Monthly Archives: April 2011

Saturday 4.30.11 Easter Reflection from Jason Huwe

Jason Huwe is Resurrection’s minister for Young Adults and College Life.  He has attended Resurrection since 2007 and has been on staff about 2 years.  He enjoys ping pong, Dr. Pepper and cheering on his Nebraska Cornhuskers.

For me, the resurrection means second chances.  Okay, let’s be real.  It really also means  third, forth and fifth chances.  I don’t know about you, but without forgiveness and the opportunity for grace, I would be in seriously bad shape.  Specifically, I think back to my college days.  Talk about poor choices.  I was running in a full sprint toward the world’s idea of goodness and in the opposite direction of God.   Parties, girls and a profitable future consumed my every thought (with a side dish of sports and BBQ).  To be honest, if I was God, I wouldn’t have wanted me on the team. 

As I get older, I have to confront an unsettling reality; have things really changed that much?  Or was college just the tip of the iceberg in my life?  Unfortunately,  I’m probably failing just as often today, albeit in different ways, as I was in college.  Being judgmental, over commitment and material things are my new worldly aspirations.

But this is where the term ‘grace’ comes into play.  God knows that I fail and that I’ll probably do it a number of times.   Though He doesn’t want me to fall, but He doesn’t condemn me when it happens.  This is why the resurrection is important.  Like the father and the disobedient son, He welcomes me back again and again, time after time, when I realize the errors in my ways. 

As hard as I try, I know that I mess up.  A lot.  And if my past is any indication of the future, I’m not trending real well.  Thanks to my God of grace however, I will continue to run into his open arms once I remember to turn to Him – no matter if it’s the second, third, forth or even fifth time.

Friday 4.29.11 Reflection from Julie Schropp

Julie Schropp has been part of the church staff for 8 years, currently overseeing outside events as the Community Event Coordinator.  Julie has recently trained to be a Lay Speaker for the United Methodist Church.

The resurrection of Jesus is the single most significant event in the history of the world.  The events surrounding the resurrection were witnessed by many, but no one was impacted more than the twelve men chosen to be the companions of Jesus.

The relationship between Jesus and the apostles reminds us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Light of the World, was their friend, a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  John 13:1 says, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”  And they loved him.  The death of Jesus was devastating to the apostles. Their despair was so great that after Jesus was laid in the tomb they went back to their old lives, defeated and afraid.  It seemed as if they had abandoned everything Jesus had taught them. 

 Then, on the third day, the tomb was empty.  Jesus had risen, just as he had said.  Jesus appeared to them over the next 40 days, reassuring them and promising he would not leave them alone, but give them the gift of the Holy Spirit. It would be at Pentecost that they came to understand that theirs was simply to tell the story of Jesus, the gospel message, and the story would do its own work. 

For preaching the gospel, they were persecuted, beaten, imprisoned and run out of town.  Jesus had said to them, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jesus had given his life and ultimately each of the apostles gave their life for him. 

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

Like the apostles, ours is simply to tell the story of Jesus, letting the story do its own work.


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

Thursday 4.28.11 Reflection from Jason Watson

Jason Watson is a animator/designer who has worked at the Church of the Resurrection for nearly 5 years, creating videos and graphics for student and children’s ministries. In his free time he likes to spend time with his wife, make art, write music and study theology and philosophy.

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” (Revelation 22:12)

In my office I have a few spring-loaded tops shaped like spaceships, with cute little aliens in them. A few windings of the cockpit on the thruster base loads the top, and one push of a button sends my miniature friends whirling in a frenzied motion on the desk.

During moments of more contemplative introspection, how often I discover the feeling that perhaps I am the one spinning. As my tiny green dervish in its erratic pirouette knocks into my keyboard, or a mug, or, when I am especially introspective, into other tops, I cannot help but recognize myself. For no matter how tightly I wind the spring, no matter how smooth the surface, no matter how clear the path, eventually the spinning comes to an end.

