Bring a friend, they get a FREE book by Joel Osteen!

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December at CLC really is the “most wonderful time of the year” because each Sunday in December is tailor-made for you to bring your unchurched or de-churched friends.  Our “Family Christmas” sermon series at each campus includes a message that will not only challenge and impact your family, but also relate and connect with your friends.  In fact, we’re expecting MANY people will come to faith in Christ at CLC this December!

And to ‘sweeten’ the deal and make it easier for you to invite your friends, we’re giving a FREE copy of Joel Osteen’s new book, “Blessed in the Darkness” to each first-time guest in December.  Take a look at the Facebook ad we’re doing all month:

The only question is WHO are YOU inviting?  Let’s do this!

 

ThanksLIVING!

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I’ve said it many times, but in my mind, THIS is the most Christian holiday of the year.  I say that because our culture seems to have hijacked Easter with chocolate bunnies and colored eggs, and Christmas has obviously become the most commercialized time of the year – but Thanksgiving is, well, about giving thanks – and that’s Biblical!  (See Ephesians 5:20; 1Thessalonians 5:18; and Psalm 100:4, to name just a few)

It’s also more than a day on the calendar; it’s a way of life!  (It’s also a great way to counteract all the grumbling we so often do as well.)

My prayer for every person reading this post is that you will take time to do that this week – not only as worship to God, but also to express your gratitude to people in your life that you appreciate.  And please don’t forget that thinking is NOT thanking!  Your gratitude must be expressed to benefit God or man.

Oh, just one more thing: don’t overdo it at the table this year!  The scale will thank you later-

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!

 

Siberia, day 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“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!)

Join me in singing ‘Happy Birthday’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My favorite Christmas reading this year…and a family devotional, too

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I first discovered the writing gift of Max Lucado about the time he wrote his first book in the 1980’s, and I’ve enjoyed him as a writer ever since.

But a few days ago I read an article he wrote for this Christmas, and I think he outdid himself!  I want to share it with all of you today – click here and enjoy!

And, if you’d like to share a devotional with your family this Christmas, join us now:

Christmas Day With The McQuays from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

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

What are you waiting for?

Family Matters GROUPS have already started!

Family Matters GROUPS have already started!

If you live in Chicagoland and haven’t yet joined one of our 150+ small groups who will meet for the next 6 weeks in homes, workplaces and coffee shops all over this area in order to grow closer to God and each other, what are you waiting for?

Go to our website now and choose the city you prefer or the day of the week you prefer and see which group fits you best.  It’s NOT too late, but you don’t want to miss the opening week, so get started NOW!

You won’t regret it!

It’s HERE!

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Finally, after months of planning, weeks of writing and days of waiting (impatiently), the curriculum for our “Family Matters” campaign has arrived!

You can purchase the Study Guide for just $12 and the DVD for $15.  Of course, if you’re hosting a group, you get those materials free!

We also have the electronic version of both resources available free of charge – just let us know you prefer the .pdf instead of the printed study guide and the digital files instead of the DVD.

The Study Guide will also be available on Amazon if you prefer the Kindle version for just $4.99 – info on how to order coming soon.

The sermon series starts tomorrow at each CLC campus and the groups begin meeting tomorrow afternoon and throughout this week in homes all over Chicagoland – I’m excited!

A ‘Family Matters’ group for ANYONE, ANYWHERE!

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We’ve been talking about this ALL-CHURCH campaign for weeks, but I’m really excited today to be able to include those of you who may not be able to attend a group here in Chicagoland because of your schedule or your location.

Our Communications Pastors, Josh and Heather Moran, will be hosting a Facebook group each week beginning August 14.  The video teaching will be posted online on Sunday night or Monday morning, then Josh and Heather will post a ‘discussion starter’,  and you will be able to join the discussion with your online posts or a video of your own!

This is a FIRST for us and I’m excited to offer YOU the opportunity to join us for this 6-week study of Family Matters online.  You can join the group here, or get more info here.

For more info about the series, take a look:

Family Matters_Trailer from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

Happy birthday to my “BETTER HALF”

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I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “my better half”, probably when some man is introducing his wife to you.  But today I was curious as to where the expression originated, and I thought you might enjoy learning, too:

  • One theory suggests that the origin of this is in an ancient Middle Eastern legend. When a Bedouin man had been sentenced to death, his wife pleaded with the tribal leader that because they were married, she and her husband had become one, and that to punish one-half of the union would also punish the half who was innocent. The court agreed and the man’s life was saved by his “better half.”
  • This term wasn’t originally restricted to referring only to one’s spouse as we use it now, but to one’s dearest friend. The Roman poet Horace (65 BC-8 BC) and later Statius (45-96 AD) used it in this meaning. In this case the reference is to a friend so dear that he/she was more than half of a person’s being and the person believed that life without the better half would be meaningless or extremely difficult and lonely.

Interesting.  And while I can’t say that Chris literally ‘saved’ my life, I certainly can say without hesitation that she is more than half of my being and without her, my life would be oh, so difficult (y’all don’t know how she babies me!) and oh, so lonely.  (I would even say ‘meaningless’, but Jesus is the One who gives my life meaning; Chris is number Two!)

I’m a better person because of her.  She makes me more compassionate, because I’ve never known anyone more caring for others than Chris.  She keeps me honest, because she has such a strong sense of right and wrong.  She has taught me the priority of family, when I would otherwise have been focused on my own little world of ministry, even to the neglect of my children.  She ‘spices up’ my life, through her creativity and passion, when I would otherwise be stuck in a bland routine.  She inspires me to hear God’s voice, because of her own sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.  I can’t imagine life without her.

So today, we’re celebrating this beautiful blonde who came into my life over 44 years ago, on this day, the 23rd anniversary of her 39th birthday!  Would you join me in saying, ‘Happy birthday, Chris’ to my BETTER HALF!

