Monthly Archives: December 2012

Monday 12.31.12 Insight from Jeanna Repass

Jeanna Repass serves as the Kansas City Missions Program Director at Resurrection.

My Father’s Father was the Reverend John Orduna. He went home to heaven four years ago. He was a Pastor and a builder. He built his home, which my Grandmother Orduna still lives in today and he built his own church which sits in the lot next door to the home he built. In his final days, I took my children to Omaha to see him. He and my youngest son Christian had a bond instantly. Before we left, we gathered to pray and right before we walked out of the house, Christian paused by Grandpa’s chair and my Grandfather put his hand on Christian’s chest and said, “I sense that God has put something special inside of this one.”

At the time, I really did not think much of what my Grandfather said about Christian. I knew he was in his last days and that he may have been speaking nonsense or simply being kind to us as we left. But on the 3-hour ride home between Omaha and Overland Park my husband and I began to reflect on the visit with Grandpa. Kyle asked me to repeat to him what Grandpa had said. So I told him and expected my VERY practical and pragmatic husband to very practically tell me that Grandpa was delusional or getting confused in his final hours. But Kyle surprised me by saying that he thought it was awesome that Grandpa Orduna placed a blessing and prophesy on Christian before he died.

“Blessing and prophesy…say what?!?” OK – who are you and what did you do with my husband?

Christian will turn nine the day after tomorrow and to this point, he is a very normal 3rd grade boy. He has some great qualities and a very distinct personality, but to date, I can not say that I have seen the “something special” that God has put upon Christian as my Grandfather said. It’s not that I’m a doubting Thomas, it’s just that today, my little Christian is still potential yet unleashed. I can’t help thinking about Mary and Joseph in the temple in Jerusalem. Not only have they been visited by Angels who were full of information about their son including his name; but now a flesh and blood man at the end of his life comes up to them and places his hands on their child to bless the child and prophesy about him. At the time they ran into Simeon in the temple, Jesus was not walking on water yet. He was a normal Jewish baby they had to feed and care for. But he was also the savior of the world, a “light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of (God’s) people Israel.” Luke 2:32. Even though I can not see Christian’s future, I can have faith that God indeed has special plans for him – as He does for all of my children – as He does  for us all. Like Mary and Joseph, seeing is not believing, believing is seeing. In this new year – 2013 –  may we all see  the light of the world, choosing to walk by faith and not by sight. Amen.

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

Saturday 12.29.12 Insight from Darrell Holtz

Darrell Holtz serves as Program Director for Group Life Curriculum and Writing at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.

Ahh–Christmas! Glowing lights, sweet songs, an adorable baby nestled in his mother’s arms while cute sheep stand around and glorious angels sing carols!

At least, that’s what we today sell as Christmas. (I worked at Hallmark for over 18 years, so I have some first-hand experience of that.) But when we read the Bible stories about Jesus’ birth, and Jesus, a bit more closely, what we find in them is far more amazing and wonderful, but a good bit less adorable and cute, than the Christmas we sell today.

Today’s Scripture is, believe it or not, about what God was setting in motion at Jesus’ birth, at Christmas. “While we were still weak, at the right moment, Christ died for ungodly people….God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” At its heart, that was what Christmas was about–that was what Jesus’ whole life was about. Jesus was God, coming in person on the great, self-giving mission to rescue all of us, even before we knew we needed rescue.

That confronts me with two realities, both of which I struggle with:
1) I am an “ungodly” person, a “sinner.” No, I didn’t sleep in the gutter last night, or spend the evening losing my family’s food money at a casino. But as the promotion piece for our upcoming sermon series says, the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. It certainly cuts through mine. Jesus wasn’t a nice option for me–I desperately, personally, daily need what Jesus did for me.
2) The ugly, unpretty cross Jesus died on shows how much God loves me right along with the baby sleeping in the manger. It was all one seamless act of love, one life, death and resurrection telling me that God would go to any lengths to reach my heart, to redeem my life. I don’t always feel loveable; I don’t always feel loved. But that’s an internal problem with me–because what Jesus did for me, the way God indelibly showed God’s unfailing love for me, is always there.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. And I hope and pray that long after the toys have broken, the sweaters have gotten holes in them, and the jewelry has gotten tarnished and set aside in a box in your dresser, God’s love, shown in a manger, shown on a cross, keeps shining brightly in your heart.

