Friday, April 13, 2018

Why Not ‘Commonplace’ Acts of Kindness?

Post by: Sara Godwin

I’ve been pondering, for a while now, the phrase, “random acts of kindness”. For a lot of reasons this phrase bugs the heck out of me. What does it even mean? That kindness isn’t normal? That it isn’t something that one sees every day? Is kindness something that must be sought out, ever the elusive act that only some practice? Or if everyone practices it, they only do it sometimes? It’s the word ‘random’ that I really have a problem with. Is kindness truly that uncommon? The very definition of random, according to is “a person or place that is odd or unpredictable; without uniformity; unknown, unidentified or suspiciously out of place”. Hmmmm.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you know that our society is troubled. We see, almost every day, in our news, headlines, and social media all of the acts of rage, anger, hate, sickness, and sadness that has pervaded humankind. Children are committing suicide, we are taunting and bullying each other, some enter places of learning, worship, or commerce and inflict pain, terror, or even death upon others. We sit back after hearing about these acts and scratch our heads. We wonder why these things are happening. We ask for prayers, we rant on social media, we hug our loved ones close, but nothing every really changes. I think that perhaps, collectively, we just hope that it won’t happen to us. But it is. I don’t think any of us hasn’t been affected directly by at least one of these types of acts. They’re too common.

I’m not gonna lie; I have absolutely no idea what to do about all of this. I have no answers. I only know what I can do, as an educator and a parent and a human being in my own tiny, little sphere of breathing space on this planet. I can model and perform commonplace acts of kindness. I can smile at the cashier as I pay for my groceries, I can tip my waiter or waitress and voice my appreciation for their efforts, I can use my blinker and wait my turn to merge on the highway, I can hold the door for someone, I can thank others, no matter how small their act was, or, in other words, I can “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Luke 6:31 It’s right there; all of it, that one tiny verse, so commonly known to everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike.

I recently taught my students the Easter story. We started with Palm Sunday and progressed all the way to the ascension. One of the best lessons in that story happens in the middle, during the Last Supper and how Jesus washes the feet of his disciples to show his love for them. After I told my students that part of the story we filled buckets with water and washed each other’s feet. As we washed each other’s feet, we said kind things to each other. The kids said things like, “I like your hair”. Or, “you’re fun to play with”. Or, “you’re good at coloring”. Things that 5 year olds think are important. Yet, aren’t these things important to all of us? We all just want to know that we’re doing a good job, or that our efforts are noticed and appreciated. My students talked about this activity for days and continued to say kind things to each other, long after we were done. I hope that as they grow, they’ll think back on this activity and remember how it felt to give and receive kindness.

I’m not going to pretend that I have any answers to the ills that are affecting our society, but I can hope that my acts, my smile, my words, might have a ripple effect. Maybe if I smile at my cashier, they’ll smile at their next customer, who will then hold the door on their way out for someone, who will then go on to say thank you or I’m sorry to someone else, who will then go on to perform another act of kindness with another soul. I can model the very foundation of Jesus’ teachings to us and do unto others. It doesn’t answer everything, but it’s definitely a start. If we get enough ripples going, constantly, commonly, always moving outwards, maybe some things will change. Join me, won’t you?

Sara Godwin has been a member of BUMC since 2003. She is the Assistant Director and Teacher at Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten where she has worked since 2007. She has two wonderful children, Rachel and Ian, a loving husband, Shawn, two awesome kitties, Lewis and Lucy, and a sweet dog, Minnie. She began at BUMC working in the Children’s Ministry, assisting with Sunday School before moving to the preschool. She also helps with Wacky Wednesday and is the self-described crazy lady who wears all sorts of costumes every year at VBS.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Remember Dreamers

Post by: Ken Brown

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Most of us have a response to hearing his name or seeing it in the media. The remembrances of his assassination (April 4, 1968) were global. When I hear or see his name, I’m left without adequate words to describe his impact on my life. 

Like Dr. King, I too am a career pastor. His ability to live with resolve and conviction in the face of violence is astonishing. Even more amazing is Dr. King’s organization of the Children’s Crusades that aroused the nation’s conscience in 1963. These events were monumental chapters during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Armed with non-violent, peaceable tactics, thousands of young children were arrested in a march for their lives and the betterment of America. One of the youngest marchers in the Children’s Crusades was Audrey Faye Hendricks. She skipped school and went to a church that organized the peaceful march. “I wasn’t nervous or scared,” Audrey recounts. She chose to stand up to a system of racial violence. Audrey was nine. She spent seven days in jail and her parents were not allowed to contact her. 

