Celebrating marriage

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Well, to be technical, we’re not celebrating “marriage as an institution”; we’re celebrating OUR marriage of 45 years.

At any rate, a couple of years ago Chris told me she wanted to go back to Maui for our 45th anniversary, so we’re flying out of O’Hare this morning, bound for our favorite of the Hawaiian islands, even though we haven’t been there in 10 years or so.

I’m confident that CLC is in good hands while we’re away, so I plan to disconnect from the internet, email, and even this blog for the next 7 days, so I can focus on the beautiful blonde who has stood by my side through all the ups and downs of life since December 16, 1972.

We’ll see you on December 10 (if you’re part of the CLC-Tinley Park family) for a great Sunday with Potter’s Field.  Meanwhile, the picture above is what I’ll be viewing this evening and for the next several evenings, if she’ll keep her hands off me long enough….

Meanwhile, invite a friend for December 10:

Potter’s Field Touring Promo from Potter’s Field Ministries on Vimeo.

 

ThanksLIVING!

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

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

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

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

This will make you want to praise (and pray!)

Kevin shared his story with us at the Hammond campus yesterday

Kevin shared his story with us at the Hammond campus last Sunday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first arrived at our Hammond campus last Sunday, Pastor Sam told me a story that I loved!  One of his former baseball teammates had promised to attend that morning, which is worth celebrating in and of itself (whenever we can bring a friend to church, it’s a good day!)

But the real story is that several years ago at the Tinley Park campus, we asked every CLC’er to write down a VIP list of people they wanted to see come to Jesus.  That list of friends and co-workers became our ‘prayer list’, and we asked God to turn their hearts to Him.

How many of you know that sometimes God answers our prayers in a way that we could never have foreseen?

Sam had put Kevin on his VIP list and began praying for his salvation.  Some time later, unfortunately, Kevin was involved in an automobile accident while intoxicated.  Because the accident also resulted in a fatality, he was sentenced to a term in prison.

While in prison, someone shared the gospel with Kevin and began a Bible study with him.  He received the Lord, and over the past couple of years has become a passionate follower of Christ.  He has completed his sentence AND two years of probation and now walks with Jesus, and came to church on Sunday to thank Sam and celebrate with us!

Kevin’s story caused me to praise the Lord on Sunday, for His amazing grace!

Kevin’s story also makes me want to pray for others who are still far from God, that HE will draw them to Himself.

Maybe it’s time for us to make out another VIP list.

This December is a GREAT time to bring your unsaved friends to CLC during our “Family Christmas” series, AND I’m excited to tell you that each first-time guest in December will receive a free copy of Joel Osteen’s newest book, “Blessed in the Darkness”.

WHO will be on your VIP list?

CLC-Philippines Convention, day 2

The final day of the convention started with a wonderful cultural presentation in dance, from the CLC-Koronadal campus

The final day of the convention started with a wonderful cultural presentation in dance, from the CLC-Koronadal campus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It included Christian dance...

It included Christian dance…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

....and Tribal dance.....

….and Tribal dance…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and even a Muslim cultural dance.....

and even a Muslim cultural dance…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, in the first session of the day, Chris ministered prophetically to several people, including Pastor Joel Montes pictured here

Then, in the first session of the day, Chris ministered prophetically to several people, including Pastor Joel Montes pictured here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

she also had a very specific word about political open doors for this young woman who is currently a political science major in the university - God is amazing!

she also had a very specific word about political open doors for this young woman who is currently a political science major in the university – God is amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was Brent's turn to teach about Intercessory Prayer (with Jeser making sure there were plenty of laughs included)

Then it was Brent’s turn to teach about Intercessory Prayer (with Jeser making sure there were plenty of laughs included)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Herley gave a great offering message about the difference between SEED and BREAD

Pastor Herley gave a great offering message about the difference between SEED and BREAD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

perhaps the most interesting session of the day was a Q&A time with our Chicago panel (and some appropriate help from Pastors Herley & Joel)

perhaps the most interesting session of the day was a Q&A time with our Chicago panel (and some appropriate help from Pastors Herley & Joel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Joel's session this afternoon was a prophetic call to the Philippine church - POWERFUL!

Pastor Joel’s session this afternoon was a prophetic call to the Philippine church – POWERFUL!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In my final session I taught about "Mustard Seed Faith"

In my final session I taught about “Mustard Seed Faith”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My wife brought the house down (again, Jeser's humorous translation didn't hurt) - but, more importantly, she preached with a strong anointing!

My wife brought the house down (again, Jeser’s humorous translation didn’t hurt) – but, more importantly, she preached with a strong anointing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

...and when she finished, the whole auditorium turned into a mass prayer meeting!

…and when she finished, the whole auditorium turned into a mass prayer meeting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it for 2017 – but we’re already making plans for bigger & better in 2018 – maybe YOU should go with us!

Gonna grab a few hours of sleep before a 2am wake-up call to get to the airport for our 4am flight – can’t wait to see all of you soon!

Homeward bound!

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This is the longest missions trip Chris and I have ever taken from CLC, and as much as we’ve enjoyed each moment of ministry in Cambodia and the Philippines, I don’t think we’ll ever take such a long trip again.  We left Chicago sixteen days ago, but this morning we are homeward bound!

We’re grabbing a 4am flight from Davao to Manila (that’s 3pm Tuesday in Chicago), then connecting with a flight to Tokyo where we catch the long trans-Pacific flight to LA, and finally a flight that should get us to O’Hare early Wednesday evening.  Whew!

If we catch a break, we hope to see some of you Wednesday night at CLC; if not, I definitely can’t wait for SUNDAY when we kick-off our November series, “Made for Worship”!

CLC-Philippines Convention, day 1

There. are. no. words. This second annual CLC Convention for all 14 campuses in the Philippines was SO good, I’m determined to bring a whole bunch of CLC’ers next year so you can see firsthand what God is doing here!

The Convention opened with a terrific production: native dancers, a Philippine color guard, followed by the Philippine National Anthem and more - you really had to be here to believe it!

The Convention opened with a terrific production: native dancers, a Philippine color guard, followed by the Philippine National Anthem and more – you really had to be here to believe it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the native dancers were SO talented-

the native dancers were SO talented-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bishop Herley kicked-off the Convention with a great message about FINISHING what we've started!

Bishop Herley kicked-off the Convention with a great message about FINISHING what we’ve started!

 

Bishop Herley Montes kicked-off the Convention with a great message about  us FINISHING what we've started

I shared a teaching on “What I’m Learning through my Pain”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris and her interpreter Jeser had us all laughing, but her message on 'FAVOR' was profound!

Chris and her interpreter Jeser had us all laughing, but her message on ‘FAVOR’ was profound!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Sam closed the evening with a message titled "Fatherlessness", as he shared the story of his son, Daniel.

Pastor Sam closed the evening with a message titled “Fatherlessness”, as he shared the story of his son, Daniel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have one more day for this Convention and then all five of us from Chicago will be headed home on Wednesday.  Stay tuned for the final update-

 

Philippines, day 2 (of ministry)

Chris & Jen & I with the Jeser Molina family after the ordination.

Chris & Jen & I with the Jeser Molina family after the ordination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We left our hotel at 9am today and didn’t get back until a few minutes after 9pm – but it was a WONDERFUL 12-hour day of ministry here!

I first met Jeser in 2006, on the second day of a Global Advancer Pastor's Conference. I had noticed a group of passionate youth sitting on the front rows of the conference, and thought that Jeser might be their pastor. Instead, he was the Assistant Youth Pastor to Joel Montes - but after I talked with him, Jeser agreed to invite his pastor, Herley Montes to attend the next day, and that's how we first connected with Herley. Today, it came full circle as we ordained Jeser & his wife, Aying!

I first met Jeser in 2006, on the second day of a Global Advancer Pastor’s Conference. I had noticed a group of passionate youth sitting on the front rows of the conference, and thought that Jeser might be their pastor. Instead, he was the Assistant Youth Pastor – but after I talked with him, Jeser agreed to invite his pastor, Herley Montes to attend the next day, and that’s how we first connected with Herley. Today, it came full circle as we ordained Jeser & his wife, Aying!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four years ago Pastor Herley sent Jeser & Aying to Tagum, a city of almost 300,000 people located about an hour-and-a-half drive from Davao City, to plant a CLC campus.  Starting with just their family, they have grown to more than 200 people now, and they recently moved into a beautiful facility inside a shopping mall, where we expect their growth to accelerate!

After the ordination, we presented them with a Prayer Shawl (talit) and both of us spoke prophetic words over them.

After the ordination, we presented them with a Prayer Shawl (talit) and both of us spoke prophetic words over them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their fun, quirky personality makes them a joy to be around every time we visit the Philippines.

Their fun, quirky personality makes them a joy to be around every time we visit the Philippines.

and

and their daughter, JAM, is a real diva!  (Their younger son, Thirdy, is not pictured, but he’s scared of white people, so we didn’t get to love on him)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaders from CLC-Tagum honoring their pastors

Leaders from CLC-Tagum honoring their pastors

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since our Missions Director (Jen) and two of our Campus Pastors (Brent & Sam) joined us here in Davao, we ALL had opportunity to serve the Davao City church today, and the Presence of God worked in each services, as these pictures tell the story:

Sam preached the House down at the 10am service

Sam preached the House down at the 10am service

 

 

Brent ministered at the 2pm service

Brent ministered at the 2pm service

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was my turn at 4pm

It was my turn at 4pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, Chris ministered at 6pm, and the ANOINTING was SO strong - I can't describe what all God did with so many of those in attendance - but we all agreed that the CLC Convention really started TONIGHT, not tomorrow!

Finally, Chris ministered at 6pm, and the ANOINTING was SO strong – I can’t describe what all God did with so many of those in attendance – but we all agreed that the CLC Convention really started TONIGHT, not tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

some of the first-time guests who came forward to receive the Lord after one of our services in Davao

just some of the first-time guests who came forward to receive the Lord after one of our services in Davao

Jen was a blessing all day today & Wileen, one of the Davao worship leaders, received an amazing prophetic word that we expect to see fulfilled!

Jen was a blessing all day today & Wileen, one of the Davao worship leaders, received an amazing prophetic word that we expect to see fulfilled!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These kinds of scenes were everywhere in the altar tonight-

These kinds of scenes were everywhere in the altar tonight-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t wait for all 14 CLC campuses to come together tomorrow for our 2-day CLC-Philippines Convention!

If you attend ANY service at ANY CLC campus today, please leave a comment below – we miss everyone there and would love to know how things are at home!

 

Congrats, Erik & Loren Joy!

Or should I say, Mr. & Mrs. Lumagsao?

Loren Joy & Erik as the wedding began-

Loren Joy & Erik as the wedding began-

One of the most wonderful and yet surprising benefits of our relationship with CLC-Davao is that many of the leaders really get into our hearts.  Today Chris and I had the privilege of helping to officiate the wedding of Erik Lumagsao and Loren Joy Bumanlag.  Erik spent a year with us in Chicago as part of our EnTheos Leadership School/internship, and we’ve grown to love Loren Joy through our many trips to CLC-Davao.

Enjoy a few pics of their wedding:

Weddings here are A-mazing, including the decor for the reception-

Weddings here are A-mazing productions, including the decor for the reception-                             (this is just a tiny glimpse)

We had a chance to greet Erik before the ceremony began (for those who don't know, he spent a year at CLC in our internship program, before returning to Davao last year)

We had a chance to greet Erik before the ceremony began (for those who don’t know, he spent a year at CLC in our internship program, before returning to Davao last year)

Pastors Sam & Brent arrived from Chicago to attend the wedding, with minutes to spare!

Pastors Sam & Brent arrived from Chicago to attend the wedding, with minutes to spare!

