Monday, July 29, 2013

The Original Royal Baby

By Andrea Laser,

Like so much of the nation, I find myself captivated by the excitement around the royal baby.  It’s thrilling: it’s like watching a little bit of history unfold before your eyes.  Today I sat in front the television eager to see the first glance of the king.  Within seconds of the doors opening at the hospital, images flooded the internet of the royal baby’s introduction into the world.  The royal baby was born into immediate expectations, from people placing wagers on his name to his first words.  Naturally the media has compared this baby’s introduction to that of his father’s, Prince William.  It made me think about a royal baby born much earlier: Jesus. 
The world was eagerly awaiting the birth of a savior, but it took on a much different path, during a much different time.  What if Jesus had been born into current time?  Would his hash tag been #holybaby, or #thewaitisover?  Would Jesus use the internet to create a following?  He might have used it, but more than likely his greatest connection would still be face to face with people.

One of Jesus’s greatest gifts was teaching his followers how to accept and love all neighbors: making connections.  He formed the greatest web of connections known to mankind, Christianity.  As a member of the body of Christ, you are not only in a relationship with Christ, but also connected to millions of Christians around the world.
One of the biggest blessings my family has had since becoming members of BUMC is the connection we have made with our small group, First Fridays.  We have made friends through this group that are like family.  We are there for each other to mourn when there is sadness in lives, and to celebrate when there is excitement.  I laugh with them, I cry with them, I ask advice of them, and I always know that they are there for my family whenever we need them. 
God wants us to be connected, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12, NLT).  
In this current state of social media and instantaneous connections, are you still personally connected?  What’s the value for you of face to face friendships?

How Do You Keep Your Connections Vital?

 By Sheila Alishouse, Traffick Stop,

 After a full morning of preaching on June 23, I attended the Freedom Connect 2013 Conference at BUMC. The first speaker alone gave me much to consider! Kevin Potter, spiritual director for Oasis USA, helps communities become “Traffick-Free.” In his presentation, he explained that “Traffick-Free Communities” are built through deep connections among their residents. The more caring relationships people have, the less likely it is they can be exploited. Traffick-Free Communities are built through warm neighbors, deep friendships, and grassroots networking. When community relationships become strong, a city gets known by traffickers as too “hot” to exploit. Kevin’s observations ring true to me. Most everyone I’ve counseled with serious dilemmas or problems experienced isolation before those issues developed. Playing catch-up by trying to develop a support system after you are struggling is much more difficult than keeping your connections vital when things are going well. At every Impact Class, we encourage our new members to “keep your connections vital.” Make daily time for God, develop strong friendships in the church, join a small group, and work with others in mission. And if you already have a strong support system, reach out to people around you who need a little extra care. So many of you do a great job of nurturing your relationships and connections. I think of Betty and Lloyd Schiel, who have turned their neighbors into dear friends. They have helped many people through times of grief with their kind and loving presence. Because Betty and Lloyd reached out to them, some of their neighbors are now BUMC members engaging in their own ministries of care and connection. I thank all of you who are nurturing friendships with your neighbors and coworkers – it’s a great gift. Loving your neighbor really does change lives. If Kevin Potter is right, relationships are the glue that protect us and make our communities strong enough to resist outside attack. Every week, we pray to God, “Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.” Keeping our connections vital is how we can cooperate with God in this protective process. Are you interested in helping to make our community “Traffick-Free”? If you are, let’s continue the discussion. This might be a good next step to explore with our Traffick Stop Team. The connections which prevent trafficking will help us all! -- Thomas Cross

Precious, Honored, and Loved

By Ken Brown,

When my daughters were in elementary school my family prayer sign-off line was “girls, remember you are precious, honored and loved” (Isaiah 43:4). I hoped this assurance would stick to their souls whenever they doubted anything about life, including my support of their choices. Was I successful? I do not know.

I do know that our middle daughter, Katelyn, graduated “on time” with high academic marks; she starts graduate school in the fall; has a dude dedicated to her well-being (I’m still not crazy about this development), and good friends who have helped her to maintain her faith. As she sauntered across the stage at Macky Auditorium last Saturday to receive her degree, I marveled at her confidence, grace and glamour. And she was decidedly “precious, honored and loved” by her cheering section for that unforgettable moment.

Later that day I stumbled across a piece of rope I received on Easter 2012 and I boisterously praised God for holding on to Katelyn when I was not on belay. May she forever hold on to Jesus as she commences in God’s future.

Finding the Flower in a Weed

By Andrea Laser,

A couple of weeks ago my family took a small road trip to visit my husband’s grandmother in Nebraska for her 90th birthday. We made more stops than usual as we traveled with our 10-month-old, Wyatt and 4-year-old, Paxton. About two hours into the trip, we took our first break at a rest stop in Sterling, Colorado. As we were getting ready to go, Paxton started running toward the middle of what looked to me to be a desolate field. As usual, I rushed him, “Come on, Paxton, let’s go!” He told me he saw something and to hold on. I repeated, “We need to get going, let’s go!” Paxton kept running, until he suddenly stopped, squatted down and picked a dandelion. "Look, mom a beautiful flower!”  He proudly showed me this “flower” and proceeded to give it to me. “I picked it for you,” he said. I thanked him, took the flower and tucked it inside the heating vent in my car.
As we kept driving, I looked at the dandelion and started to think about all the “beautiful flowers” I miss in life. At the rest stop, I saw nothing but weeds and wild grass growing, but through the eyes of a child there was a beautiful flower. Later the same week, a child in my class ran up to me at the beginning of class and very excitedly said, “Miss Andrea, the playground has beautiful purple flowers growing in it!” At recess she showed me the beautiful purple “flowers,” which again, were weeds growing in the gravel. 
When a series of events happens that make me notice something, I have to stop and believe God is trying to send me a message. I reflected on my personality and realized that sometimes I wander through life looking at the weeds instead of the flowers, but maybe that isn’t how God intends my life to be. 
Does God want us to look at “life weeds” as problems or does he want us to see the weeds for beautiful flower-like qualities? I believe he wants us to find the flower, “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot extinguish it.” (John 1:5).  

