Monthly Archives: August 2009

8.31.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I recognize the feelings behind Jacob’s prayer in my own life. God has shown kindness and faithfulness to me throughout my life, despite all the times that I mess up. I am humbled by God’s acceptance of me just as I am and God’s desire for me to grow toward perfect love of God and neighbor. I know that I am on a lifelong journey and that God’s will continue to be faithful, even when I may be unfaithful to God.

I appreciate the second question from the GPS today as well. There are certainly times in my life when I am fearful and experience anxiety. Sometimes it is reasonable for me to experience these feelings and sometimes my own imagination conjures up scenarios that are not very likely, yet can still grab hold of me and cause fear. I do not believe that fear shows a lack of faith. It is a very real feeling that can be elicited by circumstances in our life. When I do feel frightened, I try to take a deep breath and be intentional about seeking to breath in God’s spirit. I remind myself that God is with me in all circumstances in life and that there is nothing that can separate me from the love of God. I ask for God’s guidance and peace in my life in prayer and set about facing whatever it is that has caused me to be fearful.

With God’s help, I can live in the certainty of God’s love that overcomes fear.

8.28.09 Friday Insights from Darren Lippe

This scene is like watching a parody of “American Idol:  Searching for a Superstar.”  Our scene might be entitled, “Laban’s Idol:  Searching for the One True God.”

Laban hears God’s command to not say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.  This command must have been particularly compelling, because Laban unquestioningly obeyed.  (Fun aside:  note that the God of Jacob KNEW where Jacob was & sought to comfort him.  Laban’s gods couldn’t be found, even with a diligent search.)

Laban’s actions here were so out of character, that Laban felt obligated to explain himself to Jacob.

Then Laban quickly falls back into his old habit & routine.  He’s initially concerned about being deceived & his daughter’s welfare.  (Truth be told, probably more upset about being deceived.)  We then get to the heart of Laban’s issue with Jacob in verse 30 with the question, “Why did you steal my gods?”  (Rachel sure knew how to push her father’s buttons.  She knew what was really important to him.)

This seems so odd.  Why would Laban even care about his idols?  He had just heard from the God of Jacob & instinctively knew He was the real deal.    This split obedience must have been exhausting to Laban.  Here he is worshipping his various gods, yet he knew that the God of Jacob was someone special.

Fortunately, we don’t allow ourselves to fall into a trap like Laban.  Or do we?  Perhaps during worship we find ourselves feeling the nudge from God to serve as a guide for a Sunday school class or to jump into an exciting Bible study.  Then we get into our car & get distracted by our own “bag of idols.”

What might our bag of idols contain?  Perhaps it’s a desire to have our kids on the “right” sports team, even though it’s a huge time commitment for the family.  Maybe we busy ourselves with social obligations that help us feel accepted by a desirable clique.  Maybe it is allowing our lives to be over-scheduled to a point that we “worship” our daily planner.

Let us stop this day & seek God’s forgiveness for the times we may have heard His guidance but let our daily routines & habits inhibit us.  May we learn from Laban & enjoy the freedom of a life simply focused on the one true God.

Darren Lippe serves as co-leader of the “Loving God” Learning Community at The Church of the Resurrection.

8.27.09 Thursday Insights from Correy Trupp

In the book How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth, Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart ask readers of Old Testament narratives to read three different levels of story into each passage. Since this week’s reading is an Old Testament narrative, I thought it might be interesting to break down today’s passage in light of that three-tiered structure.

The top level, often called a meta-narrative, has to do with God’s universal plan worked out through creation. Sometimes called “redemptive history”, this level deals with creation, the fall of humanity, the need for redemption and Christ’s sacrifice and atonement.

The second level is the story of God redeeming a people. In the case of the Old Testament, it is the redemption of the people of Israel from the time of the covenant with Abraham until the restoration of the people after the exile.

The third level contains the hundreds of individual stories that make up the other two levels. In this level, we are looking at the scenes, characters, and plots within each passage. These stories can sometimes illustrate the blessings or curses that come with making choices to be faithful to God. Conversely, they can show times where God works through impure motives or bad situations to still bring about His plan.

So, how can we apply these levels to today’s passage?

First, God is clearly acting in redemption. The ultimate outcome of the dealings between Laban and Jacob end up in Jacob’s favor. God is blessing Jacob and fulfilling His covenant to make Israel a great nation.

Second, by keeping His promise to Abraham, God is keeping in motion events that will ultimately lead to the coming of Jesus Christ and the redemption of the world.  

Third, God seems to be acting in the midst of a situation where two men are trying to outdo one another. The positive result for Jacob is not due to his cunning, his techniques for breeding sheep, or Laban’s deception. In this case, God is acting to ensure Jacob prospers and is setting the stage for the next part of the story.

Sometimes it is easy to get lost in these ancient stories. Applying this approach to reading the narratives can help us see where and how God is moving, and what we can learn from the people in the story.

Correy Trupp serves as Director of Group Life at The Church of the Resurrection.

