Monthly Archives: September 2014

9.30.14 Insight from Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at the Vibe, West, and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

In America, non-profit organizations qualify for a tax-exempt status as an incentive to further work for the greater good. Churches are non-profit organizations, so this means that more of the money donated to them can go toward helping people. This has been the case for churches in America since 1894.

But there’s a growing movement to remove the tax-exempt status from churches. Some believe that this constitutes preferential treatment and violates the separation of church and state. Others believe that churches do little to actually help society and should pay taxes like other businesses in America.

Now it’s time for an exercise in imagination. Let’s imagine that they succeeded in doing that. Churches must now pay taxes on the money they collect from offerings and donations, taking money away from other ministries. But now, let’s take it a step further: imagine that, in addition to removing that tax-exempt status, they impose fines on churches that do not meet certain criteria set by the government. Some churches are able to jump through the legal hoops, but others are hit so hard that they have to drastically cut salaries and expenses. Eventually, church staff members leave to find other jobs and some of those churches shut down.

As someone who is really involved in church, this sounds terrifying. It stirs up plenty of anger as well. The reason I bring this up is not to get into any political arguments, though. I bring this up because that’s the best modern-day comparison I can think of for the tax collectors in Jesus’s time. When we read about Jesus inviting tax collectors to eat with him, imagine a pastor throwing a party with the politicians from our imaginary exercise above just because they like hanging out.

Now imagine that this pastor, who’s been doing some teaching but has never been to seminary, is starting up a church and asks one of these politicians to be on the leadership board. That should give you some idea of the feelings going around when Jesus recruited Matthew the tax collector to be one of his twelve apostles.

Got that context? Alright. Well, the thing to remember here is that Matthew had grown up with faith. But somewhere along the line, his job and his church community came into conflict. He soon found himself unwelcome in the churches that fed his soul. And it may be easy to think that someone like Matthew turned his back on the church, but it’s very possible that that’s a choice he never wanted to make. It’s possible that the church made that choice for him. And it’s very clear from Matthew’s reaction to Jesus that religion wasn’t something he was willing to give up on, even though it had given up on him.

So think now of the people who are unwelcome in our churches. It can be easy to think of people whom other people would shun, but it’s more important to look at who you yourself would not welcome into a church. It might be divorced people. It might be people who don’t give to the causes you’re most passionate about. It might be gay people. It might be wealthy business people who act in their own self-interest without any concern for the less fortunate. It might be people who worship in a different way than us. If we’re honest, we all have at least one thing we think doesn’t belong in our churches.

So here’s the challenge: what would it take for you to invite someone like this to church, not because these people need church, but because the church needs these people? What would it take for you to invite someone like this in with the earnest intent of learning something from them, not proselytizing them?

If you’ve never thought along these lines before, it’s probably terrifying; but this is the example that Jesus set for us. In picking the twelve people most important to his work, he picked one of “those people.” Jesus probably picked Matthew for a number of reasons, but one of those is so that we would continue to make choices like that years later. If God’s example is to pick one of “those people,” who would you pick?

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

9.29.14 Insight from Donna Karlen

Donna Karlen serves in Campus Communications at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

I’ve been a bread lover for as long as I can remember. My mother was a bread lover – I can’t remember a time while I was growing up that she would leave a restaurant without a doggy bag containing rolls or bread slices. I learned to make home-made potato rolls, and they became her favorite part of our holiday meals. Let’s just say that if loving bread is an inherited trait, I definitely got it from my mom.

And I passed the bread-loving gene on to my children as well. My kids grew up knowing that the first Sunday of the month was Communion day. We rarely had any trouble getting them out the door to get to church on time on those Sundays. “Hey kids – better get going before all the Communion bread is gone!” They would be waiting in the car for us. I did have my suspicions about their true intentions when after worship they would offer to take the left over bread and feed it to the birds. One for the birds, three for Charlie and Jenna; one for the birds …

I love Communion! I love seeing the pastor take the loaf of bread, raise it toward heaven, break it and say, “Do this in remembrance of me.” And the pictures I imagine from today’s scripture of thousands upon thousands of people doing this same thing over and over again just brings a smile to my heart.

I guess some scholars argue that the references to breaking bread in today’s scripture do not mean that the disciples and followers of Jesus were continually engaging in the sacrament of Holy Communion. But I don’t see how they couldn’t have been. In his last hours Jesus told them to “do this in remembrance of me.” So how could they ever break bread again without remembering their friend and teacher? How could it ever be just an ordinary meal? Especially when through the breaking of bread, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved!”

