Monthly Archives: April 2009

5.01.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

So, the life of the baby Jesus, son of God and Savior of the world, is threatened, and God speaks to Joseph in a dream telling him to take the baby to safety. Really? Does this seem a little risky to anyone else? To trust the life of Jesus to the faithful interpretation and follow through of a dream by a common man. What if Joseph had doubted the vision? What if he had waited too long to take action? What if he had decided that it just wasn’t worth picking up and moving to another country? What if…

It never ceases to amaze me how much responsibility God places in the hands of us, his human creation. One of the greatest responsibilities is the raising, protecting, education, and nurture of children. It is a heavy responsibility for every parent, but also for every member of the church. Each time a child is baptized, we as a congregation make a promise to God to care for that child. God may or may not appear to you in a dream to give you special direction, but God is expecting that you are in tune to God’s voice and direction in how you can contribute to the raising of the children entrusted to us.

What is at stake? Consider all the children who suffered under Herod’s wrath, who were not protected. What we know of God tells us that God loved these children, too. I can’t help but wonder whether there was someone else to whom God spoke, who received direction that could have protected the children, and who, whether out of fear, disbelief, or apathy, did not follow through. What could have been different?

Let’s not take our responsibility lightly. God expects more of us.

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

04.30.09 Thursday Insights from Pastor Jeff

There is much about what Jesus says in this text that is confusing and potentially troubling.  Verse 34’s statement about coming not to bring peace, but a sword seems inconsistent with much of the rest of what Jesus has to say in the gospels.  The statements about coming to turn family members against one another are also troubling as they seem to be inconsistent with Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation.

Verses 37 and 38 are the crux of this passage, though. “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Family relationships are extremely important, but they are not the most important thing from Jesus’ perspective.  Our relationship with God and how we let that relationship affect the relationships we have with others is ultimately of the greatest importance.  However, if other relationships stand in the way of our relationship with God, they need to be called into question.

At the same time, if our relationships with our parents help us better understand God’s will for us and our lives then they are a blessing.  If our relationships with our children help us better understand who God is and who God wants us to be then they are a blessing.  If these relationships help us understand what it means to follow Christ and to pick up our cross they are a blessing.

All of our relationships, with parents, children, siblings and friends, have the potential to help us better know Christ.  In all of our relationships we have the opportunity to help others better know Christ.  May we always be mindful of the ways that God is working in and through our relationships and the opportunities that we have to learn from others and to share blessings with them.

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.

04.29.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Russell

One of the great experiences of traveling to the Holy Land is the chance to visit the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall) in Jerusalem. It is one of the portions of the outer wall of the Temple that  is  still standing, surrounded by the urban hustle and bustle of present-day Jerusalem. The wall is considered a sacred place of prayer for observant Jews. Every day, separated by a low fence, men and women stand in front of the wall, rocking back and forth as they offer prayers to God. I remember being fascinated by some of the men I saw there and the unique dress and adornments they were wearing. Along with the round, broad-brimmed hats and the long, curling locks of hair hanging down in front of their ears, many also had leather straps on their hands and around their foreheads. These held small leather packets in place. As our guide explained to us, these “packets” contained the words of the Shema – the verses contained in Deuteronomy 6:4 admonishing the people to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Verse 8 then instructs the listeners that they are to not just hear these words of instruction, but also to, “… bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead.”

Obviously, we are part of a religious tradition that has not decided God requires us to follow the instruction from verse 8 literally, even though the words are quite clear and direct. Perhaps more important than embarking on a discussion of how literally we are meant to read this verse, we ought instead to reflect on how we encounter scripture. Does the Word of God speak to you in the same way that an instruction manual might, giving you step-by-step directions in living, thinking, and believing? Is it a history book, telling fascinating stories of an important time and people from the past? Is it a living narrative “river,” flowing, bubbling, and churning through your life, cutting new channels into your heart as it makes its way from Source to Destiny? Or is it a mysterious mixture of all three of these?

No matter how you personally encounter the scriptures, make a point of letting them touch you. Do not walk away unaffected by them. I try to pray a short prayer before every Bible reading and ask God to open my heart to the particular message God wants me to take away from the reading before me. And as we allow them to seep in, to penetrate, to mingle, and to ultimately reshape our hearts and minds, we will be not just writing them on our doorposts (v. 9), but on our lives as well.

