Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Creativity Unleashed

by Sarah Holstein

As I think about what I am thankful for this season, a small group of middle school and high school girls comes to mind. Over the summer, I discovered that active in the BUMC youth group were several girls interested in writing fiction. I was excited by their passion, and wanted to encourage it as much as possible, so we started a writing club. It meets on Wednesday nights during the school year.

At first, we spent our time doing writing exercises together, and reading and commenting on short stories written by the members of the group. As October came to a close though, the girls told me of an exciting thing happening in November. I learned that November is National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo). NaNoWriMo is a program for writers across the country, with a goal of writing 50,000 words during the month of November, and the girls were excited to give it a try.

As we’ve worked together to write novels, I’ve been so impressed with their commitment to creativity. They have piles of homework, participate in organized sports, make time for their friends, are actively involved in youth group, and somehow fit in the time to write creatively. Their hard work has inspired me to think about why creativity is so important to them, and to me.

I do not think it is a coincidence that a major mention of creativity in the Bible comes in Exodus, when the Israelites are working to build the tabernacle, or dwelling place for the Lord. Exodus 35 describes the community coming together with leathers, yearns, and precious metals so that God might have a fit dwelling place, even while his people are in exile. The Israelites valued the skills of those who were creative, and could make a place for connection with God. I think there is something about creativity that allows us to connect with our creator, and I’ve witnessed it in these students.


I think that fiction allows us to explore truths of the world, through the “lies” of a made up world. I’ve seen these girls exploring truths about: good and evil, relationships, reality, love, memory, friendships, choice, free will, and the importance of human connection. I’ve been blown away by the insights they share with me in their fiction, and by how clearly I can see the influence of their faith in their writing. Though they may not be writing books about theological topics, I’ve seen that, in coming together to write fiction, they have made a space for connection with the Lord. 



Sarah Holstein works with Dave Johnson and the youth program at BUMC. She has worked with the youth for four years, and enjoys acting silly with middle schoolers, having fun with high schoolers, and watching them discover the transformational power of God’s love in their lives. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Long Distance Dividends

by Kyle Rasmussen

We’ve all heard it: “Think globally, act locally.” We’ve all thought about it, probably overthought about it. If it’s what BUMC was thinking about back in 2011 when the congregation was blessed with complimentary copies of the NRSV Bible, I was blessed to see the concept pay its global dividends to perfection.

My wife Jennifer and I brought home our complimentary copy from BUMC back in 2011. However, since we both had our own personal versions from the 1980s (hard covered, sporting a little duct tape here and there), our complimentary BUMC copy spent the better part of two years, well, somewhere. When beginning to pack for our mission trip in India last summer, I happened to find our “BUMC Bible” on Jenn’s nightstand. Being soft-covered and lighter weight than both of our personal copies (and in the interest of saving space), we agreed that we would share this Bible between the two of us during our trip.

One of the craft projects we did with both the kids and adults we met in India was to make “salvation bracelets” containing five colored beads to remind us of the elements of our relationship with God. There are Bible passages associated with each color, which (to make readily available during the craft project) we tabbed and highlighted in our “joint” copy proudly bearing a BUMC sticker on the cover. These verses are considered to be some of the most essential to Christianity such as Romans 3:23 (For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.), Romans 5:8 (But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.) and John 1:12 (Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God).

During our time in Palakollu, the entire team shared testimony to native church congregations, as well as a meeting of local church planters. Both Jenn and I used our “BUMC Bible” to share some of our favorite verses alongside our personal experiences and faith journey stories. After the church planters meeting, I thought that our companion Bible had completed its overseas role and was ready to journey back halfway around the world to Colorado. But as Isaiah 55:8 states, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” God’s plan had been set in motion back in 2011 and it didn’t include that NRSV Bible coming back to Broomfield…


