Monthly Archives: September 2012

Saturday 9.29.12 Insight from Brent Messick

Brent Messick is Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director of Operations.

Saul was a religious extremist. He would lead death squads to hunt down and kill followers of “The Way,” the early Christian movement after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. In fact, he was on such a mission to Damascus, when his plans got interrupted. Jesus had had enough. He had other plans for Saul. Saul is blinded by a bright light from heaven, he gets knocked to the ground, and he hears Jesus ask, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”

Saul is totally blind for three days. Then his sight is restored, he is baptized, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul starts preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ, and becomes one of the most powerful and prolific preachers and evangelists in Christian history. What a conversion story?!

But I go back to the time when Saul was blind. He couldn’t see, and he didn’t drink or eat for three days. Here is one of the most powerful, most feared religious leaders of the day, who has been rendered totally helpless. What do you think he did for those three days? What do you think he thought about?

I think Saul looked at his life and didn’t like what he saw. He was a Pharisee, knowledgeable about the Old Testament and God’s love for His people. Yet, here Saul is going around murdering God’s people. I believe Saul is a man living with a lot of internal turmoil. He was living in darkness, which I believe was symbolized when he was blinded from heaven.

Saul has a choice to make. He can continue to live in turmoil and darkness. Or he can live in the light and do what God really intended for him. He chose the latter.

Saul’s story is my story. Although I did not persecute any Christians, I used to persecute a lot of golf balls on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I was not raised in a religious home, nor did I attend church very often as an adult. I was the classic CEC Christian: Chrismas, Easter, and Crisis. I had not even read the Bible until late in life.

As I look back on my life, I can see how I was persecuting Jesus, but in different ways. Jesus commands us to love God and to love our neighbor. Clearly, I was not succeeding at either. Don’t get me wrong. I tried to be a good person. I loved and took care of my family while I climbed the corporate ladder. But my life was not God-centered.

Finally, Jesus had had enough with me. He had other plans for me. About 11 years ago, he led me to the Church of the Resurrection, and about the same time he made me take a Disciple Bible Study class. It wasn’t as dramatic as a bright light, but my eyes and my heart were opened. Jesus has helped me to see and understand I can love other things in addition to my family and my job. I don’t persecute as many golf balls as I used to, but I realize that I have so many other blessings in my life and try not to take any of them for granted anymore.

If Jesus wants you, he’ll let you know when you least expect it.  Just ask Saul.

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

Friday 9.28.12 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 6th grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

Our small group has spent the past few sessions viewing the DVD of motivational speaker Andy Andrew’s presentation of The 7 Decisions.Though it is secular in nature, the themes are easily linked to discussions of Biblical ideas & teachings.One of the points Mr. Andrews makes is the tendency we all have to be indecisive.(Agree? Um, I’m not sure – Editor.)

Another of the 7 Decisions Mr. Andrews cites is the need to act. He references the sociological idea of the “Butterfly Effect” to illustrate the amazing impact one person simply taking action can have on others’ lives.

He cites the example of the Nobel Prize winner, Norman Borlaug, who is credited with saving billions of lives thanks to his work in developing high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat. Mr. Borlaug began his work in earnest after Henry Wallace, VP to Roosevelt, encouraged him to help develop food supplies for the war-effort.Mr. Wallace, as a young man, became very interested in developing hybrid corn & was strongly influenced by family friend George Washington Carver.  When George was only a week old, Quantrill’s raiders killed his mother & siblings & kidnapped George.Susan Carver was so distraught, she & her husband, Moses Carver, tracked George down & traded their horse for George’s life to raise him as their own son.Thus, the selfless act by Mr. & Mrs. Carver in the 1860’s set in motion the eventual salvation of billions of people a century later.(A shorter illustration of the Butterfly Effect would be the plot of the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” – Editor. Yes, but I couldn’t decide between the two – DL.)

With this context in mind, I began to ponder today’s Scripture. Samuel, at some risk to his own life, opts to listen to the Lord & begin the process to replace King Saul.Samuel meets Jesse & has several promising candidates from which to choose.Samuel, though, puts the culture’s biases aside, and heeds God’s counsel to eventually select & anoint the youngest son, David, as the successor to Saul.David, an unlikely candidate to be a successful monarch, becomes the greatest King in Israel’s history & one of the heroic figures of the Bible.The Gospel of Matthew (which we’ve all been faithfully reading) then traces the earthly lineage of Jesus through David, all the result of Samuel’s fateful decision that afternoon a thousand years earlier.

