Monthly Archives: February 2009

2.27.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

When I am sick or suffering, my friends and family will tell you that I can get very whiny and self-absorbed. It’s easy to lose sight for a little while of those around me who may also have needs. I just want to be taken care of.

So it is incredible to me that Jesus, on his way to his death, having just told his disciples about the great physical torment he is soon to undergo, takes time to listen to a poor, blind man crying out for mercy. Jesus stops, talks to him, and heals him from his blindness. Jesus doesn’t go on and on about his impending suffering, nor does he just surround himself with those who will care for him. He knows his life’s mission, and continues to live it out to his very last day.

What an extraordinary gift to know one’s purpose and believe in it so passionately that nothing can get in the way. Jesus’ disciples didn’t have this purpose and passion yet, but they would eventually, and that is the sweetest way to live a life, to the very last day.

Rev. Dagney Pullin is the pastor of community life in the adult discipleship department. She can be reached at and you can read her blog at

2.26.09 Thursday Insights from Pastor Jeff Clinger

I think it’s human nature, or at least I hope it is, because I know it’s mine.  When we’re out in a restaurant and the service is terrible, we want to complain to a manager.  When we’re in a store and the bathroom is filthy we might consider calling corporate.  When a product doesn’t live up to our expectations, when service isn’t up to par, when something doesn’t live up to our standards or falls short of our hopes we want our voices to be heard and so we talk.  We tell our friends, write blogs, fill out complaint forms and generally do all we can to make sure our complaints are registered.  It seems we’ll often go out of our way to share our opinions when we’re unhappy.

A lot less common, it seems, is actually putting forth the energy to commend the good in our lives.  When service is great, when things meet our expectations, when everything is clean and in order, we often simply go about our business as usual.

Today’s scripture passage reminds me of our tendency to do this in our relationship with Christ as well.  When we need or want something or when we fall on tough times we often cry out to Jesus.  However, when we’re blessed or when things are going well, we rarely take the time to give thanks for those blessings.  

I want to be a person who understands and appreciates all of the blessings that God has given me.  I want to be a part of that ten percent of people (or so as this passage portrays) who take the time to reconnect with Christ and to give thanks.

This is something I’ll be increasingly intentional about in the coming weeks and I’d invite you to be as well.  

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 jeff.clinger@cor.organd he blogs regularly at Changing to Bring Change.

02.25.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Today’s passage is a bit cryptic.  Sometimes there are passages of Scripture that we may not understand at first glance.  In these cases, I reread the Scripture, locate any notes on the passage to give context and see how others have interpreted this Scripture.  For us,  the GPS commentary is helpful in deciphering what is going on.

Remember from the GPS: “Jesus does not mean only a few can get in the “narrow” door of salvation.  Rather, he’s saying we have a narrow window of time to choose him—the rest of our life, at most.  Is there any serious spiritual issue you’ve been putting off?  How can you respond more fully to God “now,” not later?”

For Jesus, time is of the essence.  No time to waste.  There is a great need to repent – turning away from other things in life and turn towards God.   Jesus’ message is: Don’t wait until tomorrow or a more convenient time.  Respond fully to God now not later.

Sometimes God can speak to us in small, quiet nudges. If there is something we have been pondering for a while and we think we should get to it sometime. Why not now?

One of my favorite songs that we sang at Vibe Service and at the All-Church Gathering in January is “Ready Now” by Desperation.  The lyrics are below. I invite you to read through the lyrics and ponder what is it today that you are ready to do now.
Desparation – Ready Now

Come like You promised You would
I want to surrender for good
I know that I need You and I don’t
want to keep living life alone

So take this heart and make it new
Make it true make it like You
Take my hands I lift them high
Theyr’e Yours not mine to do

Do what You will
Do what You will

I feel like a blind man in Your sight
I know that I’m wicked in Your eyes

So wash me and make me shine like Your Son,

I want to tell everyone that Your the only one

I’m ready now, I’m ready now
I’m ready now, do what You will

I’m ready now
I’m ready now
I’m ready now

I look forward to seeing you tonight at Ash Wednesday worship service at 7pm in the sanctuary to start our journey to Easter together. Ready now?

02.24.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

John 11:6-16, 45-53

Something that bugs me is when people talk about Jesus in a way that makes him sound “nice,” which often translates into boring, weak, and lame.  Reading the gospel passages as Jesus heads to Jerusalem, knowing full well that he was heading straight into the situations that would get him killed, remind me that Jesus was a crazy, bold guy with unwavering commitment to the task he was called to.  (Yes, Jesus is God too, which significantly adds to the awe-factor.)

In this passage, we find the disciples trying to get Jesus to turn around rather than head to Judea–a  place where people tried to kill him on the last visit.  Jesus doesn’t waiver, says something a bit cryptic about his task at hand in verses 9-10, and then mentions that Lazarus is dead and they need to go to him.  Jesus knows that Lazarus has died, and he is going to have the opportunity to demonstrate the power of God by raising him from the dead–something that is also going to seal Jesus’ fate amongst the Jewish leaders.  Jesus has caused a stir, people are following him and believing in him by the multitudes, and he’s going to get all the Jews in trouble with the Romans.   So… it’s just best that they kill him or make sure he gets killed.

