Category Archives: Reset

11.18.08 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

I begin with a brief apology for the missing post last week.  I’m sorry, and I’m blessed to know that there are people out there reading our musings and enjoying them. 

Now, to the text for the day:  Matthew 6:1-4.  So much in a few verses. 

This is the first of three warnings in which we are told to watch our intentions–this one about giving, followed by a similar sentiment on prayer (v.6) and fasting (v.16). 

Jesus tells us:

1. Give to the needy (the statement assumes we are already doing it and know it is a good thing).

2.  Don’t go announcing what you have done to gain the attention or approval of other people.

3.  Give in secret.  God sees what you’ve done secretly, then you will receive a reward from God (much better than the accolades of other people). *

*–We don’t give to the needy in order to be rewarded by God.  We don’t give seeking to receive some benefit, payback, or eternal bonus points, but by acting faithfully we do receive God’s esteem.   

This passage suggests that how we give–our disposition, our attitude–is in fact as important as the gift we give.  It all comes back to the idea that we can only worship God.  Either our intentions are to honor God in our giving (and praying and fasting) or they are to honor ourselves.  We can’t have it both ways.     

I can’t give you any examples of giving in secret, obviously that would defeat the point, right?  I can tell you that I know it in my gut when I am practicing my faith in a way that is first seeking the approval of others.  At first it feels good… other people say things like “oh Molly, that’s so generous”  or “you give so much of yourself.”  Then that voice in my head says, “yes, I am so good/so holy/so giving/so faithful.”  Then, my stomach starts to turn a bit, and I can almost hear God say, “so that really wasn’t for me after all.”  That’s when I’ve received my reward in full from everyone around me–at the expense of worshipping and honoring God.  Not good.  I suppose that’s what Jesus was trying to tell us in the first place. 

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

11.17.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I find this to be a powerful passage of scripture. The young man comes to Jesus with the earnest question of how to get eternal life. The young man has followed the commandments for his entire life and recognizes that something is still missing. The commandments about which the young man asks have to do with doing or not doing particular things. Jesus invites the young man to make different priorities about to what he is attached. The invitation has to do with a reset of the way that the young man looks at the world. Life is not about possessions or accumulating wealth. Life is about knowing, loving and serving God. Life is about following Jesus first in our lives.

I confess that one thing to which I have a tendency to be attached is technology. I enjoy connecting via email and social networks to friends and people in the Resurrection community. For me, email is an integral part of connecting with people at Resurrection. All these are good and I believe do not get in the way of my following Jesus. I do confess that I have a tendency to desire the latest and greatest gadget and that this can be unhealthy. I hope to never say that I would choose an iPod, smartphone or computer over Jesus, but know that part of my human condition is that these things compete for my attention.

I am glad that God gives each of us the opportunity and power to break our unhealthy attachments and become connected more deeply with following Jesus. Today is a great day to reset.

11.14.08 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

The author of 2 Corinthians, Paul, is appealing to the Corinthian church to give generously to  a collection he was gathering from many of the churches for the poor in the church of Jerusalem. His vision was that the generosity and cooperation of all the churches would both feed their souls and create unity among them.

Paul is a master persuader. He begins the appeal in 8:1 by telling the Corinthians about the overwhelming generosity of the church in Macedonia, even in their hard times. Can’t you just feel the competitive spirit? Then he goes on to praise the Corinthians for excelling “in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness…” Of course they would want to live up to these lofty expectations and set a good example for the other churches and for their surrounding community.

Christ’s generosity changed our lives and our world, and our generosity can also have a profound affect on our world. The natural reaction when times are hard is to hold on tighter to what we have out of fear, which makes our sacrificial giving more crucial now than ever. We have a special calling both to give and to set an example in giving to those around us. How would our neighborhood, our city, our country look different if generosity was the dominant attitude?

Unlike Paul, I am not going to give you the story of another church to live up to, but instead am going to give you your own story. Church of the Resurrection has a reputation in our city, in our conference, and in the Methodist church at large, as one of the most faithful, generous, hard-working congregations. Other faith communities and thousands of individuals look to what we do and are guided by our actions. I will be thinking of that when filling out my commitment card this weekend, and I urge you to do the same. Let’s set the example of great generosity and faithfulness.

