by Wednesday, 18 September 2013 02:07

Jeff Balsom: 12 Sermons

Jeff Balsom was a much-loved Elder of our congregation and served until he lost his battle with cancer in 2012.  His love, example and ability to communicate God's Word helped many grow in their faith.  More than anything, Jeff wanted others to love God, His word and for them to love one another deeply.

Over the years Jeff spoke many times to the congregation and to his home Ministry Center in the western suburbs.  Here are 12 of our favorite sermons.  Though it is peaceful to hear his voice, we can honor Jeff's memory best by learning and growing from the messages he preached.

by Friday, 19 April 2013 01:03

Courageous-A Men's Breakfast

Courageous – A Men’s Breakfast

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When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

Spanning the seasons of life from teenagers to senior citizens, several men’s groups within the Northern Worship Center of the Boston Church of Christ gathered for a grand buffet breakfast and a feeding from God’s Word centered on the theme, “Courageous.” Even at 8:00 A.M., 40 disciples and 21 of their friends gathered to share a meal and powerful sharing from Mike Jones and Peter Hirmer.

Mike Jones, left, attacks an opponent in the U.S. National Fencing Championship

Few in the audience were aware of Mike’s skills as a fencer as he shared about courage to follow a dream. He shared of how he abandoned a dream from his childhood- only to see it fulfilled after being a Christian for 19 years. Mike’s dreams to be an Olympic athlete were dashed when he failed to reach the medal round of the U.S. Nationals as a high school senior. Mike kept his swords and awards in his basement until Eric, his then preteen son, asked about them.

Mike decided to renew his fencing skills. He shared how re-engaging this dream as an adult was scary, and how the counsel of spiritual men helped him keep this dream in proper perspective and balance in his life. Mike recently placed fifth nationally in épée competition within his age range.Peter’s story was also one of courage – as he moved from his personal nightmares to God’s dreams for his life. After years of stumbling with alcohol and drug abuse, Peter became a disciple in the 1990’s, along with his wife. Having stopped his drug abuse when becoming part of God’s Kingdom, Peter shared how even the occasional glass of beer or wine continued to be an escape from the intimacy that he desired with his family and with God. Crediting a Sunday lesson by Willie Flores about addiction, Peter began attending a chemical recovery program with his discipleship partner. He shared how even as a participant in the group, he doubted his need for it.

Peter’s breakthrough came as he spent a night in prayer. He then spent time the next afternoon sharing with his wife how he saw that his use of alcohol had been a barrier to connecting with her in a deeper way.

Wyndham Shaw tied the two messages together and brought the messages home in a challenge for us to men of courage in our convictions in a world where personal conviction is dissolving in our cultural desire to be inclusive to the point of compromised truth and acceptance of every kind of belief except the Bible. He illustrated it with the USA Today article that showed how Hollywood had stripped the recent hit movie about Jackie Robinson of its true roots in faith in Jesus.

- “This was really a tremendous time. The personal sharing was absolutely courageous.” – Steve Rosenbaum

- “All the stories blended by the Holy Spirit made for an impacting day! My neighbor loved it especially the personal and vulnerable sharing!” – Wyndham Shaw

by Tuesday, 15 January 2013 07:06

Courageous Dads

Courageous Dads

I was excited when I heard that our evangelist Derik Vett was starting a Fathers of Courage class. Most classes offered in church I analyze whether I can really sacrifice the time and effort to be there. I contemplate whether or not the time and effort will really justify the results I might get out of it. This opportunity was different. When I heard about the Fathers of Courage class, I knew that God was calling me to be a better dad. I knew I had to and wanted to be there each Sunday morning before church.

God’s conviction, desire, and will is seen clearly in Deuteronomy 5:29 where he says, “Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me and keep all my commands always, so that it might go well with them and their children forever!” Do you hear the longing in God’s voice? God wants multigenerational hearts for him and for things to go well for us and our children. I believe that as I become a more effective dad, God’s desire is more and more likely to happen in my life. So there is a direct correlation between my effectiveness as a dad and fulfilling God’s will in my life. Wow! I need all the help I can get.

We started with about ten dads, and now we have about twenty five or so. I see men in class that I know don’t go to church classes often. There is obviously a strong desire in many of our hearts to be the dad we know we can and should be. However, we have one thing in common: we all fall short. We all sin as Dads. We need and want to be better as fathers desiring the support and help of each other. No one looks down on anyone else, because we all fall short. The good news is that we can start where we are and do better.

