Sunday Night Lights

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I absolutely L.O.V.E. Easter….and all that it stands for.  Easter is the reason we even exist as a church and as a ministry.  Without Easter, it would all be pointless.  But Jesus Christ overcame sin, death, and the grave and we can stand in his victory as more than conquerors. 

  • Our service today touched on the “Rescue” element of LOST.  In life, just like the TV show, when rescue is being offered, a voice (Ben from the TV show) calls out that the rescue is risky and dangerous….that accepting “rescue” would be a mistake. 
  • That voice today comes from the sworn enemy of mankind, Satan himself.  And he warns you that accepting the offer of Jesus rescue is too costly..the price is too high… you can make it on your own. 
  • We celebrated the specialness of the day by observing The Lord’s Supper at the conclusion of the service. 
  • Our music was “spot on” for the message content
  • Hannah Huebner returned from her mission trip to France and was in the service this morning.  She was tired…but radiating.
  • Paul and Paula Scott are headed to Dallas to investigate a mission ministry “Shoes for Orphan Souls”
  • We had Scott Campbell, a missionary to the eastern Canadian provinces in the service this morning.  Scott and his family have done marvelous work for the kingdom in Canada.  He is now coordinating church planting efforts there and pastoring/coaching the planters.  What a wonderful ministry.  Thanks Scott for honoring us and worshiping with us this morning.  (Click here to see the churches under his care)
  • We had a larger than expected crowd today and the spirit was good.
  • We had at least one person indicate they invited Christ into their life as Lord.
  • We are unofficially opening a “satellite campus” in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  We had more people leave for there this afternoon….which brings the count for the month up to almost 15 Grovers in Gulf Shores.  I guess we’ll just start renting space. 🙂
  • Lesley hooked us up with an awesome ham and hashbrown casserole for Easter lunch.  Mmmm, Mmmmm good!
  • We had a couple of visits to the blog today from Israel…. which is kinda cool on Easter Sunday. 
  • It’s a good thing Jesus wasn’t crucified in Peoria in 2008…. he would have arisen to snow.  😦    (is that a sign of spring here?)

I hope and pray that your Easter was fulfilling…. and full of power of Jesus Christ. 

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Sunday Night Lights

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A busy day comes to an end and it’s time to reflect back on what transpired.  Let’s start at The Grove

We continued our series on LOST this morning.  It’s built around the TV show by the same name.  This week we walked into elements of the crash scattered all around the building.  We had suitcases, books, articles of clothing hanging from trees and a “lean-to shelter” on the stage.  It was all to create the idea of the crash that created a new set of realities of the characters of the show.  The “crash” of humanity in Genesis 3 created new realities for mankind that we must also face.  Here are some of the similarities and lessons learned from LOST:

  • The crash resulted in injury and death
    • Our reality is that we live in a broken world.  Nothing is what it should be.  There are many that will look around and blame God for bad things that we experience in this life.  But ever since the “crash”, nothing has been as it was intended.  Sickness, pain, suffering, death are all parts of the curse of sin.  And although God isn’t the cause of the brokenness of our condition, the good news is that he will show up and walk with us through the damage. 
  • There are many things about their circumstances that are mysterious and they don’t understand
    • Our reality is that much of what we experience in life is pretty mysterious to us.  Often when we think we have it figured out, we realize all the questions have changed.  Life can be very random and mysterious.  And if we’re not careful, it can become very frustrating as we try to interpret life from our own point of view.  I am reminded of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman that said “God is God and I am Not”.  That’s a powerful truth.  We need to make peace with the knowledge that if we don’t understand the circumstances, we can at least trust the Creator.  I don’t understand everything about my computer, but I trust that Bill Gates knows how to make it work in ways that absolutely baffle me, and yet arrive at the desired outcome. 

