Monthly Archives: August 2013

8.31.13 Insight from Jane Fowler

Jane Fowler serves as Group Life Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. In that capacity, she encourages our congregation to be a part of the Journey of Knowing, Loving and Serving God and others by being in authentic community and growing in your love and knowledge of Christ.

In the early years of my Christian journey, I strived to be perfect because I wanted to be holy.  I used to think you had to be perfect to be holy.  I’ve given up on trying to be perfect….it didn’t work out so well.  But what I haven’t given up on is trying to be faithful and obedient, because I know these things will help me to become holy.

As a mother of two college age kids, I have had many conversations on the subject of choices and how the choices you make every single day affect who you are and who you are becoming.   When I choose to accept the title of Christian (literally means one who is like Christ), I agree to be set apart, different from those who are not like Christ.  When I really think about this, to be like Christ, it feels unattainable to me unless I break it down into smaller ways that I can put on the skin of Jesus.

One of my life verses is, “I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18)  I make choices every day to participate in something or walk away, to say something to build someone up or tear them down, to choose to love someone or ignore them, to choose to be faithful to a life God has called me to or ignore Him.

I can be faithful in worshiping God and still not be perfect. I can be obedient to His Word and calling to be different and still not be perfect. While I consciously make decisions  to be more like Christ, to become more holy, I know this side of Heaven’s gates I will never be perfect.

Our verse today, 1 Peter 1:13-16, says, “So roll up your sleeves, put your mind in gear, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, ‘I am holy; you be holy.’” (The Message)

It’s a decision I have to make every day, every hour.  Not to be perfect, but to be faithful, to be obedient, to be holy.

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

8.30.13 Insight from Chris Folmsbee

Chris Folmsbee is Resurrection’s Director of Group Life.  He is the author of several books, with an extensive background in applying principles of spiritual growth to real life. He, his wife Gina and their family have been attending Resurrection since 2008.

I’m still learning what it means to “do” the Word. After all these years of following Jesus, it still isn’t always my first instinct to do what the Word says.  If I use today’s passage as a standard, yes, I sometimes forget what I look like after a glance in the mirror. You?

“Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.”

I’ve been teaching a class on Tuesday nights at church the past two weeks called Cultivate. It is designed to equip people with the courage and ability to share their faith stories. One of the challenges we talked about last Tuesday was how hard it can sometimes be to live the truths of the Bible every day, to be doers, not just hearers. Here are some key aspects for living in the way of the word, for being doers and not just hearers:

–Living with open eyes: seeing with compassion, not comparison
–Living with open ears: ministry of listening and learning – the ability to truly be present with another
–Living with open hands: meeting visible needs every day
–Living with open minds: engaging in thoughtful conversation with others even if you don’t agree (especially if you don’t agree!)
–Living with open hearts: sharing in whatever place others find themselves in

When I move past merely listening to the Word to doing it, I find great freedom in practicing the key aspects for living listed above. Freedom is what we were made to live with. We were created to live lives of liberty, lives in which we have the opportunity to love God back in the way God loves us. To be free is to be alive. To be fully alive is to live into the image in which we’ve been created.

To keep from polluting ourselves, we commit to putting others first, especially those in greatest need, and we find freedom in ministering to others. When we live in this way (open eyes, ears, hands, etc.), we honor God.

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

8.29.13 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.

In my reflections today, I want to share with you the following, which is not primarily a reflection on today’s scripture readings, but rather a helpful (I hope) reflection on reading today’s (and any day’s) passages.

I grew up in a tradition (which I am grateful for) that often referred to the Bible as the Word of God.  And that moniker for Holy Scripture is true…and it’s not true.  It’s true because the Bible is God’s Word revealed to us through the words of the biblical writers.  It’s not true because Jesus—not the Bible—is the true, infallible, inerrant Word of God (see John 1:1ff).  Jesus is God’s Self-Disclosure…or as a seminary professor of mine was fond of saying…God is not confined to the person of Jesus, but God is defined in the person of Jesus.

