Category Archives: Ordinary Saints

10.12.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I am challenged and blessed by considering the individual and communal life to which I am called as a Christian. The GPS today asks us to consider ourselves as a temple for God and that together we form a temple for God. As an individual, I experience God’s presence in my life. I know that God is present with me and living in me. I also know that I do not always make the most welcome home for God. Through my words and actions, I can make myself a place that is not hospitable to God’s presence. Likewise, through my words and actions I can make myself a place in which God’s presence lives naturally and fully. When I pay attention, I recognize the times when I am being a dwelling place for God.

Together as a community, we also form a temple for God’s presence. Each of us has particular gifts which God has given. My gifts are not the same as yours and your are not the same as someone else’s. God has gifted each one in ways that can help build up the entire community. Together we form the temple for God’s presence to live. As a community of people becoming deeply committed Christians, we have the opportunity to both give and receive support when it is needed. I know that I can rely on others to care and encourage me in a time of need. It is a blessing to be able to also give support to others who are in need of it.

As individuals and as a community, we are “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

MONDAY 10.12.09 Ephesians 2:11-22

So many things divide us from one another. But Ephesians says Jesus tore down “the dividing wall of hostility.” In Paul’s day, an actual wall cut off The Court of the Gentiles from the inner courts of the Jerusalem Temple. Just a false charge that Paul had brought a Gentile inside that wall set off a vicious riot (Acts 21:27-31).

· According to verse 18, what (or rather who) is the reason God’s children can live beyond hostility and conflict? How have you seen that work among Christians? When have you seen people rise above tensions due to personal history, traits or beliefs because of their connection with God?

· Verses 21 and 22 address both your personal spiritual life, and the type of shared life Christ calls us to. In what ways does it stretch and shape you to think of your self as a Temple for God to live in? Why does it matter that this is not just a personal matter—that together we form a Temple for God’s dwelling?

10.7.09 GPS Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

I began the ritual of praying everyday when I started doing nightly prayers. Before I go to bed each night, I lay on my back and begin to pray aloud. I pray aloud because it helps me focus on my thoughts and remind me that I am talking with God in a divine conversation.  I pray aloud and review the day, usually beginning with “Thank you for this day”…and review the day’s events.  I thank God for the people I have seen, the conversations I have had, and the experiences of the day. Often times this is the only time I have used to reflect upon the day.  Then, I move to praying for those who are on my heart and mind. I specifically pray by name for those who I have promised to pray for, for those who I think about often, and for those who I may have just encountered in the day. Sometimes I pause in the conversation and note how the day did not go as planned and hope for a better one tomorrow.  When life seems weighty or I am searching for hope, I express this to God. To remind myself of who God is and God’s leading in my life, I close the time of prayer with John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer or the Lord’s Prayer.

The Psalms are known as the prayer book of the Bible. Two-thirds of the Psalms are lament psalms.  Lament psalms begin with cries out to God, like in Psalm 4, and express their plea to God.  Most always, the psalmist ends with the assurance of trust and faithfulness in God.  Sometimes when I do not want to use my own words in prayer, it is helpful to read a psalm and underline the words that I would say. 

In your evening prayers tonight, I encourage you to begin your prayer to God either aloud, in a whisper, writing, or underlining the psalm.  Converse with God about the day, express your reflections, and close with a prayer of trust.  God hears our prayers. God guides us along life’s journey as we open ourselves to God’s leading through prayer.

10.6.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

I remember my first epiphany about prayer–I was a little girl and realized that I could add my own words to the “now I lay me down to sleep” prayer to say whatever I wanted to in prayer with God instead of only saying the words I had learned.  Being able to freestyle opened up a whole new world in talking to God.  Another one of these epiphanies came many years later when I discovered that prayer was not a once daily, formulaic ritual but an active, living conversation with my Father in Heaven.  This understanding of prayer as relational conversation meant that my prayers were not limited to particular forms or timeframes, that all my experiences and emotions could be expressed in prayer, and that prayer could and should take place at many times and places throughout my day.  Through my years of following Christ, this has looked different at different times, but the idea of surrounding my day in prayer has continued to be important. 

What would it look like for you to praise God seven times in a day?  Could you pause for a moment of prayer to give God thanks for seven things or people throughout the day?  The psalmist gives thanks repeatedly for God’s right laws and statutes–we might thank God seven times daily for the gift of scripture, the example and teachings of Jesus, and for grace and salvation given to us through the actions of Christ.  How could we not be transformed into more holy, faithful people if we made thanking God for these things a repeated pattern in our day?      