Audrey’s story is the Easter story - walking out of tombs has a price. Every last one of us is a beneficiary of young Audrey’s courage. She made a choice to confront violence. The ripple for hope from her Birmingham jail cell continues a revolution to help us embrace one another on the content of character. 

After reading Audrey’s story, I felt embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of the Children’s Crusade of 1963. I thought, how many other people don’t know? It pierced my spirit and made me ache for those unheard. 

America’s children are standing up to our stagnation regarding gun violence. The church needs to follow their lead. 

As a church, we are grappling with the recurring questions about gun violence. Why? How? What’s to be done? 

What will you do to curb gun violence? What has Jesus whispered to your heart to speak when the stories of those like Audrey are told. Speak up. Find your words. Find your voice. Let’s be the type of church that remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination was not in vain. 

Ken Brown is the senior pastor at BUMC. You can contact him at

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Costly Grace

Post by: Mwangi Ndonga

By far (arm lengths, miles, light years), my favorite book on the Christian life is The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I have an old copy that a former pastor lent to me. On the cover it says “A powerful attack on ‘easy Christianity’”. Is your Christian life easy?

I’m not asking if you becoming a Christian was easy.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8

I’m asking about life ex post facto.

Bonhoeffer distinguishes cheap grace from costly grace in his first chapter:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

He goes on to say that, “It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” I don’t think that Bonhoeffer is saying that we “owe” Jesus for his sacrifice nor that we all have to enroll in seminary tomorrow. But we must recognize the cost at which our privilege was purchased.

A long time ago, I used to think: “So what’s the big deal about Jesus giving his life up? Firemen run into fires to save lives – giving up their lives for others at times. What’s so special about Jesus?”

Paul clarified this for me in Romans 5:6 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Would you step in and serve the sentence of a criminal? Would you lay your life so that a death row inmate is not executed? Would you sacrifice your child to bear the sin burden of the entire world and suffer? I wouldn’t. But Christ did. But God did.

And that is radical. And that is free. And that is costly.

Because of costly grace, Christianity isn’t a spectator sport.

“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“to be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow thee.”

Mwangi Ndonga currently lives in Broomfield with his wife, Talesha, and son, Kamundia. They have been members of BUMC since 2010. Mwangi primarily serves on the Worship and Arts Ministry by playing piano and bass guitar during the Contemporary Services. He works as an environmental, health and safety professional in the oil and gas industry. An avid reader, Mwangi loves discussion on almost any topic, especially music and theology.

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Time for Gentleness

Post by: Thomas Cross

In our discussions of Anxious for Nothing, I ran across a word I had not noticed before. The word is “gentleness,” and it is a word that Paul uses in Philippians 4:5. “Let your gentleness be known to everyone,” Paul says. Paul also lists “gentleness” as one of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. As you know, I am fascinated by the Greek words used in the New Testament, so I looked it up and found that the Greek word for “gentleness” is epiekes, which is derived from the word “appropriate.” Epiekes means “gentle, moderate, patient, stable, steady.”

Gentleness doesn’t preclude exuberance, but it does describe a person that is not easily rocked, a person that has a strong center of gravity, a person that doesn’t fly off the handle when things get difficult. The best antonym for epiekes is “erratic.”

In Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit are arranged in three triads, moving from inner character qualities (love, joy, peace), to outward qualities that strengthen our relationships with others (patience, kindness, goodness), to character qualities that allow us to continue growing and following Christ for the long haul. One can see how the emotional constancy of gentleness helps us to keep our balance and composure. Our gentleness flows from our inner character, it is manifested in our relationships, and helps us to finish the race of faith in a way that glorifies God.

The last three fruit of the Spirit are qualities that mark mature believers in Christ who have abided in Christ over a period of years. Our part is to abide closely in Christ, as Jesus says in John 15:4: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me." As we abide in Christ, it is the nature of the Holy Spirit's work to begin by changing our inner character, to manifest this transformation in our relationships, and finally to equip us to persevere in our faith by grounding us deeply in Christ's steadfast love.

It is the nature of Christ's character to be constant, unchanging, and enduring in nature, and it is Christ's desire to call forth the same in us, from our human spirits, from the true self, as we let go of our ego attachments that are tied up in what is fleeting and transitory. Paul discusses this transformation in Philippians 3:1-14, in which he lists his "resume" of all the accomplishments he was so proud of as a young man, and then concludes, "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (vs. 8).

