Monthly Archives: April 2013

4.30.13 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 grew up at Calvary UMC in Wichita, Kansas–a place that will always be near my heart. For most of my life, I never thought much about the church building–it was all I knew. But I remember in confirmation in seventh grade, our Pastor led us through the church and pointed out the theological significance of certain aspects of the building. First, I learned that our sanctuary was in the shape of an octagon (I had never noticed that before) because we are people of the eighth day, the day Jesus was raised from the dead.

Then he took us up to the chancel to take a closer look at the baptismal font, where several years before I had been baptized. There we noticed that the font, too, was octagonal. Here he paused to remind us that when we are baptized we are given new life in Christ. As Romans 6:4 puts it, “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

Slowly, I was beginning to see that the structure of our building represented our belief that we are resurrection people, people of new life. From that day forward, I appreciated the fact that I worshiped in a space that was rich with meaning. I appreciated our church building in a new way and my curiosity was piqued to learn more about it. Today whenever I am back in Wichita I make it a point to step into the doors of Calvary because doing so is a reminder of God’s goodness and mercy. I am grateful God uses buildings as tools to ignite faith in my heart.

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

4.29.13 Insight from Rev. Chris Holliday

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

One of our priorities at Resurrection West this year is to better love and serve our neighbors near and far through four events we are calling MEGA MISSION. This past Saturday was our first MEGA MISSION, and we chose to focus on helping local elderly, disabled, and in-need homeowners with light house repairs and yard work. I don’t mind telling you that I was a little nervous as the rain relentlessly fell from Friday evening into Saturday morning. The t-shirts were made, all the work supplies had been purchased, and the BBQ sundaes would magically arrive at noon. But 95% of the work was to be completed outside, and it was chilly and rainy. Would people come to serve on such a day?

Well, my friends, I am happy to say that Resurrection people will. As the rain lightened, over 100 people poured into the sanctuary, threw on their MEGA MISSION t-shirts, signed up for projects, prayed, and then poured out into our community. As the house crews left, I noticed that the rain had pretty much stopped. It looked like we’d have just enough of a window to do the work we’d hoped God would allow us to do.

As a few of us prepared the sanctuary space for the celebration luncheon, I wondered what people would be like when they returned. I knew this kind of day and these kinds of projects work best with people who are flexible and grace-filled – people who worship and carry Christ with them in their hearts – people who want to give freely of themselves so that God can do a MEGA MISSION in the Olathe community.

As the house crews trickled back into the sanctuary for lunch, that’s exactly what I saw. They were covered in mud, but they were grinning from ear to ear and beaming with the love and spirit of God. They were talking about the home owners they’d enjoyed meeting, the meaningful work they’d done, and the new relationships they’d deepened or started with one another. This past Saturday, I am pleased and humbled to report that Olathe was one of God’s many sanctuaries – a place where God’s presence was remembered, felt, heard, and seen. Glory and thanks be to God!

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

4.27.13 Insight from Cathy Bien

Cathy Bien has been serving in the Communications Ministry at Resurrection for 13 years. She and her family joined Resurrection in 1994 at Leawood Elementary School.

I love the beach.  I love the warmth of the sun on my face, the feel of sand under my feet and the goose bumps you get when the surf splashes over your legs. I love the way the gentle breeze blows in and the way the water sparkles in the sunlight. With my sunscreen and a book, I could stay on the beach forever . . . or until the weather changes.

I’ve seen the dark clouds roll in, the wind pick up, and the rain begin to  pummel the beach. I’ve also seen the waves come crashing on to shore, carrying everything not tied down out to sea.

I’ve watched storms like this with my family from the vantage point of a warm, dry house, as we shared laughter and junk food, card games and jigsaw puzzles. The beach house was wisely built on a firm foundation.

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus talks about the foolish person who built a house on sand and the wise person who built his house on the rock. This is one of my favorite parables because I can so clearly imagine what he is describing. It seems so logical and sensible, yet we still often act like the foolish builder.

When the sun is shining and the water is calm, who doesn’t enjoy the beach? But at the end of the day, or when the storms blow in, where do you go? Have you built that shelter on a firm foundation –  that place where you find comfort, rest and peace?

This scripture passage reminds me that I have work at building and maintaining my foundation every day. Through worship, reading the scriptures and prayer I connect with God and grow in my faith. And as I serve God and try to better love others, my foundation becomes stronger. These are the things that I know will sustain me when I face difficulties – my faith, my family and my friends.

Life isn’t easy or predictable.  Sometimes it’s a day at the beach, but when the storms blow in, our refuge is in the foundation we’ve built – our faith in God and our relationships with others.

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

4.26.13 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.

Two weeks ago (which seems like 100 news cycles ago) I was in Atlanta for an energy meeting.  The buzz at the meeting was all about the impending Masters Golf Tournament.  Since most of my clients are south of the Mason-Dixon line (and South Georgia specifically), the Masters is required viewing to just be in the loop.  Naturally, the conversation revolved around who would win this year’s green jacket & our favorite champion of previous Master’s tournaments.

Aside:  It’s interesting that golfers love to talk about golf.  They can share detailed shot-by-shot descriptions of their latest round or of their greatest round ever:  It was Friday, September 18, 2008.  “It was a bit overcast, so we almost didn’t play….”.  I like the response of the novice golfer when asked if he shot in the ‘80s or ‘90s.  He said, “The temperature doesn’t bother me.  I can play in any weather.”

In today’s Scripture, Jesus is prompting a similar conversation:  Who is our master?  Jesus emphasizes the importance of this discussion by contending that it is impossible to serve two masters.

The comic strip, Dilbert, echoed the sentiment in today’s passage.  The strip depicts Wally discovering that the new organizational chart will have a real boss and a “dotted line” to another boss with different objectives.  The Human Resource Director, gleefully says, “The status reports alone will take 40 hours a week.”  Wally is last seen attempting to staple himself to death.

However, I would submit that Jesus’ statement is a bit too simplistic for 2013.  I mean, who really has only 2 bosses?  I would submit that the list of those people/entities having some level of jurisdiction over our lives is much, much more extensive.

  • It could be the negative colleague who is persistently seeking to tear us down; he/she can control our mood for the rest of the day.
  • It could be our spouse sharing a concern just as they fall asleep, leaving you to grind on the problem for several hours in the night.
  • It could be that money is our boss; love of money can force us to make very different choices than would be wise.
  • It could be our pride; not willing to take risks or try new challenges for fear we might not be as successful as we think we should be.
  • (It could even be this Insight; which has already taken too much of your time – Editor.  It could be an Editor who doesn’t appreciate the intrinsic rhythm of a belabored observation – DL.)

I would submit that it is perfectly acceptable to make decisions influenced by some of the bosses noted above; however, if we let them be the ultimate arbiter of our decision-making process we are going to encounter needless stress.  As Bill Cosby noted, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”

Perhaps we should strive to simplify our lives and settle on one master whom we wish to please.  What if we filled out a tournament bracket to help us determine our ultimate boss?  We could have “teams” like God, Money, Careers, Family, Peers, Pride, etc. “compete” against each other to see which one will don the green jacket as our personal Master’s Champion.

This reminds me of the time I was playing a par 5 & I had just gone into a bunker when….

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

4.25.13 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.

It’s not what I don’t know about the Bible that bothers me, it’s what I do know that bothers me

Nobody knows if that quip—attributed to Mark Twain—was the original observation of that literary master or if he was just confessing what he’d previously heard some other penetrated soul observe.  But regardless of who said it first, that observation sums up well for me, today’s reading.

Adding to the weight of God’s word to me (and you) through today’s scripture reading is the astute and informative context provided by Darrell Holtz in today’s Reflection Questions—if you have not already read through these—please stop right here and go read those before continuing with reading this reflection—–the thoughtful awareness Darrell provides in these questions has rightly impacted my hearing of today’s scripture reading and it will yours as well.

Now with the added perspective of the Reflection Questions, perhaps you understand more fully why I find myself again echoing Twain…It’s not what I don ‘t know about the Bible that bothers me, it’s what I do know.

Look, my more than adequate waistline states clearly that I (perhaps like you) don’t practice the God-centering discipline of fasting from food nearly enough.  But God through Isaiah is making it abundantly clear that forgoing another double cheeseburger so I can be reminded that God—not food—is the sustenance of life….well that’s useful and worthwhile (and that’s something I should do more often)—but my goodness—God’s word through Isaiah today is making it abundantly clear that fasting from lunch doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s really important to God.

No, God then—and God now—wants me (and you) to get that what God is really after is a fast from my gluttonous consumption of…me; my agenda,,, my promotion,,, my wants,,, my desires—because so long as I’m at the buffet of my own self-focus, I am (on-purpose and on-accident) going to be prone to putting me above others.  So long as I’m circling the table of my own self-serving, I’m going to be blind to my ability to empower others and consumed with leveraging power for my own purposes.  So long as I’m dining on my own pursuits, I’m going to be numb to the most vulnerable and blind to the most overlooked.

And Isaiah makes it pretty clear that God wants that to stop.  Isaiah makes it poignantly clear that God wants me (and you) to fast from the unhealthy and unsatisfying consumption of…ourselves.  Because (and I hear Micah tag-teaming with Isaiah here) it’s only when we fast—as God truly wants us to fast—that we can begin to more fully…do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.

Like I said, it’s not what I don’t know about the Bible that bothers me, it’s what I do know.

God, would You today, help me live what I know!

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

4.24.13 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

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

 God Does Not Wear Cardigans

 Our God has immense power to bring comfort to those in distress. God “will wipes every year from their eye (Revelation 21:4)” on that great day yonder.  But we would be mistaken if we pictured God as a one trick pony, who can comfort us in our agitated state and nothing else.  God is not like Mr. Rogers, always wearing a cardigan and waiting to share a ‘cheer you up’ message.   God wants more for us and others than comfort.

The truth is that God is always after what is best for us and for the people around us. Sometimes that message is unwelcome, especially when everything is going well.  We would prefer to “leave well enough alone” and tell God “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it.”  This is the attitude of the recipients of Amos’ words. 

 The 12 tribes of the Jewish people had split, with 10 tribes staying north (Israel) and 2 staying south (Judah) with a capital in Jerusalem.  Amos has a message from God to deliver to the ten northern tribes of Israel. This is not a welcome message because 1) the north is experiencing prosperity 2) Amos is from Tekoa, south of Jerusalem, and 3) Amos is a common shepherd with very little education.

 Amos’ message to the northern ten tribes called Israel? “Change your ways. In your prosperity you have not cared for the vulnerable. The more prosperity you experience, the more oblivious you are to others’ pain.  You sing pretty songs and attend all the religious ceremonies, but God wants justice and not religiosity.”

 Anyone want to deliver that message to your enemies?  Anyone want your enemies to deliver that message to you?

Anyone want to hear a message of ‘You need to change’ when you were comfortably enjoying the status quo?

 God doesn’t wear cardigans.  God is not more interested in our comfort than the betterment of others (and ourselves since we are all connected).  We all know of someone who lives us enough to deliver the tough messages however much we do not want to hear them.  This is the way God works.

God comes with messages that can be upsetting.  Sometimes God uses our enemies to relay a message or a person whose opinion we devalue. 

Listen hard.  The better your week/month/year has gone the closer Amos asks you to listen.

Away with the noise of your songs!  I will not listen to the music of your harps.But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!   Amos 5:23-24

 Questions —
What is one unwelcome message that God saying to you?  Is God asking you to care for someone you do not like?  Is God asking you to forgive someone that you would rather resent?  Is there a call for you to use finances to bless someone in need, perhaps Compassion International or someone closer?