The ‘end.’ In its colloquial sense, all we can see in the ‘end’ is finality, cessation. Something is over, like the rolling of the credits when the movie ends. As such, I have always been mystified by Jesus’ words that he is “the beginning and the end.” The beginning I can somewhat (albeit imperfectly) grasp- he is the source of all that is, the wellspring of being. But what about the ‘end?’

For Christian theology and philosophy, ‘end’ is not cessation or finality, but is rather something quite different. It is the direction, the purpose, the goal of something. Ultimately, a thing’s ‘end’ tells you why it is and what it is for. Thus, when Jesus says he is the ‘end,’ he is saying that our purpose is found in him; we are made for him.

In a way, death has become the colloquialism of our ‘end.’ We were created for union with God. Our sin, however, carries with it quite the sting, as St. Paul tells us that “the sting of death is sin.” Far from the blossoming of love that creates and gives life, our sin has hijacked our existence, my sin has hijacked my existence, leading me to an end God never intended, an end that I cannot escape.

When I think about Lent and Good Friday and Easter in these terms, I am breath-taken. That God would lower himself into this hijacked existence, would unite the purity and infinite-ness of his indescribable nature to the broken and dying nature of us all is nothing short of amazing.

But in Jesus, God died. Does this not then mean that death, in the final analysis, has the last word, triumphing over God’s creative Word? Is humanity’s end, after all, to dissolve into the oblivion of death?

The Resurrection is proof that death is not the ‘end.’ We were not made to fall into the abyss of nothingness, sinking into a chasm of shadows and darkness bereft of the light of being. Jesus’ death defeated death precisely in that in Jesus we find a new direction set forth for humanity, we find the reality that the union of God and man is stronger than death and sin’s attempt to dissolve it. As God brought forth creation from the chaos and emptiness of nothingness, so in Jesus God is bringing forth a new creation, as St. Paul tells us that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come!”

Fully confident of our true ‘end’, we can have hope amidst the turmoil of this fleeting existence. The Resurrection is the vindication of the belief that God is good, that God is love, that God has not abandoned us.

Ultimately, we are not the whirling tops that have been dropped into place, to spin and bang around aimlessly without direction, without purpose. In the Resurrection we have a sure hope in the face of the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the results of the biopsy coming later in the week. In the Resurrection all of God’s promises are fulfilled. In the Resurrection we find that death is not the ‘end’ we are meant for; rather, we find in Jesus the overwhelming love and grace of God to lead us on a new trajectory, to a new end, until we come by faith in Jesus Christ to share in his heavenly kingdom and the union of love with God.

The End.

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

Wednesday 4.27.11 Easter Reflection by Valerie Naas

Valerie Naas has served as the Coordinating Assistant for the Communications Ministry since September 2009. Aside from her staff duties, Valerie serves as a leader in the Young Adult Ministry where she is also a member of a small group.

I had been looking for jobs a few months prior to my May 2008 college graduation, determined to be one of those students graduating with a job. That plan of course didn’t pan out, and in the month immediately following graduation, I applied for loads of jobs. A few of them sounded promising, but most of them were just potential stepping stones. I already knew that I wanted to work in the non-profit sector. One day I came across a job posting that I felt confident about. The description clearly matched my educational background. The funny part? I couldn’t even pronounce the organization’s name. Upon further research, I found it to be a Jewish synagogue in Overland Park! I laughed as I applied for the job, and dismissed it, thinking it was probably going to be another dead-end. Then came the phone calls, interview, and job offer.

I was excited to be starting my first real job, and yet couldn’t help but wonder what God was up to. What was a Protestant girl grounded in her faith doing working at a Jewish synagogue? Accepting the job, I felt I was there for a reason. I knew it probably wasn’t going to be anything as drastic as converting the congregants, but I was sure there was some reason. I had no other option but to be patient, so I waited.

