Monday, December 29, 2008

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight

My Book Shelf
– Every now and then I like to share with you what I’m reading. My hope is that it will be a blessing and help to you as well.

Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight by Karen Scalf Linamen

You know I love a great book title and I just couldn’t pass this one up. Now I know it’s a book for women but we all need a little help in getting to where we want to be in life so I thought this would be the perfect book to review as we end 2008 and begin 2009.

We all long for change in our lives. That’s why we use the New Year to make our list of resolutions. Too often we forget about our list within the first few days and sink back into our old habits and emotions. Either we are just too comfortable to change or we’re too afraid. True positive change often seems out of our reach so we give up on our dreams and goals and settle for what we know is less than best.

We all need a little help. In Only Nuns Change Habits Overnight, Karen examines 52 powerful actions readers can apply to any change they long to embrace. Her insights apply to career, finances, personal health and fitness, relationships, faith—in fact, every facet of life. She is able to blend great stories, laugh-out-loud humor, and practical wisdom to help each of us transform our life. She provides the help we need to end bad habits, stop procrastinating, and generate the energy we need to pursue the life we desire.

God has so much more for you. Don’t settle. Strive for your personal best in 2009 and honor God with your life!

Author Bio: Karen Scalf Linamen is a popular speaker and the celebrated author of ten books for women, including Due to Rising Energy Costs the Light at the End of the Tunnel Has Been Turned Off and Just Hand Over the Chocolate and No One Will Get Hurt. She has been featured on more than one hundred radio programs, including FamilyLife Today. Publishers Weekly describes her as “funny, forthright and unforgettable.” Linamen lives with her family in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Visit her website at

Monday, December 08, 2008

Cold & Snow

The cold and snow has arrived this first week of December. While I don’t like the bitter cold I enjoy this time of year as we give thanks at Thanksgiving, prepare our hearts for Christmas, and we look forward to a new year. Like the cold or not, this is an important time of the year in our lives.

There is one thing that I am going to miss now that it’s cold. I have gotten into the habit of taking the farthest parking spot at stores and such. It’s not about the exercise, although I know that’s beneficial. I have been using that extra walking time for prayer. Sometimes we are in such a hurry in our everyday lives that we miss little opportunities to connect with God. This was one way to add a little extra time with God each day.

Amazing things happen when you make room for God. I heard God speak to me as I was walking, and the feeling of being closer to God and an amazing opportunity to minister to someone at the store were just a few of the results of walking a little farther each day.

Now I have to find a new way to find those extra minutes with God each day. What do you do to connect with God? Let me know, I am looking for suggestions.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Push and Pull

It seems like life is endless game of push and pull. I feel like my alarm is pushing me out of bed each morning into a day with a “To Do” list that is impossible to accomplish in 24 hours. And everyone said, “Amen.” Our stories are probably similar: constant demands, overwhelming schedules, too much to do, too little time.

By the end of each day I look at my Palm and see all the things I didn’t get done. I begin moving the mountain of tasks to tomorrow’s “To Do” list. So before one day is over I already feel pulled into tomorrow by my subtly increasing time debt.

There is nothing wrong with a lot to do. It’s part of the world in which we live. Everyone is pushed and pulled through life. The important question to ask is, “Who is doing the pushing and pulling?” While I believe we are responsible for the choices we make in life, it seems at some point we lose control and something or someone else takes over.

Who is doing your pushing and pulling? As Christians, the answer should be God, His Word, the example of Christ, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When asked about what He was doing Jesus responded, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” Jesus was in tune with the Father’s will. It wasn’t about what He wanted to do. It wasn’t about what people expected Him to do. It was all about what God wanted Him to do.

Our lives are not our own. We are stewards of our lives, our time, and all that we have been given. At some point we will stand before the Judge and give an account and the question will be, “What is your relationship to the Judge?” Take time this week to reflect on the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about your work with and relationship to Him.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Top 7 Christian Movies

With the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons upon us I thought I would blog about something fun that could also be beneficial for gift giving or family times around the TV during the holidays.

Why only 7 you ask? Well, I don’t have a lot of room on the back of a bulletin and it seemed to be the right number when discussing “Christian” movies. Now I know there are some that would ask, “What makes a movie ‘Christian’?” Well, I’m running out of room, so we don’t have time for a philosophical discussion right now.

Here are my Top 7 Christian Movies in no particular order:
  1. Fireproof – Moving movie from the makers of “Facing the Giants” (another great movie). Still in theaters!
  2. The Nativity Story – Authentic look at the first Christmas.
  3. Left Behind – Got to love Kirk Cameron missing the Rapture.
  4. The End of the Spear – Powerful!
  5. Peter & Paul – Nothing better than Anthony Hopkins as Paul.
  6. The Cross & the Switchblade – 70’s cheesy cool movie with Eric Estrada.
  7. The Passion of the Christ – One of my all-time favorite movies ever.

Honorable Mention:
  • A Thief in the Night (Part 1) & A Distant Thunder (Part 2) – End Times movies from the 70’s that scared me to death as a kid. I pretty much love all End Times movies from every era.

So many more great Christian movies so little time. Let me know what your favorites are and let’s build a list.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Following & Obedience

Following Jesus requires obedience. You can’t call yourself a disciple if you’re not willing to follow the guidance of the teacher. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

One of the ways that we follow Jesus is by being baptized in water. It is a step of obedience to the Lord following conversion. It is part of becoming a disciple (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 2:38). It is also the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Peter 3:21).

This public event tells God and everybody else (the church, your family, and friends) that you are a true follower of Christ. Jesus identified with sinful man when He was baptized by John. We are identified with Christ when we are baptized in Christian baptism. It is a symbol of your new life in Christ. Baptism is an act that demonstrates you have buried your former sinful life and have been to the cross, just like Jesus. It shows you want to put an end to the old life, and then to be resurrected “to walk in the newness of life.” (Romans 6:34)

I want to personally invite you to follow the Lord and be baptized in water. Take this crucial step in becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ! A Water Baptism Information Sheet is in your bulletin as well as available in the lobby. Everyone is invited to our Worship, Prayer, & Baptism evening at Christian Life Church on Sunday, November 23 at 6PM. It is one of the most inspiring evenings of the year as we watch young and old follow the Lord in water baptism.

If you have been baptized in water are you walking in the abundant new life God has given you? Take time this week to evaluate your discipleship. Are you following God and His Word? Are you close to the Teacher heeding His guidance for your life? Let’s be Christians who hear God say "This is the way; walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Simple Discipleship

…love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.
Mark 12:30 (The Message)

Jesus makes things simple for us. By the time Jesus shows up in history the religious leaders had accumulated over 600 laws that you needed to follow in order to be in right relationship with God. It was impossible for anyone to remember all of the laws, so they were constantly trying to distinguish between the major and the minor laws. When asked which is the most important, Jesus answers, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Jesus goes on to teach that the second most important law was to, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)

Jesus lets us know that the ultimate Christian creed is to love God and love others. That’s it. Period. Simple isn’t it? And yet, so difficult to accomplish.

