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Thursday, September 25, 2014

History together

The positive side of looking to the past is that it helps us remember those times when God came through, I mean really came through in a time of need.
And as God comes through, in a very ironic sense, we learn to trust God.
Why?  Because we have history together.
Do you trust God?
Do you really trust God?
Most of us at one time or another have been challenged in this area.
One author writes, "I remember watching a father play with his little boy, repeatedly throwing him in the air and catching him just before he hit the ground.  The child was relaxed and having a great time saying, "Do it again!  Do it again!"
I thought, "If that were me, I'd be as stiff as a board."  I asked the father, "Can you explain why your child is so relaxed, even when he's out of control?"
"It's very simple," he said.  "We have a history together.  We've played this game before, and I've never dropped him."
Some of you today may feel like you are free falling without a parachute. 
Some of you are up in the air today and not exactly sure what's happening or where  you are going next.  All I can say to you, right now, where you are at is this:  Relax.
Do you best, knowing today that God has never dropped you before, and he won't drop you now. 
And maybe, just maybe, you and I will discover that when God is all we have - God is all we need.
That God is enough.
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Eternal praise and worship

Did you know that your praise and worship is eternal?
Yep, it is.
Revelation 5:8 tells us, "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.  Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints."
Revelation 8:3 tells us, "Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar.  He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne.  The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand."
The Greek word translated here as prayers is also translatable as worship.  It is not simply the petitions of the saints, but their praise and worship as well. 
The worship that they have lifted up before God over all time and eternity - it has been put into incense form, and preserved for eternity - to be presented before God.
When the great worshippers who stand before God's presence begin to worship (in Revelation) they also present the worship of the saints on earth!
In other words, your praise and worship is preserved in the heavens, throughout eternity!
Here is a word for you today:  There is something in life that is permanent (besides death and taxes).
God has chosen to preserve your praise. 
I encourage you to take a moment and do something today that will last - forever.  Lift up your voice in praise and worship to God.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Character and integrity

Someone once said that "character is who you are in the dark."

When no one else is around - or looking.

Who are you when you are by yourself?
Integrity is not what we do as much as who we are.
Image is what people think we are.  Integrity is what we really are.
The word "integrity" comes from the Latin word "sinceros" (where we get "sincerity"), which comes basically from the phrase "without wax."
Potters fired jars in ovens.  Often, they were too hasty in firing them and the jars came out with cracks in them.  It was common practice to fill in and hide these cracks with wax.  But every once in a while, a vessel would come out with no cracks.
It was a whole, valuable vessel, and on the bottom they would write in Latin, "sinceros."
A vessels of integrity, with no cracks.  It's a whole vessel.
That's what God wants us to be.
Remember, today, my friends - that God "never leaves us nor forsakes us."
Both is the good times - and those time when we are living in "hiding."
Just a challenging thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

I am grateful for the awesome sense of worship in our services yesterday.

Pastor Brian and our worship team did a great job of leading us into God's presence!

Worship is not about me - worship is about God (we will talk about this - this coming Sunday).

Serious.  Serious.  Serious.  That is how we are to approach our worship.

Many new guests in both services yesterday!

I can't wait for next Sunday to be here - which I think is a good sign if the lead pastor says that!  :)

Let's all be in prayer for the situation with ISIS.  Rough stuff. 

I believe that we are living in the end times.  I really do.  I believe that if I have the privilege of living for another 20 years - that the rapture will take place during my life time.

Life groups!  If you haven't  yet signed up for a life group - we encourage you to do so

I appreciated the life group leaders who set up a table in the foyer.  It is important that others in our church family know about your group!

If you are looking for information about a life group, please click on:  Then "browse life group listing" and find a group near you and get connected!

Or...feel free to call Pastor Brian at:  708 3852770.

Life groups change lives!

You are loved and appreciate, my friends.  All of you.

Dallas Cowboys won yesterday - coming back from a 21 point deficit.  Incredible.

Beautiful day in Chicago.  First day of fall. 

Is it me - or are the ads for the office of governor of the state of Illinois already annoying?  Okay, we get it - each of you thinks the other is a crook (written with irony).

Rule of political office:  when in doubt - throw mud (not good).

