Monthly Archives: December 2011

Saturday 12.31.11 Insight from Jason Huwe

Jason Huwe is Resurrection’s minister for 20-Somethings and College Life.  He has attended Resurrection since 2007 and has been on staff about 2 years.  He enjoys ping pong, Dr. Pepper and cheering on his Nebraska Cornhuskers.

New Year’s is the season of renewal, optimism and (of course) resolutions. For a long time, I avoided making resolutions for the new year. I didn’t have anything against them, but I never knew anyone who actually kept their resolve past Easter, let alone the entire year.

It’s unfortunate, but this pattern can often replay itself year after year, decade after decade. This year, I will lose the weight. This year, I will get control of my money. This year, I will try to better myself. It’s a good thing to want to be a better person and there is no shortage of resources trying to help you (have you visited the self help section of a bookstore?). Sometimes, the books help. Other times, not so much.

Is there some secret to bettering myself? There is one book that you won’t find in the self-help section that I’d recommend for this year. Unfortunately, it’s quite long and finishing it in a year would be a hefty resolution in itself (hint: it’s the Bible), so I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version.

It turns out that people have been trying self-help for centuries. A long, long time ago, the Jews found an amazing life coach name Yahweh who told them that by simply doing things his way, they would find peace and contentment. They tried over and over again to let Yahweh guide their lives, but so often they found themselves wanting the control back. Yahweh even sent the people His direct line (Jesus) so they could call him anytime, but they still continued to resist doing things his way.

You see, that’s the trick with self-help. What we really need is help. We insist on putting the ‘self’ in there so we can keep a measure of control. The paradox that Christians face is that self-help is only truly achieved when we get rid of the ‘self’ and let God take control of our lives. It isn’t easy and can actually cause some unusual feelings in your stomach. Say this to yourself: God, I want you to take control of my life even if that means making less money. God, I want you to take control of my life even if I remain single forever. God, I want you to take control of my life even if I have to move away from my friends and family. Awkward, isn’t it?

But remember what we really need: help. It is not easy to give up control. It starts like many things do, one day at a time. As we start giving God control, we begin to release our fears of the unknown and trust that God’s plan is best. When we give Him control, we start to realize that He won’t let us down. We start to understand that there are more fulfilling things than more money, success and stuff. We begin using our gifts for God’s glory and begin finding our purpose in the world. This is something worth resolving to do: giving up the control. Day by day. Little by little.

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

Friday 12.30.11 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 3rd grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

At Resurrection’s Rummage Sale last year I picked up The Book of Lists, a fun book of trivial information. They asked several noted historians, “what would be 10 historical events you would have liked to have witnessed first hand?”

Considering Biblical events, I think my list would have include the glory of the resurrection, the power of Moses parting the Red Sea, and the poignancy of today’s seemingly simple scene.

I think Jesus’ baptism makes such a connection for me, because it isn’t just an event from 2,000 years ago; it is an experience that we can witness & participate in for ourselves even today.

I recall 9 & 11 years ago, being a teary-eyed Dad when our 2 sons were baptized by Pastor Adam in what is now the Student Center; rushing around beforehand trying to find another dress shirt without the distinct scent of spit-up, making sure grandparents & aunts/uncles could locate the sanctuary for the 8:00 service, and hoping that nothing too memorable occurs. (“Remember when that Lippe boy was baptized? Oh my. Yes. I. Do.”)

I marvel at God’s powerful & amazingly succinct statement from Mark & Luke’s telling of today’s scene, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Needless to say, if there had been an open microphone available to me years ago, the organist, ala the Oscars, would have had to play me off the chancel area.

However, while the setting of today’s Scripture still gives me goose bumps, it also prompts a puzzling question: Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Let’s consider a few possible explanations.

Aside: Sometimes we get caught up in debating the proper age for baptism. I recall my Grandmother saying that, “Any time someone is baptized; it is always the perfect time.”

First, we know that baptism is very important to Jesus. (Recall He charges His followers to go & baptize in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit.) So it would make sense that He might want to provide an example, like praying, for us to follow.

