Monthly Archives: September 2008

9.30.08 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Today’s reading is 2 Timothy 1:15-2:13.  Today, I’m going to share with you how I studied this passage.

I start by reading through it and making notes on my paper–a few words about each verse.  Then, questions come up along the way, and I write them down.  This is what turned up:

1:15-18 Paul’s deserted by mostly everyone but Onesiphorus, he’s not ashamed, Paul thanks and blesses him–Who is this Onesiphorus person?

2:1  Be strong–in the grace that is in Christ Jesus–What does it mean to be strong in grace?

v.2  Pass on the teaching, testimony–How?–Paul to Timothy to other reliable people to others

v. 3-6  Examples of how to be strong, to be faithful–a soldier (obedience, commitment), an athlete (discipline), and a farmer (hard work, persistence)

v. 7  Paul doesn’t give Tim (or us) an easy explanation–reflect and the Lord will give you insight

vv. 8-10  Remember Jesus, this is my gospel, worth suffering, Paul is chained, the word of God is not–What does that mean?–endure for the sake of others’ salvation

vv. 11-13  Be encouraged by this–4 if/then statements–the text changes–looks like a psalm or hymn–Where did this saying come from?  What does this mean “if we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself” ?

Then, to start finding answers to my questions, I look in the study notes of my Bible.  I didn’t find out much more about Onesiphorus, but there is a note that his name appears again in the closing of the letter, chapter 4 verse 19.  I also read that vv. 11-13 are “a hymnic fragment.”

If I wanted more context, academic background or answers to further questions, I would consult one of the commentaries I have at home or the various resources available online at Bible Crosswalk or Bible Gateway.

After reading the text, I would take Paul’s advice to Timothy in 2:7 and spend some time reflecting on 2:1-6 and asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me through those verses. 

Beyond the GPS questions, here are a few more:

-How I can “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” and gain “understanding in all things”?

-How am I passing on sound teaching?  Is my information about Christ sound, and from what source(s) do I get this information?  Who am I passing it on to?

-In light of this passage, how do I live differently? 

Rev. Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection West, and can be reached at   


9.29.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

In the passage of scripture for today, Paul follows a familiar pattern among the letters that he writes. The first two greetings contain a greeting in the name of Jesus Christ followed by words of thanksgiving and encouragement to the recipient of the letter. As I was reading through the verses today, the words in verse 11 and 12 stayed with me.

Paul recognizes that he has been appointed to share the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ and that he has suffered as a result of this particular role. Nevertheless, he has a strong trust in God and remains steadfast in his purpose of sharing this news with others.

Sometimes, I may be discouraged by words from others or even my own thoughts. It does not necessarily take suffering for us to turn away from something to which God has called us. It is too early to get up, I couldn’t take that day off from work, our finances are tight right now… Many things may not include suffering, but keep us from following after God’s dream for our lives.

I am encouraged by these verses to continue following God each day, no matter what the day may bring

9.27.08 Saturday Insights from Pastor Laurie Barnes

When the gospel of Luke was written, it was not written with the chapter and verse divisions that we now have. Scholars have determined that the chapter divisions that we find today were developed by an Archbishop of Canterbury named Stephen Langton in 1227.  However, it was not until 1555 that the New Testament was divided into the numbered verses that we have today. 


While I greatly appreciate the work of standardization that these men did, the chapter and verse designations can sometimes hinder the flow of the text for the reader.  The entire passage that we have divided into verses18-27 needs to be read together as a whole to best capture the meaning and intent for the verses we have in today’s GPS.  Beginning in 9:22, Jesus very clearly tells his disciples what is going to happen to him.  Suffering.  Rejection, death sentence and execution by the leaders of the Jews.  And then resurrection!! This concept is what the apostle Paul later calls “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (Romans 1:23).  Greeks would not have been able to understand a “god” who dies and the Jews would have had a hard time comprehending a Messiah that allowed himself to be captured. 


