Monthly Archives: June 2016

06.30.16 – Insights from Janelle Gregory

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

Every year-end of middle school, we had a yearbook signing day. We gathered in the gym and took turns passing around books to write messages like, “You’re sweet. Don’t change.” I would say that’s a silly phrase, but these were middle school girls. They could change every 30 minutes. That statement may have been less of a compliment and more of a directive. “You’re sweet at this very moment. PLEASE, I’M BEGGING YOU – DO NOT CHANGE!”

Then there were a few messages that took up half the page and carried on about how we were going to be friends forever. To be honest, when I look back on some of those now, I have to look up their picture to see who wrote it. Friends forever? Maybe not. But it makes you think, what makes a relationship stick? How is it that some friendships last longer and go deeper than others?

I like to picture people having different aspects that make them “sticky,” forming a bond between one another. There is a tiny bit of stickiness that comes from physical appearance and common surroundings. If you find someone with a similar interest, that part of you is sticky towards them, making your bond stronger. When you’re able to laugh together, that part of you is even stickier.

When we’re talking about deep and lasting bonds, those require a stronger adhesive. Often the stickiest parts of us are those that come with the most pain. Grief, fear, loss – they are extremely sticky. I think that’s how God designed them to be, knowing that we would need to stick to others and stick to God when we’re at our lowest.

When we face times when we’re hurt or scared, we don’t have to enjoy it, but we should take time to recognize that this part of us is sticky. This stickiness allows us to hold onto God in ways that we otherwise wouldn’t. Take advantage of that. God uses our sticky bond to bring beauty and restoration to His people, binding us close to the Ultimate Healer and to others walking a similar path.

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

06.29.16 – Insights from Wendy Connelly

WendyConnellyWendy Connelly, wife to Mark and mom to two kids, is Community Outreach Director at the Leawood campus, a seminary student at Saint Paul School of Theology, and co-leads “Live and Let Think” dialogues at Leawood and RezDowntown.

Mountaintop experiences in life are few and far between, and when they break through the mundane, we have a tendency to want to grasp onto them and hold on for dear life. So it was with Jesus’ disciples at his Transfiguration. “We should construct three shrines,” said Peter, in an attempt to petrify this beguiling experience in stone. If only the transcendent could be so easily grasped!

Exactly three weeks ago, I was amidst the mountaintop dwellings of ancient hermits and modern-day Connelly familymonks. For millennia, mystics have climbed the higgledy-piggledy, cave-dotted peaks of Meteora, Greece, seeking God. Some stayed and built shrines, arguably the most glorious monasteries on Earth. As my kids, husband and I explored musty caves and cliff-clinging dwellings through fierce storms and sweeping rainbows, I was tempted, like Peter, to build a shrine to that magical day spent with the people I love most, and bottle it all up. Life, sometimes, is simply that beautiful.

Our GPS guide asks how these mountaintop experiences can stay with us, and for this answer, I look to Mary. What did she do, after an angelic encounter? She treasured it up in her heart. Mary didn’t enshrine. She savored.

Psychologists tell us savoring boosts our happiness in three ways. AccordGreeceing to The Happiness Journey, written by my friends, Bob & Virginia Pothier, savoring:

  • 1) Reinforces our sense of identity
  • 2) Boosts our self-image, and
  • 3) Generates pleasure 1

So the next time you scale the peaks, instead of building a shrine, I’d suggest treasuring up the experience – savoring it – until it seeps into the very depths of your being. You won’t grasp the transcendent; but the transcendent might just seize you with lingering joy!

1 Pothier, Bob & Virginia. The Happiness Journey. Hapacus, 2012.

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

06.28.16 – Insights from Randy Greene

Randy Greene serves in the Communications ministry as the Digital Media Specialist. He helps develop and maintain the church’s family of websites.

Today’s reading is a tough one for me. I have this tendency to be hyper-rational, so when I think about a disconnect between what I want to do versus what I actually do, my immediate instinct is to tell myself “Suck it up, Randy! Mind over matter! If your flesh doesn’t want to cooperate, just force it into submission!”

That’s an easy thing for me to tell myself when I’m considering sin as this vague, abstract idea, but when I start plugging in the individual sins that I struggle with, I am struck with the reality of what Paul is saying.

“I know I should respond with grace when someone yells at me,” Paul says, “but when I’m caught in the moment, I respond in defensiveness and anger anyways.”

“I know that I should be engaged in intentional community with my neighbors,” he confesses, “but when I get home from work, I’m so tired… and the weekends are the one time I get to relax… and I’m not much of an extrovert anyways, so I’ll just wait for my neighbors to come to me.”