How God Emphasizes Joy

By Shahni Shirazi,

Come, let us raise a joyful song,
a shout of triumph to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into Your presence with thanksgiving,
singing songs of triumph.

For you are a great God, a great king over all gods.
The depths of the earth are in Your hands; mountains belong to You.
The sea is Yours, for You made it;
and the dry land Your hands fashioned.

Let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the One who made us.
For You are our God, and we are the flock that You shepherd.
We will know Your power and presence this day,
if we will but listen for Your voice.

Let those who would seek
continue seeking until they find.
When they find, they will become troubled.
When they become troubled, they will be astonished.
When they are astonished, then all will be theirs.

Good morning:
As I reflect on yesterday's message, both in the chapel and in youth group I see how God emphasizes joy to me. Through everything we go through joy can remain constant and is different than happiness. I watched The Incredible Vegetables with Alistaire and there it was again. If we know God, we have nothing to fear. We must remain in Him and listen to His voice. He is breaking my foundation so that my foundation can be grounded in Him. He has broken me so I may see His joy again and His love which no one can give me. He has broken me so I can even see myself through His eyes, I may experience His peace. He teaches me patience everyday and how to be an example of that to Alistaire. He has shown me kindness through all of the people I have encountered and shown me how selfish I am at times. Last night, I cried because of my selfishness and the horrible person that I truly am inside on my own. Without Christ, I have no goodness, no faithfulness, no gentleness and most definitely no self control. So I pray for each of us that His fruits come to fruition in our lives each day. I now understand what it means to take up your cross daily and we don't have to fear what is to come because our lives are in God's hands and once we take the time to listen and reflect on Him, we have the choice to walk in His will for our lives. What a glorious revelation for me to actually comprehend this instead of just reading His word and knowing that He says this to each of us. I can now live it! The greatest gift I have is Alistaire and the greatest gift I can give is Christ. Thank you all for your prayers, support and guidance as Pastors, friends and mentors.

Love in Christ,
Shahni Shirazi

Bold Enough?

By Andrea Laser,
A couple of weeks ago I was at a small party with mostly people I didn't really know. We were all chatting, telling stories, eating and drinking. One person started to tell a story by asking, "There's no one here who is super religious, right?"
I didn’t grow up in church and until the birth of my first child, my husband and I did not attend church. In four years this is the first time that someone I don’t really know has asked me about my religion. Before coming to BUMC, I would have immediately said “no.” I was always a believer, but never considered myself religious. Now that someone was asking (and in a tone that definitely indicated she hoped not), I quickly had to decide, “am I super religious?” If it means that I attend church, then yes. If it means that I love and accept Christ as my savior, then yes. If it means that I want to put myself out there to be judged for what I believe, then…maybe. I decided I should say yes, but what came out was a very careful, “I sort of am.”
I braced for an awful response that would make me defend my beliefs and how I interpret religion without sounding judgmental about how someone else is religious. It turns out that the story had very little to do religion, and I didn’t have to defend anything, but I did feel the need to question the storyteller about what it had to do with religion.
After I left the party, I started reflecting on the question and my answer. I felt in some ways like I had denied Christ and who He is in my life. While in some ways the quiet answer “sort of,” and questioning the ties between religion and her story felt bold, in other ways it felt cowardly. I started to think about the early disciples of Christ. Had they not been bold about what and Who they believed in, would I know Christ now?
Was I bold enough? Maybe. Maybe not. But the next time fear sets in about being bold, I will try to remember how Jesus reminded Paul, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you…” (Acts 18:9-10).
Andrea Laser is a BUMC congregation member.
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog April 22, 2013.

Monday Reflection

Yesterday was a fascinating day at BUMC! In his message, Ken explored the change in sleep patterns that took place during the Industrial Revolution. Until the time of the Civil War, most people slept in two different cycles. After retiring early, people would awaken in the early morning hours, taking time to reflect on their dreams, read the Scriptures, pray, and enjoy fellowship with family members. After this period of wakefulness, people would go back to sleep. Ken reflected upon Psalm 30, which may have been written in an early morning time of wakefulness. The psalmist reflects on recent events and gives thanks for God’s help. With boldness he then asks God for help with current problems. 

