Friday, January 13, 2017

By Faith

Post by: Mwangi Ndonga

One of the most transformative (and interesting) events in history was the Christian Reformation. It became a dogmatic course-correction and a theological gut-check of the Church. Recall, that one of the major insights during this movement was the interpretation of Romans 3:21-22: “But now a righteousness from God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

More than anyone, Martin Luther emphasized this verse and called it the “the chief point, and the very central place of the Epistle, and of the whole Bible”. I’m convinced.

My interpretation:

  • God’s grace is given not earned. Period. No matter how much money you give, how many rules you observe, how many people are angry at you, how many awards you win, or how worthy you think you are.
  • Everyone is messed up. But through faith, we can become righteous. You’re in good company. Some Biblical messer uppers: Adam, Cain, Moses, Noah, Abraham, Jacob and his sons, the Israelites in general… just check out the Old Testament. In each of their narratives you’ll find a course-correction or gut-check.
  • You and I, my friend, are guilty but the charges have been dropped. All you have to do is thank Him that gave you new life.

An even better summation of this free grace is the hymn “Amazing Grace”.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

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 & 505 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, January 6, 2017

Planning for Prayer

Post by: Heidi Schwandt

I’m a planner, and I am not a very patient person…. lately the combination has been challenging.

In the last few months I have started the task of researching schools to send my daughters to and I have become sort of obsessed…In 2 months’ time I think I toured 6/7 different schools and after many hours of thought decided on a winner—the perfect school for my girls. But this school was just too far of a drive from where we live now, SOO now we would have to move too. Thus, I began looking at neighborhoods that we may live in if we were to start in this new school for the 2017/2018 school year. If anyone asks me “how have you been?” or “what have you been up to lately?” This has been the vein of every answer, I have been trying to surgically execute my perfect plan for the next few years as we transition our family out of Preschool and Kindergarten into the world of elementary school and big kid stuff. See, planner & impatient (sigh).

What is it that is worrying you? What are you trying to plan for? What are you having a hard time waiting for?

Is it the birth of a baby and what will happen after he is born- will you return to work, who will help care for him if you do? OR A career change you have been looking to make but you’re not sure of the timing or if the next job will be all you hoped for? Maybe you’re looking to retire and are unsure about what is coming in this next chapter of life? OR you want to buy a new home and in this real estate market you feel pressured to move fast on one of the biggest purchases of your life instead of giving yourself time to think & pray.

Do you ever wonder if throughout all this God is just watching us while softly chuckling or shaking his head in disbelief/frustration as we try to plan our lives on our own despite what He’s told us? The bible tells us repeatedly that He will take care of it. God is in control and all we must do is give him the reins and trust, wait, & pray.

We all like to plan and map out our lives so we know what to expect (some of us more than others), what to save for, what to look forward to and this doesn’t just affect us, it affects our spouses, children, parents, friends… because that’s what we as people do- our “tribes” offer their support in these decisions.

Yesterday, I felt frustrated all morning as I yet again broached the topic of moving and schools with my husband who simply shrugged and said “We’ll figure it out, we have time” and then in the same breath asked “Where do you think we should plan a vacation to this year? I would like to do a road trip to some national parks?” WHAT?! I mean, I’m trying to plan for our children’s future and find a home that we will love as much as the one we are in now and he’s thinking road trips? Normally, that would be a fun conversation to have- planning a family trip, but today I could not see ANY fun in that proposal—something was wrong. I had to stop and ask myself: “What am I missing as I plan and worry my future away? Did I REALLY enjoy my children today or was I distracted? Was I being a good listener when my best friend came over earlier today or was I monopolizing the conversation? What about my spouse- am I being empathetic to the long hours he has been putting in lately and how badly he needs that vacation or am I too focused on my plan to nurture and care for my relationship the way I should be?”

