Category Archives: When Christians Get it Wrong

2.13.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

It is easy to believe that we are the primary beneficiaries of our good behavior and the main victims of our bad or unhealthy choices. In fact, in the list of “blessed are the…” that immediately precedes this passage (Matt. 5:3-12), it would seem that the reward for a pious life is direct, personal, and individual. But then the teaching culminates in Jesus’ telling his hearers that the ultimate goal of their righteousness is that the world will see and know God and be better off for it.

It’s true that there are direct benefits to following Christ, but our faith is not a selfish faith. We must always remember that every word we say, every action we do, even those we think are small and insignificant, affect the lives of others.

This is sometimes helpful to me when facing temptation. When I think only of how it could hurt me, it can be easy to justify giving in to the temptation. When I take a moment, though, to consider how it could affect my ministry, my witness to God, and my future potential to bring others to Christ, it gives me further pause.

What an awesome responsibility God has given us. It is not something to take lightly. But how exciting and fun it is when we actually live into our calling to be the salt and light of the earth. There are few greater joys.

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

02.11.09 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

Today’s Scripture is right on time for Valentine’s Day.  1 Cor 13 is often read at weddings describing what love is.  The amazing part of this Scripture is not just a teaching on how to love but this is Paul’s description of God’s love.

It is a challenging, yet freeing understanding to remember that we love because God loves us.  God’s love we read in 1 Corinthians can flow through us.

As Christians, we see love as opening ourselves up to God so that God can love people through us.   When we love we are able to be vessels of a greater love than we could ever do by ourselves. Sometimes it is hard to love. The good news is that we open ourselves to God’s love and let God’s love shine through us.

One of the study questions is: How will you open your life to receiving God’s love so that you can give it away? Just as there are “love languages” of serving someone, words of affection, touch, spending quality time and giving gifts (Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages.)  We also have “love languages” where we can open ourselves more and more to God’s love.  These love languages (or as Wesley called them means of grace) help us have ordinary channels to receive God’s love.  They are prayer, Scripture reading, fasting, worship, serving and meeting in small groups. (If you are reading this you are reading scripture and prayer. Keep it up!)

When Christians do things with an absence of love, I would say that’s an absence of God.  God’s primary characteristics is love. So we remember this in our actions.  One of our staff members reminded the staff last week of a quote from John Maxwell, “People don’t care about what you know until they know that you care.”

This Valentine’s Day, let’s open our hearts more to receive God’s love so that we can share the love with others.

2.9.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

Jesus commandment in this scripture is so simple and yet so profound.

Love God.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

I believe that these commandments are so essential because they have so many implications for how we live and order our life. Love God means a lot of things like being in worship, serving others, learning more about God, being a part of a Christian community and so many other things. Loving our neighbor means our literal neighbor but also those who live in other parts of the city, country and world. In some sense we are all neighbors.

To love our neighbor as we love ourself we must also love ourself. This is an important reminder from Jesus, and I admit that I sometimes forget this part of the commandment myself. Caring for and loving myself means setting good boundaries, taking care of my physical body and making sure that I am spending time with God.

Love God.

Love your neighbor as yourself.

So simple and a key guide to shape our lives.

2.06.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

Jesus was always getting into trouble with the religious authorities. One of their main complaints was his acceptance of “sinners” and others they considered impure, but they also feared losing their power and standing in the community.

When I stand in judgement of someone, I am often reacting to my own fears and insecurities. Sometimes I fear that they have something that I need or desire, or that they are happier than me, or that I stand to lose something. Sometimes it’s the irrational fear of anything or anyone that I don’t comprehend. Life would be simpler if all just fit into my understanding of the world.

It takes the confidence of Jesus to say, “Neither do I condemn you,” and really mean it. We can move toward this confidence by embracing that we are children of God, a privilege that no one and nothing can take from us, and which is available to everyone.

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

02.02.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I found these passage of scripture to be particularly refreshing. The imagery of water in the first verse was refreshing to me when I read it. I found verse seven to be particularly meaningful and the focus on the second set of questions from the GPS guide today.

Isaiah 55:7 encourages those who have done what is against God’s will to turn back to God and that God will have mercy on them. What a powerful reminder! I find myself among those that do what is against God’s will at times and I know that when I ask God for forgiveness it is freely offered. There is not a qualification on us reciving mercy from God.

God’s mercy, forgiveness and grace is offered to us no matter where we are in our journey of faith. I find encouragement that God’s love is enough to overwhelm the wrong that I find in my life and the brokenness that exists far too often in relationships. While I do not always understand God’s freely given love, I am grateful to receive it.

1.23.09 Friday Insights from Pastor Dagney Pullin

When I was a freshman in college, I had turned away from God and from my faith. I wasn’t angry, I just had no need for it anymore. Several religious organizations on campus handed me their literature, but I wasn’t interested. But then one woman, a year ahead of me in the same major, befriended me. I knew she was involved in a campus ministry, but she didn’t invite me for a while. Instead, she helped me learn the ropes of the engineering department, introduced me to her friends, and made me feel at home. 

The first time she invited me to a party at the ministry, I told her I had no interest in religion. She said, “Ok, that’s fine,” and our friendship continued as normal. She was so incredibly generous toward me, never saying a word of judgement about any of my less than morally upright behavior, and overlooked so many incredibly stupid things that I said and did.  She intrigued me, and I wanted to spend more time with her, and so finally followed her to the Wesley Foundation, the Methodist campus ministry, one day. That changed my life.