Sunday afternoon, the Star Trek Bible Study watched a classic episode, “Bread and Circuses,” after Liz Law-Evans shared her observations. The episode takes place on a planet the Enterprise visits where the crew finds a modern-day Roman Empire, complete with electricity and television. As the crew investigates, they encounter a non-violent resistance group that decries the brutality of the regime. Eventually the crew discovers that this group is the Christian movement. The episode raises all sorts of questions to ponder. It is one of my personal favorites.
Finally Marty Dormish led the first session of his four-part “Sweep Gospel Series.” He introduced the Sweep Report but devoted most of his time to a Bible study of Mark 1:1. Marty has a gift for presenting biblical context and insights with depth and simplicity. In the space of half an hour, Marty applied the concepts from biblical interpreters like Shane Claiborne and N.T. Wright to a specific passage, showing how Mark’s gospel begins with a bold proclamation that challenged the Roman powers of his own day. If you want to understand Mark, I invite you to join us on Sunday to the “Sweep Gospel” at 4:00pm in BUMC Room 201. I promise you a fascinating and easy-to-understand Bible study!
Random quote of the day: “It’s too bad about life. You get the test first, and then the lesson.” -- Curt from Madison, Wisconsin (quoted by Leeza Parcels)  

Originally posted on the BUMC Blog April 15, 2013.

Quit Looking for Lightning to Strike

by Shereen Fink,
Today's Inspirational Verse through the BUMC Text Ministry:
“Quit looking for lightning to strike...start recognizing and feasting on God’s words in the everyday.” Nakia Gater
We go through life thinking, “I’ll know when God shows me my calling because it will rock my world.” So, we drudge through life, doing what we think is the mundane; waiting for lightning to strike, the heavens to open up, and a loud voice to tell us, “This is IT!”  Yet, I’m convinced it is in the mundane that our mighty God is speaking to us.
Yesterday during church, a woman passed a note to me telling me she’s a substitute teacher and that recently a young man at the high school she taught at approached her and told her that he feels the focus on stopping violence is misdirected. In his opinion, violence starts with what youth hear in their music. He shared with this lady that some music (referring to Rap/Hip Hop music) demeans women and promotes violence. He continued on, telling her two Rap/Hip Hop singers who had tried to move the music in a positive direction had been murdered. He hinted at a conspiracy.
After the service I had the opportunity to speak in detail with this lady and find out that she had never met this young man of 14 or 15 before in her life, nor has she seen him since. She also said there had been no previous discussion about the issue of violence between them. The conversation seemed to come out of nowhere. Was it lightning striking or was it God trying to get her attention in the midst of everyday life? 

This teenager had never set eyes on this woman before in his life. She was a substitute for his regular teacher. Yet, somehow this young man followed a nudge to share that there’s something else driving the violence that is creating fear in people’s lives. His own heart must have been breaking when he shared with her that children as young as 8 or 9 are listening to music that plants negative seeds. His heart must have been breaking when he shared that the “good ones” had been murdered by the “evil ones."
I believe there are members of BUMC and the surrounding community who are listening to God’s word in their daily lives, recognizing they don’t have to wait for lightning to strike. They are diligently working to change the world and stop the violence. They are the 50+ people involved in the “Curbing Violence” initiative started by Gary Winkelbauer, a member of BUMC. This initiative has spawned special interest sub-committees focused on Mental Health and Violence, Safety and Security, Community and Connections and, most recently, School Partnerships.
Soon you’ll receive an update from Gary and his subcommittee chair persons providing more details on what they are doing. Hopefully the update will help you see how you can be a part of making a world where young teenagers don’t have to worry about younger children being exposed to destructive things in their lives; a world where children aren’t worried about their safety in their school or a movie theater. 

There was a reason why this young man approached this lady from BUMC. There was a reason why Pastor Ken’s message yesterday included reference to our Curbing Violence initiative and the school mentor program. There was a reason why I was setting in a service at church I don’t normally attend. There was a reason why a lady I hadn’t known that well before felt compelled to pass me a note. These weren’t lightning strikes. They were God’s word speaking in our everyday lives. We just have to recognize them.
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on March 25, 2013.