As I think about the list of sins that plague me, I begin to despair – just as Paul did. In verse 24 of our passage, he says, “I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse?” (this one’s a real quote, not me putting words in Paul’s mouth). But that’s when I remember, just as Paul did, that the grace of God covers me. No matter how often I fail or how far I fall, the steadfast love of God draws me close. God loves me, wraps me in his arms and calls me his beloved child – even in the midst of my flaws.

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

06.27.16 – Insights from Kaelin Hill

Hill-FamilyMelanie Hill is the Guest Connections Program Director at Resurrection. She’s also the mom of four great kids, the oldest of which, Kaelin (blue jacket in photo at left) wrote today’s Insights blog.

An open letter from someone “different”:

I am not your average mainstream preteen kid. I like documentaries. I think school is fun. I often find more in common with adults than my peers. I geek out about the books I read and drive my mom insane with trivia about them. I live to make the worst puns possible. My cow jokes are “udderly” horrible–pun intended. It has been said that I am athletically incapable. Let’s just say that while I love school, P.E. is not my favorite subject. When it comes to stressful situations I am a total control freak. It has never been easy for me to make friends. When people walk into a room and start looking for someone to talk to I am usually the last person they wander over to. The truth is, I just have a hard time relating to most kids my age. While these are all things that I am working on, I would like to suggest some food for thought about people who are different.

The first thing I want you to know is that God made us all different. I have embraced my differences, and I wish you would too. Life would be boring if we were all the same. My life is interesting and I would love to share it with more people. Maybe with you. Yeah, you might not get me at first, but give me a chance. You might just be pleasantly surprised. After all, variety is the spice of life. If you take the time to get to know me you will discover that I like helping people, whether that is serving at Vibe or helping a classmate with homework. I’m also pretty creative–you’re looking at the next super architect/great American novelist. Or at least that’s the current plan. And while my puns are ridiculously bad, I love to laugh. But you would miss all this about me if you didn’t look past the surface.

Last, I would say this. I know you are different, too. Your differences might not be as obvious as my buck teeth (no, I’m not related to a beaver, for those of you who keep asking), but you have things that make you different too. Maybe you’re just better at hiding them. But wouldn’t it be nice to be known and loved for who you really are, differences and all? Maybe we should just start at the beginning. You love Jesus. I love Jesus. Let’s go from there.

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

06.25.16 – Insights from Brent Messick

brent-messickGPSBrent Messick is Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director of Operations.

These Scripture verses provide a description of the future consummation of the Messianic kingdom. They describe the peace and safety of the Messianic age as reflected in the fact that little children will be unharmed as they play with formerly ferocious animals.

These Scripture verses remind me of a recent incident in Orlando, Florida. There have been three terrible tragedies in Orlando in the last couple of weeks, all caused by violence and resulting in the loss of life. The one incident I am reminded of has been overshadowed by the mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub.

There was a two-year-old boy playing at dusk on a beach on a lagoon in Disney World. He was suddenly attacked and dragged to his death by an alligator lurking in the lagoon. His horrified father raced to save him and fight off the alligator. The little boy was later found intact but drowned. I can’t possibly imagine the pain and grief that the family is going through. Please take a moment as you read this to pause and pray for the family.

There is much beauty and goodness in the world. But sometimes the beauty and goodness are interrupted by the ugliness in the world. The alligator was not evil; he was only doing what comes naturally to an alligator. I do not believe that God caused this little boy to be killed, or that it happened for a reason. The poor little boy happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We live in a broken world. The incident with the little boy and the alligator is a reflection of this brokenness. The beauty and sanctity of the Garden of Eden was broken by the serpent. Today’s Scripture passage describes a vision of the restoration of the Garden of Eden by Jesus Christ. He overcomes the brokenness of God’s earthly kingdom, to offer us eternity where there will be no violence, no oppression, no fear, but only harmony and love in God’s eternal kingdom. In Jesus, we see the lion and the lamb living in peace together.

I believe we will also see the little boy playing in the new Garden of Eden with his new animal friends.

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

06.24.16 – 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.

Our dog Finnegan was born on April 1, 2015. Note the date…that says it all!  He is high energy and is like a curly hurricane when he blows through the room. I think it is great irony that April Fool’s day is his birthday. This dog reminds me that God must have a sense of humor, because this puppy came to us in the busiest year of our life as a family and wrecked any sense of order or sanity we had remaining!

