What’s on your Christmas List?

theparentcue.org is one of my favorite blogs/websites that I visit daily.

Wanted to share this one with you today written by Mike Tiemann.

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You probably have lots of vivid memories that come to mind when you remember celebrating Christmas as a kid.

● Bundling up in the car to look at the neighbors’ lights.
● Decorating the tree while listening to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole.
● Making Christmas sugar cookies with Grandma . . . and leaving enough icing so you can lick the bowl.
● Drinking hot cocoa (with marshmallows!) as you watch the snow fall.
● Singing “Silent Night” at church . . . while your candle dripped hot wax onto your fingers.
● Examining each wrapped gift to try to figure out who it was for . . . and what might be inside!

As kids, we waited for the big day to arrive . . . but our concerns were very practical. We couldn’t WAIT to see what gifts we would receive! We spent the month of December dreaming of toys, candy, and video games—and, yes, making lists of the things we wanted most. As parents, we now have the privilege of experiencing Christmas with our own kids. We also have the opportunity to help them connect the joy and excitement of the season with the great love God has shown to us.

After all, Christmas has always been about anticipation. Long ago, God’s people were waiting for the promised Savior. They rejoiced at the news of His birth. We give gifts today as a way to remember the greatest gift: Jesus. God’s only Son. Emmanuel. God with us. Of course your kids will be excited about what they can get for Christmas. But at the same time, don’t miss the chance to show them what it means to give.

In December, we’re discovering what it means to show compassion: Caring enough to do something about someone else’s need. We can respond to the love God showed us by loving the people He’s put around us.

So talk with your kids. As you listen to their wish lists, also help them think about ways to show compassion—to make others your mission. You could give your time, serving somewhere in your local community. You could donate food or winter jackets to those in need. You could choose an item from the Compassion Gift Catalog to make an impact for children in poverty.

Whatever you decide to do, get the whole family involved. Help your kids make some sweet memories about serving and loving others. Make it your Undercover Christmas mission to show compassion—together.

Download this year’s Advent Calendar for more ideas on how to take your kids on a journey of compassion this season. Click Here

 

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When God has another plan.

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About two weeks ago Kym and I drove to North Carolina to the memorial service of a friend 30 years old who passed away, as I drove that road that I had driven so many times before I couldn’t help but thank God for all that He has done and brought me through. I’m not going to do into detail on this blog post… But, it’s been an amazing journey so far and the title of this song has really rang true in my life these last 33 years.

 “When God Has Another Plan”

The Lord’s ways are not our ways! I am learning that it is when I cannot rationalize or deal with things in my own strength that the Lord is asking me to truly surrender.  It is surrender because it’s not what I want, and I can’t convince myself of any good reason for what is happening.  And I’ve come to realize this is exactly where the Lord wants us – fully dependent on and surrendered to Him.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”  – 

You see four months ago Kym and I through prayer and surrender knew that in our hearts we were to take the path of adoption and so we announced that we were taking the steps to begin the adoption process…

Almost immediately after we announced it it seemed the brakes were slammed and everything slowed way down. To be honest we have been frustrated as to why the process wasn’t happening (Not just in our timing but at all)

Well, this morning we have a better understanding as to why it seemed to be that way… God has another plan!

We are still praying about pursuing adoption but it will not be in the near future as we learned this morning Kym is pregnant with child number 5! (This is unless we are suppose to adopt and have #6)

Needless to say we are shocked/excited that Groves baby number five will be arriving early next year. We never planed on having 4 kids in 5 years and surely not 5 kids in 6 years! However, God knew this all along!

The plan. We all have one. Right? This idea in our head about how our life is going to be. My plan was awesome. I was going to marry the love of my life. We were going to get pregnant soon after with our first child and then every two years or so after that we would add another little person to our family until we felt complete. Perfection right? But, you see, that was JC’s plan, not God’s!  

I know letting go of “the plan” is so incredibly hard and downright scary. But honestly, plans are boring.  And when you chose to trust, you will find this incredible sense of purpose and fulfillment. Without a single doubt, throwing that stupid old plan out the window is the best decision I/WE ever made. I love the life God is allowing me to live. I LOVE MY BIG FAMILY!