Avoiding a Repeat Performance

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” -- 2 Peter 3:9
Ben Karrer posed this interesting question: The only discussion topic I have would be around preventing the past from reoccurring again. Specifically, as we prepare for Easter what do the Gospels, New Testament, etc. encourage us to do so we are not in situation where someone has to sacrifice themselves for our sins again?
This topic has been explored in literature over the centuries, from Dostoyevsky’s story, The Grand Inquisitor, to Joseph Girzone’s novel, Joshua. These stories push us to consider how Jesus would be received if he returned to the earth in our time. How would I receive Jesus is He showed up today? Would I welcome Him?
A related question is this: In what guise will Jesus appear when He returns to the earth? Will He come to us with a sword, ready to do battle with the forces of evil? Many Christians say “yes,” and recent popular literature reflects this expectation. The Left Behind series concludes with a cosmic battle directed by a warrior Christ. Hal Lindsey made the same type of predictions in The Late Great Planet Earth. Certainly there is one strain of New Testament thought that supports this picture of Christ returning as a Davidic warrior who defeats evil forces and restores justice by force. As William Barclay explains in his commentaries on 1-2 Peter and 1 Thessalonians, this image reflects the association that the apostles made of Christ’s return with the Jewish concept of the “Day of the Lord,” the terrible day that precedes God’s restoration of the earth.
However there is another strand of New Testament thought that suggests Jesus will wait to return until the inhabitants of earth are ready to welcome Him home. Peter expresses this conviction succinctly in 2 Peter 3:9. Peter’s hunch is that Jesus is waiting until all people are ready to receive Him in a spirit of repentance (humility toward God and a willingness to embrace a new way of thinking).  In this understanding, Jesus will return in his normal mode of operation, as a Servant, who will lead all humans to complete his work voluntarily – not by force. This approach recalls Jesus’ admonition to the apostles: “You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them.  But it not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant…” (Mark 10:42-43).
What are our responsibilities as disciples in preparing for Jesus’ return in this model?
1) Practice repentance on an ongoing basis (Romans 12:1-3);
2) Prepare the earth for the return of Christ by teaching and practicing justice and mercy;
3) Do so using the rules of love and service that Jesus taught (Mark 10:43, 12:20-31).
In other words, prepare the way for Jesus’ rule without the use of coercion and force. Our imperative is the same as John the Baptist taught before the first appearance of Jesus (Luke 3:3-14). As John said, “Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance.”
This less familiar, less violent picture of Jesus’ return was embraced in the 19th century by American thinkers and artists who resonated with Isaiah’s imagery of “The Peaceable Kingdom.” The biblical support for such a view comes from the New Testament authors’ repeated quotation of one verse from the Psalms. Psalm 110:1 is the verse from the Hebrew Bible that is most often cited in the New Testament: “Yahweh says to Adown [my Lord], ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’” This verse is quoted in full five different times in the New Testament, including the three synoptic gospels, Luke and Acts. It is referenced in some form nine more times in Matthew and the epistles, most often in connection with the ascension of Jesus.
Jesus and the apostles embraced this verse as a description of the post-ascension era, when Jesus is be seated at God’s right hand while God’s people were preparing the earth for his return. God gives his people the instruction:  “Rule in the midst of Thine enemies” (Psalm 110:2), and “Thy people will volunteer freely in the day of Thy power” (vs. 3). While Psalm 110 employs militaristic images, the apostles adopted the Psalm’s mission without resorting to force or violence. Instead the early Christian movement became pacifistic, believing that God’s power would be released through healing love. Indeed it was. Unfortunately the church later became enamored with the use of force, culminating with the saddest chapter of all, the Spanish Inquisition.
In modern history, two Wesleyan groups adopted the language and mission of Psalm 110, adopting a military form of organization while practicing loving service consistently. You know those groups as the Salvation Army and the Volunteers of America. Their members agree with and practice the basic responsibilities outlined above: Practice repentance on an ongoing basis; prepare the earth for the return of Christ by teaching and practicing justice and mercy; and do so using the rules of love and service Jesus taught. 
Obviously Jesus can return to the earth at any time – and in any form – that God deems best. But the story need not end badly for anyone if the people of earth will receive the good news Jesus preached and practice the principles Jesus taught. It is up to his disciples to spread the good news and model the Way of Love. If God is as patient as Peter describes, the church’s reliance upon coercion and violence has only delayed Jesus’ return. We are called to a different, higher Way than the powers of the world.
It is fitting to close as we opened, with the words of Peter: “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time” (Acts 3:19-21). Heaven waits for us to restore the earth through the disarming ministries of repentance, service, and love.
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog March 1, 2013.

1st 505 Snow Day

By Ken Brown,
I have to tell you, at 4:56pm on Sunday, I thought the 505 service was going to be five-on-five. Five of us leading worship for five people in the congregation. Then an avalanche of people happened -- 22 folks showed up -- and we blasted off, praising God at launch time, 5:05pm.
We sang lustily (see Joe Mazza for his interpretation of this term). During Thomas’ prayer I cracked myself up as I took a family portrait in my mind of who was at the service -- a cool teen decked out in green suede Nike’s, a tiny toddler in footed pajamas, dead ringers of Thelma and Louise, two seasoned couples (definitely not seniors), a strings ensemble, and a couple of natural science geeks that actually knew the “ideal gas law” when I referenced flatulence in my sermon…or did I say fart?
We sang lustily to the God who created the wonder called snow:
“Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; steams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.”
Originally posted to the BUMC Blog on Feb. 26, 2013.

The Best Kind of Tired

I am tired today, and have been for the past couple of weeks. 
Last Sunday in the chapel, we held a baptism service that was also a preview of our new 505 service. We experienced nearly 20 people commit or recommit their lives to Christ through the sacrament of baptism. It was amazing. We had no idea how many would show up but the chapel was nearly full.
So why does that make me tired? Because in addition to there being 11 services in the span of eight days at BUMC, many of us staff, along with dedicated volunteers, have been spending the last few weeks preparing for this baptism service and the 505 service - shopping trips to make sure the room feels right for this new experience, working out new technology that we've never used at BUMC before to create visuals that fit the space, and bringing music teams together and praying over, then choosing music that will fit what we feel God is doing. All these details that go into a new service have been keeping us busy - not to mention the fact that Easter is fewer than 50 days away!
In my Monday meeting with Ken, we both agreed that this kind of tired is the absolute best kind of tired. We're tired not because we're spinning our wheels with the daily grind but because we're getting to participate in incredible work that God is doing at BUMC. I hope you'll participate too by coming to our Ash Wednesday service tonight at 7:00pm and the first 505 service on Sunday evening!
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on Feb. 13, 2013.

I Want to Be Like June

Yesterday, at 3:32pm, the office phone rang and the call was transferred to me. “Ken, June is in Hospice now, can you swing by the house?” It’s a triage time and I dropped everything to hurry over. The front door was cracked open in anticipation of my arrival, and I followed the trail of sun-washed interior lighting to the master bedroom. June’s husband of 64 years raised a sinewy finger to motion me bedside. I offered meager words that sounded trite, and forced a smile to keep from weeping. I stood in the “There” that I’ve known before and “There” is as awkward as ever.

