7.24.14 Insight from Shawn Simpson

Shawn Simpson serves as the Director of Technical Arts and Operations at The Church of the Resurrection’s West campus in Olathe, KS.

Last week marked one of the most hectic weeks we have in the Tech Arts department.  The National Worship Leader Conference is an “all hands on deck” event where anybody who can move a mic, wrap a cable, carry a flat of water, or point a wayward guest to the proper room is enlisted for all-day duty.  2000 people descend on the Leawood campus for a host of exhibits, workshops, and concerts.  The organizer of the event for Worship Leader Magazine, Suzie Stablein, often speaks of the intent of the conference being to rejuvenate and energize worship leaders to touch the people in their congregations.  The whole focus is to be serving those who are in service of others.

My job during the conference was to be the “Deck Boss,” which is a cool way of saying that I managed everything getting on and off the stage in the sanctuary.  With multiple artists leading worship, each with their own specific configuration of musicians and vocalists, it was very important that we be very deliberate in how we staged each group to facilitate fast and orderly changeovers from one to the next.  In some ways, it was very daunting and could be frustrating at times.  The groups were invariably arriving from their own hectic travel schedule, coming into our venue where they didn’t know exactly what to expect.  ALMOST all of them provided us with a “rider,” which is a document specifying their setup, but NONE of them actually used precisely what their rider called for.  That’s where my crew came in.  It was our job to work with them to quickly figure out what they actually needed and what we could provide, and in what ways we could make it all go as smoothly as possible.

As you can imagine, there were times when an artist (or their representative) would get…ummm…cranky…. about how things were going.  I’m happy to say that in every case, though, the crew was able to get everyone going and all of the artists led fantastic worship sets.  Some groups were more fun than others to work with, but in the end we all parted with handshakes, high-fives, fist bumps, and profuse mutual praise for a job well done.

One artist that really stood out was the closer for the whole conference, Paul Baloche.  This is the third time Mr. Baloche has led worship at NWLC and each time, he and his band have been a pleasure to work with.  This year was no exception.

As I said before, these artists are usually playing NWLC as a stop on a longer tour they are doing.  They are travel-weary and exhausted.  Our soundcheck with Mr. Baloche’s band was at 11am on Thursday morning and they arrived 20 minutes early to get setup.  Ben Gowell, the band leader, came right to me with exactly what I needed to know for their setup, then asked ME what THEY could do to help!  Michael Rossback and Carl Albrecht, the bassist and drummer were equally helpful.  The setup went smoothly and they progressed through a smooth and professional soundcheck.  Mr. Baloche came in after the band was setup and ran through his own soundcheck with them, equally smooth and professional.  They finished their soundcheck with time to spare and left us to our work of getting the rest of the groups for the evening checked out.

Now, being a professional in your setup and soundcheck isn’t anything remarkable.  These guys do this all the time and I’m sure they understand that things go smoother if you come into it with a good attitude.  The deck crew works on that same philosophy, so it makes sense that we would click that way.  Here’s where it gets remarkable…

They didn’t play until after 8pm on Thursday evening, following three other worship artists.  Their set was scheduled to last for 45 minutes, but went for over an hour.  No complaints there.  Mr. Baloche is a masterful worship leader.  Following his worship set, the conference was officially closed and it was time for the participants to gather themselves up after three days and head home to their respective churches.  Mr. Baloche’s band had done a great job and could rightfully have gathered their gear and headed out the door to their next gig…but that’s not what happened.  As the house lights came on and the work of tearing down and loading out began, we found that Ben, Michael, and Carl were surrounded by curious “fans.”  Ben was happily talking guitar pedals with a smiling group.  Michael was giving an impromptu clinic on the rigors of being the bass player AND keyboard player in the band.  Carl was holding court with a group most fascinated in how he setup the drum kit to suit his playing style.  In each case, these guys, all of whom had to be extremely exhausted were putting aside their own comfort and legitimate right to call it a night, and instead were joyfully serving the people for whom the conference was held.