I believe more than ever, in our moment in history, we need to be reminded to follow the Great Commandment. Sometimes we have the tendency like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day to make discipleship tedious. The reality is Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30) Ultimate discipleship is simply loving God and loving others. Take time this week to check your heart. How is your passion level for God? How’s your heart toward your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates, etc.? Let’s be doers of Jesus’ words this week.

One final thing I would like to ask you to do this week… please sign up to pray for our nation and President-Elect Barak Obama at You can also join others at Christian Life praying in the prayer room on Tuesday Evenings at 7PM.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pray. Vote. Change.

Change is coming. This week our nation will elect the 44th President of the United States. No matter what happens on November 4th, there will be new leadership in Washington, DC.

Our Tuesday ballots are loaded with profound consequences for the future. As Americans, we have a right to vote. As Christians, we have a responsibility before God to pray and vote according to the witness of His Word. Proverbs 14:34 says, Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. It is important, to the best of our ability, that we do things God’s way. The future and God’s blessing of our nation hangs in the balance.

If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country…
Deuteronomy 28:1-3

As we begin this historic week don’t forget to pray, don’t forget to vote, and don’t forget to remember that God is in control. On November 5th God is still in control of the universe no matter who is elected president. As we have been learning in our study of the end times Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords and His kingdom is without end. Never forget, we were made for eternity, we belong to God, and heaven is our real home.

As you pray (and possibly fast) this week for the future of our nation read Joel 2 and allow God to speak to you from His Word.

You can also check out my blog and most recent teachings at

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken: Everything Jesus Said About You, Your Life, And Everything Else

My Book Shelf

The Greatest Words Ever Spoken: Everything Jesus Said About You, Your Life, And Everything Else.

Every now and then I like to share with you what I’m reading. My hope is that it will be a blessing and help to you as well.

Since 1993 I have taught Life of Christ at Christian Life College. It is by far my favorite class to teach. There is something special about diving in and studying the words and works of Jesus. It’s as though you receive your abundant life as you study His.

I try to stay fresh each semester by reading the latest books on the life of Christ as well as the Gospels. This fall I found a great new book called The Greatest Words Ever Spoken by Steven K. Scott. I’ve never seen anything like it. It takes all of the sayings of Jesus (over 1,900) throughout the New Testament and organizes them into over 200 different topics Jesus addresses. It’s like being able to ask Jesus any question and get His perfect answer. I have used the book to study Jesus’ words on the End Times for our current sermon series. A wide variety of topics are covered such as: prayer, forgiveness, eternity, anger, temptations, relationships, grace, and many, many more.

There is a great introduction to Jesus’ life and words as well as short introductions to each topic. This is one of the most exciting resources on the life of Christ I have found in a long time and can’t wait to use it as a text for my course next semester. Reflect on this verse next week and allow the words of Jesus to guide you in life and into eternity.

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.” John 5:24-25 (NKJV)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Ungrateful Children

Last Sunday we celebrated Mark’s 5
th birthday. There is something special about a child’s birthday. Their excitement is off the charts. For weeks Mark was announcing his birthday to anyone who would listen. The day of he made sure everyone knew. Since it was a Sunday he may have even stopped you at church and let you know with a grin, “Today is my birthday.”

The weeks leading up to his birthday Mark let us know what presents he wanted. As the days passed the list grew and grew, and unfortunately, we did get almost everything he wanted. At the end of the big day after all the gifts were opened he looked sad. I thought it was because the special day was coming to end, instead he announced he wanted more presents. More presents? MORE PRESENTS!?! Doesn’t he understand how much we had spent? How hard we worked to make his birthday special? More presents?

As I have thought about Mark’s attitude toward his birthday, I can’t help but think about our relationship with God. God is our good and perfect heavenly father. He knows exactly what we need and He faithfully provides every good and perfect gift. And yet, it seems like we always want more. We never are satisfied, acting like a child after he has opened all the presents and still wants more. I was so challenged by Steve Sampson’s Sunday evening message to us last week on “Being Thankful.” I think we should all listen to it again, especially as we move toward the Thanksgiving season.

How do you see your life? Are you focused on what God has provided and is doing in your life or are you always complaining about what you lack? Take time this week to reflect on the following verse.

The Lord has done great things for us, And we are glad. Psalms 126:3 (NKJV)

Friday, October 10, 2008

False Security

I was reading a number of statistics from Barna Research online this week and I came across one that kind of surprised me. Only 2% of people in the United States believe that when they die they will go to hell. Beyond reaching that 2% with the Gospel, we probably need to warn the other 98% that they may not be as ready for eternity as they think especially since most people spend more time planning their next vacation than they do preparing for eternity.

I think one of the reasons many people feel they will make it to heaven is they think one makes it by being “good.” We then determine our “goodness” by comparing ourselves to other people. We look around and feel as though we are at least as “good” as everyone else, if not a little better. But comparisons can be dangerous.

The comparison game can lead to a false sense of security. Comparisons should not be made against others but against who God is and what He says in His Word. We should get uncomfortable when we compare ourselves against God and His Word. We just don’t measure up. That’s the power of daily Bible reading, prayer, attending a small group, and coming to church every week. It may be uncomfortable at times but it’s good to face the truth. We just aren’t “good” enough. But God is good and His grace and love outweigh our ugly sinfulness.

The Good News is simply that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, to take our eternal penalty of hell upon Himself. In return, we can be forgiven our sins and have a relationship with God for this life and all of eternity. Take time this week to get uncomfortable with your “goodness” and then mediate on these two verses.

You… must keep watch! For you don’t know when the master of the household will return—in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak. Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning. I say to you what I say to everyone: Watch for him! Mark 13:35-37 (NLT)

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NLT)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

My Book Shelf – For Young Men Only

Every now and then I want to share with you what I’m reading. Hopefully, it will be a blessing and help to you as well.

Right now I am reading a helpful little book by Jeff Feldhahn and Eric Rice, For Young Men Only. Jeff’s wife, Shaunti Feldhahn, is the author of the popular “ONLY” series of books, For Men Only, For Women Only, For Parents Only, etc. It’s an amazing series of books that really help to increase our understanding of each other.

As a father of a junior high boy, I have been looking for all the help I can get in raising a moral and godly son. Perhaps you’re in the same boat as a parent, or teacher, or youth leader. This book is great. It is probably geared more for a teenage/high school boy but it has been a tremendous help to me.