8.26.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Today’s Scripture was highlighted in the sermon this weekend in Act 2, Scene 3:Infertility. (If you have not heard the sermon from this weekend, find 30 minutes sometime today at watch it. If you struggle with infertility, here is the support group information for infertility/miscarriage that Pastor Adam referred to.)  

Leah and Rachel are so similar, yet different. Both women want something that they cannot control.  Leah wants Jacob’s love. Rachel wants a child. Both are feeling great confusion, guilt, anger, and loneliness. Both do all in their power to change the situation – spending more time with Jacob, drinking the mandrake drinks, crying out to God for help, and sending their servants.   

The “discussion”  between Leah and Rachel reveals a bitter envy of one another.  Imagine living day in and day out seeing your sibling have the object of your envy. It’s a bitter time. 

In the midst of great anguish, pain and suffering, God still works. The story is not just about the women’s struggles, it is also how each of the children (the sons) would lead nations of the 12 tribes of Israel.  

Where is God in all this? God sees affliction, hears the cries of the women, remembers them and works with them to help take away their understanding of disgrace. In all situations, God works in the midst of pain, anguish and suffering to make something good . We may not know what it is but we have faith  God is with us in the suffering and transforms the mourning into peace, love and even  joy.  This is the good news for us today.

8.25.09 Tuesday Insights from Carol Cartmill

Jacob had an agreement with Laban—seven years of labor in exchange for Rachel’s hand in marriage.  He trusted Laban would hold up his end of the bargain.  When we place our trust in people, and then are betrayed, it causes damage to us emotionally and to our relationships.  Trust is difficult to rebuild once it has been broken.  The closer we are to the person who betrays our trust, the more it hurts.  The damage can spill over to other relationships as well, intentionally or unintentionally.  In this case, it manifested itself in the way Jacob treated Leah.

There have likely been times in your life when you have felt betrayed by someone you trusted.  How easy was it for you to get past the betrayal to healing?  Do you still feel any lingering effects?  If the act was especially hurtful, you may still need to seek guidance from a pastor or counselor, or participate in a ministry like Celebrate Recovery.  Have you ever betrayed someone?  Have you taken steps to repair the hurt or restore the relationship?

I have been on the receiving end of deception and I have also deceived others.  Neither is a good place to be.  God’s grace has enabled me to move beyond hurt and anger to forgiveness when I have been wronged.   God’s convicting Spirit has also made me more sensitive to the ways in which I have hurt others and moved me toward repentance.  I love the question in today’s guide that asks us to reflect on the legacy we are leaving behind.  Let’s place our trust in the God of hope and healing to move us beyond conflict to lives that reflect integrity, love and right relationships.

Carol Cartmill serves as Director of Community Life at The Church of the Resurrection.

Pastor Molly Simpson was a bit too busy to write this week–she gave birth to Joy Elizabeth (8 lbs., 7 oz.) late on Sunday. We all send prayers of rejoicing and congratulations to the newly-enlarged Simpson family!

8.24.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

There is good and bad in each of us. We see this clearly in the stories of scripture and particularly in this story of Jacob. The GPS asks an excllent question and encouragement:

“Who do you know whose “dark side” dominates your view of them? Look for and name the “bright spots” in that person.”

This really made me think. I can certainly think of examples of persons who I seem to think are primarily exhibiting darkness in their daily lives. I am not particularly proud of this reality. I wish that I would look on everyone as a beloved child of God primarily and only look at the darkness in the light of this reality. But I don’t always. This question helped remind me that I am really no different. My natural tendency is to turn away from God and not live in good relationship with my neighbor. Only by God’s grace am I able to move toward becoming a deeply committed Christian. I hope that other people look for the light in my actions and personality before looking for any darkness.

Today, I will focus on looking for the bright spots in each person I meet and recognize that any darkness I see in others is matched by my own tendency toward brokenness. Thanks be to God for grace through Jesus Christ that offers forgiveness and the opportunity to move toward becoming a deeply committed Christian.

8.17.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I was struck by the question from the GPS today about whether it has been a central part of my life to “inquire of the Lord.” I believe that I have but have progress that yet needs to be made. I majored in biology in college and thought that I was going to work in a lab. However the summer before my senior year I was employed as an intern where I did that all day every day. I found out I was good at it, but could not imagine doing it for the rest of my life. I came back to school the fall of my senior year not knowing what I was going to do after graduation.

That fall I intentionally sought to listen and inquire of God what was next in my life. It was during that fall when I felt called to go to seminary and discover more about a calling to serve God in vocational ministry. There have been other times in my life where I have intentionally sought God – determining what might be next after seminary, considering marriage and where God is calling me in ministry.

I find it easier to seek God for the big decisions in life. This is quite important and encourage you to seek God in the big decisions in your life. However, I am not very good at praying about decisions that seem to be more about the day to day reality. I recognize that faithfulness in a series of small decisions and daily choices create a lifetime of faithfulness over time. While some decisions clearly have a significant impact on my life, there are others about which I can never be quite sure the impact in the long run. I am seeking to be faithful and to seek God’s will in all of my decisions.