I moved to Overland Park, and once I was settled, began looking for a church to worship with. I come from a small town where there are only 6 or 7 churches and they are all different denominations. All of a sudden I was in the “big city” where there could easily be 6 or 7 churches within a couple of traffic lights! Where was I to begin the search? I knew I wanted to get involved, grow deeper in my faith, and meet people my age. I preferred a Methodist church, but wouldn’t say no to another denomination if the fit seemed right. There was no one to go to for personal recommendations – the only people I knew in the Johnson County area were Jewish! How could they possibly help? My coworkers were, however, very interested in my search for a church. Each Monday they asked the grade on the church (or sometimes churches) that I had visited the day before. Previously they had mentioned The Church of the Resurrection – “it’s the big mega-church just up Nall.” Mega-church? No thank you. I knew the connotations held by a “mega-church.” I wasn’t interested. After 4 months of no success, I was becoming tired. Once again, a coworker prodded, “Did you try Resurrection yet? Several of my neighbors go there and love it.” I gave in. What was there to lose?

I still remember my first visit, and the moment I actually felt like I was home. There was no need to try another church. I immediately started the Learning Community courses (known now as the Journey 101 courses), and began to volunteer through FaithWork. I was meeting people, I was serving, and I was being challenged to grow in my faith.  After I started attending Resurrection, I noticed the high quality of media that the church was producing – print, video, web – and I was in love. With a college degree in Visual Graphics and Media, I was determined to work at The Church of the Resurrection someday. I was happy in my job at the synagogue, but each Sunday I scoured the church bulletin for openings.

Fast forward to Summer 2009: I had now been at the synagogue for just over a year. Due to staff changes, my job was going to be changing. I would still have a job, but I was questioning whether or not it could keep me happy. I began to pray, but I didn’t know exactly what I was praying for. I was still checking the church job openings every month, but with such a small Communications Ministry, I didn’t see how there would ever be an opening I was qualified for. One night after work I checked the website again. God only knows why – I had just checked the week before and there hadn’t been any new listings. But there it was…Communications Coordinating Assistant, and the job description sounded perfect. In the end, I got the job, and I am ecstatic to say that I have been a member of the Communications Ministry at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection for 18 months now. I have only become more involved in the church now that I am on staff. I’m in a small group; I serve with the Young Adults Ministry; and I’ve been on my first 2 mission trips serving those in disaster areas here in the U.S. And how did I get here some ask? Well, see, I got this job at the synagogue…

I love sharing this story because God is ALL OVER IT! If you’re struggling with where you are in any aspect of your life, hang in there. God will show up and connect all the dots when you’re least expecting it.

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

Tuesday 4.26.11 Easter Reflection by Richard Dean

Richard Dean leads two small groups and serves as a Group Life minister supporting other group leaders. He is involved in Kansas City missions at Central United Methodist in Kansas City, Kansas, and is on the usher and communion teams. He has been a member of The Church of the Resurrection for over 11 years.

I had been a Christian for several years. For me, this meant I was delivered–saved from my sins, but struggling. I felt much resonance with the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 7.  I was never able to do what I thought God wanted, yet I yearned to grow deeper.

One evening as I was preparing for Small Group Disciple Bible Study I was struck by the words and message that God truly loved me! I was worthy to him. I was valuable! The light that came on that evening was even brighter than that of my conversion experience! Suddenly I felt truly valued, my self-worth began to increase and I began to realize for the first time that God really loved me! My roller coaster Christian life began to level, my low self-esteem began to soar, and I began to see value in myself and everyone around me. I began to realize that I had purpose and talents God wanted to use–I was a vessel he could now shape and mold. Wow! I began to sense that I was now ‘saved to’ something. Saved to work for God. Saved to share with others how valuable and worthy they are to him. Saved to allow the Joy to overflow from within!

While God has much work yet to accomplish in me (as most of you who know me know), I am now enjoying balanced self-esteem and self-worth that is filling me with new confidence. I truly trust that he who began the work will continue it as I run the race and seek the prize.

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

Monday 4.25.11 Easter Reflection by Bob Goodin

Bob Goodin, far left, started the Bread ministry with Panera Bread Company, and led in organizing the food ministry at Central United Methodist Church. He has been a member of The Church of the Resurrection since 2006, and also serves as a Group Life Minister and as a small group leader.

A few years ago I was managing a soup kitchen. Various groups from different churches in the Kansas City metro area would come and serve lunches to homeless and nearly homeless people in Kansas City, Kansas. 

