Monthly Archives: March 2009

3.31.09 Tuesday Insights from Penny Ellwood

The important thing to keep in mind when reading these passages is that Jesus is speaking alone with the disciples.  His words are framed by his approaching death and are said to prepare the disciples for their future lives in his absence.  At this point, the disciples don’t yet understand what Jesus is trying to tell them.  However, Jesus assures them that he goes to prepare a place for them and will return to take them to be with the Father.

In the meantime the Paraclete, John’s term for the Holy Spirit, will be with them.   In John 14:25-26, Jesus tells his followers that the Father will send an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to teach and remind us of all that Christ said while he was on earth. The Spirit was to come through the Father to those who believed in Jesus after he was glorified (John 7:39). The Holy Spirit was to convince the world of sin, to proclaim righteousness, and to make people aware of the judgement of God (16:7-15). The Spirit “will take what is mine” said Jesus, “and declare it to you” (John 16:14).  Again in Acts, Jesus promised an outpouring of the Spirit and he said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  As these scriptures and others attest, the Holy Spirit’s mission is to carry forward the mission of Jesus Christ and his kingdom.

When we, as Christians, accept Christ, we are justified or made right with God, and we enter into a new relationship with God, who then lives in us through the power of the Holy Spirit as the indwelling Christ.  The Holy Spirit becomes the shaping power of our lives.  The Holy Spirit provides guidance and comfort.  It convicts us of sin, assists us to repent and to put our trust in the Savior, helps us pray when we don’t know how, and empowers us for mission and effective service.  The power of the Holy Spirit is exercised when we follow the Spirit’s leading and take action. When we become the channel of Christ’s love and service.  Jesus urges us to abide or remain in him (15:1-11) even when times get tough.

There have been many times in my life that I have relied on the power of the indwelling Christ; when I haven’t known what or how to pray and simply asked for the help of the spirit, to intercede for me.  I am so thankful that we have a God who loves us so much that he established this relationship of intimacy. I don’t know about you, but I depend on it.

03.30.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

Sharing communion is one of my favorite parts of worship. This scripture passage which describes Jesus transformation of the Passover meal into one that would continue to have significance for his followers is powerful. Jesus seems to know that he will be facing death and that his betrayer is at the table with him. Yet, he brings new meaning to what would have been a familiar meal to the disciples.

I appreciate the question in the GPS about looking forward to communion. I do look forward to it, but usually only when I enter the worship space and recognize that we will be sharing in the meal together. I do not always look forward to it days or weeks ahead.

I believe that communion is the most important meal that we share together as believers. In it I recognize my need for God, share with a community and tangibly receive Christ. I am looking forward to receiving communion again.

3.27.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

In seminary, a professor once said to us, “When you can’t pray, when you feel like your faith is dead, lean on the prayers of your congregation, let their faith carry you for a while.” I remember my surprise at the thought of a pastor’s depending on the faith of the congregation she is supposed to be leading. But the comment stuck with me.

The wisdom of her insight is much clearer to me, now. As with most people, the last few years of life have brought ups and downs, and there were times when I lost my focus, or was too emotionally exhausted to listen to God’s voice. I thank God that I was always surrounded by strong, committed Christians with amazing spiritual maturity. Their prayers, compassionate and encouraging words, patient instruction, and loving accountability led me back into the light when I could have easily turned to the darkness.

Judas Iscariot was surrounded by faithful followers of Christ. When the darkness threatened to enter his heart, however, instead of turning to them and leaning on their faith, he chose to go his own way, to abandon his friends and his savior. Even after betraying Jesus, he still could have returned to them.  Unfortunately,  he allowed remorse to overtake him rather than seek their forgiveness and the support of their faith.

None of us, no matter how long we have walked with God, can travel this journey alone. We are made to live out our faith in community, so that when we lose sight of the light, when we are too tired to keep moving, our friends can carry us for a while.

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

03.26.09 Thursday Insights from Pastor Jeff Clinger

I have always loved the story of the widow’s mite, but had never taken the time to think about the significance of it’s location in the midst of the drama of Holy Week.  Juxtaposed against everything else that is going on, it seems to speak with even greater power about what it might mean for us to give our all to Christ.

This woman gives her all in terms of her financial resources and she is praised by Jesus for doing so.  On the most direct level this story can speak to us about our financial resources and how we utilize them for God’s work.  We are reminded by the widow that even when times are tough and our resources are limited, we are a blessing and we are blessed when we give generously of what we have.