So With that being said, just to clear the air… Here are a few answers and facts for you in case you were wondering: 

  • No we are not those type of people who don’t believe in birth control. 
  • The Duggar Family… Not even close to us. Please don’t compare us! (However we could have one heck of a reality TV show… Scratch that the kids would have to wear clothes) 
  • Yes we do know how this happened/happens – LOVE this question! #1 response.. Cracks me up every time.. The answer is always YES and we rather enjoy it!!!
  • Just because we lived in Utah doesn’t mean we converted to the Mormon mentality of family 
  • Yes we have cable. 
  • Yes we understand the burden it’s gonna be to feed these boys who are seemingly bottomless pits…. Grocery bills are not for the faint of heart. Seriously. I’m convinced that the only way I’m going to afford them all once they hit their teen years is if we’re growing our own food. Including a head of cattle.
  • NOT one of my children are a mistake or a oops! 

  • I am married to one of the most amazing/selfless/steady/hardheaded/courageous/dedicated/ beautiful/Godly woman I’ve ever met or known. 
  • We choose to celebrate the life that God has blessed us with. Please know we don’t post things on social media to rub it in the face of our friends and family who can not have children. Our hearts are often broken and sometimes question why having children is so easy (and often) for us and so hard for others. I’m sorry. I really do hurt for you. 
  • ‘Large’ is a subjective term. For some folks, more than two children is ‘large’. For myself, having five children at home, I think seven or more is “large”. It’s all a matter of perspective. I’ve come to accept that to most people, five is a large family. I think it’s kind of the same idea of what “old” is. It’s always at least twenty years older than your current age. Or thirty.
  • Say goodbye to private time. YUP. 
  • Laundry is never-ending. I shutter to imagine how crazy it will be when they actually start wearing clothes all the time! 
  • Dreams change. Where once my winning lotto dreams consisted of traveling to exotic places and owning a nice house, now I dream of industrial grade appliances. A double set of industrial washers and dryers. A walk in freezer. A room for every child, Soundproofing. A kitchen large enough for a massive table that we can all fit around and share memories with. That Kym and I will live in such a way they see Jesus through us and not just from us! 
  • Forget gas mileage. To haul around a crew our size, gas economy isn’t an option. I’ve yet to see an affordable vehicle that fit our family that isn’t a complete gas hog… And I’m not driving a Ford Transit! 
  • Early bedtimes = A must.  7:30PM bedtime. It’s a survival skill. The peace and quiet that happens once the kids are finally down for the night is our sanity saver. 
  • Get used to noise and chaos. There is no way I can think of that you can have this many people in one house and not have noise and chaos. Especially when those people are Groves! Our house might never be picture perfect but it’s home! 
  • Doing Roll Call. Just get use to it! 
  • Getting asked “Are you going to get a vasectomy/your tubes tied?” It’s None of your business! Thanks for asking. 

When God has another plan, walk on and just say yes!

THIS IS GREAT!

They Call me “DAD”

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It’s 8 days before Christmas. 12:24am. and finally everyone is asleep! We have traveled up to Nashville to meet my sister-in-law who is flying in to meet us to make the rest of the 10 hour drive with Kym and the kids to TX were we will spend Christmas this year with her family. I’ll be flying to Dallas on Monday as I’ve gotta work the rest of the week.

As I lay here in the Baymont Inn in Nashville, TN with two kids in my twin bed and two in Kym’s twin bed and I can’t help but get a little emotional.

Yes, It’s been a absolutely HORRIBLE night. As one could imagine. 6 Groves in 1 hotel room = Insanity! 20 min in the room and the phone was broken, toilet had a slice of pizza put in it that caused it to over flow and I decided the best place to stick the boys, because their sister was screaming her head off and Kym was out trying to find a microwave to warm a bottle up was of course, in the bathtub. (probably hasn’t been cleaned in who knows how long) And the only thing I could find for them to play with was three recycled paper cups. After ten min it looked like a dadgum paper-mache project on the bathroom wall. (Recycled paper cups dont really last long in the water)

After the screaming, jumping from bed to bed calmed down we all laid on the bed and watched a youtube video cartoon called “The story of Christmas” as I laid there watching my little kids (4, 3, 2 & 1) take it in I thought to myself “Take a mental picture of this” these are the moments that matter. These are the moments that I will think back to and say were some good times. These are the moments I don’t want to forget. And then my little Bubba, Corbin (2) got within a inch of my face and said in his not so clear speech “Lobe uo daddy” and then goes to sleep on my chest. It’s that moment I want to remember.

You see before I became a dad I placed a high value on my time. I had my hobbies and my vices, the things I liked to do — mine.

4 years ago when we learned that Kym was expecting our first kid, I was initially resistant for all the obvious, “how will I afford/manage/handle this?” reasons and also because if kids require anything, they require TIME.  Not only do they require it, they deserve it! I was faced with having to give up that which I consider very personal.