Most of the groups had a huge heart for serving and loving the people. However, a few groups’ attitudes didn’t seem to show Christ’s love. It seemed they were there to serve because they thought they should, because intellectually they felt this was something they needed to do to be “good people.” I prayed time and time again that when they showed up each month, they would show the grace and love of Christ.

One particular group had served for years. Every month they prepared the exact same meal, with the exact same amounts, everything measured out exactly to serve 250 people—plus enough left over to serve themselves. If more than 250 people came, they would close up shop and prepare their own meals. They never seemed to mind if someone didn’t get fed that day. If anything, they felt they shouldn’t have to be last in line. I saw no awareness in them that there might be people turned away who were hungry and had no means to buy food for themselves.

Now I firmly believe we will always have poor, hungry and sick people to serve. Without them, how would we learn God’s plan for us? I prayed about the spirit of two or three of these groups for several weeks. I asked others to pray as well, because I felt inadequate in dealing with them. I felt I didn’t have the skills to help them see that they were missing the point of service.   

One day I stood in the doorway of the kitchen, unnoticed, during the last half hour of serving time, expecting to see the same thing I saw every month this group served. But this day was different. The meal was prepared exactly the same as every other time. But suddenly someone noticed that 270 people had been through the line. The group members started whispering to each other, and looking around—the carefully measured food should be gone. They started asking if they had made more food, but everyone said “no.” It was the same as always. They had used the same serving utensils. They even counted the cans they had opened to make sure they hadn’t opened more. Meanwhile, the count of people fed grew to over 300, then 310, then 320. Someone asked if food had been kept back for their group to eat—it had. The count became 330. Finally, just shy of 340, everyone was fed—and then the food was gone. Somehow, between 80 and 90 extra people had been fed. 

Quietly the group went to their table, sat down to eat their food and discussed what had just happened. I sat at the table with them to listen to the conversation, and heard them coming to grips with how they had just experienced a modern version of the Bible story about the fishes and loaves. I never had to confront the group. The Holy Spirit changed them forever. 

Becoming closer to our Lord really starts when we open up our lives to serve others for His kingdom. We can have a relationship with our Lord based on head knowledge, and keep God at arms’ length from our heart. But when we really start to apply the head knowledge we have in ways that shape our hearts, and guide what we do with our hands, our relationship with God starts to deepen and grow. We begin to live into what God really created us to be…His Light.

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

Sunday 4.24.11 Easter Reflection by Connie Stella

Constance Stella serves as Director of Worship, and has been part of the church staff since 1998. She and her family were among those who helped start Resurrection in 1990, when worship happened in a funeral home!


 The air is cool and damp, and there is no sound, not even of birdsong. It is still dark, and the darkness clings to everything, puddling around the trees and in every little hollow in the ground, as if it doesn’t want to let go. But a faint glimmer of light is starting to creep into the sky. It is almost morning. She clutches her coat around her shoulders, walking fast, in part because of the cold but mostly because she is in a hurry to get where she is going. “What will happen next?” she wonders.

This Sunday morning–Easter Sunday–is different from every other Sunday. And yet, it is just the same. I have the privilege of serving on our church’s worship staff. Sunday is an important day, and I usually arrive at the church between 7:00 and 7:30 am. There are others, staff and volunteers, who have been there for an hour or more by the time I arrive. Every single Sunday, Craig, the leader of our parking team, greets me from his post at the end of the parking lot with a big wave and a cheerful word of encouragement. He is there whether it is sunny or dark or pouring down rain. Melissa and the technical teams are making final preparations, checking to make sure everything is right. Musicians are warming up, polishing their offerings of song. While darkness is still clinging to the earth, we anticipate the morning.

Holy anticipation. That’s what I hope for all of us, every Sunday. (Or Saturday evening, if you worship then!) Anticipation that we will all come from our different places in life, joining together in fellowship with joy and thanksgiving. That we will meet our Holy God in worship, that through our worship God will reveal himself in some way, and that we will respond. And that as a body we will be made new, given new life, raised from our own self-made ‘tombs’ to live with Christ.

