12.17.16 – Insights from Dave Robertson

Dave_RobertsonDave Robertson is the Director of Community Life at the Church of the Resurrection’s West Campus.

Dreams are very interesting to me. I took a short course on dream interpretation one time and learned some very interesting things. The course didn’t, however, explain to me why I dream what I dream.

Most of my dreams are just silly. I rarely have a scary or bad dream. Most of the time I’m playing right field for my favorite baseball team, or something happens that causes me to awaken and laugh.

I have had a couple of “holy” dreams in my life. I believe I had these because God had a message for me at that particular time, and I probably wasn’t listening well during my awake hours. One of these “holy” dreams involved Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus.

In my dream, Joseph had just discovered his betrothed, Mary, was with child and he knew it wasn’t his. He decided to seek advice about what to do from a prophet who resided on top of a nearby mountain. After hiking up the mountain, Joseph discovered another man meeting with the prophet with the same issue. He overheard the man ask the prophet, “My betrothed is with child and it is not mine. What should I do?” The prophet responded, “The Scripture proclaims you have the right to have her stoned to death.” That is exactly what the man wanted to hear and he set off down the mountain to see that it was done.

Joseph then asked the prophet the same question. “My betrothed is with child and it is not mine. What should I do?” The prophet responded the same: “The Scripture proclaims you have the right to have her stoned to death.” Joseph responded, “Is there anything else I can do?” The prophet’s response was, “You can have her put away quietly.” That is what, in my dream, Joseph decided to do.

I then awoke. God’s message to me with crystal clear. God chose Joseph to raise the Son of Man, the Christ, because Joseph had a heart like God’s. Joseph sought the most noble thoughts about life and about how to treat others.

There’s no going back to sleep when God gives you a “holy” dream. I went into another room and worked on the Bible study I was teaching. The story was about Abraham having an encounter with God. After the encounter, Abraham gathered rocks and built an altar to the Lord because of the “holy” moment he had had with God. I got up from my chair (in the middle of the night, mind you) and went outside. I found a small flat rock and inscribed the word Joseph on one side, and the Scripture from Genesis on the other. I placed it in the back yard, where I began a small rock garden. Anytime I had a “holy” moment, I added another rock.

God calls you to have a heart like God’s, to seek noble thoughts, dreams, and visions. God will help you with that when you surrender your life to God. Joseph was not alone in coming to the decision to take Mary as his wife. God gave him a message through an angel, or messenger. It took both the noble heart and the message from God to achieve God’s purpose. Seek nobility and God’s message in your life.

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

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12.16.16 – Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren_LippeDarren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

Being a compulsive list maker I was intrigued to read of a recent archeological “find” of reputed “To Do” lists made in the Biblical era.

There were lists that had been completed:

  • Adam & Eve – Eat Healthier – Add fruit to diet
  • Noah – Buy Umbrellas.  And ponchos.  And galoshes.

And, some that hadn’t been fulfilled:

  • Moses – Buy Map of Wilderness
  • Joseph – Make reservations at the House of David Hotel in Bethlehem.

In today’s passage, Paul is praying for the congregation in Colossae.  His prayer for them is a rather lengthy list (via the Message translation):

  • Asking God to give them wise minds
  • Asking God to give them wise spirits attuned to His will
  • That they would begin to fully understand the ways in which God works
  • That they will live well for the Master
  • That they will make Him proud of their efforts
  • That they will have strength to persevere through life’s challenges
  • That they will ultimately thank God for everything He has done for them

Being a Confirmation Mentor this year, we offer similar prayers for our little band of apprenticed believers.  We recognize that the boys are all at different stages of their faith journey.  Some may be there because their folks are making them attend – so they will do whatever it takes to “check the box.”  Others may be intrigued by the discussions, but all of this brand new information is causing data overload.  Finally, some may be seriously pondering their faith & are genuinely excited about making their 1st full-fledged commitment to Christ as a believer in their own name.  Regardless of their level of interest, we know that Confirmation is one of the few times they will ever hear a “sales pitch” for Christ – where we logically lay out what we believe & why.

While we realize that many of the boys will drift from God during their formative years, we also know that at some point in their life they will have a spiritual moment; be it a spiritual crisis due to a medical diagnosis or death of a loved one or perhaps a spiritual awakening that comes with the marvel of holding their newborn baby.  Our hope & prayer is that they will then recall some snippet of a story or Scripture from Confirmation & perhaps say, “Maybe I should check out church again.”