I worried at times that my children may have been missing the larger message of Communion as they enthusiastically gobbled up pieces of Communion bread. Did they get it that the bread represents Jesus’ broken body and his sacrifice for us? Did they treat those pieces of bread with any degree of reverence? Were they doing this “in remembrance of me?” Did they, as stated in today’s scripture, have “glad and sincere hearts”? Well their enthusiasm for the bread definitely qualified as glad hearts – and the sincerity part would come (thank you, Sunday school teachers!!) Their joy for the bread was a perfect way to celebrate what Jesus has done for us. And my children have been added to the number of those being saved! Praise God and pass the bread!!


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

9.27.14 Insight from Julie Peters

Julie Peters is the Associate Director of Student Ministries at The Church of the Resurrection.

Today’s scripture from Romans, one of my personal favorite letters from Paul, poses lots of questions. These questions lead me to ponder even more questions. Questions that may spring from working with students in Rezlife and specifically from working with students in Ministry As a Career (MAC) Track. These students are exploring call…a call to follow Christ whole-heartedly, a call to use their gifts in ministry to the world, and also the possibility of a call to ministry as a Pastor or other vocational ministry.

Join me on a quick journey…

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?

These questions are straight from Paul’s letter…but what if we take it a little further, and make it a little more personal?

How will we as a congregation send out preachers of this good news into a hurting world? Who will tell the next generation about this good news in a way that resonates with them? How will we equip our young preachers of the good news and send them to their generation? What roles can each of us play in sending out these preachers? Am I called to go? Am I called to equip? Am I called to see and affirm gifts in others? Am I called to support others who are going out?

I work with a generation of amazing, creative, passionate young people who care deeply about the brokenness, hurt, captivity and injustice in the world around them. Jesus Christ, the Lord we follow, is the Good News. And in this Good News…the hurt and brokenness are met with healing, the captives are set free, and the injustice is set right. We are the ones who will equip them to translate this Good News to their generation.Rez Youth

This photo shows young people from Resurrection sharing the Good News in South Africa.

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. We are called to be the ones who answer the questions that follow that statement. We are called to be a part of the going and sending, each of us in different ways. How are you called? How will you respond?

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

9.26.14 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

With the election in Scotland last week, a popular meme, “Wait. What?” was generated playing on the movie Braveheart. (A meme is just a picture/phrase frequently generated with slight variations, for some humorous/subtle point.)


(AP) – Scotland Votes to Remain Part of Great Britain


(Pictures in your Insight twice in a row? Impressive – Editor. Our teen-aged son patiently showed me how. I expect his future car will bear the bumper sticker: “Proud Son of a Father Who Can Finally Manage Basic I.T. Skills” – DL.)

Of course this theme of “Wait. What?” isn’t all that new. It could be like the teenaged boy with the deal to get $5.00 for every “A” on his report card who comes home proudly exclaiming, “Dad, through some hard work & perseverance, I managed to save you 15 bucks this semester!” “That’s great son, good job….Wait. What?”

Or it could be like the young wife chatting with her husband as he watches TV, “I went to the Doctor today. It wasn’t psychosomatic after all.” “Hmm. That’s nice. Wait. What?”

Today’s Scripture, provides several examples of this same “Wait. What?” phenomenon. Let’s take a brief look. Preceding our verse selection we learn that Paul & Barnabas came upon a man born lame & healed him so he could walk. The crowd and even the priest of Zeus offered sacrifices to Paul & Barnabas thinking them as some gods on earth. Paul & Barnabas are appalled at this reaction & quickly admonish the crowd saying, “We are mere humans like you.” The crowd is still enthralled with Paul & Barnabas until some of the religious leaders persuade them that Paul & Barnabas were actually blaspheming God with their actions. Wait. What? One moment they proclaim Paul as god-like & the next moment they are jostling in line to be the first to stone him?

So, then “they stoned Paul & dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up…” Wait. What? Was Paul dead or merely stunned? What did the Disciples do, if anything? Why was Paul stoned & not Barnabas, too? This whole scene is mysterious. (Nice time to be succinct, Luke.)

Then we read, “He (Paul) got up & went back into the city.” Wait. What? What would possibly possess Paul to go back into this hornet’s nest?

Finally we read, “The next day he & Barnabas left for Derbe.” Wait. What? I hurt my thumb & I’m using special tools to open jars for days. Paul has just been stoned within an inch of his life & the next day he embarks on a 55-mile journey?

