Sunday reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father’s Day reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sunday reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ask the Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot topics? I need your feedback…

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I need YOUR help today.

We want to do a series at CLC this August on some of today’s “hot topics” – you know, the stuff that you sometimes struggle with; perhaps things once considered taboo but now you see other Christians practicing; questions that this generation is asking that you’re not sure how to answer.

We’ll only have 2 or 3 weeks to address the topics you suggest, but then on August 27 we’ll conclude the series with a “hot seat” Sunday, as the audience can text their questions or topics and I’ll answer them in real time.  Should be fun!

But right now I need you to leave a comment below as to some topics you’d like to hear addressed from Scripture:

Preaching is a two-way street!

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I know that my non-Pentecostal, non-charismatic pastor friends may not relate to this post, and I offer them my sympathy – but based on my experience over the last 48 years of preaching, I can say without hesitation that the congregational response contributes greatly to the overall experience!

Sure, it’s the pastor’s job to share something from God’s Word that has already blessed his or her life – but when the listeners respond with a nod (not to be confused with a ‘head bob’ of those trying desperately to stay awake – although I guess that is a response to the message as well), or an ‘amen’ or some applause or laughs at his or her jokes, or maybe even a standing ovation when appropriate – EACH of those responses not only encourage the preacher, but in my experience, actually draws out even better preaching!

I mention that today because at CLC we are committed to developing other ministers and communicators of the Word, and the only way any pastor, teacher or communicator can develop their gift is by practice.  No one has all the needed skills on their first attempt.  (When I think about the poor folks in several Arkansas churches who sat through my early attempts at preaching, I get downright embarrassed.) But I also still remember precious saints who encouraged me in those early years, by their responses to the Word, even when it was delivered by a stumbling, stuttering teen (me)!

We’re going to use a couple of the remaining Sundays of June at CLC to hear from some of our developing communicators.  Some of them are already pastors who’ve not had many opportunities to preach on Sunday; others have never preached to any audience. I’m urging you to come prepared to help in their development.  If they preach really well, let them know with a hearty ‘amen’!  If they don’t preach so well, encourage them anyway with a hearty ‘amen’!  Laugh at their jokes.  Tweet their best quotes. Encourage them!  Who knows, you may be helping to develop the next T.D. Jakes or Steven Furtick!

Besides, YOU will get more out of the message yourself, like the story of the country preacher I heard years ago.  He entered church with his young son one Sunday, and dropped a coin into the offering box in the back. Not many came that Sunday, and those who did didn’t seem too excited about what was said. After the service, the preacher and son walked to the back, and he emptied the box. Out fell one coin. The young boy said, “Dad, if you’d have put more in, you’d have gotten more out!”

I have every confidence that God is going to use you and our developing communicators – and everyone will receive in the process, because preaching is a two-way street!

Supernatural LIVING

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The GIFTED series ended yesterday with an amazing message from Steve Thompson about living a supernatural  life (not just on Sundays) and today I heard a great testimony:

one of the members of our Praise Team (Marnie Robinson) went in for a doctor’s appointment this morning, and noticed a woman in a wheelchair.  The Holy Spirit whispered to her that she should pray for the woman, so Marnie approached her and learned that the woman’s pastor was there with her.  After getting permission to pray, she asked her pain level and the lady said it was a ‘7’.  After they prayed, her pain level dropped to ‘3’.  So (just like Robby Dawkins taught us last week during the Activation Night), Marnie asked if they could pray again and believe God to take the pain completely away.  They prayed and He did!  On a Monday morning in the marketplace!

I’m excited that while the series ended, what God is doing among us is just beginning!

As I announced yesterday in Tinley Park, we will be continuing a monthly gathering to share stories, answer questions, do some teaching and practice more activations as all of us grow in this supernatural life. If you’d like to be a part of that group and you didn’t already sign up, please do so here.

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Pentecost Sunday reflections

Steve Thompson was AMAZING in Tinley Park!

Steve Thompson was AMAZING in Tinley Park!

Robby Dawson (according to Pastor Sam) gave a gave a great, powerful, convicting, life giving word in Hammond!

Robby Dawson (according to Pastor Sam) gave a gave a great, powerful, convicting, life giving word in Hammond!

Pastor Brent closed the 'GIFTED' series in Blue Island with a message about Passover, Pentecost & Tabernacles.

Pastor Brent closed the ‘GIFTED’ series in Blue Island with a message about Passover, Pentecost & Tabernacles.

KidsLife in Tinley Park also has some CUTE kids (lately I'm emphasized the other campuses, but I've decided it's ALL-CLC!)

KidsLife in Tinley Park also has some CUTE kids (lately I’m emphasized the other campuses, but I’ve decided it’s ALL-CLC!)

Well, I guess the Blue Island kiddos do cute stuff in their class-

Well, I guess the Blue Island kiddos do cute stuff in their class-

Worship at Hammond was anointed!

Worship at Hammond was anointed!

I love being part of a church where we not only can FEEL something, but we can LEARN something, too!

I love being part of a church where we not only can FEEL something, but we can LEARN something, too!

 

Steve Thompson gave us such a profound, yet simple message as to WHY we were placed on earth!

Steve Thompson gave us such a profound, yet simple message as to WHY we were placed on earth!

Robby Dawkins also ministered prophetically & prayed for healing for several people in Hammond!

Robby Dawkins also ministered prophetically & prayed for healing for several people in Hammond!

I'm also glad to be part of a church that reaches across cultures & languages to reach people!

I’m also glad to be part of a church that reaches across cultures & languages to reach people!

If YOU attended any service of CLC today, at any location or online, what/s your favorite memory? Leave a comment below-

It’s a MEN’S Trifecta!

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In Deuteronomy 16:16 the Lord commanded that all men of Israel should appear before Him three times a year – and one of those special times was the feast called Pentecost!

As it’s turned out, at CLC we have three special times in June for men – and we’re CALLING every man of CLC to join us:

1. Pentecost Sunday – Sunday, June 4!  Not only is this the birthday of THE Church  (see Acts 2:1-4and the climax of our ‘GIFTED’ series, but our special guest, Steve Thompson is a “man’s man”, having just completed a hike from South Rim to North Rim of the Grand Canyon two weeks ago!  You don’t want to miss him!

2. Father’s Day – Sunday, June 18!  This special day is all about YOU, men – with a unique & special treat for all men in attendance that day!

3. 2nd Annual Men’s Event – Saturday, June 24!  There will be LOTS of testosterone at CLC-Tinley Park that Saturday with competitive events, lots of good food, practical breakouts for husbands, fathers, single men, finances, men of God, successful men & our very special guest, Pastor Dan Johnson!

It’s a MALE Trifecta, and it’s all happening in June!

The final ‘activation night’

Evangelist Robby Dawkins did an awesome job in DEMONSTRATING how any believer can heal the sick!

Evangelist Robby Dawkins did an awesome job in DEMONSTRATING how any believer can heal the sick – he didn’t do the stuff himself; he EQUIPPED us to do it, which is exactly what these three activation nights were designed to do!

The Blue Island worship team did a GREAT job leading us into God's presence & it was great having Pastor Jon home from the Philippine trip to help lead them.

The Blue Island worship team did a GREAT job leading us into God’s presence & it was great having Pastor Jon home from the Philippine trip to help lead them.

And what a nice surprise to have Terrell Wilson back on stage to do what only he can do with 'Te Amo'!

And what a nice surprise to have Terrell Wilson back on stage to do what only he can do with ‘Te Amo’!

Most important of all were the healings that happened all over the house - and so neat to see this little girl follow Robby's instructions to minister healing to N'kyenge Brown, whose mother told me afterwards that she hadn't been able to move that freely in so long!

Most important of all were the healings that happened all over the house – and so neat to see this little girl follow Robby’s instructions to minister healing to N’kyenge Brown, whose mother told me afterwards that she hadn’t been able to move that freely in so long!

Personally, I am still blown-away by the numbers of people who attended each of these past 3 Wednesdays – and especially by how many CLC’ers made it each week!  It shows me the hunger that God’s people have to ‘make the supernatural natural’ at CLC, and we’ll have a special announcement to make this Sunday about that.

Speaking of this Sunday, June 4 – don’t forget it’s Pentecost Sunday and it will be a fitting climax to our ‘GIFTED’ series, as author Steve Thompson will minister in Tinley Park,  Robby Dawkins will be at our Hammond campus, and Pastor Brent has a special message for Blue Island – may the close of the series be the icing on the cake!

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Ask the Pastor

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No new questions came in this week, so I’m repeating this post from a few years ago:

An anonymous reader asks, Have you ever encountered skepticism from individuals raised with a different religion? How did you deal with it? I am going through this with my spouse and do not want to push him into anything, but I would love for him to join the kids and I in our faith.

Great question, and one faced by numerous spouses through the years.  Here’s my best take on what you can do:

assume that by “a different religion” you actually mean a “different expression of Christianity”, like Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc., as opposed to a different  religion, like Islam or Buddhism.  (I am MUCH more familiar with the first than the second, although I suppose most of my suggestions would be similar).

The single-best advice I can give comes straight from God’s Word in 1Pet. 3:1-4, where we learn that your loving conduct in the home will do more to win your spouse than  anything you might say to them!

Once you’ve ‘covered that base’ by sweet, loving, Christ-like behavior in front of them, if your spouse hasn’t already initiated the conversation about your faith by asking questions, I’d say it’s time for you to broach that subject.  Here are my tips:

  • Bathe this whole situation and your spouse in prayer!  That should go without saying, but 2Cor. 4:4 makes it clear that the reason your spouse doesn’t believe is because the god of this world has blinded his/her eyes to the Gospel! That’s the real issue – not their background, culture, upbringing or anything else – they don’t believe because Satan has blinded them – so the answer is for you (and others you can enlist) to pray fervently and persistently for the Lord to open their eyes!
  • Make sure your spouse is not in a defensive posture before you begin the conversation – in other words, look for a time when he/she is able and willing to talk, rather than during a heated discussion about something else, or when they are occupied with other pressing matters (whether live or on TV).
  • it’s always best to answer their questions, instead of trying to force the conversation.  This is the method that Jesus used consistently (study John 4:4-29 to see how He tactfully yet effectively led the Samaritan woman to truth)
  • Beyond that, especially if you have a good marital relationship (meaning your spouse genuinely loves you and your children), then a gentle (not nagging, but loving)  conversation in which you explain how important it is to you that he/she would at least attend church with you as a family, can be a great beginning!  I’ve known of lots of unsaved spouses who started attending church to support their children’s participation in a holiday presentation or came to visit just because of their spouse’s invitation, only to eventually find that they enjoyed the services, felt drawn by the Presence of God, and gave their life to Christ!

I’m sure there are some folks reading this who won their spouse to the Lord despite dissimilar backgrounds: what would YOU add to this list?  Please leave your suggestions in the comment section below.

Hope this helps!  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Don’t forget – this Sunday, June 4 is PENTECOST SUNDAY with special guest Steven Thompson at our Tinley Park campus & Robby Dawkins at our Hammond location.  Hope to see you!

Want to experience healing?

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Years ago, when I was in Bible college preparing for ministry, a wise pastor told us,  “whatever you want your people to experience, preach it until it happens”. 

That’s no doubt why, in this month when we’ve been emphasizing the SUPERnatural ministry of Jesus through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we’ve experienced the supernatural. 

This past Sunday I had the privilege of praying for at least 5 or 6 people or more who came to the altar because of pain in their body and left pain-free – all because Jesus is still  Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals all sickness and disease! (Exodus 15:26, Psa. 103:3,  1Pet. 2:24)

That’s also why I’m so excited about the final one of our ‘Activation Nights’ this Wednesday, May 31 at 7pm, when Evangelist Robby Dawkins will demonstrate and activate the healing gifts of the Holy Spirit at CLC.

I hope you’ll invite someone who needs to be healed and come expecting!

Sunday reflections

Worship was strong today, despite the holiday weekend attendance-

Worship was strong today, despite the holiday weekend attendance-

Our GIFTED series is showing up in many ways - Pastor Josh gave a prophetic word while hosting today

Our GIFTED series is showing up in many ways – Pastor Josh gave a prophetic word while hosting today

This is a great pic for a "caption contest" - what would you suggest?

This is a great pic for a “caption contest” – what would you suggest?

Today was my favorite teaching of the series, but I'm mostly grateful for several folks who received healing in our altars today!

Today was my favorite teaching of the series, but I’m mostly grateful for several folks who received healing in our altars today!

Look at those facial expressions & tell me Blue Island worshipers are PASSIONATE!

Look at those facial expressions & tell me Blue Island worshipers are PASSIONATE!

And the Blue Island campus continues to win the 'cutest kid' award in every age class!

And the Blue Island campus continues to win the ‘cutest kid’ award in every age class!

Pastor Brent taught 'Do What Jesus Did' and the altar was full of people believing for a miracle of healing.

Pastor Brent taught ‘Do What Jesus Did’ and the altar was full of people believing for a miracle of healing.

Strong worship at our Hammond campus today, plus good sign ups for summer semester of Life Groups and more people in Growth Track!

Strong worship at our Hammond campus today, plus good sign ups for summer semester of Life Groups and more people in Growth Track!

Plus Pastor Sam said the message connected well & lots of people received prayer for healing today - that's a win in my book, holiday or no holiday!

Plus Pastor Sam said the message connected well & lots of people received prayer for healing today – that’s a win in my book, holiday or no holiday!

Ask the Pastor

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During this ‘GIFTED’ series, one of my favorite CLC’ers asked, “Is there any indication at all in scripture that Jesus had a prayer language or spoke in tongues with an interpreter?

Great question, and one that others are probably asking, too.  Here’s my answer:

NO. There is never any mention of Jesus speaking in tongues (“prayer language”, as we often say at CLC) or using the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues.

However, that does not disturb me in the slightest as to the importance of praying in tongues in the life of a believer today, for these reasons:

  1. Jesus predated the advent of tongues as a sign of the Holy Spirit baptism.  In fact, Jesus ascended into heaven at the end of the four Gospels (recorded in Acts 1), but the first instance of anyone speaking in tongues was about a week later, in Acts 2:4.  Acts 2:32-33 makes it even clearer: Jesus was the one who baptized those 120 believers with the Holy Spirit, but He was already in heaven when it happened to them. Thus, we can see that He was not living on earth when the Holy Spirit was poured out, with one of the signs of that outpouring being the ability to speak a language we never learned. So Jesus didn’t have a prayer language for the same reason that Abraham or Moses or David or any other ‘hero’ from the Old Testament did not – that gift was not offered during his lifetime.
  2. If I may elaborate on that point a bit further, Jesus Himself told us that the Holy Spirit  couldn’t come until He ascended back into heaven – notice John 14:12 and 16:7. So again, there was no need or opportunity for Jesus to experience a miraculous prayer language, since the Holy Spirit could not be poured out until He ascended back into heaven.
  3. Also, I should point out that Jesus was not baptized in the Holy Spirit in the same way that we are today, because He was the Holy Spirit embodied (Col. 2:9)and the Scripture plainly says that He had the Holy Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34).  He had no need of a ‘sign’ because He was the only begotten Son of God!
  4. For what it’s worth, I have heard some well-meaning but Biblically misinformed folks say that Jesus spoke in tongues while on the cross in Mark 15:34.  However, those words were the common Aramaic that Jesus spoke – definitely not in tongues, as can be seen in that the people who heard him rushed to respond.

I hope that helps. Perhaps someone reading this can offer additional explanations – or maybe you also have a question to Ask the Pastor.  Please leave your comments below-

Meanwhile, I’m excited about this Sunday when we’ll explore the ‘power gifts’ of faith, working of miracles and healings!  It’ll be a great Memorial Day weekend at each CLC campus, and we’d love to have you join us!

How would YOU describe the second ‘Activation night’?

For sure, the highlight of the evening was the anointed ministry of Apostle Matthew Stevenson from All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago.

For sure, the highlight of the evening was the anointed ministry of Apostle Matthew Stevenson from All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago.

And much like last week when 784 people crammed into our building (with a 550-seat auditorium), last night we topped that, as our ushers counted 845 people and even when I drove away, I saw cars parked along Ridgeland Avenue for a quarter-of-a-mile! Special thanks to Pastors Josh & Moy AND a whole host of volunteers who managed to get a seat for all 945 people!

And much like last week when 784 people crammed into our building (with a 550-seat auditorium), last night we topped that, as our ushers counted 845 people and even when I drove away, I saw cars parked along Ridgeland Avenue for a quarter-of-a-mile! Special thanks to Pastors Josh & Moy AND a whole host of volunteers who managed to get a seat for all 945 people!

Our Hammond campus served as great hosts, providing front-line worship singers & musicians (with backup from Tinley Park), as well as KidsLife and First Touch ministries - kudos Pastor Sam & all your team!

Our Hammond campus served as great hosts, providing front-line worship singers & musicians (with backup from Tinley Park), as well as KidsLife and First Touch ministries – kudos Pastor Sam & all your team!

More than 100 kids received loving ministry from our great volunteers!

More than 100 kids received loving ministry from our great volunteers!

Including the youngest kiddos!

Including the youngest kiddos!

Best of all, EVERYONE got to participate in the activation exercises - even those who sat in the lobby!

Best of all, EVERYONE got to participate in the activation exercises – even those who sat in the lobby!

That’s my report – but I’d love to hear from YOU – what was your favorite moment of the evening?

I know it’s a holiday weekend, but I invite you to join us Sunday as we explore the ‘power gifts’ (faith, working of miracles & healing) – ‘Do What Jesus Did!’, and of course, the final activation night with Robby Dawkins on May 31 at 7pm!

Why ‘activation nights’?

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We’re well in week 3 of this 5-week series about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but I’m sure some people are still wondering, “what’s the big deal?” and “why an ‘activation’ night”?

The big deal in a nutshell is what Jesus promised in John 14:12; namely, that you and I would do the same works that He did, because of the Holy Spirit He would send to us!

