11.20.14 Insight from Mike Wilhoit

mwilhoitMike Wilhoit serves at The Church of the Resurrection as Local Missions Director.

Acts of humble service tend to have a lasting impact.

On April 28, 1999, my wife gave birth to quintuplets at the University of North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. The birthing room was packed. In addition to two obstetricians and an anesthesiologist, each child had a 3-person team consisting of a doctor, nurse & respiratory therapist waiting for their arrival. Everyone seemed to have a role, except one woman standing quietly near the side of the room.

I was sitting by my wife’s head. When the scheduled cesarean delivery began, the babies came fast. First, Noah, followed by Mia, Ben & Zach. Finally, Chloe was born without breath or heartbeat. She was stillborn. Then the quiet woman from the side of the room introduced herself. She was a Social Worker, trained in grief therapy, and she coached us through the delicate process of saying goodbye to a child we had just met.

This humble act of service during a very challenging moment remains incredibly comforting to both my wife & me.

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.19.14 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.

I have to confess, I like recognition for a job well done. Several years ago, I read the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book explains the five primary ways each of us feel most loved.  After taking the quiz, I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that my primary love language is “words of affirmation.” If you haven’t read the book, this means I feel the most loved and appreciated when people use words to build me up. This doesn’t mean that I serve in order to hear what a great job I am doing. It does mean I have to be careful to do my best even when I know I won’t be acknowledged for serving.

There are nearly 100 people who come in on a rotating monthly basis to prep the attendance notebooks, the seatbacks, and the candle carts for weekly worship. These people give generously of their time every month (and some more often) to do a job that benefits every person who attends worship; they usually work in the empty Sanctuary (or Wesley Chapel) and they receive little to no recognition. I mention these servants because I get to work directly alongside them, but there are countless other volunteers who serve both at the church and out in the community. Some of them are leaders, and everyone knows who they are. Some are made examples of in sermons and newsletters. Some, like those I mentioned earlier, humbly and quietly go about their service behind the scenes.

I know it’s okay to enjoy the recognition we get from a job well done, but how much more will we bask in the glow of God saying to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when we aren’t working to hear those words here on earth?

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.18.14 Insight from Rev. Doyle Blanton

Rev. Doyle Blanton is a Congregational Care Pastor at Resurrection, serving the 9 a.m. worship community, assisting with the 5 p.m. Sunday community and shepherding the Thursday night care night. He and his wife Christy moved to Kansas in June and have two children, Matt and Heather.

“What is it that you want?” Jesus asked the wife of Zebedee and mother of their two sons rather directly. For this mother, most likely for her sons and the rest of the disciples, they wanted to share the perceived power and glory that was coming to Jesus upon entering Jerusalem, upsetting the powers of Rome, and setting up his Kingly Reign. Let’s face it, they wanted the best seats in the house. When it comes down to it, who of us doesn’t want the best seats in the house–whether it’s at the theater, game, or even Christmas at Resurrection!

As I read the text for today, this question Jesus asked seemed to jump out at me, and insist on being answered. “WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT?” As I pause with this question in mind, I realize the answer has changed over the years of my life and ministry. I first wanted to make it through school without too much debt. I have always wanted to have a happy life and marriage and to effectively serve the church. Since my early 20’s, I have wanted to save appropriately to provide amply for my family in our retirement. As I now move into this new decade of my life, one of the driving answers to this question is–I want to live a life that honors God in all that I do. Yes, I want to live a life that pleases God, makes a contribution to the coming Kingdom of God, and serves faithfully the church I so greatly love.

This answer to the central question proves to be very clarifying for me in regards to daily priorities and decisions. Some of the former priorities are fading as I bring my life back to center on my calling and desire to please God in all that I do. The lure of power and position continue to wane in my soul as I release my future into God’s hands, for as God has held me in the past and in the present moment, I trust my future is also secure. I would ultimately want that assurance for everyone who is wrestling with their answer to this clarifying question: “What is it that you want?”

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.17.14 Insight from Ginny Howell

Ginny Howell is the Connections Mobilization Program Director at Resurrection.

A few years ago, my friend was taking her little boy, Seamus,  to explore at Shawnee Mission Park. Seamus was curious about the world around him, and enjoyed spending Sundays at “dirt church” connecting with the Almighty through nature.  On this particular day, he took his Razor scooter with him, which he was just barely big enough to ride. While he and his mom were down by the creek checking out tadpoles or skipping rocks, someone took the scooter from the side of the trail. Seamus was devastated, and had a hard time understanding at that young age why someone would do something like that. He was a bright boy who had been listening when his parents were talking about right and wrong, and he knew that stealing  was wrong. So imagine how long the walk back was for Seamus with no scooter, and for his mom with no way to explain the why, only consoling words that didn’t quite remove the sting and certainly didn’t bring his scooter back.