Here’s one write up on the book…
Drawing on a fresh national survey of 600 teen girls, as well as hundreds of personal interviews, For Young Men Only reveals the real truth about what teenage girls think, what they want, and how average teen guys can build healthy friendships with high quality girls. Full of surprising revelations and practical advice, For Young Men Only delivers help straight from the girls themselves in a fun, easy-to-read, easy-to-talk about format.

Warm, witty, and honest, authors Jeff Feldhahn and Eric Rice tell plenty of personal stories and draw on solid biblical principles to guide young guys through the often daunting world of the opposite sex. Their goal is to help teen guys build self-confidence and understanding, and show them how to pursue a relationship with a girl while giving her the respect and protection she deserves.

Check it out and the other books from the “ONLY” series. We all need all the help we can get.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Tendency to Despair

Whenever you study the end times there can be a tendency to despair. The things that are coming can be frightening. Sometimes when we watch the news and see what is happening in our world right now we get scared. But over and over again in the Bible God reminds us not to be afraid. God tells us not to panic or worry. He reminds us He is in control, He is with us, and He will save us.

So the first this to remember when we go through difficult times is don’t be afraid, God is with us. The second thing we need to do is encourage one another. We are meant to build up and help one another. Sometimes the best way to get through a tough time is by lending a helping hand to someone else. By encouraging others, we encourage ourselves.

Another important thing to do when going through a difficult time is to not give up. Keep going, never quit. The enemy is out to stop you and once you stop, he’s won. Don’t give up! Instead of stopping or slowing down increase your relationship with God. Don’t miss church, worship, read your Bible, pray and most of all “Give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Always remember God knows your situation. He cares about you. Peter wrote to a church that was facing the harshest persecution, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7) Don’t fret. “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27) Paul writes, “May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

Sunday, September 21, 2008


These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication.
Acts 1:14 (NKJV)

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Acts 2:42 (NKJV)

There is a principle of continuing in the Christian life. Throughout the Book of Acts the Christians continued in the practice of their faith. There is no such thing as a one time experience in the Christian life. We have a salvation experience but then we “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12) We are filled with the Holy Spirit but then we are to be continually filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18)

So many Christians start the race of faith only to stop after crossing the starting line. We will never be all that God created us to be if we don’t continue. We had quite a weekend last weekend at Christian Life Church. We launched our Randall Road Campus. And let me tell you, it was great! We packed out our meeting room. It was a powerful service! But it was just the beginning. Now we continue each week watching Christ build His church in the far northwestern suburbs of Chicago. We had a powerful Miracle Service last Sunday night in Mount Prospect. It was a great time of praying and waiting on God for the supernatural. But it can’t be a one-time experience. We must continue walking in faith.

No matter where you find yourself today I believe the word of the Lord to each one of us is… continue. You’re not finished. God’s not finished with you. Remember and hold on to His promise in His Word, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

Sunday, September 14, 2008


And without faith it is impossible to please God…
Hebrews 11:6 (NIV)

This is a historical weekend at Christian Life Church. This Sunday (after years of preparation) at 11:30AM we officially launch our Randall Road Campus. A brand new church has been birthed in the far western suburbs of Chicago. Seventy percent of the households in this fast growing community do not attend church. What an exciting place to plant a church!

This is just one of the many great things happening this fall season at Christian Life. We have a slogan for this time of growth and expansion at our church: “We’re doing the Book of Acts until Jesus comes back.” I believe now more than ever before God is calling Christian Life Church and each one of us to do great things for Him.

To do great things for God requires faith. When we feel good and are experiencing growth it is easy to have faith for more. But what happens when things get bad and we feel overwhelmed? Sometimes we lose our faith when we need it the most. The disciples said to Jesus, “Increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5) You and I can make this our prayer to the Lord each day no matter how we feel, “Lord, increase our faith!”

This Sunday (9/14) evening at 6PM we will be having a Miracle Service at our Mount Prospect Campus. Come for worship, the Word, and prayer, but also come expecting God to increase your faith because we need more faith more than ever before. And don’t forget, “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Friday, September 05, 2008

The End.

…the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage feast: and the door was shut.
Matthew 25:10

As we begin to look at The End (our End Times series) let me ask you a question: Are you ready? If Jesus was to come back today, are you ready? I know that we don’t think about it much, but if we did, I have no doubt it would revolutionize how we live our lives.

How we view the end times is important. A biblical view of The End will shape how we do our family, work, and church lives. It impacts your social and political views. It impacts your prayer life, your work for the Lord, how you spend your time, how you treat others, and what you value. Like I’ve said, thinking about End Times can revolutionize your life.

I hope you are looking forward to Jesus’ return. He could come back at any moment! But what if God waits 10 more years? What about 25? What about 50? I remember thinking when I was my boys’ ages that the Lord would probably return before I became an adult. I hate to be morbid about this, but what if the Lord takes another 50 years to return? The reality is that most all of us will be dead. Not a happy thought, but true.

The Bible is clear, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. We need to be right with God right now. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says, “…the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation.” As we long for the return of the Lord, let’s make sure we’re ready and those around us are ready for eternity to begin today. Take time this week to reflect on the sobering words in James…

Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:13-14

Let me ask you the question again. Are you ready?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Olympic Confession

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
1 Corinthians 9:24

I have to make a confession. I have broken my TV fast. For the past two weeks I have been watching a lot of television. I’ve been watching in the morning, throughout the day, even late at night into the early hours of the morning. I confess. I was addicted to the Olympics.

I loved it when the Americans did well. I taught the boys to chant USA as we cheered on our countrymen. Like most, I especially enjoyed Michael Phelps’ run of eight gold medals in swimming. As the days passed each race became more intense, we sat and watched to see if he could accomplish the impossible. When the final relay was won our family cheered as we realized we had just witnessed a historic sporting moment.

Paul in the Scriptures used various sports as illustrations of the Christian life. His favorite picture was that of a race with the idea that we run with perseverance until we finish the race.

I was thinking about Michael Phelps record setting eight gold medals. While there is no doubt he now ranks as one of the best athletes ever, he couldn’t have set the record by himself. He needed the help of his relay teammates. In fact, it was their extra effort that gained him a couple of those gold medals.

What a powerful example of the Christian life. We do our personal best but we can’t always do it on our own. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our second mission at Christian Life Church is to connect people to people. You weren’t meant to be a Christian on your own. We all need people alongside of us encouraging, challenging, and praying for us as we run the race set before us.