It was truly inspiring to see a marvelously talented group take the time to deliberately focus on the faithful spirit and serve rather than to focus on their own needs.  Nobody would’ve blamed them at all if they’d gone backstage and waited until the crowds left.  Instead, they stepped up and offered encouragement and blessings to tired and stressed worship leaders.  Beyond the music they played, I believe their true service was to offer that kind word to rejuvenate and energize the attendees to go out and touch the lives of their own congregants.  My prayer would be that I could see those opportunities to look outward rather than inward and share the blessings that God has given me.

(and so you don’t think Mr. Baloche was skipping out on some post-worship service, he was in the narthex signing autographs and taking pictures for anyone who asked…smiling and encouraging every person he came into contact with.)

 

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.23.14 Insight from Steven Blair

Rev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care Pastor of Live Forward and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministry. www.cor.org/liveforward

Christianity is about something that happened. In Jesus’ Death and Resurrection, death itself has been conquered along with the death-giving power of Sin. Jesus’ Death and Resurrection are also significant for being more than chronological events in Jesus’ life. They also provide the rhythm of the Christian Spiritual Life. Following Jesus is an ongoing pattern of dying to our own selfish demands so that Jesus can resurrect something new in us.

The author Paul describes the Christian life with Baptismal language. “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:4).” Churches allow for different forms of Baptism. The Methodist Church believes that the amount of water used at Baptism is as relevant as how big a piece of bread a person takes at Communion.

However, the act of immersion holds the clearest Baptismal meaning. We are buried under the water, and we come out of the water born again.

If we are to be Christian disciples, we are called to ‘come and die.’ Die to the very sin that holds us from God. This can be immorality or can be seeking to be righteous based on our morality. Whatever it is, we follow Jesus’ example and allow this part of us to be crucified so that we can experience that personal Easter we are looking for.

Paul challenges us to pattern our lives after the Crucified and Resurrected Messiah. If we do, we will find new life.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

 

 

 

 

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7.22.14 Insight from Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at the Vibe, West, and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

Early on in life, I received some unsolicited wedding advice: Marry someone as much like you as you can. Hobbies are a given, but temperament, dispositions, patterns of thought–look for someone that matches up with you as closely as possible.

Before that really soaks in, I’ll tell you I am very stubborn and obstinate, so I did the exact opposite of this (as I often do with unsolicited advice). My wife and I share many hobbies and values, but we’re also very different from each other. One of us is logical and the other is emotional. One of us is extraverted and one is introverted. We’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum. We speak different love languages. One of us has a natural inclination toward justice and one toward mercy. One of us is a detailed, logistical thinker and the other is an abstract, creative thinker.

I won’t lie–there are days when I see what that unsolicited advice-giver was talking about. There are days I wish I didn’t have to explain why something was important to me. There are days I just don’t think to meet her needs. There’s conflict that arises out of those differences, and sometimes those differences can be hard for us to really comprehend. So, yes, there is a benefit to picking someone just like you: it’s easier. There’s less conflict. There’s less explaining and more having needs met.

But, as anyone who knows us would attest (and as you can probably see from the number of adjectives in the paragraph above), both of us together are an amazing team. When we act as one, we are a force to be reckoned with. When there’s a project and both of us get involved, things are probably going to go really well. Together, my wife and I are stronger because of our differences. As a parenting unit, we are stronger. As project leaders, we are stronger. And both of us, individually, are growing stronger.

In short, the easy path in picking our relationships is not the path to the most good.

Now, this is a fairly easy pill to swallow with romantic relationships; but with faith relationships, it’s a whole different story. It’s not uncommon for people to leave a church if they find the people there are not of a like mind. We should be more passionate worshippers, or we should be more strategic helpers. We should prioritize justice, or we should prioritize mercy. We should love everyone unconditionally, or we should be quick to call out sin when we see it. Yes, there’s some crossover, but it’s very easy to find ourselves drawn to people who reinforce our God-given natural inclinations and stay away from those who don’t. In time, this isolation can make those differences seem like an impossible chasm to cross, and we can fall into the trap of claiming that God is more behind us than those other people.

