Monthly Archives: March 2011

Thursday 3.31.11 Lenten Reflection by Ann Carter

Ann Carter has been a member of The Church of the Resurrection for eight years. She serves in the Bless the School ministry, at the Hope Center, and in the Christmas Joy in Service ministry.

I grew up with little direction, so anything I accomplished I had to do without help—or so I thought. I always had a deep commitment to Christ. During my seventh and eighth grade years, I would walk a mile to our little Catholic church (ironically named Resurrection) to sing at our Friday night Novena services, where there might be a dozen people, the priest, the organist and me. None of the rest of the choir ever came—I don’t know why it was so important to me to be there. I was on my own financially in college, had little contact with family, married after college, and worked and had kids. Through it all I knew Christ was there to talk to, but I never read the Bible, and just prayed sporadically.

Fifteen years ago we moved here and attended a Catholic church, but I felt something was missing. One Christmas, my husband suggested we attend Resurrection to hear Adam Hamilton speak. Adam’s views on our faith were different than any I ever heard. I was hooked. I began to volunteer and found out what a “church home” really meant. The congregation really welcomed everyone and taught a different way of life than I had ever known. As my faith deepened, I found a growing peace, became more accepting of myself and others, and had more love for my Savior. I also read the Bible and tried to apply it to my life.

The real awakening came one day when I was working on a project where I needed to get 150 people to go to West Bottoms to put together flood buckets. I was always willing to serve close to home, but was not interested in venturing to the inner city—even for an afternoon. As I stood at my kitchen counter wondering how to make this happen, I handed the project to God and said, “If you want this done, you will have to make it happen. I have no idea how to get 150 people to assemble flood buckets in West Bottoms.” At literally that moment, I received a call from a Resurrection staff member who said she needed a project for 50 people on the same afternoon we were to assemble this project. I could almost hear God laugh as he saw the amazement on my face. That was only the beginning of the deepening of my faith. I now know if it’s God’s will, he will get it done, and bless everyone who is along for the ride with him. And he continues to amaze me.

I know a peace now that I have never felt—the peace that comes from knowing no matter what, God is on my side.

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

Wednesday 3.30.11 Lenten Reflection by David Hill

During his two years of involvement at The Church of the Resurrection—Downtown, David Hill has been active in the Contemporary band and Prayer Team. He has also used his training and skill on medical missions to Mexico.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.” (1 Peter 1:3-6)

Lent is important to me. During this season I refocus my spiritual compass on Christ’s sacrifice for us. In that sacrifice, as the passage above says, I find hope and encouragement which recharge me spiritually for the year to come. My uncle Ashton taught me this process as he lived it daily. I think of him often, especially during Lent.

Ashton’s life was a struggle from the start. His umbilical cord wrapped around his neck at birth, starving his brain of oxygen and giving him Cerebral Palsy. All his life, his incredibly sharp mind struggled against a body that could not follow his commands. But the striking characteristic I remember about Ashton wasn’t his slurred speech, the patches of whiskers he missed when shaving, or the sporadic, sometimes violent movements of his body as he sat in his wheelchair. Instead, it was his consistently positive attitude, his love for life, his outwardly-focused mind, his refusal to complain about his physical limitations.

The source of my uncle’s joy was his faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, and the hope it brings. The evidence I offer is a long trail of tattered Bibles in my grandmother’s house, where he lived. They lay about the place, their pages crumpled, bent nearly beyond recognition from his distorted hands. To this day I remember watching him read the Bible. He couldn’t hold his head still, so each page took an eternity to read. It often took several attempts to turn a page, which slowed him even more. I sat there thinking, “Man, that book must be pretty important if he is going to that much trouble to read it (especially when there aren’t any pictures)!”

Uncle Ash asked me one day what I thought heaven was like. I was just a boy, so I talked about golden streets and shiny gem-covered buildings. He explained that heaven is an eternal place where we are showered by God’s love, free of the physical limitations of this world. Now, in my work as a physician, I often go back to that conversation with my patients who face chronic illness. I try to refocus their attention on a biblical view of eternity as an encouragement. I remind them that there are no wheelchairs in heaven.