While most of us will never receive a medal in this life, we run the race to win. We run to hear Him say, “Well done!” Keep on running! And run with passion!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My Book Shelf – Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson

I want to start something new in my blog to our church. Every now and then I want to share with you what I’m reading that challenges and inspires me. My hope is that these books do the same for you.

Right now I am reading Mark Batterson’s latest book, Wild Goose Chase. You may remember Mark from our Chase the Lion series. He is the author of In A Pit, With A Lion, On A Snowy Day, which was my favorite book so far this year but may be replaced now by Wild Goose Chase. You can check it out at

Mark has a way of communicating that excites your spirit and gets you longing for all that God has for you and your life. Let me share with you some of Mark’s words from the introduction.

"Most of us have no idea where we’re going most of the time. Perfect. Celtic Christians had a name for the Holy Spirit–‘An Geadh-Glas’, or ‘the Wild Goose.’ The name hints at mystery. Much like a wild goose, the Spirit of God cannot be tracked or tamed. An element of danger, an air of unpredictability surround Him. And while the name may sound a little sacrilegious, I cannot think of a better description of what it’s like to follow the Spirit through life. I think the Celtic Christians were on to something…. Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure."

Here's another quote from chapter 1...

"Here's a thought... Do angels yawn? I know it seems like an inane theological question, but I seriously wonder if angels have the capacity to get bored. More importantly, I wonder if some of us are living such safe lives that not only are we bored, but so are our guardian angels."

It only gets better from there. I don’t want to give away the surprises in the coming chapters, but I’ll just say this book will release you to follow the God as you never have before. I hope everyone reads and allows themselves to challenged by this book. I was so captivated I read it in one sitting! I would love to see it in all of our small groups. Allow this book to dare you to chase God and His plan for your life! Hey college students, I’m going to put a copy in the Christian Life College library. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
2 Samuel 23:20

A month from this weekend we will make history as we embark on the next chapter of Christian Life Church. On September 14 we launch weekly weekend services at our Randall Road Campus. This is an exciting moment as a church is birthed in one of the fastest growing areas of our nation. It feels like the Book of Acts happening right now in 2008.

This is a monumental undertaking for a church our size. I often find myself asking the question, “How is this going to work?” I mean when you look at all of the obstacles and risks involved it can be overwhelming.

We began this year studying the life of Benaiah and how he chased the lion. What I’ve noticed in Scripture is that God is on the side of the underdog. Moses against Pharaoh. Gideon’s 300 against the Midianites. David against Goliath. The early church against the Roman World. Against impossible odds God does the supernatural. His kingdom is without end!

There is no doubt that where God leads, He provides, in every way, and right on time. I know that God is with us in Mount Prospect, out West, and in our work around the world. I also know that God is with you and your family in every step of your journey. Expect the supernatural!

For the next month please join me in prayer for our new campus plant. For more information about our Randall Road Campus, please visit

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Have you ever come to your wits end?

Have you ever come to your wits end? You've tried everything. There is nothing else you can do. You have nothing left to give. You feel completely empty and helpless.

I’ve had a couple of days like that this summer, especially with our boys out of school. The time off allows them to find all kinds of mischief. Not to mention the constant noise and sometimes all out brawls that occur until our precious ones are asleep in bed for the night.

Now I’m being a bit silly I know. Boys will be boys and quite honestly there are much bigger things we have to deal with in life. There can be overwhelming circumstances, bad situations, and people that hurt us. There are “thorns in the flesh” that Paul talked about in 2 Cor. 12. At times, there seems to be no relief except for God’s grace.

What can you do when you’re at your wits end? Go to God and keep on going. You never know, you may be close to a miracle breakthrough! I do know that when you take it to the Lord, He is with you, giving you strength for the battle.

When you’re going through a difficult season meditate on the words of David in this Psalm and make it your prayer to God…

I run to you, God; I run for dear life. Don't let me down! Take me seriously this time! Get down on my level and listen, and please—no procrastination! Your granite cave a hiding place, your high cliff aerie a place of safety. You're my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb. Be my safe leader, be my true mountain guide. Free me from hidden traps; I want to hide in you. I've put my life in your hands. You won't drop me, you'll never let me down. Psalms 31:1-5 (MSG)

Remember that God and His grace is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9) throughout the storms of life.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Time with God

Pray continually.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible. While it may be easy to memorize, it’s difficult to practice. This is one of the verses that challenge me to the core.

I’ve noticed that most Christians either have a casual or crisis approach to prayer. The casual approach is prayer happens when it happens. This person says if I have time, or when I have a family meal, or when I’m at church, I’ll pray. Basically, when it fits and/or when I think about it, I’ll pray. The crisis approach is prayer when we desperately need God, when we are uncomfortable, in bad situation, or see no way out. It’s when God is our last resort.

It’s OK to pray when we think about it or when we are in a crisis, but it seems like God wants a 24/7 approach to prayer. How is that possible? I’ve heard it reported that the average pastor only prays approximately 7 minutes a day. It’s scary to think that the average Muslim prays more than the average pastor.

So why does God want us to pray so much? It begs the question, what is the purpose of prayer? Prayer is communication or connection with God. So really, prayer is communion with God. God desires each one of us to be in relationship and to spend time with Him. It’s like any relationship we have. What if you rarely talked with your best friend or your spouse and when you did it was only because you needed something? What kind of relationship would that be? God is with us all of the time, He is a constant friend, He will never leave you or forsake you. He wants you to return the favor and commune with Him. This week set aside your casual or crisis modes of prayer and take time to commune with God. Put God’s Word into practice and watch what happens to your relationship with Him.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Leslie and I watered my parents’ plants while they were away on vacation. Even though we live close by, it’s been a while since I wandered through the backyard I grew up in. I remember the hours of fun back there playing baseball, building forts, basically wasting time goofing off all summer long.

I was surprised by how much had changed. My mom has quite a garden paradise growing in the backyard. (A garden that would have no doubt been trampled by us and the neighborhood kids.) But the thing that surprised me the most were the trees and bushes. I couldn’t believe how big they had grown. I remember thinking they were tall while climbing them as a boy but now over twenty years later I can’t believe how high they had grown. And I remember the biggest tree in our backyard was a weeping willow. It’s gone now. Cut down and replaced with a playhouse. Everything had changed.

This transformation I saw in my backyard reminds me about the change that happens in all of our lives. Some things grow and develop, some things are taken away. There are good memories and memories of scrapes and bruises along the way. The only constant in life seems to be change. The good news is that no matter what happens in life, God never changes and He will never leave us or forsake us during the changes of life.

My hope and prayer for all of you is that as the years pass by and the changes of life come, you will always be growing and developing into the man or woman God is calling you to be. Allow God to work in your seasons of life bringing you to complete spiritually maturity.