Rev. Dagney Pullin is the pastor of community life in the adult discipleship department. She can be reached at dagney.pullin@cor.org and you can read her blog at pastordagney.blogspot.com

11.10.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

Each weekend there is the opportunity to give financially out of the gifts that God has given us. I appreciated the first question from the GPS guide today. I do believe that I have an opportunity to show a generous spirit every day. Generosity is not just financial giving, but it can be a state of mind and a way of living. Generosity can be expressed in things like opening the door for others, taking your shopping cart back inside the store or telling someone thank you for the job that they do which helps everyone else. All these are possibilities to be generous in our spirit and generous in the way that we share God’s love with others.

What is God’s indescribable gift? God has freely gives us many things. The gift of life, living as one of God’s children and the opportunity to be in relationship with God are all freely given. Sometimes it is the most common things for which I find myself forgetting to be thankful. I think God’s indescribable gifts also include a beautiful sunrise, the opportunity to gather with other believers, the beauty in changing seasons, the promise of new life and a new day.

11.05.08 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

There are natural times in our life where we reset.  Today is one of those days.

Today is the day when we discover who our leaders for our nation, state, and local governments.  Today you may have found out your biggest disappointments or your greatest joys.  The newly elected officials now begin to think about their new reality and what is now going to happen as they move forward.

Today we also read the parable of the sower.  The time comes to scatter seed.  Jesus notes the four places where seed lands: 1- path, where it was trampled on; 2- rock – where it withered without moisture; 3- thorns- choked the plants; 4- good soil – yielded a crop 100 times more than what was sown.

Today I encourage you to pause just for a few moments.  Think how you would answer the question in the GPS guide, “How is the seed (the Word of God) growing in your life?” In other words, how are you growing in your faith of knowing, loving and serving God?

Today I reflected on these questions and I hit the reset button. I found my study of the Scripture could be enhanced by reading in the morning (instead of late at night when its hard to focus), taking one book of the Bible a time, underlining important passages and sharing those thoughts with others.  I found that through this regular discipline the Word of God (the seed) continues to grow in my life. Then, the thorns are cut away and the new soil begins.

Today – right now-on this day of reset-  take five minutes. Pause. And ask God the question,

“What are you calling me to do today to reset?”

11.4.08 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

It’s hard for me to meditate on much other than the obvious today… my prayers are directed toward the election, the decisions being made, and the future leaders of our local community, state, and country. 

1 Chronicles 29:11 says, “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.”  This is a statement that David makes as King–claiming that God is the one that ultimately has power.  Today, there are many people that want our next President to pray something similar–for their faith to shape the way that they lead. 

While I wouldn’t negate this sentiment, I think it is perhaps the wrong way of looking at things.  What if this is our prayer??  What if we are the ones claiming that all the earth is God’s?  That God is Lord and the head over all?  Perhaps if our prayers assert that “In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all,” then we will see a much greater impact on the world than merely electing a faithful Christian to a particular office.

Verses 12-17 celebrate the generosity of God, the abundance of God’s gifts–and verse 16 says that all of everything belongs to God.  Praying that at the end of this day, regardless of election results, that you be able to lift up your praise for the abundance of God’s gifts and to claim, once again, “all of it belongs to you Lord.”       

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

11.03.08 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

The people of Israel have spent a generation in the wilderness. They are preparing to cross over the Jordan river into the land that God has promised them. Moses has lead the people of Israel across the wilderness of Sinai, but he will not be the one that will lead them into the promised land. The words of the scripture in the Grow. Pray. Study. Guide for today come as a part of Moses’ final words to the people before they enter the new land.

Moses is looking forward to a time when the people will flourish in their new home. He reminds them of the hardship that they have experienced over the last 40 years and that only through God’s providence were they able to survive. Moses encourages the people never to forget that it is God who always and ultimately sustains their life and that God is the source of all good things.

I think that this reminder holds true in both good and bad economic times. This passage offers wisdom for these economic times through the reminder that God is with us at all times, sustaining and providing. We may not be sustained in the way that we hope or expect, but God continues to walk with us, no matter what comes.