However, now that I’m a dad with some years on me, I can barely remember what I was doing with all the time I had as a kid-free man.

I don’t regret the “freedom” and “my time” that I’ve traded for becoming a dad. If anything being a dad is what makes up “My time” now.

In losing my time, I’ve experienced the following:

  • Being a protector, teacher and provider to your kids it way more rewarding than anything else you can achive
  • Hearing “Daddy!” screamed with excitement when I come home each day and being the recipient and giver of the most genuine hugs in the world. (Money can’t buy that)
  • Hearing the word “Daddy”, and knowing the different meanings behind it based on the tone when it’s being said and knowing how to respond accordingly.
  • The excitement that comes with watching my kids grow and learn and the outlook on life they gain every day.
  • The particular strength and tenacity gained from becoming Dad that no trainer, gym nor any other life experience would have been able to teach or provide.
  • Being blessed with the opportunity to continue the cycle: to pour wisdom into my boys as they quickly grow and will approach manhood before I know it, just as my father poured his wisdom into me often.
  • Relearning to appreciate the little things, just as my kids do.
  • Realizing that the “big things” aren’t really all that big because some of the biggest things in life are the little ones who call you Dad.

These are just a few of the unexpected joys that have come my way since I became a father. They make the hard work of being a parent feel like a cakewalk most days. And on those challenging days when it’s not so great or easy I think of the joy, privilege and honor of it all, and that really makes it okay. Because I get to be DAD to four awesome humans.

I read this blog post (Click link to read) PerryNoble.com a few years ago before I had kids and I remember thinking “wonder if that is true” Well. 4 kids later I cant honestly say…. It is.

You will have a lot of titles put on you in your life. The best title any man can ever have is to be called DAD. So if you are a Dad stop and enjoy the moments. The little moments, the big moments. Don’t get consumed trying to capture it. Just live in it. Take it all in and enjoy the fact that there is child who calls you dad.

Goodnight.

 

Label me—-> “Family Man”

I am a blessed man! If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would have a awesome wife and 4 kid before my 32nd birthday I would have probably laughed at you. But now that I’m here I wouldn’t change a thing! I LOVE MY FAMILY! 1454867_550886808054_1502552960_nMy wife and I just got back from a long LONG road trip over Christmas with our 4 kids under the age of 4. It was one of the most Amazing/horrible/memorable/terrifying/awesome trips of my life. a 8 hour drive (one way) turned into a 15 hour drive (one way).

All 6 of us in one hotel room spreading some holiday cheer for the rest of the floor to hear!

Looking back on the trip it was one I wouldn’t want to do again… But, I will remember it!  Someone recently asked me on twitter (@JCGroves) how I prioritize my family.

#1 – Read good books

“Choosing To Cheat” by Andy Stanley is a great book that I highly recommend. Read one together and talk about it.

#2 – I Made It A Point To Prioritize My Family.

No one is going to do this for you…YOU have got to make it happen…and then guard your time with them with pit bull intensity!

Kym and I have a date night once every two weeks…and NOTHING is getting in the way of that…NOTHING!

I try to have a time alone with me and each one of my kids ALONE…and I don’t let ANYTHING get in our way.

I eat dinner with my family usually six nights a week (Sunday usually being the exception.)

Kym try to get away once or twice a year where it is JUST US, no one else…and that is a good thing! :-)

AND I MADE THAT HAPPEN! If your family is important enough to you…then you will put them on the schedule and dare anyone to try to move them!

Do we have to move things around occasionally? Sure…emergencies happen, one of us gets sick, schedule do change…but that is the exception…and an “emergency” MAY happen around three or four times a year!

#3 – I remind myself that “Loving One Another” MUST Begin With Kym, Kaden, Colton, Corbin & Kenzie

If I am going to be a fully devoted follower of Christ then I am commanded to love others. And…in order to love someone you MUST spend time with them.

One of the problem I see with pastors/people in ministry is that they spend so much time “loving others” that they neglect to love those under their roof. That simply can’t be! LOVE YOUR FAMILY!

#4 – Realize That the work will never be completed.

I’m a freak…most leaders are. I’m self motivated…driven…passionate…and always think that if I just devote a little bit more time to something then it could be better.
I would literally work from 7am to 9pm if I didn’t finally come to the conclusion a few years ago that I will ALWAYS have more to do than I can possibly get done…and being ok with that means that I am learning to trust in HIS abilities rather than mine.

