Sunday, December 16, 2007
For the first part of 2007 I preached on the names of God: Elohim, Adonai, and Yahweh to name just a few. In bible times names revealed the character of an individual. The same is true with God. His names revealed His character along with His relationship with His people.
The same is true of the names of Jesus. Jesus means “the Lord who saves.” Along with the name Jesus the Son of God was given names by the prophets of old that reveals His character and what should be our relationship to Him. He is called…
Wonderful Counselor. Jesus loves us. He understands us. There is nothing impossible for Him. He can be there and provide help for every decision and situation in life.
Mighty God. Jesus is a powerful help in every temptation and struggle in life. Jesus will give you the victory!
Everlasting Father. Jesus is our forever provider. He will never leave you, never forsake you, and always take care of you.
Prince of Peace. Jesus brings the peace and wholeness to our broken lives.
Jesus is these names and so much more. This Christmas season take a moment to evaluate your relationship with God. Is Jesus your Wonderful Counselor? Your Mighty God? Your Everlasting Father? Your Prince of Peace? He wants to be. He can be. Take time this Christmas to invite Jesus to come into your life and be all He desires to be!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
- Remember what all the fuss is about. This is the time to give thanks for all that God has done and to celebrate the birth of our Savior. Let's keep that in focus. It's not about cooking the perfect dinner, throwing the perfect party or buying the perfect gift.
- Don't overdo it. Plan your activities and then stick to the plan. Don't allow yourself to get caught up in all the hustle and bustle unless you enjoy it and it charges your batteries.
- Plan time to rest and reflect. Take some time with a journal to write about your feelings and thoughts. Read a good book. Be alone with God.
- Remember and honor those that you miss. One of the toughest things about these special times is being reminded of who isn't with us. Loss is always painful, but it can be worse when we try to ignore it and don't acknowledge it. Instead, take some time to remember those who will be missing. Spend some time looking through the picture album and reminiscing about them. Then remember that they are with you in spirit and that they would want you to be happy and blessed.
- Build your own traditions. The things we learn from our families are wonderful, but remember to build your own traditions. Make them your own and enjoy them. Don't feel like you have to do it a particular way because grandma did it that way. Remember the story about the lady that always cut the end off her pot roast because her mother did it that way? It turns out that her mother's pan was too small and she had to cut off the end.
- The greatest gift is time spent with our loved ones. Make sure you get plenty of time with family and worry less about all the extra stuff. After all, it's just stuff. Love is the real thing.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
1 Thessalonians 5:18
I love thanksgiving! It is one of my favorite holidays. I don’t know if it’s the time with family, or the food, or the positive mindset of thanksgiving. It is probably the combination of these that make it such a special day.
In my reflections this Thanksgiving I thought about how thankful I am for our church. I love what God is doing at Christian Life! We gather together and God shows up. It’s awesome!
I am profoundly thankful for a church family. What a wonderful group of people that share the good and the difficult parts of life together. People that gather to travel together on their spiritual journey. You guys are the best!
I want to encourage you this week and let you know God loves you and so do I. You are important to God and to our church family. If you ever get discouraged remember the adage “God don’t make no junk.” He created you just the way you are, for this moment in history, to do and be who he called you to be. Take time to thank God for making you you. Meditate on these passages:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made ... All the days ordained for me were written in your book. (Psalm 139:14, 16)
Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:33-34)
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 118:29)
If anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
Friday, November 16, 2007
1 John 1:9
I’m having trouble with something so I thought I would use this week’s blog to ask you what you think.
In our Draw Near To God series we spent a couple of week’s worth of sermons on the subject of pornography. I feel that we talked fairly openly about the subject and how it affects up to 49% of Christian families. I can’t tell you how many people came up to me or emailed me to thank me for taking the time to talk about such a sensitive subject. Trust me, it wasn’t easy and I always enjoy positive feedback.
But here is what is troubling me. A lot of people were happy we tackled the subject but very few responded for help. I have to admit I wasn’t expecting a lot of thank you's, I was expecting a lot of people looking for help. Maybe people in our church don’t struggle with pornography? Maybe we defy the odds? Or maybe we aren’t being completely honest.
I know this is a sensitive and private subject. The devil would love to keep it that way. Maybe you are trying to deal with this on your own? But as we learned in our video, this is something you can’t overcome on your own. You need the power of God and the accountability of a friend or small group.
We are looking to begin some anonymous support groups at the beginning of the New Year to help those that struggle with and those who are victims of pornography. But will anybody come? I hope they do.
I want to hear what you think concerning this matter. What do you have to say? Please free to post your comments
Sunday, November 11, 2007
2 Corinthians 5:6-8
This past week our church family lost a dear brother, Jeff Taylor. Our heart and prayers are with Debbie, his wife of 25 years, along with Jeff’s mom and dad and the entire family. Jeff’s life and passing is a reminder that this is not all there is, that this is not our forever home, and someday we will step into eternity for an appointment with God.
Even through his illness, Jeff had a passion for the Lord and His work. You could sense his heart to know God. You could sense his desire to serve God with his life. Now Jeff is healthy, whole, and strong in the presence of God. It is safe to say that Jeff’s desires are satisfied as he experiences God face to face.
