Monthly Archives: October 2013

10.31.13 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.

What if Joseph would have just quit?  Resigned himself to the fact that he had been wronged and victimized.  Nursed the perspective that his life had been wrecked by the lies and betrayal of others.  Nurtured the hope-killing belief that this Egyptian hole he was imprisoned in was going to be his grave. 

Joseph had done the right thing when the easy thing would have been to give Potiphar’s wife what she wanted.  I mean after all, what had loyalty and doing the right thing gotten him; by staying of out of bed with Potiphar’s wife, he’d been arrested and convicted of getting into bed with Potiphar’s wife and after barely escaping execution, the very one he’d remained loyal to was the one now insuring that he would never see the light of day again—at least as a free man…that’s what doing the right had gotten him.

So what if Joseph had just quit?  Who could have blamed him?  Certainly not me…I’m not sure I would have chosen the faith and resolve to hold on in the midst of his circumstances.  I don’t know that you would have held on; oh, maybe for the first month…or 6 months…or year.  You might have hung onto faith for a while, but year after year of being imprisoned for what you did not do…no one could have blamed Joseph if he’d have just packed it in.

But apparently Joseph didn’t quit.  He stayed faithful to faith.  Faith in God: faith in God’s reality, faith in God’s provision, faith in God’s faithfulness.  And Joseph’s faithfulness—in the midst of an imprisoned wilderness—gained a reputation.  That reputation would ultimately reach the most powerful man in the known world and then, when summoned by Pharaoh, that faithfulness would prove itself in the most incredible way.

This is where today’s reading picks up the story and it is right here—in verses 14-16—through Joseph’s ongoing faithfulness that we see God redemptively take years worth of unjust and difficult circumstances and creatively force them into working to accomplish good.

When questioned by the most powerful man in the world as to whether he was able to interpret dreams, Joseph the felon answered “no, but God can”.  So Pharaoh shared the dream, God gave Joseph the interpretation, Joseph told Pharaoh what the dream meant and in near warp speed (after years and years in the wilderness), Joseph goes from being incarcerated to being in charge—literally—read today’s passage: Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh; no one will do anything or go anywhere in all the land of Egypt without your permission” (Genesis 41:44).

And as a result, millions of people were saved from famine, and as we’ll see a bit later in the story, a broken family was reunited.

What if Joseph would have just quit?

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

10.30.13 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

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

I Can Use This
WEDNESDAY 10.30.13   Genesis 39:7-23

“I can use this.”

One of my family’s favorite new shows is Picker Sisters.   (You can watch the thirty second promo here
Picker Sisters follows two friends who visit different junk yards and buy items that can be remodeled into something beautiful.  Some weeks these two women are swooning over a piece of driftwood and other weeks it may be a rusted gear from an old combine.   What I love about this show is their sheer conviction that ‘everything can be transformed.’   Countless times I have looked at the same item they saw and could not imagine anything beautiful coming out of it.  Countless times I have been proven wrong.

Today’s Scripture is an example of Joseph’s trash heap.  He does what was right by refusing the temptation of the Egyptian official Potiphar’s wife.  His ‘reward’ is 13 years in prison.  That alone can be used as a Scriptural example of how bad things do happen to good people.   The story, however, does not end there.  Joseph maintains his faith and character even in the junk yard of prison.   God sees him.  God looks at Joseph with a different persepctive than others had.  God sees this prisoner and all the hardship he has felt in this wilderness and  announces “I can use this.”  God found Joseph and used him to care for the people of Egypt as well as his own family in the times of famine.  Joseph’s faith and God’s vision that ‘everything can be transformed’ redeemed Joseph.  Something new was created.

God sees you.  God sees you in the same way that God saw Joseph.  Whatever prison you find yourself in, whatever scrap heap of dreams you find yourself sitting among, God sees you and announces “I can use this.” 

-The conflict in your marriage right now can be the building block of great intimacy.
-Your singleness can be the season of your greatest transformation.
-Your financial stress can the great opportunity to learn the peace of simplicity.

God can make something beautiful happen even when our eyes cannot imagine it.

So we pray, today “Be thou my vision, Oh Lord of my heart.  Help me to see my life and circumstances the way You do.”

God can use this.
Grace and Peace,
Steven Blair
Pastor of Live Forward

One way to remember Joseph’s story is by either buying or creating some art made from recycled material.

Here are some examples:
recycled art 2 recycled art 3


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

10.29.13 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.