Kicking off ‘FAMILY MATTERS’ this week

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We’ve been talking about the upcoming “Family Matters” series for several weeks, and it officially begins on Sunday, August 14.  However, it really kicks off THIS week:

  • first, we’re having a great Ice Cream social this Wednesday, August 3 at 7pm in Tinley Park, with an introduction to ALL of the HOSTS so you can choose the group you want to attend (or even volunteer to lead your own group – it’s not too late!)

Then, this Saturday, August 6 at 4pm in Tinley Park we’ll ‘laugh & learn’ with Family Expert, Joe McGee.  Joe is hands-down the BEST I’ve ever heard when it comes to relationships, so he’ll be teaching that night on marriage and then doing another ‘laugh & learn’ on the subject of parenting on Sunday, August 7 at 4pm in Tinley Park. (Child care for children 4 and under will be provided at both seminars)

Of course, he’ll be teaching a 3-part series for the family at all our morning services in Tinley Park this Sunday.  Here’s a sample of Joe’s teaching:

And if you wanna know more about what happens starting on August 14, take a look:

Family Matters_Trailer from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Laugh & Learn: Help, I’m a PARENT!

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I know how she feels, because I’ve been there as a parent.  I bet you have, too.

Yes, it’s so exciting to see that newborn baby.  But it doesn’t take long to realize that YOU have just inherited a huge responsibility to raise that child and help them be all that God intends.  Honestly, I think parenting is the toughest job on earth.

That’s why I’m SO excited about our “Laugh & Learn: parenting event” on Sunday, August 7 at 4pm with family expert Joe McGee!

In all my years, I’ve never heard anyone any better at communicating practical truths from Scripture about parenting our children.  Whether your children are in diapers, preparing for college, or anywhere in between, I know this seminar will help you – and you’ll have fun as you receive these practical tips, too.

Here’s a sample:

Get ready to ‘laugh & learn’ – I’ll see you here August 7 at 4pm!

 

Laugh & Learn: marriage

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If you’re married and living in the USA, you don’t need me to tell you that the institution of marriage is under attack these days.

Between the rejection of Biblical teachings, internet porn, cyber-relationships via Facebook  and the depressing stats about cohabitation before marriage and the divorce rates we’ve all heard so many times, this is not the world our parents grew up in – and when you add to that our own human nature,  it’s a challenge to build a marriage that lasts these days.

That’s why I’m SO excited about our “Laugh & Learn” marriage event on Saturday, August 6 from 4-6pm with family expert, Joe McGee!

In my four decades of marriage and ministry, I’ve never heard anyone as helpful as Joe when it comes to relationships.  No one.

If you are engaged or married, I’m urging you to attend this seminar on August 6.  Better yet, why not make it a date night, by going to Starbucks or your favorite restaurant afterwards and talk about how to apply what you heard from Joe.  It’ll pay big dividends!

Take a look at this sample:

Plan your date night for Saturday, August 6 at 4pm – let’s Laugh & Learn!

 

Save the Dates: August 6-7!

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One of my favorite teachers in America is returning to CLC this August 6 and 7 for a great FAMILY weekend to kick off our Family Matters campaign!  Joe McGee is not only an expert when it comes to marriage and family matters, he’s also one of the most entertaining speakers you’ll ever hear!

He’ll be doing two “Laugh & Learn” seminars at CLC:

  • Saturday, August 6, 4pm-6pm – “Caution: Marriage in Progress”
  • Sunday, August 7, 4pm-6pm – “Help, I’m a parent!”

Of course, he will also be ministering at all three of our Sunday services at the Tinley Park campus, and he’s agreed to bring a 3-part series instead of preaching the same message 3 times, so you may want to tune-in online or bring a sack lunch & stay for all 3 services!

Mark your calendar and invite a friend to join you!

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Enjoy YOUR Independence Day!

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As for me, I’m still in the Detroit area enjoying our entire family (well, except for my oldest son’s family, as he just started a new job in New York City and couldn’t join us).  As you can see from yesterday’s pics, it’s really all about the grandkids and my in-law’s pool:

This is pretty much the whole gang, except the photographer (Chris) and Grandma Hansen, who sat this one out

This is pretty much the whole gang, except the photographer (Chris)

 

But it's especially about the GRANDS!

But it’s especially about the GRANDS!

Being Poppy is my favorite pastime - especially to this cutie-pie

Being Poppy is my favorite pastime – especially to this cutie-pie!

Along with all the FOOD, I’m sure today will be a lot like yesterday before we head home on Tuesday morning.  What will you be doing this 4th of July?   Let us know below-

 

Headed home: relieved & excited

Chris and I are headed home today from Orange County, CA and our film project with the good folks at LifeTogether that I wrote about here.

 (This is a shot of Pastor Rick Warren's studio, where we did all the filming)

(This is a shot of Pastor Rick Warren’s studio, where we did all the filming)

Yesterday was a long day of filming the six sessions of our Life Group curriculum, as well as six other leadership lessons and three promotional videos.  I think we flubbed each one of them at least twice and some as many as eight or ten times.  I have a new appreciation for folks who do video!

Yesterday was a long day of filming the 6 sessions of our Life Group curriculum, as well as 6 other leadership lessons and 3 promotional videos.  I think we flubbed each one of them at least twice and some as many as eight or ten times.  I have a new appreciation for folks who do video!

Anyway, the RELIEF is that it’s over and I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my back, as we’ve been working on this project for weeks, writing lessons, editing curriculum and trying to tweak it all to perfection (not that we made it).

And the EXCITEMENT is that we expect every CLC’er at every campus will want to experience a LifeGroup with this curriculum.  You’ll be hearing more about it starting next Sunday, July 10, at each campus.

Oh, one more thing I’m excited about: ‘At the Movies’ starts THIS Sunday, July 3 – and I honestly believe it will be the strongest set of messages we’ve ever presented during this most popular sermon series!  Who have you invited?  Who will you invite before Sunday?

Can’t wait!

ATM Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Off to Orange County

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Chris and I board a flight to southern California this morning for what may be the most ambitious project we’ve ever tackled at CLC.:

  • Some of you will recall our first-ever All-Church campaign back in 2003 when we challenged our whole church family to read the  “Purpose Driven Life” by Pastor Rick Warren, hear a message on that topic each Sunday, and meet together in homes with other CLC’ers to discuss what they were learning on that topic.
  • Then last Fall we used Pastor Steven Furtick’s book, “Crash the Chatterbox” in much the same way – read, hear a message, discuss in small groups.

