Feel free to send your congratulations to Pastors Jon & Rachel here-
Don’t forget to submit a question for next Sunday’s “HOT SEAT” here.
This Sunday at each CLC campus is THE most-debated ‘TIMELESS” topic of all. Yep, we’re talking SEX this weekend, and after meeting with our pastors yesterday, I think it may be the most helpful message of the series.
But we’re not only talking about SEX this Sunday. We’re also taking time in each service to pray over all our students, from kindergarten thru high school, as well as each CLC teacher, administrator, principal and education employee as they go into a new school year.
Finally, we have some very special announcements to make, including news about our new Campus Pastor in Tinley Park!
So make plans now to join us for any of our six Sunday services: 8:30 or 10 am or 12pm in Tinley Park; 9 or 11 am in Hammond, or 11 am in Blue Island – it’ll be a Sunday to remember!
With all the good reports around CLC yesterday, I left out one bit of news that is certainly bittersweet. As you may know, Linell Muse has been a part of our CLC family for over 10 years, with the last 4 of them spent as our Worship Director at CLC-Hammond.
Earlier this year he proposed to Amanda Edwards who was a featured vocalist on our Tinley Park praise team and a finance clerk in our office. They plan to be married this December.
However, just this weekend they accepted a tremendous opportunity to serve a church in Osage Beach, MO (in the heart of the Ozark mountains), starting in September. So we’re rejoicing with them for a larger opportunity (and the possibility of a job in Amanda’s field of study, journalism), but we’re sad to see them go at the same time.
They’ll be around only for two more weeks, so show them some love here or here. We certainly appreciate all their service, both in Tinley Park and in Hammond, and we pray God’s favor and blessing as they take this next big step in ministry!
The first Sunday of August was a good day around CLC:
Well, no new questions were sent to me this week, but I was asked one question in the lobby recently, although it’s probably not one that many folks will be itchin’ to know my answer to: “When you baptize at CLC, what does the minister say – ‘in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin’ or ‘in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit'”?
Not only is that not a hot-burner issue for most believers, but my answer is also not likely to please. See, that’s one of the debates that’s been around almost exclusively in Pentecostal churches for the last 90 years, and it’s fueled primarily by the position of those who teach that water baptism “in Jesus name” is a requirement for salvation.
I will say this: because of my background, I have studied this issue extensively. My conclusion, years ago, is that this is not a Biblical issue, but rather a matter of semantics. Not only that, but I’m even more convinced that God is not looking down from heaven at the moment of one’s baptism to see if the minister says the “magic words” to insure one’s salvation! We are saved by faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ, when we place our whole trust on what HE did for us, not on what we can do for ourselves!
Having said that, I will also say that a close examination of the New Testament doesn’t reveal a “formula” for water baptism, but it certainly cannot be denied that the name of Jesus plays an important role – not unlike the fact that we pray in the name of Jesus and we cast out demons in the name of Jesus. So, while it is not a ‘test of fellowship’ at CLC, when we baptize, our pastors do say, “in the name of Jesus”, rather than the phrase, “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit”. (To check out the Scriptures for yourself, look at Acts 2:38, Acts 8:14-17, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 19:1-6, Acts 19:13-16, Col 3:17, 1Cor 1:13-15)
At CLC, we have chosen not to divide the body of Christ over semantics, but instead contend for clear Biblical truth rather than personal preferences or pet doctrines – and, in this instance, the clear Biblical truth is that every believer should experience water baptism in celebration of what God has done in their life! (To schedule yours, contact us today)
Care to add to my answer? Please leave a comment below.
Now, what would you like to Ask the Pastor?
Every preacher reading this post knows exactly what I mean:
We start a new series this Sunday at every campus of CLC that has been in planning for a long time, but after the last few days, I must warn you: I’ve got a Word from the Lord! (and since our pastors discussed it thoroughly during our sermon planning meeting this week, we’re ALL infected!
