Monthly Archives: June 2015

6.30.15 Insights from Nicole Alison

Nicole-alisonNicole Alison serves as Coordinating Assistant to Operations at The Church of the Resurrection. Nicole finds her voice through writing. In her spare time she is a personal blogger and a ghost- writer for the Next Steps Pastor at a local church in Lenexa. Her passion is to share the love of Jesus through personal stories of redemption.

A parable can be thought of as an earthly story with a heavenly message. What I love about parables is that they proclaim truth in a relateable way.  And what better way to learn about Jesus than when we can meet with Him right where we are in life? I love the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:2-9), and how a common man scattered seed onto the earth and without any further effort watched the seeds grow from wee little sprouts to a full blown harvest! I can draw a relateable truth from this parable–I need to plant the word of God in my heart, let it take root, and watch God work in my life.

I think of the “seed” that I scatter as my spiritual gift–which is encouragement. There are days and even months that I put myself out there, and stretch my spiritual muscles, and don’t see the fruit of my actions. I’m left to wonder if I’m really making a difference. But in those times I have to trust that God is still at work, and I have to learn to fully rely on Him. Like in the Parable of the Sower, I choose to trust beautiful things are happening, even though I can’t quite grasp what is going on in the present. As long as I allow the heavenly message to be engrained on my heart, I know it will be reflected in my actions, and bring forth God’s plan for my life in a way that will reap a great harvest.

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

6.29.15 Insights from Melanie Hill

mhillgpsMelanie Hill is the Guest Connections Program Director at Resurrection.

I love stories. As far back as I can remember I’ve loved stories, whether listening to my mother read the Chronicles of Narnia aloud to us as children or picking up a good book to read myself. I love what a story can do. It can entertain and it can educate. It can make you laugh and move you to tears. As an avid reader, it is not uncommon for me to mourn the ending of a good story. Stories are powerful.

In fact Jonathan Gottscall, a researcher and writer, says this about story:
“Until recently we’ve only been able to speculate about story’s persuasive effects. But over the last several decades psychology has begun a serious study of how story affects the human mind. Results repeatedly show that our attitudes, fears, hopes, and values are strongly influenced by story. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than writing that is specifically designed to persuade through argument and evidence.”

No wonder Jesus chose this powerful medium to communicate his life-changing message. There’s something about a story that sticks with you in a way that facts and data don’t. Virtually every culture has used story to pass down their histories and truths. Story unites us as human beings. It gives us a common language in which to access life in all its wonderful and terrible aspects.

Perhaps the thing I love most about stories is that each of us is invited to live out our own. The idea that my life is a story worth telling is both humbling and daunting. One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, says “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.” You have a unique story to share with the world. You bring something to the table that no one else does. If your life is your message to the world what will you share?

I leave you with one last quote from Donald Miller:
“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it? It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.”

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

6.27.15 Insights from Carol Cartmill

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

Images of Christian perfection always break down when measured against human performance. It’s no different with the image of a perfect heavenly Father. There are no perfect earthly fathers (or mothers, for that matter). There are varying degrees of success as it relates to our earthly fathers painting a picture of the love and holiness of God, our Father.

Experiences with my earthly father certainly fell short. He left our family when I was an infant. When I began to learn about God as Father, I started with a blank slate. I had to begin building my perceptions from what I learned through Scripture, especially the picture Jesus painted of his “Abba.” That is, until Jim and I became parents. Watching Jim father our two daughters made God’s unconditional love for me more real.

I’m profoundly grateful for the picture Jim’s fathering paints to help me better understand my heavenly Father, but it’s what I have learned through studying the Bible and the life and teachings of Jesus that ultimately gives me confidence. God is my uniquely reliable parent.

The challenge for us is to intentionally and continually deepen our understanding of, and relationship with, our Father who is in heaven. As we do, the relentless love of God will become more real, shaping us into the women and men we, as God’s image-bearing children, are meant to be. We will be people–dads, moms, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and friends–who bear witness to God’s love and care.

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


6.26.15 Insights from Abbie Williams

Abbie-WilliamsGPSAbbie Williams is an intern this summer in the Adult Discipleship department at Resurrection. She is a Human Services Major at Elon University. She loves treehouses, drinking coffee, and her friends (not necessarily in that order).

When reading a Bible verse (such as today’s passage) that refers to God’s people as sheep, I tend to forget a very important fact about these animals we are being compared to: sheep are idiots. Sheep desperately need the help of their shepherd. Without the guidance of someone else, sheep will wander from the safety of their flock. They become vulnerable to predators and simply cannot protect themselves from other creatures.

