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Sorry I haven’t posted much.  I have been pretty busy and am slacking a little.  I am writing to tell you, however, that a couple pretty substantial posts should be coming up.  they are either in draft stage or on deck, so Hopefully I will be fulfilling my commitment to frequent quality posts.  Untill then I have a small thought to hopefully start a conversation.

Last week I did a couple ‘sermons’ (I feel really weird saying that, but for lack of a better word, there it is) about Ephesians 4:28 and 29.  I started off with a little bit of last minute prep, so I used a passage from Rob Bell’s Sex God where he illustrates how deeply powerful Paul’s commands are.  The scripture says,

He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.  Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

So Bell brings up a really cool point about this command for new life.  He doesn’t merely tell the readers what not to do.  Bell mentions how stealing creates a physiological response from our bodies; adrenaline flows, endorphins come, it’s a very sensory experience.  He argues that our bodies can even physically become addicted to that feeling.  As I read on in verse 29, (which Bell does not treat in the book) it seems like the unwholesome talk (evil talk, in the NRSV) can elicit a similar biological response.  There is maybe an illicit adrenaline high from talking bad about someone behind their back, or cursing or whatever else is evil talk.

Bell describes the beauty of Paul’s command because he doesn’t merely tell the hearers to stop an addictive activity, he gives them something good to replace it with.  Then the third part of each command is to take the good thing and extend it to others.  It’s about desire, Bell says; we must replace something bad that’s desirable with something good and holy that’s even more desirable.  His hook goes something like this, “you thought taking something was a rush, see how it feels to give food to someone who’s starving,”  the same can be said for the talk thing, “you thought it was a rush to trash someone behind their back, see what it feels like to build up someone who is emotionally broken,”

The whole simplified point in all this is that Paul’s commands are real and brilliant.  You can’t just stop an addictive activity, you must replace that desire with something else, and Paul provides ways to tangibly help those around in need.  What I take from this is that I see more and more that God truly has created us to live out what Jesus called the greatest commandment, “Love God with everything you are and have, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  I say this because the bottom line is (and anyone who has done the positive thing to others in need can attest to it), God has biologically wired us humans to feel good when we tangibly love others.  We get a holy adrenaline rush when we make something with our own hands then give it to someone in need.  Likewise, it absolutely feels good when you use your words to bring grace to someone who really needs to hear something good (the NRSV says that we say these things so that our words may bring grace to those who hear).

I am constantly blown away by God, and last week I was shown, through these two simple verses a little bit more of how we are created and wired in God’s image and how the greatest commandments really are worthy of basing our entire lives off.

Side Hugs and Leg Drops (to see where I got this, read Stuff Christians Like )

JD

It has been pretty busy for me getting back into the swing of work since Ellie was born.  It is really a combination of things: we planned activity gaps around Ellie’s due date but before and after we have stuff going because it’s the summer, I haven’t gotten as much sleep, random ministry convergences happening in the next few weeks.  I think I am doing a pretty good job of not being stressed by I am definitely feeling crunched.  Today, Thursday, I have a short breath from pressing matters at work, and I needed to run some errands, and do a couple other things.  The things I am doing are getting ready for our high school surf day on Friday.

Yesterday, at around lunch my phone was ringing like crazy.  One of the people trying to call me was a friend and fellow youth minister Rob Jenner.  I couldn’t hear his call because he is on Molokai (a small island in Maui county), and Molokai has, I think, 1 cell tower total (this is my sarcasm, but it really doesn’t have good cell coverage).  Anyway, he called again and left a message letting me know that he is speaking at a camp over there and had lined up worship and speaking for his youth group’s midweek program tonight, but it fell through.  So he asked as a last minute, last ditched effort if I could help out by leading worship and speaking.

My heart immediately knew the answer. Of course!  My friend needs a favor and I have the time and ability.  My emotions however, weren’t as cooperative.  I get really stingy with my free time, especially when I am busy at work.  So I was a little sulky for a while until I decided to suck it up and call him back to tell him I would help him out.  So in preparation for that I was trying to sleep in a little and then get right to work and have a full working day.

