To my pastors…

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I often tease my pastor friends that we have the “greatest job security in the world”, because people will always need a pastor, just like sheep need a shepherd.

But during this Pastor Appreciation Month, I thought it appropriate to honor the men that God has used in my life to shepherd me, from my earliest memories:

  • George L. Glass, Sr.
  • Marvin Rutledge
  • Jimmy Greer (who baptized me)
  • Roy L. Jones
  • F.R. Reed (who was like a father to me and under whose ministry I began preaching)
  • William Sciscoe (who was there for me after I lost Pastor Reed)
  • Bishop Joseph Garlington

and a special thanks to the men who have walked alongside Chris and me at CLC, as our Apostolic Overseers:

  • John Nordstrom
  • Eddie Cupples
  • Dale Van Steenis
  • Gordon Banks
  • Dennis Cramer

and finally, my fellow-laborers at CLC through the years:

  • Stephen & Shae Wasmundt
  • Brian & Natalie Page
  • Dan & Pat Johnson
  • Eric & Kristen Stone
  • Doug & Shanna Neal
  • Benjamin & Nili Stewart
  • Tony & Angie Gilmore
  • Brent & Sol McQuay
  • Sam & Taylor Hamstra, Jr.
  • Jon & Rachel Jones
  • Micah & Jen Remington
  • Moy & Eva Mendez
  • Ken & Patricia Earley
  • Dan & Torey Goodson

and my one and only Chris, whose dedication to God & His people never cease to amaze-

this is for you, with my love:

Living the Dream!

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Our bi-annual Women’s Conference is just around the corner this November 17-18, with special guest speaker Sarah Bowling!

It will be a great 2 days for women to renew your dedication to God and His dreams for your lives, to revive those dreams and move forward into the fulfillment of God’s promises to you!

You can get more information at your Heart to Heart meetings or simply register here.  Your registration fee includes all sessions on Friday and Saturday, conference giveaways, before party on Friday evening, Saturday lunch and the after party on Saturday night.

(Pastor’s are FREE)

(Now I just need to find out if us guys can sneak in)

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Testimonies from our “Generosity Sunday”

That's what I'd call a FUN day in Church, CLC-style!

It was even BETTER than I realized at the time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve heard a few stories since last week’s “GENEROSITY SUNDAY” that blessed my socks off and I thought you could use a little encouragement on this Monday morning:

  • one of the CLC’ers who won a $50 gift card to Speedway told us that she actually came to church that day “on fumes” and didn’t know how she would get back home unless someone had mercy and bought her some gas!
  • another CLC’er who won one of the $200 gift cards to Walt’s Food Center was unemployed and said “I didn’t know how I was going to eat this week!”
  • Finally, at our Hammond campus, when the BIG award was chosen (a house payment up to $1,000), Pastor Sam had to draw 4 names, because the first 3 names chosen each decided to pass and let someone else receive the award!

Generosity begets generosity!  How will YOU be generous this week?

Reaching our MUSLIM friends

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I’m excited about our next sermon series, “N2 – Neighbors & Nations” as we focus on the mission of CLC, not only in the Nations, but also here in Chicagoland.

One of the wonderful benefits of living in the third-largest city in America is that the Nations have already come to us!  CLC currently has about 40 different nations represented in our church family, and certainly many more nationalities in our jobs and our neighborhoods.

That’s why I’m pleased to announce that on Saturday, October 7 from 9am-11:30am we will be offering a special seminar, “Reaching Our Muslim Friends”.  Often times we’re not sure how to begin a conversation with people of another religious background, but this seminar will give us the tips and tools to get started.

The seminar is taken from a larger resource, The Oasis Course, and will be presented at CLC by our friends, Chinedu & Taiwo Oranye, who served the Muslim community as missionaries in Oman for several years.

Mark your calendar and make plans to join us on October 7!

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Generosity Sunday is coming September 24!

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

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

$50 gift cards for gasoline

$50 gift cards: GASOLINE

$200 gift cards for food

$200 gift cards: GROCERIES

 

                         

Budgeting course from HisAndHerMoney ($197 value)

Budgeting course from HisAndHerMoney ($197 value)

one month car payment (up to $350 value)

one monthly car payment               ($350 value)

one month house payment (up to $1000 value)

one monthly house payment      ($1000 value)

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

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

Moving the ball down the field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take a look:

Moneywise Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

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

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

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

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

Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus.

