11.25.15 – Insights from Kari Burgess

Kari Burgess is a Program Director for the Catalyst team, handling promotion and marketing for all of the conferences held at Resurrection, as well as registration and coordinating hospitality volunteers.

The other night I had a dream. A nightmare really. I woke up in a panic, wondering if this terrible thing had really happened. I was in a cold sweat, my heart was beating rapidly. When I finally woke up , I had to laugh.

It was Thanksgiving. I was bustling around the kitchen getting all of the side dishes prepped and cooked. Cleaning up, setting the table, getting all the last details ready to go. The timer went off on the oven and when I went to take the turkey out of the oven, it was STILL FROZEN. In fact, it was still in its packaging, just sitting there.

Here’s the thing. Until that dream, I didn’t even realize the worry and anxiety I’ve been feeling about hosting Thanksgiving at my house. A silly example, I know. But a lesson in worry, nonetheless.

Webster’s says worry is a “misuse of your imagination.” Think about it. Much of what we worry about (what keeps us up at night or gives us nightmares) never comes to fruition. And it is true we cannot add a single hour to our life by worrying.

Our Scripture today tells us not worry, God will provide. But this doesn’t mean to not be concerned or to stop trying to solve our own problems. We are not meant to simply pray and expect everything to fall in place. There is a difference between worry and concern. My study bible says “Worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.” You see, we must learn to plan and work towards solving whatever is concerning in our life and to do so by seeking God’s kingdom and His will. Planning and working through issues is a good use of time, but worrying is a waste of time. By placing our trust in Jesus and putting Him at the center of every decision, thought and action, we can be sure to follow His will for every life situation. That’s not to say bad things won’t happen—because they certainly will. But having the assurance He is by our side during and through it all gives us hope one day all will be redeemed.

Wilfredo de Jesus, one of the speakers from the Global Leadership Summit in 2014, said, “Prayer is necessary. Prayer is a weapon. But we cannot allow prayer to be a crutch to not do anything.” What a powerful statement. God can work with us and God can work through us, when we seek His counsel. But if we let fear, worry and anxiety take over, we will be left paralyzed and unable to do His work.

When I am feeling particularly worried or anxious about something, I often turn to this text in Matthew 6. Philippians 4:6 is similar (and one of my life verses): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So after my turkey nightmare, I decided it was time to start planning our Thanksgiving meal in earnest. In trying to figure out what time to put the turkey in the oven, I did an ever-reliable Google search and found it recommended anywhere from 3 ¼ hours to 6 hours! I am now fervently praying for God to make known to me which “turkey cooking calculator” God favors. Any advice is welcome.

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

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11.24.15 – Insights from Brandon Gregory

brandongregorygpsBrandon 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.

The parable in today’s passage is often quoted when talking about the meaninglessness of the accumulation of wealth. But that’s not the point at all. There are two possibilities in life we must prepare for. The first is that we live far longer than we had anticipated. The second is that our lives are cut far shorter than we anticipated. Failing to prepare for either one can be disastrous.

A man asked Jesus to step into a family dispute. The man’s brother had not wrongfully taken his inheritance, otherwise he wouldn’t be going to Jesus–he’d be going to the courts. Giving the inheritance to one brother was the father’s choice. The man in the crowd was asking Jesus to undo his father’s wishes, possibly made for very good reasons.

Ultimately, we don’t know why the inheritance wasn’t shared with the man in the crowd. (Or maybe it was, but the man felt he didn’t get his fair cut.) But, based on Jesus’s reaction, we can tell why the man wanted the inheritance split: greed. You see, he was so busy planning for the first possibility that he’d lost the second one.

It’s not bad to save for the future. It’s bad to forget why we live. How often do we invest in our soul and character? How often do we track progress with our growth? What if we thought of and planned for our spiritual growth the same way we did our retirement: with goals and regular contributions?

When thinking about the future, make sure you’re planning for both possibilities. It’s very possible (and highly desirable) to plan for both.