Our last day in India began with a 6 AM train out of Vijayawada for a 7 hour ride to our departure city of Chennai. Kevin White, founder of Global Hope India, and Revo Ocabirt, the photo/video journalist for GHI had taken seats next to an Indian gentleman in the row behind and across the aisle from my seat. Well, Revo wanted to video interview team members (check out the “Reaching India” video on globalhopeindia.org), Kevin wanted to schmooze, and Jenn wanted a native to artistically apply a henna tattoo on her arm…so I gave up my seat and found myself sitting next to the aforementioned gentleman for a while. I don’t remember us exchanging any words; I spent most of the time playing songs on the borrowed acoustic guitar I soon had to return at our station stop in Ongole. He did seem very interested though in the dialogue being exchanged between our team members.

After a while we were back in our original seats and I noticed that Kevin and the Indian gentleman had struck up a conversation. I was focusing on the writing I was doing in my journal, often interrupted by long, hypnotic stares out the window of our train into the Indian countryside. Suddenly from behind and to my right I hear Kevin (in his North Carolina drawl) ask, “Hey Jenn and Kyle: do y’all have a Bible that you’re not attached to?”

God’s plan: put the “BUMC Bible” into the hands of a new believer riding on a train from Vijayawada to Chennai. 

All the pieces fit together perfectly: put this man, stirring with questions about Jesus and Christianity next to a passionate believer (Kevin) with plenty of answers; have a Bible close by that just happened to have some of the most meaningful versus about being a believer pre-tabbed and highlighted weeks earlier 9,000 miles away; have this Bible conveniently close-by as I began to pack my bags for India; and most importantly, have me accept this gift from my local church home two years before that.

Of course a big factor in this story is that this native Indian read and spoke English. Most natives in the state of Andhra Pradesh where we visited speak Telugu. We had the privilege to bless some of these believers with their own Telugu Bible. 

Although my “BUMC Bible” story is powerful, I consider it immensely more moving that during an evening church service, a grown man openly wept as I presented him with his gift of a Telugu Bible. 

These native-language Bibles are purchased from Indian publishers for only $3 each. But considering that $3 is approximately the average daily wage for a laborer who spends 12-14 hours working each day, one can easily understand the weight and magnitude of such a gift.




Our team who traveled all the way from BUMC 2 India is hosting our second annual craft fair
on Saturday November 30th in the Family Life Center to raise funds for more Telugu Bibles for GHI and their overseas mission partners. We have dozens of amazing local vendors (did I mention it’s “Small Business Saturday” as well?), many of whom are BUMC members, who are supporting our mission by being present as vendors. I invite you to support them by coming to shop, support GHI by enjoying food and refreshments (which will also benefit TraffickStop), and TRULY live out the vision to “Think globally, act locally.” 


       


Kyle Rasmussen is one of six BUMC members who traveled to India in August 2013.  He and his wife, Jennifer are both active in the children's and music ministries at BUMC.  Their mission team (BUMC 2 India) is raising funds for Global Hope India and their mission partners overseas, and is excited for future India mission teams representing BUMC.  Kyle and Jenn have two kids, Blake and Noellyn, and both own their own creative businesses.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Running the Race Set Before Us

by Kyle Denny

Growing up, my mom would head out the door before sunrise for a jog and return about the time I began pouring a bowl of cereal. In high school I would sarcastically say to her, “Why don’t you just drive?”  Nearly 15 years later, I ended up lining up for the Denver Marathon with my mother by my side. We ran together that day - sharing stories and talking about our lives - as she helped me reach my goal of a sub-5 hour marathon. 

We crossed the finish line in 4:58:14.

Running has brought so many positive things into my life - including a closer relationship with God - and I wanted to find a way to share it with others. 

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  - Hebrews 12:1

After many failed attempts at blogging, I came across “Run For God - The 5k Challenge,” in the back pages of Runners’ World magazine. Suddenly I had found the inspiration I was looking for: the course is a 12-week training program aimed at running a 5K while maintaining a Christian focus.