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I’m EXCITED!

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

But this time is different.

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday reflections

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

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

Hammond worship was STRONG today...

Hammond worship was STRONG today…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

how 'bout this little gal?

how ’bout this little gal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEX and announcements and prayer

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

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

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

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

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Congratulations, Linell and Amanda!

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pastor Brent says a watermelon has INTEGRITY

Pastor Brent says a watermelon has INTEGRITY

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

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

Ask the Pastor

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now, what would you like to Ask the Pastor?

When the Word become real…

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Every preacher reading this post knows exactly what I mean:

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

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

Join us this Sunday at any campus of CLC.

And don’t say you’re weren’t warned.

“Timeless” Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

3, 4, 5

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Actually, it’s 3 for 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

She still speaks!

Kevin Tyler & Tarshawa

Kevin Tyler Carter with his mom, Tarshawa

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

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

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

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

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

 

God’s Word is TIMELESS!

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

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

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

“Timeless” Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Helping our brothers & sisters in the Philippines…

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

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

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

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

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

Pictures below show the devastation from this war:

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

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

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off to Siberia

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

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

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

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

Sad and yet Proud on the 4th of July…

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIP, Michael - we love you!

RIP, Michael – we love you!

Happy Independence Day!

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I know.

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your day!

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Ask the Pastor

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

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

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

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

Now what would YOU like to Ask the Pastor?


Night of Hope in CHICAGO!

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

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

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

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

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

NOH Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Introducing our NEW Executive Pastors

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

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

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

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

They’re coming back: WATOTO Choir!

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

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

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

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

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

An idea for God@the Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday reflections

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-

 

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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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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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!

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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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!

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!

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!

 

 

 

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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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!

 

 

“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!

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!

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!

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

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

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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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!

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!

 

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.

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!

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!

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!

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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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!

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.)

Annual reports

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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!

The most UNIQUE First Love conference ever!

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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!

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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!

Testimony time!

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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:

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NO negative speaking!

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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:

  • Joshua 6:10 shows us that before Israel won their first victory in the Promised Land,  the people refrained from speaking for seven consecutive days!  (I think that may have been a bigger miracle than the walls of Jericho falling down!)
  • Matthew 15:10-20 is teaching from Jesus that elevates our words above anything we might put into our mouth.
  • I’m sure that this fast will also send us “running into His arms” for help, because James 3:1-12 makes it clear that we can’t do this in ourselves!

If you’re joining us on this year-opening fast and would like a daily reminder/devotional, please text “PRAYS” to 555-888.

Now that the holidays are over…

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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:

  • January 1-8 is a fast from Negative Speaking!  If you’re honest, you know we could all benefit from this fast, and I’m hoping that starting the year that way will have long-lasting effects on me personally.  Feel free to make it fun in your family by paying a ‘fine’ to a family vacation fund for every infraction if you want, but please know that this is a Biblical practice that helped Israel begin to conquer Canaan – read Joshua 6:10 if you don’t believe it!
  • January 9-11 we’re calling all CLC’ers to join us for a 3-day ‘regular’ fast, in which we eat NO food and drink only water or juices.  (You can break the fast with your evening meal each day if needed, or you may choose to fast 72-hours),  but either way, keep in mind what Jesus taught us in Matthew 17:19-21.
  • January 12-15 we’ll fast entertainment such as movies, television, etc. in accordance with Isaiah 58:3 (plus you won’t be distracted during ‘First Love’ Conf)
  • January 16-21 may be the most difficult fast for some, as we give up Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. so we can keep our minds focused on God’s will for us in 2017, much like Zechariah 7:5
  • January 22-31 we’ll finish out the month with a traditional ‘Daniel fast’ (no meat, no sweets, etc.) as Daniel did when seeking God in Daniel 10:2-3 (although we do ask that you ignore the last sentence of verse 3 – please take a shower & comb your hair!)

Christmas Eve already?

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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!

Sunday reflections

At NWI today, Pastor Sam jokingly said, "if you're a first time guest, join me onstage & share your testimony" and before he could explain he was joking, this young lady came up, gave a great testimony & received a standing ovation from the congregation! Gotta love CLC!!

At NWI today, Pastor Sam jokingly said, “if you’re a first time guest, join me onstage & share your testimony” and before he could explain he was joking, this young lady came up, gave a great testimony & received a standing ovation from the congregation! Gotta love CLC!!

