Monthly Archives: November 2015

11.30.15 – Insights from Roberta Lyle

Roberta_LyleRoberta Lyle has been on the Resurrection staff since 2006. She oversees the Collection Ministry, coordinating the donations of clothing, beds, food, furnishings, cars and computers and re-purposing them through our ministry partners to provide to those in need in our community.

I really don’t like to wait for things. I don’t like waiting at traffic lights or in the doctor’s office. I did not venture out on Black Friday until late in the afternoon in the hopes of avoiding waiting in long lines at stores (it didn’t work). And of course there have been times I’ve faced uncertainty as I’ve waited for word on possibly life-changing issues. I’ve learned that I can fret about the wait or look for productive ways to occupy my time. I had the opportunity to be reminded about the importance of waiting well on Thanksgiving.

One of the locations where Resurrection served a meal on Thanksgiving was at Hope Faith Ministries in KCMO. When I arrived volunteers were busy in the kitchen rolling silverware in napkins, cutting pies and warming food for 600 meals. Two dining areas were quickly filling as people came in from the rain and found a spot at the tables. A staff member came out and announced that there would be a 45 minute delay in serving the meal.

The volunteers and those waiting for the meal could have been frustrated by the delay, but instead those who weren’t busy in the kitchen moved through the room chatting with the guests, filling cups of coffee and lemonade and even leading several choruses of Christmas carols. During this time some shared stories of family trials and hardship where the outcome was uncertain while others talked about plans for the future. Hugs were given and received. Before we knew it the food was warm and ready to be plated and delivered to the tables.

I know those who attended the event enjoyed the good food, but even more I feel we were all more blessed by that unanticipated time of fellowship than the actual activity of serving. I am one who can be very task oriented, and am not always good about recognizing times of holy interruption. My prayer is that, especially during this season of Advent as we wait in expectation, we can all be alert to those times that God calls us to put aside the daily business and participate in His Kingdom building.

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

11.28.15 Insights from Carol Cartmill

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

Where do you put your hope? What is it that brings you a sense of well-being and security? I find this topic especially fitting on the heels of Thanksgiving and Black Friday. If you are like me, Thanksgiving was a day of indulgence. I consumed way too much butter! Black Friday, on the other hand, I largely ignored. I am not even remotely tempted to join the masses in a shopping frenzy. Two days – so much temptation!

We get bombarded with messages about things that promise to bring us fulfillment. When did new cars become the best Christmas present ever? None of it will last. All of it ages, depreciates and decays. A former pastor and mentor taught me to invest in things with eternal value. Last time I checked, that list included God and people.

When Paul urges us to put our hope in God, not wealth and stuff, he also suggests that God desires for us to enjoy life. To take hold of the life that really is life. Part of the problem I sometimes have is money and possessions are much more easily quantifiable. I can pull up my current bank balance on my phone. How do I make deposits in my faith and hope account?

Paul gives us the answer. Be rich in good deeds, be generous and willing to share. Those are the investments that will truly fill us with hope and joy.   The season of Christmas hope and promise seems like the perfect opportunity to be generous and serve others. May our hearts be enlarged as we grow in grace and generosity.

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

11.27.15 – Insights from Ginger Rothhaas

Gingeer RGinger Rothhaas is a seminary student at Saint Paul School of Theology and is serving in Congregational Care at The Church of the Resurrection.

Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving to you! Are you on a couch reading this and enjoying a day off? Are you enjoying a “jammies day” like my family? Maybe you are in line at a Black Friday sale. If so, good idea for your approach to stress management—reading Scripture while you wait!!

I spent Thanksgiving on a sheep ranch in Alma, Kansas with family yesterday. My aunts, uncles, and parents host the annual reunion, rotating each year between a sheep ranch in Alma, an exotic animal farm in Nickerson, and a cattle ranch near Cottonwood Falls.

I couldn’t make that up—it’s true! Welcome to my wacky family!!