What Paul discovered in Christ was not "a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" (Philippians 3:9). With our new birth in Christ, this righteousness from God forms the basis of our identity and mission. We become "imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you..." (Ephesians 5:1-2). Our ongoing challenge is to claim this true identity which is ours in Christ, and to keep asking Christ to help us when we find ourselves resisting or rejecting the truth of who we really are. The Lord is always eager to answer this prayer and help us when we need to reaffirm who and whose we are.

I can be gentle because I’m not terribly impressed by my own credentials and accomplishments. What impresses me is that I have a God who loves me, a Savior who helps me, and a Spirit who guides me. I didn’t do anything to earn these gifts, and I receive them humbly and joyfully. My overwhelming response is gratitude to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In our own time, I believe biblical “gentleness” is a gift worth cultivating. We live in a time of dramatic change. It is said that every 500 years or so, God does a new thing, and we seem to be right on schedule (500 years after the start of the Protestant Reformation). The changes of our time are too numerous for any of us to track or fully understand. In the midst of events we may find unsettling or befuddling, it is important to have a strong center of gravity in Christ so we are not rocked by the events of the day. In a time when many people seem more focused on winning arguments than friends, it is also important to offer the gentle word of encouragement and hope. We can do so because we trust that God is sovereign over history and our lives, that God has good plans for us and our planet.

How do we cultivate such gentleness? Our gentleness springs from our relationship with Christ. As we abide in Christ, depend upon his Spirit, and own our identity as God’s children, his gentleness will become one of the marks of our character. We will become people who are not easily rocked by the vicissitudes of circumstances, but rather people who find deep balance, stability, and composure because our character is built upon the foundation and Chief Cornerstone of the Living Christ. This constant gentleness allows us to treat others as Christ treats us, with love, whether we agree with them or not. As the hymn writer Edward Mote puts it, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Thomas Cross is one of the pastors at BUMC, starting his ninth year here.  He loves to help people grow in Christ and start new small groups.  He says his passion is ‘to introduce people to the God I know through Jesus Christ, the God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.’  He enjoys hiking, reading, cooking, going to movies, working out, collecting art, listening to jazz music, and watching the Broncos for fun.  And he has a blast meeting with the diverse small groups he facilitates! 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Deal Breaker

Post by: Theresa Mazza

What side of the issue are you on? What do you stand for? What are your core values?

These questions are quickly becoming the litmus test for friendship and connection. Answer any of these questions wrong or hint at the wrong answer and you may be looking at a deal breaker. Our differences have somehow become unforgivable sins. You believe coffee should be enjoyed black? Deal breaker. You believe the most recent Star Wars movies are better than the original Star Wars movies? Deal breaker. Seems like an extreme position, right?

Agreeing to disagree may be a thing of the past. Now, I know the examples above don’t really represent the most serious deal breakers of our time but you get what I’m saying. The space to coexist with those who have different values or views is getting smaller and smaller with each passing day. Have we deemed our differences unforgivable offenses against friendship and community?

Is it okay for us to have such little space in our lives for those who challenge us to our core?

Maybe it’s okay when there is no potential for a civil and meaningful conversation. Maybe it’s okay if we seriously feel our life is in danger. Maybe it’s okay if nothing productive can take place and both parties are achieving nothing.

But maybe it’s not okay if we just don’t like being uncomfortable. Maybe it’s not okay if we’ve become addicts of “being right.” Maybe it’s not okay if we’re playing God and self-determining what is a sinful act and what is not.

So how much space should there be to coexist and even potentially respect and love those “other” people? Well, how much space has God allowed for us to abide in him in all of our sinfulness and imperfection?

In the book of Matthew, Peter asked Jesus, “how many times should I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven? Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.”

So maybe we can create more space for one another in our hearts. Next time you face a deal breaker, remember the space Jesus creates in his reply to Peter. 70 X 7!

If we can forgive someone 490 times (okay Jesus is amazing so let’s cut that number in half because we aren’t Jesus, if we can forgive someone 245 times, nope that’s still too much for me, let’s cut that in half again, if we can forgive someone 122 times) maybe that gives us enough space to see them through the eyes of Jesus and to love them as we love ourselves.

