Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When the shots don't fall...

I’m not the biggest basketball fan (Ken clearly didn’t ask this question when he interviewed me!) but, like most of us, I do get into March Madness. I like the drama, the upsets, and especially the smack talk. We BUMC staff members fill out brackets and I usually just copy the president’s publicized ESPN bracket and make a few changes for teams I’d like to see win. Then I go tell everyone why my teams are better than theirs. My reasons are never grounded in any actual basketball facts, but I’m very convincing and, because it’s March Madness, anything can end up being right. This year, I was really pulling for Wichita State and picked them to go all the way. I guess my smack talking is finished.

Another reason I love March Madness is Charles Barkley. He makes the pre-game, half-time, and post-game shows as much fun as the games. I think he’s completely hilarious. But I also appreciate him for his analysis and he said something after the Stanford - Kansas game this Sunday that I thought was really profound.

Sir Charles was talking about Kansas freshman star Andrew Wiggins. Andrew was a, if not the, top college recruit in 2013 and will likely be the top NBA draft pick later this year. He’s had an incredible season, but in Sunday’s loss to the Stanford Cardinal (a team actually named after a color), he was just 1-6 from the floor with 4 rebounds, 1 assist and only 4 total points. While no Kansas player played much better than this, those numbers aren’t expected from such a great player.

In the post-game show, Barkley was expressing his opinion that generally it’s a bad thing for players (like Wiggins) to only stay in college one year and then go to the NBA. To support his point, he talked about Wiggins’ performance in the game. He said that sometimes in basketball, a player's shots don’t fall no matter what he does. When that’s the case, the truly great players find another way to help their team. They pull down all the rebounds or start racking up assists to make their teammates better. They do the little things. Andrew was able to do none of this. He was 1 for 6 and that's about it.

When the shots don’t fall, find another way to help your team. What an amazing life lesson this is! We are all, whether we realize it or not, part of a BUMC community, a team, that counts on each other. We all have certain skills and God-given spiritual gifts that we use to help each other. Some of us serve locally. Some go on mission trips. Some work with the students or children. Some use musical gifts in our worship arts ministry. And while all of those “main things" are great, sometimes we may need to find other ways to help out our team when our main thing isn’t needed or isn’t working out.

This week, and every week, is there something you can do, some little thing that isn’t one of your “main things” to help your BUMC teammates carry out God’s kingdom mission and purpose? Do it for Sir Charles Barkley. He’d be proud.



Joe Mazza is the director of Worship Arts at BUMC. You can contact him here.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Take Me to the Water

Last Sunday night I witnessed one of the most touching evenings I can remember in my time here at BUMC. Fifteen men, women, and children were baptized during the 505 service. I decided to go to the service as baptism for me is such a defining moment in a person's life, especially a person who is making the decision for themselves to be baptized. Don't get me wrong, I love watching babies and very young children be baptized (and anticipating all the adorable surprises that go along with it) ...but for me, witnessing somebody make a sometimes pivotal choice to publicly pronounce that he/she believes in Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Savior is something that truly touches my heart. As each person took his/her turn, I couldn't help but wonder about what led them to this moment.  Watching the water flow over each person, I imagined the cleansing power of Jesus in each person's life as they took this step in their own faith journey.  It literally brought tears to my eyes, and I feel so blessed to have been there.

The following are stories told by a few of the people who were baptized that night:

Kim:



Part of the reason I wanted to be re-baptized was because I was first saved and baptized at the age of 10 when I was a very scared little girl who had been told, as was true with many Southern Baptist Churches, that I would die a horrible firery death if I did not. But more importantly, I have really had a rough go of it for the last 10 years and in spite of my own crisis with faith I know that I have only survived but by the grace of God. This was really hammered home to me in a service a few weeks back where Ken played a video about Glennon Doyle Melton's walk with Christ. The way she spoke about forgiveness of our sins and transgresses spoke to me. I decided at that point to rededicate my life to Christ. Shortly afterward we had a death in the family that shook us to the core. I saw fierce love, community, and grief all mixed up in one and I wanted that for my life. I knew that level of love only came through Christ. I wanted a chance to have all of my mess used in a way that I would be helpful to others. The experience Sunday was almost indescribable. Feeling the water wash over me, knowing that I was taking a huge step in my life with Christ was breathtaking and life changing!

Shereen and Denny:



My brother and I were raised as Christian Scientists. Christian Scientists do not practice the ritual of baptism (note official statement below).

"People practice baptism in many ways. The outward symbol of immersion in water tells of an inward desire for purification. Christian Scientists emphasize the meaning behind a Christian symbol more than the outward practice of a symbolic act. They practice baptism daily by studying the Word of God and living their lives in a way that give evidence they are being bathed in Spirit and thus cleansed of sin."

In 2006, I read the Purpose Driven Life when the entire church was reading it together. I wondered if I needed to be officially baptized. In 2008, I was standing in the emergency room waiting for my father-in-law to be admitted for what turned out to be a brain tumor. I vividly remember talking with Ken and asking if I should be baptized. I told him the story of how Christian Scientists view baptism as being in one's heart and it's not the outward practice but the inward living the practice. He said that I could certainly be baptized in our church but the belief in my heart is just as strong.

