Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tuesday 7.31.12 Insight from Catie Hyde

Catie Hyde is a summer intern in the  KidsCOR ministry. She was born in Arlington, Texas, but grew up in Overland Park and has attended Resurrection since she was in the 6th grade. She graduated from Blue Valley Northwest, attended Emporia State University for 2 years, and is transferring to Texas A&M Commerce  this fall to continue her special education and Spanish degree, and continue playing the game she loves. She has played soccer  for 17 years, and also loves the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys!

Hebrews 10:19-25, today’s GPS reading, talks about how Christians can encourage one another. Encouraging each other is something I have had to be held accountable to for about 17 years. I have the biggest passion for soccer. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I have had the amazing opportunity to continue playing this game I love at a collegiate level. I am a part of a team. I play for my team. I would do anything for my team. So encouraging others happens everyday in my life. Hebrews 10:25 says “not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” To me, this means much more than just telling a teammate “Good Job.” To me it means you show up everyday ready to play and give your all. It means you encourage every player to get better at something every time they take the field.

This reading makes me stop and think: am I really playing for myself, for my team or for the Lord? In week three of this sermon series on “The Games,” Pastor Adam asked, “Who is on your team?” It made me realize I need to surround myself with good teammates–not just good soccer players, but people who lift me up when I fall, who help me through tough times, and more importantly, who hold me accountable for my daily actions and how I represent God’s team.

Being an intern this summer has given me a strong team that encourages me to be bold and “live out loud.” My team is there for me everyday and always helps me. I know once my internship is over I will still have this team with me no matter what. I am so blessed to have this church as my team.

A quote I love from one of my all-time favorite soccer players is:

“I am a member of a team, and I rely on the team, I defer to it and sacrifice for it, because the team, not the individual, is the ultimate champion.” –Mia Hamm

For me, this quote says it all. With your team you will find the strength to persevere in faith. Helped by your team, you will draw nearer to God and better represent his team.

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

Monday 7.30.12 Insight from Sarah Nyhart

Last-minute time constraints required Dan Rotert to ask to be excused from writing today’s Insights. (Dan and Spencer Mobley filled an earlier gap in the Insights schedule on June 8.)

Happily, Sarah Nyhart was available to write today. Sarah is a summer intern at the Church of the Resurrection, serving in the KidsCOR department. She will be attending her third year at Kansas State University this fall and is currently majoring in Elementary Education with a minor in Music. Her favorite thing to do is play music on the piano and the euphonium. She is in the marching band at K-State.

Reading through this verse and theme for the day, three points really stuck out to me: serve one another, work with one another, and love one another.

I think it’s neat how Jesus reminds us that he calls us “friends” rather than “servants.” Likewise I think that we should treat others the same, that no one is truly higher than the other.

“No one has a greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I love this line. It’s exactly what I strive for in my life. Not necessarily to “die” for a friend, but to give my life to them, to serve them. As long as I can remember, I have always loved helping other people. It brings me great joy to do a favor for someone, no matter who they are. In my mind, it is so much easier to serve others than to be served. No one person is worth less than another. That’s how I was taught growing up, and as I’ve grown, that’s how I have truly begun to see it. Living my life remembering this point helps me to appreciate people more fully.

The theme for today is “Not rivals, but teammates.” When I read this, I thought it would be perfect to somehow tie this into the Olympics that are going on. But as I kept trying to think of an example, I realized that it just wasn’t working. I’m not necessarily a sports-related person. My life really revolves around music. So what came to my mind was the example of a concert band ensemble. In a band you have multiple different parts: woodwinds, percussion, high brass, and low brass (that’s me!). Now, one part of the band is not more important (no matter what the trumpets say). When I first started playing in band I always wanted to make sure my part was being heard. Apparently everyone else felt the same, so we would always end up with the person who could play the loudest sticking out, even if they didn’t have the melody. As we grew older and learned more about fitting our sound into the band, we learned that the melody is the part that needs to play loudest. But the counter melody and the harmonies need to be heard as well, filling the music out more. Without these supporting parts, sometimes the melody doesn’t shine quite as brightly. To see the other instruments, not as noise to play OVER, but rather noise to play IN, is when you are truly able to start playing as an ensemble, not just individual instruments. Then you are able to express your music, rather than just play it.