Secondly, we recognize that baptism is an outward sign of cleansing us from sin & regeneration in a new life. What the water does outside the body, the Holy Spirit does inside through His grace. However, Jesus didn’t need this redemption from a broken life. On the other hand, Jesus would later become our substitute/stand-in as our Redeemer. So perhaps through His baptism, Jesus is identifying Himself with all humanity & our sin.

Finally, we realize that baptism is an outward sign marking our profession of faith. It sets us apart from others; we (or our parents on our behalf) are now formally declaring that we desire to be members of the church family. Likewise the congregation confirms that we are welcomed into the church and that they will do all that they can to nurture our faith.

In our scene, Jesus, by submitting to baptism, is declaring He is ready to begin His ministry. God then affirms that Jesus is His Son & confirms that He is, indeed, righteous & prepared to fulfill God’s calling.

As we begin to mark the New Year, perhaps we could look to the sacrament of baptism to rededicate our life to Christ for the coming year, seeking to learn more about Him, to open our hearts to Him, and to serve as His hands.

You know, that reminds me of an old preacher story. (I think I hear organ music – Editor.)

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

Thursday 12.29.11 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

I grew up in southwest, KS, in a town called Garden City. I attended a large Methodist church that sat on one of the biggest intersections in town. It is a pretty big building for the size of the town, and this is where I went every Sunday and at least one time during the week. And all the time that I went there, I kept an eye on a little, white church across the street – the 2nd Baptist Church. As churches still struggle today, we struggled with racial diversity on Sunday mornings then as well. So as white people poured into the large, Methodist Church on one side of the street, our town’s small black population gathered at the 2nd Baptist on the other.

There was one time in my early 20’s that I was home, and one of my good friends and I decided that we would like to visit 2nd Baptist Church to see what it was all about.

So sure enough, on a Sunday morning, we walked into the church, and it didn’t take long before the pastor to come over to us. I expected that he might introduce himself, but he just looked at me and said “You’re a Baker (my maiden name). You’re definitely a Baker. Now which one do you belong to?” A little confused, I told him that I was Bryce’s daughter. He said, “I know your family. I knew your grandmother.”

And moments later when the church service started, he said to the congregation, “We have a very special guest with us today. Sitting right over here is the granddaughter of Sister Baker. Many of you will recall Sister Baker. She’s gone on home to be with the Lord. But you will recall that Sister Baker belonged to the Methodist church across the street. But on multiple occasions, she would go over there on a Sunday morning, and if she didn’t like the sermon, she would get up, walk over here and she would sit in this back pew right over here.”  At this point, I’m like, “Oh my gosh! Seriously?” I never knew this.  “Oh yes,” he continued, “Sister Baker used to sit back here and she used to ‘Amen!’ and ‘Hallelujah!’ with the rest of us. Oh yes. I remember Sister Baker. She was a great woman of God. So welcome her granddaughter this morning.”

Here I was in a church not knowing one person, but as soon as the service was over I had all of these people huddled around me telling me stories about my grandmother.  And it was this surreal moment because they were excited to talk to me, but the only way that they knew me was through my relationship with my grandmother.”

And I think that in considering the Lord as our Father, how it might be if someone were to introduce us in this kind of situation.

“This is Father God’s daughter.  You remember… Father God is the one that parted the Red Sea and freed the slaves of Israel. Father God who has pity on the orphans, the widows, the outcasts. Father God who performed and still performs miracle after miracle. Father God who sent His Son to the earth to show us His love for us. Father God who is just and merciful, and who reigns from heaven where we will all meet Him one day. This is His daughter!”

It’s a lot to take in.

I imagine that if most of us were asked to describe ourselves, we’d start with our occupation, perhaps our family, maybe our hobbies or where we’re from. This is how we see ourselves and expect that others see us. But could it be that our identity is much richer and truer than that? If we know Father God, then we know ourselves. We must own this truth and hold onto it tightly so that we might live each day with the reality that we are a son or daughter of Father God!

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

Wednesday 12.28.11 Insight from Angela LaVallie

Angela LaVallie is the Member Connection Program Director at The Church of the Resurrection. She provides oversight to our member connection efforts through the Connection Point, the Weekday Hospitality Team, Coffee With the Pastors, the New Member Team and our Spiritual Gifts Placement Team.