However, this story also challenges us to give much more than simply our financial resources.  In fact I’d say the story is more about how we give of all of our resources than it is specific to our finances.  The widow and her generosity challenge us to give boldly and generously of everything that we have; of our time, our love, and our actions.

Imagine a world in which we all had ample time to listen to those who were hurting, to stop and provide assistance to those who were in need, and to be fully present with those who were alone or isolated and in need of connection.  Imagine a world in which people knew and understood God’s love because they had experienced the love of others in profound and real ways and wanted nothing more than to share that with others.  Imagine a world in which people might go out of their way to perform random acts of kindness, to address the needs of others, and to share their resources through generous acts of hospitality.

As I think about the potential for this kind of a world, a world where people give freely and generously of their time, their love, and their actions I find myself feeling hopeful about what it might look like for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will to be done here on earth as it is in heaven.

As we continue to prepare our hearts, our minds, and our lives for the coming celebration of Easter and Jesus’ triumph over death, I pray that we might continue to make choices that bring honor to God and that bring forth life into the world.  I pray that we might be good stewards of our time, our love, and our actions and that we might give generously in all that we do.

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.

03.25.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Today we read a lot of Scripture.  Let’s look at the first passage: Matthew 22:1-10.

This is a remarkable story about the king’s wedding banquet.  Three years ago, I was in the middle of planning a wedding reception.  Planning parties is not my forte.  I remember agonizing over the guest list.  Who is invited? If I invite this person, then I need to invite this person? It was a very particular process.  In some sense, I am glad the planning is over.

In this Scripture, the people that were invited did not want to come. So in verse 10 we read “so the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.” I imagine being in God’s presence or the kingdom of God is like a party.  But, I don’t pick the guest list — that’s God’s job and I’m glad. This is good news.

Charles Wesley wrote a hymn illustrating this Scripture, “Come, Sinners, to the Gospel Feast”. The verses are:

Come, sinners, to the gospel feast; let every soul be Jesus’ guest.Ye need not one be left behind, for God hath bid all humankind.

Sent by my Lord on you I call; the invitation is to all. Come, all the world! Come sinner thou! All things in Christ are ready now.

Come, all ye souls by sin oppressed, ye restless wanderers after rest; ye poor and miamed and halt, and blind, in Christ a hearty welcome find.

My message as from God receive; ye all may come to Christ and live.  O let his love your hearts constrain, nor suffer him to die in vain.

This is the time no more delay! This is the Lord’s accepted day. Come thou this moment at his call and live for him who died for all.

This is good news!!!

At the same time,  I must remind myself to watch the self-righteousness and pride if I start to question anyone God invites. Sometimes I/we may think we should be God’s favorites or at least have some special privileges.    In Matthew 23 there is a strong warning against looking good on the outside but inside are filled with gunk. I know it’s not just the Pharisees that Jesus was warning but also the Pharisee in us. We can often let the ugly side of ourselves come out (the sinful side) thinking that we are better than other people.We looked at this passage in depth two weeks ago in worship.  If you missed the first sermon from Israel looking at Matthew 23, I encourage you to check it out.

We remember from this week that we can acknowledge we’ve messed up, turn and live in a new way, and rest in God’s grace, knowing God’s grace is even for us…because we are “those people” who need God’s grace too.

03.24.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

How does someone who has spent three years with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, end up betraying  him for an amount of money?  How much money was enough to be persuasive?  Judas wasn’t just around Jesus a little bit in those three years either–he was a disciple, the ones who sat at the feet of Jesus and were taught in depth, the ones who were with Jesus when he escaped from the crowds, the ones Jesus entrusted with continuing the ministry to people.  You know how you get close to people when you travel together??  Judas travelled with Jesus for three years.  All this to say… surely this wasn’t a flip decision on Judas’ part. 

Both of the scenarios presented in the GPS are good possibilities for Judas’ motivation.  But what about us?  What are the things that are persuasive enough in our everyday life that pull us away from Jesus?  What are the more major temptations that we trade in for worship and participation in the life of Christian community?  What would cause us to betray Jesus altogether?

I hope and pray that there is nothing (or no one) that could cause me to betray Jesus, but Judas’ story reminds me that I would be foolish to consider it impossible in my own life.  After all, there are times that I have betrayed someone else for my own self-preservation… and that puts me in Judas’ territory.  So, perhaps it’s best to recognize our own fallibility, pray for the Holy Spirit to help us avoid sin, and ask God to make us more faithful each day.   

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

3.23.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

These passages make clear the value in the anointing that Jesus receives from Mary. I believe that the role of Simon is also important. Simon created the environment in which the act of worship and adoration that was anointing could take place. Sometimes, I believe that creating the environment is as important as the event itself.

