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:

Classy people do classy things!

I just received this card in the mail today:

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If it needs explanation, the card is handwritten by Mrs. Dodie Osteen (Joel’s mother, and the matriarch of Lakewood Church). She’s 85 years old and I’m sure she has better things to do than send a thank you note to me for participating on stage at the recent “Night of Hope” at the United Center.

But I’ve learned in my years of ministry that classy people do classy things.  (Maybe I should rephrase that to say, “real leaders show appreciation to people”.

I hope I’m still practicing that at age 85.

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!

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!

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.


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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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!

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.

Nigeria, day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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 😉

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!)

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!

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.

Pastors need inspiration, too

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That’s why a dozen CLC pastors/ministry directors from all our campuses are headed to Dallas before dawn this morning to attend the Gateway Conference in Southlake, TX.  Gateway is led by Robert Morris, who I think is the finest Bible teacher in America, and they’re on the cutting-edge of what God is doing today.

I’m looking forward to two full days and nights of worship, preaching and Presence in a room with a few thousand other pastors and leaders – and I’m praying that God shakes my world in the process!

More later-

for the next 40 days…..

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If you know me at all, you know that I have never endorsed any candidate for President in my 40+ years of pastoring.

(Relax, I’m not about to start now.)

Here’s my position on any important election: I want what God wants!  Isaiah 40 and 1Samuel 2:7-10 and especially Romans 13:1 let me know that ultimately God puts in office who HE wants.  I’ve learned that His ways are not always my ways; sometimes God may put someone in office that I would never have chosen, because God is seeking to  humble us as a nation, to move us to repentance.

I think this is particularly appropriate in this election when most Christians would agree that neither candidate is following the teachings of Scripture, personally or in their policies – which is probably why I’ve never know Christians to be so divided in their view as to who our next President should be – and all the more reason why I know I’m not smart enough to know what God is doing or wants to do in this particular election.

Over the past several weeks I’ve been asked by several national ministries to engage in various prayer plans for this election – some wanting us to pray for 30 days; some wanting prayer each day in October; some calling for us to pray in the Spirit for one hour this Sunday.  Here’s what I’m asking CLC’ers (and anyone else reading this) to do: would you pray daily between now and the election for God’s will to be done?

I don’t mean a “k sera, sera; whatever will be, will be” kind of prayer.  I’m also not prescribing what time of day you should pray or for how long you should pray each day. I’m simply asking you to join me each day between now and November 8 in earnestly praying that the God who knows what’s best for our nation will intervene in this election and put into office the person that HE wills for President of these United States.

If we start now, we have just over 40 days before the election, and I don’t have to tell you how many significant events in Scripture happened in 40 days.  Together, let’s believe for his will to be done on earth (in the USA) as it is in heaven!

Pastors go to school, too

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At least CLC pastors do, because we want to get better at what we do in serving God’s people!

That’s why Pastors Ben, Sam, Brent and I are leaving this morning for Kalamazoo, MI and the 2016 Pastor’s School with Jimmy Evans.  I attended one in 2014 and came back from Dallas telling our team it was THE best seminar or conference I had ever attended in 40 years of ministry, so when I saw that it was coming this close to Chicago, I immediately signed up our campus pastor team to attend.  (The bonus is I get to attend free as an alumni)

In fact, as much as I look forward to the sessions each day, I’m especially looking forward to our evenings together (and the 5 hours of windshield time going and coming) for some extended discussions with our pastors that we don’t often get to have at home during the average work week.  I’m confident we’ll return home Wednesday afternoon better equipped to lead CLC!

My thoughts on the 2016 Presidential election…

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As a pastor, I never bring politics into the pulpit (or to this blog, normally).  The church that I serve has both Republicans and Democrats and Independents, and the last thing we need is division over political issues.

However, after watching bits & pieces of the Republican convention in Cleveland last week, and likewise a few snatches of the Democrats convention in Philadelphia this week, followed by my Bible reading this morning, I felt I had to share:

First, I read Jeremiah 17:5-6.  That’s pretty strong, isn’t it.  GOD says, if we put our trust in mere human beings, we’re headed for misery.  So for those of you who are tired of the last eight years with a Democrat in the White House and who think Donald Trump is the answer to “make America great again”, and to those of you who feel Hillary will continue the progress you’ve seen under President Obama, I challenge you to set your sights higher, as in Jeremiah 17:7-8.  Our only hope for a fruitful life is in trusting GOD, not any politician!

Then, in the Bible reading plan I’m using this year, my next reading was Psalm 146:3, which seems even stronger than Jeremiah 17: no human being can save us!

