Monthly Archives: June 2011

Saturday 6.18.11 Insight from Dave Robertson

dave robertsonDave Robertson is the Director of Community Life at The Church of the Resurrection’s West Campus.

I believe God has a plan for God’s creation.  I also believe God has given us free will.  How these two things come together gets messy much of the time because of our unwillingness to follow God’s leads or our lack of hearing/understanding God’s leadings.  Jesus says a few times in the Gospels, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.”  People in Biblical times as well as today often get confused when it comes to God’s ultimate will concerning the reconciliation and salvation of God’s creation back to God.  God has made known through Scripture what God’s ultimate will is.

God’s plan is revealed in the Abrahamic Covenant.  Here it is, from Genesis 12:2-3:

2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

All peoples on earth are to be blessed through Abraham and his descendants.  Instead, Abraham’s descendants become the nation of Israel and forget time after time what their covenant and calling is.  God continues to remind them.

The prophet Isaiah reminds the people Israel of God’s plans, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

God sends Jonah to his enemy, Nineveh, to bring God’s Word to that city so that they may repent and believe.  Jonah, representing all of Israel, not only doesn’t want to be a light to the Gentiles, but runs the opposite direction.  God’s word to Jonah ends up being this: “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

Jesus comes to ministers to Gentiles.  I think of the stories of Jesus sailing across the Sea of Galilee to the place of the Geresenes.  Here Jesus heals and teaches.  I also think of the woman at the well in Samaria who Jesus not only speaks to, but in reality, restores her dignity and community with others.

In this passage from Revelation we see people from every nation, tribe, people and language.  This is God’s ultimate will.  Some people today help participate in God’s kingdom purposes by taking God’s message of hope to places all around the Globe.  U2 says it this way:

I believe in the Kingdom Come
Then all the colors will bleed into one

Are you one who will share God’s hope and salvation to those who don’t know thus fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant and God’s ultimate will?

Prayer:  God, we admit we are reluctant to share your good news with others.  May we come to know your Holy Spirit is with us to empower us as we speak and act in ways that bring salvation to others.

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

Friday 6.17.11 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren LippeDarren Lippe has attended Resurrection since 1997.  He met his wife, Doris, in Single Adult Sunday School at Resurrection and they have 2 sons, Matthew & Jacob.  He helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 2nd grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

With school out for summer vacation, we’ve enjoyed playing board games like Monopoly, Risk, & LIFE.  Chatting with Matthew & Jacob, we started plotting the best strategy to winning the game of LIFE (LIFE is the popular board game, heartily endorsed by Art Linkletter, that simulates a person’s travels through his or her life from college to retirement, with jobs, marriage, & possibly children along the way. – Editor):

  •  Avoid expensive relatives, like the Uncle with the skunk farm or the eccentric Aunt with 100 cats – (Good luck with that.)
  • Owning stock is way too risky – (Hmmm, considering the past few weeks, perhaps not such bad advice.)
  • Definitely own a cattle ranch or a uranium mine (Yes, that would seem to help.)
  • You can never have too much insurance.  (This tip gleefully echoed by Mel, our friendly insurance agent.)
  • Children are real moneymakers. Wow, you get $500 from each player, each time?  Get that 2nd car ready to roll.  Ka-Ching! (Um, the small mountain of empty milk jugs in our recycle bin would seem to contradict this theorem.)
  • Do NOT buy a helicopter or a raccoon coat. (Self explanatory.)

When we think of the “good life” in the real world, we would probably think of a life free of problems & errors, a life with very little stress, & certainly a life with no sadness; in short, a life that is pampered & sheltered.

However, in today’s passage Peter quotes Psalm 34, which offers us a very different definition of a “good life.”

We discover that a good life is not necessarily a life without fears & concerns.  Rather we learn that God will always be there to help us cope with these worries.  The Scriptures urge us again & again to turn our worries over to God.

The good life is not a life void of mistakes or sin.  The good life, though, can be a life free of shame.  God is eager for us to repent, to seek His forgiveness, & to rejoice in His grace.  As has been noted, a disciple is not someone who never falls; rather a disciple is one who gets up from a fall to try again.