Jen was one of the bridesmaids (we really do feel like FAMILY here!)

Jen was one of the bridesmaids (we really do feel like FAMILY here!)

This beautiful flower girl is Pastor Herley's granddaughter

This beautiful flower girl is Pastor Herley’s granddaughter, Macy

 

 

 

First glance of Joy on her wedding day-

First glance of Joy on her wedding day-

something I'd never seen done at a wedding before: Joy washed Erik's feet to let him know that she respects him & submits to him as the head of their new family

something I’d never seen done at a wedding before: Joy washed Erik’s feet to let him know that she respects him & submits to him as the head of their new family

Mama Chris had a prophetic word for the new couple-

Mama Chris had a prophetic word for the new couple-

part of the Filipino wedding ceremony is the signing of the Marriage Certificate

part of the Filipino wedding ceremony is the signing of the Marriage Certificate by Pastor Herley and the bride & groom

Afterward, it was time to PARTY!

Afterward, it was time to PARTY!

and Erik & Joy led the way...

and Erik & Joy led the way…

...and some tender moments, too.  Ahhh, the beauty of LOVE!

…and some tender moments, too. Ahhh, the beauty of LOVE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow will be a full Sunday, as Pastors Brent & Sam will preach the 10am and 2pm services at CLC-Davao for Pastor Herley, while Chris and I will travel to CLC-Tagum to minister and also to ordain Pastors Jeser & Aying Molina there, before returning to Davao to preach the 4pm and 6pm services.  If I have any energy left, I’ll post some more pics then-

 

Philippines, day 1

The children's ministry teachers of CLC-Davao joined us for a picture after tonight's training

The children’s ministry teachers of CLC-Davao joined us for a picture after tonight’s training

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several days ago on my blog, I was asked by a young man who serves in the children’s ministry of CLC-Davao how we train our teachers at CLC-Chicagoland, and after getting permission from his pastors, we offered to do a training seminar here.

I use “we” very liberally, as I basically took 5-10 minutes to tell the Davao team how important it is for us to reach children and then gave the floor to my wife, who has over 30 years of experience in ministry to children, and she taught the seminar.

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The good news is that our daughter, Jen, finally arrived tonight, after several hours delay – since she’s a bridesmaid tomorrow at the wedding of Erik Lumagsao and his fiancee’ Joy.  I’ll keep you posted with lots of pics.

 

 

Travel day!

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Chris and I will head to the Phnom Penh airport at 6am local time (6pm Wednesday in Chicago) for the first of three flights that will eventually get us into Davao City, Philippines late tonight.

When you look at a globe or world map, it would seem a simple hop to get from Cambodia to the Philippines, but it doesn’t work that way.  We’ll be traveling for about 14 hours (including some short layovers) as we fly from Phnom Penh to Singapore, then from Singapore to Manila and finally from Manila to Davao City.

Then the fun begins on Friday night – I’ll keep you posted on the last assignment of this SE Asia missions trip-

Cambodia, day 7

This man is an Under Secretary of State for the nation of Cambodia and THE most popular motivational speaker in the country, with more than a million followers on Social media!  He attended EVERY meeting we did this week - the marriage seminar, the Sunday services, the 1.5 days of Leadership Seminar and a special "Training the Trainers" event this afternoon!

This man is an Under Secretary of State for the nation of Cambodia and THE most popular motivational speaker in the country, with more than a million followers on Social media! He attended EVERY meeting we did this week – the marriage seminar, the Sunday services, the 1.5 days of Leadership Seminar and a special “Training the Trainers” event this afternoon!

AND he bought our lunch today at a 5-star Intercontinental Hotel, along with one of his assistants and Pastor Mara

AND he bought our lunch today at a 5-star Intercontinental Hotel, along with one of his assistants and Pastor Mara

Chris was her usual amazing self during the seminar

Chris was her usual amazing self during the seminar

and she managed to do some object lessons along the way.....

and she managed to fit in some object lessons along the way…..

So many people wanted the training in how to teach others that it became wall-to-wall people!  Such fun!

So many people wanted the training in how to teach others that it became wall-to-wall people! Such fun!

This sweet young lady is from Harare, Zimbabwe - but came here on her own a few months ago to serve the church in Cambodia!

This sweet young lady is from Harare, Zimbabwe – but came here on her own a few months ago to serve the church in Cambodia!  She’s as sweet as her smile!

Pastor Jesse McCaul closed the seminar with a strong 'word' to the delegates about the ripe harvest fields of Cambodia!  He is such a great leader and has become a true friend....we simply LOVE what God is doing here!

Pastor Jesse McCaul closed the seminar with a strong ‘word’ to the delegates about the ripe harvest fields of Cambodia! He is such a great leader and has become a true friend….we simply LOVE what God is doing here!

Cambodia, day 6

We had WiFi issues at the hotel last night, so I was unable to post about the first day of our EQUIP seminar at New Life Fellowship.  Of course, this is the primary assignment that brings us to Cambodia every six months, and the attendance this time was the largest I recall in our years of coming here.  Pastor Jesse said there were some very influential people in the crowd this time, including heads of NGO’s and Cambodian ministries and senior pastors.

It’s a long day of teaching, from 8:30am to 5:00pm, but Chris makes it FUN along the way with her object lessons and illustrations and even some giveaways for the students:

she wasn't expecting this close-up, but I couldn't resist a shot of her "vision" glasses!

she wasn’t expecting this close-up, but I couldn’t resist a shot of her “vision” glasses!

She also helped the students to catch God's vision for their lives!

She also helped the students to catch God’s vision for their lives!

My favorite was when she taught the people to be God's "catalyst" in this nation and used a little science experiment to illustrate.  Since she tried it at Beltei with a 2-liter of Coke, and it didn't work, she tried a smaller bottle this time & was completely unprepared for the EXPLOSION of foam that resulted!

My favorite was when she taught the people to be God’s “catalyst” in this nation and used a little science experiment to illustrate. Since she tried it at Beltei with a 2-liter of Coke, and it didn’t work, she tried a smaller bottle this time & was completely unprepared for the EXPLOSION of foam that resulted!

Honestly, I think the students enjoy the little giveaways more than anything else - no matter how cheesy, they rush to the stage to get them after a session!

Honestly, I think the students enjoy the little giveaways more than anything else – no matter how cheesy, they rush to the stage to get them after a session!

Lunch break brought a nice surprise - I think most CLC'ers will recognize the young lady on the right!  Meychen is doing a great job of leading New Life's internship program, and she recently got engaged!

Lunch break brought a nice surprise – I think most CLC’ers will recognize the young lady on the right! Meychen is doing a great job of leading New Life’s internship program, and she recently got engaged!

Cambodia, day 5

Pastor Chuck McCaul (Jesse's father) is the founder of the Cambodian Leadership Institute

Pastor Chuck McCaul (Jesse’s father) is the founder of the Cambodian Leadership Institute

Today was a real rarity for us on a missions trip – it was actually a day off!  We spent the morning relaxing in the hotel, joined Pastors Jesse & Soar for lunch and some window shopping at Phnom Penh’s newest mall (which surpasses anything in Chicagoland) and mostly enjoyed their fellowship.

Tonight I gave a brief message to graduates of their Cambodian Leadership Institute before the students received their diplomas.  As you look at the faces of these graduates, pray that God will use them to fulfill the special work to which they are called (Acts 13:2; Col. 4:17)

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Tomorrow will be a long day of teaching for EQUIP, as hundreds of leaders from all over Cambodia will join us at New Life Fellowship for some of John Maxwell’s “Laws of Leadership”

Thanks for the prayers!

Cambodia, day 4

Preaching at New Life Fellowship with the help of Executive Pastor Samady translating into Khmer.

Preaching at New Life Fellowship with the help of Executive Pastor Samady translating into Khmer today was a joy!

It’s always GREAT to be in service at New Life Fellowship, and today was certainly no exception.  They had just moved into their new building when we were here about 6 months ago – actually hadn’t even had their Grand Opening at that time – and they’ve added over 400 people to the church family since that time!!!

One reason we love NLF so much is because of the GREAT worship teams they have - they really know how to flow in the anointing!

One reason we love NLF so much is because of the GREAT worship teams they have – they really know how to flow in the anointing!

Since I preached both services this morning, Chris gave me a breather tonight & really delivered her heart to the people, with Pastor Samady translating again.

Since I preached both services this morning, Chris gave me a breather tonight & really delivered her heart to the people, with Pastor Samady translating again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomorrow is a national holiday here, so we can’t do the EQUIP seminar until Tuesday, but we’ll spend the day consulting with Pastors Jesse & Soar.  More later-

P.S. If you attended any service of CLC at any campus today, please leave a comment below – I’d love to know how you were ministered to at home today!

 

Cambodia, day 3

This is how we were greeted upon arrival at Beltei International University this morning-

This is how we were greeted upon arrival at Beltei International University this morning-

His Excellency, Mr. Ly Chheng, Founder & President of Beltei International University, the most prestigious university in Phnom Penh, is always so gracious to invite us to teach leadership principles for students & faculty of his school-

His Excellency, Mr. Ly Chheng, Founder & President of Beltei International University, the most prestigious university in Phnom Penh, is always so gracious to invite us to teach leadership principles for students & faculty of his school-

Kinda weird to see a pic of yourself on the back wall of the platform...

Still kinda weird to see a pic of yourself on the back wall of the platform…

Chris was on her usual game with lots of object lessons & illustrations today that helped us connect with the students

Chris was on her usual game with lots of object lessons & illustrations today that helped us connect with the students

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a special joy at the end of the day to present an autographed copy of Dr. John Maxwell’s latest book to H.E. Mr. Ly Chheng and the Vice-President of Beltei, his son, Navuth Ly as well.

Tomorrow we’ll be ministering at the 3 services of New Life Fellowship for our friends and hosts, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – stay tuned for more reports from our Sunday in Cambodia-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, I think it was the largest number of students & faculty we’ve ever taught in our 4 visits to Beltei over the past few years.  We’re starting to know some of the faculty members by name, and it’s a privilege to sow seeds about leadership from the Bible in this predominantly Buddhist nation!

It was a special joy at the end of the day to present an autographed copy of John Maxwell’s latest book to H.E. Mr. Ly Chhen and the Vice-President of the school, his son, Navuth

Wanna see what an answered prayer looks like?

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I can tell you more about Day 2 of our Cambodian trip later, but the most important news is  the BAGS have arrived!  All 3 pictured above, including (perhaps) the most important one containing all of Chris’ teaching supplies, student giveaways & gifts for our friends!

Thanks for praying – we can now sleep well, use deodorant & wear clean undies!

Cambodia, day 1

To see people coming to the altar for prayer after a MARRIAGE seminar was very encouraging!

To see people coming to the altar for prayer after a MARRIAGE seminar was very encouraging!

Tonight we taught part 1 of a Marriage Seminar at New Life Fellowship in Phnom Pehn for our dear friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – and it was a blast, despite all the difficulties we’ve had in getting here.  (In short, it took us about 54 hours to get from our house to the hotel here, and none of our bags made it, so we were wearing the same clothes for 3 days)

The auditorium was PACKED tonight, and about half of those in attendance were young single adults, who were hungry for every principle we taught about marriage!  That’s one of the reasons we love coming to Cambodia – these folks are hungry for God’s Word!

Pray with us that our bags arrive soon – we not only need medications and clothing, but all of our teaching tools and giveaways were packed in the checked luggage, too.  I’ll keep you posted going forward-

P.S. As of Thursday night, our bags have been located in Singapore and should be at our hotel by 9am Friday morning in Chicago, which means we’ll have what we need for our seminar at the University!  Thanks for the prayers!

thanks for PRAYING yesterday!

