Monthly Archives: June 2013

6.29.13 Insight from Brent Messick

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

I am always struck by the exchange between the Canaanite woman and Jesus in Matthew 15:21-28.  The Canaanite woman (a Gentile) pleads for Jesus to heal her daughter.  At first, Jesus doesn’t respond.  Why not?  Then after the urging of his disciples, Jesus says that it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.  If I was in her shoes, I would say “Huh?  What does that mean?”  Jesus is using a metaphor to state that the gospel was to be given first to the Jews.  The children symbolize the people of Israel and the bread symbolizes God’s blessings.  The dogs was a derogatory term the Jews used for the Gentiles, illustrating the barriers between these two groups of people.

The woman responds that even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.  She was saying that even the Gentiles are eager to hear the gospel message and receive God’s blessings.

Why does Jesus not respond at first?  And then why does he speak in abstract terms to respond to her request?  I believe Jesus is testing her faith.  It reminds me of when my children would tell me how much they loved me when they needed something, but I would not hear those same words of endearment when they didn’t need anything.  How many times do we ask Jesus to help us when we are down, but don’t thank him when things are going well?

I am impressed with this Canaanite woman.  First of all, she is a Gentile, yet she addresses Jesus as “Son of David”, showing that she had some recognition of who Jesus is.  Then, she not only comprehends Jesus’ message, but she responds in kind.  She is not intimidated and does not back down.  She is humble, yet she holds her ground and matches wits with Jesus.  He is pleased with her reply, because it demonstrated her faith and humility, and Jesus heals her daughter.

I believe this Scripture passage is a great example of how our faith in Jesus Christ and the church can break down human barriers.  How can our faith do that?  Jesus commands us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.  If we truly follow this great commandment, then God will give us confidence and humility to overcome those human barriers that we may struggle with, be they economic, racial, ethnic, gender, age, or sexual orientation.

Our daughter lives in San Francisco, and my wife and I travel there frequently to visit her and her fiancé.  We love to walk around the city to experience its sights, sounds, food, and diversity.  It is a very densely populated city, and you don’t have to walk far to experience its diversity.  My faith has helped me to realize that while we are all different, like the Canaanite woman, God’s loves us all and blesses us all more than we realize.  Our faith should help us to break down those human barriers of prejudice.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

6.28.13 Insight from Kersee Currier

 Kersee Currier serves as a summer intern in the Missions department at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Our world today is full of insecurities and doubt that can blind us to the cares of other people in nearby communities or around the world. In Luke10:25-37 Jesus explains who our neighbors are and how to love them. Jesus shares a story of a man traveling who was attacked by robbers, and the only person to stop and help him was a Samaritan. The Samaritan poured love into the injured man with his time, money, and resources.  The Samaritan is the perfect example of loving your neighbor as ourselves because he cared for another person in need just as Jesus would. Unfortunately, today we often allow fear to have a grip on us when it comes to helping others. These fears can be external or internal. In Luke 10, the man traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho . The road went through rocky and desert-like country, making it an easy place for robbers to attack travelers. Today there is a heavy concern for safety when traveling, but there is also fear of differences in cultures we don’t understand or relate to. These barriers can come from language, food, religion, beliefs, daily routines, etc. which then impact the way we see other nations or communities. These fears can hinder our ability to see the good we can accomplish through Christ and discourage us in loving to our neighbors.

Before my freshman year in college I was a member of the Resurrection Honduras missions team. Weeks before leaving the United States for the first time, I felt apprehensive about my decision to serve God’s Kingdom in a way I never had before. I was somewhat blinded by my fears of lack of understanding the language and the cultural differences. The team arrived at our job sites and began serving, but I was uncomfortable walking onto the construction site (which was a church we were adding on to). Melvin, Juan Carlos, Cristobal, and Bryon were our guides over the next seven days, and they explained and demonstrated how to complete the task we had come to complete. These four men changed my attitude about this experience quickly by the way they acted towards me. They showed me kindness, love, and understanding even with a language barrier I feared–they broke through it to allow me a clear understanding. When we left Honduras God revealed to me the different types of beauty he put on this earth, the biggest one being His people.

God’s love for people can bring unity to all through His mercy. In Luke 10 Jesus asked the expert on the law who he believed to be a neighbor to the man who was attacked and he replied “The one who had mercy on him.” God shows us mercy time after time. When I feel like I have failed God in the biggest way possible, and ask God to forgive me He always shows me the mercy I need. His mercy can rebuild the bridges from people-to-people in our daily lives and across the world because it’s extremely powerful. My parents are a perfect example for me–they love me unconditionally, provide for me, and have helped me become the person Jesus wants me to be. Yet I still do not always listen or do what my parents ask of me, but through their love and God’s mercy I’m always forgiven.

