Monthly Archives: November 2011

Wednesday 11.30.11 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela 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.

While my journey hasn’t been nearly as eventful and dangerous as Joseph’s was, I am thankful, just the same, that God was there to guide me and protect me along the way.

I grew up in a medium-sized town in Indiana, and when I graduated high school decided to stay in my hometown for college. I was comfortable there and near my family and friends. I came out to Kansas “temporarily” in March 2006 to stay with my cousin and her husband to help them care for their then six-month-old son. The two weeks I was supposed to watch him turned into thirteen months. At the end of those thirteen months, I was planning to move back to Indiana when a new friend here in Kansas asked me to move in with her while her husband was deployed to Iraq so she would not have to live alone. When I decided to stay in Kansas for that next year, I fully intended to go back to Indiana. Since I was staying, I had to find a job and so applied for one at The Church of the Resurrection. I didn’t do so because I was necessarily looking to work in ministry, but because I thought it would be a good place to work (and it is!).

Since I have become a member and come on staff at Resurrection four and a half years ago, I have learned and stretched and grown immensely as a person and as a Christian. Because of my experiences here, I think am better prepared for what I am doing right now and for whatever God has for me next.

I feel like God was protecting me from myself as he led me to the place I am now. One of my biggest fears—and one of the reasons I never wanted to move away from my hometown—is being alone. But God worked through new friends and great co-workers in Kansas to show me that I wasn’t alone and that he was with me. If God had said to me six years ago, “Angela, I want you to go work at a church in Kansas,” I am pretty sure I would have said no. But God knows me, and he knew that at that time my faith wasn’t strong enough to say yes to that. So, he gave me other opportunities that I could say yes to to lead me to where I am.  What opportunities is God giving you that you can say yes to?

Although I do not know what he’ll end up asking me to do in the future, I am confident that, if I am open to His guidance and trust that he will show me right where I need to be, God will lead me and use me for His plan.

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

Tuesday 11.29.11 Insight from Rev. Anne Williams

Rev. Anne Williams is the Congregational Care pastor for members of the Resurrection family who have last names beginning with S-Z.

I have to admit, I stayed up way past my bedtime last night ‘researching’ this story from Genesis, watching videos on YouTube of the classic Andrew Lloyd Weber music from Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat. Memories of singing along with this music at full-blast with my dad is one of the reasons the Joseph story is one of my favorites of the Bible. Today, re-reading this passage, I can’t help but hear the Elvis-impersonating Pharaoh singing about his dream described in these verses. It’s just too good.

Anyway, when I think about the legacy the Old Testament Joseph left for the New Testament Joseph, I’m reminded of the way we humans have a fascination in knowing or finding out who we were named after. My parents’ explanation of my naming was hardly satisfactory, so I continue to ask them–hoping the explanation will become more impressive if I keep asking. But since there isn’t (and never will be) an inspiring story that goes along with my naming, I’m more interested in the meaning of my name.

I remember a specific time as a child I was discussing with some family friends how it is ironic that my name means ‘full of grace,’ and yet I’m hopelessly clumsy. An older, wiser friend pointed out what seems obvious now, that there is an additional definition of grace unrelated to ones’ ability to hold a coffee tumbler in one hand, a bag in another, while opening a door with the Kansas wind gusting about. That day, I felt a significant call to live into my name as someone who exudes the mercy of God in all I do. I don’t know that I’ve ever made it to the end of the day thinking I achieved that goal, but that’s precisely the reason my name is a good one for me–it presents an inspiration, and a challenge to do better every single day.

And I think of the time God changed the name of Saul (known to us as the Great Apostle Paul), who turned from old ways and made covenant to live a life devoted to God. Whether it’s in hearing the stories of the person you were named after, or discovering the meaning of your name, I pray you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for living into God’s call for your life, just as both of the Biblical Josephs did.

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

Monday 11.28.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also Associate Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

There have been several milestones in my journey of faith so far in my life. I grew up going to church. My father is a United Methodist pastor and church was just a normal part of our life together as a family. I started to learn about Jesus as Savior from a very young age, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I would say that I realized the depth of God’s love for me in Jesus Christ and the salvation possible through Him.

I remember reading the Bible and praying one day in my bedroom downstairs. I was overwhelmed by the realization that God’s love, Christ’s life, death and resurrection was true and transformative for me – even me with the parts of my life that I wished were different. Until then I thought of God’s love for the whole world, but that day it became personal and real for me in a new way.

Jesus as Savior continues to mean different things for me as I continue in life. In Christ, I find salvation from threats to my soul both external and internal. I thank God for Jesus and look forward to his coming in this season and in my life today.