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

Friday 12.28.12 Insight from Sarah Newberry

Sarah Newberry serves as the Worship Arts Leader at the West campus of The Church of the Resurrection. Sarah joined the church staff in March of this year, and was a volunteer with the Vibe service before that.

Before you continue on readings the GPS insight today, I have a challenge for you:

Stop. If you’re multi-tasking while reading this, put it on hold for 3 more minutes. You made it through a few minutes of the GPS thus far, I bet you can make it 3 more. You can do it!

Stopped? Good.

Now, whisper outloud (or in your head) the following:


   I want to know you. I don’t want to just talk about you to others; I want to be a part of what you’re doing. I want to be a part of your kingdom. Speak to me today. Help me to listen to you. I’m ready to listen, and I’m eager for your words.

 Now wait in silence for 1 minute. Breathe. Listen. Amen.


Are you really ready to listen? I’ll be honest; many times that I stop to read the GPS, I’m in the middle of something else; always trying to knock two birds out with one stone.  But that’s not the kind of ears, heart and mind that God seeks.

I grew up in school with a diagnosis of A.D.D. from age 8 through part of college, so “Sarah, LISTEN!” was something I heard quite a bit. I got pretty good at something I’d call “fake listening”, where I’m paying JUST enough attention that I could recite back about 85% of what the person was saying if they ever tried to call me out. This way, I covered my bases, but still was able to divide my attention where I wanted to. I’m sure that everyone reading this has NEVER done that, right?

 (Just a heads up, fake listening doesn’t bode well when you’re trying to hear from God. This is personal advice, because unfortunately, I’ve tried. Luckily, you can’t trick God into thinking you’re 85% listening.)

Joseph may not have been the most charismatic or popular guy on the block, but you can tell from the story we just read that he was listening to God’s instruction. And I don’t know about you, but there’s clearly a pattern of God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things, so why don’t we practice more active listening so that God can use us too?

I heard from somewhere, that to get yourself in the habit of talking to God and learning to listen to God (prayer can be just as much listening as it is talking),  that it can help to set yourself times throughout the day to just say

 “I’m checkin’ in, Lord.”

So, Challenge #2 : Set yourself up for success. Set yourself an alarm on your phone, 4-5 times a day this week. Mark it “Checkin’ In” or whatever cool, hip phrase you come up with. “Shout Out” or “Quiet Time”. Give yourself about 3-5 minutes, and pray. Listen. Really listen.

God is always speaking, whether it’s through people, nature, music, in the silence… and He’s always on the move; but if we’re too busy to stop, listen and react to what He’s doing, we’re missing out on the reason we’re here.

So, that’s it for me. I’m going to go “check in” now before I head to bed.

I’d love to hear how your check-in’s go, so feel free to send me an email at !

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

Thursday 12.27.12 Insight from Janelle Gregory

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

My family had many Christmas traditions. Every year, we would put up decorations at our house on the day after Thanksgiving. We would put together our tree (sorry to disappoint the real-tree elitists), and decorate the whole thing with plastic candy garland; colorful lights; and a variety of delightful, mismatched ornaments collected over the years. Finally, we’d spread out the tree skirt and put the nativity set on it. It was a small set, made of plastic. I was always the one to put out Joseph, Mary, Jesus, sheep, shepherds, and the two wise men. Yep, two. My guess is that it was probably cheaper than the set that came with three.  And who needs myrrh anyway?!