Run For God is for all abilities. The class is very conversational and the workouts progress in a matter that is attainable for any level. The first week starts with alternating 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for 20 minutes. Each workout starts with a 5-minute warm-up and cool-down. By the final week the class is churning out 30 minutes of running.

This year in class, we covered inspirational stories such as the amazing story of Team Hoyt - a father and son who compete together in marathons and triathlons with Rick Hoyt pushing his son with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair. We also covered running tips from advice on picking out shoes and what Christian music to put on one’s iPod, to race etiquette. There are a number of inspirational and fun YouTube videos we included throughout class for some added inspiration.

The most enjoyable part was sharing stories with each other about our weekly runs.

What kept me so excited about the course is how it explains the parallels between an endurance sport and the endurance that faith requires. As a believer and runner, I find many references in the Bible relating to journeys of exhaustion, pain and dedication one will experience in life.

“…but those who trust 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 faint.”  - Isaiah 40:31

The second Run For God small group held its race finale last Sunday at “The Great Candy Run.” It was a warm November morning as we gathered for the group photo, pre-run, in Denver’s Washington Park and then everyone set off to complete the 3.1 mile journey.



It has been a fantastic experience leading the Run For God class/small group with my wife Melissa. I could never have done it without her. Every week I am inspired by those in the class. I look forward to the next group starting in the Spring and the new experiences we will share. 


Who would have thought a pair of running shoes would strengthen my faith?









Kyle Denny leads the Run For God 5k Challenge at Broomfield United Methodist Church.  The course features a 12-week plan to run a 5k while maintaining a Christian focus.  Kyle and his wife, Melissa, have led the class twice.  Kyle enjoys the challenge of running, having completed 6 marathons and more than a dozen shorter events.  In the next year he looks forward to his biggest event yet - a 50k - and looks forward to the challenge.

Monday, November 18, 2013

One less hug…

by Kay Rush

One of the perks of being in my position as receptionist at BUMC is getting to really know a lot of the wonderful people who walk through the doors. I realize that some people like to speak and breeze on by, which certainly works, but some are looking for something more personal, which I enjoy offering. Many folks come on such a regular basis that I learn to feel quite warmly toward them because I learn to know about their lives and I often share a part of myself with them. Thus a bond and caring friendship is born. Now, I know that some of those that enter the church are NOT “huggers”, but I’ve learned that many are and even look forward to that type of greeting.

Nancy Roberts was one of those people that entered not only my area but practically every room with open arms. She was full of enthusiasm, warmth and love for everyone in her path. Nancy and I were not only Church friends, sharing our most spiritually intimate thoughts in the “Empty Nesters” small group, but were also “let’s have lunch together” friends. She was safe, wise and fun and we always enjoyed our time together.

Now I know that many of you could write these same words, as she was a wonderful friend to a lot of us, and touched our lives in many ways. She loved her God and showed it by loving those that God placed in her path. Nancy always entered the doors near my desk with a bright, loving smile and then approached my desk expecting a big, warm hug. It was easy to love her…and now I’ll miss her very much…and her warm accepting hug.

Maybe now, if you’re a hugger, I’ll need an extra one from you…





Kay can be reached at kay.rush@broomfieldumc.org

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grateful

by Vicki Cromarty

I grew up in a Christian home.  My parents were both raised with a Christian background – my mom in Arkansas, in a Baptist Church and my dad in Illinois as a Presbyterian.  When they married and settled in Illinois, they felt that a Methodist Church seemed like a great middle ground for them, and then later, their family as well. 

For me, as a kid and teen, going to church was always part of the natural flow of our life.  Sunday morning included Sunday school, and then worship service as a family.  I fondly and vividly remember all of the old hymns, sitting next to my mom, her singing the alto part.  As I got into the junior high and high school years, I was involved with youth choir, and youth group.  The friends I made there and lifetime memories that I have are what began shaping my faith story. First United Methodist Church in Monmouth, Illinois will always hold that special place in my life.