As we talked about last week the spiritual things in life are the most important because they last for eternity. In the busyness of life we can forget or ignore the spiritual. Someday each of us will stand before God to give an account. Will you be one who chooses to draw near to God in this life so that you can enjoy Him forever?
We were created for a relationship with God. We were created for an eternity with Him. God “has planted eternity in the human heart.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT) Nothing this temporary life can offer will satisfy. Are you drawing near to God? Remember you get for eternity what you desire in this life.
While we grieve the loss of our friend Jeff we don’t grieve without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13) like the world because we know someday we will be worshipping with him again, this time around the Throne!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
I have enjoyed our fall small group study at Christian Life, Drawing Near by John Bevere. I appreciate the many who are taking the spiritual journey together to draw near to God. I know that God honors your heart cry for Him and will in turn reveal Himself in even greater ways to you and to our church family.
One of the main components of drawing near to God is our time with Him. As with any relationship, our time with God is valuable. Spending time with God allows us to grow close to Him. We can say that we desire to draw near to God but if we don’t spend time seeking Him our desire will never become a reality.
In our jam-packed lives how do we find time for God on a daily basis? The key is consistency.
- Have a consistent time every day that you meet with God.
- Have a consistent place where you spend that time.
- Have a consistent routine for your time together.
In the weekend services to come I will be talking about how to spend quality time with God. In this blog let me share with you something that helps me on those days I miss my consistent time, place, and routine. In the busyness of the calling of being a pastor and the sometimes overwhelming schedule of a young family there are days that it is difficult to find time to spend with God. So, on my palm pilot each day at the end of the day I have scheduled the phrase, “It’s not too late.” This simple phrase reminds me that it’s not too late to pray, or maybe to read a verse, or even to journal a thought before bed.
It’s never too late in the day to spend time with God. Even if you only have strength for a short prayer at the end of the day God is happy to hear from you. Remember God always loves you and enjoys His time with you!
Monday, October 29, 2007
1 Corinthians 15:58
In the development of the West Campus of Christian Life Church we are discovering the church’s key needs as we plan for the future. Obviously, for our church the aspects of worship and teaching are a priority. We are a worshipping and teaching church. These things are a part of all of our services because they are part of who we are as a church. But right behind having worship and teaching in place we are noticing the next most important aspect of the church is a strong children’s ministry.
Children’s ministry has always been an emphasis at Christian Life. We believe we are stewards of the children God gives us and that we are to connect our kids to Christ. From nursery through high school, and even into college, we strive to provide quality ministry that meets the needs of each stage of development.
A successful children’s ministry only happens with the commitment and care of many adult volunteers. From our countless nursery workers, to Sunday School teachers, to Kid’s Club workers, to the leaders in our youth ministry, we have a solid team of volunteers investing in the lives of our children.
Today we salute the volunteers that make our children’s ministry great. For the hours of preparation, for the many missed services, through the joy and the pain… we honor you! Thank you for your faithfulness. You and your gifitings are appreciated! Always remember, “that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Well, this hiccup did not stop the West Campus pioneers. The worship sounded great. I preached the same message on purity and pornography as the people came and went. So I guess you could say our first crowd was a lot larger than we expected. ;-) It was fun to see the hotel guests take a seat in the lobby and pretend like they weren’t listening but you could tell they were. To see the cleaning people come by and stop for a while. To see the front desk person put down his work and bow his head each time we would pray. It was a very public beginning for our first West Campus weekend!
What I learned from the weekend is that God is in control, He always makes a way, and no matter the circumstance He is always with us. The West Campus has been birthed! You can keep up with everything happening out there by visiting http://www.clcwest.org/.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
This birth isn’t without effort however. Many people have been waiting and working behind the scenes to help make this launch happen. I salute those who have the pioneer spirit and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to ensure success. I appreciate our staff that in many cases will be pulling double duty as we open our new campus. And by far the most important investment we can make, and so many are making, is one of prayer. My desire is to see God’s things done God’s way. When we are obedient to the heavenly vision God blesses and grows His church.
This is the weekend it all begins. It’s been a couple of years of ups and downs and sideways but the time has come. Be in an attitude of dedication and prayer for this historic weekend at Christian Life Church.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Second Sunday is a week away. Keep our west campus launch in prayer. This is a historic moment for our church. We are about to give birth to something big!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Why just one service a month? Much time and study have gone into our plant and we have found that many start-up churches begin this way. There are a couple of reasons it will work well for us. First, with a new plant there will always be a learning curve. There are so many dynamics that make up a church from the up front ministry to everything behind the scenes. There will no doubt be corrections and changes needed after we begin. By only meeting once a month to start we will have an entire month rather than just a week to make any necessary adjustments.
The other reason to start with once a month services is to allow our west campus individuals and families a chance to worship in both places as they transition out of our Mount Prospect ministries. Rather than leaving abruptly after years of relationship, they can slowly move from one location to the next. It provides a time of closure. The relationships established in Mount Prospect will never die, it’s just that we all won’t see each other every week like we’re used to doing.
Remember, we are one church, with one vision, soon to be in two locations. God is birthing something great through Christian Life. Make sure during this season of planting you keep the life of our church a priority in your prayer life.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Over two years ago I shared with our church on a vision night about a new direction that God was calling our body. Through prayer, study, and wise council I believe God is calling our church family to plant a second campus of Christian Life Church. We would be one church, with one vision, in two locations.