John 15:10-11 says, “When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love…I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” When we show teamwork, we worship God and live as he’s told us to, causing our lives to be filled with joy in turn! The last sentence in our Bible verse for the day says “This is my command: Love each other.” For me, there is no greater joy than to be able to love everyone, even if it is sometimes hard. As we get older, it is a harder thing to do. With our childhood innocence behind us, it’s tougher to be able to show grace to those that have hurt us, or maybe even damaged our lives for good. We can take a deep breath and remember that if God can love them, we might be able to love them as well. Even if that doesn’t fix our problems, it can help us grow to overcome them, sometimes one small step at a time.

This brings me back to our three points: Serve one another, work with one another, and love one another.

Saturday 7.28.12 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.

At first glance, this passage of the Bible has always seemed to be one of the less challenging parts of the Bible to understand and to live out. But when I look a little closer and read each of the words, I am quickly tripped up. “Rejoice in the Lord always” or “Let your gentleness be evident to all” or “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation…” You get the picture.

I am a reasonably joyful person, but I know I can’t say that I rejoice in the Lord always. I want to think that I’m a gentle person, but it is evident to all? Clearly not. And to not be anxious about anything. Seriously? Who can live up to this?

Oh wait. One person actually comes to my mind immediately, my friend, Kathy. She is the first person to ever invite me to attend a Bible study. I had never considered taking a Bible study class at that point in my life, but what I saw in her intrigued me and I agreed to try it.

What I saw and continue to see in her, some 23 years later, is a woman who has a joyful heart though there have been struggles in her life. I see a woman who commits to prayer before worry, and with 4 children that isn’t always easy to do. I see someone who always tries to see the good in challenging situations because in all of this, she puts her faith in Christ and what He can do. I realize that she’s not perfect, but she works hard at it and is intentional about relying on Jesus and not herself. She practices these things and she reads ALL of the words in the Scripture.

Looking at the end of this passage, I see Paul’s suggestion of learning, seeing, and following his example. I can’t help but think these same things of my friend. She has shown me again and again what it looks like to live a life surrendered to Christ. And what I see in her is the peace of God resting on her.

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

Friday 7.27.12 Insight from Brie Niebuhr

Brieanna Niebuhr is a summer intern at The Church of the Resurrection, serving in the Adult Discipleship area. She attended the International House of Prayer University, and plans to further study Psychology and Philosophy in hopes of pursuing a career in Christian Counseling. She loves people, reading, writing, singing, traveling, and enjoying the wonderful friends and family God has placed in her life.

If someone asked me if I would consider myself a disciplined person, I would in all honesty have to say “no.” I have short bits of motivation that propel me to tackle new Bible reading plans, diet and exercise programs, beauty routines and early wake-up times. However (as I’m sure many of you can relate to) most of those noble disciplines have fallen by the wayside. I was talking with one of my sisters about the challenges I was facing in my prayer life. I listed all the things in my life that were getting in the way of time in prayer, Bible study, fasting, giving, and the like. My sister interrupted me, and said with as straight a face as possible, “Brie, they are called ‘spiritual disciplines’ for a reason. Disciplines are not things we naturally are inclined to do, with immediate enjoyment.” At the time, her interruption frustrated me. But now I see the truth of what she was saying. As we reflect on spiritual disciplines as a congregation, and respond to the invitation to pursue them, it is important to remember that there IS real hard work involved. The Olympic athletes I will be watching from the comfort of my couch would tell me that getting where they are took hard work, time, dedication and all sorts of other words that I don’t particularly like. So, yes, let’s pursue spiritual disciplines. Get involved in a Bible study that holds you accountable to study the Word, wake up earlier to walk and spend time in prayer, and give of your resources to those in need. But most importantly, practice those disciplines as a response to something much greater…God’s love for us.

How sad would it be to go through life with perfect discipline and scheduling, yet walking around with blank, lifeless faces and heads down? Jesus has saved me from darkness and brought me into his light, life, and joy. The gospel with boldness proclaims that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. I do not deserve salvation, I have no righteousness on my own, yet the gospel of the cross shows me Christ, with outstretched arms, welcoming me home, time and time again. I must remember to walk out of the prison of over-familiarity, mundane troubles, worry, sorrow, and fears and remember the good news of God’s love for me. Isn’t it great that we also get to make praise a discipline, a life habit? As 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Making praising God a spiritual training practice is something I know I must prioritize. I invite you to join with me in that. I would love to see us as a body celebrate the goodness of the Lord together. Let’s lift our voices more often in song to the Lord and remember to receive his joy again. That is our wonderful privilege as sons and daughters of Jesus.