Monday, July 14, 2008


I will build my church…
Jesus - Matthew 16:18 (NIV)

Church was God’s idea. We connect with God at church. Jesus promised us that He would lead, build, and give victory to His church. Just read Matthew 16:17-19 to see the amazing things Jesus says about His church. When we gather together in His name Jesus said, “There I am in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) What a promise! Every week we can experience the very presence of God with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

But unfortunately there are so many that miss out on the blessing, power, and presence of God because they do not regularly come to church. There is no substitute this world can offer. There is something supernatural that happens when we gather together with other believers and expect God to show up.

We live in a crucial moment in history that makes it more important than ever to be in church and yet satan has duped so many into believing that you can have be a part of the family of God but you don’t need the church. It is impossible to have vital, growing, and full relationship with God apart from His people.

We need each other. We are to encourage one another (1Thess. 4:18), comfort one another (2 Cor. 1:3, 4), and bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). You can’t do that independently from the church.

Christian Life Church’s mission is to first connect people with God. The second part of our mission is to connect people to people, which is what God meant for the church to do. Today let’s worship God together and take time to connect with the family of God.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Our Founding Fathers

The following quotes from our Founding Fathers are food for thought this 4th of July weekend and national election year.

While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.
George Washington

The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity. I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.
John Adams

I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
Thomas Jefferson

Being a Christian… is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast.
Patrick Henry

All the… evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.
Noah Webster

He called on the entire state to pray “that universal happiness may be established in the world [and] that all may bow to the scepter of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the whole earth be filled with His glory.”
John Hancock

The great, vital, and conservative element in our system is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and the divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Congress, 1854

Monday, June 30, 2008

Connecting With God

God’s great blessing was upon them all.
Acts 4:33b (NLT)

Our mission at Christian Life Church is to connect people to God. Our relationship with God is the most important relationship any one of us will ever have. It is the relationship that we were created for. It is the relationship that shapes our life’s destiny. It is the relationship that will determine our eternity. Therefore, connecting with God is of the utmost importance for us all.

I recently asked our leadership teams how they connected to God. I received a wide variety of answers as they shared their favorite ways to connect with God. One of the reoccurring ways was through attending church. Whether it was the worship, the Word, the prayer around the altar, or the fellowship, each one described how important this aspect was to their Christian life.

Our verse for this Bible Blog comes at the beginning of the Book of Acts. The Day of Pentecost had come. The new Christians were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. They gathered together sharing their lives in community. The apostles were teaching boldly about Jesus. It sounds like an amazing moment in early church history. It was a time of true unity and great power. And Acts 4:33b says, “God’s great blessing was upon them all.”

I know that we all desire God’s blessing in our lives. We love to feel Him close, His presence working in and all around us. There is no doubt that God’s blessing is in our life when we gather together with other believers as the church and experience Him.

As we seek to connect with God let’s remember Hebrews 10:24-25, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…”

Sunday, June 22, 2008

What are you waiting for?

“What are you waiting for?”
Acts 22:16 (NLT)

I can’t wait for our family vacation this summer. It’s on the calendar and will be here in a couple of weeks. It’s been a very busy season in my life and the life of our church with even bigger things coming this fall season. I need this upcoming down time with my family. Like I said, I can’t wait!

Do you ever get tired of waiting? Waiting for something on the calendar? Waiting for a dream to come true? Waiting for something or someone to change? Waiting for an answer to prayer? Waiting for your miracle?

There are seasons of waiting in our lives. The big problem is that it is the seasons of waiting that the enemy uses to cause us to doubt God and His faithfulness, goodness, etc. We have to remember that every saint of the Old and New Testament went through a season of waiting where they needed to keep their faith in God strong. Even Jesus went through seasons of waiting and yet kept focused on the Father and His will.

It is difficult to wait, especially during difficult seasons of life but always remember these verses…

If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31 (NLT)

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

For all the promises of God in Him are
Yes, and in Him Amen… 2 Cor. 1:20 (NKJV)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

I will stick with you until every word I spoke to you comes true. Jeremiah 1:11 (MSG)

Remember, God’s Word and promises do not have expiration dates. So wait patiently and pray persistently. Don't give up!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Family Reunion

But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
Exodus 20:6 (NLT)

This coming week is the big Merrill Family Reunion. There aren’t many of us, but we sure do have a blast. I can’t wait. We haven’t seen everyone for some time now. I love getting together with our extended family. It’s exciting to see how the kids have grown, spend some quality time having fun, and hear how life has been treating everyone.

This is actually the 4th Merrill family reunion and even though we haven’t gotten together that often there are certain traditions we have begun. When we think about traditions we often think about the past. But traditions are really not about the past. Traditions are actually those special things you want to pass on from the present to the future. While all traditions are special we need to think about the spiritual traditions we pass on with our lives.

There is a strong foundation of faith in our family. My Grandpa and Grandma Merrill were godly people that passed their love for God on to their children and their children’s children. And now there is a whole new generation (their great grandchildren) growing up in the Christian faith.

What is the tradition of faith that you are passing on to your children and your children’s children? It’s never too late to start building new traditions. Begin this summer! As you share your faith with your family may God bless your family “for a thousand generations.”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pray for your pastor

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.
1 Tim 2:1 (NLT)

Thank you to everyone who emailed me ( last week expressing a desire to be a part of a new prayer ministry at Christian Life Church. If you are interested and haven’t emailed yet, please take time this week to let me know.

A week doesn’t go by that the pastors and the staff doesn’t spend time praying for each request that comes in. You can join in prayer by visiting and clicking on the prayer requests page. We believe God hears our prayers and answers our prayers. That makes prayer powerful!

I appreciate it when people tell me they are praying for me. I admit, I need it. If you’re wondering how you can pray for the pastors and staff here are some suggestions.

  • Pray for physical, mental, and spiritual strength.
  • Pray for time to accomplish the work of ministry and time for family and fun as well.
  • Pray for our marriages and families.
  • Pray for God’s wisdom and understanding.
  • Pray for Christ to live through us – Galatians 2:20
  • Pray for time in God’s Word – Psalm 119:11
  • Pray for an intimate knowledge of God – Philippians 3:10
  • Pray for strength to stand firm – Ephesians 6:10-13
  • Pray that we would live by the Holy Spirit’s leading – Galatians 5:25
  • Pray that we would lead a life worthy of our calling – Ephesians 4:1

Thanks for your prayers and you can count on ours!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Prayer @ Christian Life

I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them.
1 Tim 2:1 (NLT)

I am writing this Bible Blog on our most recent Day of Prayer at Christian Life. I always appreciate the opportunity to gather together with our church family to pray. I believe that God’s design for His church is to be a place of prayer. God’s work in this world and in our lives is accomplished only truly when we pray.