Theresa is a youth advocate, writer and speaker, as well as the Volunteer Coordinator for Hope House of Colorado, an organization empowering teenage moms to strive for personal and economic self-sufficiency. She sings with BUMC's worship team and is married to Worship Arts Director, Joe Mazza. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Show Your Love to Thy Neighbor

Post by: Elliott Holm

I haven’t written a blog entry for a while now, and a lot has changed! Kyla and I became parents to our beautiful daughter, Ella, and she has brought so much to our lives. We absolutely adore being with her, holding her, watching her smile, and never missing a moment

Through all the excitements of parenting and life, though, it’s very easy to forget to also be there for the people you love. I was reminded of this when I returned to work, and began teaching my students. We are knee-deep right now in a two year-long unit on how to be successful and productive adults, so the students will hopefully be equipped for many more things that will come their way.

It was during this week, I started a new chapter with my “Adulting” group, called Friends and Neighbors, with the hopes that it will teach the kids how to make healthy friends when they’re adults, as well as how to be there for their neighbors. I taught them about so many things I was so excited to talk about; deciding what size of friend group was right for their personalities, choosing healthy places to find new friends, being nice to new people who just started working with you, and much more. I truly felt that we were having some great conversations, and the students were very engaged; I had them right where I wanted them!

That’s when I got this sign that this lesson needed to be a little bit more. It happened to be on Valentine’s Day, and I teach each chapter in numbered “Tips.” I got to my final Tip for the day, which was Tip number 14, on February 14th. This tip was: “Tell the people you love why you love them.” I hadn’t realized when I made this presentation, that I stopped here, at this tip, on Valentine’s Day, and it happened to be about love. But there was this quote I found from an author I frequently use in these lessons to end the lesson with: “I try, once a year, to write a letter to each of my closest friends and let them know why they mean so much to me, and why I am so lucky to have them in my life. Everyone wants to be acknowledged and everyone wants to feel loved. There is no reason to withhold this, especially from people who are worthy of it.” I stopped in my tracks for that day’s lesson. I knew this had to be bigger than me just telling students this author’s quote. I told the students we had 20 minutes left in class, let’s do this exact thing the author does and write to someone we love. The students were a bit hesitant at first, but quickly thought of someone who was important to their lives, and began scrawling handwritten notes on torn-out lined paper as quickly as they could. Some of them even wrote 3 or 4 letters. I was in a whirlwind of kids asking if they could run to another class to give it to a friend, or a teacher, or if I could mail it for them, to someone important (Which I did, I promise!).

But I always tell my students I’ve got to “put my money where my mouth is” and be willing to do any of the tasks I assign to them. I reached out to a friend I actually talk to very regularly, and let him know these things, how great of a friend he is, and how lucky I am to have him. He took a while to reply, but eventually told me he had a very difficult day at work, and Valentine’s Day usually reminds him of loneliness. He told me how much that simple message, that took me about 30 seconds to write, meant to him, and how it completely turned his day around and turned it into something special. Now, I’m not trying to make a case for Valentine’s Day; I’m well aware that many people are averse to it, I mean, I do teach High School, after all! What I do want to make a case for, though, is exactly what the author states. If you love someone in your life, or even just appreciate them, because they bring something special, let them know. Even if it seems trivial, or you think they won’t care, or even if they react like they don’t, they really do care. Your gestures to reach out to someone could mean the world to them, can give them the strength to carry on, and can put the biggest smile on their face. Whatever it is you choose to do, or who you choose to be there for, just always try to put aside all the busy-ness of life, and remind the people you care for why they’re important, and be the light in their world, even if just for a day.

Elliott has been attending BUMC since 2012 with his wife, Kyla. Since attending, he has worked with technology for services, as well as camera work on Easter and Christmas, while Kyla sings. He is a high school Gifted and Talented teacher at Wheat Ridge High School, and is in his 6th year of teaching. He lives in Arvada with his wife, new baby daughter and two dogs.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Judgment: An Act of Love or Condemnation?

Post by: Reid Lester

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on the same day, I’ve been spending the week thinking about both how we love each other and how we repent from our sins. These two important days have always made me feel very different emotions. Love and bliss are the focus of Valentine’s Day, while repentance and sacrifice are the focus of Ash Wednesday. It made me wonder, is there is an intersection between love and repentance?

Whenever I think about repentance, it makes me think about judgment. I’ve always been more comfortable than most with the idea of judgment. Perhaps it’s because my job outside of church is as a professional sports official. I get paid to make hundreds of judgments every night on both actions and intentions.

Where it gets difficult for me (and I think we need to be careful) is when we judge another person’s intentions. It has been famously said that we often judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. That being said, I believe it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to repent from our sins if we don’t know about our sin. I believe the Holy Spirit brings us conviction and helps us realize that we are sinning, but I also believe the Holy Spirit speaks through spiritual leaders and those we trust to point out the areas in which we are missing the mark.