Over those years, we have been challenged and encouraged by Brett Eastman and his team at LifeTogether to do an All-Church campaign in-house, meaning the writings and messages and video discussion starters would come from Chris and me.  Their rationale is that CLC’ers are much more likely to respond to their own pastors than anyone else, including Christian ‘celebrities’.  And if you explore their website, you’ll see they’ve got plenty of experience with churches around the country to back up their claims.

We considered it numerous times, but never pulled the trigger until several weeks ago when Brett ‘made us an offer we couldn’t refuse’ and then sweetened it even further by telling us it would be much less expensive for us to come to them rather than sending their whole team to film us in Chicago.

So we’re flying out today, filming all day tomorrow, and returning home on Wednesday.  In a few weeks, you’ll hear more details as we launch an All-Church campaign that we expect will result in significantly more Life Groups at each campus than ever before – not because we’re just counting numbers – but because that means more CLC’ers connecting with each other for mutual encouragement and accountability and outreach with friends and neighbors!

Stay tuned.

Pumba & Simba’s excellent adventure (with apologies to Bill & Ted)

Simba (L), Pumba (R) in their cabin, ready for adventure

Simba (L), Pumba (R)
in their cabin, ready for adventure

One mark of a good leader is the willingness to admit mistakes.

I want to be a good leader.

So even though I hadn’t planned on posting during our vacation, I feel compelled to admit:  I was wrong.

I was wrong when I wrote yesterday that this vacation was all about relaxing.  I was wrong when I said it was OUR vacation.  I was wrong when I declared that we would be getting lots of rest, sleep in and take naps.

The truth is, after preaching 3 services and then driving several hours into Indiana, finally getting to bed at almost midnight, Pumba & Simba (AKA ‘the boys’) woke me up at 4am, ready to begin their day.

Truth is, this is THEIR vacation.  They’re calling the shots.  They decide what we’ll do and when we’ll do it – it’s all based on their schedule.

Rest? What’s that? Relax? Who are you kidding?

C'mon, dad.  There are stairs to climb and places to explore.  This is an adventure!

C’mon, dad. There are stairs to climb and places to explore. This is an adventure!

In case you’re wondering, yelling “That’s Enough!” doesn’t work.  (If you weren’t in TP for Sunday’s message, never mind – it would take too long to explain)

Probably the only thing that was accurate in my previous comments did come on Sunday morning when I asked you all to ‘pray for us’.

Now it's time for OUR walk-

Now it’s time for OUR walk-

Grandparent time!

Riley Kai McQuay

Riley Kai McQuay

Chris and I (and TiTi Jen) flew to LA yesterday to enjoy a few days as Poppy & Nonny to our youngest grandchildren, Riley and Lincoln, who just turned 6 months old last week.  (The trip has been planned for a few months, but when I saw Riley’s recent pic above, it became an urgent need – she was calling me!) 

Remembering how near death she was when the twins were born about 7 weeks early, and how so many of you prayed earnestly with us, makes me shake my head today and say, “only God”!  Look at them both now:

Lincoln James (R) Riley Kai (L)

Lincoln James (L)
Riley Kai (R)

Since this is MY blog, here’s a few more pics from the trip so far:

Riley likes to cuddle with her TiTi Jen!

Riley likes to cuddle with her TiTi Jen!

Nonny has a special touch with Lincoln (although I'm not sure who's enjoying it more!)

Nonny has a special touch with Lincoln (although I’m not sure who’s enjoying it more!)

You gotta love a girl who laughs at your jokes!

You gotta love a girl who laughs at your jokes!

Celebrating Pedro

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The early years

The early years

Nothing was better than sleeping in mama's arms

Nothing was better than sleeping in mama’s arms

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

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

The "boys" loved vacations in the Smokies

The “boys” loved vacations in the Smokies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nothing like a mother's love

nothing like a mother’s love

Say hello to Jasper & Joey for us-

Say hello to Jasper & Joey for us-

Thanks for the prayers…please keep it up!

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

Lincoln James McQuay

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

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

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

 

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

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

Remember “Get Fit”?

We started this year with a challenge for all of us to ‘get fit’ – spiritually, financially, relationally, and even physically:

Get Fit – 5K from Promo Videos on Vimeo.
Since then, I have been faithfully walking/jogging about 2 miles a day (ok, a lot more walking than jogging – but I’ve been moving it nonetheless!)

I’ve dropped a few pounds (sure, I’ve got a long way to go and I really need to work on the snacking after dinner), but more importantly, on my last check-up, my doctor said,  “whatever you’re doing, keep it up.  Your latest blood work would indicate that you’ve added about 10 years to your life!” 

That’s the #1 reason we talked about physical fitness in January – to not cut short the time we have with those we love.  I know that many of you took that to heart (literally?) and have far surpassed me in your fitness regimens since then – I’ve seen your Facebook posts and we all can see the resulting weight loss.

But I also know that some of us have procrastinated and made excuses and just not gotten started.  Here’s your chance: on August 15 we’re sponsoring that 5K race that I mentioned in the message.  Listen, even if you’re not in shape, you can walk 5 kilometers in just over an hour.  More importantly, this could be the jump-start you needed to begin an exercise program that works for you!

If you’re already fit, c’mon out and have some fun with your CLC family – and help a great cause at the same time, with all proceeds going to Together We Cope, one of our partners in the south suburbs who serve over 14,000 families every month!

What are you waiting for?  Sign-up today!

Friends for families 5K from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

off to Texas…..

After trying to fit a full day’s work into an abbreviated schedule, my son Brent and I are headed to O’Hare to catch a flight to Dallas.  We’ll be helping my daughter Jen move back to Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday.

