1.31.15 Insight from Carol Cartmill

Carol Cartmill serves as the Executive Director of Adult Discipleship at The Church of the Resurrection.

Words can be powerful. Our congregation learned how powerful this past year in a sermon series Adam Hamilton preached entitled The Power of Words. If you need a refresher, click here to watch these messages again. There are some situations, however, where words fail us – times when they seem completely inadequate. That is precisely where our actions can speak for us. Let me share two scenarios where I have found this to be true.

Have you ever felt your heart breaking for someone else who is experiencing a deep loss? That is one of the times words escape me. No matter how much my own heart hurts for the other person, I am not in his or her shoes. I cannot know the depth of what that person is feeling. So what do we do? We speak with our presence.

Last fall, a member of our small group became seriously ill and died unexpectedly. During his brief hospital stay, members of the group simply showed up. We prayed with the family, brought Stroud’s chicken for lunch, made phone calls, and sat in a waiting room down the hallway so we could be on hand to help, while giving the family space to spend sacred, intimate time with their loved one. It’s been my experience that questions like, “Can I do anything to help?” often fall flat. When someone is in pain, they don’t know how to answer. A hug, a meal, any practical assistance we bring speaks volumes.

Serving in mission in a foreign culture is another opportunity to allow our actions to speak for us. Language differences create a barrier to spoken communication. Holding a Malawian child, providing medical treatment to a Haitian, building a wall next to a Honduran, or planting crops with a Jamaican communicates the love of Christ in ways that transcend words. And locally, we can say we want to see Kansas City transformed, or we can do something to promote justice and mercy.

You can do something this weekend. Fill a bag for the Souper Bowl Food Drive and bring it with you to worship. Let’s all let our actions speak!

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

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1.30.15 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren 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.

Since my day job is in the natural gas industry, we are inundated with all sorts of energy-related newsletters, magazines, & periodicals. An unusual commodity publication, “Tomorrow’s Futures, Today” crossed my desk that might pertain to our passage today.

 Column: What is Today’s Most Valuable Commodity? – by Trey Dehr

(TFT) – At first glance, the most frequent replies to this question would probably revolve around oil, gold, or silver. With a little more thought our guesses might focus on copper, lithium, or water. However, as we survey today’s marketplace, the one commodity that is in great demand, yet sadly in short supply, would easily be mercy.

A thorough review of newspapers, news outlets & social media sites, we find lots of stories filled with harsh conclusions & vindictive verdicts. While we do everything in our power to avoid jury duty, we can’t seem to wait to act as prosecutor, judge, & jury to offer our rulings against those parties that might have slighted us or perhaps our valued viewpoints.

(Helium Related Trading Rises Sharply)read more on page 3

Sadly, this rush to judgment has resulted in very little sympathy, consideration, or forgiveness in today’s society. As a culture, we are tempted to think the worse of others – suddenly it’s not a behavioral tic but a permanent personality problem that will never change.

(Electric Generation Down in Light Trading)read more on page 5

Leniency can also be in short supply because we are so fearful of using it incorrectly. We certainly don’t want to erase proper boundaries or eliminate consequences to the offending party’s unacceptable behavior. So, what are we to do?

 (Disposable Diapers Remain Unchanged)read more on page 6

Jesus, in the famous story of the adulterous woman, offers us some hints to help us reject our hard-wired/knee-jerk response to demand immediate & equal retribution.

He urges the audience of would-be executioners to first review their own behaviors & habits to help encourage some empathy. (This crowd offers us a classic illustration of what some psychologists call “Fundamental Attribution Error” – where we easily blame others for their behavior while at the same time explaining/excusing our own negative actions.)

Jesus then offers clemency to the woman, but not without reminding her that she had done wrong & challenging her to improve her conduct. He thereby reaffirms that this behavior was out-of-bounds & stresses that improvement must occur. He doesn’t offer a life-long pass to the woman to do what she pleases, but rather just extends a well-appreciated second chance.

