regardless of the challenges this year may have brought, we ALL can give thanks!
regardless of the challenges this year may have brought, we ALL can give thanks!
I’m off this morning to Knoxville, to attend the wake and funeral of Pastor Paul Cowell, who was possibly the biggest-hearted, most generous man I’ve ever known. Even though we didn’t have many opportunities to be together, he was always incredibly kind to me, and I’ll never forget the message he preached at CLC about the death of his son and his comparison with our Heavenly Father giving His Son for us.
My good friend Phil Nordstrom wrote a fitting tribute to Paul.
As I’ve been learning, life is all about relationships, so I’ll pay my respects to Paul along with many from my original faith family and share some fellowship with the brethren before returning home in the morning.
I woke up this morning as shocked as everyone else about the results of our Presidential election.
I also know that many people in our country are hurt and fearful of what the future holds.
Let me point out some things that have NOT changed after this election:
As my friend, Pastor Jason Bentley, wrote, “No matter the election results, my job remains the same: Love God, love people, preach Jesus, spread hope, build His church, advance His Kingdom.”
That’s David’s groan in Psalm 90:13 and I think it’s probably how so many of us are feeling today.
I went to bed last night thinking that I would write a post today about the latest incident in Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was apparently executed by white police officers – only to wake up six hours later to the news from Minnesota that Philando Castile was shot 4 times and killed by white police officers inside his car during a traffic stop for a “broken taillight”.
How long, Lord?
How long will our nation be torn apart by racial division?
How long will African-Americans have to fear injustice and mistreatment from those who are sworn to uphold the law and protect us?
How long will it be until Dr. King’s vision of an America where “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and girls as sisters and brothers”? (You might want to take a few minutes and read his “I Have a Dream” speech again today as I did a few minutes ago.)
I don’t believe our government can solve this.
I don’t believe law enforcement can solve this.
That’s why I’m crying today, “how long, Lord?”
Only Jesus can change the human heart. Only Jesus can help us to care about people, regardless of the color of their skin or any of the other differences that we allow to divide us. And only Jesus can help my African-American friends to reject bitterness over these non-stop injustices, for in the words of Dr. King, we cannot “satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
How long, Lord?
Have mercy on our nation. Have mercy on whites and blacks and Hispanics and Asians. Have mercy on us, Lord – You are our only hope, and we look to you today.
That sounds like a hyped-up message, doesn’t it.
But if you’ve ever heard Joe Sangl’s fired-up presentation based on his own story, “I was broke. Now I’m not.”, you know his life was changed when he learned the principles of managing his money.
That’s why when I heard the Joe was doing something he’d never done before by offering an inexpensive online version of his “IWBNIN” group study, I knew I needed to let CLC’ers know about this great opportunity.
The group study starts on Thursday, July 7, so you’ll want to grab your space now before it’s too late.
Chris & I (and the ‘boys’, Pumba & Simba) drove to southern Indiana last night and we’ll finish driving to the Smoky Mountains today, where for the next 11 days our view will be some variation of what you see above.
Just thought I should let you know that I won’t be posting (unless the Spirit moves me) and I’m not even checking email until we get back in time to celebrate Father’s Day with part 3 of our new series, “You Make Me Brave (through Life’s Storms)”.
We don’t go to the Smokies to take in the music shows, etc. – we go to relax! This is OUR time to reconnect as husband-and-wife, look into each other’s eyes and talk about what’s in our heart. Besides that and a whole LOT of resting, relaxing in a hot tub while looking at the mountains, sleeping in and taking a few afternoon naps, (well, and eating at some of our favorite spots in the whole world), about the only other thing we may do is have a picnic with the boys somewhere along this trail:
I’ll weigh in again on June 19, I promise!
Have you noticed how our holidays seem to lose their meaning?
I mean look at what we’ve done with some of the biggest ones:
And, for most of us, today is a day for backyard barbecues & a day off work-
But that’s not it’s original intent. Memorial Day was originally known as “Decoration Day” – a time set aside after the Civil War for us to decorate with flowers the gravesites of Union soldiers who had died in battle.
I’m not begrudging your cookout or condemning your family fun today. I’m just saying it would does us all good to take a moment to reflect on the precious freedoms we enjoy because someone was willing to give their life. We do remember! Happy Memorial Day!
No one submitted a question this week, so I’m reposting some fun questions from 2008:
Someone new to CLC is asking some really fun (personal) questions, to get to know more about me & Chris:
What do you like to do in your personal time? To be honest, that is one of my biggest weaknesses, that both my wife & our Board of Directors have been on my case about for years. I really don’t have any particular hobbies to occupy my leisure time. I do enjoy travel (well, not the traveling part, folded up into an airplane seat in the cattle-car section of the plane) – but I love the part of meeting new people and trying new foods, etc.
How do you spend your time when you are just being Jerry? On my regular day off each week, you can usually find me hanging out at Border’s with a fattening beverage and some books (I love to read!), and we like to catch a movie now & then. *This was posted 8 years ago when Border’s was still in business*
What’s your absolute favorite meal, place to travel to for fun? I’m too much of a foodie to have one favorite, but here’s a list in no particular order: steak & baked potato at Saltgrass (I’d give anything if they’d bring this chain to Chicago!); pizza from either Pasquale’s (my wife’s old stompin’ grounds and the scene of our 3rd date, when she finally ‘fell’ for me) OR BJ’s Chicago Pizzeria in LaHaina, Maui (I don’t know if it’s the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, or if I’m swayed by the view of the Pacific Ocean right across the street in our favorite spot in Maui – but you seriously have to eat there!); lettuce wraps from P.F. Chang’s; barbeque ribs from Hickory Log (my wife disagrees, because she prefers the more traditional ones rather than these ‘dry’ ribs, but I say you haven’t lived until you’ve tried Hickory Log – and we pastored there for 5 years! Every now & then one of my favorite CLCers even brings me some back when she returns from a visit there); most anything on the menu at Bubba Gump’s! (Hey, this was fun – I like talking about food!) I also love fresh-baked pita bread anywhere in the Middle East, and the Turkish kebob’s are wonderful! Oh, and as far as travel, Maui is our favorite spot to relax….for something more affordable nearby, we really like New Buffalo, MI and the Harbor Grand. *Since then we’ve discovered several restaurants in Pigeon Forge, TN where we’ll be vacationing again soon, including Alamo Steakhouse, Applewood Farmhouse, Big Daddy’s Pizzeria (yes, it IS better than Chicago Pizza), The Old Mill Restaurant, and Huck Finn’s Restaurant (wow, am I salivating after listing those additions!)
How many children do you have? We have 3 terrific kids: Chad, the eldest, will be 40 this November, and he just moved to Brooklyn, NY with his wife, Dorothy and the twins, Lincoln & Riley, to be the producer of the TV show, Blind Spot. Our only daughter, Jen, is 38, and she’s just completing her first year as the Director of En-Theos, a great leadership academy here at CLC. Our youngest son, Brent, serves as Campus Pastor at our Blue Island location, along with his wife, Sol and their brood: Jaeden, Bennett and Kelsey.
How long have you been married? Chris and I have been married since December 16, 1972, which means we’re moving toward 44 years. It’s a miracle she’s put up with me for that long!
Where and how did you two meet? Ahh, our favorite story: in Troy, MI, on my first day at the first church I served after Bible School (it was her home church in suburban Detroit) I saw her picture on the church bulletin board and (believe it or not) something said to me, “that’s the girl you’re going to marry”. It was a few days later, at the end of the Youth Revival I had preached there, that I asked her out, and the rest, as they say, is history.
That’s probably TMI as the kids say, and more than anyone really wanted to know, but I had fun…..can’t wait until next Friday’s edition of “Ask the Pastor”, especially if YOU will leave your question and join the conversation below-
This has been a crazy departure day:
No, I’m not talking about your birthday, your anniversary, or even Christmas gifts.
I’m talking about THE Gift – and that’s actually one of it’s ‘names’ in Scripture.
It’s the game-changer of all game-changers, and if you don’t know about it, you really don’t know what you’re missing.
But the good news is that we’re going to take all 5 Sundays in May to tell you about it (well, we get 4 Sundays and special guest Andrew Wommack gets one on May 15!)
I can’t wait!
I’ve already reported the numbers surrounding our Easter celebration at CLC: new record attendances at each Chicagoland campus; new record total attendance of more than 3,300; new record number of salvation decisions.
But someone smarter than me has said that behind every number is a name and behind every name is a story. I know that’s true, and I also know that stories encourage & challenge us, and stories can be used by the Lord to reach others.
So today I’m asking for your stories:
You can tell your story by simply leaving a comment below, OR you can email it to me here – either way, I know that many people will be touched, challenged & encouraged by the story behind the numbers!
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:
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!
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!
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.
I’m old enough to remember when the Beatles sang a catchy tune about “You say goodbye and I say hello”, but that’s not the subject of this post.