Yeah, I’d say Joseph was having a pretty rough go of it. I’m pretty happy to say that nothing as bad as any of that has ever happened to me, although I did grow up as the youngest of 3 kids with 2 older sisters. It may have crossed their minds a few times to throw me into a dry well and wait for some roving traders to come by, but thankfully they never acted on it. We didn’t really have a dry well…and traveling merchant tribes weren’t terribly common in south Mississippi at the time, so I may have just lucked out due to the lack of opportunity…but I’m not complaining.

The truth is that my sisters were pretty protective of me. They may have been prepared to dole out severe physical and mental punishment on me themselves, but they’d never allow anybody ELSE to do it. I can even say that in some of my darkest times growing up, it was my sisters who helped me through them. Sometimes it was by giving me a proverbial shove out of the nest to see if I could fly, but mostly it was by encouragement and the occasional dire warning. (“Don’t worry, Shawn. The DA might not pursue those charges. You just better hope that Mama kills you before Daddy gets home.”)

I know that some people are able to just pray for God’s guidance in difficult times, then listen and gather wisdom from his response. In my case, I don’t think I’m a good enough listener, and have to be bludgeoned with God’s guidance before I can get it. One such time was when I was trying to discern whether to move here and work in ministry full time or stay in Nashville. This was a huge move for my family and my career, and I was questioning whether it was really the right thing to do. My sister Kim said, “Little brother, you don’t think that God would lead you by the nose like this and then drop you on your butt, do you?” That was a big part of the confirmation I needed that God had something planned for me, and was calling me to Kansas to get started.

Joseph had to live through an unspeakable ordeal to be delivered to where God wanted him. I’ve never had to face trials on that level, but I’m grateful for what I have faced and for the voices that God chooses to speak to me through. Whether they know it or not, my sisters have helped me see things far more clearly than I could ever have on my own. I pray that those voices continue to help me hear God.

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

10.28.13 Insight from Jeanna Repass

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

A week ago Thursday, my Mother was instructed to come into her doctor’s office to hear the results of a biopsy she’s had several days earlier. She was concerned that the news was not going to be good since she had to go into the office to get the diagnosis. My Mother lives in Nebraska and both of my surviving brothers live on the West coast. I was the child that she asked to go with her to hear the news in part because I am four hours away – much closer than my brothers – but also because my role in the family is that of the “strong one” of the siblings. So I was the one who held my Mother’s hand when her doctor told us that she did have cancer and wanted to schedule surgery as soon as possible.

The interesting thing about my role with my family is that I had to be brave not only for Mom – but also for my brothers. I was the person that had to call my brothers and tell them the news. I not only called my brothers, I called everyone so that Mom did not have to. I interacted with all the doctors. I am my Mother’s power of attorney. I am the manager of all the details that come with surgery, hospitals, scary diagnosis and recovery at home. My older brother is the favorite and my younger brother Matthew is the character/entertainer of the family (he lights up the room when he comes home). But my role is to be steady and calm. I am the straight man to Matthews’s antics and the antihero to my brother’s VJ’s perfection.

To be clear – I was afraid. But my responsibility to the family and to Mom was to be brave. If the family sees Matthew shoving me out of the front seat of the car (like children fighting over who gets to ride “shotgun”) on the way to the hospital and cracking jokes all the way there – that’s his role. If the family sees VJ fawn over Mom and get a bit emotional at the thought of her being in any peril – that’s alright too – that’s his role. But for me – if the family sees me giving into the fear and uncertainty of the moment, then the rest of the family becomes fragmented and frantic. So as not to be a martyr, I do have great support systems including a wonderful husband and amazing friends like Jonathan Bell who drove all the way to Nebraska to join my family at the hospital before the surgery. I am not a lone ranger or super hero – but I know my role and through the past ten days bolstered by many prayers – I did my job.

In family dynamics, there are roles that each person plays. The Bible is full of examples of these family roles and dynamics from Cain and Able to Martha and Mary. Today’s scripture passages highlight Esau and Jacob and Joseph and his brothers. What I love about God is how He assures us that nothing that we go through in the 21st Century is unique. Oh – the situations may be unique to us – but they are a common part of the human experience. Some of us are favorites. Some of us are entertainers. Some of us are worker-bees. When we learn to appreciate one another’s different roles, we can love one another, we can forgive one another and we can hold one another up even in the face of fear and uncertainty.

I am truly blessed to be a part of my family. I am blessed to be a part of the Resurrection family. I am renewed every day knowing that I am a part of an everlasting family where my most important responsibility is to love God and love my brothers and sisters in Christ as I love myself. When I do that – I don’t have to be the strong one. I don’t have to be anything but me because our Father takes care of the rest. Amen.