(Pulp/Paper Mills Trading was Stationery)read more on page 7

In a market where it seems everything is viewed as a zero sum game, perhaps we should immediately commence E&P operations to begin drilling to discover as many reserves of mercy as possible. After all, our future sustainability vitally depends on grace. Amazing, isn’t it?

(Toilet Paper Market Reaches New Bottom) read more on page 8

 

 

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

 

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1.29.15 Insight From Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. For 25 years, Amy has taught theology and history, pursuing scholarship in service of the church.  

It can be really confusing to read something like Deuteronomy 20 that says God wants us to stone our disobedient children, and then read Jesus’ description of the generous father who welcomes a disobedient child in Luke 15. Which one more truly captures the will and heart of God?

We hear these different portrayals of God in the church, too. Some Christians describe God as angry all the time, eager to punish you. The first time I heard this picture of God was from Christian friends when I was a teenager. I remember being shocked, as this sounded so different from Jesus. In the news, we see Christians who use biblical passages like the one in Deuteronomy to justify their protests with posters saying that God hates gay people or is punishing America for tolerating them.

Two strategies help me navigate these different images of God. One strategy is to remember the vast space between our words about God and God. A wise Christian once told me “our words about God often tell us more about the person speaking than about God.” Second, and most important, I look to Jesus as my standard of discernment. What does Jesus say about God? Jesus himself is our primary pattern for knowing who God is and how God loves. In Luke, Jesus says, “while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.” Wow. Amen.

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

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1.28.15 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela LaVallie is the Worship Logistics Program Director at Resurrection. She oversees preparing the Sanctuary for worship, supports Vibe worship and volunteers in the Student Center, provides oversight for Holy Communion at the Leawood campus, and assists with worship logistics at conferences.

When I was in high school, I went to the only Christian bookstore in my hometown and bought a keychain that proclaimed, “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” I thought carrying that around for all the world to see meant that I was a good Christian. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read much of what “God said.” I went to church every Sunday. Our youth minister would lead my Sunday school class in reading and discussing a passage of scripture with little-to-no context outside those few verses. I was never taught or encourage to put much thought into interpreting what the Bible said beyond what the ministers and teachers told me it meant.

In high school, I thought I wanted to go into ministry. I thought I wanted to go to a Bible college until I found out there were a lot more scholarships for boys going to Christian schools…because women support men in ministry, but don’t lead in ministry. That’s what I was led to believe; the Bible says that. Instead of questioning whether the Christian leaders around me were possibly interpreting the Bible in a way it wasn’t meant to be read today, I questioned whether I was wrong in what I thought I was being called to do.

In college, there was a pastor who hung around campus preaching at the fountain in front of the student union. He would spout off scripture and his version of what it meant, condemning students for his perceptions of how they were all living in sin – students he knew nothing about except that they were passing in front of him. One day when I was wearing shorts, he called me names, assuming I had loose morals since he could see my legs. Not a week later, I was wearing a long dress and ran into this preacher at a soda machine inside one of the buildings, and he told me how nice it was to see a woman dressed like a woman should be dressed. I couldn’t believe it. I was still the same person on this day as I was a few days before. The only thing that had changed was his perception of me – all based on a few verses of scripture.

A little over seven years ago, I took the Disciple 1 Bible study and read most of the Bible in about nine months. As much work as that class was, it really opened my eyes to the complexities of the Bible and all of the issues it addresses (or doesn’t address). Having read the Bible several times now, I am much more secure in my interpretation of God’s love for me and all humankind. But, I am even more confused about the specifics of what the writers of the Bible were trying to say. Some passages of scripture directly contradict other passages. Some we read factually and try to adhere to. Others we believe we aren’t possibly meant to take literally. When we actually read the Bible and spend time with God, I think we are meant to expand our minds rather than put God into a neat little box.

I try to keep in mind that, when it comes to the Bible, God inspired it, men wrote it, and I interpret it.

