Monthly Archives: November 2012

Friday 11.30.12 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.


My particular congregation here at Church of the Resurrection saved my life 2 years ago.

When I finished my Music Therapy internship at the VAMC in Topeka, I moved to Kansas City in the Summer/Fall of 2010. I went to the Young Adults group and met a girl named Alex, who then introduced me to Cory Ryan (Worship Leader for Students and the Vibe Service at our Leawood Campus), who then introduced me to some of the most caring, authentic people you’ll ever meet on this earth.

I had no family within 1000 miles, and was only in Kansas on faith that God was doing something in my life, and it was here in the midwest.

Fast forward two years, and those same people that Cory introduced me to are just as close to me as family, and I consider them my brothers and sisters. We all come from different backgrounds, have different taste in music and food, and are of different ages. But our love of God, our pursuit in furthering His kingdom, and our hunger to know Him has continued to pull each of us along.

When one of us doubts or struggles, the others are there, encouraging and pulling us up from the pit.  None of us are perfect; we make mistakes, let each other down, and misunderstand each other from time to time. But I tell you what; if it wasn’t for this ragtag group of guys and gals cheering me on, I never would have gotten to where I am today.

I get the fortunate opportunity to have dinner with one of these families tonight, and I look forward to continuing sharing my life with people that strive to love God and love people well. It makes me a better person, and I love them for that.

 What would I have done 2 years ago had it not been for just a few people that took the time to get to know me?

It took just one person introducing me to Cory, and then the rest was history.

I know for a fact that there are THOUSANDS of people at Church of the Resurrection, and MILLIONS in the church as a whole.

If you take a second to think of who would pull you out of the pit, could you name a few people? I hope and pray you can.

If not, please know in your heart that you are not meant to live this life alone. There are so many people that are around to help pull you up, and cheer you on in your journey of life, and you can do the same for them!

To learn more about our small groups and ways to get connected at Church of the Resurrection, click here

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

Thursday 11.29.12 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

It was Easter 2010. We had just returned from a lovely lunch with friends. I was on the phone with my mom as my husband and I were pulling into the garage. Not seeing that the wall stuck out a couple of inches at the bottom, I stepped out of the car, SLAMMING my pinky toe right into the concrete.

Words went rushing through my mind – the kind of words you don’t want to be thinking when you are on the phone with your mom. But I kept it together. After all, it wasn’t the first time that I stubbed my toe.

But gosh, it just seemed to be much worse than any other time I stubbed a toe. I know what you’re thinking. Broken. I know. That’s what I thought too. That is, until weeks later when it was still looking all sorts of whack. I finally went to the podiatrist to fix my broken toe. Only problem- it wasn’t broken. It was dislocated. Not only that, it was dislocated and healed over into that new whacked-out position.

A pinky toe pointing to the side doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal, right? Well it’s not… unless you like wearing shoes. So my options were simple. I either move to Hawaii or I have surgery. Though there was some internal struggle with this decision, I opted to go under the knife at the end of June. I figured it was just a little surgery so I didn’t even tell people. I was to be in and out that day, and I figured I’d be up and at ‘em in a couple more.

But oh how I was wrong again! How could such a small part of the body cause such excruciating pain?!! And it wasn’t getting better quickly either. I had the ice packs, the pain killers, the wraps, and the oh-so-fashionable orthopedic shoe. I did as the doctor said, lying on my couch for days with my foot higher than my heart.

And towards the end of August, when I was nearly healed from my surgery, I tripped in my kitchen. Not wanting to land on my toe, I landed awkwardly on my foot… fracturing two bones.

Ugh. Back to the podiatrist. I went from my orthopedic shoe to a walking cast to eventually a hard cast with crutches. Somehow things weren’t getting better. I was yet again stuck on my couch for weeks. I wasn’t able to go into work. I didn’t leave the house. I saw no friends. Our Mediterranean Cruise scheduled for the end of October? Out of the question.

And what was hardest for me during this time wasn’t that I had to go through all of this. It was that I had to go through all this because I stubbed my toe. This wasn’t a huge car wreck or sports injury. I ran my toe into a wall.

I’m sure you’re wondering, besides shamelessly begging for sympathy (cards and flowers may be address to me through the church), where am I going with all of this?

We are told that the church is the body of Christ, and that this body is made up of many parts. I think our attention tends to be focused on the major parts of the body that make this work – the pastors, the teachers, the missionaries, the worship leaders. After all, they seem to be the most vital to our mission.