So what does this mean for us today? There are 2 possibilities for us to consider.

First, consider the awesome impact we can have if, like Samuel, we sought to listen to God’s call in our lives. Instead of listening to the negativity of the culture that surrounds us, what if we acted on the inspiration & ideas that come to us as we worship God or read His Word?

I’ve long felt that the parking lot is the worst place on the church campus. We leave the sanctuary bubbling with potential & possibilities.But as we walk to the car we are so inundated with reminders of our commitments, hassles, & struggles that when we reach the car & turn the ignition we have already sub-consciously admitted defeat & concluded we couldn’t possibly act on that inspiration.Mindful of this tendency, maybe this weekend we can strive to break the habit.

The 2nd idea is for us to mimic Samuel and seek to anoint/bless those who are in need of inspiration or reinforcement.Samuel figuratively lifts David from “nobody” status to become a great young man for good.What if we sought to bless others in need of a kind word or a gentle nudge to continue on? 

I recall from a Disciple-1 class years ago, as we were sharing what we felt were each person’s spiritual gifts, one young lady briefly became overwhelmed with emotion. She needlessly apologized saying, “I have never heard so many compliments in my life.I had no idea there was so much good I could do.”

Sadly, we live in a culture where compliments & encouragement are viewed as a treasure to be hoarded. Perhaps today we could take the mindset of Samuel & look for the “Davids” in our lives to seek to offer a comforting word or a caring touch.Who knows were it might lead?  (On second thought, I don’t think I am indecisive – Editor. Good for you! – DL)

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

Thursday 9.27.12 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 and J – L.

One of the first things that strikes me after reading Rahab’s story is the parallel between her tying the red chord around the window through which she had lowered the spies and God’s command through Moses that all the children of Israel in Egypt place the blood of the lamb over their door post so that the last plague of death might pass over them (Exodus 12).  Both instances were about being saved from death.  Both instances were about having faith in an invitation that didn’t seem (on the surface) to make a lot of sense.  Both were ultimately about trusting that there was something about God that could be trusted—even in the midst of circumstances that were deeply troubling.

Now all that commonality being named, there still remains so much about Rahab’s story (and the broader story of the fall of Jericho) that we simply don’t know or understand.  Why her?  Why weren’t their other options?  Why was there even a need to spy at all if God had already decided to take out all of Jericho?  Why…? 

And yet, as we understandably wrestle with and ask several good questions of this story, what we do find in Rahab is this most unlikely of candidates to deliver salvation.  A woman (in a patriarchal world where women were little more than property).  A prostitute (which means that while there was no shortage of men to provide business, there was also no shortage of disrespect, disregard and disdain from all those around her—including the men who would use her in the night and then ignore her in the day).  An outcast (it is likely that even her own family—meaning the very parents she was negotiating safety for—would have shunned her and denied she was their daughter). 

When we stop to think about all that was going on here in Rahab being chosen–again–what is striking are the similarities…the parallels.  But this time it is not between Joshua 2 and Exodus 12, but now its between Joshua 2 and Luke 1 (and Matthew 1).  What’s striking here are the similarities between this least likely to be chosen in Rahab, and this least likely to be chosen in Mary.  Both women; both risking being disbelieved because they might be cruelly labeled and disregarded as whores; both running the risk of being outcasts—even by their own families; both finding their very life on the line and literally risking death—all because God chose and called them…on purpose.

