Monthly Archives: October 2009

10.30.09 Friday Insights from Darren Lippe

An “article” on archaeology noted the recent discovery of the following text exchange from circa 33 A.D:

SID:  Peter, I’m glad you’ve asked Miracle Consulting Company for our input on the launch of your new product line.  I have to catch the 5:05 caravan to Jericho, so let’s just knock around the bare bones of your plan.

PETER:  Fine by me, but it isn’t a new product line.  We just want to tell others about the good news of Jesus Christ.

SID:  Check.  What would be your mission statement?

PETER:  To go & make disciples of all nations, to baptize them in the name of God, to teach them to obey everything Jesus taught us.

SID:  All nations?  Even Samaria? 

PETER:  Yes. Man-made borders & divisions can’t limit God’s love.

SID:  Sounds ambitious!  What are you looking at for your media buys?

PETER:  We are planning on just using “word of mouth” as our advertising plan.

SID:  Really?  For an international launch?  O-k-a-y.  Tell me about your staff: education levels, experience, status in the community, international backgrounds, language skills, whatever you got.

PETER:  We have 11 dedicated staff members.  Education is probably considered lacking, very little formal schooling.  Status is minimal.  They aren’t well known in their communities.  No international experience.  Language background is very sketchy.  They are mostly from the Galilee area & haven’t traveled much.

SID:  For such an aggressive push, their credentials are a tad ordinary.  Hang on I’m going through security.

SID:  Okay, I’m back.  Tell me about your support budget:  backroom staff, expense accounts, employee benefit plans, commission/bonus budgets, the works!

PETER:  We have no budget.  The 11 of us will simply go & tell others about Christ & get by as best as we can.  We have no expense budgets.  While we will enjoy the Fruits of the Spirit, no formal benefit plan.  We aren’t on commission, but we know our reward awaits us in heaven.

SID:  Wow!  You & your team must really be dedicated!  Listen Peter they are about to pull away the stairs from my donkey so I’ll probably get cut off.  Here’s my quick take:  Are you a praying man, Peter?

PETER:  Definitely.

SID:  Then here’s what you do:  pray to God for His help.  Without Him, there is NO way this is going to work.  I know you are impulsive, but you can’t really expect to get your message out with this rag-tag operation & shoestring budget.  I’d limit your push to the Galilee area, set quotas of 10 believers/month & then maybe set up a satellite campus in Nazareth.  With any luck, in a couple of thousand years you might be able to create a small market niche in Northern Israel.

PETER:  Thanks for your input.  I think we’ll follow our original plan.  With God, nothing is impossible. 

SID:  I hear you.  Thanks for using Miracle Consulting Company.  As our slogan states, “If you like our advice, it’s a miracle!”  Let’s do lunch next week.  [SID has signed off.]

Darren Lippe co-leads the “Loving God” Learning Community at The Church of the Resurrection.

10.29.09 Thursday Insights by Pastor Penny Ellwood

I recently attended a team training session for a mission trip I plan on taking this fall with the church.  If you have not taken a mission trip with Church of the Resurrection, one of the assignments in preparation for a trip is to construct your personal faith story and then be prepared to tell it within a three to four minute time frame.  This way each person is be prepared if someone asks him or her on the trip to offer a personal “testimony.”  For experience has proven that these personal testimonies can have a profound impact on people and situations during a trip.

Now, as a pastor, it is not unusual that I am asked to give my testimony, but rarely am I limited to a three-minute timeframe.  Although, I’m sure there are some who wished they had placed a time limit on my story!  As I prepared my abbreviated story, I found this exercise to be very helpful.  It forced me to organize my story, to subtract all the extraneous details and to really think about what was important in my commitment to Christ, so that I could tell it succinctly.

As 1 Peter 3:15 reminds us, we should always be ready to explain what we believe, not just when we’re planning a mission trip.  The reality is we step into a mission field everyday when we leave our homes and, in most situations, we may only have a three-minute window to make a difference in another person’s life by offering our witness.  

I want to encourage you to think about writing down your story so that the next time someone asks you at the water cooler why your faith or your church is so important to you, you have a 3-minute response all prepared.  It may be the only opportunity you get.