I’ve always believed in the power of prayer, but this missions trip, we experienced it first-hand.

If you haven’t heard, we left O’Hare last night on schedule without a hitch for the first few hours of flight.  Then the captain announced that there was a ‘problem’ and that we were being diverted to Salt Lake City, instead of San Francisco.

I soon noticed that the plane went straight for landing, much quicker than normal, and when we landed there were all sorts of emergency vehicles on the runway following us as we taxied to the gate.

Still not sure of what all was going on; we were told there was a pungent odor in the rear of the aircraft as though something was burning.

Of course, we missed all our connections, and as I type this, we’re still not sure how or when we’ll get to Cambodia – but in spite of all the frustrations of last night, Chris and I are alive – and this is one time the outcome could have been considerably different.

So don’t take it for granted when I say, please pray for us!

And thank God for all of you who do!

Off to Cambodia

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I’m typing this at O’Hare airport, where Chris & I are waiting for the first of three flights (Chicago to San Francisco, San Francisco to Singapore, Singapore to Phnom Penh) that will get us into Cambodia by Wednesday morning, their time (about 10pm Tuesday in Chicago).

We’ll be there for our semi-annual assignment with EQUIP to teach leadership principles to university students & faculty, business leaders and church leaders from around the country, as well as doing a Marriage Conference for New Life Fellowship and our dear friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul!

I should have internet once we arrive, so I’ll keep you posted on our ministry there.  Thanks so much for your prayers while we’re away!

To my pastors…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

this is for you, with my love:

Crimea, day 5

A good marriage requires good LISTENING skills!

A good marriage requires good LISTENING skills (says the queen of object lessons!)

Our friend and son of Bishop Grabovenko from the largest Russian network of pastors, David Grabovenko arrived this morning and helped translate some marriage discussion exercises we gave the pastors.

Our friend and son of Bishop Grabovenko from the largest Russian network of pastors, David Grabovenko arrived this morning and helped translate some marriage discussion exercises we gave the pastors.

Of course, Anna (center) was our primary interpreter for the entire seminar-

Of course, Anna (center) was our primary interpreter for the entire seminar – we’ve loved her since our first visit to Russia over 7-8 years ago.

This Russian pastor became a 'punching bag' to illustrate what happens when we attack our spouse verbally.

This Russian pastor became a ‘punching bag’ to illustrate what happens when we attack our spouse verbally.

Again tonight as an icebreaker, we had couples take a turn at Jenga after they shared a principle they learned during the seminar

Again tonight as an icebreaker, we had the pastor couples take a turn at Jenga after they shared a principle they learned during the seminar

The highlight of the seminar came at the close when each pastor couple renewed their marriage vows - lots of love & hugs in the room tonight!

The highlight of the seminar came at the close when each pastor couple renewed their marriage vows – lots of love & hugs in the room tonight!

I love witnessing those 'special moments' with faithful shepherds!

I love witnessing those ‘special moments’ with faithful shepherds!

 

This 14-year old boy has an amazing gift for art, and he surprised us with a beautiful pencil drawing!

This 14-year old boy has an amazing gift for art, and he surprised us with a beautiful pencil drawing!

Bishop Edward leads the largest network of Russian churches and was unable to join us, but his wife Larissa was SO encouraging to us with her kindness throughout the retreat !

Bishop Edward leads the largest network of Russian churches and was unable to join us, but his wife Larissa was SO encouraging to us with her kindness throughout the retreat!

Of course, we couldn't have ministered at all without our interpreter-friend, Anna!

Of course, we couldn’t have ministered at all without our interpreter-friend, Anna!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ll be headed to the airport in a couple of hours, feeling quite fulfilled in this ministry assignment – but can’t wait for this “Generosity Sunday” at each campus of CLC – it’s going to be a GREAT close to our “Moneywise” series – hope you’ll bring a friend!

Crimea, day 4

This little guy has captured my eye each day, but he's too bashful to pose for my camera!

This little guy has captured my eye each day, but he’s too bashful to pose for my camera!

Each teaching time always begins with some worship - today led by our friend, Pastor Sergei from Perm (he's coming to visit us at CLC in a few weeks)

Each teaching time always begins with some worship – today led by our friend, Pastor Sergei from Perm (he’s coming to visit us at CLC in a few weeks)

This afternoon we had separate sessions for men and women - and these guys kept me on my toes with their questions!

This afternoon we had separate sessions for men and women – and these guys kept me on my toes with their questions!

To open tonight's session, we used a balloon game where each table had to keep their balloon in the air without using their hands

To open tonight’s session, we used a balloon game where each table had to keep their balloon in the air without using their hands

I gotta tell you: they were competitive! And they kept those balloons in the air much longer than I expected-

I gotta tell you: they were competitive! And they kept those balloons in the air much longer than I expected-

It was important to have a little fun & release some stress, because tonight's teaching was pretty intense as we challenged each couple to examine their own relationship for "hidden" dangers

It was important to have a little fun & release some stress, because tonight’s teaching was pretty intense as we challenged each couple to examine their own relationship for “hidden” dangers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have two more sessions tomorrow afternoon and evening before heading back to the airport for the first of three flights that will get us home on Thursday afternoon.  Thanks for your prayers – we feel it’s going very well based on the responses from these precious pastors!

Crimea, day 3

Chris reminded us all that we sometimes have to REFOCUS in marriage, to see what our partner is doing right, instead of only what they do wrong! (the Queen of illustrations strikes again)

Chris reminded us all that we sometimes have to REFOCUS in marriage, to see what our partner is doing right, instead of only what they do wrong! (the Queen of illustrations strikes again)

We began the retreat with an icebreaker where each wife kissed her husband's face as many times as possible in 30 seconds. The winner was determined by counting the 'lips' on his face.

We began the retreat with an icebreaker where each wife kissed her husband’s face as many times as possible in 30 seconds. The winner was determined by counting the ‘lips’ on his face.

and the Russians REALLY got into this contest!

and the Russians REALLY got into this contest!

The winning couple (although the lighting in this pic doesn't reveal it) - they said they won because he had more space on his face than anyone else (his bald head!)

The winning couple (although the lighting in this pic doesn’t reveal it) – they said they won because he had more space on his face than anyone else (his bald head!)      

another of the couples in an icebreaker game before tonight's session began-

another of the couples in an icebreaker game before tonight’s session began-

 

 

 

 

This is just ONE of the pastoral couples who have touched our hearts. Their story of sacrifice and faith really inspired us today-

This is just ONE of the pastoral couples who have touched our hearts. Their story of sacrifice and faith really inspired us today-

just before Chris concluded our teaching tonight I took this shot of a few of the pastors in attendance

just before Chris concluded our teaching tonight I took this shot of a few of the pastors in attendance-

 

 

 

Crimea, day 2

Of course I always think our KidsLife kids are the cutest in the world, but these Crimean kids are stiff competition - CUTE!

Of course I always think our KidsLife kids are the cutest in the world, but these Crimean kids are stiff competition – CUTE!

The worship team today in Crimea - I didn't know any of the songs they sang, but I sure knew the Spirit they entertained!

The worship team today in Crimea – I didn’t know any of the songs they sang, but I sure knew the Spirit they entertained!

Anna is our veteran interpreter from the New Testament Church of Perm, and with her help today we saw 8-10 adults stand to give their hearts to Jesus after the Word!

Anna is our veteran interpreter from the New Testament Church of Perm, and with her help today we saw 8-10 adults stand to give their hearts to Jesus after the Word!

We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Crimean specialties (the bread will be served at the marriage supper of the Lamb - take my word for it!) with our host Pastor Sergei (in center w/striped shirt) and his friend, an Armenian pastor who also owns the restaurant where we ate.

We enjoyed an amazing lunch of Crimean specialties (the bread will be served at the marriage supper of the Lamb – take my word for it!) with our host Pastor Sergei (in center w/striped shirt) and his friend, an Armenian pastor who also owns the restaurant where we ate (at the left) – Pastor Sergei’s wife at the right.

They insisted on taking us for a walking tour of their town, situated right on the Black Sea.

They insisted on taking us for a walking tour of their town, situated right on the Black Sea.

We were especially fascinated with their story of the Crimean Karaites, a small group who claim to be Jews.  Their synagogue pictured here is hundreds of years old.

We were especially fascinated with their story of the Crimean Karaites, a small group who claim to be Jews. Their synagogue pictured here is hundreds of years old.

There was a whole section of town dedicated to these people and we couldn't resist a little fun pic to end our day here.

There was a whole section of town dedicated to these people and we couldn’t resist a little fun pic to end our day here.  The real ‘fun’ starts tomorrow with the pastor’s retreat where we’ll be ministering twice a day.  

Crimea, day 1

For some reason this lake near the Black Sea attracts many, many SWANS, and our hosts thought you'd like to see-

For some reason this lake near the Black Sea attracts many, many SWANS, and our hosts thought you’d like to see-

We always insist on our CLC missions trips to include one “fun day” for the team to do some sightseeing or local activities – but when Chris and I travel for missions, we seldom practice what we preach.  But this trip is an exception,  and today was our fun day before the ministry begins tomorrow. (It would have been more fun had we checked the weather forecast this week instead of last week.  We packed nothing but long-sleeved shirts only to get here and discover that the forecast had changed and high’s are in the 90’s for our entire stay!)  Oh well, the joys of international travel.

But what was fun was our 11-hour excursion that enabled us to see practically the entire Crimean peninsula and some breathtaking views of the Black Sea, as well as a delicious lunch with our friends here.  But the highlight was a visit to Livadia Palace, the site of the Yalta Conference.

It’s past our bedtime now and we’re fighting jetlag to boot, but if you’re not familiar with the Yalta Conference, read about it here.  It was neat to be at the site of some US & World history  and we even got a picture to prove it:

Posing with the main characters of the conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin Delanor Roosevelt & Joseph Stalin (at the monument outside the Livadia Palace)

Posing with the main characters of the conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt & Joseph Stalin (at the monument outside the Livadia Palace)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took lots more pictures, but it’s late and we have a full day of ministry tomorrow, with a marriage seminar at a local church added to the schedule unexpectedly – that’s another rule of missions trips: always be flexible.

I’ll post again tomorrow-

To Russia, with love…

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Chris and I will board a Swiss Air jet in a few hours for an overnight flight to Zurich, then another flight to Moscow, and finally an S7 Airways flight to Simferopol, Crimea.  This will be our first visit to Ukraine (or what was a part of Ukraine before being ‘annexed’ by Russia a few years ago).

We’re looking forward to a reunion with several pastor friends from the Perm, Russia region who will help us conduct a pastor’s retreat for some faithful Crimean pastors who have labored in very difficult circumstances.

We DO love these Russian pastors after several previous visits to various parts of their country, so please pray that we can both encourage and challenge the Crimean pastors in fulfilling their ministry.  I’m not sure we’ll have internet access while there, but I’ll certainly try to keep you posted if we do.

 

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

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

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

Take a look:

Moneywise Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

I’m EXCITED!

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

But this time is different.

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

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

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

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

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

Classy people do classy things!

I just received this card in the mail today:

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

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

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

Congratulations, Linell and Amanda!

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

Amanda Edwards and Linell Muse from our Hammond campus-

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

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

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

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

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

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

To my one and only…

chris

I don’t know how I missed the opportunity to express this yesterday (blame it on my advanced age, I guess), but it was on  August 2, 1954 that Chris Ann Hansen 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 over 17 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 brought us together!