Prayer isn’t a gift or ministry for just a few. Paul in Philippians exhorts all of us to pray about everything. In 1 Thessalonians he tells us to pray without ceasing. The role of prayer in the Christian life can never be overstated. Our Christian faith is based upon a relationship with God. Prayer is how we commune with God. It is one of the vital parts of our connection with God.

There are a couple of exciting developments in regards to prayer at Christian Life Church that I would like to share with you.

  • We are transitioning our Heritage Room on the west side of the sanctuary into a prayer room that will be available not only on the weekends but also throughout the week for prayer. This room will be used for a wide variety of prayer events at the church.
  • We are also looking to develop prayer teams at the church. These prayer teams would be taking part in different aspects of prayer such as praying for revival, praying for needs, praying for people before, during, after services, etc.
If you are interested in becoming a part of our prayer ministry at Christian Life please email me ( and let me know. Let’s make sure Christian Life Church is called a house of prayer!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

It has been an exciting week around the Christian Life offices as we have been feverishly planning for the summer and fall. Pretty soon you will be receiving a mailing outlining all of the wonderful things ahead for our church.

Our mission as a church is to Connect People To God. Throughout the summer and fall there are things planned to connect people to God. There will be activities designed to connect our children and youth to God. There are times planned for our adults to connect with God. There will be special events designed for people who are far from God to connect with Him, maybe for the first time or to reconnect with Him. There are things planned this summer and fall to connect each of us into a deeper and stronger relationship with God.

One of the most exciting things happening this fall is the full-fledged launch of our Randall Road Campus. Weekly weekend services will begin on Sunday September 14, 2008 at 11:30AM!

No doubt you are planning some special activities for this summer. When making your plans, don’t forget about God. Make time this summer to connect with God. Make sure your family and friends are connecting with God as well.

As with all planning in life, remember to seek His plans first for you and your family. I can honestly say that we do not begin planning things for Christian Life Church until we have first sought the Lord and His guidance. It is important to be in prayer and in His Word so that God can guide your steps each day in every way.

Remember, His way is always the best way!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mission Possible

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

This week I will be traveling to Florida for the board meeting of Mission Possible, one of the many mission organizations we support as a church. Mission Possible’s motto is, “Strategic projects, in historic times, for God’s glory.” MP ( is active in sharing the Gospel, training leaders, planting churches, and helping the poor on the other side of the world. I am blown away each year when we review what God has done through MP and we at Christian Life are helping them change the world through our support.

But like I said, they are only one of the many missionaries and organizations we support as a church family. I would like to invite you to visit the map in our church lobby and take a look at the various ministries and people we support. Take time to read a letter or two. Say a prayer for the various ministries. Allow God to speak to you about your involvement in world missions. Become a bigger part of building God’s kingdom around the world.

And by the way, Happy Mother’s Day! I would like to honor the mom’s in my life: my fantastic wife, Leslie, my godly mom and grandma, Gerry and Ella, my great sister, Jodi, and my wonderful mother-in-law, Kathy. I am proud of you all! You are the best!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Some Rules From God

I like simple ideas that make a big difference. I enjoyed reading these words this week and wanted to share them with you.

Some Rules From God

Decide to have a good day. “Today is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

DRESS UP! The best way to dress up is to put on a smile. A smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks. “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance; but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

STAND UP! Stand up for what you believe in. Stand for something or you will fall for anything. “Let us not be weary in doing good; for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore as we have opportunity, let us do good…” Galatians 6:9, 10

LIFT UP! Lift up your prayers. “Do not worry about anything; instead PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING.” Philippians 4:6

Written by Joan Palace

Monday, April 28, 2008

National Day of Prayer

This Thursday, May 1, is the National Day of Prayer. At this critical moment in our nation’s history let us join with countless Christians from across our nation as we pray about our future. You can visit to find out about special prayer events being held in your area. The following is the 2008 prayer for our nation.

2008 Prayer for Our Nation
By Dr. Ravi Zacharias, 2008 Honorary Chairman, National Day of Prayer Task Force

Holy Father, in a world where so many are hungry,
You have given us food in abundance;
In a world where so many are hurting,
You offer to bind up our wounds;
In a world where so many are lonely,
You offer friendship to every heart;
In a world longing for peace,
You offer hope.

Yet, we are so stubborn and resistant.
Have mercy upon us, Lord.

Our nation is at a crossroads this year;
we look to you to be our strength and shield.
Please give us the guidance to elect one who will
honor youand to respond to the wisdom from above
so that our hope may be renewed and our blessings be treasured.

In God's holy name.


“Everybody ends up somewhere in life. You can end up somewhere on purpose.” This is one of my favorite quotes from the book Visioneering. In his book, Andy Stanley provides twenty vision building blocks.

1. A vision begins with a concern.
2. A vision does not necessarily require immediate action.
3. Pray for opportunities and plan as if you expect God to answer your prayers.
4. God is using your circumstances to position and prepare you to accomplish His vision for your life.
5. What God originates, He orchestrates.
6. Walk before you talk; investigate before you initiate.
7. Communicate your vision as a solution to a problem that must be addressed immediately.
8. Cast your vision to the appropriate people at the appropriate time.
9. Don’t expect others to take greater risks or make greater sacrifices than you have.
10. Don’t confuse your plans with God’s vision.
11. Visions are refined – they don’t change; plans are revised – they rarely stay the same.
12. Respond to criticism with prayer, remembrance, and if necessary a revision of the plan.
13. Visions thrive in an environment of unity; they die in an environment of division.
14. Abandon the vision before your abandon your moral authority.
15. Don’t get distracted.
16. There is divine potential in all you envision to do.
17. The end of a God-ordained vision is God.
18. Maintaining a vision requires adherence to a set of core beliefs and behaviors.
19. Visions require constant attention.

20. Maintaining a vision requires bold leadership.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Pinewood Derby

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…
Ecclesiastes 9:10

For the past couple of weeks Matthew, our 7 year old, and I have been working on a pinewood derby car for a big race this weekend. We finally have the finished product: a bold gold race car, with blue metallic accessories, and lots and lots of decals. We had a blast planning and creating this work of art but it wasn’t without its challenges. We had to contend with dad’s lack of skill in the wood shop, a 7 year olds attention span, and countless trips back to the hobby shop to pick up things we forget (or broke) along the way. So with the fun of making a memory with my son, came some challenges along the way.