So everything that is essential to knowing and following God is found in Jesus.  This truth (which is uniquely Christian) is crucial for a couple of different reasons, not the least of which, is that it informs and helps us most accurately read and understand the Bible (which, as Wesley modeled through his living, is essential if we are going to experience an ongoing renewal and revival of our faith).  Therefore, I would suggest we keep the following simple truths in mind when we read any scripture, including today’s:

  1. Jesus is our hermeneutic (which is a technical word that means “method of interpretation”).  So anything we read in scripture must be held up to and interpreted by the life and teachings of Jesus.  If it isn’t consistent with Jesus, it isn’t consistent with God or God’s will for our lives (and while there’s a lot more that an exhaustive treatment of this truth would require us to consider, this is the essence of what we must understand in a Christian understanding of the Bible).
  2. Obscure passage of Scripture must always yield to clearer passages of Scripture.
  3. Context is king…which is a simple way of remembering the truth that when reading a passage of scripture, in order to more fully grasp the original meaning, we must look at the passages and chapters that surround the passage we are considering.
  4. The Bible is inspired…which at least means that God always wants to meet us in the words of scripture, if we are open to hearing God.  This truth is what Pastor Adam was touching on a few weeks ago when he talked about the fact that anytime we gather in worship, we can find at least 1 or 2 things that God will impress upon us if we have an attitude of wanting to hear from God.  Why…because God’s Spirit is present with us when we gather in Worship (Matthew 18:20).  And this same truth of God meeting us in the words of Scripture holds because the words of scripture are inspired by God’s Holy Spirit so when we turn to them seeking to know or learn from God, God will always meet us…but again, this is predicated on our being willing to listen.

So I’ll conclude these simple reflections on reading scripture by personally applying them to my own reading of today’s passages and when I do that, I hear God reminding me  in Acts 17 that proclaiming Christ—in both my words and the way I live my life—means that I can count on at least two things: (a) some people will hear, see and be drawn to respond to Christ through my witness and (b) sometimes, living life seeking to proclaim Christ is going to result in hardship, misunderstanding, and difficulty.  And when I apply these truths to Romans 15, God challenges me to consistently choose the same attitude as Jesus—specifically when it comes to choosing my neighbor’s good above my own and welcoming those that I might prefer not to be welcoming towards…because when I do that, it points to and says something essential about God.

What do you hear God saying to you?   

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

8.28.13 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

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

Prayers: Night, Day, and _________
WEDNESDAY 8.28.13   Psalm 42:5-8, 1 Thessalonians 3:5-10

Yes, we should all pray more.  We should also floss, lower our caffeine intake, and never eat a hot dog from a gas station.  Yes, there are things that we should do or should nott do.  That said, the word “should” simply adds “shame” to the fact that we have missed the mark,

This is not a “should” devotion on Prayer.

This is a “can” devotion.

Do you know that you can come up with your own prayer that speaks to God, and then repeat it at the same event the next day?  You can have your own prayer that speaks to God and shapes your day.  (JohnWesley did.) You can also re-use someone else’s prayer.  Repeating the same prayer frequently can shape one’s soul.

Adam prays the Wesley Covenant Prayer every morning while kneeling at his bed.  I pray a prayer that remembers my Baptism when I shower.  At meal times, my family and I have a ritual of each person saying “Thank you God for_______ and ___________” before we pray “God is great.  God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen.”  And then we raise our hands and say “Jesus.”  (We started the “Jesus” part as a cute thing for kids, but it reminds us that Jesus’ name deserves special attention.” 

Each night when I tuck my 5 year old into bed, we pray the same prayer that we developed.  He repeats each phrase after me.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you for today,
especially (then he names what he was most thankful for).
I am sorry for the mistakes I made.
Like (he names a mistake he made)
Please forgive me.  (Then I whisper … ‘And he does.’)
Help the people
who are sick,  (if we know anyone in these categories, we name them)
and scared,
and sad.
And help me to remember
that I am a good boy,
You are always with me,

And you love me very much.

Prayer is a conversation with God.  It is also the most powerful way that a person’s soul is transformed by God’s Spirit.

Last week my son began kindergarten.  On one day he said “I’m just a mess-up.”  My heart broke, but then I pointed him to this prayer we had been praying.  “Camden, remember our prayer? I am a good ____________.”  He finished the words for me.

I am not saying you should pray more.

 I am saying that you can pray more. 

You can make your own prayer for the following or you can even Google one and amend it to your soul’s needs.  Simply Google prayers for morning, bedtime, mealtime, getting dressed, leaving the house, etc.)

You can pray more.

You can experience a level of connection that you have not reached yet.

What prayer can you find, edit, or create that you will begin repeating?

Grace and Peace,
Steven Blair

Pastor of the Live Forward Program

Here is an Irish example from a Irish lad in honor of Irish fest this weekend.



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

8.27.13 Insight from Shawn Simpson

Shawn Simpson serves as the Director of Technical Arts and Operations at The Church of the Resurrection’s West campus in Olathe, KS.