Finally, I read Psalm 146:5-10.  Notice the contrast when we depend on the Lord instead of human leaders:

  • HE always keeps His promises.  (need I say more about this year’s candidates?)
  • HE truly helps the oppressed and those in poverty.
  • HE restores people, no matter their past.
  • HE protects immigrants and helps those who are disadvantaged.
  • HE enforces justice for the wicked.
  • HE doesn’t put us through another campaign season; HE is king forever!

That’s my position on the 2016 elections, and I don’t expect it to ever change.  My trust is in the Lord, and may God bless America.

Talking Bible: what’s YOUR excuse?

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My Bible talked to me again.  This time it was from Jeremiah 1:7, when God anticipated Jeremiah’s excuse before he even had a chance to use it!

Actually, I didn’t just hear God from reading that verse.  I also heard Him when I read a quote recently that said, “If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way.     If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”

I think that’s a ‘Word’ for all of us.

What excuses have you used lately?

Is it possible you could be ‘excusing’ yourself from something God is calling you to do?

  • Maybe it’s going back to get that degree.  Don’t say, “I’m too old; I don’t have the money; I don’t have the time”.
  • Perhaps it’s to have that difficult conversation with your spouse.  Don’t say, “He/she might get angry and make things worse.
  • It could be God is calling you to hostFamily Matters group.  Don’t say, “I don’t know anyone who would come to my group”; “I don’t know how to facilitate a discussion”; “What if they ask a question I can’t answer?”

If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way.

If you know God is calling you,  and you step out in obedience, He’ll make a way!

What are you hearing God say today?

 

Just a few days until….

 

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For over a decade CLC has been host to a worship gathering now known as the Selah Worship Conference.  Here’s why:

  • I believe in Alan & Terrilyn Franklin!  It was their heart to help local churches that first attracted me to get involved with Selah, and that hasn’t changed.  These folks are  not egotistical or driven to make a name for themselves; they’re sincerely driven to help musicians and singers and local churches excel in the ministry of worship!
  • I believe the key to almost everything is the Presence of God!  Surely you know by now that all our clever programs to reach unsaved people are not the answer.  The lost are not looking for great oratory in a sermon; they don’t need a beautiful sanctuary in which to spend their Sunday morning; but what our world craves is the reality of the Supernatural – and that’s what’s available in the Presence of God!
  • I believe excellence in worship can bring the Presence to our churches!  Don’t get me wrong: musicianship and trained voices, as important as they are, is not the same thing as anointing.  However, the anointing is not hindered by good musicianship and talented singers, either.  (Why do we tend to make everything “either/or” instead of “both/and”?)   We need skilled musicians and gifted voices who are also humbly walking with God and who carry an anointing to lead others into the Presence of God!

So, if you’re a pastor, I urge you to send your worship leaders (maybe help sponsor their registration cost?).  If you’re a musician or psalmist, I urge you to register now.  And if you’re like me and just enjoy being in the Presence of God, join us for three great worship nights next week at Selah 2016! (details below)

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Talking Bible: the value of humility

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My Bible talked to me this morning.

Actually, it started last night, when one of my preaching class students shared a message about King Saul and referenced 1Samuel 15:17, when the Lord reminded Saul that in the beginning, he was little in his own eyes, but God exalted him to be king over all Israel.

This morning my Bible reading plan included 1Samuel 15, and verse 12 jumped off the page at me!  How do you go from being so humble that you hid from those who wanted to make you king, to the point that now you are building monuments to yourself???

Then when Samuel confronted him for his disobedience, Saul finally admitted his wrongdoing, but was still more concerned about his image than about obeying God – so in verse 30, he pleaded with Samuel just to honor him in front of the people!

Worst of all, I read verse 35 where the Lord said He was sorry He had ever made Saul king  – that’s a big step DOWN from being a man who stood head & shoulders above all Israel.

It reminded me this morning of a story I heard a long time ago of a young minister who went into the pulpit one Sunday all cocky and full of himself as the ‘anointed mand of God’  but things didn’t go well.  He got his tongue tangled up; he forgot Scriptures that he intended to quote; he stuttered and stammered his way through the sermon and finally left the pulpit with his head down, knowing that he had really dropped the ball.  One of the church ‘mothers’ stopped him before he got out of the auditorium and simply said, “son, if you had come in like you went out, you could have gone out like you went in”.

Selah.

May God help us all walk in humility before Him.

A word to aspiring ministers…

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As part of our commitment to raise up leaders and potential campus pastors for the future expansion of CLC, last night I completed an 8-week class about preaching, in which I tried to share everything I’ve learned in the last 47 years on that subject.

To close the class, I shared a lesson from my friend, Dr. David Shibley, founder of Global Advance, and I think it’s worth repeating here for the benefit of my readers.  He called it,  “What To Do in the Waiting Room” – in other words, while you’re waiting for your opportunity to preach regularly or to lead a church or campus of your own, what should you be doing now?

