I was scanning through my google reader when I saw this recent post by Donald Miller and thought I must share it.  He writes a convicting and thought-provoking blog here and I am challenged by what he says, but I also thought he does a fantastic job of explaining our need for a savior.

I have heard many presentations of the Good News of Jesus Christ in my life and many of them explained the fall in terms that left me unsettled and wanting.  Donald’s explanation here is awesome so I thought I would highlight it (pay special attention to the italicized part, which I added):

We were designed so our identity would be affirmed in a relationship with God. In other words, my feelings of self worth do not come from within me, they come from an external source. That source was supposed to be God. But in the fall of man, that relationship was severed (it had to be as God could not mix or mingle with anything opposing him, not because He is a jerk, but because He actually defines what is good in the first place) and so after the fall, we continue to look for affirmation from an outside source, and that source is each other.

I love the way Miller describes the fall here.  Through my life I have been told that at the fall our sin caused God to punish us with separation from him, which is sort of hard to reconcile when elsewhere the same people say that God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you in Jesus  (why did God mess things up in the first place, I wondered).  When we look at the fall, however, not as our punishment from God, but as the consequence of our sin and our choice, things become clearer.  If God is perfect (and God is perfect), then everything about and around God is also perfect (heaven and such), then it reasons to say they any imperfection (our rebellion and sin) around would disturb God’s perfection.  God’s perfection can’t, in fact, be disturbed and so any imperfection (our rebellion and sin, and therefore us) could no longer be around.  I am reading this parenting book that shows and encourages the parents to show that disciplining a child is not because we are mean, nasty jerks and want to make them suffer with punishment, but because we are loving, responsible parents who are enforcing the boundaries and consequences of their own choices and are providing the clear boundaries and structure we so desperately need.  I think when we understand the fall this way, God is no longer the bad guy(a mean, nasty jerk), God is in fact so good that we can’t even compare, and when we understand that, The Good News is actually Good!  God could no longer bear this separation so God came to us, in the flesh and became like us so that we could be made right! Thanks for sharing this view, Don.

In other news and randomness, The Hawaiian Island Ministries Honolulu 2010 conference starts this evening and I am stoked to be going to it with some of our teens and Annie.  I am especially stoked because The David Crowder* Band is performing a worship concert on Friday night that is sure to be face-meltingly-rocktacular and worshipful.  I will try to post some conference updates as I can.

In further randomness, if any are following along with the shrinking JD, I weighed in today at 247lbs and am stoked to be down 20lbs from the original weight.   I wasn’t able to work out due to sickness, nor was I able to keep up with my lose it due to sickness and laziness and busy-ness due to Annie starting maternity leave.  Hopefully, I will able to get back into those next week.  I am posting this because the conference schedule on Friday runs from 8am to about midnight, not including drive time, so I may not be able to do my normal Friday weigh in and post.

aloha, (ps. we made it through the tsunami) (pps, i like to use the word stoke, I know, you couldn’t tell)

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It feels like this has been going on longer than 25 weeks, but I guess that is half a year. Had a good weigh in today after another really tiring and fun football workout with Daniel. Weighed in at 248lbs today and it was the second time this week I did. I’m now 8 lbs away from my original goal weight, and 11 lbs from my adjusted goal of 237. I think I will end up adjusting it again, however, and I will work to get down to 230 or maybe even 225.

Sorry this has come so late, but this weekend was pretty busy and last weekend we were at winter camp. I weighed 250 lbs on Friday and I am stoked to be dropping down at a pretty good pace now. The afternoon before, I weighed 246 after a nice run with John Allard. I have been doing pretty good about workouts and eating smaller portions, however, I am being pretty lazy about my “lose it” and I need to change that.

In other news, Annie and I really worked to organize our bedroom this weekend and it looks and feels awesome now; like a whole other place. We also had an interesting conversation with Patrick, my brother in law, and I think we are going to start a hydroponic garden next weekend with his help, and we’re pretty excited about it. aloha

Hey all, sorry for the late update this week.  I actually did weigh in, but was unable to get my post up, so here it is a couple days late.