It’ll also give us an opportunity for a family road trip, as we plan to stop tomorrow night in Jonesboro, Arkansas to have dinner with several relatives that I haven’t seen in a while.  AND we’re hoping to grab lunch on Thursday at Hickory Log in Dexter, Missouri – which I think has the best barbecue ribs in the world!

My mouth is watering just thinking about it……

images (4)

 

 

 

images (3)

My other GOOD news…

Jen can Seeeeeeeeee!!!!!

jen

On Thursday, February 12 at about 7am Chicago time, when Jen awakened from sleep, she could see!

That’s almost exactly 36 days since she went totally blind with a condition called optic neuritis.

“Thank you” just isn’t adequate to express our love & appreciation for people literally all over the world who have prayed fervently for these past five weeks, not only for Jen’s healing, but for Chris & me as we cared for her during this time of blindness – but I don’t know any other way to say it, so THANK YOU!

And thank you, JESUS, for healing our daughter!

We learned this good news almost immediately after returning to our hotel from the services at CLC-Davao, but I couldn’t tell you the good news until Jen confirmed everything with her doctor and could notify her HR department at Gateway Church.  There was some shouting going on up in this here hotel room, I gotta tell you!

Love you all – thank you again for praying!

Philippines trip, Wednesday

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Tonight was the first night of CLC-Davao’s conference, and I must say it was wonderful!

The worship team closed their set with a song I’d never heard before, and it simply melted me in the Presence of the Lord.  They sang it again during the altar time, with the same result.  I’m serving notice to Pastor Jon Jones and our new Worship Director, Harmony LaBeff, that I want us to learn this one:

Please continue to pray for my wife, who was too ill tonight to even attend the service with me – and she’s scheduled to speak tomorrow night.

One more picture from last night’s wedding: this one is the fruit of Pastors Herley & Nelly Montes – their sons, Joel, Brian & Nathan, their daughter, Grace, and their spouses-

(L to R) Marlon Lumapas (husband of Grace) & daughter Macy, Joel, Brian, Nathan, June Ann, Clarice (wife of Brian), Judith (wife of Joel) and Grace.  I love this family!

(L to R) Marlon Lumapas (husband of Grace) & daughter Macy, Joel, Brian, Nathan, June Ann, Clarice (wife of Brian), Judith (wife of Joel) and Grace.        I love this family!

 

 

The Mistakes of our Parents

I read this post from Pastor Jimmy Evans of Marriage Today, and it was SO good I just had to share it with you today:

All parents are imperfect. You may have grown up in a wonderful, loving home or you may have been raised in a more difficult environment.

But either way, you’ve grown up under some form of imperfect parenting. Because our parents are our role models, we take on their positive and negative traits. It’s the negative ones that cause problems.

I grew up in the flat Texas Panhandle where there weren’t hills to stop the prevailing winds from the southwest. We didn’t have many trees, but those we had always bent or leaned away from those winds.

The constant influence shapes them. When you grow up under a negative influence, you get bent, too. These “bends” are multi-generational family sins or iniquities, like anger, perfectionism, sexism, racism, immorality, or even negativity.

I’ve never met a person who didn’t have iniquities from their past. Consider your own upbringing, and ask yourself these questions:

1. Growing up, was I exposed to biblically sound and morally correct teaching? If your parents didn’t value God’s standards and deal with things biblically, your upbringing may have become bent.

For instance, how did your family handle conflict? My family avoided it. We never talked things out. We just stopped making eye contact until things settled down. Karen’s family, on the other hand, resolved conflict by yelling…and then hugging. They dealt with it in a healthier, more biblical way.

How did your family handle money? Were they generous, miserly, or materialistic? How did your father treat your mother? Was he sexist or sacrificial? How did your mother treat your father? Was she honoring or demeaning?

2. Do you show those same behaviors today? Now that you’ve considered how your parents acted, do you see the same patterns in your own life? Most people, if answering honestly, will admit they share some of their parents’ tendencies.

Maybe not all. Perhaps you recognized your father’s chauvinism or your mother’s disrespect, and you have determined to change that in your own marriage. Good! But when we grow up bent, it is easy to fall into those same tendencies.

3. Have you dealt properly with those things you now recognize as wrong? Whether it’s simple unbiblical behavior or something more complex like abuse, you need to deal with it. Often we ignore or refuse to acknowledge it, but it’s never too late. You need to break those bent iniquities of your past off your life.

How? First, identify the problem and call it what it is: sin. Don’t get defensive of your family system. Then, take responsibility for how you have personally exhibited those behaviors. It may have begun with your parents or grandparents, but it’s just as wrong in you as in them.

Next, you must forgive your mom and dad. Even if they’re no longer living, extend them the same grace and mercy you want for yourself. This is the biggest issue in being free from your past.

Finally, make Jesus the Lord of that area of your life. Give it to him, and ask Him to transform you. Say, “Lord, I repent of this generational sin. Teach me to how to change my ways.” Only then will you break that chain of iniquity.

For more about this topic, watch this week’s show!

 

 

Do you know someone who is strapped?

download

Today I’m putting the finishing touches on the next message in our “GetFit” series, as we focus on GetFit financially.  As I prayed and studied this morning, I realized that this teaching is NOT just to help CLC’ers; it can be life-changing for people throughout Chicagoland who are struggling financially.

Do you have a friend or co-worker or relative who has complained about being strapped – sick of bills – wishing their finances were in better shape?

If so, invite them today to join you at CLC this Sunday!  With three Chicagoland locations, and six services to choose from on Sunday, plus our livestream at 8:30, 10 and 12, that’s nine different opportunities to make a huge difference in someone’s life.

I truly believe you could make an eternal difference in their life, if you’ll reach out today.

42 years is a long time

December 16, 1972.  42 years ago today.  That’s a long time.

It’s definitely enough time to get to know someone, especially when you’re around them for almost all of those 15,340 days.

For sure, it’s long enough for me to know that Chris Ann Hansen McQuay is the real deal.

Many of you know her as a Communicator.  Maybe you’ve heard her at a retreat, or a conference, or, for many of you, from the pulpit at CLC.

