Friday, September 23, 2016

Is God in view during Successes AND Failures?

Post by: Frank Oligmueller

A recent event in the 2016 Summer Olympics involving track athletes prompted me to see success and failure with a different perspective. The particular action occurred during a race when a collision of two runners made them fall and rather than forging back into the race, there was a moment taken to help each other. And, then encouraging each other to finish. One runner was quoted as saying “Although my actions were instinctual at the moment, the only way I can have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way.”

Though God has made all things in this world, we are not to love it in place of God. As stated, 1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” In our quests and journeys, we so quickly judge the outcomes of our actions, sometimes instinctively, for what others have defined as a won or loss situation. There are many standards set by this world on where exceeding, average and below average standard indicators align. These standards are set in nearly all life’s experiences and we begin encounter them very early in our lives. This early exposure then leads to an instinctive way results in how we behave during our successes and failures. But, as Christians, we need to remember to first seek the Kingdom of God and in all things He works for the good of all those that love Him.

Recently, upon reflecting at the end of a day, I found myself caught up in basing my overall day on achievements and non-achievements at work. This included helping a team complete 100% of its planned work and another team that got less than 50% completed for their planned work. Thereby, labeling one as a success and other as failure. I let these events consume me to a point of finding a way to have the emotions associated with my successful team override any stress and worry created by the unsuccessful team to feel good about myself. Inevitably, this created a block on viewing each event in what should be a more positive light and ultimately not feeling good about the day. On the other hand, light in all situations can be found when bringing God into view. When detaching from the world’s view on what measured success and failure in this situation, I discovered there was a more important foundation that had occurred. This foundation was the evidence of God’s character being played out, within each team – whether consciously or unconsciously – in the form of patience, kindness and lifting each other. Subsequently, by seeking first the Kingdom of God, we can find success in all our endeavors regardless of the outcome as judged by the world. As Paul wrote to the Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hallow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Additionally, to transform ourselves instinctively - Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

As Christians, we should reflect our worldly failures and successes through the eyes of Christ. This will allow us to be comforted and instinctively build us up in hope, faith and to experience His grace and mercy. This also seemed evident to the Olympic runner who went on to say “This time here (at the Olympics) he made it clear that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance as soon as Nikki got up, I knew that was it.”

It is not in how we finish in the world’s view, but how the journey is seen with God’s view.

I grew up in the states of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. After finishing my Computer Science degree at University California - Irvine, I eventually moved back to Colorado with my wife. Over the past 32 years, I have worked in both the aerospace and commercial industries with my degree getting many opportunities to grow in my professional life. However, there always seemed a gap in the growth of my spiritual life. That gap has began to fill measurably since my attendance and involvement at BUMC for which I praise God to have brought us at a key time of our lives. Outside major interests include playing hockey, but time and the physical ability has been an increasing challenging, planning a yearly 14er climb and trips to Disney - most favorably - Walt Disney World. However, I love spending anytime and anywhere with my wife, family and friends. All the while - inviting Christ with me.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wait on the Lord

Post by: Theresa Mazza

I hate waiting! I am NOT good at it. I’m good at some things. I can tie my shoes like nobody’s business. I’ve had that down for a while. And after years of practice, I’ve finally nailed my husband’s family recipe for authentic Italian gravy and meatballs. But please don’t ask me to wait. I’m so bad at waiting.

The light turns green and the car in front of me is obviously texting and not interested in driving. I can’t even deal. Yes, I will honk my horn at you! Green light, Go! Why aren’t we driving? When I’m shopping I always use self-check-out. I quit waiting in line at the store years ago. Is waiting something I’m working on? Honestly, no. Not most of the time. Not even half of the time. But is it something I recognize I’m not good at and can’t improve on my own? That would be a yes.

A truth that keeps presenting itself to me is this: sometimes we have to wait. And most the time waiting brings strength, courage, humility, and a deeper and more mature love for others. When we struggle with real life issues, things that are more important than whether we make a light or not, we have to wait. And it’s hard.

