife.

3.  The law of possession – they shall become one.

4.  The law of purity – they were naked and were not ashamed.

Yesterday was about the first 2 laws and this coming Sunday will be about the last 2 laws.  (I think it will be even more helpful than yesterday)

Would you be willing to invite someone that you know could use some help with their marriage?

Seriously – call them on the phone; have a personal conversation, shoot them an email  TODAY – let’s work together to help people have the marriage God always intended!

And, while you’re here, leave a comment below as to what you found helpful yesterday-

Sunday reflections

The final quarter of 2015 got off to a good start at CLC today:

Since we hadn't been in the pulpit here for past 2 weeks, we had a LOT to say about the necessary 'mate-tenance' of your marriage

Since we hadn’t been in the pulpit here for past 2 weeks, we had a LOT to say about the necessary ‘mate-tenance’ of your marriage

The benefits of the 20-second hug every day seemed to inspire just about everyone in attendance!

The benefits of the 20-second hug every day seemed to inspire just about everyone in attendance!

Our annual Missions Emphasis is almost here, but KidsLife got a head start today with our own soon-to-be-missionaries, Eric & Meaghan Condon!

Our annual Missions Emphasis is almost here, but KidsLife got a head start today with our own soon-to-be-missionaries, Eric & Meaghan Condon!

It's always fun to welcome new members at NWI.  The young man beside Pastor Sam (far right) was driving by 3 weeks ago when he saw our sign, stopped to visit & officially joined today!

It’s always fun to welcome new members at NWI. The young man beside Pastor Sam (far right) was driving by 3 weeks ago when he saw our sign, stopped to visit & officially joined today!

Looks like Pastors William & Melek had as much fun delivering the Word in Blue Island as we did in TP!

Looks like Pastors William & Melek had as much fun delivering the Word in Blue Island as we did in Tinley Park!

Pictured here are 6 of the 7 new members who officially joined our Blue Island campus today!

Pictured here are 6 of the 7 new members who officially joined our Blue Island campus today!

 

 

Ask the Pastor

 

ghostbusters

For the first time in several weeks, no one submitted a question for me to answer today.  So I’m reposting this from January, 2011:  A CLC member writes, “Is there such thing as a ghost?” I asked this question because my son is away at school and he mentioned to me that they have ghosts in his dorm. He said that certain items flew off their shelf; they hear someone screaming in the room and someone is running down the hall late at night. I told him that he must be dreaming and there is no such thing as a ghost, except the Holy Ghost. He told me that he sleeps with his Bible every night next to his bed.”

Good answer, mom – both about the existence of ghosts with a little ‘g’, and the Ghost with a capital ‘G’!

To be more specific, there is nothing in Scripture that would indicate the existence of ghosts, at least in the normal definition of that word. Instead, the Bible teaches that at death, our spirit returns to God to who gave it (Ecc. 12:6-7), while our soul goes to what the Jews called “Abraham’s bosom”, to await the resurrection. (Since the Resurrection of Christ, now the righteous dead are taken immediately into the Presence of the Lord, while the wicked still must await their final punishment – see Luke 16:22-23, 2Cor 5:4-8, and Phil. 1:20-25)

As to the ‘manifestations’ that your son is reporting from his dorm, while I can say without hesitation that they are not caused by ghosts, I’m not saying that he and his dorm mates are imagining things. It is quite possible that there are natural explanations for the things they’re seeing and hearing. It’s also quite possible that there are supernatural explanations; i.e., demonic activity that is causing your son to be frightened. Demons are real, and they can and do manifest here on earth.

Regardless, sleeping with his Bible isn’t really the answer – having Jesus in his heart is!

As believers, we have authority over ALL the power of the enemy – and that includes frightening demonic manifestations – see Luke 10:19-20.

Hope that helps (your son, especially).

Would you like to join the conversation by adding your comments below?  Or do YOU have a question for the Pastor?  Please share with us below-

Sunday reflections

Usually I post every Sunday to share my thoughts about the day at CLC, with tidbits from each campus.  But of course today we were not there, and by the time this posts, Chris and I should be fast asleep before heading to Ben Gurion airport for the first of two flights that will get us into O’Hare Monday night.

