Monthly Archives: May 2013

5.31.13 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 first began working at Resurrection nearly two years ago, I was eager to come off as a quick learner who maintained a perfect record when it came to updating websites and social media. In an effort to not let any mistakes fall through the cracks, I double triple checked my work before publishing it, lest anyone lay eyes on my errors. Everything was running smoothly and I seemed to be making all the right moves, until suddenly, during my second week on the job, my boss and I were interrupted by our team’s software developer during a meeting. Our conversation went something like this:

Software Developer: It looks like all of our sermons were wiped from the website this morning.
My Boss:
Come again?
Software Developer:
Yeah, somebody deleted all of the sermon videos and audio clips from our sermon archives.
Seriously? How does that even happen? Do you know who did it?
Software Developer:
I spent all morning trying to figure that out. I was able to track it back to user name “madeline.crawford.”
[jaw drops] Oh…

Somehow, in spite of compulsively checking my own work, I managed to execute a fatal error within our content management system. Fortunately, because our software developer tracked the error back to my account, I was able to roll back my user history and essentially restore all the sermons to the website while wiping my slate clean of errors–how cool is that?!

I’m telling you this story not to make you question whether your church’s website is in capable hands–I swear I haven’t gone rogue with our sermon archives since that fateful meltdown day–but I’m recounting this anecdote because I believe it parallels today’s scripture, “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from everything we’ve done wrong.” Just like my special history rollback tool saved me from ruining the church’s website during my second week of employment, God’s grace grants us forgiveness and a clean slate, if only we take ownership of our mistakes.

So as we relate today’s scripture to our daily lives, I leave you with one question: What sins can you identify and take ownership of so that God can roll back your user history and wipe your slate clean?

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

5.30.13 Insight from Valerie Naas

Valerie Naas is a Print Communications Coordinator at The Church of the Resurrection in the Communications Ministry where she has served since September 2009. Valerie worships at Resurrection Downtown.

Jesus and the woman at the well has become a favorite Bible passage of mine as I have grown older. Perhaps it’s the behavior Jesus models—associating with the sinners and social outcasts of society. Or maybe it’s the vulnerable exchange with Jesus that the woman finds herself a part of. With today’s interpretation I recognize the defensive statements held back by the woman at the well, and instead, I see her softened, open heart to the words Jesus offered.

However, when I was challenged with the assignment to reflect upon today’s scripture and share my response with you, I felt at a loss. Not one to hear God’s still, small voice, I was immediately anxious and I prayed fervently that God would give me words worthy of sharing.  After two days of worry, I received with certainty the quickest, clearest response I’ve yet to receive from God.  I started my car after a long workday and the radio greeted me with a familiar personal favorite, Rhett Walker Band’s “Come to the River.” Take a listen and reflect upon the lyrics here.

Through discernment, I decided to share the following:

During a rough and lonely semester in the middle of my college years, one of my roommates and dear friends at the time recognized symptoms of my behavior that caused her great concern. Unable to successfully approach me directly, my friend, as a precaution, decided to involve my Residential Assistant and our university’s Campus Safety. I did not have an open heart, and I was not about to listen to people who didn’t even know me sit there and tell me the ways that I needed to change. For months, I was outraged with my friend. Oh, sure, we still walked to class together, talked about the cute boys on campus, and stayed up watching late-night movies, but there was a buried feeling of betrayal.

It took me a while to warm up to the idea of counseling (the help that was recommended by those involved), but for the first time in my life, I discovered that there are counselors and mental health professionals in the business because they care for people and not just because they are looking to make a quick buck.

And so I began a journey of counseling. Once I dismissed the bitterness, shame, and independence that I didn’t need anyone’s hand in maintaining a healthy Valerie, I humbled myself and opened my heart. I had to put my stubbornness aside and hear out God’s agenda.  I accepted the honesty of my friends and professional support. I learned that seeking and accepting help doesn’t make me any less of the person God created me to be. By trusting that God was present in the process, the personal and spiritual growth began.