A year ago my brother started attending our church. I was sitting in the 11:05 service with him while Ken was performing a baptism. He (my brother Denny) leaned over and whispered, "Have you ever been baptized?" I said, "No, have you?" He replied, "No, we should do it together."

This year I studied more and more about baptism and a statement I read struck me: baptism is burying your sins and taking on the new life of Christ. I also read that in doing so it frees us. But not to do what we want, rather, to follow God and serve our purpose in this world.

And so, there I was, with my brother, Denny, being baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. What a memorable experience.



Dave
:


I'm nearly 65, and after many years of thinking church ritual wasn't something I needed or wanted, I was baptized at BUMC on Sunday, March 16. Like the rest of my Christian walk, which is now about a year old, it was something I was called to do. Also, as with much of the past year, it yielded surprising fruits: inner stillness, peace, and a deeper sense of community with the BUMC congregation and other Christians in general. As a recent but not isolated example of what I have felt from my first days at BUMC, the baptism service had both a human warmth and spiritual intimacy that means everything to me. I give a special thanks to Jesus for getting the whole thing started, with a nod of appreciation to John the Baptist for making the wonderful cleansing ritual of baptism a mainstream event. I'm looking forward to whatever comes next in my spiritual walk, and I'm grateful I'll be doing it with the wonderful family of faith at BUMC.

Chett:

I have always tried to be a peaceful person. I have always believed that there is a Lord who watches over me. Through the years, I have received attention from the Lord from prayers and many, many blessings. I thought that I was baptized as a child. I recently found out that I have not been.

I have met literally hundreds of people in my life through this church over the past 16 years since joining.  We have all shared good and bad news, believed in our God and shared his values. 

Recently I have applied for and assumed a position within the Scouting community as the Gateway District Religious Emblems Coordinator in the Denver Area Council.  I am working with Dave Johnson on the confirmation process and he as incorporated a few things in the current confirmation class from the P.R.A.Y. program, which I am attempting to make more viable in the Scouting program.  This represents ALL religions.

I know of no better way to show support the youth than to Commit to the Lord in Baptism.  What more of a statement may I make, not only to believe, but to openly share those beliefs with other individuals? There is an old saying about the difference in “Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk”.

I want to be able to genuinely Walk the Walk and serve to enlighten youth and adults in the road to Jesus. With my baptism, not only may I serve others, I may serve them with integrity and knowledge within my heart.




Baptism isn’t magic and doesn’t offer any extra brownie points for getting into heaven but it is an outward sign to yourself and others that you have chosen to follow Jesus. You have placed your feet on the Way and intend to continue on that path.

To those of you who were baptized, we who were in attendance were so blessed to be with you as you made this major step in your faith journey. You are in our prayers as you continue as fallible humans, as we are, to strive to live a Christ-like life.

 –Introductory comments by Andrea Laser and concluding comments by June Todd

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Penchant for Rules

by Thomas Cross

As I drive to the gym or run errands in the late afternoon, I often tune in to sports talk radio. My favorite later-afternoon hosts are Dave and Dave on KOA and Big Al and D-Mac on The Fan. One thing I’ve noticed in recent weeks while listening is that there is a sure-fire way to get people to call in and express their opinions. Just do a segment in which people can propose rule changes to one of the big-time pro or NCAA sports leagues.

Both shows have done these segments recently, and they absolutely get flooded with calls. And it is clear that callers have given deep consideration to their proposed rules! One suggestion called into The Fan was so complex that neither I nor the hosts could understand the proposed change. Clearly this man had downloaded and studied the NFL rulebook; I don’t know what could be more interesting. One thing is sure: If you want to get people excited, talk about rules.

These discussions have led me to an observation about human nature: We human beings love rules! I’m especially fond of the rules I get to make. And, of course, the best scenario of all is to impose rules on other people that you don’t have to follow yourself (in other words, to be elected to Congress!).

It is fortunate, in my opinion, that many people obsessed with rules have directed their energies away from the church and into sports and politics instead. But not before leaving their mark! The United Methodist rulebook, The Book of Discipline, is 781 pages, rivaling the Bible in its length (it does not rival the Bible for stimulation, however). This is despite the fact that John Wesley founded the Methodist movement upon three simple rules.

As you may remember, Jesus boiled down the 613 commandments of Moses into three: Love God with total devotion, love your neighbor as yourself, and proclaim the good news of the Gospel and Kingdom as you go. Wesley based his three General Rules on the teachings of Jesus, but prefaced them with the implicit command to “first, do no harm.” This is surely part of what it means to love your neighbor, but Wesley thought it wise to spell it out with clearly. I’m not loving my neighbors if I’m harming them. Wesley interpreted loving neighbors in terms of doing good to them: “Do all the good you can” at every opportunity. Finally, express your love and devotion to God by practicing spiritual disciplines that will keep you close to God. As Jesus says, stay connected to the Vine.

