It’s Almost Game Time!

Join us for an outdoor family service, then stay to watch the game and tailgate this Sunday, October 5, 11am!

We’ll be giving away some prizes; including some Eagles tickets to the Carolina Panthers game Monday night, November 10th and to the Dallas Cowboys game Sunday night, December 14th!

Bring your grills, grub, chairs, and tailgate games. We will also have hot dogs, french fries, popcorn, drinks for sale and a Chili Contest inside our Family Life Center.

During the game we will have activities for both adults and children. Parking will be at a premium that day so plan to arrive early and consider carpooling to help us conserve space. Tailgate Sunday will take the place of our annual Family Fall Festival for this year.

*This is a non-alcoholic event.

The Difference Between a Rut and a Routine

On a rugged highway somewhere in Alaska a warning sign says, “Choose your rut carefully. You’ll be in it for the next 50 miles.” Though I’m not fond of the word rut, this is actually good advice for life.

It would be better to say: “Choose your routine carefully. You’ll be tied to it for awhile. It determines what your future becomes, so make sure you’re comfortable with it.”

People often refer to the daily routine as if it’s a negative thing, as if it’s something you need to break in order to fully live. But what if your daily routine was designed in a way that could make your life everything you’ve dreamed it could be? Wouldn’t this be a routine worth living for?

David said, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Another way to say it: “Help us understand that life is short. What we do every day really matters.”

Our challenge is to organize our days in such a way — to create a daily routine that includes time for everything important. Stephen Covey said it this way: “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”

Look at today’s to-do list. It will take you either somewhere good, or nowhere good.

It depends on whether you’ve chosen a rut or a routine.

Ha Ha Ha!

Here’s a great one to end your week with: Thanks to Tim Satryan for sharing. Some of you can relate to this:

An elderly couple had just learned how to send text messages on their cellphones. The wife was a romantic type, and the husband was more of a no-nonsense guy.

One afternoon the wife went out to meet a friend for coffee. She decided to send her husband a romantic text message, so she wrote: “If you are sleeping, send me your dreams. If you are laughing, send me your smile. If you are eating, send me a bite. If you are drinking, send me a sip. If you are crying, send me your tears. I love you.”

The husband texted back to her: “I’m using the bathroom. Please advise.”

Faith & Fashion

Hudson Taylor was a missionary to China in the mid-1800′s. He was considered radical because Taylor chose to dress, wear his hair, and use the mannerisms of the local Chinese culture. To many of the Western missionaries, this strategy was scandalous, and a sign of compromise.

It seems in every century the church has had a difficult time distinguishing between Christ and the ‘cultural clothing’ that we are most comfortable with religiously.

Suits and ties were not even invented until hundreds of years after Jesus walked the earth, but somehow they have been deemed the most appropriate attire for worship. Hudson Taylor’s contemporaries felt that Taylor should wear a tie (western formal clothing) if he wanted to be a good missionary.

And western missionaries have exported this cultural expectation around the world.

What Hudson Taylor did in wearing local cultural attire was really not that radical, it was simply wisdom. Any time we make our religious culture sacred, we actually begin to distract from the core message of Christ. People begin to measure spiritual maturity based on outward conformity to religious-looking standards, rather than alignment with the message and attitudes of Jesus.

So what is appropriate for a pastor to wear when he is ministering? What should a Christian wear to church? What most honors God? What best reaches people? Let me suggest a few guidelines:

1. Modesty – this is a lost value it seems in our culture, but it very important. Modesty implies an awareness of your impact on others. Does it flaunt my wealth? Am I wearing this to draw attention to myself? Is it at all seductive? Will it cause someone else to stumble because it is too revealing or too tight? (See 1 Peter 3:1-2)

2. Sensitivity – there are certain events that call for specific dress. Funerals are not casual occasions. Picnics are not formal. We should be aware of the time and place we are attending.

3. Relate-ability – I am not sure if that is a word, but here is what I mean: We should be aware of the culture we are trying to reach and dress it a way helps us connect with that culture.

4. Personality – It is possible to over-do this a bit. What we wear also needs to fit our personality. Teens don’t expect me to come wearing Van shoes, baggy jeans hanging off my hips, and chains around my neck…that would look like I am trying too hard. It would be a joke. I need to dress my age and within a realm of style that fits my person. But at the same time be aware of my surroundings and what will help make the best connection.

CLC is located in the northeast suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. A few years ago we did a study on the age of our guest to determine our most effective harvest potential. What we discovered is that we were attracting a large number of 40+unders. Young adults and young families are our most likely guest attendee.

This is a wonderful reality, because young adults and young families also happen to the be the generation at greatest risk for being unchurched or de-churched. So we have targeted this demographic as our primary audience as we reach out.