Honestly, I can’t even imagine what my life would be like without her:

  • She is my best friend.  I’d rather spend time with her than anyone else on earth.  I value her thoughts and opinions more than anyone else I know.  I love to make her laugh, and I love laughing with her.
  • She’s an incredible cook.  I wouldn’t have near the struggle with my weight if I’d married someone else, but her home-cooked meals have been wonderful from Day 2 of our marriage until now – I never get tired of sitting down to a table that she’s prepared, whatever it is.
  • She’s an amazing mother to our children.  Oh sure, we didn’t get everything right through the years (no one does), but we got a lot more right than wrong, and mostly because of her.  Her fierce love for Chad, Jen and Brent has given them an advantage that millions of kids in our world never had.
  • She’s one of the most creatively-gifted people I’ve ever met, and it shows every time she teaches, preaches or writes almost anything.  (and to think it all started with Harry the puppet that she found in a Sunday School cabinet back in the 70’s!)
  • Speaking of preaching & teaching – I’ve teased for years that I couldn’t let her speak very often at CLC lest I be out of a job, but the honest-to-God truth is that she is an excellent communicator, and the anointing that she brings into the pulpit, whether she’s teaching or prophesying, has blessed and encouraged and challenged not just our CLC family, but thousands of pastors and leaders from Kenya to Kazakhstan and from Trinidad to Turkey.
  • She is a lover – and I’m not just talking about our private moments together – I’m talking about the way she genuinely and passionately loves others – as I’ve seen her do in country after country, not to mention her dear Heart 2 Heart ladies, and even the children and teens she has ‘adopted’ through the years, starting with Leslie in Troy and then Martha in Mt. Morris and, well, I’ve lost track of how many folks call her “Mama Chris” now.  She’s easily the most unselfish person I’ve ever known, because love gives, and that’s her.
  • She’s the epitome of growth and change.  I’ve watched her re-invent herself time after time to meet new challenges through the years.  She is constantly growing to become more of the person God always intended her to be, and that motivates me to keep improving myself, lest she outgrow me.  Suffice it to say. she’s not the shy young teenager I was first attracted to back in 1972 – she’s a woman of God who’s getting better with age!

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I’ll close, because this is supposed to be a blog, not a book, but not before I say Happy (belated) Birthday, Chris – I love you more than ever!

Chris McQuay

When the Word become real…

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Every preacher reading this post knows exactly what I mean:

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

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

Join us this Sunday at any campus of CLC.

And don’t say you’re weren’t warned.

“Timeless” Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

3, 4, 5

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Actually, it’s 3 for 5.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

She still speaks!

Kevin Tyler & Tarshawa

Kevin Tyler Carter with his mom, Tarshawa

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

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

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

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

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

 

Siberia, day 6: headed home!

Chris and I board our first flight early this morning in Siberia (Tuesday evening in Chicago) and should arrive at O’Hare Wednesday afternoon.  The media team here in Novokuznetsk provided us with some pics from our time here, so I thought I’d give you a hodgepodge of our experience with this wonderful congregation:

Hey, if you can't have fun in church, where can you?

Hey, if you can’t have fun in church, where can you?  It’s always a good sign the teaching is connecting when people are laughing!

...an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my jokes...

…an even better sign is when SHE laughs at my humor…

of course, there are more serious moments...

of course, there are more serious moments…

....and you can't just talk off the top of your head....

….and you can’t just talk off the top of your head….

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past

because there are always people who need to be freed from the bondage of their past…

I'm a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

I’m a blessed man to get to do life with this lady who willingly follows me to the ends of the earth!

That’s all – see you soon for another installment of “God@the Movies”!

 

Siberia, day 5

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight's seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men.  The leader of the orphanage they're developing, Oleg, is at the far left.  Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

This morning we spent about 4 hours preparing for tonight’s seminar for single adults, then visited two of the major ministries of this church: an orphanage under development and their Teen Challenge rehab center for Men. The leader of the orphanage they’re developing, Oleg, is at the far left. Ivan in the red shirt was our driver today.

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we're standing on the bridge YOU BUILT!  The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did - it's all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

And all the CLC guys who visited here last month: we’re standing on the bridge YOU BUILT! The Russians are so proud of it and the great work you did – it’s all they talked about as they made sure we saw it & stood on it!

We then spent 3 hours with Pastors Ilya and Janet Bantseev and their board, discussing the whole multi-site model of ministry that CLC uses and that they’ve been considering.

Tonight is our final assignment for this trip, as we teach a 3-hour seminar to their young adults.  Then we’ll grab a little sleep before heading to the airport at 5am (Tuesday at 5pm in Chicago).  Thanks for all your prayers – see you soon!

Siberia, day 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

off to Siberia

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

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

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

Watoto Tinley Park Promo from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

 

Sad and yet Proud on the 4th of July…

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

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

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

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

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

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

RIP, Michael - we love you!

RIP, Michael – we love you!

Happy Independence Day!

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I know.

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

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

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

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

Enjoy your day!

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Hot topics? I need your feedback…

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I need YOUR help today.

We want to do a series at CLC this August on some of today’s “hot topics” – you know, the stuff that you sometimes struggle with; perhaps things once considered taboo but now you see other Christians practicing; questions that this generation is asking that you’re not sure how to answer.

We’ll only have 2 or 3 weeks to address the topics you suggest, but then on August 27 we’ll conclude the series with a “hot seat” Sunday, as the audience can text their questions or topics and I’ll answer them in real time.  Should be fun!

But right now I need you to leave a comment below as to some topics you’d like to hear addressed from Scripture:

Preaching is a two-way street!

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I know that my non-Pentecostal, non-charismatic pastor friends may not relate to this post, and I offer them my sympathy – but based on my experience over the last 48 years of preaching, I can say without hesitation that the congregational response contributes greatly to the overall experience!

Sure, it’s the pastor’s job to share something from God’s Word that has already blessed his or her life – but when the listeners respond with a nod (not to be confused with a ‘head bob’ of those trying desperately to stay awake – although I guess that is a response to the message as well), or an ‘amen’ or some applause or laughs at his or her jokes, or maybe even a standing ovation when appropriate – EACH of those responses not only encourage the preacher, but in my experience, actually draws out even better preaching!

I mention that today because at CLC we are committed to developing other ministers and communicators of the Word, and the only way any pastor, teacher or communicator can develop their gift is by practice.  No one has all the needed skills on their first attempt.  (When I think about the poor folks in several Arkansas churches who sat through my early attempts at preaching, I get downright embarrassed.) But I also still remember precious saints who encouraged me in those early years, by their responses to the Word, even when it was delivered by a stumbling, stuttering teen (me)!

We’re going to use a couple of the remaining Sundays of June at CLC to hear from some of our developing communicators.  Some of them are already pastors who’ve not had many opportunities to preach on Sunday; others have never preached to any audience. I’m urging you to come prepared to help in their development.  If they preach really well, let them know with a hearty ‘amen’!  If they don’t preach so well, encourage them anyway with a hearty ‘amen’!  Laugh at their jokes.  Tweet their best quotes. Encourage them!  Who knows, you may be helping to develop the next T.D. Jakes or Steven Furtick!

Besides, YOU will get more out of the message yourself, like the story of the country preacher I heard years ago.  He entered church with his young son one Sunday, and dropped a coin into the offering box in the back. Not many came that Sunday, and those who did didn’t seem too excited about what was said. After the service, the preacher and son walked to the back, and he emptied the box. Out fell one coin. The young boy said, “Dad, if you’d have put more in, you’d have gotten more out!”

I have every confidence that God is going to use you and our developing communicators – and everyone will receive in the process, because preaching is a two-way street!

Want to experience healing?

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Years ago, when I was in Bible college preparing for ministry, a wise pastor told us,  “whatever you want your people to experience, preach it until it happens”. 

That’s no doubt why, in this month when we’ve been emphasizing the SUPERnatural ministry of Jesus through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we’ve experienced the supernatural. 

This past Sunday I had the privilege of praying for at least 5 or 6 people or more who came to the altar because of pain in their body and left pain-free – all because Jesus is still  Jehovah-Rapha, the God who heals all sickness and disease! (Exodus 15:26, Psa. 103:3,  1Pet. 2:24)

That’s also why I’m so excited about the final one of our ‘Activation Nights’ this Wednesday, May 31 at 7pm, when Evangelist Robby Dawkins will demonstrate and activate the healing gifts of the Holy Spirit at CLC.

I hope you’ll invite someone who needs to be healed and come expecting!

How would YOU describe the second ‘Activation night’?

For sure, the highlight of the evening was the anointed ministry of Apostle Matthew Stevenson from All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago.

For sure, the highlight of the evening was the anointed ministry of Apostle Matthew Stevenson from All Nations Worship Assembly in Chicago.

And much like last week when 784 people crammed into our building (with a 550-seat auditorium), last night we topped that, as our ushers counted 845 people and even when I drove away, I saw cars parked along Ridgeland Avenue for a quarter-of-a-mile! Special thanks to Pastors Josh & Moy AND a whole host of volunteers who managed to get a seat for all 945 people!

And much like last week when 784 people crammed into our building (with a 550-seat auditorium), last night we topped that, as our ushers counted 845 people and even when I drove away, I saw cars parked along Ridgeland Avenue for a quarter-of-a-mile! Special thanks to Pastors Josh & Moy AND a whole host of volunteers who managed to get a seat for all 945 people!

Our Hammond campus served as great hosts, providing front-line worship singers & musicians (with backup from Tinley Park), as well as KidsLife and First Touch ministries - kudos Pastor Sam & all your team!

Our Hammond campus served as great hosts, providing front-line worship singers & musicians (with backup from Tinley Park), as well as KidsLife and First Touch ministries – kudos Pastor Sam & all your team!

More than 100 kids received loving ministry from our great volunteers!

More than 100 kids received loving ministry from our great volunteers!

Including the youngest kiddos!

Including the youngest kiddos!

Best of all, EVERYONE got to participate in the activation exercises - even those who sat in the lobby!

Best of all, EVERYONE got to participate in the activation exercises – even those who sat in the lobby!

That’s my report – but I’d love to hear from YOU – what was your favorite moment of the evening?

I know it’s a holiday weekend, but I invite you to join us Sunday as we explore the ‘power gifts’ (faith, working of miracles & healing) – ‘Do What Jesus Did!’, and of course, the final activation night with Robby Dawkins on May 31 at 7pm!

A valuable lesson

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I learned a valuable lesson (well, actually re-learned it again) last week after we were SO overwhelmed with almost 800 people coming to our first “Activation night” during our GIFTED series.

In any prophetic message, there are always three components:

  1. The revelation – what God actually says to you
  2. The interpretation – how you understand what He said
  3. The application – what you do with what you heard

Earlier this year, I really, really sensed the Lord speak to me that this series on the gifts of the Spirit was NOT to just be a sermon series, but that we should include “activations” to help our people put the teaching into practice by stepping out in the gifts.  I even sensed three men immediately that I wanted to lead those activations, and as soon as I contacted them, each one quickly accepted the invitation for the only possible dates that would work for us!

I knew God had spoken to me and I knew He was at work in arranging this for us.  I also has sensed that this was NOT just to be for our Tinley Park campus, but it was for ALL of CLC – that each campus was to be impacted by these activations.

When I sat down with our pastors to apply what I had heard from the Lord, I thought the best way to accomplish it was to move the application nights around so that each campus could experience one in their building, even while challenging the other two campuses to support the activation nights as though it was their own. Sounds logical, right?

But my application was obviously off, when almost 800 folks came to experience the  ‘speaking gifts” with Apostle John Eckhardt last Wednesday and by Thursday morning when I met with our pastors, we knew we had no choice but to host the remaining two activations in our largest facility, the Tinley Park campus.

As each of us continues to step out and “make the SUPERnatural natural at CLC”, let it be a valuable lesson that we must humbly seek Him for the application to what He reveals to us by His Spirit.

Can’t wait to see what He will do in us this Wednesday at 7pm with Dr. Matthew Stevenson in the house!