This is what Jesus is all about–yes love, and caring for people, and doing all the “nice” things–but Jesus is committed to making sure that people know the power of God and is willing to die so that the people–not only the Jewish nation but also for all the children of God–would be reconciled to God.  It’s the best story ever… and as such, authors and screenwriters borrow the imagery and the elements, creating characters like Gandalf, Neo, and Batman.   

It’s really not just a nice narrative–it’s better than any action-adventure, Oscar winning drama, or superhero movie out there.     


Molly is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection West and can be reached by email at

2.23.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

This passage is filled with conversations which Jesus has in various situations – he foretells his death, clears up an argument among the disciples,  allows an exorcist to continue, travels through a village and has serious conversation with some who sought to follow.

Today, I want to particularly focus on verses 57 to 62. Jesus interacts with three persons who might have followed Jesus. It seems as if Jesus has harsh words for these who would follow, but I believe that they communicate a clear and helpful message about following Jesus. It is important to have a place to stay, care for the dead and have an opportunity for transition. Jesus reminds me that despite the importance of these things, I am called to follow Jesus first in my life and to let the other things fill in behind that commitment.

2.21.09 Saturday Insights from Pastor Laurie Barnes

From the words spoken by John the Baptizer in the early chapters of John’s gospel, the Baptizer seemed to have a clear understanding of his role and his relationship to Jesus. John the Baptizer said things such as:
•    “He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.” (John 1:15) “
•    “He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:27)
•    “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” (John 1:29-30)

Because we don’t have information about the beginnings of John’s ministry, we don’t know for sure if this understanding was there from the beginning or if it developed and evolved over a period of time.  The passage we have for today, John 3:22-30, seems to indicate that John’s disciples did not have quite the same certainty.  John’s disciples seemed perturbed that more and more people were now going to Jesus for baptism rather than coming to John.  John’s response is classic and one that we should all memorize, “He must become greater; I must become less.” (John 3:30).

The more I ponder those words the more I see them as a statement about the Christian life and our Journey.  As we move forward in our Journey of knowing, loving and serving God, we begin to make changes.  Some things that we used to do, we may not be as interested in doing anymore.  Some things we never used to do, we may start doing.  We are gradually, gradually becoming more and more Christ-like.  In effect, he (Jesus) will become greater (in us) and the “I” part of each of us, will become less. Our wishes and desires are gradually becoming more of what we think Christ would want for us.

As we move toward Lent 2009, let’s think about ways that Jesus can become a greater focus in our lives.  As we do, we will begin to notice that the more self-absorbed part of each of us will start to decline.  We will be that much closer to fulfilling the greatest commandments of “Loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength” and “Loving our neighbor as ourselves.”  Thanks be to God.

This is the last Saturday Insights post by Rev. Laurie Barnes, Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care.  I’ve enjoyed sharing some thoughts on GPS scripture selections with you over the past several months.  God bless!

2.20.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

So, as it turns out, my insight blog day falls on the day where the GPS scripture is the text I just preached on last Sunday. How cool is that? I get to share even more thoughts on this amazing passage.

The birth metaphor that Jesus uses here is incredibly rich. Our spiritual rebirth in many ways reflects our physical birth.

Some good friends of mine have a 3-month old baby girl whom I adore. It’s been over 5 years since my baby was that small, and today as I was holding their baby I was struck by her helplessness. She can look at me with her wide eyes, turn her head toward a noise in the room, and cry when she is uncomfortable or hungry, but her ability to interact with people, give affection and enjoy life are rather limited. As perfect as she is, I know her parents desire and expect her to move way beyond this stage, and every day they see signs of greater development.

Our spiritual rebirth is only a beginning. If we were to remain in the state of Christian newborns our whole lives, our experience of the richness of a relationship with God and the life God has called us to would be tragically stunted. God desires that we move on from there, seeking ways to strengthen our faith and understanding, deepen our relationships with God and with each other, and more fully live into the the joy and peace that is ours by inheritance, as children of God.

Looking for means of maturity? Go to our discipleship web page to find current opportunities offered at the church.

Rev. Dagney Pullin is the pastor of community life in the adult discipleship department. She can be reached at and you can read her blog at

2.19.09 Thursday Insights from Pastor Jeff Clinger

I am going to respond specifically to one of the questions from today’s GPS guide, “What ideas have you found that help you honor and respect God more fully?”

Judy Long O’Neal, who served as the pastor for the D-I Pastorate before I came to Resurrection this summer, introduced me to a concept more than ten years ago that has been very helpful when it comes to more fully honoring and respecting God.