Good grief. What are we to make of these irrational circumstances? I would submit that the Bible is full of these “Wait. What? Moments” like Jesus telling us the first shall be last, or the meek shall inherit the earth, or to forgive His persecutors for they know not what they do, in short, because God loves pleasant surprises.

I think God relishes the unexpected instances that occur in our own faithwalk as well, like the man who once devoted his spare time to golf, but now eagerly looks forward to working with Resurrection’s Disaster Recovery Team, or the self-described “middle-aged homebody” who goes on a mission trip to a foreign land, loves it, and is excitedly planning her next adventure, or the boy who desperately covets a new cell phone but, instead, chooses to donate his birthday money to the Backpack Ministry.

So what might we do today to astound, amaze, astonish, & ultimately delight God that will make Him say with a smile, “Wait. What?




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


9.25.14 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

Confession time – I’ve been struggling as of late as to whether or not I believe that the gospel of Christ is good news. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that it is good news. I think that it’s good news. I’d like to believe that it’s good news, but part of me wonders if I really do.

The reason I doubt my own convictions on this, is that I don’t seem to treat it as such. Sure, I believe that it’s good news for me. There is nothing I am more certain about than the fact that I am not only in need of a Savior, but that that Jesus Christ has more than abundantly been this for me.

Where I find myself struggling is believing that the gospel is good news for everyone. It’s not that I don’t believe this in theory. Where I struggle is how this plays out in reality. I truly believe that God’s love was manifest in the flesh of a baby, who would bring healing through His touch, power through His words, mercy through His blood, and hope through His resurrection. So why am I so hesitant in sharing this with others?

Honestly, I’m afraid of what they will think of me, which makes me wonder if I believe that the good news is… well, good enough. Some of this just comes from my own cowardice in looking like a fool, but there are also times when I look at what we, as a faith, have put out there as the gospel. Does it even resemble the good news that we believe it to be?

I don’t want to paint Christianity with a broad brush, but I do think that most of us have tinted the gospel at one time or another in a way that distorts it. We’ve covered it boring, we’ve coated it in pizzazz. We’ve diluted it in societal trends and political agendas. We’ve dabbed it in rules, soaked it in charitable deeds, and downright drowned it in bureaucracies. We’ve confused it with superstitions and other religions, and we’ve stirred it in with emotional baggage, excuses, and embarrassment. By the time we’re done with it, it’s barely recognizable, let alone good. No wonder we don’t want to share it.

But when we peel all of that away, I think that we can recognize that our story – God’s story – is something that people not only need, but desperately want. For at the core lies this truth that is ultimately good – like REALLY good – it transforms, it seeps into cracks and crevices in our souls to heal and restore, it brings hope, it breaks down walls. In all of these ways and so much more, the gospel is essentially and wonderfully good.

Yet even in its rawest form, in the midst of its goodness, the gospel still falls short of being good news. Because what is good will only ever be just good, it will never become good news until we share it.

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

9.24.14 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela LaVallie is the Worship Logistics Program Director at Resurrection. She oversees preparing the Sanctuary for worship, supports Vibe worship and volunteers in the Student Center, provides oversight for Holy Communion at the Leawood campus, and assists with worship logistics at conferences.

One of my co-workers has a bumper sticker on the wall of her cubicle that says, “God bless the whole world – no exceptions.” What a bold request. In a world where jealously and evil and hopelessness are so abundant, shouldn’t it be especially important to pray for everyone?

One of the first Bible verses most of us probably learned was John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world…” This passage doesn’t say that Jesus came to save only certain people, but the whole world. There is a lot of debate among Christian denominations about what it takes to be saved. Regardless of our beliefs on what it takes to actually receive salvation, we don’t get to choose who is eligible to hear the good news and to receive that salvation.

In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighborand hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Our first step in getting over any boundaries or prejudices we might have – no matter how large or how small – is surely to begin by praying for those we might not even like. If we believe that God is all powerful, that he answers prayer, and that he can change our hearts toward others, this is the place to start.

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

9.23.14 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup


I think the conclusion of today’s scripture reading is very telling: telling for what it is and telling for what it is not.