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

Saturday 11.26.11 Insight from Dave Pullin

Dave Pullin serves as the Director of Technical Production, also known as Saving Grace Productions, at The Church of the Resurrection. The Technical Production ministry handles all audio/visual/technical support for the church including worship services and events.

“I am making all things new!”

Each of us, at some point in our life, will most likely experience a time where it appears that all hope has gone and the pain and struggles of this life will consume us. The latter part of 2009 was that for me, a time where my life seemed to be falling apart in front of my very eyes and there was nothing I could do to stop it. That was the lowest point in my life and although I knew God was with me, there were times it sure didn’t feel like it. I felt completely hopeless. Perhaps you have been in that place too, where there seems to be no way out, which is a very lonely place to be.

One of the key ideas that got me through that time was the description of heaven we just read in Revelation chapter 21 and the promise that God will make “all things new.” The thought of being freed from the agony I was experiencing was so alluring. There were even days I would look up to the sky hoping to see the same chariot of fire that took Elijah coming for me! Eventually I began to find a hope much greater than anything I could desire on this world. This description of a new heaven and a new earth was my focus, and each morning as I struggled to get out of bed, I reminded myself that all this will soon pass and a day will come where there will be no more suffering. I no longer feared the suffering of this world and even began to look forward to the day that I would see Jesus face to face.

As I look back at that time, I can see now that God was able to use that experience in order to mold me into something whole again. Unlike the king’s men in the classic nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty, God was able to take my broken life and piece it back together again into something new. And now when I read this description in Revelation I realize it not only refers to what is yet to come, but it also refers to what God is doing right now! I finally truly understood that God is all about redemption and re-creation and He is constantly at work.

So when those times come that you are walking through the valleys of this life, perhaps this description of God’s promise may do for you what it did for me. It helped me put one foot in front of the other, to not take anything for granted, and to rest in the knowledge that He will make all things new…even you.

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

Friday 11.25.11 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 3rd grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

Revelation is always a fun book to discuss in Disciple classes or Bible studies. Everyone can read the same passage & yet select completely different verses or ideas that really speak to them.

It’s similar to the story of Orville & Wilbur Wright’s famous telegram home about mankind’s 1st successful flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903:

Success! Four flights Thursday morning all against 21-mile-wind. Started from level with engine power alone. Average speed through air 31 miles. Longest 57 seconds. Inform Press. Home for Christmas. Orville

Their mother was the 1st to read the telegram & excitedly shouted, “Good news! The boys will be home for Christmas!”

Aside: As we enjoy celebrating Thanksgiving this weekend (& as I get older), I certainly empathize with Mrs. Wright’s sentiments. But we know Thanksgiving can also be a time of dissension & distress. Maybe we could tweak our perspective like the time our family had a lengthy discussion/investigation into the 1951 mystery of who used my Great-Grandmother’s good silver knives to jimmy open the garage door in order to get a basketball out to shoot baskets. One older cousin turned to another after the inquiry had ended & whispered, “That went on & on, didn’t it?” The other elder cousin, who had traveled multiple flights to attend, smiled & replied, “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”

Today’s passage is filled with unmitigated joy as we read the choral response of those gathered repeatedly shouting, “Hallelujah!” (Praise the Lord!). You can just imagine the gleeful shouts & wild celebration as good has triumphed over evil. Yet it can be hard for us to fully appreciate this amazing victory. Perhaps we can begin to get a glimpse of understanding if we consider these simple scenes:

  • A young lady, who has never given God much thought, accepts an invitation to attend Christmas at Resurrection. Hallelujah!
  • A young couple, with a life filled with small children & the accompanying hectic responsibilities, decides to join a small group of believers to connect & grow in their faith. Hallelujah!
  • Two young boys elect to forgo birthday presents from friends &, instead, ask their buddies to make a donation to the Backpack Ministry. Hallelujah!
  • An older gentleman decides that he has waited long enough; it is “time he became a Christian.” Hallelujah!
  • A group of ladies who first met at Thursday Live this fall, decide to team up & help tutor children together at an inner-city school. Hallelujah!
  • A young boy, after receiving his Bible at 3rd-grade Bible Sunday, says, “I can’t wait to start reading this; I’ve been waiting my whole life to get my own Bible.” Hallelujah!

You know, perhaps God is a bit like Mrs. Wright. He is dearly interested in our accomplishments and achievements, but He gets really, really excited when we choose to return home to Him. Hallelujah!