In the world I live in I just haven’t had to wait for much. So when things don’t happen right away I struggle. I tend to quit before I’ll wait for something. Quit the line, quit the diet, or quit the new goal. There are, however, things I don’t want to quit. There are things that are totally worth waiting for even when it’s painful. Sometimes what we want takes time. Sometimes what we need takes time. And not sometimes, but always, healing takes time.

Here’s a promise: we don’t have to wait alone. Whatever it is we are waiting on may make us feel alone, depleted of strength, and stripped of any hope. When we feel that way maybe we think it would be easier to quit this line and hop into self-check-out mode. What we need is renewed strength and hope. So the word of God offers us this in Isaiah 40:31.

but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

The New International Version says it this way:

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Whatever it is you are waiting for today, I pray that you will place your hope in the Lord, place your trust and your heart with Him. Do not wait for a miracle, do not wait for someone to change, do not wait for things to be perfect. Wait for the Lord.

And He will renew your strength.

Theresa is a youth advocate, writer and speaker. She’s also a professional singer who has performed with Travis Cottrell and Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences, Nicole C. Mullen, Truth and many others. She’s married to BUMC’s Worship Arts Director, Joe Mazza. Check out more from Theresa at

Friday, September 2, 2016

Time Flies.

I’ve heard that as you get older, time seems to move even faster and I feel that sentiment more acutely since having children. I blinked and my squishy, blue-eyed baby is a 5-year-old. He’s playing soccer, learning to read, talking back and starting to have real conversations.

Time never seems to be constant. My days at work drag, trips away from my family can last far too long. Three days in yet another hotel room for yet another presentation seem to last and last. On the flip side, my blissful time with my children passes in a flash. I often think that they must be literally growing in front of me and changing as I watch them play.

Maybe it is because we’re all so connected. We never turn-off and power down. We don’t stop to enjoy the moment, the hour, the day, the time that we have. Most people agree that family comes first; it is the most important facet of our lives. Why don’t we slow down and enjoy while we can?

I recently read in an Inc. Magazine article ( that the way to “slow down” time is to change a daily routine and to feed your brain more information. When we get into a rut, our brains stop processing the day-to-day. Learning a new skill or visiting a new place or meeting new people will disrupt the monotony and allow us to slow down some. The author also says to “Be Spontaneous” because, “Surprises are like new activities: they make us pay attention and heighten our senses.”

So, now, my new goal. Break the monotony and take my children on some new adventures, enjoy some time with friends, make some exciting travel plans. I am so blessed to have this beautiful family and I want to soak-up all of the experiences that I can. Emails and voicemails and work and bills can wait; my children, cannot.

He has made everything beautiful in its time.- Ecclesiastes 3:11(NIV)

Cristen Underwood has been a member of BUMC for five years.   She lives in Westminster with her husband, (almost) 5-year old son, 1.5-year-old son, a very old Siberian Husky and a really fat cat. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Listening to God

Post by: Heidi Schwandt

I have a friend and neighbor who has a gift. He has always had very vivid dreams about things to come. Many of these dreams were about things he has been praying over for days, weeks, months. His wife encouraged him to start writing these dreams down years ago.

Over the last 4 years the company he works at has been laying people off. Praying that God would help them make it through yet another round they nervously escaped the cut time after time. This last year my friend had a dream and kept seeing the number 60. Not sure what this meant he wrote down the dream and kept on praying and waiting. This year was his 60th birthday and he was laid off.

His wife is crazy jealous of these dreams. She always says she would just LOVE to be able to hear from the Lord in such a manner! ME TOO! I think most of us would love to just dream an answer to a prayer or hear the Lord's voice like a resounding gong in our heads and hearts. God spoke to people in the bible all the time. I don’t think He just stopped…maybe we lost the ability to hear Him.

Today it seems we are often too busy. We are so focused on the day ahead of us, what happened yesterday, what we are going to do tomorrow I believe it is becoming harder and harder for us to hear God when he speaks to us. So do I think we need to stop, meditate, listen, pray be still for hours every week- well sure if you can! But I have 2 kids under the age of 4 so that’s not happening in my household…unless I stop sleeping.

I think that listening for God can be as simply as living our lives with more intentionality and awareness each day. We can start by praying each morning that He pings our self-consciousness when we need to listen and work towards being aware enough to notice. We are going to need God’s help in this. In fact, I have learned we need God’s help in most all areas of self-improvement.

