Late Saturday Night

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It is late Saturday night (12:45 am Sunday morning) and I am exhausted.  But it’s the kind that’s a good exhausted…the kind where you know your day has been well spent.  We had over 20 people show up at the church today for a work-party.  Somehow, most people never see those as being as fun as other types of parties, but I find them to usually be far more satisfying.  There’s an old adage that says a job well done is its’ own reward.  We had people today pouring their heart, their labor and their time into the work of the Lord.  And it was good.  I’ll have pictures to post later, but my heart is full because of their great effort.  

It’s late, there’s still a few more things to do, but I can’t wait for the service to begin.   

Snow Days

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Well, we awoke this morning to sounds of joy within the Doebler household.  The words of hope and joy that dance in every child’s mind during the winter months of the school year came true today…”NO SCHOOL“.  Before we moved here from South Carolina, Zach & Brandon were so excited about coming to a place where it snows frequently.  Their enthusiasm was based on the fact that in SC, if snow is even PREDICTED, school is cancelled.  In other words, there doesn’t even have to be snow on the ground for school to get cancelled.  So coming to a “winter wonderland” like Peoria (did anyone just spew coffee on your computer screen after reading that last comment?), seemed like a dream come true for them.  Sadly, they were unaware of a horrible invention called the snow plow.  Until last year, they had not gotten a single day cancelled due to snow.  Their excitement for snow has turned into something more like dread…..until you get a snow day.  Then all is right in the world again. 

We have readers on this blog not only here in Peoria, but in many places around the country as well.  It would be fun to have some of you share where you are (Peoria included) and let us know the weather where you are, and if you have any favorite snow day memories.  What do you do with a snow day?    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go shovel the driveway.  I hate snow days! 

Totally Stoked Update

AWESOME!  I sometimes wish I had better words to describe great moments and events, but I keep coming back to this one.  Today was one of those days as I got to listen to the teaching and encouragement dished out by Mark Driscoll.  I wasn’t exactly sure what he was here to speak about, but I didn’t really care.  I just knew that it would be of value.  And I didn’t leave disappointed. 

There are times when we (I) take for granted just how incredible the truth of the gospel is and the power of the cross.  Driscoll, speaking to a room full of pastors, reminded us all of the many facets of how scripture reveals and points to Jesus.  He is found throughout the entire Bible, both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  When Moses asked the voice from the burning bush who should he say was sending him on this mission, he was told “I AM”.  Jesus declared in the NT that “before Abraham was, I AM”. 

Every part of scripture, the whole arc of history, points to Jesus Christ and his work to redeem mankind.  It’s an enormous love story of how much God wanted us to know him.  And when sin separated us from him, he was willing to send his son, Jesus Christ, to do what we could not do, to forgive us of sin, and to give us the hope and promise of life with him. 

It’s not about religion.  We were reminded of that today.  Religion never takes us to the depth and breadth of life that Jesus offers.  In fact it takes us in the opposite direction.  Here is a clip of Driscoll addressing the dead-end road of religion instead of the life-giving joy and freedom in Christ. (the clip is 10 minutes long)

Friends, when we try to live out religion, we will grow weary and tired.  Joy will be fleeting.  And the “something more” we are looking for will be hard to find.  That’s why we have to constantly remind ourselves that our walk is a journey with a person, Jesus Christ, not a journey with a list of rules. 

It’s also why we have to never give up on introducing people who are struggling through life looking for hope and answers to the one who is the Ultimate Hope, the Ultimate Answer, Jesus Christ. 

I entered 2008 with a renewed commitment to seeing lost people find life through Jesus Christ.  Today, the commitment was strengthened through powerful reminders of the power of the cross.  Will you do the same?  Will you make it your personal initiative to find ways to bring life to your friends who have given up on religion, but are still searching for their own “something more”.  If you will, you will move closer toward discovering your own. 