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

Thursday 11.24.11 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

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

Today rightly elicits the awareness that there is so much (today and each day) for which to be thankful.  In my case, I’m thankful for my family—particularly my wife, my daughters, and the home in which I was privileged to grow-up.  I am thankful to have a job and the health to be able to do that job.  I’m thankful for my educational opportunities and freedom to pursue those per my choosing and not someone else’s.  I’m thankful for friends and the gift of having other people with whom to share the life I’ve been blessed with.  I’m thankful to be able to take a walk, take a journey or just take a break.  I’m thankful that I’ve come to be aware that God knows everything there is to know about me and yet loves me unendingly (a reality I don’t understand, but nonetheless, I am profoundly grateful to know).  I’m thankful that life is about more than what I can amass, consume, or acquire.  I’m thankful to know that the greatest fulfillment comes from being able to connect with and serve others.  I’m thankful that my failures are not fatal and my inadequacies are not final.     

I’m thankful that God loves us just the way we are, but loves us too much to leave us there.  I’m thankful that no matter the circumstances, God promises to never leave us or forsake us, but to walk with us always.  I’m thankful that God promises that He is always working for our good; and even is able to take places of pain and loss and through those…meet us, shepherd us, and give us strength.  I’m thankful for second chances, forgiveness, and grace.  I’m thankful that God has enough confidence in us that He actually entrusts us with the privilege of living and bringing “Good News” to others.  I’m thankful that we can encounter God simply by caring for others and we can serve God by serving others.  I’m thankful that the brokenness of this world and the hurt and wrong that so many experience—particularly at the hands of others—is a temporary reality.  I’m thankful that hurt and sin and brokenness and disease don’t get the last word.  I’m thankful that God’s Kingdom is coming on earth just as it is in heaven and that one day, God will make out of this old world a new world where there will be no more sorrow or suffering; no more hurt or pain or death—I’m thankful that one day, these old and former vestiges of humankind’s worst will be forever wiped away by God’s eternal best.  I’m thankful for Easter, for Resurrection, for God’s promise that the worst thing never the last thing.  I’m thankful that cancer, poverty, war, hunger, abuse, discrimination, tornadoes, disease, hopelessness, shame, emptiness, hate and greed don’t get the last word.  I’m thankful that Life and Life that is eternal gets the last word.  I’m thankful that one day, all of God’s children—every person who has walked through every tribulation—from every tribe, nation, language and people (vs 9) will be freed from everything that encumbers and will stand around God’s throne where never again will they hunger or thirst, the sun will not beat down on them, scorching them with heat, for the Lamb at the center before the throne will be their shepherd and he will lead them to springs of living waters and God will wipe every tear from their eyes (vss 16-17).  I’m thankful for the hope-filled promise that today’s scripture narrates.  I’m thankful that no matter what, Life—and Life that is eternal–gets the last word!  Thanks be to God.

I pray you will have a good day of Thanksgiving!

If you’d like to see a musical expression of today’s scripture passage, click this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX5pTJVKo-Y&feature=related

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

Wednesday 11.23.11 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

Rev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care pastor of Resurrection’s Support Ministries.

On Thanksgiving, I usually find myself saying thanks for things past and present.  I thank God for my family members who are deceased and for those still around as well as other things.  Today’s text points us elsewhere… Thanksgiving for the future.

The basis comes from Revelation 5:6: “Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne…”

In this Scripture, the author of Revelation is announcing that in heaven The Crucified One is still standing.  STILL STANDING. This Scripture proclaims with trumpets that even though it ‘looked’ like Rome won, Jesus is victorious.  This Scripture announces a similar vindication for all others who obey Jesus.

If you are standing in the right and your work environment is toxic towards you, vindication awaits. If you are generous with your time and love towards others, but there does not seem to be much coming back in return, vindication awaits.  When the curtain is pulled back on our life we will find that although we look like we have been battered by life, in Jesus we will find that we are still standing.

Vindication awaits. We do not have to make people say “Thank You” to us now. We do not need to make sure everyone notices our faithfulness to Jesus. God sees and we will be vindicated.

For that, I am thankful this Thanksgiving about the Future as well.

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

Tuesday 11.22.11 Insights from Rev. Molly Simpson

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

One of my favorite ideas about God’s nature is mentioned in today’s reading (Rev. 1:1-8) TWICE: the Lord God is the one who is, who was, and is to come.  Alpha and Omega, first and last.  Spanning all of time, today, yesterday and tomorrow.

For some reason, I find abundant peace in this understanding of God.  It’s like John then the Lord tell us–God’s not going anywhere.  God’s always been here, always will be.  This simple statement of utter consistency bolsters my faith and it reminds me how momentary  my view of the world really is.