Jesus crossed all sorts of boundaries when he befriended people, and though it bothered the religious leaders and even his disciples, it didn’t phase him. Even knowing everyone’s deepest, darkest secrets, he loved them extravagantly, and his love changed, and continues to change, one life after another. 

It’s very easy to grow so comfortable in our circles of friends and acquaintances that we forget to cross boundaries to form relationships with those who do not share our beliefs or lifestyles and have no desire to change. We need to seek out these relationships that stretch us and  offer friendship with no strings attached.

And just as Jesus asked the woman for a drink of water, everyone we meet will have a special gift from which we can learn and grow. Appreciating this and expressing our gratitude to others for what they give us is one of the most powerful proofs of real friendship.

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

01.21.2009 Wednesday Insights from Pastor Nicole Conard

As Naaman tried to find healing, he was trying out all the options. He was a man of high stature (because of what the Lord had done through him), and he had many options for healing.  A young servant indirectly shared about a place of healing, the prophet in Israel.  The king of Aram even sent a letter of recommendation and lots of money!  Yet, the king of Israel did not believe him.  Elisha heard what was going on but did not even come out to see Naaman. He just gave instructions to him through a messenger.  Naaman expected more!  At least Elisha would see him…but, with the help of his servants, Naaman reluctantly did as he was advised and was cured.

Sometimes we look for answers and we are expecting the answers to come a certain way.  We, like Naaman, remember that God speaks through people and circumstances –even the people and places we least expect.

That’s one of the amazing characteristics of God through Scripture. God meets people where they are and then takes them to a whole new level.  God is at work inside of each person, no matter if he/she knows it or not.  God works in and through people at all stages — even you and I.

Today –are you searching for something?  Open your eyes to the places even where you least expect and see how God may be at work. Remember God is at work in all of us!

1.19.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

The GPS guide reminds us that both the wise men and Herod indicated that they desired to worship Jesus and then asks what it means to worship and what qualities are needed to enter in to worship. Great questions.

I find that there are times when I am eager to come to worship. I am excited about singing the songs, praying together as a community and hearing God’s word preached. There are also times when I am not as excited about coming. I know that it is important to worship with others and it is also part of my job!

What happens most often in these times is that my heart is changed by the time that the service is over. When I hear the benediction, I do feel sent out to be God’s hands and feet in the world, despite having not been sure that I wanted to worship in the first place.

God welcomes all to worship and through the experience of worship gives each of the opportunity to reset our view on God.

01.13.09 Tuesday Insights from Pastor Molly Simpson

Take a look at Luke 13:1-9.  There is something that Jesus says that gives me pause–“do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no!  But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

There are people asking Jesus about tragic circumstances and they are trying to find out if they were acts of divine judgement on those that died.  Jesus responds that those that died in those situations were “no worse sinners” and no more guilty than all the other people.  So, no, those weren’t acts of divine judgment. 

But take notice… because Jesus doesn’t end his teaching there.  “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”  

The hard thing about this passage is that it is not just about punishment–it’s about sin–and Jesus is telling the people who are with him that they are sinners too.  You could assume that if God was sending acts of human cruelty or natural disasters as punishment for sin, then we would all be dead.  Romans 3:10 quotes from Psalm 14 and says, “There is no one righteous, not even one”–and Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

So that’s the bad news.  What do we do about it?  Jesus tells us to repent–to be contrite and to turn from sin–or we all too will perish.  There is a sense of urgency–we need to attend to our relationship with God.

I believe that sin is why bad things happen–not someone’s individual, particular sin causing their punishment through an act of tragedy–but sin, defined as separation from God, leaves us all in a world where bad things happen that are not the will of God.  Because of sin, we die. 

And this grieves God… to the extent that God decided to do something about it.  God may not stop the earthquakes, or intervene when other humans act in violent and harmful ways, but God did take on flesh, come to this earth, and suffer and die on the cross so that in the resurrection of Jesus, we all might receive the gift of eternal life.  And while he was here among us, Jesus spent his time teaching us how to live like him, that God’s will would be accomplished as we align ourselves with God’s ways. 

I pray that in our very real struggle of asking “why” when bad things happen that we do not miss the remedy, the gift that God has given to make all things right in the scope of eternity.  

Molly is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection West and can be reached by email at

1.12.09 Monday Insights from Pastor Andrew Conard

I appreciate the perspective from the GPS guide today.

“When Jesus met people with problems (whether illness, hunger or any of the many other challenges humans face) he did not offer them a lecture about what they’d done wrong, or tell them God was teaching them a lesson. Instead, he had compassion, and sought to make things better.”

I am called to respond to people who are suffering with active compassion, but sometimes I find it more difficult in my personal life. I can find myself becoming concerned that I will become too involved with others and the pain that they are experiencing. This is a little scary and I find myself responding like the disciples – Let them find their own help. This is where I have the opportunity to learn from Jesus in this story.

Jesus is aware of the needs of others, but he does not let them overwhelm him. He takes simple steps to let them know that he was there and that he knew what they needed. I hope to be able to show this type of peaceful presence and compassion to all those who I meet this week. Will you join me?