After reading about this disappointment on Facebook, my husband was troubled. He knew what a great kid Seamus was, and he didn’t want Seamus to lose that precious outlook about the good there is in the world, and that good is what everyone should be doing. He went by Toys R Us and then dropped off a new Razor scooter at Srazoreamus’ house with this anonymous (until now) note:

I heard that someone took your scooter when you were playing the in the creek. That’s not fair!!! Here is a new one because nice things happen to nice people. Have fun and always wear a helmet

(Photo courtesy of mom’s Facebook page)

Justice isn’t a concept that is only tough for our little ones, it can also be a huge challenge for those of us with a bit more life experience. Living in a time of non-stop information overload where the bad stories often outweigh the good, it is easy to lose focus of how we can practice justice. Each one of us can claim our own role as an agent of justice in this world. Because we take action- protecting those in need, caring for those without, healing hurts and righting wrongs….justice becomes reality.

Jesus didn’t fixate on the injustice that he knew was about to happen (which surprisingly for those in that time became the ultimate justice in the resurrection). He stopped thinking about what had been foreseen and healed those  closest to him, in the present. How many times are we so focused on the big injustices that make us feel helpless and lose hope that we miss the opportunity to bring justice to those walking with us each and every day?

Open your eyes to those around you. How might you practice justice this week?

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.15.14 Insight from Bryan Cisler

Bryan Cisler serves as the Digital Media Specialist at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

There’s a book that came out recently called, The Paradox of Generosity. It’s focused not just on who gives or why they give but what effect generosity has on the giver. It delves into the neurochemical changes that happen in the brain when we routinely and sacrificially give. As you read in today’s scripture, this isn’t some new theory. The Bible has been stating that this is the only way to live for thousands of years.

So why don’t we do this? We have always known it’s a crucial requirement in serving God, and now over the last several decades we are learning more and more about its tangible health benefits as well. For me, it’s not that I suddenly wake up and say, “I am going to start worshiping money and not God,” it’s just that serving the Lord becomes less of a priority. Several weeks ago Pastor Adam gave us a coin with the instruction that we should move it from pocket to the next when we do an act of kindness. The first several days I was very disciplined about doing that, and I could feel the effects. Now that we are at the end of the sermon series, the coin … I think it’s one of my pant pockets that’s crumpled up in the laundry basket at home.

As you think about today’s scripture, be proactive in putting yourself in situations that you’re going to be generous. Also, note that when you’re in worship that the people sitting around you are trying to do the same thing. It’s a struggle for everyone, so when you see people making the effort to live sacrificially, make sure you encourage and cheer them on.

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.14.14 Insight from Chris Folmsbee

Chris Folmsbee is Resurrection’s Director of Discipleship Ministries.  He is the author of several books, with an extensive background in applying principles of spiritual growth to real life. He, his wife Gina and their family have been attending Resurrection since 2008.

I just took an online quiz to see how greedy I am. Below is the result of my quiz. The quiz wasn’t very scientific, but nevertheless, it got me thinking about the things in my life that cause me to be greedy. (Want to take a quiz yourself? Just Google “greed quiz” and you’ll have more than you know what to do with.) Greedquiz

It appears I have some work to do. The quiz result suggests I speak with someone who is at 0% (no greed at all) to help me on my way toward peeling off some of my greed, someday hopefully arriving at 0%. Are there any 0% people out there? If the goal of the Christian life is total love for God and others, then each of us has the charge to rid ourselves of any and all facets of greed to make room for more love.

As you know, there are all kinds of reasons why greed emerges from within and can, at times, control our lives. Fear, selfishness, insecurities, potential failure, potential success, etc. all can lead toward the insatiable desire for gathering resources of all kinds in excessive amounts. This insatiable desire destroys our ability to be content with enough. When we aren’t content, we do not typically live at peace with God, self, others and the world.

Today’s reading (Luke 12:13-21) reminded me of Timothy’s challenge in 1 Timothy 6:6-8. Take a moment and read these verses. The “profit” that so many of us seek is not found through gluttonous living. Instead, a life of godliness, according to Timothy, is the source of profit. Godliness coupled with contentment produces a generous heart marked by benevolence and goodwill.

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.13.14 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

I have been robbed twice in my life.

The second time happened a few years ago. Someone managed to get a key to our apartment, and they were coming and going at their leisure – as well as taking some of our possessions with them during each visit.

The first time, however, was the day after my wife and I got married. We were driving home from our out-of-state wedding, and while we stopped at a hotel for the night, someone unhitched our trailer from the back of the car and stole it. We were waiting to get home before we opened our wedding gifts, and unfortunately, every one of them was in the trailer, along with all of our clothes, furniture, and pretty much everything else you can think of. We had packed for a vacation, so we had travel-size everything and full-size nothing!