Instead, in case you hadn’t heard, Pastor Matt DeLaTorre recently let us know that he felt God was leading him elsewhere, and he and Leslie are pursuing a God-opportunity in North Carolina. We grew to love them easily as our Youth Pastors when they came here from New Orleans a few years ago, and we celebrate their pursuit of God’s perfect will for their lives, even as we will miss them here. Please express your love & appreciation to them this Wednesday for Matt’s farewell service at Consumed, or this week before they go
As soon as we knew of their decision, we began an extensive, nationwide search for a new Youth Pastor, and I really believe God heard our prayer for someone capable of leading our Student Ministry to a new level. Please ‘say hello’ to our new Youth Pastors, Micah & Jen Remington, who will arrive soon to assume their duties here (Micah will officially begin work this Tuesday and the family will arrive soon after). They have successfully led three other Youth Ministries in different states, including one in Pittsburgh that was larger than ours. Help me welcome the Remington family:
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:
Super Bowl Sunday was a great day to kick-off our new series, and I’m geeked about the uniqueness of doing 4 weeks of messages with ONLY the words of Jesus as our text!
As I promised yesterday, we’re not gonna look at Old Testament verses in Leviticus about a ‘tenth of our crops belong to the Lord’, nor will we visit Malachi to hear about people “robbing God”, or even spend any time in the most practical book of the Bible, Proverbs, to get tips of managing our money wisely. Nope, we are focused on the ‘red letters’ of your Bible, words that came straight from the lips of Jesus.
I’m hoping that you’ll plan to be a part of each Sunday in February as our pastors at each CLC campus share these topics:
Feb. 14 – “Principles”: what Jesus says about money!
Feb. 21 – “Participate”: how YOU can apply what Jesus said to YOUR finances!
Feb. 28 – Guest speaker, Joe Sangl, founder of “I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.” will teach “Plan”: Why You Need One”!
And I especially hope that you will invite a friend to join you on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5pm for Joe’s “Financial Learning Experience” that will provide you with the tools that you need to get your finances in order – and does it in such a way that it’ll be the most FUN you’ve ever had at a seminar!
We all have some.
We all want enough.
Most of us got our ideas about money management from our family (sometimes that’s good; sometimes, not so good)
But in February, we’re getting our ideas about money straight from the lips of Jesus Himself, in the “red letters” of your Bible.
Bring a friend.
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!
All of us face so many choices every single day. Some are fairly easy: what shall I eat? (Although getting my wife to choose a restaurant is anything but easy: “I don’t know, where do you want to eat? Anywhere is fine with me. How about ____? No, not there!”, etc, etc, etc.) But I digress.
Others have eternal consequences (as Adam and Eve learned).
For the next three weekends, Pastors Brent and Sam will join me to show you how you can make three right choices that will bring amazing benefits to your life as a result.
I hope you’ll join us and invite a friend, too!
I think it was Mark Twain who quipped, “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life” – and I believe that’s true.
I also believe that if you enjoy the people you work with, your work will feel like fun!
I’m a blessed man, because both lessons are true in my life! So yesterday, we invited the entire CLC staff & their families to join us for an afternoon of food, games & great conversation. Not everyone could come, but 78 people did: from each campus, from administrative people who count money & pay bills, to people who lead worship; from people who design graphics to people who oversee Life Groups; from people who preach & teach the Word to people who maintain our facilities; from people who lead outreach into our communities to people who make sure our kids are safe (and having fun!); from people who help us stay relevant in an increasingly-high-tech world to people who help us remember that relationships are the key to it all; people we couldn’t do without!
Chris & I enjoy working with YOU:
How about you? Did you spend Labor Day with people you love? Leave a comment below-
That could easily have been the title of the message yesterday from “McFarland USA” as part of our “God@the Movies” series.
I mentioned in each service a little paperweight that sits on my desk, as a daily reminder that I often need:
I had promised some who asked yesterday that I would post it on my blog, but I forgot – so there it is. If you have trouble reading it, here’s the text:
When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low, and the debts are high;
When you want to smile, but you have to sigh;
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
I suppose you could argue that ANY Sunday is the right time to bring an unchurched friend to CLC. After all, Jesus came to seek & to save the lost (Luke 19:10), and that’s the mission of The Church today (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8; 2Cor. 5:20)
But there are some sermons that are primarily directed to believers – and your unchurched friends might not enjoy a message about tithing or holiness or sexual sin.
However, our ‘God@the Movies’ series is actually designed with ‘regular folks’ in mind. Your friends, neighbors & co-works may not be all that interested in church, but they do go to the movies, and the idea that your church is offering practical teaching based on a recent movie might pique their interest.
But beyond that, THIS SUNDAY is the PERFECT day to invite a friend to join you:
For those reasons and more, I am urging you to persuade some friends, co-workers or family members to join YOU this Sunday at any Chicagoland campus of CLC (that’s 6 opportunities – 5 in English and 1 in Spanish) to hear a message from God’s Word through the lens of Hollywood!
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!
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!
Warning: the post that follows has NO redeeming value. It is strictly giving me a chance to vent after the last 2 games of the Bulls playoff series against the Cavs.
Let me say it upfront: Lebron James is THE greatest player in the NBA today, period. His skills, both offensively and defensively, are, well, amazing.
Honestly, I wouldn’t mind if the Bulls simply got beat by a better team.
But the last 2 games I’ve been yelling at the TV in frustration – first, with the ref’s non-call that actually decided game 4, when the error by the Cav’s coach should have given the Bulls a free throw and the ball, with the score tied.
Then, last night’s travesty when Taj Gibson was given a flagrant 2 foul AND ejected from the game, when the replay clearly shows Dellavedova initiated the action with a ‘leg-lock’ – and the ref’s had the opportunity to review the replay. And to add insult to injury, Dellavedova not only didn’t get called for the foul, he was allowed to continue playing.
When you add that to the fact that Lebron can push, shove, travel and more without it being called, simply because of who he is, and in my humble opinion, this series has been stacked against the Bulls. It’s one thing to outplay your opponent; it’s another thing to have to outplay the referees.
Ok, you can go back to your day. Not sure I feel any better after venting, so I’m headed to the prayer room now.
I’ve heard John Maxwell quote Mark Twain, who said “the 2 greatest days of your life are the day you were born, and the day you find out why”! If that’s true (and I think it is) this Sunday is going to be a GREAT day for some folks at CLC.
In fact, I’ve been looking forward to THIS Sunday for months, ever since we scheduled the “I Will” series to help CLC’ers experience God’s promises. I was especially pumped about this message, after I heard about a study that indicated over 80% of Christians in America do NOT know why they were born! Christians!!
But after meeting with our pastors this week for our sermon planning, and the extra insights they added to my preparation, Sunday can’t get here soon enough!
If you want to know WHY you were born and what God’s purpose is for your life, you do NOT want to miss this Sunday – at any of our 3 Chicagoland locations.
Better yet, invite a friend to join you. I’ll bet they wanna know why they were born, too.
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!
I watched the movie, Selma, last week.
While I don’t understand why anyone felt the need to distort the historical record of LBJ’s involvement as has been documented (since it doesn’t change the facts of Dr. King’s legacy), I enjoyed the movie.
For me personally, the biggest takeaway until today was Dr. King’s courage. I was just an elementary-aged child during the events of Selma, so I was completely unaware of what was happening just a couple of states removed from my home in Arkansas. But watching the movie and seeing the kind of opposition that he faced gave me such an appreciation for his courage to step out and step up as a leader, to change the world as we knew it.
As I said, that was my biggest takeaway until today, because this morning I read this excellent post from Michael Hyatt, and learned that Dr. King accomplished all that he did for civil rights and justice in our country in just 10 years! As you can read yourself in the post, he was only 25 years old when he first got involved, and he was 35 when he received the Nobel Peace Prize, the youngest person ever to be so honored!
Can you imagine? All of those courageous, world-changing accomplishments in just 10 short years of time? It makes me want to ask, on this day we set aside to honor this great American, what are you doing with your life?
Thank you, Dr. King, for showing us that we can make a difference.
But in the past few days I’ve seen two posts on Facebook that really made me think again. The first was an excerpt from last Sunday’s message by my pastor, Bishop Joseph Garlington. I encourage you to take the 7 minutes to watch the video – it’s definitely worth your time.
Later I read a comment from Pastor Bryan Loritts at the Kainos Conference this week, “The multi-ethnic church needs to become the norm. What if Darren Wilson and Michael Brown had belonged to the same church?”
I couldn’t agree more.
The issues being fanned into flames by the mainstream media, as well as the protests and the marches and the focus on #BlackLivesMatter are band-aids at best and misguided at worst. The real issue is the sin of racism, and the resulting fear that causes white cops to overreact and blacks to distrust authority.
What I’d like to help people see is that NONE of this is new; racism was the reality of the world into which Jesus came almost 2,000 years ago – and it was one focus of His death on the Cross, to make one NEW race – HIS Church!
When we are truly born-again, our primary identity is no longer the color of our skin, but the Lord of our life, and HE came to make us One! (see Eph. 2:14-16)
I agree with Pastor Bryan Loritts: we need more multi-ethnic churches! But I also know that just because you attend a church that has people of different races and cultures doesn’t solve the problem by itself – it’s time for us to truly come together as one. Maybe the Christmas holiday would be a good time to put it into practice: when did you last invite someone of a different culture into your home for a meal? When was the last time you truly got to know someone who didn’t look like you? As we get to know each other, our fear leaves and we learn compassion and appreciation and love. As someone else said recently, “proximity encourages empathy”.