It is from this place that I begin to better understand “the time is near” and Jesus-is-coming-soon business.  Though there may be weeks and months that seem to drag on in my experience, my days are but a flash in the whole of time.  That was true of the original hearers of the book of Revelation, and it’s true today.  For the God who was and is and is to come, Jesus is returning to set the world to right very soon indeed.

(I better use the “moments” of this lifetime for all they are worth!)

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

Monday 11.21.11 Insight from Jeanna Repass

Jeanna Repass serves as the Kansas City Missions Program Director at Resurrection.

When I was a child I was terrified of rain and most especially thunderstorms – I may have shared this a time or two (or three or four) in previous reflections. It really was a big deal in my life! I would hide under beds or couches or whatever I could squeeze under when I heard loud claps of thunder or saw flashes of lightning. One night at the dinner table my father teased me and said that when Jesus returned he wouldn’t be able to find me because the Bible said he would come with a loud trumpet sound like a clap of thunder and I would be hiding under the bed. Funny Dad! Actually, not at all funny to me. It really made me wonder about Jesus. That was a turning point for me. It did not make me less afraid of thunderstorms, but it did make me think about Jesus coming back to take me to heaven with Him.

 Could He find me if I was hiding under a bed when he returned? Why did it have to be thunder?!? Wasn’t there somewhere in the Bible that talked about Jesus coming like a thief in the night? Thieves don’t make loud noises – they come in quietly. Was I one of the ones that would be alive when Jesus came back? Was I on the “list” that Jesus was surely carrying with Him that had the naughty and nice names? Wow – this whole Jesus returning – end of this world was way too confusing for a kid! I’m so glad I have it all figured out now! Yep – at 41 I’m all learned up and I’ve got this whole rapture – end of the world thing all locked up!

 Or do I?

Well I’m not afraid of thunderstorms anymore. I actually like a good springtime thunderstorm – it’s strangely calming for me now. But I truthfully don’t have the rapture anywhere near figured out. I guess the best I can say for myself is, today, I’m not afraid. The truth is that my life is something that could be gone in an instant, unexpectedly – like a valuable heirloom that could be stolen by a thief in the night without warning or even a chance to say goodbye. Or it is entirely possible that Jesus might decide that November 21, 2011 is the day and He shows up and the “perishable clothe ourselves with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality” (I Cor: 15 vs 53). Today could be it… or maybe tomorrow – or the next day or the next – but not on Thursday because we’ve got all kinds of plans for Thanksgiving and Jesus is much more polite than that – He would never interrupt my Thanksgiving plans!

 So the point is… why hide under a bed waiting for a clap of thunder? Maybe thunder is just a part of the beauty of the rain that God sends to water and refresh the Earth for us. Maybe we should prepare our lives like every day is the last day (even Thanksgiving) and rejoice that today we have a chance to do what God created us to do. We were created in His image to “Love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves.” Today while we wait for the thief and/or the clap of thunder, let’s find a way to say “thank you God” by blessing a neighbor, reading a Psalm of praise out loud (Psalm 100 is great but so are Psalms 96, 97, 98 and 99!), or simply taking time to sit quietly for a moment and breath with God – remembering all that He has done for us – especially the gift of salvation in Jesus. If Jesus does come today, I’d rather Him find me doing these things and definitely not hiding under my bed! Amen.

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

Saturday 11.19.11 Insight from Alison Ebright

Alison Ebright serves on staff at Resurrection as the Assistant Director of Resurrection Music Academy.

This passage of scripture always gives me goose bumps.

Jesus is painting for us a picture of the end of the world as we know it – but humanity is far from feeling “fine,” as the R.E.M. lyrics might suggest. Rather, as the foundations of the earth literally give way, Christ says that emotions like “terror,” “anguish,” and “apprehension” will be the overwhelming natural reactions. I can only imagine. In the last decade alone, we have experienced those emotions time and again when witnessing many large-scale disasters and wars….as well as the smaller, but very real pains, griefs, and challenges in everyday life.

But when the world breaks us down, and in the last days when the world itself begins to break down, Jesus promises that He will return with his tremendous “power and great glory.”

And Jesus tells us that instead of trying to protect and hide ourselves from the storm of the world, or cowering in fear in the midst of His incredible glory, He wants us to boldly stand up. And lift our heads. Because our redemption – our salvation – is finally drawing near.

He will be our Savior.  And better yet, He promises that we will finally get to see Him when He comes, and to watch as His power and glory have the final word.

Today and then, I pray that we would be encouraged to stand up and lift up our heads, because our redemption is – it really, truly, amazingly, powerfully, deeply, thankfully is – drawing near.

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