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

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1.27.15 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

More years ago now than I’d like to admit, I had a seminary professor make a statement that proved to be one of those ah-ha moments for me relative to my own theological study and understanding.  He said “God is not confined to the person of Jesus Christ, but God is defined in the person of Jesus Christ”.  He went on to say something like: therefore, Christians believe that everything essential we can and must know about God is found in Jesus.  And while there is certainly more that is attributed to God (which God may or may not have anything to do with) than what is revealed in Jesus—there is absolutely nothing more we have to know about God in order for us to know who God is or what God is like than what we find in Jesus—for Jesus is God’s definitive Self-Disclosure to the world.

What my seminary professor was doing in that lecture two decades ago was restating and seeking to bring further understanding to what we find in today’s two scripture readings (and in many other places in Holy Scripture): Jesus is The Word of God…he is the Word made flesh (John 1:14).

Incarnation is a big word and an even bigger idea—but that’s really what we’re talking about here (more to the point, that’s what the apostle John and the writer of Hebrews were talking about): that the God of the cosmos…the God who is the genesis of everything became fully human and yet remained fully God.  And since volumes have been written seeking to unpack the meanings of this mystery, I’ll not even flirt with the notion I can fully articulate this confession of faith in a few sentences.

Rather, in just a few remaining words, I’ll offer an anecdote that will hopefully help clarify a tripping point we sometimes stumble on in thinking about Jesus as the Word of God; specifically, Jesus as God’s son.  Both of today’s readings reference Jesus as “Son” of God and this reference of “Son” occurs frequently in many other New Testament passages as well.  And the stumbling point for most of us is that we explicitly (or implicitly) connect the term “Son” with the notion of offspring and Jesus is not God’s offspring—God did not make Jesus (The Nicene Creed, one of the earliest confessions of faith also tried to address this understandable misunderstanding).  Rather, the key to understanding the meaning implied is tied up in the word that we sometimes translate “begotten” in John 3:16.  Said as succinctly as possible, “begotten” has everything to do with being of the same stuff or being of the same essence and nothing to do with being made by or being the offspring of.

I’ll use me being my father’s son to illustrate.  While obviously I am my father’s offspring, that really is only part of what it means for me to be his son.  The other part of what it means for me to be his son is that I bear his image…I look like him…I walk like him…I embody his essence.  Whether I like it or not, the older I get (and the fatter I get), the more I look like my dad.  As much as I might hate to admit it, he and I have the same mannerisms, characteristics—shoot we even sound alike.  In fact, in a very real (albeit imperfect way) I can say that if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen my father.  And to some degree, if you know me, you know my father—why, because I am my father’s son.

And that’s what it means—only in a perfect and complete way—to call Jesus God’s son.  It has nothing to do with Jesus being the offspring of God and it has everything to do with Jesus perfectly having God’s characteristics, mannerisms and voice.  Fact is, in an exact and definitive way, if you’ve seen Jesus, you’ve seen His father and if you know Jesus, you know His Father—why, because Jesus is His Father’s son—the only true and complete Word of God.

Rev. Glen Shoup is the Executive Pastor of Worship and a Congregational Care Pastor.

 

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1.26.15 Insight from Chris Holliday

Rev. Chris Holliday serves as the associate minister at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

As I study the Bible and strive to live in the ways of God, I too focus on interpreting scripture through the lens of Jesus, the Living Word; and I find myself using the following passage as my ultimate filter:

Matthew 22:34-40When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together. One of them, a legal expert, tested him. “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

So how do we love God and our neighbors? One week ago today, Resurrection West held our annual MLK MEGA MISSION. As we planned the event, we thought we might have around 150 people come to the church to help with a variety of mission projects that centered upon caring for our neighbors near and far and honoring the transformational, God-given visions and dreams of Dr. King.

Imagine our surprise and wonder when God inspired a group of 340 children, students and adults to come out and serve. 10,000 meals were packed to help with international hunger. Over 500 lunch sacks were assembled for local distribution to the homeless in Kansas City. Over 50 no-sew blankets were lovingly crafted to help those in-need stay warmer this winter. And over 500 crafts were made to help children and families at Resurrection and in the wider community learn about the importance of prayer, connecting with God, embracing diversity and serving all. Through the efforts of a spirited and passionate group of Resurrection people, a positive Christian difference will be made in the lives of many who are in-need and/or homeless in the Kansas City area and around the world.