I weighed in Friday at 254, which was a little disappointing, because the day before I weighed 252 (as I did today).  The workouts are still going well, and I am doing pretty well on my calories, though this weekend I didn’t keep track at all cause I had this nasty head cold.  I’m coming out of my head cold funk already, but I sure noticed some intense weakness when I worked out today, so I just took it easy on the weights and kicked my cardio up with 30 mins on the elliptical, and some quick light strength stuff (mostly body weight exercises).  I have been doing some football training with one of our FBC students for the last couple weeks and we had an AWESOME workout on Thursday, I only wish there were a way to get that workout more than once a week.  There it is for this week, Aloha

In their version of “O For A Thousand Tongues to Sing”, The DC*B sing, “There are so few words, that never grow old.”

What are those words for you?

Here’s my weekly update.  I weighed in today at 253 and was able to feel pretty encouraged by that.  The most frustrating thing for me and these weigh-ins these last few weeks has been that earlier in the week I have been consistently weighing a few lbs less than my weigh in on Friday.  Thankfully, today’s weight was more representative of where I have been this week.  Workouts are going well, I am locking into 3 or 4 days a week, and my calorie counting has continued with a little added accountability of having “friends” on the app (we can see each others’ stats and when we go over and stuff like that).  Good Weekend to you all!

Allright, Don.  I get it.  You’ve made your point clearly to my silly, feeble brain.  There’s something important about story.  It started with a podcast I heard where you taught Mars Hill about how their story was important to their lives.  Then we downloaded this other teaching about it from your website.  Then I read your blog where you kept discussing (in an inspiring way, not as though you were beating a dead horse) about how you were writing this book about letting story guide the way you live your life and showing specific examples from your own life, even putting in parts of the book for we readers to look through and help give feedback on.

Then I read the book.  Wow.  First, I must say, that I’ve loved every book of yours that I’ve read (even those ones you mention that didn’t sell very many, I thought they were still great), but your writing has come of age in a powerful and poignant way.  There were multiple times while reading “A Million Miles in A Thousand Years,” when I was moved to tears.  Somehow your writing has become even more honest and meaningful and encouraging.  Thank you for that and for writing this book .  As I finished the book I found myself nearly shouting to my wife and my friend (we all read it together), “Why has nobody ever said this before!?  Of all the story-writers writing all the stories, knowing what makes a good story and what we people intuitively crave in one, and they only use it to sell their own stories?!  Why has no one else defined a story then challenged we common folk to live stories that we would want to read?!”  I still am a little shocked that this is just now coming out, but I’m glad its you who’ve brought this to us.  I am also glad and thankful that throughout, you point to God, our Writer, and how it’s not about what we do, but about following Our Writer’s Voice.

So to that end, and after reading how you wrote your “New Year’s Goals,” I thought I might reflect on the story I am living and look at what story God might be writing for me and my family.   (To my friends and family: Some of these things you read may be old news, some may seem new and weird/crazy, but the reason I am putting it out there is because I need the accountability in my story, I need some stake in the outcome of my story.  There’s not as much of an incentive to do these things if I don’t have my ten readers in on it, so here we go.)

A chubby, lazy character is not good for anyone, and right now that’s what I am.  I want to be a disciplined, healthy young man to look better for my wife, be in better shape to play with my daughters and students, and to keep my mental health positive by being able to feel good about myself.  You don’t watch a movie and root for the slob, and if an author was describing me in a book I wouldn’t read too far, so I want to change this about me.  My readers already know a bit about this and what it’s doing in my life.  They know my progress and what is happening so I won’t elaborate further.  This goal is also already helping me better manage my time and helping me to get up earlier and better.

I want my daughters to know the blessing of serving God and putting yourself out there.  I want our whole family to get out to the Nehemiah House in the Philippines.  Our church is even taking a trip back there in May; our family can’t afford this and it certainly won’t be easy to fly across the ocean with a newborn and 2 year old, but I feel like this is where God’s leading me.  I understand and believe that this is probably not going to happen this year, it would take a true miracle of God to get us over there 2 months after we have a baby.  It sounds crazy, I know, and I’m not going to push it where it isn’t right, but if God wants it for us, who am I to stand against God; also last year while I was in Cagayan De Oro, Mike told me that the next time I came back, I would bring my wife and kids.  The only thing is, we were not pregnant with baby number two then (and he knew we weren’t pregnant), but maybe he was foreshadowing, who knows?