The holiday at the sheep ranch has always been one of my favorites. This is lambing season. That means that babies are born the week of Thanksgiving! As a kid, I would look forward to seeing about 1,200 brand new baby lambs with their mamas. I could spend hours in the pens with them, observing, petting, holding, dodging protective mamas, and bottle-feeding the orphans.

As an adult, and theology student, I can’t help but think of the Biblical metaphor of God as a shepherd when I’m on the sheep ranch. It’s vivid imagery to me as I watch the behavior of sheep and the work of the shepherd.

Today’s scripture, from Peter’s letter, instructs us to care for the flock that is ours. Put yourselves in this story as you read it. We all have a flock of some sort and we are all caring for someone…as parents, teachers, managers, coaches, mentors, etc.

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

The words in bold type are the ones I really pay attention to as a mother, teacher, and caregiver. Peter continues with inspiring advice and then really gets our attention with this:

Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

And finally, here’s the real challenge:

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

As I watched my uncle Alan, the sheep rancher, care for the orphaned lambs, I learned the meaning of this Scriptural metaphor. As the shepherd of this flock, Alan would watch over the orphans in those first critical hours. He would willingly feed them around the clock and eagerly keep them warm in November chill. He was an example to me of how to give love so that they didn’t realize they had lost their mama. He humbly cared for these orphans despite his own loss of comfort, sleep, and warmth.

And those orphaned lambs? They had no anxiety. They were cared for and didn’t worry about how they would survive. They knew it would all be okay. They had a shepherd.

God does all of this for us.

During this busy season in our society, let’s remember that we are cared for, loved unconditionally, and will be given everything we need.

No need for anxiety.

We have a Shepherd.

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

11.26.15 – 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.

How will it look from the end? In this “retirement plan,” Paul is looking from the end of his life.

As I think about the stewardship of my money, my time, my energy, it’s often helpful for me to ask myself that question: How will this decision look from the end of my life? It can be a very clarifying exercise. From that vantage point, I can often see my values and commitments more clearly. I can see what really matters. I can see the person I want to have been.

Think about it this way–very few folks stand at the end of their lives looking back and say:

“I wish I’d spent more time at the office.” Or ““I wish I had bought more stuff.” Or “I wish I had been more of a consumer.” Or “I wish I’d spent more time worrying.”

Instead, we will more likely say, “I wish I had been more generous.” Or “I wish I had slowed down a bit so I could give more of myself to others.” Or maybe, “I’m so grateful for all the blessings in my life, and the way they overflowed to others.”

How will it look from the end? It’s just my imagination at work. But I like to think the Holy Spirit uses my imagination to guide me now.

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

11.25.15 – Insights from Kari Burgess

Kari Burgess is a Program Director for the Catalyst team, handling promotion and marketing for all of the conferences held at Resurrection, as well as registration and coordinating hospitality volunteers.

The other night I had a dream. A nightmare really. I woke up in a panic, wondering if this terrible thing had really happened. I was in a cold sweat, my heart was beating rapidly. When I finally woke up , I had to laugh.

It was Thanksgiving. I was bustling around the kitchen getting all of the side dishes prepped and cooked. Cleaning up, setting the table, getting all the last details ready to go. The timer went off on the oven and when I went to take the turkey out of the oven, it was STILL FROZEN. In fact, it was still in its packaging, just sitting there.

Here’s the thing. Until that dream, I didn’t even realize the worry and anxiety I’ve been feeling about hosting Thanksgiving at my house. A silly example, I know. But a lesson in worry, nonetheless.

Webster’s says worry is a “misuse of your imagination.” Think about it. Much of what we worry about (what keeps us up at night or gives us nightmares) never comes to fruition. And it is true we cannot add a single hour to our life by worrying.