May we all continue to find ways to love God and our neighbors near and far, so that one day all may know the love, hope, peace, and joy of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

To help you get a sense of the day, here are a few pictures of this year’s MLK MEGA MISSION.Rez West 3

Rez West 1
Rez West 2
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.
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1.24.15 Insight from Megan O’Neill

Megan O’Neill is the Learn Events Coordinating Assistant at Resurrection.

I am convinced it is no accident that Romans 8:35-40 has bubbled up all around me very recently. I have found it in this week’s: sermon, Women’s Bible study, Jesus Calling entry, and in today’s GPS. I think God is trying to say something, don’t you?

Lately, my heart has been broken with news of the floods in Malawi. You see, this past June I traveled to “The Warm Heart of Africa” with my eight teammates for a mission trip with Resurrection. We had the honor of witnessing the hard work the Malawians put into building their lives; their homes, families, villages, businesses, and farms. Compared to America, the minimal resources they have are incredibly scarce, yet they figure out a way and make it work.

The places we visited in Malawi receive financial and relational support from Resurrection, but many areas of Malawi do not have this kind of support. My heart especially breaks not only with the worry of disease outbreak, but also for those that have worked so hard on their own to create a life, which has now been washed away.

Do I think God sent the floods to punish the Malawians? No.

Do I think Malawi will bounce back from this devastation? Yes. Certainly with time.

Why? Because there’s one thing they have plenty of: faith. They have community. They have determination to do the best they can to live a life for God. You want to know the best part? They will continue to have the love of Jesus Christ who will never, ever, ever leave them and who will always fight for them.

Let me break down this concept for you:

Does it mean God no longer loves us if these things surround us? – trouble | disaster | persecution | hunger | destitute | danger | helplessness

Answer: No way! Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.   (Romans 8:35, 37 – paraphrase and emphasis mine)

Does it mean that God no longer loves a woman who had a miscarriage? Or the husband who breaks the covenant of his marriage? Or the mom who cannot catch up on the endless demands of daily tasks? Or the family who suddenly lost their brother in a car accident?

Answer: No way! Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loves us.

I leave you with a couple of lyrics from a song that has spoken a lot of truth to me lately – “More Than Conquerors” by Rend Collective:

We will not bow down to sin or to shame, we are defiant in Your Name! Nothing is impossible, every chain is breakable. With You, we are victorious!

Absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. Remember that God will help you handle all that you’ve been given. You just need to let Him be your Conqueror.

 

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1.23.15 Insight from Phil Antilla

philgpsPhil Antilla serves as the program director for Young Adult and College Ministry. Before coming to Church of the Resurrection, Phil served as an associate pastor at a local church in Shawnee. www.cor.org/youngadults

In the British version of “The Office” there is a great bit featuring a guy named Keith, a rather dull accountant. After being asked to fill out a self-evaluation form, under “Strengths”, he writes “Accounts” (his job title) and under “Weaknesses”, he writes “Eczema” (dry skin).

Is this what it means to be honest about our weaknesses? To admit that we have dry skin? That we can’t cook? Or that we always snooze through our morning alarm clock?

I think the Apostle Paul had something else in mind when he said “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

The idea that we are strong in weakness is a revolutionary one. But its basis is not in human strength, or ability, but in the power of God, who lives through us, despite any of our weaknesses.

Think about it. No weakness of yours can keep Christ from dwelling in you.

I repeat–no human weakness can keep the power of Christ from dwelling in you.

That you sometimes lose your patience, or that you can’t stay focused, or that you fall asleep during your prayers, is no stumbling block for the power of Christ.

In Galatians 2, Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Did you catch that? Paul recognizes that he does in fact live this life “in the flesh”–he is weak, he will stumble, he will fail. But, this life that he lives, even in the flesh, is a life lived by faith in the Son of God–the One who will prevail!

