Monthly Archives: October 2011

Monday 10.31.11 Reflection on Generosity from Elizabeth Blume

Elizabeth Blume has been a member of The Church of the Resurrection for approximately 8 years. A native of Emporia, Kansas, she works as a Financial Life & Spending Coach. Elizabeth has lived in the Kansas City area since she and her husband Ken were married in 1984.


What plans do you have to give your children a hope and a future…financially?

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11

This is from a letter the prophet Jeremiah sent to the Israelites when they were taken to Babylon as captives. They were to build houses in Babylon, plant gardens and eat what Babylon’s soil produced. Their whole world, as they had known it, was turned upside down. They were not going to be living in the same area, in the same kind of homes, or even eating the same kind of food that they were used to. But God told them after seventy years he would bring them back. He had plans for them…plans to prosper them…plans to give them a hope and a future. As their heavenly Father, God knew how vital it was to assure them that He was planning for their success and preparing them for their future.

You and your family may or may not be going through circumstances that are causing changes in your lifestyles like the Israelites experienced. Regardless, in these uncertain times, it is important to let our children know that we are preparing them and giving them the tools to be successful as adults. I would challenge you…What plans do you have to give your children a hope and a future financially? What plans do you have to help your children learn to spend money well so they may thrive financially as adults? Financial training is imperative if your children are to develop self-control when it comes to spending money. This training will not only benefit them now, but it will also give them a hope and a future to be able to be good stewards of their money as adults.

This training needs to go beyond giving our children an allowance, and merely the mechanics of how to handle money. It needs to develop in children an attitude of respect for the value of money. This is accomplished by how you, as the parent, give money to your children. Give some thought and prayer as to how you might purposely plan to develop self-control concerning the spending of money in your child’s life to give them a hope and a future!

Sunday 10.30.11 Reflection on Generosity from Rick Gunter

A native of Michigan, Rick Gunter has been in Kansas City for 13 years. Rick, Joan and Alex have been members of The Church of the Resurrection for about 5 years. Rick and Joan helped bring Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University to the Church and live by those financial principles every day. Rick is a Senior Project Manager for Garmin and teaches as an Adjunct Professor for the University of St. Mary and Friends University.

Taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University several years ago has truly been life-changing in ways we never could have imagined. It not only led us down a positive financial path and allowed us to become debt free, but it has brought us so many new experiences, dear friends, and countless blessings.

I spoke about financial peace at a staff chapel a couple of years ago. One of the themes that struck me as I prepared for the talk was that being out of debt was freeing. Dave quotes scripture when he says, “the borrower is slave to the lender.” I thought about that in relation to our life’s work. What if God called you to do work and you could not do it because it would not pay enough to cover your bills? For example, what if he called you to be a teacher in the inner city, or become a pastor, or do mission work in Africa? And what if you had to tell God “no” because you bought a house that was a bit too big, have two car payments, $8000 in credit card debt, and $50,000 in student loans, and therefore had to make a certain amount of money? Would you miss your life’s calling because you were unwise with money?

That’s not an abstract question. Over the last few years I have been unhappy with my work and have been searching for what God would have me do. This struggle was impacting my mood, my family life, and my performance at work. Finally, last October, I could not stand it anymore. I quit my job without having another one to go to. I trusted God would help me and that, in the long run, it would be a good decision. What made it easier (in fact, what made it possible to even consider quitting) was the fact we were debt-free, had a reasonable house payment, and had money in the bank, all thanks to principles we learned from Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University. We cut way back, Joan picked up extra meetings, and I took part-time work while I looked for another full-time position. When I finally got another job, after being off for 7 months, we had actually saved money.

It was not easy, and there were a good number of people who thought I was crazy. But we prayed and trusted in God. I am not sure yet that I have found what God’s calling for me is. However, I learned some lessons about life and work that I will never forget. I am thankful every day that Dave Ramsey came into our lives and helped us manage money God’s way.

Saturday 10.29.11 Reflection on Generosity from Joni Stonestreet

Joni Stonestreet is the single, working mom of Katie, a terrific 6th grader. Joni is an IT Consultant, and a life-long resident of the Overland Park area. Joni has attended Resurrection for several years, and currently facilitates the Financial Peace University for Single Women class. (Registration is open for the Winter Session, which will meet starting on Sunday evenings in January. Visit www.cor.org/fpu for more information, and a link to online registration for this class. Child care is available.)

I am honored and grateful to be facilitating a Financial Peace University class for single women. It’s something I’ve felt a calling to do since I saw the first invitation sent out asking about interest in a class just for single women.