This is not just a cute title for some sermons. This is a promise of Jesus: that we will be able to speak like He spoke, know like He knew, and even do what He did!

In my observation these past 48 years of ministry, the ONLY reason that we aren’t doing all of that is fear of embarrassment – the fear of looking stupid if we try something and fail.  And that’s where these ‘activation nights’ come in.

As you saw last Wednesday (if you attended), an activation is simply a safe way for us to try to use the gifts Jesus promised us, without the fear of embarrassment.

Did you learn to talk as a baby without first trying to make some sounds?

Did you learn to walk as a child without first trying to take some steps, even though you were clumsy in the beginning?

Did you learn to ride a bike with some ‘training wheels’ attached initially, to give you more confidence until you could ride without fear?

Tonight you’ll have a chance to ‘activate’ the gifts of the word of knowledge, word of wisdom and discerning of spirits with the guidance of a man who uses those gifts effectively to serve others – Dr. Matthew Stevenson.

See you at 7pm at the Tinley Park campus.

P.S. Apostle Stevenson invited his church to join us, so I suggest you arrive early to get a seat!

A valuable lesson

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I learned a valuable lesson (well, actually re-learned it again) last week after we were SO overwhelmed with almost 800 people coming to our first “Activation night” during our GIFTED series.

In any prophetic message, there are always three components:

  1. The revelation – what God actually says to you
  2. The interpretation – how you understand what He said
  3. The application – what you do with what you heard

Earlier this year, I really, really sensed the Lord speak to me that this series on the gifts of the Spirit was NOT to just be a sermon series, but that we should include “activations” to help our people put the teaching into practice by stepping out in the gifts.  I even sensed three men immediately that I wanted to lead those activations, and as soon as I contacted them, each one quickly accepted the invitation for the only possible dates that would work for us!

I knew God had spoken to me and I knew He was at work in arranging this for us.  I also has sensed that this was NOT just to be for our Tinley Park campus, but it was for ALL of CLC – that each campus was to be impacted by these activations.

When I sat down with our pastors to apply what I had heard from the Lord, I thought the best way to accomplish it was to move the application nights around so that each campus could experience one in their building, even while challenging the other two campuses to support the activation nights as though it was their own. Sounds logical, right?

But my application was obviously off, when almost 800 folks came to experience the  ‘speaking gifts” with Apostle John Eckhardt last Wednesday and by Thursday morning when I met with our pastors, we knew we had no choice but to host the remaining two activations in our largest facility, the Tinley Park campus.

As each of us continues to step out and “make the SUPERnatural natural at CLC”, let it be a valuable lesson that we must humbly seek Him for the application to what He reveals to us by His Spirit.

Can’t wait to see what He will do in us this Wednesday at 7pm with Dr. Matthew Stevenson in the house!

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Sunday reflections

I LOVE the fact that CLC doesn't just have talented musicians, but musicians who are WORSHIPERS!

I LOVE the fact that CLC doesn’t just have talented musicians, but musicians who are WORSHIPERS!  Bass Guitarist Jonathan Aguilar is one of them!

And I LOVE seeing FAMILIES worship Jesus together!

And I LOVE seeing FAMILIES worship Jesus together!

Train up a child....

Train up a child….

Gonna miss Pastor Jon for the next 10 days while he ministers in the Phiippines with our team that's enroute there now

Gonna miss Pastor Jon for the next 10 days while he ministers in the Phiippines with our team that’s enroute there now.  Today he challenged us to take God at His Word!

 

It's always FUN to team-teach with this lady & today was no exception.  She received several words of knowledge about healing in each service and the line of folks coming to be healed was LOOOONG!

It’s always FUN to team-teach with this lady & today was no exception. She received several words of knowledge about healing in each service and the line of folks coming to be healed was LOOOONG! Praise God for those who received!!! We’re making the supernatural  natural at CLC!

Pastor Sam reported a good day at the Hammond campus, with at least 10 first-time guests AND 15 different life groups for the summer semester!

Pastor Sam reported a good day at the Hammond campus, with at least 10 first-time guests AND 15 different life groups for the summer semester!

Dorothy Caldwell shared a 'word' from the Lord during the worship transition.

Dorothy Caldwell shared a ‘word’ from the Lord during the worship transition.

Anita Winters is just one of our passionate worshipers at our Blue Island campus!

Anita Winters is just one of our passionate worshipers at our Blue Island campus!

Jack Hayford once told me, "no matter who is on stage with the microphone, the pastor is the worship leader of the congregation!"

Jack Hayford once told me, “no matter who is on stage with the microphone, the pastor is the worship leader of the congregation!”

Do you think Blue Island has the cutest kids at CLC?

Do you think Blue Island has the cutest kids at CLC?

If you said 'no', you may need to reconsider!

If you said ‘no’ above, you may need to reconsider!

We love our BI-Youth leader, Profit Hallom!

We love our BI-Youth leader, Profit Hallom!

Ask the Pastor

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During our current “GIFTED” series, someone asked me, “are all of the gifts in Scripture given when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit? What about the gifts in Romans 12 that we study during the CLC Growth Track?

Great question, and since we don’t have time to address it during our current series, let me do so here:

First, there are three primary listings of ‘gifts’ in the New Testament, and I see a clear distinction in each set:

  • Romans 12 lists six “grace gifts” that I believe are given to us by our Heavenly Father at our natural birth.  These are often called ‘motivational’ gifts, and they can be readily seen even in our children, as they affect our approach to life.  If little Johnny spills his milk, the prophetic-gifted person responds with, “I told you to be more careful”, while the mercy-gifted person comforts Johnny with, “It’s ok, Johnny” and the helps-gifted person will grab a paper towel to clean up the spill and get Johnny a fresh glass of milk, etc. These gifts show how God has wired us from birth, and can really be helpful for us to recognize, since they can show us where we will be most fulfilled in our career and our ministry!
  • 1Corinthians 12 lists nine “gifts of the Spirit” that are clearly given by the Holy Spirit when we are baptized in the Spirit.  They are the focus of our current series, and, as we are seeing, they are supernatural gifts from the Holy Spirit, that enable us to speak things we could not speak without His enablement, and know things we could not know without His enablement, and do things we could not do without His enablement.
  • Ephesians 4 lists five “gifts from Christ” that are actually gifted-people who serve the body of Christ; i.e., they are gifts to the Church.
  • I’m not at all sure that these lists are exhaustive and there may well be other gifts  (some teachers have counted 27 or more); however, these are the only ‘lists’ provided in Scripture.

Thus we receive gifts from the Trinity: some gifts from the Father at our natural birth, some gifts from the Holy Spirit when we are baptized in the Spirit, and some gifts from Jesus as members of His Church.

Clearly, these are definitely different gifts, given to us at different times and certainly for different purposes.  Our ‘GIFTED’ series is only looking at the nine enablements of the Holy Spirit.

And since you asked, I would encourage every person reading this to discover your gift this Sunday (May 21) at your campus of CLC in the Growth Track class.  Not only will you learn about the importance of your gifts, but you’ll even take a spiritual gift profile that will  reveal your primary giftings, and as I said before, this discovery can be of great benefit, both in the marketplace and in ministry.

Hope that helps.  Would you care to add to my answer by leaving a comment below?  Or perhaps you have a story to share as to how your gifts have proven to be a blessing to your life?  Let’s encourage one another-

NEWS FLASH: change of location!

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As you know (if you were present) or may have heard (if you weren’t here), last night’s first  ‘Activation” for our ‘GIFTED’ series may have been the LARGEST-attended midweek event in our history!

People double-and-even-triple-parked in our parking lot, plus some parked along the side of 183rd Street and Ridgeland Avenue and still others on the grassy areas of our property and still others used our carports for parking, just so they could get into the building – and then we filled every single chair in the auditorium, brought in another 40 or so folding chairs, which soon filled and still had others who sat in the lobby or stood in the service, just so they could participate!  It was CRAY CRAY, as our kids would say.

But it was CRAY CRAY GOOD, as hundreds of people stirred up the gifts of the Spirit in their life through a series of activations led by Apostle John Eckhardt.

We’re expecting that the next two Wednesdays could very well be just as slammed, with such popular guests coming to help us activate other gifts of the Spirit, and we concluded that our Tinley Park location is the only one large enough to handle the crowds,  So instead of moving these next two activations to our other locations, we’re changing the plan to have BOTH May 24 and May 31 events at the Tinley Park campus, while having our Hammond and Blue Island campuses host the services.

Please help us GET THE WORD OUT since we had already advertised the other locations, and we don’t want anyone to miss out because they show up at the wrong address!

Meanwhile, let’s fast and pray and come EXPECTING!

What. A. Night.

Apostle John Eckhardt did an amazing job of leading us in prophetic activations!

Apostle John Eckhardt did an amazing job of leading us in prophetic activations!

The first of our three ‘activations’ for the ‘GIFTED’ series exceeded my expectations in every way – and that’s a mouthful, because I had HIGH expectations!

First of all, John Eckhardt demonstrated why he is so highly respected as a true Apostolic leader and a man of God.  He not only did an amazing job of leading the congregation in 10-12 prophetic ‘activation’, but after ministering for 90 minutes or more, he then voluntarily went to the book table and signed books for people for as long as anyone wanted – I left about 10pm and he was still there signing books for people!  That shows the heart of a servant-leader!

Secondly, there were 784 people in the building last night, and our auditorium only seats 550!  As a result, I’m told that cars were triple-parked in the parking lot and the grassy areas of our property and that some even parked alongside 183rd Street and Ridgeland at the edges of our property (that sounds dangerous, but that’s the report I received) That shows how hungry people (and CLC’ers) are for the supernatural!

Thirdly, (and most importantly), every single person I spoke with afterwards had a story to tell – how they personally heard from God through the prophetic activations!  Every. one.!  That shows how much God wants us to make the supernatural natural at CLC!

P.S. MEGA-KUDOS to our Children’s Director, Stacy Hunter for seeing the crowds & volunteering to add children’s ministry for kids over 5 years old (the original plan was just to care for kids under 5) and to her amazing children (Cameron, Caleb & Jenna) & other volunteers who jumped in last-minute to minister to over 50 kids so that people who came for the prophetic activations had a place to sit.  Stacy, we love you!

We’re just getting started – don’t miss THIS Sunday at each CLC campus as we explore the knowing gifts of the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom and discerning of spirits.

If you were present last night, please share your thoughts/experience below to encourage others:

Activating the prophetic

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Had a neat report from Mother’s Day at the Tinley Park campus – when my wife encouraged everyone to listen for a ‘word’ to share with a neighbor, one of our members said she heard the Lord speak, “the Champ is here”.  She immediately thought of Muhammed Ali, who used to say that chant before a boxing match, to announce his presenceintimidate the enemy; and rally his fans.  She felt the Lord was saying to her (and to CLC), “The Champ is here” in order to announce His Presence; intimidate the enemy, and rally His people!  (Sure sounds like a word to me!)

I also had a chance to practice what I preached Sunday.  I told everyone in 9am service at our Hammond campus to just look at a neighbor and ask, “If Jesus were here right now, what would He say to them? (and remember, He’s in a good mood)”. 

In the next service worship set, I noticed a young man interacting and receiving prayer from “mama Drusie” (a beloved older member there) and was just ‘daydreaming’ how he was showing such deference and humility as he received prayer from this precious senior saint and how God was going to honor that and use him in wonderful ways, when it dawned on me that I wasn’t daydreaming; God was speaking to me!  So I shared my ‘word’ with the young man and hoped God would use it to bless him!

Whether those two incidents are encouraging to you or not, one thing is for sure: God is going to use Apostle John Eckhardt tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 17) to impart spiritual gifts and activate CLC’ers in the prophetic at 7pm at our Tinley Park campus.

I hope you’ll come early and come expecting, as we make the supernaturalnatural part of our lives!

Mother’s Day reflections

MOM: we honor you on this special day!

MOM: we honor you on this special day!

I didn't get to hear her, but I 'heard' that my wife did a great job teaching about the speaking gifts of the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t get to hear her, but I ‘heard’ that my wife did a great job teaching about the speaking gifts of the Holy Spirit, and I know that more CLC’ers were baptized in the Holy Spirit today!

Today's focus was on our MOM's and we prayed in each service for them: for those who've lost their mom (or a child); for those who desperately want to have children, but haven't; those who have suffered a miscarriage; those who have experienced abortion. Each of them deserve our compassion & a prayer of blessing!

Today’s focus was on our MOM’s and we prayed in each service for them: for those who’ve lost their mom (or a child); for those who desperately want to have children, but haven’t; those who have suffered a miscarriage; those who have experienced abortion. Each of them deserve our compassion & a prayer of blessing! At Hammond campus, the front of the church was FILLED with moms as Pastor Taylor led us in prayer for them.

The Hammond campus also honored moms with a cupcake reception after service

The Hammond campus also honored moms with a cupcake reception after service

and I had fun sharing some practical truths & tips about the gifts that enable us to 'speak like Jesus' (supernaturally!)

I had fun sharing some practical truths & tips about the gifts that enable us to ‘speak like Jesus’ (supernaturally!)

There's NO mom in this picture, but those faces will make ANY mom melt!

There’s NO mom in this picture, but those faces will make ANY mom’s heart melt!

Mom's with their family make great pics!

Mom’s with their family make great pics!

see what I mean?

see what I mean?

It's extra-nice when mom's & son's pose together!

It’s extra-nice when mom’s & son’s pose together!

Kudos to EVERY mom & the photographers at each campus who helped make this a special day!

 

 

Ask the Pastor

 

shutterstock_148655030 (1)One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “I’ve been having a discussion about tithing, specifically tithing on a large sum of money, like a $100,000 settlement. One thinks it’s ok to tithe in monthly increments while I feel that the tithe should be done in lump sum… as the money is given to you. I strongly believe that only tithing 2% when the money is received can result in the other 98% being cursed. I know the financial disadvantages that failure to tithe can cause. I also know how easy it is for money allocated towards tithing to find other places to go. Please advise.”

Interesting question, and one that I’ve never been asked before.  Here’s my thoughts:

  • First, the tithe, in Scripture, is based on our increase (see Deut. 14:22, 14:28, 26:12-13 and Prov. 3:9).  I mention that because when it comes to businesses, for example, the tithe is not based on their entire income, because in order to receive that income, they had expenses like overhead, cost of supplies, payroll for employees, etc, etc. – so the business should tithe on their profit, not on their gross sales.  Similarly for the sale of a home and possibly a settlement as was mentioned here.  Instead of tithing on the sale price of a home or the full settlement received, I think a person could deduct the purchase price of the home when they bought it and only tithe on the profit or increase they received, and that a person who received a settlement could deduct any true expenses they had in order to obtain the settlement, such as legal fees that were necessary in order to receive.
  • Second, and more direct to the question, is that the tithe is NOT just any tenth; it is specifically the first tenth of our increase (see Exodus 23:19; Proverbs 3:9), which is why the tithe is synonymous with “firstfruits” throughout Scripture.  That’s because tithing has never been a money issue; tithing has always been a faith issue.  It takes  faith to give God the first tenth of my income instead of paying all my bills and then giving God the last tenth (or worse yet, a tip out of what’s left!)
  • I tend not to think in terms of a ‘curse’ being on us or our money in this day of God’s grace (unlike Old Testament times such as Joshua 6:18, 7:11-15 or Mal. 3:8-11), but I can’t disagree with the questioner that only submitting a portion of the tithe would bring about financial disadvantage, rather than the blessing of God.  And I wholeheartedly agree that it is SO easy for money allocated to tithes to go elsewhere – that’s why the first withdrawal from my bank account after payday is my tithe!

Hope this helps a bit.  Perhaps YOU have thoughts to add to my answer.  If so, please leave your comment below or even ask your own question for me.

more Holy Spirit baptism ‘stories’

 

18401893_1310945635609554_1853063711106528315_oThis past Sunday was anything but superficial, as the Holy Spirit was outpoured at CLC shortly after we heard from 15 CLC’ers who shared their story with us.

However, there were a couple of other testimonies that we captured on video since neither person was available to share on Sunday.  Enjoy!

Gifted Series – Amanda Edwards Testimony from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Gifted Series – Kanesha Bryant Testimony from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Setting the atmosphere

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I’m still floating after the move of the Spirit we enjoyed this past Sunday at CLC-Tinley Park (and from the reports I heard, at our other campuses as well).

But when I saw the picture above and noticed the all-out praise from everyone on stage, it reminded me of an important principle: we set the atmosphere for others to receive!

For instance, our First Touch Team (parking lot, ushers, greeters, info desk) plays such an important role of welcoming people to CLC.  The atmosphere they set by their smiles, warmth, handshakes, and all-around welcoming attitude does cause even anxious newcomers to feel accepted and even wanted at CLC.

Just last night I received a text about a woman who attended Sunday for just the second time ever, and her 2-year old cried so much she had to leave the auditorium during the message and stay with him in our nursery.  But the point of the text is that our Nursery team showed so much LOVE to the little boy that she still had a good experience, even though she didn’t get to be in the service! (Kudos to CLC KidsLife Jr. workers!!!)

My point is this: each of us can help to set an atmosphere, not only to welcome people or help them feel loved, but also to welcome the Presence of our Great God into the room, so that everyone in the House can receive from Him! (Thank God for a great Worship team at CLC who set the example for us each Sunday, but it’s not just about those on stage – it’s up to each of us to set that atmosphere through our worship!)

I’m convinced that we’re going to a new place in the Spirit at CLC, but setting the atmosphere makes it possible!

Sunday reflections

This pic has nothing to do with today's CLC recap, other than that it was taken at our Blue Island campus. (I just love these 2 girls!)

This pic has nothing to do with today’s CLC recap, other than that it was taken at our Blue Island campus. (I just love these 2 girls!)

At the Tinley Park campus, I enlisted the help of 15 CLC'ers who shared their stories of being baptized in the Holy Spirit - L to R: Wes & Neesha Stringfellow & Sherece Thompson.