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What. A. Night.

Apostle John Eckhardt did an amazing job of leading us in prophetic activations!

Apostle John Eckhardt did an amazing job of leading us in prophetic activations!

The first of our three ‘activations’ for the ‘GIFTED’ series exceeded my expectations in every way – and that’s a mouthful, because I had HIGH expectations!

First of all, John Eckhardt demonstrated why he is so highly respected as a true Apostolic leader and a man of God.  He not only did an amazing job of leading the congregation in 10-12 prophetic ‘activation’, but after ministering for 90 minutes or more, he then voluntarily went to the book table and signed books for people for as long as anyone wanted – I left about 10pm and he was still there signing books for people!  That shows the heart of a servant-leader!

Secondly, there were 784 people in the building last night, and our auditorium only seats 550!  As a result, I’m told that cars were triple-parked in the parking lot and the grassy areas of our property and that some even parked alongside 183rd Street and Ridgeland at the edges of our property (that sounds dangerous, but that’s the report I received) That shows how hungry people (and CLC’ers) are for the supernatural!

Thirdly, (and most importantly), every single person I spoke with afterwards had a story to tell – how they personally heard from God through the prophetic activations!  Every. one.!  That shows how much God wants us to make the supernatural natural at CLC!

P.S. MEGA-KUDOS to our Children’s Director, Stacy Hunter for seeing the crowds & volunteering to add children’s ministry for kids over 5 years old (the original plan was just to care for kids under 5) and to her amazing children (Cameron, Caleb & Jenna) & other volunteers who jumped in last-minute to minister to over 50 kids so that people who came for the prophetic activations had a place to sit.  Stacy, we love you!

We’re just getting started – don’t miss THIS Sunday at each CLC campus as we explore the knowing gifts of the word of knowledge, the word of wisdom and discerning of spirits.

If you were present last night, please share your thoughts/experience below to encourage others:

Activating the prophetic

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Had a neat report from Mother’s Day at the Tinley Park campus – when my wife encouraged everyone to listen for a ‘word’ to share with a neighbor, one of our members said she heard the Lord speak, “the Champ is here”.  She immediately thought of Muhammed Ali, who used to say that chant before a boxing match, to announce his presenceintimidate the enemy; and rally his fans.  She felt the Lord was saying to her (and to CLC), “The Champ is here” in order to announce His Presence; intimidate the enemy, and rally His people!  (Sure sounds like a word to me!)

I also had a chance to practice what I preached Sunday.  I told everyone in 9am service at our Hammond campus to just look at a neighbor and ask, “If Jesus were here right now, what would He say to them? (and remember, He’s in a good mood)”. 

In the next service worship set, I noticed a young man interacting and receiving prayer from “mama Drusie” (a beloved older member there) and was just ‘daydreaming’ how he was showing such deference and humility as he received prayer from this precious senior saint and how God was going to honor that and use him in wonderful ways, when it dawned on me that I wasn’t daydreaming; God was speaking to me!  So I shared my ‘word’ with the young man and hoped God would use it to bless him!

Whether those two incidents are encouraging to you or not, one thing is for sure: God is going to use Apostle John Eckhardt tomorrow night (Wednesday, May 17) to impart spiritual gifts and activate CLC’ers in the prophetic at 7pm at our Tinley Park campus.

I hope you’ll come early and come expecting, as we make the supernaturalnatural part of our lives!

more Holy Spirit baptism ‘stories’

 

18401893_1310945635609554_1853063711106528315_oThis past Sunday was anything but superficial, as the Holy Spirit was outpoured at CLC shortly after we heard from 15 CLC’ers who shared their story with us.

However, there were a couple of other testimonies that we captured on video since neither person was available to share on Sunday.  Enjoy!

Gifted Series – Amanda Edwards Testimony from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

Gifted Series – Kanesha Bryant Testimony from Christian Life Center on Vimeo.

 

Fasting for MORE

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hate fasting.  I enjoy eating.  But I love what fasting & prayer produces; how it helps us get beyond our flesh and opens our spirit to receive from God.

That’s why I’m calling all CLC’ers to join me in fasting at least one day each week during this month of May, to prepare ourselves for what God will do at CLC during our ‘GIFTED’ series.

Personally, I’m hungry for MORE of the work of the Holy Spirit at CLC.  I’m hungry to see more healings among us.  I’m hungry to see more miracles and supernatural,  unmistakable answers to prayer at CLC.  I’m hungry for God to do what only HE can do, instead of our services consisting of just the best that we can do.

Are you hungry?

Then join me in doing what we don’t want to do (giving up meals for a day) in order to receive what we do want – more!

Today is a special day because….

…..our CLC Apostolic Overseers are in town!

“In the multitude of counselors there is safety” – So says the wisest man who ever lived, in Proverbs 11:14.

Honestly, I’ve never understood why anyone wouldn’t want good counsel from others. As a pastor, I know that I’m in over my head, and I need the wisdom that can be found from other godly men who love me and who love CLC. That’s why we created a board of Overseers back in 1993, knowing that I would soon be walking away from the only faith family I had ever known, and that I needed godly counsel.

They have served us SO well through these last 24 years, and they have become my closest friends in the process. I thank God for Pastors Joseph Garlington, Gordon Banks, and Eddie Cupples, as well as Prophet Dennis Cramer and Dale Van Steenis!

All five of these men are in town (well, Bishop is arriving this morning) and they’ll spend all day with us as we look at CLC’s future. I look forward to our time of prayer, conversation, laughter and counsel!

Together, they make CLC a safe place for you and me.

Nigeria, day 2

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

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

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

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

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

Nigeria, day 1

 

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

Learning to love these CAPRO International Council members!

My first day here for CAPRO meetings was spent with several hours of discussion with the subcommittee dealing with Resource Development.  Honestly, it could have been depressing, since the needs are so great and the ‘bread and fish’ so small, but I really felt we made some progress and I was even able to contribute a few ideas that may work even in an African context.

I wish everyone could see how much this ministry accomplishes on so little in the way of resources – it’s really a modern-day testimony to God’s favor and the miraculous!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D'voire and the International Office here in Lagos.  I'm excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Our committee includes men from South Sudan, South Africa, Cote D’voire and the International Office here in Lagos. I’m excited that one of those IO officials, Chinedu Oranye, pictured here, will be a guest speaker during our Missions Emphasis series at CLC this October!

Tomorrow we’ll be in meetings from morning until dinner time, when I’ll head back to the airport for my return flight home.

Ben & Jerry’s story…..

No, not the ice cream. (Although I’ll take a pint of Chunky Monkey if you’re buying)

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BenStewartJerry McQuay

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Sunday will be our farewell service for the Ben Stewart family, so I want to give my tribute to them here.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Ben’s parents, Gary & Deb Stewart joined CLC.  Although they were only part of our church family for about four years (if my memory is accurate). They were and are salt-of-the-earth-kind-of-people that churches can be built on, and were a great blessing here before a job transfer took them to Dallas.

About 17 years ago, as a newly-married couple, Ben and Nili came to Chicago to visit his parents, and attended a Sunday service at CLC.  Even though we only had a short conversation after church (maybe 15 minutes), it was one of those ‘instant connections’ and before we parted that day, I asked Ben to contact me if he ever decided to leave Lake Charles, LA where he was a youth pastor.

A few years went by and we reconnected at a pastor’s conference, where I learned that he had left Lake Charles and was now serving a church in Lubbock, Texas. I ‘chastised’  him for not contacting me in advance, and told him again, “if you ever decide to leave Lubbock, please call me – I’m interested in hiring you”.

Same story…a few years later, we saw each other at yet another pastor’s conference where I learned that he was now serving Jesse DuPlantis Ministries in New Orleans, and I almost yelled this time, “I told you to contact me in advance.  Please: if you ever decide to leave JDM, please let me know!”

That’s how, in the Fall of 2011, my phone rang and Ben was on the other end, saying, “I don’t know if you were serious, but you told me to call if I sensed a transition coming in ministry – and I do.”  It was basically a done deal over the phone (for me, at least), but a few weeks later, he and his family drove to Chicago to look at CLC’s need for an Executive Pastor, and by the end of the year, they were here on location.

This is where words fail to describe the difference they have made.  I can honestly say it was the best hiring decision I’ve ever made, as Ben has simply made each member of our team more effective in ministry with his coaching and encouragement.  If you’ve been around him for 5 minutes, you know how he genuinely and deeply loves people, and that’s the greatest secret of his success.  He has overseen the launch of our latest 2 campuses in Hammond and Blue Island, not only in coaching and developing our pastoral teams there – but he even jumped in physically when we purchased a building in need of rehab at both locations – it seems like there’s practically nothing that Ben can’t do, and do well.

He has made my job so much easier, as he has lifted so much of the day to day load off my shoulders and freed me to focus on the big picture for CLC and spend my time in prayer & the Word.  He’s also been my go-to person on a daily basis, providing me with a godly  sounding board for all sorts of ideas, affirming those from God and helping me recognize the ones that resulted from bad pizza late at night.

If you can’t tell, I love Pastor Ben and his wonderful wife and their amazing 8 children.  I loved him for those 10-12 years I pursued him to join our staff, and I’ve loved him even more since we’ve worked side-by-side these past 5+ years.

It’s going to be hard to say goodbye on Sunday, but not quite as hard as it could be because we’ve already made plans to stay connected and he agrees that he will always be part of our CLC family.

I hope you’ll join me in preparing a love-gift for their family and/or a card or note of your heartfelt appreciation – I know that’ll mean much to them in the days ahead.

See you Sunday!

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Off to Nigeria (but not for long)

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I left the office yesterday afternoon for an evening flight to Frankfurt and then my connecting flight that should get me into Lagos, Nigeria about 10:30 Wednesday morning in Chicago.

This may be the shortest missions trip I’ve ever made, as I’ll be in meetings on Thursday and Friday as part of the CAPRO International Council before flying home, arriving back at O’Hare on Saturday morning.

As the International Chairman told me last November, I’m hoping to add value, not just color to the CAPRO team – so please pray for wisdom in all our deliberations about the missions work CAPRO’s 700 missionaries do in 35 nations across the world.

See you Sunday!

Headed to Sox park, but not for the game….

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I’m headed to Guaranteed Rate Field (still think that’s the dumbest name for a stadium I’ve ever heard) as the Sox play the Royals tonight – but I’m not going for the game.  (In fact, I haven’t been to a Sox game in at least 2 or 3 years, maybe longer.)

Instead, I’m headed there for a planning meeting with Champions Network, because Joel Osteen will be at the United Center for a “Night of Hope” this August 11.  In case you’re not aware, Joel regularly ministers to full stadiums for these events, and 50% of those who attend are unbelievers/unchurch folks and 70% of them respond to his call for repentance and trust in Christ as these events!

I’m excited that CLC has been invited to help as a sponsoring church and the potential to see hungry people brought into the Kingdom on August 11!

Reflections on the Bethel Leadership Advance

Since this was my FIRST visit to Bethel after hearing of the ministry for several years, I came away with several observations that I’ll share at the close of this post-

For ME personally, Kris Vallotton's teachings were the highlights of the conference. His 'prophetic roundtable' teaching this morning about raising our children in a prophetic environment was priceless!

For ME personally, Kris Vallotton’s teachings were the highlights of the conference. His ‘prophetic roundtable’ teaching this morning about raising our children in a prophetic environment was priceless!

I could not have been more impressed with Children's Pastor Seth Dahl!

I could not have been more impressed with Children’s Pastor Seth Dahl!

Brent and I had to leave before the final session because of our return flight to Chicago, so we missed Pastor Bill Johnson's closing message. The last teaching we heard was from Kris Vallotton whose business analogies from his past were spot-on for church leaders - VERY practical!