As we consider our days’ list of things to do, perhaps we could stop & consider someone we could pray for, mimicking Paul’s list to the Colossians.  It needn’t be limited to a young person, but could be a colleague at work or a neighbor or a member of our family.  (Warning: Something amazing happens as we pray for someone else’s walk with Christ – we find our own faith becomes inspired & encouraged.)

Whew!  With this Insight finished, there is only one item left on my list for today:

  • Procrastinate on my Christmas Shopping.

Check & Done!  (Apparently, some To Do items are easier to complete than others- Editor.)

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

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12.15.16 – Insights from Janelle Gregory

Janelle_Gregory Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist.

I love that at the heart of our faith is a story of adoption.  Joseph took on the role of fathering Jesus, even though he wasn’t his biological son. It was Joseph who kissed the boy’s scraped knee, who worked all day to provide for Jesus’ needs, and who taught him the lessons of life and what it meant to be a godly man. He chose to help raise the Messiah. Not exactly a wimpy undertaking!

There is something beautiful about Joseph’s decision to raise Jesus as his son. I imagine the struggles that he must have felt – “Can I do this? What if he doesn’t love me like a dad? Do I have what it takes to be his dad? Will he ever see me as his father? Will he always compare me to his actual father?”

I’m sure that Joseph had these or similar thoughts, because these are the same thoughts I had when we first fostered our son. Isaac came to live with us when he was 10. We had no other children, so I was very new to figuring out the whole mothering thing, let alone mothering a child who has had a complex, messy life.

I was completely overwhelmed by the process. I felt inadequate and awkward, making things up as I went along, just trying to do my best. Sometimes I got it right, and then other times I was a complete failure of a mom. But even through my deficiencies, God kept molding us together as a family. And I always knew he was calling me into this role to raise this child as my own. I’ll admit that there were days of exhaustion and tears, and this calling was the only thing that kept me going.

But then I think of where we are today. Our family is getting ready to celebrate four years since the day we became official, the day we adopted Isaac. I reflect back on these four years and all of what God has done in and through our son, my husband, and me. We’ve all grown and changed through this journey, and I’m ever so grateful for the opportunity to be Isaac’s mom. I don’t think of Isaac as my adoptive son. He’s just my son. Period. And I pray every day that he’ll know how much he is loved, by his family and by God.

In the end, I bet that is what Joseph felt too. I’m sure that there were plenty of times when it was a challenge to raise Jesus (talk about a know-it-all kid!), but I also believe that he felt an abundance of joy in being Jesus’ daddy. And more than anything, I’m sure that Joseph wanted Jesus to know his love of father and how that reflects the love of his heavenly Father.

Perhaps you might consider how you might be called to foster or adopt. There are many kids waiting for forever homes right now. Maybe that home is yours.

Check out opportunities in Kansas: https://www.adoptkskids.org/children/

Across the United States: http://www.adoptuskids.org/

And if you aren’t called to be that home, consider giving to the Resurrection Christmas Eve offering, where 100% of the funds go to those in need. Half of those funds will go to helping kids who are aging out of the foster system, meaning they were never part of a permanent family. Even if you are not called as Joseph was, to be an adoptive parent, my hope is that we can all experience the joy of pouring into the lives of these children. All of these kids need to know and experience the love of Father. We have a chance to share this love with them in tangible ways by giving this Christmas Eve!

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

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12.14.16 – Insights from Kari Burgess

Kari Burgess serves as ShareChurch Communications & Guest Relations Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

I can recall the frequent playground discussion with my friends in elementary school about what we would wish for if we found a lamp with a genie in it.  It was a big deal to figure out how you could get the most out of 3 wishes granted by a mysterious genie.  My first wish was ALWAYS:  unlimited wishes.  Am I right?  You would have to be crazy not to ask for unlimited wishes first.  Inevitably, this would turn into an argument about unlimited wishes being against the “rules” or some such nonsense.

The next clever wish of mine would be:  a robot to clean my room.  I know I could still put a room-cleaning robot to good use in my house. (And in today’s modern world, you CAN get a robot to clean your room.  Or at least vacuum it. Do you have a Roomba? Is it great?  I don’t have one personally, but I’ve heard mixed reviews.  But after seeing the viral Facebook post about a family’s Roomba that ran over dog poop in the middle of the night, I’m not so sure I’ll be adding it to my wish list.  Google ‘Pooptastrophe’ if you’re looking for a good laugh).  But I digress…

My third clever wish would be: a room full of money.  With enough money, I could buy as many toys as I wanted. And maybe solve a few big world problems too, if my 8-year-old mind was feeling generous.