Yes, #BlackLivesMatter. So do red and yellow and white – for we are all precious in His sight. We need more multi-ethnic churches to spread this message.
That’s our prayer, on what is perhaps the most ‘Biblical’ holiday of them all-
Enjoy the food…and the football games…and the shopping…but don’t forget to reflect on the blessings of family & friends, and give HIM thanks for it all!
Pastors Jerry & Chris
I don’t know what happened between Michael Brown and Darren Wilson on August 9.
Neither do you.
All either of us think we know is based on what we’ve seen or heard or read in the media (which in my humble opinion, seems to want to stir division & enflame passion so they have something to cover 24/7 – in the words of one of my African-American pastor friends, “they tend to create the news more than cover it” – but I digress)
Because I don’t know what happened, I can’t know if last night’s decision by the Grand Jury was a travesty of justice or an example of the rule of law this nation was founded on.
But I know this: we are a racially-divided nation. Regardless of whatever progress we may have seen since the 1960’s and Martin Luther King, Jr., every time there’s an OJ, or a Trayvon, or a Michael Brown, it becomes glaringly obvious that we are divided by race.
I know that as a white pastor of a multi-cultural-but-majority-black congregation, where many of our members have been pulled over and detained by white police officers for no reason other than that they were caught “driving while black”.
I know that because my honor-roll-son was stopped and hassled by a white police officer while driving in a predominantly white suburb for no reason other than the fact that two of his best friends who happened to be black were in the car with him.
But I also know in my heart that (as someone else pointed out today) while anger over all of this is understandable, still yet anger is not a plan for life. Instead it is an absolute plan that’s guaranteed to bring even MORE pain!
And I especially know that Jesus died to reconcile ALL men, regardless of race or anything else that divides us, and that HE has called His Church to be agents of reconciliation. (read slowly through Ephesians 2:11-18 and 2Corinthians 5:14-20)
I know we’ve got a long way to go to heal the racial wounds of generations in this country.
But I also know it starts with each one of us as believers doing our part for reconciliation instead of adding to the racial divide with careless comments and actions.
Part of my Bible reading this morning seemed particularly appropriate as a way to close: 1Peter 3:8-12, which says:
8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say,
“If you want to enjoy life
and see many happy days,
keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies.
11 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right,
and his ears are open to their prayers.
But the Lord turns his face
against those who do evil.”
If you know me at all, you know that I don’t bring politics into CLC’s pulpit. Personally, I’m of the opinion that NO politician, Democrat, Republican or Independent, is the answer for what our country needs.
But I do see a couple of great lessons for ALL of us in the responses from both Governor Quinn and apparent Governor-Elect Rauner to last night’s election.
As has been reported, despite the fact that several news agencies have ‘called’ the race for Rauner, Governor Quinn still refuses to concede defeat and says he believes that every vote deserves to be counted. As a Christian, I like that – because in our battle against the enemy, no matter how the circumstances look, I want to maintain an attitude that says, “it’s not over until it’s over!” As believers, we are NOT defeated, no matter what the enemy says or does!
And, I also like Mr. Rauner’s response, as several news reports indicate that he simply ignored his opponent’s refusal to concede, and instead proceeded to thank his followers AND reach out to Democratic leaders in the state in an attitude of cooperation and unity to get things done, rather than an arrogant stance that it would be “his way or the highway”.
So, let’s learn a lesson from both men today – don’t give up no matter what, and move forward with what you know must be done, instead of paying attention to the enemy.
I’d say those are both good lessons in our current series of “Break Every Chain”. If you’ve missed any of these teachings, I encourage you to listen here, and don’t miss this Sunday when we look at “The First Open Door”.
No, I’m not using the word ‘mature’ as it’s used above “for mature audiences only”. (Always puzzled by that one, since the subject matter that follows seems to me to be for little boys who never became men, but I digress.)
The real reason I’m asking is because of what I read in Philippians 3:15 as part of my devotions recently. Paul says if we’re mature, we should have ‘this mind’. What mind?
To answer that, you must go back to read verse 13, where he describes the one thing he did as “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching for those things which are ahead.” That mindset, according to the greatest Apostle who ever lived, shows maturity!
Did you watch the US Little League World Series a few weeks ago? If you did, you must have noticed that when the Jackie Robinson boys (who made all Chicagoland SO proud!) rallied to take the lead from Las Vegas, a team that had dominated the series until then, the boys from Nevada acted like boys; i.e., they were so unnerved by the previous batter, that they couldn’t get their heads back into the game for the next batter. Their emotions got the best of them and they lost, in large part, because they couldn’t forget those things which are behind.
That’s ok when you’re 12 years old. It’s to be expected at that age. But when a person is mature, one key mark of that maturity is the ability to let go of the past so it doesn’t affect your future!
Is there something from your past that’s still interfering with you in the present? I pray that you’ll be mature today, and realize that the past cannot have control of you unless you allow it to be so. Don’t be childish any longer; forget those things which are behind! Selah.
Yesterday as we began the series “Breaking Every Chain”, I alluded to the fact that when the thief is found, he must restore sevenfold. (see Proverbs 6:30-31)
I’ve also been meditating on Isaiah 42:22, which describes God’s people as being ‘robbed and plundered’; as becoming ‘prey’ for the enemy, and yet no one says, ‘restore’!
I have a dear friend who gave over 20 years of his life building a wonderful congregation in another state. After seeing that work grow from about 40 people to more than 600, and from a tiny, old building to multi-million-dollar facilities, he felt called to go elsewhere to plant another church from scratch. After he asked another friend to go there to pastor under his authority, things went sour in a short period of time, as that pastor also left and the church was completely removed from my friend’s covering. Within the space of a few years, the church dwindled to a fraction of it’s former strength. I was grieved to see my friend walk away from 20 years of blood, sweat & tears, not to mention all that fruit, even though he maintained a good attitude and simply proceeded to build his new church plant into a thriving congregation of about 2,000 people in a matter of 13 years.
Yesterday afternoon I received word that the original congregation decided to ask their former pastor to accept them as a campus of his new work. I rejoiced with him as though it had happened to me, because it seems like such a godly response to an ungodly event. In other words, he is now positioned to see a full restoration of everything the enemy tried to steal from him and the fruit of his labors. Our God is a God of restoration!
Can I ask a personal question? What has the enemy tried to steal from you?
As we continue our ‘Break Every Chain’ series at CLC, I pray that you will contend for everything the thief may have stolen and see God restore ALL that you may have thought was lost forever!
I’ll pray with you if you’ll leave a comment below as to what the thief has tried to steal that you believe the Lord will restore:
I didn’t necessarily plan to write a post each day about our 21 days of Prayer experience, but when I read today’s focus and began praying at 6 o’clock this morning, I got excited about praying for favor (Acts 2:46-47)
Bishop Garlington has pointed out the principle found in Zechariah 10:1 – the time to ask God for something is when He’s offering it! As Zechariah said we should pray for rain during the time of latter rain, I’m saying we have every right to pray for favor since we are living in the season of God’s favor (see Luke 4:16-21, especially verse 19)
So since we’re living in the time of God’s favor, I’m asking HIM today to give CLC’ers favor:
How are YOU asking Him for favor? Share your prayer with us and be sure to share your testimonies of favor, too – let’s encourage each other on Day 2 of our 21 Days of Prayer!
You’d have to live in a cave to not be aware of what’s been happening in Ferguson, MO for the past week. The tragic shooting death of 18-year old Michael Brown has not only captured the attention of all the news media, it has also reminded us that we haven’t made as much progress in race relations as we sometimes think. There is a racial divide in this nation, and it’s ugly, mean and devilish.
But it’s not at all unlike the world into which Jesus came. Then, the divide wasn’t so much based on skin pigmentation; it was Jew (God’s chosen) versus Gentile (heathens). It’s been said that “In the mind of a first-century Jew, Gentiles (Africans, Romans, Greeks, Syrians, Asians, etc.) were created to fuel the fires of hell. When a Jew called a Gentile “uncircumcised,” he spit it. It was a name of profound contempt.”
If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish parents held a funeral service for their child. In their eyes, their child was dead.
On the flip side, Gentiles regarded Jews to be subhuman. Historically, the Jews have been an oppressed people, living under the thumb of one Gentile nation after another (e.g., Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Greece, and Rome).
In all of human history, there has never been so much animosity, hatred, and violence between two groups of people as there has been between the Jew and the Gentile.
But Jesus came into that world with a message that transformed people. He did that by His death on the Cross as we read in Ephesians 2:14-16. Notice: He made peace between Jew & Gentile, removing the hostility between us, by “creating in Himself one new people from the two groups”. In other words, The Church transcends human prejudice and demonstrates the power of the Cross by showing the world that Jew & Gentile, black & white, male & female, young & old are all part of the same body of Christ and that we can love each other, live for a common cause, and serve together as one new people, the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-generational Church that HE died to produce!
It’s sad that 11 a.m. on Sunday morning is still the most-segregated hour of the week in America, because the world is still waiting to see that ‘one new people’ in action, and every time a Ferguson erupts, it’s a reminder that Christians & churches in America have got to get it right before we can expect our society to get it right.