So for those who would be ashamed by the concept of a Messiah who would allow himself to be captured and killed, Jesus spoke the words that we have recorded in verse 26.  The contrast between the “suffering servant” type of Messiah that was prophesied in Isaiah (see Isaiah 42:1-4; 52:13-53:12 for two  of the suffering servant prophecies) and the second coming of the resurrected Jesus, also found in verse 26, is breathtaking!  It is no wonder that those disciples didn’t understand all Jesus had to say while he walked with them!


What picture of Jesus is hardest for us to comprehend today?  Are we sometimes amazed by his extreme obedience to capture, torture, humiliation and death?  Or do we have a hard time picturing what we read about his second coming in glory?  One of the challenges of Christianity is to be able to hold both pictures of Christ in our heads at the same time.  Which Jesus do you relate to? 

Pastor Laurie Barnes is the Pastor of Prayer Ministry and Congregational Care

9.26.08 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

The scripture passage 2 Timothy 3:10-4:5 sounds like it’s taken from the author’s last lecture. Indeed, many scholars believe that Paul, the author of 2 Timothy, wrote this letter when he was near death. This was his last opportunity to instruct his beloved student Timothy, who was like a son to him, and it is packed with wisdom.

Some words in this passage that stand out to me include “steadfastness”(3:10), “continue”(3:14), “persistent”(4:2), “patience”(4:2), and “endure”(4:5). He makes clear that the journey of faith and ministry is not always glamorous, fun, and exciting. In fact, it may not even always look successful, as “the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine…and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.” (4:3-4) This is not to stop Timothy, though. His job is to keep doing his job to the best of his ability.

This message is not just for Timothy, or even just for those in professional ministry. All the believers are to be “equipped for every good work.” (3:17) This means you, and you, and you.

Pressing on even when things look grim or, even worse, when they are boring, is not a natural strength for many of us (or at least not for me). Immediate fantastic results and recognition would be highly preferable. In fact, if once a day God would appear in the flesh and give a solid pat on the back, that would be terrific. This is not reality most of the time, though. We are called to keep pressing forward, even when we don’t feel like it.

This is one reason why community is so essential. It is through these dry periods that we must encourage each other the most. This is what Paul did for Timothy, and what we must do for each other. Take a look around you for someone who is plodding along and looks like they could use words of encouragement. Maybe you could even walk next to them for a little while, re-energizing and refreshing their spirit.

You can do it!

9.25.08 Thursday Insights from Pastor Jeff Clinger

Last month I was blessed to be a part of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit here at Resurrection.  I have continued to reflect on many of the great speakers that I heard during that event, but one in particular came to mind as I read today’s text.  Craig Groeschel is the Senior Pastor of and he spoke on a book he’s recently written called, It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It.

We all know people who just get “it.”  They’re easy to talk to, they’re fun to be around, and they seem to naturally lift our spirits.  We also all know people who just don’t get “it.”  They drain our energy, they’re not particularly fun to be around, and they’re just kind of depressing.  Groeschel argues that there are some churches that just get “it” and that there are others who simply don’t get “it.”  He says the same about church leaders and people within churches. 

I think this is exactly what Paul is talking about in today’s text.  In this case, Paul is talking about “it” using the metaphor of fragrance.  There are some that go around spreading the fragrance that comes with knowing God – I imagine this to be a sweet, calming, peaceful, and pleasant fragrance.  There are others who live their lives and move through the world spreading a very different kind of fragrance – one that I imagine to be rank and disturbing. 

Each and every day, as we interact with our families and friends and encounter strangers in the community, we have the opportunity to make an intentional choice about which fragrance we’re going to spread.  And as we move through the world people we encounter will act accordingly; they may be comforted and drawn in and they might be repulsed and turned away.  Our actions and our attitudes reveal to the world whether or not we have “it.”  Our actions and our attitudes tell the world a great deal about how we understand this God we seek to follow.

It is my hope and prayer that you might encounter “it” at Church of the Resurrection.  It is my hope and prayer that you might begin to live your life in ways that make others say,”wow, they’ve really got ‘it’.”  It is my hope and prayer that you will spread with you, wherever you go, a pleasing aroma that invites others to figure out what “it” is that you have so that they too might experience “it.”

