Monthly Archives: March 2012

Tuesday 3.20.12 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.

Simply put, I think today’s scripture passage is about choosing your battles wisely. There are moments in life when it’s better to keep you head down and carry on. And then there are moments when God calls us to stand up against systems of injustice. This passage focuses on the former–those times when it’s best to respect the laws of our land, even if we disagree with them.

I like the way it’s written in the GPS: “refusing may have caused more cruelty and persecution, with no positive effect on Rome’s attitude.” It’s a helpful comment because it helps focus our protests to only issues where they will be productive. Like the fable of the boy who cried wolf, if we protest everything, after a while people stop listening. But I’ve found if I don’t abuse my voice by speaking up about just anything, my words will carry more weight when I do choose to speak loudly. This takes such discretion!

But more important is the note to only pay the taxes “if they didn’t have to give up their faith in doing so.” Faith comes first. Paying due respect to ‘the powers that be’ is something that we could do because of our faith, because our #1 leader, our God, our Lord has led the way and set the example.

May we choose our battles wisely, and make our choices following our great and holy leader Jesus Christ.

Monday 3.19.12 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.

When I read the GPS Insights for today, I first responded to the second set of questions: When did you most vividly realize, “God is god and I’m not”? One of the times in my life when this was the most clear was during my junior year in high school. I was scheduled to have surgery and be in the hospital for a day or so. I was quite anxious going in to the surgery and was grateful for the great care by the medical team as well as the presence of my family. I remember feeling that I had absolutely no control over what was going to happen next while I was in the operating room. It was clear that I was certainly not in charge, but God was in charge.

The surgery went great and I don’t remember much of the rest of the day. However, I vividly remember the next morning. I woke up and saw the sun shining a bit through the window as it was beginning to rise. I also saw a balloon that my parents told me had been brought over by some of the members of the football team after the game the night before. The light and the reminder that I was surrounded by family and friends was reassuring. Not only were my friends and family with me, but I felt peace knowing that God was right there with me as well.

Being certain of God’s presence in the midst of difficult or challenging times is helpful. God is in the boat with us in the midst of challenges, transitions or being sent out in to deep water.

Saturday 3.17.12 Insight from Jason Huwe

Jason Huwe is Resurrection’s minister for 20-Somethings and College Life.  He has attended Resurrection since 2007 and has been on staff about 2 years.  He enjoys ping pong, Dr. Pepper and cheering on his Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Last summer, my wife, Michelle, and I planted our first garden together.  I helped with constructing boxes and watering while she planned the layout and watched for weeds.  While our hopes for a plentiful crop remained high through June, an unfortunate reality became clear by July: growing a successful garden is not easy.

Our squash got too much shade while the garlic couldn’t get enough water.  The eggplants were taken over by insects and one really fat squirrel ate nearly every tomato we could produce.  Before long, we were both pretty frustrated.  It occurred to me about this time that a successful garden is not measured by the limited number of weeds per square foot, waterings per week or even my precision box construction.  Successful gardens are measured by the fruit that they bear.

Jesus clearly understood this principle as He used this parable in Matthew 7 to identify those truly following His message.  As Christians in our performance based society, we like to place importance on Bible reading, time in prayer and worship attendance.  It is important to remember, though, that those practices in and of themselves, like our weeds, watering and boxes, are not the true measure of a growing Christian.  They simply help to promote proper conditions for our growing into citizens of the Kingdom of God.   In the end, we will be able to identify healthy Christian believers by the fruit that they bear.

Michelle and I did have one plant that helped salvage our summer efforts (and our pride): jalapenos.  I’m not just talking about a couple of peppers either.  Let’s just say that it was the summer of the jalapeno at the Huwe house.  Jalapeno poppers. Jalapeno ranch dressing.  Jalapeno quesadillas.  I couldn’t exactly tell you why the jalapenos did so much better than the others, but they were in the right place at the right time and it was clear that they were thriving.