And I hear that Pastor Sam preached the paint off the walls today!

And I hear that Pastor Sam preached the paint off the walls today!

Love the holiday look at NWI-

Love the holiday look at NWI-

Here's a reason the worship at CLC-Blue Island is anointed: Alan Franklin leads the whole team in prayer every Sunday!

Here’s a reason the worship at CLC-Blue Island is anointed: Alan Franklin leads the whole team in prayer every Sunday!

Looks like BI KidsLife Director Harry Valentine plays a mean Air Guitar-

Looks like BI KidsLife Director Harry Valentine plays a mean Air Guitar- (even better, looks like the kids like it, too!)

Pastors Brent & Sol brought a message from the movie, "Christmas Story" that connected well & one person prayed to receive Christ & some other new families responded as well!

Pastors Brent & Sol brought a message from the movie, “Christmas Story” that connected well & one person prayed to receive Christ & some other new families responded as well!

After service, the Core leadership team had a Christmas party with some friendly 'gingerbread house construction' competition. This team won the "Most Beautiful" prize-

After service, the Core leadership team had a Christmas party with some friendly ‘gingerbread house construction’ competition. This team won the “Most Beautiful” prize for their creation-

I was told this team received the prize for "Ugliest House" (but I don't believe it)

I was told this team received the prize for “Ugliest House” (but I don’t believe it)

needless to say, the competition was pretty intense

needless to say, the competition was pretty intense

and the end results were A-MAZING!

and the end results were A-MAZING!

You must agree: CLC'ers are a creative bunch!

You must agree: CLC’ers are a creative bunch!

 

Jingle Jam featured the "Perfect Christmas Story" from our own Ms. Angie

Jingle Jam featured the “Perfect Christmas Story” from our own Ms. Angie

And of course, Mr. Joel and the Honorable Reginald Fastidious proved a picture is worth a thousand words

And of course, Mr. Joel and the Honorable Reginald Fastidious proved a picture is worth a thousand words

even the "Hoof game" showed us that there's nothing like WINNING

even the “Hoof game” showed us that there’s nothing like WINNING (special thanks to Pastor Micah…er, I mean Guy Corvette for serving as our Game Host)

Lest you think it was all fun & games, I'm glad that Harmony LaBeff & the SoP brought us into His Presence, too!

Lest you think it was all fun & games, I’m glad that Harmony LaBeff & the SoP brought us into His Presence, too!

44 years to celebrate!

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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!

Israel, day 9

Our final day of the trip began with a surprise visit from our tour guide, Andrey Gelbet. Of the 5 times I've toured Israel, Andrey is my favorite guide and we look forward to seeing him again!

Our final day of the trip began with a surprise visit at our Jerusalem hotel from our first tour guide, Andrey Gelbet. Of the 5 times I’ve toured Israel, Andrey is my favorite guide and we look forward to seeing him again!

We had the privilege of being at one of CLC's partners, "Revive Israel" for their Wednesday time of worship, prophetic ministry & teaching. This pic is the Founder/Director, Asher Intrater, who brought a great teaching about the purpose of apostles today.

We had the privilege of being at one of CLC’s partners, “Revive Israel” for their Wednesday time of worship, prophetic ministry & teaching. This pic is the Founder/Director, Asher Intrater, who brought a great teaching about the purpose of apostles today.

The final teaching of the morning came from our friend, Daniel Juster, Director of the Tikkun network of ministries, our primary partner in the Land.

The final teaching of the morning came from our friend, Daniel Juster, Director of the Tikkun network of ministries, our primary partner in the Land.

No visit to Israel is complete without a visit to the Garden Tomb, which meets all the Biblical descriptions of the place of Jesus' burial - but HE is not there; He is risen indeed!

No visit to Israel is complete without a visit to the Garden Tomb, which meets all the Biblical descriptions of the place of Jesus’ burial – but HE is not there; He is risen indeed!

Finally, we toured the full length of the Western Wall underground, thru tunnels and ended our visit to Israel with a final look at the Western Wall at night - and it was even more special to have the love of my life share the experience with me!

Finally, we toured the full length of the Western Wall underground, thru tunnels and ended our visit to Israel with a final look at the Western Wall at night – and it was even more special to have the love of my life share the experience with me!