June’s husband asks, “honey, is there anything you to want to say to Ken?” Her reply was, “thanks.” She prayed one of the three essential prayers we’ve been talking about in Sunday worship, “thanks.” I wondered as I drove home, “what would I say to a pastor if I had been in June’s “There”?” If I were dying today I would probably mutter regrets of wasted moments away from family, muse about an unfinished bucket list, and the prayer “thanks” would be a lot lower on my list of final lines to a pastor. May I grow up to be like June!

This Sunday in worship I will preach about the power of revelation when God’s Word frames us to be like Christ. If you are a work in progress, and you are committed to being in worship more often in 2013, then I will see you Sunday as we dare together to grow in Christ.

Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on Jan. 25, 2013.

Do You Want to See What Heaven Looks Like?

by Kay Rush,
As one of our active, energetic, church members approached my desk, she happily announced, “You have the best job in the world… seeing all these loving, smiling faces that come through these doors.” And ya know what… I couldn’t agree with her more! It really is a blessing and privilege to be surrounded by, and to encounter those that are making a real attempt to live Christ-like lives.  
Another “perk” of my job as receptionist is interacting to some small degree with the young students who attend Apple Tree Christian Preschool and their younger siblings. Most of us love to experience the enthusiasm and fresh, innocent approach that children bring to daily living, and I’d like to share with you one of those fresh, clear moments. As a busy and semi-harried mother was hustling her little girl back out to the car after dropping off another child at school, the little girl stopped outside the Chapel. The doors were closed so she went up to the glass, cupping her hands around her face to look into the darkness and then to witness the light coming through the colorful stained glass windows. “Mommy”, she exclaimed with all the excitement that a four-year-old can muster, “come see… it looks like HEAVEN in here.”
Now I figure that none of us can detail exactly what heaven will look like. However, I’ll never look into that Chapel and feel quite as nonchalant about its beauty. So next time you’re in the Chapel area, take a second, think like a child and decide for yourself if it looks just a little like Heaven!
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on Jan. 18, 2013.

What We Can Learn From the Denver Broncos

Like many of you, I am getting great enjoyment out of the current Denver Broncos’ season. This team is a lot of fun to watch on both offense and defense – and the players are easy to like. It appears to me that the team is getting better by the week.
Indeed there is a reason or two this Broncos team is showing such improvement. If ever a football team were a poster child for “growth mindset,” this team is it. The growth mindset is the conviction that one can continuously develop his or her skills through learning, preparation, and practice. The growth mindset is contrasted with the “fixed mindset,” which is the conviction that your basic skills are fixed and not susceptible to great improvement.  
What is your potential for improvement? The way you answer that question will help you to determine your basic mindset, be it growth or fixed. Those with a growth mindset believe they can get better, and they are determined to put in the work to accomplish that goal. I realized the Broncos players had bought into the growth mindset after a recent victory. To a player, everyone in the locker room talked about the importance of getting better in preparation for the next game. All of the players expect to grow!
How do you respond to constructive criticism? Those with a growth mindset see evaluation and criticism as opportunities for continued learning and development. Those with a fixed mindset see any criticism as undermining their basic identities. I’ve noticed that the Broncos players never present themselves as perfect, but they acknowledge their mistakes and devote themselves to correcting them in practice. This team believes that excellent practice makes for excellent performance.
At the same time, the Broncos emphasize improving their strengths rather than overcoming their weaknesses. This is known as a strengths-based focus. Concepts and plays are developed around the primary strengths of the players on the bus. Thus last year’s offense exploited the read option, while this year’s offense incorporates many concepts that Manning used in Indianapolis. Why not play to the strengths of your personnel? You can do so in any workplace (or home, for that matter).
The growth mindset is foundational to New Testament theology, yet it is often missed. The apostles expected to grow spiritually and to develop greater expertise in ministry, and so they did. Perhaps the clearest expression of the growth mindset is found in 2 Peter 1:5-11, in which the apostle exhorts the readers to keep adding new virtues to their quiver. The whole book of Hebrews assumes a growth mindset, expressing impatience at the slow growth curve of the readers, and spurring them on to diligence in faith. Why do we gather together? To “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).
Paul takes the growth mindset to full expression, exhorting his readers to this goal: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children…” (Ephesians 5:1).  If we can become like God, that is significant growth indeed!  Paul also encourages his readers to focus upon their strengths, encouraging the believers to develop and use their spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12). As followers of Christ, we don’t have to be good at everything, but we are called by God to grow in the areas in which we are gifted. In other words, discover your spiritual gifts and other strengths, and then develop them. The team known as the church will be at its best when each of us contributes our strongest gifts and skills to God’s work in concert with our brothers and sisters. 
Like the Broncos, we can grow in God’s work through study, preparation, practice, and service.
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog Jan. 11, 2013.