What did I learn? I’m glad you asked…

  • Take extra time. You can’t rush memories. You can’t microwave real life. Some things with our families take time. Don’t rush. Pray for patience, relax, and enjoy the experience. Our families will produce a lifetime of memories. The question is will they be good ones or bad?
  • Enjoy the challenges. Anything worth doing in life comes with challenges. Expect them, analyze them, pray about them, and with God’s help solve them.
  • Learn about your child. I learned Matthew loves to play. Whether it was with the piles of saw dust, the spray paint, or playing tag or hide-n-seek while waiting for paint or glue to dry, my time playing with Matthew was just as important as the task at hand.

(I’m looking forward to sharing where we are and where we’re headed as a church family on Vision Weekend next Saturday and Sunday!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Easter

It truly is a happy Easter! God blessed us at the Ascension Convention (thanks to everyone for your help… you guys are awesome!) and today we get to celebrate our risen Lord and Savior!

Some may ask what is the historical evidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead? Christian apologist Josh McDowell provides six facts that prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ in history.

Fact 1 – The broken Roman seal
Fact 2 – The empty tomb
Fact 3 – The large stone removed
Fact 4 – The Roman guard goes AWOL
Fact 5 – The graveclothes
Fact 6 – The appearances of Jesus after His resurrection

I don’t have room to go into all of the powerful details of each of these facts, but if you’re serious about looking into this evidence or know someone who is, please visit to get the whole story.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
Proverbs 27:17 (The Message)

On a recent flight I read the book Release Your Brilliance by Simon T. Bailey. Even though I wouldn’t call this a religious book, I enjoyed his message that we were each created by God for a purpose only we can fulfill in the world. Simon likened our lives to diamonds. Every diamond is rated on the 4 C’s: clarity, color, cut, and carat. The purpose of the book, in diamond language, is to take you from dull to dazzling in your journey of life. I believe we can all benefit from books that help us to develop our God-given potential.

One of the fascinating insights that came from the book for me was the story of the brillianteer. A brillianteer is the person early in the process that grinds and polishes the diamond preparing it for its ultimate purpose. It’s not quick and easy. This is a long strenuous process that begins to bring out the brilliance of the diamond.

When I thought about the role of the brillianteer I thought about the relationships in my life. Life happens so fast. There are so many events that affect our lives. We need to surround ourselves with the right people with whom we can share our lives. The right crowd will help in the polishing process, bringing out our brilliance, helping us become the person God has called us to be.

What intentional groups of people are your brillianteers? Are you involved in some kind of small group or an accountability group? If you are, good for you! If not, why not? We need other people in our lives. I have three rules for great groups.

  • Be safe. If we are going to share the secret things of our life with others we need to feel free and safe to do so.
  • Be honest. Your level of honesty in the group will determine the impact of your group.
  • Be quiet. Simply put, what is said in the group stays in the group. This is what keeps things safe and honest.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ever feel less than special?

This weekend Leslie and I were asked to speak at a banquet for Deer Ridge Ministries. Deer Ridge is a retreat ministry for pastors and their spouses. Leslie and I have been blessed by these retreats over the years and are thrilled at the chance to give back to this ministry that has meant so much to our lives, marriage, and ministry. And I must admit it feels good, out of all of the potential pastors, to be the one chosen to speak.

But I have been feeling less than special recently. I wasn’t quite sure why until I read an article in Outreach Magazine, a popular periodical for pastors. The article was about the top 25 largest and most influential churches in the nation. As I read the article I realized that over the past couple of weeks I have had the privilege of meeting and spending quality time with 3 of the pastors in the top 15. Each was kind of a chance meeting. Each were amazing men doing great things for God. In the process of meeting these great men of God, I began to feel small.

One of pastors Leslie and I got to meet and spend time with was Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback and author of the all-time best-selling book, Purpose Driven Life. See why I feel small ;-) I told a little about our meeting with him a couple of weeks ago in a previous Bible Blog. But he said something profound during our time with him. “In your life of ministry you can try to impress people or you can try to impact people.” You can try to impress people, but spend enough time with somebody and at some point you will stop being impressive. We instead need to live lives of impact; touching, healing, changing, etc. as many lives as possible.

Don’t worry, I worked through my feelings of inferiority with my accountability group ;-) I must admit, I am profoundly thankful that God has allowed me to be a part of what God is doing at Christian Life Church. And quite honestly, if God can use me, he can use anybody. Let’s stop trying to impress people with our lives and do our best impact as many lives as we can for the Gospel!

And one more thing this weekend, Happy Birthday Leslie!

Sunday, March 02, 2008


As we chase lions in our life we can sometimes get overwhelmed and discouraged. How do we avoid burnout in our already crazy busy lives? It seems like the winter weather is more unpredictable, our schedules are out of control, and we never can catch a break.

How do we recover from feeling overwhelmed? We begin by spending time with God. Read the Psalms. David knew that he needed God in his life. When David was overwhelmed the Bible tells us… David found strength in the LORD his God. 1 Sam 30:6b (NIV)

Here are some practical steps to recover from burnout, motivational speaker Snowden McFall, author of Fired Up, offers her clients, as reported by

Laugh. "It's been shown to boost the immune system," says McFall. Toddlers laugh several hundred times a day, but the average adult laughs just four times, she adds.

Give back. "When you volunteer to feed people who are starving or stop off at a homeless shelter on your way home from work, it can really put things into perspective and make you think about how well-off you are. And you feel better when you help nurture other people."

Deep breathing. Taking a break and looking inward helps people both mentally and physically, McFall said. "It increases your circulation," she said. Deep breathing also increases your circulation, cuts the duration of hospital stays and leads to fewer business errors.

Exercise. "Sixty percent of Americans do not get enough exercise to keep their immune system functioning properly," McFall said.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
Daniel 9:3

I feel as though God is calling me to a season of fasting. I have been praying about different things I can remove from my life so that I can better hear the voice of God. In fasting we remove things from our lives and use that time to spend with God. Fasting removes distractions so that we can better hear His voice. Fasting will change your life and draw you close to God. I know that when I fast I feel closer to God than any other time in my life.

Our culture has a popular way to fast. It’s secular, but it’s a fast none the less. It’s called rehab. We hear about so many celebrities entering rehab to break the addictions in their life. They go to a place to remove the distractions so that they can heal their lives. They are trying to break a cycle and begin a new life. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

When we partake in a spiritual fast we are seeking a breakthrough as well. We are not, however, doing something simply on our own; rather, we are tapping into the supernatural power of God that will change us.

Here are some things you can do if you feel God is calling you to a fast.
  • Identify what you are seeking from God. Tell God specifically what you are seeking from Him alone.
  • Make your commitment. Remember we grow from our commitments. What are you going to give up (food, TV, etc.) and for how long.
  • Identify what you are going to add during your time of fasting. Fasting is not only about removing things from our lives it’s also about adding. For example: What are you going to do with the time that you would spend eating or watching TV? What are you going to do with the money you would save on food and eating out?