You see–among other things that are not nearly as clear—what becomes blatantly clear is that God has this special and unrelenting interest in calling the least likely; choosing those easily cast off and disregarded for the most important of work…to be His mouthpiece…His delivery system.  And I perceive in the story of Rahab that there are at least two reasons why God does this:  First, God makes a pattern of doing this in direct response to countering the lie those least likely persons tend to most often believe and live in.  The lie that I’m worthless, that I don’t matter, that I’m not good enough or talented enough or capable enough…or whatever enough.  God just specializes in meeting every “I’m not…enough” lie head on and saying in effect you listen to Me, I don’t care what anybody else says or thinks; I made you, I designed you, I love you and You belong to Me.  Don’t give me any of this “you can’t do it” nonsense because I have gifted you beyond what you can even imagine and I’m here to tell you I will never leave you and I will never forsake you—I’m going to be with you always and you and me together can take on and accomplish more than you have ever even dreamed of.   And second, God is always about dismantling and delivering from sin.  And spawned by the original sin and seen rearing its ugly head as early as Genesis 3 is this sin of sexism, chauvinism, misogyny, male dominance, patriarchalism—use whatever name for it you want.  But it boils down to nothing more than the notion of male superiority and it has been born out of nothing more than attempted domination of one gender over the other and it was the very first expression following the human fall (or original sin) that we see in the bible and thus, it is the act of sin that has been with us the longest. And consequently, God has been taking this sin on ever since Genesis 3, and Rahab is one of several examples of this we see in the Old Testament and–of course–Jesus would make this blatantly clear in His life and ministry.

God has always called and will continue to call women and men to be His ambassadors and mouthpieces—especially those who seem to others or who believe themselves to be least likely. 

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

Wednesday 9.26.12 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

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

Who are your Ninevites and what is your Tarshish?
WEDNESDAY 9.26.12   Jonah 1:1-17, 3:1-3, 3:10-4:4
God’s voice is not always a welcome voice to hear.

Whether faith in God is a new adventure for you or something you have pursued for some time, the common assumption is that hearing God’s voice would be a good thing.  We can even be jealous of another person’s story when it includes the phrase “I heard God speak to me.”  Somehow we assume that God is in the comforting business and any message from that office will include comfort.

God’s voice is not always a welcome voice to hear.  It can be irritating, sleep-depriving, belief challenging, and comfort denying.  It can be unwelcome.

It happened to Jonah.  God wanted Jonah to send a message to the people of Ninevah, enemies of the Jewish people.  Nineveh lay some 600 miles northeast of Israel.  Jonah heard the calls from God clearly and then quickly … headed to Tarshish, located in southern Spain or northern Africa. 

Jonah ran and sailed in the opposite direction.  Then God grabbed his attention through a large, blubbered whale.  Jonah then obeyed God’s inconvenient message and turned toward Ninevah.  When he arrived, he gave one of the shortest and worst sermons of all time (Jonah 3:4) and the people responded in mass repentance.  Lives were changed because Jonah received God’s unwelcome message and headed to Ninevah, the place where he would rather not go to people he would rather not love.

Have you ever heard God call you to something so clearly, so definitively … that you quickly ran the other way?   Has God directed you to go to a place you would rather not go or love someone you would rather not love?  If so, the Bible story suggests that you can go there the first time you are asked … or prepare for a blubber-based interruption to your Tarshish plans.

God wants to be heard more than we want to hear.  Even when the messages are unpleasant, they are still ultimately for our benefit and for the benefit of the greater world. 

Three questions:
1) What is one comforting message that God wants you to hear?
2) What are two challenging/difficult messages that God wants you to hear?
3) Who are your Ninevites and what is your Tarshish?

Heading to Ninevah
Steven Blair

Pastor of Celebrate Recovery and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministries

A great version of this story is “Jonah: A Veggietales Movie.”  The songs and the story-telling are helpful for kids and adults alike.  You will enjoy the “Pirate Who Don’t Do Anything.”

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

Tuesday 9.25.12 Insight from Rev. Molly Simpson

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

Jeremiah’s call story has been one that has deeply connected with me–especially during my first year of employment in ministry seven years ago.  Who am I to be a pastor to your people?  What do I have, as a 25 year old, to offer?  Questions like those hung around–kind of like the way that my mom’s clothes did when I would play dress up as a little girl.  Sometimes I felt like a little girl in a pastor’s robe and heels, preaching a message at a funeral, hoping that the gospel would shine past my age.  And it did.  God is faithful–when he promises to give you the words to say, he does.  He really does.