Join us this Sunday at any campus of CLC.
And don’t say you’re weren’t warned.
Actually, it’s 3 for 5.
If that still doesn’t make sense, I’d like to give YOU 3 reasons that YOU should participate in our annual CLC 5k this September 23:
1. Your health. God only gave us one body, and He expects us to take care of it. Too many of us as believers have “buffeted” our bodies at all-you-can-eat restaurants instead of the ‘buffeted” that Paul referenced about the apostles in 1Cor. 4:11. (beatings they received!) As out-of-shape as I am at age 64, if I can do it, you can do it!
Running or walking in one 5k may not get you in shape overnight, but it can be a great start!
2. To help others. Your registration fee, when added to the dozens (hundreds?) of other CLC’ers who participate in the 5k, will enable us to bless some organizations in the South Suburbs who are doing good works to help people in our community. So while you walk, jog or run, you’ll actually helping people in need.
3. To reach others. I’ve been amazed each year to see unchurched people join us for the 5k. In fact, I think you’ll be surprised how many of your non-Christian friends, family or co-workers will be interested in joining you for the 5k if you invite them to do so. And in the process, the exposure to joy-filled, ‘normal’ people may give them a whole new impression of Christians. Who knows – they may meet Jesus because they first jogged a 5k at CLC!
You can register online here OR stop by our Missions kiosk in the Tinley Park lobby this week!
Hebrews 11:4 in ‘The Voice’ translation says of Abel, “And by faith he still speaks, although his voice was silenced by death.”
That verse came to my mind today as I had lunch with a CLC elder, Kevin Carter. As most of those who read this post know, last year we said goodbye to one of the sweetest, most self-less saints of God I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. Kevin’s wife, Tarshawa was dearly-loved by everyone at CLC who knew her, and we still miss her deeply.
But I learned today that for several years Tarshawa challenged their son, Kevin Tyler, to pursue excellence in Spelling Bees at his school. In fact, with her encouragement, Kevin did excel, finishing as one of the top spellers in his school in 2014, 2015, and 2016, when he was the second-place finisher. This year, he dedicated his final Spelling Bee to his mom, and won first-place for his school! In fact, he went on to finish fourth place at the Regional Spelling Bee, which is the highest achieved by a District 162 student in history!
We still have one more Sunday of “God@the Movies” (at our Tinley Park campus – my wife will bring a message from ‘The Shack’ this Sunday, July 30 in all 3 services) – BUT I’m already excited about the next series, TIMELESS!
So many people (sometimes even Christians) think that the Bible is old and outdated and not in tune with today’s culture. But I’m convinced that the principles of Scripture are just as applicable today as when they were written thousands of years ago.
I hope you’ll plan to join us each Sunday in August for TIMELESS:
You may have heard that ISIS has tried to establish a caliphate in the Philippines to use as a launching pad in Asia. Over a month ago, while our CLC team was in Davao, ISIS militants invaded the Muslim capital in the Philippines, Marawi City, which caused the Philippine president to declare martial law throughout Mindanao.
I just heard from Bishop Herley Montes that the war continues and that over 200,000 people have been evacuated from the area, with many of them fleeing to Iligan City, where CLC has a campus. Our church there is reaching out to these Muslim refugees with food and clothing, but their resources are very limited.
We want to respond to help our brothers and sisters in Iligan City be the hands and feet of Jesus to show His love to these displaced Muslims. If you would like to help, you can do so online here. You can also designate an offering at any CLC campus this Sunday to “Philippine relief”. Thanks in advance for helping us to help them!
Pictures below show the devastation from this war:
Chris and I will leave O’Hare about six o’clock tonight on the first of three flights that will get us into Novokuznetsk, Siberia about five o’clock tomorrow night, Chicago time. (Novokuznetsk is 12 hours ahead of us, so it’ll be 5am Friday there)
We’ll be ministering at the same church our CLC missions team recently visited, as our friends, Pastors Ilya & Janet Bantseev, invited us over a year ago to return to do a Family Conference for them. We’ll actually do 3 different seminars – one for married couples on Friday & Saturday, another for parents on Monday and a final one for single adults on Tuesday. We’ll also minister at their four weekend services.