Some of you respect her as a Prophetess, and rightly so, because the word of the Lord definitely flows from her mouth under the Spirit’s prompting.

Many people have seen her through the years as a Teacher – from Sunday School classes in Michigan and Missouri, Youth Camps in the same two states, a Bible college in the Philippines, or more recently, at EQUIP seminars in Turkey and Russia and Cambodia.

Others of us have seen her in smaller settings as an Intercessor, where her prayers obviously touched the throne of God.

But very few of us have been privileged to see that she’s the same woman of God, no matter where she is.  I wish you could have seen the smiles on the faces of little children in rural India, far from any convention center or massive auditorium, as she focused on them like they were the most important people in the world.

Or the numerous times I’ve watched the faces of impoverished women in Majority World settings, ‘light up’ as she greeted them with the same loving embrace and kiss that you would think was reserved for her closest friends.

In the last 42 years, I’ve seen her minister to the few, and I’ve seen her minister to the thousands.  And frankly, I can’t tell the difference, because Chris loves God, and she loves His people – wherever, whoever, however.

I’ve never met anyone else quite like her.

She’s a ferocious mother to our three children, and the funnest (is that a word?) nonny that any grandchild could possibly have.

I didn’t know what I was getting into 42 years ago, when I vowed to be with her for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.

But today I know that she is still the woman of my dreams – the one who takes my breath away – the one who lights up my world – the one person I’d most like to spend a day with. She’s not the young teenager I married – but then, I’m not the young preacher from Arkansas that she said “I do” to, either, because she’s rubbed off on me (thank God!), and I’m a much better man for having lived with her these 42 years.

Happy Anniversary, Chris – I look forward to another 42 years with you!

chris_indiaChris_minions

chris_egg or tater

chris_jaeden

chris_bineeta

The bottom line about Ray Rice & domestic violence

rayrice

Since you’re reading this post via the internet, I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the video of the Baltimore Ravens running back punching his then-fiance-now-wife in the face, knocking her unconscious in an Atlantic City hotel elevator.  And even if you haven’t seen the video, you must have heard the hubbub on every radio & TV sports program, after the Ravens released him yesterday and the NFL extended his suspension.

It’s in the news because of his celebrity status as a star NFL player, but domestic violence is an ugly reality in this country that affects an estimated 1.3 million women a year! Frankly, I’ve been shocked by the number of callers to my favorite sports talk stations who are  upset by the NFL’s actions against Rice, feeling he had already been punished and that yesterday’s actions were excessive.  WHAT? (in my best high-pitched incredulous voice)

Here’s the bottom-line for me, regardless of other factors (whether she spit in his face, whether he was intoxicated, etc, etc, etc) – Ephesians 5:25 which reads: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her”.  

And if the fact they weren’t married when he punched her out, try this one: 1Timothy 5:2, which says, “Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.”

It’s time the Church speaks out against domestic violence.  There is NEVER a reason for any man to physically harm any woman. Period. That’s the bottom line.

But this Sunday we will focus on how marriage can be, as we bust some common  ‘marriage myths’.  I hope you’ll invite a friend or family member & join us for a great FRAMILY Sunday at every Chicagoland CLC campus!

 

Have you heard?

myth

Have you heard that “Having children will make a married couple closer & increase their happiness”?

Or that “The purpose of marriage is happiness”?

How ’bout, “Sex is not really that important for a happy marriage”?

People sometime believe stuff that just isn’t true. The problem is, what we believe usually determines our behavior.  My wife & I want to expose some marriage myths once-and-for-all, this Sunday, September 14, in part 2 of our “Marital Tune-Up” series.

We’ll look at some of the things that you have may heard about marriage (whether married or single) including the 3 statements above and several more.

We’re also planning something we’ve never done at CLC & I promise you won’t forget it!

So make plans to join us to ‘get the facts’ and, while you’re at it, bring a friend or family member for FRAMILY Sunday!

I can’t wait!

 

Here’s an idea for your Labor Day gathering

Two families at backyard cookout

I know you’re busy, getting ready for the company that’s coming OR loading up the car to head to your family get-together, so I’ll make it fast:

Since we’re less than 2 weeks away from what could be the BIGGEST DAY in CLC’s history, our 2014 “FRamily Day” (when NWI will also celebrate their 1st Anniversary and Blue Island will have their ‘Grand Opening’ to the community), I’ve got a great idea for you:

why not take advantage of your Labor Day cookout to INVITE every one of your family members & friends to be YOUR GUEST on FRamily Day at CLC?

(If you’re the one hosting the cook-out, it’ll be even more difficult for them to turn you down, seeing how you’re feeding them!)

Whaddya say?  Remember, #Just1 is all it takes!

So enjoy the day off, and while you’re at it, INVITE!

Today was a “personal day” off work…

I’ve heard of others taking a ‘personal day’, so I decided to take one today.  Not sure how it differs from a ‘vacation day’ or if it counts as one, so I’ll leave that to the HR guys (PB? Carlton?)

Anyway, my wife’s mother had called earlier this week to tell us that Detroit had received the heaviest rainfall in 99-years, flooding freeways & basements all over the area.  In fact, the meteorologist said that IF it had been snow instead of rain, it would have equaled 46 inches in just a few hours!

Mom was blessed that her basement only had about 6 inches of standing water (unlike some neighbors who had 4 feet!), but since she stores their Goodyear business records there as well as the church financial records (she has been a church secretary for over 60 years!), she was in tears about the mess.

So Chris & I drove over early this morning to help, and as you can tell from the pic, I’m not used to this kind of manual labor.  But we made a huge dent in Project Flood Damage Removal today, and hopefully we’ll even have a chance to do the Woodward Dream Cruise before heading back home Saturday morning.

No need for the gym today, I sweated more than my usual cardio just carrying boxes up the stairs

No need for the gym today, I sweated more than my usual cardio just carrying boxes up the stairs

Just about every house in the neighborhood looks like this now

Just about every house in the neighborhood looks like this now

not finished, but we made a good dent in the flood damage today!

not finished, but we made a good dent in the flood damage today!