The campus we are planting is in the far western suburbs. God has moved some of our church people out west from South Elgin up to Crystal Lake. Most of these families still make the long drive every week to our Mount Prospect campus. What we have at Christian Life is very special and there is a tremendous need for vibrant Spirit-filled churches in one of the fastest growing areas in our nation.
For the past two years, I have been meeting midweek with a small group of people. Along with Bible study we have been praying and planning for the future. Our elders and pastors council have been discussing the future of this new campus plant. The time is right (I’ll share more about that later) and God is calling us to begin weekend services this fall.
We will begin with one weekend service a month. The second Sunday of each month we will conduct our first services out west. The weekend schedule at the Mount Prospect will remain the same. The west services will be later in the day. Even though most people reading this will never attend the west campus, please pray that many people, in this growing community, will connect to God through CLC West. Read the Bible Blog the next several weeks and listen during the weekend services as we unfold the vision of the west campus.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Gary Wilkerson of World Challenge confronts the church with the following statistics…
- 6,571,497,332 people now live on earth
- 1,200,000,000 people live on 23 cents a day
- 2,000,000,000 people have no electricity
- 80% of all people live in substandard housing
- 1,000,000,000 people are without safe drinking water
- Every 16 seconds someone dies of hunger
- 57,000,000 people died in 2006
- 10,500,000 of these were children less than five years old
- 14,000,000 children were orphaned because of HIV/AIDS
- 2,000,000 children have died as a direct result of armed conflict during the last ten years.
- $8,000,000,000.00 were spent on cosmetics in America in 2005
- $11,000,000,000.00 for ice cream in Europe
- $17,000,000,000.00 in the USA and Europe on pet food
- $105,000,000,000.00 for alcohol in Europe
These statistics are not meant to make you feel guilty; I want them to raise your awareness. We can make a difference in the world. Every third weekend is Missions Weekend at Christian Life. From the very beginning of our existence as a church, we have invested in building God’s Kingdom around the world. We refuse to turn a blind eye to the suffering and the lost around the world. We will continue, to the best of our ability, to share with likeminded ministries to see God’s will be done here on earth as it is in heaven. You and your gifts are helping to change the world!
Let’s keep up the good work. Pray about your gift today. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Psalm 42:1, 2a
This weekend is our annual golf outing at Christian Life Church. This is one of the weekends I look forward to all year. It’s really not about the golf, I just love hanging out and having fun with members of our church family.
You might say, “Well, what about the golf?” I have to admit I am pretty competitive and I like to win at whatever I play but to be honest I don’t love golf. I used to love golf. I was, as they say, bit by the "golf bug." I would play any chance I could. If it wasn’t for the lack of time and money I would have golfed every day if I could. For a while there I would have to admit golf was an obsession for me. Now, I can count on one hand how many times I play in a year.
What changed? I don’t know. The craving is just gone. Maybe I got it out of my system. Maybe I reached a plateau in my play. I really don’t know what happened. All I do know is that I don’t enjoy it like I used to. What once was a passion for me is now just recreation.
Over time this same phenomenon can happen in our Christian life. What once was a passion becomes recreation. At one time we could not get enough of God, His Word, His church. But something happens. You can’t explain it. The passion that once burned bright is just gone.
Our walk with God is not a hobby, it is a relationship. Like in all relationships it’s not about the level of passion, it’s about the level of commitment. Passion can get any relationship started; it’s commitment that gives a relationship longevity. Don’t let your relationship with God stagnate, rekindle the passion.
What is your passion level with God right now? A better question is what is your commitment level? Remember our verse for this fall at Christian Life is James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”
Sunday, September 02, 2007
The fear of the Lord is the fountain of life…
I had jury duty this week. I wasn’t chosen. At first I was happy that I was able to get back to church earlier than planned and get some more work done. Though as I thought about it I wondered why I wasn’t chosen. Was it something I said? Was it the way I looked? I guess deep down I wanted to be chosen. Everyone likes to be chosen. It feels good to be picked to be on the team no matter what the team is. I could have been on the jury to help decide the fate of two people. But I wasn’t chosen to sit on the jury. My opinion didn’t matter in the case.
As I thought about the jury process and how we live our lives it seems as though we are always trying to impress a jury of our peers, family, coworkers, etc. We worry about how we look to them, what they think of us. We are worried about their judgment of us. And yet, when all is said and done their opinions really do not matter. The only one we are accountable to is God. At the final judgment we won’t be scrutinized by a jury of our peers we will stand before a holy and righteous God. His opinion alone will matter.
As we have learned in our Getting To Know God series God is not only holy and righteous, He is also loving. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) God loves you and desires the absolute best for your life.
Think about who you are trying to impress. As you live your life this week remember that the only opinion that really matters in the end is God’s opinion. And we are right with God, it’s all right!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
You get ready for school by going out and getting new supplies, new clothes, and new shoes. The kids are excited about seeing their friends they’ve missed over the summer. There is something special about going into a new grade and learning new things. There really is something wonderful about going back to school.
As adults we don’t always get that “wonder” this time of year. Other than getting into our Fall routine not much changes for us. Our lives pretty much stay the same while we watch our children grow and learn. What if, like our children, we went back to “school” this Fall? What if saw this Fall as a season of learning and growing?