I hope to have internet access to keep you posted during the trip, and we certainly will appreciate your prayers. So sorry that we’ll miss the Watoto Choir, but I know you’ll enjoy them on Sunday morning in Tinley Park and on Sunday night in Hammond! Here’s a preview:
Is it possible to be sad and proud at the same time? That’s me today.
While celebrating the holiday with my wife’s family in Detroit, I received the news this morning that we had lost a precious brother at CLC, as Mike Welch went to be with Jesus.
I immediately scrambled to see if any of our pastors could go to comfort the family, but each pastor was out of town for the holiday, so I just texted my condolences to Mike’s widow, Marcella.
But within a few hours I learned that 2 of our elders, 4 members of the Blue Island worship team (including a CLC trustee) and our Blue Island KidsLife Director each left their family’s holiday celebration to go and minister to Marcella and her daughter Mikayla.
I couldn’t be more proud of CLC. This is the church being the church: loving others and preferring a brother or sister’s need ahead of our own.
Thank you, Alan & Terrilyn Franklin, Eric & Liane Williams, Len Stallworth, Nikeva Lawrence, and Harry Valentine – you’re my heroes today!
You’re probably like most Americans, and today has likely been reduced to a day off work, a time to be with family outdoors, a backyard BBQ, burgers & hot dogs on the grill, and maybe some red, white & blue decor before watching a fireworks show tonight.
I’m not opposed to any of that and will no doubt indulge myself today.
But I do want to take a moment to thank God that I live in this land. For all our current wrongs, injustices and immorality, America is still the greatest nation on earth and I do subscribe to the idea known as ‘American exceptionalism’, since I believe that God has a purpose for this nation.
For sure, part of that purpose is to take the Gospel to the nations of the world and American generosity has resulted in missionaries being able to reach the furthest parts of earth. It could never happen without our independence, so on this day set aside to celebrate that declaration on July 4, 1776, I say ‘thank God’!
Enjoy your day!
There were no new questions submitted this week, but I’ll answer one that lots of people have asked in the past: why do we do a ‘movies’ series each summer?
I think there are several reasons why our “God@the Movies” series has become our most popular series of the year:
I can’t wait to share “How to Overcome Challenges” with you through the lens of “Hidden Figures”, starting this Sunday, July 2 at our Tinley Park campus. (I’ll get to Blue Island and Hammond with that message soon)
Now what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?
If you haven’t heard, a “Night of Hope with Joel & Victoria Osteen” is coming to the United Center on Friday, August 11! (Actually, they’re doing 2 events: a matinee at 2pm and the evening event at 7:30pm)
While some Christians like to criticize Joel for a variety of issues, I’m convinced that God is using him to bring hope to many, many Americans who might never have been open to the Gospel otherwise. For that reason, I’m proud that CLC is one of the sponsoring churches for the United Center event!
There are some benefits to our sponsorship: our ministry will be promoted from the United Center stage to thousands of people, some of whom may be looking for a Spirit-filled church in the south suburbs-
AND, we have a few tickets for CLC’ers at a discount – but please note: the information I gave last Sunday was incorrect, as I was misinformed. The regular price of $15 on JoelOsteen.com turns into over $27.21 when the service fees are added, whereas the price for CLC’ers is just $18.00 (which includes parking at the UC). I apologize that this is almost twice what I announced Sunday, but I was sincerely mistaken and this is our actual cost – we are not adding any markup whatsoever. You can purchase the tickets for the 7:30pm event here, first-come, first-served. (NOTE: we do not have tickets for the 2pm matinee event, so to purchase those tickets go to JoelOsteen.com or click here.)
