Monthly Archives: January 2012

Tuesday 1.31.12 Insight from Rev. Molly Simpson

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

I can manage to lie to my husband for a moment, in the little things, but really, it’s never a good idea.   Uh, yeah, I took care of those errands today.  What do you mean the deposit hasn’t shown up yet?  Or, I swear I left on time, it was traffic, er, I had to get gas, uh, is your clock right?   

Simply put, today’s GPS passage (Matthew 5:33-37) tells us that lying is a problem, and if we have to prove our truthfulness by swearing on something, then we have an even bigger problem.  And… while I’m being honest, I’ll admit that today’s passage is one of those that I might read and just keep on going to the next stuff.  You have to spend some time with this text to really discover what it is telling us.  I had to read it a couple of times over and over again.  I mean, how many people do you know that swear by Jerusalem?  Or swear by their head?  Maybe you are more familiar with the phrase “I swear on the Holy Bible” or “I swear on my life.”

This is where we get that phrase, “‘let your yes be yes.”  Jesus is telling us to be honest, to be sincere, to be people of our word.  We don’t need to doll up our promises with oaths we can’t keep. 

The funny thing is, in a Christian understanding of marriage as a covenant promise, you get to wake up every day and practice again the discipline of letting your yes be yes, of keeping your promise, of being faithful to what you said you would do.  It happens in the little exchanges of the everyday–being honest and following through on commitments.  It also happens on the biggest scale–choosing again, through the easy and the hard, to stay true to your word. 

One last thought… the GPS mentions the importance of being honest with God.  That’s a really good place to start.  Be honest about who you are, the things that are hard for you, the hopes that you have.  I find that if I can receive acceptance and forgiveness and affirmation from God, I can be a much better spouse. Likewise, if I can take my hurt or anger or frustration to God in prayer, it’s likely to be a lot less venomous and a lot more constructive by the time I share it with my spouse.

Prayers of God’s great blessings to be with you and yours!

Monday 1.30.12 Insight from Jeanna Repass

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

The brain is a wondrous thing. When I was growing up people were fond of the saying that we only use 10% of our brain’s actual capacity. I have no idea if that is the truth, but I do know that the brain is capable of some really amazing things. For example, people on a diet can sniff a marker that has a certain smell like chocolate or potato chips and the human brain translates the smell into a sensation of satiation.  I also learned in my college Anatomy & Physiology class that when you are cooking a meal, you tend to eat less of it than others who sit down to a meal that some one else cooked. While you are cooking, your brain takes the smells of the food and spices and it has the same effect as the food scented markers  – you get the sensation of being satisfied even though you haven’t actually eaten anything. Yes – the human brain is a mysterious and miraculous thing, I’m sure there is a reason we only use 10% of it’s capacity!

I love that in today’s scriptures from the sermon on the mount Jesus is talking about our brain and nacho cheese scented diet markers. What? You didn’t read that part? Let me refresh for you… Matthew 5: 28: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” See – right there Jesus was telling us that what we perceive in our brains, is actuated in our physical sensation. If we can get satisfied by the very smell of bacon on a marker, then how much more are we engaged by our brains playing out a lustful fantasy about another person? Wanting to eat something that is bad for us or lusting after some one whom is not our spouse has the same affect on our brains. So what do we do about it? Jesus has an answer – CUT IT OUT!

Matthew 5:29 – 30 tells us that it’s better to pluck out our eyes and cut off our hands than to cause the rest of our bodies to go to the fiery pit. So when I really want to put my whole face in a bag of Brach’s chocolate covered peanuts, I should cut my tongue out and the problems all solved? Not exactly. What Jesus is telling me is that when I sit around at 10:00pm and obsess about the double chocolate cupcakes in the kitchen, I am already sunk. The more I think about them, the more I’m tempted to give in. But an amazing thing happens when I stop thinking about those cupcakes and start thinking about the 5:30am workout that is waiting for me. I weight the consequences. I start picturing myself on my yoga mat in tears from the pain in my legs during the “chair pose”. Then all I want to do is to go to bed so I can actually get up and make it through that work out. Double chocolate cupcakes – you are defeated!

I’ve beaten this whipped-cream of an anology to a frothy pulp. But I think what Jesus is saying is that  you end up with the negative consequences whether  you’ve eaten the whole cake or just obsessed about it. So  – think about that painful chair pose when you want to eat that pile of nachos. Or better yet – don’t think about those things at all. Place your hearts and especially your minds on things that are holy, good and honorable. Then we can be filled and satiated abundantly, exceedingly more than we ever imagined by Him whom loves us more than 100% of our brains can ever begin to imagine. Amen.

Saturday 1.28.12 Insight from Julie Peters

Julie Peters is the Associate Director of Student Ministries at The Church of the Resurrection.