My advice to pastors/ministry leaders is to set a time on your schedule that you are going to leave the office. Turn OFF (Not just on silent) the phone. Shut OFF the computer and go home and BE at home and then NO MATTER what happens…DO IT! Trust me…the work will be there when you get back the next day.

If you are “the best” in everyone’s eyes and not in your wife and kids eyes you ultimately fail as a husband and a dad.

BE the Husband God has called you to be.

BE the Dad your kids need you to be

BE all that God wants you to be.

Here is a link to a great book that I’ve read a few times. It’s from one of Pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermons “Pastor Dad” back_pastordad

GO. Be the husband and dad God has called you to be. And Remember they are watching you!

Thanksgiving 2013

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Here is a short list of some things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

In no particular order (except for the first few)

    •    Salvation
    •    My amazing wife Kym!
    •    My Family- 62316_542227097184_2070245610_n
    •    Kaden Jay 1173864_543385081574_1157240748_n— I am blown away at how much he really knows.. He is hilarious! This kid cracks me up!

    •     Colton (aka Butters)561574_10151553350391854_348219092_n  He whines so much. He also has so much love for everyone he meets. sweetest little dude.

    •    Corbin (Aka Bubba)67728_541434775004_1587138441_n  our cuddlier and new walker….. He is into everything!

    •    My Daughter Kenzie Rose! photo(7)I can not wait for my daughter to be here any day now. I have prayed for a little girl and God has answered our prayers.. Unless the ultra-sound lady is pulling a really mean trick!

    •    That I get to be a part of what God is doing at Rock Bridge Community Church.
    •    That I am one of the Pastors at Rock Bridge Community Church.
    •    Tres Amigos- 428638_539030672844_433472277_n
    •    that my wife has now gone a whole year without having a car wreck!
    •    For a house to live in with heat and air.
    •    for good books
    •    Friends that I can depend on, friends that don’t just say they are there for you..They actual mean it!
    •    To live in America
    •    My health
    •    Extended Family
    •    Bacon our beloved Yellow Lab- 969221_539906532614_1226680829_n
    •    My F150 truck
    •    The Colts
    •    FSU football.. The team that is fixing to take it to bama!
    •    Duke Basketball
    •    Cheesecake
    •    Zippers
    •    the Delete button
    •    my neighborhood and neighbors

My wife’s cooking…HAD to be a food reference in here!

  • That I do not wear a scarf OR a Christmas sweaters!!! 🙂
  • Twitter!
  • Starbucks
  • God’s ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY over the universe!
  • The guys in my coaching network!
  • My Apple Mac
  • Naps!
  • Country music
  • a good Comedy movies…

 

MOST of all…I am thankful that Jesus power washed my soul and gave me a BRAND NEW START!

 

Lots to be thankful for!!!

The list could go on and on and on…But I think you get the pic.

Try it this Thanksgiving…Sit down and write out a list of the things you have to be thankful for. I promise you, you will be amazed that the list just keeps growing and growing and growing!

Happy Thanksgiving folks!

Lessons I’m learning about being a Dad & Pastor

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Barnabas Piper writes about where he and other preacher’s kids have seen their dads work hard, struggle, learn, and grow as fathers.

Pastors, your position is a demanding one, and those demands bring unique struggles on your family. A pastor’s wife bears a great burden, but she usually enters the call to the ministry willingly. A pastor’s children, though, are carried on the current of their parents’ calling. It is often a life of singular struggle and uncommon needs. These struggles often stem from the failures of the father. This isn’t to cast full blame on pastors for their children’s problems. But it is to say that pastors need to work to be good dads.

My own father has worked hard at this. He had his blind spots and weaknesses, and they have been a source of tension between him and me. But to this day, in his 33rd and last year of pastoral ministry, he has never stopped trying to be a better father. As I wrote this, I thought of his failures, yes, but I also thought of successes. Lots of them. I also thought of dozens of conversations with fellow preacher’s kids (aka, PKs) about such struggles and their own relationships with their fathers. So know that my writing does not stem from bitterness of heart or some jaded desire to expose a good man’s faults. I love my dad. My desire is to see struggles avoided or defeated for other pastors and PKs.

So here are seven of the most significant ways a pastor can be a good father to his children. Pastors, your children need . . .

1. A DAD, NOT A PASTOR

Yes, you are called to pastor your family, but PKs want a dad—someone who plays with them, protects them, makes them laugh, loves their mom, gives hugs, pays attention, and teaches them how to build a budget and change the oil and field a ground ball. We want committed love and warmth. We want a dad who’s not a workaholic. It’s hypocritical to call your congregation to a life of love, sacrifice, and passionate gospel living while neglecting your own family. If a mortgage broker or salesman works too much at 60 hours a week, so do you. Leave work and be present for your kids. Your children will spit on your pastoring if they miss out on your fathering.