At the Tinley Park campus, I enlisted the help of 15 CLC’ers who shared their stories of being baptized in the Holy Spirit – L to R: Wes & Neesha Stringfellow & Sherece Thompson.

Dawn Simental & Nikki Ferreria shared their stories.

Dawn Simental & Nikki Ferreria shared their stories.

Jared & Nikki Bosi told us how they received while in college-

Jared & Nikki Bosi told us how they received while in college-

L to R: Katie Jager, Tiffany & Ross Grimes encouraged many with their testimony!

L to R: Katie Jager, Tiffany & Ross Grimes encouraged many with their testimony!

Special thanks also to Tim & Melanie Hilton, Tenita Ramey, Sean Smith, & Tamika Steele for sharing their stories of how having a prayer language has changed their life!

After hearing those testimonies, our altars were full of hungry CLC'ers, and we think at least 18 were baptized in the Holy Spirit at the TP campus!

After hearing those testimonies, our altars were full of hungry CLC’ers, and we think at least 18 were baptized in the Holy Spirit at the TP campus!

Our Hammond campus went into His Presence with the help of this Praise team!

Our Hammond campus went into His Presence with the help of this Praise team!

Pastor Taylor not only blessed the Hammond campus today, but in TP we heard how her witness prompted her friend Katie Jager to come & be filled with the Holy Spirit!

Pastor Taylor not only blessed the Hammond campus today, but in TP we heard how her witness prompted her friend Katie Jager to come & be filled with the Holy Spirit!

One of CLC's Apostolic Overseers, Dale Van Steenis, ministered at the Hammond 9am service and at least 7 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit!

One of CLC’s Apostolic Overseers, Dale Van Steenis, ministered at the Hammond 9am service and at least 7 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit!

My wife ministered at the Blue Island campus on the same topic of "The Gift"

My wife ministered at the Blue Island campus on the same topic of “The Gift” (with an object lesson, of course!)

After she preached, the altar was full of CLC'ers who wanted MORE from the Lord!

After she preached, the altar was full of CLC’ers who wanted MORE from the Lord!

Chris also received prophetic words for almost everyone who came forward, as Blue Island enjoyed a powerful move of the Spirit!

Chris also received prophetic words for almost everyone who came forward, as Blue Island enjoyed a powerful move of the Spirit!

I’d say we’re off to a great start in the ‘GIFTED’ series.  Although I don’t think we reached the 3 dozen Holy Spirit baptisms I prayed for all week, we did reach dozens, plural, with at least 25 people filled today. (I should have a more complete report after we process the Connection Cards tomorrow).

And as one of our elders said, “This is only the beginning!”

Please join me in fasting at least one day this week as we continue to go deeper in the things of the Spirit in this series!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m reposting from 2011-

This week’s question is, “In Genesis 4:1, does scripture specifically say that Cain was Adam and Eve’s first child and Able was their second child?  I know they had more children because Cain must have taken one of his sisters to be his wife.”

Interesting question; one I’ve never been asked before.  I went to several translations and commentaries, including the Amplified Bible, which offers the strongest indication by saying “next” in regards to Abel’s birth.  However, the rather obvious answer is that the Bible does NOT specifically say that Cain was their first child. I suppose one could argue that they could have had a daughter first – although Eve’s exclamation about Cain’s birth certainly seems to me like a strong indicator that he was her firstborn.

I did discover one thing in my research that I didn’t know: some scholars believe that Cain and Abel were twins, and that children in those early days of man’s history were usually born in pairs. It’s an interesting idea to say the least, and one that I can’t refute with Scripture.

And I do agree with my questioner that Cain must have married his own sister – I just can’t see any other possibility in the Biblical record.

Hope that helped a bit.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

National Day of Prayer

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Today is the USA National Day of Prayer.

I’m not sure we needed politicians to call for a day of prayer, but I’m glad they did.

More importantly, I know our nation needs prayer.

Most importantly, I’ve seen how God can answer prayer – even miraculously.

America could use some miracles.

Our prayer room is open now until 7pm for anyone who wants to stop in to pray.

Tonight in our Youth Auditorium at the Tinley Park campus we’ll have a special corporate prayer meeting from 7pm-8pm.

Fasting for MORE

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hate fasting.  I enjoy eating.  But I love what fasting & prayer produces; how it helps us get beyond our flesh and opens our spirit to receive from God.

That’s why I’m calling all CLC’ers to join me in fasting at least one day each week during this month of May, to prepare ourselves for what God will do at CLC during our ‘GIFTED’ series.

Personally, I’m hungry for MORE of the work of the Holy Spirit at CLC.  I’m hungry to see more healings among us.  I’m hungry to see more miracles and supernatural,  unmistakable answers to prayer at CLC.  I’m hungry for God to do what only HE can do, instead of our services consisting of just the best that we can do.

Are you hungry?

Then join me in doing what we don’t want to do (giving up meals for a day) in order to receive what we do want – more!

Today is a special day because….

…..our CLC Apostolic Overseers are in town!

“In the multitude of counselors there is safety” – So says the wisest man who ever lived, in Proverbs 11:14.

Honestly, I’ve never understood why anyone wouldn’t want good counsel from others. As a pastor, I know that I’m in over my head, and I need the wisdom that can be found from other godly men who love me and who love CLC. That’s why we created a board of Overseers back in 1993, knowing that I would soon be walking away from the only faith family I had ever known, and that I needed godly counsel.

They have served us SO well through these last 24 years, and they have become my closest friends in the process. I thank God for Pastors Joseph Garlington, Gordon Banks, and Eddie Cupples, as well as Prophet Dennis Cramer and Dale Van Steenis!

All five of these men are in town (well, Bishop is arriving this morning) and they’ll spend all day with us as we look at CLC’s future. I look forward to our time of prayer, conversation, laughter and counsel!

Together, they make CLC a safe place for you and me.

Sunday reflections

 

Today was the day we said "farewell" to our Executive Pastors & their 8 children as they move to Nashville tomorrow.

Today was the day we said “farewell” to our Executive Pastors & their 8 children as they move to Nashville tomorrow.  We love you, Pastors Ben & Nili Stewart!

Boy, something broke as we closed worship at the noon service & the Presence of God was overwhelming!

Boy, something broke as we closed worship at the noon service & the Presence of God was overwhelming!

Baby dedications are always special....

Baby dedications are always special….

....but today was

….but today was

.....triply so!

…..triply so!

My wife absolutely preached today!

My wife absolutely preached today!

then she had the children lead us all in praise & worship to conclude the message

then she had the children lead us all in praise & worship to conclude the message

But we still had to say, 'farewell' to our friends, the Stewart family.

But we still had to say, ‘farewell’ to our friends, the Stewart family.

My favorite conversation of the day was with a young boy (8 years old) who approached me in the lobby and said, “Pastor Jerry, if I don’t make it to the NBA or the MLB, I want to be a pastor just like you when I grow up” (I mean, #3 choice behind major-league baseball or the National Basketball Association ain’t bad!)

Pastor Sam reports another great Family Sunday in Hammond, with family communion...

Pastor Sam reports another great Family Sunday in Hammond, with family communion…

.....great worship

…..great worship

.....and a praise dance from the KidsLife Dance Team

…..and a praise dance from the KidsLife Dance Team

Our Blue Island campus expanded this Family Sunday to be a "Kids Day" with a special dramatic presentation about humility

Our Blue Island campus expanded this Family Sunday to be a “Kids Day” with a special FX presentation about humility

Joe Alexander & others helped bring the message home in a variety of ways

Joe Alexander & others helped bring the message home in a variety of ways

For sure, the presentation had the kid's rapt attention!

For sure, the presentation had the kid’s rapt attention!

And there were even a couple of pinata's at the end!

And there were even a couple of pinatas at the end!

This picture sums it up: FAMILY Sunday at CLC!

This picture sums it up: FAMILY Sunday at CLC!

 

 

 

Nigeria, day 2

CAPRO International Council (when I see the pic I remember that the International Director told me that they wanted me on the CIC to add VALUE, not just COLOR!

CAPRO International Council (when I see the pic I remember that the International Director told me that they wanted me on the CIC to add VALUE, not just COLOR!)

Today has been a very FULL day of meetings and deliberations for CAPRO.  I’m still not sure how I got here, but I’m humbled at the responsibility we carry for 700 missionaries in 35 different nations, most of them located within the 10/40 window of the most unreached peoples on earth.

What CAPRO has been able to do in the past 42 years of missions ministry is nothing short of a miracle of God’s grace, especially considering their limited resources.  Even more astonishing is that 80% of their financial support comes from within Nigeria!  (Humbling for this American to realize that God uses people outside of the USA to accomplish His work!)

We finished our deliberations here about noon on Friday, Chicago time, and after a hair-raising, two-and-a-half-hour drive to the Lagos airport in rush hour traffic and an even crazier check-in experience at the airport, I’ll be boarding my return flight soon.  See you Sunday!

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “In Luke 21 Jesus predicts the destruction of the temple and just when I think He is talking about end times, He states that this generation will not pass from the scene until all of these things come to pass. Is He assigning a different definition for generation? If not, that generation has long since passed from the scene so has that prophesy been fulfilled?”

Great questions.  Let’s take them one at a time.

  1. The first thing I notice is that Jesus actually spoke here of several different signs, not just the destruction of the temple that he started with. And as he described various signs, he included several “time” words;
  • notice verse 9, “the end won’t follow immediately
  • verse 12, before all this occurs…”
  • verses 20-24  clearly speak of what happened in 70 A.D. when the Roman general Titus surrounded Jerusalem and eventually destroyed the city, not leaving one stone of the Temple atop another.
  • I think the last half of verse 24 is particularly significant as it describes a time when the “period of the Gentiles will come to an end”.  From history we know that after Jerusalem was defeated/destroyed by Titus in 70 A.D., it was under Gentile control until 1967 during what’s known as “The 6-day War”, when Israel seized control of Jerusalem from the nation of Jordan.  If my understanding of Luke 21:24 is correct, since 1967 we have been living on “borrowed time”, since the period of the Gentiles was over and Jesus could have returned for His Church (except for Matthew 24:14 as I shared last Sunday at CLC)

2. Clearly (at least to me), that last part of verse 24 marks a different period of time than the earlier prophecies in verses 9, 12, and 20 thru the first part of verse 24.  And your question about the meaning of a generation doesn’t appear until verse 32.  So I don’t think Jesus is assigning a new definition to ‘generation’; I just think he’s referring to the generation that sees the period of the Gentiles end.

3.  Another indication that it is that later generation that Jesus references is verses 29-32  and the illustration of the fig tree sprouting leaves.  The fig tree is found many times in Scripture and has often been thought to represent the nation of Israel.  If so, then verse 29 speaks of Israel becoming a nation in 1948.  So perhaps the best understanding of these verses in context of Luke 21 is that the generation that is alive for Israel’s statehood and the period of the Gentiles being fulfilled will still be alive at the coming of Christ – which definitely speaks of the nearness of His return.

As I mentioned last Sunday, I’m no prophecy scholar and I could be off – but I hope this has helped your questions a little.  Perhaps someone reading this post has some other passages that shed light on your question – if so, please share it with us below.

Until then, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

 

Nigeria, day 1

 

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

My first day here for CAPRO meetings was spent with several hours of discussion with the subcommittee dealing with Resource Development.  Honestly, it could have been depressing, since the needs are so great and the ‘bread and fish’ so small, but I really felt we made some progress and I was even able to contribute a few ideas that may work even in an African context.

I wish everyone could see how much this ministry accomplishes on so little in the way of resources – it’s really a modern-day testimony to God’s favor and the miraculous!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D'voire and the International Office here in Lagos.  I'm excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D’voire and the International Office here in Lagos. I’m excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Tomorrow we’ll be in meetings from morning until dinner time, when I’ll head back to the airport for my return flight home.

Ben & Jerry’s story…..

No, not the ice cream. (Although I’ll take a pint of Chunky Monkey if you’re buying)

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BenStewartJerry McQuay

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Sunday will be our farewell service for the Ben Stewart family, so I want to give my tribute to them here.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Ben’s parents, Gary & Deb Stewart joined CLC.  Although they were only part of our church family for about four years (if my memory is accurate). They were and are salt-of-the-earth-kind-of-people that churches can be built on, and were a great blessing here before a job transfer took them to Dallas.

About 17 years ago, as a newly-married couple, Ben and Nili came to Chicago to visit his parents, and attended a Sunday service at CLC.  Even though we only had a short conversation after church (maybe 15 minutes), it was one of those ‘instant connections’ and before we parted that day, I asked Ben to contact me if he ever decided to leave Lake Charles, LA where he was a youth pastor.

A few years went by and we reconnected at a pastor’s conference, where I learned that he had left Lake Charles and was now serving a church in Lubbock, Texas. I ‘chastised’  him for not contacting me in advance, and told him again, “if you ever decide to leave Lubbock, please call me – I’m interested in hiring you”.

Same story…a few years later, we saw each other at yet another pastor’s conference where I learned that he was now serving Jesse DuPlantis Ministries in New Orleans, and I almost yelled this time, “I told you to contact me in advance.  Please: if you ever decide to leave JDM, please let me know!”

That’s how, in the Fall of 2011, my phone rang and Ben was on the other end, saying, “I don’t know if you were serious, but you told me to call if I sensed a transition coming in ministry – and I do.”  It was basically a done deal over the phone (for me, at least), but a few weeks later, he and his family drove to Chicago to look at CLC’s need for an Executive Pastor, and by the end of the year, they were here on location.

This is where words fail to describe the difference they have made.  I can honestly say it was the best hiring decision I’ve ever made, as Ben has simply made each member of our team more effective in ministry with his coaching and encouragement.  If you’ve been around him for 5 minutes, you know how he genuinely and deeply loves people, and that’s the greatest secret of his success.  He has overseen the launch of our latest 2 campuses in Hammond and Blue Island, not only in coaching and developing our pastoral teams there – but he even jumped in physically when we purchased a building in need of rehab at both locations – it seems like there’s practically nothing that Ben can’t do, and do well.

He has made my job so much easier, as he has lifted so much of the day to day load off my shoulders and freed me to focus on the big picture for CLC and spend my time in prayer & the Word.  He’s also been my go-to person on a daily basis, providing me with a godly  sounding board for all sorts of ideas, affirming those from God and helping me recognize the ones that resulted from bad pizza late at night.

If you can’t tell, I love Pastor Ben and his wonderful wife and their amazing 8 children.  I loved him for those 10-12 years I pursued him to join our staff, and I’ve loved him even more since we’ve worked side-by-side these past 5+ years.

It’s going to be hard to say goodbye on Sunday, but not quite as hard as it could be because we’ve already made plans to stay connected and he agrees that he will always be part of our CLC family.

I hope you’ll join me in preparing a love-gift for their family and/or a card or note of your heartfelt appreciation – I know that’ll mean much to them in the days ahead.

See you Sunday!

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God@the Movies! (We need your help!!)

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It’s definitely the most-popular sermon series of the year at CLC, and it’s coming in just over two months (July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30).

I’m inviting YOU to help us by nominating the movie(s) that you would love to hear us teach from this July.  Keep in mind that while we prefer new flicks that have been in the theater this past year, it’s necessary that the DVD has been released no later than June, 2017 (since otherwise we couldn’t use the clips as illustrations). If you’re not sure, you can always check here.

IMPORTANT: our pastoral team will meet on Tuesday, May 2 to make the choices for 2017, so you must respond quickly!

Leave your nominations below or email them directly to me.  If your nomination is chosen and reached us first, we’ll present you with a prize on the day we preach your movie!

 

 

Off to Nigeria (but not for long)

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I left the office yesterday afternoon for an evening flight to Frankfurt and then my connecting flight that should get me into Lagos, Nigeria about 10:30 Wednesday morning in Chicago.

This may be the shortest missions trip I’ve ever made, as I’ll be in meetings on Thursday and Friday as part of the CAPRO International Council before flying home, arriving back at O’Hare on Saturday morning.

As the International Chairman told me last November, I’m hoping to add value, not just color to the CAPRO team – so please pray for wisdom in all our deliberations about the missions work CAPRO’s 700 missionaries do in 35 nations across the world.

See you Sunday!

“That’s what I love about this family”

Riley & Lincoln, my youngest grandkids are pictured at the top (from months ago)

Riley & Lincoln, my youngest grandkids are pictured at the top (from months ago)

This past Sunday morning my daughter received this picture in a text from my daughter-in-love.  Jen had bought the ‘onesie’ outfits for Lincoln and Riley about a year ago and we loved the picture of them.

However, this past Sunday the text from Dorothy explained that she has a friend who is actively serving Syrian refugees in Germany, and that the friend had learned of a Syrian family who also had twin preemies, who were the same birth weight as our twins!

Dorothy sent them some infant clothing, including the onesie outfits, and when my wife & daughter saw the pic during service on Sunday, they were moved to tears – and then Chris heard the Lord whisper, “That’s what I love about this family!”

You may not think God speaks like that to people, but I do.  And I do think His heart is touched that even our daughter in law wants to help the needy in the Nations. May those Syrian twins come to know Jesus and serve Him well in years to come!

And I’m still rejoicing that CLC sends 70% of our monthly missions support to the 10/40 window! (I also think God loves that about our CLC family!)

Headed to Sox park, but not for the game….

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I’m headed to Guaranteed Rate Field (still think that’s the dumbest name for a stadium I’ve ever heard) as the Sox play the Royals tonight – but I’m not going for the game.  (In fact, I haven’t been to a Sox game in at least 2 or 3 years, maybe longer.)

Instead, I’m headed there for a planning meeting with Champions Network, because Joel Osteen will be at the United Center for a “Night of Hope” this August 11.  In case you’re not aware, Joel regularly ministers to full stadiums for these events, and 50% of those who attend are unbelievers/unchurch folks and 70% of them respond to his call for repentance and trust in Christ as these events!