Although Jesus himself is not physically present to us today in the same way he was in the Gospels, we can still know him and, therefore, know the Father. I have come to know Jesus through time spent in prayer and time spent reading about him in the New Testament.

But one of the ways I feel I have come to know him best is through others. The first chapter of John tells us that Jesus is the light of the world. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells his followers, “You are the light of the world.”

Especially at this time of year when I get to spend time in my hometown, I look back over my life thus far and remember all the people who have shared Christ with me as I grew up and loved me unconditionally as he does. I have been blessed with two great church families in my life—first Union Christian Church in Terre Haute and now The Church of the Resurrection. Like many I have been blessed to know, I want to be the presence of Christ for others so that they, too, might know both the Father and the Son.

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

Tuesday 12.27.11 Insight from Rev. Anne Williams

Rev. Anne Williams is the Congregational Care pastor for members of the Resurrection family who have last names beginning with S-Z.

Every family has its quirks. Usually it takes seeing another family’s ways before we even think about our own, because they are so deeply imbedded within us. I remember when I ate at my best friend’s house for Christmas Eve dinner in third grade. She and her family had an authentic Italian spread on the table. Although it was delicious, it instantly made me miss my family because I just couldn’t see why anyone would want lasagna and garlic bread on Christmas Eve.

John’s reference to being “children of God” in this passage makes me wonder what traditions and quirks we receive when we join God’s family. Some of us have never known what it’s like to not be a part of God’s family and so those gifts are hard to identify. Others of us might feel like we’re new to the family and we’re still learning what everything means (this is a little like I feel when I’m with my in-laws…still learning the ropes). Either way, it’s worth thinking for a moment about how our lives are different because God has claimed us as God’s own.

My favorite things about knowing I am God’s daughter are –
1) the assurance that the broken world we live in does not have all the power,
2) the peace that passes all understanding in Christ Jesus,
3) the knowledge that I do not belong to anyone besides God, and
4) the reminder that God’s grace, provision, and care are wide enough to receive me.

My prayer is that you too will feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to acknowledge the blessings of being one of God’s beloved children. The welcome is wide!

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

Monday 12.26.11 Insight from Rev. Andrew Conard

Rev. Andrew Conard is a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, United Methodist and also Associate Pastor at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

Hearing the prologue to the Gospel according to John while the light of Christ enters the room is one of my favorite parts of Candlelight Christmas Eve at Resurrection. For a few moments, the light from the single candle is all that lights up the room.  This experience gives me a picture of John’s description of a light shining in the darkness.

As someone who helps plan and lead the Christmas Eve services this is a moment that I hope everything goes well. The drama of a single light entering the room could be disturbed a bit if, for some reason, that light went out. There are matches and a lighter available just in case and if the light does go out in the worship space, it is able to be relit quickly. The planning and preparation to make sure that there is a back up available illustrates for me the meaning and powerful reality that Jesus is more than just a good man, he is the Son of God.

The candlelight at Christmas Eve can be extinguished, but the light of the world – Jesus Christ can never be extinguished. Putting my faith in Christ means that I am trusting in a God that can never be overcome and I am living into a kingdom that that is sure and certain. John tells us that the light that comes into the world in Jesus Christ “shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it” (John 1:5, NIV). The certainty that God in Jesus Christ has overcome the powers of darkness gives me peace and strength.

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

Saturday 12.24.11 Insight from Brent Messick

Brent Messick is Resurrection’s Managing Executive Director of Operations.

I love this Scripture passage, because it reminds me of Christmas Eve services at The Church of the Resurrection. Adam Hamilton also dedicates a chapter of his book, The Journey, to this Scripture passage.

Mary is nine months pregnant getting ready to give birth to their son. Earlier, Mary and Joseph had been visited by an angel to tell them that their son will be born holy and will be called the Son of God. Sadly, Mary can’t have the delivery in her home town of Nazareth, because she and Joseph must travel to his home town, Bethlehem, to register for the Roman census.

