Monthly Archives: June 2010

6.30.10 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Today we read about the 6th and 7th day of creation.  In the rhythm of the first creation story, we read about God creating humankind.  I enjoy reading these words in the rhythm in which they are written.  There is a type of cadence that follows in the creation story.  Read selected verses from the passage again…slowly and hearing this rhythm.  

God said: “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.  So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:26-27

God saw everything that he had made and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day.” – Genesis 1:31

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. ” – Genesis 2:1-3

 As I slowly read the story in cadence, I heard three things to ponder today.

1- There is a rhythm of life that God has set forth for us.  In order to get a God-sized perspective on life, we need to pay attention to the patterns all around us.  I am reminded of going to Western Kansas and seeing the sun rise and set.  The rhythm of the day continues no matter what. We are a part of this rhythm.  This is good to remember today.   

2. Each of us are created in the image of God. This affects how we see ourselves and other people.  This is a biblical concept that really transforms how we see ourselves and each other.  A great concept to ponder.

3.  Rest.  On the 7th day, God rested. One of the 10 commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy, also meaning for us to rest.  Wayne Mueller has a great book entitled Sabbath – that helps us keep this rhythm of rest in our lives. Resting and keeping Sabbath helps us find life.

So today, may we find a rhythm to our day, remember we are made in the image of God and find moments of rest. Enjoy your day!

Finding this rhythm in our life is so important for us to find life. Today focus on one of these ways to find God’s perspective in life.

6.29.10 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

***Due to error, this is not the December 14, 2010 GPS Insights entry. To read the entry for December 14 by Pastor Molly Simpson, click here. We apologize for any inconvenience and our error.

On day 5 of the creation narrative, God fills the sky and the seas with living creatures.  It is these creatures that seem so amazing to me, probably because they are so different than humans and so many of the animals that live on land.  Didn’t everyone as a child imagine having superhero powers that would allow them to fly?  And I distinctly remember swimming the length of the pool, holding my breath for as long as possible, thinking it would be so cool to be a fish (or even better a mermaid) and be able to stay underwater for as long as I wanted.

To me, the creatures of the sea and the sky remind me that we, as humans, are not the center of the universe, and there are vast portions of this created world that we never fully experience.  Even donning a mask, fins, and tank of compressed air will only take highly trained divers  a couple of hundred feet below the surface.  The depths of the seas, the vastness of the sky, and the multitude of creatures that inhabit these realms remind me just how beautifully expansive and diverse the world really is.  And in light of all this, to know that the God who created it all formed me in the very image of God and loves me personally, individually… well, that’s just pretty amazing.

What realizations do you stumble upon when reading the creation account?

6.28.10 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I really appreciate the questions from the Grow. Pray. Study. Guide today in reference to the first few verses of the Bible. I majored in Biology in college and have considered how to mashup the latest science about origins of the universe and the stories of the scripture. The Bible was not written like a textbook, however it does tell the truth about the beginning of all things. As Dr. Briscoe points out, this passage clearly identifies who created all things. I am less concerned about the particular mechanics of creation than saying with certainty that God the Father of Jesus Christ created all things.

God created all things and through God’s continued sustenance the world and all that is in it continues to exist. In the midst of a good creation, there are things that aren’t ideal – natural disasters, accidents, etc. However, for example, to wish that there was a world in which hurricanes didn’t devastate communities is to wish for a world in which there are not ocean and air currents that sometimes connect for disastrous consequences. This is to wish for a world that doesn’t exist and is not the one that God created.

While I am not always able to make sense of what happens in life, I know that God is faithful and will provide sustenance in the midst of difficulty. Finally, God wins, love wins over hate and good over evil. In this confidence and hope, I live in God’s good creation. How will you live today?

6.26.10 Saturday Insights from Julie Peters

As I pondered last week’s message and the GPS readings this week, especially todays reading from 1 Peter 4:8-11, I was reminded just how amazing it is that God wires each of us so uniquely, gifts us each with a unique combination of gifts, takes the unique circumstances of each of our lives, and weaves all of this together to use for God’s unique purposes in the world.

My story contains a bit of a different look at gifts.  I was one of those “weird” kids when I was growing up.  I seemed to be wired a little differently than most and really didn’t want to be stuck in a box or labeled by anyone.  On top of that, I had an extremely tough childhood with many challenges, including an alcoholic father, abuse, neglect, and the list goes on. I was often passed by, left out and dismissed by others.  People in my life didn’t model what it meant to follow Christ and share God’s love and hope with others.  I did have gifts and talents, though, and I learned to use them creatively to get my needs met in a world that had beat me up and left me for dead.  When I say gifts, I mean that people would tell me that I was wise beyond my years, and that I had unique insight to see problems and provide creative solutions, and also that I could figure out how to get anyone to see things my way.  So, my gifts developed, but I was using them in ways that worked against God’s best plan for my life and the lives of those around me.