2. CONVERSATION, NOT SERMONS

Sermons are an effective way to communicate biblical truth to a congregation, but not to your kids (or wife). Preaching at your children will stunt their view of Scripture, dull their interest, and squelch what passion you are trying to stir. Speak to your children about the Bible in a way that’s interesting, applicable, and conversational. Help them see the Bible as a normal part of life. Rather than teach lessons, imbue your conversation with biblical worldview to help your children shape their life lenses. That way they’ll think they, too, can interact with this important book. Sermons at home separate them from the Word by implying that only the learned can understand it.

3. YOUR INTEREST IN THEIR HOBBIES

Jonathan Edwards may be your homeboy or Seth Godin your muse, but your first-grade daughter doesn’t give a flip. Her love language is playing Barbies and dancing to Taylor Swift. Your son wants to build a Lego fort, beat you soundly at Modern Warfareon Xbox, or learn how to run a 10-yard out pattern. Your hobbies are yours alone, but engaging your children’s interests speaks love that matters deeply to them.

4. TO BE STUDIED

It gets harder to share time with kids as they get older. So study them as hard as you study your Greek lexicon. They’re more important, anyway. Would your high school-aged son appreciate going out to pizza with you or chilling on the couch and watching college football on a Saturday afternoon? Does your teenage daughter want you to take her shopping or to coffee? Maybe they don’t want recreation but just help—so talk through their friend challenges or algebra problems, whichever are the most pressing.Learn these things, even if it seems like there are no right answers. Teenagers are hard; they treat parents like idiots all the time. But these acts of pursuit, when done consistently, add up. Make them a pattern so that when your kids are done thinking you are a moron they have a path to walk with you.

5. CONSISTENCY FROM YOU

No one can call hypocrisy on you faster than your kids (and wife), and nothing will undermine you in the home faster. If you stand in the pulpit on Sunday and talk about grace after spending Friday and Saturday griping at your family, grace looks awfully cheap and unappealing to your son in the second row. If, however, you treat your son as if you need his grace and forgiveness for your crappy attitude, it may open a door to God’s grace. (And use phrases like “crappy attitude”—it sounds more like you actually know what you’re apologizing for.)

If you act like the great shepherd in the pulpit but the hired hand who runs away at home, your children will see church and all it entails as phony because you are phony. If you encourage a life of joy but are morose, or if you exhort your people toward a life of sacrifice but are lazy and spendthrifty, nobody will notice faster than those in your home. To your family, your interactions with God and them are far more important than your Sunday sermons.

6. GRACE TO FAIL

Pastors speak much about grace. It is the basis of our salvation and the source of hope. But when the rubber meets the road, do you offer enough of it to your children? PKs feel enormous pressure to be “good” and to be confident in all things biblical. But we are often not good and often lack confidence in biblical realities. We sin and doubt like everyone else, but when we do, the road to restoration and peace often feels like an impossible one to travel. Are we allowed the same grace to fail and to doubt (assuming you preach grace to your congregation)?

7. A SINGLE MORAL STANDARD

One of the graces PKs need is a single moral standard. Too many PKs feel the pressure of their fathers’ priestly profession in our moral lives. The pastor and elder qualifications in 1 Timothy and Titus feel like a threat: “If you screw up, your father not only looks bad, he will be out of a job.” But those standards are the same ones that every Christian should be held to (other than the ability to teach). Nobody else’s dad is at risk of being unemployed if his kid is rebellious, but mine is. The additional pressure to be morally upstanding does not help my heart. It creates a convoluted soul environment in which temptation to rebel and temptation to be a hypocrite battle the desire to honor Jesus and my dad.

You have heard that it was said PKs should be holier than their peers, and their parents should raise them better, but Jesus says to us all, “Be holy for I am holy.” So it should be.

 This article originally appeared in the The Gospel Coalition

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Three years ago this thought became a reality as I became a father. Last night as I stood in the hallway out side of my three boys’ rooms (like my wife or I seem to do every night) to snap my fingers or walk back in to put them back in the bed until they stay there I got to thinking… I’ve got to do this right. I have seen way too many PK’s walk away from not only their parents but the church and their faith all together.

Gotta be honest it freaks me out. I want to leave a legacy not only as a man that loves the Lord. A man who cared for people and those who don’t know Christ. A man who had a passion to be a pastor. But as a good husband and father. Not perfect. But a man who puts Jesus first, then his family, then the ministry. 