In addition Luke 17:11-19 reminds me of how unclean my sins can make me, but God cleanses me through His mercy, grace and forgiveness. I praise Him for what He has done for me.  God can heal all the hurts of this world; therefore, who am I not to praise him for this? When Jesus healed the ten men with leprosy only one man, the Samaritan, came back to Jesus to praise Him for the deed He had done for him. One out of the ten took the time to praise the Lord! When I read this I was shocked by their actions, but when I truly think about it I’m guilty of the same transgressions. I can always praise God for His love, grace and understanding.

During everyday Iife we also have hurdles. I played competitive soccer in middle and high school and adapted to assuming the worst about the opposing teams/players. I didn’t identify with other players on a personal level, and in my mind the competitive spirit was a requirement to play well. This idea later became a sickening matter in my mind. After quitting competitive soccer during my senior year of high school, I still assumed the worst about some of these players in the soccer community until I began meet some of them in social settings. All of my thoughts about these girls were completely wrong. They were kind, compassionate people who just enjoyed soccer as much as I did. This helped me to see that Jesus loves everyone–Samaritans, lepers, and people I imposed unreasonable standards on. I’m so incredibly grateful that I see I am always called to love regardless of what I am doing and to put God first.

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



6.27.13 Insight from Britli Fuller

Britli Fuller serves as a summer intern in the KiDS COR ministry at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

I just finished my first year at Kansas State University. I had an amazing experience, however, all year I struggled a lot with discipleship and the different ways that people went about it. After reading Luke 7:36-50 today, I really think a lot of my unanswered questions from this year have been answered.

I have seen people disciple others in so many different ways after one year of college. Some ways I thought were great, and others I had a hard time understanding. One day someone I didn’t know approached me, and the way that they talked to me about living a life for Jesus really left me confused about the Christian way. I felt judged and torn down, and I started to feel like I didn’t know Jesus’ story enough. For a while, I really distanced myself from anyone who associated with the person who did that to me. I wanted to speak out and let people know how upset I was about the situation, but I didn’t know what to do so I kept praying about it. I feel as though this passage has been the first thing to really wrap my mind around everything and answer my prayers.

Simon had Jesus over for dinner intending, I think, to prove his love for Him. However, when something went wrong that Simon couldn’t stand for he was quick to run away. Jesus went to Simon’s for dinner knowing full well what was going to happen, and I believe it all played out the way it should have. Simon was given the opportunity to see Jesus’ love for others because He forgave the woman who sinned. After Simon saw how much Jesus loves all of His people, Simon still wasn’t willing to understand and that is where his story ends.

I feel as though this Bible passage applies a lot to my situation. I was given an opportunity to be like Jesus, and I wish I would have handled my situation more like this one. I thought there was something wrong with how I was discipled. Instead of becoming more like Jesus, I actually ran the opposite way. I thought there was something wrong, but in the end I was not in the position to judge. I might think I know what is right or wrong, but ultimately that is for God to judge. This passage has taught me a lot. I need to act more like Jesus, and love like He does in every situation.

I think everyone sees going the extra mile to share Jesus’ love in a different way. After everything that I have learned, I know that I need to only worry about how I am living out God’s message. I believe in shining my light not so others can see me but so others can see Him through me, and I try to live every day for that purpose. At the end of the day I think it is most important to connect with others and meet people where they are. As a Christian I want to be more like Jesus, and that means loving everyone in the same way that I want to be loved by Him.

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

6.26.13 Insight From Katy Mersmann

Katy Mersmann serves as a summer intern for the Communications Department at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

I’ve always been curious about the significance of Jesus’ association with tax collectors like Matthew and Zacchaeus, and I recently took the time to into look it. The tax collectors of the time were Jews who chose to work for the Romans, collecting taxes levied by the Roman government. Other Jews viewed tax collectors as traitors and sellouts and mistrusted them and the corrupt system they worked for. As I was reading this, I was struck by the similarities between the Jewish response in Jesus’ day to tax collectors and our society’s response to journalists. As a journalism student at college, I’m familiar with the mistrust with which people view journalists. I want to be a reporter someday, which baffles a lot of people. They wonder why I would want to join an industry so widely disliked and viewed as corrupt. For all intents and purposes, today’s journalists are the tax collectors of the Bible.