I took a regular class, with married and single folks, in January 2010. The information and conversation was very beneficial, but there were so many different perspectives represented. Married couples, and even single men, didn’t face quite the same issues that I did as a single woman. 

I was a table leader in Resurrection’s first class for single women in January, 2011. I saw and took part in some great conversations during that session. I enjoyed seeing the opinions and experiences shared, and the wisdom that presented itself during our discussions. This strengthened my belief that women are strong, resilient, and can do absolutely anything, overcome any adversity that comes our way with God’s help. Being a part of that class was very energizing, and quite a blessing to my life.

I became a Financial Peace University facilitator for single women, and have led 2 classes: one in May 2011, and another in August. Single women from different walks of life, different socio-economic backgrounds, and different circumstances have attended. Some are single by choice, some by fate. The transformation in many of these women is nothing short of miraculous as they share and apply the class information, and their own perspectives and personal stories with their group. It’s been a true blessing to me to be able to offer a forum through which this kind of exchange and growth can take place, all with the Lord’s oversight. Extremely powerful stuff!!

One reason I wanted to facilitate a class for single women specifically was to help make the women in this class aware of all of the services and opportunities available at the Church of the Resurrection. In addition to worship and fellowship, there are many other programs and small groups that I’ve seen touch the lives of some of these women and truly do good where help was needed. 

I’ve been blessed as I share with single women the message that no matter how you’ve come to be single, whether by fate or by choice, you are not alone. God has brought together an amazing abundance of people and programs at Resurrection, and I encourage each class member to fully embrace what this congregation has to offer. I’m grateful for the love and support I’ve received as I’ve grown into this ministry.

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

Friday 10.28.11 Reflection on Generosity from 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.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. —Genesis 50:20

This verse is part of the story of Joseph. Talking to his brothers, Joseph was telling them not to be afraid of him. They had reason to fear Joseph: he was second in command of Egypt, right behind the Pharaoh. Joseph’s brothers had sold Joseph into slavery and told their father he was dead. Even in slavery, God  blessed Joseph at every turn, and he found favor with whoever and wherever God placed him. At each stop in his life, Joseph grew in integrity and respect from his peers. His bothers had meant harm and evil for Joseph, but God had other plans. This verse reminds us that God will bring out the best in the most awful situations.

In my own life, I can tell you I get my feelings hurt. I get falsely attacked without reason. This is where it’s especially important to trust God, obey Him and leave the consequences to Him. When I have gotten terribly upset and taken matters into my own hands, it has all been for naught. When I have trusted God with the circumstances, trusted Him to be my defender, I have been defended.

When I remember Joseph’s life, I do not panic when trouble comes. I know God will bring good out of it. God wants to bless me. He wants His favor to shine on me, and to fill me with His peace.

Our son was diagnosed with type I diabetes, when he was three years old. This was not good; it was a chronic disease he would have to cope with all the rest of his life. However, even the disease drew us together as a family. We rallied. We looked for ways to help others going through a similar trial. This has made us all stronger and more thankful for the many other blessings God gives us. Good came out of it.

So when others, even those closest to us, tromp on our feelings, we can run to God. He is our strength, joy and defender. He knows our innermost thoughts. He convicts us if we have sinned, if we’ve been self-centered and not God-centered. Trust God to lead you every moment of every day. Look to Him.

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

Thursday 10.27.11 Reflection on Generosity from 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.

“Bring your full tithe into the storehouse so there will be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it”….”You’ll experience what it’s like to be a country of grace.”   Malachi 3: 10 (NIV), 12 (The Message)

For six months I had been involved in a complex project transitioning our business from its long-term autonomy to being part of a global organization. I had to understand the past, yet embrace the new destination. I worked with people throughout the organization, helping them understand where we were headed and finding ways to get there without losing our successful business model. I worked long hours. My brain fully engaged with the possibilities, obstacles, viewpoints, emotions, and details the situation involved. I felt useful. I was contributing. I had purpose. Life was frantic, but I was invigorated.

Just before my birthday, we made an important presentation showing the next steps for our work. I was psyched up. My supervisor asked me into his office, and after a few pleasantries, he began explaining the departmental restructuring and all the factors that had been examined. He wanted to tell me that my position would be eliminated in six months. Until then I was to continue the project. My ears heard the words, but internally I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. Externally I nodded my head and said I understood. Internally I was numb. I smiled, and said I appreciated him giving me advance notice. Dazed, I picked up my things and went to my car. My worst fear had come true. I faced unemployment. What I didn’t know then was that it would come at the worst economic time since the Great Depression.