Often, as I drive to the church on Sunday mornings, I think of Mary hurrying to the tomb.  I wonder what was going through her mind, and I’m struck by how different her journey was from mine. I think of the travelers on the road to Emmaus, too. ‘Sadness was written across their faces’, Luke says, and I wonder if they could anticipate anything good at that moment in their lives. Mary and the Emmaus road travelers walked that Sunday in sadness and despair.

What is Sunday like for you? My prayer is that, no matter where you are coming from, or what ‘tomb’ you’ve been living in, you will see the Easter in every Sunday. That you will look forward to an encounter with holiness, anticipating something good. I love Sunday mornings, even in mid-winter when it is dark and cold, because I know what will happen next! I pray that will be your experience, too.

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

Saturday 4.23.11 Lenten Reflection by Paula Marriott

Paula Marriot has attended The Church of the Resurrection since 2000. With her husband, she led a small group in 2003 that was one of the pioneering small groups for Resurrection’s West campus. Paula serves as a co-leader of the Hospitality Team, is a Group Life Minister, and has served on the Campus Advisory Team, all at Resurrection’s West campus. 

I love the book I Married Adventure, by Osa Johnson. It tells of her amazing experiences with her husband Martin exploring Africa in the early 1900’s. The Safari Museum in Chanute, Kansas, where I grew up, honors them. Other than growing up in Chanute, my life isn’t much like Osa Johnson’s, but her book title would be a good description of life with my husband, Rick Marriott.

Who could have known when we locked eyes our first year of college what God had in store for us?  We didn’t—“God” was not on our personal “radars.” In our homes going to church was optional, and neither of us was interested. Our wedding was the first time we went to church together!

Three years later, a teaching colleague invited us to church and dinner on Easter Sunday.  We remember my colleague’s husband praying at the table and including us (by name) in his prayer. That got our attention. Weeks later, Rick came home from class with a quote from a professor: “If you were on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Another attention getter. (Rick still has that little piece of paper in his own handwriting.)

The “adventure” hadn’t begun yet, but God was making it onto our radar. Rick became Biology teacher and Basketball Coach at Burlington, CO High School. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes there needed a coach to lead the group. Rick agreed—another way to connect with his players, he thought. I worked at a local radio station. One daily program featured a local minister—one week the Methodist pastor, then the Presbyterian, Baptist, Assembly of God, etc. The Baptist pastor always ended our chats by asking, “Paula, are you saved?” Whatever I said didn’t satisfy, so he kept asking. I had no clue what he was talking about.

In summer, 1972, Rick took a group of his students to an FCA conference in Estes Park, CO and I headed south back to Alamosa, CO for the week. We had NO IDEA the God of the Universe was taking us to these places…separately…to turn our lives upside down. In Alamosa, I visited my former teaching colleague. I told her about the Baptist pastor’s persistent “saved” question, and asked, “What does SAVED mean?” She and her husband showed me in the Bible that Nicodemus asked Jesus a similar question, and we talked about how Jesus answered the question. The Holy Spirit was opening the Scriptures to me, and for the first time I began to understand “saved.” I went to bed thinking about our talk. The next morning I knew something was different. I can’t explain it. I just knew I was different, like I’d taken off blinders. The drive back to Burlington was glorious. It was as if I had been living life in subdued hues with a compromised color wheel. Not only had the color wheel expanded, the intensity level had gone up for me in every way…even in the Eastern Colorado landscape.

During this same week, at Rick’s conference in Estes, he heard legendary football coach Tom Landry describe his faith in Jesus Christ as personal, life changing and vital. Rick knew he wanted the same, so he knelt alone and asked God for what Coach Landry had. On a summer Sunday in 1972 our ADVENTURE began. We describe it as two freight trains, one from Estes and one from Alamosa, colliding head on in Burlington. We had lots to learn, but we returned to Burlington with hearts transformed, lives changed and our paths redirected.

Our Methodist pastor soon heard the news and came to visit us. He listened to our story, patted our knees and said “That’s nice, but it won’t last. You’ll get over it.” With one sentence, he motivated us with a burning desire to NEVER “get over it.”