We’ve also been asked to provide several volunteers to serve as ushers, greeters & retail sales at the matinee and another group for the evening event. If you’re interested in serving at either one (and attend FREE, plus a meal is included), let us know here.
Our nationwide search led by the Vanderbloemen Search Group ended last Sunday night (Father’s Day), when Dan & Torey Goodson agreed to join our CLC pastoral team!
Dan has a wealth of ministry experience: COO of Joyce Meyer Ministries, Executive Staff with several well-known megachurches, including one that has 9 campuses in 4 states (so he understands the whole multi-site approach to ministry), and more!
They have already signed a purchase contract on a house in Flossmoor and plan to move here the first week of August, but I thought you might enjoy getting acquainted here in the meantime. They’ve also assured me that they like to connect on Facebook, so feel free to send them a friend request.
Here’s the introductory video that convinced us to bring them to Tinley Park for an onsite interview – enjoy!
If you’ve been a part of CLC for the past few years, you’ve probably seen the amazing Watoto Choir perform on one of their visits here. To say that they are delightfully energetic is the understatement of the year!
This team of orphans from Uganda are part of a wonderful ministry that is literally making a difference in that African nation – take a look for yourself.
I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you at our Tinley Park campus on Sunday, July 9 at any of our 3 services (8:30, 10 or 12).
By the way, we still need one host home for Saturday night – you can volunteer here.
It’s that time of year again, and I’m excited! In case you’re not aware, the reason we do God@the Movies is simple: we’re trying to reach people who might otherwise come to church to hear God’s Word, but they do enjoy movies!
Just like Jesus taught using object lessons and current event illustrations, and just like the Apostle Paul quoted pagan Greek poets of his day (see Acts 17:27-29), we use this series to bring Biblical truths that are often hard-hitting and perhaps even more compelling than other Sunday messages, with illustrations from Hollywood on the big screen.
We DON’T do this series just to entertain the saints; we do it to reach the lost! And here’s one way you can help with that: as a general rule, churches are the last to get on board with new technology. Believe me, I know. I was part of a church that preached against using radio (initially) and television (later) as opportunities to spread the gospel.
But I noticed something a few years ago that got me thinking. One of our CLCers posted on Facebook about the “God@the Movies” series and at least two or three of her friends responded – some who are local may visit, and one even watched online from North Carolina that Sunday!
Here’s my thought: perhaps social media can remove some of the fear from witnessing and make it easier for us to invite our friends & family to CLC. And I wonder, if one CLCer posting a simple invitation results in at least a couple of new people being introduced in person or online, what would happen if hundreds of CLCers would post on Facebook or Twitter?
Let’s try it & see what God will do this weekend with “Hidden Figures” at our Tinley Park campus, or “Moana” in Hammond or “Captain America” in Blue Island.
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:
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-
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:
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!
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.
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 2:1-4) and 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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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:
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!
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!
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:
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 presence; intimidate 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 supernatural a natural part of our lives!
This 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!
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!
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.
I 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!
…..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.
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!)
No, not the ice cream. (Although I’ll take a pint of Chunky Monkey if you’re buying)
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!
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!
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!)
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!
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-
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!
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!
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 😉
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-
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!
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:
If you’ll pray those prayers with me, leave an ‘amen’ (which means, ‘so be it’) below-
First, MY reflections from tonight’s services at New Life Fellowship in Cambodia:
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 know: HOW WAS IT?
If you attended any service at any campus or online today, please leave your comments below:
Feel free to expand beyond my questions to give YOUR report of how God ministered to you through the opening of our April series:
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!
I 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!
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!)
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:
Thanks for ALL you do to make CLC a family!
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:
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?
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:
We NEED you! Please let us know you can share here.
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!
If you missed last night, don’t forget that you can join us each Saturday from 8-9am in the Prayer Room upstairs!