When I read today’s GPS and was tasked with writing my insight’s blog contribution, my first thought was that it was right up my alley.  I love structure and methodology.  I find incredible beauty in efficient design and execution of all sorts of things, whether it’s a high-tech jet fighter or a 6-4-3 double play on a hard hit ball up the middle.

I’ve always viewed worship as an opportunity to marvel in what God has provided.  To me, the method IS something to marvel in, but not because it’s something that WE did.  My job at RezWest is to help define the structure for how we do worship services.  What often catches my attention is how amazingly things come together because I know that without God, it would be absolute chaos.

What most people don’t know (hopefully) is that literally minutes before service, and sometimes well into the service start, there are people scrambling all over the place behind the scenes to get things ready.  I’m often trying to run people down to go over service elements, or putting in last minute graphics, or any other of the many things I forget about on a weekly basis.  There may be dozens of people trying to collect and organize themselves all over the building.  It can be stressful, but we all have a peace because we know that as long as we’re doing everything we can, God will take care of the rest.

I like to say that “9 am happens every Sunday” whenever things are getting down to the wire and I’m getting stressed about something getting done.  It reminds that things are happening whether I’m ready or not and that God has things under control.  I just have to do what I can do and trust that it’s not about me.

From my perspective, the method and structure IS an act of worship.  God is in control, always, but I know that he gave us all the desire to bring others into a worshipful environment.  My most sincere act of worship is when I thank God for another successful Sunday where the chaos in my brain was shoved aside and our congregation was able to worship with all their hearts, minds, and strength.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.

8.26.13 Insight from Jeanna Repass

Jeanna Repass serves as the Kansas City Missions Program Director at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

In two days – on Wednesday August 28, 2013 – we will mark the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. I marvel that less than fifty years ago America was still segregated by law. I am awed that after Dr. King challenged us to live with faith as brothers (and sisters) our same America elected her first African-American President. On August 28, 1963 Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood on the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial and looking out on the crowd of thousands of people and with millions watching on television – delivered his now famous “Dream” speech. There are many gems of justice in Dr. King’s speech. Many are often quoted while others are usually overlooked unless read in context of the speech’s entirety. Here’s one of my favorites: “With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.”

(You can read the entire transcript of Dr. King’s “Dream” speech here:

As we study our Methodist roots and experience revival of our faith by studying John Wesley and the foundation of Methodism, I can’t help but marvel at the similarities between the struggles for justice and holiness in the 1700’s and in the 20th and 21st Centuries. Both the Reverends John Wesley and Martin Luther King were men who understood that there is room to acknowledge our differences while celebrating the most important things that unite us. The highest call of unification for all people is that we serve a God that loves us – equally. God loves us without respect to our denomination, skin color, family pedigree, academic or financial achievement, or anything else that we as flawed human beings define as lines of division.

Seeking to share what unites us in love is one of the many lessons that we garner from John Wesley and Dr. King.  It is through the loving of each other – as Christ loved us – that we achieve holiness. In Hebrews we are directed to live and love together without bitterness or a sense of ourselves above others:  Hebrews 12: 14-15 “Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble…”

From the letter to the Hebrews, to John Wesley standing on the stone platform of his father’s grave, to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. standing on the stone monument steps of the Lincoln memorial to each of us standing in our own place – in our own context, we hear words that challenge us to be holy – to love one another because that is the ultimate display of loving God. The founder of Methodism put it like this: “Though we cannot think alike, can we not love alike?” Amen.

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

8.24.13 Insight from Dan Entwistle

Dan Entwistle is Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director for Programs and Ministries.

“God works all things together for good”

This week we have been exploring John Wesley’s early years.  We’ve seen how long before he became a leader of great renown, he was shaped by his early childhood.  His influences, along with its hardships and challenges, ultimately helped transform him into the great and influential leader he became.  And perhaps it was not despite the challenges he faced, but because he faced difficulties, that he was able to later become the leader God used to start a great movement that continues to shape millions of lives, including our own.

One of the great claims of scripture is that “God works all things together for our good.”

I was able to travel to Malawi this summer on one of our church mission trips. It was my first time visiting the country and can tell you that it was an indescribable blessing.  I highly recommend making the trek, if possible.  You’ll absolutely fall in love with the people and you’ll be inspired by their great faithfulness in a country where most people are vulnerable due to a lack of the basic necessities of health, nutrition and food security.