First, telling for what it is. Verse 27 reads…On their arrival, they gathered the church together and reported everything that God had accomplished through their activity, and how God had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. So Luke tells us that when Paul and Barnabas get off the boat in Syrian Antioch and pull the church together for a debriefing meeting, Paul and Barnabas spare no details in relaying all that God had done…in spite of the circumstances (they…reported everything).  The stifling conditions in Perga.  The prolonged illness and neutralizing symptoms Paul suffered through.  The amazing miracle in Lystra that you and I just read about where the people are so enamored that they automatically assume that in Paul and Barnabas, 2 of members of the Greek Pantheon are standing before them and when Paul adamantly dismantles that notion—the crowd that is so elated by the healing of one of their own show their appreciation by taking Paul outside the city and stoning him and leaving him for dead.  Then Paul, likely a couple busted ribs and bloodied by the rocks, get’s up and goes back into the city gates like a missionary Rambo who just won’t walk away without using every ounce of energy he has to make them understand.  Oh yes, there were also the days at sea, the storms, the heat, the sweat, the mosquitoes the size of bats and the 12,000 vertical feet of terrain they got to navigate in Asia Minor—all while never drawing a salary or having the home office make 1 contribution to their 403(b).  And the most encouraging part of the meeting apparently came around the time when they were reporting that they had no measurable results to report for all this.  No listing of new churches organized or started.  No alphabetical roster of new converts whom they’d baptized—just the opportunity to tell whoever would hang around and listen after the stoning that Jesus really was the Lord and Messiah who not only forgave them, but who wanted to give them new life the same way he just gave their crippled friend the ability to walk.

Wow, now that is a long way from the gospel of gluttony and privilege that most of us [me included] would prefer (and by the way, that gospel wasn’t invented by TV preachers, the people in Paul’s day assumed that having the capacity for gluttony and privilege meant God’s favor was upon you). That’s a long haul from the notion of “come follow me and I’ll make you happy, healthy and rich”.  No, Paul and Barnabas report to the young church in Syrian Antioch was the hardscrabble, rubber-meets-the-road account of what it means to sacrifice and pour yourself out for the cause of the Jesus gospel—and I’m really taken by this account because of the raw honesty of what it was.  Following Jesus means taking up your own cross and it isn’t ultimately for the somewhat committed and only partially interested—followers of The Way have to ultimately be all in.  The end of today’s scripture reading is telling because of what it is!

But the end of today’s scripture reading is also telling because of what it is not. It is not the end of the story.  See with the kind of hardships and suffering that would have had to have been reported when they…reported everything…I’d have been inclined to just pack it in right there and say “look, I tried, gave it my best shot, but with no real results so forget it”.  But that’s not what happened.  Why?

Well apparently Paul, Barnabas and the small little collection of Jesus followers in Syrian Antioch were so seized by the conviction that God had called them and they were certain of the power of the Jesus unto salvation—for them and everyone else—that they were determined that it didn’t matter how much it cost them, it didn’t matter how insufferable the conditions, it didn’t even matter how many or few responded to their message, they were going to keep going until somebody sent them home…and clearly even when they got sent home, they were going to regroup and come back again and make another run at it…no matter what. Why, because they had been seized by the power of God’s Call and clearly nothing, short of 6 feet under, was going to stop them.

I find the conclusion of today’s scripture reading very telling because of what it is not; it is not the end of the story. Rather, when really considered, it is an amazing testimony to the power of The Call.

Rev. Glen Shoup is the Executive Pastor of Worship and a Congregational Care Pastor.




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

9.22.14 Insight from Melanie Hill

Melanie Hill is the Visitor Connections Program Director in Resurrection’s Guest Services Ministry.

One of the privileges of my job here at Resurrection is getting to teach our spiritual gifts classes. During these four week courses I get to help people discover how God has uniquely created and shaped them for service. Almost without fail, though, there is someone who thinks they don’t have a gift, they don’t have any talents, and they really don’t feel passionate about anything. Maybe you can relate. If that’s you, sitting there reading this thinking, “Yep, that’s me. Nothing to bring to the table,” let me assure you that you are mistaken. Scripture is ripe with the promises of God that he has a plan and purpose for our lives. Just like Paul, we have been set aside and called by grace to join in the work of God’s redeeming love. You are gifted! You are unique. You bring something to the table that no one else can. You.

So now that we’ve cleared that up, we come to the problem that many of us have in regards to our calling. How and where do we use it? This is a question I run across a lot when teaching, and one I have struggled with myself. I think it’s one even Paul struggled with. Our passage today tells us that Paul first spent time praying and working on his gifts and talents and only then journeyed to Jerusalem. Discovering our calling is no small thing, but I also don’t believe God intended it to be a frustration. There are lots of ways we can start to explore where God has called us to serve. (This is where my shameless plug for our next spiritual gifts classes comes in. Joining us for one of these courses is a great starting place to discover how God has called and designed you for service. The next classes start the beginning of October and you can register for one here.) Another way to find your call is to simply try something. There are lots of great opportunities to get involved that you can “try out” before making a bigger commitment. Ask a friend who is serving somewhere if you can join them. Better yet, invite a friend to join you. Get your small group involved in a project or take a class together. The bottom line is try something. In the process you might just discover your passion and calling.