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!
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!
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!
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?
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 inclusion. When 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-
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 sovereignty…but I think it’s more than that.
Others will give credit to the Worship team…but they lead us weekly, so it can’t be that.
As a pastor, I often think it’s about expectation…but 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!
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!)
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!
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.
Thank God for Kingdom partnerships!
On this Super Bowl Sunday, our Davao City, Philippines campus is undisputed champion:
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!
(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!
I think we did the poorest job of communicating our annual Business meeting at CLC yesterday, and possibly many of our members missed our 2016 reports.
In case you’re wondering, the numbers are in, and we grew by only 3% in average attendance last year, with a per Sunday average across all 3 Chicagoland campuses of 1,598. I’m also happy to report that more than 450 of those folks experienced Jesus at our services by last year through a salvation decision or water baptism or the baptism of the Holy Spirit!
If you want to know what we do with the monies you give, here’s our 2016 financial report.
The best is yet to come!
It’s happening! Make plans; invite a friend!
It’s hard to believe that we’re just barely over a week away from our favorite meeting of the year at CLC – our First Love Conference this January 13-15!
Several facts make this Conference truly UNIQUE:
1. We’ve changed the schedule by opening on Friday night instead of Saturday morning (you don’t want to miss the opening!)
2. More importantly, each of our guest speakers is a CLC Overseer, with a heart for our church and a history of ministering to us in love! These men are not “hired guns”, just coming to preach a sermon – they have prayed for us, helped us solve problems and challenges in the ministry over the years, and demonstrated true friendship in our times of need! They are family!
3. Finally, this gathering is unique because on Martin Luther King, Jr. day (January 16) we’re moving to our Hammond, Indiana campus for a special morning designed for pastors, ministers and leaders who want to learn from Bishop Garlington and special guest Dr. David Ireland!
Of course, we’re preparing our hearts for all of this with a 3-day “juice fast” and a special Worship Night at each campus next week. I can’t wait!
Well, we’re three days into praying Psalm 139:23-24 now, and this pastor is curious: what has God been showing you thus far?
Whatever it is and however ugly it may seem, remember: He doesn’t reveal it to make you feel bad; He reveals it to draw you closer to Him!
AND, whatever He shows you, please don’t stop at the surface, but drill down deeper in your prayer and let Him show you what’s behind the issue. That’s when you’ll experience even greater freedom and greater intimacy.
If you don’t mind being transparent in order to encourage other CLC’ers, leave your testimony below of how God is changing you through this prayer:
Before we get too far into 2017, I want to look back one more time at what all CLC did in missions last year. When I first saw the recap video, I was amazed, and I’m thankful for all the CLC’ers who made this report possible:
Today and for the next 7 days, we’re asking all CLC’ers to join us in a “fast” that is not focused on what we put into our mouth, but rather what comes out of our mouth; i.e., to refrain from any and all negative, critical, judgmental speech.
It’s not only a GREAT way to begin a new year; it’s an important principle of Scripture:
If you’re joining us on this year-opening fast and would like a daily reminder/devotional, please text “PRAYS” to 555-888.
Ok….you’ve put away all your gifts, thrown away all the wrappings, put the leftovers in the fridge, and even made some after-Christmas sales. What’s next?
Well, at CLC, we’re gearing up for 2017 to be our BEST YEAR YET! You can hear more about that during our annual New Year’s Eve celebration this Saturday, December 31 at 10pm when all our Chicagoland campuses come together in Tinley Park.
But I also want to encourage you to mark your calendar and make plans to join us by setting aside the entire month of January for some specially-planned fasting:
Well, not quite….I know we still have 3 more days to wait for December 24.
However, we knew that some of you will be traveling out of town for the holidays, but might still want to celebrate with your church family-
SO, we’re doing 3 identical Christmas Eve celebrations at CLC, with the first one coming tonight, December 21 at 7pm!