Attending a multi-cultural church is NOT just a nice thing to do; and just feeling good about ourselves because we worship with people of another color isn’t the goal. It’s catching the vision that Jesus died in order to remove the hostility between races, so that the world could see HIS purpose and His design for all mankind, when we truly love and serve as one new people whose primary identity is not based on the color of our skin but on the Lord of our life.
Stand up and shine, CLC!
No, I’m not talking about the highest-rated television film in history about the day after a nuclear war (even though recent events in the Middle East and elsewhere make you wonder).
I’m talking about the fact that yesterday was such a ‘high’ day at CLC: energetic worship, TONS of children, youth & educators prayed over in each service, lots of guests, and, of course, NY Times best-selling author Mark Batterson in the house for all 3 services. At the final service of the day, at least 15 people raised their hands in surrender to Jesus, and twice that many renewed their commitment to the Lord, not counting the hundreds of CLC’ers who decided to go “All In!”
But that was yesterday.
What do you do the day after?
The high-energy is gone. The choir isn’t singing. The celebrity guest is back home. Now what?
I think Luke 2:15-18 gives us an answer, based on the shepherds’ experience when the angel choir told them about the birth of Jesus. Notice:
Instead of falling back into complacency on the day after a spiritual high, let’s put one foot in front of the other today, without delay. Do what we know to do. And tell someone else along the way. There’s no telling what God might do with us.
Any thoughts you’d like to add? Please leave a comment below if this resonates with you-
That’s literally true of last night’s opening of Team Church 14! Early in the worship set, led by the excellent team of musicians & singers from Champions Centre, all the speakers went out! I mean, ALL. Dead silence. Can’t hear anything from the stage. On the opening night of their biggest annual conference, with hundreds of guests from all over the country. After months & months of planning & preparing for the Big Event!
I mean, as a pastor, I asked myself, what would I do if this happened at CLC?
I’ll tell you what Champions Centre did. (the name is appropriate, by the way). They got a bullhorn to the worship leader and kept on worshipping passionately!
Not only did the blown speakers give us an experience we’ll never forget, I really hope it’s a lesson I’ll never forget, either. When things are out of my control, when my worst nightmare is being played out in living color, when life just isn’t going the way I planned, there’s no need to panic….if I’ll keep trusting & keep praising, Romans 8:28 is still true!
Feels like I’m talking to someone today who’s tempted to panic about stuff that’s out of your control….so let me encourage you to keep praising & trusting instead.
Does that resonate with anyone?
Have you ever thought about Hollywood making a movie of your life?
Probably not. Most of us probably don’t think we could make it on the big screen.
But I think that’s exactly what’s happening this Sunday with our ‘God@the Movies’ series, when we take a look at one of my favorite movies of the year, “Saving Mr. Banks”.
Chris & I often take in a movie on our day off, but we prefer action movies, thrillers & sci-fi, that sort of thing. We rarely ever go watch a drama, since we see plenty of that every day in pastoring a church! And, honestly, Saving Mr. Banks had almost finished it’s run in the theaters before we reluctantly decided to see it. But by the time the credits rolled, I knew it was going to be part of the GATM series this year, because it will preach!
I am pleading with every CLC’er reading this to not only be present at one of our Chicagoland campuses this Sunday (6 opportunities to choose from), but to do everything in your power to bring someone with you, especially someone who is hurting or who does not know Jesus. I believe God is going to use this message to change lives.
And who knows, you just might see yourself on the big screens.
For the past 3 summers, our “God@the Movies” series in July has produced some of the largest attendances of the year. Each series has been entertaining and fun. But the messages have also required more study and more work from me and our pastoral team than any other sermon. Most importantly, the messages of those series have been some of the hardest-hitting of any series we’ve done, and we’ve seen lives changed as a result.
I think that’s because these teachings are relevant, focused on truths that we can put into practice to make our lives, our families, and our relationships better every day. And just as Paul quoted Greek poets of his day in order to capture the attention of unsaved audiences (see Acts 17:16-31, especially verses 28-29).
I’m urging each CLC’er to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to reach out to friends, family, co-workers, neighbors – anyone you know who needs Jesus. If you’ll do your part by inviting others to attend, I promise that we’ll do our part to have a relevant & compelling message straight from God’s Word, with Hollywood clips to illustrate!
We begin THIS Sunday with the TOP-grossing animated film of all time, FROZEN!
Oh, and don’t forget our NEW (OLD) service schedule: 8:30, 10 & 12 in Tinley Park! (still 10am in Blue Island and NWI)
Chris & I were up before dawn today to drive to O’Hare for a flight to Orlando and a much-needed getaway. The last few months have been one of the most intense seasons of ministry we can recall, and we’ve been like ‘two ships passing in the night’. It’s time for us to re-connect with each other, catch our breath, and get ready for the next season.
So, I won’t be posting anything new this week (a couple of posts are already scheduled) and I’m leaving my computer at HOME. If you need anything, I’m sure one of our pastors will be glad to assist you in our absence.
See you this weekend!
That’s just one of the questions we’ll address this Sunday as we conclude our “That Guy!” series, with a look at “Overly-Needy” people.
I’m sure I’m not the only Christian who has ever wanted to help someone in need, but struggled to know how, since the help they wanted wasn’t necessarily the help they needed. And I doubt I’m the only person who’s ever felt guilty because the help I could provide didn’t please them.
That’s the tension we’re going to explore Sunday, and I think it’s going to be the most helpful message of this entire practical and timely series.
Oh yeah, one more thing:
We’ll be honoring every mother in attendance, so get your mom, your grandmother, your aunts, your daughters, your mother-in-law, your daughters-in-law – shoot, just bring everybody you can this Sunday (in Tinley Park, my wife will bring this word at 8:30, 10 or 12; at our Blue Island campus, it’s 10 for English & 12 for Spanish, and in NWI, where I get to sub for the vacationing campus pastors, it’s 10am). I’m sure your guests will have a good time, they’ll enjoy their gift, and the Word is sure to connect!
I even think somebody will receive Jesus as Savior on Mother’s Day!
You’d have to be living in a cave not to have heard about Donald Sterling this week. His blatantly racist comments to his mistress/girlfriend were recorded by TMZ and released to the public, which led to the NBA banning him for life and fining him $2.5M, and everybody is talking about it.
Which means that, once again, racism in America is a front-burner topic, about which everyone seems to have an opinion. Mine is that despite civil rights legislation and years of sensitivity training and more, racism is still a significant problem in this country. I further suggest that is true because racism originates in the heart, and no amount of legislation, peer pressure, or anything else can solve that, because what is necessary is a heart-change.
I grew up in Arkansas in the 1960’s. I know what segregation looks like. I heard the N-word regularly until I left the South in 1972.
I now am privileged to pastor a majority-black, multi-cultural congregation. And the purpose of this post is really an appeal to our CLC family more than anything else, because this week’s media firestorm has reminded me all over again that just because you attend a multi-cultural church does not make you a ‘multi-cultural person’ (if there is such a term).
By that I mean it’s entirely possible to attend a church like CLC, and still have your old prejudices in place, whether you’re black, white, Hispanic or Asian. It’s possible to worship with people of all colors on Sunday, but never spend time or fellowship with anyone who doesn’t look like you.
I believe CLC is not only called to be multi-cultural; I believe we’re supposed to be an Apostolic model of race relations in the Christian community. For that to happen, we must get to know each other. That happens only by spending time with each other. That time together includes the opportunity to ask honest questions…to seek to understand more than to be understood. It can happen as we pray together, worship together, break bread together, learn to appreciate each other’s differences, and love each other, regardless of the color of our skin.
Today is the National Day of Prayer. Could we pray for this ugly division to be healed?
I hope you’ll join me on a journey to show America how it can be.
Did that get your attention?
I have addressed the subject of sex numerous times at CLC, but I read an article several days ago that is both disturbing and confirming, since it matches what I’ve observed as a pastor in recent years.
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!
You probably heard the announcement on Sunday, but here’s the ‘rest of the story’ behind our purchase of a building for our Blue Island campus.
We had a verbal agreement to buy a different building about 2 months ago, but the owner kept dragging his feet on finalizing the contract until we received word last Tuesday that he was taking the property off the market until he could decide what he wanted to do.
I was devastated. Even though I should know better by now, I got so depressed, thinking that I had led folks into the wilderness and now had no place to go. It was not pretty.
By Wednesday I scrambled to look for other commercial properties online, saw this ad, and scheduled an appointment to see it on Thursday with 2 of our other pastors.
Friday afternoon we returned with some elders and trustees who have experience in construction and real estate, and made a verbal offer. Saturday that offer was presented in writing, and after some brief negotiating, we settled on a cash price that means the Blue Island campus will be debt-free from day one!
In other words, in less than 4 days a situation that looked hopeless turned into a situation that caused all of CLC to rejoice! Just because you don’t get what you want is no reason to despair, especially when you know a God who went from the Cross to the Resurrection in 3 days!
I sure hope I remember this the next time something doesn’t go as I want.
I hope you remember this the next time you don’t get what you want.