The phrase “teach me” is found 16 times in the book of Psalms. (You can look up all of these references at www.biblegateway.com.) Proverbs 9:10 (NLT) says, “Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding.” There is so much for us to learn about God from God. He desires us to know Him more. I believe the better we know God the better our lives will be. Let’s be like the psalm writer and invite God to teach us.
Just as we plan and prepare for our kids to go back to school, let’s plan and prepare our time of learning. Let’s set the schedule and get into the routine of learning this Fall. As we move into September there will be a wide variety of learning opportunities at Christian Life, especially on Wednesdays and Sundays. Make a commitment now for you and your family to learn and grow in God this Fall.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
This week we laid to rest our dear brother Dan Knisely. For the past 25 years Dan and his family have been and integral part of our church family at Christian Life. His life touched many of our lives. I don’t know of anybody in the history of our church that received as much prayer as Dan. We all wanted to stand with him during his battle with cancer.
Dan was an example of a godly man in his family, in his business, and in our church. Dan did “well” in each area of his life. He worked hard, played hard, and enjoyed his life.
I will always remember Dan’s questions. Whether it was on the golf course, at dinner, or in the church lobby Dan was never afraid of the big questions. He loved to ask difficult questions, especially deep theological ones. They were never easy to answer. I think he had fun stumping the pastor.
On one of the last visits in the hospital I got to ask Dan a big question. What would he like to do if he felt better? Dan said if he had more time he would love to spend time with family. Take a walk and play with the grandkids. He would enjoy another good day at the office. Spend more time at church during the week. These are just a few of his answers.
What I noticed about Dan’s answers was that there was nothing new. The things he wanted to do were the same things he did throughout his life. There were really no regrets except a desire for more time to do what he had always done.
When you think about the life and gifts God gave you are living a life with no regrets? Live this life well so that in the end, just like Dan, you will hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
I have had a lot of questions for God lately. There are times when things seem completely out of control in our world and I wonder when God will come and step in and take care of everything that’s wrong. I think it is safe to say that many people would say they have not seen enough of God’s presence and action in the world to satisfy them.
No matter how we feel, God is always with us and is at work in our world and our lives. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5 He shows up when we least expect it. He’s right in front of us calling us into His good and perfect will. He touches our lives with His presence. We experience God and then know that someday our faith will be sight.
Pray that God gives you eyes of faith to see Him at work in our world and in our lives. Here is a prayer you can use from a martyr for the faith.
Lord Jesus, when I am tempted because I cannot see God and his power and love in this world, let me firmly look upon you, for you are my Lord and my God.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Exodus 7:16 (NIV)
Our kids came back from camp this week. They had a great time. It was good to have Luke back home and to hear about everything that happened at camp. The fun he had, the new friends he made, and how he met with God. The time spent at camp as a young person can be life changing. I remember my camp experiences with fondness. And there is no doubt that my spiritual experiences at camp have profoundly shaped my life.
As you can tell I think summer church camps are valuable. When I was a youth pastor I looked forward to bringing our teenagers each year to camp. Summer camp is that time you get away from the daily routine, peer pressure, and other distractions that can keep one from God. There is something about getting away and getting alone with God.
When Israel was delivered from Egypt God said the purpose was so that they could worship Him in the desert. They were in the desert for forty years and it was during that time they truly became God’s people. God provided fresh water to drink, manna to eat each day, while all that time their clothes and shoes never wore out. He provided for their every need. God revealed lists to live by so that they would become His holy people. It was in their isolated time in the wilderness that they learned to love God, hear His voice, and follow Him.
As the summer begins to fade away, have you, like our children and the children of Israel, taken the time to meet with God? It is essential that we make room for Him in our lives. James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” Take time to draw near this week. There is no substitute for time spent with God.
Monday, July 23, 2007
2 Peter 3:9-10 (TLB)
I have a favorite prayer request. I enjoy all of the praise reports. But I have a certain favorite prayer request. First, let me say that it is a privilege to pray each week for all of the requests that come in. Big and small they are all important to take to God in prayer. There is not a week that goes by that the pastors, staff, and I don’t intercede for needs of our church family.
Which is my favorite you ask? My favorite prayer requests are the ones for the salvation of friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, etc. I love to see someone have the passion for someone close to them to come to know Jesus. You see in these requests the burden for lost souls. I believe these unselfish requests touch the very heart of God. As our verse says, God doesn’t want anybody to perish and suffer judgment. God created everyone to have a personal relationship with Him and spend eternity in heaven (John 2:16,17).
These kind requests get even better when the person asks God for the open opportunity to share the Gospel with their friend. I believe God honors these requests. If you ask for the opportunity to share your faith, God will answer your prayer. Sharing our faith is a vital part of our relationship with God. It’s our responsibility as a part of His Body here on the earth. We are called to be His witnesses (John 15:27). We are called to be ministers of reconciliation between God and man in our world (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Sharing your faith is a win-win situation. Either the person accepts Christ or you have planted a seed (1 Corinthians 3:6). Pray for an opportunity this week to share your faith with someone you know. In fact, take some tickets and invite them to our church picnic and movie night next Sunday at CLC. You have exactly what your world needs. Share it!