What tends to be forgotten are those that don’t stand out as much – those that aren’t as flashy or seemingly important. We forget those making small contributions. We forget the pinky toes of the body of Christ.

But as someone with months of contemplation on that matter, let me just tell you how important the pinky toes really are! I’m convinced that there is no such thing as an insignificant part. And we should truly care about each other as we would for Christ Himself. For after all that’s who we, as the Church, represent.

So let’s take time to appreciate, encourage, and give thanks for all of our many parts, especially those that don’t often get recognized. Write a note. Share a verse. Be a blessing in surprising ways. We all need one another in order to grow closer to God. And this is true from the heart of the body right down to the tiniest pinky toe.

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

Wednesday 11.28.12 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 New Member Welcome Team,  and our Spiritual Gifts Placement Team.

We need the church, and the church needs us. Not just some of us, but all of us. Several places in the New Testament, we are told that all Christians are given spiritual gifts to be used to build up the church. If we are not using our gifts, we are denying what God created us to do and cheating our Christian brothers and sisters (and those in our community and around the world whom we serve). If our pastors had decided not to use their gifts of preaching and shepherding, where would our church be? How many more people would be hurting if our Congregational Care Ministers denied their gift of compassion? What would your life look like if those with the gifts of teaching or administration decided not to hold classes or organize events? What would our community look like if those with the gift of serving failed to organize missions programs and partner with the shelters and schools in Kansas City?
I am blessed to work with our Spiritual Gifts ministry here at Resurrection. We offer a four-week class where participants spend three weeks discovering their spiritual gifts and how those gifts combined with their talents, resources, personalities, dreams, and past experiences work together. On the fourth week, we help participants see how what they learned the previous three weeks enable them to serve in specific ways within the church or the community. It is amazing to see how much more effectively people are able to serve when they can start to narrow down what makes them blossom and thrive.
I have often heard it said that in most churches, twenty percent of the congregation does eighty percent of the work to keep the church going. I am thankful to be a part of a church where, if I had to guess, I would say that more than twenty percent of our congregation at Resurrection is serving in some way—whether in the church or as a representative of the church in the community. I don’t know how much of our congregation is serving, but I know that we are doing a lot of amazing things in Jesus’ name. Can you imagine how much more we could accomplish if every single one of us were using our God-given gifts to build up the church and serve the community?
Text.Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

Tuesday 11.27.12 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.

I come from the kind of family where strangers can tell who I belong with. Once I walked into the grocery store in my grandmother’s town and although I had come in on my own, the woman at the cash register asked me if I was Joyce’s granddaughter. Mom and Aunt Sherry aren’t twins, but they look so much alike even their own children have had trouble figuring out who is who. We have to rely on little pieces of random knowledge to tell them apart, like knowing Sherry has a weakness for big blingy jewelry or mom looks extraordinary in sky blue. There’s something special about knowing that even if I were to put my hair in a pink mohawk or begin dressing in Renaissance era costuming, I can never forget where I come from.

None of us can choose the family we are born into, But sometimes family of origin is something would like to forget. (Nothing like the holiday season to remind us of all of our dysfunctional ways.) Maybe the little differences in lifestyle choices become to large to reconcile or there are wide and deep hurts that have caused suffering that seem to be too painful to overcome. Too many of us long for a new place to belong.

Luckily, God responds. God offers each of us a place in a different kind of family. Unlike the imperfect human family, we are always welcome. We are always loved. We always belong. The parent is overflowing with love and grace, and doesn’t remember our wayward mistakes. Being a part of this family changes our identity. This family is bound together not by genetics, similar looks, common heritage, but by the choice to follow Christ. Being in God’s family means we are valued simply for being a child of God. People recognize us in the grocery store not because of a particular facial feature or body structure but because of something else that uniquely points to belonging to God.

What do you suppose are the characteristics and traits that show the world we are part of God’s family? How well do you think you are wearing those traits today? Today I pray you are fully confident of God’s wide, wide welcome, and encouraged to live so that others might meet Christ in you. May it be so!

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

Monday 11.26.12 Insight from Rev. Chris Holliday

Rev. Chris Holliday serves as the associate minister at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

Music has long played a significant role in my life. I grew up singing in choirs at church and school. In college, I majored in music education with percussion being my main instrument. I also sang in a university choir and directed a church choir and a handbell choir. After some additional post-graduate work in music, I entered and completed my seminary training. Eventually I served as a Pastor of Music and Worship, and I still participate in music ministry whenever I can. So, like many of you, music is a very important part of my faith life. Music motivates my mind, heals my heart, and soothes my soul.

As I thought about why we need Christ, four helpful songs/hymns came to mind. I want to share some of those lyrics with you and invite you to mediate on them as you think about your story and the difference Christ has made and makes in your life.

Words and Music by Paul Baloche and Brenton Brown

Praise is rising, eyes are turning to You, we turn to You
Hope is stirring, hearts are yearning for You, we long for You
‘Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your Presence all our fears are washed away, washed away

Hosanna, Hosanna
You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises
Hosanna, Hosanna
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus

Hear the sound of hearts returning to You, we turn to You
In Your Kingdom broken lives are made new, You make us new
‘Cause when we see You, we find strength to face the day
In Your Presence all our fears are washed away, washed away

Hosanna, Hosanna
You are the God Who saves us, worthy of all our praises
Hosanna, Hosanna
Come have Your way among us
We welcome You here, Lord Jesus

Mighty to Save
Words and Music by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan

Everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
A kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
Now I surrender
Yes, I surrender

Savior, He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever, Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King, Jesus
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We’re singing for the glory of the risen King

[ Lyrics from: ]

I Need Thee Every Hour
Words by Annie S. Hawkes; Music by Robert Lowry

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.


I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.


I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.


I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.


Precious Lord
Words and Music by Thomas A. Dorsey

Precious Lord, take my hand,
Lead me on, let me stand,
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn;
Through the storm, through the night,
Lead me on to the light:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

When my way grows drear,
Precious Lord, linger near,
When my life is almost gone,
Hear my cry, hear my call,
Hold my hand lest I fall:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near,
And the day is past and gone,
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand:
Take my hand, precious Lord,
Lead me home.

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

Saturday 11.24.12 Insight from Yvonne Gentile

Yvonne Gentile serves on The Church of the Resurrection staff as the Director of Connections. Yvonne directs the team that helps people get connected into the life of the church through service, studies, group life, and other ways of involvement.

Seven or eight years ago, my husband received an urgent phone call while he was in a staff meeting at church. He went into the hallway to take the call, only to hear that his mother had a severe stroke. The doctors at the hospital had suggested that the family gather, because they weren’t certain she would survive it.

My husband went back into the staff meeting, said he needed to leave, and told everyone what had happened. His supervisor asked him to wait a few minutes, and then asked the group to join hands as they said a prayer for my mother-in-law, and for us to have safe travels. He called me at work to give me the news, and I quickly informed our kids.

We met at our house to begin packing and preparing to make the 14 hour journey to my in-laws’ home. In the meantime, word began to spread among our church family that we were facing this crisis. Our next door neighbors offered to watch our dog, take care of our home, and pray for us. Our small group offered assistance and prayers as well.

We loaded the car and began the drive—scared, anxious, and praying fervently that she would not pass away before we arrived. Our mobile phones rang or pinged with texts for hours as we drove. At some point, probably an hour or so into our drive, I turned to my husband with tears in my eyes and said, “Even in the midst of this, we are so blessed.” We thanked God for surrounding us with a community who would provide tangible assistance and ongoing prayer.

When we arrived, my mother-in-law was awake, but not very responsive. We were told that even if she did survive her prognosis for recovery was not great. My husband asked his father and siblings if they would go to the hospital chapel with him. The family was Catholic, but not very active in their faith. They went downstairs into the small chapel, and stood in a circle holding each others’ hands, while my husband led them all in a prayer. Tears streamed down their faces as he expressed thanks to God for my mother-in-law and asked God to restore her to full health. They felt closer to one another than they had in a long time.

I’m happy to say that my mother-in-law did recover, although she uses a walker to get around and has difficulty sometimes getting the words in her head to come out of her mouth the way she wants. That experience convinced me that it IS possible to “give thanks in every situation.” We were not thankful FOR the situation, but we were praising and thanking God despite the situation. I learned that even in the worst of situations, God is present and working to bring good out of life’s hard times. And for that, I am eternally thankful. One of my favorite passages that reminds me to praise God in the midst of tough times is Habakkuk 3:17-19a:

17Though the fig tree doesn’t bloom,
and there’s no produce on the vine;
though the olive crop withers,
and the fields don’t provide food;
though the sheep is cut off from the pen,
and there is no cattle in the stalls;
18I will rejoice in the LORD.
I will rejoice in the God of my deliverance.
19The LORD God is my strength. (CEB)

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

Friday 11.23.12 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.