4.28.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Penny Ellwood

 My father was a hard workingman of great integrity but he wasn’t always there when I wanted or needed him.   His work, which never ended, was his first priority.  As a parent now myself, I have a better understanding of his lapses but it still doesn’t remove the pain I felt as a child when he wasn’t there.  I knew he loved me but that didn’t remove the disappointment I felt when I longed for his presence.

In these passages from Matthew and Luke, divine love is expressed by the relationship of parent and child.  This relationship assumes a parent who is not remote but accessible, supportive and caring. As verses 11-13 suggest, this is the kind of parent who is responsive and present. That is also the point of verses 9-10.

I find it profoundly amazing that we have a God who desires this kind of intimate relationship with us.   God’s favor toward us radiated from the face of Jesus, and Jesus taught us to ask, seek and knock.   The supportive relationship Jesus had with the Father on earth was not exclusive, but rather a model of the relationship we all can have with God.  God understands the importance of presence and can be with us at all times and places in ways that our earthly fathers, by virtue of their humanity, cannot.   He waits for us to knock.

 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

4.27.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

There is a big difference between being a child and being a slave. These verses help me to recognize the difference and also helps me understand how it is possible that we are able to live as a child of God. God claims each of us as one of God’s children and we are able to call God, “daddy.” This is possible only through the Holy Spirit.

God’s claim on our life comes before our claim of God. God’s Spirit makes it possible for us to call God, Father. We are all children of God. This is true whether I am having a good day or bad, feeling great or lousy. It gives me hope to know that I can live as one of God’s children.

4.24.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

This evening I had the pleasure of dinner with a group of Resurrection staff and the bishop of Eurasia, Hans Vaxby. He shared with us what was going on with the United Methodist church in Eastern Europe, and also talked some about the affect of the declining economy in the United States on the economy in Russia. Because our economy affects most of the rest of the world, they too are suffering from economic decline. He did not dwell on their economic situation, though. He talked about training new clergy and raising up new leadership who were excited about and committed to serving God with all their gifts and resources. The church continues to grow.

To help encourage the churches of the Dispersion, Peter says, “you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.” This is more than just misery loves company. The early church faced a number of obstacles and challenges, and they found strength in hearing each others stories, stories of perseverance, hope, and faithfulness. 

As we face various challenges to our faith- temptation, apathy, an economic recession that affects so many families and individuals, we can find inspiration and strength in our brothers and sisters both across the sea and across the street. It is one thing to read a scripture that says, “cast all your anxiety on God,” and quite another to know someone who is suffering just as much, but still living with faith and hope, who can remind us that all of our suffering is only temporary. This is why we have church, so that our faith can carry one another when our own faith is weak.

Is your faith weak right now? Who will you reach out to, whose stories can help you? Or is your faith strong? Then whom are you going to lift up, to whom will you share your story?

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

4.23.09 Thursday Insights from Pastor Jeff Clinger

Peter’s story is a story that continues to fascinate me.  He was one of Jesus’ closest companions and followers.  He betrayed Jesus three times in Jesus’ darkest hour.  He was one of the first to rush to the empty tomb on Easter morning.  He returned to the life of fishing that he had known before being called to follow Jesus.  He was reconciled with Christ and redeemed one morning after breakfast.  He went on to become one of the greatest leaders in the early church.

Today’s scripture reading from the book of Acts tells the story of an appearance that Peter and John make before the ruling council after complaints had arisen about the things they were teaching and the way in which they were proclaiming the good news of the risen Christ.  In particular I find myself struck by verse 13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.”

Peter and John were bold.  Peter and John had no formal education.  Peter and John were ordinary.  Peter and John amazed others and these others were able to tell that they were clearly companions of Jesus.

In this story I see an incredible and powerful call to all Christians about what it means to follow Jesus and to be in ministry in the name of the risen Christ.  We are called to live boldly, we should be hospitible and generous in ways that seem contrary to the culture that surrounds us.  We need not be formally educated in order to follow Jesus.  We are to learn and to study and to engage our heads, but all Chrisitans are called to do this work, not just leaders with certain training.  Finally, we are to live simply, but yet in ways that allow us to connect with others in our community.