1.  Develop your devotional life.  This is the perfect time for you to grow deep in your  daily time with the Lord, reading the Word, praying and listening to Him.  Do you realize that everything you will do in ministry begins there?  Whether it’s a new program or ministry idea, or the seed for a sermon series, or even wisdom for making ministry decisions – ALL of it is dependent on you hearing from God in your devotional times!  So build your devotional muscles now, to prepare you for a life of ministry.

2.  Be faithful in the little things.  That should be self-explanatory.  Be consistent in church attendance, in tithing, in serving, in returning phone calls or emails – in all the ‘little things’ of life.  Take dominion over the floorboard of your car. (If you can’t keep it clean, how are you going to lead a church?) And don’t forget that Jesus said, “faithful in little; faithful in much“.

3.  Deal with anger and forcibly repel bitterness.  You will be tempted much to get frustrated or even angry and bitter about how long it’s taking for you to get pulpit opportunities.  You will be tempted to resent your leaders when they pass you over and give promotion to one of your peers.  Deal with it.  Nothing will hinder or even prevent your future ministry like allowing seeds of bitterness to grow now.

4.  Further your training.  There are tons of opportunities today to get ministry training – from online classes to webinars to local church trainings to seminars and conferences by various ministries.  Don’t miss the opportunity to grow and learn from others.

5.  “Know thyself”.  That proverb may not be in Scripture (it’s from Plato in ancient Greece), but it’s still true.  Pay no attention to the opinion of the multitude and don’t boast of gifts or skills that you don’t have – know who God has called you to be.

Dr. Shibley shared five more, but I’ll save those for another day.

Did any of these resonate with you?  If you’re in ministry, or aspire to be, join the conversation by leaving your comments below-

Honor to whom honor is due…

With the Coke Bear & John & Margaret Maxwell at the World of Coke in Atlanta

With the Coke Bear & John & Margaret Maxwell at the World of Coke in Atlanta

I was up before dawn on Monday to catch a flight to Atlanta – for a quick trip where Chris & I were to be honored along with other men and women of God.  But the trip actually made me think of how my life and ministry has been shaped by several men of God who have mentored me, either in person or from afar:

  • my pastors, the late F.R. Reed, and my beloved Bishop, Joseph Garlington-
  • Rick Warren, who taught me how to preach more effectively-
  • Jack Hayford, who is the greatest example of integrity I’ve ever know-
  • Willie George, who helped me dream of reaching children & youth-
  • John C. Maxwell, who changed my life by teaching me how to be a leader

20 years ago, John founded the ministry of EQUIP, which has now trained more than 6 million leaders in all 196 recognized nations on earth, and it has been a privilege for Chris and me to participate in Turkey (with Iranian house church leaders); in Mindanao, Philippines; in Perm, Russia; and in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

On Monday, EQUIP honored us by taking us to the Georgia State Capitol building in downtown Atlanta

On Monday, EQUIP honored us by taking us to the Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta

There, in the Georgia House of Representatives, John introduced us to the Georgia Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle, who is a Christian leader in his own right

There, in the Georgia House of Representatives, John introduced us to the Georgia Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle, who is a Christian leader in his own right

Then John & Coach Tom Mullins (President of EQUIP) told us how God is opening doors for us with governmental leaders around the world.

Then John & Coach Tom Mullins (President of EQUIP) told us how God is opening doors for us with governmental leaders around the world.

Then, after a little fun at the World of Coke in downtown Atlanta (including the photo op above with the Coke Bear), we returned to our hotel for dinner and each EQUIP Associate Trainer was honored with this award.

Then, after a little fun at the World of Coke in downtown Atlanta (including the photo op above with the Coke Bear), we returned to our hotel for dinner and each EQUIP Associate Trainer was honored with this award.

The plaque honored us, BUT the real honor should go to Dr. John C. Maxwell, who not only taught us, but has allowed us the privilege of sharing leadership principles in some of our favorite places on earth!

The plaque honored us, BUT the real honor should go to Dr. John C. Maxwell, who not only taught us, but has allowed us the privilege of sharing leadership principles in some of our favorite places on earth!

So today I say ‘thanks’ to Dr. John C. Maxwell, whose teachings have changed our lives and ministry.  We love you!

P.S. WHO do you need to honor for the impact they’ve had in your life?                           Why not take a moment to thank them today?

 

 

I’m thankful to be OVERSEEN!

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One of the principles of Scripture that pastors & churches fail to talk much about is the importance of being under authority – as in Luke 7:7-9.