One of the many great projects I observed in Malawi is an orphan empowerment program in which teenage children are mentored, trained and supported as they provide for themselves and their younger siblings.  Since January, 1500(!!!) orphans and vulnerable children have found a future with a far brighter future.  This program was funded through last year’s Christmas Eve offering, and through it, Resurrection, you are making a world of difference.  I could go on and on about how these children are quickly becoming productive leaders and assets to their community rather than being left to fend for themselves.

I was particularly impacted by two teenage boys we met living in a small one-room dirt floored hut that is smaller than the twin mattress my child will sleep on tonight.  Their remote village is located in an area several miles down a dirt road from the small market in our sister city of Madisi, Malawi.  Since losing both their parents four years ago when the boys were ages 10 and 12, they have done their very best to raise and nurture one another. Through a translator, they told us that their greatest challenge has been attaining enough food to nourish each other.

The older boy’s given name has meaning.  In their tribal language, Chichewa, his parents named him Hardship. And his younger brother was given the name Unexpected.  There’s no way around it, Hardship and Unexpected have had a devastatingly difficult life, lacking almost every simple resource we freely enjoy.  And yet, I was struck by the great love these young brothers have for one another.  I saw their joy as they shared about their dreams for each others’ future.  And I saw the faith they have in God, their provider.  I left their village hoping that maybe my children could grow up with the wisdom, joy and love that I see in Hardship and Unexpected.  As I think about these young boys, I am reminded that in Malawi and in my life, God can take any circumstance, and forge goodness into something precious that takes shape of character, wisdom and joy.

So, let’s pray today’s prayer as people who remember the great promise that God works all things together for our good.
Jesus, thank you for being with me in good times and bad. Thank you for using your power to bring good out of even the bad times I face. Teach me to trust you more and more as I journey through life. Amen.

To see Hardship and Unexpected presenting a precious gift to our team, click here.
To see Hardship inside their house, click here.

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

8.23.13 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.


John glanced around the room.  Flames were all around him.  The window looked like an oasis.  John hammered on the window.  “Up here!” he screamed.  Two men broke loose from the crowd.  They ran to the spot below John and disappeared.  Suddenly a hand shoved his window open with shattering force.  The hand reached in, clamped John’s arm and yanked him so hard his head snapped.  John blacked out.  Moments later he opened his eyes.  John noticed his father staring at him.  His father’s face seemed in awe. “John is a brand plucked out of the burning.”

My 3rd grade Sunday school teacher was a gifted storyteller.  I loved her renditions of the Parting of the Red Sea & Daniel in the Lion’s Den.  However, her theatrical reading of this scene from John Wesley’s early life for a lesson on Methodism was a bit too dramatic for comfort.  After all one of the most common bad dreams of childhood is being left behind.  (Followed closely by appearing at school in your pajamas.)  Even as a parent, this scene is discomforting

As we chatted about the scene around the kitchen table, our 7th grader, Matthew, quickly related to Wesley’s experience by recalling the time back in 1st grade when we had forgotten it was “Early Release Day.”  The school secretary had to call to remind us to pick him up.  Needless to say, when the Caller ID showed the school’s phone number, my Doris was off like a shot.  For months afterwards on subsequent Early Release days Matthew would leave Post-It notes around the house with messages like: “ReMember Matthew” & “Early ReleaSe Day.”  Sigh.  As we cleared the dishes, my Sunshine, shaking her head, mumbled, “If that kid brings this up for my eulogy….”

Wesley apparently felt that Providence had played a hand in his fiery rescue, perhaps setting him aside for bigger & better things.  Wesley’s tireless passion for preaching (40,000 sermons!) and his own pre-mature epitaph “a brand plucked from the burning” would seem to further support this contention.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for us all.  If we borrow some imagery from our “fire & brimstone” brothers & sisters in Christ, we could easily assert that we, too, have been a brand plucked from the burning thanks to the saving work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Like Wesley, we, too, have been given a new lease on life; a chance to re-start/re-new/re-energize our lives for His Kingdom.

Our small group is studying Richard Stearns new book, “Unfinished.”  (What do you think of it? – Editor. Um, I’m not done with it yet. – DL.) In the book, Mr. Stearns asks the following question:  “…why is it that so many Christians seem to lack a sense of fullness of life?  They go to church, read their Bibles, and say their prayers but still feel that something is missing.”  Mr. Stearns concludes, “God created you intentionally to play a very specific role in His unfolding story.  And you will feel fully complete only when you discover the role you were born to play.”