*Post Script – Mom came through her suregery with flying colors and the prognosis for her is very positive! Amen – and Amen!

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

10.26.13 Insight from Brooke Amos

For the last three weeks, the Insights blog has shared reports by Brooke Amos, a Resurrection member who serves as a volunteer with the Generosity ministry, about interview she’s conducted with Resurrection members. All of the interviews have focused on “The Power of Generosity,” inviting us all to prayerfully consider our own relationship to money. Today Brooke tells us about how the interviews have expanded her own understanding of generosity’s power.

Hello! Thanks to all of you who have read the feature stories highlighting the power of generosity these past few weeks. My name is Brooke Amos. I’ve been a member at Resurrection for about a year. When I volunteered to conduct the interviews for the Stewardship campaign Insights Blog spots I had no idea how much it would bless me to speak with all these wonderfully, deeply committed Christians. I assumed I would conduct the interviews, write the feature stories, and thus hopefully provide a service to the Church. Instead, I got to hear how God has been using individuals at Resurrection to continue His work and to live out the gift of generosity. There were so many important lessons I learned from these interviews. Talking to everyone was truly a blessing that I don’t think I can fully relate through print.

In my daily life I work as an attorney. In what I affectionately refer to as “Lawyer Land,” we work tirelessly for the best interest of our clients. We work long hours sometimes and it’s easy to get wrapped up in Lawyer Land. Conducting these interviews brought me back to center about what is truly important—living a life focused on worshiping God with my time, talents, and resources. Prior to this experience, it hadn’t ever really sunk in that all the resources I’m blessed with belong to God, and I need to use them accordingly. It hadn’t ever really sunk in that when I make an offering, I’m not fulfilling an obligation to God, but actually praising him and worshiping him with that offering.  It hadn’t ever really sunk in how much good we do with the resources at Resurrection. But, let me tell you, I think I’m starting to get it! Now when I place my offering in the offering plate, or turn in my commitment card, I don’t feel a sense of loss over the shoes I could have gotten or a trip I could have taken. Instead, I do it joyfully, anticipating the difference we can make.

This was truly an indescribable blessing in my life. I was able to hear about the power of generosity working through the lives of Resurrection staff and members. Each person brought me new insight, and I hope I was able to portray that in the articles. Each individual brought a unique, personal passion for giving and making a difference. Seeing their passion and joy reinforced that focus in my own life. Sometimes it is difficult not to get engulfed in a life that is too focused on material possessions and the here and now. Getting back to basics, remembering that the top priority should be God and living out his word by doing good, was a blessing. Remembering the difference generosity can make, not only in the lives of others, but in my own life, blessed me. I believe, at times, we all lose perspective, forget priorities, and behave in a selfish manner. We’re human, after all. But, hopefully, as a Christian community committed to transforming lives and bringing non-religious and nominally religious people to Christ, we can always come back to center and back into focus.

I am so happy I’ve been able to share the stories of just a few of the wonderfully committed and generous people at Resurrection for the past three weeks. I hope it’s blessed your life with even just a fraction of the blessings I received.

10.25.13 Insight from Michelle Kirby

From now through October 26, Resurrection will focus on “The Power of Generosity,” inviting us all to prayerfully consider our own relationship to money. The Insights blog will share a series of interviews conducted by Brooke Amos, a Resurrection member who serves as a volunteer with the Generosity ministry. Today Brooke tells us about her interview with Michelle Kirby, who serves as Resurrection’s Learn Events Program Director.

If you’ve taken part in Alpha, Journey 101, or any number of other programs at Resurrection, you’ve probably heard Michelle Kirby’s name, exchanged an e-mail with her, or even heard her teach. Michelle and her family have attended Resurrection since 1998, and Michelle joined the staff in 2002.

Through her varied experiences at Resurrection, Michelle has seen the power of generosity at work. But her awareness began long before coming to Resurrection. Michelle recalls a time when generosity really impacted her. “Many years ago when I was a ‘nominal’ Christian and a single mother, Irene, a woman I worked with, knew that things were tight financially for me, and I was stressing out about them. She had a daughter, Maureen, who was my age with 2 children my daughter’s age, and she arranged for Maureen to do child care for my 3 year old daughter for 6 months—for free. They also gave my daughter numerous Christmas gifts “from Santa,” knowing I didn’t have the means to do much. They both showed me what faith in action looked like, and it made a very powerful impact on my life. Through their words of encouragement and their actions, they encouraged me to find a church my family could be a part of.”