Friday, July 13, 2007
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
This weekend we say good-bye to an important couple here at Christian Life Church. Ralph & Pat Wendland have been a part of our church family since the mid 1980’s and now they are moving into the next phase of their retirement in the Indianapolis area. They have been heavily involved in life and ministry at CLC over the years. Beyond Ralph’s role as an elder, Ralph and Pat have ministered to the lives of many from children through seniors.
As I thought about their impact in our church over the years I recalled seeing them in a variety of different situations. I’ve see them working hard on different projects, having fun with the SAGEr’s, being up front with the choir, being behind the scenes with our children’s ministry, always ready to offer help or encouragement to anybody who needed it. I can’t tell how much their encouragement to me personally has meant over the years. Ralph and Pat truly represent Christ-like ministry to the church.
All of us are called to live beyond ourselves. The Gospel saves us and then calls us to a life of service. In what ways is God calling you to serve in your world? Whose life are you touching? How are you serving His Body, the church? Don’t get so caught up with the busyness of life that you miss your call to serve.
At our good-bye dinner for the Wendland’s, Ralph shared this verse: 1 Corinthians 15:58, Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Thank you Ralph & Pat! We love you and will miss you and will look forward to your visits.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
In our sermon study this weekend we will be examining one of the most interesting passages in the Bible, Abraham offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Would God really ask someone to do something like this? After all God in His Law said that the Children of Israel were not to partake in the heathen practice of human sacrifice. In fact, the Israelites were commanded to not even associate with the pagan people groups who participated in the immoral practice.
So why would God ask Abraham to do such a thing? Well, in the big picture, this story is a living depiction or type of the ultimate sacrifice God, the Father, would make with His one and only Son, Jesus. But it is also a test God uses to increase Abraham’s faith. The word test means “to qualify through a thorough examination.” God gives tests to strengthen and approve us – to test us to see if our faith is genuine and to humble us and bring us under His care.
God did this to test Abraham and Abraham passed the test. Abraham had so much faith that he believed God would raise Isaac from the dead. "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he (God) said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." Genesis 22:12
There is a blessing when we pass God’s tests. Genesis 22:16-18 says, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
What are some of the tests you are going through right now? How’s your faith? Are you passing the tests? Don’t forget you can listen to our sermons online at www.christianlifechurch.org.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
God who gave us life, gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the God of God?
Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse, will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings, which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable. Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation. Reader! Whoever thou art, remember this, and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.
The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government and the principles of Christianity.
John Quincy Adams
That book (the Bible), Sir, is the Rock upon which our Republic rests.
We have all been encouraged to feel in the guardianship and guidance of that Almighty Being, whose power regulates the destiny of nations.
Let me conclude with a prayer from George Washington…
And now, Almighty Father, if it is Thy holy will that we shall obtain a place and name among the nations of the earth, grant that we may be enabled to show our gratitude for Thy goodness by our endeavors to fear and obey Thee.
Monday, June 25, 2007
We usually hear about parents having to “drag” their kids to church. This weekend at Christian Life Church we are “Dragging Our Parents To Church.” We are going to have a blast during our weekend services as we worship the Lord as our children do each week in kid’s church.
Our verse in Deuteronomy tells us parents that we are responsible to continually teach our children about God. Basically, we are all called to be missionaries to our children. No matter their age we are called to reach our children for Christ. A missionary’s purpose is to evangelize and disciple a people group. As parents we are to evangelize and disciple our children.
Evangelization and discipleship don’t just happen. It takes a plan, diligent effort, and a lot of prayer. The enemy is working hard using the things of this world to distract our children from the most important relationship in their lives: their relationship with God. We can’t let the enemy steal our children. We must turn their hearts toward their Father in Heaven. Don’t doubt your ability to do this as a parent. God called you, He will equip you.
Monday, June 04, 2007
June marks the beginning of the summer wedding season. Summer weddings are beautiful. In fact this weekend Leslie and I are attending Jonathan and Rebecca’s wedding in Ohio. We couldn’t be happier for them. Last week Leslie and I celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary. Thirteen years and three boys later we spent the day reminiscing about the good, the bad, the ugly and how faithful God is through it all.
Weddings are wonderful but they are just the beginning. After the couple says “I do” real life begins. Perhaps you have heard it said, “We spend too much time planning the wedding and too little time preparing for marriage.” Those of us who are married can attest to the truth of that statement. Beginnings are important but tell you very little about the future. As in life, marriage cannot be measured on how well you start; it is all about the lifelong journey.
In the marriage vows are the words “to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part.” You are saying to the other person that I am entering into a life covenant with you that no matter what life brings our way we will be and grow together.
What do you think God wants to begin in you this summer? What has he already begun in your life? Remember, it’s not about the launch, it’s about the journey. And unlike our sometimes frail human relationships God will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 3:8). We don’t have to worry He is always there and what He begins in us, He will complete.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
This is Pentecost weekend, the seventh Sunday after Easter. Pentecost was originally an Old Testament celebration called the Feast of Weeks or Shavuot. Shavuot was an agricultural celebration where the people gave thanks to God by bringing their first fruits of the Spring harvest as offerings to the Lord (Leviticus 23). As time has passed and we have moved from an agricultural society, the Feast of Weeks has become a time to commemorate the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai.