NOT the kind of violence that’s on our nightly news broadcasts – we’ve got TOO much of that already.
But I am in favor of ‘Kingdom Violence’, which is the subject of this Sunday’s message as we go deeper in the subject of spiritual warfare in obedience to the prophetic word we received in January.
In case you’re thinking that ‘violence’ is never a good thing, take a look at what Jesus said about it in Matthew 11:12 to see if that changes your mind. (After all, this is the year of deeper, when we agreed to,”FIRST, let’s find out what the Lord says!”)
The Bible makes it clear that we have been given some ‘mighty’ weapons with which to be violent (see 2Cor. 10:3-5). This Sunday we’ll look at some of the ‘mightiest’ of those weapons, and how YOU can put them to use in your own life.
I can’t wait. Hope to see you here Sunday!
P.S. Who are you inviting to one of our 11 Easter weekend celebrations?
During my daily Bible reading recently I came to Deuteronomy 3:11, where the last giant before Israel crossed into the Promised Land is mentioned. I found it interesting that the only thing we learn about him is that he had a big bed (over 13′ long & 6′ wide!)
I think there’s a message here.
The last giant we’ll have to overcome before we can walk in the promises of God is probably our own laziness.
I mean, you must really enjoy nap-time to have a 13-foot-long BED!
This I know: the biggest thing that stands in the way of our 2020 Vision is not a lack of money, or a lack of interested people, or the wrong location, or any of the obstacles we sometimes blame for our failures. No, the biggest giant in my life and yours is our own flesh that wants to take it easy.
We. Can. Slay. That. Giant.
Let’s pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on us. Ready?
Eas·ter noun \ˈē-stər\ : a Christian church festival that celebrates the return of Jesus Christ to life following his death; also : the Sunday in early spring on which this festival is observed
What the dictionary doesn’t tell you is that Easter is The Event that even non-Christians often consider going to church. And for that reason alone it becomes the “Super Bowl” for The Church – the one time we should go all-out to reach people with the Good News.
And to celebrate the 25th Easter at CLC, we’ve set an audacious goal to reach 3,000 people in one weekend, the same number who met Jesus on the Birthday of the Church in Acts 2!
There are 11 opportunities to do that across our 4 campuses, and here’s the strategy, using tickets for each service:
1. We want to be sure to have seats for you to invite friends & family. If everyone showed up to same service, we wouldn’t have near enough seats. Offering tickets will help spread out the crowd so we have more seats for more people.
2. Tickets will make it easier to invite your friends. By far the #1 reason a person attends a church is because a friend invited them. Having a ticket with all the info on it will make it easier for you to invite your friends.
3. Tickets communicate value. When you invite your friends, you’re saying, “I have reserved a seat just for you.”
4. Tickets communicate that Easter at CLC is open to the community. Believe it or not, many of your friends who do not attend church do not assume they can come anytime. Many of them feel like they need to be invited in order to attend…not just Easter, but any Sunday.
So here’s what you need to do:
1. Pick the service you and your family will attend.
3. Get tickets for friends you want to invite. You can do so at the Information Desk at each campus OR at our website via the internet!
4. Invite, invite, invite and pray, pray, pray – ask God to move powerfully in the lives of those you invite!
By the way, when we worked on the Easter message in our sermon planning meeting, all but one of our pastors wanted to get saved (we’re still praying for Pastor Matt) 😉
I’m planning a series of posts this week regarding our vision for the future, but on this first day of year 25 (yep, CLC began on March 25, 1990), I thought you might enjoy a few laughs (as if Michael Jr wasn’t enough on Sunday):
This weekend is a BUSY one at CLC (maybe I should say, ‘busier than usual’), so I want to remind you to reserve your place if you haven’t already done so:
P.S. You’ll also hear on Sunday about another ticketed event that promises to be the biggest thing we’ve ever done in 24 years….but you have to wait until Sunday to find out.
It’s not often I post something here from another blogger, but when I read today’s post from Pastor Ron Edmondson, I thought I needed to pass it on to my readers. I don’t know Ron personally, although we’ve exchanged emails a time or two. But he’s right on the mark with his comments today: When Did Christians Become So Mean?
No, it’s not time for that popular series at CLC – we save that for summer!
But I can’t help but notice that God is the theme of a lot of Hollywood movies these days:
So, whether ‘yer fer or aginst’ as they say down South, I’m encouraged by the potential to get folks interested in God and the Bible. If you choose to watch any of these in the theater, I’d love to hear your comments afterward-
P.S. For our ‘God@the Movies’ series, we’ll stick with non-religious flicks that still enable us to communicate truth to today’s audience, and I’m already looking forward to it this summer. (If you want to nominate any non-religious films, I’m all ears!)
This Sunday will be the finale of our ‘Stewardship 2.0’ series, but the testimonies keep coming! Yesterday I heard from a new attender who started worshiping at CLC just a month ago. She accepted the 90-Day Tithe Challenge on March 2 (along with a few hundred other CLC’ers) and she learned yesterday from her employer that when she receives her paycheck this Friday she’ll also receive a $3500 BONUS!
As I’ve said before, sometimes God blesses our obedience with financial increase (like hers) and sometimes He blesses us with stuff that money cannot buy! That’s some of what we’ll talk about this Sunday when Stewardship 2.0 comes to a close with “Living Generously”. I hope you’ll be here – and invite a friend!
Not sure how I forgot this yesterday, because it may be the most important tip I could give for those who are hurting financially!
It’s certainly not original with me – the idea has been around for years, and many of us have used it successfully, it’s perhaps best explained by Dave Ramsey here.
I pray you’ll get that debt snowballing rolling AND, if you haven’t already registered for our “I Was Broke, Now I’m Not” free seminar on Sunday, March 23 or the “Retirement Planning” seminar on Saturday, March 22 at 9am, you can do so here.
By the way, I’ve already received an email from one of the people we prayed for Sunday during the message – she got a job on Monday! I’d love to hear from any of you who have a tithe testimony or an employment testimony from Stewardship 2.0!
As every pastor knows, there’s always more material than you can possibly cover in any one message. For sure, that was the case yesterday at CLC, so I want to pass on a few resources to help anyone who’s hurting financially:
That’s the choice many CLC’ers will have this weekend.
(For the record, I hate the fact that the Daylight Savings Time Change occurs on Sunday morning. I’ve watched for years as a pastor in different churches that no matter how much we announce it in advance, many folks inevitably wake up an hour late & when they discover that, just don’t bother coming to church that day. Or maybe they decide in advance that it will be a day to sleep in – can’t say for sure; I just know it’s historically one of the lowest-attended Sundays of the year, every year!)
But I especially am disturbed about this weekend.
You see, last Sunday I taught the first of 3 keys to having “Worry-Free Finances”. Some CLC’ers told me afterward it was the clearest presentation on tithing they had ever heard, and a few hundred people took the 90-day tithe challenge at the end of service.
But THIS Sunday is just as important to your financial freedom, because no matter how consistently you tithe, if you don’t practice the 2nd key, you will still not enjoy the blessing of worry-free finances as God intended.
Yesterday I met with our sermon-planning team of about 10 pastors & leaders, as we do each Tuesday, to discuss this Sunday’s message. More than one of those leaders told me afterward that they were going home to discuss some changes with their spouse to improve their finances. I know this Sunday’s teaching WILL help folks who want to get out of debt and enjoy life as God intended.
But before we can get to that teaching, we have to choose to lose an hour of sleep on Saturday night (or go to bed an hour earlier, which takes even more discipline).
Which will it be for YOU? An hour’s sleep, or 75-minutes at CLC that could change your entire financial future? It’s your choice.
One of the things every pastor learns is that “Sunday’s a’coming”; i.e., there’s little time to fret over a poorly-delivered sermon or to celebrate a great day of preaching, because in a few days it’s time to do it all over again. I get that. And usually by Sunday night, I’m already moving on to the next week in my head.
But today I’m still reflecting on yesterday’s topic, and especially the first example from Exodus 6:5-9. Simply put, these people who were struggling in slavery couldn’t receive the 7-fold promise of God because they were so discouraged. Those who needed it the most, couldn’t receive it.
That’s almost a given in ministry. Those who need help with their marriage seem to not hear the teachings on marriage. Those who are tempted morally seem unable to receive the Word on victory or purity. Those who need help with their finances seem to not receive God’s instructions about money.
As I prayed this morning, I wept over the fact that so MANY in the body of Christ and at CLC still struggle in this area of finances, and I SO want to change that! If you know someone who really needs this, give them this link to yesterday’s message.
More importantly, join us these next 3 Sundays as we explore 3 keys from Scripture that will enable any believer to have worry-free finances!
I need your help in answering a few questions today, because I want to be more helpful than ever in our ‘Stewardship 2.0’ series:
Feel free to remain anonymous if you wish, but your honesty will help me to help you and many others who may be struggling in the same way.
I can tell you this already: you do NOT want to miss this Sunday, when we introduce the series with THE single most important principle to help you be worry-free when it comes to finances!
Thanks in advance for your help in answering one or more of the questions-
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first module of the National Institute of Christian Leadership these past couple of days. Not only is Dr. Mark Rutland a brilliant leader, but his experiences in ministry and in turning around three institutions that were in grave danger when he arrived have given him some wonderful ‘war stories’ that (in his words), “make th elephant dance”.