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

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11.23.15 – Insights from Donna Karlen

dkarlengpsDonna Karlen serves in Communications at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

In the 70s, a series of TV ads for the investment advisory company E.F. Hutton featured two people talking in a crowded public place about the stock market. One of the characters would say, “My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says…” and immediately everyone around the pair would stop what they were doing and lean in to listen. The spot ended with the voice over, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

There doesn’t appear to be an E.F. Hutton in the Bible dispensing advice on living life in retirement. In fact, the Bible doesn’t say much about the subject at all. A Google search yields a couple verses in Numbers about retiring at age 50 – but that’s not going to happen for very many of us. I don’t think I’d even want to retire that early. If age 50 is considered our lifetime “halftime,” then the idea of not working during the majority of my second half is not only financially not feasible, but it sounds personally unfulfilling as well.

Today’s scripture points to taking steps to prepare for a future that could include famine – but with Hy-Vee’s helpful smile in every aisle less than a mile away from where I live, I’m thinking our food supplier is at least as reliable as Pharaoh. As for the “lazy person” in Proverbs? That just kind of makes me nervous about falling asleep.

But even though scripture may not speak directly to the concept of retirement, we can still look to the Bible for some pretty awesome advice for living (at any age):

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

God has given each of you some special abilities: Be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. –1 Peter 4:10

…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? –Micah 6:8

And, of course, from our Teacher, our Lord, our Savior:

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ –Matthew 25:35-40

Yes, my adviser is Jesus Christ, and when Jesus Christ speaks… Let us all lean in to listen!

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

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11.21.15 – Insights from Dan Entwistle

dan-entwistleDan Entwistle serves as Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director.

Money was often on Jesus’ lips.

But to be clear, money wasn’t at the core of Jesus’ teachings. A summary of his key messages would not begin with, nor would it be centered around, money as the chief object of faith. If we were searching to discover what themes are central to the way of life Jesus taught about, the list-toppers would include… love, forgiveness, abundant life and good news for all humankind. With apologies to budgeters and investors, these other topics trump matters of finance.

Yet there’s no escaping the importance money played in Jesus’ teachings. It is frequently said that Jesus spoke more about money than he did about prayer, and that he mentions money more often than heaven and hell combined. Eleven of Jesus’ 39 parables deal with financial matters. Jesus did talk about money a lot and the way we handle our money is indeed important to him. Why is this? To the best of our knowledge, Jesus did not have a home of his own. He likely didn’t manage large sums of money nor would he have had a nest egg of retirement funds in a pension plan—not even one screened for socially conscious investments.

It may be that money was such an important topic for Jesus because we are in desperate need of wise assistance when it comes to ordering our financial lives. Not just people then and there, but people now and here. People at all levels of means, power and influence. People in every culture, regardless of which government’s currency they have in their pockets and bank accounts. We all need assistance when it comes to prioritizing our financial lives.

And Jesus knew that our possessions have a way of possessing us.

Notice that Jesus didn’t tell everyone to sell everything they had. This message was reserved for this particular young man. We have no record of a similar message for Lazarus, nor Zaccheus, nor Joseph or Arimathea. These, too, were people of means but it seems they didn’t receive the same memo.

So, why was Jesus so tough on this young man’s finances? It appears he really wanted to follow Jesus (or else when he left wouldn’t have left sad.) The answer seems to be that his devotion to his finances outstripped his devotion to God.

Is there anything in your life that rises to that level of devotion? Anything in your life that has become more precious to you than God? If so, what would it mean for you to “sell” that “possession” so you can follow in joy rather than depart in sadness?


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

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11.20.15 – Insights 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.

Paul’s contention in today’s passage is a bit hard to reconcile with human nature: not only are we to be generous, but lovingly generous? Let’s consider this ridiculous assertion a bit more:

Raising 2 boys, we recognized from an early age that sharing is not an inborn/natural trait. It could be a Batman action figure that suddenly becomes the all-time favorite toy when in the possession of the older brother. It could be the passion to scrutinize the strawberries topped on the dishes of ice cream to make sure they are equal in number & mass – even while the ice cream is rapidly melting. Or it could be the devotion to methodically catalog who last cleaned the bathroom mirror, to make sure no one, i.e. especially the record-keeper, is forced to do it twice in a row.