In what ways do you seek God in your life?

MONDAY 8.17.09 Genesis 25:19-26

Twin boys—and they were trouble from the start. Rebekah could feel them grappling (“jostling” may be too mild a word) before they were born. Why does Genesis stress that Jacob was born “grasping his brother’s heel”? To “grasp the heel” was a Hebrew way of saying a person was devious. (We still call people like that “heels”!)

· Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, enters the Bible story. Jacob’s descendant, Jesus, quoted Exodus 3:6, where God self-identifies as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Mark 12:26-27) What barriers could have kept the baby Jacob from being a great patriarch, a key person in history?

· These spare Hebrew stories omit so much we’d like to know. It’s clear, however, that Isaac and Rebekah turned to God with their concerns, and found divine guidance and help. Have you made it a central part of your life to “inquire of the Lord”? Do you have mentors or models who help you know how to do that?

8.14.09 Friday Insights from Darren Lippe

Sometimes we may struggle & be frustrated with our physical limitations.  However, Paul embraces our imperfect physiques & contends that they can be a powerful witness for Christ.  Consider these 2 “articles” that I came across this past week:

(Associated Press) Washington, D.C. – 2009 A.D. Local Auto Dealers, with the assistance of the U.S. Government’s taxpayer, is announcing a program called “Cash for Clunkers.”  Where, despite your current automobile’s flaws, idiosyncrasies & dents, you can receive a $4,500 voucher toward the purchase of a new car.

Mitt & Sue Bishi, spokespersons for local auto dealers, offered these comments:  “What if you have an old clunker that doesn’t have much power anymore?  It is still worth $4,500.  What if you have an old clunker that barely moves?  It is still worth $4.5K. What if you have an old clunker with flecks of gray showing through its paint job?  It is still worth 45 C-Notes.  Every car still has great value that may not be obvious to the naked eye.  It’s always tempting to see what the car can’t do, as opposed to realizing that it can still be of great value to someone, sometime, someplace.  So head down to your local redemption center (authorized auto dealership) & start enjoying your new ride today!”


(Associated Papyrus) Corinth – Circa 54 A.D. The local congregation of Christians, with the Apostle Paul’s leadership, is announcing a program called “Value for Vessels.”  The emphasis is that in spite of our body’s limitations, imperfections, & age you can receive a priceless voucher toward the purchase of a new life in service.

­­­­A spokesperson for the program, offered these comments:  “What if you aren’t able to lift much anymore?  God can do amazing things with even those whose strength is diminished.  (How much heavy lifting is really required to help guide a children’s Sunday School class?)  What if you aren’t as fast as you once were?  God can do amazing things with those who are a step slower than their prime.  (How fast do you need to run to be a reading tutor to a child in need?)  What if your hairline is receding or turning a distinguished gray before you might wish?  Christ is excited to have helpers for His kingdom, regardless of whether one’s hair is short & sassy or thinning & gray.  (The color of your hair doesn’t impact your ability to be a congregational care minister.  Seriously!)  Every body has great value that may not be obvious to the naked eye.  It’s always tempting to see what our body cannot do, as opposed to realizing it can still be of great value to someone, sometime, someplace in God’s Kingdom.  So head down to your local redemption center (church) & start enjoying your new life today!”

Darren Lippe serves as co-leader of the “Loving God” Learning Community at The Church of the Resurrection.

8.13.09 Thursday Insights from Correy Trupp

Today’s passage contains a familiar admonition to avoid the love of money as it is the root of all kinds of evil. While this makes sense, to be effective at dealing with this particular temptation, we need to look at what makes money so attractive to us in the first place.

For many of us, money can be synonymous with any of the following: power, security, self-worth, intelligence, strength, winning, safety, success, protection, influence, etc. Our desire for money is usually our hearts’ desire for something else.

However, sometimes in our lives we simply need money to pay our bills and make ends meet. If that is you right now, please lift your needs up to God in prayer. If you are in a particularly tough financial situation, please contact our Congregational Care team ( for help.

For many of us, dealing with the love of money can be an ongoing struggle. If that is you, try writing down what words or images come to mind when you consider money. Then, pray that God would help you deal with those desires and look to Him to meet your every need.

Correy Trupp serves as Director of Group Life at The Church of the Resurrection.

8.12.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

One of the key tenets in the Christian faith is: We do not have to work at earning the love of God. We already receive it.  There are ways in which we can grow in OUR love for God such as knowing, loving and serving God.  But the good news is, as we are growing in our love for God, we can rest in God’s love.

God’s love never waivers and is always present in our lives.   The more we realize this, the more we can rest in the blessed assurance as we rededicate our lives each day.

So today, take a few moments and renew your faith commitment– by daily prayer in the morning, “Lord, guide me today. Help me serve you today in all I do”or by praying the Wesley Covenant Prayer or pause being aware of God’s presence.

After the day’s renewal, there will be someway to serve God today – look for it and do it — remembering God’s abiding love.