But I’m a shepherd, and I always want to know how my sheep are doing.  So IF you attended any service at any campus of CLC this Sunday (whether in person or online),  please leave your comments below – how did the Holy Spirit minister to you?  What was your favorite part of the service?  How has the ‘Crash the Chatterbox’  series helped you personally?

Curious minds want to know…..

Special thanks for ALL our pastoral staff at CLC for serving SO well – it’s really what enables Chris and me to do what we feel God has called us to do.  Special thanks to Pastor Sam Hamstra for closing the Chatterbox series today.  And a BIG thanks in advance to all who leave a comment below, for making your pastor happy.

Israel, day 3

We thought our final day in Israel for this visit was just to record a short teaching for their internet outreach and then a quick goodbye before driving to Jerusalem for a little shopping & rest before our return flight home tomorrow.

Rabbi Leon Mazin is a good man who is doing a great work - I hope you will pray for him whenever you think of Israel - he has many responsibilities, with so many different outreach ministries in Israel and to Jews in other nations.

Rabbi Leon Mazin is a good man who is doing a great work – I hope you will pray for him whenever you think of Israel – he has many responsibilities, with so many different outreach ministries in Israel and to Jews in other nations.

Instead, I think this morning was THE assignment that God had for us in Israel.  We spent over two hours in deep conversation with Rabbi Leon Mazin over breakfast – the kind of conversation that was very transparent & vulnerable, as we discussed the ministry here and we really sensed that God was giving us words to help.

After our meeting with Leon, I did videotape a message to Russian pastors regarding the priority of Jewish evangelism - as Paul said, "to the Jew first"!

After our meeting with Leon, I did videotape a message to Russian pastors regarding the priority of Jewish evangelism – as Paul said, “to the Jew first”!

We just finished a little shopping near the city center in Jerusalem (not far from the old city)  and after some sleep we’ll be ready for our flights tomorrow.  Can’t wait to see everyone at CLC for our 2-week marital tune-up we’re calling “Mate-tenance”!

 

Israel, day 2

Saturday in modern Israel is still the Sabbath, and just as Jews have observed Sabbath for centuries, everything comes to a halt – no work is done, stores are closed & people rest.  So it’s the perfect time for a Messianic congregation to come together in worship.  Enjoy this Shabbat service with us via pictures:

CLC helped 'Return to Zion' complete this building a few years ago with a significant gift - and the auditorium is simply beautiful!

CLC helped ‘Return to Zion’ complete this building a few years ago with a significant gift – and the auditorium is simply beautiful!

One of the most striking features is the "Ark", the cabinet or chest where the Torah scrolls (Word of God) are kept.  This custom-made one in Haifa is comprised of 71 pieces of wood - one for each of the 70 nations that came out of the Flood, plus one piece to represent God's chosen people, Israel!

One of the most striking features of the “Return to Zion” congregation’s building is this “Ark”, the cabinet or chest where the Torah scrolls (Word of God) are kept. This custom-made one in Haifa is comprised of 71 pieces of wood – one for each of the 70 nations that came out of the Flood, plus one piece to represent God’s chosen people, Israel!

As the Shabbat service began, all of the men were called forward for an opening prayer.

As the Shabbat service began, all of the men were called forward for an opening prayer.

Rabbi Leon led a blessing for Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles which begins this week.

Rabbi Leon led a blessing for Succot, the Feast of Tabernacles which begins this week.

The pulpit at Return to Zion was custom-made to hold the Torah (scrolls that contain God's Word)

The pulpit at Return to Zion was custom-made to hold the Torah (scrolls that contain God’s Word)

Presenting the Torah is one of the highlights of a Shabbat service - I wish ALL of us had a similar reverence for God's Word.

Presenting the Torah, as it’s brought from its storage place in the Ark to the pulpit is one of the highlights of a Shabbat service – I wish ALL of us had a similar reverence for God’s Word!

 

After the Torah is presented, the Cantor reads the weekly selection from Old & New Testaments - but it's done in a 'singing' style that you just have to experience (I can't explain it)

After the Torah is presented, the Cantor reads the weekly selection from Old & New Testaments – but it’s done in a ‘singing’ style that you just have to experience (I can’t explain it)

While all of this was going on, the Youth Pastor (on my right) & our Interpreter (on Chris' left) were helping us understand what was happening. (Praise God!)