It’s like the story of the young boy in math class. The teacher asks, “If you had $5.00 and your brother gave you $4.00, how much would you have?” The boy quickly responds, “$5.00.” The teacher shakes her head saying, “No. You don’t know your addition.” To which the youngster replies, “No. You don’t know my brother.”

Fortunately for parents we have the example of Jesus to help encourage sharing between the brothers. However, even the admonition to be “like Jesus” can fall short of our goals of equality: Two boys are eying 2 chocolate-chip cookies that are noticeably different in size. Each brother wants the larger cookie. Mom gently suggests, “Which cookie do you think Jesus would choose?” The brothers glumly respond, “The smaller cookie.” “Right, so….?” The younger brother quickly snags the bigger cookie & says to his brother as he walks away, “You be Jesus today. I’ll be Jesus tomorrow.”

Of course as we age, this challenge with sharing/generosity doesn’t dissipate, like the Jack Benny shtick of being a tightwad. A mugger approaches Jack. He demands, “Your money or your life.” Benny pauses, deep in thought. The mugger nervously asks, “Well?” Benny responds, “I’m thinking.” This struggle even intrudes into debates in the public square; however, these disputes tend to focus on how generous we can be with other people’s money – so not much of a challenge.

So, why is it so hard for us to be charitable &, knowing Paul to be a bright guy, why would he raise the standard beyond simple giving to being lovingly generous?

I would submit that Paul might suggest that a heart hardened against sharing/generosity is essentially a faith that lacks trust in the Godly life described in the Fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, etc.). This can be evident in all facets of our life: how we share praise, how we spend our time, as well as how we manage our finances.

Perhaps we are reluctant to be too generous in our praise of others for fear it will embolden them & impact our desired social pecking order – thus, impacting a source of joy in our lives.

Possibly we are hesitant to share our time & talents to assist others, unless we are assured that our efforts will be appropriately valued. However this quid-quo-pro view of kindness negates our ever appreciating (suspicion-free) anyone demonstrating agape love on our behalf.

Finally, we may feel that a life of peace can only be sourced via “enough” financial resources. Of course, our definition of “enough” is ever changing, thus ensuring we’ll be constantly stressed trying to maximize our financial resources – effectively canceling out any hopes of a life of peace.

Paul might remind us that we would do well to mimic Jesus. He lovingly gave of Himself to bring glory not to himself, but to God. He lovingly gave of Himself, not knowing if it would be appreciated. He lovingly gave of Himself excruciatingly aware some would waste His amazing gift of grace. Yet, Jesus knew that a life of love, joy, & peace could only be God-sourced, & He generously gave of Himself beyond human comprehension.

Like the boy with his cookie, maybe today could be our day to be like Jesus.

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11.19.15 – Insights from Janelle Gregory

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

Do you ever go onto the real estate websites just to take a peek? I recently found myself doing just that. Page after page of houses for sale. We don’t even need a new house, but I just wanted to see what was out there in our price-range. Lots of great houses for sure, but there wasn’t anything that made me want to rent the moving-truck.

But then I got to thinking, “I wonder what kind of houses would be in our price-range if we stopped giving to the church.” It’s not like we give half of everything we own, but it’s enough that you get entirely different houses in entirely different neighborhoods when you enter that monthly figure when sorting.

And so I looked.

There they were, beautifully staged, and right there at my fingertips. They had more rooms, more features, nicer finishings, in better locations. I found myself mentally moving in, putting my groceries away in a pantry the size of our guest bedroom.

But mentally moving in required me mentally moving funds as well. I had to force myself to stop and think of that impact. What would I be saying no to?

Well, I’d be saying no to the children’s ministries dedicated to introducing and leading the future of our church to know and love Jesus.

I’d be saying no to the holy moments of care between a pastor and a grieving family.