As a young adult, I started looking for more meaning in life, and stumbled across Jesus and began my journey toward healing and following Christ and serving others. I soon began to refer to being “weird” as being “unique” and began to really embrace it and own it.

The really cool thing about it is that once I surrendered my life and will to God and asked God to fill me and guide me by the Spirit, things began to make sense.  In God’s hands, my gifts were made new and brought to life to be used by God to reach out and serve others.  My natural gifts had been a shadowy glimpse of the spiritual gifts that God had intended for me.  The gifts that people had always pointed out in me became spiritual gifts of wisdom, discernment, shepherding, and other gifts that don’t even neatly fit into categories.  I came to understand that my unique wiring, my unique gifts, and my unique circumstances could be used in specific ways in God’s best plan for my life.

Much more profoundly, God began using me in the lives of those around me–but only after I surrendered my will and committed to following Christ. God didn’t let one bit of my challenging and broken childhood go to waste, either.  God began to use me in the lives of young people who were struggling in life.  I was drawn into God’s work of love and redemption in the lives of others.  And it turns out that God had uniquely wired and gifted me to be led by the Spirit in each unique setting.  I don’t regret my past or anything in it. Instead I celebrate the fact that God claimed every last bit of it, called me into ministry to young people, and allows me to serve authentically and from the heart of who I was created to be.  What an amazing God we serve, that we are created with unique wiring and gifting and then as we seek meaning, God’s awesome story intersects with each of our lives and stories, and becomes a unique display of God’s love and redemption for a hurting world.

Julie Peters serves as Associate Director of Student Ministries at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

6.25.10 Friday Insights from Darren Lippe

Today’s reading helps remind us that in the course of our faith journey we’ll probably encounter 3 different types of “helpers” & advisors:  Discouragers, “Whatever-ers,” & Encouragers.  Let’s take a quick glance at what these folks might look like.

Discouragers can come in a variety of forms.  In the workplace, we might have managers who are reluctant to praise or promote workers for fear of the adverse impact it will have on themselves.  Early in my career, I encountered a manager who contended that I couldn’t be promoted because I was too valuable to the firm in my current position.  He acknowledged that I was qualified & that the promotion & the accompanying prestige would be beneficial for my career arc.  He just didn’t want the hassle of the learning curve as he trained someone to take my place.  Frustrated, I was tempted to turn in my brown visor & orange shirt.  I’d already mastered the fryers in 4 short weeks (Yes, I was something of a prodigy.) & I could only imagine what I would do with the accompanying $0.10/hour raise that came with the title of “grill man.”  Fortunately, I’m no longer bitter about my experience at A&W restaurant.

We can face such discouragement in our faith walk as well.  Perhaps we are considering taking a Disciple class.  A friend or loved one’s response might be, “Really?  I hear you have to read a lot of the Bible.”  (Aside:  A Bible study that has you actually read the Bible?  Eek!  That would be like joining a gourmet club & being shocked to learn that you are expected to eat.)  Or maybe we are considering a mission trip.  A friend or loved one’s response might be to provide a detailed list of all the logistical hurdles that need to be overcome.  The old adage, “The longest journey begins with a single step,” doesn’t even begin to apply to these folks.  Before we even hit the trailhead, they are busy distracting us with questions about maps, supplies, the height of the hills, the heat (or the cold), & the lack of comfortable walking shoes.  We need to be cautious that we don’t become an inadvertent discourager to someone’s faith journey.

The 2nd group of folks is the “whatever-ers.”  These folks provide such a tepid endorsement that it is of no help or use at all.  We know how these people sound.  “Well, you can join in the Alpha class if you really want to.”  Or “you have your Men’s group meeting tonight?  I thought you’d pick up Jezebel from dance class.” Or perhaps, “that Beth Moore study is sure taking a lot of your free time.”  These folks never actually say “no,” but they also never really say “yes.”  We need to be cognizant of how our innocent sounding comments can hinder our friends & loved ones on their faith walk.

The final group of folks emulate Paul’s example from today’s scripture.  We can be forgiven if we have viewed Paul as somewhat of a curmudgeonly taskmaster.  But today’s reading presents for us a picture of a Paul who is compassionate, caring, & willing to go the extra mile to help his friend.  He doesn’t discourage Epaphroditus from returning home.  He doesn’t say, “If you really think it is a good idea, go ahead.”  He actively encourages him to return.  He writes a reference letter filled with powerful words & images testifying to Epaphroditus’ character & value to Paul.  Did Epaphroditus’s departure provide hardship for Paul?  Undoubtedly.  Yet, he didn’t hesitate to heartily endorse his decision.