No matter the number (most likely much more than 3), I’ve always had an interest in these mysterious wise men. They’re exotic, coming from the east, practicing magic and studying the stars. Their unorthodox and intriguing ways just make them seem so, so… out of place in the nativity story. It’s probably because they were.

Up until this time, the focus of God’s story had almost exclusively centered on the Jews, so it is quite peculiar that when the King of the Jews is born, some of the first people to worship Him are, in fact, Gentiles. Unlike the Jews, these men weren’t even waiting for a Messiah. They didn’t know that they needed rescuing. In Church of the Resurrection terms, they fell into the non-religious, not nominally religious camp.

But then along came a star in the sky that God displayed as a sign of His Son to the Magi, using their interests and occupations as astrologists to draw them closer. He calls these strange and most unlikely foreigners, and by doing so, God invites us to see into His heart. His love goes beyond the limits we put on His grace when we prejudge who would and wouldn’t make a “good Christian.” We have these subconscious notions of what we expect church-goers to look like. So we don’t invite our neighbors, friends, or coworkers to church, because “they probably wouldn’t be into it.” But there aren’t any people as least likely to be into Christ as the Magi, yet God still called them, luring them with a star that would lead them straight to His Son. And it wasn’t just that He called them, but they actually went eagerly, spending month after month on this most implausible, and frankly bizarre, venture.

When we think of the Magi, we must remember that grace and love are attractive to all people, even to those that least fit into our notions of a Christian. So this new year, let’s share our faith, invite a friend to church, give someone else the hope that we’ve found. Let’s be the star, that light in the darkness that will lead others to find their Savior, their King.

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

Wednesday 12.26.12 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 New Member Welcome Team,  and our Spiritual Gifts Placement Team.

The theme for today’s devotion is “The Shepherds Worshipped.” In  this passage of scripture, however, the shepherds don’t seem to  be worshipping—at least in the way I often think of worship. I tend to fall into the habit of believing worship happens on Sundays in the sanctuary at church, and I forget that we can live our lives in such a way that we worship constantly.

All the shepherds did was go visit the infant Jesus to confirm what the angels had told them and then go back to live their normal lives a little differently than they had before. We know that for them one difference was that they told people about what they had experienced. The ways in which we worship and the differences in our lives because of Jesus won’t look exactly like the shepherds’, nor will they look like each others, but if we experience Jesus, it should be reflected in our lives somehow.

In 2006, Christian artist TobyMac released the song “Made to Love.” The words in the chorus remind me that I can worship in everything:

And how did I forget that
I was made to love you, I was made to find you,
I was made just for you, made to adore you,
I was made to love, and be loved by you.

I love that this song directly says we are made to love God (“adore you”). But one of the things I also appreciate  is that the last line doesn’t say “I was made to love you and be loved by you.” It says, “I was made to love.” Throughout scripture, Jesus consistently taught that we are to serve others. This song implies that when we love others, in big and small ways, we are doing what we were created to do.

During our Candlelight Christmas Eve services these past few days, Rev Adam Hamilton talked about Christ bringing the light of God’s love into the darkness of the world. In response, the shepherds took that light they saw in him and shared it in their world. We are called to do the same.

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

Tuesday 12.25.12 Insight from Anne Williams

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

One time, my friend Ashley gave me a necklace. When she gave it to me she said, “I know this might not be something you normally would wear, but you need to get out of the box and I think if you wear this a few times you will find you like it.” In fact, I did like the necklace but she was right–it was nothing I would ever buy for myself. Then I discovered as I wore it that a whole new world of accessorizing was opened up to me. How cool is it that she knew a gift that would bless me that I couldn’t yet imagine?

I think the gift of Christ is a little like that. It can be hard to find the perfect gift for someone we love. Perhaps we want to treat them to something they wouldn’t have money to buy for themselves. Sometimes we pick out a gift they have specifically asked for. It can be fun to pay attention to see if there’s something that catches their eye when wandering through the stores together and go back to purchase it later.