As a youth minister, I have to admit that the first thing that occurs to me when I read passages like this is, “Yikes!  How do I preach on this to a room full of middle school students?” And yet, as a second thought, I wonder for those of us who have already supposedly grown-up, are there lessons for us in the basic nature of a 6th grader that could give us insight into this scripture?

Follow me on this for a minute. Have you ever watched 6th graders interact? As a rule, they are goofy, awkward, super authentic, and overflowing with a basic enthusiasm for living in the moment. God made them who they are and more often than not, they embrace life and who they are in a way many of us have long forgotten. I watch them laughing a bit more loudly than their parent might wish, crying from the depths of their souls when someone hurts them, and singing with abandon with whatever voice God gave them. Basically, they are still free from much of the baggage that tells us to live for the audience around us and gain our worth from what others think, rather than gaining our worth just because God made us uniquely and beautifully us.

OK…so what does this have to do with Song of Solomon? Stay with me here. This past week, we have been looking at how sex is God’s good gift within the right parameters, and also how the world around us has defined sex in ways that really don’t line up with the powerful bonding of life and soul that is a part giving yourself to your mate so completely. I think again of the powerful image scripture gives us of husband and wife, two becoming one. The lovers in Song of Solomon are living in the moment and appreciating all that God has provided them in a mate, and yet building a love that lasts, becoming one. While I am not sure many of us girls would enjoy being likened to a mare among Pharaoh’s chariot horses, I do know that the authentic appreciation of one another, the ability to see the depth of beauty in the mate God has given you, and the abandon of awkwardness and shame as two become one come through in these passages loud and clear. These verses are a powerful image of surrender of self and a love that goes beyond all of the clutter of this world. It gives us glimpses of a love that is authentic, in the moment and yet bound for life, and is even stronger than death. So in this relationship as husband and wife, we get a small taste of the boundless, unconditional love of our God for us.

And for all of us, no matter what stage of life we are currently in, there are beautiful reminders for us in this scripture in regards to God’s love for us. We are reminded that God loves us and sees beauty in us, right where we are. We are reminded that our relationship with God is intimate and personal and we can surrender to our God with complete abandon, and not worry about what anyone thinks, because the way God loves is so far beyond what we can even understand, and goes even beyond death. And we are reminded of the joy and blessings that come as we enjoy who God has made us to be and appreciate the good gifts that God has given to us right where we are in any given moment.

May we live each day with the abandon and the security that comes from knowing that Jesus surrendered all for us and that in marriage, in relationship, and in life our true audience is the God who created us. As we live into this and allow God to love us and teach us how to love others we begin to understand a love that is even stronger than death.

Friday 1.27.12 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.

As we consider today’s passage from Paul’s letter to Timothy, let’s play a little Family Feud, “old school.” Take it away, Richard:

First question:  Roughly 8/10 adults are dissatisfied with what?
Survey says the number one answer is:  Their physical appearance &/or weight.
 
Second question:  Over 5/10 adults list this issue as a constant top concern.
Survey says:  Their physical health.
 
Final question:  8/7 adults say this was the toughest subject in elementary school.
Survey says:  Fractions.

 

As we reflect on the first 2 survey answers, it really isn’t surprising that, like the folks in Paul’s day, there is a tremendous temptation to view our physical bodies as creation’s weakest link.

This viewpoint is pervasive, regardless of age. Youngsters want to look more mature, want to be taller/shorter, want curlier/straighter hair, or want the latest smart phone. (Huh? – Editor. Well, not all teenage angst is limited to just physical appearance- they occasionally branch out to other areas just to mix it up.)

We adults aren’t immune to this temptation either. We miss the luxuriant hair of yesterday, we get frustrated when we can’t eat spicy foods late in the day, we get angry that our arms are too short to read a simple menu, and we’d love to see a re-make of a classic movie or TV show that was half as good as the original.

However, while our physical bodies fail to meet our expectations in many ways, we would be remiss to think that God agrees with us. It is no accident that God deliberately chose to have the Word made flesh and, as evidenced by the empty tomb, that God intends to redeem our entire being. God views our bodies as worthy of His kingdom & revels in the idea that we are made in His image.

While we see wrinkles, God sees laugh lines & great memories. While we struggle to keep the pace with the younger hikers, God lets us use these pauses to savor the journey. While we envy the energy younger colleagues bring to the work force, God relishes the experience we can bring to the table to help decision-making be more effective.

So what are we to do? Perhaps we could resist the temptation to worship our physical appearance and, instead, choose to honor God by properly caring for our body through diet, exercise & rest. As we submit our bodies to God & His Kingdom, we might just find that this helps put our health concerns in better perspective as well.