I was away at school when I received the call that uncle Ash had passed away. It was numbing to think that I would never see him again. But the promise of the cross eclipsed the numbness. One particular Sunday afternoon came to mind: My dad, Ashton and I were watching the Dallas Cowboys on television. Dad asked Ashton, “Brother, what is the first thing you are going to do when you get to heaven?” Straining, my uncle turned his head. With much effort and a gleam in his eye, he said, “Run!”

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

Tuesday 3.29.11 Lenten Reflection by Holli Pearson

Holli Pearson has been at The Church of the Resurrection for ten years. She serves as a Women’s Ministry Bible study leader, and a member of the Women’s Prayer Board, and has written the prayer book Straight From the Heart: Prayers for Everyday Lives.

Right now, as I’m writing, my family is going through one of the hardest trials we have faced yet in our lives—and we have faced many. What has changed for us is that we are looking to Jesus Christ and His Word to sustain us, not panicking and not listening to the advice of the world. We have found that Jesus Christ is the peace that passes all our understanding (Philippians 4:7). We have learned that when we are weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). We are walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We are trusting God for the outcome, because we know from past experiences and God’s promises in His Word that He does bring something beneficial out of every circumstance (Romans 8:28).

For weeks my husband, I and my children were searching the scriptures daily for direction. Each day the same passage would speak to us: “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). “Wait.” Waiting is so very hard, especially when you want to act quickly and fix whatever is wrong. This was a very dark time, and we felt out of the light of God’s presence.

After about a month of praying, we went to our small group Bible study and told them all that we were going through. Quite succinctly, they offered wisdom for the situation in a way that we had never thought of. Immediately, God’s peace came over us and filled us with his presence. The road is still before us, but we feel the prayers of God’s people (our “stretcher bearers”) and we have God’s peace. We know we will be all right because we are trusting God, who loves us so, and he will guide us through. He is the Lord of our life.

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

Monday 3.28.11 Lenten Reflection by Tim Schaefer

In Tim Schaefer’s six years attending The Church of the Resurrection, he has taken part in Alpha, Journey 101 and Disciple Bible Study, and served as a job coach with Resurrection’s program to help unemployed church members. He currently leads a men’s small group.

I personally accepted Christ on December 5th, 2010, and have seen radical transformations in my life. I find that I no longer wish to “stand out” in terms of material possessions. God convicted me to ask my girlfriend to marry me, and that will be a great improvement to my life. (I struggled for a long time with the idea of making a commitment, after going through a harsh divorce 6 years earlier.) I have learned to focus on the “fruit of the spirit” (Galatians 5:22) in any person I meet, rather than being so focused on their accomplishments, looks or net worth. The biggest personal change is that my life now is focused more on what pleases God, and less on my own human needs.

As a member of a small group of men at COR, I have seen God work powerfully. Our small groups work on the principle of confidentiality, so I do not want to give out recognizable personal details about other group members. However, I can say that I have seen the sharing and guidance of a group member draw someone beyond his background to an acceptance of Christ. It’s pretty remarkable to see God’s power work through human beings in that way. I can also tell you that I’ve seen prayer and encouragement from the members of the group lift group members beyond fears and limitations that were affecting not only their personal life, but even their business life. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to help and encourage other men, and to receive support and confidence from them in return. I’m grateful God is at work in and through my group.

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

Sunday 3.27.11 Lenten Reflection by Cara Rinne

Cara Rinne has been a part of The Church of the Resurrection for eleven years. She serves as a small group leader, and also with the Christ’s Living Waters ministry.

Autism. The word had been lurking in the back of my mind for two years. With my training as a speech-language pathologist, I knew our son was exhibiting the classic symptoms. Still, the confirmation from a team of child-development professionals was gut wrenching. I don’t have words to describe the agony of knowing we have a “normal” child, and then overnight having to deal with the reality that he is not. What was happening to the big picture of our perfect life?

Have you ever wondered if God is saying, “Hey, look at MY big picture?” We humans have a hard time with this. The here and now, this moment in time—we try to look towards the future and plan, but sometimes our plans just fly out the window. No one asks for challenges in life, but God is always there with his light yoke to replace our heavy one. God is always willing to help pull us up by our bootstraps.