That principle is why we established an external board of apostolic overseers in the early days of CLC.  This board provides safety and protection for our church family and for Chris and me, and we gladly and willingly submit to their authority over us.

Each of these men have proven, successful ministries in their own area of service:           One of those men has served on our Board from the beginning – Pastor Eddie Cupples.  Another began serving very shortly after that – Pastor Gordon Banks.                           One, Dale Van Steenis, was introduced to us in Eastern Europe on a missions trip.          Of course, Bishop Joseph Garlington, is OUR pastor, whom we love deeply.          And Prophet Dennis Cramer is the newest member, having joined us two years ago.

All of them will be in town today to meet with Chris and me, as well as some of the members of our pastoral team, to review the health of our finances and our campuses, and speak into our lives, both for the present and to help us look into the future of CLC.

Would you pray for us today, for Godly wisdom to be released through these men and for us to have ears to hear?

Why You Should TRUST the Bible is truly God’s Word

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Today we kicked off a new series at CLC, “Is That Really You, God?” and each Sunday in April we’re looking at how we can hear the voice of God for ourselves.  In today’s message about hearing God’s voice through the Bible, we simply didn’t have time to address an underlying question that many people have asked: “How can I know the Bible is reliable?” 

So, as promised, here are some links to help answer that question, and give you confidence that the Bible truly is God’s Word (1Thess. 2:13):

If apologetics is a study that piques your interest, let me know – there are definitely some great Christian scholars who do a superb job of defending the faith.

And for those of you who would like to have some study helps, here are a few our pastoral staff recommends:

Join the conversation: what other online sites have you found helpful in reading & understanding Scripture?

P.S. For those who have asked, you can register for the day sessions of the National Prayer Summit led by Bishop Tudor Bismark here.

Some important stuff we neglected because of Easter

If you’ve been around CLC for the last several weeks, you’ve heard a LOT about Easter weekend – it’s been our #1 focus in each service, and rightfully so.

However, because we’ve put all our, ahem, eggs in one basket (forgive the pun, please), we have failed to mention or promote some other VERY IMPORTANT EVENTS that are ALMOST HERE:

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1.  Annual H2H Retreat – April 21-23.  The deadline for our women’s retreat is actually Easter Sunday, so ladies, you’ll want to respond electronically to this one.  The cost is just $250, and that includes 2 nights lodging at the beautiful Olympia resort in Wisconsin, meals from Thursday dinner through Saturday lunch, all sessions, special activities & swag!  Don’t delay – register TODAY!

Bishop Tudor Bismark

Bishop Tudor Bismark

2.  National Prayer Summit with Tudor Bismark ministries – April 6-8.  Bishop Tudor has been a CLC favorite for years, and he has chosen CLC to host his National Conference.  Registration is required to attend the Thursday & Friday day sessions, but the evening services are open to the public all 3 nights!

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3.  Alpha and Cleansing Stream – two of the finest ministries we offer at CLC will begin the week after Easter.  Alpha is specially designed to lead seekers to explore the Christian faith, and is ideal for your unchurched friends (whether they accepted your invitation for Easter or not)Cleansing Stream is the most effective ministry we’ve found to help people deal with the baggage of their past – getting free of bitterness, habits, addictions and more.  You can sign up for either of these ministries at the Life Group table in the lobby of CLC-Tinley Park.

Financial Learning Experience

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I still don’t have words for last night’s FLE with Joe Sangl…

I’m convinced that it has the potential for more changed lives than anything we’ve ever done at CLC – more than First Love Conferences, more than any guest speaker, prophet, evangelist, or any of my sermon series!  Period.

However, the key word is potential, because unless we ACT on what we learned, nothing happens!

IF you signed-up for the 6-week Life Group study of “I was broke. Now I’m not.”, you’ll hear from us soon with the times and locations of those group meetings.

If you didn’t start to work on your budget yet, here’s the link where you can get it done.  That step alone can change your life, and put you on the road to financial freedom.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments and reflections on what this weekend with Joe meant to you – please join the conversation below:

4 Prayers I’m praying these days

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A pastor that I highly respect and admire reminded me recently of the prayer of Jabez, and I’m praying it regularly these days.  I encourage you to join me in praying for 4 things:

1.  BLESSING.  I want God to bless CLC.  I need God to bless CLC.  We need more than we need – so we can be a blessing to others.  I need more than I need for myself, so I can be a blessing to others around me.  “Bless me, indeed!”