In Psalm 143 David Prays, “I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord: my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of our unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go for to you I lift of my soul. Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Teach me to do your will for you are my God’ may your good Spirit lead me on level ground”

Last week I had a babysitter for a few short hours while I ran to the Doctor and squeezed in a few errands. I had to make a return at JAX and was running out of time. I parked, hoped out of the car and bee-lined for the door. For a brief moment I noticed an older man park a bike with a large basket in front of the store. He wasn’t dressed in dirty old rags or anything, but as I walked up I noticed he was heading for the garbage bin outside of the store. He had just seen a woman throw away a plate of half eaten food and was rummaging through the bin. When I approach he quickly turned away from what he was doing.

In that moment I was so focused on getting my returns done, I noticed all this but I didn’t SEE what was happening... Plus if he was hungry I didn’t have anything for him anyways, no cash or food. So, I raced past him into the store and made my return. While waiting for the cashier in the store it really dawned on me what he was doing. I suddenly SAW more than just an old man with his bike, looking through the garbage. I SAW a person, who was hungry, ashamed, in need.

Then as I went to collect my receipt I noticed two granola bars and an apple in my purse. REALLY?! Sorry Lord, I just wasn’t paying enough attention. It wasn’t a BIG moment, God wasn’t telling me that the world was going to end or something terrible would happen to one of my children, but he was giving me the opportunity to listen to Him and serve one of His own. And I missed it. And sometimes I think the little moments can make a BIG difference if only we are listening enough to notice them. If only we took the time each morning to ask God, like David did, to show us the way, to speak to us, to lead us.

By the time I got back outside the gentleman was gone. I quickly hoped in the car and drove around the surrounding area for a few minutes hoping I could find him but I could not. This happened 2 weeks ago and the incident has crossed my mind many times since then.

I think God often speaks to use by giving us these opportunities to love one another. To help a complete stranger, to act with Grace and kindness when it is least expected. Maybe you have a granola bar to give, maybe it’s $5 bucks, maybe its your time, your prayers. Whatever it may be the first step is to stop and pray. Pray that God gives you the awareness to HEAR Him, however quiet the whisper, and the courage to act. That nagging voice in the back of your head isn’t just your mother reminding you to do or be something…Sometimes it’s your Father (the heavenly one).

I am a Chicago girl living in Colorado for 8 years now. I have been married to Ed for 12 years and have two beautiful children Vivian & Natalie. After spending several years working for the American Red Cross while living overseas in Germany I moved to Colorado and worked in the financial industry for 7 years. Now I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom and wife. I am mostly a homebody but will get out of the house for time on a lake or river (basically any body of water), dinner with friends or fishing! Most of my personal time is spent with my husband and kids or working on yet another one of my home improvement projects, I am a DIY junkie and have done everything from drywall to electrical and carpentry, not to mention hours of painting. I have been a member of BUMC for about 2 years and a follower of Christ for as long as I can remember. It’s been a blessed life thus far and I’m excited to see what else God has in store for me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Power of Begging (For Forgiveness)

Like many of my blog posts, this one is, yet again, about how I use church in my daily life, particularly at work. In my high school class, I frequently find myself utilizing the knowledge in sermons, speeches, and stories when I’m in my class. This one comes from a particular interaction with a student who is one of those covert difficult students. This means that he’s not the one throwing paper across the room, or getting physical, or shouting inappropriate language. Instead, this student chose his style of difficulty by giving written feedback at the bottom of assignments such as, “I felt like this was a complete waste of my time,” or by taking the unpopular opinion during debates in the class, just so he can “do battle” with other kids, even if he doesn’t even believe what he’s saying. I’m sure we’ve all met people like him at some point.