As we continue to live into what it means to be Easter people, people who have been shaped and formed by the power of Christ’s resurrection, I want to be like Peter.  I want to live boldy and proclaim Christ in ways that lead others to ask questions.  I invite you to consider doing the same.

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.

4.22.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Forty is a reoccurring number in the Bible. To name a few instances, Genesis tells of Noah’s ark and the flood that took place for 40 days. The Israelites wandered in the desert to get to the Promised Land for 40 years. Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days. Now, the story today tells us 40 days after Peter denies Jesus, Peter addresses a crowd and gives a sermon of a lifetime.

Peter interprets the profound event of Pentecost – when the Holy Spirit came and dwelt among all the people (the beginning of chapter 2). He gives evidence through the Scriptures and then declares in verse 36, “God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Peter declares his belief in Jesus changes things. This belief changes my approach of day to day life.   I constantly strive to see the world through the Easter message.

Here’s my belief: Life is full of hard, suffering.  Christianity does not negate this nor tell that because you are a Christian you will not go through the hard times. In fact it is quite the opposite. God embraces the suffering and hardship….and transforms it! As we declare at Easter, suffering, death, pain, hardships in life are never, ever, ever the end. They are never the last word.

Though there may be 40 days of wilderness, darkness, suffering, there is always hope, light, love and the power of the resurrection.  Jesus Christ declares this through his life, death and resurrection! This is day to day life!

So great message, but what do we do about it? What did the people do when they heard that God was the Lord and Messiah?  They were “cut to the heart” (v.37 The followers were invited to live in a new way. To repent – ask forgiveness for their sins (I do this each day) and claim the new identity of being a follower of Christ (again, a daily practice). They, like us, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. God with us in all parts of our lives.

So how do we continue to be reminded of this message?  Take a peek in verse 42 (not in today’s reading, but just one extra verse.) The followers devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.

My prayer for you this day is that we may be people that continue to proclaim the Easter message with boldness.  We may need to preach this to ourselves, too! We also may share this good news with those around us who need to know that suffering is not the end. May we be people that are “cut to the heart” and live in a new way through the next 40 days and years of your life!

4.21.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Oh, yeah, what day is it? 

Yuck.  Ever feel like that?  It’s 3:39 and I’m writing my post for today’s insights, which should have been up last night.  I’ve been thinking all day that today is Monday, and this post would go up for tomorrow. 

Well, I feel a bit like disciples out in a boat after catching nothing all night.  Then they see Jesus and he says, “Cast the net to the right side of the boath, and you will find some.”  (John 21:6)  Then, of course, they net more than they can land in the boat.  The next verse just makes me laugh… Peter realizes that it is Jesus talking to him, so he is going to put on some clothes.  Up to that point, he has been naked.  Then, once fully clothed, he jumps into the sea. 

The story gets more serious–Peter has an opportunity to reaffirm his love for Jesus whom he previously denied three times.  But for now, and on this Tuesday that I was thinking was Monday… I’m sticking with the first few verses of today’s passage. 

What could Jesus teach me about my life from this??  Check the other side of the boat now and again (surely a metaphor for so many things!) and even Peter did silly things like work naked on a fishing boat (seems like that could be dangerous) and then put on clothing before diving into the sea. 

Hope you have a lovely day.  Blessings!

Molly is the Campus Pastor of Resurrection’s West Campus and can be reached at

4.20.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I can relate to Thomas. If I had not been present with the other disciples to see Jesus, I would have a hard time believing what they said to be true. I would want to see proof that Jesus was raised from the dead if I had seen him crucified just a few days ago.

There have been times in my faith journey when I have felt closer and further away from God. When I feel further away from God I look for evidence that Jesus has been raised from the dead. I remember the ways that God has changed my life. I look at the lives of others and see the way that God’s kingdom is coming on the earth. I read the scriptures to remind myself of the good news.

I experience proof of Jesus resurrection in the lives of those who are around me. We are all on the journey of knowing, loving and serving God together.