The good life is not a life free of troubles & challenges.  But when these times of trouble inevitably come, we know that we can go to God for His protection & His counsel.  It is only when we turn to God that we begin to experience the fullness of His love.

The good life is not a life free of broken hearts & crushed spirits.  But in these times of great sadness, we can be confident that the Lord is ready to hold us in His arms, to wipe away our tears & to help us with our grief.

The life Peter is describing is not one of smooth sailing with strong breezes at our back & calm waters ahead.  Peter is telling us though, that when our life’s yacht rams the occasional iceberg, God will be there to help us sell the ice cubes for $5,000.  Your spin!

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

Thursday 6.16.11 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

Rev. Glen ShoupRev. Glen Shoup is the Congregational Care pastor for members of the Resurrection family who have last names beginning with A – C.

There are a couple of things we need to know to have a fuller appreciation for this passage.  A eunuch would not have been uncommon in the ancient biblical world.  Eunuchs were such by choice, birth, or imposition. Eunuchs were often valued in key places of service because they were less likely to be compromised by temptation and/or distraction non-eunuchs might succumb to. Thus, whether this man was a eunuch voluntarily or involuntarily, he was a man of considerable responsibility in the Queen of Ethiopia’s court.  The second thing to know is that while eunuchs were sometimes in very trusted and highly responsible positions, they were also, ironically, often shunned to the margins of society. In fact, Old Testament law was very exclusionary of eunuchs. So in order to get the full impact of today’s scripture reading, we need to understand that this Ethiopian man whom God (through Phillip) chased down with the good news of the gospel was a man who, very largely, was rejected by the culture and the religious of his day. And I love that about God. God is forever reaching over, under, and through rejection to lay hold of those excluded by hurt, loneliness and loss. That this is yet another place where we see the ignored as God’s special interest group is an emphasis that can’t be missed.

But there’s something else about this account that is especially striking (and encouraging) to me: the synced-up nature of Phillip’s life with God’s Spirit. God sends an angel to Phillip to tell him to “get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza” (Acts 8:26)…and Phillip is in-tune enough with the rhythms of God’s Spirit to actually do it (and not argue or ask why or complain that he’s too busy). Then, as he heads south on “the wilderness” road, he comes upon this Ethiopian eunuch whom there is no indication Phillip had ever seen before. Yet despite this man being a complete stranger, “the Spirit said to Phillip ‘go over to this chariot and join it’” (8:29). And what does Phillip do…he goes up to the chariot and says hey, mind if I hop in with you? Not only does the man say yes, but he proceeds to ask Phillip if he can help him understand what he’s reading in the Bible, and Phillip took it from there, and by the time Phillip quit talking they were stopping the chariot so that the former stranger to Phillip could be baptized by Phillip—now how cool is that? A total stranger (and fringe member of society) comes to believe and open his life to Easter’s Christ all because Phillip heard and followed the leading of God (when it didn’t make much sense..e.g., “get up and go south”, “go join that chariot you see over there”). Oh, we can easily view this narrative as hyperbole and rationalize that if we start following voices that tell us to walk up to cars sitting beside the road and say “hey, mind if I join you” people will pretty quickly have us committed (or arrested). So there certainly would be a danger of trying to accept this passage too literally. But I know there’s also a tendency for me to dismiss any nudge or idea I can’t readily understand, and in the process, I wonder how many people God would want me to reach out to that I just don’t on the grounds of rational convenience. So I guess there’s also a danger of viewing this passage of scripture too figuratively, when, in point of fact, we follow a God who speaks and who nudges and who sends angels (in various forms) to try and get us to risk rejection, embarrassment, or being misunderstood all in an effort to reach out and connect with those around us.

Lord, help me to be less like me and more like Phillip; help me to be willing to listen to the nudges you send me and then reach out in the direction You lead me, Amen.