What if we were to mimic Paul?  What if, for example, we were to bless our wife by eagerly handling the dinner & household chores on the evening her women’s group meets?  What if we were to bless our husband by saying, “Of course you can attend the Men’s Retreat.  It will be the top priority that weekend.”  When a friend or colleague asks about church, instead of saying, “you ought to check out Resurrection,” we say, “I’d love to have you join me this weekend & we can grab a cup of coffee after church.” 

When I facilitate a Disciple class or Journey 101 class, I often receive gracious thanks for my commitment & sharing my time.  I try to make a point each time, to say thank you to my wife, Doris, for her un-failing & guilt-free encouragement that freed up this time.  Perhaps we need to tweak the old adage & re-state it:  “One’s faith journey begins with a single step, with an encouraging friend in Christ by your side.”

6.24.10 Thursday Insights from Pastor Penny Ellwood

We’ve heard it said that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. It’s easy to agree when we like the plan and it’s going our way. 
But sometimes, God’s plan turns out to be different than what we were thinking. You come home to discover that your wife is expecting when neither of you had intentions of having any more children. Or maybe you have a job that you really like and your boss tells you, “We have to make cuts and we’re going to have to let you go.”

Or your wife says, “I’ve found someone else, and I want a divorce.” Or the doctor calls back with the test results that you don’t want to hear. Sometimes, God’s plan is different than what we were expecting.

The same thing was true of the Jewish people in Jeremiah 29. The Babylonians had attacked Jerusalem and taken 3000 prisoners back to Babylon, including the king, the court officials, and the craftsmen. And the Jews were saying “This isn’t supposed to happen to us! We’re the chosen people!” 

Then, God surprisingly commands the exiles to build homes, to plant gardens, to see to the marriages of their children, and to seek the peace of their cities.  To make the most of their lives and to even seek the prosperity of their enemies.   Jeremiah’s assures them that God is working behind the scenes in the hearts and in the lives of the Jewish people, even though they can’t see it.

God’s plan isn’t always what we thought it was going to be. But Jeremiah 29:11 gives us assurance when our way seems uncertain. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Even if we don’t understand it at the time. Even if we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if we would never have chosen this path for ourselves. God has plans for us and will see us through.  These words give us hope and encourage us to persevere when the way is uncertain.

6.23.10 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Russell Brown

There are many things in Jesus life and ministry that challenge me at a personal level. I am challenged by the totality of his devotion to God, by his inborn ability to see clear through to the heart of each person he meets, and by the fierce energy of his pace just to name a few. As a pastor I am perhaps most challenged by Jesus’ humility.

We see it graphically displayed in this narrative – offered only in John’s gospel – of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. In this singular act we see something much grander than Jesus demonstrating a “better way” for people to relate to one another. As he stoops at the feet of each disciple, carrying his pitcher of water, his basin, and towel, it is as if Jesus is saying to his disciples – and to you and me – “this is what my mission on earth is all about.”

A little over two months ago, my wife Joan and I moved into a new house in Overland Park. One of the big differences between this house and the last one is that the other one had a fenced back yard and a dog door cut into the wall. Whenever our dogs needed to go outside and do what dogs do, they just hopped up from their nap and exited by the dog door. After being outside for a little while, they came back in… all on their own accord and schedule.

Recently I found myself at the dining room table working intently on something, not really paying any attention to anything happening in the world around me. Suddenly I realized that our older dog, Kirby, had been sitting at my feet, looking intently up into my eyes for quite a long time. “Hmmm,” I said to myself. “I wonder what the deal is with Kirby?” and went right back to my project. He then walked over to the back door, sat down by it, (looking directly at me) and then came back to my side. Finally I figured out that Kirby was trying to tell me that he wanted to go outside.

So I got up and let him out.


The point is, there were two choices of perspective available to me in that moment, as there are to each of us in each moment we live. We can either live with our attention devoted exclusively to ourselves and our activities, or we can attune to the needs of others. Other people finally – as Kirby had to do – find they need to speak louder and wave their hands in our face to get our attention. But the message of Jesus and the foot basin is the message that speaks the loudest of all… “open your eyes and your heart and see your neighbor in need. And then go to serve them. Period.”

How will we live today? Focused on ourselves? Or, by the example of Jesus, focused on the needs of those around us? Let us ask God to change our hearts to see and serve others. AMEN.

6.22.10 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Scott Chrostek

When I think about the last supper, I don’t think about death typically.  Instead I picture, Jesus gathered together with his dearest friends, around the dinner table, reclining in the comfort of companionship.  I like to think that they shared stories and laughter just like any of us would. I mean after all they were just like us.  They were friends…and whenever friends get together, no matter what’s going on around them, no matter what’s going on in life, when you sit down at the table to share a meal with friends, you’ll always find laughter.  You’ll find joy.  You’ll share stories, you’ll experience comfort, you’ll discover new life.  I think that had to be the case with Christ as well.  He was at the table with his friends.