The Heart of Worship

I met my wife Theresa in 1999. We were both new to Nashville, working in the music industry, and were introduced by some mutual friends. I was a guitarist who wanted to sing better and she was a singer who wanted to improve her guitar playing. You could say I used those circumstances to my advantage and to spend as much time as possible with her. 
I had come to Nashville for a new beginning after a particularly difficult time in my life. I was raw and holding on to God tightly. And the best way I knew to do that was through music. I spent a lot of time in my apartment with just my guitar, my voice, and worship songs. Theresa joined me there and we spent many hours together singing, playing and writing songs that were for no purpose other than to offer to God.
Around that same time, UK worship leader Matt Redman wrote one of his most well-known songs, “The Heart Of Worship,” the lyric of which says:
"When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come / Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart… / I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus."
There’s a powerful story behind that song. The pastor of Matt’s church, Soul Survivor in Watford, England, felt that their church community had gotten too much into the “extras” of worship - a great band, a big, loud sound system, and the concert feel that went with it. He felt God prompting him to do a very brave thing and told Matt that, until further notice, there would be no band, no sound system, no instruments. The church would get together and just sing without any accompaniment. He asked the church the question, “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?” Matt wrote “The Heart Of Worship” alone in his bedroom as a way to capture their experience. That song, and the accompanying question, resonated with Theresa and me as we committed our lives and music to God. And, ever since, we’ve connected with God most deeply not on a stage with lots of other musicians but through a guitar or two, in our living room, singing whatever comes to mind.
While I don’t think we at BUMC have become distracted by all the extra “stuff” that goes into our Sunday services, you’ll soon be hearing details about a new Sunday evening worship service that will aim to strip us to the core of what it means to worship simply. Just some acoustic music, great songs of faith, and our voices and lives. What will you bring?
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on Jan. 9, 2013.

I'm happy to be with you, here at the end of all things.

I’m excited for the new year. It’s always nice to have a fresh start. A clean slate. Tabula rasa, if you will. I’m not really ever one to make resolutions or anything. It always just kind of feels forced, like we’ve got this arbitrary marker, so we may as well use it for something. 
Yesterday at the church my wife and I attended, the pastor talked about resolutions and how they can simply be based in our idolatry of self. “Half gods,” he talked about as he told the story of Moses, the Israelites, and the golden calf, and summed it up with a C.S. Lewis quote that left to themselves, our “half-gods” either vanish or become devils. 
So, all that to say, I’m not one for resolutions, and the sermon hit the nail on the head why. It just seems so self-serving most of the time, and then we feel guilty when we don’t measure up to these arbitrary goals we’ve set for ourselves or feel some sense of false pride when we do measure up. The real change that happens in our lives isn’t generally produced by arbitrary dates and decisions, but by the work of the Holy Spirit. 
So, I suppose, if anything, my resolution should be to pray for the Spirit to increasingly grow His fruit in me. Jesse DeYoung, the teaching pastor at Flatirons Church posted on his blog that he believes more in reviewing what happened over the course of the previous year. 
This year I learned that seeing the mountains every day just doesn’t get old. That Peyton Manning is as good as ever. That the Rockies are as bad as ever. That churches who practice both grace and truth are rare. That in the face of unspeakable acts of evil, an entire nation can agree that everything is not relative…there really is such a thing as right and wrong. That kids grow up too soon, and our time with them is more important than a TV show (even The Walking Dead). That God is good.
That last thing is such a hard thing to keep in the forefront of my mind and spirit. The past few years have brought some serious hardships in life for my wife and me (health issues and a lot of stuff that’s come with them, moving 1/3 of the way across the country just to come right back. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about it eventually), and we’ve both really struggled with our views of God and how He fits into it all. 
We’ve both spent our adult lives being poured out in youth ministry and music ministry and while we never did it for reward, it would be dishonest to say that we don’t feel let down by God after giving of ourselves to Him for such a time just to feel as though He’s forgotten to answer our prayers. 
We went to an impromptu prayer/worship time with friends on New Year’s night. Got the text that afternoon, saying God was laying it on their heart to meet regarding the upcoming new year and all that that might entail, so we packed up some snacks and headed over. In the course of a pretty emotional prayer time that we’re both still processing, one of my wife’s best friends prayed over us that she had this vision of Lisa and me as Frodo and Sam on the side of Mount Doom, having completed our journey and our task, but having no way to get home and not remembering the taste of strawberries, etc.  As it all burns around us, she saw that the eagles were coming to pick us up. That God’s deliverance was on hand and we should be ready for it. Now, I’m not sure what that means, but from time to time, I have to just sit back and say that’s OK and receive a word for what it is – a picture of God’s faithfulness. That He hasn’t forgotten us, that He hasn’t abandoned us, that He was making a way the whole time. And trust that that’s what we’ll see in this coming year. And that we’ll be stronger for having had the experience, and we can praise Him for how He moves and works, regardless of what we’re seeing at the time.
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog Jan. 7, 2013.

God's View of the New Year

“In the new year, Gracious God, help me seek peace, pray for light, dance for joy, work for justice and sing your praise.”  Larry James Peacock
I wonder how God views the end of one year and the beginning of another. I suspect he doesn’t delineate one year from the next. More likely his view is of the entire existence of mankind from start to finish. Having planned everything in advance, I’m guessing the change from 12/31/12 to 1/1/13 is a mere blink of an eye for our Creator.
For many of us mere mortals (smile) it’s a relief to think we can start anew with a new year, putting behind us the hardships and pain that seemed to be particularly prevalent this year. Yet, while 2012 has been a rough year for our family and many others in the congregation, our community, our nation and our world, God sees what is ahead.  He promises a bright and glorious future... a Promised Land. No matter the year or the circumstance we always have that to rely on.
I wish you joy and peace in 2013 and look forward to another year being a part of this wonderful church!
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog Jan. 2, 2013.