I would submit that we should shift our focus.  Instead of marveling at what God saved us from, perhaps we should wonder at what God saved us for.  What a perfect time of year to discover our role in God’s story.  We could jump in an Alpha class, check out a Journey 101 class, explore the Bible in a Disciple class, plug into a small group, or, who knows, even help facilitate a Sunday school class.

As my Sunday school teacher would remind us, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  Now turn to Exodus 14…”

The Egyptians chased the Israelites.  All of the Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots, cavalry, and army were in hot pursuit.  The Israelites looked back and saw the Egyptians marching toward them.  The Egyptians were gaining.  The Israelites were terrified.  They cried out to the Lord…..



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

8.22.13 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

If you like eavesdropping, then I have a treat for you! I’m going to let you read a recent correspondence that I had with a friend as I think it might bring new insight about what it means to be adopted by a Heavenly Father.

But let first let me set it up. My husband and I welcomed a 10 year-old boy into our home in May, 2012. He moved in with trash bags full of belongings as well as the emotional baggage that comes from growing up in-and-out of the foster system. On December 28th that same year, we adopted him and he will forever be a Gregory. He’s ours, and we couldn’t be happier! That’s an intensely short summary, but hopefully it will give you enough information as you pry into the following conversation:

Hey Janelle. God has been revealing quite a bit to me about being adopted by Him. I know being a parent has helped me understand how God loves a father. Has adopting Isaac helped you understand you being adopted by God better? Maybe you haven’t thought about it. I thought I would ask.

My response:

Hey there! Oh yes, I’ve thought tons about this matter. This is one of the reasons we knew adoption was for us. We’ve learned a lot about God’s heart through the process and knowing God’s heart for adoption has influenced us as parents as well.

Did you know that in Old Testament times it was legal to disown your biological child, but once a child is adopted you could never disown them? This means so much as an adopted child of a Heavenly Father, but also has special meaning to my relationship with Isaac. In God’s eyes, the adoption bond is even stronger than the biological one (not bashing biological, it’s just how it worked… and thankfully how God sees us).

And that bond with Isaac didn’t come easily. We loved him right away, but it was still awkward and strange in the beginning. A kid that we hardly knew was moving in and would be in our lives forever. But the more time we spent together (and we were very intentional about it being the three of us for the first few months), the stronger the bond grew. And there are still times when he is upset and will throw out the “my biological parents let me do this.” Though it pierces, it reminds me of what I do to God. And even through the hurtful words, I still love him deeply. It’s a love that has taken more work on both our side and his, but I think the intentional effort has made it special and beautiful in a way.

gps isaac hoodieAnd the other thing that I’ve learned has come from the changes we’ve seen in Isaac as he’s found a family where he belongs. He’s been able to make friends for the first time in his life, he’s doing better in school, he’s more comfortable in his own skin, and he claims his new identity as a Gregory. Sometimes it is seen in simple things. For example, if you were to look back at our pictures from Florida in January, you would see that Isaac was wearing the same hooded sweatshirt every day. It was warm, but he wore it because he could hide in his hood when he felt uncomfortable or scared.

gps isaac hawaiiAnd this last trip to Hawaii, he was meeting new family in a very different environment, but never brought out the hoodie even though he had packed one. He isn’t as scared, because he knows he belongs.

So yes, we’ve been so blessed going through this process. I know that it’s not for everyone as we’re all called in unique ways, but I’m very thankful that God knew me better than I know myself and allowed me to experience this incredible relationship.

Does that answer your question? I’m always open to talking about it.

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

8.21.13 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.

I am blessed to have grown up in the church. Yeah, I sometimes feel left out when I don’t have an exciting , life-changing testimony to share with others, but I grew up with a solid basis in faith for which I am thankful.

My mom took me and my brother to church from the time we were babies. We were in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and children’s choirs. One of my favorite memories as a child is of my grandfather sitting at the kitchen table each morning with his cup of coffee, his Bible, and his Guidepost study guide spending time with God. When I was in high school, my dad started attending church, soon becoming involved beyond worship and becoming a leader in the church. I was actively involved as a leader in youth group, and I rarely missed worship while in college and post-graduation.

Although I was in church through college, that’s where my faith hit a plateau; I was still attending but not growing. When I moved to Kansas and began attending Resurrection, my faith was revived. Had my family not made sure I was in church and developing a relationship with Christ, I might have still ended up where I am today, but I am glad that I don’t have to find out whether nature would have prevailed over nurture in my faith life.

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