There will always be more that we can do for God, for others and for ourselves. New Bible reading plans, small groups, serving projects, cleaning tasks and so many more things demand our discipline. But we can also remember throughout our day that God wants a relationship with us. We live and breathe because of his amazing and undeserved grace. So let’s not forget to make  celebrating God a spiritual discipline again. Celebration and praise is the perfect (and the disciplined) response to the great love that Jesus has lavished upon us.

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

Thursday 7.26.12 Insight from David Lawler

David Lawler is originally from Forked River, New Jersey, and will be a senior at Milligan College in Elizabethton, Tennessee. His summer internship has been with the Downtown Kansas City Missions team. He loves to run, and is on the Milligan College Cross-country team.

It was “race relations Sunday” in Blountville, TN. There were about 10 of us in Sunday school class discussing the meaning of Romans, chapter 3. At the head of the table sat our study leader, and to my right was a wonderful African-American woman who had recently joined the church. The study very quickly became a rather fierce debate. The study leader asked, “What about those who have never heard the gospel. How can they be saved?” The African-American woman thought the question was outside the bounds of Paul’s message in the particular passage and the letter as a whole. She believed the passage speaks about righteousness as it pertains to faith in God’s self-disclosure in Jesus Christ versus the law, and the implications of Jesus being the “Righteous Servant” seen throughout Scripture. Paul, she said, wasn’t addressing the question of universal salvation. The study leader disagreed with her—in chapter 3, he said, Paul was too speaking about universal salvation because he used the phrase “the whole world held accountable.” The study leader began interrupting the woman, raised his voice, and told her to re-read the passage and consider her “position.” At that point, I interjected, asking that both people settle down and conduct the discussion in a tone of love. By the end of the day, I had to console a new church member, and received an argumentative email from the study leader talking about leaving the church.

Why do I begin my GPS reflection with this anecdote? I believe we must study to understand the whole of Scripture in an attitude of humility and love. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, but do not love, I am nothing.” (NRSV) Jesus warned in the 15th Chapter of Matthew that Bible interpretation can become distorted into hypocrisy. Bible study as a selfish means to maintain tradition (Matt 15.6), rather than working together to learn the Way of Jesus (2 Tim 3.16-17) and to better understand God’s love (Col 1.9) will always lead to disunity in the Body of Christ—which defeats the whole purpose.

There are 3 important details to the story in Luke 24. First, the two disciples said they had expectations about Jesus, based on their interpretation of Scripture. “But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel” (v. 21). The words, “the one to redeem Israel” tap into the whole history of the idea of “redemption” in the Old Testament. Studying that helps us understand why Jesus of Nazareth is to be proclaimed as Redeemer of all humanity. Second, Jesus’ taught them that all Bible interpretation’s goal is Himself (v.27). Jesus is truly the Lord of all Life. God revealed in Jesus Christ is the ultimate point to which the Bible bears witness. Third, we have a part in this story. Jesus opened their eyes when he was “at the table with them” (v. 30). They recognized who Jesus was, saw him as God incarnate and their Crucified and Risen Lord, when he took a meal and blessed it. Every time we take part in the eucharist, we have a new opportunity to recognize who Jesus is. So we cannot separate our Bible study from everyday life, because for us as for those early disciples, Jesus is recognized in light of His contact with the parts of real life like a meal. Bible study only really helps us when it shows that God worked, is working, and will work in real life, not just in abstract theory or concept. We know and serve the Living God who calls us to see His Son’s life as the measuring stick for all life.

Interpretation involves searching the Scriptures for both its divine and human elements, with the goal of understanding the Scripture in light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ. At times, there are points of tension that require us to think through how the text bears witness to the Living Christ. I find these questions helpful as I study any Bible passage:
1. What kind of text is this and how is it to be read? (Literary forms, poetry, narrative, historical, parable)
2. What was the author(s)’ intent in writing the particular message at the particular time? Who was to receive the message? (The Who/What/When/Where/and Why of each text, the key historical and literary context questions, provide these answers.)
3. Given God’s self-disclosure in Jesus Christ, how do I understand this story/text?
4. In what way(s) does this story/text bear on my thinking and lifestyle as a disciple of Jesus Christ?

Our Bible study needs to be both personal and communal. It is important to have study personally, and to seek understanding of the human aspects of a text. The divine aspect of any Scripture will always point us toward the goal of living in the community of faith. Each of today’s GPS passages were written for communities to hear and understand. So as I study, I also ask, “How much of my interpretation is dictated by my personal experience and conviction, rather than the heritage of experience and conviction present already within the text?”

I’ve found Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth a great resource to help me read the Bible. At school I also use several commentaries that help me gain an understanding of the historical, theological, and literary heritage of any text.