I came home last night after failing in this area horribly…  I didn’t even get to see my boys yesterday, I was up and out the door before the sun came up and got home after they went to bed… I felt horrible! I sat down and the first thing I opened up was a email that had this letter in it from some ministry to men… 

This is what it said:

“As a pastor, and especially as a successful pastor, it will be easy to let the church steal time from your family. Don’t! What difference will a great history of church building matter, if your kids know you only as the “hero on the platform.” I know way too many PKs of “successful pastors” who struggle with their faith (if they even believe), struggle in relationships and just simply struggle. They see this apparently incredibly relational person on the platform – and don’t experience that at home. Make a vow now that you will not be that kind of successful pastor. Let your children be a testimony of the goodness of God in families. Don’t expect them to follow you into the ministry. God has uniquely gifted them (he knew them before they were in their mother’s womb) to have an impact on the planet. Encourage that gifting. If it happens to be the ministry – then encourage them to study and find themselves approved. But the years fly by, man. Tomorrow they will be a teenager. The next day, they will leave home. Think, plan, believe and pray – and not necessarily in that order. My advice. For what it’s worth.”

Dang!  Talk about a gut check! However, at the end of the day it is my/our goal to do this right; after all, they are my/our little boys and it is my/our job to make sure they turn out as good young men who love God, love other and will live sent!

I will fight through the awkwardness and make sure my boys are aware that I am there, that I love them and that my love is not simply declared but rather demonstrated by the fact that I will intentionally spend time with them.

Every dad leaves a legacy. The only question is what kind of legacy are we going to leave?

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Where He leads I will follow.

(Go to the bottom of this post and hit play as you read)

Knowing God’s will.  We talk about it, pray about it, even agonize over it.  But we often do not feel like we know what God wants us to do.  Yet Ephesians 5:17 says, “Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”  We often make it much more mysterious then it needs to be.  It is very possible to know and do God’s will. And I am in awe of the amazing hand of God and how He leads. 

This whole journey began two years ago when God brought us here to Salt Lake City, Utah. We didn’t know at the time why we were here but we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was exactly where we were suppose to be. So we said Yes. and packed up everything we owned…which all fit in a 7×16 trailer and moved 30 hours away from anyone we knew! 

 
These past years have really been a huge blessing to us. We have made friends that will last a lifetime and now consider these folks to be family. Getting to watch the commitment and heart of the two pastors I’ve had the amazing privilege of work by Mike Gray and John Prim.  They have really taught me a lot, not just on how to do ministry, but why we do ministry. They Love God. Love People. Period. I am so thankful to God for allowing me blessing of working and ministering here in Utah. 
 
And to be honest with you we were not ready to move. But God had other plans…Let me start at the beginning on this whole process.
 
It all began a few months back when a family from Ringgold, GA came to SLC and took my family to dinner. It was at that dinner they told us about Rock Bridge Community church being in the early stages of a launch in Ringgold, GA our home town. The wife asked if we were even interested. Kym quickly said  “JC Don’t even think about”  so I forgot about it. That was until one morning about 3 weeks later I was sitting in my office and my phone rang, I noticed it was from Dalton, GA. It was the executive pastor and he said “Hey man, Well…I’m not really sure where to start with all this but here we go” ha ha…. We talked for a while and I said “Well, I gotta be honest with you..We are settled here in Utah, We know God wanted us here. But, I learned along time ago from my great grandpa that when God opens a door you don’t shut it you walk through it until he closes the door” With that we began the process. 
 
Through a few skype meetings and a flight home to meet with the staff for a day and lots and lots of praying and fasting it was startign to become very apparent to us both that this was exactly where God was calling us to go. And as of 3 weeks ago I answered the call to join the Rock Bridge Community Church team. www.Rockbridge.cc as the Ringgold Campus Pastor. 
 
There has always been a passion and calling for the people of north Georgia. We knew God would lead us back there someday…Didn’t plan on it being this quick but we know this is exactly where we are suppose to go! 
 
I ask that you keep us in your prayers as we take this huge step of faith! I will no longer be in my comfort zone of student ministry but stepping into a new position as a campus pastor…and to be honest that’s a little scary. But, He has called and HE will equip for the calling! Also, for the Ringgold campus…I am so stoked to see what God is going to do in this town! I can’t wait to get started!!! 
 
We also have Boy number three Corban Turner Groves coming the first of September…So a new addition to the ever growing Groves family!
 