We’re home now and I can’t wait for “The Polar Express” this Sunday (December 11) at each CLC campus!

Israel, day 8

Our first stop today was climbing down some never-ending stairs to the City of David, where the pool of Siloam (see John 9) was located.  (It doesn't look like much of a pool now, but it's there beside Nikki Bosi)

Our first stop today was climbing down some never-ending stairs to the City of David, where the pool of Siloam (see John 9) was located. (It doesn’t look like much of a pool now, but it’s there beside Nikki Bosi)

While many of the "holy sites" are based on tradition and we don't really know if they're the true location, we DO know that the steps behind our guide are the southern steps which led to the main entrance of the Temple, and Jesus walked on these steps without a doubt!

While many of the “holy sites” are based on tradition and we don’t really know if they’re the true location, we DO know that the steps behind our guide are the southern steps which led to the main entrance of the Temple, and that Jesus walked on these steps without a doubt!

What a personal thrill to share this trip with my wife and two of our children - here posing in front of the southern retaining wall just outside where the temple once stood.

What a personal thrill to share this trip with my wife and two of our children – here posing in front of the southern retaining wall just outside where the temple once stood.

Just as Jesus prophesied, when the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D., they didn't leave one stop atop another.  They also started to tear down the retaining wall around the Temple Mount by pushing the stones off the top, but it soon became too much work (since the smallest stone weighed 2.5 tons!) and that's why we have a Western Wall where  people can gather to pray.  This picture shows some of those original stones still laying where the Romans pushed them down.

Just as Jesus prophesied, when the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D., they didn’t leave one stop atop another. They also started to tear down the retaining wall around the Temple Mount by pushing the stones off the top, but it soon became too much work (since the smallest stone weighed 2.5 tons!) and that’s why we have a Western Wall where people can gather to pray. This picture shows some of those original stones still laying where the Romans pushed them down. (In fact, one of them even had an inscription that it was the stone from the corner where the trumpeter sounded the alarm for Israel!)

We ended our day at the "heaviest" place in Israel - Yad Vashem - the memorial to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.  Perhaps the saddest part is the Children's memorial for 1.5 million children who died - and this sculpture is in honor of Janusz Korczak, a medical doctor who cared for almost 200 orphans during the Holocaust, and when the Final Solution came, he refused the Germans offer to spare his life and chose instead to die with this 'children' in the gas chambers.

We ended our day at the “heaviest” place in Israel – Yad Vashem – the memorial to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Perhaps the saddest part is the Children’s memorial for 1.5 million children who died – and this sculpture is in honor of Janusz Korczak, a medical doctor who cared for almost 200 orphans in Poland during the Holocaust, and when the Final Solution came, he refused the Germans’ offer to spare his life and chose instead to die with this ‘children’ in the gas chambers.

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.

Shalom!

 

 

Israel, day 7

We spent all of Monday in the Old City of Jerusalem, beginning on the Mt. of Olives with this group photo-

We spent all of Monday in the Old City of Jerusalem, beginning on the Mt. of Olives with this group photo-

The pool of Bethesda mentioned in John 5 (healing of the impotent man) as it looks today

The pool of Bethesda mentioned in John 5 (healing of the impotent man) as it looks today

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)

We closed our day's tour at the holiest site in all of Israel (or in all the world) - the Western Wall.  (This is the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which was completely destroyed in 70 A.D.)  Since the Holiest of Holies was closest to this western wall, people gather here to pray, giving it the nickname, "Wailing Wall".  As a sign asking for all to respect the place says, this is "where the Divine Presence always rests"!  It's always a privilege to pray here-

We closed our day’s tour at the holiest site in all of Israel (or in all the world) – the Western Wall. (This is the retaining wall that surrounded the Second Temple, which was completely destroyed in 70 A.D.) Since the Holiest of Holies was closest to this western wall, people gather here to pray, giving it the nickname, “Wailing Wall”. As a sign asking for all to respect the place says, this is “where the Divine Presence always rests”! It’s always a privilege to pray here-

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-

Israel, day 6

This model of Jerusalem at the time of Christ was one of the highlights of the day - it really helped us all get familiar with the sights we'll see up close in the days ahead.

This model of Jerusalem at the time of Christ was one of the highlights of the day – it really helped us all get familiar with the sights we’ll see up close in the days ahead.