I realize this is not the most comforting GPS message you have received and you may have rather not opened it.  My tendency is to avoid Amos and the other prophets for the same reason.  But these are God’s words, good words however unpleasant.

Thanks be to God for loving us enough to share unpleasant words.

Fields of Tekoa, where Amos lived as a shepherd




Sent from my iPhone.

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

4.23.13 Insight from Rev. Molly Simpson

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

As my grandfather aged, it seemed as though he was the target of more and more companies selling “miracle drugs” to reverse aging or suspicious insurance policies or fake sweepstakes that only cost $9.95 to enter.  There were letters and phone calls from people asking for donations to all kinds of causes, some questionable, and his mail was filled with catalogs of expensive products that made false claims to help him live forever.  I remember one day when my father had returned from visiting him with a stack of all the junk that came from people trying to get my grandfather’s money.  My dad was mad, and he started calling each company or salesperson to demand that my grandfather be taken off their lists.  I remember what anger looked like when someone tried to take advantage of someone near and dear to us.

Do we feel the same when the poor and powerless isn’t a family member?  Perhaps we do if they are a neighbor or an acquaintance, but do we find ourselves filled with anger when a stranger is wronged?  When those who suffer injustice are quite different from us?  Or even people we don’t agree with?  Are we still filled with the passion to “defend the weak?”  Of as Psalm 31 puts it–to “speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves.”

Sometimes this is hard to do because it puts us as risk or it requires us to sideline our primary interests in defense of another.  Sometimes it’s difficult because we don’t think we have any power.  Or because we don’t know where to even start in defending the weak.

Want to find a place to start?  Look around you–your workplace, your neighborhood, our community.  Ask God to show you.  Are there any things that make you think, “that’s not right, and someone should do something about that…”?  Could it be that the someone is you?

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

4.22.13 Insight from Jeanna Repass

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

Spring oh Spring where art thou? We’re into the last 10 days of April and our morning low temperatures have been below freezing and the highs have been a cold 40 degrees with winds that carry a chill…. until this past weekend. The sun came out and the air temperature broke the 60 degree mark. It’s amazing how balmy 62 degrees can feel – especially when the April sun is high in the sky. I personally went out walking and joined the throngs of other people who knew it was too cold for shorts – but had them on anyway paired with our long sleeved jackets and hooded sweatshirts.

The street of our cul-de-sac was filled with children and dogs and joggers and cheerleaders. OK – one cheerleader was walking door to door selling flowers to help fund-raise for her squad fees (my daughter Ariel). I bought a bunch of flowers from her as did many of our neighbors in anticipation of planting the colorful bunches in beds and pots in the next few weeks.  The sound of lawn and garden power tools and lawn mowers filled the air. The smell of freshly cut grass and blossoms on the trees was fragrant and welcome. The sky was blue, the clouds were white and the grass was green (actual green not just yellow-green or brown anymore).

My neighbor was in the process of trimming her hedge when she was startled by two Robins flying out of the bush which drew her attention to a hole in the greenery. There she saw a perfect bird’s nest with three blue eggs in it. She showed it to me and all the curious children on the block – as long as we promised not to disturb it. It was beautiful – perfectly bowl shaped sheltering the eggs. I have a picture – but I know it won’t do justice to the true color of blue of those eggs or the amazing intricate structure of the nest. SPRING! FINALLY! But it won’t last – the forecast is for a cold front that will keep our high temperatures in the 40’s by mid week – again…

But while the 60’s were available to us – my family and I and our neighbors all took full advantage. I couldn’t help but think about how perfectly the Earth is fashioned for us. Everything was bright and beautiful and flowery-smelly-goodness. Everything around us was like – well like a garden. As I read today’s scriptures I was thinking about how God allowed us to live in a garden at the beginning of creation and will bring us to rest in paradise in a garden at the end of time. But I was also struck by the fact that the whole Earth – especially at Spring time – is truly a garden. We have water and warmth, trees and flowers, colors of green and blue and red, pink, purple and orange all around us – right now. Earth Day reminds us that while the perfect garden of paradise awaits us – we have a perfect garden available to us right now. All that is required of us is to tend it; to take care of it; to appreciate it. Take time today (whether it’s 40 degrees or 80 degrees) to see, smell, feel and breath in our gift from our Father – our garden Earth. Amen.