I have since come to believe that both of these occasions were opportunities to show whom I serve. Yes it is true that the one who is faithful with very little is also faithful with much. However, I do not believe that God was somehow orchestrating both of these events in my life in order to see how faithful I am, like some sort of faith-proving litmus test.

Instead, I believe that our lives are filled with all kinds of moments where our allegiances demand to be declared. Who or what comes first? What is of most importance? Whom do you serve?

In today’s passage, Jesus moves from a parable (16:1-9) meant to help you think, to direct teaching. It is not a suggestion or an idea to consider, but a time-tested fact – you cannot serve two masters (or three, or four, or five).

We may not realize it, but all too often we serve something other than God. Maybe we serve our jobs. Maybe we serve money. Maybe we serve busy schedules! Can we serve both God and work? Can we serve both God and money? Our passage today says “no”.

The truth is that, for a short-time, both my wife and I felt a horrible sense of invasion and loss. But that only lasted a few hours. It was not long after we were robbed that were forced to answer the question “Whom do we serve?” For us, this was not only a question of “Whom have we given our lives to?”, but “Whom do we expect to provide life for us?”

We serve a master because we hope it will provide life. Sadly, many of us are still waiting to receive life from the masters we serve – whether it is money, or work, or other worldly pleasures.

But in Christ, we find a master who will provide life that does not perish. The writers of the gospels called this “everlasting life”. Money will come and go, but Jesus Christ, our Lord, is the one who will be faithful to finish the good work that he began in us.

Thus, the question we ought to ask ourselves is not only, “Whom do we serve?”, but “Where are we trying to find life?”.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.12.14 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

What is the primary sin? One of the main stories of the Bible describes the Jewish people’s 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Before Egypt was completely out of their rearview mirror, the Jewish people started practicing Idolatry. A Golden Calf was made as a focus of worship for the Jewish people. For a long time the practice of Idolatry, or choosing to worship something other than God, has been considered the chief sin. Let’s zoom out today and see something new.

An author whose name I cannot remember inspected this story and came to the following conclusion (paraphrased). Why did the Jewish people turn to another idol instead of God? It was not out of boredom, but rather due to belief in the scarcity of God’s Power and Providence. The only reason someone would turn to an idol is if they believe that in some way, God was not enough. It is a belief that God does not have the power or the desire to help us with our need and because of that, we need to turn to another source for help. We hedge our bets by bringing in another source of salvation.

The primary Sin is not Idolatry, but rather a doubt in the Largeness and Sufficiency of God.   Our God is a generous God who opens up the storehouses in heaven for our provision and care. God is thoroughly involved in human affairs, blessing people in ways we are often unaware. God does not run out. God’s well never goes dry.

This has direct implications for how we handle our finances.

Many times we do not live out God’s generosity because we believe there is a scarcity of resources at our disposal, too. This doubt leads us to turning towards other sources to make us feel comfortable. It most likely is not a golden calf–temptation tends to be more subtle than that. Our second deity is often found in money and the benefits money can buy. We are tempted to hedge our bets that God really is a loving, abundant, generous God by holding tightly onto monies that were intended to be shared generously as well.

As we read today’s Scriptures, ask yourself if they point to an image of a generous God or if they point to a God of scarcity.

Look to the places in your life where you might struggle with a form of idolatry and see if what is standing behind it is a doubt in God’s abundant goodness. I have typically found that to be the case for me.

Our God is not lacking the power to help. The Jewish people discovered that God’s power was greater than the golden calf’s.

May we all discover God’s generosity as well, and then share generously in the same way.

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.11.14 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.

Business knowledge is sometimes shunned in Christian circles, thought to be inferior to Biblical wisdom. But business knowledge can teach us a lot about how to accomplish good in God’s kingdom, and the Bible doesn’t shy away from tying the two together. Jesus explained spiritual concepts using everyday examples that normal people could understand, and the parable of the talents is a business parable. As someone who’s lived in the business world for years, this parable brings a smile to my face. A wise investor is someone I really respect, and having a 100% ROI on something is truly remarkable.

So, being that today’s passage is a business parable, I’m actually going to go over some business wisdom that served me well in the business world, but can really serve anybody well in accomplishing God’s work and wisely investing their talents.

Pick One Thing and Be the Best

When you need a lawyer, you don’t look for a lawyer who also happens to be an excellent singer–you look for the best lawyer you can find. While there’s some worth in being good at a lot of things, you can generally get more accomplished if you get really good at a few things.

I realized pretty early on in life that I really cared about other people, so I decided that what I wanted to be good at was caring about people. I didn’t just try really hard to care about people, though–I took steps to get really good at it. I read books on psychology, philosophy, and leadership. I worked hard on developing my social and conversational skills (which doesn’t come easily to an introvert such as myself). I bought a house with an extra room so I could invite people in from time to time. I worked hard at my job to earn more money to spend on other people.