At an especially lowGinger's dog moment in my relationship with him, after two of my best pairs of shoes became chew toys….I looked into his eyes and said, “What are you here to teach me?” (This may sound enlightened, but really I was looking for something redeeming to erase my non-loving thoughts!) Besides responding with “pick up your shoes,” I felt that his eyes were saying to me, “I’m here to teach you what unbounded love looks like.”

His hurricane craziness is full of enthusiastic love. He has an endless love for life, people arriving at our house, and every trashcan he can find! No matter what Finnegan does, it is with a leap of curly joy and happy energy!

His love for us isn’t delivered in a dignified way, it is often clumsy and messy, but it feels great to be the recipient of love like that! I think that is how God calls us to love one another. With no reservation or pause, just pure unbounded love!

As exhausting as Finnegan’s happy energy can be, I am grateful that he reminds me to live big, to love unabashedly, to enjoy fine leather goods, and to love with great enthusiasm everyone I encounter!

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

06.23.16 – Insights from James Cochran

James Cochran serves as Director of Counseling Ministries at The Church of the Resurrection, helping to connect the Resurrection family and community with counseling resources and group programming.

My dog Lizzy is mostly a joy. Mostly. She’s a lab mixed with perhaps 30 other breeds. The deepest desire of her heart is to cuddle with me and my wife. For Lizzy, the right to cuddle is one she anxiously defends. When strange visitors take our attention, she politely but firmly reminds all gathered that she is due some cuddling.

Up until my daughter was born just over one year ago, this habit of Lizzy’s was mostly endearing. But now, on occasion, Lizzy gets a little too jealous about the distribution of our family’s cuddling resources. She’ll often bark when my daughter Evelyn encroaches on her cuddle territory, and, when she’s in a particularly foul mood, she’ll issue a harmless but anxiety-provoking growl. These behaviors often trigger “defensive dad” mode, which usually involves some harsh words for Lizzy.

Invariably, after I’ve had time to cool down, I feel bad for lashing out at her. However, and invariably, Lizzy has already moved on. She’s ready to cuddle.

In this series we’re meant to look past our furry friends to the One who created them (and us). The obvious lesson here is God’s forgiving nature. Look one step further, and it’s about how we’re often less inclined to forgive ourselves than God is to forgive us.

But as I consider this dynamic with Lizzy, one that’s become a daily occurrence, something else is coming forward. It’s chiefly about the differences in the way God (and, I expect, Lizzy) experiences time.

If we were so inclined, we could understand our lives as a cycle of failure and redemption. We somehow fall short, then we seek forgiveness. This makes sense when we interact with other people. If I say something unkind to my friend, and then go to him seeking forgiveness, he proceeds to forgive me. A, then B, then C.

But when I go to Lizzy, seeking forgiveness, I find that I am already forgiven. You see, in general Lizzy does not experience her life in the same cycle of failure and redemption. When I fall short with Lizzy, forgiveness is there by default. Perhaps this has something to do with the kind of in-the-moment consciousness Lizzy uses to engage with the world around her. In this moment, and all moments, I am forgiven.

Could it be that the same is true of God? When we fall short and subsequently seek forgiveness, I think it has more to do with what’s going on in our hearts than what’s going on with God. God, I think, has already forgiven us. Because God is always forgiving us. Or maybe God is never NOT forgiving us. Perhaps a better way to think of forgiveness is “reconciliation.” God is constantly and relentlessly working to reconcile us to God’s self.

As hard as I am working to describe this, the true nature of God’s forgiveness probably transcends our capacity to understand, which is probably why it’s so hard for us to embrace it for ourselves. What would it be like if we could participate in this constant, relentless reconciliation? Offering ourselves grace by default, and forgiving ourselves not because we want to be free of the debt of sin but as a means to reconcile ourselves to the Creator?

I’m not sure. But I think if we could work towards an understanding of forgiveness that looked more like a way of being, rather than a process of doing, the world would probably be a little more cuddly.

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

06.22.16 – Insights from Katherine Halterman

11137089_1081631928519846_3575213886995040766_nKatherine Halterman will be a sophomore at the University of Denver, majoring in international studies. She is serving as the Global Impact Ministries intern this summer. She has two dogs and volunteers at Wayside Waifs, so she is pretty excited about the current sermon series!

I think the first thing that sticks out to me in today’s reading is, “They (His compassions) are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” It’s so comforting. God’s love is so unfaltering that no matter what we do, if we truly repent, we can always snap back to the Lord. He’s always there for us; always wholeheartedly devoted. No matter “my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall,” God is always loving me and wanting my attention.