As soon as I remember these characteristics of sheep, I tend to get a little offended. Nobody wants to be called stupid. Nobody wants to admit that they’re helpless on their own. We want to be independent and in control of our own lives. Being vulnerable and leaning on someone else is difficult. I often find myself just acknowledging God’s presence rather than completely surrendering to Him and confessing how much I need a savior in my life.

But I am a sheep. I hate admitting that I’m weak, but the truth is I cannot handle this life on my own. I’m not strong enough and I definitely don’t have the wisdom to know what is best for me. But I have a shepherd I can rely on. God guides me where I need to be and provides me with exactly what I need, not just what I think I need. He cares for me like nobody else can, and fills me up like nothing else can. God will never abandon me like others in this world might. And God definitely has far more amazing plans for me than I could ever dream up for myself. He is everything that I desire, and He constantly gives me the opportunity to be in a relationship with Him.

Completely submitting to God as our shepherd is a hard thing to do, but the freedom it brings makes it worth it. All of the stress and pain that we feel from trying to do everything on our own is given to God and instead we receive a yoke that is easy and a burden that is light (see Matthew 11:28-30). All the uncertainty and fear of the future is taken away, and instead we have comfort in knowing that God is in control and we don’t have to worry. God is our shepherd, and we are safe and sound when we follow Him.


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

6.25.15 Insights from Dr. Amy Oden

Dr. Amy Oden is Professor of Early Church History and Spirituality at Saint Paul School of Theology at OCU. Teaching is her calling, and she looks forward to every day with students. For 25 years, Amy has taught theology and history, pursuing scholarship in service of the church.  

“Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God …” (Deuteronomy 8:18)

Where or when are you most likely to forget God? To move through your life as though you are self-sufficient and self-directed?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how easy it is for me to forget God when I’m online. Partly, it’s because when I’m online I have the illusion that I’m anonymous, which makes me likely to tune out my relationships with others and with God. But also, it’s because when I log-in, I move into a virtual reality that is some “other place” than my everyday life. It’s easy to check my faith at the door – or at the log-in in this case. It’s easy for me to forget that no matter where I go online I’m participating (or not!) in God’s mission for the world.

These words from Deuteronomy remind us that God went before the Israelites and provided for them in the wilderness, and God goes before us now. The internet can be a sort of wilderness. Yet God goes ahead of us spreading a path of grace if we will but have eyes to see. God is always and everywhere making our lives holy, and that includes digital space. We can participate in God’s holiness in cyberspace, or we can check out and forget God’s presence and love there.

What might happen if we remembered God when we move through digital space? How would we be transformed if we saw the virtual world as a place God is at work? “Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God …”

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

6.24.15 Insights from Rev. Steven Blair

steven-blairRev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care Pastor of Live Forward and Live Well Emotional Wellness Ministry.

Reconciling is a loaded word. It is different than forgiveness. Biblical forgiveness had a financial dimension to it. To forgive a debt meant to send the person away, happy that they didn’t have to keep returning to pay debt. Reconciling means ‘coming back together.’ (See ‘re’ meaning ‘again’ and ‘council’ which is a gathering of people).

In some situations, especially related to abuse, the call to forgive is different than reconcile.

In this Scripture, John the Baptist is ushering in full reconciliation. The Spirit that will be in Him will bring people back to God and reunite relationships that are strained. Are we willing to let the Spirit do the same for us?

Not all forgiveness will include Reconciliation, but all reconciliation will include some level of forgiveness.

May the Spirit of God move you towards reconciliation in all the appropriate ways possible today.

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

6.23.15 Insights from Kate Gepford

Kate-Gepford-GPSKate Gepford is a local mission intern at COR. She is currently a sophomore at KSU studying accounting. She can probably be found in a coffee shop, museum, or bookstore.

I don’t know where I’d be in this world without my father and grandfather. They taught me things through showing me, rather than telling me. My grandfather would always make me do, in his words, “arithmetic” whenever I would visit him. I can still remember him writing down problems on a sheet of paper using his mechanical pencil and writing, in slanted and curved letters, simple addition or multiplication problems. I would struggle through them and he would just tell me to keep going and that, maybe when I was finished, I would get some gummy bears. Maybe that was the best way to entice a small child into doing school work, or maybe he just wanted to communicate his love of math to me, but either way it worked. I’d finish the problems–back then it mostly because I was a sucker for gummy bears.

