Monthly Archives: October 2016

10.31.16 – Insights from Roberta Lyle

Roberta_LyleRoberta Lyle has been on the Resurrection staff since 2006. She serves as the Program Director for Local Impact Ministries, concentrating on Education, Life Skills and Youth Focused Ministries.

Life isn’t fair. We learn that from an early age and pass this lesson along to our children. But still, when someone I trusted betrayed me it left me shocked and shaken. I wanted my voice to be heard so that the situation could be addressed and remedied. I wanted to go back in time and take a different path. I wanted to work things out with the person who hurt me. But mainly I felt a lot of bitterness towards the person who wronged me and anxiety about how the situation would be resolved.

Eventually after many months of uncertainty, the situation was resolved. Still, it took me many more months of prayer and processing to let go of the anger and bitterness. Several years ago I read a quote from advice columnist Ann Landers that “holding grudges is like letting someone live rent free in your head.” I realized that for my own good I had to get past the pain. My anger still simmered, but I started praying for the person who hurt me, and asked God to work in my heart as well. I leaned on my faith and remembered that I am the recipient of boundless grace, called to forgive others as I have been forgiven. I realized that we are all broken people capable of causing great hurt to others when we act out of that brokenness. I remembered the ways God had sustained me during the times when I couldn’t see an end to my pain and knew that I had grown and become stronger for the experience.

Forgiveness isn’t easy, no matter how big or small the wrong. I still feel sadness for what happened, and will never be best friends with the person who caused my pain. Ultimately, though, forgiveness allowed me to let go of the past and reclaim peace and joy.

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

10.29.16 – Insights from Rev. Penny Ellwood

PennyEllwoodGPSRev. Penny Ellwood is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection Blue Springs.

God loves even those who seem unlovable. This is the radical nature of God. Jesus saw in every man, woman and child a child of God. He made it a habit to go out of his way to engage people that others would see as unlovable, and he calls us to do the same.

I read a great article last week in the Washington Post by Eli Saslow that I shared with our congregation on Sunday. I’ve summarized the story from this Washington Post article. (You may click here to read the full article.)

Derek Black is the son of a former Alabama Klan leader who runs the largest racist internet forum. He raised Derek to believe in white supremacy. As a teen, Derek added a children’s page that promoted white supremacist values to his father’s website. He was interviewed about this hate speech on Nickelodeon, daytime talk shows, HBO and in USA Today. The white nationalists began to see him as the heir apparent to their cause.

Derek chose to attend a liberal college in Florida with a great history program, which he wanted to study. After attending diversity training at the start of school year, he decided it best to keep his background quiet. He would still slip away to tape his daily radio show, continuing to espouse his views and feature racist guests.

After one semester, Derek went to study in Germany. An upperclassman who had been researching terrorist groups stumbled across his face online. He sent a post to all the students on the college’s online forum,  “Derek Black: white supremacist, radio host…new college student??? How do we as a community respond?” By the time Derek returned to campus for the next semester, more than a thousand responses had been written to that post.

Derek asked to live off campus. Some of his former friends emailed to say they felt betrayed. Most students just gave him a wide berth.The posts motivated Derek to plan a conference for white nationalists in Tennessee. Another student saw this, and posted details on the forum.

Yet gradually another way of thinking began to emerge among the students. One realized that ostracizing Derek wouldn’t accomplish anything; another suggested they try to be activists seeking to change Derek’s mind. One of his acquaintances began reading the website and listening to his talk show. A month later he invited Derek to dinner.

This student, Matthew Stevenson, had started hosting weekly Shabbat dinners at his campus apartment shortly after enrolling. He was the only Orthodox Jew at the school, so he cooked for a small group of students at his apartment every Friday night. He drank from a kiddush cup and said the traditional Jewish prayers, but most of his guests were Christian, atheist, black or Hispanic. Matthew invited Derek to join this group knowing that Jews were one of the groups Derek wanted to see gone from America.

He decided his best chance to affect Derek was not to ignore him or confront him, but simply to include him. “Maybe he’d never spent time with a Jewish person before,” he thought. It was the only social invitation Derek had received since returning to campus, so he agreed to go. The Shabbat meals had sometimes included eight or 10 students, but only a few showed up this time. Matthew instructed his guests to try to treat him like anyone else.