I’m also a big Superman fan, partly because of our similarities—both Methodists who grew up in Kansas and work as reporters. (I know my superheroes.) It does strike me as kind of funny that Clark Kent chose to take a position as a journalist. I mean, he’s Superman. He has the skills and ability to take literally any job on earth and he chooses to spend his mortal hours among people who most of society doesn’t like. He hangs out with the modern-day tax collectors, probably drawing more ire than support from the public. Funny, probably because Jesus did the same thing.

What’s the deal with these perfect, morally right guys hanging around a bunch of people who are separate from society? I can’t speak for Superman, but Jesus seems to have been deliberately seeking out the “bad” guys and giving them a chance to redeem themselves. And given that chance, Matthew and Zacchaeus went above and beyond. Matthew went on to write the first book of the New Testament and later performed miracles as an Apostle in Jesus’ name.  Zacchaeus gave away his vast fortune and dedicated the rest of his life to philanthropic acts. Back in the newsroom in Columbia, I see this played out again and again. I love asking my friends and fellow journalism students why they want to go into journalism. It’s not an easy job; there are long hours, late nights, very little pay and sometimes, even danger. And the answer I hear most often is simple: “I want to help people and this is the best way for me to do it.”

Jesus took a chance on a tax collector like Matthew and he went on to perform great miracles in Jesus’ name: helping and healing people. As both a modern-day tax collector and apostle of Christ, I’m relieved to know that with faith from a friend, we can all go out in the world to help people. After all, isn’t that exactly what Jesus calls us to do?

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

6.25.13 Insight from Lauren Kats

Lauren Kats serves as a summer intern in the KiDS COR ministry at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Sadly, today’s message about Jonah was quite easy for me to relate to my life. I love knowing that God will always forgive me, whatever I do. I love knowing that I have complete assurance in my eternal future, and that nothing and no one can take that away.

What I sometimes, most of the time, do not love, is that everyone else gets complete forgiveness too–even those who make not-so-good decisions most of the time. I live in a sorority at the University of Kansas. I love it. It’s one of the best decisions that I have made in college. I love the girls I live with, but I get the most frustrated with those same girls. I watch them make questionable decisions weekend after weekend. I will always be there to help them if they need it, but sometimes it irks me that they get to “have all of the fun,” while I am known as the all-time designated driver. It’s hard to not be the one that always gets the invites out to dinner, the big fraternity party, or wherever. It’s hard not being the center of attention. It’s hard knowing that even though those girls are out doing all of those things, and getting all of the attention, they still have the ability to be forgiven and end up in the same place as me, who has been living my life for Jesus all along.

But then, I remember all of my sins. My sins may not be the same as theirs, but I have them. And I have to realize that someone out there, who I hurt by my sins, probably wished at one point that I would not be forgiven for that sin. Praise God that He still forgave me. In those moments, I realize just how big God’s grace is, and how much I need it. I need it just as much as those girls I live with.

I also have come to delight in the fact that I think that God has called me to be a light for Him in that house, to love those girls, to show them Jesus. I won’t say it isn’t hard, because the temptation is hard. I have to remember that even when they seem to be having all the fun now, I’m living my life for a greater purpose. I aim to hope and pray everyday that I get to see my friends again one day in heaven, and thank God that He has shown me that same mercy so that I get to rejoice in heaven myself!

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

6.24.13 Insight from Julia Ponath

Julia Ponath serves as a summer intern at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection’s West campus.

The second chapter of Joshua revolves around the gracious, sacrificial help of a Canaanite prostitute named Rahab, and I can’t help but discuss the selection of such a woman. The entire chapter discusses how Joshua sent scouts as spies to the city of Jericho, how Rahab protected them so they could escape from the hands of the enemy, a bargain that Rahab struck up for her safety, and finally, their safe return to Joshua with news of their expedition.

Rahab, one of the principle characters, is mentioned twice in the New Testament as a great believer (Hebrews 11:31, James 2:25). When she helped Joshua and his people, Rahab had recently repented and reformed, but still was called a harlot and a prostitute.  (It’s something like Simon the leper in Matthew 26. Though clean from his leprosy, he remained known as a leper until his death.)

What we can learn from Rahab first is that however great our sin is, we can truly repent, and know that we are forgiven in Jesus’ name. Second, we have to remember that some of the greatest changes from a life of sin to a life for the Lord in history are among people who became some of the greatest “bible studs.” Third, those that faithfully acknowledge God in their ways he will guide with his eye (Jeremiah 36).

Rahab showed her love for God’s people: she welcomed them into her house, hid and covered them from sight, and denied she had seen anyone, lying to officers to cover for them. What we can take away from this is that God is willing to work with people wherever he finds us. He takes people’s brokenness, and can still bend it to serve his purposes, and to receive glory from their lives. If we think of Moses, who had a stutter and wasn’t the greatest of public speakers–God used his weakness and received the glory from his life.