But when God gave us the gift of Christ, God did something pretty gutsy. God gave a gift that we didn’t even know we needed yet. In the most magnificent act of ingenuity, God provides the gift that keeps on giving more than any other. I can just hear the infomercial describing all the benefits of having a “Christ” in your life. Right when you think the commercial is about to end the overly enthusiastic announcer proclaims, “But wait! there’s more!” I’m so grateful God knows me better than I know myself.

I pray that seeing the birth of Christ in this way will enliven within each of our hearts a renewed spirit of gratitude. Thanks be to God for knowing me well enough to know what I need. And thanks be to God for the generous and beautiful gift of Jesus Christ.

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

Monday 12.24.12 Insight from Chris Holliday

Rev. Chris Holliday serves as the associate minister at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection West.

Making Room

My youngest daughter, Victoria, is in the 7th grade. One of her favorite teachers is her science teacher – a wonderful lady who loves animals and whose classroom is the part-time home of a parakeet named Dr. Pepper, an aquarium full of fish, a dog named Bandit, and a bunny named Buddy.

About a week ago, my wife Lisa left me a voicemail saying that the science teacher had asked Victoria to take Buddy the bunny home over the Christmas break. I promptly called Lisa back and said, “Are you kidding? We already have Coco the hamster, Lola the chiweeny dog, and Buddy the cocker spaniel, not to mention the three children and me. We don’t have room. Where on earth will we keep it? The dogs will probably chase it and eat it, anyway!” (Not one of my more compassionate or pastoral moments.)

Lisa took a deep breath, and with a fair amount of patience said, “I know, but it would be great if Victoria had something to care for over the holidays. The teacher asked her specifically, and you know how much your little girl loves animals. Just think about it.”

As I sit in my basement on this Christmas Eve, I must tell you that I am not alone. You guessed it. Buddy the bunny is keeping me company. He’s quite cute and playful and has a great hop. The dogs have certainly sniffed Buddy enough, and they all seem to be tolerating each other – maybe even enjoying one other.

Victoria is thrilled and loves to play with Buddy. And the rest of the human family is enjoying having him here, too. (Animal update: Lola just came downstairs and gave Buddy a sniff and a playful whine.) Okay, I admit it. I’m happy Buddy is staying at the Hollidays for the holidays this Christmas.

So, there WAS room for Buddy, not just in our house, but in our hearts.

As I read today’s scripture from Luke 2:1-7, I got stuck on the “because there was no room for them in the inn” part. Sometimes we get so caught up in the business of our own lives that we forget or choose not to make room for Jesus. Maybe even this Advent season, some of us feel we haven’t paused enough to remember, reflect upon, and celebrate the real reason for the season.

The good news is that it’s not too late. Today, tonight, tomorrow and into the new year, we can make Jesus a priority. We can choose to spend time in prayer and time loving and caring for one another, just the way Jesus taught us. We can remember the tremendous sacrifice God made and the amazing gift Jesus was and is. We can serve others by getting involved in FaithWork, Martin Luther King serve weekend, or by taking a mission trip. We can attend and participate in worship services and have private and family devotional times.  We can strive to live as Jesus did – loving with compassion and grace, reaching out to those in need, and joining together with others to help change the world.

May we all make room for Jesus in our lives today and allow the light of his hope and peace to shine through us this Christmas and throughout the New Year. “Hoppy” holidays, everyone!

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

Saturday 12.22.12 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 3 years.  He enjoys ping pong, Dr. Pepper and cheering on his Nebraska Cornhuskers. In January, he and his wife Michelle are leaving for a two-year commitment on Kwajalein Island in the Pacific.