I think it was also through him that I learned my love of acting on things, instead of talking about them. Things like a simple hug, a pat on the back, or a smile were what I got most from my grandfather, and were also the things that said the most of him. One day he came over to our house to drop off some things. I was reading in a chair and he walked over to me, handed me a card that said “I Love You” and just walked back out to his car to retrieve the rest of his items. I was completely lost as to why he did this but hey, I didn’t ask questions. I simply put it in the front of my wallet as a reminder.

Maybe that’s why I like to think of God’s Fatherly love through actions like serving–because it’s through those actions that I mostly saw love communicated. Some people are able to preach the Gospel, but I prefer to act it out through my deeds. Things like serving with those who need help, feeding those who need food, clothing them, and just letting them know that someone out there cares. It’s one thing to say it, and awfully brave to say it too knowing there will be skeptics. But one thing I’ve learned about COR is that we aren’t afraid to act out love. The opportunities for missions are endless, whether it’s inside the church walls or out. The people here show no limits for how much they care about their neighbors.

I don’t know where I’ll be in five years, much less when I retire. I’m barely an adult, so the future is still a swirling abyss of terror. The one thing I do know, however, is that I want to be serving with this community. I’ve never seen God’s work as clearly as I have at COR. God works through the people here, and I saw it just last week at Bless the School. Hundreds of people volunteered to help fix up a school for children they’ll probably never meet. That speaks volumes to me, and I hope that all of you know the impact you have on children in the Kansas City community. Those volunteers are easily proclaiming God’s wondrous deeds through their actions, and I hope he continues to move the community to act and speak about how wonderful He is and what people can accomplish through Him.

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

6.22.15 Insights from Donna Karlen

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

“These words that I am commanding you today … Recite them to your children.”

Dear Dad,

Yesterday my pastor in his sermon suggested we let our fathers know how we feel about them – perhaps in a letter. So here goes …

Thank you for taking me to church all the years I lived at home with you and mom. That firm foundation of faith was always there, and it’s what brought me back to church after a short absence. And it’s what we built on – with your grandchildren.

Thank you for the time you were disappointed in me when I pushed a friend out of the way so I could have my turn on the Daddy Horsey. I learned to think of others and to be patient (well – the patience thing I continue to work on – you know …)

Thank you for the time when I was a little girl and you sat on my bed and recited The Lord’s Prayer to me. That’s how I learned to pray. That’s how I taught my children to pray.

Thank you for being my Sunday school teacher. I didn’t always participate in the way you hoped, but those lessons were more bricks on that firm foundation of faith.

Thank you for teaching me about hard work and dedication to doing my best. You know your daughter has a strong work ethic … very strong!

Thank you for hugging me when you handed me my high school diploma in your role as the school’s superintendent. Some people asked if that embarrassed me – it didn’t. It showed that your most important role was as my dad.

Thank you for your devotion to Mom – even when she no longer knew who you were. The example you set helped me get through a rough patch and come out of it with a stronger marriage.

Thank you for spending Christmas with us in 2002 and going to the family Christmas Eve service that I wrote, organized and shared at my church. It brings me joy to remember you were so proud of me during those last days of your life.

So I come full circle back to the firm foundation of faith which started with you – because of it, I know I will see you again.

For now I miss you every day. And thank you for that.

Love, your daughter

Note to readers: My dad passed away at age 76 from cardiac arrest. It breaks my heart that he was in our home just two days before it happened, and that had he not been alone, his life could have been saved with CPR. Resurrection is having Hands-Only CPR Training after worship services June 27/28. This technique can be learned in a matter of minutes. When CPR is started in the first minute, the chance of survival is 90-100%.

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

6.20.15 Insights from Ginny Howell

GinnyHowellGinny Howell is the Connections Mobilization Program Director at Resurrection.

I spent the majority of this past week working at Welborn Elementary with our Bless the School team. This is an annual event where we pour into one of our partner schools with loads of playground mulch, fresh paint, new carpet, bulletin boards, new shelving, cleaning supplies…..all to demonstrate our commitment to changing lives through our partnerships with inner-city and under-resourced schools.

This team is driven by some amazing volunteer leaders who put in months of coordination, planning and collaboration to make Bless the School possible. I think of these folks as the coaching sBTS151taff–each with an eye for detail in their specialty area while ever mindful of the bigger picture. These coaches guide hundreds of volunteers who participate in Bless the School, each of whom are making a tangible difference in the lives of school staff and children who attend our partner schools. I am always amazed at just how much we can accomplish in a period of only about 10 days, and this year was no exception. Almost every single wall in the two Welborn buildings has been covered in fresh paint. New bulletin BTS152 boards, white boards and shelves have been installed around the buildings. The school office, library and several classrooms now have new carpet. There is an Eagle mural in the hallway of the 3rd-5th grade building, and the playground has fresh mulch to make for softer landings off the swings and slides.