Luke 5:31 says, “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’” Jesus Christ didn’t come to spend all his time with the great church leaders, or the believers in God who were serving his people. No–he came for the sinners of the world, that he might take away their sins through the sacrifice of his very life. Jesus spent his time on this earth caring for sinners: the tax collectors, the false prophets, the thieves, and even the prostitutes. God used Rahab in her brokenness and even with her past sin to aid Joshua and his men in their journey to conquer Jericho.

As we go about our weeks, and hopefully get into God’s word and have daily prayer, stop and think about your weaknesses and thank God for them. Know that God uses our lives for the benefit of his holy kingdom, and that he will receive the glory from them no matter what the outcome. Strive to spend time with others who don’t know the Lord, as Jesus did. Like Rahab, aid even your enemies in conquering their daily struggles. Rely on the Lord in every decision, event, and part of your day like Joshua. God hears your prayers, your cries, even your struggles. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

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

6.22.13 Insight from Carol Cartmill

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

I’ve been thinking a lot about ants lately, thanks to the recent rains.  They are really extraordinary little creatures, best appreciated when observed in my backyard and not on my kitchen counter!  Ants are singularly focused on their work, and strive for the good of the community, or in their case, colony, rather than being self-centered, self-reliant, or any of the other “self” words we can think up.  What really impresses me is their strength.  Ants can carry or drag objects much larger and heavier than themselves.  I read somewhere many ants can lift 50x the weight of their own bodies.   But the really interesting part of all of this is the fact that they are so strong because they are so small.  It’s a matter of physics and a big strength-to-mass ratio.  The secret of the ant’s strength lies in its diminutive size.

In our scripture passage today, Paul shared the secret of his strength—his weakness.  This is one of the great Christian paradoxes.  When we are weak, then we are strong.  Earlier, Paul described being “caught up” to “paradise” where he experienced “surpassingly great revelations.”  This feels like the highest of heights in terms of what a Christian might experience.  Now in this passage, he speaks of the depths, of a “thorn in my flesh”, a “messenger from Satan”, a “torment.”  And it is in these depths that Paul discovered real strength through the grace and power of God.

I spend most of my life living between the heights and depths, but in a place where daily I must depend upon the grace and strength of God.  Like the ant, God has in mind for me a life of focused work for the good of the community.  My own weaknesses save me from the dangers of spiritual pride as I leave open the door for God’s power to work through me.  There is much work to do, and in comparison to the greatness of our awesome God, I am an ant.

This ant will be spending her morning at Troost Elementary serving with the community at our Bless the School project.  Let me leave you with a word of challenge and encouragement.  Get yourself on a path to discover how the grace and power of God can make you strong.  There are many opportunities over the summer to serve, to grow in your faith, and to experience community.  Check them out at  We all have something to contribute, just like the ants.

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

6.21.13 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.

While enjoying Pastor Scott’s messages the past few weeks, the boys were reminiscing about some of their favorite superheroes & corresponding movies/television series.  (Nothing like a little irony in the a.m., as an 11 & 13-year-old talk about the good old days when they were young.)  Some of their favorites included the series Your Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman, Superman – The Animated Series, & the classic Batman starring Adam West accompanied by perhaps the greatest theme song ever.

Another favorite series was the Super Friends: United They Stand.  This was a version of the Justice League franchise, with the classic cast of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, & Green Lantern.

Aside:  The Super Friends should not be confused with other groups of superheroes like The Justice Society (circa 1940), The Justice League, Justice League America, Justice League International, JLA 52, and Legion of Superheroes.  Super Friends is of a similar genre, just without all the meetings & paperwork.

Two “classic” Super Friends jokes:

1.  Mechanic Receptionist:  Sir, Wonder Woman would like you to fix her invisible plane.  Mechanic:  Tell her I can’t see it right now.

2.  Batman:  Robin, why are you on the ground on all fours?  Robin:  Aquaman said I needed to practice my crawl.

The Super Friends idea was derived from a storyline of the Legion of Doom hatching diabolical schemes to conquer the earth.  As the individual superheroes battled these challenges they began to share their experiences with one another.  They ultimately concluded that by working together they could more effectively & efficiently conquer their common foe.

So, as Christians, what might this look like?

One widespread foe is ignorance of the Bible.  While I always enjoy my time reading the Bible by myself, I’ve often found my understanding of a particular passage is deepened when shared/discussed (& even debated) with others in a Small Group setting.