Of course, if you’re staying close for the holidays, you can worship with us on Christmas Eve at 4pm or 5:30pm.
Whenever you choose to celebrate, it’s going to be a great time of worship and fellowship for your entire family, so we hope to see you here!
I may not be able to publish my usual “Sunday reflections” post today, because Chris and I had to move up our travel plans by one day to escape Chicago’s winter storm, and we headed to the airport immediately after the noon service.
Since my birthday (which I’m not celebrating) and our wedding anniversary both fall the week before Christmas, we always try to get someplace warm to celebrate. This year it’s a short Caribbean cruise, so I’m checking out for the next 5 days – no posts here, no Facebook, no Twitter – just me and my honey!
We’ve got a lot of celebrating to do – she’s the woman of my dreams, and God has been so good to us!
See you next Sunday for Jingle Jam!
We’re home now and I can’t wait for “The Polar Express” this Sunday (December 11) at each CLC campus!
Tomorrow will be the longest day of our trip, as we start early with a worship service at “Revive Israel” (one of CLC’s partners in the Land), before going to the Garden Tomb and seeing the site of Jesus’ crucifixion (and resurrection!). After our final stop at Hezekiah’s tunnel under the streets of Jerusalem, we’ll head to the airport for the long flight home.
The highlight of every trip to the pool of Bethesda is actually at St. Anne’s church next door, famous for it’s amazing acoustics. Of course, we had to test it by singing “It is Well with my Soul” as a group – and it was beautiful (if I say so myself)
Tomorrow will be another full day in the Old City, including a visit to Yad Vashem, the museum to the Holocaust, which I think is the heaviest place on earth. I’ll post more then-
tomorrow will be one of our busiest days, with an early boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, followed by a Shabat Celebration and pastoral installation service at Tents of Mercy, and then an afternoon of touring other Biblical sites. Time for some shut-eye now!
I posted a few hours ago, just before going to dinner at our hotel, thinking our day was pretty much over. But we were joined at dinner by our friends, Leon & Nina Mazin, and they stayed for our team meeting afterward to share with us.
Tomorrow we’ll head to the Jordan River where almost the entire group of 32 will be water baptized, and take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee as the tour continues-
I spent part of the day touring their compound, as almost every building on their site wasn’t here on my last visit in 2005! I wish every CLC’er could see the beautiful sanctuary, the Children’s Home, the primary school, the medical clinic, the social hall, the library, and even the guest house where I stayed – their property alone is now valued at over $2 million USD (not counting the buildings), and ALL of it is debt-free, to the glory of God!
They also took me for some last-minute Christmas shopping at Kazuri, a fascinating, Christian-owned pottery & jewelry enterprise that now provides employment to 340 Kenyans, most of whom are single moms who are able to support their families as a result.
I took the whole tour of their operation in case you wanna see (I guess if you don’t wanna see you should stop reading now):
Get this: their products are now sold in many different countries around the world, including Harrod’s of London, and here in the USA department stores like Macy’s, Dillards, and more! All from humble beginnings by some Christians who wanted to provide jobs for needy women in Kenya – I love to see Christian entrepreneurs succeed!
That’s all for this trip – I’ll board a flight in a couple of hours and be home Tuesday afternoon, ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and then share with you as we open our Christmas series THIS Sunday!
That completed MY Sunday here in Nairobi, but as a pastor, I’m always curious about things at home. If you attended any service at any campus of CLC today, please leave your thoughts about the service you attended:
I look forward to being home Tuesday and can’t wait to see all of you next Sunday for the kick-off of “Christmas@the Movies” with ‘ELF’ – invite a friend!
We’re combining our most-popular sermon series with the ‘most wonderful time of the year’, so make plans now to join us for a GREAT Christmas at CLC:
and then on December 18, a very special FAMILY CHRISTMAS celebration we’re calling,
Finally, our Christmas week schedule:
I woke up this morning as shocked as everyone else about the results of our Presidential election.