Bonus Question:  How did God describe creation after the 6th day? 
Survey Says:  “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed, it was very good.”  Good answer!  Good answer!  (Clapping.)

Thursday 1.26.12 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

Many would assume that a good sex life and a strong faith in God are mutually exclusive. We have this view that God and the church are anti-sex. Butch Hancock said that he learned this about the church’s view on the subject matter:

“sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”

Seems a bit silly when you read it, but it’s a warranted misconception. But the truth is that God isn’t anti-sex at all. We’re talking about the inventor of sex here.  Let’s face it, if you read beyond what they put in most small group curriculum, you’d know that should certain parts of the Bible were ever made into a movie, it would only be shown in seedy theaters.

But as the inventor, God does provide a few guidelines. Because He, better than us, knows what sex is capable of doing.

I’d like to think of sex as like fire. Given the right parameters-

It can provide warmth.

It can be powerful.

It can be beautiful.

But it’s interesting how that same beautiful fire can be so destructive just outside the bounds of where it should be.

It can destroy lives.

It can wreck homes.

It can leave scars.

These painful images are reminders that if we play with fire, we cannot only burn ourselves, but that the blaze and smoke damage may destroy those around us as well. Which of us would knowingly burn the ones we love?

But then just as, if not more, horrifying is that Paul reminds us that our bodies are not our own, but they belong to God. Would you take a match to your Savior?

I am a firm believer that God can bring beauty out of ashes, and I don’t want to give any other impression. But I would be doing nobody a favor by painting a less vivid picture.  We need to grasp consequences.

So appreciate the fire where the fire should be, but if you should see sparks start to fly, go find a bucket of cold water immediately.

Wednesday 1.25.12 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.

In this passage, the Apostle Paul is not writing as an enforcer of rules or laws. He’s not trying to keep people from having a good time. He’s writing because knows that by living a holy lifestyle, people will have an even better time, a more fulfilling life.

In verse 19, he writes of “people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed.” These people are being selfish, doing whatever they want to do, regardless of the consequences for themselves and for others. Sometimes the results of our actions may not be immediate, so we have to take time to consider the long-term effects of what we are doing. It is so easy to justify one small action, not ever intending to take a step further down the path away from right living, then another step, then another.

When I was in high school, my youth minister explained to the youth group that we needed to think through possible situations that might come up in which we would be tempted to do something contrary to what we knew or felt we shouldn’t be doing. In doing this exercise, we were training ourselves on how to resist the temptations. The more determined we were ahead of time, the more likely we were to make wise choices if and when the situations did arise. Of course, he also taught us that the closer to God we were, the more we knew the Bible’s teachings, the better the chances were that we would be open to God’s guidance and would be more apt to live a life that was more closely aligned to the life God designed for us.

 

Tuesday 1.24.12 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.

When I think of mutuality in marriage, I think first about household chores. Eric and I have gotten pretty good at the sacred act of chore-bartering. It usually goes a little something like this –

“I’ll do the toilets if you do the sinks and mirrors … toilets are worth double.”

“I already did the laundry.”

“Don’t know if you can say you did the laundry if you never got around to folding it.”

“I’ll do anything to get out of dusting. How about vacuuming, sweeping and mopping for dusting?”

I know some couples who swear by the rule where the one who cooks never has to do the dishes. But what Eric and I have found in our three short years of marriage is that you do what works. There have been times I’m swamped with 18 hours of seminary courses and two part time jobs and he’s stepped up to pull a little more weight. There have been other times when he’s in crunch-time at work and battling a head cold that I take a couple little tasks off his to-do list at home and bless him with his favorite meal for dinner. Until an official volume of rules and regulations is printed where some objective third party decides if toilet duty does really count for double points, keeping things perfectly even and equal will be a challenge anyway.

But mutuality is about much more than chores. In the Williams family we strive to honor God with mutuality as we make sure both partners’ experiences are honored, both voices are heard, both needs are met, and both give and receive, both compromise, and both feel honored and cherished for their unique contributions to the marriage. Now that’s a chore that takes some elbow grease!

Post Script: To see an interesting attempt to put numerical value on all it takes to keep a household moving day-in and day-out, see this article “How Much is a Homemaker Worth?”

Monday 1.23.12 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.

The story of the creation of the man and his wife is beautiful. I appreciated the quote from the GPS today that made the connection between the story of creation and some of the key qualities of romantic relationships – equality, protection and love. These are important qualities of committed relationships and are an inherent part of who we were created to be as humans. We are created to be in relationship with one another and God. This is one of the timeless principles that I see in this passage. Despite being originally created for healthy relationship, there are times when we mess up and break these connections. The good news is that whether it is with God or with one another we have the opportunity to recognize that we have done wrong and to be forgiven. I am grateful for this truth.