Lastly, think outside the box–and by box, I mean church. Too often we limit our scope to just looking inside the walls of the church. Don’t get me wrong. We absolutely need talented, gifted, passionate people volunteering to serve inside the church. Without the literally thousands of volunteers who give their time and talents in serving the church each month, we wouldn’t be able to do the things we do here. It’s a great place to start looking–but don’t stop there. God has placed you where you are for a reason. How can you use your gifts at work? With the people who live in your neighborhood? In your kids’ school? In the clubs you attend? Paul probably never envisioned that his ministry would take him to the Gentiles, but just look what God did with him! You have been set apart, called by grace, gifted in unique ways, and shaped to be specifically you. What will you do with it?

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

9.20.14 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.

My husband and I had the joy of spending the weekend in Nashville with our daughter, Maddy, who is a senior at Belmont University.  Every time I spend time on her campus, or attend worship with her surrounded by hundreds of college students, I walk away knowing our future is in good hands. Belmont believes one must learn with a purpose and live with a purpose. If a student doesn’t know their purpose, they will help them discover it. When my daughter heard the president of the university say these words when she visited the school, she turned to me and said, “This is where I am going to school.” (Do you know your purpose? If the answer is “no,” we invite you to attend the next Embark class. In this 3 week course we will assist you with the “why” of our church’s mission, the “what” of your next steps and the “how” of your participation with God’s redemptive plan in the world. We will help you know your purpose.)

As they grew up, my children began asking the question, “What am I supposed to do with my life?” My reply was always the same. It does not matter what profession you choose,  but whatever you do, combine your passions and the gifts God has given you. My son and daughter are very different in how they approach life and express their emotions, but God has given them both the gifts of mercy, compassion, encouraging, and teaching. Tyler is teaching 4th grade in a Title 1 school. He chooses to teach in an inner city school because he feels he can make a difference in the life of a child every single day. Madeline’s senior internship is at Christian Women’s Job Corp, where she is helping low income women get their GED’s, training them with interview skills and encouraging them to know the love of God in a weekly Bible study. They both understand God has given them gifts to use, but they have the freedom to decide how and where they will use them.

The thought in today’s GPS, “…but simply as a way of bearing witness to the amazing difference God’s mercy had made in his life” reminds me of one of my favorite Henri Nouwen sayings, “To know love is to live love.” I pray you live every day knowing the love of God and the difference his mercy has made in your life.

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

9.19.14 Insight from Chris Folmsbee

Chris Folmsbee is Resurrection’s Director of Discipleship Ministries.  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.

A few weeks ago I sat down with one of my friends who is a major league baseball player. He was in town with the Giants, playing against the Royals. As we sipped our coffee and chatted I asked, “So how is your body feeling these days? As many games as you play, how do you keep healthy?” My friend replied, “Taking care of your body is crucial. The stretching, the sleep, the healthy eating, etc. is very important. However, at this point in such a long season, every player I know is hurting somewhere on his body. What matters the most at this point is my heart, my drive, and my attitude. If I can keep the inner life healthy as we gear up for the playoffs, the body will follow suit.”

Today’s reading (Philippians 3:5-7) made me reflect on that conversation. Paul had all of the things needed to be a religiously committed and respected Jew on the outside—circumcision, bloodline, scholarship, fiercely standing up for his faith as a committed Pharisee, and blamelessly following the law. But Paul’s true estimate of his religious commitment came not from what he had or had done, but from who Jesus Christ was. Paul was not making light of the ritual and rite he possessed as a Jew. Paul was making sense of the power of who Jesus is, and what Jesus did. Paul affirmed his identity and heritage as a Jew, but articulated that Jesus meant more to him than all of the other assets.

Professional athletes, like my friend, typically do everything it takes to become a skilled, trained and proficient specialist. But without the drive, the determination and the inner strength to continue to pursue championships, the outer ritual of exercise and practice loses most of its significance.

Jesus provides the inner peace and power to passionately pursue the person God desires each of us to become. Our inner life is where we move our faith from ritual to relationship (though not in the absence of our outward expressions of faith). A faithful commitment to Jesus takes us beyond the procedures of the faith, and leads us toward a profound, life-changing personal and public faith.

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