But the Genie in a Bottle game was just that. A game. There was no hope in it.  By the end of recess, after scheming about all the things we would wish for, we’d surmise we would probably never find one anyway.  And, we didn’t really believe in magic.

But according to our scripture from 1 Kings today, God really did speak to Solomon in a dream and told him to, “Ask whatever you wish and I will give it to you.”  Solomon had the opportunity to ask God for unlimited wishes, a robot (or perhaps a servant) to clean his room, a room full of money or some other self-serving wish.

But in his dream, Solomon instead asks for something much humbler and much more noble.  He asks for a discerning mind to lead and govern the people entrusted in his care.  Now that I’m older and wiser, would I have the discipline to ask God for something like discernment in leadership, rather than something more self-serving? I’d like to think so, but I’m not so sure.  God was pleased with Solomon because of his humility and the spirit with which he made his request.  We can learn a lot from Solomon in this moment.

There was hope and expectation in Solomon’s wish. This wasn’t a playground game or the empty promise of magic from a false god. Solomon had observed the blessings given to his father, David, when he “walked before you in truth, righteousness, and with a heart true to you”.  He didn’t ask for a discerning heart because he believed he deserved it, but rather because he had confidence and faith God could provide it and had the boldness (coupled with humility) to ask for it.

Here is my wish: May my petitions to God fall within His will for my life.  May my petitions to God be focused on the world and community around me and not be self-serving.  May my petitions to God be asked with humility – knowing I could never be deserving of the blessings he has given me or will give me.  And may my petitions to God be bold and courageous because I have confidence my God is all-powerful and can do anything.

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

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12.13.16 – Insights from Randy Greene

Randy Greene is a part of the Communications team at Church of the Resurrection. He helps develop and maintain the church’s family of websites. When he’s not at the church, he loves to write on his blog and reads a wide variety of books.

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I decided to rearrange our bedroom. We ended up rotating our bed, which necessitated that she and I flip-flop which side of the bed we each claimed. This is the first time we’ve changed sides of the bed since we got married seven-and-a-half years ago, so this was a big deal.

Our sleep that night was miserable. The mattress had, over the years, conformed to our bodies and sleeping habits, so when we switched sides, the mattress no longer fit our bodies – the lumps were in all the wrong places. Even worse, though, was the simple fact that we were accustomed to sleeping based on our assigned sides of the bed, so our muscle memory was programmed to respond in certain ways during the night. When we rotated our sleeping positions, suddenly that muscle memory couldn’t work. The little adjustments we’d been making in our sleep for the past seven years completely went out the window. We woke up the next morning tired and sore. I even had a bizarre cowlick in my hair that, to this day, I cannot explain.

I imagine Jacob felt this same discomfort, but to a greater degree. Not only was he not sleeping in his own bed, but he was in an unknown place with no shelter and only a rock for a pillow. He was in the midst of a personal crisis that was shaking up his entire life and, to top it all off, his sleep was riddled with bizarre dreams.

Yet when he woke up, the first thing he did was to recognize the presence of God in that place.

When I am stressed, tired, and uncomfortable, seeking God is the last thing I think about – instead, my immediate reaction is to work harder to fix my problems. But I think there’s something special about being pushed outside my comfort zone that makes me particularly receptive to the message of God. When I am exhausted and weak and choose to find solace in Christ, God works in me in incredible ways.

Pastor Adam challenged us this weekend to find joy in discomfort. If I view challenges in life as an opportunity to trust in Christ, then those times of discomfort transform and become comforting. My goal this week to seek the presence of God even in my most awkward, uncomfortable circumstances.

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

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12.12.16 – Insights from Melanie Hill

melanie_hill_cropMelanie Hill is the Guest Connections Program Director at Resurrection.

I feel as if I need to start this with an apology. If you were expecting to hear some amazing, mystical story of a time that God spoke to me through a dream I don’t have one. I’ve never had a Joseph moment. I wish I had one of those stories; I know people who do. It would be really cool. I would tell you all about it and you would be inspired by it and go out and change the world. That would be awesome!

I don’t have that. At first I felt a little let down that I don’t have one of these stories. Surely they should have picked someone else to write the Insights blog today–someone who has one of those stories. But then I started to think about how God does speak to me in my life.