 
I read this blog post from Rev. Jonathan K. Twitchell  today and it has really helped me out! 
 I’m really not a big fan of moving…  It’s really not a lot of fun!  I’m sure that some of you happen to be under the misguided delusion that I simply can’t wait to put all of my possessions into boxes and trucks and drive them 8 miles down the road to inhabit 6 Susan Rd.  Not that there’s anything wrong with 6 Susan Rd.  In fact, I’m looking forward to living at 6 Susan Rd.  It’s just the moving part that I’m not really looking forward to.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you…but all of us have been through moves, and know the difficulties and hard work which accompany a move.

Perhaps I don’t like moving because it seems like we’ve moved a lot in our short five years of marriage.  Five years ago, after our honeymoon, we moved many of our belongings to New England Frontier Camp in Lovell, Maine for the summer to serve in the kitchen and on administrative staff.  At the end of the summer, we moved all of our belongings into Young Apartments on the campus of Eastern Nazarene College, to finish up our degree programs.  A year and a half later, we packed all those belongings up and moved to Topsham, ME to serve at the Brunswick Church of the Nazarene.  Two and a half years after that, we packed once again to move to South Portland, in order to follow God’s call to serve here in Cape Elizabeth.  And now, only one year and one month later, we begin packing up once again, to move to 6 Susan Rd.  I think there are boxes we didn’t even open since the last move!  I’d like to think that I have moving down to a science, and that God would stop asking me to practice the skill for a good long time!

          The problem with moving, is that you have to pack everything up, while you continue to live your life.  It’s hard to cook when your kitchen is in boxes.  It’s hard to sleep with the knowledge that the slightest earthquake could topple towers of boxes and belongings with a crash.  It’s even hard to get dressed in the morning, wondering where that favorite outfit is. Moving forces the organization of our lives to change, and it disrupts the normal patterns and routines of our lives.  We tend to be creatures of habit, and enjoy the daily rituals and patterns that define our existence.  Moving disrupts all of that, forcing the reorganization of our lives, ending old rituals and beginning new ones.  Perhaps that is why many of us resist moving.

          And then, just when I’m tempted to get discouraged, I hear a scripture text like our Gospel lesson today.  Imagine Matthew sitting at his tax collecting booth, doing his work, and making money.  Without any introduction, a stranger walks up to him and says, “Follow Me.”  Jesus doesn’t tell Matthew His name, where He’s going, or what life will be like when they get there.  He simply says, “Follow Me” and Matthew simply gets up…and follows.  He doesn’t ask questions or go talk to his best friend about it, he just responds to the call, and does what Jesus asks of him.

          Imagine such a drastic change in your life.  Imagine leaving behind all that you own, all that you love, and all that you hold dear to follow someone you’ve never met, going where you’ve never been, and doing what you’ve never done.  This move in Matthew’s life meant a great restructuring and reorganizing of his life.  No longer consumed with making money at the tax booth, there would be days ahead when Matthew wouldn’t have a place to sleep, or food to eat.  Instead of robbing from others as tax collectors were prone to do, Matthew’s very being would soon be focused on meeting the needs of others, instead of his own.  Indeed, following God’s call meant a complete reorganization of his life, around new values and guiding principles.

          Matthew was not the only one recorded in Scripture who was given a call from God simply to follow where He leads.  Hear these words from Genesis chapter 12:

1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of theLord. 9 Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

There are three things I notice about the call of God in these passages of Scripture.  As we look at Abram and at Matthew, we recognize these qualities in common.  The call was simple:  God only told them what they needed to know right now.  He didn’t give them a complete picture of where they would end up by following His call.  Secondly, their response was immediate.  They didn’t question, discuss, or debate with God; they simply followed the call.  Thirdly, following the call demanded a complete restructuring of the patterns in their lives. As they reorganized their lives to follow God’s leading, He was able to bless them and do wonderful, God-sized things through them.

Imagine what it would have been like for Abram to pack all of his belongings, his family, his servants and his herds to move out to an unknown place.  He couldn’t go visit his new home ahead of time and measure the living room or the dining room…he didn’t even know what city he was moving to; all God said was “go to the land I will show you.”  Abram didn’t know how long he would be traveling, or even how he would know once he arrived.  But God called, and so he followed.

Often, God simply asks us to follow Him one step at a time.  Instead of providing us a roadmap that shows a final destination, God gives us only that which we need to know in order to serve Him today.  We would like to know where we are going to end up, but God wants us to have enough faith to follow Him one step at a time.  Having faith means that we don’t need to know the end of the story, but that we only need to know what God is asking us to do right now.