And it paid off. People frequently tell me that they feel better after talking to me, and a lot of people will call me first when they need help. I’m known for being really good at caring about people, and it’s great. God uses that because I worked hard to hone that skill and cultivate that passion.

For you, it might be caring, or it might be problem-solving, or it might be teaching, or playing music, or organizing events. There are a lot of things it could be. It’s just important that you pick one thing and completely dive into it. Learn as much about it as you can, make yourself as available as possible to do this thing, and pray for God to give you opportunities to use this to help other people.

Take Calculated Risks

A lot has been said on taking risks–that’s one of the main take-aways of the parable of the talents, after all. But simply being risky isn’t enough. It pays to take good risks and avoid the bad ones. This doesn’t at all mean you need a 100% success rate, but it should mean that you win more than you lose.

Going into anything, consider three factors: the cost, the potential loss if things go wrong, and the potential gain if things go right. One surprising thing is that, in most non-financial decisions, that second factor is negligible. It still has to be calculated and considered, but most of the time, it’s a lot smaller than we initially fear it will be.

If you’re wondering, the cost in most cases is simply time. It’s said that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. This is because, in the time it takes you to eat that free lunch, you’re giving up time that could have been spent on accomplishing something greater. Time is something we’re constantly spending, so make sure that you’re actually investing your time and getting the most return on that investment. What can you spend your time on that would bring about the most good?

There’s no real way to formulate this and use it to accurately predict the success or failure of any investment. That’s not the point. The point is that you just need to be thinking about these things before you jump in. Simply taking the time to do this can have a dramatic positive effect on your successful time and energy investments.

Be Easy to Work With

A while back, as a manager of a small design and development team, the mission for my team was two-fold. One was to be really good at our job. That’s just a given. The other part was to be one of the easiest teams to work with in the entire company. This was not easy with the amount of stress that ran through our team. I had to motivate others to want to be easy to work with, and I had to lead by example.

This paid off. Word spread about how great we were to work with, and people made it known that we were one of the best parts of working there. It got to a point where people were even coming to me for things that weren’t our responsibility because other teams weren’t as responsive or passionate about their work. (This wasn’t always a good thing, but the sentiment was nice!)

The point is, people will come to you a lot more often if they know that you will put them first. It takes humility and discipline to make it known that your helping people is in no way about you or your own gratification. But this is where you start seeing the most good. If you’re a volunteer, make sure you’re the volunteer the volunteer coordinator never has to worry about. If you’re helping others, don’t fish for compliments or expect favors in return. You may think that no one notices when you casually insert your own wants and desires into the equation, but most people do notice, and it can quickly make the other person feel bad about asking for help in the first place.

Know What Success Looks Like

I used to work in landing page marketing. Every one of our websites had a conversion rate–an actual number that told us how well our site was performing. Suddenly, designs weren’t just about making pretty pictures and new pieces of functionality weren’t just about impressing other developers–there was a grand purpose for everything we did on these sites, and that purpose was increasing that number. Some say it sapped the romance out of design, but it gave us fantastic purpose, and we actually knew when we were doing well.

A while back, I met someone else who also did online marketing.

“What are your goals?” I asked him.

“Awareness,” he said.

And that was it. There was no way to know if he’d succeeded because he hadn’t defined what success looked like.

Without taking this vital step, it can be very easy to focus so hard on doing something that we forget that it’s not just about doing something, it’s about accomplishing something. Hard goals aren’t as fun as just doing whatever we feel like, but they keep us focused and allow us to push ourselves to be better.

If your thing is caring about others, make a goal to mentor or meet with someone a certain number of times per month. If your thing is teaching or training, make a goal to spend so much time each week learning new things. If your thing is planning events, partner with departments in the church and push to plan one (or more!) event per year to raise money or awareness.

If you fail, don’t worry–keep going! It’s better to know what success looks like and occasionally fail than to never know if you’ve succeeded.

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

11.10.14 Insight from Donna Karlen

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

I have mixed feelings about the story told in today’s scripture passage. I admit that crankiness and cries of “not fair!” would be my reaction if I labored all day and came away with the same wages as those who worked just one hour. It seems “generous” only to those who came last.

But I absolutely love the meaning behind the parable!

I don’t want it ever to be too late for someone to receive God’s grace. I hope that right up until the very last nanosecond, there will be scores of people who are saved. And even if they were mean, bad people – I still want them in because if they truly accept Jesus in their lives, they will be repenting as part of the deal, right? (And weren’t those most in need of grace the very souls Jesus came to save?)

The last ones in probably will need some extra attention and “training” since they haven’t had the joy of knowing Jesus for very long. So as one who has known him my whole life, I will happily stand aside for the late-comers and rejoice to see them receive the same heavenly reward as I do!

 

 

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

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone