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God loves “every ethnic group,” “all generations”

September 15, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Ephesians 3:14-21


(This week we share videos highlighting ways members of the Resurrection family have shared faith. Today Marissa Denton and Dan Stepp tell us about an unexpected yet highly meaningful relationship that has blessed them both.)

14 This is why I kneel before the Father. 15 Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. 16 I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. 17 I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, 18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. 19 I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.
20 Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; 21 glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul wrote letters to various churches all through the Mediterranean world. These letters give us a rich record of many of his prayers, and what those prayers showed about his understanding of God’s kingdom. In this prayer for Christians in the city of Ephesus, the apostle asked lyrically that the Holy Spirit would give all believers the power to grasp the vastness of God’s love, a love that extends beyond all the ethnic and generational boundaries that humans too often create.

  • Paradoxes bother most of us, but Paul’s faith boldly embraced the paradoxes of God’s world rather than avoiding them. Here he prayed that all believers would be able “to know this love that is beyond knowledge.” How have you been able to “know” God’s love even though it reaches beyond the bounds of human logic and intellectual expression? How can your heart and soul know things that stretch your mind to its limits?
  • The apostle prayed that the Holy Spirit in believers’ hearts would give them “the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth.” His words showed that God’s love reaches facets of life even our human goodwill struggles with. In his day, that was mainly the gulf between Jews and Gentiles (cf. Ephesians 2:11-14). Too many younger people today think Christianity mainly divides people. How can you show the power of God’s love to overcome divisions, not create them?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, every day you are at work in my world, in my neighborhood, and in my life. Keep me in tune with what you are doing—help me to live beyond myself through your awesome power. Amen.

GPS Insights

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe and his wife, Doris, first met in a Resurrection Single Adult Sunday School class in 1997 and were married in what is now the Student Center. They are empty nesters with 2 college-aged sons, Matthew and Jacob. Darren serves as a Couples Small Group co-leader & Men's Group Leader, while volunteering in a variety of other capacities at Resurrection.

(Our apologies if a flurry of tech problems kept you from seeing Janelle Gregory's Insights blog yesterday. Click here if you'd like to see her excellent thoughts from yesterday.)

While pondering the emphasis of today’s passage that God loves believers of all demographics, I began reminiscing about when I started attending Resurrection as a single guy back in 1997.

Aside: A friend was fondly reminiscing about his decade managing a tire store – they were some
Goodyears.

Post college graduation, I had lived in Birmingham, Alabama & Houston, Texas. It was easy to find fantastic worship experiences, but very challenging to find a church home that offered any ministries geared for Single Adults. As a friend lamented, “It’s odd. Churches seem to be all-in through high school graduation. But after that, they don’t acknowledge my college graduation & it’s like they don’t expect me to show up again until I’m married & have kids.”

Returning to Kansas City in May 1997, I started attending Resurrection on the recommendation of a fraternity brother. There was one Single Adult Sunday School class that met in a small office in the annex. Initially, there was typically 6-8 of us attending each week, discussing a wide variety of authors like Philip Yancey, Richard Foster, & Pastor Adam’s VHS sermons such as “The 10 Habits of Highly Effective Christians.”

In August, Andrea Smisek led 10 of us on an excursion to Oklahoma City to participate in the 1st Single Adult Mission trip. We drove down on Friday evening & slept in sleeping bags on a church floor. We spent the day Saturday re-roofing a house, cleaned up at a local YMCA, & then took part in a barbeque/ice cream social/dance held by our host church. We drove back to Kansas City on Sunday.

This simple outing transformed our group from just being a group of loosely connected single adults to becoming a community of friends in Christ. Our attendance quickly increased to almost 40 folks each week, to the point where our facilitators would have to stand in the doorway to speak to half the class in the office & the rest of the class lining the hallway with chairs. Within a few months, we would split into 4 different classes each Sunday morning.

Diane (Hunter) Robertson joined the staff & began to emphasize outreach. We created a Single Adult Leadership Team (S.A.L.T.) to provide a faster feedback loop & allow singles to take ownership of the group. (A Jewish friend of mine wasn’t too keen on my idea that his synagogue could copy our template for their singles group & call it Kosher S.A.L.T.)

We wanted to create the premier Single Adult Ministry for Kansas City. (Why let bars & restaurants monopolize the market for singles to network?) We planned lunch gatherings after worship each Sunday, we coordinated groups to listen to concerts & watch movies, we hosted trips for skiing, hiking, & rafting, & planned watch parties for Chiefs’ games. (This community also provided a ready group of friends who could alleviate the pressure of the intimidating “Bring a Guest to the Corporate Christmas Party” or the dreaded “Plus 1” to that cousin’s wedding.)

We then kicked off the Tuesday Night COR Community to supplement our Sunday morning gatherings. These evenings started with worship with a chorus of single adults led by Lance Winkler, a brief Biblical message, then a wide variety of small group classes that covered topics ranging from Cooking for One, Financial Planning, Photography, Experiencing God, Safety & Self Defense, Health & Wellness, a Guide to Prayer, Love Languages, & a Dating Forum. We averaged crowds of around 120-140 singles each week as we strove to become a church that was serious about single adults of all ages finding a safe community to empower their walk with God.

I am forever grateful for Resurrection’s mission to reach believers of all demographic groups. I realize now that it takes a unique church that focuses on Single Adults in addition to all of the other worthy age groups. Today, when even the Surgeon General is issuing reports about the health crisis of loneliness & isolation, it seems more vital than ever that churches step into the void & provide an opportunity for Single Adults to network & create a community.

Full Disclosure: I met my wife, Doris, in the Sunday morning Single Adult Bible Study at Resurrection.  Doris walked into our cramped classroom & sat down beside me. I made a very clever quip &, much to my amazement, she didn’t stare at me & then get up to move to another seat. It was only later that I learned that she was deaf in that ear. (Doris hears only half of what you say? Huh. So, that’s her secret–Editor.) 

Here’s a picture of a brochure & program from yesteryear:

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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