I know all too well how easy it can be to abandon the invitation, the call of God for fear of what others will think.  Don’t do it.  Read these verses from Jeremiah again and again.  Write them on a notecard and put it in your car.  Save them as the wall paper on your smart phone.  Let the promises of God to always be with us give us courage to take steps to RSVP, to answer God’s invitation.  Because here’s the deal with God’s invitation:  it won’t stop coming.  Our good reasons or excuses won’t deter the Lord of the Universe.  They may quiet the call for a time, but it will beckon again.  God will invite you again and again.  And really, while what God might be nudging (or shoving) you towards might be challenging or scary in the ways that it unsettles your plans, there is something deeply satisfying, even thrilling, about saying yes and stepping into a journey of answering God’s call.  And he really is there–he will be with you, and will give you the words to say.  I’ve seen it myself, I can tell you that much.

God bless you today!

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

Monday 9.24.12 Insight from Jeanna Repass

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

“Follow me and I will make you fishers of men…” I learned those lyrics in Sunday School as a child. I actually had no idea what in the world this song was talking about at the time. Who knew that years later I would be writing a reflection about these exact words?!? I now know that this song and these lyrics were a reference to Jesus’ calling of Simon, John and James to follow him and to become the first evangelists, casting nets of hope and salvation that would be filled with countless people for over two thousand years.

But now that I know what the song lyrics mean and I’ve read and prayed about the scripture, I still have to admit that I struggle with it. I definitely know on the surface what Jesus was asking Simon, James and John and then Levi to do, but it’s the layers underneath the surface that I struggle with. I know that Jesus is the resurrected Son of God. He is the Alpha and Omega – one with God our Father. But I have to wonder if Peter, James, Matthew and crew knew it – especially at the time that Jesus ordered them to follow Him. (Note that Jesus didn’t ask them: “Hey, would you be interested in an adventure? If so, maybe you’d like to consider traveling with me on a great journey?” Instead, Jesus commanded them to follow him…and they did it!) This is where it goes awry for me.

I always wonder if I would “go” just because Jesus told me to. Well, on my good days I answer with conviction and less humility than I should, an enthusiastic “Yes, Lord! I will follow you!” But in fact and on most days, I know that I would have been much more like the rich man who went away distressed when he asked Jesus about gaining salvation and Jesus issued his edict about getting rid of all his stuff and following Him. I’m not just being humble and martyr-ish here. I reject the idea of putting Jesus in front of my own self-interest all the time. I’ve missed countless opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with people – even some of my close friends whom I know are nominally religious. I’ve driven with my eyes averted past men and women with signs showing their need standing on the side of the road. I’ve found myself in long stretches (spoiler alert here…) where I haven’t been reading my Bible or have allowed my prayer life to become a perfunctory “Thank you for all my blessings, be with me today,” hurry up, get off my knees and run around involved in my life kind of prayer.

(OK – martyring done.) What I do know all these years after first learning the words to that little Sunday School jingle is that the net is still being cast today and I am still being hauled in. Jesus casts the net and invites all of us to get “caught” in the ropes of salvation over and over again. Jesus doesn’t just invite us to receive salvation, he commands it. He casts a net that grabs us, and he pulls us in. Even the most slippery among us (reference Jeanna Repass here) are being pursued and fished for CONSTANTLY by Him. This is not only good news, it is hope. It is life. It is a constant invitiation to come into the boat! How do I know? Because “Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so!” Amen.

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

Saturday 9.22.12 Insight from Carol Cartmill

Carol Cartmill serves as the Executive Director of Adult Discipleship at The Church of the Resurrection.

If you have been following this week’s GPS, by now you are at a place where you have experienced five different methods of interacting with the Bible. Today’s GPS introduces a sixth. All these methods are means for you to grow deeper in your understanding of God and your relationship to God, and to shape who you are as God’s child. One very practical thing I would encourage you to do is take a printed copy of the GPS and tuck it inside your Bible. As you read through the Gospel of Matthew between now and November (Adam Hamilton’s sermon and e-note challenge), continue to utilize these six methods. I’m confident that as you read through Matthew, there will be certain scriptures you’ll want to memorize, others you’ll desire to personalize, and still others you’ll be moved to pray.