(I posted this for the benefit of those of you who wonder if pastors are human, too)

The BIG 6-0!

Today is a very special day in our family, because 60 years ago on this very date, a beautiful baby girl was born to James & Eleanor Hansen in Detroit, Michigan.  She was a real cutie in those early years, and God watched over her development until He brought her into my life when she was just a senior in high school.

I’ll never forget seeing her the first time, or how quickly I knew she was ‘the One’ God had chosen just for me.  And it’s been quite a privilege to share life with her for these past 42 years, seeing her grow from that shy teenager who hesitated to drive to the corner store into a powerful woman of God who has traveled to the Nations in following God’s call.

Those who’ve only known her in different slices of life, such as the early years as a youth pastor, or the young pastor’s wife who led children’s ministry and who struggled to provide music for that tiny congregation in Mt. Morris, MI, or that brief stint as a Bible College instructor & choir director in the Philippines, or the fledgling prophetess in Dexter, MO or the determined church planter who wore all those hats & more at the beginning of CLC, or even the anointed communicator who has inspired & challenged people all over the world – don’t know the full picture like I do.  She has reinvented herself so many times through the years that I’ve lost count, because, to Chris, it’s always been “whatever it takes”! 

Why? For the same reason I was attracted to her back in 1972 (it didn’t hurt that she was easy on the eyes, too) – Chris has always had a heart for God and His people and that’s never changed.  She’s the real deal, and I am one blessed man to be able to spend my life with her at my side: my partner in ministry, the mother of my children, my confidant, my lover, my best friend!

Welcome to the 60’s, babe – the best is yet to come!

babyChris

this is my FAV pic!

this is my FAV pic!

 

she LOVED the cows on her uncle's farm

she LOVED the cows on her uncle’s farm

such a young mother

such a young mother

a ferocious mother of her children

a ferocious mother of her children

The Philippines is always her favorite place to be

The Philippines is always her favorite place to be

but she's become a world traveler

but she’s become a world traveler

and she's always ready for an adventure!

and she’s always ready for an adventure!

she's always been a mama's girl...

she’s always been a mama’s girl…

 

 

 

 

...and a loving daughter

…and a loving daughter

none of this "in-law" business for her; she's a mother-in-LOVE!

none of this “in-law” business for her; she’s a mother-in-LOVE!

and a Nonny of 2 (so far!)

and a Nonny of 2 (so far!)

because her FAMILY is her passion

because her FAMILY is her passion

she loves to relax in the mountains almost as much as she loves Pedro

she loves to relax in the mountains almost as much as she loves Pedro

but the FIRE comes when she preaches!

but the FIRE comes when she preaches!

she can rock a hat!

she can rock a hat!

or "let her hair down" to those who know her best

or “let her hair down” to those who know her best

but she'll always be one CLASSY lady!

but she’ll always be one CLASSY lady!

Happy birthday, Chris!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day!

mothersdayThat’s THIS Sunday, May 11!

What a GREAT opportunity to invite your mom, your mother-in-law, your grandmother, your daughter, your daughter-in-law, your aunt, your great-aunt, your unsaved husband, your unsaved father, your unsaved son-in-law (do you get the picture yet?)

Mother’s Day is ALWAYS a great day to spend 75 minutes in God’s House, but this weekend especially so.  Not only will we honor all the mom’s in attendance, but we’ll close out our “That Guy!” series with a look at how to handle the “Overly Needy” people in our lives.  That’s a tension that ALL of us face, and we’ll look at some very practical ways that you can help those needy folks in your life without becoming an enabler in the process.

Who are you inviting?

 

We all need help with relationships…

As someone smarter than me has said, “We don’t have to make the Bible relevant, it already is.”

And after a sermon-planning session yesterday with our pastoral team, I’m more convinced than ever of just how relevant the Bible is, as we’re about to tackle what I believe will be one of our most helpful series ever!

‘That Guy!’ is our attempt to put a humorous spin on a very serious issue for so many of us in all kinds of relationships: parents, children, in-laws, spouses,  co-workers, even friends – all of whom can sometimes be hyper-critical, manipulative, or overly-needy.

We’ve not forgotten our ‘DEEPER’ theme for this year – but we’re applying it to more than  ‘spiritual’ topics – we’re digging deeper to help you navigate some of the issues in our relationships that we have been afraid or unable to tackle in the past!

So I’m encouraging you to INVITE your friends & family – EVERYONE needs help with relationships, and ‘That Guy!’ will offer it in lots of practical ways – starting THIS Sunday,  April 27 at Tinley Park, NWI and Blue Island campuses!

We are READY for First Love!

I know Bishop Jakes is known for “get ready, get ready, get ready, get ready!”, but I think CLC is ready for our First Love Conference that starts Saturday!

Not only did we complete 10-days of prayer & fasting last night to prepare our hearts for what God wants to do during the Conference, but our Family Prayer Journey was just awesome as hundreds of CLC’ers from both the Tinley Park and NWI campuses spent time in worship, prayer, meditation & soaking in the Presence of the Lord!

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so take a look:

Family prayer (photo by Heather Van Sant)

like Father, like son – praying the Word! (photo by Heather Van Sant)

I can’t wait for Saturday at 9am!

 

 

Family traditions

My wife has trained me well through the years, and this is probably the biggest one: the importance of family traditions!

Growing up, I don’t think I recognized any specific traditions in the McQuay family – it seems we did a lot of random stuff, but even holidays like Easter or Thanksgiving or Christmas were observed in different ways, and nothing stood out to me as ‘special’.

My wife’s family was much different, and she brought that into our home, so that we were able to ‘make memories’ with our kids (and now, our grandsons) that we all can look forward to, year after year – and I can testify that it really does make the holidays more special.

I encourage you to try it this year – and you can begin by including our Candlelight Christmas Eve service as one of your Family traditions.  It’s going to be a great way to begin the Christmas celebration tonight, and I hope you’ll join us at 5pm as we remember together what this holiday is all about!