There are all sorts of ways to say good-bye, like Adios, Ciao, Sayonara, & Live Long & Prosper.  With our reluctance to say farewell, today’s passage takes on even more significance.

As we consider death, human nature typically softens the topic with humor, ala the image of St. Peter & the Pearly Gates.  (The Pearly Gates refer to a passage in Revelation of twelve gates made of pearl & St. Peter is noted as the keeper of the “keys to the kingdom.” – Editor Do not play Trivial Pursuit with this guy. – DL)

One favorite such story is of a rich man’s clever strategy to be buried with gold bars so he could enjoy his wealth in heaven.  As he is stopped at the Pearly Gates, St. Peter looks through his bag & asks, “What’s with all the pavement?”  (Recall heaven’s streets are envisioned to be paved with gold – Ed.)

As I pondered over Paul’s exhortation today, I recalled a presentation I attended a few years ago by a local Rabbi.  It was fascinating hearing our friend in faith’s perspective on the Scriptures, Passover, & worship traditions.  During the question/answer period afterwards, she was asked about the Jewish viewpoint of death & the hereafter.

In response, she offered an observation contrasting a Jewish patient & a Christian patient upon receiving a terminal diagnosis.  She noted that upon hearing the dire notification, the Jewish patient would do everything possible to avoid death; be it experimental medications, trips to Mexico for untested treatments, etc.  She said the Jewish patient was a fighter until the end & refused to give up.

In contrast, she noted the Christian patient, upon receiving a similar news, seemed to be much more relaxed & serene.  If treatments were available, they certainly would try them, but the sense of urgency or anxiety wasn’t present.  The Christian patient seemed to be at peace.  She noted this comparison without comment; just offered it as an observation.

I would submit that this observation drives home a key tenet of the Christian faith.  Thanks to Christ’s death & resurrection, we need not fear death.  Jesus has promised that he will prepare a room for us & we will be surrounded by love.  Pain & sorrow will be no more.  Joy will be on the present.

When our oldest son Matthew was on the verge of starting pre-school for the 1st time, there was a great deal of anxiety – because it was all unknown.  Hearing a good friend would be in his class as well, this anxiousness quickly passed.

Similarly, knowing that Jesus will be in heaven with us, death doesn’t seem to have its scary hold anymore.  I have always liked the story of an elderly woman who had been born blind.  She was asked if she was afraid of dying.  She said, “Definitely not.  The first person I shall ever see in my life will be Jesus.  Oh, what a beautiful sight that will be!”

As we continue to consider the different ways we can say farewell, I think a principle of the Christian faith can be somewhat captured with the send off, “Au revoir.” Instead of a final parting, au revoir can mean, “Until we meet again.”  Later Alligator!

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

Thursday 11.22.12 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

Rev. Glen Shoup is the Executive Pastor of Worship and Congregational Care pastor for those who have last names beginning with J – L.

If you have not just read today’s scripture reading—I’d like to invite you to stop reading this and go back right now and read Psalm 136:1-9.  Making space to hear this powerful message from the heart of God through the Psalmist will (I have personally discovered) reorient your perspective.  It will reroute your disposition.  It will reshape your focus and redirect your preoccupations.  If like me, you sometimes find yourself struggling to expand your focus beyond your own frustrations, complaints and irritations (all of which usually revolving around why the world can’t be more accommodating to you and your agenda), then just like me, you need to read and re-read today’s scripture passage.  Not just because today is Thanksgiving and not just because, like me, you have much for which to be thankful; but you need to read today’s scripture because something happens when we–through the anointed poetry of the Psalmist–leave behind the flattened out prose of everyday obsessions and are catapulted into the stratosphere of awareness that the very God Who Is…the very God Who Is over all and under all and beside all—the very God Who created all and sustains all and redeems all…this very God has a love for me and a love for you that lasts forever.  We can’t say anything to make that love stop.  We can’t do anything to make that love stop.  We can’t think anything or fail at anything or question anything to make that love stop—God’s faithful love lasts forever.

This is really good news—this is Thanksgiving producing news—especially for folks like me (and maybe you too) who, for the most part, know that we are nowhere as thankful as we should be because we generally are too self-focused to appreciate all that we’ve been blessed with.