He doesn’t send an angel or a message in a dream. What He does send are people I call mom, sister, friend, pastor. He uses people with the spiritual gifts of discernment, wisdom and prophecy to share His wisdom with me. Sometimes I think an angel would be easier–no mistaking the messenger and the message! Hearing God’s wisdom from the people I love, and who love me, is harder sometimes, especially if what they have to share is an area of correction in my life. It takes hard work and some pretty serious inward searching to make sure I’m keeping myself open to what others might have to share with me from God. Somehow it’s easier to justify dismissing their guidance when I don’t like it than it seems like it would if an angel were standing before me. Then again, when I don’t want to do something I don’t have any problems justifying it to myself. Maybe you can relate. So maybe sending an angel would be overkill. Maybe all I really need is to open my heart and ears to hear from the people who know and love me best and who I know want God’s best for me too.

So I don’t have an amazing dream story or an angel visitation tale to tell you. I’m actually willing to bet most of us don’t. I’m willing to bet that most of us have angel stories in the form of a stranger who helped out, a mom who hugged us and prayed with us, a pastor who shared his insight and wisdom through care and love, or a friend who walked beside us. If you do have a story of an interaction with an angel or a dream message (and I don’t doubt that some of you have them), please share your stories with us. We need to hear about the supernatural ways God sometimes moves.

And if you have people in your life who maybe seem less supernatural and more, well, just super, praise God for them. We need them in our lives. Keep yourself open to ALL the ways that God may choose to lead you. And maybe, most important, keep yourself open to be used in the life of someone else. Whose angel will you be?

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

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12.10.16 – Insights from Lauren Huck

lauren-huckLauren Huck is currently a sophomore at Blue Valley High School, and has been attending services with her family at the Church of the Resurrection for fifteen years. She was confirmed into the church two years ago.

God is with us every step of our journey. He celebrates our victories and cries over our losses. His presence is always with us; however, it’s up to us whether or not we are aware of it.

I strayed from God’s path in the seventh grade, after my dad passed away from cancer. My depressed state of mind caused me to ignore the Lord, who was walking and weeping beside me. There were so many signs for me to accept God’s help, and return to the Sunday morning church services, but none of them made sense. How could God want me to walk his path after I had experienced such a significant loss?

It wasn’t until a year later that I attended another church service. Granted, it was because my grandparents were in town, but nonetheless, I acknowledged how far I had strayed from God’s light. After accepting my faith again, I began to live a new life where I wasn’t feeling alone.

At some point in all of our lives, we question whether or not God’s path is the right one.

I can relate this to Matthew 1:20-21 when the Lord says, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

I can’t imagine the confusion Joseph must’ve been feeling after hearing these words from his Lord. The child Mary is carrying is not his, but he asked him to name and raise him as if he were. Despite having his own doubts, Joseph had faith, and listened to God.

Following the path of Christ doesn’t mean a life free of pain or sorrow, but rather guidance through life’s challenges.

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

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12.09.16 – Insights from Ginger Rothhaas

Gingeer RGinger Rothhaas is a seminary student at Saint Paul School of Theology and is serving in Congregational Care at The Church of the Resurrection.

It was not until I was a mother that I began to understand unconditional love. I realized, looking at my new baby, that love isn’t earned–it is given, and it is endless.

As a child, I loved seeing my dad’s face light up with pride as I accomplished things he valued. But I was programming myself to think that I had to earn his love with straight A’s, purple ribbon horse show performances, and an impressive business career.

But as a new mother, holding my own baby, I had a new awareness that my dad had loved me unconditionally all along. I realized that his face probably lit up every time my curly little head entered the room, not because of what I had accomplished, but because I was his child.

As I read scriptures of Jesus praying to “Abba” Father, I sense Jesus recognizing God’s  unconditional love. Likely this was modeled to him through his earthly father, Joseph. Little-boy Jesus was shaped by Joseph’s unconditional love of Mary: Joseph had faith that this pregnancy was God’s work. Joseph taught Jesus what fatherly love looked like and felt like. Joseph and Mary, as parents, fostered an environment where Jesus could grow into his divine calling.

We are all called to be Josephs today…recognizing that God is at work, and doing our part to help people live into their callings. My additional homework, and maybe yours too, is to fully accept that God unconditionally loves us, and straight A’s aren’t what matters!!

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

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12.08.16 – Insights from James Cochran

James Cochran serves as Director of Counseling Ministries at The Church of the Resurrection, helping to connect the Resurrection family and community with counseling resources and group programming.

My family calls me Jim. My friends call me Jimmy. My colleagues call me James. Personally, I resonate with the adage, “call me anything but late for dinner.” But as I consider the meaning behind the names we choose and the ones that are chosen for us, I am forced to acknowledge something deeply spiritual.