That's one of the reasons (and there are many) that I continually say the church is not a democracy where two opposing parties tear each other down.  The church is a theocracy where we are to operate out of a basis and foundation of love, acceptance and forgiveness.

I encourage you to consider inviting a friend to one of our Sunday morning services next Sunday.

Love you all.......

Thursday, September 18, 2014

No shortcuts

I, like you, long for a moving of God's Spirit in our church, our community, our state, our country and our world.
But here's what I know:  there are no shortcuts to the "upper room" of God's presence.
We as Pentecostals revel in Acts 2 - where God's Spirit fell upon His people - and people were filled and embolden with the power of God to be His witnesses.
So what is the foundational pathway to being Spirit filled?
It always runs through the Cross.  There is no shortcut around Calvary to the Upper Room.
To be it kind of crassly, we must "pay" before we "play" in the presence of God.
Paul teaches us in Romans 12:1, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship."
Before I experience Pentecost, I must experience a sacrifice of myself.  I place my living offering (my emotions, mind and body) on the altar of fire and let God purge my being of any unrighteousness.
That is the divine order of progression.
To experience God's presence in a deeper way, I must identify myself with the lamb of God who was crucified for me. 
When Jesus died, the veil of the temple was torn to let all of us as followers of Christ into the holy of holies.
We now have access into his presence.
The wounded side of Jesus is open and we all have an open invitation to walk through His wounds to the very heart of God.
Calvary - Pentecost.  Let's not put the "cart" before the proverbial "horse."
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Praying as a theist

I am an unashamed theist in that I believe in the interaction of God with us in prayer.

God hears us and responds to us as we converse with him.

Many struggle with this because he does not always respond the way or on the time schedule we would like - but he does respond.

Why does God many times "take his time" with responding?

Well, the answer could be summed up with this:  God lets you love the question until you can live the answer.  I like that (it is a quote).

God lets you love the question until you can live the answer.

Prayer does change things.  But more than changing "things" is the fact that prayer changes us.

We change.

We become ready for the answer. 

And what it is key ingredient in being ready for the answer?

It is this:  I am to seek God's plans rather than my own.

You see, the first request in prayer is not:  "Come on, God, give me this or that."  The first request in prayer is:  "What have you got going today, God?  You love this world.  You loved this world into life.  You created this world.  We are yours.  What is my part in the drama?  What part do you want me to play?  I will play any part you say.  Want me to be a success?  I'll be a success for you.  Want me to be a failure?  I'll fail for you.  Whatever you want."
A complete surrender to God is a key to successful prayer.
"What have you got going today, God?  I'd like to be a part of it.  Thanks for loving me."
Final thought:  Let's all seek God's plans, rather than making up our own little plans and then ask God to support them.
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


What can I say about prayer that you haven't already heard or read about?
As followers of Christ, we read about prayer, hear sermons on prayer, even encourage ourselves and others to pray - but do we pray?
In the book, Touch and Live," George Vandeman wrote:  "A young stranger to the Alps was making his first climb, accompanied by two stalwart guides. 
It was a steep, hazardous ascent.  But he felt secure with one guide ahead and one following.
For hours they climbed.  And now, breathless, they reached for those rocks protruding through the snow above them - the summit.
The guide ahead wished to let the stranger have the first glorious view of heaven and earth, and moved aside to let him go first.
Forgetting the gales that would blow across those summit rocks, the  young man leaped to his feet.
But the chief guide dragged him down.
"On your knees, sir!" he shouted.  "You are never safe here except on your knees."
Can I leave you with this thought today?  Why not pray before the crisis comes (and it has been said that we are either entering a crisis, in a crisis or leaving a crisis)? 
God welcomes our conversations with him when disaster strikes, but also encourages us to dialogue with Him before and after the crises strike as well.
Never is your love shown more for God than when you and I take the time to "have a cup of coffee with God."
Prayer meeting this evening:  6:30 - 7:30 P.M.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:

It was our privilege to have Jacob Jester with us yesterday - a church planter/evangelist in Phoenix, Arizona.

What a joy it is to see the kingdom of God advancing with a line of dedicated, godly men and women!

God is on the move - let's all commit ourselves to being a part of it!

Thanks to Pastor Charlie for bringing Jacob to us for ministry.

Great worship yesterday.

As I stood in the chapel, what a joy it is to a pastor's heart to see people with hands lifted; worshipping God!