I’m excited that CLC has been invited to help as a sponsoring church and the potential to see hungry people brought into the Kingdom on August 11!

Sunday reflections

We're not waiting on Jesus; Jesus is waiting on us!

We’re not waiting on Jesus; Jesus is waiting on us!

 

Pray for the team of 4 CLC'ers who will lead a Youth Camp for orphan boys this week in INDIA!

Pray for the team of 4 CLC’ers who will lead a Youth Camp for orphan boys this week in INDIA!

I LOVE the fact that our children are learning to worship Jesus! Kudos to every KidsLife volunteer!

I LOVE the fact that our children are learning to worship Jesus! Kudos to every KidsLife volunteer! (this girl’s expression in worship is priceless!)

At each service in Tinley Park today people came forward to receive Christ! (that never gets old!)

I felt impressed this week to have CLC’ers make the altar call during the teaching & offer to bring people forward, and at EACH service in Tinley Park today people came forward to receive Christ! (that never gets old!)

In Blue Island, Pastor Brent taught the same message about the Second Coming, and people responded.

In Blue Island, Pastor Brent taught the same message about the Second Coming, and people responded.

There's more than one way to GROW a church! (Blue Island is growing with BABIES!)

There’s more than one way to GROW a church! (Blue Island is growing with BABIES!)

Dr. Patricia Bailey was our guest at the Hammond campus today

Dr. Patricia Bailey was our guest at the Hammond campus for Missions Sunday today while Pastors Sam & Taylor are on vacation.

Dr. Bailey brought a strong message in both services before leaving for Somalia tonight to work in that famine-stricken country.

Dr. Bailey brought a strong message in both services before leaving for Somalia tonight to work in that famine-stricken country.

And for some reason, she was ministering to folks even in the lobby today (would someone from the Hammond campus explain to me WHY!)

She even ministered in the lobby afterwards to those who made a donation to help the work in Somalia.

And if you missed today, perhaps this video will enlighten you about the 10/40 window:

The amazing news is that CLC is actively engaged in 28 of the 56 nations within the 10/40 window, and 70% of our monthly missions support goes to the 10/40 window nations!

After service, one widow donated $1,000 and pledged $4,000 more to help others go on missions trips!

And another CLC’er heard the Holy Spirit whisper that there was someone at CLC who wanted very much to go on a missions trip but didn’t have the funds, and that he was to donate $2,100 to help make it possible!

Now, that’s what I’d call a GREAT Missions Sunday!

Reflections on the Bethel Leadership Advance

Since this was my FIRST visit to Bethel after hearing of the ministry for several years, I came away with several observations that I’ll share at the close of this post-

For ME personally, Kris Vallotton's teachings were the highlights of the conference. His 'prophetic roundtable' teaching this morning about raising our children in a prophetic environment was priceless!

For ME personally, Kris Vallotton’s teachings were the highlights of the conference. His ‘prophetic roundtable’ teaching this morning about raising our children in a prophetic environment was priceless!

I could not have been more impressed with Children's Pastor Seth Dahl!

I could not have been more impressed with Children’s Pastor Seth Dahl!

Brent and I had to leave before the final session because of our return flight to Chicago, so we missed Pastor Bill Johnson's closing message. The last teaching we heard was from Kris Vallotton whose business analogies from his past were spot-on for church leaders - VERY practical!

Brent and I had to leave before the final session because of our return flight to Chicago, so we missed Pastor Bill Johnson’s closing message. The last teaching we heard was from Kris Vallotton whose business analogies from his past were spot-on for church leaders – VERY practical!

My reflections, in no particular order of importance:

1. I’m impressed with Pastor Bill Johnson’s ability to gather and keep a team of ministry “stars“.  Bethel is definitely not built on one man’s ministry (truth be told, no church ever is!) It seemed throughout the conference that every pastor on his team has a unique and outstanding ministry of their own. It takes a humble and secure leader to attract and keep such a team intact – and Pastor Bill does it well, allowing each team member to fulfill their calling.

2. I am particularly impressed with their children’s ministry.  Children’s Pastor Seth Dahl shared a story this morning that may have been the highlight of the conference (and after last night’s testimonies from ex-inmates-who-are-now-ministers, that’s quite a statement!)  He told how a woman from another state had visited Bethel recently.  She had brain cancer and came to Bethel specifically to receive a healing prayer – but the Sunday she visited, their ‘healing rooms’ ministry was closed because of other meetings that occupied their space.  So a friend of hers texted Seth to see if he could arrange for someone to pray for her.  He brought her to the 1st & 2nd grade classroom and asked the children to pray for her.  Those first and second grade children zealously prayed and prophesied over her and finally one little boy spoke over the microphone, “Lord, just flick that cancer off her like a bug!” Seth was so touched by that faith-filled prayer that he had ALL the kids do a prophetic act, by flicking their finger and repeating the boy’s prayer.  The woman returned to her home and after her next doctor’s exam, the MRI showed NO Cancer in her body!  Would to God all our children learned to operate in faith like that!!!

3. I’m definitely impressed with their prophetic teams from the School of Supernatural Ministry. The last thing that I experienced before leaving Bethel’s campus was my appointment to receive a prophetic word.  The teams of three that ministered to our pastors included students from six different countries (two each on a team) and a child each from Bethel’s Children’s Ministry, and each of our pastors received ‘words’ that were accurate and affirming, even from the children.  That doesn’t happen without practical training in the supernatural, and I love it.

Of course, there’s more I could say, but those are my big observations.  I’m returning home tomorrow with a heart of expectation that what God is doing in Bethel and Redding, CA, He is able to do in CLC and Chicagoland!

Maybe the most amazing testimony I’ve ever heard…

I had no idea what to expect when Kris Vallotton called Ron & Dawn to the stage to share their testimony

I had no idea what to expect when Kris Vallotton called Ron & Dawn Adkins to the stage to share their testimony at the Bethel Leadership Advance last night

First, it was Ron's turn to share how he got into trouble before he was a teen and eventually received FIVE 99-year prison sentences, which led to him being in solitary confinement in a Texas prison for more than 10 YEARS!

First, it was Ron’s turn to share how he got into trouble before he was a teen and eventually received FIVE 99-year prison sentences, which led to him being in solitary confinement in a Texas prison for more than 10 YEARS!

Another crime committed while IN prison resulted in a total sentence of 500 years - but he got radically saved while in prison & miraculously was paroled a few years ago & now ministers in prisons!

Another crime committed while IN prison resulted in a total sentence of 500 years – but he got radically saved while in prison & miraculously was paroled a few years ago & now ministers in prisons! His ministry is appropriately called, “Radical Restoration Ministries”!

Then it was Dawn's turn to tell how she was a homeless prostitute with 46 felonies on her record in Florida. But on her last arrest, she turned to Jesus - was miraculously pardoned from prison and now ministers on death row (now called 'Life Row'!) and has opened 6 homes for women ex-inmates!

Then it was Dawn’s turn to tell how she was a homeless prostitute with 46 felonies on her record in Florida. But on her last arrest, she turned to Jesus – was miraculously pardoned from prison and now ministers on death row (now called ‘Life Row’!) and has opened 6 homes for women ex-inmates!

Ron & Dawn met a couple of years ago and married last year, to serve God together in ministry!

Ron & Dawn met a couple of years ago and married last year, to serve God together in ministry!

These words & pics don’t do it justice – you had to be there to hear it in person! Check them out here.

We serve a MIGHTY God and there’s NOTHING He can’t do!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m re-posting from 2013:

When I announced our newest series here, I received several questions that we may not have addressed last Sunday in the message, “Living Single”, so let’s try here:

  1. One question had to do with “the church” as a place to potentially find one’s future mate – if the church is not a welcoming environment, then where & how can a Jesus-follow look for their mate? 
  • Personally, I don’t think there’s any better place to find a mate.  Chris & I met in church, and so have innumerable other happy husbands-and-wives.  If the church you attend frowns on that, I’d have a respectful conversation with the pastor to find out why.  Of course, there are cyber options out there – but be careful!
2. Another reader wrote, “I’m 38, never married, no children, professionally successful & a home owner…..how do I present myself as not being “too independent” to a suitor while still continuing to “handle my business” for my home?
  • Honestly, call me naive I guess, but I can’t imagine any ‘Mr. Right’ having an issue with a successful woman.  And if he is intimidated or scared-off by your facts, in my opinion, he’s not the man of your dreams.  For sure, your successful career should be an asset, not a hindrance to a godly man (read Proverbs 31:10-31 again to see how an independent and successful wife blesses her husband and family!)

3.  Another CLCer said, “We have been together for 10 years,have children together, joint bank accounts, live together,etc…but he won’t marry me!”

  • I don’t see a question there.  Probably because you already have your answer: if he’s getting what he wants without making a commitment to marry you, he’s not likely to ever get married.  Quit putting out and see what happens.  As I said last Sunday, God’s “rules” are for our good.  Living together outside of marriage may be culturally acceptable, but it’s NOT God’s plan, and it won’t lead to what you want in life.

4.  A faithful CLCer wrote, “As a single woman who’s never been married & doesn’t have children, I struggle constantly with the “why not me, God?” question. Honestly, I feel as if God blessed me with this immense compassion & ability to love, yet I haven’t met the right man to share that love with & have a family with. I’m 35 and every year that passes, I become more & more discouraged & feel that I will forever be single. It’s frustrating because I ask God & myself why did He build my heart this way & not lead me to the one earthly man that I could share it with?

  • This is the kind of heart-cry that gets to me.  I feel your pain; I’ve heard it from so many singles thru the years.  I really only have 3 responses: (1) 1Cor. 7:17 that we opened & closed with last Sunday.  Your marital status does NOT define your life!   (2) I do NOT believe the Bible teaches that there is “one earthly man” for you; i.e., I don’t find the concept of “soul-mate” in Scripture.  Instead, I believe that there are potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of loving, godly, male followers of Christ that you could build a happy life with – not just one.  In some instances, that may have been the problem – that you’ve been looking for Mr. Perfect, instead of Mr. Right. and (3) Don’t give up!  Keep praying & stay hopeful.  I’ve known many believers who married the person of their dreams later in life, and found true happiness together – perhaps in part because they were each more mature, more complete in themselves and more ready to share their joy with another.

I hope this helps a bit.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

 

Bethel Leadership Advance

Of course, Bethel is known for WORSHIP, and I've seen why first-hand!

Of course, Bethel is known for WORSHIP, and I’ve seen why first-hand!

This Advance is quite different than others they've done (according to our pastors who've been here before) - with several panel discussions on the schedule.

This Advance is quite different than others they’ve done (according to our pastors who’ve been here before) – with several panel discussions on the schedule (from L to R: Kris Vallotton, Bill Johnson, Candace & Eric Johnson)

Bill Johnson's session this morning was worth the cost of coming here - amazing insights in his teaching!

Bill Johnson’s session this morning was worth the cost of coming here – amazing insights!

So this conference and my trip is about half-over, and I still have high expectations for the remaining sessions, including an appointment for each of us with one of their prophetic teams tomorrow.

I must say the highlight thus far has been the opportunity for extended conversations with Pastors Sam & Taylor and Brent….guess we had to get out of the office to truly connect 😉

Bethel Church conference

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For years I’ve read and heard about Pastor Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  If you’re not familiar, they’re the home of Jesus Culture and some of the greatest worship music on the planet.  Of course, they’re probably known best for some amazing miracles and healings that occur regularly, along with the anointed team of pastors & leaders, including Kris Valloton, Danny Silk and others, in addition to Bill Johnson.  They also operate a Supernatural School of Ministry, which attracts thousands of students from all over the world.

I think every pastor on staff at CLC has attended a conference here in the past except me and Chris, and she wasn’t able to join me this time.  But I am meeting Pastors Brent and Sam & Taylor tonight, so the four of us will get to take in what God is doing here.

I’ll try to let you know each day-

Easter weekend reflections

If there was a contest for BEST Easter outfit, Caleb Hunter wins it hands-down (sorry, Moy)

If there was a contest for BEST Easter outfit, Caleb Hunter wins it hands-down (sorry, Moy)

Major KUDOS to our Life Worship team for leading us into His Presence all 5 services this weekend!

Major KUDOS to our Life Worship team for leading us into His Presence all 5 services this weekend!

Easter isn't complete without the kiddos & their Easter egg hunt

Easter isn’t complete without the kiddos & their Easter egg hunt

As a special treat for KidsLife, Jay Risner was our special guest - and LOTS of kids prayed to receive Jesus today!

As a special treat for KidsLife, Jay Risner was our special guest – and LOTS of kids prayed to receive Jesus today!

Seeing those cardboard testimonies on the Cross moved me each time!

Seeing those cardboard testimonies on the Cross moved me each time!

Pastor Sam is rejoicing over 566 people in attendance at our Hammond Campus, along with 10 salvation decisions!

Pastor Sam is rejoicing over 566 people in attendance at our Hammond Campus, along with 10 salvation decisions!

I love see our Youth using their gifts to serve God!  Kudos, Rory!

I love see our Youth using their gifts to serve God! Kudos, Rory!

Pastor Brent explained why the Resurrection is important in Blue Island-

Pastor Brent explained why the Resurrection is important in Blue Island-

I admit I'm prejudiced, but this was my favorite of all the cardboard testimonies

I admit I’m prejudiced, but this was my favorite of all the cardboard testimonies…..

....he's my middle grandson (and his head didn't even break!)

….he’s my middle grandson (and his head didn’t even break!)

True stories.....

True stories…..

.....Only Jesus could do this!

…..Only Jesus could do this!

You'd never guess this to see her now....

You’d never guess this to see her now….

.....only Jesus!

…..only Jesus!

So we’re praising God for this weekend:

Tinley Park campus, 2014 in attendance; about 35 salvation decisions;

Hammond campus: 566 in attendance; 10 salvation decisions

Blue Island campus: 300 in attendance;

for a grand total of 2,880 in attendance and 45 people who made a fresh start with God!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m re-posting from 2011:

A non-CLC reader asks, “In Matthew 27:52, it says “and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose.” Does the Bible give any more information on these saints who arose?  Where did they go? Did they continue living? Where were there spiritual bodies before they arose? Also, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, does the Bible say anything else about him?”

Wow….so many questions, and all so good!  Let’s try to answer them, one at a time:

1.  Yes, the full description is giving in the verse you quoted AND the next verse (Matthew 27:52-53).

2.  So, according to v. 53, they went into the city of Jerusalem where they appeared to many people.

3.  No further information is given anywhere else in the Bible, so we are left with 2 possible conclusions: (a) either they continued living until they died (again), or (my best guess, since Hebrews 9:27 says we’re all destined to die once), (b) they remained in Jerusalem until they ascended into heaven with Christ at the end of his earthly appearance.

4.  Before they arose, their spirits would have been in Abraham’s bosom, awaiting the resurrection, just like all of the righteous dead from Old Testament times.  (Some have speculated that these saints in particular may have been martyrs from Old Testament times, or possibly even saints who had seen Jesus, but died before him, such as Joseph, John the Baptist and others – but that is strictly conjecture since the Scripture doesn’t give us any clues as to their identity)

5.  Yes, in John 12:9-11 we read of Lazarus being at a supper with Jesus, and he (Lazarus) actually became the ‘attraction’ that brought many people to that dinner, as people had heard of his resurrection of the dead, and because of his testimony, many were believing on Christ – so much so that the leading priests plotted to kill him, too!

In fact, we’ll look at that last passage about Lazarus in our Easter celebrations this weekend – it all starts tonight at 7pm, then Saturday at 5pm & Sunday at 8:30, 10 and 12.  It’s not too late to invite someone to be your guest!

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

Praying for Easter

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I’m way late with this post, and I take the blame for my failure to promote this during our recent Sunday services.

But with ALL the preparation for Easter weekend: adding two additional services on Friday & Saturday, recruiting additional volunteers, bringing a special guest for KidsLife to impact our children, planning special stage design, using a creative ‘hook’ to reach people in each service and more, the fact remains that the most important factor for Easter weekend is PRAYER!  After all, if people are to be reached with the Gospel, it will ONLY happen as the Spirit draws them!

Would you join me in praying specifically for our 9 Easter services (5 in Tinley Park, 2 in Blue Island and 2 in Hammond)?  Here are my requests:

  1. For the anointing of the Holy Spirit to shine through everything we do.
  2. For your friends and family that you’re inviting, that God would touch their hearts to accept your invitation, and attend with you this weekend.
  3. For people who aren’t walking with God to begin a real relationship with Jesus!

If you’ll pray those prayers with me, leave an ‘amen’ (which means, ‘so be it’) below-

Sunday reflections

Palm Sunday w/a donkey - (on the left; that's my favorite Children's Director, Stacy Hunter on the right)

Palm Sunday w/a donkey – (on the left; that’s my favorite Children’s Director, Stacy Hunter on the right)

Palm Sunday baptisms: Grant Durham

Palm Sunday baptisms: (1) Grant Durham

Palm Sunday baptisms: Nya Brunson

Palm Sunday baptisms: (2) Nya Brunson

Palm Sunday baptisms: (3) Thelma Haffner

Palm Sunday baptisms: (3) Thelma Haffner

Palm Sunday baptisms: (4) Aila Haffner

Palm Sunday baptisms:
(4) Aila Haffner

Our guest, Justin Kron, enlightened all of us with the truth about Jesus our Passover Lamb!

Our guest, Justin Kron, enlightened all of us with the truth about Jesus our Passover Lamb!

As a result of Justin's teaching, celebrating communion will never be the same again!

After Justin’s teaching, celebrating communion will never be the same again!

My 2 favorite girls, with Donkey Molly on Palm Sunday

My 2 favorite girls, with Donkey Molly on Palm Sunday

Our Hammond campus set a new record attendance for a regular Sunday, with 408 worshippers today!

Our Hammond campus set a new record attendance for a regular Sunday, with 408 worshippers today!