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

Wednesday 7.25.12 Insight from Hannah Eginoire

Hannah Eginoire grew up just a mile or two down the road from Resurrection in Leawood, and went to Blue Valley North High School. She will return to Belmont University in Nashville, TN as a senior, studying Religion and Music. This summer, she is interning with Resurrection’s Worship department.

Growing up in the Church, I formed this belief that there were three things that made you a good Christian: reading your Bible, praying, and going to church. Over the years, these things became a checklist of sorts. If I could read my Bible a couple of times a week, pray somewhat regularly, and go to church each week, I was set. But each of these things became dull and bland because my motivation was not a relationship with the Lord. My motivation was prideful; I wanted to feel good about myself and I wanted others to know what a good Christian I was. My prayer life in particular fell by the wayside. It was stagnant. I was only praying when I felt like I needed something or before meals. I completely forgot, or perhaps never really knew, that prayer is a gracious gift that allows us to be in the Lord’s presence.

But that’s exactly what prayer is. God calls us to him in prayer, and not just so that we can blabber on about our daily lives. When I think of the conversations that Jesus and God had when he would retreat from the crowds, I highly doubt that he was complaining about how annoying Simon was or that the weather was too hot.

In fact, I imagine that a lot of that time was spent in silence. Silence. We are so afraid of silence. We live in such a wordy, noisy world. We have even come to designate silence within a conversation as “awkward” because we find it so unpleasant. How often do we work or study without any music or the TV playing in the background? Or how frequently do we just leave the music off when we’re driving? If you’re like me, never. But how beautiful could that time in the car be if we left it for the Lord?

Recently I’ve been trying to just be in God’s presence. It’s a discipline to take the time to sit in silence. It’s difficult to clear your head and carve out space for the Lord, but it’s worth it. I often use a word, like “spirit” or “holy” or most frequently “hallelujah,” a word of praise that I say slowly as I breathe. I would encourage you to try it too. It feels a little weird, but it helps me to focus. And if you don’t feel like you have 15 minutes to do that (even though I guarantee you do), use your daily commute. Turn off the music, and the road rage, and let the Lord occupy that space. Allow yourself to receive the gift of God’s presence.

If you need encouragement, look to Jesus. He took personal days to be in the Lord’s presence, and he made it a priority when it seemed there was no time. He carved out space when there were crowds pressing in all around. We can only ask the Spirit to help us to carve out space too, to dig in the dirt of our hearts so that a seed may be planted and we can grow.

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

Tuesday 7.24.12 Insight from Kenneth Chafin

Unfortunately, the other demands of a summer internship made it impossible for Sarah Nyhart to share her reflections on today’s passage. Pastor Kenneth Chafin’s commentary on 1 Corinthians offers the thoughts below:

The cost for spiritual leadership is spiritual discipline. The analogy Paul uses first is that of the track meet. Corinth hosted one of the most famous of the Greek athletic events, second only to the Olympic Games. It was impossible for anyone in the city not to be aware of the strict disciplines and the strenuous training. But Paul felt that the Christian race was different in at least two ways. The crown the runners received was a wreath which soon wilted, while the reward of the faithful Christian would last forever. Also, in the races only one person could win, while in the kingdom of God, every child of God has the potential for success. But there was one thing that Paul felt that each Christian had in common with the athletes—he or she needed discipline.

Several years ago as I watched the television coverage of the winter Olympics, I came to be fascinated with a special-interest feature telling how the speed skaters trained. I had watched the races and they went so fast that even the longest distances were completed in just minutes and the shorter races within seconds. Then as I watched the documentary on their training procedure I realized that the racers had trained every day for four years for those brief moments at the games. I began to think about all the ordinary pleasures of life they had cut out in order to keep in shape and to sharpen their skills and techniques. They did that for the chance of winning a medal that only three out of the hundreds could get. If a man or woman could pay that kind of price for a gold or silver or bronze medal, what price ought those of us who are stewards of the gospel of Christ pay?

There is something in us that makes us want the rewards of accomplishment without paying the price. Because writing does not come easily for me, I understand the statement I heard recently when a famous author said to a reporter, “Most people really don’t want to write. They want to have written.” The feeling was being addressed by the son of a close friend who, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, said, “I’d like to be a returned missionary.” He liked the honor and adulation and thought it would be nice to skip language school and the rigors of the work and just enjoy the results.

We live in a day of “instant everything,” but there is no such thing as spiritual leadership without spiritual discipline. Growth involves consciously cutting out of one’s life everything that does not aid in reaching the goal. It involves patiently building into the life those skills and habits of thought and action that make the goal reachable.