Here are a couple of suggestions that the Mission team gave us to consider when writing our story:

  • Central theme of life struggles
  • Appropriate Scripture verse
  • Attention-getting story or phrase
  • Story outline:  

                  My life before knowing Christ; 
                  The way I came to Christ or fully committed to Him; 
                  My life after receiving Christ

When you get your story worked out, I’d love to hear it sometime.

10.28.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Russell Brown

Over and over again in Jesus’ ministry we see examples of what scholars call, “the great reversal.” As a way of demonstrating God’s abiding compassion for those at the bottom rungs of society, Jesus exalts them and grants them positions of favor. Women – who in the time of the first century were considered less than second class citizens – were given places of honor and authority in Christ’s ministry. Tax collectors – barred from entering the Temple due to their  status as traitors and “unclean” in the eyes of devout religious leaders – found themselves called by Jesus into his inner circle. It is as if Jesus is trying in every way he can imagine to say to the world around him (and to us), “The things you consider valuable and the things God considers valuable are often quite opposite each other.”

This verse is another great example of that same kind of reversal. But it serves two purposes for that original audience. First, it serves as an exhortation to early Christians to follow the example Jesus established and to devote their efforts to raising up the downtrodden. If indeed God’s business is to comfort the afflicted, that should stand as the primary task of God’s church also.

Secondarily the writer is very intent to encourage the community of believers themselves. This passage seems to be addressed to a community of believers who have struggled recently and encountered difficult passages in their ministry, perhaps facing rejection at every turn. When the writer speaks to them about Jesus being misunderstood and rejected, he is encouraging them to stand firm whenever they are misunderstood or rejected. How could you not possibly be encouraged when your spiritual mentor writes a letter in which he declares that you are, “… a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”

We are challenged as we read this passage to reflect the very values that Jesus lived by. We are challenged to be the faithful believers who see intrinsic worth in every human being. We are challenged to be those who advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. We are challenged to welcome “the last, the least, the lost” with open arms into our community. And finally we are challenged to turn the values of society on their head and prepare to be misunderstood and even ridiculed.

The question is: are we up to the challenge?

10.27.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Scott Chrostek

One of the questions posed in today’s GPS guide really hit home for me today.  “When, if ever, have you had a sense of being so caught up in God’s mission that you almost hated to stop and eat?”  Eating is something I love to do – I have lots of favorite foods, some that are good for me and others that, well, aren’t that nutritious.  In fact, I enjoy going out for dinner, or for a cup of coffee, but sometimes there feels like there truly is too much to do to take time to eat.  When we begin our day, we do so with the best intentions – we pack our lunch, bring it to the office, drop it in the fridge, but by the time 3 o’clock rolls around we’re so entrenched in something that we can’t pull ourselves away and truth be told, we’ve completely lost our appetite. But the reality is, we can only go for so long before suddenly before things slow down just for a bit, and  our adrenaline wears off and hunger sets in.

The times when I forget about eating are usually the times when I’m so focused on someone other than myself that my own needs are put aside.  And I believe that giving is usually more rewarding than receiving, because there is something amazing about pouring yourself out so that others can reap the benefits.  And the energy that you get, the fuel for continuing on, flows.  But, ultimately, there comes a time when we have given so much that we have to take time to care for ourselves.  We can only pour ourselves out for so long before we need to replenish what has been depleted.  It’s always a balance – finding things that we are so passionate about that we can push ourselves to the limits so that we can live into them, but at the same time stepping back and looking at all that God has done through us, giving thanks, and taking time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  So, as you continue on through the day – be aware that there will be times when you toil in the ground and don’t see anything come to fruition, there are other days when you are so overcome with experiencing the blessings and witnessing the fruit of your labor that time flies by, and still other times when it is simply just good to take a step back and enjoy the view.  Whatever state you find ourself in this day – know that in all of them there is glory, for each step is necessary.

10.26.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

Jesus does not expect anything of Zacchaeus before he comes to visit his house. Jesus sees Zacchaeus in the tree and tells him that he is coming to stay at his house. This is not a question or an option for Zacchaeus. Jesus is coming to his home.

Zacchaeus welcomes Jesus into his home. In response to the people or perhaps just in response to Jesus presence in his life, Zacchaeus exhibits change in his life by radically adjusting the way that he practices his every day work. He gives half of his possessions to the poor and will pay back all that he has cheated and more.


Jesus presence brings change in Zacchaeus’ life and Zacchaeus begins to transform the community through his actions.