That first meal, nobody mentioned white nationalism or the school’s forum. Derek was quiet and polite, and he came back the next week and then the next. After a few months he was a regular, and nobody felt all that threatened. The Shabbat group grew back to its original size. When Derek added to the conversation he came across as smart and curious, but mostly he listened to the diverse group at the dinners. Derek and Matthew also began hanging out occasionally, although they were still a bit suspicious of one another.

Eventually these Shabbat friends began to ask Derek about his views, challenging him to clarify his stance to the other students on campus. His final year at New College, Derek decided to respond to the other students on the college forum. In each draft he wrote, he found his ideology softening. The truth was he was now confused–his Shabbat friends were dismantling his former logic. He didn’t know what he believed anymore.

During that summer he continued to process. He finally resolved that he could no longer support a movement that tells you who you can or can’t be friends with, that requires you to think of people from other races in a certain suspicious way. Derek finally wrote a public apology for the damage he’d done to people of color, people of Jewish descent, or activists working for opportunity and fairness for all. He emailed it to an organization that had been a former adversary. Since then he has distanced himself from his past, immersed himself in travel in order to experience different cultures and is trying to interact with others without prejudice or judgment.

Matthew Stevenson, despite his fears, invited Derek into a relationship that was instrumental in changing the trajectory of Derek’s life. Who knows the full effect of removing this “heir apparent” from the white nationalists’ hate-filled, oppressive cause? Galatians 6:1 reminds us that if someone else has wronged you, be careful not to accuse or attack them, but seek to restore them in a spirit of gentleness, remembering that you, too, are a sinner.

Every person is important and valuable to God. Jesus never avoided anyone, but willingly met those we might avoid and ignore. Who are the people in your life you may be avoiding? God invites us to get comfortable in our discomfort and reach across the lines that divide us. The types of people we avoid and ignore may by the very ones God is most interested in reaching out through us to befriend and love.

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

10.28.16 – 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.

Sometimes, for me, reading the Bible is reading an epic story of God interacting with humans. Other times it reads like a manifesto for how to live a good life. Today’s Scripture in the GPS spoke strongly to me as a manifesto for the good life.

Here is a list of instructions I pulled from this section of Paul’s letter to the Colossians:

  • don’t lie
  • put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience
  • be tolerant
  • forgive
  • put on love
  • have a peaceful heart
  • be thankful
  • teach and warn with wisdom
  • sing with gratitude

I have a project for you. Create something today with these instructions in your own words. Pick the things in this list that resonate with you the most. Or choose one that you really want to be intentional about this week.

Create something to remind you of how you can achieve a good life for yourself and be a blessing to those you encounter. You could create a personal manifesto to live by, a family mission statement, a morning prayer, a daily checklist in your calendar, a visual reminder you post at your desk, or a bedtime review of the day. You could copy and paste this list to the home screen on your computer or phone, or handwrite a few of these points on a post it and stick it on your mirror. The possibilities are endless.

I would love to see what you come up with, and which of these resonate with you the most. Send a quick email to and share your insights with me! Sending you love and creativity toward living fully into the good life!

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

10.27.16 – Insights from Chris Abel

Chris Abel is the Young Adult Pastor at The Church of the Resurrection’s Leawood location. Find out more about Chris and 20/30 Young Adults at

I was standing in front of a hundred teenagers. My stomach was in knots and my voice quivered as I spoke. I wasn’t a pastor, not yet, but I was a youth group volunteer who had been asked to preach. I’m not sure what the Youth Director saw in me, but for some reason I had this chance.

I will never forget this moment. See, it was in the middle of this amateur sermon when I realized I knew I was supposed to do this. I was in my element. I was in the groove. It just felt right.

There’s a term in positive psychology called “flow.” It’s that moment when you face a challenge and you rise up to meet it and you are focused and energized and happy. Maybe you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like you were meant to do this.

I share this because our scripture reading from Romans 12 talks about this exact concept.

“If your gift is service, devote yourself to serving. If your gift is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If your gift is encouragement, devote yourself to encouraging. The one giving should do it with no strings attached. The leader should lead with passion. The one showing mercy should be cheerful.” –Romans 12:7-8 CEB

See, you have a gift. You have something to offer the world. And there is a place of “flow” for you—a place where your puzzle piece fits.

So often what we do is we take our gifts and we twist them to serve us instead of others. Sometimes we sell out to the man, or simply need to make a living. Sometimes we hold back our lives. Perhaps we’re burnt out, afraid, or even plagued by self doubt.

Push through it.

There is a peace and a happiness that comes from finding your flow that almost nothing else in life can compare to.