So my question for you is this: what fruit are you bearing?  “What is this fruit supposed to look like?” you might ask.  I think Jesus would say that it looks like love.  As Christians we are called to produce plentiful amounts of love.  This might look different for different people–a mission project, mentoring relationships, leading a small group, serving as an usher, blessing your neighbor or coworker.  Like our garden, you might find that not everything works out the first time.  Learn from it and try again.  But like our japalenos, once you find yourself in the right place, you will thrive because God made you to bear fruit.

Friday 3.16.12 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.

Our family spent the past week in the Washington D.C. area visiting historical sites like Mount Vernon, Monticello & Ford’s Theater. We also spent a morning touring the International Spy Museum, learning all about spies, their gadgets, & their place in history. Upon realizing that Washington D.C. has more spies than any other city in the world, the boys were busy “spotting” spies, dead drops, & shifty-eyed people. (Of course, with 2 young boys in KC Royals hats intently staring at you while riding the Metro from the Smithsonian to Foggy Bottom, it is hard to not look suspicious.)

As I considered today’s passage regarding judging others, I thought we might learn a bit from a “chat” with Mr. Isaac Speye a noted expert in espionage.

DL: What do you think about Jesus telling us quite plainly to not judge others?

I. Speye: Jesus’ command to us is well intentioned, but I’m afraid the toothpaste is already out of the tube. In my profession, it comes with the territory. However, I find it interesting that everyday folks are constantly apprising other people they encounter. Like those with the Company, they take in all sorts of clues from appearance, demeanor, or how one speaks & then make instant assessments. But there isn’t a dire need to be so quick to form an opinion of others in everyday life; yet it has become autopilot.

DL: How so?

IS: We deem someone who drives faster than us as a maniac, while someone driving slower than us is a dolt. We are always perfectly justified – it is the others that have issues.

Of course, with twitter, texting, facebook, emails, etc. the speed of evaluating others is increasing dramatically. A poorly worded text can be the source of all sorts of issues. Who knew that auto-correct can turn “stupendous” into “stupid” before you even realize what you sent?

Also, we feel emboldened to make judgments about issues we never before considered, like the environment or even one’s weight. Today, we can smugly label someone based on the amount of trash they have at the curb or what they are eating and feel it is quite defensible.

DL: How many of these assessments are accurate?

IS: There’s the rub. We never stop to consider if our judgments are correct or not. Like the old Head & Shoulders commercial, we never give someone a second chance to make a first impression. Perhaps that is why Jesus tells us to knock it off.

DL: Actually Jesus tells us why we shouldn’t be so quick to judge others in the next phrase, “lest ye be judged.” We wouldn’t want others to judge us based on a snippet of conversation or our latest discretionary purchase. And we definitely don’t want God to hastily judge us without considering our full story. As we wrap up, do you have a favorite story of the Bible?

IS: I got hooked on the Bible after reading about Joshua and his spies. But I also think Esther is a very cool tale of intrigue. Oh, and Moses entering the Promised Land recounted in Exodus is fascinating to me.

DL: Any advice/tips to help us limit our judgmental nature?

IS: It’s a hard habit to break. However, remember life isn’t a TV show. You aren’t living in the Wild, Wild West. Not every day is filled with a Mission Impossible. So, Get Smart & get to know those around us without building up walls of judgments – but rather bridges of acceptance & understanding. Then you’ll be In Like Flint.

Thursday 3.15.12 Insight 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.

I am a creature of habit. Once I get set into a routine it is pretty hard for me to break from that routine. Because I am a creature of habit, I have a tendency to be a bit of a worrier. I probably waste more time worrying about everyday things than I really should. After all, I have no control over any of the things that I take time to worry about. I like to think that I am the one in control of such things as what we eat for dinner, or what time I will be home from work. The truth is I have very little control over any of this; I am just a facilitator in God’s plan.