Which leads us to today’s topic, “Praying the Scripture.” Scripture verses make impactful prayers. There have been times when my prayer life has become rote or dry. There have been times when I haven’t known what to pray. Praying the Scriptures is a way for me to move beyond repetition and recitation to greater depth and meaning. At its essence, prayer is a two-way conversation with God. When we pray God’s words, we open our ears and our hearts to hear God’s voice speaking directly and powerfully into our lives. Combining the spiritual disciplines of studying the Bible and prayer can be illuminating, with prayer serving as the electricity that powers our Scriptural light bulb.

The Gospel of Matthew will provide many natural opportunities for you to pray Scripture, especially when you reach Chapter 5 and the Sermon on the Mount. From verse 3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God,” you could pray “God, help me to move from self-centeredness and placing my hope in myself, to an openness to receive the hope you offer and the gift of life in your kingdom.” While reading Matthew 5:13-14, you might be moved to pray, “God, I desire to be salt and light for you—keep me from losing my saltiness. Shine your light through me, through my words and my actions, so others will come to know and experience your light.”

I encourage you to read Matthew and earn your cookies, putting into practice the six methods of studying the Bible you learned from the GPS this week. Yes, you will enjoy the sweet taste and sugar rush of the cookies, but even sweeter to your life will be the words of God you’ve ingested and buried in your heart, and the joy and energy those words provide.

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

Friday 9.21.12 Insight from Sarah Newberry

Sarah Newberry serves as the Worship Arts Leader at the West campus of The Church of the Resurrection. Sarah joined the church staff in March of this year, and was a volunteer with the Vibe service before that.

On a road trip down to Florida in August, I decided to be intentional with my vacation, and alternate listening to music, sermons, podcasts, and silence while I drove. Somewhere around Western Kentucky, I stumbled upon a podcast from Gordon Cromwell Theological Seminary, where Dallas Willard was giving a talk on “The Spirit of the Disciplines.”

This talk goes for about 55 minutes or so, and focuses on Matthew 5, the passage we have in our GPS today. I grew up in church, and have heard the beatitudes more times than I can count. However, when Dallas started to read through them and expand on them, I found myself having to pause the podcast every few minutes and really “chew” on it.

One of the things he brings up when he discusses verses 1-12 is this:
Jesus addresses this question that every thoughtful person who considers the human situation has to address….“Who is really well off?”

I bet if you heard the question, “Who is really well off?” on a TV or radio show, or in the magazines in the checkout aisle, the world would have a top 10 list of the richest people in the world. But Jesus was addressing a much bigger question, and answering it in a way that baffled many. You see, Dallas suggests at the end of his talk that Jesus Christ was and is the smartest person ever to walk the earth. I’ve thought about Jesus in a lot of different lights, but thinking of Him as the smartest human being EVER just hadn’t crossed my mind until this point.

So when Jesus goes into the beatitudes and lists off “Blessed are the _____,” and “Most Materialistic People Alive” isn’t filling in the blank, it should cause us to pause and think, “Who is really well off?” If Jesus is the epitome of smart, then our whole definition of “blessed” should be changed and molded into what He taught here in the beatitudes.

You’ll find that I shamelessly plug music I like as often as I can. So, in light of the beatitudes and thinking about “Who is really well off?” I go to a great Mike Crawford tune, “Words to Build a Life On.” (Mike ministers at Jacob’s Well right here in Kansas City.)

I hope as you read this verse from “Words to Build a Life On”, you start to find the sincere hope in the promises God gives us here in this modern, raw version of the beatitudes:

“Blessed when you’re heartbroke
Blessed when you’re fired
Blessed when you’re choked up
Blessed when you’re tired
Blessed when the plans
That you so carefully laid
End up in the junkyard
With all the trash you made
Blessed when you feel like
Giving up the ghost
Blessed when your loved ones
Are the ones who hurt you most
Blessed when you lose your
Own identity
Then blessed when you find it
And it has been redeemed”

You can hear “Words to Build a Life On” by Mike Crawford with some striking video images if you click here.

You can watch a video of a one-hour “Spirit of the Disciplines” presentation by Dallas Willard by clicking here, or you can listen to the Podcast Sarah refers to in iTunes by clicking here.



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

Thursday 9.20.12 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

When I was really young, my parents would sometimes have a lady on the next block watch me while they were busy. She had a daughter my age, so we would play together when I was there. The lady seemed to be nice enough, but the daughter… well… I am guessing that she didn’t have horns, but my memory says otherwise.