I was a single woman who moved here seven years earlier. I wanted to learn a new business. I left my family and support network behind to do it. I transitioned well. I made new friends and built a strong support network within my church family. I found joy in being able to give of myself and my money to causes I held dear. I had been trying to increase my level of giving to my church each year. Now, facing unemployment, I had no idea how I was going to make it.

I entered unemployment determined to find a new job. I polished my resume, read endless information on job search in the 21st Century, talked to people, took skill classes, and interviewed. I began to realize this wouldn’t be a quick process.

One suggestion I received was to sell some of my things. People were selling on eBay—it could bring in supplemental income. I was unsure about what I had to sell. I did know I had a basement full of “stuff,” and unexpected time in which to rid myself of unneeded things. The journey to put the basement in God’s hands gave me insights I didn’t expect.

In my basement, among the neatly organized containers, God led me to face the futility of owning and controlling material possessions. I carefully went through each box, sorting them into the keep, trash, and give away piles “professionals” recommended. While doing this, in the depths of my soul I heard repeatedly: “What were you thinking when you bought that? Why in the world did you spend money on that? How much did you spend on this stuff? How could you have better used those resources?”

God led me to the basement to take me to another level of Christian growth. I thought I had a generous spirit, but I had corners of myself that still trusted the material. I too often defined myself by what I had, not whose I was. God, I realized, asks for my whole being. I am sustained and filled with abundance that comes from total trust and reliance on God. In His wisdom, I got a deeper look at myself. I learned that the gift of unemployment was increasing my dependence on God’s wisdom and strength. 

Through my unemployment, my generosity has actually grown. I don’t have the financial resources I once did, but I still find ways to give. I take meals to people who are healing or in grief. I give my time to support the Group Life ministry and the Resurrection Foundation. I write notes to those facing trials or challenges. I listen to the troubles and pains of others. I pray for many near and far. God gives me many ways to express my gratitude for what He has done for me through generosity to others. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and not on your understanding…and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) As my trust and dependence on God grow, I find he nurtures a heart of generosity.

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

Wednesday 10.26.11 Reflection on Generosity from Celicia Hiatt

Celicia Hiatt is a Coordinating Assistant in the Connections Ministry at The Church of the Resurrection, serving as a crucial member of the team that helps visitors and members of the church get plugged into the life of the church.

When I was asked to share my story of how Financial Peace University changed my life, the words in Isaiah 41:10 immediately played in my head:

Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I am embarrassed to say that before my husband Adam and I took Financial Peace University four years ago, our idea of a savings account was having a few hundred dollars stashed away somewhere just in case we needed it. The subject of money and spending had always been an area of contention for us, so in an attempt to better our communication skills, we decided to take this class. It is funny (now!) to look back and remember me whining about the $100 we were going to spend, and my husband telling me to “get over it; it’s just $100.” Neither of us knew the impact that $100 investment would have on our lives in just a few short months.

The year 2008 will go down in the our family history books as the worst year ever! There were times when I felt like Job. I would throw my hands up and say, “Really, God? Is this really happening?” 2008 might have been hard for many of you. It was the start of one of the worst economic downturns in American history, and we weren’t able to escape the effects of this crisis. My husband lost his really good-paying, stable job, and we found ourselves in a situation of uncertainty and turmoil.

Let me first admit that I am not an easy person to be around when things don’t go as I have wished. I am a bit of a worrier–okay, maybe a little more than a bit. There is nothing that stresses me out more than uncertainty and money. I’m thankful my husband tolerated my crazy lunatic rants and breakdowns. We had countless conversations about “How are we going to make it?” or “Why is this happening to us?” and my favorite: “Well, Dave Ramsey says….”

The lessons and tools we learned in Financial Peace University literally saved us from total catastrophe during that time. We went from having no savings to having an almost fully-stocked emergency fund by the time my husband was laid off. What would have meant complete financial ruin for us months earlier was more of a financial hiccup. Oh, it has been hard every step of the way, and we have not always known how we were going to overcome every financial obstacle, but we have never wavered in our faith in God and knowing that He will always strengthen and hold us up. At the end of each month, we found ourselves saying, “We made it through another month. I don’t know how, but we did it.”

The answer is God. God is the reason we have made it through any difficult situation. God has always transformed our most difficult moments into something amazing, and often unexpected. There are times when I feel like I just can’t take it anymore, but my focus remains on God. I know He will uphold us and strengthen us no matter our circumstances. We continue to live with some uncertainty in our lives, but no matter how uneasy I feel about my life and my family’s future, I gather peace and hope from the unwavering certainty of God and His love for me.

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

Tuesday 10.25.11 Reflection on Generosity

The name of today’s testimony writer has been withheld at her request. She is a pharmaceutical corporation manager, a Kansas City resident, and has attended Resurrection for over 10 years.