Today’s GPS asks us to consider the connection between the Dreamcoat Joseph of Genesis and the Stepfather Joseph of the New Testament. In imagining that the latter was named after the former, I was struck by the fact that each had fundamentally faithful responses to what must have been heart-breaking hardship. Dreamcoat Joseph, you’ll recall, was sold into slavery by his brothers, abused by his masters and thrown into prison. Through all of this he remained faithful to his call. Stepdad Joseph had his own troubles: I don’t imagine there was anything easy about being told you’re about to raise a child that isn’t yours–and by the way, he’s the Son of God. (Interestingly, most spousal homicides are driven by male territoriality. From an evolutionary psychology perspective, men are more motivated to murder their wives than raise a child that isn’t theirs.)

It would seem, then, that Stepdad Joseph would have done his eponym proud. But as interesting as this might be, I think it is less about names and more about values. Using his name as a tool, Joseph’s parents wanted to communicate that they valued the principles of faithfulness even against absurdly difficult circumstances. Perhaps Joseph was strengthened in his resolve to stand by Mary by remembering the lesson behind his own name.

Not all names carry the same sense of purpose, at least not on the surface. James, after all, basically translates to “someone who schemes to take another’s place.” So we have to look deeper, into the values that really matter. I called my parents to ask why they named me James. I knew my father had a favorite uncle named Jim for whom I was named (“the nicest guy you could ever meet”). I also knew this uncle was gay, in a time when that was even harder than it is now. My father told me he knew Uncle Jim wasn’t going to be able to have kids of his own, so he wanted to honor Jim’s legacy in the naming of his first son. I hadn’t expected it, but this simple conversation gave me a fresh understanding of some of my parents’ most important values.

We named our daughter Evelyn James Cochran. This carries with it a number of values that matter to my wife and me, like family and faith. As my daughter grows, I look forward to the discussions we’ll have about the process of choosing her name. Even if she adopts nicknames (or has nicknames thrust upon her), I know those will have values and stories of their own.

Maybe you know the story of your name. Whether you do or not, I encourage you to do some investigating. If the folks who named you have passed, maybe you can seek inspiration through prayer about the values behind your name. There may not be any great revelation (maybe your parents just liked the sound of Hubert), but I pray you find something that gives you a richer sense of who you are or who you are called to be.

In my imagination, I see Joseph going to his parents for advice after he learned his betrothed was pregnant. I see his mother draw him close and say, “Don’t you see? This is why you are named Joseph. In this moment you might think your story is a tragedy, but like the Joseph of old you will be faithful. And in your faithfulness you will come to see you are part of the greatest story ever told.”

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

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12.07.16 – Insights from Wendy Connelly

WendyConnellyWendy Connelly is first and foremost a wife and mom, a seminary student at Saint Paul School of Theology, and will be teaching “Live and Let Think” this April at Resurrection Downtown. She can be reached at wendyleia@yahoo.com.

Editor’s Note: You can listen to this GPS Insights post read by the author here.

I love the prologue of Matthew for its rag-tag group of misfit women. These are, among the royal Davidic lineage, quite the opposite of the Founding Fathers (the Abrahams, Isaacs and Jacobs) and regal kings (David, Solomon, Hezekiah). These women, in this strange juxtaposition of the extremes of power, embody the unlikely, the disenfranchised, the helter-skelter kingdom of God.

They remind me of the words Steve Jobs made famous:

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently – they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward.

You can’t ignore these women; they’re woven into the very bloodline of Christ. And yet even today, these archetypes – the Tamars, Rahabs, Bathshebas and Ruths – are oppressed by systems of injustice. The cry of Tamar still echoes loud. But Matthew’s gospel is riven with hope: every injustice against the least resounds in the ears of God.

I had a chance last week to sit down for several hours with my friend, Darryl Burton, to talk about his life, the 24 years he spent in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and the place of justice in the life of the church. Here’s what he had to say:

Wendy: What is justice?

Darryl: Justice is correcting things that are wrong and making it right. Bringing forth light and speaking truth to power. You know, that’s what justice is. And I think, you know, as a Christian and as a believer and as a pastor… we fight for the underdog, or for the little person or the person who’s being abused or being forced to deal with unjust situations. And so, justice is making things right.

In the infancy narrative, Matthew is making a plea to his audience, the church. Remember these women. If you’re in a place of position and power, then by God, use it for the sake of the displaced and powerless. And if today you feel like the underdog, the misfit, the round peg in a square hole, take heart – there’s a cloud of witnesses standing in your corner.

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

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