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

4.20.13 Insight from Liz Gyori

Liz Gyori serves on the Resurrection staff as the Group Life Training Program Director.

I’m blessed to work for this church, surrounded by co-workers who daily demonstrate the principles of the Golden Rule. I have a loving family and many dear friends. The concept of vengeance doesn’t take up much room in my thoughts.

Yet I grew up in a completely different environment. My father, grandfather and uncle were all successful career politicians (meaning, they won). My dad spent more than 30 years in politics, 20 of those in Congress. Do you know the saying, “An elephant never forgets”? I heard that phrase uttered more than once as I grew up. In fact, you might call it a family motto. I’m guessing that those adults who weren’t forgetting also weren’t always waiting for God to work their revenge. Even as a child, I knew exactly who had crossed us. Like a bad Santa, I kept a list in my head of those whom my family deemed naughty or nice. To this day, if I encountered one particular person on that list, I would struggle to do the good Paul asks of us.

I don’t mean to imply that the men in my family were bad people; in fact, I loved them all dearly and happen to think they were pretty great guys. The truth is that most elections, and politics in general, can be brutal, and a breeding ground for potential evil. Lies are told and people are betrayed. Enemies are made. It’s human nature to fight back and to seek revenge for a wrong. Yet in this passage, Paul exhorts us to “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.” As Christians, we are instructed to resist the idea of vengeance, and “to defeat evil with good.”

After 30 years of political combat, I know my dad had a pretty long list of friends and foes. Perhaps part of his career longevity can be attributed to his understanding of Paul’s words, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head.” Over the years, I witnessed numerous examples of my dad helping those who opposed him. He did it quietly and without self-promotion (seems surprising, I know, but those were the “old days.”) After one such occasion, I was puzzled and I asked him why he had helped the child of an opponent out of a particularly sticky situation. Here is a sanitized version of his answer: “He’ll remember this the next time he wants to stick it to me. He might stop himself. And maybe we’ll get some work done.”

Are you keeping a friend and foe tally in your head? If you are, how might you extend kindness to those who oppose you in an effort to follow Paul’s plea to “live at peace with all people”?

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

4.19.13 Insight from Madeline Crawford

Madeline Crawford is the Website Communications Director, and has been a member of The Church of the Resurrection since 1994.

When I read today’s GPS scripture, my eyes immediately rescanned the verse, “Don’t pay back evil for evil or insult for insult. Instead, give blessing in return. You were called to do this so that you might inherit a blessing.” So I started thinking about specific times when I’ve been dealt a hand full of mean-spirited cards, and what resulted from the way I played each hand. When confronted with hostility, I have a tendency to react in one of two ways:

A) I mirror wrongdoings by adding insult to injury–whether by slaying my opponent with a cunning remark, by asserting that my opinion is the only truthful and valid one on the table, or by abandoning a friendship altogether.

or B) I consciously replace evil thoughts with a compassionate effort to move forward. This often means starting with an attempt to understand where the other person is coming from. (If you caught Pastor Adam’s sermon this weekend, think “placing myself in the shoes of the barista.”) When I empathize with my neighbor’s needs, I can offer a word of encouragement or act of service that might help that person abandon hostile motives or actions to move toward a more positive interaction.

As someone who has experimented with both types of responses, I can say that returning insult for insult almost always burns bridges, whereas putting aside my ego–sometimes reluctantly–to bless an enemy often results in an enduring relationship. Though it’s easier to craft a cunning retort, the path less traveled–the one of grace, forgiveness and compassion–positively shapes the attitude of our adversaries, and therefore, comes back to bless us tenfold as we are renewed in our relationships.

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