2.  INFLUENCE.  That’s what enlarged territory is all about.  I’m not asking for ego sake.  I believe CLC is to be an influence in Chicagoland, and in the Nations.  I also believe God wants to give YOU greater influence in your career, with your family, and with your friends.  All of us have complained about the state of our nation and the decline in morality and the senseless violence, etc. – but what we really need is for godly people to rise up in positions of influence in our society – so let’s pray “God, enlarge our territory by giving us greater influence for Your Kingdom”

3.  PRESENCE.  That’s what it means to have His Hand on us.  I don’t have words to describe how much I need that, and want that.  All of our programs and plans and sermons and songs won’t accomplish anything without His Presence anointing all of it!  “Lord, let Your Presence saturate everything we do at CLC!”

4.  PROTECTION.  We need Him to keep us from evil.  We don’t need any more scandals in the body of Christ.  We don’t need any more ministers to fall into sin.  Please keep our staff and our leaders at CLC walking in true holiness, to be examples to our congregation.  Satan would like to destroy us, so we NEED Your protection, Lord!  Put Your Hand on us!

Want to pray that with me?  Let’s ask for God’s blessing, influence, presence & protection!

If that resonates with you, join the conversation by leaving your comments below-

 

Romania, day 4

Our last day in Romania was the ‘icing on the cake’:

After breakfast, we team-taught a message to the pastors about balancing ministry and family.  Here Chris is teaching with our host, Pastor Mihai Dumitrascu interpreting.

After breakfast, we team-taught a message to the pastors about balancing ministry and family. Here Chris is teaching with our host, Pastor Mihai Dumitrascu, interpreting.

After our teaching, we led the pastors in renewing their marriage vows to each other.  Pastors Mihai & Neli were first to sign their renewal certificate.

After our teaching, we led the pastors in renewing their marriage vows to each other. Pastors Mihai & Neli were first to sign their renewal certificate.

These precious Romanian pastors, who serve in very harsh & difficult conditions, absolutely LOVED having a certificate of their vow renewal.

These precious Romanian pastors, who serve in very harsh & difficult conditions, absolutely LOVED having a certificate of their vow renewal.

We've done vow renewals in several countries, but I've never seen a group so PROUD of their renewal certificate as the Romanian pastors!  (Couple on the right are missionaries here from Scotland)

In fact, we’ve done vow renewals in several countries, but I’ve never seen a group so PROUD of their renewal certificate as the Romanian pastors! (Couple on the right are missionaries here from Scotland)

After seeing such JOY on their faces, we decided to join the fun, and Pastors Mihai & Neli signed as our witnesses.

After seeing such JOY on their faces, we decided to join the fun, and Pastors Mihai & Neli signed as our witnesses.

We’re now back in Bucharest Airport and while Croatia is a neighboring country, there are no direct flights, so we’ll fly to Munich, Germany early this evening and catch another flight to Zagreb, Croatia, which is scheduled to arrive late tonight – it’ll probably be midnight by the time we reach our hotel.  We’ll minister for long-time friend, Pastor Sicko Alic at the Word of Life Church in Zagreb (largest Spirit-filled church in the country) from Sunday thru Wednesday before heading home.  Thanks for your prayers!

Romania, day 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romania, day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Romania, day 1

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

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

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

Inside Lakewood

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

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

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

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

“Fast Track” for new CLC campus launches

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

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

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

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

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

2016 is the Year of Harvest for CLC!

For all my PASTOR friends

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

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

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

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

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

Kudos, Pastor Ben!

Investiture service for BISHOP Herley Montes

Those who know me know how we are careful about titles at CLC.  I’ve so often said, “I rather do the stuff without the title as to have the title and not do the stuff”.

But last night was long overdue, as our Pastor at CLC-Davao campus, Herley Montes, has been functioning as a Bishop for a long time, both for the G12 churches of the Philippines  (where he is one of only 12 leaders for the nation) & in the growing number of churches in our CLC network throughout the island of Mindanao.  Enjoy a pictorial recap of the event:

After worship, Pastors Herley & Nelly Montes were brought to the stage for the investiture ceremony.

After worship, Pastors Herley & Nelly Montes were brought to the stage for the investiture ceremony.  It was a formal occasion, with all the Filipino pastors wearing ‘barong’ & their wives in formal-length dresses.

The other Bishop of G12 churches in Mindanao, Pastor Roffy publicly received Pastor Herley as a Bishop.

The other Bishop of G12 churches in Mindanao, Pastor Roffy publicly received Pastor Herley as a Bishop.

Judith Montes (wife of Pastor Joel) led the congregational prayer over Pastors Herley & Nelly.

Judith Montes (wife of Pastor Joel) led the congregational prayer over Pastors Herley & Nelly.

Sons Brian & Nathan Montes presented Bishop Herley with a new study Bible from CLC.

Nathan Montes & his brother Brian (hidden behind him) presented Bishop Herley with a new study Bible from CLC.