This was our first glimpse overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem  - and we were breathless!  The whole team can't wait until tomorrow when we explore up close-

This was our first glimpse overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem – and we were breathless! The whole team can’t wait until tomorrow when we explore up close-

Personally (and maybe a bit selfishly) this trip has been my best ever because of having our children share in the experience with us!

Personally (and maybe a bit selfishly) this trip has been my best ever because of having our children share in the experience with us!

Israel, day 5

Because of yesterday's storm, no boats operated on the Sea of Galilee, so we joined in with a church group from Singapore today.  Both flags were raised when we left shore to the "Star Spangled Banner"

Because of yesterday’s storm, no boats operated on the Sea of Galilee, so we joined in with a church group from Singapore today. Both flags were raised when we left shore as the “Star Spangled Banner” played.

When we left the boat at the Sea of Galilee, the first person we saw in line to board was none other than the comedian, Michael Jr!  (Sorry about taking a pic into the sun - but take my word for it, it's really him!)

When we left the boat at the Sea of Galilee, the first person we saw in line to board was none other than the comedian, Michael Jr! (Sorry about taking a pic into the sun – but take my word for it, it’s really him!)

The highlight of our Sabbath service at 'Tents of Mercy' was the ordination of Avishalom & his wife as senior leaders of the ministry.  Our long-time partner, Eitan Shishkoff, who founded the ministry, will be moving into an apostolic role throughout the nation. Other partners of CLC are pictured here praying over Avishalom - Leon Mazin of 'Return to Zion' in Haifa (at left, with his hand on Avishalom), Dan & Patty Juster, Tikkun Directors (left & center of pic), Asher Intrater of 'Revive Israel' in Jerusalem (behind pulpit, next to Patty), and Eitan Shishkoff (far right)

The highlight of our Sabbath service at ‘Tents of Mercy’ was the ordination of Avishalom & his wife as senior leaders of the ministry. Our long-time partner, Eitan Shishkoff, who founded the ministry, will be moving into an apostolic role throughout the nation. Other partners of CLC are pictured here praying over Avishalom – Leon Mazin of ‘Return to Zion’ in Haifa (at left, with his hand on Avishalom), Dan & Patty Juster, Tikkun Directors (Dan wearing prayer shawl at left-center of pic & Patty at center of pic, directly behind Avishalom’s wife), Asher Intrater of ‘Revive Israel’ in Jerusalem (behind pulpit, next to Patty), and Eitan Shishkoff (right, with microphone)

We ended the day with a tour of the ancient city of Akko, an important port city that played a prominent role during the infamous Crusades.  When we stepped out of the historical site, the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea grabbed our attention- (the gal with the umbrella is pretty nice, too)

We ended the day with a tour of the ancient city of Akko, an important port city that played a prominent role during the infamous Crusades. When we stepped out of the historical site, the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea grabbed our attention- (the gal with the umbrella is pretty nice, too)

 

Israel, day 4

We started the day with 28 baptisms at the River Jordan, including these 4 (my wife, my daughter, my son & my daughter in law!)

We started the day with 28 baptisms at the River Jordan, including these 4 (my wife, my daughter, my son & my daughter in law!)

Chris brought us a timely word at Capernaum, where Jesus healed the centurion's servant.

Chris brought us a timely word at Capernaum, where Jesus healed the centurion’s servant.

  • I was too excited to take pictures at two of our afternoon stops – we visited the Mt. of Beatitudes and listened to the entire Sermon on the Mount from the Message translation (you owe it to yourself to do that sometime – such powerful, wise teaching from the Master!), and then the “Jesus boat” museum at Nof Ginosaur – a preserved boat from the time of Christ and possibly one of the fishing boats that his disciples used on the Sea of Galilee!
But no doubt the most AMAZING site today was at Magdala, where a synagogue that Jesus likely visited has been uncovered just in the past few years -it's the oldest synagogue  excavated in Galilee & includes a stone with the world's oldest carved menorah!

But no doubt the most AMAZING site today was at Magdala, where a synagogue that Jesus likely visited has been uncovered just in the past few years -it’s the oldest synagogue excavated in Galilee & includes a stone with the world’s oldest carved menorah!

This painting on display at Magdala is amazing - an artist's depiction of the woman with the issue of blood touching the hem of His garment

This painting on display at Magdala is amazing – an artist’s depiction of the woman with the issue of blood touching the hem of His garment

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!

oops, day 3 in Israel wasn’t quite over!