Don, according to you, a good/sympathetic character wants something and overcomes conflict to get it.  Currently, I think I am living that out as I seek to facilitate relationships with teens and Jesus, but I feel drawn to a more difficult and more self-sacrificing story line.  I feel like God may be asking me to give more of myself.  This is going to sound crazy and out of character and maybe even silly, but I think that it would be glorifying to God to become a lawyer and work to right wrongs and injustices in 3rd world countries and maybe even our own.  Right now, UH Law is very affordable, has an Asia and Pacific discipline and will keep us here in HI a little longer.  This story is going to be really difficult.  Law school is hard and time-consuming.  What I’m looking to do is not going to pay well, and so I must rely on God to find the best way to support my family.  Also the legal profession provides the dangerous lures of self-reliance, pride, greed, and any number of other pitfalls to pull me away from Christ and my family. After all that, though, I think that the story God wants for my life involves those conflicts and dangers and victories.   It probably is no small coincidence that I have been thinking about and praying about this for a while and trying to figure out if it is right, and then I read your book, feel called to a better story, and this idea keeps coming to my mind the whole time I’m reading (it also doesn’t hurt that Bob is a lawyer who works to right wrongs in 3rd world countries, and that he coincidentally mentored one of my best friends while he (Andy) was in college and even got him (again, Andy) excited about this line of work.  Whew, that’s a sidebar!)

Finally, what I think is most important, I want to be the kind of husband and father that a reader would root for, respect and that provides the love and time and care that my wife and daughters deserve.  I don’t think anyone roots for the crappy parent in a movie or novel, and we all get behind those parents who give sacrificially, and really are the parents we want to be.  I figure, why don’t I start being the parent I want to be, and stop thinking about not being the parent I want to be.  To do this,  I need to get past the laziness and sloth that keeps me sitting at home and doing nothing.  I want to take my wife and daughters on fun, cheap, memorable dates and I want us to treasure our time together and the memories that it creates.  This will take great creativity and willpower as I am not normally the type to figure out, plan and enact memorable dates and family outings.  We’re trying for it, and as you say, Don, it’s better for us to try these things and fail gloriously than to do nothing at all.  So thanks again, Don.  You may have been my inciting incident, and my life might never look the same, and I might be the child of God, man, husband, and father that I dream of being, all because you wouldn’t let up on this story business.

Well, I dont know what week it is, and as of right now I dont appear to be shrinking.  I weighed in today at 257 and am feeling pretty frustrated because my workouts have been great these past few weeks and I have been eating very well, most days I am under my calories even without accounting for the extra I burn working out.  Well, there it is, I’m still staying strong and going after it, but it is going to take much longer than I expected and want.  Aloha

It feels like so much is going on in my world right now and the last thing I have time for is writing.  Additionally, I feel like so much of what’s going on has created in me an inability to shape these thoughts cohesively to present to others.  We wrapped up 2009, one of the hardest years I can remember and moved into 2010 with one final crotch-kick from 2009 as Annie, Ellie and I all spent the First week of 2010 cooped up in our house with the stomach bug from hell.  We are recovering now, though it is still taking a long time.  As I previously said, I don’t know how to formulate these coherently so its going to come at you in a sort of bullet-point-stream-of-consciousness form.