John the Baptist seems to be tapped into an eternal truth that escaped me for quite some time: it’s not about me. Never has been and never will be. Regardless of the skills I have or the effort I put in. By this time in the Gospel of Luke, John had amassed quite a following of his own. He had devoted disciples and was creating quite a buzz in the neighborhood thanks to his speaking gifts. But no matter the successes that he experienced, John knew that focus was not to remain on him. He knew that the Lord had something bigger going on and that another person was to be the object of true praise and devotion. The best part about this point in the story is that John doesn’t yet fully know that Jesus is the Savior of the world. This is why he sends out his friends to get confirmation. But let us suppose that the report from Jesus was that he is not the One. Would John have concluded that maybe it was all about him after all? Maybe he should begin to accept this praise and devotion for himself. I don’t think that’s what he would have done. Like all of us, he knew the limits of his own humanity.

John the Baptist seems to have been tapped into a second eternal truth that escaped me for even longer: it’s about God. Always has been and always will be. It’s one thing to acknowledge that we are not worthy of the praise and accolades that people may want to heap on us at points in our life. It is another thing entirely to accept and proclaim that God is wholly responsible for the achievements we enjoy. Who gave me the physical gifts to perform? How was I blessed with the mental capacity for great ideas? Who placed me in a position to excel? Who gave me the choice to use my time to achieve unmatched success?

God has blessed all of us with wonderful talents and abilities, capable of staggering success. The question is, will you acknowledge the true reason for that success and point to it as John did? When those nearby sought to praise him, John was constantly deflecting attention toward the promise of a coming Messiah. Today we can point to the saving grace of Jesus as our source of joy and to His father as the author of every blessing. May we be like John the Baptist and remember these simple truths: it is not about me. It is about God. I invite you to humbly point toward God and say, ‘to Him be the glory.’

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

Friday 12.21.12 Insight from Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 6th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group & a men’s group, and serves on the Curriculum team.

Barbara Walters has her annual special on the 10 most fascinating people of 2012.  It always raises a question for me:  Are they celebrities because they are fascinating or are they fascinating just because they are celebrities?  At any rate, as I composed my list of the 10 most fascinating people in the Bible, I think John the Baptist (hereafter referred to as JtB for carpal tunnel purposes) would definitely make the grade.

His birth to Elizabeth & Zechariah could be considered one of the Bible’s greatest miracles, if it weren’t overshadowed by his cousin’s birth a few months later.  His sense of fashion was the stuff of legend; albeit perhaps a tad ahead of time, now that camelhair jackets are back en vogue.  His unique diet will probably be mimicked in some upcoming book cashing in on the New Year’s resolution fad.  (I like the take-off of the classic joke with JtB complaining,  “Waiter, there’s a fly in my locusts.”)  Despite JtB’s huge investment of time & energy in his ministry, he willingly urged his own disciples to leave him & follow Jesus.  Jesus’ assessment of JtB’s life makes even my record-setting 11-day run of not breaking a glass mug at A&W restaurant seem a little lame.  His courage to risk everything speaking truth to those in power fills one with awe.  And his violent death scene would give even James Tarantino the shakes.

Aside:  Referencing JtB’s death, one elderly friend claimed “this is when we Baptists started to oppose dancing.”  (This might need some verification – Editor.)

Yet before eagerly answering, “JtB!” when playing the parlor game, “With whom would you like to have dinner?” we might want to reconsider.  (Yeah, you thought preparing a gluten-free meal was rough. – Editor.  Um, we are going to make a different point here – DL.) 

There’s probably a very good reason JtB was preaching in the wilderness, not, for example, on the Temple steps.  Perhaps JtB wanted to utilize the symbolic Jordan River to signify new life.  Or maybe JtB wanted people to get out of the hustle & bustle of Jerusalem and come to the country to really focus on God. 