September is one of my favorite times of year in church life.  People are back from vacations, the foyer is buzzing with our church family connecting, ministry is humming on all cylinders.

I love it!

We appreciate you coming to our worship services on Sunday morning.

For those who are new and checking us out - we would hope that you continue to do so!

Ministry is all about people - drawing people to Christ; and leading them into a closer walk with God.

Our goal is not to be a "mile wide" and an inch deep - but deep in the things of the Lord - with the anticipation that as we grow deeper in the Lord we will reach out to others with the good news of Christ.

I (with intentionality) spent time in going to all of out adult bible classes; connecting with them.

It was with great delight that I saw the Bible being taught in a powerful way!

Congratulations to all of your Chicago Bears fans.  What a comeback win!

People need the Lord.

People need Jesus.

It is all about Jesus.

This past Saturday, we started our "men of integrity" group.  Great group of men committed to "being all that they call be in Christ."

Love you all.......

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Going to your strengths

When I was young, I was taught this phrase (from culture):  "You can be anything you want to be."  "You can do anything you want to do if you just try hard enough."
So the idea was to work on your weaknesses to "build yourself" up enough to obtain those goals that you set for yourself.
Over the years, however, I have learned that I simply can't be "anything I want to be."  All I can be is myself - and achieve those goals (God's plan for my life) within the confines of who I am - and what I can do (with the help of the Holy Spirit).
All I can do is to be more of who I already am - and create an environment with myself - where I will constantly go to my strengths - rather than beating myself down over my weaknesses.
As a youngster, I thought I would make the NBA.  But it became very apparent in the 9th grade that it was just not going to happen.  I wasn't tall enough, quick enough or fast enough.
I've always wanted to sing as a soloist or in a group - but some of us are just not born with a voice that is not appealing to others.
So what do I do?  Do I sit and lament very day that I am not in the NBA?
Do I lay awake at night worrying about the fact that I will never win a competition like, "The Voice?"
No, I go to my strengths
I use what God has given me - and ask His Holy Spirit to anoint.
I can't do everything (as a pastor) - I can only do what I can do - and bring people along side of me who can fill in the gaps.
I encourage you to get your eyes off of what everybody else is doing and refocus on what God wants to do in your life.
When I focus on God's plan for me, competition becomes irrelevant.   Your strengths compliment my weaknesses and vice versa.
A great prayer to pray today is:  "God, turn me away from wanting any other plan than Yours."  Psalms 119:37
Just a thought for a Thursday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


None of us likes rats.
They are pests.  They get in - in the most unlikeliest of places.
If left unchecked, they can grow bigger by the day - ruining everything in their path.
What is your "rat" today?
What is that besetting sin (rat) that you are dealing with?
What is it in your life that is waiting in hiding to destroy everything in your spiritual home?
And the most important question today - what can you and I do to set rid of those rat(s) in our walk with Christ?
In the early days of aviation, Frederick Handley Page of England was one of the pioneers.  The story is told of how he once was flying alone in one of the early small planes when he detected a disturbing sound behind him in the cargo area.
He soon realized it was a rat, gnawing on the plane's control cables - a disaster just waiting to happen.
This was in the days before autopilot, so he couldn't just leave the controls and go back and kill the rat.  So what did he do?
What he did is a great spiritual lesson for us today - as we deal with those "things in our lives" that bring us down spiritually.
Page remembered that if he could gain sufficient altitude, the decrease in oxygen would be fatal for the rat.
So immediately, he flew the plane higher and higher and higher - and eventually he no longer hear the gnawing sound from the rat.
Later, after safely landing, he found the rat - dead.
If you have something gnawing at your life - something emotional, something spiritual - it is trying to bring you down and destroy you - if you've got rats on board your spiritual plane - the first step is ridding yourself of them is to go higher and higher and higher in God.
Paul writes in Colossians 3:2, to, "set your minds on things that are above."
Let your spirit and your soul spend time in the presence of God - and as we used to sing, "the things of this earth will grow strangely dim - in the light of his glory and grace."
Just a thought for a Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Keeping your eye on the prize