And so there they were, Jesus and the disciples out for dinner in the River Market, or in the living room at the Power and Light.  And then it happens…

“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”

The very next word Jesus utters to his friends is this…

‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ 23Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. 24He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the* covenant, which is poured out for many.”

By this point, it becomes clear that this meal is a little different than the meals they shared before. The disciples began to panic, wondering which among them is greatest, struggling over who is the betrayer, and then Jesus, Jesus their fearless leader, takes over with his grace. Jesus welcomes the weight of the world upon himself.  In fact, he orders it up for the whole table.  He peruses the menu and asks the wait staff to bring out all the heavy stuff.  “I’ll have the surf and turf with a side of all of humanity’s sin, for a starter. For the entree we’ll enjoy the best betrayal you’ve got, along with all the wisdom in the world, all the misunderstanding, all the violence, the anger, the injustice, give us everything you have, and put it on me…lay it on me thick.  Rest assured, I can take it.”

“And then for dessert, would you please fill my friends with the amazing byproduct?  Give them my broken body, my shed blood.  Give them everything I have, all of my love, mercy, and grace just so they might know my forgiveness and in turn be free to live and laugh like children all of their days.  Put it all on me that they might in turn have my strength, my hope, and my life in them.  That they might follow me by giving everything they have to those around them.”

At the Last Supper, while sitting at a table with his friends, Jesus, the Son of God, considered himself a dead man.  So he speaks of his body broken, blood poured out, and other subjects regarded as indelicate at a dinner table.  He says to his dear friends, “This meal will not be free.  All the forgiveness and all the love in this little room is going to cost somebody something terrible.”  Then with his typical generosity Jesus says, “Check.”

As they were sitting around the table, the disciples had been asking who is the greatest among us?  As Jesus picked up the tab, in the days that followed, I think, they found their answer.

6.21.10 Monday Insights from Pastor Steven Blair

Define “Power.”  What do you mean when you call a person “powerful?”  Most definitions describe power along the lines of “having the ability to get what you want.”

A person with power is a person who can obtain products and services that they want.  They can make other people do things out of respect for their power.  Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be the king.”  The reason being that a king has the ability to get what they want.  Knowing this, James and John, sons of Zebedee, ask Jesus to sit beside him as Jesus’ most immediate leaders.  They knew that “it’s good to be the king’s closest allies.”

But Jesus defines power differently.  Gentiles define power as having the ability to get what you want.  “Instead, whoever wants to be great must become a servant of all.”

Servant of all.

No one wants to be considered weak. No one wants to be unable to get what they want.  We all want to be powerful in some way.  Christ challenges James, John and each of us to examine what it means to be powerful.  We have two definitions to choose from:

The World’s definition
pow-er [pou-er] = having the ability to get what you want

Jesus’ definition
pow-er [pou-er]= having the ability to get others what they need

We are each more powerful than we imagined.  With Jesus as King anyone who serves sits at his left and his right, the place of greatest honor in the Kingdom.

In what ways have you used power recently according to the world’s definition?

How does this Scripture help you understand your power and meaning in this world?

What sign of power can you show this week?  How can you flex your muscles?

Rev. Steven Blair serves as Pastor of Congregational Care (M-R) at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

6.19.10 Saturday Insights from Brent Messick

In the Hebrews passage, we read how the heroes of faith accomplished wonderful things for God’s kingdom, and they also suffered greatly, including poverty, persecution, and even death.  But the last two verses particularly struck me.  They say that these heroes of faith were all commended for their faith, but they did not receive what had been promised.  God had planned something better for them and us.

As William Barclay states in his commentary, “All these died before the final unfolding of God’s promise and the coming of his Messiah into the world.  It was as if God had arranged things in such a way that the full blaze of his glory should not be revealed until we and they could enjoy it together….That is the faith which gave you your religion.  What can you do except be true to a heritage like that?”

Recently, I have been blessed to become a first-time grandfather.  As I am writing this blog, my new grandson, Jack, is four weeks old.  At first, I was hesitant about being a “grandpa.” But ever since I held that new born baby who is my son’s son, I realized that it is not about me. Rather, this miracle of life is a small reflection of God’s glory. It makes me appreciate that we are all here because of God’s glory, and how much greater things will be when his full glory is revealed.

To me, Jack is our own little hero of faith. I hope and pray that he will grow up to be a man of God and a blessing to others. I also hope that I will be blessed to be able to spend many years with Jack and my other grandchildren to come. But the ultimate hope I have is in the Resurrection and to experience what God has promised us all.

Brent Messick serves as Managing Executive Director/CFO at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.