Pastors Lathur & Leah Badoy presented Bishop Herley with the Bishop's stole, which speaks of servant leadership.

Pastors Lathur & Leah Badoy presented Bishop Herley with the Bishop’s stole, which speaks of servant leadership.

Pastors Tito & Nelrose Sasam presented Herley with a "Bishop's ring", a gift from the G12 leader of the Philippines, Bishop Oriel.

Pastors Tito & Nelrose Sasam presented Herley with a “Bishop’s ring”, a gift from the G12 leader of the Philippines, Bishop Oriel.

Chris presented Pastora Nelly Montes with a "talit" (prayer shawl from Israel), as Bishop Herley's chief intercessor.

Chris presented Pastora Nelly Montes with a “talit” (prayer shawl from Israel), as Bishop Herley’s chief intercessor.

A member of CLC-Davao presented Herley with a bottle of oil, that he might be a healer & reconciler among us.

A member of CLC-Davao presented Herley with a bottle of oil, that he might be a healer and reconciler among us.

Then Bishop Herley was anointed with oil for this new level of ministry, as the pastors joined us in prayer.

Then Bishop Herley was anointed with oil for this new level of ministry, as the pastors joined us in prayer.

Like the anointing oil in Scripture, it started at Herley's head but flowed freely to cover him symbolically.

Like the anointing oil in Scripture, it started at Herley’s head but flowed freely to cover him symbolically.

Chris led a time of prophetic ministry as we continued to pray for Bishop Herley.

Chris led a time of prophetic ministry as we continued to pray for Bishop Herley.

Then we presented BISHOP Herley Montes to the congregation.

Then we presented BISHOP Herley Montes to the congregation.

The congregation of CLC-Davao insisted on bringing gifts to honor their pastor as a Bishop!

The congregation of CLC-Davao insisted on bringing gifts to honor their pastor as a Bishop!

The women leaders of CLC-Davao formed a 'choir' (with their male counterparts) to sing to their new Bishop, "You Raise Me Up!" (Josh Groban's song became a beautiful tribute to the man of God)

The women leaders of CLC-Davao formed a ‘choir’ (with their male counterparts) to sing to their new Bishop, “You Raise Me Up!”

(Josh Groban's song became a beautiful tribute to the man of God)

(Josh Groban’s song became a beautiful tribute to the man of God)

Their singing brought me to tears, as they honored Herley for his faithful years of ministry here.

Their singing brought me to tears, as they honored Herley for his faithful years of ministry here.

Then Pastora Nelly really made me cry, as she honored her husband for 36 years of faithful ministry through so many hardships & trials along the way.

Then Pastora Nelly really made me cry, as she honored her husband for 36 years of faithful ministry through so many hardships & trials along the way.

Herley responded with a kiss, which she said was "more than at our wedding"!

Herley responded with a kiss, which she said was “more than at our wedding”!

Bishop Herley honored Pastor Ruffy by presenting him with one of the towels with the anointing oil.

Then Bishop Herley honored Pastor Ruffy by presenting him with one of the towels with the anointing oil.

All of the network pastors who came to honor Bishop Herley by participating in his investitute service.

All of the network pastors who came to honor Bishop Herley by participating in his investitute.

It was a SPECIAL night and we were so happy to share it with our friends.

It was a SPECIAL night and we were so happy to share it with our friends.

 

 

 

Just sharing the love…..

Chris and I are probably somewhere over the Pacific as you read this, enroute to the Philippines for an assignment there Saturday thru Tuesday, but today I’m thankful for a team of pastors at CLC who make it possible for us to do what we’re called to do and yet know that the church is in good hands.  It’s especially true this trip, because our Crash the Chatterbox series has built such momentum and so many people are being helped that in many ways I hated to leave, even though we accepted this assignment months ago.

But I not only have peace, I also have a holy expectation as to what God will do these next two Sundays as Pastors Brent & Sol and Sam conclude the series by showing us how to crash that chatterbox of shame/condemnation and discouragement!

And while I’m truly thankful for each member of our team, I can’t help but give a special shout out to our Executive Pastor, Ben Stewartfor the amazing variety of roles he fills for us here.  He’s not only an amazing developer of leaders, but he’s talented/knowledgeable in so many areas, I’m jealous!  Thanks, PB, for ALL you do in serving CLC – we love you!

Monday night, I caught him at the sound board, filling in for our newlywed Audio Tech who was on his honeymoon.  Then last night I looked up to see he was playing guitar with the worship team.  And whether onstage or off, he's a WORSHIPPER, too!

Monday night, I caught him at the sound board, filling in for our newlywed Audio Tech who was on his honeymoon. Then last night I looked up to see he was playing guitar with the worship team. And whether onstage or off, he’s a WORSHIPPER, too!