The donkey was a BIG hit & his 3-year old son was the inspiration for Pastor Sam's message on "Why the Donkey?"

The donkey was a BIG hit & his 3-year old son was the inspiration for Pastor Sam’s message on “Why the Donkey?”

I LOVE the kids at every CLC campus - this little guy is from CLC-Blue Island

I LOVE the kids at every CLC campus – little Fernando is from CLC-Blue Island

And the 2 donkeys were a big hit at  Blue Island!

And the 2 donkeys were a big hit at Blue Island!

Our Blue Island campus said their goodbyes to Pastor Ben today by presenting him an autographed "I Am for Blue Island" t-shirt

Our Blue Island campus said their goodbyes to Pastor Ben today by presenting him an autographed “I Am for Blue Island” t-shirt

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “When a person is baptized with The Holy Spirit are they able to operate in all the gifts? Again, I have heard people say a person may never speak in tongues even though they have been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Yet, I have also heard that Holy Spirit will move on you and you can operate in all the gifts at any given time. Your thoughts?”

Great questions.  Actually, we’re planning an entire 5-week series called “GIFTED”, starting May 7 that should answer these questions in much more depth, but let me give my perspective here:

  1. The ‘debate’ among Spirit-filled churches seems to be whether the gifts are simply resident within the Holy Spirit, in which case any believer can be “used” in any of the gifts at any time, OR whether the gifts of the Spirit are given to individual believers to possess and utilize as the Lord wills. As is so often the case in Biblical debates, I tend to think it’s a “both/and” question rather than an “either/or” matter.
  2. For instance, 1Cor. 12:7-10 certainly seems to indicate the gifts are given to  individual believers, while verse 11 could be interpreted to mean that the Holy Spirit has all the gifts and decides at any given moment to use whom He wills.  My pastor when I first entered the ministry taught (for instance) that the gift of healing was not  “the gift to heal” as if some individuals had a gift to heal others, but rather the person who was healed had received a gift.  I’m inclined to think it can work both ways; i.e, when we are born again, the Holy Spirit chooses to give us certain gift(s) that we can exercise by faith.  However, when we are faced with a certain need and there is no one present who possesses the specific gift that would help the situation, then I believe the Holy Spirit could “move” on any believer present, to manifest that gift and meet the need, as we willingly cooperate with the Spirit.
  3. In regards to your first question, I have met individuals who claim that they possess or were used in all of the 9 gifts listed in 1Cor. 12 – but I’m not sure I believe them.  Certainly Jesus exercised all of those gifts, but I tend to think that most of us fall short of His example.
  4. As to the ‘tongues’ question (is it possible to be baptized in the Spirit but not speak in tongues), there are as many different opinions on that subject as there are people, it seems.  From my understanding of Scripture, I don’t personally see any example of someone in the NT Church who was baptized in the Spirit but did not speak in tongues (or as we prefer to say at CLC, “have a prayer language”). But I gave up arguing that people must speak in tongues in order to be baptized in the Spirit several years ago, since that only seems to stir up arguments and strife.  I much prefer to focus on all the benefits of having a prayer language, and encourage every believer to experience and use that gift in their own walk with the Lord.

I hope that helps.  Feel free to leave a comment below to give your thoughts on these questions, or to ask your own question.

Meanwhile, let this be the first public announcement that I’m SO excited to make – in the ‘GIFTED’ series, when we teach about the specific “speaking” and “knowing” and “doing” gifts, we will follow up the Sunday teaching by having a Wednesday “activation” service with three of the most gifted leaders I’ve met: Apostle John Eckhardt, Apostle Matthew Stevenson and Evangelist Robby Dawkins.  We’ll give you all the details later, but mark your calendar now for May 17, May 24 and May 31 for what is sure to be a highlight of 2017 at CLC!

Leaving on a jet plane……

With apologies to John Denver....but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

With apologies to John Denver….but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

It’s been a great trip:

  • deepening some strategic relationships for the Church here in Cambodia,
  • sowing good seed in a young man that Chris and I both perceive has great potential for the Kingdom of God in an almost totally-unreached Muslim nation (when he himself surrenders to Christ)
  • strengthening the leaders of the Cambodian church
  • planning the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, who have become dear friends over these past few years of our involvement here.

but we’re ready to be home for a great Palm Sunday celebration (with the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem….or, maybe one like it) and a great word from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron as to why ‘only Jesus’ could be our Savior! (Your celebration of Communion will never be the same again after this Sunday!)

And that means EASTER is just days away!  WHO are you inviting to be your guest?

see you soon-

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Cambodia, day 7

The new property is very near the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot's regime in the 1970's.

While we were together with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul today, he showed us some of their plans for the future.  He casually mentioned that the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970’s was nearby and asked if we’d like to see it, so we had a short tour of the horrible atrocities done here.

We had visited the Museum in 2013 on our first visit to Cambodia, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem - so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

We had visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 2013 to honor the 3 million who died during the Pol Pot regime, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

One more day of meetings with the pastors here and then we’ll board our flight for home!  So looking forward to week 2 of “Only Jesus” as we hear from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron!

Cambodia, day 6

If I'm honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching - I love this candid shot from one of today's discussion times.

If I’m honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching – I love this candid shot from one of today’s discussion times.

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP "battle of the bands", featuring an all-girl band.....

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP “battle of the bands”, featuring an all-girl band…..

.....and a shy all-boys band.....

…..and a shy all-boys band…..

.....and, of course, the WINNERS (can't you tell?)

…..and, of course, the WINNERS (can’t you tell?)

Chris gave her all in today's teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) - and we're both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Chris gave her all in today’s teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) – and we’re both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Now that the hard work is over, we’re looking forward to a chance to connect & plan for the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul!

Cambodia, day 5

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar!

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar! (MeyChen was translating for some of the seminar attendees)

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship - here's the coffee bar

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship – here’s the coffee bar in the lobby

Here's the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here’s the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here's a great information desk at the main entrance

Here’s a great information desk at the main entrance

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they're learning during the seminar

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they’re learning during the seminar

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today's competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY!

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today’s competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY! (the engineering feat was building a tower with spaghetti noodles, yarn, masking tape & marshmallows)

Honestly, four consecutive days of teaching for hours each day has both of us wiped out, but the good news is that we have only a half-day of ministry tomorrow as we finish the last seminar!  This bed has never looked so good……

 

 

Sunday reflections

Sorry for poor lighting, but I preached to a full house at the TSK campus of New Life Fellowship tonight, with the translation from my friend, Pastor Samady.

Sorry for poor lighting, but I preached to a full house at the TSK campus of New Life Fellowship tonight, with the translation from my friend, Pastor Samady.

First, MY reflections from tonight’s services at New Life Fellowship in Cambodia:

  • I’m supposed to be here to give, but tonight I received as one of the young leaders from New Life Fellowship gave a ‘word’ that spoke directly to my heart! (Thank you, Jesus!)
  • I don’t have any pics, but Chris ministered a message about healing at the main campus of New Life, and many people responded – healings, demonstrations of the Holy Spirit, and more – powerful!
  • The highlight came after the service, as a young student from Turkmenistan that we first met about a year ago during one of our seminars agreed to meet us for dinner.  I have sensed that the hand of God was on him in a special way – learned today that he is a Muslim and tonight was his FIRST time ever in any church.  At dinner afterwards we were able to share with him and God gave Pastor Jesse a word of knowledge that I believe really helped to open his heart to the Lord.  Pics later!
Here's the promised pic - Pastors Jesse & Soar are the foreground and the young man from Turkmenistan is across from Chris and me.

Here’s the promised pic – Pastors Jesse & Soar are the foreground and the young man from Turkmenistan is across from Chris and me.

But just as importantly, I’m SO anxious to know how things were at CLC today, so I need YOUR reflections, too.  For the first time in a long, long time, I shared a message via video at each campus as we kicked off the “Only Jesus” series, and curious minds want to knowHOW WAS IT?

If you attended any service at any campus or online today, please leave your comments below:

  • what did you LEARN about the Virgin birth?
  • did you leave with a greater appreciation for the Word of God?
  • What impacted you the most?
  • (Be honest) was it difficult to receive from a video?

Feel free to expand beyond my questions to give YOUR report of how God ministered to you through the opening of our April series: 1920 x 300

Cambodia, day 4

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we've experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception - strong anointing in the House!

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we’ve experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception – strong anointing in the House (and love their new stage design in the beautiful new building they just moved into this month!)

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit! We love being with him!!

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit!   Chris & I love being with him!!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

After the two morning services in the brand-new building (actually located inside a shopping mall, so the location couldn’t be better to reach Cambodians) and a quick lunch with friends, we had a little time to get rest before the two evening services – one at the new location and one at their other campus in a different part of the city.  I’ll report on those services when we return tonight-

Cambodia, day 3

During today's opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

During today’s opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder.  I'm very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder. I’m very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

As yesterday, we had a battle of the "Air Rock Bands" - and these girls were good...

As yesterday, we had a battle of the “Air Rock Bands” – and these girls were good…

.....but 1st Place went to this animated group!

…..but 1st Place went to this animated group!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the "tallest tower" with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the “tallest tower” with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

In between the fun activities, Chris & I spent about six hours teaching four of Dr. John C. Maxwell’s “Laws of Leadership” to students & faculty alike, and they were like sponges, drinking in every word we said.  I believe much good seed was sown today!

Tomorrow we will minister at four different services at two different locations for New Life Fellowship and our partners and friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – looking forward to a great day!

Cambodia, day 2

This "air band" pretty well summarizes our day - even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

This “air band” pretty well summarizes our day – even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

Our first seminar for EQUIP on this trip was at VisionFund Cambodia, which is the microfinance arm of World Vision.  They serve over 250,000 families in Cambodia, which makes them the largest microfinance ministry in the world, as they offer small loans & other financial services to poor families, helping them to grow small businesses and enable their children to grow up with improved health and education.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, we taught about 75 of VisionFund's managers from around the country.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, who translated, we taught about 75 of VisionFund’s managers from around the country.

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything - even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game.....

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything – even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game…..

.....or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmellows!

…..or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmallows!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

But the enthusiasm of this "air rock band" knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

But the enthusiasm of this “air rock band” knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Now some more sleep to try to kick the jet lag that’s hindering both of us before we head to the leading university in all of Cambodia, Beltei International, for another seminar tomorrow-

Ask the Pastor

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One of our elders recently asked me a question that also came up during the outstanding Marriage Retreat last weekend, so I thought it was worth repeating here for others: “What does a wife who is believer and her husband is not…do in regards to tithing?
I’ve heard people say if her husband tells her she can’t tithe she shouldn’t. Is it ok for her to tithe even though it may cause arguments? I’ve always wondered what to tell women when they ask me this. I always think of the scripture in Acts 4:19. What if her husband wanted her to lie, steal, stay home from church, or watch pornography? Does she submit to these things because he is the head?

Great question, and, honestly, I think your logic is spot-on. Here’s my answer:

  1. I think the starting place is always good communication. If an unbelieving husband is opposed to his wife tithing their income, she should start with a calm, logical appeal as to why she wants to tithe. (If she’s convinced from God’s Word that there is a blessing when we honor God with the first tenth of our income, her husband may well agree once he hears her reasoning.)
  2. Perhaps I should have said, even before she appeals to her husband’s logic, the wife should first pray that God will open his heart. The Holy Spirit can do more to persuade even an unbeliever’s heart than the wife’s logic.
  3. However, if neither prayer nor a reasoned appeal has worked and the husband still forbids his wife to tithe, here is my recommendation:
  • if the husband is the sole wage-earner in the marriage (meaning the wife is not gainfully employed outside the home and thus has no income of her own), then she should not tithe.  After all, the tithe is 10% of one’s increase, and since she has no income and her husband forbids her to tithe off his income, it’s a moot point.
  • However, I’ve known several cases where the unsaved husband gives his wife an “allowance” to operate the household, buy groceries, etc. and the believing wife was so convinced of the blessing of tithing that she gave 10% of her allowance.
  • Finally, if the wife has a job and her own source of income, then I certainly think the verse already mentioned, Acts 4:19, is applicable, and the wife should be obedient to the Lord with her income.

Hope that helps.  I’d love to hear from others who’ve had personal experience in this situation, or who have stories to share of what others have done in this regard.  Please leave your comments below-

Cambodia, day 1

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong.  With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home!

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong. With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home! (And I don’t mind showing Cubbie blue!)

I guess keeping everyone posted from this trip applies even when nothing happens.  For the first time in a long time (ever?), we deliberately planned a day of rest before diving into our leadership seminars here.  By that I mean our flight arrived about midnight local time last night and today we did nothing  except sleep, eat, and study a bit for our week of ministry here.

Our first of three seminars begins tomorrow at 8am (8pm Thursday, Chicago time) and I should have some pics and reports for you after that.  Until then, I’m gonna give in to jetlag and sleep some more!

Have you considered the significance of the Virgin birth?

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I’m writing this post from an airport lounge in Seoul, South Korea while Chris & I are enroute to Cambodia – but what’s on my mind right now is my message for THIS Sunday to kick-off the series, “Only Jesus”.

I preached my first sermon over 48 years ago, but in all that time I have never done a message about the Virgin birth – perhaps because it’s such a basic staple of the Christian faith.  But in this year when the Lord said CLC is going “back to the basics”, I discovered some wonderful truths as to WHY Jesus was born of a virgin.

I also discovered some myths and mistaken beliefs along the way, and I think this Sunday’s teaching will enlighten and inspire you with the reliability of God’s Word.  I’ll get to share much of this message with each campus of CLC via video, so no matter where you attend, I hope you’ll invite an unchurched friend to join you for a learning experience that I’m praying will enable some to take that first step of faith in Jesus as Savior, and cause the rest of us to have a fresh appreciation for WHO He is and WHAT He has done!

Only Jesus!

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Off to Cambodia

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Chris and I were up before dawn today to catch the first of 3 flights that will get us to Phnom Penh about 10am on Wednesday, Chicago time.

We’ll be teaching three different leadership seminars for EQUIP and ministering at one of our favorite churches in the world, New Life Fellowship.  They recently moved to a new location in a shopping mall, with tons more room than they had before and many, many people have been flooding into their services according to Pastor Jesse McCaul.  We’re expecting BIG things!

If you’d like to pray for us with specifics, I’ve attached our itinerary.  Thanks for standing with us – I’ll keep you updated daily if possible-

prayer for Cambodia trip

ONLY Jesus!

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thoroughly enjoyed teaching these past 4 weeks on “Faith Gaps”, mainly because I think all of us, myself included, sometime struggle with our faith – and the Word in the month of March spoke to us.

But I must tell you that after sharing today with our pastoral team the introduction to our April series, and the first message about the Virgin Birth, I’m even more excited!

In almost 50 years of ministry, I have never heard or taught a message about the significance of the Virgin birth.  But the Lord told me that in 2017 we were to go ‘back to the basics’, and it doesn’t get any more basic than the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin.

I believe you’ll be excited when you see WHY that’s so important, and I suspect you’ll learn some truths that you haven’t known before.

I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you at YOUR campus of CLC this Sunday, and, just as importantly, that you’ll begin thinking now of who you know that needs Jesus, so you can invite them to attend one of our 9 Easter Celebrations (5 in Tinley Park, 2 each in Blue Island and Hammond).

One thing for sure: Only Jesus will help you fall deeper in love with HIM than ever before!

Sunday reflections

Today is CLC's 27th Anniversary - while we didn't take time to celebrate in service, I'm thankful for the hundreds of people God has brought to us in across 19 different locations (6 in Chicagoland; 13 in the Philippines) since that opening day at Tinley Park High School on the last Sunday of March, 1990! Truly God is good, all the time!

Today is CLC’s 27th Anniversary – while we didn’t take time to celebrate in service, I’m thankful for the hundreds of people God has brought to us in across 19 different locations (6 in Chicagoland; 13 in the Philippines) since that opening day at Tinley Park High School on the last Sunday of March, 1990! Truly God is good, all the time!

We started this anniversary weekend with about 60 couples at a GREAT marriage retreat in Oak Brook, as we all got "N.A.K.E.D."

We started this anniversary weekend with about 60 couples at a GREAT marriage retreat in Oak Brook, as we all got “N.A.K.E.D.” (Nurtured, Affirmed & Known Every Day!)

This pic says it all: for 27 years, CLC has valued genuine WORSHIP!

This pic says it all: for 27 years, CLC has valued genuine WORSHIP, in Spirit & in truth!

Today we not only taught the Tinley Park campus how to use "Faith for your Family", but we were live streamed to the Marriage Retreat for their closing session.

Today we not only taught the Tinley Park campus how to use “Faith for your Family”, but we were live streamed to the Marriage Retreat for their closing session.

Pastors Brent & Sol taught marriage at Blue Island...

Pastors Brent & Sol taught marriage at Blue Island (in English)…

...while Jorge & Rocio translated into Spanish

…while Jorge & Rocio translated into Spanish

Who said KidsLife is all fun & games? Sometimes it's hard work that requires great concentration! Just ask these two cuties-

Who said KidsLife is all fun & games? Sometimes it’s hard work that requires great concentration! Just ask these two cuties-

But today's prize goes to our Hammond campus, where attendance continues to grow; CLC favorite Dee Wilson returned to lead a powerful time of worship, and the church family gave generously to send two students on a missions trip to Panama!

But today’s prize goes to our Hammond campus, where attendance continues to grow; CLC favorite Dee Wilson returned to lead a powerful time of worship, and the church family gave generously to send two students on a missions trip to Panama!

Just as importantly, Pastor Sam reports that Life Groups this season are the BEST ATTENDED in their history!

Just as importantly, Pastor Sam reports that Life Groups this season are the BEST ATTENDED in their history! Praise God for momentum in Hammond!

Pastor Herley contacted me to say that all 4 services at our Davao City campus were jam-packed today & even better, the awesome Presence of God filled the house in each service!