Saturday 1.21.12 Insight from Lori Trupp

Lori Trupp is the Director of Children’s Ministries at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

I am currently in the season of life that includes having teenagers–2 full-fledged, one wannabe pre-teen (yes, your prayers are welcomed). When my kids received the e-note, FB update, Tweet about this sermon series on “Love, Marriage, and Sex,” the grumbling immediately began in my household. The grumbles sounded something like this: “You’re not going to make us go to this, are you?” “Oh brother, this is going to be so boring, a bunch of old married stuff.” “Gross! I don’t have to sit by you while Adam talks about that, do I? That will be sooooo embarrassing!” You get the picture. Truthfully, I couldn’t believe my ears. I mean, I expected some eye-rolling (typical teenage reaction to most things these days), but I was perplexed. Where was this coming from?

After some prodding to give us reasons for their protests, my husband and I were able to conclude that they simply didn’t think this had anything to do with them, since they don’t see love, marriage, or sex happening for them for a long time, when they are “older” (to quote them.) While that line of thinking makes me want to cheer a little (in fact ,I believe my exact words were, “Yes, that is right, you are WAY too young for any of that”), we knew we needed to help them connect the dots a little better from the way they live now to what that means for their future relationships, and ultimately who they choose as a spouse.

Enter Paul’s difficult, yet perfect words from his letter to the Colossians. Because we are followers of Christ, we are called to die to self and sin.  We are called to forgive because we have been forgiven. We are called to clothe ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience daily. Our prayer for our kids is that someday when they meet “the one”, this person will also know THE ONE, and that these truths  will be the foundation for their marriage. (I have to admit that we do chuckle a little about who will marry our middle child someday. Hope that person is up for it! I know, we’re bad).

Of course, the words “this will be a piece of cake” do not appear anywhere in this passage of scripture. We are not promised an easy path, either spiritually or relationally. We know we are imperfect and will make mistakes that require forgiveness. But the more we grow in our relationship with Christ and the more we strive to live as he lived, the better the rest of our relationships will be, present and future. So even though I catch an occasional eye roll or two during our ongoing conversations regarding each sermon and passage of scripture read from our GPS, we know that God is at work always, guiding our path, helping us connect  the dots between scripture and life, molding our hearts and the hearts of our children, as they prepare to someday (a LONG time from now) meet the one they will choose as their spouse.

Friday 1.20.12 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.

“So, whatcha thinking?”

Ah, a question that can make many a man quake in fear. When we were first married, Doris asked this deceptively innocent question during a long car trip to visit family in McPherson.

An accurate response would probably range from why can’t the Royals get a good reliever to when did we last change the oil in the car to questioning the wisdom of the dietary selection of the “Humonga Chimichanga” just before a lengthy drive.

Realizing that none of these responses would garner much applause & perhaps even cause some dissension, I instead responded with the seemingly safe reply, “Um, trucks.”

Apparently that answer wasn’t as secure as I thought, as the lengthy journey became even more prolonged. Interestingly, Paul addresses this question in today’s passage: What are we thinking about & more importantly what should we be thinking about?

In today’s society this question is not a trifling issue. We are inundated with information, images & ideas. With technological advancements, this information-overload promises to only increase in speed & volume over time.

Further, studies are beginning to show that we can never completely purge all of this data from our minds. Each scrap of information we consume remains in our mental filing cabinet forever, be it the 180th article criticizing the BCS, the late breaking news bulletin about the Kardashians, or the recent facebook posting from Uncle Harvey vividly describing his preparation for his colonoscopy.

So perhaps Paul’s advice to focus on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, & gracious isn’t so crazy. But how are we to accomplish this ideal?

First, while a small boy after a bad dream will vehemently disagree, we do have some freedom to choose what we are thinking. We can opt to run a repeat of that monster-filled dream or we can try to direct our minds to recall going through the cheerful Toy Story ride at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios.

Secondly, we can be more discerning of what we read & view & hear. We all concur that the adage “Garbage In / Garbage Out’ applies to spreadsheets & diets, yet somehow we are tempted to think that it doesn’t apply to our minds. Maybe we could review our intellectual diet to make sure we are ingesting good ideas & good information.

Finally, we can ignore the messages that various media outlets want to inject into our minds via billions of dollars worth of advertising and instead strive to let our thoughts be directed by Scripture. Perhaps we could read a chapter from Proverbs each day for the next 31 days & heed God’s advice to self improvement, thereby replacing the infomercials promising a “new you” in 2012.

Will this make a difference? Applying Paul’s advice, let’s re-run our conversation from the opening. We’ll let you imagine how the dialogue might conclude & let you judge if you think the resulting discussion would be an improvement.

So, whatcha thinking?
 
Oh, I was considering the proverb, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown.” I wonder what that might mean. What do you think?…