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Sunday Night Lights

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We began our new message series today at The Grove that is built around themes found in the TV show “LOST”.  Our tech team (you ‘da man Todd….you ‘da man too Jim) did an amazing job this morning pulling together a large number of elements into a pretty seamless whole.  We had additional dramatic contributions of our flight attendant “Kiki” (you missed your calling Janet) and our Captain “Please fasten your seat belts” Proud.  And that’s not to mention some creative script writing from Paula.  My son, Zach, even contributed some great sound effects.  It was a monumental effort this morning to create an environment that was conducive to crashing a plane.  And so many people this morning made great contributions.  Here are some highlights from the message: Continue reading

Sunday Night Lights

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The energizer bunny….on steroids!  That’s probably a fairly accurate description of Bill Perkins.  We were blessed to have Bill spend the night with us on Saturday night.  After 10 minutes, I knew we were in for a great day today since he was our guest speaker.  And we got one.  He did a great job on encouraging us as men to fight for our marriages.  Quite frankly, marriage is in as much trouble in Christian circles as it is in the rest of the population.  There doesn’t seem to be much difference.  But there should be.  And Bill gave us some real wisdom and biblical tools for strengthening the most important relationship in our lives other than the one we have with Jesus Christ – our marriages.  Here are a few tips: Continue reading

Sunday Night Lights

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I’ve been calling these Sunday recaps “Sunday Night Reflections”, but these thought usually represent the highlights of my Sunday and what I’m looking forward to.  So….I’m changing the name.  

Today’s Highlights

  • We wrapped up a series today at The Grove called “In The Fire”.  It was based on Daniel 3 and the incredible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
  • It was an awesome conclusion to the first two months of the year.  In the first two months we have:
    • Started by going B.I.G. – Having a God-sized dream that drives you throughout this coming year.
    • Continued by exploring what it looks like to pursue something more.  Both of these topics coincided with my decision to start this blog, to step further outside of my box and trust God for big things. And in only six weeks this blog has reached people on 5 continents and had over 2300 hits.  That’s God-sized. 
    • And finally, we spent the last three weeks looking at the story in Daniel of what will follow when we decide to go B.I.G. and pursue the something more that God desires for us – we will face fire
    • Beyond the teaching, we have seen more accomplished in the restoration of our building than we did all of last year.
    • We’ve had the second-highest 2-month period of attendance in our history, trailing only the two months we went through 40 Days of Purpose  that included a public advertising campaign.
    • We’ve had one tremendous concert in our building and have several more in the possible/planning stages
    • We re-started Greenhouse Groups (our group ministry) tonight and have over 85% of our congregation committed to groups.
    • Our teens have taken it upon themselves to strengthen their group and are headed to Dare-2-Share in April.
    • And to top it off, we’ve seen one person accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. 
  • My favorite thought from today’s message is that the one thing that is inherent in fire is that it spreads.  And when it spreads, it consumes. 
  • My prayer for myself and the church I lead is that we will all be consumed by God’s fire in 2008 and as it consumes us, it spreads to all around us

What’s Ahead This Week?

  • I’ve already mentioned the Greenhouse Groups.  We are embarking on an exploration of friendship through these groups. 
    • Friendship is SOOOOO important.  Studies show that when guest arrive at a church, they are NOT looking for a friendly church, they are looking for friends.  But becoming a friend is more skill than most of us realize.  We want to move past the “friendly church” label, and truly become a place where people find God honoring, life giving, stick-with-you come hell or high-water friendships. 
  • Lesley and I will be attending the TEAmerica Church Planting conference in Chicago.  This is the group that welcomed us with open arms and partnered with us in our launch.  It will be a time of challenge, celebration, and re-focusing. 
  • Bill Perkins, author, speaker, movement catalyst, and former pastor will be our guest speaker on Sunday, March 2.  Can’t wait for him to get here.
  • Several of our men will be attending the Iron Sharpens Iron training event in Springfield on Saturday. 

It’s been a great year already.  There’s a super week ahead of us, and the year is just going to keep getting better as we Go B.I.G., pursue the “something more” that God has for each of us, the spread the flame of God’s fire.  Buckle up!

Sunday Night Reflections

I have to say that God is really showing up in our services.  We have had one of the best stretches of services that I remember having in our history.  And I don’t mean we’ve had flawless services.  I touched on that last week.  What I mean is that there is a tangible sense of the presence of God. 

Moment of confession – We’ve had services since we began where it was totally in our own power.  Our plans, our skills, our abilities, our knowledge, and our strength.  That may sound bad, but I’m convinced that there are more churches than not where this is true.  But God will NOT let HIS Word ever go out without impact.  Isaiah 55:11-12 tells us that just as the rain will always accomplish a purpose, so too will His Word.  Even if we’re delivering it in our own strength, which we (I) have done.  In Philippians 1:15-18, the Apostle Paul said that even when the gospel is preached with impure motives, he rejoiced because God’s Word is still being heard.  That’s the power of God’s Word.