Rev. Jeff Clinger is the pastor for members of the Resurrection family whose last names begin with D-I.  He can be reached via email at and he blogs regularly at Changing to Bring Change.

9.23.08 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Picture Jesus standing at the bottom of a tall hill with people lining the entire hill, listening to what Jesus was saying.  The Scripture passage today comes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus is in Galilee, the upper region of Israel, teaching about God’s desire for how people are to live.  The sermon begins with Matthew 5, the Beatitudes and ends with these verses we just read (Matthew 7:15-23).  With these verses, we get a God-perspective of what matters and how we live our lives.

I can picture Jesus pointing to a tree as an object lesson, telling that we as followers of God need to ‘bear fruit.’  We want good fruit, not bad fruit.  We show (or produce) what is harbored in our hearts and minds.

I find the most persuasive ‘fruit’ is integrity, meaning when the inside and the outside of ourselves match up. David Kinneman in the book, unChristian, writes about transparency: “Transparency means not merely trying to act right, but being honest about our own lives–even being open about the problems our lifestyles have created.” In our culture, it is easy to wear masks and be presentable when really we are playing pretend.  Like a tree, the life that God desires for us is an abundant, healthy and fruitful life that is transparent and bears much fruit.

In Galatians, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit being “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).  These are the outward characteristics of a person who seeks to love God and love others.

I find great hope that in each day we can pray to God who knows us more than we know ourselves.  We acknowledge where we are, what we think about, and how we live and pray that we may be a person that bears great fruit….good, abundant, life-giving fruit that grows because of our transparency to God and God’s work in us.

9.23.08 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Luke 12: 13-21, such a short passage… so many questions. 

Isn’t it ironic that Jesus says “who appointed me a judge…”?  This coming from the one whom God appointed as the judge of the living and the dead, as per Acts 10:42.  Perhaps there is a difference between Jesus being the judge of us and judge between us… or, maybe it was textbook irony. 

In verse 15, Jesus issues a warning then begins a parable in verse 16… who is this warning and parable for?  The brother who wanted half of the inheritance or the brother that wouldn’t share?  Is it greedy and like the rich land owner to horde the inheritance?  Or to be the brother that demands half?  Both?  (Jesus often used parables to take a particular situation or issue and make universal claims to teach all of the people about the way that things work in God’s kindgom, in God’s realm.)

So the land owner has lots of crops, builds bigger barns, then really gets in trouble with his statement in verse 19.  And I can see how this could be a problem for me.  At this stage in life, my “grain stored in barns”  is less financial and more spiritual.  With all the seminary learning and Bible study I do for my job, I could take a break from daily pursuing a relationship with Christ and say to myself “You have plenty of churchy-ness laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”

What is it that you are storing up?  And who is it benefiting?

We can read what Jesus says… “You fool.”  Who benefits from all this that you have stored up for yourself?  Unspoken answer… no one does.  Verse 21… my paraphrase, “this is the truth, this is how the world works–when you store things up for yourself, no one benefits in the end, not even you because your life is fleeting.”

So… whether it is money and material possessions, or piety and spiritual capital, or something else entirely that we are storing up… Jesus is asking us to be rich toward God, which I think means to yield our stuff to God’s disposal.  Our gifts, the blessings in our lives, our spiritual gifts, our “wealth” whatever it may be, are given to us so that we might be a blessing to others. (Genesis 12:1-3)

Tough passage… good stuff.  Sorry I didn’t answer too many of the GPS questions.

9.22.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

Tabitha leaves a legacy in fabric.

The GPS guide for today suggests that the time that Tabitha’s friends are sharing her handiwork with Peter may be a passage that is overlooked in the overall course of this narrative. Is her raising from the dead miraculous and amazing? Absolutely. However, I think that there is significance in this story outside of this miracle.