I also know that many people in our country are hurt and fearful of what the future holds.
Let me point out some things that have NOT changed after this election:
As my friend, Pastor Jason Bentley, wrote, “No matter the election results, my job remains the same: Love God, love people, preach Jesus, spread hope, build His church, advance His Kingdom.”
Today I’m reposting this question from 2008:
Someone asked about the meaning of “five-fold ministry”, which is a term often used these days.
First, thanks for finally asking a ‘softball question’ that I can easily answer!
The term gets its origin from Ephesians 4:11-13 where the various ministry gifts that Jesus has given to the Church are listed: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Since there are a total of five, oftentimes this kind of minister is referred to as a ‘five-fold ministry’, to distinguish from the fact that according to the New Testament, all of us as believers are ‘ministers’, since each of us has a ministry from the Lord to fulfill. It’s perhaps a healthier way to view the Church rather than the traditional “clergy v. laity” terminology that is contrary to Scripture.
The Ephesian 4:11 ministers are called and gifted by the Lord specifically for the word of equipping the members of the church to fulfill their individual ministries. Much has been written on the specifics of those fivefold ministers, but let me give my brief summary here:
Apostles are ‘fathering’ ministries who generally open up new areas for the gospel (such as missionaries who bring the Gospel into an unreached area) and/or who have many churches/ministers under their covering or leadership, who look to them for oversight.
Prophets are often trans-local ministers (meaning, they may travel and minister to the Body of Christ at large, rather than ministering in one local church), and they are gifted to see and proclaim word from God that often reveal the future or establish God’s heart on particular matters. Prophets are often thought to be ‘ahead of their times’ and tend to see things in clear black-and-white ways rather than shades of gray.
Evangelists are gifted to lead lost people to Christ, and to train others to do the same. They are often gifted with the working of miracles or healing gifts, to help facilitate their ministry to the lost.
Pastors are the shepherds who are given to feed, guide and protect the sheep (members) of a local church.
Teachers are gifted by the Lord to teach His Word to His people, with clarity and insight, so that the Word can be lived out.
To be honest – and I hope this doesn’t stir up needless controversy – a careful reading of Ephesians 4:11 indicates only a ‘fourfold’ ministry, since the office of pastor and teacher is joined, as in pastor-teacher. This is easy to understand, since one of the primary requirements for a pastor is that he be able to teach.
Finally, I suspect the reason that the term is used quite often these days is to distinguish the fact that the Church (or individual using the term) does believe in all five of these ministries as being valid today. For many years, it seemed the Church as a whole only embraced three of the five (evangelists, pastors and teachers) and the ministry-gift of Apostle and Prophet was considered by many to have ended in the early years of the New Testament. However, like many churches across the globe, CLC definitely embraces the role of Apostles and Prophets as still be valid (and needed!) in the church today.
P.S. Among the many excesses that I’ve witnessed in the Church is the proliferation of ministers who are “claiming” the titles without doing the ‘stuff’. Quite often I hear someone referred to as “Apostle so-and-so” who in reality has never fathered anything and has no real following of churches and ministers, etc. At CLC, we prefer to err on the other side; i.e., we don’t often use the title; we just thank God for the ‘ministry’. Thus, I may refer to someone as providing ‘apostolic oversight’ to a group of churches instead of calling him, ‘Apostle’. In my humble opinion, real men and women of God aren’t interested in titles; they are doing the ministry! May their kind never cease until we reach that perfect day of Christ-
I shared this with our entire CLC staff yesterday, to explain how I sincerely want each of them to experience the spiritual growth that I have experienced through this simple practice each year. Honestly, it’s not about the money! It’s about growing closer to God:
I want this for every CLC’er!
It’s NOT about the money; it really is about YOUR spiritual growth!
CLC excels in SO many areas. Would you read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, and aspire to excel in this area as well?