Reflections on Advent

As we come to the end of a year that has been challenging and grief-filled for our state and our nation, I have been reflecting upon the joy that God gives us. The season of Advent is a time when we focus upon the greatest gift ever given to us, the sending of God’s Son to our world. It is also a time to ponder Christ’s promise to complete the work that He began. He will reign among us and bringing peace to the earth.
This year I have experienced the same cognitive dissonance that Henry Longfellow did some 150 years ago when he wrote, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”  Overcome with grief at the loss of loved ones – as well the unrest and division he saw in America – he wrote these words…  “And in despair I bowed my head: ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said, ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, goodwill to men.’”
Yet those bells which pealed on Christmas morning penetrated the cloud of grief and despair that had overwhelmed Longfellow in the cold Boston winter. The bells reminded him of God’s presence and promises, and he realized that God is not through with his plans. “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: ‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; the wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth, goodwill to men.’”
Joy, peace, and hope met Longfellow in the form of a song, and his world “revolved from night to day.” And these precious gifts have been meeting me each and every day this year, as God’s presence has provided great comfort to me in the midst of grief. The suffering in our world is very real, but it is not the end of the story. God somehow redeems the pain and teaches us as we walk with Christ through the hills and valleys of this life. And the promise, so well expressed by John Oxenham, remains:
Beyond the war-clouds and the reddened ways,
I see the Promise of the Coming Days!
I see His Sun arise, new charged with grace
Earth’s tears to dry and all her woes efface!
Christ lives! Christ loves! Christ rules!
No more shall Might,
Though leagued with all the Forces of the Night,
Ride over Right. No more shall Wrong
The world’s gross agonies prolong.
Who waits His Time shall surely see
The triumph of His Constancy;
When without let, or bar, or stay,
The coming of His Perfect Day
Shall sweep the Powers of Night away;
And Faith, replumed for nobler flight,
And Hope, aglow with radiance bright,
And Love, in loveliness bedight,
Shall greet the morning light!
~John Oxenham
Originally posted on the BUMC Blog Dec. 21, 2012.

Swept Away

Written by Layne Petersen, Director of Communications,

I went and saw one of the midnight shows of "The Hobbit" last night. My wife kept referring to it as something to add to her "Murtaugh List," which, for anyone who's seen the "Lethal Weapon" films, knows that that means she was feeling her age at 11:something as we headed to the theater. It was packed (my wife and our friend sat several rows in front of me as I was OK sitting in the single open seat I found), and I wondered how many of the people were there simply for the sheer spectacle of it vs. how many might be there to be transported into a tale larger than themselves. 

Being swept away is why I go to the movies, whether it's through middle earth on a back of an eagle, into several layers of dreamworlds to convince a man to break up a company, or into the insular world of a preteen boy and girl hiding out on their own island from their parents in 1960s New England. 

J.R.R. Tolkien (and by extension through the films, Peter Jackson) had a real gift for placing ordinary folk--his definition of Hobbits at the beginning of the book is the very definition of a small, ordinary creature--into extraordinary circumstances that revealed facets of their character they never realized were there. As Bilbo, Gandalf, and the company of dwarfs looked across the dawn-soaked miles to their destination of the Lonely Mountain, they have some small realization of the adventure they've already been through and that they've been changed already at the end of this first chapter. And I guess that's what I'm looking for in getting swept up into the films' stories. To be taken out of myself and shown new possibilities, even for just a couple of hours. Possibilities in the world, and possibilities in myself, I suppose. 

Honestly, sometimes music can do this same thing for me. Seeing an amazing band like U2 or mewithoutYou or Mumford and Sons will send me out positively vibrating with the possibilities the world has opened up. So I went to bed last night with visions of Middle Earth and defeating armies of goblins dancing through my head. Larger than life, to be sure. 

But then I woke up this morning to the news on Twitter that a disturbed young man had shot and killed 27 people in an elementary school in Connecticut this morning, and that sense of possibility deflated in about three seconds flat. As tears helplessly welled up and out and down my face, I read just the smallest bits of news, knowing that reading too much would absolutely break my heart. I wondered out loud to God why the heck he lets stuff like this happen. You know, the standard question given when we don't understand, as though God owes an explanation other than that people are sinful and the world's a fallen place. Which, I suppose, is why I feel that need to be swept away from time to time. I want God to show me the possibilities in this world, not just in celluloid adventures, but in reality. It's just hard to look past the heartbreak to see that far off view of the Lonely Mountain this afternoon.

Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on Dec. 14, 2012.