I believe that verse Acts 9:39 tells a story similar to the one that I would like to have shared after my life on this earth is over. A physical heritage (in this case creations from fabric) can be signs and symbols of a deeper meaning in life (helping and caring for the poor). I hope that the legacy that I leave will have some physical components that will point to the true significance of my life – being a part of others journey toward becoming deeply committed Christians and continuing to move along that journey myself.

Like Tabitha, we can direct our lives to something more – caring for the poor, guiding a business with Christian principles, raising children in the faith – so that when others share about our lives anything physical will be a sign of a deep commitment to knowing, loving and serving God.

9.20.08 Saturday Insights from Pastor Laurie Barnes

9.20.08 Saturday Insights from Pastor Laurie Barnes

A famous theologian once compared the Bible to a Two Act play with the Old Testament representing Act One and the New Testament representing Act Two. If one reads just the Old Testament, it is like watching only Act One of the play. The viewer can understand the beginnings of the story line but there is a lot still unresolved at Intermission. Likewise, one can come in at Intermission and just watch Act Two of the play. The viewer would probably be able to follow the plot with some understanding but would not be able to follow all the nuances and storylines with the same integrity of understanding as one who had also seen Act One. For the most complete experience, a viewer needs both Act One and Act Two.

The passage we have today, Luke 4:1-14, reminds me of that analogy. A certain level of understanding can be attained by reading the context immediately surrounding the passage. However, only by reading this passage with an “Act One” (Old Testament) context, can we see the important comparison of Jesus’ temptations to the testing of Israel in the wilderness (Deut 6-8). Unless we are familiar with “Act One”, we don’t recognize that Jesus responds to the tempter by using Scripture. And the devil quotes scripture too! What a powerful reminder that scripture can be taken out of context to support biblical viewpoints that don’t align with the totality of Scripture.

The chilling line in the passage is verse 24 when we are told that after Jesus successfully resisted the temptations, the devil left Jesus “until an opportune time.” Amazing foreshadowing for those who go on and read the rest of the gospel of Luke. Satan reappears in Luke 22:39-46 with one of the same temptations that Jesus resisted in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. Once again, the devil tempts Jesus to take an easier way out than voluntarily dying on the cross for the sins of the world. It is the very real temptation for Jesus to take an immediate kingdom while avoiding the cross.

And then we come to the application piece – so what? One “so what” from this passage is found in 1 Corinthians 10:12-13. God is faithful and, as He did for Jesus, He will provide a way out for us when we are tempted. We need to recognize that we are being tempted and ask God for help. He always provides a way out!

9.19.08 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

During my growing up years, every Christmas our family would pack into the car and head to my grandparents’ house. The trip was several hours, which could feel like forever to a young child. We kids never resented the trip, though, because of our intense anticipation. We talked endlessly about all the wonderful things that would happen during Christmas at grandma’s and grandpa’s: late night monopoly games with all the cousins, funny stories from the aunts about growing up on the farm, laughter and singing, an endless supply of grandma’s pies, early morning dough-nut runs with grandpa, and of course all the presents. Each minute in the car brought us closer to the delights of the family celebration, until we finally arrived, about to burst with all the pent-up energy.

Psalm 84 is a pilgrimage psalm, written by and for faithful Jews traveling to the holy city of Jerusalem for a religious festival. Throughout the psalm you can hear their excitement building as the pilgrims anticipate basking in the presence of their Lord in God’s temple. Even the journey itself is blessed by God with fresh water to bring strength to the faithful travelers (vv 5-7).

When we gather as a community to worship, do we exude the same level of anticipation as these pilgrims? Are we overflowing with excitement over the opportunity to experience together the power and presence of God? I am personally guilty of sometimes viewing corporate worship more as an obligation than an exciting adventure and incomparable opportunity. Perhaps reading this Psalm before getting in the car to drive to church would help change my heart.

Our lives, too, are a pilgrimage. Each day is another step in our journey toward an eternity in God’s Courts. The best part is, we can begin the celebration immediately, like a little piece of heaven here below, ever singing God’s praise.