I try to put myself in the shoes (or sandals) of Mary and Joseph on this journey. They have to take a 10-day journey on foot and on a donkey over 80 miles of very rough terrain. I assume they are travelling alone in the desert wilderness. While we don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, I also assume they are travelling during the winter months when the days are short and the nights are long. They might have travelled in the evening using candlelight in a lantern. I admire Mary and Joseph for their courage and obedience to God in taking this journey.

At the end of the Christmas Eve worship service, all of the lights in the Sanctuary are turned out and everyone is sitting in total darkness. Then, from the back of the Sanctuary, a single lit candle enters the room. We see the single light in the darkness as it is carried up to the front of the Sanctuary. Then, as Adam writes in his book, we pass the flame throughout the Sanctuary to smaller candles held by everyone. Eventually the entire Sanctuary is totally bathed in breath-taking candle light as everyone starts singing “Joy to the World.”

As I watch the single candle light being carried down the aisle in the Sanctuary, I am reminded of Mary and Joseph’s journey. I think about how God uses this poor, lonely, humble couple on a journey in the darkness. Their journey is filled with fear, anxiety, excitement and hope. This single light reaches its destination and is transformed into the light of the world. Jesus Christ, the Messiah, is born bringing light into the darkness.

Then I am reminded how God puts us all on a journey to bring light into the world. Joy to the world, indeed!!

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

Friday 12.23.11 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 3rd grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

Today’s powerful passage makes one wonder what the shepherds might have been thinking as they traveled to see the baby Jesus after hearing the Angel’s good news.

Shepherd – Alan:  The Messiah is born! It must be a dream. After all these years of waiting, our prayers have been answered. God is with us, indeed. 

Shepherd – Sam:  This is just so unbelievable. Why would God choose to announce this birth to us? I mean, wouldn’t you think He’d make this pronouncement to the Priests at the Temple, to the wealthy landowners, or to the leaders of Jerusalem? We are just shepherds. We are “nobodies.”

Alan:  Well, maybe our picture of what kind of people God blesses is wrong. Maybe we are too caught up in money & palaces & fancy jobs. Perhaps God loves us wherever we live, whatever we do for a living, or however much we make. We are all His children.

Sam:  Okay, but why would the Messiah be born in a manger? Seriously? He should be born in the Temple or in one of the great palaces on the hillside. He’s lying in a feeding trough – talk about a rough start to life. This little guy is definitely going to need our help.

Alan:  I agree. But you know, I think we are going to need His help even more. I mean my life hasn’t exactly turned out like I planned. I’ve made some mistakes & poor choices. I haven’t always been in sync with God. I sure didn’t dream of someday being a shepherd. Oh, I think we are the ones in desperate need of a Savior.

Sam:  What did you want to be?

Alan:  I dreamed of being a Rabbi. Can you imagine reading God’s Word any time you wanted? Talking about the Torah with friends & discussing the great stories of God? Oh to be able to worship God each week. That would have been awesome. Instead I’m out guarding the Temple’s sheep night & day, trying to protect them from wild animals, from dangerous crevices, and from thieves. I’m sick of being worried about the cost of some missing lamb. I’m getting tired of counting my sheep.

Sam:  Good one.

Alan:  Thanks.

Sam:  Hold on. What are we to bring the Messiah? We have nothing but our rod, staff, & sling. My scrip bag has just a little barley bread left. How can we go before our Messiah empty handed? We have to offer Him something.

Alan:  Let’s think. God knows our situation. He already knows we own nothing that is worthy to offer our Lord. Perhaps, as it is written, we are to give him all of our heart, soul, mind & strength.

Sam:  How do we do that?

Alan:  Maybe we can come into His presence, kneel down to pay honor to Him, and pray to God like our forefathers. We could humbly ask our Lord to come into our lives and make us anew.

Sam:  Awesome. By the way, I didn’t want to interrupt you since you were on a roll, but remember King David was a shepherd, too. So we aren’t the “nobodies” like most people think.

Alan:  You’re right. But even if society views us as “nobodies,” we know that God loves to turn “nobodies” into “somebodies.”

Sam:  Amen!