What has fallen out of place in your picture? A college rejection letter from your “perfect” college of choice? Loss of the job that will take you places? The “perfect” future spouse? God sent his son, Jesus, as a prime example. He had a big plan for his Son’s life, and Jesus knew it. But Jesus’ “big picture” can be summed up in one word….trust. God says he will not keep us from hurt and disappointment, but if we trust him, he will direct our paths. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Having a special-needs child has had lots of challenges, but we would never trade this experience. We now see God’s big picture for us differently. Our lives have been touched by people we have come across because of our son’s diagnosis. In return, we have been able to bless others with prayer, knowledge and friendship. So, take a step back, pray, and take a fresh look at the big picture of what God has in store for your life.

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

Saturday 3.26.11 Lenten Reflection by Ginny Kirsch

Ginny Kirsch serves as a small group leader at The Church of the Resurrection. She is also an active participant in a Christian Believer class.

My story begins in a Christian home in Western Pennsylvania where I attended Sunday School and Church religiously. Every church-related activity that fit my age group, I joined. Then I graduated from high school and went off to a church-related college. As time passed, my participation in church related activities diminished.

Now I entered the “wilderness.” I was truly out there lost and wandering, yet life seemed to be so good: good education, loving husband, perfect kids, lovely house, snazzy car and respectable career. Yet there was a hole in my heart that all my accomplishments could not fill.

Then it was 2002, years since I graduated from college, went to church on a regular basis or read the Bible. I had searched by looking at other religions and thoughts. I made the classic wanderer’s statement: “I am not religious, but I’m spiritual!” There wasn’t much content there–did I even know what I was saying or thinking?

My mother moved to Leawood to be closer to us. I needed to find her a church—she did go to church, and had all her life. So we began our search. On week two we visited The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. As soon as I opened my car door I heard, “Hi, Ginny. Welcome!” It was a past customer of mine. Then Susan Bell greeted us at the door, and I quickly told her we were looking for a church for my mother. She informed me that we had found THE church for her.

That was 2002, nine years ago. I’ve been to church every Sunday that I’ve been in town, and have only missed two sick Sundays. Mom joined the church right away, but not me. I went to Alpha to see what “you Christians” believe (as if I did not know!!!). Even though I stayed in the corner at Holy Spirit weekend, I have come to realize that the Holy Spirit was wooing me back home. Next I signed up for Disciple 1 Bible study to further understand Christianity. My leader was patient with my questions and encouraged my Bible reading and study habits. In the middle of the New Testament, I kept hearing “HURRY, HURRY” in my heart. SO I joined Resurrection in March of 2004, in the last group who joined before the church moved into the new sanctuary.

Accepting Christ as your Lord and Savior is an individual, personal decision. Once you make that decision, you become a member of a large body of believers—a community! This is a blessing that God had for me on my return home. The Holy Spirit filled that hole in my soul with the truth of Jesus Christ who reflects the overwhelming love of God, His Father and Father to me and all who believes in His Son.

I hope you embark on this journey if you are not already on it. Eternity starts today, and through Jesus Christ we can begin—or continue—on that glorious road.

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

Friday 3.25.11 Lenten Reflection by Jan Kessinger

Jan Kessinger, left, has been at The Church of the Resurrection for fifteen years. He has served as a small group leader and Disciple Bible Study leader, is involved in the prayer ministry, is a worship coordinator, and serves as a Congregational Care Minister.

My faith journey started on the Fourth of July when I was 18 months old. My mother put me onto a sleeping porch, away from firecrackers and rowdy kids outside.

My toddler curiosity helped me find an electrical cord my brother had rigged with two male ends. I put one end into my mouth and burned away half my lower lip, a hole the size of a silver dollar in my chin and the tip of my tongue. 

That Thanksgiving, in her newspaper column, my mother wrote:

“The baby’s progress is so remarkable the Thanksgiving has been postponed until May. The doctor commented, ‘We see many miracles of healing, some of which look like the answer to prayer.’

“It made us feel ashamed because our feeling of faith was often drowned out by our feeling of despair and sadness. 

“And, then we remembered those who told us and wrote notes, ‘We’ll be praying for you.”

I went through a series of operations over a 13-year period, and speech therapy for five years. 