Pastor Herley contacted me to say that all 4 services at our Davao City campus were jam-packed today & even better, the awesome Presence of God filled the house in each service!

I am rejoicing over several salvation decisions that made this a really great anniversary, except for an announcement that I didn’t want to make:

 

 

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, In Acts chapter 16:1-5, Paul wanted Timothy to join him and Silas as they went from town to town, but he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left. Yet In Acts 15, the apostles and elders had ruled that Gentiles didn’t have to be circumcised to be saved. I’m confused as to why Paul arranged for Timothy be circumcised in chapter 16?”

I understand your confusion, and it’s a great question.  Let’s try to sort it out together:

This issue was the greatest threat the early Church faced, and, in my humble opinion, if the apostles and elders had ruled in favor of circumcision, I fear that The Church would have been far less successful in reaching the Gentiles.  But as we read in Acts 15:1-11, 19-29, it was a unanimous decision to not put the burden of law-keeping on the Gentile converts, and it resulted in great joy among the Gentiles when they heard this (Acts 15:30-31)

Now, as to the question of why did Paul arrange for Timothy to be circumcised just one chapter after the apostles determined that circumcision was NOT required for Gentiles, I think the answer is in the context:

  • in the Message translation, it says Paul didn’t want to offend the Jews in that area, who knew Timothy’s father was a Gentile (and that meant Timothy was not circumcised).  In the NLT, it says he did this in deference to the Jews“.  
  • So the bottom-line is that, this incident seems to follow much like Paul’s teaching in Romans 15:13-19 that we should never use our liberty to cause another believer to stumble.  In Timothy’s case, even though Paul knew that circumcision was not required by the Lord, he felt it would be best to submit to circumcision so as to not be a stumbling block to the Jews in that area who knew Timothy’s family.
  • That’s actually a NT principle in many areas of life, and one that I think we often ignore in the American church.  For instance, 1Cor. 6:1-6 teaches that believers should not sue another believer in a court of law.  In fact, Paul was so strong on that issue that he said in verse 7 it would be better for us to accept the injustice and let ourselves be cheated rather than take a fellow believer to court! In this day and age where it seems everyone is so determined to stand up for their ‘rights’, this is another example of how Jesus’ teaching cuts against the grain and is the opposite of what our world thinks.  In the Kingdom, the way up is down and the way to get is to give!

Hope that helps a bit.  Perhaps you’d like to join the conversation by adding your comments below – or even leave your question for ‘Ask the Pastor’.

 

Off to Houston (and back again)

The Amish-Mexican (Eduardo Marroquin) and me at 4am

The Amish-Mexican (Eduardo Marroquin) and me at 4am

It’s amazing what a friend will do.  Pastor Ed Marroquin drove to Chicago yesterday to hang with us at the office, then spent the night at our house last night because we had to be up at 2:30 this morning to catch a ridiculously-early flight to Houston.

He and I will attend a pastor’s gathering at Lakewood Church with Joel Osteen and his Champion’s Network all day before catching our flight home tonight.

The lack of sleep (and coffee) has made for a lot of laughter already, so it should be a fun day.

See you Wednesday for Family Night at CLC (Iron Men, H2H, Consumed & KidsLife – there’s something for everyone!)

What’s the BIG DEAL about Easter?

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We started our promotion for Easter weekend yesterday – but WHY?  Why add extra services and solicit CLC’ers to serve just for this one holiday?

Proverbs 10:5 says it best: “A sensible person gathers the crops when they are ready; it is a disgrace to sleep through the time of harvest.” (GNT)

In fact, the Message makes it even plainer: “Make hay while the sun shines—that’s smart;
go fishing during harvest—that’s stupid.”

Easter is one of two times a year (Christmas is the other) that even unchurched people think about church – and are more open to an invitation than any other time.

So it’s only smart for us to go ALL-OUT at Easter to reach people when they can be reached. 

Or, to put it another way, it would be STUPID for us to ignore this opportunity.

Here’s what I need from YOU this Easter:

  1. If you have a testimony of something GREAT that Jesus has done for you (read this for more details), then please volunteer here to help make Easter attractive at CLC, by sharing your story.
  2. Unless you have friends/family who will be attending with you on Easter Sunday, please worship with us on either Friday night at 7pm or Saturday at 5pm, to help free up seats in the auditorium for the three Easter Sunday services in Tinley Park.
  3. Regardless of which service you plan to attend, would you volunteer to serve at another service that weekend?  We’ll need double the usual number of ushers, greeters, parking lot attendants, information desk, guest services, KidsLife ministers, etc. – but if each CLC’er will “serve one; worship one”, we’ll reach more people!

Thanks for ALL you do to make CLC a family!

 

Sunday reflections

Good to have Pastor Jon back in Tinley Park after a couple of weeks away!

Good to have Pastor Jon back in Tinley Park after a couple of weeks away!

Of course, the most important stuff each Sunday happens in KidsLife!

Of course, the most important stuff each Sunday happens in KidsLife!

I hope some people were helped today - the biggest takeaway may have come from Pastor Paul in Greece who said, "we've learned you don't need to have things for to be a giver. You just need to be there." SELAH

I hope some people were helped today – the biggest takeaway may have come from Pastor Paul in Greece who said, “you don’t need to have things for to be a giver. You just need to be there.” SELAH.

Our Hammond campus was over 300 in attendance for the third week in a row (ever since adding a second service!)

Our Hammond campus was over 300 in attendance for the third week in a row (ever since adding a second service!)

Pastor Ben taught in Hammond and MANY people accepted the 90-day tithe challenge!

Pastor Ben taught in Hammond and MANY people accepted the 90-day tithe challenge!

Welcome to our Blue Island campus (in English or Spanish!)

Welcome to our Blue Island campus (in English or Spanish – we have signs in both languages!)

KidsLife is FUN!

KidsLife is FUN!

Pastor Sol translated today's message for all the Spanish speakers

Pastor Sol translated today’s message for all the Spanish speakers

Pastor Brent shared the Word and inspired some  CLC'ers to take the tithe challenge

Pastor Brent shared the Word and inspired some CLC’ers to take the tithe challenge

DUH Moment #1 of the dayif you attended the first service in Tinley Park or Hammond, both Pastor Ben and I completely forgot to show the “rest of the story” from Rodney & Nikeya Young’s testimony has to how God blessed their entrepreneurial efforts after Rodney left a good-paying job when his company wanted him to be unethical.  (Sorry folks – but it’ll be up on our website soon)

DUH Moment #2 of the dayafter talking so much last week about confessing the promises of God’s Word (including meditating on them), I compiled appropriate verses on four different themes: God’s goodness, tithes & offerings, money management & God’s favor on your job, and we printed them for distribution at each campus.  But I completely forgot to mention them today!  The good news is that you can still get them next time you’re at any campus – help yourself at the Information Desk!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, but here’s a good one from 2009:      A CLCer recently asked, “Why are there so many bible translations? Is anyone of them better than the other? Which translation is your favorite one? Which translation would you recommend people to read?”

Great questions!  Let’s take them one at a time:

  • Until 1881 you could only read the Bible in English in the King James Version, which was translated in 1611.  Of course, not many of us speak the Shakespearan-type English of “thee’s” and “thou’s”, which is what initially led to more and more translations.  So many English words have changed in their meaning over these past 400 years, and, for that matter, all language is constantly evolving, so it is needful for their to be new translations if the average person is going to read the Bible in the common language of everyday use.
  • It would be hard to say that any one translation is better than another – they’re just different. Some translations (such as the New King James and the New American Standard Bible) attempt a literal, word-for-word translation from the original languages (The Old Testament was written in Hebrew; the New Testament in Greek) into English.  Others (such as the New International Version and the New Living Translation) use a phrase-for-phrase approach, to help convey the original intended meaning.  Still others (like The Message and The Living Bible) are not actually translations, but rather paraphrases that attempt to convey the original thoughts into modern, contemporary thoughts.  (By the way, for what it’s worth, many scholars agree that the New American Standard Bible is perhaps the most accurate translation of the Scriptures into English.)
  • My favorite translation has changed several times as I’ve grown older: initially, I grew up with the King James, and I memorized numerous verses in the stilted old English.  Later, when I was introduced to the New King James, it became my favorite, probably because it retained much of the poetic beauty of the KJV, but updated the English to eliminate the need to talk like Shakespeare.  However, in the last few years I’ve grown to love the more modern, New Living Translation, and I use it almost exclusively on Sundays at CLC.
  • It depends on the purpose: if you want a Bible to study, I’d recommend the NKJV (my preference is the Spirit-Filled Life Bible).  For general reading, I personally think you can’t beat the NLT (which is why I use it in the pulpit so much). For a change of pace, I really like The Message, as it has a way of ‘jarring’ me with truth that I might otherwise have overlooked.

As I’ve explained at other times, I personally try to use a different version each year for my daily “through the Bible in a year” devotions.  I’ve found my mixing it up each year, it helps me not to get stale by thinking “I’ve read this before”.

That was fun….hope it was helpful.  Now, what would YOU like to ask the Pastor?

Do you have a story?

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I’ve enjoyed the stories we’ve featured the past 2 Sundays during our “Faith Gaps” series  (as well as the next 2 coming up) – but that’s not what I’m writing about today.

This Easter, at each service and each campus (I think that’s a total of 9 services across 3 campuses) we’re planning a creative and (we think) impacting celebration of what God has already done for CLC’ers, to inspire faith in our friends and guests at Easter for what He wants to do in them as well!

But the key to its effectiveness is for us to have LOTS of CLC’ers will to share their story in writing, and time is of the essence.  If you have a story of how God has worked in your life, especially if you:

  • were delivered from drugs or alcohol
  • experienced a physical healing from some sickness or disease
  • had a real turnaround and healing in your marriage
  • were saved from a sinful lifestyle
  • experienced a miracle in your family
  • received a remarkable answer to prayer
  • were set free from addictive behavior (pornography or other addictions)
  • personally experienced God’s amazing love
  • received forgiveness for your past

We NEED you!  Please let us know you can share here.

Sunday reflections

UGH! The Sunday when Daylight Savings Time begins is historically one of the lowest-attended Sundays of the year, and today was certainly no exception, with Tinley Park having almost 400 fewer worshippers today than last Sunday.  I’m glad that wasn’t the case at our other campuses!  Here’s a few bright spots from today:

Tinley Park Worship Director Harmony LaBeff introduced a new song that will be featured this Easter.

Tinley Park Worship Director Harmony LaBeff introduced a new song that will be featured this Easter, “RESURRECTING”

I tried to cover WAY too much material today with "How Faith Works", but the TP campus hung in there with me.

I tried to cover WAY too much material today with “How Faith Works”, but the TP campus hung in there with me.

The good news is that the altars were full in each service with people believing God's promises!

The good news is that the altars were full in each service with people believing God’s promises!

At the Hammond campus, we were over 300 in attendance again, despite DST!  Pastor Sam says the dance team was a highlight today during their presentation-

At the Hammond campus, we were over 300 in attendance again, despite DST! Pastor Sam says the dance team was a highlight today during their presentation-

Here's the SECRET behind God's blessing at each CLC campus: faithful volunteers serving with joy!

Here’s the SECRET behind God’s blessing at each CLC campus: faithful volunteers serving the Lord and His people with joy!

 

Sing Unto the Lord, Liane!

Sing Unto the Lord, Liane!

The Queen of object lessons strikes again

The Queen of object lessons strikes again

At the close of service in Blue Island, the whole congregation joined in faith-filled prayers for each other!

At the close of service in Blue Island, the whole congregation joined in faith-filled prayers for each other!

Ask the Pastor

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One of my favorite CLC’ers writes, “I agree with your answer [last week] that the position of a person does not matter to God if the prayer is sincere, but in our time of the New Covenant doesn’t the one praying have to believe in Jesus Christ and pray in His name for their prayers to be heard by the Father? John 14:6 doesn’t seem to leave much wiggle room about that.”

You are so right about that, and my answer last week was definitely incomplete in that regard.  Probably the only exception to what you’ve mentioned would be the prayer of a sincere seeker (“IF there is a God, please help me” kind of prayer – I’ve heard too many testimonies through the years to think that God won’t hear that prayer).

And as we saw in last Sunday’s message, Hebrews 11:6 makes it quite clear that the ONLY way we can come to God for anything is to approach Him in faith.

Lest last week’s answer imply that our lifestyle is unimportant to getting our prayers answered, let me also point out the example of good king Hezekiah in 2Kings 20. God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell him he was about to die, but after Hezekiah ‘reminded’ the Lord that he had faithfully served Him, God ‘changed His mind’ (that’s how it ‘appears’ to us humans) and sent Isaiah back to tell the king that HE was adding 15 more years to his life!” That example alone tells me it’s a powerful thing to walk humbly and faithfully with the Lord when it comes to getting your prayers answered!

Hope that helps a bit and I’m especially thankful for the opportunity to correct any misconceptions by last week’s answer.  Is there more you’d like to add?  If not, perhaps you also have a question – please leave it below.

Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead as we ‘Spring forward’ with Daylight Savings Time this Sunday, March 12!  Your pastor wants to see you in church!

Prayer Journey, INDEED!

I wish each of the Sunday morning CLC’ers could have joined last night’s Prayer Journey!

Not only did the Tinley Park team (staff & volunteers) put on the most creative and well-planned prayer journey we’ve ever done, I think it may have been the most anointed, too!

Every center of prayer was well-planned (like this one) - but I was wrecked by the "Nations" room - I'm convinced that Iran and Russia and other countries were affected by the intercession at CLC last night!

Every center of prayer was well-planned (like this one) – but I was wrecked by the “Nations” room – I’m convinced that Iran and Russia and other countries were affected by the intercession at CLC last night!

This creative approach allowed us to use finger paints on the Cross to tell what Jesus did for us

This creative approach allowed us to use finger paints on the Cross to tell what Jesus did for us

There really was something for everybody!

There really was something for everybody!

Part of the prayer experience is forgiving others & we got to do that!

Part of the prayer experience is forgiving others & we got to do that!

I especially was touched to see parents helping their children experience prayer

I especially was touched to see parents helping their children experience prayer

All of us were invited to pray for people we love who still need Jesus

All of us were invited to pray for people we love who still need Jesus, writing their names so that others could join us in praying for their salvation

I especially liked

What I liked best of all was the resources that will enable anyone to pray more effectively – this was a tree of promises that we could claim for our family-

a couple examples of the MANY resources our team made available - ways to pray for my wife & tips for daily devotions

a couple examples of the MANY resources our team made available – ways to pray for my wife & this promise from God’s Word that I claimed for my family!

Ever more great resources - how to pray for people who don't know Jesus AND, perhaps the most important resource of all: tips for having a daily time with the Lord!

Ever more great resources – how to pray for people who don’t know Jesus AND, perhaps the most important resource of all: tips for having a daily time with the Lord!

If you missed last night, don’t forget that you can join us each Saturday from 8-9am in the Prayer Room upstairs!

Talking Bible: taking God at His Word!

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It happened again.

As I was reading the Scriptures this morning, I noticed how the people of Israel  complained, particularly about their daily diet of manna, and their desire for meat instead.  God was angry, so He promised to give them enough meat to last the entire nation a whole month! (Actually, He was more descriptive than that, but that’s beside the point)  (see Numbers 11:18-20)

What jumped out at me is what happened next.  In verses 21-22, Moses informed God that there were 600,000 men in Israel, plus women & children, and that he didn’t think all the fish of the sea would be enough to feed them.  In other words, Moses questioned what God had said.

The answer was quick: in verse 23, God said, “Is the hand of the Lord shortened? Now you’ll see if My word will happen to you or not.”

God takes His Word very seriously.  He doesn’t say things without thinking.  He doesn’t exaggerate.  If He says it, He’s going to do it!

Moses was a great leader, but he made the mistake of using his own reasoning instead of placing his full trust in God’s Word.

I really, really want to help us all this Sunday as we continue our “Faith Gaps” series with a detailed look at how faith works.  I hope you’ll invite someone to join you at any campus of CLC this Sunday (and don’t forget to set your clock’s ahead on Saturday night!)

Sunday reflections

Let’s start with our Hammond campus, which added a second Sunday service today – and saw 382 people in attendance!  (That’s about 130 more than we’ve been averaging).

AND, 6 of those folks prayed to receive Christ today, including 3 from one family who were invited by a guest who just got baptized last Sunday!  (gotta love that!)

And 5 were baptized there today!  I know Pastors Sam & Taylor are still rejoicing, as am I!

Meanwhile, here’s some worship pics from there today:

faces in worship...

age is not a factor in worship…

young in worship...

young people worship…

every generation in worship...

every generation in worship…

men or women in worship...

men or women, white or black in worship…

everyone is WELCOME at our Hammond campus!

everyone is WELCOMED at our Hammond campus!

looks like our KidsLife at Blue Island have found a fun-loving Director in Harry Valentine!

looks like our KidsLife at Blue Island have found a fun-loving Director in Harry Valentine!

uh, looks like their Campus Pastor has fun while preaching...

uh, looks like their Campus Pastor has fun while preaching…

and you'll find a warm WELCOME at Blue Island, too!

and you’ll find a warm WELCOME at Blue Island, too!

Worship in Tinley Park was ALIVE today, too

Worship in Tinley Park was ALIVE today, too

and I definitely had more fun than you're supposed to have while preaching - I'm loving this new "Faith Gaps" series already!

and I definitely had more fun than you’re supposed to have while preaching (even though this pic doesn’t reflect it) – I’m loving this new “Faith Gaps” series already!

Rejoicing over every good thing happening at CLC in each campus – including new guests & prospects, more people in Growth Track, salvation decisions, baptisms, communion & more!  Say it with me, “God is good…all the time…and all the time…God is good!”

Reaching the Next Generation

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I stopped by this afternoon just to cheer on our Youth Pastors, Micah & Jen Remington and their great team of volunteers, and I just have to say, “I LOVE being a part of a church that values the Next Generation!”