We are currently going through a book called Teach Them Diligently. It teaches us how to use the scripture to help guide our children to love and obey God. It’s been a great time to be open about areas where we are weak, sinning, or excelling in as we pray for and support one another.

Courageous Fathers is helping me to change to be a better dad. If we put our hearts into this group, it will make an eternal difference in our children’s future with God. Be there! There’s nothing more important!

- Steve Lichtenwalter

by Tuesday, 15 January 2013 07:06

Faith on Trial

Faith on Trial: The Kibrom Story

Author Jeff Chacon, Written Jun 19, 2011
Prison, torture and death. That’s what awaited the young man from Eritrea, Africa if he wasn’t granted asylum in the United States. But why was he admitting to the Judge that he lied on his initial paperwork? The Judge was confused. Didn’t this man know he was hurting his case? Only people who are caught admit that they’ve lied. Who was this strange young man on trial before him? And who was this strange crowd of people supporting him in the courtroom – a diverse group of young and old, black, brown and white – who kept praying in the hallway after every break of the hearing? “I would rather go back to my home country and face prison, torture and death than sin against Jesus Christ by lying to you.” Kibrom declared. It just didn’t make sense – not even to Kibrom’s own lawyer. The prosecution would eat him alive. And they tried, by using his own words against him. “This man’s admitted he lied! How can anything else he says be trusted?” But the Judge was intrigued. With a 78% denial rate, he knew human nature, and this just didn’t fit. He was determined to get down to the bottom of things. So when the Tampa Bay Church Singles Minister, Wally Olopade, took the stand, the Judge cross-examined the witness himself. The conversation went something like this: “This young man admitted to lying on his initial paperwork. How do you know Kibrom is not lying still?” “Because he became a true Christian.” “How do you know he became a true Christian? He could have lied about that.” “I know because I studied the Bible with him and baptized him.” “How many people have you studied the Bible with?” “About a hundred over the last ten years.” “And how many of them did you baptize?” “Kibrom will be my third.” “You only baptized three people out of a hundred that you studied with?” “Yes, that’s right.” “Why?” “Because in our church we call people to be true disciples of Jesus, and that means repenting of all your sins and making a genuine commitment to follow Jesus for the rest of your life. Many are not willing to make that kind of commitment.” “And Kibrom made that commitment?” “Yes, he did.” More testimony followed. The Judge was thorough. After five and a half grueling hours on hard wooden benches, the Judge gave his verdict, which went something like this: “I have heard both sides of this case. I have read the many letters of recommendation about Kibrom from the members of his church. I see the dedication of these members in attendance today. And I believe them. I especially believe their Pastor, Wally Olopade. If they say Kibrom has sincerely changed, then I believe them. And I am granting this young man asylum in the United States of America, so that he does not have to go back and be persecuted for his Christian faith.” The courtroom erupted with cheers, tears and hugs! The Government Attorney reserved the right to appeal the case. But it didn’t matter. The Judge of all men will preside in that courtroom as well. Faith on trial. It’s usually not this dramatic. But once in a while, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, our faith gets put to the ultimate test – do right and risk prison, torture and death. Kibrom chose to do the right thing, earning him a place among the heroes of faith.
by Tuesday, 15 January 2013 07:05

Time To Man Up Brothers

TimeTo Man Up Brothers
For the last couple of weeks I have been thinking a lot about investing in our Christianity in such a way as to ensure that what we have built lasts longer than just our lifetime. That in fact, we are able to embrace a vision of not only our children but also our own grandchildren and even beyond receiving a faith handed down from us to them.

Today I was out on a very long run and sometimes when I run I get lost in my own thoughts...well that happened to me this morning. The thought that kept coming over me was this: If the brothers don’t rise up and demonstrate faithful, courageous leadership we will cripple the church from moving forward as God would have it. If the Brothers of the Chicago Church don’t get into the adventure of what lies ahead in this great work God has given us then we will simply be a ‘nice’ group of people that tip the hormonal scales toward estrogen. Though I absolutely adore all of my sisters in Christ (two of those sisters are in my own household) and am so grateful for what the women bring to the spirit and vitality of the Church, unless the men step up, we will not hand off a very bright future to our children.

The Grit From Which You Came—

In Genesis 2:7 the Bible reads, “…the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground…” I have been thinking about this passage a lot lately. First of all I love the fact that God is ‘hands on’ in the ‘formation’ of his ministry. Second, I love that God is willing to get His hands dirty to create something He has envisioned. Third, I love the concept of us men being made originally from dirt. That explains a lot to me.