Michelle has seen generosity in action in countless ways, from people giving generously to support and expand Alpha to her own small group supporting a class at Wheatley Elementary School. Michelle says, “I have seen people who have had their faith come alive and been so changed by it that they feel led to give a gift for the Alpha ministry designated specifically for the spread of Alpha within as well as outside the walls of Resurrection. Through those donations we are able to offer Alpha at The Healing House, Leavenworth Prison, Lansing Prison as well as offer Alpha conferences in Honduras, Argentina, India, Chile and in December, Liberia. This fund has also helped churches who wouldn’t have been able to start Alpha by providing the DVDs and a starter set of participant guides.” People’s generosity has allowed this ministry to grow and impact more lives, especially those of non-religious and nominally religious people.

Michelle sees generosity changing the world around her. “Elementary kids at Wheatley are learning more, they have classroom supplies, holiday parties—and they know that people care about them. I see churches across the world starting Alpha, and the way that leads hundreds if not thousands of people to come to faith in Christ. All because of a few people’s generosity. I see myself moved to help others because I see Christ working in and through the small gifts that we can offer.”

Michelle’s stories helped me to see more clearly how generosity allows our church to touch the lives of non-religious and nominally religious people. It was a great experience to learn more about how the power of generosity has affected Michelle’s life, and how she’s seen it work at Resurrection.

–Interview report by Brooke Amos

10.24.13 Insight from Julie Bickel

From now through October 26, Resurrection will focus on “The Power of Generosity,” inviting us all to prayerfully consider our own relationship to money. The Insights blog will share a series of interviews conducted by Brooke Amos, a Resurrection member who serves as a volunteer with the Generosity ministry. Today Brooke tells us about her interview with Julie Bickel, who is just ending a term of service as Coordinating Assistant to the Executive Director of Adult Discipleship.

Julie Bickel and her family have been attending Resurrection since 1996. They’ve seen their daughter grow up in the church, and have taken advantage of countless volunteer opportunities to feel connected and give back. Julie began volunteering with the church almost as soon as they began attending. She’s been heavily involved in the music ministry, served on the church council, and been the lay delegate to Annual Conference. Julie’s desire to give back as much as possible really flows through her. Generosity has greatly impacted Julie’s life “by helping me to understand what things are really important in life, by us being able to give seeing the joy or assistance that brings to someone else’s life and the ways it can change their lives.”

Watching the growth of the various ministries at Resurrection has shown Julie the impact generosity can make on the Church. “When I think of how missions have grown over the years, I realize that the church is able to do so much more through the generosity of many people who give. It’s really good to see that happen, because it helps us to be able to live out our vision for the church to really transform the community here and in other places around the world.” She knows that generosity has the power to make a huge difference in the lives of community and congregation members. “All the things we do here make a big difference to all those people we are fortunate enough to get to bless in that way.”

Julie is highly motivated to live out a generous life. “When I started really understanding that it was part of what I needed to do to live out my faith, when I understood it was important to give to others, then what really motivated me was when I started to understand that as a Christian it was important to make giving a priority. It is part of living out my faith and responding to the blessings God has given me.” Julie has dedicated her life to giving back to others and volunteering within Resurrection to help further the vision and mission of the Church.

It found it exciting and motivating to talk to Julie about the impact generosity can have and to see how it has shaped her life.

–Interview report by Brooke Amos

10.23.13 Insight from Mary Haines

From now through October 26, Resurrection will focus on “The Power of Generosity,” inviting us all to prayerfully consider our own relationship to money. The Insights blog will share a series of interviews conducted by Brooke Amos, a Resurrection member who serves as a volunteer with the Generosity ministry. Today Brooke tells us about her interview with Mary Haines, who serves Resurrection as the Pathways to Ministry coordinator.

I quickly realized that Mary has a servant’s heart. Her joy in giving radiated as she spoke about giving back to the Church. She and her husband have a passion for giving to missions and other ministries. Her husband is the son of a missionary and spent a lot of time in Korea growing up. When they moved to the Kansas City area eight years ago and began searching for a church, they were attracted to Resurrection partially because so much of the church’s budget was dedicated to mission work. Mary says, “I get so much joy in giving because it’s more selfless. If I give because I have to that’s one thing, but giving because I want to—that’s different.”

At Resurrection Mary has seen the impact of generosity multiple times. She’s seen new ministries start, like the beds ministry, the cars ministry, seminary scholarships, and many others, all made possible by the generosity of Resurrection members. “It’s such a blessing to see what we’ve been able to do with the generosity of our members,” Mary says. She has also seen the impact of generosity in her own life.  Even though at times it may have been tough, the Haines family have always given to God, seeing their offerings as an act of worship. “I think our lives have been completely blessed and enriched because we’ve been faithful. For some reason our money stretches farther, and we’ve never been in want.”