Judy and I had the opportunity to travel to Israel together during spring break 1998; I was a high school senior and she was one of the adults on the trip.  I ended up being assigned to her family group (or small group) for the week and was blessed by her ministry and leadership there.  One of the things that she shared on that trip was the custom of bowing and exchanging the greeting, “Namaste” when you greet someone.  It’s a custom that is common in India and has become more prevalent in our culture through it’s use in yoga.  It might not be a new concept to you, but it was to me and I remember really appreciating the idea.

The idea behind the greeting/exchange is this.  When you meet someone you place the palms of your hands together and bow your head slightly saying, “Namaste.”  Roughly translated, Namaste means, “the divine in me greets the divine in you.”  It is not a greeting that I regularly use, but it is a concept that has stuck with me.  It reminds me that we are all created in God’s image and it reminds me that each person I meet is a child of God.  When I’m tired and cranky and short with someone, I’m tired and cranky and short to a child of God, God’s own image.  Likewise, when I’m generous, patient, or kind to someone I treat God in such a way.

It is my prayer that we might always be open to the presence of God in our lives helping us see and greet the presence of God in others.

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.

02.18.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Russell Brown

Whenever my wife and I step out of our “comfort zone” and go to try out a new restaurant or attraction in town, it is usually on the strength of a personal recommendation from someone we know and trust. As a former marketing and advertising professional I can tell  you that  it is an established fact that no method of advertising produces results that even come close to those produced by “word of mouth.” We are naturally skeptical about claims made by someone we have not met before.

In this passage of scripture, Philip demonstrates that the role of “disciple” entails much more than passively following the Master. He shows us that it is also a matter of actively inviting others to come and discover, “… him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote.” (Jn. 1:45).

What we see as the rest of the story unfolds is that Nathanael still has doubts, even after hearing Philip’s excited recitation of Jesus’ credentials. Nathanael says, in essence, “He might be the one Moses and the prophets foretold, but how can he be any good? He’s from Nazareth, after all!”

Finally it isn’t Jesus’ credentials, or the location of his hometown that convinces Nathanael to leave everything and follow Jesus. It is the reality of Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus himself and his discovery of the connection between Jesus and his father God. What we find out is that this is how it is for you and me and for just about everyone else, too. Jesus does not come and make a permanent home in anyone’s heart because of his resume’ or his lineage. He comes and dwells within us because we have a living encounter with him.

That is our job as disciples. To help facilitate that encounter with the living Christ. We either do that or fail to do that in countless small acts every day; in the way we treat strangers, in the way we act toward our friends and family, and in the way we deal with the disappointments that come our way.

So I ask: Can I see Christ in you? Can you see Christ in me?

Rev. Russell Brown


02.17.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Penny Ellwood

John 1:19-42

I love this story of John the Baptist because it gives us such vivid imagery.  I can imagine this young 30 year old, standing knee deep in the flowing waters of the Jordan and calling out to those who came in droves to hear and see his fiery preaching. I imagine him, like one of the young seminarians I have met at Saint Paul School of Theology, with a driving passion to change the world. I can almost sense the transformation that occurred in the crowds as those who gathered to see this novelty began to feel their hearts turn towards the need for repentance.   I can imagine their consternation as they found their feet compelling them towards the muddy waters of the Jordan.

The thing that amazes me about John the Baptist is that he had such a clear sense of who he was.  In this day and age, anyone who could draw crowds like John would have turned the attention into their own celebrity, but not John.  He had a clear sense of his purpose as one who would reveal the light.
 In vv. 29-34, John sees Jesus and gives testifies concerning who he is (“the Lamb of God”) and what he does (takes away the sin of the world).  The dove’s descent on Jesus are the God-given sign John has awaited in order to know the unknown one for whom he has labored (vv. 32-33). 

What does John the Baptist mean when he call Jesus “the Lamb of God.”  Is he referring to the thousands of lambs sacrificed in the temple to remove the guilt that separated the people and nation from God? Or is he referring to the Passover lamb that was slaughtered and whose blood applied to the doorposts  of the Israelite homes caused the angel of death to pass on by, initiating the freedom of God’s people from Egyptian slavery?  Perhaps it is some of both, for this God-chosen Lamb will assure that death passes over us and this Lamb will free us from slavery to sin, reconnecting us with the holy God who created and sustains us.
Hearing John’s words causes two of his own followers to turn from him and begin to follow after Jesus.  I wonder what John was thinking as he watched them walk away.  Remarkably John served God faithfully in behalf of Jesus, ministering in faith and hope.  John recognized Jesus Christ as the one commissioned by God to reveal and accomplish God’s purposes.  When Jesus appeared on the scene John’s focus shifted from the future to the present. 

Today God calls us to service in faith and hope, only we are not laboring, as John did, for an unknown messiah. Our faith takes on the liberating dimensions of our hope as a current reality through faith in Jesus Christ.  Our task is to follow after Jesus and to carry on John’s work by pointing others to Christ and saying, “Look, there is the Lamb of God.”

Penny Ellwood is the pastor for members of the Resurrection family whose last names begin with A-C. She can be reached via email at