Our Scripture today tells us not worry, God will provide. But this doesn’t mean to not be concerned or to stop trying to solve our own problems. We are not meant to simply pray and expect everything to fall in place. There is a difference between worry and concern. My study bible says “Worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.” You see, we must learn to plan and work towards solving whatever is concerning in our life and to do so by seeking God’s kingdom and His will. Planning and working through issues is a good use of time, but worrying is a waste of time. By placing our trust in Jesus and putting Him at the center of every decision, thought and action, we can be sure to follow His will for every life situation. That’s not to say bad things won’t happen—because they certainly will. But having the assurance He is by our side during and through it all gives us hope one day all will be redeemed.

Wilfredo de Jesus, one of the speakers from the Global Leadership Summit in 2014, said, “Prayer is necessary. Prayer is a weapon. But we cannot allow prayer to be a crutch to not do anything.” What a powerful statement. God can work with us and God can work through us, when we seek His counsel. But if we let fear, worry and anxiety take over, we will be left paralyzed and unable to do His work.

When I am feeling particularly worried or anxious about something, I often turn to this text in Matthew 6. Philippians 4:6 is similar (and one of my life verses): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So after my turkey nightmare, I decided it was time to start planning our Thanksgiving meal in earnest. In trying to figure out what time to put the turkey in the oven, I did an ever-reliable Google search and found it recommended anywhere from 3 ¼ hours to 6 hours! I am now fervently praying for God to make known to me which “turkey cooking calculator” God favors. Any advice is welcome.

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

11.24.15 – Insights from Brandon Gregory

brandongregorygpsBrandon 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.

The parable in today’s passage is often quoted when talking about the meaninglessness of the accumulation of wealth. But that’s not the point at all. There are two possibilities in life we must prepare for. The first is that we live far longer than we had anticipated. The second is that our lives are cut far shorter than we anticipated. Failing to prepare for either one can be disastrous.

A man asked Jesus to step into a family dispute. The man’s brother had not wrongfully taken his inheritance, otherwise he wouldn’t be going to Jesus–he’d be going to the courts. Giving the inheritance to one brother was the father’s choice. The man in the crowd was asking Jesus to undo his father’s wishes, possibly made for very good reasons.

Ultimately, we don’t know why the inheritance wasn’t shared with the man in the crowd. (Or maybe it was, but the man felt he didn’t get his fair cut.) But, based on Jesus’s reaction, we can tell why the man wanted the inheritance split: greed. You see, he was so busy planning for the first possibility that he’d lost the second one.

It’s not bad to save for the future. It’s bad to forget why we live. How often do we invest in our soul and character? How often do we track progress with our growth? What if we thought of and planned for our spiritual growth the same way we did our retirement: with goals and regular contributions?

When thinking about the future, make sure you’re planning for both possibilities. It’s very possible (and highly desirable) to plan for both.

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

11.23.15 – Insights from Donna Karlen

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

In the 70s, a series of TV ads for the investment advisory company E.F. Hutton featured two people talking in a crowded public place about the stock market. One of the characters would say, “My broker is E.F. Hutton, and E.F. Hutton says…” and immediately everyone around the pair would stop what they were doing and lean in to listen. The spot ended with the voice over, “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen.”

There doesn’t appear to be an E.F. Hutton in the Bible dispensing advice on living life in retirement. In fact, the Bible doesn’t say much about the subject at all. A Google search yields a couple verses in Numbers about retiring at age 50 – but that’s not going to happen for very many of us. I don’t think I’d even want to retire that early. If age 50 is considered our lifetime “halftime,” then the idea of not working during the majority of my second half is not only financially not feasible, but it sounds personally unfulfilling as well.

Today’s scripture points to taking steps to prepare for a future that could include famine – but with Hy-Vee’s helpful smile in every aisle less than a mile away from where I live, I’m thinking our food supplier is at least as reliable as Pharaoh. As for the “lazy person” in Proverbs? That just kind of makes me nervous about falling asleep.