This past week I read an interesting blog about judgment vs feeling welcomed. It started off saying,

“It was decided some decades ago that no one must ever feel uncomfortable, guilty, or, worst of all, judged. They especially must not feel this way at church. Church is a place where all must be welcomed, we’re told.”

The point of the blog is that we as Christians would rather feel comfortable as we continue down the destructive path of sin, than have someone point out our sin and make us feel uncomfortable, even though that revelation would give us a chance to correct our behavior and grow in our relationship with God.

Since a big part of my job is making sure everyone feels welcome at our church, I was intrigued, and I had to read the rest of the blog. I didn’t agree with everything in the article, but it did raise some interesting questions about how we in modern society feel about judgment.

I struggled a little with how we define judgment, the motivation behind judgment, and how that correlates to our relationship with other Christians. Judgment can be defined as “to distinguish or to decide.” “The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.” We all make hundreds of judgments every day. We make judgments about what we eat, how we spend our time, what we wear, and who we listen to.

So what is the motivation behind judgment? Does judgment equal condemnation, or are we able to separate the two? I believe equating judgment with condemnation is why people have a visceral reaction to judgment. After the Gospels, the majority of the New Testament is made up of spiritual leaders offering judgment and corrective feedback to followers of Christ and their churches. Can we as Christians get over our discomfort around judgment and be able to both offer and receive judgment understanding love is the motivation.

As parents, you have to lead your children in the understanding of what is right and wrong. You must judge their behavior and give corrective feedback. This is done to make them better people as they grow up.

The new language heard in churches across the nation on Sunday mornings goes something like this… “We just want to come along side you in your own personal journey. We don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” My personal belief is this language is unproductive and destructive. The blog went on to say,

“If I'm lost and moments away from walking over a cliff, I'd much prefer that you point me in the right direction than "accompany" me over the edge and "welcome" me to my demise and see that I am "included" at the morgue. That is all very polite, I guess, but your pleasant manners won't be much help to me when I'm a pancake. And what if I'm very lost? What if I'm distracted in my wandering, and obstinate, and arrogant, and unable to hear or unwilling to listen to your gentle reminders and subtle nudges? Well, then maybe you'll have to shout. Maybe you'll have to get in my face a little. Maybe, God forbid, you'll have to cast harsh judgments on my chosen path and make me feel bad and icky inside. If that's the only way to get my attention, I should be grateful that you took such a "harsh" and "judgmental" approach.”

I believe we as Christians need to be brave. I think of it a little like when I finally got up the courage to ask RuthAnn (now my wife) out on a date. I needed courage in the moment. There was a chance it could be awkward or that I might get rejected, but the possibility of building a relationship outweighed my fear. We need that same courage when we feel led to speak out.

In the Wednesday Word of the Day Pastor Ken talked about “wilderness.” Ken spoke about being brave and having the ability to speak out. He referenced BrenĂ© Brown’s new book Braving the Wilderness. In the book BrenĂ© shares a quote from another author about how difficult it can be to step out in the wilderness.

“Standing on the precipice of the wilderness is bone-chilling. Because belonging is so primal, so necessary, the threat of losing your tribe or going alone feels so terrifying as to keep most of us distanced from the wilderness our whole lives. Human approval is one of the most treasured idols, and the offering we must lay at its hungry feet is keeping others comfortable. I’m convinced that discomfort is the great deterrent of our generation.”

We are willing to sacrifice truth to fit in. We give up the courage in our desire to be accepted. Can you think of a time when you knew someone was making a mistake, but you were too afraid to say something? We need to follow the example of Jesus in John Chapter 8. When talking with the woman at the well and being fully aware of her sin, Jesus says “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus speaks to her from a place of love, while still addressing the fact that she needs to stop her sinful behavior.

Your willingness to say something might be what keeps someone from experiencing pain or tragedy. We need to step out of our comfort zone, step into the wilderness, and be willing to offer judgment and corrective feedback to those we care about. We need to care more about each other and our eternal salvation than about the possibility of making someone uncomfortable.

Reid Lester is the Director of Servant Ministries at Broomfield United Methodist Church. Reid’s job is to help people find ways to serve our Church and the community through our Church Ministries and our Community Partnerships. Reid and his wife RuthAnn have been attending BUMC for 2 years. When Reid isn’t at BUMC he serves as a pilot for the Civil Air Patrol. Reid also umpires Division 1 baseball for the NCAA.