Rick and I had lots to learn, but that wasn’t a problem for God. Burlington hired a new football coach that year. Soon after meeting them, we learned he and his wife were deeply committed Christians, sent there to do more than coach football. We started meeting weekly to study the Scriptures in each other’s homes. Others joined us—now we know we were in our first “small group.” Life became an ADVENTURE with Jesus at the center. It didn’t take us long to realize what a miracle it was that we came to Christ at the same time, hundreds of  miles apart, not knowing what the other was doing. (Cell phones, texting, instant communication didn’t exist then.) Our prayer is that this witness of what God did in our lives will encourage others to believe God is willing, and powerful enough to move mountains to reach us. We are so thankful God worked in our lives. Where would we be if He hadn’t?

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

Friday 4.22.11 Lenten Reflection by Marcia Foil

Marcia Foil, a member of The Church of the Resurrection for five years, serves as a Disciple Bible study group leader as well as in the Prison Ministry.

I know most people consider Christmas or Easter their favorite holidays, but for me Good Friday is the best. It was on a Good Friday that my faith was transformed. The Tenebrae service was always moving to me. The way that the lights are lowered and extinguished to symbolize the dimming of the light of the world moves me to my core. What darkness the people at Calvary must have known, not just the darkening of the sky, but also the darkening of their hearts.

I grew up in a religion that was very rule-based. If you followed all of the rules, you could “earn” your way into heaven. It was during the Tenebrae service that I realized that I could never ever do enough to EARN God’s love. His love just is. God loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice everything. In the form of the Son, He made Himself into flesh and endured great pain and suffering, facing everything his children could ever face. At the same time, in the form of the Father, He gave His only son to us. I have lost a child, so I know something of the depth of pain involved in that sacrifice. I know that I would never willingly make such a sacrifice. I will forever be in awe of God’s love.
It was the realization of my flaws in comparison to God’s perfect love that transformed by faith. I am humbled by my sinful nature in light of God’s grace. When I recognized my own flawed and sinful nature, I knew that it required the greatest sacrifice to bear all of the sins of the world. In this humbled state I felt the true strength of God’s love. I know my relationship with God is closest when I am in this unpretentious state. Good Friday reminds me that I fall short of the mark, but God loves me anyway. Good Friday teaches us all what true unconditional love really is.

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

Thursday 4.21.11 Lenten Reflection by Terri Blythe

Terri Blythe became a member of The Church of the Resurrection in March of 2009. She currently serves as a small group leader in the church’s Group Life ministry.

I have been in church my whole life. I truly believed in God, and in the marriage vows I took at the young age of 19. I knew early on in my marriage that the man I chose to marry was not the best fit for me. However, I stuck with it as that is what I had promised to do. I spent 18 years loving a man who wouldn’t go to church with the kids and me. He was very controlling, but church was the one thing that I stood up to him on. I knew that I had to have that in my life or he would take everything away from me. God kept me grounded during those 18 years and helped me cope with the way my life had turned out.

Finally, God opened my eyes to what was happening in my life and our kid’s lives. I realized I didn’t have to stay in that hurtful, destructive marriage. I didn’t want my husband belittling our daughters as he had me over the years. I didn’t want them to think that it was okay for a man to treat a woman that way. Once I decided to ask him to leave, it was as if a HUGE load had been lifted off my shoulders. I knew then that I had made the right decision.

I spent a lot of time reading the Bible and doing a Disciple I class in my church, studying and listening to what God had to say. I was trying to figure out what I had done wrong and where my life was suppose to go from here. I had been a leader at work, but in my personal life I was very quiet and reserved. I was asked to lead a singles group at our church. That turned out to be a great experience for me and helped me get back on track after my divorce.

It took me a while to figure out who I actually was again, but with help from God and family, life has turned out great. I’ve married the love of my life. Jake and I each had two daughters, and we each have a grandson. I’m currently leading a small group here at Resurrection, and I feel truly blessed to be a part of that group. I know God is with us each and every day.

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