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

Monday 7.23.12 Insight from Jared Fuller

Jared Fuller is a summer intern with Rez Online and the Partner Church Ministry. He has been working on gathering and organizing resources for future partner churches to use, and also been working on marketing for Rez Online. He will be a sophomore next year at Baylor University, studying Accounting and International Business. Jared grew up in Overland Park and began attending Church of the Resurrection when he was in fifth grade. He is an avid sports fan who loves watching all Baylor sports (and Dallas Cowboys football).

Beginning early in high school, running began to take up a lot of my time. Cross Country and Track practice/training was practically a year round activity. Even outside of practice many of my decisions and ways of life were influenced by my desire to become a better runner. From what I ate at each meal, to what time I went to bed, I always had a little voice in the back of my head asking myself if I was making the best decision.

Back then I never saw the parallels between a Christian lifestyle and a runner’s. I’m realizing that just like running, my walk with God can’t just be something that I do once a week. All the decisions I make during the week should be made with a conscious effort to build God’s kingdom here on earth.

I used to allow my life to get so consumed by running and schoolwork that often I only made an effort to have a relationship with Jesus on Sunday mornings. This past year I really tried to make Christ the center of my life. I wanted that little voice in the back of my head to be Jesus’ voice, asking me if I was making the best decision in order to glorify him.

In running it’s often the little things, like diet, rest, and hydration, which separate good from great. In my life I like to try and do little things to improve my walk with Christ. Things like joining a small group, starting a devotional, and serving people are all ways that I “train” to reach the ultimate eternal prize.

For me, running was just a normal part of my day. Any day that I didn’t run, it seemed like there was something missing. I really want my life with Christ to be like this. Any day that I don’t read scripture, pray, or serve, I want to feel like there was a hole in my day. I want to strive to make God part of nearly everything in my life, giving God thanks for all my blessings, asking for strength to get through a long day, and just simply praising Him.

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

Saturday 7.21.12 Insight from N. T. Wright

We regret that logistical difficulties made it impossible for us to share insights from summer intern Rob Guy. Instead, we bring you some comments on today’s Scripture from British scholar N. T. Wright’s commentary Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters:

“The athletics match had reached a critical stage. One of the final races was left to be run: the 440 yards (the old version of today’s 400 metres). The athletes were bunched together as they came to the first bend, and one of them was pushed over and fell right off the track. Quick as a flash he was back on his feet, and, as though electrically charged by the incident, caught the other runners with a few paces to go and overtook them to win on the line. It was a famous victory, which features now in the movie Chariots of Fire.

What would you have done? Most of us, I suspect, would have accepted from the moment we fell over that we were out of the race, with no hope left. We might have been angry, but there would be nothing we could do about it. What had in fact just happened would keep us enslaved, with no hope of going on to what might have happened. With the athlete in question—the famous Eric Liddell—it was just the opposite. It was as though he had been reading this passage of Paul: forget what’s behind, strain every nerve to go after what’s ahead, and chase on towards the finishing post….

He wants to head off any idea that once you have become a mature Christian you have, as it were, ‘arrived’, in the sense that there is no more traveling to do. He is gently warning against any tendency to a super-spiritual view of Christianity which imagines that the full life of the age to come can be had in the present, without waiting for the resurrection itself.

Paul is quite clear about this. He hasn’t ‘arrived’ in that sense, and nor has anyone else. True maturity, he insists, actually means knowing that you haven’t arrived, and that you must still keep pressing on forwards towards the goal. The seasoned athlete knows that the race isn’t won and lost until the end has been reached. To imagine that because you find yourself out in front of the pack you can slack off and take it easy, having ‘arrived’, would be disastrous….

None of this means, though, that Paul sees the Christian life as a gloomy struggle. Look again at verse 12. He is eager to ‘overtake it’ because the Messiah, Jesus, has ‘overtaken him’. It’s difficult to find one English word here that really catches the double meaning he wants. When he’s talking about what he, Paul, still has to do, the word means ‘to catch up,’ or ‘to grasp the prize’, or ‘to attain the goal’. When he’s talking about what Jesus has done to and for him, the word means ‘has laid hold of me’, ‘has grasped me and taken control of me’. But it’s the same word, and that’s the point. All Paul’s efforts after holiness, after the work of the gospel, after the eventual goal of resurrection, are not a matter of his unaided effort to do something that will make God pleased with him. They all take place within the context of God’s grace: King Jesus has grasped hold of him, and all that he now does is a matter of responding in love to that firm hand on the shoulder.”

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