Totally Stoked

It’s late Wednesday night and I have been steady at it all day.  Which means I haven’t had a window to post a blog entry yet today.  But I wanted to share with you that I will be attending a conference tomorrow at Riverside Church here in Peoria.  The guest speaker will be Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

I’ve known a little about Driscoll for a while now, but haven’t REALLY known his story.  Here’s what I have known:

  • that he is hugely controversial
  • he founded and pastors a church that has seen incredible growth in one of the most secular, non-churched areas in America. 

I’ve only recently begun to realize why he’s so controversial, and, in all likelihood, what some of the primary factors are behind his church’s growth. 

The Grove has made a public declaration that we want to create an environment that is conducive to reaching and growing men in their faith.  But we have had no other church that we are aware of to look to for some guidance since so few churches actively attempt to reach men.  But I think that may have just changed.  Take a few minutes (4) to watch this video:

This is who I’m going to listen to tomorrow (Thursday).  This guy is singing a song very few are singing, but God is seriously blessing his ministry.  I am totally amped up to hear what lessons he has learned and how they can help The Grove. 

I would love to hear your reactions to the video so take a few minutes to leave a thought or two. 

American Idol – Omaha

I’ve decided that since I enjoy AI so much, I’ll make this a weekly installment.  I’ve just watched a guy named Chris make an absolute fool of himself for a shot at getting to Hollywood.  The guy had absolutely no talent whatsoever, but he completely put himself out there hoping for something good.  Amazingly, even though he couldn’t sing his way out of a wet paper bag, he’s set to come to Hollywood for the finals to report for the Fox affiliate in Omaha. 

In the regular world, we’d say nothing ventured, nothing gained.  In the spiritual world, Jesus said “You have not because you ask not”.  Chris’s story is a great example of just being willing to put yourself out there.  What would you love to experience but you’ve been afraid to try? 

Trust me…if Chris can do what he did in front of all of America…you should be able to pull off whatever it is that you’re still waiting to do. 

On another note, i didn’t catch her name, but there was a young gal that sang a Norah Jones song and was really good.  I love Norah Jones.  What an awesome jazz singer.  If you want something really smooth to put into your CD player (or your IPOD), you should immediately click on the above link and place your order. 

Who have you seen an AI so far that you really like?  Have you been reminded of any of your favorite music that you now want to go dig back out? 

Sandwich Counters, Bloody Knuckles and “Text Conversations”

OK…I know the title to this sounds completely off-the-wall.  But trust me, there will be a connection.  We’ve been challenging ourselves and our church to pursue the “something more” that we all feel is out there.  As a result, that’s been the topic of many “non-Sunday” conversations in the last few weeks. 

On Saturday, I was having a lunch meeting with Brent Triebel, who has finally retired from Cat, and has started a family-owned franchise for Jimmy John’s in Florida (he says it’s warmer there).  Anyway, as we were talking about his business, we began to discuss a book we have both read, “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless“, which I recommend highly.  The point we discussed was that for an average sandwich counter worker, they’re just counting hours.  It’s not something most of them are particularly excited about.  But if that person would just extend themselves, to go above and beyond with the customer, not only would the customer start to develop loyalty, but the sandwich maker would enjoy the workday much more.  It’s sort of a paradox, but the more a worker will give of themselves, the more they will enjoy the experience. 

That actually works in parallel with the spiritual principle of pursuing the “something more” that God has for us.  It requires extending ourselves.  It requires moving out of a comfortable mind-set, to go beyond the ordinary, the routine.  And in doing so, we begin to discover what life really is and can be.  But that requires taking some risks. 

Younger generations are much more prone to take risks these days, but not all risks make sense.  My youngest son came home yesterday with what looked like a broken hand.  He had decided to play bloody knuckles with several other kids….and apparently, they really were playing for blood.  His hand and knuckles were swollen like a grapefruit.  He said that several other kids were telling him he should stop, but he was determined to win.  [Part of me thinks that was unbelievably dumb, but part is also big-time proud that he could hang like that…. 🙂  ]

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What a Great Day

As I reflect on today’s service (which I always do), I must say that I believe today was a great day.  Sure, we had our share of gaffes, (having a guitar string break in the middle of a rockin’ worship set is a real bummer), but a great service isn’t really about everything being perfect.  In fact, that’s way down at the bottom of the final evaluation.  It’s about the spirit of the service.  Did the Spirit of God have freedom?  Was it evident?  Was the presence of God powerful?  Were people interacting with each other?  Was there joy?  Did people feel welcome?  Was there a sense of community? 