In my own spiritual life, I find that the practice of worship, reading my Bible, prayer and reflection create an environment in my life in which growth toward becoming a deeply committed Christian can occur. I find that I am more able to notice God at work in my life if I have created a receptive environment through these and other practices of faith.

Every week worship at all of the Resurrection campuses is designed to help people connect with God. Our hope is to create an environment in which people can bring praise to God. Individuals will respond to God in different ways and that is good. We gather to support each other and recognize that we are not in the journey of faith alone.

3.20.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

The parable of the sheep and goats is the climax of this passage, getting to the very heart of God’s message. So, what’s going on here?

 At the end of time, Jesus, the ultimate king, will judge the peoples from his throne. Who are these people that he’s judging? The text says “all the nations,” which makes it sound like he’s speaking a word of judgment to the whole world, Jew and Gentile. But in telling this parable he’s addressing only his disciples, and the book of Matthew was written for a Christian community. So Jesus is addressing those who say they believe in him and follow him.


This is a story which is, for me at least, one of the most difficult stories in the Bible. This is not a teaching about grace and forgiveness, not about God’s redeeming love. It’s a message of judgment and wrath, where our ultimate destiny seems tied to our deeds and actions.

It is not so much about earning our salvation, though, as it is a mandate of what is expected of those who would call Jesus friend. It is not enough to say that we believe; right confession without right action is disastrous to our relationship with God, and Jesus expects all of us to carry on his ministry on earth. Once upon a time, the phrase “joining the church” was used solely for those entering into ordained ministry. Most people expected that professional clergy were also the professional Christians, doing ministry on behalf of everyone else.

Though this attitude is still prevalent among many today, I am so very impressed with the congregation at Church of the Resurrection. In my short time here, I have been amazed by a community of faith where everyone is a minister, where the expectation is that if you follow Christ you serve your neighbor and reach out to those in need. I pray that we continue to spur one another on to good deeds and loving actions.

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

03.19.09 Thursday Insights from Pastor Jeff Clinger

Today’s passage is one of those texts that I find to be quite baffling.  You see I’m relatively guarded, careful, conservative when it comes to using resources I’ve been given.  As I imagine myself in this story, I think about how I would have reacted had the steward come to me and entrusted me with a significant amount of wealth.  It would not have been out of the realm of possibilities for me to have buried the treasure for safekeeping.  This seems the prudent, responsible, safe approach to me; there is very little risk involved.

Each time I read this text though, I’m baffled by the response of the steward.  When he hears about the conservative and safe approach taken by this particular servant he is clearly upset and frustrated.  I want him to be proud, I want him to show appreciation for the cautious behavior, I want him to affirm me in all of the ways that I am cautious and guarded.  I don’t find that affirmation in this text and it’s baffling.

What I do find in this text is a profound challenge.  In this parable I find myself being challenged for I know that there are many gifts that have been entrusted to me and I know that claiming and using these gifts can at times feel scary because of the risks that might be involved.  As I read this parable I hear God challenging me to not be complacent, to not hide those gifts that I’ve been given.  This is challenging, this is scary, and this might mean taking risks.  However, when I’m most honest with myself, I imagine that this is what faithfulness to the Gospel really looks like.

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.

03.18.09 – Wednesday Insights from Pastor Russell Brown

This parable serves as a great reminder to each of us as to the importance of being alert and ready to meet “the bridegroom.” Obviously the metaphor of the bridegroom is meant to refer to God with the message that since no one really knows when God will come, we should be ready at all times for that moment.

But what does the phrase “meeting God” mean to you? Is it a moment that happens once in a person’s lifetime? Is it meant to denote just the moment of death when you and God are face-to-face, accounting for a lifetime of deeds and misdeeds? Certainly that scenario applies. But I would like you to consider another possibility… that is the possibility that the moment of meeting with God can happen at other, much more mundane times than as we draw our final breath on earth.

We can (and do, I firmly believe) meet God in the face of a despondent mother who wonders how she will feed her children tonight. We can meet God in the chance encounter with a teenager who asks us for spare change. We can meet God at the bedside of someone slowly dying of an incurable illness as we see a loving spouse apply a cold rag to a blazing forehead. Our chances to meet God are as limitless as the reality of God.

But the question posed in the parable of the wise and foolish wedding attendants still applies: “Will you be ready?” If we are not ready, we will be infinitely poorer for the loss of that golden opportunity.

Join me in praying that God’s spirit might break through every instinct at self-protection and help us be ready to meet God in the mundane moments of every day.