In the hospital, I felt scared and alone. I also felt the power of a group of small people. I can still picture the get-well poster my Sunday school class made for me. As I stared at the poster, (my arms tied down so as not to tear out my stitches), I envisioned being with those children singing “Jesus Loves Me”.

I felt the presence of Christ in my life through a group of people who cared. 

When I visited the burn center when I was 15, the plastic surgeon again remarked, “Someone’s been praying for this child.” 

The surgeons were consistent giving credit to prayer.

While the recipient of many blessings, I failed to acknowledge how Christ worked in my life. I was always looking for something more.

As I grew older, I attended church, but made no commitment to Christ. I figured I was “Christian enough”. I had overcome my accident and thought I would be able to handle on my own anything life dished out. I got promoted, drove a little red convertible, soaked in my hot tub and thought about how great my life was. 

My life was pretty great, but it felt empty. Something was gnawing at me. Something was missing. 

“Religion” didn’t seem like the answer. I finally got back into the church-going habit “for the kids,” as many of us have done.  

However, that emptiness was still there. A friend suggested we visit her Bible study group. That sounded like the last thing I’d want to do. I didn’t have time; didn’t want to meet people “like that.” I needed excuses, and fast. I had business trips to take, sales to make, bills to pay, a house to fix up, I was going to grad school at night, and there were a hundred other things to do.  

I felt compelled to go anyway. It was worth it. I became transformed. In that study group, I found Christ alive, active and working to fill that void in my life that I felt, but could never identify. I found God alive and well. 

People looked to me, not for answers to business issues, but for prayer. I learned to pray for others. At first, that was hard for me to do. I learned to ask for prayers for myself, which was even harder for me to do. Spiritual growth includes receiving Christian love and fellowship as well as giving it. 

I found people accepting me – a struggling Christian seeking fellowship and love.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Everything old has passed away. See, everything has become new.” 

The plastic surgeon gave me a new face. But Christ gave me new life.

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

Thursday 3.24.11 Lenten Reflection by Jenni Mann

Jenni Mann has been a member of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection since 2007. She co-leads a small group of young adults at the church, and serves actively in the Beyond KC Missions Ministry.

In August 2005, the unthinkable happened: Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast. My co-worker and friend Eric and I both simultaneously found God calling us to serve the people affected by this devastating storm. In the spring of 2006, we traveled together with a Church of the Resurrection disaster relief team to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. It was there that we found our true passion in life, and began a journey of being God’s hands and feet in some of the most disaster-ridden areas in the United States and, eventually, Haiti. (We also got married in 2008.)

Mucking out houses full of black mold, tearing soaking wet insulation out of a ceiling and painting for eight hours a day, six days straight is not a glamorous job. We discovered, though, that it’s not the primary job God sent us to do.  

The thing we’ve learned from disaster relief is that life isn’t about the material things. Every time, we arrive in a community expecting to find beaten down, angry, depressed people who have seen their entire town obliterated by a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake or a wall of flood waters. Every time, we find instead people who are hopeful of a new beginning, grateful for another day of life and who have an unshaken faith in God. So often we try to fill the empty places in our hearts and souls with stuff, but when all of those possessions are torn away you’re left with nothing but your life and your faith. Who better to learn this lesson from than those who have experienced it first hand? So as we’re mucking and as we’re painting, we’re talking to these people who have seen the tornadoes, who have waded through the flood waters and who have seen the buildings around them collapse. We’re hearing the hope they have for a new home, the gratitude they feel for their family’s safety and the faith they have in God who has given them another day of life.

God sends us to listen to the survivors of these great disasters, and to bring that hope, that gratitude and that faith back home and share it with the people we care about. Our job isn’t to build a house or clear debris. It’s to love our neighbors and be the hands and feet of God.

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

Wednesday 3.23.11 Lenten Reflection by Lee Harizanoff

Lee Harizanoff leads an early-risers’ small group every Sunday morning at 7 a.m. She has been a member of The Church of the Resurrection for eleven years. She has also served in missions, Women’s Ministry, the Christ’s Living Water ministry, Disciple Bible study, Church of the Resurrection Foundation, and the Committee on Lay Leadership.