I’d be saying no to helping other churches in desperate need of encouragement and resources.

I’d be saying no to providing malaria medication for a dying child in Malawi.

I’d be saying no to Bible studies, worship nights, Bless the School, baptisms, raising up pastors…

And most of all, I’d be saying no to God.

A little hard to enjoy that new pantry when I think of what it would actually cost. Does this mean I’m giving out of guilt? Well – partially, but that’s more of an issue of my own soul’s weakness for more rather than the value of the receiving ministries. Knowing that our funds can be used for good, for growth, and for God is exciting to us.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re giving our last dime. Generosity is something I’ll struggle with for as long as I live, but remembering how the money is spent makes that easier. It’s my hope that we can all join in that. God has good things in store for his church, so let’s not choose the pantry (or the pleasure of your choice) over being a part of his everlasting mission.

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

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11.18.15 – Insights from Wendy Connelly

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 8.55.49 PMWendy Connelly, wife to Mark and mom to Lorelei & Gryffin, is Community Outreach Director at the Leawood campus, a graduate student at Saint Paul School of Theology, Faith Walk columnist for the Kansas City Star, and co-leads the “Live and Let Think” dialogues at Resurrection Downtown.

Giving orients us toward God and neighbor; it takes our disorderly lives and sets us in right order. St. Augustine often addressed the disorderly posture of humans as being “incurvatus in se,” turned inward on ourselves. When we hoard our blessings, our riches, our talents, we turn inward on ourselves. Choosing a life cut off from God and neighbor, with clenched fists instead of open palms, we become like a stagnant pool of water. Over time, with no outflow, that pool within our souls begins to fester and stink.

God calls us to lives of spiritual outflow, like vessels bubbling over with Living Water. Connected to our Source–the God who creates continually (creatio continua) out of nothing (ex nihilo)–there is no scarcity. Rather, giving orients us toward greater abundance as we demonstrate our good stewardship in even the smallest things. The more we give, the more we receive–take that spiritual principle to the bank.

When the first tenth comes out of my paycheck, it is a small spiritual gesture acknowledging that all I have is not my own, that “I freely and heartily yield all things to God’s pleasure and disposal,” to take a phrase from Wesley. As my treasure goes with God, so goes my heart–and the rest of my life becomes more rightly ordered.

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

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11.17.15 – Insights from Nicole Alison

Nicole-alisonNicole Alison serves as Coordinating Assistant to Operations at The Church of the Resurrection. Nicole finds her voice through writing. In her spare time she is a personal blogger and a ghost-writer for the Next Steps Pastor at a local church in Lenexa. Her passion is to share the love of Jesus through personal stories of redemption.

I recently felt called to start my own Bible study. When I started inviting people, they all said yes. With such a good response, it was confirmation that God was opening doors for this Bible study to happen. But then my insecurities began to creep in. I was not particularly outgoing. I hated to pray out loud. I was not a powerful public speaker (in fact I avoid it at all costs). I started to wonder what I was thinking.

The day before the Bible study began I was a mess. I was running to the store buying all sorts of treats. I was cleaning every nook and cranny of my apartment. I wrote down the opening and closing prayers. By the time the Bible study was about to begin, I was questioning how I got in this situation that was causing me great anxiety.

But then I remembered how God laid it on my heart to start the study. And I remembered why I felt called to lead. I wanted to be generous with my spiritual gifts–encouragement and hospitality. I wanted to provide a safe place for others to share their stories- good or bad. I wanted to be able to share my own faith and invest in a community that wanted to continue to grow in faith with me. I had the passion. I had the people. I had the place. I had everything I needed to be generous in my desire to grow the Kingdom.

This verse–“God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need”–gives me hope. It reminds me that God knows where I need grace. He understands my weaknesses, yet He can still use me for His purpose.