Mary’s life is centered around making a difference. “I want to raise a new generation of pastors to build churches,” she says. “That’s a really important legacy that I can help to leave. If we can touch some lives for God, that’s where the difference comes.” She strives to touch as many lives as possible and sees the difference we can make for non-religious and nominally religious people through the congregational care ministry on a daily basis. “People come in from the community who are broken, and I see how we give back not just to our members but to everyone.  People walk into this church and see this loving, generous community of believers, they want more and they come back, and they stay. It’s contagious.”

I loved feeling Mary’s excitement in being able to serve and be generous, and was blessed to hear how the power of generosity has affected her life.

–Interview report by Brooke Amos

10.22.13 Insight from Joan Gunter

From now through October 26, Resurrection will focus on “The Power of Generosity,” inviting us all to prayerfully consider our own relationship to money. The Insights blog will share a series of interviews conducted by Brooke Amos, a Resurrection member who serves as a volunteer with the Generosity ministry. Today Brooke tells us about her interview with Joan Gunter, who directs The Spring cafe in the narthex at Resurrection’s Leawood campus.

I met Joan Gunter at the Spring Café—an appropriate site, since she directs the café’s work. I learned that Joan and her family have been at Resurrection for about six years. They were deeply involved in Financial Peace University when it began at Resurrection, and have been able to see the tremendous impact FPU has had on those involved as it has grown.

As she directs the Spring Café, Joan sees small, meaningful acts of generosity often. For example, she told me of a patron who bought lunches for two seminary students. The students were so grateful to have their lunch provided, and it brought Joan joy to see their happiness. In her own life, Joan described the joy she receives from being generous. “When we were able to become debt-free it gave us the freedom to be more generous. It’s a lot of fun to be able to be generous.”

Through Joan’s experience with the various principles taught in Financial Peace, she has really understood that wealth doesn’t refer to monetary value. “Wealth is your life.” When you give, you receive so much more in return. As Christians we are called to imitate Christ. Christ was so giving, so to fully live out our faith we need to be generous with our time, talents, and resources.

Joan’s joy over giving generously and expecting nothing in return just radiated from her. It was a huge blessing to hear how much she enjoys making anonymous gifts to people so they can truly feel the love of Christ without feeling indebted to another person. I was blessed, and my life enriched, just by hearing her share the gift of her experiences of generosity.

–Interview report by Brooke Amos

10.21.13 Insight from Cheryl Greenough

From now through October 26, Resurrection will focus on “The Power of Generosity,” inviting us all to prayerfully consider our own relationship to money. The Insights blog will share a series of interviews conducted by Brooke Amos, a Resurrection member who serves as a volunteer with the Generosity ministry. Today Brooke tells us about her interview with Cheryl Greenough, who serves as a program director in Resurrection’s Congregational Care Ministry.

Cheryl GreenoughI spoke with Cheryl Greenough in her office at the Congregational Care Offices at Resurrection. Cheryl has a warmth about her—I could tell she truly cares about everyone she works to help. Cheryl and her family have been members at Resurrection since 1996. They joined Resurrection because of all the kids and programming at Resurrection for their daughters. Cheryl has served in three different departments on the Resurrection staff.

Cheryl witnesses the power of the gift of generosity first-hand through her work in Congregational Care.  Being able to tell people in the hospital that someone at the church cares about them and wants to come pray over them makes an immediate impact. Cheryl experienced generosity before, during, and after her own surgery to repair a badly broken leg some years ago, and she is now able to use that experience to relate to and help others going through medical procedures. Cheryl lives out a generous life to pay back all the wonderful generosity she’s experienced from others. “It’s a lifestyle to be generous with time, attention, and resources.”

Cheryl notes that “People are shocked to find out that we provide a meal with no cost to them [at the Thursday evening Resurrection Care Night—learn more by clicking here]. There is also on-going care at no cost to them. We look for ways to provide care with no strings attached. We hope they will be interested enough to come to worship, but I can hear the relief in their voices when I tell them there is no cost. I wish everybody could understand what I hear on the other end of the phone line, when people say, ‘Would you really do that for me? You don’t even know me.’” Without the gift of generosity, we wouldn’t be able to offer these programs to the community. We are touching so many lives through our outreach and care resources.

As I learned from Cheryl how many people in the community we are impacting through our Congregational Care ministry, I was impressed anew that Cheryl was right on. Living out generosity IS a lifestyle, and we must all choose to be generous with our time, attention, and resources.

–Interview report by Brooke Amos