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

Wednesday 6.15.11 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela LaVallieAngela LaVallie is the Member Connection Program Director at The Church of the Resurrection. She provides oversight to our member connection efforts through the Connection Point, the Weekday Hospitality Team, Coffee With the Pastors, the New Member Team and our Spiritual Gifts Placement Team.

It’s almost natural to have a revelation or a self-revelation and then not expect to grow anymore after that. It’s easy to settle in and resist any more change.

When I was in high school, I was highly involved in my church’s youth group, and I remember really reading some parts of the Bible for the first time and having things explained to me. I felt I understood these passages of Scripture, and I thought the way I understood them then would be the way I would always understand them.

As I grew in my faith and have been encouraged to question the way I believed things to be, I have come to understand that Scripture and faith and living out my beliefs is much more complex than I could ever have imagined.

In today’s Scripture passage, we read about Peter. He was a devout Jew who grew up deeply-rooted in the faith and who had “never eaten anything impure or unclean” (v. 14). When he hears directly from God (or a messenger of God) while he’s on the roof praying, he at first holds on to what he had always believed to be right, but then begins “wondering about the meaning of the vision” (v. 17). Later, Peter comes to understand the meaning of the vision he had, and he has to readjust his way of thinking.

We shouldn’t be so open-minded that we constantly change our minds about what we believe Scripture says, but at the same time, it’s important that we are open to hearing God speak to us through Scripture in new and different ways. At Resurrection, we believe we are on a lifelong faith journey, and that means we are never done growing and changing.

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

Tuesday 6.14.11 Insight from Rev. Molly Simpson

Molly SimpsonRev. Molly Simpson is the campus pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

We remembered and celebrated Pentecost on Sunday in worship.  We read part of this scripture passage from Acts 2 when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon Jesus’ followers and they were able to speak in a way that shared the good news with thousands of people.  In the life of the church, it is important to tell that story.  And not just to remember or to celebrate but also to believe.  We need a reminder now and again that the power of God’s message in this world is not determined by our eloquence or even our full understanding of all matters of faith.  Pentecost wasn’t a one-time deal.

My husband, Ben, blogs for FaithVillage.com, and in his post on Sunday, he wrote, “The outpouring of the Spirit upon the church has not ceased.”  Sometimes I need regular reminders of that.  I can’t begin to describe how many times I have found myself entering situations in ministry where I think, “What on earth am I going to say?”  And so often words come tumbling out of my mouth that are both helpful in the circumstance and entirely surprising to me.  Have you ever had that experience?  It’s like wisdom comes out that you didn’t know you had…  certainly the Holy Spirit continues to pour out upon us.

I remember the stories of the many prophets who found themselves afraid or unsure that they had anything to say, and God’s usual response is something like “No problem, I’ll give you the words.”  May you find courage in the promise that God will give you the words–even in a new language–to give voice to the very best news there ever was to share.

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

Monday 6.13.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Andrew ConardRev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also a pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection Online. You can follow him on Twitter at @andrewconard or read his blog, Thoughts of Resurrection at http://andrewconard.com.

I appreciate this story of the early church and the way that the Holy Spirit sent out these early believers to be witnesses “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The mission that God sends us starts where we are, but it does not end with those that are close to us. We are called to be a part of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

As Pastor of Resurrection Online, I am excited about using technology to connect people with each other and God in ways that had not before been possible. The internet allows us to connect with people who are not able to be physically present for many different reasons. I have heard stories from people who have connected online for worship who indicate the meaning that they find in connecting in this way.

I believe that we continue to be empowered by the Holy Spirit and that we are able to use every available means to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. The central message of our Christian faith remains the same. Our methods of sharing this story with others need to continue to change so that people have the opportunity to hear in ways that they will be receptive. How are you sharing the good news of Jesus with others?

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

Saturday 6.11.11 Insight from Randy Meyer

Randy MeyerRandy Meyer is Resurrection’s Executive Director of Education Ministries.