We love you, Pastor Ben!

(Maybe you’d like to join me in expressing your appreciation for a great team – send an email to any one of them by using their firstname@clc.tv)

 

Tuesday with the Bishop

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How do you explain yesterday with Bishop Tudor Bismark?

I’d say it was like the three-days of our First Love Conferences all packed into one day,  and then some!

The morning session was strong meat as he described the effects of bad leadership and then showed us what an ‘Apostolic Hub’ is like.  You must hear that teaching! Lord, please make CLC an Apostolic Hub! 

I can't say enough about the Servants of Praise - worship leaders from all 3 CLC campuses led us into the Presence & we lingered there last night!

I can’t say enough about the Servants of Praise – worship leaders from all 3 CLC campuses led us into HIS Presence and then we lingered there last night!  Worship opened the heavens, and the Bishop planted the Word, and then worship watered the seed he had sown.  Awesome!

Last night was an amazing look at the history of revival, including some personal stories from Bishop of the greatest moves of God he has ever witnessed – and it left us all  HUNGRY for God to do it again – in Chicago, Lord!

If you missed ANY of this, it’s not too late – get the messages this weekend (in person at CLC-Tinley Park OR download online:

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Breaking news about September 15 with Bishop Tudor Bismark…..

Bishop Tudor Bismark from Harare, Zimbabwe

Bishop Tudor Bismark from Harare, Zimbabwe

We’ve been blessed for many years by Bishop Tudor’s annual visits to CLC, and we’re looking forward to Monday & Tuesday, September 14-15 when he will minister at 7pm both nights.

However, one of our elders asked Saturday, “could we do a morning session for leaders with Bishop Tudor?”.  I wasn’t sure, but I figured ‘you have not because you ask not’, so I asked yesterday.

And Bishop said ‘yes, we can do this with pleasure’!

So in addition to the Monday & Tuesday evening services, Bishop Tudor will be teaching at 10am on Tuesday, September 15.  This will be strong meat for pastors & leaders, and you’re welcome to join us!

That’s just 2 weeks from today, and I can’t wait!

Fulfilling the Vision…..

Part of our vision at CLC is “to impact children & young families…”.  It’s really a no-brainer in my book, because unless we reach the next generation, the church will soon be extinct!

Yesterday was a demonstration of walking out our vision:

here it is

first, “Ignite”, our Student worship team led us into the Presence of God in all 3 services in TP-

Later, we dedicated 5 children (and their parents) to the Lord (and Chris had a prophetic word for each child!)

Later, we dedicated 5 children (and their parents) to the Lord (and Chris had a prophetic word for each child!)

  • But the icing on the cake was last night at “KidsLife FX” (Family eXperience)-

  • FX is our quarterly production for kids AND their parents/grandparents/guardians & it’s the best-kept secret at CLC.
it's

It’s 75-minutes of high-energy family fun; including family style worship, singing, crazy games, lots of drama from some amazing youth & adult actors & best-of-all, a succinct & important life principle that is communicated to the children over & over in a variety of ways guaranteed to help your child remember!”

  • For example, last night’s theme was wisdom and the principle that was repeated throughout the games, skits & fun was “wisdom: finding out what you should do and doing it”!  Isn’t that a truth that you want YOUR children/grandchildren to know & apply to their daily lives?
King Solomon had godly wisdom to impart to a couple of cowboys (well, a cowgirl & a cowboy)

King Solomon even made an appearance to impart his godly wisdom to a couple of cowboys (well, a cowgirl & a cowboy with a BIG cowboy hat)

  • Of course, we also walk out our vision for children EVERY Sunday at CLC through the ministry of KidsLife (elementary ages) and KidsLife Jr. (preschoolers) and the results speak for themselves, as we regularly hear from parents whose children insist that they bring them to CLC each Sunday!
  • If you’d like more information about volunteering to help us fulfill our vision for reaching children, email us today!

ALL-Church campaign

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One of the blessings at CLC is that we are “one church in multiple locations”.  

One of the challenges at CLC is that we are “one church in multiple locations”.

Seriously.

While the multi-site approach to ministry enables us to reach more people in more areas that we could ever reach from one place, it also creates a real challenge for us to maintain the ‘DNA’ of the church; i.e., the same vision and values and mission of CLC.

That’s one of the reasons I’m SO excited about our ALL-Church campaign which starts  August 30 and continues through the month of September.  During this campaign, I’m asking that every CLC’er at each campus join me by:

  • reading the NY Times best-seller, “Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick (available this Sunday in the lobby of each CLC campus for $10, or in Kindle from Amazon at $7.99)
  • listening to messages each Sunday about how to overpower the lies of  insecurity, fear, condemnation & discouragement with the promises of God!
  • participating in a Life Group each week to dig deeper into these principles and encouraging fellow believers in crashing their chatterbox!