Maybe you need to hear this today: Your gifts are meant to be used. God actually designed you with this strange itch that can only be scratched when you are generous of yourself! Frederick Buechner put it this way: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” So if you’re going to create, create for the sake of the world. And if you’re going to dream, dream about the Kingdom. And if you’re going to work, work as if it’s for the Lord.

It’s not a demand. It’s a recipe for purpose.

And so I pray that you find the unique joy that comes when you find a way to be generous with your life. I pray you find your flow. The world needs it.

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

10.26.16 – Insights from Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar is the Program Director for Financial Care. She is married, has three great kids and three perfect grandchildren whom she loves spending time with, and she enjoys writing and photography.

I’m a Baby Boomer, which means I was brought up by parents and grandparents who lived through the Great Depression, and, since I’m from Oklahoma, the Dust Bowl. They told a lot of stories about those days. You should be really glad right now that nowhere in this week’s GPS does it mention grasshoppers, because I know a very gruesome story about a swarm of grasshoppers. It was one of my grandmother’s favorites.

There is another one of her favorite Depression/Dust Bowl stories, that does fit today’s scripture: “Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver. God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8).

In those hard times, there were families in Oklahoma and Kansas and other parts of the country literally starving because crops had been ruined by drought and the economy had failed. There were few jobs, and even families who were lucky enough to have someone bringing in some money still found it difficult to put food on the table consistently and as plentifully as they had been used to. Every day, men would come to the back fence and ask if they could do some chore in exchange for some food for themselves or their families. My grandmother said, “It was terrible, because sometimes I didn’t have much to give. I might have part of a loaf of bread, or one tomato from the garden. I had a hungry husband and three growing boys. All the neighbors were in the same situation, and we all felt bad every day.”

The women in the neighborhood, and in my grandmother’s church circle, began talking about this situation, and as they talked, they started wondering what it would look like if they all brought the very most they could to one place and tried make meals from it. They started bringing what they could to the church. Vegetables from the garden, bread, biscuits (stale or fresh), an egg or two, a cup of milk. No one had money for sugar, but some families kept bees and brought honey. My grandfather and many of the other men often hunted and fished to put meat on the table, and so an extra rabbit or squirrel or raccoon (this is where the grandchildren say “ewwwwwww…!”) or fish would appear. Even the bones were valuable for making soup stock. The women searched their pantries and cellars for jars of fruit and vegetables that had been “put up” in better years.

They would cook up pots of soup, and use stale bread and biscuits to make bread pudding and other “stretchers” and put together meals to take home and have ready for the men who came to the back fence. Sometimes they suspected that their own friends and neighbors needed those meals for themselves – that the tomato or soup bone they brought might have been all they had. Some families came to help cook, but had nothing to bring. No one asked who brought what. They just put it all together, figured out what they could make from it and cooked. Then they divided it up and sent it home. This went on for as long as the need presented itself. Families participated as they could.

My grandmother told us that the very best part of all of this was the joy all the families took in providing what they could and sharing it. “In some ways, it was the happiest time in our church,” she said. “Those cooking days were like a party.”

God does love when we give cheerfully, and I believe God loves it when we give creatively – when we look at what we have and then make a plan for sharing it, trusting in God’s grace to provide what we need.

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

10.25.16 – 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.

In today’s passage (2 Peter 1:3-8), Peter sets up a hierarchy of holiness for us to aspire to:

  1. Faith
  2. Moral Excellence
  3. Knowledge
  4. Self Control
  5. Endurance
  6. Godliness
  7. Affection for Others
  8. Love

The implication is that we have to master one before moving onto the next. Well, maybe not totally master it, but at least have a good handle on it. The idea is that these things build on each other, but also become more important as we move up the scale. So having faith is great and very foundational, but for us to reach our full potential, we have to master these things until we can start mastering love.

The problem I see far too often is that a lot of Christians are content to stop after step 2. There’s a lot of ugly rhetoric (particularly from many politically-minded believers on both sides) around getting everyone to behave with more moral excellence. Christians, as a group, seem to have taken on the responsibility of enforcing moral excellence in our country. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing–so long as it’s then followed by knowledge, self control, and all the rest.

Imagine if Christians were as zealous about inspiring others toward knowledge and self control as they were toward moral excellence. How would our country and the world be different if we were constantly pushing for these things? Now imagine if the ultimate goal Christians had was increasing affection for others and love in the world around us. What if our end goals, as a group, were acceptance and understanding?