But I’ll tell you where this really good news that God’s faithful love lasts forever get’s even more essential: when you stand at life’s critical junctures.  When you stand–for instance–by a graveside (as I’ve had the sacred privilege of doing twice in the last 4 days) and you reflect upon what really matters there—you come quickly and with great clarity to the awareness that the announcement of today’s scripture reading is the very best news that any of us could ever hope to receive and appropriate—both in our lives and in our deaths—God’s faithful love lasts forever.

St. Paul, who wrote the bulk of the New Testament, might just have found God’s inspiration through Psalm 139 prompting him to write who/what can separate us from the love of Christ?  Will hardship or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? NO, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that that neither death, nor life…nor things present nor things to come…nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35, 37, 39).

I know of no more Thanks-giving news than God’s faithful love lasts forever!

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

Wednesday 11.21.12 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

Rev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care pastor of Celebrate Recovery and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministry.

Hallelujah Anyway
Psalm 42:1-2, 11

I had the privilege of preaching this last weekend at the Leawood Campus.  If you are interested, the devotional thought below comes from the sermon at

I like the lessons God teaches us through today’s Scriptures.  In First Thessalonians, we hear Paul write
 “Give thanks in all circumstances.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Paul did not say ‘Give Thanks to God for all circumstances,” because that would be silly.    We do not have to pray “Thank you God for disease.  Thank you God for family dysfunction.”  But instead, to say thanks to God in all circumstances means to say Hallelujah, which means “Praise be to God” both in the sunny days and in the other days.  It means praying “Hallelujah Anyway!”

King David  demonstrated this type of prayer.  King David experienced many  hardships.  He felt deep remorse for his sin.  One child tried to kill him.  One child died at the age of 7 days.   Still he wrote:

“Why am I discouraged?  Why is my heart so sad?  I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”  Psalm 42:11

Think about how hard it would have been for King David to pack up his faith.  But instead, David was aided by his life of singing praises and writing psalms of Thanksgiving that created a path for his thoughts to travel in.  I hear Psalm 42 as David saying “Hallelujah Anyway.”

Hallelujah Anyway

It’s a good mantra to remember. 
When a family dysfunction hypothetically makes Thanksgiving Dinner awkward, we will all say together “Hallelujah Anyway.”
When the stress of life seems to be pressing in on all sides, we will say “Hallelujah Anyway.”
When you are a Chiefs fan, we will say “Hallelujah Anyway.”

And, when a diagnosis comes back and it is not what you wanted to hear, we will say “Hallelujah Anyway.”

Hallelujah Anyway is a stubborn statement of faith.  It recognizes the truth that the present is not pleasant.  But we are still recipients of amazing gifts of friendship, love, providence and even salvation, all of which we are still aware that we have not earned.   Because of these unearned blessings, even when we face adversity, we can still be thankful people.

So this Thanksgiving, take time to be remember all your unearned blessings.  In response, say “Thank You” to God, even if it requires saying Hallelujah Anyway.


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

Tuesday 11.20.12 Insight from Evan Palmer

Evan Palmer is from Overland Park, Kansas and is a junior at the University of Arkansas this year. She interned with Missions Mobilization and Beyond Kansas City Missions last summer at Resurrection. Evan plays soccer for the University of Arkansas women’s team, and has played soccer for as long as she can remember.

Giving can be difficult. Giving with joy can be even more challenging. I love giving when I know I benefit from it. Doesn’t everyone? It’s easy to give of your time when you enjoy what you’re doing. It’s easy to give your attention to someone you care about. It’s even easy to give up that diet you’ve been working so hard to keep for a special holiday. Why, then, does giving become so tough?

I often forget the connection between the words “privilege” and “giving.” My own selfish ambition gets in the way, and breaks the connection. Whenever it is convenient and “makes sense” for me to give, I do. However, I frequently seem to find an excuse to not give.

David is a great example and reminder of how we should model our habits of giving. He understood that all things come from God. When I remember that nothing is truly my own, it becomes much easier to give. When we choose to die to ourselves daily and commit to living out each moment of each day for our Lord, giving follows naturally. I believe it is our responsibility to give to God what is His. By committing our lives to Him we are no longer doing “good works” for the benefit of others or ourselves, but for God alone.

It is easy to become discouraged with giving. We must constantly remember that our value is in God, not in the works we do. When we choose to live for Him, our value comes from Him and not the approval of others. Whatever position God has placed you in, it is to for the purpose of bringing Him glory. As followers of Christ our perspective is no longer the same as this world’s. It is our privilege to serve the Lord and thus, our privilege to give.

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