Despite everything you may hear about kids these days, here’s a group of teens who  chose to spend their Saturday at a church event – worshipping, listening to God’s Word, playing games & having fun together in a healthy atmosphere!

Major kudos to Micah & Jen, Chuck & Nicole, David & Tiheasha, Joe, Ben & anyone else I’ve overlooked – you guys ROCK and our youth are BLESSED by your leadership!

 

just a few of the kids during their lunch break - I wasn't around to get pics of the really good stuff earlier - but I rejoice over 9 students who came to visit & ended up receiving Christ as Savior this morning!

just a few of the kids during their lunch break – I wasn’t around to get pics of the really good stuff earlier – but I rejoice over 9 students who came to visit & ended up receiving Christ as Savior this morning!

Ask the Pastor

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Finally a new question! An Indiana CLC’er writes, “The Bible says “the prayers of a righteous man avail much.”What about the prayers of someone completely lacking righteousness? It seem to me the prayers of a sinner who gives their life to Him is the ultimate definition of “availing much”.Is it just different prayers that make the difference or the status of the one doing the praying?”

Great question.

First, your statement about a sinner who gives their life to Christ reminds me of the argument I heard years ago from John 9:31 and a denomination that said God wouldn’t hear a sinner’s prayer – which seems pretty preposterous to me, seeing that we are ALL sinners and could never be saved unless He first heard our prayer for help!  So I definitely agree that a sinner’s prayer for salvation ‘avails much’.

As to the question about the status of the one praying, the scholars say that “the righteous man simply designates one who is wholeheartedly committed to God and sincerely seeking to do his will”.  That being the case, almost anyone can qualify if they sincerely call upon the Lord.

Honestly, when you read the passage in context (James 5:14-18) it seems the emphasis is NOT on the person doing the praying as much as it is on the effectiveness of prayer.  In fact, in context, it mentions our need to confess sins prior to the verse in question, and after the verse it uses Elijah as an example and specifically mentions that he was human with shortcomings just like us.

So my understanding of the verse in question that anyone who asks in sincerity and faith can pray effectively!

Hope that helps.

What would you add to my answer?  Please leave a comment below, or ask your own question for next Friday-

 

The Syrian refugee crisis & OneHope

Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope is an amazing leader for this amazing ministry!

Rob Hoskins, President of OneHope is an amazing leader for this amazing ministry!

We Americans see and hear about the Syrian refugee crisis almost nightly.  The whole issue of refugees has become a political football in our country, with lots of opinions but no real solutions to what some have called the “worst humanitarian crisis since WWII”with literally half of the population of Syria killed or displaced from their homes since the crisis began.

What you don’t hear on the nightly news is how God’s people have responded.  Just a few days ago I heard from our partners at ELAM how thousands of Muslims have become refugees in various European countries, and literally have been knocking on the doors of churches, looking for information about Jesus and Christianity.  In fact, I heard of just one small church in Europe that has baptized over 1,000 Muslims in the last year alone!

Yesterday I heard what our partners at OneHope are doing to serve these refugees and was especially touched by the testimony from Pastor Paul Demetriades of Thessaloniki, Greece, whose congregation has responded in sacrificial ways to refugees in Greece.  As he described how some of his own members who are unemployed and struggling financially show up to serve the refugees instead of focusing on their own needs.

When asked what he had learned through this crisis, Pastor Paul said, “you don’t have to have things to be a giver; you just have to be there!”

To that I would simply add, SELAH.

Our friend, Bishop Edward Grabovenko told how OneHope has been such a great partner in reaching Russia (his son David translated)

Our friend, Bishop Edward Grabovenko told how OneHope has been such a great partner in reaching Russia (his son David translated)

One of many highlights for me was meeting this man of God from a country I can't name for security reasons. He's one of many who risk their lives to preach the Gospel in spite of oppressive governments & God is honoring their efforts!

One of many highlights for me was meeting this man of God from a country I can’t name for security reasons. He’s one of many who risk their lives to preach the Gospel in spite of oppressive governments & God is honoring their efforts!

I’m so glad CLC is able to partner with ministries like OneHope!

P.S. I also got to meet Kirk Cousins, quarterback of the Washington Redskins who is a committed believer (if talk radio is right, the Bears may be looking to acquire him during this off-season, and I for one wouldn’t mind having a Spirit-filled Christian behind center!)

Join me in singing ‘Happy Birthday’

with the birthday girl in Israel a few months ago - checking off our bucket list together!

with the birthday girl in Israel a few months ago – checking off our bucket list together!

Today is my one-and-only baby girl’s birthday, and I get to spend the entire day with her  (and her mom)!

From the moment she arrived 39 years ago, Jen has brought us so much JOY.  In fact, as a toddler, she seemed to sense when Chris or I were ‘down’ about some situation or troubled about some church problem, and she would spontaneously start making faces and wiggling her head to make us laugh. (And it worked…and broke the mood!)

I must admit that Jen endured some of the most painful moments that anyone could ever experience, with both physical challenges, surgeries, etc., as well as some huge disappointments in life…..but she’s still going forward.  I appreciate her persistence.

For as long as I can remember, Jen has been generous to a fault – always giving to others, even when it seemed not to be reciprocated.  I admire her generous spirit.

More than anyone I know, Jen is passionate about family.  She’s the BEST Ti-Ti ever to her nephews and nieces, and they love her in return – but she also cares for her grandparents and has sacrificed time and energy to help them through surgeries and more. (I’m counting on her to take care of me in my old age!)

And since she was a little girl living in the Philippines, she’s had a love for the nations.  I’m proud of her missions heart.  In fact, it only seems appropriate that we get to spend her birthday at the Hope Celebration, rejoicing in reports of what God is doing through the ministry of OneHope, from literally all around the world!

Thanks for who you are, and for all you do, babygirl…..and enjoy your day!

Hope Celebration

I joined my wife and daughter in south Florida today for the 30th Anniversary of OneHope, one of our favorite missions partners at CLC. Tonight we heard from the founder, Bob Hoskins, who has faithfully engaged in ministry to reach the lost for 73 years (he started preaching at age 7)!

The thing that I love most about Bob and his son, Rob (who is the President of OneHope) is their heart for souls, as each of them still weeps for those that are being reached through this amazing ministry.

But the unexpected highlight of the day for us was to be joined at our assigned table tonight by our friends from Perm, Russia, Bishop Edward & Larisa Grabovenko. Edward leads the largest network of evangelical pastors in the nation, and is the founder of perhaps the largest Spirit-filled church in Russia, where we’ve been privileged to minister about five or six times through the years, and it was great to reconnect with them tonight-

We love Larissa & Bishop Edward Grabovenko and the work they do in Russia!

We love Larisa & Bishop Edward Grabovenko and the work they do in Russia!

We’ll be in meetings tomorrow as the Hope Celebration continues, then home on Wednesday in time for our final Life Group meeting for “That’s MY Church”-

Sunday reflections

Doesn't Harmony's expression say it all? God is GOOD & His Presence filled the house today!

Doesn’t Harmony’s expression say it all? God is GOOD & His Presence filled the house today!

Worship Pastor Jon Jones showed us today that he can do more than 'sang' - he knocked it out of the park with "Inclusion" to close our 'That's MY Church' series!

Worship Pastor Jon Jones showed us today that he can do more than ‘sang’ – he knocked it out of the park with “Inclusion” to close our ‘That’s MY Church’ series!

Best of all, there were at least 10 people who prayed to receive Christ after Jon’s teaching today, plus numerous others who received emotional healing & freedom from the past!

Worship Pastor Jon Jones showed us today that he can do more than 'sang' - he knocked it out of the park with "Inclusion" to close our 'That's MY Church' series!

Jon had many great things to say, but my favorites were “Check yo self before you wreck yo self!” and “Good is Bad if it hinders you from Best”!  Teach, Jon, teach!!

I had the privilege of closing "TMC" series today in Blue Island-

I had the privilege of closing “TMC” series today in Blue Island-

But the REAL FUN was in KidsLife as Director Harry Valentine took one for the team (love the expression on the boy's face)

But the REAL FUN was in KidsLife as Director Harry Valentine took one for the team (love the expression on the boy’s face)

Yep, he did it.

Yep, he did it.

But the BEST report today came from our Hammond campus, where Pastor Sam says the worship was 'off the charts'!

But the BEST report today came from our Hammond campus, where Pastor Sam says the worship was ‘off the charts’!

Pastor Sam announced that NEXT Sunday they'll be going to 2 services at NWI!

Pastor Sam announced that NEXT Sunday they’ll be going to 2 services at NWI!

Best of all, as he ministered today on “The Full Ministry of the Holy Spirit”, people responded – as 3 were born-again (including a next-door neighbor who will be water baptized next week!) and several others were baptized in the Holy Spirit and received their prayer language!  The momentum for adding that second service is real, with another strong attendance today and perhaps a record attendance in Life Groups this past week!

Our teams there are preparing for two services & here's a couple of great VOLUNTEERS who will make it happen!

Our teams there are preparing for two services & here’s a couple of great VOLUNTEERS who will make it happen!

 

Ask the Pastor

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Unfortunately there were no new questions this week, so I’m reposting this one from 2008:

Lori asked what we can do about people who seem ‘immune’ to the Gospel – those who may think it’s ‘great for you, but I don’t need it’.

My guess is that in our pluralistic society where truth is relative and “whatever works for you is fine by me” attitudes, you may find more people who fall into this category than any other.  That’s one reason I think it’s so important that we focus only on our responsibility.

Remember the line in “Rudy” where the priest said, “there’s two things in life I’ve learned: one, there is a God. And two, I’m not Him!” — it really does apply to each of us when it comes to witnessing.  Only God can open someone’s heart to receive the Gospel.

So our role is (a) to pray for them, that God would open their heart and cause them to be open, tender and receptive to His Word; and (b) to let our light shine by our loving and winsome conduct around them.  Paul said it best in Titus 2:9-10 – our lives can make the Gospel more attractive.

Beyond that, it’s really up to God.  I hope this helps, and that all of us will continue to Paint the Town Red! (NOTE: that was a 2008 sermon series about personal evangelism – but I’m hoping that CLC’ers continue to reach out to unsaved friends and family with the Good News of what Jesus did for us!)

What’s on your mind?  Do you have a question for the pastor?

The core value of INCLUSION

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Have you ever felt left-out?

Maybe it was an elementary game of softball and the two captains chose teams….but neither picked you.

Or maybe all your friends got an invitation to a birthday part…except you.  Not a nice feeling, huh?

I’ve been enjoying our “That’s MY Church” series at CLC so much I kinda hate to see it end this Sunday, but I’m especially excited after our planning meeting yesterday, hearing & sharing the ideas that will be presented at the Tinley Park campus by our Worship Pastor, Jon Jones.

I had asked him to share this message in Tinley Park because Jon is as passionate as anyone I know about the core value of inclusionWhen you think about it, ALL of us should be – not only because we know how it feels to be left out, but because with our God it doesn’t happen – there’s room at His Table whether you’re black, white, red or yellow, male or female, young or old, skinny or not-so-skinny (you catch my drift).

Of course, our other two campuses will close the series with a bang, too – as Pastor Sam will focus on the “Full Ministry of the Holy Spirit” at our Hammond campus, and I’ll get to share “Balanced Bible Teaching” at our Blue Island campus (first time I’ve preached there in over 6 months, so I’m excited to see everyone there!)

If you’ve been participating in one of our “That’s MY Church” Life Groups, what’s been your takeaway?  Join the conversation by leaving your comment below-

What makes a great church service?

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It’s been over 24 hrs, and I’m still basking in the overflow of yesterday’s services at CLC.

More importantly, I’ve been hearing reports today of miraculous healings and deliverance that took place as the Holy Spirit moved mightily among us.  (Here’s one example)

And I’ve lost count at the number of CLC’ers who’ve commented about the Presence and anointing they experienced personally in those services.

What’s been on my mind last night and today is ‘WHY?’ 

Why should one service be so noticeably greater in terms of its impact on us?

I know some will chalk it up to God’s sovereigntybut I think it’s more than that.

Others will give credit to the Worship teambut they lead us weekly, so it can’t be that.

As a pastor, I often think it’s about expectationbut several mentioned how surprised they were by the move of the Spirit, so it must be more than that.

Here’s what I’ve concluded: it’s about hunger!  Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who hunger and thirst in Matthew 5:6, promising that they shall be filled!

I think we came hungrier yesterday than we have on other Sundays.

And here’s what I think the Lord is saying to us all (not from a beer commercial, but from His Word) – stay thirsty, my friends, stay thirsty!

Sunday reflections

I was only able to be in the altar time during the noon service at Tinley Park, but I must say it was the atmosphere that I want for every Sunday!  When the Presence of God is that strong, it makes me weep and evidently I’m not alone, because I saw more tears in the auditorium today than I usually do in a month!  Thank you Jesus for your Presence!

One reason for the awesome Presence today is the way our Life Worship team led us INTO His Presence!

One reason for the awesome Presence today is the way our Life Worship team led us INTO His Presence!

Today was very special as we dedicated Mathias LaBranche to the Lord on Audrey's (his late mother) birthday. It was also special because about 50 members of her family were present to honor her memory & celebrate Mathias, whose name means "gift of God"

Today was very special as we dedicated Mathias LaBranche to the Lord on Audrey’s (his late mother) birthday. It was also special because about 50 members of her family were present to honor her memory & celebrate Mathias, whose name means “gift of God”

Pastor Chris reminded us all that the Full Ministry of the Holy Spirit is like using a power drill instead of a manual screwdriver!

Pastor Chris reminded us all that the Full Ministry of the Holy Spirit is like using a power drill instead of a manual screwdriver!

The prayer time around the altar in each service resulted in several physical healings & a LOT of tears!

The prayer time around the altar in each service resulted in several physical healings & a LOT of tears from CLC’ers hungry for more!

In Blue Island, the worship team brought His Presence!

In Blue Island, the worship team brought His Presence!

Our KidsLife Blue Island enjoyed some pie in the face today!

Our KidsLife Blue Island enjoyed some pie in the face today!

Pastor Brent illustrated how intercessors pray thru a window instead of in a mirror. Good word!

Pastor Brent illustrated how intercessors pray thru a window instead of in a mirror. Good word!

Today I was privileged to speak at our Hammond, IN campus - but I was so surprised to see several new musicians on stage leading us in worship there! Love how God brings gifted people along at just the right time!

Today I was privileged to speak at our Hammond, IN campus – but I was so surprised to see several new musicians on stage leading us in worship there! Love how God brings gifted people along at just the right time!

I was having such a good time in teaching that I let the time get away from me, but the congregation was kind, and best of all, at least 4 adults (who were ALL first-time guests!) prayed openly to receive Jesus as Savior today!  (Love how our Hammond campus is reaching people far from God!)

I was having such a good time in teaching that I let the time get away from me, but the congregation was kind, and best of all, at least 4 adults (who were ALL first-time guests!) prayed openly to receive Jesus as Savior today!  (Love how our Hammond campus is reaching people far from God!)

Hey, if you attended ANY service at ANY campus today, what impacted you the most?  Please join the conversation by leaving a comment below-

Ask the Pastor

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No new questions were submitted while we’re in the Philippines, so I’m repeating this post from 2014 when a faithful CLC’er asked a question I’d never been asked before: “Where does the church get the different series that we follow during the weekly services?”

Wow….I’m surprised this hasn’t come up before – but for all of those curious minds that want to know, here’s a look behind the scenes. Our sermon series/themes at CLC originate in several different ways (with an example of each):

  • Some series we try to include annually, because we know people will always need practical help with subjects like marriage and finances.  We may put on a creative title or cutesy approach to try to entice people to come, but every year we’re gonna try to include help for our folks on those issues. “Stewardship 2.0” or “Rules of Engagement” are examples of that kind of series.
  • Some series will be included annually because of their importance to us as a church.  For instance, as an unashamedly Charismatic church, we will probably do a series each year about the Holy Spirit (We’ve planned an exciting series about the gifts of the Holy Spirit for June). “Kingdom” would be an example of this, as would our current series, “That’s MY Church”, where we are reviewing the values that drive our ministry.
  • Some series ideas come to us from other ministries.  For instance, in my morning walks (usually on a treadmill at the gym; sometimes around our subdivision when weather allows), I listen to podcasts from some of America’s leading pastors, like Robert Morris, Chris Hodges, Craig Groeschel and others. Sometimes as I receive from their teaching, I feel that I should pass it on to our church family, and we develop a series around the same theme. White Christmas came about that way.
  • Our popular summer series, “God@the Movies” came about as a result of reading or hearing about other churches that were doing something similar.  We considered if for a few years before giving it a try and have been wildly surprised not only by the boost in summer attendance, but especially by the changed lives that have resulted.  (Our choice of movies and approach to the messages is totally our own, as we’ve never followed any other churches in that regard – but we make those choices with the help of pastors & leaders on our sermon planning team.)
  • Probably the majority of our series come out of my prayer time and my interaction with people at CLC, which cause me to sense a real ‘need’ to address certain subjects. We may look for fun titles or approaches, but the series itself is our way of trying to correct a problem or meet a need we sense in the church family. “Generations” would be an example of that kind of series.
  • Finally, I personally think the best series each year are a result of me getting a ‘rhema word’ from God in my own study times.  That’s the ‘old-school’ Pentecostal preacher  in me, no doubt, but I honestly believe when the Word comes alive to me, it will also come alive to our people and meet needs in a way that nothing else could! “Deeper” is a great example of that, and I believe our next series beginning March 5 will be as well – we’re calling it “Faith Gaps”, but it was born when 1Thess. 3:10 jumped off the page at me during my devotions a few months ago.

That was fun!  Hope it helped a bit.  Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Talking Bible: Psalm 46

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I love it when my Bible talks to me, and it happened today as I did my devotions before leaving the hotel that’s been home for the past several days for our getaway to a resort near here.