Pastor Scott Chrostek said something in his sermon this past weekend that has stuck with me all this week (an excellent sermon, by the way – one that should be mandatory listening if you have a teen, young adult, or anyone you love that is always “connected” to electronic media).  He was talking about crowds and the power they hold to make you feel something you just can’t feel alone.  He made a statement to the effect that he has never been a part of an event where large numbers of people were gathered where he regretted his decision to attend.  I immediately began to relate that to my life, and try as I might to think of a time where I regretted going to an event like that, I just couldn’t come up with one.  Thinking back on all of the times I’ve been to a sporting event, a concert, play, or any other large gathering they are all events that I’m glad I was there.

I’ve also never been to a worship service in the body of Christ and said, “Well, that was a waste of time.  I sure regret doing that!” Now, in full disclosure, there have been many times that I just didn’t feel like going to worship and I’ll make up excuses not to be there. I’m too tired, or I’m too busy seem to be my popular excuses. Even in times when I struggle to make it to worship and I practically drag myself to be there, I have never regretted going. In fact, just the opposite has happened. There have been many times when I least want to go, that something extraordinary happens when I’m there and I’m particularly glad I made it!

Someone once told me that the more I struggle with going to worship, the more it’s a sure sign that I need to be there. That God has something in mind for me there and it’s the devil trying to keep me away. I’m not sure about that, but it is amazing that oftentimes my most memorable worship experiences come at times when I least wanted to be there. If you haven’t been to worship in awhile, or you just generally struggle to get there at times, realize that God may have something special planned for you if you go!

As much as I enjoy worship here on earth, it will not and cannot compare to the picture of worship as painted here by John in Revelation. What an amazing picture he paints of eternal worship! As I read his words, I can’t help but think of my most amazing worship or “crowd” experience amped up to the nth degree! I’m positive it will be better than I could ever imagine. What a great thing to look forward to!

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

Friday 6.10.11 Insight from Nick Stauffer

Nick Stauffer

Nick Stauffer is a rezlife student and has been a member since 2001. He currently serves as the youth representative on Church Council, is on C.A.R.T. at Rez West, and is a MAC (Ministry as a Career) Track participant. He is exploring ministry and feels called towards executive church leadership and mission work. He worships primarily at Rez West.

I am a sinner–a four-word phrase every person has “built in.” Regardless of where you live, how you live, or what you do, that phrase is included in each and every one of us from the day we were born. Now that in itself is depressing. What kind of life would it be like to live knowing you are sinner and you can’t do anything about it? Fortunately for us, that’s not where the story ends. As a matter of fact, it’s where it begins. We can extend that hopeless phrase into something that shapes our faith, our relationship with Jesus Christ—I am a sinner, but I am forgiven.

Church of the Resurrection is a unique and wonderful church. So often I hear words like “Oh, you go to THAT mega-church” or “Are you even noticed in such a large church?” The list goes on and on, but I respond each time the same way. With so many people coming together for, ultimately, a single purpose—Jesus Christ, we have a lot of ways we can be used by God to be an instrument of change for each other, the community and rest of the world.

Hebrews 12:1 is a great passage explaining how a “mega-church” can really be a great thing. “Since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith[…]” Being in such a large group of people helps keeps me accountable. For me, this is done through rezlife youth group and MAC Track. I have friends, adult volunteers, pastors, parents, and leaders who I can count on to tell me when I am doing something I probably shouldn’t be doing. When I am struggling with a certain sin, I know I can tell someone in my church family who can walk that difficult walk with me. Christianity wasn’t meant to be done alone, and the more people the better.

Wherever you are in your faith journey, make sure you have an “accountability” partner, someone who can tell you when you’re doing something that’s not completely for the glory of God, someone who you can ask for help when struggling with sin, or just someone who will listen to you when you need an ear. This can be a friend, spouse, sibling, co-worker, pastor, and the list goes on and on. Thankfully, here at Church of the Resurrection, with so many small groups, ministries, and volunteer opportunities an “accountability” partner isn’t too difficult to find and really become close with.