A small voice inside my head told me not to allow the devil to get a foothold on my frustration and turn on my husband for not taking all of this seriously but to simply PRAY. SO, I went for a drive and I Prayed for patience, I prayed for peace, I prayed for perspective and mostly I prayed for God to take back control! I needed to STOP, PRAY, WAIT, and LISTEN. I needed to be present, listen, live each day for what it is- a gift. And give the rest to God. He WILL line it all up for us, He WILL prompt us when the time is right, He WILL be sure that everything works out for you and yours—IF you ask, IF you let HIM. Yes, God gave us free will, now we must use that to CHOOSE wisely… let Him take the wheel while we enjoy what we have right in front of us and find peace in that HE will provide for our future—even if it’s not the one we had planned/envisioned.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hears and your minds in Christ Jesus.  -Philippians 4:6-7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil  
-Proverbs 3:5-7
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:11 

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps  -Proverbs 16:9

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, December 29, 2016

The Shame Game

Post by: Elliott Holm

In the beginning of October, Ken gave an excellent sermon in church, where he opened up to the congregation about his own difficult and sometimes shameful moments in his life. The whole sermon centered on people feeling shame for the things that they do, but to allow yourself to be forgiven, no matter how difficult or grave the event is from which your shame comes.

That is what I want to address as well. As a teacher, I make constant mistakes throughout my day. I’ll say something wrong during my lessons, fumble over words, and even the worst, calling a student the wrong name. All of these things come back to me when I drive home from work, and have time to be alone with my thoughts. I’ll run through my whole day, and focus on all the wrong things I did, or people I wronged, and focus on shaming myself. However, this ritual is largely problematic, and can even be the reason why we frequently lose sleep at night.

I’ve been reading a book with my students that focuses on ways to become an effective adult. This particular author created a term for when we do this to ourselves, called The Shame Boomerang. It goes a little like this: Step 1: There is an inciting incident, Step 2: Getting bad feelings from the incident, Step 3: Forgetting or getting distracted temporarily, Step 4: Shame returns later, usually during alone time or when you put your head down to go to sleep, Step 5: Continued bad feelings. After I read this in the book, I realized this author had my number. These were the exact steps I went through in my life, and the same things that I blamed myself for as well. She says that the most important thing we need to do is create a mantra for ourselves; something that we can always say to ourselves, not to dismiss the problem and avoid it, but to remind ourselves that we’re human and that we make mistakes. The one I landed on that works for me is “It’s done, and if I’m faced with this situation again, I won’t make the same mistake.” Now, when I make one of the aforementioned “shameful” mistakes, I tell myself, “Well, that’s unfortunate, but what have I learned from this, so I can make sure I don’t do this again?” This mantra turned my shame into a learning experience, which is the most important step in dealing with shame.

Lastly, Ken’s sermon helped me tie this in to Jesus’ love for us. Every time we wrong other people, but have the best intentions in our hearts, Jesus will always forgive us; it’s one of the most incredible gifts we’ve been given. Remember all the incredibly heavy sins and shameful moments Jesus encountered in others, and please continue to remember that he forgave all of those people. You going through your daily life and trying your hardest is nothing to ever feel shame about. Take a breath, remind yourself that you’re human, and if you need, create a mantra for yourself to focus on turning your shameful situations into learning. The Lord will be there with you for every step of the way.

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.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas Songs

Post by: Reid Lester

What is your favorite Christmas song? 

I find that more than anything else, Christmas songs can instantly put me in the right frame of mind for the season.  I’m more peaceful, more relaxed, and more joyful whenever Christmas music is on.  

Those songs remind me of my favorite Christmas memories.  As kids we listened to Amy Grant’s original Christmas album, as teens we listed to Mannheim Steamroller, and as an adult I prefer Pentatonix and Straight No Chaser.  The songs are the same, but the arrangements are different by just enough that I can listen to them for three months straight without getting tired of them.