I have now led 3 Bible studies, and my spirit truly has been refreshed. Grace has melted away my anxiety and doubt about leadership. I no longer have to prep to pray. God shows up every time.  Just recently, one of the girls pulled me aside and expressed that she really needed a group like ours. She thanked me for being obedient to God and stepping out of my comfort zone. In that moment it couldn’t have been clearer to me. God will give us what we need so we can offer to others what they need, too.

In what ways can you be generous knowing that God will give you what you need?

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

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11.16.15 – Insights from Melanie Hill

Melanie Hill is the Guest Connections Program Director at Resurrection.

One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to teach our “Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts” class here at Resurrection. And why wouldn’t it be? I always get to start with good news: Congratulations! You’re gifted!

God has uniquely gifted each of us for service. We all have different gifts, talents, resources and skills. As part of the class I get to hear all of the amazing ways our congregation is gifted as they share the things they are good at, talented in, and gifted with.

The part that always confounds me, though, is when I ask how they might use those things to serve God’s Kingdom. I get puzzled looks from the same people who just listed off numerous things they are good at. I’ve found over time that this confusion often results from the belief that we have “church” things we are good at and “the rest of the week” things we are good at. It’s as if we have gifts that are specifically useful either only at church, or outside of church.

It reminds me of when I was little and my grandmother would tell me not to get my “church clothes” dirty. As a kid it seemed silly that there were clothes that I could only wear to church (I still find it silly). Our gifts are the same way. They are meant to be used all the time—not just at church, or at work, or at home. Your gifts are part of what makes you, well, you. God has placed you exactly where He wants you to start making a difference for His Kingdom, whether that is at your job, in your neighborhood, in your family, in your relationships, or here at your church.

So if you’re thinking that your passion for working on cars isn’t really a “church” gift, then you haven’t met the amazing men who help run our Cars Ministry. Or if you’re thinking that being a greeter at church doesn’t translate to your workplace, then you’ve forgotten that everyone wants to feel welcomed and cared for. Where in your life have you separated your talents and gifts into church gifts and other? How might you start to use your gifts both here at Resurrection and also right where God has planted you?

And just in case you are still wondering if that thing you love to do is really something that God can use to build up His Kingdom, the answer is YES!

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

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11.14.15 – Insights from Jason Gant

JasongantGPSJason Gant is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection West.

This past week I kicked off the series Your Money and Your Life at Resurrection West. One piece of my sermon that I’ve been reflecting on all week is this (remember that the best sermons are also directed at one’s self)….

Jesus has much to say when it comes to our money and our life. In Matthew 6:19-24 he says,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

Jesus addresses three concerns in this dissertation….

  1. How money can have influence over us
  2. Why money has influence in our lives
  3. How we can stop that influence

Tim Keller writes of money’s power to blind us to greed. He tells of a time when he was teaching a mid-week study in his congregation on the 7 deadly sins. Tim’s wife asked if the church was marketing which weeks he would take on each sin. He responded that they were. She said, “So they’ll know when you are speaking on greed?”. He responded, “Yes”. She then said, “Watch–the attendance will drop that week more than any other.” She was right. Tim said people were not saying they didn’t want to hear about how to combat that sin. It was that they didn’t believe it was true of them.

Whenever we hear the words of Christ in his Sermon on the Mount, the words most quoted when it comes to money are, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” These are poignant, challenging words, but what about when Jesus says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Jesus is using allegory to remind us we can easily become blinded to greed. In the other deadly sins, we know what we are getting into, but what Jesus is saying here is to watch out because you may be greedy and be blinded to that. I have appointments with people each week and people often come to confess sin or seek forgiveness, guidance, or spiritual encouragement –but I can’t ever remember a time when someone came to me to confess their sin of greed.

Jesus is saying here that we must ask the question of ourselves. Most of us would never think of greed as one of our great challenges. We all have relatives or friends who live more extravagantly than we do. It seems that as long as we can point to someone else who commits this sin in greater degree, our own self-reflection is gone. Jesus is warning us here of what materialism can become in our lives.

He concludes his dissertation by saying, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Let us consider carefully what and whom we serve with our money and our life.

(You can view the sermon in its entirety at cor.org/west.)

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

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