 When the answer to those questions is yes, then that is the basis for a great service.  And I believe we had a great one today.  There was a genuineness of spirit today.  There was a sense that God wants to do something great, and that we can be a part of that…and that God desires that for us.  There was a sense that things not only can be different in 2008, they WILL be different in 2008. 

What does that mean?  It means that God calls everyone to experience life to the full (John 10:10), but most of us are still waiting.  And we’ve learned as one year rolls into the next that nothing much changes. 

BUT NOT THIS YEAR!

God is preparing us…he is preparing our church for stepping out into new territory.  He is calling us to experience the something more we all desire.  But it will involve risk…

Many of you know that I’m a huge fan of Successories, a company that designs and distributes beautiful motivational posters and supplies.  Almost all of their prints are great, but there is one that I am particularly fond of…it’s called RISK

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Last year, Tim Mylott gave me a desk-size copy of this print.  The text reads:

“A ship in the harbor is safe…but that’s not what ships were made for.”

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A Typical Workday (Week)

It’s only Thursday, but I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to share this.  Part of having a blog is being able to give all of you insights into who I am and how I think and what’s important to me.  I know that many of you wonder what a typical day (which, by extension, reflects a typical week) in a pastor’s life looks like.  Now that I have a blog, it’s a great opportunity for me to help you see.  I’ve come across a video that is an amazing insight into a typical pastor’s day.  I think this will help all of you a lot in understanding what we do and just how hard we work…

Have a great day today!

Vodpod videos no longer available. from www.godtube.com posted with vodpod

Young, Dumb, and Stupid in Love

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As we get get older, it’s pretty easy to poke fun at how stupid “kids” can be when they’re in love.  But truth be told, most of us have been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt (and we’re still trying to hide the photos to conceal the evidence).  Maturity (a better way of saying “getting older”) has a way of leveling things out and bringing a certain amount of stability.  In some ways that’s a good thing…but in many other ways, it’s a loss.  I still love my wife as much as the day we got married, and in many ways I love her more.  But 18+years of marriage can take the “edge” off.  We’re comfortable with each other.  We care deeply for each other.  We know each other really well.  But I sometimes miss that electricity of when just a touch would give you a charge.  Do you remember that?  Do you remember what it was like to be young, dumb, and stupid in love?  While life in general may be much better now, do you ever wish you could recapture some of that excitement? 

That’s a great picture of what happens to most of us in our spiritual walk.  When we give our lives to Jesus Christ, it’s fresh, it’s new, and the possibilities are real and vibrant.  But time goes by…the edge wears off…the excitement dies…and the next thing you know you’re just trudging through life doing your Christian thing when you can, but mostly wondering what happened.  The something more you once knew was yours for the taking is now a distant memory.  But it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Continue reading

American Idol – My Mindless Pleasure

So here I am, sitting here and enjoying my annual dose of the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I know that there are lots of people who are now completely changing their opinions of me, but I’m OK with that (not really…please don’t stop liking me!)  Anyway, I find myself each year looking forward to the goofiness as well as the talent.  There are a couple of things that always surprise me.  I’m constantly amazed by the people who genuinely think they have talent and have none (actually, I think some have less than none).  And it blows my mind when these people who truly are talentless can get angry when confronted with the truth from three people who have spent careers in the music industry.  WOW!  What is that all about?  The other thing that always surprises me is how excited I can get for the successes of people I don’t even know.  For some reason I always get pumped up every time someone gets a “golden ticket” to Hollywood. 

So far, from what I’ve seen this season, it looks like the gals have a big lead on the guys.  But then again, they don’t show everyone in the early stages, so time will tell. 

Any other fans out there?  Any one willing to admit it?  What is it about American Idol that makes it easily the number one show on TV?   Why do 30 million people watch along with me each week?  Are there any lessons for the church?  Let me hear from you….at least those of you who are willing to confess!