Brent and I had to leave before the final session because of our return flight to Chicago, so we missed Pastor Bill Johnson’s closing message. The last teaching we heard was from Kris Vallotton whose business analogies from his past were spot-on for church leaders – VERY practical!

My reflections, in no particular order of importance:

1. I’m impressed with Pastor Bill Johnson’s ability to gather and keep a team of ministry “stars“.  Bethel is definitely not built on one man’s ministry (truth be told, no church ever is!) It seemed throughout the conference that every pastor on his team has a unique and outstanding ministry of their own. It takes a humble and secure leader to attract and keep such a team intact – and Pastor Bill does it well, allowing each team member to fulfill their calling.

2. I am particularly impressed with their children’s ministry.  Children’s Pastor Seth Dahl shared a story this morning that may have been the highlight of the conference (and after last night’s testimonies from ex-inmates-who-are-now-ministers, that’s quite a statement!)  He told how a woman from another state had visited Bethel recently.  She had brain cancer and came to Bethel specifically to receive a healing prayer – but the Sunday she visited, their ‘healing rooms’ ministry was closed because of other meetings that occupied their space.  So a friend of hers texted Seth to see if he could arrange for someone to pray for her.  He brought her to the 1st & 2nd grade classroom and asked the children to pray for her.  Those first and second grade children zealously prayed and prophesied over her and finally one little boy spoke over the microphone, “Lord, just flick that cancer off her like a bug!” Seth was so touched by that faith-filled prayer that he had ALL the kids do a prophetic act, by flicking their finger and repeating the boy’s prayer.  The woman returned to her home and after her next doctor’s exam, the MRI showed NO Cancer in her body!  Would to God all our children learned to operate in faith like that!!!

3. I’m definitely impressed with their prophetic teams from the School of Supernatural Ministry. The last thing that I experienced before leaving Bethel’s campus was my appointment to receive a prophetic word.  The teams of three that ministered to our pastors included students from six different countries (two each on a team) and a child each from Bethel’s Children’s Ministry, and each of our pastors received ‘words’ that were accurate and affirming, even from the children.  That doesn’t happen without practical training in the supernatural, and I love it.

Of course, there’s more I could say, but those are my big observations.  I’m returning home tomorrow with a heart of expectation that what God is doing in Bethel and Redding, CA, He is able to do in CLC and Chicagoland!

Maybe the most amazing testimony I’ve ever heard…

I had no idea what to expect when Kris Vallotton called Ron & Dawn to the stage to share their testimony

I had no idea what to expect when Kris Vallotton called Ron & Dawn Adkins to the stage to share their testimony at the Bethel Leadership Advance last night

First, it was Ron's turn to share how he got into trouble before he was a teen and eventually received FIVE 99-year prison sentences, which led to him being in solitary confinement in a Texas prison for more than 10 YEARS!

First, it was Ron’s turn to share how he got into trouble before he was a teen and eventually received FIVE 99-year prison sentences, which led to him being in solitary confinement in a Texas prison for more than 10 YEARS!

Another crime committed while IN prison resulted in a total sentence of 500 years - but he got radically saved while in prison & miraculously was paroled a few years ago & now ministers in prisons!

Another crime committed while IN prison resulted in a total sentence of 500 years – but he got radically saved while in prison & miraculously was paroled a few years ago & now ministers in prisons! His ministry is appropriately called, “Radical Restoration Ministries”!

Then it was Dawn's turn to tell how she was a homeless prostitute with 46 felonies on her record in Florida. But on her last arrest, she turned to Jesus - was miraculously pardoned from prison and now ministers on death row (now called 'Life Row'!) and has opened 6 homes for women ex-inmates!

Then it was Dawn’s turn to tell how she was a homeless prostitute with 46 felonies on her record in Florida. But on her last arrest, she turned to Jesus – was miraculously pardoned from prison and now ministers on death row (now called ‘Life Row’!) and has opened 6 homes for women ex-inmates!

Ron & Dawn met a couple of years ago and married last year, to serve God together in ministry!

Ron & Dawn met a couple of years ago and married last year, to serve God together in ministry!

These words & pics don’t do it justice – you had to be there to hear it in person! Check them out here.

We serve a MIGHTY God and there’s NOTHING He can’t do!

Bethel Leadership Advance

Of course, Bethel is known for WORSHIP, and I've seen why first-hand!

Of course, Bethel is known for WORSHIP, and I’ve seen why first-hand!

This Advance is quite different than others they've done (according to our pastors who've been here before) - with several panel discussions on the schedule.

This Advance is quite different than others they’ve done (according to our pastors who’ve been here before) – with several panel discussions on the schedule (from L to R: Kris Vallotton, Bill Johnson, Candace & Eric Johnson)

Bill Johnson's session this morning was worth the cost of coming here - amazing insights in his teaching!

Bill Johnson’s session this morning was worth the cost of coming here – amazing insights!

So this conference and my trip is about half-over, and I still have high expectations for the remaining sessions, including an appointment for each of us with one of their prophetic teams tomorrow.

I must say the highlight thus far has been the opportunity for extended conversations with Pastors Sam & Taylor and Brent….guess we had to get out of the office to truly connect 😉

Bethel Church conference

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For years I’ve read and heard about Pastor Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in Redding, CA.  If you’re not familiar, they’re the home of Jesus Culture and some of the greatest worship music on the planet.  Of course, they’re probably known best for some amazing miracles and healings that occur regularly, along with the anointed team of pastors & leaders, including Kris Valloton, Danny Silk and others, in addition to Bill Johnson.  They also operate a Supernatural School of Ministry, which attracts thousands of students from all over the world.

I think every pastor on staff at CLC has attended a conference here in the past except me and Chris, and she wasn’t able to join me this time.  But I am meeting Pastors Brent and Sam & Taylor tonight, so the four of us will get to take in what God is doing here.

I’ll try to let you know each day-

Leaving on a jet plane……

With apologies to John Denver....but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

With apologies to John Denver….but we are leaving Phnom Penh soon on the first of three flights that will get us back to Chicago by Friday afternoon.

It’s been a great trip:

  • deepening some strategic relationships for the Church here in Cambodia,
  • sowing good seed in a young man that Chris and I both perceive has great potential for the Kingdom of God in an almost totally-unreached Muslim nation (when he himself surrenders to Christ)
  • strengthening the leaders of the Cambodian church
  • planning the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul, who have become dear friends over these past few years of our involvement here.

but we’re ready to be home for a great Palm Sunday celebration (with the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem….or, maybe one like it) and a great word from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron as to why ‘only Jesus’ could be our Savior! (Your celebration of Communion will never be the same again after this Sunday!)

And that means EASTER is just days away!  WHO are you inviting to be your guest?

see you soon-

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Cambodia, day 7

The new property is very near the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot's regime in the 1970's.

While we were together with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul today, he showed us some of their plans for the future.  He casually mentioned that the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia, where 20,000 people were brutally murdered during Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970’s was nearby and asked if we’d like to see it, so we had a short tour of the horrible atrocities done here.

We had visited the Museum in 2013 on our first visit to Cambodia, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem - so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

We had visited the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 2013 to honor the 3 million who died during the Pol Pot regime, but had never seen the actual killing fields until today. The atrocities here reminded me of what we experienced at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem – so hard to imagine humans treating other humans that way.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

At least 20,000 people died in the Killing Fields, and this memorial contains many of their skulls.

One more day of meetings with the pastors here and then we’ll board our flight for home!  So looking forward to week 2 of “Only Jesus” as we hear from Messianic Jewish believer, Justin Kron!

Cambodia, day 6

If I'm honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching - I love this candid shot from one of today's discussion times.

If I’m honest, the Cambodians probably get more from their discussion times together than from my teaching – I love this candid shot from one of today’s discussion times.

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP "battle of the bands", featuring an all-girl band.....

To help illustrate the importance of teamwork, we had an EQUIP “battle of the bands”, featuring an all-girl band…..

.....and a shy all-boys band.....

…..and a shy all-boys band…..

.....and, of course, the WINNERS (can't you tell?)

…..and, of course, the WINNERS (can’t you tell?)

Chris gave her all in today's teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) - and we're both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Chris gave her all in today’s teaching (with Pastor Samdy translating) – and we’re both thankful the last day of teaching is over for this trip!

Now that the hard work is over, we’re looking forward to a chance to connect & plan for the future with Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul!

Cambodia, day 5

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar!

When I walked by the audio booth first thing this morning, I looked up & saw someone I thought looked familiar! (MeyChen was translating for some of the seminar attendees)

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship - here's the coffee bar

LOVE the amazing new facility of New Life Fellowship – here’s the coffee bar in the lobby

Here's the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here’s the cafe/fellowship area off the lobby

Here's a great information desk at the main entrance

Here’s a great information desk at the main entrance

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Chris teaching with Pastor Pisit translating

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they're learning during the seminar

Cambodians LOVE to discuss the principles they’re learning during the seminar

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today's competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY!

and we have a WINNER: not only did these 5 guys have the tallest tower in today’s competition; we did this same exercise at all 3 seminars on this trip & they beat EVERYBODY! (the engineering feat was building a tower with spaghetti noodles, yarn, masking tape & marshmallows)

Honestly, four consecutive days of teaching for hours each day has both of us wiped out, but the good news is that we have only a half-day of ministry tomorrow as we finish the last seminar!  This bed has never looked so good……

 

 

Cambodia, day 4

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we've experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception - strong anointing in the House!

The New Life Fellowship worship team is one of the best we’ve experienced anywhere in the world & today was no exception – strong anointing in the House (and love their new stage design in the beautiful new building they just moved into this month!)

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit! We love being with him!!

Pastor Jesse McCaul is a great leader, especially because of his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit!   Chris & I love being with him!!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

Preaching at New Life is always a joy, and Pastor Samnang does a great job translating for us!

After the two morning services in the brand-new building (actually located inside a shopping mall, so the location couldn’t be better to reach Cambodians) and a quick lunch with friends, we had a little time to get rest before the two evening services – one at the new location and one at their other campus in a different part of the city.  I’ll report on those services when we return tonight-

Cambodia, day 3

During today's opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

During today’s opening ceremonies at BELTEI international University. (our host, Pastor Jesse McCault is to my left, right beside the President/Founder of BELTEI, Mr. Ly Cheng

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder.  I'm very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

Mr. Ly Navuth is Executive Vice-President of the University and youngest son of the founder. I’m very impressed with both of them and we love coming here to work with them.

As yesterday, we had a battle of the "Air Rock Bands" - and these girls were good...

As yesterday, we had a battle of the “Air Rock Bands” – and these girls were good…

.....but 1st Place went to this animated group!

…..but 1st Place went to this animated group!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the "tallest tower" with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

while this team of Faculty members & students won 1st place for building the “tallest tower” with spaghetti noodles, marshmallows & masking tape!

In between the fun activities, Chris & I spent about six hours teaching four of Dr. John C. Maxwell’s “Laws of Leadership” to students & faculty alike, and they were like sponges, drinking in every word we said.  I believe much good seed was sown today!

Tomorrow we will minister at four different services at two different locations for New Life Fellowship and our partners and friends, Pastors Jesse & Soar McCaul – looking forward to a great day!

Cambodia, day 2

This "air band" pretty well summarizes our day - even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

This “air band” pretty well summarizes our day – even though we taught some serious leadership lessons, we had FUN along the way!

Our first seminar for EQUIP on this trip was at VisionFund Cambodia, which is the microfinance arm of World Vision.  They serve over 250,000 families in Cambodia, which makes them the largest microfinance ministry in the world, as they offer small loans & other financial services to poor families, helping them to grow small businesses and enable their children to grow up with improved health and education.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, we taught about 75 of VisionFund's managers from around the country.