Birthdays are fun—cake, ice cream, presents. For my daughter, it meant she got to choose what we would do. On her seventeenth birthday she wanted to go to her favorite barbeque joint. Laughter peppered our lunch. Playfully I reminded her of the events of her birth, just as my mother did for me every year. Her senior year was just weeks away, so our conversation danced around class schedules, school wardrobe, homecoming dance, school supplies, and senior pictures. She looked forward to reaching the top of the pecking order, completing school, and moving into the next stage of life.

We headed home. My daughter’s dad was coming to take her for a week’s vacation. She gathered her things. I gave her a big hug, told her I loved her and we’d see each other in a week.

The carefree birthday celebration belied the past year’s family turmoil. Things had been tough, but I took pride in my ability to manage the dynamics to keep the peace. Then a phone call dispelled my delusion. Mid-week, my daughter’s dad told me that she wasn’t coming home unless I met certain demands. All my desperate attempts to “fix” things were rejected. 

This event sent me into the wilderness. My loss hurt to my soul’s depths. My life for 17 years had revolved around this child I loved so dearly. How did this happen? I had done everything for her. Where was God? I had baptized her, taken her to church, Sunday School, youth group, and ushered her through confirmation. I went to church, Sunday School, and women’s group. Why did this happen to me? But then, I guessed it was possible. God, I felt, was confirming that I wasn’t “good enough.” I had always had this sense deep inside. Now it seemed that God agreed. The thoughts of unworthiness, rejection, short-comings, and failure consumed me. I became lost in the darkness.

Months later, my husband suggested we go to New Mexico. We’d been twice, and I loved the blend of desert and mountains, the colors of nature, and the history of the native peoples. Reluctantly I agreed to go.

When in New Mexico I don’t plan minute-by-minute. I look through the state guide and see what “calls” me that day. I thrive on the area’s history and culture, especially various churches that trace the Spanish settlements. The adobe structures beckon me with their natural simplicity. On the way to Taos, I was drawn to a church in Chimayo. Upon entering I felt peace and calm. A marker described the belief that the dirt in the church had healing powers. I went to the area where you could touch and even take some dirt. As I knelt, feeling the dirt’s coolness and texture, I experienced a loving embrace. Jesus’ story of the woman at the well came to mind. My soul began to know at its depths that despite my flaws, my imperfections, my mistakes…God, who created all, knew me and loved me just as I was. He had been, was, and would always be with me. For the first time in my life, I felt total acceptance. Completely surrendered, I knew God’s grace would fill me, heal me, transform me.

In my darkest time, with my humanness weakened, God’s grace flooded in to do its work. The assurance of that moment allowed me to see myself more clearly and objectively. It loosened the chains of defensiveness and I began a deeper walk in faith. God’s healing grace rebuilt my relationship with my daughter. He continues to lead my journey in faith. I rest on God’s unwavering strength, knowing his steadfast love endures without end.

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

Tuesday 3.22.11 Lenten Reflection by Laura Gregory

In her 14 years at The Church of the Resurrection, Laura Gregory  has chaired the Church Council and the Staff-Parish Committee, been a lay delegate to Annual Conference, a Catalyst Ministries volunteer—and, of course, a small group leader.

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

This Scripture verse is one I have leaned on many times throughout my life. The knowledge that Jesus is at my side every moment of every day is sustaining. For a long time I felt my relationship with Jesus was only a one-on-one relationship. Then the church started encouraging us to form small groups. I talked with a couple of friends and we thought about starting a women’s group. Then our husbands each told us they thought it would be good to be part of a couples’ group. We were thrilled, and our small group came together. 

Now this verse of Scripture has an even deeper meaning for me. I know Jesus is always with me, loving me, guiding me, forgiving me. But now I feel His presence not only in the one-on-one relationship, but also in the bonds of our small group. I understand better that He sends others to walk along side us through life, we are not meant to be in an isolated relationship with Him. It is through shared life that we experience full life.

Our group has studied, prayed and grown in our faith over the years. We have shared many life events–births, deaths, weddings, jobs lost and found–and I know there is much ahead for us. I draw great comfort and strength knowing I do not face life alone. Jesus, and the companions I have been blessed with, will be at my side.

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