Here’s a few quotes from the opening session:
“Try as much as possible to turn every staff confrontation into a teaching moment!”
Can’t wait to hear what he’ll have to say this morning, and I really can’t wait to get out of this 30-degree weather in Dallas to get back to God’s country in Chi-beria!
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!
It’s not a dream.
I am believing God and expecting a White Christmas at CLC.
Not on the lawn.
In our hearts!
Your responses are in, and they’ve brought tears to my eyes as you’ve shared your stories of abuse, rape, humiliation, betrayal, and more. I personally can’t even imagine the pain that some of you have experienced for years. But God has an answer!
I hope you’ll be here these next 3 Sundays to learn how God can wash the hurt & anger away and replace it with a pure, clean heart that is forgiven & free.
One last thing: do you know someone who’s still hurting over the past? Please invite them to join you here. It’s time to settle this!
Like that song? Me, too. And everything about the holidays that prompts the song.
But for many people around us, it’s NOT a wonderful time of the year. Some are homeless. Many are unemployed. Some have been abused by their own husbands or fathers. Many have lost hope.
That’s why CLC is observing a “Season of Hope” between now and the end of 2013, when each Sunday, as our closing act of worship, we’ll receive a special offering to make the holidays brighter for a lot of folks here in the South Suburbs AND the thousands of people displaced from their homes in the Philippines after the super-typhoon there two weeks ago.
You can also give online here by simply choosing “Season of Hope” on the drop-down menu. Every penny you give will help us to make this Christmas season better for many needy people around us – we’ll have a listing of projects in this Sunday’s bulletin.
Of course, it’s also time for our “A CLC Christmas: THE CENTER” this December 13-15 (Friday at 7pm; Saturday & Sunday at 5pm) and you can purchase your tickets online for just $5 – so invite some friends or family members and treat them to a great show!
“It’s the most wonderful time, of the year!”
That’s the new series we begin at CLC this Sunday, October 20, and for the next 3 weeks we’ll look at relationship rules whether you are single, married, or part of a family.
So here’s my question this morning: what is one of your biggest struggles/questions when it comes to relationships? My wife & I would love to keep this series as practical as possible, so if you’ll tell us where you’re struggling, we’ll try to address it during one of the Sunday messages.
Leave your comments/questions below, or if you prefer not to go public, shoot me an email here.
I can already tell you it’s going to be a FUN and HELPFUL series – and since everybody you know has some relationship issues, I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you!
Chris & I head to Pittsburgh this afternoon for the annual ‘PRESENCE’ conference at Covenant Church – but the real reason we’re going this year is to honor our pastors, Bishop Joseph & Pastor Barbara Garlington.
This week is their 60/40 celebration – 60 years of ministry, and 40 years as pastor of the same church! I can’t even imagine how many lives he has touched for the Kingdom of God through those years, but I know he’s made a difference in mine, so I’m looking forward to telling him so (again) and just being in the same room with him for a couple of days. After all, it’s not the length of days that matters, but the use we make of them that counts.
We’ll be back in time for Wednesday’s H2H & Iron Men, but first things first – and this man deserves every honor he’ll receive this week.
I don’t often link to someone else’s blog here, especially if I don’t even know the person who wrote the post.
But when I saw this, my heart was touched. And since our next series, “Rules of Engagement” (which opens on October 13) is all about relationships, including one message specifically for the single adults of CLC, I felt I should offer this to my readers.
Don’t be in a hurry. Read this one slowly. Savor each line. And please, don’t wait anymore.
Ok, this time (unlike yesterday) I am writing about the government shutdown.
Last night I came home from church & watched about an hour of the news networks. I alternated between CNN and Fox, figuring the truth was somewhere in between the two. After that hour or so, I was sure so frustrated & disgusted with both parties and for that matter, our entire government that I just went to bed. This is not a proud moment in American history, folks!
This much I know: in life, in missions, in marriage, in ministry, in parenting, and yes, even in government, the ONLY way to succeed over the long haul is to be willing to listen.
No one is right 100% of the time (except Jesus, and they crucified Him!)
So today I’m praying for both houses of Congress and for Democrats, Republicans and Independents to truly listen to each other instead of only being interested in their own party line. And while I’m praying that for them, I think I’ll try to practice it myself.
No, I’m not talking about your next trip by plane?
I’m talking about what happens as you go through life.
It’s a dumb question, really – because my observation is that we all do. Some more than others, no doubt, but as we go through life we all experience some hurts, some hang-ups, some habits we can’t seem to shake, etc. You know what I’m talking about.
And every one of those ‘bags’ weighs us down & hinders us from becoming the person God designed us to be – unless we find a way to get rid of them.
The BEST way I’ve found for any Christian to get freed from the baggage of their past and walk in the liberty that God intended is through a ministry called Cleansing Stream. It’s international in scope, but it’s as close as THIS Tuesday night at CLC-Tinley Park. The group meets weekly for 10 weeks, plus a weekend retreat.
It’s also the best method of deliverance from demonic oppression that I’ve personally seen. Old-school methods still work, but I’ve seen too many people in my time who got free momentarily through a power encounter, only to fall right back into the same trap soon after. Cleansing Stream helps you to get free and stay free.
If you live in Chicagoland and want more info, contact our leaders here. Better yet, show up at CLC this Tuesday night at 7pm and get started unpacking!
I’m still thinking about yesterday at CLC (as Pastor’s are prone to do on Monday mornings) and the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think yesterday was a great life lesson for all of us. (If you haven’t read my recap of yesterday, I suggest you read this before you go on)
As I see it today, the fact that yesterday was such a mixed-bag of positives & negatives is really true of life for each one of us. Probably every day of your life you will experience frustrations, setbacks, mishaps and negative news that could potentially ruin your day. And, on most days at least, you’ll have moments that go better than what you deserve, moments when God or people in your life show you favor, speak good things to you, and give you reasons to celebrate.
The LESSON that each of us need to learn is focus. Because as I’ve learned the hard way through the years, it really doesn’t matter how many blessings or good things come my way, if I focus on the negatives or the stuff that didn’t go the way I wanted it to, before long I’m down in the mulligrubs, discouraged & depressed & feeling like I should just go eat worms.
On the other hand, if I choose to focus on the positives in my life, no matter how many setbacks or obstacles come my way, I can keep whistling while I work, feeling good about the blessings of the Lord!
There’s no better example of this in Scripture than Numbers 13. In life, just like in Canaan so many years ago, there is both luscious fruit AND giants living in walled cities – you can see whatever you’re looking for.
It’s your choice.
Few things in life are more painful than a broken dream.
You know what I’m talking about. You had such high expectations. It looked like your ‘ship was about to come in’. You met someone who seemed to be everything you wanted in a relationship. You started your new ‘dream job’. You looked at an open door that would fulfill all your hopes for your own business or your own ministry.
Then the crash. Totally unexpected. He abandoned you. She left you for another man. Someone started an ugly rumor. You got fired. Everything you had ever wanted seemed to be going down the drain, and there was nothing you could do about it.
That’s one of many subthemes in Les Miserables, and you can feel it here in one of the most well-known songs from the Musical.
I’ll bet you know someone whose hopes have been dashed and whose dreams have been broken. And if you’ll invite them to church this Sunday for ‘God@the Movies’, they’ll come.
It could be a life-changing day for someone you know. Will you invite them today?
I mean, let’s face it: how many smokers have you known who ‘quit’ cigarettes, but eventually went back to smoking?
How many alcoholics have you known who ‘went off the wagon’ despite the best efforts of family & friends to help them stop drinking?
Have you ever read the stats for drug addicts who get clean, only to go back to their habit again?
Why not make it a little more personal: how many times have you gone on a diet-and-exercise-regimen to lose weight, only to fall right back into potato chips & chocolate cake (or whatever it is that keeps you overweight)?
Isn’t that really what Jeremiah 13:23 is all about? Can a person really change?
That’s just one of the big questions that we’ll answer this Sunday during our “God@the Movies” series at CLC, as we look at that question through the lens of the award-winning Hollywood Musical, “Les Miserables”.
If you know someone who needs to change, get them here this Sunday!
Today was our only time this week for some ‘tourist’ stuff (sightseeing & shopping) as we spent about 5 hours this morning/early afternoon on an adventure in metro Moscow with our interpreter, Kerina.
The only way to describe being at Red Square in Moscow is surreal – never in a million years did I ever expect to be here to see these postcard views, but I can tell you it’s even more beautiful in person than I had imagined from the media.
We’ll be teaching at a thriving church in Moscow tonight and leaving at the crack of dawn for Perm and probably won’t be able to post again until at least Friday, so enjoy these pics of our day:
One of my greatest thrills in ministry is seeing the dreams of others come to pass, especially when those dreams include serving people and blessing the Kingdom of God.
My suspenders almost pop because my chest swells with pride when I think about CLCers like Alan & Terrilyn Franklin and their ministry with Selah Worship Conference (that I wrote about here last week), and others like our new Consumed Student Ministry Directors, Robert & Evisha Sills.