One year during the first century, after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, God birthed His Church on the Day Pentecost. Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. It was on that day, when Jews from around the world were in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5-12), that God filled the 120 with the Holy Spirit and they were given power to be God’s witnesses (Acts 1:8). On that day 3000 became believers and many of them took the message of the Gospel back to their hometown, and the church had begun worldwide.
We believe that the same promise of Jesus is for believers today. Acts 1:8 says, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses…” We need the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be the church and witnesses He has called us to be. Ephesians 5:18 tells us to be continually filled with the Sprit. We need a fresh infilling of the Spirit on a daily basis. On this, the birthday of the church, let’s celebrate by receiving a fresh God’s gift of the Holy Spirit!
Sunday, May 20, 2007
A Gallup Poll used the following scale to measure church attendance: How often do you attend church or synagogue — At least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom or never? The breakdown of responses to this question for all of 2006 were 31 percent reporting attending once a week, 12 percent almost every week, 15 percent once a month, 28 percent seldom and 14 percent never.
Those who reported attending at least once a month — 58 percent of the current sample — were asked why they attend. The reasons were:
For spiritual growth and guidance (23%)
Keeps me grounded/inspired (20%)
It's my faith (15%)
To worship God (15%)
The fellowship of other members/The community (13%)
Belief in God/Belief in religion (12%)
Brought up that way/A family value/Tradition (12%)
No reason in particular (1%)
The complete survey can be found at GallupPoll.com.
In Matthew 16, Jesus asked His disciples who people thought He was. He then challenged the disciples to answer the question for themselves. “Who do you say that I am?” So let me get personal with you today, “Why do you go to church?” I know there are a lot of reasons. A lot of good reasons. We enjoy the worship, the Word, seeing our friends, being with our family, being encouraged, connecting with God. God even tells us in His Word that we are not to neglect going to church (Hebrews 10:25).
Take time to examine why you go to church. I believe there are things God can only do in our life when we gather together. He wants us to experience His presence in our celebration of worship. He wants to touch our lives and change us when we gather together. Let there be no more church as usual. Come expecting to meet God and be changed by Him!
Friday, May 11, 2007
I have been blessed to have strong women and moms in my life. I have a wonderful mother who many know as Mrs. Merrill who has taught our children Sunday School for the past fifty years. I have had two godly grandmas Mary Merrill, who went to be with the Lord, and Ella Meade who I admire. I have a great sister, Jodi Bechtold, who impresses me with her mothering skills as her family continually grows. I have a wonderful and beautiful wife and mother of our boys, Leslie, who I grow to love more each day as I watch her love and care for our family no matter how complicated life becomes. I even have a terrific mother-in-law.
I am blessed to have these women in my life. I wondered if there was a common thread to their greatness. When I began to think about it, I realized how different these women all were. They all have very different personalities and temperaments. Some had small families, others large. Some worked outside of the home, others were homemakers. In all of their differences, however, there was one consistent trait: each of these women puts God first in their life. They embody Mark 12:30, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”
Life is hard. Family life can be very hard. That’s why our priorities need to be in proper order so that no matter what comes our way we can handle it because God is with us. Today I honor the moms in my life. I love you all. Your faithful and genuine relationship with the Lord has and will bless generations.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
This week our eldest son Luke mowed our lawn for the first time. I have to admit I couldn’t be more excited. I have waited for this day since he was born. I believe it is one of the reasons you have children. ;-) You see, I have been mowing lawns since I was young and I now have someone who will take over. I am ready to retire from my weekly summer ritual.
The funny thing is that as excited I was to turn our lawnmower over to Luke, he was equally excited to take on the new responsibility. He sees it as a right of passage into young adulthood. He now asks everyday if he can mow the lawn. Perhaps it’s the $5 he earns, perhaps he feels more grown up, or perhaps it’s the feeling he gets from knowing he is doing something significant for me and our family.
I didn’t just hand him the lawnmower and a gas can and say, “Go at it.” There was training involved. We talked about the lawn mower, how to cut the lawn, and the various important safety concerns. All of these things are second nature to a veteran lawn guy like me, but to someone who is beginning, all of this is very important. I cut the first track around the yard. I helped Luke cut around his first couple of trees. I then watched carefully, helping when needed, as took on his new grown up task. The rows weren’t always even. He missed a couple of spots. But he had a great first outing.
When I was watching Luke I thought about God watching us as we take on new callings in life. I like the thought that God is always there watching. He never leaves us alone. He is always there to help. And as we get good at one task, He gives us a bigger one to tackle. Remember the words of Jesus this week as you live out your calling, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
Sunday, April 29, 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Sampson ministering in our services last weekend. Along with specific words of knowledge Steve spoke a powerful word to our entire congregation about our identity and influence in God. The enemy is out to destroy our identity and influence and the Holy Spirit is there to increase our understanding of both. We need to stop believing what the enemy, the world, and everybody else says about us and believe God. Sometimes we are our own worst critics. We put ourselves down and sabotage our influence. What God says about us is true! I like what Steve Sampson always say, “God thinks He’s right.” And He is!
Take time this week to declare these biblical confessions. Stand on His word and let the Holy Spirit increase the understanding of your identity and influence.