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.

Our friend, Leon Mazin, founder & leader of "Return to Zion" ministries (one of our five primary partners in the Land) came to our hotel and delivered The Most Profound message I've ever heard from Luke 4, where Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue.  I'm not kidding - it was A-MAZING!  (We used a cell phone to videotape the whole message & if you'll email me, we'll send you the link)

Leon Mazin is founder & leader of “Return to Zion” ministries (one of CLC’s five primary partners in the Land) who came to our hotel & delivered The Most Profound message I’ve ever heard from Luke 4, where Jesus read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue. I’m not kidding – it was A-MAZING! (We used a cell phone to videotape the whole message & if you’ll email me, we’ll send you the link)

Israel, day 3

The view of the Sea of Galilee that greeted us from our hotel room this morning-

The view of the Sea of Galilee that greeted us from our hotel room this morning-

Unfortunately for us, the long-awaited winter rains came to Israel today - and our CLC team were really troopers as they donned jackets, poncho's & umbrellas to get thru the rest of the day touring in the lower Galilee region, ending the day at Megiddo, which not only has a rich history in the Old Testament and even in more modern times, but will eventually play a significant role in prophecy during the battle of Armegeddon mentioned in the book of Revelation.

Unfortunately for us, the long-awaited winter rains came to Israel today – and our CLC team were really troopers as they donned jackets, poncho’s & umbrellas to get thru the rest of the day touring in the lower Galilee region, ending the day at Megiddo, which not only has a rich history in the Old Testament and even in more modern times, but will eventually play a significant role in prophecy during the battle of Armageddon mentioned in the book of Revelation.

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-

Israel, day 2

This is my 5th tour of Israel since 1985, but I had never before seen the "Fountain of Tears", a 60-foot wall with 7 panels depicting God's love for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust through the 7 last sayings of Christ as he was crucified.  There are simply no words to describe this memorial, but several members of the team took better pics than me, so visit their Facebook pages to see more detail.

This is my 5th tour of Israel since 1985, but I had never before seen the “Fountain of Tears”, a 60-foot wall with 7 panels depicting God’s love for the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust through the 7 last sayings of Christ as he was crucified. There are simply no words to describe this memorial, but several members of the team took better pics than me, so visit their Facebook pages to see more detail.

Our first stop today was at Masada, which is always one of the most amazing sights of any Israel tour.  While it has no Biblical significance, seeing the construction expertise by Herod the Great and his Roman soldiers over 2,000 years ago is beyond amazing.

Our first stop today was at Masada, which is always one of the most amazing sights of any Israel tour. While it has no Biblical significance, seeing the construction expertise by Herod the Great and his Roman soldiers over 2,000 years ago is beyond amazing.

At the ancient city of Arad, we saw the ruins of a large city defeated by Joshua as he led Israel into the Promised Land.

At the ancient city of Arad, we saw the ruins of a large city defeated by Joshua as he led Israel into the Promised Land.

Israel, day 1

Here is some of our group of 32 (including 29 CLC'ers) at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered

Here is some of our group of 32 (including 29 CLC’ers) at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered

This is cave 4 at Qumran, where most of the scrolls were found

This is cave 4 at Qumran, where most of the scrolls were found

  • If you don’t know the story or the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls, read this
Our Messianic, Spirit-filled Tour Guide explains the significance of the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran

Our Messianic, Spirit-filled Tour Guide explains the significance of the Dead Sea scrolls at Qumran

The team finished our first day here at En Gedi (see 1Sam. 24) in good spirits, despite their exhaustion, as most of us haven’t slept since Sunday night.

I’ll try to keep you posted each day when possible-

Last day in Nairobi; headed HOME!

My last day in Nairobi was spent with our partners since 1999, David & Jennifer Hatley. This couple have survived more battles than most of us have fought: each has come thru life-threatening battles with cancer, ministry challenges, family challenges and more - but through it all they have faithfully built a great work for the Lord with over 200 churches planted in Kenya alone, and many others in 5 neighboring African nations!

My last day in Nairobi was spent with our partners since 1999, David & Jennifer Hatley. This couple have survived more battles than most of us have fought: each has come thru life-threatening battles with cancer, ministry challenges, family challenges and more – but through it all they have faithfully built a great work for the Lord with over 200 churches planted in Kenya alone, and many others in 5 neighboring African nations!  It was a privilege to visit them again!