Find someone you can share life’s joys and troubles with. The effect will be unlike anything you could ever imagine. I know for me, after joining MAC Track, I quickly connected with people, people who shared the same interest in serving God in vocational ministry one day. I now have lifelong friendships with people I know will help keep me on track. I want all that I do to glorify God as much as possible, and I know I can’t do it alone.

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

Thursday 6.9.11 Insight from Janelle Gregory

Janelle GregoryJanelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as a Human Resources Specialist.

Before I begin the actual post, I want to make sure you’ve read the accompanying scripture, Isaiah 6:1-8. If you haven’t, be prepared to have your world rocked. It is some seriously good text. To read it, click on this link:

Isaiah 6:1-8

All right then. So where were we?

I always find it interesting when I go to funerals, and someone mentions that the individual being remembered is now “up at the knitting group in the sky” or “playing golf with the angels.” We tend to view heaven as this fantasy-land of eternal hobbies. It sounds nice, but I’m seriously hoping we’re wrong as I can’t hit a golf ball to save my life (which I guess wouldn’t matter much at that point).

I think that many times people are just describing what they see as awesome to the nth degree. But if our view of heaven and retirement mirror one another, we’ve severely underestimated God.

In these verses, Isaiah catches a glimpse of the real heaven (note the lack of fishing gear). There is the majestic throne, the overflowing robe, the glorifying seraphim, and I think most importantly, the ability to see God face to face.

Isaiah’s in that place where there is no more death, no more crying, and no more pain. He’s standing before a King who knows him intimately and loves him deeply. This space is far more exciting and glorious than any place on earth at any time in history.  He’s with his Creator, his Father. He’s home.

And so when God asks, “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah, grasping everything that is heaven and the absolute splendor of our God, replies: “Here am I. Send me!” (exclamation point*). This response causes me to pause, intrigued and with a sense of conviction. I think oftentimes our (at least my) responses to God are more like, “(sheepishly) Here am I. Send me?” (question mark) or, “Send me.” (period) or, “Fine, send me.” or, “Send me, but…” We give these ho-hum replies to the very same God that Isaiah is seeing and describing.

After reading this passage, I think we shouldn’t be afraid that our expectations of God are too high, and we MUST be afraid that they are too low. I know it’s hard for us to not let our watered-down perceptions of God become our god, but we must constantly do everything we can to overcome that. Because as we throw off and sift through everything that clouds our views of heaven, of our Father, of our Savior–we have no greater desire than to respond to Him with an exclamation point!

* I should note that punctuation wasn’t a part of the original Hebrew manuscript, but every translation I’ve come across has interpreted this passage with an exclamation point after the “Here am I” or “Send me.” I think it’s safe to say that Isaiah was enthusiastic with his response.

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

Wednesday 6.8.11 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela LaVallieAngela LaVallie is the Member Connection Program Director at The Church of the Resurrection. She provides oversight to our member connection efforts through the Connection Point, the Weekday Hospitality Team, Coffee With the Pastors, the New Member Team and our Spiritual Gifts Placement Team.

Today’s passage of Scripture ends with the encouragement to “let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another.”

When I moved to the Kansas City area just over five years ago, one of the things that I missed the most was the small group that I left behind. I found the worship services at Resurrection to be a great way to be fed spiritually, but I missed that close group of friends that I had grown in faith with for several years through Bible study, sharing meals, supporting one another, and just hanging out together.

My current small group of ten amazing women has been together for two years now, and some of us had been part of a different group for a year before this one formed. Like any relationship, our small group has to work together constantly to keep our friendships strong and healthy. We meet together weekly for Bible and book studies and prayer, attend worship services together when possible, and plan group social events. We stay connected throughout the week when we’re not meeting together via e-mail and text messages, and we even have a private Facebook group where we can share schedules, prayer concerns, and photos. Social media had made keeping in touch throughout the week easier, but nothing compares to having all ten members present in the same room as we grow closer to one another and to God.

There are ways for us as Christians to spur one another on toward good deeds, to meet together, and to encourage one another if we’re not in small groups, but for me, meeting with and growing with the same group of people week after week and year after year impacts and encourages me in a way no other experience does.

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