In 2009, while enrolled in Financial Peace University, my finances were an absolute mess. I had a huge amount of debt which kept me awake at night. I was enrolled in a debt management program at the time and it seemed like I had very little disposable income left over during the month for food and other necessities. On the surface, I made my family and friends believe that everything was OK. I never told anyone about my financial issues.

In March, while attending Financial Peace University, my life turned upside down when I was laid off. On top of my financial stress, my mother was in the ICU after having major heart and lung surgery. I didn’t know what I was going to and cried myself to sleep for many nights. I remember sitting in the bathtub, clothes on, with the water streaming over me, at the end of my rope, praying to God to deliver me out of this mess.

I turned my problems and my life over to God that day and told him that “I can’t fix this on my own – and I am counting on HIM to grant me his favor and wisdom to get through.” I read the Bible daily, specifically the verse in Isaiah 40:31, that says “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I posted this verse on my fridge and read it when I was feeling sad and weak.

I moved to be closer to my mother, who was in a nursing home. I found a new job within 3 weeks and was given 6 months of severance pay from my old job, which paid off all of my debt. I am now debt-free, happy that my mother is in good health, my finances are in order and I am very happy. The takeaway for me was twofold: 1) do what Financial Peace University teaches: build savings and manage your finances for the future; you never know when you’ll need it. 2) Never lose faith in God. All things are possible through Christ, who often uses painful struggles to close one door and steer your life in the right direction. I am amazed by HIS grace and will never be more appreciative to have Jesus in my life.

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

Monday 10.24.11 Reflection on Generosity

Brad Justice is the co-founder of Team Office, an office furniture company, and has authored two books. Brad and his wife, Cathie have been members of The Church of the Resurrection since 1999. They live in Overland Park with their two children, Peyton and Cole.

When I moved to Kansas City, I was 24 and single. I didn’t know a soul in the area. I was also beyond broke. I had over $8,000 in credit card debt years before Dave Ramsey was helping people avoid it. I moved here looking to build a life. Shortly after renting a studio apartment for $235 a month, I joined Village Presbyterian Church and worked as a volunteer in their administrative office one night a week. In a few months, I found a job selling office furniture for straight commission (I’d only get paid if I sold something). For the first four months, not only did I not make any money, but I actually owed the company money. It was disheartening because I was working as hard as I could, but ended up not being able to afford even a trip to the grocery store. Thank God I didn’t have a family to support.

I continued to spend my days making cold calls and praying to God for strength. One night while working at the Church, I found a little business card with this scripture printed on the front:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

As I read those words, I felt peace and strength fill my mind and body. I still get that feeling when I read those words. My circumstances hadn’t changed, and there was nothing to make me think things were going to get better anytime soon, but I just felt a “knowing” as I read those words. When I went home that night, I told God that I knew he hadn’t forgotten me and I promised that I would not forget Him when things got better for me. I put that little card in my wallet and have carried it with me everyday since. It’s dog-eared and worn now, but I will die with that card by my side.

It didn’t happen overnight, but things eventually got much better for me. I read those words practically every day, worked hard and did my best to follow God’s ways for us. I met my wife at that job, and 12 years ago this fall, we joined Resurrection. About that same time, I quit that job and started my own company. God’s words on that little card have sustained me, and helped our company survive 9/11 and the great recession.

Tough times come for all of us, but I don’t believe God intends us to be victims. I believe He allows tough times to come, and can use them to teach us to exercise our faith and grow strong. We have to do the work, but if we can learn to trust Him, he’ll always give us exactly what we need just when we need it.

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

Sunday 10.23.11 Reflection on Generosity

Dave Rock has been a member of Resurrection West for approximately three years.  A native of Hope, Kansas, he works in agribusiness.  He, Lisa and Christine relocated to Olathe from Frisco, TX in 2008.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.  2 Corinthians 9:11, The Message

My family farmed near Hope, KS. Growing up on the farm taught me how to work and showed me the productive power of God’s creation as our fields produced abundant crops – when it rained enough, at the right time. While I never felt poor, reflecting back, we didn’t have much extra. My parents gave generously of their time to our church and community and they taught us kids to do the same. However, Mom and Dad never shared if or how financially generous they were to the church. Likely their uncertain and inconsistent net income and farming debts kept my parents from being consistent givers.  So, other than putting a few dollar bills in the collection plate on Sunday morning, I didn’t develop an appreciation for consistent or generous giving early in my faith journey.