With the help of our friend from New Life Fellowship, Pastor Samnang, who translated, we taught about 75 of VisionFund’s managers from around the country.

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything - even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game.....

To keep things interesting, Chris will use anything – even an old-fashioned Egg Toss game…..

.....or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmellows!

…..or a competition to see who can build the tallest spaghetti tower, using yarn, masking tape, and marshmallows!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

This team of brilliant designers won handily as you can see their tall tower!

But the enthusiasm of this "air rock band" knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

But the enthusiasm of this “air rock band” knew no bounds & they were rewarded with 1st place in that competition!

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Lest you think it was all fun & games, we actually taught about 7 full hours, with only a few times for the managers to discuss how these Biblical leadership principles can be walked out in their world.

Now some more sleep to try to kick the jet lag that’s hindering both of us before we head to the leading university in all of Cambodia, Beltei International, for another seminar tomorrow-

Cambodia, day 1

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong.  With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home!

An after lunch pic with our friends from New Life Fellowship, Leah and Mara Kong. With friends like them, this place feels like home away from home! (And I don’t mind showing Cubbie blue!)

I guess keeping everyone posted from this trip applies even when nothing happens.  For the first time in a long time (ever?), we deliberately planned a day of rest before diving into our leadership seminars here.  By that I mean our flight arrived about midnight local time last night and today we did nothing  except sleep, eat, and study a bit for our week of ministry here.

Our first of three seminars begins tomorrow at 8am (8pm Thursday, Chicago time) and I should have some pics and reports for you after that.  Until then, I’m gonna give in to jetlag and sleep some more!

Have you considered the significance of the Virgin birth?

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I’m writing this post from an airport lounge in Seoul, South Korea while Chris & I are enroute to Cambodia – but what’s on my mind right now is my message for THIS Sunday to kick-off the series, “Only Jesus”.

I preached my first sermon over 48 years ago, but in all that time I have never done a message about the Virgin birth – perhaps because it’s such a basic staple of the Christian faith.  But in this year when the Lord said CLC is going “back to the basics”, I discovered some wonderful truths as to WHY Jesus was born of a virgin.

I also discovered some myths and mistaken beliefs along the way, and I think this Sunday’s teaching will enlighten and inspire you with the reliability of God’s Word.  I’ll get to share much of this message with each campus of CLC via video, so no matter where you attend, I hope you’ll invite an unchurched friend to join you for a learning experience that I’m praying will enable some to take that first step of faith in Jesus as Savior, and cause the rest of us to have a fresh appreciation for WHO He is and WHAT He has done!

Only Jesus!

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Off to Cambodia

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Chris and I were up before dawn today to catch the first of 3 flights that will get us to Phnom Penh about 10am on Wednesday, Chicago time.

We’ll be teaching three different leadership seminars for EQUIP and ministering at one of our favorite churches in the world, New Life Fellowship.  They recently moved to a new location in a shopping mall, with tons more room than they had before and many, many people have been flooding into their services according to Pastor Jesse McCaul.  We’re expecting BIG things!

If you’d like to pray for us with specifics, I’ve attached our itinerary.  Thanks for standing with us – I’ll keep you updated daily if possible-

prayer for Cambodia trip

ONLY Jesus!

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thoroughly enjoyed teaching these past 4 weeks on “Faith Gaps”, mainly because I think all of us, myself included, sometime struggle with our faith – and the Word in the month of March spoke to us.

But I must tell you that after sharing today with our pastoral team the introduction to our April series, and the first message about the Virgin Birth, I’m even more excited!

In almost 50 years of ministry, I have never heard or taught a message about the significance of the Virgin birth.  But the Lord told me that in 2017 we were to go ‘back to the basics’, and it doesn’t get any more basic than the fact that Jesus was born of a virgin.

I believe you’ll be excited when you see WHY that’s so important, and I suspect you’ll learn some truths that you haven’t known before.

I hope you’ll invite a friend to join you at YOUR campus of CLC this Sunday, and, just as importantly, that you’ll begin thinking now of who you know that needs Jesus, so you can invite them to attend one of our 9 Easter Celebrations (5 in Tinley Park, 2 each in Blue Island and Hammond).

One thing for sure: Only Jesus will help you fall deeper in love with HIM than ever before!

Off to Houston (and back again)

The Amish-Mexican (Eduardo Marroquin) and me at 4am

The Amish-Mexican (Eduardo Marroquin) and me at 4am

It’s amazing what a friend will do.  Pastor Ed Marroquin drove to Chicago yesterday to hang with us at the office, then spent the night at our house last night because we had to be up at 2:30 this morning to catch a ridiculously-early flight to Houston.

He and I will attend a pastor’s gathering at Lakewood Church with Joel Osteen and his Champion’s Network all day before catching our flight home tonight.

The lack of sleep (and coffee) has made for a lot of laughter already, so it should be a fun day.

See you Wednesday for Family Night at CLC (Iron Men, H2H, Consumed & KidsLife – there’s something for everyone!)

Ask the Pastor

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There were no new questions submitted this week, but here’s a good one from 2009:      A CLCer recently asked, “Why are there so many bible translations? Is anyone of them better than the other? Which translation is your favorite one? Which translation would you recommend people to read?”

Great questions!  Let’s take them one at a time:

  • Until 1881 you could only read the Bible in English in the King James Version, which was translated in 1611.  Of course, not many of us speak the Shakespearan-type English of “thee’s” and “thou’s”, which is what initially led to more and more translations.  So many English words have changed in their meaning over these past 400 years, and, for that matter, all language is constantly evolving, so it is needful for their to be new translations if the average person is going to read the Bible in the common language of everyday use.
  • It would be hard to say that any one translation is better than another – they’re just different. Some translations (such as the New King James and the New American Standard Bible) attempt a literal, word-for-word translation from the original languages (The Old Testament was written in Hebrew; the New Testament in Greek) into English.  Others (such as the New International Version and the New Living Translation) use a phrase-for-phrase approach, to help convey the original intended meaning.  Still others (like The Message and The Living Bible) are not actually translations, but rather paraphrases that attempt to convey the original thoughts into modern, contemporary thoughts.  (By the way, for what it’s worth, many scholars agree that the New American Standard Bible is perhaps the most accurate translation of the Scriptures into English.)
  • My favorite translation has changed several times as I’ve grown older: initially, I grew up with the King James, and I memorized numerous verses in the stilted old English.  Later, when I was introduced to the New King James, it became my favorite, probably because it retained much of the poetic beauty of the KJV, but updated the English to eliminate the need to talk like Shakespeare.  However, in the last few years I’ve grown to love the more modern, New Living Translation, and I use it almost exclusively on Sundays at CLC.
  • It depends on the purpose: if you want a Bible to study, I’d recommend the NKJV (my preference is the Spirit-Filled Life Bible).  For general reading, I personally think you can’t beat the NLT (which is why I use it in the pulpit so much). For a change of pace, I really like The Message, as it has a way of ‘jarring’ me with truth that I might otherwise have overlooked.

As I’ve explained at other times, I personally try to use a different version each year for my daily “through the Bible in a year” devotions.  I’ve found my mixing it up each year, it helps me not to get stale by thinking “I’ve read this before”.

That was fun….hope it was helpful.  Now, what would YOU like to ask the Pastor?

Prayer Journey, INDEED!

I wish each of the Sunday morning CLC’ers could have joined last night’s Prayer Journey!

Not only did the Tinley Park team (staff & volunteers) put on the most creative and well-planned prayer journey we’ve ever done, I think it may have been the most anointed, too!

Every center of prayer was well-planned (like this one) - but I was wrecked by the "Nations" room - I'm convinced that Iran and Russia and other countries were affected by the intercession at CLC last night!

Every center of prayer was well-planned (like this one) – but I was wrecked by the “Nations” room – I’m convinced that Iran and Russia and other countries were affected by the intercession at CLC last night!

This creative approach allowed us to use finger paints on the Cross to tell what Jesus did for us

This creative approach allowed us to use finger paints on the Cross to tell what Jesus did for us

There really was something for everybody!

There really was something for everybody!

Part of the prayer experience is forgiving others & we got to do that!

Part of the prayer experience is forgiving others & we got to do that!

I especially was touched to see parents helping their children experience prayer

I especially was touched to see parents helping their children experience prayer

All of us were invited to pray for people we love who still need Jesus

All of us were invited to pray for people we love who still need Jesus, writing their names so that others could join us in praying for their salvation

I especially liked

What I liked best of all was the resources that will enable anyone to pray more effectively – this was a tree of promises that we could claim for our family-

a couple examples of the MANY resources our team made available - ways to pray for my wife & tips for daily devotions

a couple examples of the MANY resources our team made available – ways to pray for my wife & this promise from God’s Word that I claimed for my family!

Ever more great resources - how to pray for people who don't know Jesus AND, perhaps the most important resource of all: tips for having a daily time with the Lord!

Ever more great resources – how to pray for people who don’t know Jesus AND, perhaps the most important resource of all: tips for having a daily time with the Lord!

If you missed last night, don’t forget that you can join us each Saturday from 8-9am in the Prayer Room upstairs!

Join me in singing ‘Happy Birthday’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope Celebration

I joined my wife and daughter in south Florida today for the 30th Anniversary of OneHope, one of our favorite missions partners at CLC. Tonight we heard from the founder, Bob Hoskins, who has faithfully engaged in ministry to reach the lost for 73 years (he started preaching at age 7)!

The thing that I love most about Bob and his son, Rob (who is the President of OneHope) is their heart for souls, as each of them still weeps for those that are being reached through this amazing ministry.

But the unexpected highlight of the day for us was to be joined at our assigned table tonight by our friends from Perm, Russia, Bishop Edward & Larisa Grabovenko. Edward leads the largest network of evangelical pastors in the nation, and is the founder of perhaps the largest Spirit-filled church in Russia, where we’ve been privileged to minister about five or six times through the years, and it was great to reconnect with them tonight-

We love Larissa & Bishop Edward Grabovenko and the work they do in Russia!

We love Larisa & Bishop Edward Grabovenko and the work they do in Russia!

We’ll be in meetings tomorrow as the Hope Celebration continues, then home on Wednesday in time for our final Life Group meeting for “That’s MY Church”-

The core value of INCLUSION

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Have you ever felt left-out?

Maybe it was an elementary game of softball and the two captains chose teams….but neither picked you.

Or maybe all your friends got an invitation to a birthday part…except you.  Not a nice feeling, huh?

I’ve been enjoying our “That’s MY Church” series at CLC so much I kinda hate to see it end this Sunday, but I’m especially excited after our planning meeting yesterday, hearing & sharing the ideas that will be presented at the Tinley Park campus by our Worship Pastor, Jon Jones.

I had asked him to share this message in Tinley Park because Jon is as passionate as anyone I know about the core value of inclusionWhen you think about it, ALL of us should be – not only because we know how it feels to be left out, but because with our God it doesn’t happen – there’s room at His Table whether you’re black, white, red or yellow, male or female, young or old, skinny or not-so-skinny (you catch my drift).

Of course, our other two campuses will close the series with a bang, too – as Pastor Sam will focus on the “Full Ministry of the Holy Spirit” at our Hammond campus, and I’ll get to share “Balanced Bible Teaching” at our Blue Island campus (first time I’ve preached there in over 6 months, so I’m excited to see everyone there!)

If you’ve been participating in one of our “That’s MY Church” Life Groups, what’s been your takeaway?  Join the conversation by leaving your comment below-

What makes a great church service?

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It’s been over 24 hrs, and I’m still basking in the overflow of yesterday’s services at CLC.