I believe that this story continues to be told today. Jesus presence changes lives – yours and mine. Together we rethink what it means to be the church and are sent out in service to the world.

10.23.09 Friday Insights from Darren Lippe

This is a verse that never fails to be a “speed bump” in my reading of the gospel of Matthew.  In the midst of the greatest sermon ever offered, Jesus plainly tells His followers, “You are the light of the world.”  Whoa!  This is compelling because we know that Jesus also states on several other occasions in the gospels that He “is the light of the world.”  Jesus is deliberately including you & me in this jaw-dropping designation. (My faded A&W Restaurant “Employee of the Month” certificate now seems kind of lame in comparison, but I’m still keeping it on my wall.)

Now, some might be tempted to think this is an empty compliment to merely flatter His listeners.  However, Christ makes this statement in the midst of an incredible passage as He lays out His message & ministry.  The context for this declaration demands serious consideration.  So what might Jesus be saying here?

Let’s consider a hypothetical example.  Let’s pretend that we are part of a small group or Bible Study.  The weather is cold & dreary.  We might be reluctant to attend one of the gatherings.  We might be tempted with the idea that, “you know, I’ve covered some of this stuff before” or “I probably won’t get much out of it.” 

But, what if this little band of believers isn’t just about you?  (Gulp.)  What if your attendance at this particular gathering on this particular day is your opportunity to be the “light of the world” to someone else in the group?  What if your unique perspective or amazing life experience might be of great import to someone else quietly struggling in his or her faith?  What if your presence or one of your comments provides great illumination to one of His children who are desperately seeking guidance, assurance or peace?

Perhaps we shouldn’t look at worship, singing in the choir, participating in a small group, helping out in FaithWork, guiding a Sunday school class, joining in a Late Night Men’s group, attending a Thursday Live gathering, soaking in the information of an Alpha class, being part of Financial Peace University, or meeting in a Disciple Bible Study as some sort of obligation.  Perhaps we should look at each & every gathering as an incredible opportunity to not only be blessed, but to be a blessing to one of our brothers or sisters in Christ.

I recall the weekly bulletin from my church from my childhood.  On the front page it listed the Pastors & Ministers of our church.  Below the word “Pastors” our 3 clergy were listed.  Below the word “Ministers” was printed the phrase, “all the members of our church.”   I think this is what Jesus’ hope is for His followers & believers.  Can you imagine the great glow on Christ’s face as He proudly states, “I told you that you would be the light of the world!”  Now THAT would be worthy of framing!

Darren Lippe serves as co-leader of the “Loving God” Learning Community at The Church of the Resurrection.

10.22.09 Thursday Insights from Pastor Wendy Chrostek

Reading this passage brings back memories.  It was a little over a year ago when Scott and I had the privilege of taking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and on the morning after we arrived, our first stop was to visit Joppa, the city where Tabitha was raised.  As I was looking back through my pictures I came across one of me standing in front of someone’s door in this ancient city.  When I saw it, it struck me that this door was so much more than just a pretty background for a picture; this door led into someone’s home, into a place where meals were eaten, where wounds were bandaged, and where tears of joy were shed.  This door led into a home where memories were made and lives were shared.

This door might be a bit older than the doors into our homes, but like this one, they lead to a place where the church can be found.  You see, when Christianity began, there weren’t buildings designed specifically for Christian worship, but instead people opened up their homes to one another so that could hear and share the gospel.  The church, this amazing group of people who had heard the good news of Jesus Christ, shared their experiences and encouraged one another in the faith in the places where they lived.  And just as they opened up their homes to be a place where the church gathered, so too can we allow our homes to be a place where we can find the body of Christ. We are privileged to have a sacred space to gather together for worship and to come together to be filled for the days and weeks ahead, but we shouldn’t ignore the opportunities we have to meet with one another in our homes, share our lives with family and friends, and grow in our faith together.

What if we remembered that church isn’t necessarily a place, but instead a people?  Then church would keep going long after people left worship on Saturday or Sunday. Church would extend into every moment of every day of our lives – through the doors of our homes, into the cubicles of our offices, and across the desks of our schools.  So, the question is, are you willing to open the door and invite someone in to experience how their life might be transformed by the church?

The miracle that happened in Joppa so long ago is but one of the many stories of people’s lives that have been changed by the church…it is my prayer that you’ll be able to add your own story to this ever growing list.