Faith is more than “believing in God.”  Faith is “believing God.”  Faith is “believing God” in such a manner that we restructure our lives because of that belief.  More than a head knowledge of God’s existence and activity, faith becomes the organizing principle in our lives, because we know that He is active in our lives, guiding our footsteps.  When we truly live our lives by faith, we are relying entirely on God’s promises and call, without giving a second thought to our own desires or ambitions.  We recognize that we simply need to respond to God’s voice, trusting Him entirely with our lives. 

God’s call on our lives is like that.  He often doesn’t explain Himself to us or give us all of His instructions at once.  I think perhaps He knows that we would be overwhelmed if we knew the end of the journey before we set out.  Instead, He tells us only what we need to know to fulfill His call right now.  He doesn’t explain Himself or give us a complete roadmap. He doesn’t need to, He’s God.  Following God’s call requires a radical faith that trusts Him implicitly, without hesitation.

Neither Matthew the tax collector, nor Abram the herdsman took time to negotiate with God.  From a plain reading of the text, we don’t see either of these men asking questions, spending days in deliberation, or discussing matters with their families and close friends.  Instead, Scripture seems to indicate that they simply answered the call and followed God’s leading in their lives.

When God speaks into our lives and calls us to action, our faith should be as simple and obedient as theirs.  In following their examples, we are not to deliberate, discuss, or debate, but simply to follow without delay.  We are reminded of a pet eager to come to its master; in the same way, we should be eager to drop anything that might get in our way, in order to follow after the Master.  This too, requires that we live our lives by faith, recognizing that there is no better place for us to be than in the center of God’s will. 

God’s call on Abram’s life forced him to reorganize the patterns and structures in his life.  His routines were no longer dictated by status, family position, raising flocks or any of the other matter to which he gave attention.  Instead, his life was restructured to make God’s will central.  With many unanswered questions, Abram does exactly what God told him to do, and went on his way, to the place the God would show him.

Following God’s call forces the organization of our life to change, disrupting the normal patterns and routines of our lives.  Instead of organizing our lives around our wants, needs and desires, we restructure and reorganize our lives to His pleasure alone, in humble recognition that He has what’s best in store for us.

There are many principles by which people organize their lives.  Some live their lives to attain as much wealth as possible.  Others are interested primarily in having a well-known name.  Others organize their lives after the pursuit of luxuries or entertainments.  Others desire political power. Still others chase after the pursuit of world peace or social justice. Others live their lives for the pursuit of knowledge and education.  These objects of our attention are not necessarily inherently evil, but when they become the primary organizing principle of our lives, we have removed God from the rightful place in our lives.

Instead of organizing our lives by these principles, we are to live our lives “To God’s greater glory!”  The organizing principle in our life is to be faith in Jesus Christ, God’s son. When we reorganize our lives in such a way, we are more able to hear His voice in our lives, directing us to take that next step of faith.  Perhaps we miss hearing His voice in our lives because we have not structured our lives in such a way as to allow Him to make His call clear.  Perhaps we fail to do the wonderful, miraculous God-sized thing He intends for us because we fail to be faithful in obediently taking that first step of faith.

Has your life been reorganized?  Has the call of God been so clear to you that you have restructured the very patterns and routines of your life in order to live your life to His greater glory?  Is there a real sense in your life that Christ is leading you every step of the way?  Allowing your faith in God to become the organizing principle of your entire life will allow you hear His voice more clearly, and to respond to His call more fully.

God does not leave us alone to follow His call.  Throughout history, when God calls a person or group of people to go somewhere or do something, He goes with them and directs their paths every step of the way.  Noah was led by God in the building of the ark.  He was then cared for by God’s hand as the boat floated upon the floodwaters.  Abram was called and led by God to the promised land.  The Israelites were led out of Egypt by a pillar of fire and cloud.  The disciples were led by the very Son of God as He established His kingdom on this earth.  Missionaries have been led through difficult and trying circumstances.  Church planters have been given the vision and guidance to do God’s work in new areas.  And, you and I have been led by the very hand of God to this point in our lives.

I’m encouraged today to know that God has not simply left us to figure out the answers on our own.  He doesn’t expect us to determine the best course of action for our lives on our own.  Instead, He leads us.  Jesus walks with us, guiding our very footsteps in paths of righteousness.  Because of that, we can have the courage and boldness to live each day by faith alone, following God’s call on our lives.  Let us reorganize our lives in such a way that we allow our faith in God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, to become the guiding principle of our lives. Let us seek only His glory and honor, being willing to quickly and simply follow His call on our lives.