More importantly, I’ve been hearing reports today of miraculous healings and deliverance that took place as the Holy Spirit moved mightily among us.  (Here’s one example)

And I’ve lost count at the number of CLC’ers who’ve commented about the Presence and anointing they experienced personally in those services.

What’s been on my mind last night and today is ‘WHY?’ 

Why should one service be so noticeably greater in terms of its impact on us?

I know some will chalk it up to God’s sovereigntybut I think it’s more than that.

Others will give credit to the Worship teambut they lead us weekly, so it can’t be that.

As a pastor, I often think it’s about expectationbut several mentioned how surprised they were by the move of the Spirit, so it must be more than that.

Here’s what I’ve concluded: it’s about hunger!  Jesus pronounced a blessing on those who hunger and thirst in Matthew 5:6, promising that they shall be filled!

I think we came hungrier yesterday than we have on other Sundays.

And here’s what I think the Lord is saying to us all (not from a beer commercial, but from His Word) – stay thirsty, my friends, stay thirsty!

Talking Bible: Psalm 46

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I love it when my Bible talks to me, and it happened today as I did my devotions before leaving the hotel that’s been home for the past several days for our getaway to a resort near here.

I read Psalm 46:1 in the Modern English Version (which I’m using for my 2017 devotions)  and it jumped off the page at me.  Instead of the traditional, “a very present help in trouble”, the MEV renders it, “a well-proven help in trouble”.

I like that!

So if you’re reading this post and there is any kind of ‘trouble’ in your life, please know that not only is God a very present help, meaning, HE is right there with you in this situation, but also know that HE is a well-proven help!

I can easily recall times that HE has proven Himself to me by helping me out of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced, and I bet you can, too.

But even if you can’t remember times that HE has helped you in the past, you can still take courage that HE has been proven by countless believers, for thousands of years.

You CAN trust Him!

Does that resonate with you today?  Why not join the conversation by sharing some comments below about how the Lord has proven Himself to you, perhaps when you needed Him most-

Erik proposed & Joy said ‘YES’!

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I know some of you are concerned about our safety after learning that an earthquake hit the Philippines a few hours ago – but it was centered about 200 miles north of Davao City  (where we are). 

So the BIG NEWS for CLC is that Erik Lumagsao proposed to Joy Bumanlag last night shortly after Chris & I taught at a special event here for young professional singles!  (Erik was an intern in our EnTheos ministry last year & won our hearts at CLC – but he & Joy have been together for so long I wasn’t sure he’d ever pop the question!)

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So, thanks for your prayers – we are safe & sound.  In a few hours we begin a marathon day of ministry here with five services between us.  And a special congrats to Erik & Joy!

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Off to the Philippines

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I’m typing this at O’Hare where Chris and I will soon depart for the first of two flights that will get us into Manila about 9am Friday (Chicago time).  We then get a night’s sleep in Manila before flying to Davao City for the first assignment of this missions trip, a Saturday session with the singles of our CLC-Davao campus.

Then it’s a whirlwind of ministry, with 5 services on Sunday, 3 on Monday and 3 on Tuesday, concluding with a Valentine’s banquet for the married couples of CLC-Davao.  Since they just had over 200 people come forward to receive Christ last Sunday, I’m especially excited to see what God is doing there!

I’ll try to post each day to keep you aware of what we’re doing, and I can’t wait to hear  your reports this Sunday as we continue the “That’s MY Church” series.  I’ve already previewed the messages, and it’s going to be good at each campus!

Thanks for your prayers-

The most UNIQUE First Love conference ever!

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It’s hard to believe that we’re just barely over a week away from our favorite meeting of the year at CLC – our First Love Conference this January 13-15!

Several facts make this Conference truly UNIQUE:

1. We’ve changed the schedule by opening on Friday night instead of Saturday morning (you don’t want to miss the opening!)

2. More importantly, each of our guest speakers is a CLC Overseer, with a heart for our church and a history of ministering to us in love!  These men are not “hired guns”, just coming to preach a sermon – they have prayed for us, helped us solve problems and challenges in the ministry over the years, and demonstrated true friendship in our times of need!  They are family!

3. Finally, this gathering is unique because on Martin Luther King, Jr. day (January 16) we’re moving to our Hammond, Indiana campus for a special morning designed for pastors, ministers and leaders who want to learn from Bishop Garlington and special guest Dr. David Ireland!

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Of course, we’re preparing our hearts for all of this with a 3-day “juice fast” and a special Worship Night at each campus next week.  I can’t wait!

44 years to celebrate!

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I may not be able to publish my usual “Sunday reflections” post today, because Chris and I had to move up our travel plans by one day to escape Chicago’s winter storm, and we headed to the airport immediately after the noon service.

Since my birthday (which I’m not celebrating) and our wedding anniversary both fall the week before Christmas, we always try to get someplace warm to celebrate. This year it’s a short Caribbean cruise, so I’m checking out for the next 5 days – no posts here, no Facebook, no Twitter – just me and my honey!

We’ve got a lot of celebrating to do – she’s the woman of my dreams, and God has been so good to us!

See you next Sunday for Jingle Jam!

Israel, day 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel, day 8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow will be the longest day of our trip, as we start early with a worship service at “Revive Israel” (one of CLC’s partners in the Land), before going to the Garden Tomb and seeing the site of Jesus’ crucifixion (and resurrection!).  After our final stop at Hezekiah’s tunnel under the streets of Jerusalem, we’ll head to the airport for the long flight home.

Shalom!

 

 

Israel, day 7

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

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

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

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

The highlight of every trip to the pool of Bethesda is actually at St. Anne’s church next door, famous for it’s amazing acoustics.  Of course, we had to test it by singing “It is Well with my Soul” as a group – and it was beautiful (if I say so myself)

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

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

Tomorrow will be another full day in the Old City, including a visit to Yad Vashem, the museum to the Holocaust, which I think is the heaviest place on earth.  I’ll post more then-

Israel, day 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel, day 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Israel, day 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tomorrow will be one of our busiest days, with an early boat ride on the Sea of Galilee, followed by a Shabat Celebration and pastoral installation service at Tents of Mercy, and then an afternoon of touring other Biblical sites.  Time for some shut-eye now!

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

I posted a few hours ago, just before going to dinner at our hotel, thinking our day was pretty much over.  But we were joined at dinner by our friends, Leon & Nina Mazin, and they stayed for our team meeting afterward to share with us.

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

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

Israel, day 3

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow we’ll head to the Jordan River where almost the entire group of 32 will be water baptized, and take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee as the tour continues-

Israel, day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

Israel, day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last day in Nairobi; headed HOME!

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

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

I spent part of the day touring their compound, as almost every building on their site wasn’t here on my last visit in 2005!  I wish every CLC’er could see the beautiful sanctuary, the Children’s Home, the primary school, the medical clinic, the social hall, the library, and even the guest house where I stayed – their property alone is now valued at over $2 million USD (not counting the buildings), and ALL of it is debt-free, to the glory of God!

They also took me for some last-minute Christmas shopping at Kazuri, a fascinating, Christian-owned pottery & jewelry enterprise that now provides employment to 340 Kenyans, most of whom are single moms who are able to support their families as a result.

I took the whole tour of their operation in case you wanna see (I guess if you don’t wanna see you should stop reading now):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get this: their products are now sold in many different countries around the world, including Harrod’s of London, and here in the USA department stores like Macy’s, Dillards, and more!  All from humble beginnings by some Christians who wanted to provide jobs for needy women in Kenya – I love to see Christian entrepreneurs succeed!

That’s all for this trip – I’ll board a flight in a couple of hours and be home Tuesday afternoon, ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and then share with you as we open our Christmas series THIS Sunday!

Sunday reflections from KENYA

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That completed MY Sunday here in Nairobi, but as a pastor, I’m always curious about things at home.  If you attended any service at any campus of CLC today, please leave your thoughts about the service you attended:

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

I look forward to being home Tuesday and can’t wait to see all of you next Sunday for the kick-off of “Christmas@the Movies” with ‘ELF’ – invite a friend!

CAPRO meetings, day 2

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It was two full days of meetings with some of the finest men I’ve ever known and I often wondered why I was here – but near the end of the meetings, the International Director, Sam Kputu said, “Pastor Jerry, you’re not here just to add color; you’re here to add value!”

(Hoping I’ll be able to do that as we go along)

I thought a lot of CLC'ers would be glad to see this face: Pastor Eloi Dogue (whom we know from Senegal) is now part of the CAPRO international office & serves on the Council - he sends his greetings!

I thought a lot of CLC’ers would be glad to see this face: Pastor Eloi Dogue (whom we know from Senegal) is now part of the CAPRO international office & serves on the Council – he sends his greetings!

As the meetings ended, our long-time partners in Nairobi, David & Jennifer Hatley picked me up and we enjoyed great fellowship over some good food tonight before they dropped me at their guesthouse.  I’ll minister at Church on the Rock tomorrow morning and afternoon and spend some time with the Hatley’s on Monday before catching my flight back to Chicago.  Thanks for all the prayers!

 

 

CIC meetings in Nairobi

with Dondo Iorlamen, National Director for CAPRO in Nigeria

with Dondo Iorlamen, National Director for CAPRO in Nigeria

I was especially touched by Dondo’s story as all the Council members introduced themselves this morning in the opening session.  It seems that he had a series of dreams & visions in which he saw himself doing missions, but he had no knowledge of any missions ministry.  He searched for months, asking people he would meet if they knew of missions.  Finally, he was told to go to a certain town where there were people who did missions, but when he arrived there, he couldn’t find them.  So he went to a parking lot where taxi drivers often met and asked them, but none of the taxi’s knew about missions until a young man on a motorcycle asked what they were talking about and quickly told Dondo that there was missions where he was from, which required more travel by bus.  When Dondo finally reached the place and the bus dropped him off, he looked up toward the missions training school and it was exactly the picture he had seen in his dreams!  Today he is the Director for CAPRO in Nigeria!

CAPRO International Chairman, Judah Bett, from Kenya, called the meeting to order this morning.

CAPRO International Chairman, Judah Bett, from Kenya, called the meeting to order this morning.

The Council met today for about 10 hours, and we'll keep the same schedule tomorrow.

The Council met today for about 10 hours, and we’ll keep the same schedule tomorrow.

Long-time CLC'ers will remember Pade Tokun, who was the International Director of CAPRO when we first started working with them in Senegal.

Long-time CLC’ers will remember Pade Tokun, who was the International Director of CAPRO when we first started working with them in Senegal.

They actually seated me between Pade and Bro. Amos Aderonmu, who also has visited CLC, so I really had to behave today.

Hope to share more tomorrow if I can access the internet again, and then I’ll spend the weekend in ministry with Missionary David Hatley at Church on the Rock here in Nairobi.

 

Off to Kenya

shutterstock_187642739I left last evening for Nairobi, Kenya where I will begin my service as a member of the CAPRO International Council.  You may recall that we have partnered with CAPRO in Senegal for the past 15 years, and I could not be more impressed with the integrity and single-minded focus of this Nigerian-based missions agency.

I was honored earlier this year when their highest leadership council asked me to join them as possibly the first American to serve, and this week’s meeting is my first opportunity.  We’ll be deliberating over some major challenges the ministry currently faces, so your prayers for wisdom and supernatural direction are needed.

I’ll try to post regularly this week to keep you informed on my whereabouts and work, so stay tuned-

Saying goodbye to a good man

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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.

After this election…..

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I woke up this morning as shocked as everyone else about the results of our Presidential election.

I also know that many people in our country are hurt and fearful of what the future holds.

Let me point out some things that have NOT changed after this election:

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

As my friend, Pastor Jason Bentley, wrote, “No matter the election results, my job remains the same: Love God, love people, preach Jesus, spread hope, build His church, advance His Kingdom.”

Selah.