Well, a while ago, Thomas gave a wonderful sermon about not judging others, and going out of your way to care for people who you find hard to care for. The week after this sermon, I was giving an end-of-the week test to my kids. It’s a simple test where I allow them to use their journal to answer simple and silly questions, just to make sure they’ve been keeping up in class with their notes. One question comes up at the end, where the kids are required to say, “My favorite part of this class is…” and finish that sentence. Since I have smaller classes, and all the kids know each other, I asked them to say it aloud from their seat. You can probably guess how my challenging student handled this test. He ended up walking up to me, saying, “My favorite part of this class is how bureaucratic and irritating this test is.” He followed up by dramatically throwing his paper in the air, and trudging back to his seat. I’ll admit, I felt “that” anger, you know, the one where you feel your face getting warmer, and that strange feeling in your belly, like you’re ready to burst. I got up, walked over to his chair, and calmly pointed him to the door, and told him to get out of my classroom, which I had never said in his class to anyone before. Because this is a student who is usually a covert difficulty, he isn’t actually used to that kind of response.

I walked back towards my chair, but on the way, I could hear the Lord speaking in my ear. I knew exactly what He would say. “Elliott, if you hadn’t made that boy stand up in front of everyone and talk, he never would have said that.” I obviously knew that He was right, so I stopped where I was, turned around, and walked back to his desk. I got down on his level, and talked very quietly. I told the top of his head that I really didn’t like how we handled that interaction, and that I wasn’t comfortable with how it ended up. To my surprise, he looked up with eyes full of tears. I stopped talking due to my shock, as I had never seen this student show emotion before. He spoke very sheepishly and said, “I didn’t like how I handled that either, and I’m so upset with myself.” I only had one thing to say to that, because his response instantly softened my heart. I said, “Will you please accept my apology?” This, I think, is such a big thing for so many people. We throw around the word “sorry” so often, that sometimes, we don’t even think of how miniscule the things we apologize for actually are, like brushing past someone in the supermarket.

For my particular chosen student, the key to get past my difficulty with him was these simple words. They didn’t cost anything, and they didn’t degrade my character (if anything, they added to it). There is so much power in replacing your phrase “I’m sorry” with “Will you accept my apology?” especially when interacting with kids. We can never forget that even when working with the kids in our lives, no matter how difficult they can be, we always need to approach these kinds of situations with humility, and keep their feelings in mind. When they hear adults apologize to them, it teaches them a very powerful lesson, and supports their bond and trust with their parents. Please always keep your best feelings in your hearts, and a generous, loving God in your head at all times.

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 and two dogs.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Positivity and Prayer

I am not a patient person. I really don’t like waiting; for anything. Long lines of people give me angst; interminable traffic lights make me crazy, creeping minutes in a doctor’s office drives me batty. You get the idea. Waiting is hard. That little quirk of mine has made this a somewhat difficult summer for me.

There have been various areas of my life these past weeks, where I really, really wanted, nay, needed an answer. Preferably now or even yesterday would serve my sense of sensibility. It has been super frustrating to have to sit back and let events that I have no control over unfold. I would really like to see everything just fall into place. Like, now. God has a different idea for me, however. I guess He thinks that I need to learn a little lesson in patience.

Every day I have woken up thinking, “This is the day! Today I’ll get the answer that I’ve been seeking!” Then, at the end of the day, when I don’t have my answer, I really have to fight the urge to rail, rant and bluster about the injustice of it all. It would just be so much easier if I could control the actions of other’s to suit my need for an answer. I’ve blogged about this subject before, how I have trouble dealing with things that are out of my control. I’ve been working on it, I really have, but it’s not always an easy thing. says that the synonyms for patience are restraint, perseverance, imperturbability, and submission. It’s that last word, submission, which I think God wants me to learn. He keeps throwing up these roadblocks in my life because I have yet to truly, totally, and completely, submit to His PLAN; whatever those plans may be. Trusting in His plan means to surrender control of my plans.

I’ve been trying a new mantra. I chant to myself, in my head, “positivity and prayer, positivity and prayer”. I know in my heart of hearts that it’s right and that everything will fall into place in time. And of course, it did. When I least expected it, God did what He always does. He answered my prayer. He put the final puzzle piece into place and He showed me, once again, that submission to His will and grace will always have an amazing ending.

The Bible says, “The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still. Exodus 14:14. I’m working on that “being still” part. I really am.