Last Sunday Rob & Evisha celebrated the Open House of their new venture, the iCan Dream Center in Hazel Crest. The Center specializes in working with students with intellectual disabilities, communication disorders, and various learning difficulties.
In recent years, probably everyone reading this blog has known a “special needs child”, perhaps in your own extended family. I know my heart has been touched so many times at CLC hearing from our parents who are daily dealing with the challenges of autism, learning disabilities, and other special needs of their children – and I only see them on Sunday, while those challenges continue 24/7 for the parents of those children.
That’s why I’m SO thankful that Dr. Evisha Sills not only has the educational training and experience to operate the iCan Dream Center, but she and Robert have the heart to serve this overlooked area of our society as well. I know that their work at the iCan Dream Center is going to be a cup of cold water to many, many parents throughout the South Suburbs, and their reward will be abundant!
I’m sure your heart has been saddened as mine has by the reports & pics coming out of Moore, OK. Having lived through a tornado in 1968 that destroyed the church my family attended and took the lives of 44 people in Jonesboro, AR, I can especially relate to the devastation.
Certainly our prayers go out to the families who have lost loved ones (several of them children who died in the 2 elementary schools destroyed by the twister), but if you, like me, feel compelled to do more than pray, you can also make a donation to help the recovery efforts.
You can make a donation through one of our partner churches, a great Spirit-filled church led by Herbert Cooper, People’s Church, OR you can make a donation online at CLC and we’ll forward the funds to People’s Church next week. You can also make a donation in our services this Sunday – just be sure to designate your gift for “OK tornado”.
As always, thanks for your compassionate and generous response!
Serendipity is a word I learned many years ago and is always fun to use – not because of how fun it is pronounce, but because of what it represents. According to Wikipedia, it simply means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”; specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.
I had 3 serendipitous moments yesterday in the space of 4 hours:
Still can’t get Sunday morning off my mind.
We didn’t just have an emotional response to a handicapped boy Sunday; I believe we heard a ‘word’ from his father that applies to each one of us. If you missed it, I urge you to go online today and watch it here. (It may not be up yet, but it should be later today)
Here’s the thing: life goes “off script” for all of us. Yesterday I had a series of meetings with several CLCers whose life has not followed the ‘script’ they had envisioned, but instead of wallowing in self-pity or looking for someone to blame, each of them has/is looking to see what God can do (see John 9:1-3).
I saw another great example of it last night in the Bulls-Heat game. Talk about life going off script? Your #1 player has to have surgery after a serious injury. Ok. The second-best player is hospitalized with possible meningitis, has to have a spinal tap during the playoffs. Ok. Your third-best player has plantar fasciitis which makes it painful to run. Ok. Your best defensive player goes down before the first-round of the playoffs. Ok. The shortest guy on the team (maybe the league) is sick, so he pukes in a garbage can and gets back on the court in one game, then gets stepped on, cuts his lip & has to have stitches in the next. Ok. The rag-tag group of has-beens and wannabes who are left all must play heavy minutes since there’s no one left to substitute. Ok. That #1 star is cleared by doctors to play but chooses not to do so. Ok. You’re up against the defending world champs and NOBODY gives you a chance to win. Ok.
Final score: Bulls 93, Heat 86. Ok.
How are you going to respond when your life goes off script?
Pastor Brian Houston from Hillsong in Australia spoke at the ARC conference last night, and was as entertaining as usual. (At one point in the message, after telling us he was about to turn 60 and that he wanted to be a “lean, mean, Gospel machine”, he dropped to the floor & did 31 push-ups while continuing to preach!)
But far more than the push-ups, what stayed with me was his subject: that there is a gap between the life that we’re living and the life we’ve dreamed of-‘the unlived life’.
Near the close of his message he read to us from a paper he had written 20 years ago, an incredibly large vision of what he saw for the small church he pastored. Long before any of it happened, he had a ‘dream’ of what Hillsong could become…..and 20 years later, even his vision was too small, seeing what God has done with their ministry.
It really made me think. I’m still thinking about it this morning. Do you have an ‘unlived’ life? What book have you not yet written? What venture have you not yet started? What is God calling you to that you haven’t yet begun?
I don’t want to leave this world with unfulfilled potential.
We had completed a couple of “Apps” (workshops) at the All-Access Conference here in Jacksonville & went to grab a quick bite before the evening service when we heard the news from Boston last night.
I don’t have any answers. I’m not sure anyone does. We live in a fallen world, and evil exists alongside good. But I pray for all those affected by the terrorism in Boston and for the churches in that area that they may shine bright during this difficult time – knowing that what happened there could happen in Chicago, or anywhere in this fallen world.
I came here to Jacksonville in hopes of being preached
and it’s already happened. The host pastor for the conference, Stovall Weems, brought the opening message last night and basically dealt with the Sabbath principle – and I heard more than Stovall’s words; I heard God’s Word.
I’m determined to ‘leave it’ weekly, and even more importantly, to learn to say, “it is good” each day. There’s always room for improvement, and there will always be more stuff that needs to be done, but on a daily basis I must say with God, “it’s good enough for now”
I suspect I’m not the only one who needed that word, so I just passed it to you. Will you say, “it is good” today?
By now, most of you have heard the heartbreaking news about the death of Rick Warren’s son, Matthew.
Unbelievably, some have taken this opportunity to criticize Rick in his hour of unimaginable pain.
Call me blown-away.
No, call me proud.
I just read an article that hasn’t generated any interest in the national press, but it sure blessed me….and I think it will bless you, too, whether you like Chick-fil-A or not.
Here’s the blog post where I heard about it.
All I can say is that it’s SO refreshing to know that Christians can stand on the Biblical side of the thorniest issue in our nation without caving in to society’s pressure, and yet still show the love & grace of Christ!
Can I get an ‘amen’?
Really excited about our new series, “Thrive” and hoping that you’ll invite someone to join you for these next 3 Sundays:
WHO should you invite? Your invitation could change their life, both now & for eternity! More changed lives!
No, I’m not blogging about the halftime show with Beyonce’ (the game hasn’t even started as I’m posting this).
Instead, it’s a video I saw today that I found amusing – not sure if the guy’s facts are accurate, but it’s definitely entertaining.
And may your favorite team win tonight-
The parties are over; the football bowl games have come & gone; ready or not, we’re into a New Year.
As much as we say we want to lose weight, get back in the gym, eat right, etc., etc., the reality is that most of us stay the way we are.
And there’s a clear reason for that. In fact, even when we truly want to change, we often fall back into the same habits and patterns of behavior that keep us in the ‘same ole, same ole’.
But there IS a way to change, and I’m excited to share it with you each Sunday in January as we dive into our ‘Treatment’ series.
Invite a friend. It might change their life, too.
The last day of 2012. The end of another year.
I’m sure I don’t speak for all of you, but I’m ready to move on.
As a pastor, I’m always ready to move on after the holidays, to get back into a routine, to start building some momentum again, to see people return to prayer, to church, to ministry.
But it’s more this time. Maybe it’s Phil. 3:13-14. Maybe it’s just the pragmatic conclusion that, ‘ready or not’, another new year is here, and it’s time to move on.
This much I know: I want to be better in 2013. I want to work smarter. I want to love more. I want to laugh more. I want to give more. I want to trust God more.
It’s time to move on.
It’s one of the shortest verses in the Bible, and one that many of us learned at a young age, especially to use in any memory contests in Sunday School.
In our Saturday morning prayer at CLC, someone prayed those two words in regards to the Newtown, CT tragedy, and it really seemed appropriate to me.
I think Jesus is weeping today, along with parents & grandparents whose kindergartners didn’t come home yesterday; in fact, He weeps with the people of that community, still stunned that such a nightmare could happen in their town.
Really, He weeps with all of us, for as a pastor I highly esteem said last night, “Tonight, we are all from Newtown, CT”.
I posted here about our plan for this Christmas, but I’m excited today to bring you some more specifics:
I’m excited about the church being the Church!
You’ve probably noticed that we don’t talk politics at CLC. I’m not interested in dividing the church family over political issues, or get our focus off of what God has called us to do.
But I do have some concerns for our nation and how we treat each other – whether we’re rejoicing over President Obama’s reelection or we’re mourning Governor Romney’s defeat. I think Pastor Rick Warren expressed that concern as well as I possibly could, so let me post his comments here:
“The coarsening of our culture and the loss of civility in our civilization is one of the things that concerns me most about our nation. We don’t know how to disagree without being disagreeable. The fact is, you can — you can walk hand-in-hand without seeing eye-to-eye. And what we need in our country is unity, not uniformity. There are major differences, politically, religiously, economically in our nation. We have many different streams in our nation . . . What is solvable is how we treat each other with our differences . . . In fact, the Bible tells me in I Peter, show respect to everyone, even people I totally disagree with. So I’m coming from that viewpoint in that we must return civility to our civilization in order to get on. But the reason I do that is because of the deeper reason, there’s a spiritual root to my reason for civility.”
CLC, let’s walk out the Word as we go forward from here. Let’s treat each other with love & respect as believers. Let’s keep our focus on fulfilling the Great Commission by reaching others with the gospel, both around the corner & around the world.