Maybe you don’t often pray once a day and you think it sounds crazy (or at least unrealistic) to pray three or seven times daily.  Try it today or commit to doing so tomorrow–you may find that it is easier, more natural, to pray in this manner rather than one lengthy time at the beginning or end of the day.  Some of these moments of prayer may be short while one or more may be a more lengthy prayer.  Pray in the shower for the day to come, remember those in need in a prayerful moment while driving, pause at meals to ask God’s blessings, lift up a word of thanksgiving under your breath in a 10 second prayer during the middle of the day.  Like me, you might find that this is a whole new way to pray, one that is refreshing and fits the regular rhythm of your every day.  When you pray like this, you don’t have to “find time” to pray or remember to pray… instead it is an active, living conversation with God that flows in and out of each day.  I think this is what Paul meant when he said “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Prayers for your praying!!

Rev. Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection’s West Campus in Olathe.  She is available by emailing Molly.Simpson@rezwest.org.

9.28.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I appreciate the guidance from the GPS this week to Read, Engage, Pray and Live. I find it to be a helpful way to engage the scripture.

Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, but this is not the only way in which Jesus gives his life for us. One of the ways that Jesus continues to give his life for us is in the celebration of Holy Communion. At least once a month we celebrate the sacrament of Holy Communion as a part of the worship experience at Resurrection. This is a meal that we share with each other in which we remember Jesus final meal with his disciples and we look forward to the heavenly meal we will share together with Jesus at the banquet of God’s kingdom. Communion is an occasion in which Jesus gives himself for us and we have the opportunity to give ourselves to God.

I find that receiving communion is one of the ways that I continue to grow in my ability to hear God’s voice. There have been clear times in my life when I have heard God speaking to me, but I have room to grow in my ability to recognize God’s voice. In receiving the bread and the juice, I experience God’s presence with me and have the opportunity to listen for Jesus voice in a particular time and place.

9.23.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Today’s reading is a vivid scene in Israel.  The first part of the reading in chapter 16 sets up who King Ahab is.  The writer says twice, “Ahab son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord more than all who were before him” (v.30).  What a way to characterize someone!  He was the most evil of all the kings of Israel so far.  This is not good.  King Ahab set up an altar for Baal – making an idol, a god for the people of Israel to worship.

In chapter 18, we see the confrontation of King Ahab and the prophet Elijah. Upon Elijah’s request, King Ahab called together the 450 prophets of Baal and Elijah, the one prophet of God.  The showdown is found in verses 22-36. (This is a part we did not read in today’s readings, but it provides a great action scene of ‘the test’ – for the true God to make fire come down from heaven. If you  have a moment, I recommend reading the 14 action-packed verses.)

After the test, it was an ‘aha’ moment of turning back to God. The people  recommitted to obey God’s commandments.  As we start this new sermon series on being ordinary saints, we believe that God is with us every single day.  It may come in the dramatic but more in likely in the ordinary day in and day out part of life. Each day, we can turn ourselves to preparing ourselves to see God’s  presence, like Elijah.  His prayer is similar to the one we can pray every morning. I invite you to pray Elijah’s prayer today:

O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be know this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God and that you have turned their hearts back.”

This is part of an being an ordinary saint.  Enjoy your day experiencing God’s presence in the ordinary.

9.22.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Sometimes we have to make “all or nothing” choices in life–we have to fully commit and give ourselves fully. 

Take marriage, for example, you can’t be sorta married–either you are or you aren’t.  If you step up to the altar on your wedding day planning to give yourself halfway to the commitment, you might as well have stayed home.  I’ve recently become a mom, and I think parenthood is another one of those all or nothing choices, at least in the early days.  My little girl, Joy, can’t take care of herself, and if she’s going to survive she needs me to set my priorities aside and address her needs on her timetable, not my own.   

It seems to me, this is a bit of the message of 1 John 1:5-2:6.  Following Jesus, having fellowship with God, is one of those all or nothing choices.  It requires giving the whole of ourselves, precisely because we do sin and are sinful (v.8), we need to confess our sin and be made clean by Jesus (v.9), and if we are going to walk with God, we need to be willing to let go of the darkness.  We can’t have it both ways with God–light and dark–because there is no darkness in him, we can’t be with God and hang on to our junk, our selfishness, our fatal habits, our vices, or our sin.   

This is where the spiritual journey of becoming “ordinary saints” truly begins–giving ourselves fully to God and cooperating with the transformational work of the Holy Spirit in us. 

What are the ways that the Holy Spirit is changing darkness to light in your life?  What are the dark corners that you have been holding on to?  In prayer, turn them over to God.  What are the ways that you can see that God has changed to for the good (light)?  Give God thanks in prayer for those.

Rev. Molly Simpson is the Campus Pastor of Resurrection’s West Campus in Olathe KS and can be reached by email at molly.simpson@cor.org.