Another opponent is indifference to others.  While we try to be attentive to the needs around us, a Small Group offers so many different contact-points that open our eyes to a plethora of opportunities to serve; be it donations for a water well in Africa, serving as room sponsors for a classroom in the inner city, or providing meals for someone recovering from surgery.

A final foe is inconsistency.  While we strive to be diligent in our faith walk, many have found that a Small Group provides great encouragement, reinforcement, & accountability that help us to refill our spiritual tanks for tomorrow’s next challenge.

I firmly believe that God looks at every one of His children as superheroes, with incredible gifts just waiting to be utilized for His Kingdom.  However, in His wisdom, God also realized that even superheroes couldn’t do it alone.

Perhaps now is the time to consider getting involved in the Small Group ministry or re-committing yourself to your current band of believers.  Wouldn’t it be awesome to grow in your faith along some Super Friends in Christ?

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

6.20.13 Insight from Melissa Villanueva

Guest Contributor, Melissa Villanueva serves Christ in the Technical Arts Department. She produces morning worship services on the Leawood Campus.

 This is the part of a story I don’t like. The dark, twisted time when the evil villain has the upper hand, when our story’s hero is captured and there is no one left to save the day, and we see how ugly the forces of evil can be. All hope seems lost. With a heavy heart, you can either close the book and carry the sorrow, or you can turn the page and press on to what comes next.

Up to this point, Jesus has endured great physical pain and emotional abuse. Now, He hangs from the cross, life slowly leaving His mortal body, in these final moments He is not allowed any dignity in His death from the soldiers, the scribes, or even the crowds. They abuse, bully, and mock Him until he breathes his very last.

So, why should we spend time studying these last moments, rather than His last words, or His glorious resurrection? Why focus on such a disheartening part of Jesus’ story? The simple answer is, it’s in the Bible, so it must be important. True.

But also, it’s a part of Jesus’ story. His whole story. He suffered great physical pain, but also emotional pain in these moments. The scribes and crowd tried to tempt Him by bullying him. They called Him out and asked Him to prove He was the Son of God. If they only knew what He could do and will do!

We’ve all been called out at times in our lives. Dared to do something we know we shouldn’t to prove our strength or that we are not afraid. Jesus shows us, even in the most awful moments, we have nothing to prove to others. We must only set our hearts right with God.

And, it also shows me, we must press on with the story. If the Gospel of Matthew ended at Chapter 27:44, it would be a great tragedy. Sometimes you have to keep reading. Taking the story out of this terrible moment through the hero’s trial, and into the next. You just might find the hero has escaped, the evil villain’s plan is thwarted, and hope rises up from the darkness.

So, read on through Matthew 28 . . . you’ll be glad you did!

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

6.19.13 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

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

Grab Hold.
WEDNESDAY 6.19.13   Luke 8:41-48

What do you do when you need help?

In Numbers 15, God instructed Moses to “make tassels on the corners of your garments … to remember the commandments of the Lord (Numbers 15:38-40).”  The Hebrew word for corners is kanaf  and the word for tassel is tzitzit.  Even today, many Jews wear a prayer shawl to obey this text. 

Later in the Old Testament, the prophet Malachi writes about the coming Messiah “The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2).”  The word for wings is kanaf, the same word that referred to the edge of the garment to which the tassels are attached.  A legend grew that when the Messiah arrived, there would even be healing in the corners of his prayers shawl.

 Let’s jump to today’s Scripture.  Remember Jesus was a Jew who would have followed its rituals including wearing a prayer shawl as the Lord commanded in Numbers 15.  As he walked through the crowd, a woman came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped (Luke 8:42).”

What was happening?  A woman who had been in a physical condition for 12 years grabbed the edge of Jesus garment because she believed he was the Messiah.   She reached to Jesus with a conviction that this man was more than just a man.  He was the Messiah whose power to heal was so great, that even the corners of his garment, the tzitzit on his kanaf can bring change.

 Is there a physical or emotional condition you have been in for 12 years?   For 12 days?

Jesus is walking by.  The tzitzit are dangling right in front of you.

Grab hold.

 Grab hold knowing that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised to this world.

 Grab hold knowing that Jesus has the same power to heal as he ever did.

Life is difficult and often times can feel too difficult to bear.  Stress builds up. Relationships fall down.  But you do not have to go on by yourself.

There is a Messiah named Jesus.
Reach out.
Grab hold.

And pray.
“Lord, I believe you have the power to change my life.  I will stop the other actions that I have errantly trusted to be a source of healing.  I now choose to reach out to you, and “Grab Hold.”  Amen.

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