God had to remind me of this last night. God never fails to use his sense of humor when giving me a reminder of who is really in control. Every afternoon around 3:30 my thoughts start to drift from work to food. I start throwing around ideas of what I am going to make for dinner, and what the schedule for the evening will look like. You should hear the conversations I have with myself in my own head as I design the menu and agenda for the evening–they are not lacking in amusing anecdotes and confusion.

Yesterday I had decided at 3:30 that it was the perfect night for “tater tot casserole”–not a delicacy, maybe, but a family favorite. I would get the tater tot casserole assembled, then start on the dishes in the sink. By the time the dishes were done, the oven would be preheated and we would be well on our way to a fabulous family supper. All was going according to my plan. I was finishing  the dishes and I heard the familiar beep from my oven that told me it was time to commence the cooking. I opened the oven, grabbed the casserole dish with my wet hand, but this proved fatal to my casserole. As I was lowering “him” onto the oven rack, “he” slipped out my hand. I felt everything go into slow motion. The casserole dish did three revolutions in the air before crashing down face first in the bottom of my hot oven. My idea of a perfect night had been ruined. Why did I grab that casserole dish with the wet hand? How was I going to get all those charred tater tots out of my oven?

I called my husband who was keeping our son occupied and happy, while waiting for me to deliver our gourmet casserole. He is always quick on his feet, and has a gift for cleaning up the messes I make. He managed to remove the charred remains of our supper from the bottom of our oven, without burning himself and with a smile on his face. I was not as amused as he was, because this did not feel like a “smiling moment.” I could feel anxiety rising–my plans were going into the trashcan with our supper. Then my husband said something that brought me out of that moment of panic and disappointment. He said, “It’s OK–we’ll just go to McDonald’s.”

Just like that, I realized it was OK, because God had strategically placed a McDonald’s less than a mile down the road from our house. I didn’t have to worry about how or what we were going to eat–that was in God’s hands. Even though our evening did not play out the way I had envisioned it, we still had a great time together. We enjoyed our greasy meal, while being able to laugh about how none of us is in control and sometimes we need to let go and realize that we put too much energy into things that God has already taken care of. So, my mantra for this week is Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Wednesday 3.14.12 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

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

Living for God, not for show

WEDNESDAY 3.14.12   Matthew 5:43-6:18

 

The Temple had an architectural layout similar to a set of concentric rectangles.  Imagine a bullseye made up of quadrilaterals.  Each rectangle was called a “court.”  Each court was given a name based upon the group of people who were able to enter that space, but no further.  The most outer court is the “Court of Gentiles.”  Gentiles could be present in this court but were not allowed to pass through the gate and enter further into the Temple.  The next court is the “Court of Women.”  Israelite women were allowed to enter this court, but no further.  We will return to this court momentarily.  The next court as we continue to move inward is the “Court of Israelites,” the location where all Israelite men were allowed to enter and observe the sacrifices but no further.  The next court moving inward was the “Court of Priests,” where all priests were allowed to enter, and no further.  The center of the bullseye was the Holy of Holies, where only the High Priest was able to enter.

 Most of the activity in the Gospels occurs in the Court of Women.  The Court of Women was the location where people gave their offering.  Since it would be unholy to put coins with graven images into the holy temple treasury, money changers were present in the Court of Women to exchange Roman currency for temple approved coinage.  If we imagined changing currency during international trips, we would get a decent handle on the scene in the Court of Women.  It is here in the Court of Women that Jesus would overturn tables and cast out the money changers as seen in Matthew 21:12-17 and the other Gospels.

 Something else was found in the Court of Women; offering ‘boxes.’  There were 13 offering boxes that were made of metal, likely bronze.  When people gave their offering, you can imagine the sound it would make.  Some would give much causing a large radius of people to be able to hear the coins rattling around these trumpet-shaped sound magnifiers.  This must have been a common practice.  Big offerings equal loud ringing and rattling which, in turn, led to public adoration.