More Than a House


More than a house…
Last Saturday I had the honor of participating in a family welcoming event for Habitat for Humanity ( What makes this extra noteworthy is the home being built is for one of our very own BUMCers: Aaron Moore! I’m sure many of you know Aaron Moore who works in the church office. One of her (many) responsibilities is scheduling the use of the church facilities. 
Last Saturday’s event was particularly touching for me. I didn’t realize the degree to which Habitat for Humanity is faith-based. Aaron’s future home had the first floor framed. Those attending the family welcoming day were given Sharpies to use to write blessings on the beams before the drywall is put up. This was a very touching activity. Each of us had an opportunity to etch God’s blessings on Aaron’s home so that no matter what the surface of their lives looks like on any given day, they know the underlying foundation is filled with God’s blessings on their lives and their home.
I’ve learned more about Habitat for Humanity lately as I’ve talked with Aaron about her journey toward home ownership. In addition to properly using terms like “framed” (smile), I’ve learned that Aaron herself is working to build her own home! Each recipient above the age of 18 is actually required to put in a certain number of hours of ‘sweat equity’ to help with the cost of building homes. 
As Aaron’s BUMC family, we also have an opportunity to help build her home. We have a BUMC Build Day scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26. Aaron’s home is one of four townhomes, so we will actually be sharing God’s love through construction with four families that day!
We need a team of 12 volunteers, ages 18 and over, who can commit to work from 8:00am to 4:00pm on Jan. 26.  (Youth ages 16 and 17 may participate, but will need their waiver form signed by a parent or guardian, and they will not be allowed to be on ladders or to use power tools.)
We also need volunteers to prepare lunch for the crew that day.
Here’s how to sign up:
Volunteers for food – sign up beginning Sunday, Dec. 16 at the church.
Volunteers for the build team:
1.      Go to and click on the green Volunteer Now button in the left sidebar of the home page.
2.      If you are a new volunteer with Habitat, fill out the registration information, and in the Groups/Teams section, and be sure to check the box for Broomfield United Methodist Church. (If you have previously registered, but have not check the BUMC box, please add that to your registration information.)
3.      Proceed to the volunteer calendar, and click on Broomfield United Methodist Church for Jan. 26. There you will find all of the information about the “build day,” including a map and directions to the site.

Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on Dec. 7, 2012.

Text Messages Every Parent Should Send Their Kids

By Vicki Cromarty,

Hello everyone. I’m Vicki, BUMC’s Director of Family Ministries. I sent this out as an email to the parents of the kids, but we thought it would make a great blog post as well. This is from Epic, ( which is a blog I’ve come to gain a lot from regularly. For some reason, this post raised some emotion in me. (OK, those of you who know me well know that raising emotion in me isn’t that hard to do…I know, I know!) But what great ideas there are below! And this takes such little time to create BIG impact on our kids. Even though it may not seem to matter to them now – I trust that if we fill our kids with encouragement, it will pay off big later. They WILL remember these things we say to them.
While I know that some parents reading this don’t yet have kids old enough to be texting – some of us do and the ones who don’t, you will before you know it. And many of our kids don’t have phones – but even if they just text on their iPod touch when in your house on your wifi – you can still take advantage of these great ideas below.

I’d encourage everyone to subscribe to this site. Some days their posts are EXACTLY what I need to hear that day. Whether it is encouragement or a kick in the behind with accountability, we all need a little of both from time to time– don’t you think? Parenting is a huge job! I know I can use all the help I can get. 

Take time to text your kid today – or if you’re still in the lunchbox notes phase – use one of the great ideas below.

What an easy thing to do!

Blessings to you as we parent our next generation,

Texting is a great way to stay in your kids’ life, a great way to encourage them, a great way to love on them and a great way to send them reminders.So…Here are 15 text messages you might consider sending to your kids…Kids not texting yet? Drop a note in their lunch box!!

• Just thinking about you. You’re a great kid. Lots of love.

• FACT: Underage drinking causes brain damage. FACT: We all love your brain as it is.

• You are the son/daughter of God.

• Look who’s text messaging! Just wanted to say hi. I love you.
• Just a quick reminder to make good decisions today. I love you.
• How is your heart today?
• Just wanted to say I love you and that you’re special to me.
• I’m blessed to be your mom/dad!
• We’re having a great dinner tonight. So please be home on time.
• There is nothing you can ever do to make me love you any less.
• God has created you to change the world.
• God meant something BIG when he created you.
• I will never leave you or forsake you. ~ God
• How can I pray for you today?
• Listen for the voice of God. He has something to say to you today.
Which one of these texts do you need to send today? Leave a comment and let us know.

Originally posted on the BUMC Blog on Dec. 5, 2012.

Rowing, Not Drifting

So this is the BUMC blog. Welcome to it, everyone! This being the first entry in our new blogosphere, I want it to be something special. But honestly, nothing special is really coming to me today. I want the heavens to open up with bolts of inspiration, but instead I’m just sitting here staring at a flashing cursor.
That’s kind of how life has been recently, honestly. What do we do when we’re seemingly stuck in the mire of the mediocre? When nothing much is happening and we can’t really see why. We beg God for a breakthrough, but His silence is the only answer. Max Lucado once referred to that as being “caught in the storm of the not yet” when talking about the disciples rowing on a stormy sea waiting for Jesus to show up. It seems like a contradiction in terms – waiting for something to happen shouldn’t feel like a storm, but often it does.
We pray the same prayers every day, but our bodies don’t heal, our marriages don’t work, our discipline fails us. But we still have to keep on going.
I live near UNC in Greeley, and at one of the old gates of the university, there’s an inscription that simply says “Rowing, not drifting.” The disciples had to keep rowing – “straining against the oars,” it says in Mark 6, until Jesus came to them. It also says he came to them “about the fourth watch of the night.” Meaning they rowed all night long wondering where he was. So where was he? He was praying for them. He was up on a mountainside to pray and it says he saw them straining. Jesus was a man whose natural reaction to sickness was to heal, and his natural reaction to seeing his friends struggle while he prayed was to pray for them. And if he prayed for them, he prays for us as well.
Now, that doesn’t grab my life and move it forward in the way I want it to most days, but knowing that the creator of the universe is interceding for me in the midst of my struggles at the oars is enough for me today.
Originally posted December 4, 2012.