Fast forward to the next phase of my faith – First United Methodist in Boca Raton, Florida.  It had been a few years since I had been active in church, and I began attending there (and later working there) after realizing that something very important was missing in my life.  It was this church that helped me to own my faith at a different level, where I experienced my first women’s Bible study, and as an adult experienced a new level of fellowship with people who I still love and consider my Florida “family.” They were the ones who saw Dave and I get married, have a child, and see our family through good times and bad, modeling the love of Christ. 

It was also at this church in Florida that God gave me a reality check.  While all of my history sounds like a happy little story, I was missing one HUGE part.  I had taken for granted that I was blessed to be born into a family of faith and church of people living out their faith.  I realized through a neighbor’s faith story that not all people were introduced to God’s love at an early age.  Many people have had to find faith on their own, and those closest to them don’t always support their beliefs.  It was there that my “taking for granted” turned to “grateful.”  God really drove home the importance of what the church can mean in people’s lives - at any age - when it’s working the way He intended.

I’d experienced two churches at that point that modeled what I needed to learn:  it doesn’t matter if we come with a lifetime of church memories or not a clue about what church can be for us. God can use people of a church to impact faith stories and to help others experience God’s love -- no matter their history, faith background, or season of life.    

These days, I am grateful more than ever for my own faith story and the opportunity to witness the faith story of others.  I now call Broomfield United Methodist my home - another amazing church family I’m blessed to know.  BUMC is regularly living out the things I had taken for granted.  I see faith stories being impacted at all walks of life.  Kids and teens are brought to church by parents who want to give them a firm foundation of faith – whether the parents themselves had that or not.  Small groups are growing people from right where they’re at in life – whether having no faith background or a mature life of faith. Rich worship services help us think about our weeks differently and call us to action and service.  All of us get to be present as God is at work and people’s faith stories are formed- not something to take for granted!

When I’m lucky enough to go back and attend my childhood church, I see many of the people who helped to shape my early faith story.  Some of my Sunday school teachers still faithfully sit in the pews.  I can almost count on seeing my elementary PE teacher, Middle School Math teacher, and High School Biology teacher, still actively living out their faith.  Countless friends of my parents who have loved me through my growing up years and beyond are still there too – along with many new faces that call this church home.  Just as these are people for whom I’m extremely grateful, we at BUMC have this great opportunity to be the same for those who grow up here or who currently call our church home.  

Let’s be all these things for each other and the people who walk through our doors! Don’t waste a single Sunday!  What or who are you grateful for today that has made a difference in your faith story? How can you be that for someone in this season of your life?




Vicki Cromarty is the Family Ministry Director at BUMC.  She loves getting to know families and kids and having the privilege to learn with them about God’s amazing love.  Vicki has been married to Dave for 15 years and they have one beautiful daughter, Lauren, who is 11 years old.  She loves spending time with her family and friends, enjoying all that beautiful Colorado has to offer!  You can contact her at vicki.cromarty@broomfieldumc.org. 



Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Small Group Community

by Lisa Forrey

October is a big month for our family. Not only is it the month of my birth, but it is the month that contains the day and night where, for at least 24 hours, we condone and even encourage candy overload. But as I said, it’s also on the list of favorite months because it’s my birthday. And while I've known the people in my small group long enough to know they are capable of almost anything, still I was surprised when I walked into our room Wednesday night. There laid out before me, were all the makings of a fantastic birthday party: cake, cheese straws, awesome gourmet sodas, chocolate, Halloween goodies, more chocolate (one can never have too much good chocolate); generosity abounded. It was a spectacular celebration, mostly because of the people in that room, their thoughtfulness wrapped me up in caring and propped me up.   

As we do at least once a year, we talk, write, and think about what is going well with the group and what could be improved. Thanks to the responses from the previous week, the official report card was in! Primarily, we discovered that we like and value each other most and discussing the books is just a nice secondary function of our crew. What we do best is to care, worry, cajole, encourage and/or make fun of each other. Sometimes in the same night- because that’s just how our small group, "The Fierce and The Humble" rolls. 