 Jesus spoke to this common experience and said:
“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.  But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Matthew 6:1-4

 There are some people who give (serve? Love? Worship?) so that an audience will see and praise them, Jesus says.  Instead, he instructs people to worship God and obey Jesus without desiring attention. 

 As we live our day, give to God without trumpeting your good work … and you will receive your reward from God.

 Steven Blair
Pastor of Celebrate Recovery and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministry

 

Tuesday 3.13.12 Insight from Rev. Molly Simpson

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

If I ever get too caught up in the idea that following Jesus can be boiled down to something easy like “try to be good and love other people,” I only need to read this passage (Matthew 5:17-42) for a reality check.  Following Jesus is HARD.  Really hard.

Jesus cares about not only right action but also about our motivation.  He not only wants us to keep the rules but to do even better than they ask of us.  He doesn’t let us slide with what is permissible but pushes us to do what is right.  And sometimes he asks us to give up our hold on fairness and follow him into the totally unfair, messy, beautiful realm of grace.

Ugh, did you read verses 23 and 24?  When you come to offer worship to God and you remember that someone has something against you, leave right then, go and be reconciled, then come back and worship God.  Jesus is pointing out how important it is to be honest with ourselves before God and to make our wrongs right if we are truly going to worship God.  I think I have a few things to work on before next Sunday.

Like I said, following Jesus is really hard.  But it is the good kind of hard.  Trying to live into the teachings of Jesus, especially those in the sermon on the mount, will lead you into a harder, better, more satisfying, more faithful kind of life.  Trying to live into this stuff invites us to truly step into the footsteps of Jesus.

And the best part… when we take on the challenge of Jesus’ way, we will find Jesus right there ready to walk with us.

Monday 3.12.12 Insight from Jeanna Repass

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

It’s March Madness and I just filled out my bracket! For those of you who are not completely sports-crazed and run your annual household calendar around the 3 – yes 3 not 4 – seasons of the year (Football, Basketball and Training Camp) – March Madness is the more common term for the NCAA Basketball Championship Tournament. The time when we all get to pretend that our picks are anything but foolish-luck and that we somehow have the magic picks for the Final Four. *FYI – watch out for Creighton this year….*

I really do enjoy this time of year because in every NCAA Tournament – there is always one Cinderella story – one team that does not belong among the “elites”. That’s the team we all publicly ridicule because they break our brackets. But secretly – we all want to see them go all the way. (Why not – I’ve lost my office pool anyway – might as well see Iona U make it to the West Championship!) With all due respect, Jayhawks, Tigers and Wildcats, there’s just something that pulls on our inner-being, the “if they can do it – there’s hope for me” inside of each of us when a team that’s never been to the tournament makes it into the 2nd & 3rd rounds. Then they’re an “Elite 8” team and then – the FINAL FOUR! Does it matter if they win it all – not really – we all secretly like to cry when CBS plays the highlights where the “almost” team is shredded in tears as their improbable run comes to a buzzer-missing end. Somewhere inside, we all just really like the underdog.

Maybe it’s because Jesus really likes the underdog too. I know – that sounds obvious. Our Lord always did hang out with the outcasts and the undesirables when he was walking around in the flesh. The Pharisees often caught Jesus hanging out on the wrong side of the tracks. But of all the underdog scriptures that we read about Jesus – I love the “beatitudes” most of all. The Sermon on the Mount is one of the great road maps in the Word about why we should all love the underdog and more importantly, why it’s good to be the underdog. If you are poor in spirit, if you mourn, if you are meek, if you hunger & thirst for justice, if you are merciful, if you are peace maker, if you are persecuted – then yours is the Kingdom of Heaven!