Can you imagine the UNITY when every CLC’er does this for 6 weeks?

How can you get started?  (I’m so glad you asked)

1.  Get the book this week, so you’ll be ready to start with us on Aug. 30.

2.  Choose your Life Group (every CLC Life Group will be doing this series) – you can register online or in the lobby of each campus on August 16 or August 23.

3.  Take the plunge to LEAD a Life Group book discussion in your home!  We know that we’ll need additional leaders in order to accommodate 100% participation from our church family.  Here’s the thing: if you can press ‘play’ on your DVD player, you can lead a group.  If you like snacks and good friends, even better!  Please let us know now of your interest, or stop by the Life Group display in any CLC campus this weekend.

I can’t wait to Crash the Chatterbox with you!

Crash the Chatterbox at CLC Promo from Promo Videos on Vimeo.

 

Headed home encouraged!

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I’ve been in San Bernardino, CA for the past two-and-a-half days for the Pastor’s Gathering at Rock Church.

  • I don’t recall ever being treated with more love, kindness and hospitality.
  • I certainly don’t recall ever being at a conference where the speakers were so transparent, vulnerable, and authentic.
  • For that matter, I’ve never been at a pastor’s conference with such high-powered speakers: Jim Cobrae, Bayless Conley, Diego Mesa and Jim Reeve may not be household names, but the smallest congregation of the four averages over 10,000 people in attendance each weekend.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the conference is that, instead of the usual  ‘how-to-grow-your-church-as-big-as-ours’ type sessions, each speaker instead talked about their struggles, their failures, their hurts and their disappointments – but constantly pointed us back to the faithfulness of God!

I wasn’t discouraged when I came here, but I’m glad I came.

I’m definitely coming home encouraged.

God is good!

Ups & downs, in & out, good & bad…

 

even when life is up & down, in & out, good & bad

even when life is up & down, in & out, good & bad

That’s probably not news to you, but it is a reality of life that we all must deal with.

Yesterday, I flew from Chicago to LA and had an enjoyable lunch with my eldest son, whom I only get to see once or twice a year.

Then I learned electronically that one of our staff members was having emergency surgery.

Next, I drove to the pastor’s gathering that was the purpose of my trip.  The opening session was SO refreshing and SO good that I knew I was in for a great two-and-a-half days with fellow pastors, including a dear friend from Seattle who met me here.

During the conference I got a call that someone had messed-up big-time, and that my wife and another member were NOT going to be able to travel with the team to the Philippines for the missions trip.  I spent what seemed like hours on the phone/texts with my tearful wife, the incredulous travel agent who did nothing wrong , and United Airlines before finally getting that issue resolved by mid-morning today.

And each time I focused on the speakers in San Bernardino instead of the travel fiasco in Chicago, the stuff they were sharing was as good as anything I’ve ever received at any conference, anywhere. I mean, these men are all experienced pastors, leading churches that range in size from 10,000 to 18,000 in weekly attendance, and they’ve got something to say!

I said all of that to say, that’s how life is.  You may not like it (none of us do), but you will experience heartache, challenges, tears and stress…..and moments of revelation, joy and blessing…..and maybe even on the same day!  

Deal with it!

And don’t ever forget that God is good, all the time!

Our governance at CLC

If you’ve attended our Membership Class, you know that CLC is a non-denominational, pastor-led church, but that Chris & I are submitted to a Board of Directors comprised of five Apostolic Overseers who are elected by our membership annually.

These wonderful men of God, who have over well over 200 years of combined ministry experience, offer their wisdom to us every year when we come together for a day of discussion and sharing of hearts.  This year that day is tomorrow, April 14.

That means most of them will be arriving today, so I’m asking that you join me in praying for favor and blessing in our meeting tomorrow – that Chris & I would hear from God through their collective counsel.

If it helps to have a face for your prayers, here they are:

Pastor Gordon Banks, Overcomer Covenant Church, Auburn, WA

Pastor Gordon Banks, Overcomer Covenant Church, Auburn, WA

 

Pastor Eddie Cupples, founder, Love & Truth Ministries, Jackson, TN

Pastor Eddie Cupples, founder, Love & Truth Ministries, Jackson, TN

 

Prophet Dennis Cramer, Williamsport, PA

Prophet Dennis Cramer, Williamsport, PA

 

MY pastor, Bishop Joseph Garlington, Covenant Church of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

MY pastor, Bishop Joseph Garlington, Covenant Church of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Dale Van Steenis, founder of Leadership Strategies

Dale Van Steenis, founder of Leadership Strategies