Do you ever wonder about Jesus' small group? I do. Do you suppose James ever told embarrassing stories about John from when John was a little kid? Or did Peter and Andrew tell fishing stories about the "Big One" that got away? Did Matthew share stories of the people he was collecting taxes from? Did they wonder about the state of the Jewish church?  How long did Jesus let them roll in their storytelling before reeling them in and starting with the lesson-o-the-day? Did they wonder if the world was more evil than it was when they were children? How often did Jesus roll his eyes at them, laugh with them, cry with them, and try (once again) to get through to them with the world changing news he had?

And then there was that one day when Jesus washed their feet, where in one humble act, he turned the whole idea of community around; he flipped the concept of what was the most important part of his small group. He demonstrated and insisted that true love served. The most humble act of showing someone that you cared for them is doing something servants would normally do. 

While there is always room for improvement, one of the strengths that we have as a group is as a collective caring community; where we can come and dump our cares and know that others will either help, commiserate, encourage, or make fun of us, whatever is most needed.  I appreciate that. I adore that. I need that. I thank the merry collection of souls with whom I share my Wednesday nights.  They are, indeed, the best of what God gives to us when we are in community with one another. 






Lisa is a single mom to two amazing daughters who try to make her a better person.  She's been involved in various small groups throughout the years and is currently a huge fan of The Fierce and The Humble group.  In her free time she enjoys trying to find balance in the chaos.  


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So, how was church?

by Joe Mazza

This question probably gets asked a lot around the BUMC community (or any church community) on Sunday afternoons. Maybe it’s asked by a spouse who stayed home with a sick kid or maybe it’s asked by your mom on your weekly Sunday afternoon check-in phone call. Or maybe a variation of it, “So what did you think of the [sermon], [music], [temperature of the sanctuary] today?” gets asked as part of post-church lunch conversation.

You can imagine, I get asked this question a lot, as do most of us on staff. And we probably all have slightly different metrics we use to answer. I might answer based on how faithfully and well we played the music for that morning. Ken may answer based on how much eye contact he saw and connection he felt while preaching (or if anyone was caught snoozing). Someone in our business office may be influenced by the morning’s offering.

But none of those things really matter, do they? I mean, they do on some level. I and the many musicians in our choirs and band work hard to lead music with excellence. We know that wrong notes and mistakes can break the moment of an otherwise Spirit-filled time. Ken knows that while everyone has an off day, it’s a whole lot easier to hear God speak when you’re not counting ceiling tiles during the sermon. And our business office knows that this church belongs to God and God will provide but it never hurts to see a nice week.

Past all of those surface things, what matters to me is if I saw God Sunday morning. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean physically saw God - though when Pete Smith was here and had his beard I once mistook him for Jesus before I’d had my Sunday morning coffee.

What I mean is, did I notice God’s presence

That’s where it gets tricky because I’ve found that God likes to show up in unusual ways. Sometimes I notice him in the music - a song just hits me in a new way or connects directly to part of Ken’s sermon even though we hadn’t discussed it. Other times, it has nothing to do with music at all. I may meet a new person who just happened to pick BUMC as the place to go this Sunday. Or I may have a lengthy conversation with an old friend that takes a turn toward requesting each other’s prayer. And often, I notice God’s presence through what I imagine are the same things going on in you. I see connections being made - some about the service topic, some not - connections that look like they are going to be important. Sometimes I might see someone linger a little bit in their seat after the service is over. I know that time is holy and I’ll do anything to protect it for him or her.

So, how do you answer that question? We don’t just all show up each Sunday for no reason. How do you notice God’s presence that makes you keep coming back for more?






Joe Mazza is the Director of Worship Arts at BUMC. You can contact him at joe.mazza@broomfieldumc.org