I have found myself getting bugged lately, by "little things."
That is just not very wise.
A major part of achieving anything in life is keeping your "eyes on the prize".
I was reading today an example of this from the book, "Off Balance on Purpose," by Dan Thurmon.
He writes about tightrope walkers who display amazing feats of balance on a high wire - they are called funambulists.
He writes that these daredevils are constantly making small, critical adjustments, lifting their free leg as a counter weight, raising and lowering arms, adjusting their high-wire pole. 
A good funambulist is never truly at rest or "on balance." 
Thurmon writes, "They are perpetually off balance:  making adjustments that bring (them) through a point of balance, only to readjust on the other side.  Most of these movements are so subtle that they are imperceptible to the audience."  They make it look effortless.
So how do they keep their balance?
Listen to this - it's huge - it is a word for you today.
Thurmon writes, "When new students step onto the rope or cable - they almost always begin with the same flawed game plan.  They stare downward at the wire to ensure that they have the proper footing.  As so they fall - So what is the solution to this dilemma?  If you have ever closely watched professional tightrope walkers, you may recall that they never look down at their feet or the wire or to either side at their hands (or the balance pole).  Rather, they keep their head up and look forward toward the goal - the faraway platform - in front of them."
Wow - great words.
What are you trying to achieve today?  Keep your eye on the goal.  Don't let the "barking dogs" around you demand your attention.  Focus on the majors and not the minors.  Keep on going - with the help of God.
Just a thought for a Tuesday.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
If you feel you have no place in life - why not come to our church campus on a Sunday morning and check us out?
Christianity is the "good news" of God.
Let's (as believers) be more defined by what we are for than what we are against.
We need to speak the truth in love.  We also need to speak words of encouragement.
Both are needed in the church.
How do you deal with that toxic person in your life?  
Let me review:
Know that their toxicity is not about you.  Hurting people hurt people.  Hurting people hurt easily.
Don't let their bondage become your bondage.
If possible, disconnect and let them go.  More than getting the approval of others (and spending all of your time trying to do so) hook into God.  Seek God's approval - and just maybe everything else will fall into place.  (Again, we are not speaking of the marriage relationship).
Don't play the toxic person's game.  They love to argue and quibble.
Perhaps the biggest one is to set boundaries.  Don't let anyone enslave you to their expectations.
Do only what you can do (with God) and be at peace about the rest.  Even Jesus didn't heal everyone on the planet when he was with us in bodily form.  He did what he could with the time he had.
Beautiful evenings in Chicago now.  Fall is coming.
Can I share this with you?  Thanks for coming to our Sunday services.  I also encourage you to bring a friend.
Dallas Cowboys.  Oh my.  They looked really bad yesterday.  Again - you heard it here first:  3-13 for the year.
I am looking forward to attending the men's life group this evening.  Their name?  "Man up".  I like that.  We as men are to step up and be the men of God he has called us to be.
God is reminding me to focus on the majors and not on the "minors" of church life.  Help me God today, in this endeavor.
Don't forget - prayer meeting tomorrow evening at 6:30 P.M.
Love you all.......

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Thoughts from the weekend

Thoughts from the weekend:
While circumstances, people and life in general are filled with ups and downs - Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever.
We need that constant in our lives - I need that constant in my life.
Whatever you are going through today - know that in the midst of all of the darkness - God is light.  I encourage you to hang on to that light.
You are going to make it!
Have hope!  Holding On Praying Expectantly!
I really like summer - but I also like the fall; for that signals a return of the church family to our campus. 
God is doing a great thing!  A new thing!
I am thankful for a great staff - Brian, Charlie and Aldin.
If you think of it - and see them in the hallways - stop them and share with them how much you appreciate them!
Picnic:  Great food; events for the kids; beautiful weather; connecting with the church family:  priceless.
A huge "thank you" to everyone who helped out.  Thanks for all of your time, hard work and effort in making our annual church picnic such a success!
Would you consider inviting someone to a Sunday morning service or to a life group this  month?
Most people come to Christ through a friend.
Let's all pray for the events that are happening in the Ukraine, Syria and Iraq.
Jesus is coming soon:  We are as close to the rapture as we have ever been!
If you are struggling with some "gray area" of life - and your walk with God - following this:  "When in doubt - leave it out."
The NFL starts this Sunday - meaning fall is not far behind.
Don't forget our church prayer meeting this evening, 6:30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M.
Life groups:  check it out!
Love you all........