I pray that you will join me in making a Faith Promise commitment this Sunday.
Worship at the closing session of the Gateway Conference was as strong as I’ve ever experienced, so we ALL ended the conference on a high note (pun intended).
But for me perhaps the biggest takeaway is how missions had made our world smaller. There were close to 5,000 people here for the conference, and the building is understandably HUGE. Yet in the past two days, just minding our own business walking to the different sessions, I was able to meet:
Get this: none of us knew the other was coming to the conference in advance; we simply bumped into each other on the Gateway campus! (what are the odds?)
I hope you understand that these aren’t just happenstances; these men have become friends from afar to us. As we continue our N2 series this Sunday, my prayer for every CLC is that you, too will join us in the adventure of missions and be able to build a genuine relationship with someone in the Nations – it really is a special treat in God’s Kingdom! Can’t wait until Sunday!
Yesterday was a VERY long day, with a dozen CLC pastors & directors rising at about 3:30am in order to get to O’Hare for our flight to Dallas to attend the Gateway Conference.
The conference is only 2-days, but they’re chock-full of great worship, teaching and interaction, and honestly, I think I only received what I came for. To be painfully honest, I think my tank was near-empty of late, and I found myself often going thru the motions so to speak.
Last night between the worship experience and the ministry of one of my heroes, Craig Groeschel, I caught a ‘second wind’ and renewing of passion that’s been missing.
I’m warning you: I’m gonna let it out Sunday!
That’s why a dozen CLC pastors/ministry directors from all our campuses are headed to Dallas before dawn this morning to attend the Gateway Conference in Southlake, TX. Gateway is led by Robert Morris, who I think is the finest Bible teacher in America, and they’re on the cutting-edge of what God is doing today.
I’m looking forward to two full days and nights of worship, preaching and Presence in a room with a few thousand other pastors and leaders – and I’m praying that God shakes my world in the process!
In many ways, this is my favorite time of our church calendar, as we take a few weeks to FOCUS on the Mission of The Church, the last words that Jesus gave us:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Here’s what you can expect for the next 3 Sundays at our Tinley Park campus (our other Chicagoland campuses will be participating in the missions emphasis as well):
(In my best Bishop Jakes voice, “get ready, get ready, gen ready, GET READY!”
Yesterday (September 25) was the 3rd Anniversary of the opening of our NWI campus – so congrats to Pastors Sam & Taylor Hamstra for your faithfulness there!!!
Enjoy this video review of the past three years:
Without a doubt, the #1 objection to our missions focus at CLC through the years has come from well-meaning Christians who question, “why do we focus so much on The Nations when we have so many needs right here at home?”
If you’ve ever wondered that, I hope you’ll be present at any Chicagoland campus as we kick-off our 2016 “N2” series this Sunday, September 25, when we’ll focus on the first ‘N’ word of the series, ‘neighbors’. And then for the following three Sundays of our Missions Emphasis, besides our international emphasis, we’ll also look at what CLC is doing in the south suburbs and Northwest Indiana to reach our own neighbors.
Here’s just a quick list to whet your appetite for Sunday:
and a whole LOT more!
Sunday we talked about the difference the local church makes, not only in America, but around the world – and I mentioned one such church in Irbil, Iraq that had 1,600 refugees show up in their courtyard, needing everything, since they had left all their possessions behind while fleeing Islamic persecution.
In case you missed it, here’s a one-minute video summary from the pastor:
I love his line: “we don’t call them refugees; we call them our relatives” – that’s what it means to be in God’s family, The Church!
In yesterday’s message I quoted some from a recent study by scholars from Georgetown University and the Newseum Institute about the contribution to American society by local churches and religious institutions. In case that piqued your interest, here’s a summary of their report.
I’m glad to be a part of the local church!
We ended the ‘Family Matters’ series on a high note today at each campus:
Enjoy this last week of “Family Matters” small groups before we launch N2!