  • The disastrous tragedy in Haiti is incomprehensible and has caused so many to question how a “Good God” can allow such tragedy and destruction.  It has also caused some to proclaim God’s judgment and many others to explain why we can still love and trust God in the midst of this, I have been encouraged by the latter and encourage any and all who read to check out some of these links, as well as to be God’s body here on earth to this nation through prayer and compassion giving.  Here’s Ben Wintherington III, Donald Miller/ Mark Stuart, Adam Mclane, and Andrew Jones
  • One of my Christmas presents from Annie was Donald Miller’s most recent book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.  It took me 3 sessions and 3 days to read it.  The book is fantastic and the best he has yet written.  I was moved nearly to the point of tears multiple times and the book’s message has given both Annie (she’s now almost finished it) and me a gut-check that is helping to shape and change the way we live even now.  I don’t want to ruin the book for any who want to read it, but the premise is that if we look at our lives as stories, then we will live them differently.  I highly recommend this book with the caveat that you should not read it if you don’t want to be challenged and inspired (and disturbed, as Rob Bell reviews in the liner notes)
  • Ellie is growing and changing so much.  She has been doing things more and more like a girl and less and less like a baby.  She has become sort-of compulsive about cleaning and now insists on clearing and wiping her own tray after meals and she can regularly be seen wandering around the house with a paper towel or wipe or rag cleaning away.  She’s also talking much more.  She has been babbling and speaking in full sentences to us (in her own nonsensical language), even gesturing and changing her facial expressions while she looks us in the eyes to communicate some great truth.  The the other day, she took it to the next level by speaking her first real, unprovoked, non-parroted sentence; “I like food,”.  This has led way to others, notably today saying, “I(‘m) a baby,” to which I replied, “Ellie, you’re not a baby, you’re a big girl!”
  • My mind has begun wrapping around the idea that we  have two children and particularly two girls, I can’t really express it yet, but I am (and have been) very excited to be a family of four and the father of two girls.  These are uncharted waters for me, I am a guy and grew up in a house full of guys (and my poor sister had to deal with only brothers) and I honestly am about the dumbest guy when it comes to girls.  I don’t understand how they think and other things like that, but I know that God isn’t putting me in too far over my head, so I know it will be good and I will learn a little more about how to understand and relate to girls.
  • With gift money from my last birthday and this Christmas and a little I had saved on my own, I was able to recently buy an electric guitar and amp.  I have had a blast jamming and practicing scales this past week.
  • We are beginning a crown financial ministries study this month with a couple other young couples and our friends the Metcalfs.  Craig has taken these classes and is an instructor so he is graciously leading us through this study that will teach us how to better handle God’s money.
  • It’s an El Nino year and the surf has been so great this whole winter on the north shore.  It has been much bigger than my feeble abilities can handle and everywhere else has been too small for my large size/feeble abilities.  They even ran The Eddie, Quicksilver’s big wave competition at Waimea Bay.  I have had a surf drought and it’s no fun.  I miss the ocean and surfing.
  • My weight loss and workout plan is progressing pretty well after the holiday hiccup and time off for stomach bug.  This has been a good week of workouts and my eating habits have improved (and probably my appetite decreased). I weighed myself Tuesday and weighed 252lbs, which might not sound great but then I realized it means I have lost 15lbs since I started in late September and am about halfway to my goal of 235 (251 is technically halfway).  It has also been great to see some of my strength coming back as I continue to push myself in the weights.  I typically go in an start with 20 minutes on the elliptical, then move on to a fast (45 minute) weights session where I alternate between working back, legs,  shoulders and biceps one day and chest, legs, triceps and shoulders the other, and I finish with a quick but grueling ab workout that takes 5 minutes or less.  The leg and shoulder exercises are very different so I won’t develop overuse injuries.  It has also been fun meeting new people at the Y, as well as seeing more of others that I know from church and from when I coached football.

Well, I think that’s all I have for now, hopefully I can further delve into some of these topics in future posts as I have more time and clarity to do so.  Aloha from Hawaii.

Aloha and Happy New Year from the Groves in Hawaii.  It has been quite a while form my last post and I apologize, but we were enjoying Christmas and New Years.  As for the weight loss, I did not do my lose it at all these last couple weeks but worked hard to limit my calories (and get a few workouts in).  This particular week started 2010 off with a something, as the whole Groves family has suffered from this wicked stomach bug for the entire week.  This has made it so I have done literally no physical work, and my eating has been erratic.  After all that, I am pleased to weigh in at 257 today.  As soon as we are better, I will be getting back on the exercise and calorie tracking horse

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