While all of this was going on, the Youth Pastor (on my right) & our Interpreter (on Chris’ left) were helping us understand what was happening. (Praise God for their thoughtfulness!)

Then the Torah was returned to its resting place in the Ark.

Then the Torah was returned to its resting place in the Ark.

Next, the Shofar called us all to worship!

Next, the Shofar called us all to worship!

Not only did we adults sing & praise the Lord, but the children danced under a 'canopy' of His love as well!

While the adults sang & praised the Lord, the children danced under a ‘canopy’ of His love as well!

After worship, the children were called forward for prayer before going to their classes.

After worship, the children were called forward for prayer before going to their classes (this picture only shows about half of them)

There were some real cuties among them, including the Youth Pastor's oldest child pictured here.

There were some real cuties among them, including the Youth Pastor’s oldest child posing for us here.

Then it was time for us to teach, with the help of our Kazakh interpreter.

Then it was time for us to teach, with the help of our Kazakh interpreter.

Because Return to Zion is comprised almost entirely of Russian Jews, the service is conducted in Russian more than Hebrew.

Since Return to Zion congregation is comprised almost entirely of Russian Jews, the service is conducted in Russian more than Hebrew.

Rabbi Leon Mazin was such a gracious host to us.  (Here he is preparing the final blessing for Succot)

Rabbi Leon Mazin was such a kind & gracious host to us. (Here he is preparing the final blessing for Succot)

After a quick shwarma for lunch, we returned for a meeting with the small group of youth - and the Queen of Object Lessons had them put together a puzzle to open her message.

After a quick shwarma for lunch, we returned for a meeting with the small group of youth – and the Queen of Object Lessons (Chris) had them put together a puzzle to open her message.

They REALLY got into it & actually completed the puzzle in a matter of minutes, much to our surprise!

They REALLY got into it & actually completed the puzzle in a matter of minutes, much to our surprise!

They are small in number, but Chris won their hearts.

They are small in number, but Chris won their hearts.

Tomorrow I will videotape a message for their online audience, which is reaching thousands of Russian-speaking people in other countries, including a number of Russian pastors.  Then we’ll return to Jerusalem for our final night in Israel before catching the first of two flights that will get us back to Chicago by Monday night-

 

Israel, day 1

There wasn’t much to tell about our Wednesday/Thursday, except that we awoke in Davao City about 7am on Wednesday to get packed up, had a great lunch with Pastors Herley & Nelly before catching our first flight about 4pm and finally got off our last flight in Tel Aviv, Israel at about 3pm on Thursday (that’s 37 hours after our day began, but who’s counting).  We then rented a car (first time for that outside the USA) and drove to Jerusalem, but by the time we got to our hotel it was too late for our intended appointment, so we grabbed a bite and went to bed to sleep off our travel day!

Today we drove from Jerusalem to Haifa for our ministry assignment this weekend.  CLC has been partnering with Leon Mazin and “Return to Zion” congregation for almost 7 years  and actually helped them finalize the purchase of their building near downtown Haifa.

We had time to see a few sights here, including the beautiful Mediterranean sea off the coast of Haifa.

We had time to see a few sights here, including the beautiful Mediterranean sea off the coast of Haifa.

The Baha'i gardens are what Haifa is known for to tourists

The Baha’i gardens are what Haifa is known for to tourists.

But we came to minister for the Messianic congregation, "Return to Zion" - and worship in Hebrew is much different than worship in Davao.

But we came to minister for the Messianic congregation, “Return to Zion” – and worship in Hebrew is much different than worship in Davao.

Associate pastor Dimi (L) pronounced Hebraic blessings for the upcoming holiday of Succot, as Rabbi Leon Mazin (R) spoke them over the congregation.

Associate pastor Dimi (L) pronounced Hebraic blessings for the upcoming holiday of Succot, as Rabbi Leon Mazin (R) spoke them over the congregation.

Messianic praise dancers in action tonight!

Messianic praise dancers in action tonight!

Chris & I team-taught a marriage seminar in English, while our Kazak interpreter translated into Hebrew.  Fun stuff!

Chris & I team-taught a marriage seminar in English, while our Kazak interpreter translated into Russian (since this congregation is comprised almost entirely of Russian Jews). Fun stuff!

Now some sleep before the Shabbat service tomorrow morning – g’nite!