If we changed our goals and agendas according to Peter’s hierarchy, I think the world would look different; but I think the political discussions I’m seeing daily on my social media feeds would look very different. We’re not likely to be done with political discussions, or any tough discussions, any time soon, so remember to add to these conversations knowledge, then self control, then everything up until our conversations are overflowing with love. It’s only then that we’ll see our true potential in chasing after God, and others will see it too.

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

10.24.16 – Insight from Sam Johnson

Sam Johnson is currently serving as the High School Program Director for Rezlife Student Ministries. She’s been a congregant at Church of the Resurrection for 9 years and loves serving students and families. She also really loves waffles.

As seen in the book of Matthew, a legal expert approaches Jesus and asks Him, “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” 

We teach these verses to kids at a young age. As a youth minister, I find myself using this Scripture from Matthew to teach students how we should love others. Though these verses are spoken frequently in the church, as human beings we tend to over-complicate their meaning.

It’s easy to say, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but the commandment becomes messy when we begin to ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbor?”

When I find myself over-complicating the idea of loving others, I ask myself, “Who is my neighbor today?” The answer isn’t that complicated. The answer is that everyone is my neighbor–those who are known and unknown to me are my neighbors all day and every day.

So, let me show you who my neighbor is today:
–My neighbor is the dad next door who needs a last minute babysitter, even though I already have plans.
–My neighbor is the mom at the grocery store with the crying infant who needs help putting her groceries on the belt.
–My neighbor is that person on the highway who cuts me off without using their blinker.
–My neighbor is my friend whose brother won’t be home for Thanksgiving this year.
–My neighbor is my family member to whom I need to apologize after all these years.

Though the Great Commandment has a tendency to get messy in our every day lives, Jesus doesn’t want us to over-complicate the simplicity of loving someone else without hesitation. One of the keys to the “Good Life” is loving your neighbor in remarkable, unwarranted ways.

So, who is your neighbor today? Whoever they are, love them with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment.

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

10.22.16 – Insight From Michelle Kirby

Michelle-Kirby-GPS Michelle Kirby is Resurrection’s Associate Director of Discipleship Ministries. She is co-author of the Journey 101 Course, provides shared leadership in the Adult Discipleship ministry and has been a member of Resurrection since 1998.

“It doesn’t matter.” We hear this common phrase used every day. “Would you like the red one or the green one?”–“It doesn’t matter.” “Do you want to meet at 9 or 10?”–”It doesn’t matter.”

This response isn’t a big deal when we’re referring to inconsequential things. However, in today’s reading I was struck by how this phrase is of ultimate consequence when applied to people. People matter. And people especially matter to God.

I’ve been in a number of conversations recently where people have shared with me some really painful things from their lives. Accounts of abuse, betrayal, financial challenges, and more.

As one woman was sharing her painful story with me she said that she felt invisible—that it didn’t matter what happened to her because she didn’t matter. It hurts my heart to hear their stories. She along with others are being robbed of their true identity and worth.

The bad news is that there are broken people in the world who in turn hurt others, attempting to try and break them as well. There are imposters who appear to be a friend or advocate, but are so caught up in their own interests and lives they only have room for themselves. They aren’t invested in anything that doesn’t bring attention to themselves or elevate their own status.

He’s only a hired hand and the sheep don’t matter to him. 

But this same passage also brings good news. Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd, as one who lays down his life for the sheep.  He says that we can know him and that he definitely knows us. He knows the source of our hurts and our brokenness, our feelings of guilt, shame and fear. How far will Jesus go to restore lives that have been shattered by lies and abuse? How do we know we really matter to him? Jesus says, “I give up my life for the sheep.”

In speaking with those who have shared their stories with me, and as I remember my own life’s challenges, it’s important to see the truth. The image of who we are can often be distorted by others or by ourselves, but Jesus re-centers and corrects that vision, enabling and empowering us to live life to the fullest.

You matter to God.

The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.

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

10.21.16 – Insight 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.

I love today’s scene of John & James angling for cushy assignments to be at the right/left hand of Jesus, because it captures our human nature so well.  (Note: Today’s passage from Matthew cites the request coming from Salome, the Mother of John & James.   In Mark’s recounting John & James make the request.  So, for the sake of simplicity we’ll assume the whole clan was of the same mindset.)  Let’s take a closer look.

John & James were believed to have originally been followers of John the Baptist.  When JtB declares that Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” they begin to listen to Jesus’ teachings.  A short time later, John & James leave their Dad, Zebedee, literally sitting in the fishing boat to answer Jesus’ call.  Jesus nicknames the brothers, “Sons of Thunder.”