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):

Using Kenyan clay for everything, they produce pottery of various shapes & sizes...

Using Kenyan clay for everything, they produce pottery of various shapes & sizes…

afterwards, some women paint the various pottery pieces in a wonderful variety of designs.

afterwards, some women paint the various pottery pieces in a wonderful variety of designs.

...but the major part of their enterprise is producing native jewelry from the clay to the finished product...

…but the major part of their enterprise is producing native jewelry from the clay to the finished product (these ladies are forming the clay into jewelry molds)…

...after the jewelry is baked in the kiln, it is HAND-PAINTED by ladies like this one...

…after the jewelry is baked in the kiln, it is HAND-PAINTED by ladies like this one…

...then other women assemble the necklaces & bracelets by hand like this...

…then other women assemble the necklaces & bracelets by hand like this…

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!

Sunday reflections from KENYA

 

It's been 12-15 years since I was here with the Hatley's, and the development of their property is amazing - beautiful church auditorium & a choir to lead us in worship today-

It’s been 12-15 years since I was here with the Hatley’s, and the development of their property is amazing – beautiful church auditorium & a choir to lead us in worship today-

I especially enjoyed this children's trio of RAPPERS for Jesus! I'm not sure what they sang, but it was too cute!

I especially enjoyed this children’s trio of RAPPERS for Jesus! I’m not sure what they sang, but it was too cute!

I preached how God wants to do "new things" in them this next year.

I preached how God wants to do “new things” in them this next year.

After I preached & made the salvation invitation, Pastor David called people forward - and one new guest man wept his way to salvation thru Christ!

After I preached and made the salvation invitation, Pastor David called them forward – and one new first-time guest wept his way to salvation thru Christ!

One Sunday a month the various ministries have a meeting after service, so I taught the Men's Ministry session - these are a few of the men as Pastor David prayed over them to close the meeting.

One Sunday a month the various ministries have a meeting after service, so I taught the Men’s Ministry session – these are a few of the men as Pastor David prayed over them to close out.

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:

  • what was your favorite part?
  • how did the Holy Spirit minister to you through the teaching?
  • what was your takeaway for this week?

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!

Christmas at CLC

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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:

  • November 27 – “ELF”
  • December 4 – “The Grinch that Stole Christmas”
  • December 11 – “Polar Express”

and then on December 18, a very special FAMILY CHRISTMAS celebration we’re calling,

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Finally, our Christmas week schedule:

  • Christmas Eve celebration – Wednesday, December 21, 7-8 p.m.
  • Christmas Eve Celebration – Saturday, December 24, 4-5 p.m.
  • Christmas Eve Celebration – Saturday, December 24, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • NO services here on Christmas Day

After this election…..

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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:

  • Before the election, America desperately needed the mercy and grace of God.      After the election, we still do.
  • Before the election, our nation was deeply divided: racially, politically, spiritually.   After the election, we still are.
  • Before the election, our only hope for the future was in Jesus Christ, not a politician.  After the election, HE still reigns.

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.”

Selah.

Ask the Pastor

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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-

Why I make a Faith Promise to missions every year

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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:

  1.  Nothing replaces personal time with God – prayer, reading Word, worship – those are the indispensable habits that bring us closer to Him.
  2. Honoring God with the tithe (Proverbs 3:9-10) is definitely a “growth practice” since what Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 is true of all of us.  (I especially like the Message)
  3. I think I was 18 years old when I made my first ‘Faith Promise’ commitment.  The amount was small, but what was HUGE then and through the years since, is how I was stretched spiritually by making a Faith Promise:
  • I was stretched by praying and asking God how much He specifically wanted me to give to missions-
  • I was really stretched by listening for His answer (listening has helped me grow to hear His voice in other ways!)
  • Perhaps the neatest thing about listening is when Chris and I prayed separately and received the exact same number!  That’s a real faith builder!
  • I was stretched beyond words to obey by making the commitment of the amount I heard from him, because what I’ve heard each year has almost always been bigger than what I thought I could do-
  • My favorite ‘stretch’ is then trusting Him for the next 12 months to provide the amount we had heard, and seeing Him do it in surprising & unexpected ways!
  • The result has been clear: I’ve grown in my faith and in my love for people!

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.