The jobs that lead to the most significant visible change always get mentioned as we reflect on what was accomplished at Bless the School, but our scripture today leads us to consider some of the roles that we often overlook. We will always need painters, carpet layers and carpenters, but how much could we get done if someone wasn’t walking around making sure everyone had waBTS153ter to stay hydrated? What about the small groups, individuals and families who provided lunch items or baked cookies the keep our team healthy and energized? What about those who were happy to take on the less desirable jobs? This week I watched as volunteers used Kilz to cover up water damage spots on the ceiling and razor blades to scrape up discolored bubble gum from the sidewalk. We had a number of people who spent hours cleaning plastic chairs with bleach and scrub brushes, as well as a group who used paint thinner to remove old paint from hundreds of metal coat hooks. The vents in the boys’ and gBTS154irls’ bathrooms all had to be cleaned, and one volunteer even spent about three hours out in the hot sun sweeping the parking lot in preparation for the painters to re-stripe the crosswalk and parking spaces.

As people checked in to begin their Bless the School shift, each was asked what they wanted to do. Overwhelmingly, the answer was “whatever needs to be done.” To me, this speaks to how God has equipped this team to accomplish great things. Consider listening for what God is calling you to do in service for others. Where can you employ the “whatever needs to be done” mindset as you engage in the Kingdom of God?

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

6.19.15 Insights from Darren Lippe

Darren_LippeDarren 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.

A few years ago our family visited The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. (The old adage is true: It is difficult to reach either by car or career.)

As the boys & I were painstakingly reading every placard next to every exhibit my lovely wife asked, “If we are doing this through the whole museum, should I go to the car & get my book?” I whispered in reply, “Shhh. Someone needs to take the pictures.”

We were quickly drawn to the stories of the great players, but we couldn’t help but notice that the big leagues were also filled with players of various talent levels & capabilities. For every George Brett there is a Bob Uecker or “Marvelous” Marv Throneberry.

George Brett Uecker MarvThroneberry

As Bob Uecker noted, “Anyone with talent can play in the Major Leagues. For someone like me to stick around as long as I did, now that is a major achievement.”

And there is the story about the time Marv Throneberry hit a triple against the Cubs. When the ball came back into the infield, Ernie Banks tagged 2nd base. Since Marv had missed 2nd base the umpire called him out. The Met’s manager, Casey Stengel, rushed onto the field to protest the call. The umpire put up his hands & said, “Cool it, Casey. He missed first base as well.” To which Casey replied, “Give him a break. It’s been so long, he probably forgot where they were.”

Of course there have been lots of other players who struggled with the game:

  • Like the right fielder, who it was said, wore a baseball glove for only one reason: league tradition
  • Or the 1st base coach lamenting about his base runner being so slow that “if he raced his pregnant wife, he’d finish 3rd.
  • Or the frustrated manager’s conversation with his poor-fielding 2nd baseman: OK. It’s the bottom of the 9th. There’s a man on 1st with 1-out. What are you thinking? Please don’t hit it to me. Yeah, yeah, but what else are you thinking? Please don’t hit it to the shortstop, either.

The Bible is full of stories of great heroes like Abraham, David, Peter, & Paul. But there are also the vignettes of believers whom we might easily overlook, yet each & every one of them was essential in the development of His Kingdom. They are like the young boy who volunteered his 5 loaves of bread & 2 fishes, so that Jesus could glorify God & feed a crowd of 5,000. Or the men who lowered their paralyzed friend through a hole in the roof, so that Jesus might demonstrate the power of forgiveness. Or the Samaritan woman at the well, who knew she had encountered the Messiah & became a great evangelist for Christ to her community. While we may not know their names, rest assured God certainly does.

In similar fashion, as we Christians experience our faith-walk today we’ll encounter some truly heroic colleagues & marvel at their faith & their utilization of their God-given talents. Yet, we needn’t feel overwhelmed or intimidated.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit we, too, can play a critical role in God’s Kingdom by allowing ourselves to be open to hearing His Word, to have an open heart to share His love, & to have open hands ready to serve when called.

We know God’s “Hall of Fame” has many, many rooms; what might our plaque say? Hey, let’s take a picture!


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