I would submit for your consideration another possible reason: JtB didn’t feel welcomed in the Temple crowd.  JtB’s standards for a successful faith walk were much higher than the stop-n-go worshipers in Jerusalem.  JtB probably brooked very little sympathy for the Temple leaders who were more interested in the show of worship than the act of worship.  To JtB some of the religious leaders’ actions may have been in sync with a credo of Sam Goldwyn (Hollywood producer):  “The secret of success is sincerity.  Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

But, we, too, might find ourselves uncomfortably similar to the peers JtB was scoffing at.  We might proclaim our love for the Christmas season by setting the alarm at 4:00 a.m. on Black Friday to get a head start on our Christmas shopping, but opt to pass on an Advent service because we are too tired to get up at 10:45.  We could state that our children’s faith is a priority, yet our commitment to church opportunities can’t compare to that uber-important soccer/basketball game.  We could answer surveys demanding “someone” do “something” to help the poor & downtrodden, while we consider renting a storage locker for all of our excess stuff.  (Or we could proclaim our desire for a short, pithy Insight, yet belabor the same point. – Editor.  Whoa.  Somebody needs a nap – DL.)

Society can consider some actor hawking beer in commercials as the “most interesting man in the world.”  But as for me, I think I’ll stick with JtB.  His actions & words were in sync with his proclaimed faith.  He wasn’t content to just pursue God with all of his heart, soul, mind & strength; he also passionately wanted his fellow man to know & love God more completely through His son, Jesus Christ.  May we go & do likewise.

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

Thursday 12.20.12 Insight from Rev. Glen Shoup

Rev. Glen Shoup is the Executive Pastor of Worship and Congregational Care pastor for those who have last names beginning with J – L.

John fulfilled his mission well.  I say that for the following reason: John the Baptist (who was the son of Zechariah and the “child…a prophet of the Most High” referenced in verse 76 or today’s scripture reading) did a memorable job of preparing the way for his cousin Jesus.  This is evidenced by the fact that 2,000 years after the fact, the most minimal study of the Gospels will swiftly and consistently show what John’s message was—Repentance.  In fact if you read the first half of Luke chapter 3, which is a half-chapter synopsis of John’s entire message, if you didn’t know the message was attributed to John, you would swear it was Jesus who was doing the talking…and the heart of the message comes down to—Repentance.  Stop living for yourself and your own consumption and gratification, and start living for God by living with an eye toward helping, serving, ministering to and caring for the needs of others.

And knowing this, I find verse 77 of today’s reading very revealing: You will tell his (the Lord’s) people how to be saved through the forgiveness of their sins (Luke 1:77).  Quite literally, in two verses of today’s reading (with just a little bit of biblical literacy and contextual awareness), we see the entire good news of Bethlehem’s Christ encapsulated.  This child of Zechariah’s, who was the prophetic press-release for Jesus—God-in-the-Flesh, announced a clear message of repentance as the exclusive means through which we find salvation’s forgiveness.  Repentance—which quite literally means to turn away from—repentance of self-obsession and repentance of turning a blind eye towards others and repentance of self-righteousness…to tangibly turn away from all of these is how we (and all) find salvation in Jesus.  Turning away from these dispositions towards narcissism and turning towards the concerns and needs of others is the pathway to forgiveness (both of self and others) because it is the path of Jesus and thus, the path of salvation.

I grew up in a tradition that talked a lot about being saved.  And one of the dangers of overemphasizing “being saved” is that it can sometimes become something you believe is already done as opposed to constantly remembering that this (repenting and turning away from) is something you must be continually doing.  But I’ve also spent some time in traditions that didn’t talk much at all about “being saved”.  And one of the dangers of underemphasizing “being saved” is that you can sometimes come to believe that it’s already done as opposed to constantly remembering that this (repenting and turning away from) is something you must continually be doing. 

Indeed, John fulfilled his mission well.  He modeled, lived and preached a message of repentance (continually turning away from) as the means by which we prepare to (continually) receive Christ.  In fact, the season of Advent (which is all about preparing to receive the coming Christ of Christmas) could well be called the season of John the Baptist…and this season would say to me and it would say to you—turn away from everything that intoxicates with self (repent) and turn towards the needs, opportunities and care of others.  And in so doing you will find forgiveness through Christ’s salvation; in so (continually) doing, you will be saved!    

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