To make this story come full circle, perhaps it was the living water of Jesus that I was yearning for all along. I’ve never been as bold as to say “no” to the cup that Jesus offers before me, but I have attempted to drink from sources that fail to quench my thirst—the approval of others, high academic scores, popular friends, the right number in the bank account. Not that I don’t still make these errors on a regular basis, but I am now aware of moments in which I need to “fill my cup” with the living water of Jesus.

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

5.29.13 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,  the Reconnection Team, and our Spiritual Gifts Discovery classes and Placement.

The story of Joseph is one that I find incredibly remarkable and encouraging. He didn’t just forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery, but he took it one step further and actually praised God for the great opportunity he had because his brothers sold him into slavery.

He could have focused on the hatred and jealousy his brothers felt for him, the loss of his freedom and relationship with his father, his imprisonment following a misunderstanding regarding his master’s wife, and all of the other negative circumstances that came with being a slave. Instead, he chose to look at the positive aspects that came out of his condition. God gifted Joseph with the ability to decipher Pharaoh’s dreams, and Pharaoh, the most powerful man in Egypt, was so impressed that he put Joseph—a slave!—second in command of his vast empire.

It can be so easy to focus on the bad situations we face, forgetting that the good things often come from the bad. Sometimes our circumstances may not even change, but when we intentionally change our attitudes, our circumstances often seem better.

Growing up, I used to love to watch the 1960 movie Pollyanna starring Haley Mills as the young main character who, after her poor missionary parents are killed, goes to live with her wealthy aunt. Throughout the movie, Pollyanna often brings up things that she is glad about even when those around her are focusing on their misery. For example, when she really wanted a doll and instead received a pair of crutches in the donations to her and her parents serving overseas, she chooses to rejoice in the fact that she doesn’t need to use the crutches instead of on her disappointment in not receiving a doll.  Click here to view a scene from the movie where she explains to her aunt’s servants how the “Glad Game” works.

I am not suggesting that we don’t experience real trouble where we are truly suffering or grieving, but 1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances,” and giving thanks sometimes starts with a conscious change in our attitudes. Just as God walked alongside Joseph, God walks with us today, and it is with assurance that we have the ability to forgive, to give thanks, to persevere, and to play the Glad Game.

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

5.28.13 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.

Talking with a friend the other day, my friend shared her excitement about upcoming travels. She is heading to India for a conference, may stop by Africa, and mentioned that she may as well hit the Eiffel Tower while she’s out and about. (My friend leads a very different life than me. I spent the past week in Hutchinson, Kansas.) Anyway, she paused and said (about the Eiffel Tower), “I want to take a picture there. I already have the picture frame for it.”

When she said this, it struck me as a very interesting way to think. Perhaps it is our job to set a frame and ask God to come fill in the details.

Sometimes life doesn’t live up to our expectations. Like Joseph, we end up punished for something when we were only doing our best to serve God. But it is important to note that in the story of Joseph’s imprisonment, Joseph has his eyes set on God’s framework for his life, not living up to anyone else’s expectations or approval. This, I think, is the key to his spiritual maturity. By setting his eyes on God’s framework, he can see how God would use his situation for good, and see how to follow God’s call in his life, even in the midst of trial, persecution, and misunderstanding. Perhaps we could learn from Joseph as we seek hope in the midst of our own unfinished business.

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

5.27.13 Insight from Rev. Chris Holliday

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

On this Memorial Day 2013, we pause to remember those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, and to honor all those in our military (past and present) who have protected our freedoms and our way of life. Thanks to these brave men and women and our country’s founders and significant leaders, we have the freedom to dream and the opportunity to make our dreams realities. We can become teachers, doctors, construction workers, lifeguards, musicians, business people, veterinarians, artists, inventors, administrative assistants, farmers, pastors or whatever we want to be.

With such freedom, though, come major life choices and much responsibility. Who do we want to become? What do we want to accomplish? How do we decide? To whom do we listen? Surely we will have mentors along the way, but who can be our ultimate guide on this journey?

In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul writes, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived. All of these new things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and who gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

So it is Christ — the one who died to save us from sin, who reconciled us to God, who taught us how to live, serve, and be, who freed us in every way imaginable that we might become new creations in and through him. Yes, Christ is our ultimate guide; but how does he lead us?

During his earthly life, Jesus Christ told us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”, and to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37,39). So living a life of love is key. We are called to develop and nurture our relationship with God, and to show grace and compassion to all, even ourselves.

Christ also offers guidance through what Pastor Bill Hybels calls “God Whispers.” The Divine attempts to communicate with us in many ways, including scripture, songs, prayer, thoughts, feelings, dreams, visions, intuition, and trusted friends; but we must be careful not to let the noise and chaos of life drown out these “God Whispers.” We must make the time and space to listen for Christ’s call.

One other way Christ guides us relates directly to the gifts and passions God has given us. Author and theologian Frederick Buechner says the Divine calls us to the place “where [our] deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” (Wishful Thinking, 1973, p. 95) When we find that place, we will live with an unparalleled sense of purpose and joy.

Today, as you remember those who have gone on before, those who have lit the path with their lives, may you also take the time to prayerfully consider the following:

  • Are you living a life of love?
  • Do you hear and act upon the “God Whispers”?
  • Have you found the place where your passion, gifts, and strengths meet the world’s deepest needs?

May we all work with Christ daily to become the best versions of ourselves, true ambassadors of reconciliation and hope, new creations that serve together as Christ’s hands and feet to a world in need.

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

5.25.13 Insight from Dave Pullin

Dave Pullin serves as the Director of Technical Production at The Church of the Resurrection. The Technical Production ministry handles all audio/visual/technical support for the church including worship services and events.

The expression of Love can come in a variety of ways. A text, a hug, a listening ear, a kiss, doing the dishes, changing the dirty diaper, an unexpected gift, or even a word of affirmation. We show love to our spouses, our significant others, our family, our children, our friends, and to so many others in a variety of different ways and methods. And it’s really not that hard either. The challenge is that we have to be intentional about it. We have to stop thinking about our self and allow someone else to be at the center of our thoughts.

When two people fall in love, part of what makes that experience so amazing is that they cannot stop thinking about the other. They spend the majority of their time brainstorming ways to show the other that they are loved. They become infatuated with each other.

Shouldn’t it also be with our relationship with God? If showing love requires us to put the subject of our love at the forefront of our thoughts and actions, then being mindful of where we place God in the ever-competing list of thoughts and feelings we experience each day may prove to be a starting point.

And it’s hard. I constantly struggle with where I place God in my day. I’m not like that person who is newly in love. It’s hard for me to maintain the discipline of daily scripture and prayer…but I try to be intentional about it. Just as I am intentional about expressing my love to my wife on a daily basis, so too do I try to keep God at the forefront of my thoughts. I read a quote the other day from John Maxwell in regards to leadership, but I believe the same can apply here in regards to identifying what & who we love:

“The secret to our success is found in our daily agenda. Look at what a person is doing everyday, day after day, and you will know who that person is and what s/he is becoming.”

What are your daily habits? If someone were to look at those habits, what could they conclude about who & what you love? Are you pleased with what they would see?

Each day is a new day, so lets be intentional today about loving God with all of our heart, soul, strength, and mind.

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

5.24.13 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.

This past weekend we were in Manhattan to attend the graduation for our nieces.  Luckily we were able to enjoy 2 separate ceremonies roughly 8 hours apart.  So while listening to over 1,100 names being read, while entertaining 2 restless boys with games like “how many graduates are named Smith?” (24), and while the song, “Pomp & Circumstance,” reverberated in my head, I considered three challenges that might impede our living a life of peace & contentedness as urged by Paul.

Announcer:  Graduating from the College of Arts & Sciences with a degree in Biochemistry – Ohn Lee Beegun.

First, we need to recognize that this is a daunting test because much of our society has a vested interest in ensuring that we remain in a state of agitation.

We live in a “lottery culture,” i.e., if only we’d win the lottery, then we’d be happy.  We could replace “lottery” with that special promotion, a new car, or the latest smart phone & you get an idea of how pervasive this mentality is.

This urging us to never be satisfied is even taught to us from an early age.  For example, if a genie should appear and offer us 3 wishes, every child from the playground knows the first wish we make is to always demand 3 more wishes.

Contrast this view with the cartoon of a smiling beagle laying on her back with her paws wagging in the air.  A genie is hovering above asking, “Are you sure for your 3rd wish you just want another belly rub?”

Announcer:  With a degree in Sociology, Anthropology, & Social Work – Justin D. Myddle.

Secondly, we need to realize that our standards for satisfaction will need to change throughout our lives.  Early on, Paul’s definition of contentment may have revolved around a clean cloak & his books of theology being shelved in alphabetical order.  Imprisoned as he writes this letter, though, perhaps his standard for happiness was tweaked to relishing the clean straw in his cell.

So, we need to be flexible.  Like the woman going through menopause who surprised her husband by coming to bed in her swimming suit saying, “If I’m going to have hot flashes, I might as well be comfortable.”  Or like the surgeon friend of mine, who was tempted to place his business cards at the base of the basketball goal at the local gym while it hosts it’s “Over-40 League.”  Our bodies & our life circumstances are going to demand we are flexible in our standard of contentedness.

Finally, we have the challenge that is prompted by the inspiring speeches of graduation weekend:  How can we live a life of contentment when we have so much potential to change & improve our world?

Perhaps Paul’s life can provide an example for us to model our lives.  Paul’s life, post-Damascus, was certainly mission-oriented.  He had places to go, people to see, & things to do.  He knew his time was short & that his life mission was of the utmost importance.  Yet, even in the midst of this hustle & bustle, he urges us to be at peace & content.

As we read of Paul’s thrilling adventures cited in Acts & referenced in his letters, we might overlook the fact that these events took place over roughly 30 years.  Paul spent a great deal of time in prisons, cooling his heels.  While we might have been frustrated by this perceived lack of accomplishment, Paul didn’t despair.  He used this time counseling the fledgling churches in Philippi, Colossae, & Ephesus.  In short, he gave himself permission to be at peace even in the midst of his world-changing calling.  Perhaps we could do likewise.

I’ve always been fond of the reply from Satchel Paige, the African-American pitcher of undetermined age when asked his secret to longevity: “Get your rest, eat light, keep busy, & don’t agitate yourself.”

Announcer: Graduating from the College of Human Ecology with a degree in Public Health Nutrition – Fyn Alee Zee-Ind

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

5.23.13 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.

Who I am becoming will far outlast who I am!  Do you find that thought encouraging or discouraging?  I ask because that’s at least part of the message Paul is trying to get across to the folks in Corinth who were (more or less) trying to follow Christ.  In fact what he says in II Corinthians 4:16-18, is–in essence–this message of…who you are becoming is far more important and long-lasting than who you have been or who you are today.

I suppose one’s answer to “am I encouraged (or discouraged) by knowing that who I am becoming will outlast who I am” is largely going to be determined by their answer to another question—which is…who am I becomingAm I becoming more forgiving or less?  Am I becoming more vindictive or less?   Am I becoming more accepting of the faults of others, or less?  Am I hanging on to past pain more or less?  Am I letting the way I think people have hurt me in the past influence the way I act (and react) towards them more or less?  Am I becoming more greedy or less?  Is my perspective of others becoming more filtered through the lens of grace…or less?  Am I becoming more giving of my time and agenda or less?  Am I asking the questions “how does this affect me”… “how does this make me look” more or less?  Am I acting out of impatience and insecurity more or less?  Is focus on God seen in my daily activities more or less?  Is what’s important to God a priority for me more or less?  Would the people in my life who both love me and tell me the unvarnished truth say that they see more of Jesus in me…or less?

I suppose we could spend a good portion of the day asking those kind of clarifying questions…but the real issue is indeed…who am I becoming—-because I would suggest that at least part of what Paul was getting at in II Corinthians is reminding us that…“we don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen” (II Corinthians 4:18).  In other words, at least part of what Paul was getting at (and a big part of what Jesus spent his time trying to get us to see) is that who we are becoming will far outlast who we are in this present moment.

So…who are you becoming?

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

5.22.13 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

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

“The Neuropathway Less Traveled”
WEDNESDAY 5.22.13   Colossians 3:15-17
We don’t say thanks more often because … we don’t say thanks more often.    Neuroscience has identified that our thoughts travel along certain routes called neuropathways.  The more we have certain types of thought, the more well worn the pathway becomes and the easier it is for the thoughts to happen again.  It is like a dog who follows the same path from the doghouse to the food bowl.   After making that path over and over again, it is easier for the dog to get from the doghouse to the food bowl.  The more we connect some event in our life with the need to say thanks for it, the easier it will get to say thanks.  

Forging a new neuropathway for thanksgiving has proven to be very helpful for people dealing with depression, anxiety, negative thinking, or any addiction.  When our minds start going down a negative path our thoughts are highly likely to keep following that path.   We can fight that pattern of thinking by recognizing it, and then rerouting our thoughts by naming different things what we are thankful for.  In order to fight negative or addictive thinking, we have to create new neuropathways for our thoughts to travel .  Also, in order to be more thankful, we need practice thankfulness which creates a well worn path for our thoughts to travel down.

In my family, we practice thanksgiving at every meal time and at each bedtime.  Before we eat, my wife, my two sons and myself take turns each thanking God for two things.   “Thank you God for this food” is a common thought as well as “Thank you God for the police officers and firefighters who keep us safe is another.”  It is amazing how often pausing to say thank you interrupts a kitchen full of whining and crying (and that’s just my wife and I).  At bedtime, one part of my 5 year old’s prayer time is to say “Thank you God for this day, especially ____________.”  This allows him call to mind something special about his day and lift it up as a gift from God.

These are two practices that have changed not only my heart, but the hearts of my family.  Because we have prayed these prayers of thanksgiving often, it has now become easier for me at different parts of the day to lift up a thankful word to God.  Try these two new behaviors or come up with your own and see if you find your heart changing as well.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Colossae:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.   Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:15-17

That may be difficult to do at first, but it gets easier.  Even though I forget to thank God more often than I would like, I see my heart and my relationships changing. 

Two options of living lay out before me.  I am taking the neuropathway less traveled and that has made all the difference.  I believe it will for you too.

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


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

5.21.13 Insight from Rev. Molly Simpson

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

Many of us saw the news last night of the horrible tornado in Moore, Oklahoma and wake up with heavy hearts today.  Maybe you know someone that lives in that area.  Maybe you can’t shake the thought of the what the parents of the children who were trapped in the school might be feeling today.  Maybe you have read about some of the close calls or the rescue workers who put concerns for their own safety aside.

Perhaps you can imagine walking out of your basement, looking at the thrashed remnant of your home, and being able to say, “Thank the Lord” simply because you are still alive.  Today’s scripture passage from Isaiah 12 contains these verses–“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.”  It begs the question–what is your strength?  your salvation?   

Last night, after turning off the news, I watched a video someone posted on Facebook about a teenager named Zach Sobiech who died Monday morning from a rare cancer.  His  story about living while your alive is pretty great–you can find it here.  (It’s something like 20 minutes, so if you don’t have that kind of time, google his name.)  Watching his family, I’m reminded that you find joy in the midst of the hardest moments of real life when you trust in One greater than yourself.

Are you tired?  Is life less than sunshine and rainbows lately?  Do you know someone who is in the midst of a storm?  Find a song of thanksgiving–try this one from Isaiah or Psalm 28, 111 or 118.  Stop and consider the eternal weight of trusting Jesus Christ.  Then, pray this prayer from our GPS today.  “Living Lord, life in this world sometimes leaves me parched and thirsty inside. Help me remember that, in the end, only you are a reliable, never-ending source of living water. Amen.”


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