And Let’s PRAY for our President, regardless of your political views, knowing that ultimately God promotes according to His plan (Psa. 75:7). Pray that he would be surrounded by godly counsel, and that the Lord would give him wisdom to lead this nation. The words of Jeremiah 29:7 may have been given to Israel while captive in Babylon, but the principle remains the same: as we seek God’s blessings on our nation, we are blessed!
Yesterday at CLC my wife received a prophetic ‘word’ through some traffic signs enroute to service, and I thought it was profound, so I decided to share it with you today:
I know I’m biased because I love her so much, but whether you even know my wife or not, I think you’ll be able to see that any one of these ‘signs’ could be a ‘word’ for you!
I met Pastor Philip Wagner several years ago when he came to Chicago for a pastor’s conference I was attending, and just this week I was introduced to his newest book, “How to Turn Your Marriage Around in 10 Days”.
After reading through it, I just have one thing to say:
This is the book I wish I had written! It’s that good. It’s that helpful. It’s that practical.
Chris & I will have been married 40 years this December. We just taught the most popular sermon series of our ministry last month by sharing what we’re learned in 40 years together about “Love, Sex & Marriage”. We saw God use that teaching to literally save marriages from divorce. Honestly, I think we’ve learned a little about marriage in 40 years.
But Philip has written in such easy-to-understand terms with such insight that I honestly believe the title of his book is NOT just an advertising agency’s come-on or just more marketing propaganda – read my lips: I believe if you’ll read his book and apply it, you can really turn your marriage around in 10 days!
And just for the fun of it (and Pastor Philip’s generosity), I’m offering a free digital copy of his book to one couple who will let me know WHY you want a copy in your comments below (or if you prefer to keep it private, by emailing me here). I’ll announce the winner next Wednesday, November 7.
…and even that’s an understatement!
Chris & I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary for the last 2 weeks with a Mediterranean Cruise that took us to 10 cities in 4 countries over 12 days (with 2 days in Rome at the end) – and I literally don’t have words to describe how wonderful it was!
The favor we enjoyed on the entire trip was amazing, starting with the fact that the cruise line offered a “2 for 1” sale just one weekend this year & we ‘happened’ to book our trip that weekend, instead of waiting until 2013 as we had originally planned, so we literally paid half the normal price. Then we were able to use credit card points & miles so that the cruise & the flights literally cost us nothing!
We oohed and ahhed our way thru Venice, Dubrovnik , Athens, and the Greek Isles, with each day’s highlights seemingly better than the day before. But honestly, the best part of the entire trip was having this extended time together, just the two of us, to reconnect and celebrate our love for each other. Our marriage is better after this trip!
The final two days in Rome was just one serendipitous moment after another, as we made memories in the Eternal City that we’ll never forget.
I may post more pics later, but here’s a couple from my phone from the beginning & end of the trip:
I’m writing this post from the United lounge at O’Hare….as Chris & I are headed to Europe tonight for a 12-day Mediterranean Cruise. It’s a long story, but this has been on our ‘bucket list’ for several years, and we decided over a year ago that our 40th would be the time to do it.
Of course, taking a cruise in December (our actual anniversary is the 16th) wouldn’t be much fun, so we had decided we’d go next Spring or Summer. But then a few months ago we received an offer from the cruise line we’d chosen, offering the same cruise we were planning to take next year for half-price!
In addition to that blessing, we have saved our miles & credit card points for a few years, so we were actually able to book the flights AND the entire cruise at no cost! (We’ll be paying for the excursions to some of the sights along the way, but otherwise this trip was a blessing from the Lord!)
I’ll admit it’s a little tough for me to leave during such an exciting season of ministry at CLC, but I have every confidence in the wonderful team of pastors & leaders at CLC that you guys won’t miss a beat while we’re gone. It’s even more difficult for Chris to leave during the health crisis with her father, but since we don’t even have a date for his open- heart surgery yet (to replace a defective valve), her family insisted that we go.
So say a quick prayer for us to truly be able to disconnect, enjoy the sights and celebrate each other for the next couple of weeks. I just realized that I forgot to pack our camera, so I’m not sure how much we’ll post (if I can keep Chris’ hands off of me long enough to get to a computer, that is) or whether we’ll have any pics, so no promises – except that we’ll be back refreshed & recharged, ready to kick off our new series for November!
Oh, one more thing – we love you! What a privilege to pastor this church!!!
Disclaimer: I like Perry Noble. Shared an elevator with him once at a small gathering of pastors in Michigan a few years back, although he wouldn’t remember that because I was silent while he talked with one of his teammates. I’ve enjoyed his blog since I first discovered it several years ago. His passion is contagious & I love how he loves his church, that was recently ranked #16th largest & 13th fastest-growing in America by Outreach magazine.
Perry’s first book, UNLEASH!, is a lot like Perry – it bleeds evangelism on every page. As I read through it (beginning in Russia & finishing up last night) I marveled at how he addressed virtually every excuse or objection that people have about fully surrendering to Jesus. And better yet, he answered those objections convincingly, with a combination of Biblical logic and a whole bunch of side-splitting stories from his own past. (Perry has more stories from his own life than most preachers have illustrations, period!)
If you’re not satisfied with the ‘Christian life’ you’re living, and need a raw challenge from someone who has been where you are and is now enjoying the abundant life that Jesus promised, I highly recommend UNLEASH! to you.
What God has done at New Spring is absolutely amazing, and this book will give you real insight into why. Read it and remind yourself that God doesn’t play favorites, and what HE has done for Perry, HE is able to do for you!
Funny how 3 simple numbers can hold so much meaning….or such vivid memories. Our world was forever changed 11 years ago today with the terrorist strikes in New York City and Washington, DC, and I doubt any of us will ever forget where we where when we first heard the news and saw the pictures at Ground Zero.
I’m calling on everyone reading this post to PRAY for our nation today, not only because of the anniversary of that horrific day or even the threats of more terrorism on this anniversary – but especially because our country has some serious needs – needs so serious that no politician has the answers.
The threats to our nation’s welfare are not all man-made, and they can’t be solved by mere human wisdom. In fact, let me take this opportunity to announce that CLC will participate in a 40-day prayer focus from September 28 until election day, November 6. We’re not praying for a specific candidate; we’re praying for our country, and for God to again ‘shed His grace’ on us as a people.
If you’re on FaceBook, you can sign up here to participate and receive daily encouragement and specific prayers each day of the prayer focus.
Lord, have mercy!
This morning most of our pastoral team (Ben, Tony, Sam, Eduardo & me) plus our Filipino pastors Herley & Jonathan are leaving CLC at 5:30am for a one-day conference in Lebanon, Indiana (near Indianapolis). It’s being led by Matt Keller, who’s on the Lead team for ARC, and I’ve found those guys know what they’re doing.
We’ll absorb as many church growth principles as possible, ask a lot of questions, enjoy lunch, then load back up on the van to return to CLC by about 3:30 this afternoon.
Now you know what preachers do when they’re not preaching or eating fried chicken.
I’m coming up on the most intense weekend of my life, with 3 funerals, 3 leadership talks, a wedding reception, and 3 sermons to deliver this Friday-Sunday. (Think I’ll sleep in Monday!)
But I’m thankful for a little diversion beforehand:
I’ll be serious all weekend, but today is all about FUN!
It’s her big day! It was on this day several years ago that she first entered the world in Detroit, MI. I was toddling around my parent’s home about 600 miles away at the time, and it would be almost 18 years later before I’d have the chance to look into her beautiful blue eyes for the first time – but I’m so glad the Lord orchestrated events in our lives to bring us together!
Honestly, I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without her:
I’ll close, because this is supposed to be a blog, not a book, but not before I say Happy Birthday, Chris – I love you more than ever!
What did we take away from yesterday’s message that we can use today?
Here it is, for me: this week when I’m faced with decisions & choices, instead of saying “What if….?”
I’m gonna say, “Why not?”
How ’bout you?
Well, as frustrated & angry as I was this morning about the comedy of errors (that wasn’t funny at all), I am pleased to report that everything has been straightened out with the radio station and we should now be on track for next week. (If you weren’t aware, not only did they not air the correct broadcast via radio, but their web stream wasn’t even from their station, so instead of airing an incorrect CLC broadcast, web listeners were hearing a talk show about Obamacare!)
If you don’t have a radio available at that time of day, you can download the WYLL app here and listen to the broadcast anywhere that you have internet access!
The interview went so well, we actually had enough material for another broadcast next Tuesday (July 3) as well – so mark your calendar and listen to both days.
AND we’ll be giving away 4 copies of Circle Maker (2 each broadcast) to some blessed callers, which is another reason for you to tune in. (Of course, if you don’t win, you can purchase a copy at the Welcome Center this Sunday for just $12 – so you can’t lose)
Let’s try it again!
Yesterday was one of those crazy travel days that make me question why I ever go anywhere – but it’s too long a story for this blog.
I’ll be back at it again this morning – looking forward to more from my pastor, as well as fellowship with some pastor friends in the network.
And, in an unexpected bonus, former CLCers, Ramon & Candice Gordon, saw yesterday’s post and offered to meet me for dinner tonight. Can’t wait! (Bahama Breeze will make up for yesterday’s travel woes!)