With that discernment came a decision about attire. I chose to stop wearing a suit every week (which gave off the impression of a ‘power-business’ look) and chose to start wearing ‘nice-casual’ clothes instead. As soon as we made the switch, I heard from several different groups.

The more traditional folks felt it was a step backward and less than God-honoring. The younger people started to cheer the change. Then the statement that sealed the deal for me, was made by a young lady who was living in a women’s shelter. When she was a teen, she had attended CLC and felt like she just didn’t fit in (for a number of reasons).

One of her concerns in coming back to CLC (as a young mom now) was that she would not be ‘dressy’ enough to be accepted. When she saw me (the pastor) wearing jeans…she felt instantly at ease. She told me, “I realized that I didn’t have to pretend to be anything to be a part of this church. I couldn’t have afforded to dress up. What you wore told me that it was ok to come just as I was.’

One final thought: I REALLY DON’T CARE WHAT I WEAR. I am more comfortable in jeans than in a tie, yes. But I have chosen to limit my preferences by my purpose. I would wear a Scottish Kilt if it would help me reach people for Jesus. (not that I plan on doing that any time soon…you can relax). But I do think we can even choose our clothing with the goal of winning people to Jesus as our focus

Healthy Discontent

Have you ever wondered why God uses flawed people?

Think about it. God used Noah – a drunk, Abraham – a liar, Moses – a murderer, David – an adulterer, Jeremiah – who was depressed and suicidal, Elijah – a burned out prophet, Peter – the denier, and Saul – a killer. The list goes on and on. God often seemed to work through the most ordinary and unlikely people.

This is reassuring. It gives me hope!

I could be on that list too. I am flawed, dysfunctional and sinful.

But, I’m loved. God knows my flawed condition. He knows my fallen state, and he loves me anyway. He whispers in my ear, “There is a better way.”

In John 14:12 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I’m going to the Father.”

God can use me and he can use you in the work of the Kingdom!

How can God use? God looks past our flaws because he loves us and chooses us as a part of his unfolding plan. When we acknowledge our flaws and sins I’m convinced the Holy Spirit creates a healthy discontent within us that motivates us to find that “better way!”

It’s all about HOPE!

Hope is what keeps us going when everything in us wants to give up!

Hope is the glimpse of sunshine when the storms of life seem to be the most intense.

Hope is the big breath of air that fills our lungs when it seems as if we are drowning in our circumstances.

Hope is hearing a child’s laughter in the middle of your tears.

Hope is that flash of light when we are in the darkest place in life.

Hope is a blood stained cross that resulted in an empty tomb.

Hope is a RISEN SAVIOR who conquered death.

Hope is knowing that Jesus lives in me, and if He conquered death that He in me allows me to conquer anything life throws my way.

Hope is knowing that one day JESUS is coming back, not as a kid…but as a KING.

Hope is knowing that one day JESUS will take all that is wrong and make it right.

Hope is knowing that we are not alone in this world because of His promises to always be with us.

HOPE is what this world DESPERATELY NEEDS!!!

And…the message of the RESURRECTION is the message of HOPE!

People need hope!

Let’s do whatever it takes to get people here to an Easter Service at CLC so that they can and will hear the message of Jesus and give them HOPE!

CLC EASTER Info!

The darkest & brightest days of our faith are separated by only a matter of hours: The events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Without both our faith is a waste of time.

You’re invited to join us at Christian Life Center as we honor and celebrate the message and meaning of Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection. Our Good Friday service will be April 18th at 7:00PM. It will be a time of reflection and remembrance of what Jesus did for us on the cross.

On Sunday, April 20th Easter Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00AM, we celebrate the risen savior who conquered Satan, sin, and death. We celebrate new life in him. We celebrate the hope of heaven with gospel preaching, live music, and baptisms—all because Jesus Saves!

We want to encourage you, our church family and friends, to invite your friends to celebrate Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday! Following the 11:00 service will be our annual Great Egg Giveaway sponsored by our Children’s Ministry department of CLC.

Join us for these two great holiday gatherings. We would be honored!

The ASK of Easter!

I once read a statistic that 25% of people who do not regularly attend church said they would go to church if someone would ASK them.

We’ve all heard messages on asking people to come to a church service, but all of us have also struggled with asking someone to come with us.

Here are three concepts I am asking everyone at Christian Life Center to think about, pray through and act upon as we prepare for Easter…ASK =

A – Accept the fact that God really does want to save people!

In Matthew 28:18-20, Jesus commissioned us to reach as many people as possible. Paul told Timothy in I Timothy 1:15 that God wants to save people. And Jesus Himself said in Luke 19:10 that He came to seek and save those who were lost.