10.21.09 Wednesday Insights by Pastor Nicole Conard

As you may know, our church defines for us that we are on a faith journey. In the narthex of the West Building, we read  20- inch letters stating: “Our Journey: Knowing, Loving and Serving God.”  On our journey of faith, each day we grow in knowledge, love and service to God.  We pray that our hearts will be transformed, our minds renewed so that we can be in service to the world.  We commit to this journey when we become members of the church (like at last night’s Coffee with the Pastor) or when we are baptized (like 37 people were this weekend) and each and every day  in our walk of faith. Today’s Scripture reminds of us of this journey. 

Paul begins Romans 12 with two verses I would highly recommend memorizing.  Romans 12:1-2″ Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is true worship. Do not conform to the patter of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Paul reminds us that our response to God is to offer ourselves to God.  We give God who we are and pray that God will use us throughout each day.  We do this through a morning prayer and/or this time right now, as you are reading your GPS.  This is an act of worship and loving God.     

Paul encourages us to be tranformed by the renewing of our mind.  This is part of what you are doing now as you make a habit of reading the GPS.  You are renewing your mind with Scriptures. You may also be doing this as you are reading the gospel of Mark, along with our 3rd graders,  who received Bibles this past weekend in worship.  Reminding yourself of who God is and the life God desires for us to live is knowing God.

Finally, we serve God. Paul shares that we are one body but have many members.  We have different gifts that we can serve.  Gifts are attributes, qualities and interests that we have that we enjoy doing. When we use our gifts, we find great joy and a sense of purpose.  God gives us gifts -things that we are good at – so that we can use them to make a difference in this world.  Sometimes we can claim these gifts as things we are good at and forget that it is God who gave these natural abilities to us. Or  we can think we don’t have much to offer or do not know our gifts. Know that you do indeed have gifts.

You can also take a few moments today and print out a 4-page inventory to find out your spiritual gifts here.   My small group is getting ready to start a study discovering our spiritual gifts entitled “Serving from the Heart” from Resurrection’s bookstore, the Well.  You can encourage your small group to start this study as well.  If you do not have a small group and want to participate in this study, there are resources online to find out more about your spiritual gifts here.   

Each day may we grow in our journey to know, love and serve God each day.

10.20.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Funny how our culture is always telling us to change–change the car we drive, the restaurants we eat at, the tv shows we watch, the job, the bank, the trash bags, the mattress, the computer, the shoe insoles, etc. etc.–yet our churches have become places where people carry the banner “this is the way we’ve always done it.”  Have you ever been to one of those churches?  Where the sacred cows have become, well, sacred?

There are also the kind of churches that may not be averse to institutional change but rarely suggest that individuals have any changing to do–you know, the “come as you are,” you are accepted for who you are, Jesus loves us just like we are so let’s stay this way kind of churches that ask and expect nothing from people professing to follow Jesus.

The reality is, the church is all about change–we are called to be changed as people following Jesus and we are expected and empowered to change the world.  To me, that’s what Paul is writing about in Ephesians 3 and 4.  He knows that he has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit at work, and he is enabled to do any good that he does through the grace and power of God.  Because of Jesus, we change; we become different by his grace.

And if the church is not a building, a denomination, or a worship service, but the church is the people of God… then as we are changed and transformed into these people in whom “Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith” and are “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” then surely the world around us begins to change.

What if church was a verb?  If we are being transformed, changed into the likeness of Jesus Christ, how can church not be a verb?  The whole world is changing one person at a time, and it begins with you and me.  So let’s stop listening to the “you need to change the toothpaste you use” and begin allowing God to change us so that we really might be able to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”  That’s the kind of church I’m interested in.

Rev. Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor of Resurrection’s West Campus in Olathe and can be reached at

10.19.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

God’s promise to Abram is one of the passages of scripture that help shape my life as a Christian. God’s promise to Abram includes promised blessings, but more importantly includes a promise that all people will be blessed through him. I understand my call to a life of faith in which I am called to offer myself in service to others. I am called to know, love and serve God and grow toward perfect love of God and neighbor.

God’s promise to Abram does not promise any particular benefit for Abram other than the promise to be blessed. There is no promise for great wealth, wisdom or a comfortable life. My natural instinct is to wish for a few of those things for myself. However, this is not what God promises for us.

To be blessed by God is more than enough for me.