But it’s our differences, as one body, that make us stronger. God created people that worship with emotion and passion as well as people who worship in quiet contemplation and tradition. God created people with hearts for mercy as well as people with minds for justice. And, yes, God created both liberals and conservatives, and he gave them minds and hearts to draw them to causes championed by their chosen side. The body of Christ is incomplete without each of these pieces.

If you have a heart for helping those in need, be quick to include those you may see as uncaring or overly harsh. The truest measure of a merciful person is not how they treat those they view as in need, but how they treat those they feel are unwilling to extend the same courtesy. You may find that they offer some perspective in how to help those people that you couldn’t have arrived at on your own.

If you have a heart for calling out sin wherever you see it, be quick to include things you and your peers struggle with. Calling out sin in others is meaningless if you believe you have nothing big to work on yourself. God had plenty to say about pride, complacency, gluttony, and a lot of other things that hit a lot closer to home. You may find that you need those who extend mercy generously a lot more than you thought you would.

There are dozens of examples here, but the point is that we need the people we disagree with, and so does God. Repairing those relationships is the mark of true spiritual maturity, and it’s something all churches could probably use more of. God created those differences not to separate us, but to make us stronger. So the next time you disagree with someone, thank God. The world would be incomplete without that person.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.21.14 Insight from Celicia Hiatt

celiciagpsCelicia Hiatt is a Coordinating Assistant in the Guest Services Ministry at The Church of the Resurrection, serving as a crucial member of the team that helps visitors and members of the church get plugged into the life of the church.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 touches on my favorite part of Jesus and the resurrection. Because of His sacrifice I don’t have to live up to this impossible ideal that would drive me crazy and make life a little less enjoyable. Paul writes this letter to our sweet little misguided friends of Corinth to remind them that there was a reason Jesus died on the cross, and that it wasn’t so they could bicker and fight amongst each other, pointing fingers and living in a community filled with hate and animosity. Paul was reaching out to community of Corinth to – I think – give them a good “YOUR MISSING THE POINT” talk and remind them of what we gained through the resurrection.

How often does that happen today? How often do we all get caught up in judging others by what they have or how they look? More importantly, how often do we get caught up judging ourselves by what we have or how we look? What Paul was telling the people of Corinth is still a very valid lesson for all of us today. Through Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection we got this special gift of a new beginning, we got our do-over times infinity. We are all sinners, but our relationship with God was made right through Jesus. But wait…there’s more! We were shown by God what forgiveness and reconciliation looks like through the sacrifice of his son, and we have to remember that reconciliation doesn’t just go between us and God, but also between one another.

When I was in sixth grade my dad’s job moved us to Roswell, New Mexico (yes, that Roswell, NM, and no, I never saw aliens). That was a rough move for me, not only because of my age, but also because it was a small town where kids had known each other their entire lives. I was the alien, so to speak, and I was automatically disliked because…well for no reason, just because I was the new kid. There was one girl who was particularly mean to me from day one–Lila. She was the bane of my existence, and I avoided her like the plague. Funny thing happened between me and Lila after a few weeks of school–we started to like each other. By the end of the school year, we were best friends and inseparable. Later she apologized for being so mean to me in those first few weeks of school, and she never could really articulate why she chose to treat me the way she did. I had a choice to make early on in our friendship, and that was to forgive her. I’m so glad I did too; she was one of my best friends all the way through high school, and is someone I still keep track of today.

Jesus modeled forgiveness for all of us by taking on our sins on the cross. I love the wording in verse 20 – We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. Ambassadors! I love that word! We are Christ’s ambassadors; He has showed us through His sacrifice, and now it is on us to show the world what we have learned through His actions. As Christians it is on us to teach forgiveness and reconciliation through our actions, in the same way that Christ taught us.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.19.14 CROSSROADS-Navigating the Second Half of Your Life

Pastor Clayton Smith (left) and Dave Wilson wrote the interviews featured in this week’s Insights blog. The full stories will be published in an upcoming book: Journey to Significance, to be published by Beacon Hill in early 2015.

Before Mike relocated to Kansas City, he and his wife Donna were well-known, respected church and community leaders in their hometown. He served as the lay leader in his church. He was the president of his university alumni council. He practiced law in private practice before becoming a federal prosecuting attorney. Service was a priority to Mike and Donna.

Together they were blessed with family and many friends in this university community. I know all this and more about Mike and Donna because I served as their pastor for eight years in Cape Girardeau, Missouri (population 40,000). Mike taught my daughter and son in high school church classes. I can say that Mike, like Nehemiah, has the spiritual gift of leadership. I am so pleased that I now continue to be their pastor and friend here at Resurrection.

Mike reports that his career practicing law taught him several lessons that prepared them for a meaningful retirement. They had learned that family was their first priority, so they moved here to be grandparents! They were willing to say goodbye to their community status, security and the satisfaction that comes with respect from many friends. Retirement relocation offered a new challenges, opportunities, and ways to serve with significance.

I hope you know someone like Mike. I have admired and loved Mike and Donna for nearly twenty years. They have all the qualities of servant leaders. At the heart of Christian ministry is God’s outreaching love for others. They are a witness to the mind and mission of Christ lived out. They are like so many others at Resurrection who are retired—they have found significance and joy in serving!

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.18.14 CROSSROADS-Navigating the Second Half of Your Life

davewilsonPastor Clayton Smith and Dave Wilson (left) wrote the interviews featured in this week’s Insights blog. The full stories will be published in an upcoming book: Journey to Significance, to be published by Beacon Hill in early 2015

Myron is a retired urgent care doctor who says he had “no good plan for retirement.” He just wanted to be loose and carefree. He spent his time following college baseball and the so-called “good life.”

When Myron’s brother died of cardiac arrest at a bridge tournament, it made a big impact. He and his wife joined Weight Watchers, lost a lot of weight and got involved. Later Myron’s wife started attending studies at Church of the Resurrection. Myron got involved in Alpha and then Disciple. They decided to join the church.

In 2007, Myron responded to the new Congregational Care Minister program, to help pastors provide care. At first he just thought the busy work would keep him occupied.

When the pastor he was helping asked him to visit members in the hospital, his initial comment was, “I don’t like seeing patients.” The pastor encouraged him to try visiting a few times, and see how it went. He went—and as he expected, he didn’t like it. But as he was going back to his car, he says he clearly heard a voice telling him that he had been given some great gifts to share—and that his self-serving reaction was not very pleasing. Shaken by the experience, he decided to try putting his heart into the ministry of visiting patients.

Today, after 7 years as a CCM, he is a blessing and inspiration to many, and now loves what he once thought he didn’t like. His second half of life has indeed become one of significance.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.17.14 CROSSROADS-Navigating the Second Half of Your Life

Pastor Clayton Smith (left) and Dave Wilson wrote the interviews featured in this week’s Insights blog. The full stories will be published in an upcoming book: Journey to Significance, to be published by Beacon Hill in early 2015.

I first met Mark and Kim at a Crown Financial Bible Study I was leading. I learned that they were preparing for Mark’s retirement as a federal bank examiner. Kim was a full-time homemaker and mother of their two children. They were interested in setting up a faith-based budget for their retirement years.

Their view of retirement was summed up on two words: flexibility and excitement. While Kim’s role did not change that much, she was eager to learn about opportunities to partner with Mark in service to our church. I invited Mark and Kim to become class coordinators for the new Financial Peace University course. They are a great team! They have now coordinated over fifteen courses, and taught over 1,000 participants. They are changing lives!

Their purpose statement for life is found in their priorities. They believe in putting God first, family second, others third and self last. Mark reports that he thinks about this set of priorities every day. When he was working in his career, his job was a priority, but it was last on the list. Kim reported that this priority list reduced Mark’s anxiety and brought greater joy to his life. And now, they both find joy every day, especially in serving others!