So I really do believe that when we want people to receive Christ, we are wanting what Jesus wants…which puts us in EXCELLENT company.

S – Seek opportunities in existing relationships.

When it comes to asking people to come to church, we should not think that God wants us to make posters with pity phrases on them and then stand on street corners and yell at people.

He wants us to make the most of every opportunity (Ephesians 5:15-16).

We see people reaching other people whom they knew in Scripture over and over again. For example…
Andrew met Christ and then went and told his brother Peter (John 1:40-42). And Cornelius knew that Peter was coming to preach in his home so he invited his friends and family to come and hear as well (Acts 10:24).

None of us have a relationship with someone by accident. Combine that with the fact that everyone spends eternity somewhere and that is a BIG DEAL.

Take a minute or two to literally stop and ask God WHO you need to bring with you to an Easter service. And if God puts someone on your heart, then do whatever it takes to get them here. That person on your mind is no accident. That’s the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

K = Keep on trying.

God did not give up on us, so we should not give up on others.

Maybe you have asked someone to come a dozen times and they have always said “NO!” I’m asking you to ask them again…you never know what is going on in their life. This may be the time they might actually say “Yes”.

Maybe you’ve brought someone before, they came, heard the Gospel and did not receive Christ. That’s ok. Just ask them to come again. After all, most of us did not accept the message of the Gospel the first time we heard it either. Maybe they’ll meet Jesus THIS time!

And…as you keep trying to reach out remember that God has been patient (II Peter 3:9) and kind (Romans 2:4) with us…we need to extend that same patience and kindness to others.

It is my prayer that none of us would allow an empty chair to be beside us during our Easter services.

Praying for boldness for you all as you go out and invite people to the BEST EASTER SERVICES EVER!!!!!

14 Miserable Habits!

I saved this article a while back, probably because I wanted to send it to one of my kids, whichever one was needing a subtle poke at the time. It’s called the 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People. I don’t think I ever forwarded the link, but I keep coming back to it, reading it through the lens of the work we do. Be sure to read the original article (in case you want to send it to one of your kids), but below I have adapted Cloe Madanes list to describe the …

14 Habits of Highly Miserable Churches
(and how your preaching can get them there).

1. Be afraid, be very afraid, of economic loss. Remind your people week after week that things are bad and getting worse. And when the offering isn’t good, remind them that they don’t give because they are ungrateful. Spend as much time as possible taking the offering each week, talking about everything the church needs but can’t afford. And remember, if you make them feel guilty, maybe they’ll give more.

2. Practice sustained boredom. Do the same thing in worship week after week. Follow the same order. Preach the same predictable format.

3. Give your congregation a negative identity. Make sure the community knows what you’re against. Make sure guests know that they are only guests, not one of the group. Exclude them from parts of your worship service.

4. Pick fights. Encourage your people not to let any perceived slight slip past them. Make sure they share it with everyone in their class or circle. As pastor, choose sides when you can.

5. Attribute bad intentions. Make sure your congregation knows that those with differing views are fundamentally bad people. Especially when it comes to politics. Make sure that they know that any elected official from the “other party” is evil. Avoid Romans 13 at all costs. And, by all means, don’t pray for a leader you don’t agree with.

6. Whatever you do, do it only for personal gain. Nurture the “what’s-in-it-for-me” mentality. Make sure every dollar spent on mission reaps a harvest in public relations. If you can’t get some kind of credit, don’t do it.

7. Avoid gratitude. Instead of being grateful for those who show up, who help, and who give, be sure to complain about those who don’t.

8. Always be alert and in a state of anxiety. After all, things are getting worse every day and there’s nothing God can do about it. Being irritable all the time lets people know you’re working hard.

9. Blame your parents. Or the former pastor. Or previous staff. Or the denominational leadership. Or the government. But never challenge yourself or your congregation to take responsibility for the ways things are and for making things better.

10. Don’t enjoy life’s pleasures. Avoid times of fellowship. And when you do have a fellowship event, tack on a long devotional at the end to remind them that life isn’t all fun and games.

11. Ruminate. Spend as much time as possible talking about the church’s problems, just make sure the talk doesn’t lead to productive action.

12. Glorify the past. You know: “People used to care. The church used to be full. This country used to be a Christian nation.” That kind of thing.

13. Put people in leadership who have no business being in leadership. It doesn’t matter if they’re ready. Maybe giving them a title will change them.

14. Be critical. Make sure you let everyone know about everything that you don’t like. After all, you don’t want anyone to confuse you with one of those positive churches.

Thanks again to Cloe Madanes for the original list.