I invite you to think about your favorite Christmas song as you spend time with family and friends.  Which song reminds you to be thankful?  As you attend one of our Christmas Eve services, which song puts you in the perfect mood for worship?   If you are volunteering for one of our many community partners, which songs puts that extra little bit of joy in your heart? 

Please comment below and tell us your favorite childhood Christmas song as well as your current favorite.

Childhood favorite = Tennessee Christmas by Amy Grant

Current favorite = Mary, Did You Know? By Pentatonix

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.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Sound of Silence

Post by: Kyle Rasmussen

As another year draws to a close, music connoisseurs everywhere start to opine on their “best music of the year” lists. One of the most surprising tracks that dominated radio this 2016 was the band Disturbed and their cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s classic “The Sound of Silence”. I have to admit, David Draiman essentially shattered the preconception of what a heavy metal vocalist should sound like, and I found myself over and over again this past year turning the radio up to listen to him demonstrate his amazing range.

I’m certainly not lost on the irony of cranking the volume up to listen to a song called “The Sound of Silence.” Listening to any music was a nice escape the past 12 months. We all spent most of 2016 mired in a brutal presidential campaign of endless sound bites, vicious attacks, and a true testing of our faith in the sovereignty of the God that we serve. Unfortunately any hope that a reduction in noise would follow Election Day is most seemingly lost.

Noise is a concept I deal with in the scientific community quite frequently. Not audible noise, but variability which disrupts the ability to detect a signal from analyzers. Having too much noise relative to the signal (what we could call a poor signal-to-noise ratio) can result in a false negative – where a certain condition exists but you are unable to detect it. One of the best analogies I’ve heard to explain this is that the noise is the grass of the Serengeti, and the signal is a lion. If you’re on safari and wanted to know if there’s a lion prowling around waiting for someone to devour (like 1 Peter 5:8), it would be much easier if the grass (the noise) was low to detect the lion (the signal).

One of my favorite verses from the book of Psalms is 46:10- Be still, and know that I am God. We’re told to silence the outside noise, eschew the distractions, and in that peace God will reveal himself. Yet even when God brings calm, we may find ourselves unprepared to His presence. And (Jesus) awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and waves obey him?” (Mark 4:39-41)

So if we can’t always reduce the noise, maybe the best way to find God in our lives is crank up the signal? Maybe that lion is not prowling and waiting to devour us but is of Proverbs 28:1? - The wicked run away when no one is chasing them, but the godly are as bold as lions. I think there are several ways this can be accomplished.

First, step outside of your comfort zone! It doesn’t have to be immensely bold, but when given the opportunity to act in the image of God, don’t hesitate. Seize the moment to live the Gospel! From experience, I can tell you that when you open yourself up and commit to doing this, God will present you with opportunities – He knows what’s on your heart and is more than willing to give you the chance to live it out!

Second, crank up the signal of God’s word! I know there’ s only 168 hours in every week and sleep is super important – but find a way to make the time for Bible study. My best advice on this is crowd source the commitment by joining (or starting up) a study with friends or family. Make it “homework free”, just pick a reading plan and regular time to read together and amazing things will transpire from the group.

Lastly just crank up the volume of your worship and praise! David says in 2 Samuel 6, I was dancing before the LORD…He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the LORD, so I celebrate before the LORD. Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! In this competitive, keep-up-with-the-Jones’ society that we live in, how great is it that we serve a God to whom we don’t need to impress? If we worship and thank God in a worry-free style, I can guarantee that the signal back will be louder and clearer than if we try to wrap our praise in some sterile, clean-up-my-life-first-before-I-can-show-God sort of way.

As we enter into the Christmas season, many who spend 11+ months of the year distant from God draw a little closer to experience the greatest gift ever given. Don’t get caught up in the noise, and don’t merely abstain by practicing the sound of silence. Be the loud, bold, clear signal of God’s love: the Gospel of Jesus that is there 24/7/365, for all of 2017 and forevermore.

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.