Category Archives: Illuminate

10.28.08 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Why didn’t Jesus just do it? 

“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 

Surely Jesus could have set the world right and restored not only power to Israel but also the full redeption of kingdom of God throughout the world.  He could have done it.  But he didn’t, and instead he said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”  Jesus is talking to his first century followers, but he is also talking to us.  We will be his witnesses in our city, throughout our region, and to the ends of the earth. 

How are we living into this?  as a church?  as individuals?

I talked to a man at church on Sunday that stopped me after worship and offered his house to the church as a resource to help someone in need.  I was awestruck in the moment.  His family is moving, and instead of selling their current house, they are going to hang on to it and would like to work with someone in our church that is trying to get back on their feet and needs an interim place to live.  This family’s compassion and generosity is a witness to God’s love.

I noticed that one of our high school girls has been using her facebook status to point to God’s love.  Instead of telling everyone how practice was or how she is sick of math homework, she’s writing things like, “the day will come when every tongue will confess and every knee will bow,” and “Lord empty me of me, so I can be filled with You.”  She’s being one of Jesus’ witnesses.

So, Jesus doesn’t make restoring the kingdom his final grand act on earth… he uses us.  He thinks you are talented and valuable and worthy of being his witness.  That seems like a big task… and it is, but the Holy Spirit gives us power. 

In the little things and the big things… how are you, as one of God’s followers, involved in making our corner of the world a better place? 

 

 ~Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor of Resurrection West and can be reached at molly.simpson@rezwest.org.

10.27.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

It is refreshing to read the scripture from Matthew 5 again this week with another question in mind – Where are we going? Today, I want to focus on verse 16, which in the TNIV translation reads:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I think that this verse points to two different viewpoints from which we can consider the future. This verse asks us to let our light shine before others. If we are asked to let our light shine before others, it suggests that there are some who are living in the darkand looking for the light. Where do yourself today – as one shining light to others or as one needing light in the darkness?

No matter how you feel about where you are right now, I believe that we can all move toward being God’s light to others through knowing, loving and serving God. If you are in the place of shining light to others today, ask God to show you more places to shine light or ways that God’s light can shine brighter through you. If you are in the place of needing light in the darkness, seek out those people and places that can help shine God’s light into your life. This may be in worship, small group, a family member or friend.

Where are we going? Toward becoming the light of the world.

10.21.08 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

I sat down to work on this post over a cup of coffee with my husband Ben in the cafe at Borders.  I read through these seven verses then went back to the beginning to start making observations on the text, and I couldn’t get past verse 9.  If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  There is so much going on in this one verse!! 

Ben and I began to discuss what it means to declare or confess “Jesus is Lord.”  Personally, it is a statement about Jesus’ position of authority and rule in one’s life.  It is a statement of reverence and submission.  In fact, this simple statement may have been the first confession of faith.  Beyond the personal, it is a statement about the ultimate reality, about truth.  It states one’s confidence that Jesus is the one with ultimate power (not Caesar or any other earthly ruler), and that Jesus is divine (Lord, adonai, refers to God, Yahweh).  What impact does it have on your life to call Jesus “Lord”?   

On to the second part of the verse…  It’s important to understand “believe in your heart” as it would have been heard during the time Paul wrote it.  The heart was understood to be the power center of one’s body–“the center of the physical, mental and spiritual life of humans” (thank you Bible Dictionary).  The heart was the seat of one’s intellect and will, not just one’s emotions or feelings.  Perhaps this gives new meaning to “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.”  Paul is calling on us to believe that God resurrected Jesus not only with our emotions but with our whole being, including our mind, our intellect, and our will.  And, we not only wholeheartedly believe that the resurrection happened, but that God raised Jesus from the dead.  It was by God’s action, God’s agency, and God’s power.    

And in this last part… you will be saved.  Seems simple enough, right?  For me, declaring Jesus is Lord and believing in my heart that God raised Christ from the dead isn’t a simple assent.  It is complex and life-altering.  My worldview, my behavior, my though process and my relationships are changed by these beliefs–not only the first time I declared them–but day after day.  

How has this declaration and belief change your life?  How will it continue to do so?     

 

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

10.20.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I enjoyed reflecting on this passage again as we continue in the Illuminate series. I want to share with you my response to two of the questions from the GPS guide for today

What is one thing you want the world to know about Jesus through their interaction with you?

There are so many things that I would hope that others would know about Jesus through their interaction with me that I find it difficult to narrow down. Today I think that one thing that I want others to know is that Jesus gives an open invitation to a new way of life. I would hope that people be able to recognize that the way I live my life is different in some way and my hope is that difference is because of my relationship with God. This may be the first invitation for someone to come to worship, join a small group, or commit to a new way of living. There is an opportunity to start again and following Jesus is the way to new life.

What other factors shape your sense of your life mission?

I believe that my life mission is primarily shaped by God’s direction, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and the continuing influence of the Holy Spirit. My life mission is also shaped by my relationship with my wife, family, my faith community and my small group. I think that there are many things that can influence our direction in life. I feel that it is important to have one’s life mission primarily shaped by God. It is also important to be clear about the things that you will allow to influence your life mission and what will take priority.

What do you think?

10.14.08 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Who do you say I am?

This is a pretty serious question.  I read this, closed my eyes, and pictured Jesus looking at me, asking me this question.  “Molly, who do you say that I am?”  Try it… fill in your own name. 

My answer is, “You are the Lord, and you are my Lord.  You are God incarnate.  You are King.  You are the Savior of the world…” and I could go on and on.  But really, Peter’s answer sums it all up so perfectly.  Jesus is the Messiah–which means the Anointed One–Christos in Greek.  Jesus is the divinely chosen savior that fulfilled the Hebrew prophecies.  Messiah wraps all that up in one word. 

So… you answered the question.  That’s not really the hardest part.  The most difficult part of this passage is what our answer implies about who we are.  If Jesus is Lord–I am not.  If Jesus is my Savior, then I’m the one that has the need to be saved.  If Jesus is God in the flesh as foretold in the scriptures… then he’s worth… well, everything that I can possibly give.

And that’s exactly where Jesus goes–check out verses 34-37.  Deny yourself.  Take up your cross.  Follow me.  Lose your life for Jesus and for the gospel.  Who you say Jesus is not only says something about him, it says something about you.

In light of this, how are you going to live differently today?         

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

10.13.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

As I was moving through the GPS guide this morning, I wanted to share some of my thoughts in response to the questions. My parents have been a light in my world for a long time. I have been blessed by their guidance and their support throughout the years. Although our relationship looks different today than it did ten, five or even a few years ago, they continue to be a light of my world – showing God’s love, giving me an example of what it means to be a deeply committed Christian.

The next question of whose day could I brighten was also a good one. I also turned to my family. I hope that I can brighten the week of my siblings, parents and in-laws. I am going to make an effort this week to connect with them in ways that I do not usually connect, maybe an extra phone call or sending a post card. I think that it is sometimes the little things that make a big difference in being the light of the world for someone.