How cool would it be to have Jesus give you a nickname?  Talk about the ultimate honor.  And “Sons of Thunder” is an awesome nickname – much better than the nickname, “Naked Dasher” for the young disciple fleeing the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:51-52).  (Ahem.  This “nickname” might need some verification – Editor.)

Aside: I like the response of the Mother with 3 toddlers when asked if she had a nickname.  She said, “Yes.  ‘Mom,’ which is short for ‘Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom.’”  Or the story of President Eisenhower’s Mother, who wanted a name for her son that couldn’t be shortened into a nickname like his older brothers, & thus selected “Dwight.”  Much to her chagrin, he became popularly known as “Ike.”

Upon our initial review of John & James’ request, we, too, might join the other Disciples in saying, “Tsk, Tsk.” (Or in the original Greek ΤΣΚ, ΤΣΚ.)  But before we jump to any conclusions, I would submit there are some off-setting aspects we might be overlooking.

John & James have been part of Jesus’ traveling ministry for some time.  During their trudging around on dusty highways & byways it shouldn’t be too surprising that their minds begin to wonder what the end-game might look like.  Being a planner by nature, this makes perfect sense to me.

Interestingly, John & James are not issuing an ultimatum, i.e., we won’t continue as Your Disciples unless our demands are met.  It is already a given that they will continue to be His followers, just asking for some extra consideration. Also, note the assumption built into John & James’ request.  They are truly believers that Jesus will indeed ascend to the throne as the King of Kings.  In fact, their belief is so strong they are plotting & planning the blueprint of the palace.  There is no wavering faith for them.

But, we also know that our friends are missing the bigger picture.  Yes, Jesus is the King of Kings, but following Him isn’t the path to self-glorification or bloated job titles or corner offices.  Rather following Him comes with a great burden to make God’s Kingdom a reality here on earth.  (Note: John & James’ selfless & sacrificial ministry recorded in the Gospels confirms that they indeed got “it” later on.)

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with an older friend who had become CEO of a small manufacturing plant.  We were joking about how cool it was to have the nice office, the convenient parking spot, & 1st dibs on the Krispy Kremes in the break room.  But he also noted that being boss was a huge obligation.  “When I walk through the parking lot, I see cars with worn tires, old, beat-up, pickup trucks, & cars with booster-seats in them.  It reminds me that all of these folks are relying on me to keep this company thriving.  It isn’t just some reward.  It’s a humbling responsibility.”

So, perhaps this morning we should pause & revel in the honor of being one of Jesus’ beloved Disciples, but know that with this distinction comes the challenge of serving Him & His children to the best of our abilities this day forward.

Who knows?  Maybe Jesus will have a cool nickname for us as well!

(One second.  I’m looking up how to say, “Long Winded” in Greek – Editor.  Sigh -DL.)

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

10.20.16 – Insights from Janelle Gregory

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

When it comes to prioritizing what is most important to us in life, I think we often think of our priorities in portions. Very simply, we might divide our lives into areas like family, self, work, hobbies, God, etc.

I’ve found myself struggling with how big the God-sized piece of the pie chart is. I feel like in order to be a good Christian, it must be the biggest piece of the pie. Maybe like this:


If my relationship with God doesn’t make up the majority of my life, then I must not be faithful.

In this kind of thinking, there have to be offsets. There is only so much room in the pie. If God is getting bigger, that means my family is getting smaller, my work is getting smaller, etc. It seems very difficult to maintain a big enough God-sized piece to be a dedicated believer. I don’t know what your calendar looks like, but this just doesn’t seem realistic when you’re helping with homework, paying the bills, supporting your spouse, or meeting that deadline at work. Ugh. This thinking just sets us up for failure.

But what if we switched up how we did this priority assessment? What if it wasn’t a pie chart, but rather a group of stacked columns identifying how much God is in all aspects of our lives?

life-chart-3I recognize that my marriage is better when I’m allowing more God in it. My job goes better when I’m allowing more God in it. My friendships are better when I allow more God in them. It’s not a matter of choosing God over other aspects of my life, but how much God I’m infusing into all aspects of my life. We do this through praying, giving, forgiving, and all other ways that allow God to work in and through us.

Our challenge is to recognize what God does in each portion of our life. And when we do, we see the joy and wholeness He weaves through all of those. Knowing that, we find ways to notch that up, allowing God to be more fully revealed in all that we do and through all those we encounter.

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