But even though scripture may not speak directly to the concept of retirement, we can still look to the Bible for some pretty awesome advice for living (at any age):

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

God has given each of you some special abilities: Be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings. –1 Peter 4:10

…and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? –Micah 6:8

And, of course, from our Teacher, our Lord, our Savior:

‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ –Matthew 25:35-40

Yes, my adviser is Jesus Christ, and when Jesus Christ speaks… Let us all lean in to listen!

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

11.21.15 – Insights from Dan Entwistle

dan-entwistleDan Entwistle serves as Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director.

Money was often on Jesus’ lips.

But to be clear, money wasn’t at the core of Jesus’ teachings. A summary of his key messages would not begin with, nor would it be centered around, money as the chief object of faith. If we were searching to discover what themes are central to the way of life Jesus taught about, the list-toppers would include… love, forgiveness, abundant life and good news for all humankind. With apologies to budgeters and investors, these other topics trump matters of finance.

Yet there’s no escaping the importance money played in Jesus’ teachings. It is frequently said that Jesus spoke more about money than he did about prayer, and that he mentions money more often than heaven and hell combined. Eleven of Jesus’ 39 parables deal with financial matters. Jesus did talk about money a lot and the way we handle our money is indeed important to him. Why is this? To the best of our knowledge, Jesus did not have a home of his own. He likely didn’t manage large sums of money nor would he have had a nest egg of retirement funds in a pension plan—not even one screened for socially conscious investments.

It may be that money was such an important topic for Jesus because we are in desperate need of wise assistance when it comes to ordering our financial lives. Not just people then and there, but people now and here. People at all levels of means, power and influence. People in every culture, regardless of which government’s currency they have in their pockets and bank accounts. We all need assistance when it comes to prioritizing our financial lives.

And Jesus knew that our possessions have a way of possessing us.

Notice that Jesus didn’t tell everyone to sell everything they had. This message was reserved for this particular young man. We have no record of a similar message for Lazarus, nor Zaccheus, nor Joseph or Arimathea. These, too, were people of means but it seems they didn’t receive the same memo.

So, why was Jesus so tough on this young man’s finances? It appears he really wanted to follow Jesus (or else when he left wouldn’t have left sad.) The answer seems to be that his devotion to his finances outstripped his devotion to God.

Is there anything in your life that rises to that level of devotion? Anything in your life that has become more precious to you than God? If so, what would it mean for you to “sell” that “possession” so you can follow in joy rather than depart in sadness?


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

11.20.15 – 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.

Paul’s contention in today’s passage is a bit hard to reconcile with human nature: not only are we to be generous, but lovingly generous? Let’s consider this ridiculous assertion a bit more:

Raising 2 boys, we recognized from an early age that sharing is not an inborn/natural trait. It could be a Batman action figure that suddenly becomes the all-time favorite toy when in the possession of the older brother. It could be the passion to scrutinize the strawberries topped on the dishes of ice cream to make sure they are equal in number & mass – even while the ice cream is rapidly melting. Or it could be the devotion to methodically catalog who last cleaned the bathroom mirror, to make sure no one, i.e. especially the record-keeper, is forced to do it twice in a row.

It’s like the story of the young boy in math class. The teacher asks, “If you had $5.00 and your brother gave you $4.00, how much would you have?” The boy quickly responds, “$5.00.” The teacher shakes her head saying, “No. You don’t know your addition.” To which the youngster replies, “No. You don’t know my brother.”

Fortunately for parents we have the example of Jesus to help encourage sharing between the brothers. However, even the admonition to be “like Jesus” can fall short of our goals of equality: Two boys are eying 2 chocolate-chip cookies that are noticeably different in size. Each brother wants the larger cookie. Mom gently suggests, “Which cookie do you think Jesus would choose?” The brothers glumly respond, “The smaller cookie.” “Right, so….?” The younger brother quickly snags the bigger cookie & says to his brother as he walks away, “You be Jesus today. I’ll be Jesus tomorrow.”