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

Thursday 12.22.11 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

Rev. Glen Shoup is the Congregational Care pastor for members of the Resurrection family who have last names beginning with A – C.

It’s telling that the One Whose birth was announced to (and attended by) folks on the lowest rung of society’s ladder, would repeatedly classify Himself in that same menial and unassuming role—I am the good Shepherd!  I am the One you can count on to give Myself away in service to you!

I remember growing up that there was this family who seemingly were always in need.  After worship services (my dad was a minister) they would often corner my dad and just try to monopolize him—usually about the same stuff they’d talked about numerous times before.  It frequently felt that they were as much in need of the attention they received as they were in need of actually dealing with the issues that were consuming them.  I recall one instance especially where it seemed (at least to me) that their actual needs were taking a back seat to their need for attention and I asked my dad “why don’t you just ignore them…you know that this is just about them getting your attention”.  And I’ll never forget my father’s response to his impatient teenage son: he said “son, you may be right—they might be just doing this so that they can get attention.  But there is probably no place else in their world where people actually pay attention to them and so if attention is what they need, then attention is what we will give them…because they are children of God too”.   Without ever explaining it in these terms, my dad was modeling (for his son and for those people) what it means to actually shepherd people.  My father was giving a picture of the way the Good Shepherd never turns His back on His sheep, no matter how repetitive or consuming our plea for attention and provision may be.  This promise to never ignore, but to always be present with (a promise captured in one of the names given to the baby born in Bethlehem—Emmanuel—God with us) and attentive to us seems (to me) to be at the heart of what Christ is promising in today’s text:  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (vs 11). 

Oh, there is no question that the promise found in today’s reading portends what will ultimately take place on Calvary’s cross; but there is also no question that the kind of self-giving Bethlehem’s baby would demonstrate on Golgotha is equally shown in the way that the Good Shepherd cares for and attends to His sheep.  A menial and unassuming role that is only embraced by the humble and always opposed by the proud.  The Christ of Christmas is indeed a friend Who has come to all people–especially people in low places!

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

Wednesday 12.21.11 Insight from Rev. Steven Blair

Rev. Steven Blair is the Congregational Care pastor of Resurrection’s Support Ministries.

God will tend his flock

WEDNESDAY 12.21.11   Isaiah 40:9-11

[Scripture Included Below]
Power.  Power!!
The most widespread definition of power that I have heard is “power is the ability to get what you want.” A person is typically considered powerful who is able to buy what they want, experience what they want, while avoiding what they do not want. In political systems, we talk about the power of the majority who are able to get the elected officials and bills that they want.  In family systems, power can be found in being able to choose everything from the restaurant to paint color, from who holds the remote control to who holds the budget.

 But is that the biblical understanding of power? 

 Look at the cross, I would have to say “No.”  If the cross is the ultimate sign of strength, and power must be viewed differently.  Power must not be viewed as a self serving force, and instead be connected with a self emptying force.

 Here is my alternative definition of power that I believe is crafted from the Scriptures. 

“Power is the ability to give what another person needs.”

 Power can be seen by the person putting money in the Salvation Army kettle.  Power can be seen in getting an elderly family member an hour of our time to listen to them, uninterrupted. 

God fits this definition of power.   Read today’s Scripture from Isaiah.  God’s power is defined by his ability to tend his flock to gather his lambs and to hold them close to his heart.  This is the power we ascribe to God when we call God “All powerful.”   God can give us what we need the most. 

 God is giving us the hope we need to know that light can pierce the darkness.

God is giving us the piece that says the forgiveness of our past sins is available.

 God is giving us the love which announces that we are accepted into his embrace.

God is giving us what we truly need.  For that reason, God is powerful. For that reason, we can rejoice. 

 In Christ,
Rev. Steven Blair

Pastor of Celebrate Recovery and Live Well: Emotional Wellness Ministry

** Live Well Ministry for people with Depression and Anxiety starts in January.  Register now at   

9 You who bring good news to Zion,
   go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
   lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
   say to the towns of Judah,
   “Here is your God!”
10 See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,
   and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
   and his recompense accompanies him.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
   He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
   he gently leads those that have young.

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