That being said, having experienced services that were done in our own power, and experiencing services soaked in the power of God, I’ll take the latter.  And we’ve been blessed to sense God’s presence in powerful ways this year. 

In The Fire

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Our current series, In The Fire, concentrates on the experience of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel chapter three.  If you’re going to Go B.I.G. in 2008, you can count on having a fiery furnace moment….and then some.  Jesus was put to the test IMMEDIATELY after being baptized and beginning his public ministry.  You will NEVER realize the “something more” you are looking for without fighting for it. 

The awesome thing about the faith of these three heroes of faith are that there were OK with whatever outcome awaited them.  Whether it was deliverance from the fire, or perishing in the flames.  Because either way, they were honoring the King of Kings.  There was no room for compromise with these guys…no playing it safe.  For them, it was all or nothing for their God.  And look at the impact. 

Playing safe is a sure way to a life of boredom and emptiness.  At The Grove, I would rather we fail while achieving great things for God, than succeed at accomplishing nothing.  That means we have to be OK with failing.  That doesn’t sound acceptable in the church environment.  But that’s because too many churches have put God in a box and we have crippled ourselves and cut ourselves off from experiencing the overwhelming greatness of God. 

We want 2008 to be more than we ever imagined.  And we have a God that wants to deliver.  But it will take our whole-hearted commitment and a willingness to fight fire with faith. 

HUDDLE HIGHLIGHTS

Each Sunday, our men gather in a huddle to be personally challenged before heading out to live out their faith in their home and in the workplace.  This week, we passed out matches.  An unlit match delivers neither light nor heat.  But when struck, it reveals both.  For a match to deliver either, it has to be struck or ignited by other matches.  If you’re not taking any blows, then you’re not putting yourself out there for Christ.  And if you’re not being challenged and inspired by others, you are limiting your potential and your reach.   

Our men will be carrying matches this week to remind them of these simple truths.  Grab one yourself and let it be your own reminder this week. 

Sunday Night Reflections

Some thoughts on today’s service:

Goofs – We started the morning with our worship guides in the trash can because they had the wrong date on them (my fault).  They were ultimately rescued, but we looked a little foolish.  I am glad though that we worship at a church that allows some mistakes.  That makes us real.  As the leader, I’m always striving to do the best I possibly can.  But I’m pretty sure I never make it through a day without a mistake or two..(heck, I’m not sure I make it out of the first hour most days).  We never want to be sloppy and accept mediocre, but perfection at the sake of heart and passion is cold and sterile.  I’ll take a few goofs along the way. 

Spirit – I’m not sure exactly what it is, but man, our response has been great during our music services all year long.  There is power and energy and joy.  I love hearing people SING!  What’s really cool is how the spirit in the body encourages the musicians on the platform.  It’s kind of like a crowd cheering on the team.  They feed on each other.  And in a spiritual setting, it raises the spiritual temperature in great ways. 

Heat – The truth is that our building is really cool…in more ways than one.  It’s been hard to heat.  But this morning, the temp was really comfortable.  Which is remarkable since it was in single digits outside (that has to be the result of sin).  We owe that to the hard work of Jeff H. who crawled through ducts for over an hour looking for ways to redirect the air flow.  I never cease to be amazed at the hard work that so many of you do behind the scenes.

Children’s Area – Totally dug the sign that Tim & Brooke made for traffic flow.  It was inspired by similar signs at Starbucks.  How can you argue with that as a source of inspiration?

Quote – Coach Greer did a great job with the message this morning as we broke into a new series – “In the Fire”.  It’s a great follow-up to the last series of pursuing “something more and going B.I.G.”.  I particularly liked the quote that he shared this morning:

  • Many an opportunity is lost because a man is out looking for four-leaf clovers.”

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Wow, what a great insight.  It reminds of another quote that says the “opportunity often comes disguised as hard work”.  While we are often waiting and hoping for good things to fall in our laps, we fail to see the real opportunities to step out in faith and go B.I.G. because it looks a little too challenging.  But God gives us opportunities, not ease.  So here’s to a week of bad hunting for clovers, and great fortune at finding opportunities.