    Times of fasting are important seasons in our life. Pray for me and I’ll pray for you as we draw near to Him through fasting.

Monday, February 11, 2008

"I'd rather die than embarrass Jesus."

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

This past week I was in Maryland with Leslie teaching at our sister college. Leslie and I were going to spend a couple of extra days at our nation’s capitol to do some sight seeing before we came home. Through a couple of random yet divine events Leslie and I were able to meet Rick Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and the “40 Days of Purpose,” and attend a private meeting he was having with select pastors from the Washington DC area. I could tell you the whole story, but you wouldn’t believe it.

When he first arrived Rick jokingly apologized about unimpressive he was up close. But nothing could be further from the truth. What an amazing guy. So real, so genuine, so deep. He shared from his heart recent truths that God had been revealing to him. One thing he said that impacted me was that he would "rather die than embarrass Jesus.” God has entrusted Rick Warren with tremendous influence in the world and he doesn’t want to become another fallen minister. Another statistic. Another reason for unbelievers to doubt the reality of a life-changing relationship with God.

How does Rick stay on track with God? How can we? We must defeat the schemes of the enemy in our lives. The devil has three attacks: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). These are the temptations: to feel good (hedonism), to have (materialism), and to simply be selfish. The devil uses these things to destroy our lives and render our testimonies useless. God has antidotes for each of these temptations. We need three things in our lives: integrity, generosity, and humility.

How do we resist the devil and become the children of God we were created to be? Fight the temptations with the integrity, humility, and generosity of the purpose driven life.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
Leviticus 26:12

This coming Friday and Saturday is our annual Women’s Retreat at Christian Life Church. I’m jealous. I’ve been told I’m not allowed to attend. ;-) I know that our children, youth, men, etc. have similar plans for retreats later this year. I love retreats. I love to see people break out of their routine, stop, and gather together to meet with God.

I believe God honors our commitment and sacrifice to attend sacred gatherings like retreats. When Israel was separated from the world during their extended time in the wilderness, that is when they drew near to God. You are taking your valuable time and setting it apart for God and His work in your life. When we honor God in that way, He shows up big in our lives.

Here are the details for this weekend. If you have any questions or need more information, please feel free to call or email Jeri Oleksy in the church office at 847-259-3090 or

Women’s Retreat
Friday (2/8) @ 7PM
& Saturday (2/9) @ 9AM
Roberta Crane-Fitch Ministering

Women, don’t miss out on this special, set-apart time with God!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What's Your Story?

Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
2 Samuel 23:20

What’s Your Story?

We are learning in these first weeks of 2008 about Benaiah and how he chased a lion. What a story! I bet every family member and friend of Beniah loved to hear him repeat the story of how he chased the lion on a snowy day.

What’s your story? The one you are proud to tell. The one everyone wants to hear again and again. What story are you writing with the life God gave you?

While we are called to be good stewards, sometimes we so carefully manage our lives that we never accomplish anything great for God. Our risk management is so precise that we end up like the servant who hid his master’s talents in Matthew 24. We arrive safely at death accomplishing little or nothing for God. Not a happy ending to the story of our life.

God has a story. He made man, so that we could live in relationship with Him. Man sinned and was separated from that relationship with God. God sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to take the punishment of our sin on the cross so that we could once again be in right relationship with God and spend eternity with Him. That’s God’s story. God wants everyone to hear His story. We are called to tell His story to a lost and dying world.

What are you risking to tell His story? What lions are you facing as you live for Him? Just like Benaiah, live life to the full, take risks, defy the odds, and tell the story! And when we survive, we have our story.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

West Campus

Jesus came and told his disciples, "I have been given complete authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:18-20

Last Sunday was our first “second sunday” of 2008. “second sunday” is our weekend service for a new church campus we are planting in the far western suburbs. Along with our one weekend a month service we also hold a weekly midweek get together on Thursdays at 7PM. One of our goals as a church for 2008 will be to have weekly weekend services at our west campus.

We have a great core of people already living out west. They are all working hard and sacrificing to make this effort a success. Even though most of our church family lives near our Mount Prospect campus and will never venture out west, I would like everyone to pray for the west campus. This area of Chicagoland is one of the fastest growing communities in the United States. There are many lives in this growing area that we will be able to touch with a strong church campus.

Pray for…

  • Children’s Ministry – Many people moving out west are young families with small children. Children’s ministry will be a key ingredient for growth.
  • Worship Team – Worship, like children’s ministry, is a core value of Christian Life. Pray that God provides the musicians and singers that will usher us into the presence of God.
  • Teaching – The Word is what changes our lives. As in each of these prayer points, our present pastors and staff are working for both campuses. Pray that we develop a capable and anointed teaching team for both campuses.

Thank you for your prayers! You can visit our west campus web site at

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Lion Chasers Manifesto

Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab's best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
2 Samuel 23:20

We are learning in these first weeks of 2008 about Benaiah and how he chased a lion. We are examining our lives and asking ourselves what lion is God calling you to chase? Here s the Lion Chasers Manifesto from Mark Batterson’s book In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day.

The lion chasers manifesto.

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze a new trail. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It’s 2008!

It’s 2008! I love a new year. It’s like God gives us a fresh start. The Bible says in Lamentations 3:22-23 that God’s mercies are new every morning. Every day is a new day with God and every year is a new year with Him. Let’s make 2008 the best year ever!

Here are some of my favorite promises from God’s Word. Read them over and over. They’re for you.

Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame. Isa 54:4

For the mountains shall depart And the hills be removed, But My kindness shall not depart from you, Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed," Says the LORD, who has mercy on you. Isa 54:10

No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me," Says the LORD. Isa 54:17

Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence From the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues. Ps 31:19-20

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Ps 32:7-8

I sought the LORD, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed. Ps 34:4-5

You, who have shown me great and severe troubles, shall revive me again, and bring me up again from the depths of the earth. You shall increase my greatness, And comfort me on every side. Ps 71:20-21

A New Year's Confession…

I belong to God

I am God's child (John 1:12)
I am Christ's friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord(1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price(1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am God's temple (1 Cor. 3: 16).
I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am God's co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9; 2Cor 6:1).
I am God's workmanship(Eph. 2:10)
I have been redeemed and forgiven (Col. 1:14).
I have been adopted as God's child (Eph 1:5)
I am a personal witness of Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt.5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ(1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation (Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil.3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31-34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God(2 Cor.5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God(Rom.8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 C or.1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8: 28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12)
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)

I am confident that the good works God has begun in me will be perfected (Phil 1: 5)