- I am a child of God (1 John 3:2)
- I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
- The joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
- I have the peace of God (Philippians 4:11)
- I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)
- My tongue is God’s property (James 3:2)
- I speak with authority (Luke 10:19)
- I love the Word of God (Psalm 119:162)
- God will supply all of my needs (Philippians 4:19)
- I walk by the Spirit ( Galatians 5:16)
- I have the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22)
- I am free from fear and worry ( 1 Peter 5:7)
- I am a joint-heir with Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:6)
- I am the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- God loves me (John 15:9)
- I am a new creation - a new person altogether in Christ Jesus. Old things have passed away; all things have become fresh and new! ( 2 Corinthians 5:17)
Friday, April 20, 2007
For to us a child is born… And he will be called… Prince of Peace.
…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
This has been a difficult week for our nation. As if we needed a reminder, the Virginia Tech Massacre has reminded us that we live in a fallen and evil world. It seems as though the more our questions about this tragedy are answered, deeper questions about the human condition arise. There is unrest in our souls as we ponder the tragedies of this life.
One of the names for God in the Bible is Jehovah Shalom, The Lord is peace. Peace is an attribute of God. In the uproar of our world God remains steady and calm. Don’t think this means God is aloof and indifferent to our plight. The Bible teaches us that God grieves, gets angry, is afflicted, feels our sorrow, but none of these things disturb His steady peace. When this world blows up, God is steady, undisturbed. He remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the Rock.
It is easy to have peace when things are good in our lives. But storms do come. God offers a peace that passes understanding. When there is no reason to have peace, we can have peace in God because He is Jehovah Shalom. He is our rock in the shifting sands of life. When God rules our lives, His Prince of Peace, who lives in us, gives us a peace that passes understanding. Pray for that peace in your life and share it with those around you. Today, as we worship, celebrate our Jehovah Shalom who is our steady peace no matter what we are going through.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
We are week past the Ascension Convention and good reports of what God did in the lives of students continue to come in from across the country. God touched the lives of thousands of students. I listened this past Wednesday night as our students from Christian Life shared their testimonies of what God. It was awesome! Keep our young people in your prayers as God continues His work in their lives.
What amazed me was the response of the young people during each service. No matter the speaker, no matter the topic, students responded each and every time a call was given. Whether for salvation, consecration, overcoming addictions, suicidal thoughts, etc. students came forward desiring God to change their hearts and lives. Powerful ministry took place around a makeshift altar at the O’Hare Hyatt Grand Ballroom.
This response at the Ascension Convention reveals two things. First, young people around the country are hungry for God’s power and work in their lives. They desire a real and lasting work… a true life changing work. Simply stated, young people are open to God. Second, seeing young people respond at the altar for things such as suicide and addictions reveals the satan’s plan to destroy this generation.
Our response must be prayer! There is a spiritual war going on for the lives of our young people. We need to pray that the revival fires continue to burn in their lives. We must also pray that God protects them from the schemes of the enemy. Let’s stand strong in prayer for our young people so that the next generation of the church is stronger than it than it has ever been before.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
There are three things that last forever: the Word of God, the Kingdom of God, and the souls of men. It is awesome to think that in a weekend service at church we can impact eternity as we take in the Word, see people give their lives to Christ, and sow seed into God’s Kingdom work at home and around the world. This coming weekend in the life of our church we are looking to make a significant impact in eternity.
This week we have the opportunity to eternally influence the lives of thousands of teenagers at the Ascension Convention. The Ascension Convention was birthed by President Schmidt and the college and for over twenty years our church has teamed up with the college to touch the lives of tens of thousands of students. Each year testimonies come in of lives radically changed by this annual weekend event.
As your pastor, I want to thank you for each year investing your Easter weekend in the lives of countless teenagers. As a former youth pastor I know the power and influence these types of events have on students. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to decorate, monitor, usher, make CD’s, set up, tear down, etc. This convention is too big to go on without you. Each person and their giftings are necessary to make this event a success.
There is no doubt we will work hard, but without God it will be impossible. Pray with me that as we serve together God shows up in a big way in each student’s life. After this Sunday’s service there will be an Ascension Convention volunteers meeting in the sanctuary. Even if you haven’t signed up yet, come and see where you can be involved. See Pastor Jon, give him a call or send him and email and let him know you want to invest in eternity this week.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Ten Commandments for Cowboys
1. Just one God
2. Honor yer Ma & Pa
3. No telling tales or gossipin’
4. Git yourself to Sunday meeting
5. Put nothin’ before God
6. No foolin’ around with another fellow’s gal
7. No killin’
8. Watch yer mout
9. Don’t take what ain’t yers
10. Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff.
Yep, that's purty much it!
If you want to read the Ten Commandments in their entirety and the events surrounding them check out Exodus 20.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
The Christian Life Church Book Club is reading the book Lincoln’s Melancholy. Our 16th president had a fascinating journey to becoming one of nations most beloved and respected presidents.
Did you know that within days of taking the office of president that?
- His predecessor, James Buchanan, openly declared that Lincoln would destroy the nation.
- Seven stated seceded from the Union.
- The U.S. House of Representatives refused Lincoln’s plea to enlarge the military.
- The Senate passed a resolution demanding the War Department reduce military spending.
- Rumors ran rampant that Lincoln would be shot at his inaugural and Washington DC would be burned to the ground.