My favorite Christmas party of 2013

This afternoon, after the last of our three services in Tinley Park, my wife & I invited all our pastors & their families to join us for a holiday get-together.  While a couple of our pastors were not able to join us because of previous commitments, it was still a terrific afternoon with over 30 folks here (our pastors have a LOT of kids!)

I’ve heard some of the ‘experts’ say that pastors should only hire people on their staff that they would enjoy hanging out with outside of the job – and if that’s a true criteria, let me just say that I’d hire every one of them again in a heartbeat.  I love this team!

Enjoy a few pics:

My wife provided some fun gifts for all the pastoral kids

the kids were definitely the center of attention, but none more so than the youngest

Love our TP Campus Pastors & it looks like Angie, Amber & Tony all had a good time!

My wife loves to explain our Christmas tree & Leslie DelaTorre got the introduction

Love each one of these folks!

I think the kids craft time was a major hit – smart planning, babe!

 

Offline for a week…

Today is our 41st wedding anniversary, so Chris & I are headed for some warmer weather.  We’re headed for Midway airport in a few minutes and we’ll board a cruise ship later this afternoon to spend the next four days sailing the Caribbean, with stops in Haiti and Jamaica.

I will NOT be posting or Facebooking or Tweeting (well, some of those were already scheduled, so you may read some of my devotional thoughts there if you follow me @jerrymcquay) this week, except for a previously scheduled ‘Ask the Pastor’ post on Friday – so check back then.

Instead, I’m going to enjoy the wife of my youth (Proverbs 5:18) and hopefully, some tropical heat!  (By the way, I promise to never title a series ‘White Christmas’ again, after dealing with the white stuff & the frigid temps for the last week!)

See you Sunday for “The Ghost of Christmas Past” as we close our White Christmas series with what many say is their biggest challenge: forgiving yourself!  

Hope you’ll invite a friend or relative – our KidsLife team will have a special presentation, too!  It’ll be a GREAT way to prepare for your family Christmas!

A THANKSGIVING gift for families

First, HAPPY THANKSGIVING to all my readers!  I hope you are able to enjoy the blessing of family today, as we are at our house, with four generations of McQuay’s & Hansen’s all here to celebrate with us!

Now for the free gift on Thanksgiving day: 

our CLC missions partner, OneHope and YouVersion have teamed up together to release an exciting family resource TODAY The Bible App for Kids!  

It’s an exciting, free resource to help kids and families interact with God’s Word in a meaningful way.  The App launched on the  App Store or Google Play today with six interactive, animated Bible stories with games and activities.  They will continue to add new stories each month.

You can read all about it here.

I’m excited about any tool that will help families get into God’s Word together!  And our grandsons Jaeden & Bennett will be enjoying this App before the day is over.

Poppy with Bennett

Jaeden with Nonny

All in the Family…

Our terrific sermon team helped my wife & me put the finishing touches on this Sunday’s final installment of “Rules of Engagement”and I gotta tell you, I think it’s going to be the highlight of the entire series!

We’ve had a lot of fun talking to singles and to married couples the past couple of weeks, but we’ve got 5 ‘rules’ this weekend that I believe can make any family better: whether single-parent, nuclear, or blended-family.

There’s even principles that will work for teens and single adults, too – so make it a point to invite a friend or family member to join you this Sunday for “Family Ties”!  (we’ll also be celebrating ‘Missions Sunday’ and receiving Communion together on this first Sunday in November – plus we get an extra hour’s sleep Saturday!)

Don’t be late!

KidsLife FX is THIS Sunday!

As I posted here last week, we’re beginning a great new Family Experience – KidsLife FX!

It’s a quarterly event (every month with a 5th Sunday) where kids and parents get to experience church TOGETHER!

Our theme for this first one is courage.  Courage is being brave enough to do what you should do, even when you’re afraid.

Your family will sing, dance, laugh, & learn all about courage from a cast of very unique characters.  Watch as the Bible comes alive in comic book form!  (You’ll even see a man in an angry birds costume sing an “I Will Survive” parody!)

my son says it’s like looking at a car wreck – “it’s ain’t pretty, but you just can’t look away!”

 

It’s a night your family won’t want to miss!  Hope to see you here, Sept. 29 at 5pm!

Family Sunday; Family EXPERIENCE!

If you’ve been around CLC a while, you know that one of our CORE values is people – because you matter!  Contained in that core value is the fact that we value all people: red & yellow, black & white, male & female, old & young!

We view the next generation as our most important target, since the Church is always just one generation away from extinction!

That’s why at least 4 times a year, on each 5th Sunday of a month, we bring our children into the adult service so they can participate with their family – worship, pray, hear the Word.  But I’m excited to announce today another component we’re adding to our 5th Sundays starting next weekend on September 29.

We’re inviting every family to return at 5:00 pm for our 1st-ever “FX” (Family Experience).  It’ll be a FUN evening of high-energy music, dance, drama & more, all geared to help families connect with God’s Word & each other!

If you are a parent of elementary-age kids (or a grandparent or aunt or uncle), mark your calendar & get ready to gather up the chillin’s and get them here for FX on Sept. 29!

Back-to-School BASH

For several years now CLC has sponsored a Fall Fest as a fun outreach to our community.

After enduring Chicago’s challenging weather one time too many, we decided to move the Fall Fest to the end of summer, when we could at least be assured of no snow.  (Smile) 

We also decided that we didn’t want to just hang out with the community, we wanted to BLESS the community! (that’s a godly idea – see Jeremiah 29:7)

Knowing the struggle that many families in our area have with adequately supplying their kids for school, we decided to help. At ‪#‎CLCB2SB‬ this Saturday from noon-4pm, we will be giving away 300 Backpacks of school supplies as well as free dental exams and more.

In addition to the free backpacks and dental exams there will be bounce houses, bungee runs, petting zoo, pony rides, jousting, a dunk-a-pastor tank and loads more fun!

Would you help me spread the word using #CLCB2SB?  Invite your friends, family, coworkers, and anyone else you know whose kids would enjoy some fun at CLC!

See you Saturday!

Got questions?