To be clear – it’s not that Jesus is saying you should never win that championship while you’re here on earth. He’s simply saying that if your whole life is a championship run – then you’ve gotten your reward and what you are missing out on is the greatness of being the “guy/gal” at the bottom of the bracket. The bottom of any good pot (as my grandma would say) is where all the good flavor is! That’s where Jesus tells us that the “salt” is. So be the salt. Be the underdog. Be BLESSED that like the song that plays at the end of the Tournament “One Shining Moment” – you are the LIGHT to the world of underdogs! Amen.

Saturday 3.10.12 Insight from Michelle Kirby

At The Church of the Resurrection, Michelle Kirby is the Program Director for Learning Events such as the Journey 101 courses and Destination Resurrection.

This is one of those passages in the Bible that make parents uneasy. I am reminded of when my son Andy, was around 2 years old.  He had awakened with a runny nose, but by dinner time it had quickly progressed to shortness of breath. I was very concerned. He was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia as well as asthma. He was a very sick little boy and there was great concern that we might lose him. That was a very scary time for all of us.

As I read about Jairus, I understand how he was willing to do whatever it took to save his daughter. Though the religious leaders were hostile to Jesus, Jairus approached Jesus anyway. Men from his house interrupted his conversation with Jesus, informing him it was too late, his daughter was gone. But Jesus ignored what the men were saying and told Jairus, “Don’t be afraid, just keep trusting.”

When my son was in the hospital, I saw all of the treatments and medications they were giving him and I was also willing to let them do whatever was necessary to save him. And like Jairus, I too went to Jesus. I couldn’t even form the words to pray but knew that Jesus understood the deepest cries of my heart. I called our Pastor and asked if he would come and pray for Andy. I also asked my family and friends in my Bible Study group to pray for him.

It’s during these times in my life, when the outcome is uncertain, that life is most scary. But it’s also in those darkest moments when I have felt and heard those familiar and comforting words of Jesus, telling me to not be afraid and to trust Him. I know that He walks with me through those times and that I am never alone.

Though my son is now 23, I can’t say that I have stopped worrying about him from time to time. So I persist in my prayers for him and know that I can continue to trust Jesus to care for him and to be with me through it all.

Friday 3.9.12 Insight from MAC Track Student Madison Ryan

Madison Ryan is a freshman at Blue Valley North High School. She has been a participant in MAC (Ministry as Career) Track for four years, and is interested in pastoral and/or music ministry.

“Okay, so today I have school, then Latin club after school, followed by violin lessons, and homework. I also have to find time to read my Bible chapters for the day, and call the nursing home about volunteering next week.” I went over the day in my head one Tuesday morning as I threw my caravan of bags into my mom’s car. It never seems like there are enough hours in the day to get everything done.

I arrived at school and made my way through each of my classes. I got to Biology, my very last class. As I sat down at my desk, I heard sniffling coming from nearby. I saw that the girl sitting next to me was crying. She had just moved here from the East Coast and didn’t talk very much. I had no idea what to do! Finally, after thinking about it, I said a quick prayer in my head and told her that if she needed to talk to someone I would be glad to help.

Have you ever had one of those days where it feels like there is not enough time? That you are constantly moving from one thing to another? Even Jesus had those days. Walking from one town to another, speaking in synagogues, and healing thousands of people had to have gotten tiring at some point. In this scripture Jesus was on his way to heal a dying girl, but his trip was stopped when this sickly woman touched his robes, receiving enough power from one touch to heal her illness. When he figured out what happened, he did not get angry that some of his power had been lost, and he didn’t go on and on about how much power he still had (though he was very powerful). Instead he just sent her on her way in peace.

As we go through our busy lives each day we have power, as Jesus did. Power to make decisions–power to be ourselves–even power to change the world, if we wanted to. Of course most of us don’t exude power from our clothes, but there are other ways to give power to others. We must not be afraid to use our power to make the world a better place through the little things we do. So next time you are faced with another busy day, remember to say hello to that shy boy who is in your Calculus class, or talk to that girl who you know is going through a hard time. In doing this you could make a person’s life that much better.