I didn’t return to the farm after college but I continue to work in Agribusiness. The farm machinery business has been cyclical through the years, but it has been far better for me than farming would have been. God has blessed us in many ways. Since college, we’ve moved a dozen times as my career has often required relocation. With each move have come new towns and friends, new churches to join with commitment Sundays and building campaigns. At our first new church in Dubuque, IA, while still paying off student loans, Lisa and I heard a sermon titled “Heaven on $1 a Sunday.” The message didn’t move us to generous giving! At the time my job was not certain and giving to the church was not a priority.

What has moved us over time is realizing just how generous God has been and will continue to be to us. He’s been with us through business cycles and personal challenges. As importantly, He’s been with us in all the good times as well. When one considers how much is needed to help in building God’s Kingdom here on earth, why hold back in giving? I know it will take more than a $1 a Sunday! 

In Bettendorf, IA, our church needed a strong youth ministry to keep kids in church after confirmation.  They decided to commit resources to finding and hiring a full-time youth leader. This was mid-year and we only had budget for a part time position. To move forward, we needed the congregation’s engagement, prayer and financial support. A financial outpouring funded the position and commitment from parents and youth resulted in a youth program that builds a growing faith walk for youth.

Later, in Frisco, TX, our church was building an education wing and youth center. The capital campaign covered the building’s cost, but not furniture or accessories. A catalog of needed items was published, along with the donation amount needed for purchase. As move-in day drew closer, it was almost a competition to make a donation before someone else “bought” the item! Our family gave funds for futons in the youth center. Later, we spent hours assembling them with other parents. The youth program exploded in growth—the new facility was great for Sunday morning, evening and Wednesday night youth group, as well as on-going “hangout space.” The financial gifts, and the back-ache from sitting on the floor assembling the futons, was a small sacrifice in light of the experience the new, furnished facility enabled our youth to have as they grew in faith.

Now, when we consider our giving, we don’t think of it in terms of how much money we give. We focus on how generous God has been with us, in good times and challenging times. We love to picture how much our contribution will impact the building of God’s Kingdom here on earth.

Saturday 10.22.11 Insight from Rev. Nicole Conard

Rev. Nicole Conard serves as the Pastor of Pathways to Ministry. She encourages and equips those feeling God’s call to full-time ministry.

Today we conclude our reading on Letters to a Young Man: Timothy.  In the last verses of 2 Timothy, we hear Paul’s reflection on his life as he prepares for death.. In our culture when we have heard stories of prepared last words.   In 2008, many read the book “The Last Lecture” by computer science professor Randy Pausch.  A few weeks ago, society reflected on the wisdom and genius of Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple—not by his last words but his legacy as he passed on leadership.   We recognize there is something profound and real in someone’s last words and preparations.

I have had the awesome privilege to be beside people who were close to death. In the preparation and anticipation of dying, there is a reflection on one’s life that is no less than utterly profound.  Strategically gathering family together and sharing last thoughts and words are important in this time . There are last words, memories, and a Spirit that make a profound impact on the person who is dying and the people gathered.

In today’s Scripture, Paul was preparing for his death. It is likely that Paul had already been tortured or beaten during his imprisonment. Now, he anticipates his death.  Death is not viewed as an end but simply a departure from the flesh to dwelling with God .  In this Scripture passage, we hear the heart of Paul.   We find the entire intention of his letter (2 Timothy) was to pass on his legacy to Timothy and instruct Timothy to come soon to Rome, so that Paul can see him before he died.
Paul is known as a larger-than-life hero, chief apostle, church planter and evangelist to all the Gentiles (anyone non-Jewish) in several countries.  As he comes upon the end of his life, Paul is very human, real and honest. He reflects on his life and names that the Lord was with him in the good and the bad times. He shares his legacy with Timothy by encouraging Timothy to fulfill his ministry. He reconciles relationships with Mark.  He organizes the next stages of the movement he’s been working on by gathering Luke and Mark (the gospel writers before they were gospel writers).   We can only imagine what parchments he was referring to when he wanted those with him.  He gives words of warning about Alexander.  He sees himself as having lived a purposeful life.  Paul needs of friendship, warmth (from his cloak), and spiritual discernment from those around him. Paul wanted Timothy with him in the last days and now was the time of a major transition in leadership.  Key figures were being shifted by Paul’s intention and design.   Through it all, Paul attributes his life and preparation in death to the faithfulness of the Lord.

As we conclude this reading, may we be people who can reflect on our lives and see God at work in our lives, even when life is hard. May we invest in relationships in such a way that we can call upon friends, companions, and family to gather around us in life and pass on our cherished wisdom in the most intimate of moments. May we lead our lives in such a way to have a purposeful life filled with faith to pass onto the next generation.

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