I see what Pastor Adam meant when he said it felt odd to compare God to a dog, but I really am reminded of my dog! Anyone who owns a dog has done this–accidentally stepped on a paw or a tail. It’s instant remorse and panic after that innocent yelp, rushing to your sweet dog’s aid and whimpering how sorry you are. However, your dog has probably already forgiven you before you can even say that first “I’M SO SORRY!” By the next morning your furry friend is back to giving you puppy kisses until you wake up (earlier than planned, of course), and give them attention.

I think God is like that, too (not that He gives us puppy kisses). But before we even apologize God is already right back to loving us; in fact He never stopped. He’s enthusiastic to offer us His compassions, in the same way a dog always wants to love you and is quick to forgive.

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

06.21.16 – Insights from Ally Drummond

 Ally Drummond PictureAlly Drummond is currently serving as a Congregational Care intern at the Church of the Resurrection. She is a sophomore at the University of Missouri—Kansas City, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Family Studies. Ally loves exploring and experiencing all things Kansas City!

My family owns two dogs–one is a Great Dane and the other is a mastiff mix. Growing up, though, we had two Labrador Retrievers–a black one named Boo and a yellow one named Cameron. I remember one winter night where their love and loyalty for each other and the rest of the family was apparent to us all.

My family had just come home and immediately let the dogs out in the backyard. We have a pool in our backyard, and since it was winter, there was a black tarp covering the empty pool. A few minutes after letting the dogs outside we started to hear incessant barking. After not being able to tame the barking from inside the house, my Dad finally went outside and found Cameron running around the perimeter of the pool. Cameron was desperately trying to show him Boo had fallen into the pool, but Dad couldn’t see this right away because the dark winter  night sky and the black tarp camouflaged Boo. Even after my Dad realized what had happened and came to Boo’s aid, Cameron faithfully stayed next to her, crying for help and never abandoning Boo’s side until they were safely reunited, at which time they affectionately embraced one another. Dogs are able to model for us an unconditional love that we only find in the Lord. A kind of love that is never wavering and always present.

Both scripture passages from Psalm and Hebrews speak of this idea–God will never abandon us. I feel as if many Christians struggle to fully grasp the sort of faith He calls us to have in Him. In Psalm 13, David cries out to the Lord, because he realizes he can only overcome his downfalls by placing all his trust in the Lord. It takes courage to be as faithful in God as David is being. In Hebrews 13, we are being reminded that no amount of worldly possessions can replace or separate us from the steadfast love that God can provide. Both scriptures act as reminders for us to place all our faith in the Lord, because He will never abandon us.

How amazing is it that God loves us so relentlessly that He still calls us to be His children despite all we have done? No matter what pit we fall into, God will always be right by our side, calling us to reach out to Him. Just as Cameron desperately did as much as she could to save Boo from her fall, God will never stop pursuing us, despite all our faults and shortcomings. It’s nearly impossible to grasp that sort of unconditional love, but our call as Christians invites us to have faith in this steadfast love and pursuit, which we can only find in the Lord.

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

06.20.16 – Insights from Donna Karlen

dkarlengpsDonna Karlen serves in Communications at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, creating and managing social media content. (Some of this is taken from a post I wrote in 2014.)

I can’t help but smile just imagining God’s delight in creating all the beasts of the field, birds of the air and fishes of the sea.

Let’s say he created a horse or two first – beautiful animals, right? But then God thought, “Hmm – let’s put some stripes on the next one” and poof – a zebra! Or say God first made a giraffe with a regular ol’ neck and then decided to give it just a liiiittle stretch to create one of my favorite animals. And God just kept going: let’s put a pouch on a giant mouse, make a funny bird that can’t fly but swims like a fish, put some spots on a big kitty, add a beautiful tail here, a trunk there … It had to have been a really good time for God, Creator of Heaven and Earth! No wonder God rested after all that!

Of course all dog-lovers probably would agree that God may have done some of his best work when he came up with the noble dog. And even there God abundantly excelled. He didn’t just create a curly-haired poodle and stop there. He came up with the smooshed-face bulldog, a shaggy sheep dog, the hot dog-shaped dachshund, a joyful golden retriever – and my personal favorites: the endless combinations we lovingly call mutts.

Next weekend we’re having an animal blessing and you’re invited to bring your dogs, cats, hamsters, etc. – even snakes – to be prayed for (please put dogs on leashes and cats, hamsters, etc. and especially snakes in carriers – and PLEASE do not leave any pet in your car before, during or after the event!) And if you’ve ever lost a beloved pet, bring a picture or a memory and come join us.

Visit for more information about this ministry.

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