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.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Quantum Faith

It’s inspiring to me when I listen to fellow Christians excitedly quote their favorite authors who ignite and guide their faith journey: C.S. Lewis, Max Lucado, Tim Keller, Rob Bell, Beth Moore; the list could take up an entire blog post. I’ve recently been inspired in faith by a name who first encountered in the seats of a college lecture hall – physicist Werner Heisenberg.

The most famous principle that carries his name essentially states that for related physical properties, knowing one with exceptional precision (say the location of a particle) comes at a cost of the precision of the related property (the same particle’s velocity or direction). Now before you stop reading, I promise the quantum physics lesson ends here. I do want to share a couple of Heisenberg’s quotes though and testify to how they’ve helped strengthen and shape my faith.

“The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”

A study conducted 10 years ago of research institutions and medical facilities found that approximately 2/3 of all scientists and more than ¾ of doctors stated they believe in God. Despite those encouraging statistics, when I was studying chemistry in college it was truly difficult for me to attend church. I had grown up in the church, went to services every Sunday, could name most of the books of the Bible for memory; but suddenly a questioning attitude and a waterfall of truth in academia left my relationship with Christ short on answers and parched in thirst for truth in Him.

In hindsight I see my “college self” was sold on the idea that somehow “science truth” had to be different from “God truth”. Fortunately He revealed to me that nothing could be farther from the truth! Going through the Disciple Bible Study within our small group at BUMC opened my eyes and ignited a passion for studying scripture. Looking at how things revealed by God in Genesis would play out centuries later through the life of Jesus made the Bible an academic challenge – one I still love to test (both to myself and others) today!

“Quantum theory provides us with a striking illustration of the fact that we can fully understand a connection though we can only speak of it in images and parables.”

I know, I promised no more quantum theory, but stick with me this quote: If you replace “Quantum theory” with “Jesus”, you will find its truth and validity just the same! The documented teachings of Jesus contains dozens of parables he used to illustrate the nature of God to his audiences. How much do we as Christians still struggle today to put into understandable images the Trinitarian nature of God? What Heisenberg reminds me is that the struggle humans face to understand quantum theory is essentially the same struggle humans face to understand God’s plan for us! Therefore, isn’t it only logical that the brain functionality God gave me to comprehend wave-particle duality is the same as I should use to comprehend His very own nature?

“What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning.”

Again, if we swap “nature” for “God” (something even a ‘spiritual agnostic’ might allow), we find Heisenberg has made a profound insight of how we accept God’s revelation of himself to us. Acts 17:11 says of Paul and Silas’s arrival in Berea: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” These early Christians in Berea were practitioners in studying the Scriptures through exegesis (letting the Scriptures “lead them” to the truth. I personally have been guilty of applying eisegesis to the Bible, or “reading into” the text how I want to interpret its meaning. All too often, a single verse of scripture can be pulled out of its context and used to defend an antithetical viewpoint, not only from what the verse is actually representing, but contrary to the essence of God completely!

I’m very proud to be both a science nerd as well as a Christian strong in my faith. I have my favorite Christian authors, but Werner Heisenberg inspires both sides of this character equation. As we learn, grow, and discover more of who we are as a human race, I believe that in doing so we are actually chasing Him and therefore should equally embrace His word at the same time. We still continue to struggle with understanding our connection to God and His image within ourselves, but it’s okay because Jesus himself had to endure human struggles to be that connection. Lastly, God doesn’t want our witness of Him to be one of open interpretation and “feeling our way around our faith”. He has revealed His character to us through the prophets of the Old Testament and Jesus’s teaching here on Earth. It may not help explain quantum physics, but a scholarly study of the Bible will reveal who God truly is in the context that He wants us to know Him.

At the core it might just be the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle that reminds us to maintain balance in our lives. If we get too focused on where we are going, we’ll lose sight of where we are. If we focus too much on our jobs, our family and spiritual lives will suffer. If we get so caught up in trying to control and understand every detail, we’ll forget that God has got this and He’s making all things work together for our good, according to His plan.

Kyle Rasmussen and his family currently live in Centerville, UT and attend The Bridge Community Church. He is a Quality Control Specialist with Holly Energy Partners in the greater Salt Lake City area.