A cursory glance at dirt shows it to be simple, not attractive, lifeless, useless, and well…dirty. But a farmer would tell you that ‘dirt’ provides the foundation and feeding for life in our world. Is it possible that God expects the men to be that same thing for His people? Dirt, water and air are three crucial components to life on our planet. Think about how you, as a man, fit into this picture. What I really like about dirt is its grittiness.

I don’t want to read more into the text than we should, but we came from grit and we should have some grit in us as men of God. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth…salt also has some grit to it. The apostle Paul used some gritty language and also demonstrated grittiness as he was spreading the Word and building the Church. In one scene in Acts he is stoned and dragged out of a city, thought to be dead, only to come back to consciousness and to go right back into the city. What would you have done? In another place Paul is getting fed up with people pushing the disciples to get circumcised to be right with God…at the end of Galatians (and in a moment of intensity) Paul just says why don’t they just go emasculate themselves…in other words if you want cut just part of it off cut the whole thing off. This is a gritty man.

Play Your Man Card (or have it confiscated)—

My brother Marc is a disciple up here in the North. He and I have an amazing friendship and have long embraced the right to challenge each other’s manhood if the time or the occasion calls for it. Of course as brothers growing up we did many of the normal boyhood things involving sports, bikes, dirt, blood, sticks, fists, etc…and as we aged we began to get serious about the things we were passionate about. As a matter of fact Marc and I competed together on the same wrestling team in both high school and college. Now our passion is linked to our families and our collective desire for building God’s Kingdom. Nonetheless, throughout all of our times together there has existed this principle known as the “Man Card Law”.

There are some general rules to being a card-carrying member of the Man-Card Club. Here are some that you may want to consider:

· You are the spiritual leader of your household—If our wives or kids seem to be leading us or blowing us out of the water spiritually…turn in your man card.

· With the rising up of online social sites (facebook, etc…) you are never allowed to ‘tap’ or ‘poke’ another man. You are allowed one ‘mistake’ in your lifetime or you will have to …turn in your man card.

· If you are not currently serving within the church in some capacity because you ‘just don’t feel like it’…turn in your man card.

· If you ever skip out on Sunday worship because you are “just too tired”…turn in your man card.

· (This one applied more in our twenties and is being amended to be more age appropriate) If you schedule to see a doctor for a hurt foot, toe or finger not involving blood or broken bones…we can at least question your right to a man card. (By the way…having ever been diagnosed with a serious illness and staying faithful through it makes you a permanent Man-Card carrying member.)

· If you are given an evangelistic challenge from another brother but you back down because the ‘situation just didn’t seem right’…turn in your man card.

· If you decide to leave the church and no longer be a disciple for any reason at all…turn in your man card. (There are other agreed upon rules several of us have embraced in regard to this rule that I will not go into here.)

· There are many others I could list, but maybe some of you can come up with your own and let us all know…

Glimpses of Grit—

I will be writing thoughts about men’s topics for the next couple of weeks. I hope to be gritty without being too gritty if you know what I mean. But I believe it is time for the brothers of all ages to start “manning up”.

This past weekend we saw a whole lot of brothers gather from all over the church for our annual softball tournament. It was a great time and though we (the North) were field fodder for the Southland we had a decent game, in a losing effort, to the Central. But, I saw grit in many of the brothers on the field that day and it gives me hope. Old guys were sprinting and diving, falling down and swinging for the fences. There were times when calls were questioned and though there were other disputes and controversy involving rules, bats, etc…there was passion! As they say, where there is smoke there is fire. When we can see the spark of passion on the softball field, imagine if we really got passionate about the adventure that is our faith in Christ!

There is grit in the Chicago Church. Even though I am aging more rapidly than ever, I feel the grit within me. In the intensity of the spiritual fight let the gritty men of Chicago rise up and become the leaders God is calling us to be. In this way we will truly inspire our neighbors, co-workers, our sons to follow us as we follow Christ. Amen!

AT Arneson

Lead Evangelist

by Wednesday, 11 January 2012 06:55

Husky Defensive End Makes An Impact

Last Spring, Husky Defensive End, Andrew Hudson, was baptized into Christ. In the past year, because of  his faith and his hard work, he has made an incredible impact for the Huskies both on and off the field. Andrew has been a blessing to the University, his teammates and his ministry. If you spend a couple of minutes with him, you’ll immediately notice his humble demeanor, unassuming humility and a big contagious smile.

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