Born Among Us-Week 1 // Peace // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture: Isaiah 2:1-5; 11:1-10

Dear Church,

‘There is no avoiding the fact that we live at the mercy of our ideas.  This is never more true than with our ideas about God.”

These words, from one of Dallas Willard’s books on prayer, leapt out at me this week.  They weren’t the main point, but I couldn’t move past them.  I was stunned by how true they are.  We are at the mercy of our ideas about God.  And oftentimes our ideas about God are more formed by our experience in the world, our wounds & triumphs, our fears and desires than by the revelation of scripture and our experience of God.  If we think that God is angry or tired of us, if we think that the world is so disfigured by sin that it is only worthy for destruction, if we think God isn’t able or interested in helping or knowing us, then our lives will be shackled and shaped by those thoughts.  Truly, we will be at the mercy of our most merciless thoughts.

I don’t share this to challenge you to control your thoughts or give you permission to beat yourself up.  I’m sharing them with you as an invitation into the season of Advent that begins this Sunday.  Because all the good news of scripture could be summed up in this one simple statement: God is not who we expect.  A life of freedom and wholeness begins when we replace our thinking about God with the revelation of scripture.  During Advent, we prepare for the coming of the Lord.  We prepare for the birth of our savior, yes.  But that is only the beginning.  We also prepare and wait and hope for the end of the story–and the end is not what we expect.  It’s not destruction, it’s renewal.  It’s not rejection, it’s redemption.  It’s not suffering, it’s comfort.

We need to replace our ideas about God with the promises of God: weapons into tools of harvest, wolves playing with lambs, desert lands blossoming into life, gladness and joy overtaking us as sorrow and sighing run away.  These are not our ideas.  No human heart could conceive this goodness.  The revelation of God’s truth frees us from merciless ideas and brings us unspeakable peace.

I hope you’ll join me for worship this Sunday at 10 am, in the sanctuary or on the livestream, as we worship and receive the first gift of this season–the peace that comes from replacing our ideas about God with the truth of Christ.


Pastor Kate

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The Mountain View-Week 7 // The Narrow Gate // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture: Matthew 7:13-29 (NIV & The Message)

It’s not like what came before was easy, but I find the last words of the sermon on the mount the most startling:

knowing the correct password–saying ‘Master, Master,’ for instance–isn’t’ going to get you anywhere with me.  What is required is serious obedience–doing what my Father wills.  I can see it now–at the Final Judgment, thousands strutting up to me and saying, ‘Master, we preached the Message, we bashed the demons, our God-sponsored projects had everyone talking.’ And do you know what I am going to say? ‘You missed the boat. All you did was use me to make yourselves important.  You don’t impress me one bit.  You’re out of here.’ (Mt. 7:21-23, The Message)

Just a few verses ago, Jesus told us to ask, seek, knock and the door would fling wide open–but now he seems to be saying that some people (a lot of people!) think they are on the way, but they aren’t at all.  How can this be? And could it be us?

Sometimes the words of Jesus aren’t meant to reassure us.  Sometimes they are meant to startle us awake.  People responded to Jesus in wildly different ways.  Some loved him, some were offended.  Some followed, some persecuted.  Some were amazed, some were offended.  But all were surprised.  Jesus is not who we expect God to be.  We have to worship who Jesus is, not who we’d prefer him to be.  Jesus says wide is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life and only a few find it.’ (Mt. 7:13-14, NIV).  Only a few find it…But Jesus is the way…and the truth…and the life. 

And when we are lost in sin, The Way finds us.

I hope you will join me as we worship the one who has found us, has called us, and is teaching us the way to live free and full in him.


Pastor Kate

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The Mountain View-Week 6 // Ask, Seek, Knock // Intern Allison Tibe

Scripture: Matthew 7:7-12

Hello Grove Friends:

First, I am incredibly thankful that God placed me at The Grove Church as a supervised ministry intern! Thank you for welcoming me so wildly and so warmly; thank you for mentoring and supporting me in ways you may not even realize; and thank you for showing me what it means to be a congregation that radiates God’s love and shines Christ’s light into the world.

It is an honor for me to deliver the sermon this week and I’m really excited for this opportunity. We continue this week to situate ourselves on the hillside at the feet of Jesus, we hear these words:

“Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him. In EVERYTHING, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. (Matthew 7:7-12 NRSV)

Jesus teaches us the way of vulnerability and childlike trust as we seek to place our lives, our fears, and our hopes into God’s care. It may sound simple, but it has proven difficult because deep down we fear this level of trust and surrender to anything…even God’s unconditional love.

In Christ,

Allison Tibe
Seminary Intern at The Grove

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The Mountain View-Week 5 // Do not judge… // Pastor Kate Murphy

Scripture: Matthew 7:1-6

Dear Church,

Last week we heard Jesus’ teaching about wealth which many consider the most challenging and troubling pieces of scripture.  I think those folks may not have considered the full implications of the next thing Jesus says.  In my opinion, it’s far more difficult:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged, for in the same way you judge others, you will be judged and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay. no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-4)

I get it, Jesus, I get it.  Pastor Nadia Bolz Weber says that Americans’ drug of choice is looking down on other people–and that’s an accurate observation, especially for Christians.  There is nothing that makes us feel closer to God than feeling superior to other people. 

But of course, that’s not true.  Jesus is our source of holy and healing love and intimacy with God, not separation or superiority.  And life in the body of Christ requires wisdom and discernment that leads to reconciliation and transformation, not judgement.  In Christ there is no condemnation–but there sure is a lot of it in our churches. 

Even at the Grove.  We have this extraordinary calling to be a community of salt and light–a healthy and holy multi-ethnic community that bears witness to the power of the love of Jesus Christ. And, friends, we–all of us, most especially starting with me, have some growing up and healing to do if we are to live fully into that call.  I hope you’ll join me as we seek the truth that sets us free in this portion of Jesus’ sermon on the mount.


Pastor Kate

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