One day this mean, little girl said, “Let’s play princess!” I thought that this was a fabulous idea! I immediately started picturing myself in my pretend princess attire – the gown, the tiara, the glass slippers… “So I’ll be the princess,” she continued, “and you can be my horse.”

Whoa, Nelly! What did she just say?!!!

She then instructed me to get down on all fours so that she could ride me across the yard… which I did. I must have been at the age where I was too young to stand up for myself, but certainly old enough to realize that this sucked. I. Was. Mortified.

Thankfully my childhood sweetheart lived next to her, and he witnessed the appalling scene. As I trotted the little girl across the yard on my back, he came to my rescue on his figurative white horse and saved me from pretending to be one. My hero!

This takes me to today’s passage, especially as we look at verses 28-30: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

As you know, a yoke is a double-harnessed crossbar that they attach to two animals (generally oxen) to pull a cart. As I first read this, it would appear that in my weary state, Jesus wants to harness me and put me to work as a draft animal. At this point I’m not only weary, but now I’m humiliated. All I can think of is carrying my burden as I carried the girl across the yard. It’s obvious that Jesus and I have a very different definition of the word “rest.”

And this is where cultural context comes in on a white horse to save the day! Those hearing Jesus’ words as he spoke wouldn’t have heard “yoke” in the same way that we read now read it.

At that time, each rabbi would have a unique way in which he interpreted the Torah. His particular interpretation was his yoke. If you were to take on a rabbi’s yoke, you would be following that rabbi and his way of teaching the hundreds of strict laws. But this really wasn’t even your choice. Rabbis chose their own disciples, and it was an intensely selective process. You would not only have to memorize the entire Torah (the first five books of the Bible), but you were expected to follow each and every law down to the letter. The honor of being selected by a rabbi was saved for the best of the best, and most of Jesus’ listeners would have found it impossible to meet these extreme standards.

So when Jesus says, “Come to me ALL you who are weary and burdened… take MY yoke upon you and learn from me,” you can now understand what he was saying. This invitation was just as shocking as it was welcoming.

He wants us to know that His way is not reserved for the top achievers. It’s a path for the burdened, the broken, and the beat-down. It’s for the good-doers and the shame-bearers. It’s open to the least and the lonely, the weary and worn. It’s for the people pleasers, the drug pushers, and those who get pushed around. Yes, it’s for those walk the talk… but it’s also for those that walk the streets. It’s a way for you and it’s a way for me. So today we put on the yoke of our Rabbi, because His way is gentle and humble in heart, and we will find rest for our souls.

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

Wednesday 9.19.12 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.

I used to house/pet-sit quite a bit during college and grad school, and one of my favorite places to stay was the home of one of my professors on a 60-acre farm. Before she and her husband left town the first time I was to stay there, I had gone to visit the farm, meet the animals, and go over my responsibilities for the dogs and cat.  I did not, however, receive any instructions on how to take care of any of the other animals—chickens, cows, and sheep—until I arrived for my ten-day stay and read in a note what I needed to do to be sure they had adequate food and shelter since it was wintertime. I don’t know a lot about traditional shepherds, but staying at that farm taught me a little bit about caring for sheep, which is much easier on a farm in an enclosed pasture than it would be out on open desert plains.

Over the course of the next several years, I stayed on the farm often, and I learned more about caring for the sheep. No matter how much I read on the subject or heard from the owners of the sheep, though, one important lesson I learned was that the sheep would never accept me if we didn’t spend time together and they didn’t know me. When I first began to stay at the farm, the sheep would run away from the fence as I approached. Over time, when I was at the farm, I would stand in the pasture just watching the sheep, letting them get accustomed to my presence. After a while, they would creep closer to me, and eventually I was able to pet them. The sheep obviously couldn’t understand the situation and take responsibility to spend time with me, but we, as followers of Christ, can take responsibility to spend time with him through various spiritual disciplines so that we will learn to hear his voice and trust him to guide us. We often expect to have a clear understanding of God’s will for our lives, but we will never understand a voice we do not recognize and trust. And it’s hard to recognize and trust the voice of someone we don’t know and don’t spend time with.

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