So though you may be weak, though you may lack focus or discipline, all weaknesses are an opportunity to place your faith not in human power, but in the power of God. God does not come to dwell in us when we are finally perfect and strong, but lives and reigns with us now, just as we are.

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

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1.22.15 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

Out and about at The Home Depot last summer, my husband and I saw a planter box that we thought would be perfect to go behind our kitchen sink for our fresh herbs. We brought it home, put it behind the sink, and well…

planter box

Perhaps we had misjudged the amount of space behind the sink… by just a smidge.

Lesson learned: size does matter. And in no sense does it matter more than when we are talking about our understanding of the size and power of God.

When I’m faced with difficult circumstances and challenges, I tend to go to God as a last-ditch-effort. I generally prescribe the following regimen for most of my problems. 1. I try to solve it first. 2. I might get others involved. 3. I’ll search the internet for possible solutions (Unless it’s medical. Even the tiniest symptoms can be something deadly, so the only sure diagnosis you can get from googling medical symptoms is that of becoming a hypochondriac) 4. I’ll try solving the issue on my own again. 5. Give God a shot at it.

I don’t even know why I don’t go to God first. My biggest hunch is that just like the herb planter behind my sink, I feel my problems are too big for God to handle. I recently read something by Mark Batterson that hit home with me:

“Most of our problems are not circumstantial. Most of our problems are perceptual. Our biggest problems can be traced back to an in adequate understanding of who God is. Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small. In fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problem.”

Much of the time, I reduce God to the size of my problems – and probably even down from there. So today let’s make an effort to right-size God, knowing that His power is robust, His wisdom is ingenious, His love is penetrating, and He is more than big enough to handle anything we give Him.

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

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1.21.15 Insight 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.

As I read our passage for today from Numbers, I can’t help but think about my role here at the church, helping to coordinate the various conferences we host. Several times a year, we host events that bring in leaders from churches across the country to share with them about leadership principles and best practices from here at Resurrection, in order to fulfill our vision of renewing the mainline church.

Part of my responsibility is to coordinate the volunteers needed for these events. I love these events! In fact, I am so passionate about it I would love to serve every meal, wipe off every water bottle, greet at every door, assist every guest with their registration and direct traffic in the parking lot. Even as passionate as I am about welcoming our guests, there is clearly no way I could “handle” it alone! It takes a team of others passionate about our vision to make these events run smoothly.

I remember one particular experience a few years ago. Just a few days prior to Leadership Institute, the largest conference we hold (attracting more than 2000 leaders yearly  from across the world), I was feeling strung out, run down and overwhelmed. I was driving home and I prayed out loud to God, telling Him there was no way I could do everything in time for this event. The details were swirling in my head. I couldn’t possibly handle any more. At that moment, God clearly reminded me I was right–I couldn’t handle it on my own. I spent time praying for God to take the burden from me, allowing me to rely on him to make sure all the details were attended to. And suddenly the weight was lifted.

I returned to work the next morning clear-headed, focused, and with a new vision. I wasn’t supposed to do this alone. There were others as passionate, with great abilities to take some responsibilities. I made phone calls to several of our great volunteers, asking if they would be willing to take over some tasks. And they did, with great enthusiasm! We have amazing volunteers who are so willing to give of their time and talents–they simply needed to be asked and given a little instruction.

As a result of the dedication of our team of volunteers, the guests had a great experience and felt God renewing them and their ministries in amazing ways. Over and over our guests tell us stories about transformation in their churches and communities, thanks to the ideas and inspiration they experience at these events. And they always comment about the amazing hospitality they receive from our volunteers. Thanks to the dedication of hundreds of volunteers, we are able to handle these events with the excellence Resurrection has become known for. Thank goodness God doesn’t want us to handle everything on our own! He has given us this big vision that at times can seem daunting, but God will help us handle what we have been given.

If you would like to volunteer at an upcoming conference, please fill out an interest form at this link.

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

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