I read Psalm 46:1 in the Modern English Version (which I’m using for my 2017 devotions)  and it jumped off the page at me.  Instead of the traditional, “a very present help in trouble”, the MEV renders it, “a well-proven help in trouble”.

I like that!

So if you’re reading this post and there is any kind of ‘trouble’ in your life, please know that not only is God a very present help, meaning, HE is right there with you in this situation, but also know that HE is a well-proven help!

I can easily recall times that HE has proven Himself to me by helping me out of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced, and I bet you can, too.

But even if you can’t remember times that HE has helped you in the past, you can still take courage that HE has been proven by countless believers, for thousands of years.

You CAN trust Him!

Does that resonate with you today?  Why not join the conversation by sharing some comments below about how the Lord has proven Himself to you, perhaps when you needed Him most-

Philippines trip, day 4

Our last night of ministry in Davao WAS truly "A Night to Remember" - so many fun memories with some of our favorite people in the whole world!

Our last night of ministry in Davao WAS truly “A Night to Remember” – so many fun memories with some of our favorite people in the whole world, as we spoke at the CLC-Davao Valentines Banquet for married couples. (I even got Chris to ‘dance’ with me….well, at least we hugged and kinda swayed to the music)  We also led about 40 couples in renewing their marriage vows!

Can you tell which one is MY Valentine?

Can you tell which one of these lovely ladies is MY Valentine?

One of the greatest privileges we've ever had in ministry is partnering with this precious couple and their family - we LOVE Bishop Herley Montes & Pastora Nelly Montes!

One of the greatest privileges we’ve ever had in ministry is partnering with this precious couple and their family – we LOVE Bishop Herley Montes & Pastora Nelly Montes!

This concluded our ministry assignment for this trip – but we’re taking the next few days for some much needed R & R at a nearby resort Pastor Herley has been telling us about.  (We really do plan to rest, so I may not post so much from Pearl Farm Beach Resort)

Philippines trip, day 3

We got to meet the 2 newest CLC churches in Mindanao (bringing us to a total of 15!) This is Pastor Al Montano & his son Dale from Koronadal-

We got to meet the 2 newest CLC churches in Mindanao (bringing us to a total of 13!) This is Pastor Al Montano & his son Dale from Koronadal-

We taught the pastors this morning and then a group of both pastors & leaders this afternoon. No matter what we teach, it's more fun when Pastor Jeser Molina interprets!

We taught the pastors this morning and then a group of both pastors & leaders this afternoon. No matter what we teach, it’s more fun when Pastor Jeser Molina interprets!

After the teaching, the pastors & leaders met in small discussion groups-

After the teaching, the pastors & leaders met in small discussion groups-

we're glad that CLC in the Philippines also believes in women in ministry - each of these ladies is a pastor or leader in their church!

we’re glad that CLC in the Philippines also believes in women in ministry – each of these ladies is a pastor or leader in their church!

Tonight Pastors Herley & Nelly 'presented' to us their top 288 leaders, who are ALL soul-winners & disciple-makers! This is what it looked like from the pulpit - I'm sure you'll agree that it was an AWESOME sight for any pastor to see!

Tonight Pastors Herley & Nelly ‘presented’ to us their top 288 leaders, who are ALL soul-winners & disciple-makers! This is what it looked like from the pulpit – I’m sure you’ll agree that it was an AWESOME sight for any pastor to see!

Meet our NEWEST CLC-Philippines pastor (#15), Ian Enriquez from Bukidnon!

Meet our NEWEST CLC-Philippines pastor (#15), Ian Enriquez from Bukidnon!

One more ministry event as we speak to CLC-Davao’s married couples tomorrow at a Valentine’s Banquet.  Thanks for the prayers-

Philippines trip, day 2

 

It was a JOY to preach with Bishop Herley Montes interpreting at both morning services today-

It was a JOY to preach with Bishop Herley Montes interpreting at both morning services today- (we had more fun than you’re supposed to be able to have in church)

This children's ensemble opened the morning services singing, 'Yes, Jesus Loves Me' & it was ADORABLE! (Just to the right of center stage are the 3 children of Pastor Joel Montes: Sophia 2, Jaden 6 & Yada 4)

This children’s ensemble opened the morning services singing, ‘Yes, Jesus Loves Me’ & it was ADORABLE! (Just to the right of center stage are the 3 children of Pastor Joel Montes: Sophia, 2; Jaden, 6; & Yada, 4)

After a skit depicting a young believer whose family practically disowned him for his faith, the bass guitarist stepped to the pulpit to announce that the skit was HIS story. But just 2 years ago, his mother accepted his invitation to CLC and now serves the Lord with him!

After a skit depicting a young believer whose family practically disowned him for his faith, the bass guitarist stepped to the pulpit to announce that the skit was HIS story. But just 2 years ago, his mother accepted his invitation to CLC and now serves the Lord with him!

And his mom was singing in the choir (front row, center)

And his mom now sings in the choir (front row, center)!  God is Faithful!!!

After each service, Pastor Herley gave instructions to those who came forward to receive Christ.

After each service, Pastor Herley gave instructions to those who came forward to receive Christ.

I'm always touched by the numbers of Filipino's who respond to the salvation invitation, and today was no exception.

I’m always touched by the numbers of Filipinos’ who respond to the salvation invitation, and today was no exception.

 

Each service they came forward to receive Christ!

Each service they came forward to receive Christ!

Even after a powerful move of the Holy Spirit among believers, this group of people waited until the close of service, but when the invitation to receive the Lord was given, they came!

Even after a powerful move of the Holy Spirit among believers, this group of people waited until the close of service, but when the invitation to receive the Lord was given, they came!

Chris preached 2 powerful messages this afternoon/evening (and even had a little help from Dr. Seuss!)

Chris preached 2 powerful messages this afternoon/evening (and even had a little help from Dr. Seuss!)

We’re gonna to get some rest after today’s ministry marathon, as we’ll begin meeting with the CLC network of pastors in about 12 hours.  Thanks for the prayers!

Erik proposed & Joy said ‘YES’!

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I know some of you are concerned about our safety after learning that an earthquake hit the Philippines a few hours ago – but it was centered about 200 miles north of Davao City  (where we are). 

So the BIG NEWS for CLC is that Erik Lumagsao proposed to Joy Bumanlag last night shortly after Chris & I taught at a special event here for young professional singles!  (Erik was an intern in our EnTheos ministry last year & won our hearts at CLC – but he & Joy have been together for so long I wasn’t sure he’d ever pop the question!)

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So, thanks for your prayers – we are safe & sound.  In a few hours we begin a marathon day of ministry here with five services between us.  And a special congrats to Erik & Joy!

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Ask the Pastor

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No new questions this week, so I’m repeating this post from 2013:

This week’s question was submitted anonymously during our “You Asked For It!” midweek series back in December, but we weren’t able to cover it publicly then: “It is a sin to be depressed?”

Great question, simply because so many Americans (and believers) suffer from depression.  I think I’d be safe in saying that almost all of us deal with it from time to time.  Here’s my answer:

  • If depression is a sin, then a LOT of Bible ‘heroes’ were big-time sinners (like us) because Moses (Exodus 5:22-6:12), David (Psa 42:3-11), Elijah (IKings 19:3-14) and even Jesus (Matthew 26:37-39) experienced moments that we would probably call depression!
  • In addition, I’ve learned from my wife (the licensed counselor) that some depression is clinical, which means there is a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes the depression.  I don’t think any of us would say that diabetes is a sin, or that high cholesterol is a sin, so why would we classify someone with clinical depression as sinful?
  • On the other hand, most depression is caused by circumstances (Numbers 21:4; Lamentations 1:12-20), and while most of us have experienced moments of despair when we don’t see a way out of our situation, as believers we must admit that such a viewpoint is not of faith, since nothing is impossible with our God.
  • So when it comes to circumstantial depression, no believer should wallow there for long, because the Word of God and worship are mighty weapons (2Cor 10:4-5) to help us see beyond our present circumstances to the glorious plan He has for us!  (2Cor 4:16-18).  That was Jesus’ secret (see Isa. 42:4; Heb. 12:2)

In fact, this message of HOPE is what Easter is all about, for the Resurrection is God’s greatest object lesson: if He can do that, He can do anything! (see Ephesians 1:17-21) – and we’re going to CELEBRATE that fact in all of our Easter Experiences – I hope you’ll reach out one more time to invite someone to be your guest!

Now, what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?

Off to the Philippines

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I’m typing this at O’Hare where Chris and I will soon depart for the first of two flights that will get us into Manila about 9am Friday (Chicago time).  We then get a night’s sleep in Manila before flying to Davao City for the first assignment of this missions trip, a Saturday session with the singles of our CLC-Davao campus.

Then it’s a whirlwind of ministry, with 5 services on Sunday, 3 on Monday and 3 on Tuesday, concluding with a Valentine’s banquet for the married couples of CLC-Davao.  Since they just had over 200 people come forward to receive Christ last Sunday, I’m especially excited to see what God is doing there!

I’ll try to post each day to keep you aware of what we’re doing, and I can’t wait to hear  your reports this Sunday as we continue the “That’s MY Church” series.  I’ve already previewed the messages, and it’s going to be good at each campus!

Thanks for your prayers-

CAPRO missions

One of my favorite connections in missions began in 2001, when we were first introduced to a Nigerian-based missions movement known as ‘CAPRO’.  From that initial contact through their missionary in Senegal (at the time), Charles Bavelloni, we have since met so many wonderful men and women of God – people of integrity – who love Jesus and His Church and who are giving their lives to help make the Great Commission the Great Fulfillment!

I believe in the mission and work of CAPRO so much that I’ve been honored to serve on their USA board in the past and last year was invited to join their International Council.  Even more importantly, when CAPRO appointed their first representative to North America  (Niyi & Tayo Gbade), CLC provided an office for them to be based here.

This past Sunday afternoon we were blessed to conduct a “missions awareness” meeting to introduce CAPRO to some CLC’ers and other church leaders in Chicagoland, and we were blessed to have Tom Ogunleye, chairman of CAPRO USA and Amos Aderonmu, one of the founders of CAPRO who now serves in South Sudan.

Niyi Gbade is the North American representative for CAPRO

Niyi Gbade is the North American representative for CAPRO

Amos Aderonmu is one of the founders of CAPRO and a former International Director for the ministry who now serves in South Sudan.

Amos Aderonmu is one of the founders of CAPRO and a former International Director for the ministry who now serves in South Sudan.

Tom Ogunleye is a professor from Austin, TX who serves as Chairman of CAPRO USA

Tom Ogunleye is a professor from Austin, TX who serves as Chairman of CAPRO USA

Thank God for Kingdom partnerships!

Sunday reflections

On this Super Bowl Sunday, our Davao City, Philippines campus is undisputed champion:

Pastor Joel making the salvation invitation to a packed house at one service

Pastor Joel making the salvation invitation to a packed house at one service

and they came!

and they came forward to receive!

and they kept coming!

and they kept coming!

in the 4 services today, literally HUNDREDS of people came forward for salvation at the Davao campus!

in their 4 services today, literally HUNDREDS of people came forward for salvation!

Pastor Jon hosted today in Tinley Park - loved the way he quoted the 23rd Psalm!

Pastor Jon hosted today in Tinley Park – loved the way he quoted the 23rd Psalm!

Everyone in my Life Group this week talked about how FRIENDLY Tinley Park is - and this pic captured some of that.

Everyone in my Life Group this week talked about how FRIENDLY Tinley Park is – and this pic captured some of that.

Our FAMILY EXPO is coming  March 11 - get more info at http://clc.tv/tinleypark/events/clc-family-fun-expo/

Our FAMILY EXPO is coming March 11 – get more info here.

GET NAKED is our annual Marriage Retreat this March 24-26.  Register TODAY (Feb. 5) ONLY and a $25 deposit holds your space!

GET NAKED is our annual Marriage Retreat this March 24-26. Register TODAY (Feb. 5) ONLY and a $25 deposit holds your space!

Pastor Sam reports a great day of worship at NWI-

Pastor Sam reports a great day of worship at NWI-

The 'prayer wall' at NWI is a list of people we're praying for salvation & inviting to the March 5 beginning of two services at NWI.

The ‘prayer wall’ at NWI is a list of people we’re praying for salvation & inviting to the March 5 beginning of two services at NWI.

Pastor Taylor welcomed two new members after Growth Track at NWI today!

Pastor Taylor welcomed two new members after Growth Track at NWI today!

Worship at Blue Island was anointed today!

Worship at Blue Island was anointed today!

And the congregation responded in praise!

And the congregation responded in praise!

My wife brought the word on our core value of "the full ministry of the Holy Spirit" (Supernatural Power)

My wife brought the word on our core value, “the full ministry of the Holy Spirit” (Supernatural Power)

Afterward, many people were indeed touched by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Afterward, many people were indeed touched by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, so I’m re-posting from 2014:

A faithful member who serves us well at CLC writes, “I have been guilty of shutting out friends, particularly while I was married because I was so unhappy and struggling financially and their families were prospering.  I still speak with them from time to time but I miss the deep friendships we had. How do I build those friendships back?  Or did God not intend for those individuals to be in my life?”

Great questions…difficult questions.  Let me try my best to help:

  • First, it’s human nature to avoid pain (fight or flight syndrome), so it’s totally understandable than when you were struggling financially in an unhappy marriage that you would withdraw from friends whose families were prospering. Don’t beat yourself up over that!
  • Secondly, I’m a firm believer in honest, direct communication – so I’d probably recommend that if/when you speak to those friends, that you take time to explain how you miss the deep friendship you had before, ask forgiveness for withdrawing from them in your pain, and see if the relationship will be rebuilt.  (Just because it’s the honest and I think best approach, there’s no guarantee that the depth of friendship will be restored, because life happens and people move on.  So there’s no promise here, but I think it’s worth a shot!)
  • If you do have the opportunity to pursue a restoration of the relationship you once enjoyed, the only verse that comes to my mind is the simple one we all know: Proverbs 18:24.  Do the things that build friendships: be thoughtfulcommunicate with love, give of yourself, be loyal.
  • Your final question may be the most insightful of all.  Sometimes God allows people to move out of our lives for a reason.  Only HE can tell you if that’s the case with some or all of these friends, so make it a matter of prayer.  Apply Col. 3:15 to each situation – if you sense ‘peace’ about pursuing the relationship, go for it; if you don’t, please do yourself a favor and let it go! (And always be thankful!)
  • Let me add one more unsolicited suggestion: participate in a Life Group! As I posted here yesterday, it’s amazing how getting together with other believers can open the door for good things, including some lifelong friendships!  Yesterday’s post has the links to help you find a group near you at a time that fits your schedule.

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

Why I LOVE LifeGroups…

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Last night was the first gathering for the “That’s MY Church” group that my wife and I are hosting, and it reminded me all over again why I love Life Groups so much!

See, even though it’s my responsibility to promote small groups at CLC a few times each year, and I really do believe what I always tell our congregation about those groups (how you’ll be able to build friendships; how you’ll have people who will pray for you & encourage you; how you’ll have partners who can hold you accountable in needed areas; how you’ll grow as a believer through community; etc.), every time I get into a group of my own, it becomes real all over again!

  • Last night we laughed (a lot).  
  • We also cried (together)
  • We found out that we’re not the only ones ‘going thru that’
  • We learned that we’re not the only ones who have ‘felt that way’
  • We discovered we have more in common that we realized.
  • We celebrated some strengths.
  • We admitted some struggles.
  • We experienced genuine love for each other.
  • We prayed for people inside our group, and elsewhere.

(We also ate some snacks, but that’s optional)

I’m excited about each group of CLC’ers who will gather like this for the next 5 weeks, not just to hear about “That’s MY Church”, but to experience being the Church!

If YOU aren’t in a group yet, it’s NOT too late – find one that fits your schedule here.            (For Northwest Indiana campus groups, here.  For Blue Island campus groups, here.)

Sunday reflections

 

Today was the kick-off for "That's MY Church" LifeGroup campaign

Today was the kick-off for “That’s MY Church” LifeGroup campaign

Loved having children of our praise team worship onstage for Family Sunday!

Loved having children of our praise team worship onstage for Family Sunday!

Baby dedications are always special at CLC - congrats, LaGenia Thompson & Laiyah!

Baby dedications are always special at CLC – congrats, Gina Thompson & Laiyah!

and congrats to Preston & Alisha Bouler for Preston III!

and congrats to Preston & Alisha Bouler for Preston III!

'Back to the Basics' went well, but I'm especially excited about the 20-25 CLC'ers who prayed PERSONALLY to make Jesus their Lord & Savior!

‘Back to the Basics’ went well, but I’m especially excited about the 20-25 CLC’ers who prayed PERSONALLY to make Jesus their Lord & Savior!

Pastor Sam says NWI set a new attendance record for a "non-event" Sunday & worship felt like a big family party!

Pastor Sam says NWI set a new attendance record for a “non-event” Sunday & worship felt like a big family party!

And congrats to Stephanie & baby Lea on her dedication today!

And congrats to Stephanie Daniels & baby Lea on her dedication today!

Love the simultaneous translation we offer for our Spanish speakers - that's what a MULTICULTURAL church does! (Kudos to Jorge Arevalo for translating today)

Love the simultaneous translation we offer in Blue Island for our Spanish speakers – that’s what a MULTICULTURAL church does! (Kudos to Jorge Arevalo for translating today)

Worship is bilingual, too!

Worship is bilingual, too!

Pastor Brent used the Vince Lombardi story in "Back to the Basics", too

Pastor Brent used the Vince Lombardi story in “Back to the Basics”, too

but perhaps the 'highlight' of the service was the close, when the entire congregation put their hands together in the 'huddle' and shouted, "That's MY Church!"

but perhaps the ‘highlight’ of the service was the close, when the entire congregation put their hands together in the ‘huddle’ and shouted, “That’s MY Church!”