Anytime you make a BIG announcement like we did last Sunday morning (especially given the time constraints of Sunday mornings!), you probably leave more unsaid than what is said.  I’ve already heard from a few concerned CLC’ers who want more information about our next Campus launch & the future of Consumed Student Ministries.  This post is for you!

  • Sam & Taylor are not leaving CLC; we are ONE Church that meets in multiple locations.  In fact, Sam will continue to serve as our Student Ministry ‘Champion’, which means he will be involved in the oversight of all our campus youth ministries.  In addition, he will continue to serve on our Speaking Team at CLC, so you will be hearing him bring the Word in Tinley Park several times a year.
  • Speaking of the Word, for those of you who may be considering the launch team, our NW Indiana campus and all future CLC campuses will receive the SAME teaching that you receive each Sunday, delivered in real-time via video.  This will help ensure that we remain ‘one church in multiple locations’ and will enable each campus to enjoy not only my teaching along with the rest of our teaching pastors, but also the special guests that come to minister in Tinley Park each year!
  • As to the future of Consumed, one of the reasons we have delayed this launch is because we waited for the right leadership to follow Sam & Taylor – and we are very confident that the couple they have recommended to us (we’ll introduce them THIS Sunday) will be able to pick up where the Hamstra’s left off, and lead our students forward!  Parents: I think you will be pleased to know that the new Student Ministries Directors are both educators who have worked with high school students for years, and they have a heart for your teens!  Also, Family Ministries Pastor, Tony Gilmore, will continue to provide coaching & oversight to Consumed, just as he has since joining our team in 2012.  Finally, our vision of reaching children & youth remains unchanged, so our entire pastoral team is committed to the success of our ministry to students.   We believe the future of Consumed remains brighter than ever!

Now, as to the new Campus in Northwest Indiana:

  • we do not yet know the exact location, but we’re exploring all possibilities from Munster to St. John and all points in between.  If you know of a space available in a heavily-trafficked area, let us know!
  • We DO know that it takes a lot of people to make a church work!  Sam & Taylor will need ushers, greeters, KidsLife ministers, Consumed leaders, musicians, singers, offering counters, coffee bar servers, First Touch folks, altar ministers – you-name-it, we NEED help!  If the Holy Spirit is nudging you to serve, please let us know!
  • The launch team will begin meeting in June and will be busy this summer with training and preparation in order to be ready for the opening services in September, so don’t delay – if you are interested in being on the ground floor of this new venture, helping to build people by planting a CLC campus, we WANT you!  If you feel a special ‘connection’ with Sam & Taylor, and feel the Lord is joining you to their leadership, we WANT you!  If you live nearer to NW Indiana than to Tinley Park, we WANT you!  If you want more info about the launch, text “launch” to 44622.
I’m sure you still have more questions, but feel free to ask the Hamstra’s or email me.  We’re FIRED-UP about the future of CLC!

A special Mother’s Day

I’m sure it could be argued that every Mother’s Day is special.  I know we want it to be so at CLC each year.

But this Sunday will take on extra meaning for my family.  When our Board of Overseers was here in March, they interviewed my son Brent and his wife Sol and recommended that we ordain them as Children’s Pastors at CLC.  We had planned to do that in a special service sometime when we have the Overseers or other guest ministers in town.

However, Sol’s mother and sister are here visiting from Mexico City, and this Sunday is their last day with us, so we’ve decided to do a very brief ordination ceremony for the sake of the family this Sunday at the 10 a.m. service.

While it won’t be the full-blown ordination that is customary at CLC (because of the Sunday morning time constraints), it’s still going to be an emotional time for me and Chris.  I suppose every pastor’s dream is for their son or daughter to follow their footsteps into ministry, so this will be that dream come true for us.  Brent and Sol have served faithfully in a variety of roles at CLC through the years, and for the past year have done an admirable job as our KidsLife Directors.  Besides, they’ve produced the two cutest grandkids in the universe!  (there’s a picture below to prove it)

We are thankful for God’s hand upon each of our children and we’re proud of the men and women they’ve become, but this will be one for the memory bank.

I’m especially thankful that we’ll be sharing the moment with the pastors and elders of CLC and our church family – we love the team that God has given us here!  See you Sunday-

Jaeden & Bennett in Poppy’s office on Easter Sunday

wow, Wow, WOW!

After my Tuesday of meetings, planning and emails, I am SUPER-excited about what’s ahead for CLC:

  • first of all, I heard from John Tiller with details of what he feels on his heart & is planning for Sunday, and I’m urging you to be here and to bring guests with you!  It may be one of the most impactful guest speakers we’ve EVER had at CLC!
  • secondly, we mapped out details for our ‘Generations’ series and I’m FIRED-UP like Joe Sangl about helping you make a difference in your generations!  We’ll even be hosting a special seminar on Wednesday, June 12 that EVERY parent will want to be a part of – so mark your calendar now!
  • finally, I AM super-stoked-excited about the next series about it – our annual favorite summer series at CLC, “God@the Movies!”  Yesterday we finalized the selection of movies and there’s some real blockbusters included this year, but more importantly, some powerful truths from Scripture that we’ll see thru the lens of Hollywood.  Mark your calendar & plan to be in town June 30 and July 7, 14, 21 and 28!
Wow.  Wow. Wow!  #morechangedlives
PS Don’t forget the National Day of Prayer tomorrow, May 2 or the kick-off at CLC with our Worship Night at 7pm this evening!

THIS Sunday at CLC

We will kick-off our ‘Generations’ series this Sunday with special guests, John, Tricia & Eli Tiller. As I mentioned Sunday, John & Tricia have already lived through every parent’s worst nightmare, when their 3-year old son fell headfirst from a second story window in their home several years ago.

Most of us can’t even imagine the pain of not knowing if your child will live through the night, or the long road toward recovery after a brain injury. And as believers, we especially don’t want to think about how to respond if God doesn’t answer our prayers to heal our child.

Their story is one that EVERY parent needs to hear. You’ll leave with a new perspective and some fresh inspiration to face your challenges. And your eyes may leak a bit, too.

Invite someone to be your guest. See you Sunday!