I woke at 5:45 this morning to Annie asking if I could burp and change Ellie after her early morning meal.  I said I would and then did, and in the process, took my milk-drunk-nearly-comatose daughter and made her wide awake and chipper.  Now, it was awesome and she was all smiles and so I really enjoyed that.  I saw her yawn so I swaddled her and put her to bed, only to hear her fussing for a while.  At 6:30 her fussing turned to full on crying and I gave up any hopes of going back to sleep.  I told Annie I was going to spend time with my daughter.

I took her out to the living room and sat in one of the recliners and we rocked and cuddled for another hour.  I put on some music partway through (my mellow worship playlist) and finally at about 7:45 she fell asleep (no matter that the next time she is supposed to eat is around 8).  I cannot say enough how beautiful a start to my day this was.  In a time when I feel like I ask God for more patience daily, and during a whirlwind of busyness, I get a beautiful, quiet morning with my daughter; rocking, and cuddling to some soul soothing worship.

Ellie smiling in a pretty dress

Ellie smiling in a pretty dress

Sorry for the ridiculously long absence, but I have been trying to get back into my swing of things with work and fatherhood and all that.  Just to update from here at Casa De Groves, it’s now just the three of us and that’s a little weird, but Ellie is  growing and developing daily and it is so incredible.  She is sleeping in 4-5 hour chunks at night, moving and shaking, she has rolled a couple times, and she gives little itty-bitty smiles (and 2 or 3 big wonderful smiles).  So I thought I would throw a couple photos up of her and also point you all to my wife, Annie’s Blog, because she is way better than me at giving the ol’ baby updates.

Mom and Daughter Napping Together

Mom and Daughter Napping Together

I did take a couple pictures of my girls and thought I would post them.  I found Mom and the little girl napping one morning so I snapped a picture of them, and then I took some pictures of Ellie on Sunday morning before we took her to church in a really cute dress that our friends Greg and Kari Ray gave to her.  Greg and Kari have three daughters of their own so they know a thing or two about picking out cute little girl outfits, (and they gave her quite a few of them).  The picture of her beautiful smile on the pink blanket was taken by Annie one day while I was in the office and she’s being so stinkin’ cute.  More to come as I am getting my schedule a little more under control.

Smiling on a Blanket

Smiling on a Blanket

the three of us right after Ellie\'s birth
Elianna Joy Groves

I know I have not posted in a while and I apologize but my world changed forever on Monday night when my amazing wife, Annie, gave birth to our beautiful daughter Elianna Joy Groves.  She was born Monday, June 30th at 10:05 pm, weighed 8 lbs 6 oz, and was 20 1/2 in long.  Mom labored for around 8 hours, 6 of which were hard labor induced by pitocin.  She was (and still is) a champ and delivered that girl with no pain medication (more on that to come).  Anyway we have been in the hospital and so I am just now trying to get back onto the internet and to check my voicemails and do all that stuff I haven’t been able to yet.

Elianna Joy Groves

I will be posting photos and hopefully atleast one video in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled.  So anyway, sorry I have been AWOL for a while but now I’m back and this site should be a hotspot for activity coming up.

Just a quick thank you to all our friends and family who have been such a giant blessing to us during this time.  We are so blessed by the flowers, gifts, cards, phone calls and everything else that our loved ones have sent our way, we really can’t express our gratitude during this amazing time, so thank you all.  I did, however, want to mention one particular blessing that just knocked our socks off.  We got home and grabbed our mail from the office and in it I found  an envelope with only my name on it.  I opened it up and it found a note from our church accountant saying that one of our Jr Higher gave us a donation and so simply giving us the cash was the easiest way to due it (by the books, I’m guessing). Wrapped in the note was a beautiful five dollar bill.  I cannot express how amazingly sweet this anonymous donation was to both Annie and I (so if whoever gave it to us reads this, thank you so much).  I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people around us and in our ministry; what a wonderful sweet gift, amidst a season of wonderful great gifts.

Annie holding Ellie

Annie holding Ellie

Aloha, from the Groves family, which just grew by about 2 feet 🙂

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