Their adult Sunday School Class is full of people like Mark and Kim who are serving God with their heads, hearts and hands to transform our community. Their example of leadership multiplies the impact of what they are doing. They would humbly say, “There are so many better examples of leadership in our church.” However I have to say, “Thank God for all of our Resurrection leaders who, like Mark and Kim, are taking the changes and challenges of their retirement years and transforming them into opportunities to serve with joy!”

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.16.14 CROSSROADS-Navigating the Second Half of Your Life

davewilsonPastor Clayton Smith and Dave Wilson (left) wrote the interviews featured in this week’s Insights blog. The full stories will be published in an upcoming book: Journey to Significance, to be published by Beacon Hill in early 2015.

Bill is a retired clinical scientist who is just starting his journey to significance. He spent his last years in business mentoring and teaching others to do the job he did. When he talked to retired friends, he began to see how his skills could be a big part of his retirement future.

Though his initial retirement was a kind of easy-chair experience, seeking to “enjoy life” as much as possible, it didn’t take him long to see that God wanted him to do some things beyond that. He needed to give something back.

Bill found that in retirement, he had a flexible enough schedule to do things that mattered most. He has great passion for Christ and his church, and is finding ways to minister to small businesses here and in Africa. He has become active in his local Rotary club. He sees that his skills are leading him to help on Missions trips and to mentor others.

Bill’s wife has not yet retired, and Bill has not yet written a mission statement for the second half of life. However, he is a goal setter, so he and his wife have begun thinking about their personal mission statements. They want to leave a legacy of faith and love that will impact our church for decades to come!

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.15.14 CROSSROADS-Navigating the Second Half of Your Life

davewilsonPastor Clayton Smith and Dave Wilson (left) wrote the interviews featured in this week’s Insights blog. The full stories will be published in an upcoming book: Journey to Significance, to be published by Beacon Hill in early 2015

Paul retired from an executive position where he spent most of his time 6 days a week. When he retired, his goal was to keep busy. At first, he stayed busy taking care of his yard. Paul’s yard is beautiful, but he will tell you that yard work became boring. He hung around the house so much that his wife told him that she had married him for better or worse, “but not for lunch.” She kept asking him what he was going to do now.

Paul’s wife is very active at Resurrection, and she found some areas Paul could get involved in. He started with the Resurrection Food Drive, and this one thing led to others. People saw that Paul got results, and Paul discovered he had a spiritual gift for helping. Paul has since been involved in many projects, including Bless the School and My Father’s House.

As he did when he worked for a living, he gets up early and stays up late doing what he calls “Christian Responsibility.” Every day he is excited to go, meet people, get to know them and help meet their needs. Paul has his own personal mission statement, which is short and to the point: “To help others and do it.”

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

7.14.14 CROSSROADS-Navigating the Second Half of Your Life

davewilsonPastor Clayton Smith and Dave Wilson (left) wrote the interviews featured in this week’s Insights blog. The full stories will be published in an upcoming book: Journey to Significance, to be published by Beacon Hill in early 2015

Like most people entering retirement or the second half of life, Dave faced decisions about how he would spend his time. Dave loves to play golf, do do-it-yourself projects, and spend time with his wife and grandkids—all great leisure choices. Dave is also a Congregational Care Minister and Disciple Bible Leader. So the question for him is, with all those choices, how will he decide how to spend his time?

Joshua 24:15 asked us to decide whom we will serve. Joshua’s answer was, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Dave realized that if he chose too much leisure, he might lose his focus on people. If he did not keep up his level of exercise and activity, he might lose his health. If he chose to serve, then he most probably would gain new relationships, bringing new blessings to others as well as himself.

Choosing to lead a balanced life, with serving as well as other pursuits, has proved to be a great choice for Dave. Today he is teaching and leading two Bible studies, serving in Congregational Care, and helping start Resurrection’s new Crossroads Ministry to help others transition into the second half of life with significance.

Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.