Of course as we age, this challenge with sharing/generosity doesn’t dissipate, like the Jack Benny shtick of being a tightwad. A mugger approaches Jack. He demands, “Your money or your life.” Benny pauses, deep in thought. The mugger nervously asks, “Well?” Benny responds, “I’m thinking.” This struggle even intrudes into debates in the public square; however, these disputes tend to focus on how generous we can be with other people’s money – so not much of a challenge.

So, why is it so hard for us to be charitable &, knowing Paul to be a bright guy, why would he raise the standard beyond simple giving to being lovingly generous?

I would submit that Paul might suggest that a heart hardened against sharing/generosity is essentially a faith that lacks trust in the Godly life described in the Fruit of the Spirit (Love, Joy, Peace, etc.). This can be evident in all facets of our life: how we share praise, how we spend our time, as well as how we manage our finances.

Perhaps we are reluctant to be too generous in our praise of others for fear it will embolden them & impact our desired social pecking order – thus, impacting a source of joy in our lives.

Possibly we are hesitant to share our time & talents to assist others, unless we are assured that our efforts will be appropriately valued. However this quid-quo-pro view of kindness negates our ever appreciating (suspicion-free) anyone demonstrating agape love on our behalf.

Finally, we may feel that a life of peace can only be sourced via “enough” financial resources. Of course, our definition of “enough” is ever changing, thus ensuring we’ll be constantly stressed trying to maximize our financial resources – effectively canceling out any hopes of a life of peace.

Paul might remind us that we would do well to mimic Jesus. He lovingly gave of Himself to bring glory not to himself, but to God. He lovingly gave of Himself, not knowing if it would be appreciated. He lovingly gave of Himself excruciatingly aware some would waste His amazing gift of grace. Yet, Jesus knew that a life of love, joy, & peace could only be God-sourced, & He generously gave of Himself beyond human comprehension.

Like the boy with his cookie, maybe today could be our day to be like Jesus.

11.19.15 – Insights from Janelle Gregory

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

Do you ever go onto the real estate websites just to take a peek? I recently found myself doing just that. Page after page of houses for sale. We don’t even need a new house, but I just wanted to see what was out there in our price-range. Lots of great houses for sure, but there wasn’t anything that made me want to rent the moving-truck.

But then I got to thinking, “I wonder what kind of houses would be in our price-range if we stopped giving to the church.” It’s not like we give half of everything we own, but it’s enough that you get entirely different houses in entirely different neighborhoods when you enter that monthly figure when sorting.

And so I looked.

There they were, beautifully staged, and right there at my fingertips. They had more rooms, more features, nicer finishings, in better locations. I found myself mentally moving in, putting my groceries away in a pantry the size of our guest bedroom.

But mentally moving in required me mentally moving funds as well. I had to force myself to stop and think of that impact. What would I be saying no to?

Well, I’d be saying no to the children’s ministries dedicated to introducing and leading the future of our church to know and love Jesus.

I’d be saying no to the holy moments of care between a pastor and a grieving family.

I’d be saying no to helping other churches in desperate need of encouragement and resources.

I’d be saying no to providing malaria medication for a dying child in Malawi.

I’d be saying no to Bible studies, worship nights, Bless the School, baptisms, raising up pastors…

And most of all, I’d be saying no to God.

A little hard to enjoy that new pantry when I think of what it would actually cost. Does this mean I’m giving out of guilt? Well – partially, but that’s more of an issue of my own soul’s weakness for more rather than the value of the receiving ministries. Knowing that our funds can be used for good, for growth, and for God is exciting to us.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re giving our last dime. Generosity is something I’ll struggle with for as long as I live, but remembering how the money is spent makes that easier. It’s my hope that we can all join in that. God has good things in store for his church, so let’s not choose the pantry (or the pleasure of your choice) over being a part of his everlasting mission.

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