Think you got troubles? To make matters worse the New York and Washington papers viciously attacked Lincoln calling him a “third rate country lawyer, a dictator, an ape, a buffoon.”
How was Lincoln able to succeed with so much against him? He was a leader who always chose to what was right. He was also a leader who surrounded himself with the right people to help him succeed. His decisions weren’t based on what was popular or convenient. Lincoln simply chose what was right.
How do you handle the critics, disappointments, and struggles of life? Do you look for the easy way out? Do you seek the approval of others? I encourage to always choose to do what is right. Seek God’s counsel and follow His ways. It may not be popular. It may not be easy. But it will be right and will lead to ultimate success.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)
I heard a great thought on faith this week. I was listening to the Morning Ministries with Roger Plummer on WYLL 1160AM and heard someone on one of the programs preaching on faith. I didn’t have anything to take notes, so to the best of my memory, here are some of the powerful principles I gleaned on faith this morning.
Faith is not…wishing really hard that something will happen.
Faith is not…accomplishing certain results that others cannot.
Faith is not…just believe until you get it.
Faith is…getting out of the way so God can do His good and perfect will and purpose in our life.
Faith is about God and His way not us and our way. John the Baptist said it this way, “He must increase…I must decrease.” John 3:30-31 (NKJV)
I have thoroughly enjoyed preparing our sermons this year on Getting To Know God. The more you study about how God has revealed Himself the more powerful and awesome He gets. His plans and His ways are far beyond mine. God has so much more for us! He wants to do more in our lives than we could ever imagine. The Apostle Paul states, “By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.” Eph 3:20 (NLT)
Increase your faith this week…get out of the way, seek God and His ways, and watch what He will do!
Friday, February 09, 2007
Romans 8:17a (NLT)
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about building authentic self esteem in children. As parents, we do our best to show our children unconditional love. However, we’re not perfect, and no matter how hard we try there are times we fall short in this difficult task.
In our fallen state we often adopt unhealthy ways of finding our self worth. Most of the time we work to earn the love, respect, attention from others. Somewhere along the way as children we learn we have to perform to be accepted and loved. This continues into adulthood and into our relationship with God. But with God, He is perfect, and His love is unconditional.
God loves you with a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. Love is patient, love is kind…it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God loves you perfectly.
God loves you because you are his child and He is your perfect Heavenly Father. True self esteem comes from knowing our identity and inherent worth as children of God. God has adopted you into his family. You are a joint heir with Jesus sharing in all of the treasures and promises of God! This week stop trying to perform for God and instead rest and enjoy His love. His love is perfect!
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
John 20:30-31 (NIV)
I enjoy etymology, the history of words. I was researching the word miracle this past week and discovered its origin comes from the Latin miraculum, “a wonder, marvel, to wonder at.” There is no doubt that the supernatural work of God in our lives is something to marvel or wonder at.
When was the last time you marveled or wondered at the work of God in your life? It’s good to take time to review God’s work in your life. It’s better to take it one step further and share a testimony with a friend of what God has done in your life. This remembering and telling not only increases our thankfulness it also increases our faith.
In our passage above John tells us that he wrote about the miracles of Jesus so ”that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” Miracles are meant to bring belief and life in Christ. It cannot be overstated that miracles are an important part of our Christian life.
I expect God to do miracles. It’s what He does. I believe that God works supernaturally in our lives to show the world who He is and by our testimony there will be belief and new life in Christ.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Hey sports fans Sunday is the big day. The Bears will be playing their first playoff game. As many of you know, I’m a big fan. The question is will the Bears be able to go on to the NFC Championship game or will this be another early exit from the playoffs? I’ve been listening to the experts talk about the keys to the big game. Some of the points they mention include…
- Every player playing their best
- Potent offense
- Tough defense
- Minimize the turnovers
- Will to win
And the list goes on. A lot of the same things are the key to a successful Christian Life.
It is interesting how many times Paul uses sporting images as illustrations of the Christian life. Whether it is running, wrestling, boxing each provide insight. Here are just a few…
- Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight (box) like a man beating the air. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26
- For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12-13
- If anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5
And never forget, in Christ we always win! But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
Sunday, January 07, 2007
The Apostle Paul – Philippians 3:13, 14
It’s the first weekend of the New Year. 2007 is a year full of possibility and opportunity. We each have 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525, 600 minutes, and 31,536,000 seconds. What will you do with all this time?
Paul’s letter to the Philippians offers some good advice. First, forget what is behind. Paul is talking about forgetting what is behind in such a way as to not jeopardize his present and future spiritual growth.
Paul is forgetting both the good and the bad of the past. He forgets the wrongs of the past that could paralyze him with guilt and shame. He also wants to forget about the achievements of the past that could cause him to slow down or coast along in his spiritual development.
Paul is interested in one thing: to strain toward what is ahead. Like a runner in a race Paul didn’t want to look back to see where he had been he was concentrating on where he is going. Paul said, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Nothing short of God’s good and perfect will, nothing short of reaching his destiny, nothing short of spiritual victory would have satisfied Paul. What about you?
No doubt you have some goals for 2007. It is good to have goals. Goals are necessary in order to measure success in our lives. Take time at the beginning of this New Year to spend time with God, seek His will for you and your family this year, and discover God’s very best for your life.