Jesus’ distaste for rules caused him to be despised and rejected by the rule-makers of his time, the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin. Wesley’s simplified approach opened Christianity to people of all backgrounds and classes, divorcing the essential Christian life from social protocols. Yet our temptation to revert to rule-making is as strong as Adam and Eve’s temptation to eat the forbidden fruit. We are tempted to get right and wrong down on paper and make determinations and judgments. Yet as Joan Jellison so eloquently said in the Disciples Group, “Our job isn’t to judge; it’s to love one another.” Our job is also to let the Holy Spirit guide us to do the right thing as we make our daily decisions. As David says in Psalm 23:3, “He guides me in the paths of righteousness [tsedeq, doing the right thing].”

When we fail, we have Paul’s reminder that the “free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the One Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many” (Romans 5:15). Yes, to err is human. To make rules is human as well. To find your sufficiency in Christ and his grace is divine.         


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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Family Values

by Eric Underwood

I was raised in the Methodist Church. Going to church was one of those things that was a part of our weekly routine. Every Sunday seemed the same: get up, stop watching cartoons, eat sugar-based marshmallow filled cereal, put on scratchy clothing and sing songs that only adults seemed to know. Then sit incredibly still and try not to get the death glare from my dad (all dads seem to have one of these- I’m working on my own... it’s a work in progress). At the end of service, head home in the car while mom dished the weekly gossip and critiqued the outfits of other moms in the congregation while I waited anxiously to get back to my ninja fortress/pillow fort. That was church. Or what I thought it was until I had a family of my own.

Before I begin to explain this, let me share with you what changed with my absence from the church. One weekend we just seemed to stop going. No explanation from my folks, just kaput. I never went in high school and only went in college to study with one of my buddies. He’s a devout Catholic and he used to go study for finals at the same church where he never missed a mass in four years. His reason for that church…they had free food and drinks during their scheduled study halls. Not a bad deal for a broke college kid REALLY far from his Maryland home. I tagged along to the food caravan and began to question why I stopped going to church in the first place.

My junior year of college, after one of my fraternity brother’s funeral service, I called my parents to ask them to explain why we quit going all those years ago as I was now thinking about going back to church on a regular basis.

“It served its purpose to our family.”

Uh, what?

Then they broke it down for me perfectly.

Church was used for my parents to set an example for my sister and I to live our life by a set of very successful standards for the way we treat others, elderly, and those different from us through the teachings and philosophy of Jesus Christ. My mom made the most important point later in that conversation- she wanted me to understand that going to church was not as important as understanding what the church symbolized for our family. She was very adamant that simply going was not the key, I needed to be reminded that church is just a building. The behaviors and actions of myself are much more important than just “going to church.” She was much more eloquent that my ramblings, but you get the point. Just going doesn’t cut it. We have to live by its lessons as well. They went on, but these are the things I remember from that difficult phone call.

My point to all of this is I look forward to the lessons that I can teach my own son with the help of BUMC. I don’t remember my folks taking and using their Methodist Church like my wife and I do. We are part of small groups and I (try) to play softball with other members. We try to use the church in both ways that I feel that my childhood experience lacked. It is a building and a practice, not just one or the other. Both. Thanks to BUMC for helping me teach my son to use the church in a way that is very different from my own childhood and I look forward to watching not only him, but our family grow with BUMC.


Eric is a Colorado native who loves to spend time with his family and (self admittedly) gets way too absorbed in the Broncos.  He says that BUMC has been a wonderful addition to their lives and he looks forward to the future with the community.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Providing a "Hand Up" in Times of Transition and Need

Shortly after I arrived at BUMC, Dave Ellison organized a workshop for a wide variety of the congregation’s leaders known as “Future Discovery.”  This weekend visioning session set the agenda for our church’s growth over the next half-decade.

One of the major initiatives to flow from Future Discovery was the Congregational Care Team.  The team coordinated and expanded a number of caring ministries.  In the years that followed, our members have stepped forward to meet a specific needs as they arose, providing organic growth to a wide variety of ministries.  

Some of the most notable groups of people who provide tangible care include Heart to Heart, Stephen Ministry, the Saturday Men’s Group, the Meal Ministry, the Prayer Team, Wheels to Worship, and the Congregational Care Team.  Many of our small groups provide care to their members as needed.  But the range and scope of our caring ministries is not widely known.

So last fall, I sat down and outlined the various caring ministries of BUMC in a two-page document.  I shared the document with the coordinators of these teams to make sure the descriptions were accurate, and I received a number of corrections and revisions.  I also looked for a member of our church who can serve as a traffic router, a person who can direct inquiries to the proper people.

I am happy to report that Mike Young has answered this call, and he has been working to get acquainted with our caring ministries.  He is our “Hand-Up Ministry” Referral Coordinator, and he can be reached at 303-909-4934 or MEJLYoung@comcast.net.  As people inquire with needs, Mike will be able to direct them to the proper resources.  I am thankful he has stepped forward to assume this important role.

The principle of “Hand-Up Ministries” is to provide a temporary hand up during difficult times to provide a bridge to a brighter future.  As a church, we cannot do everything for everyone.  Our first priority is to take care of our own people and to offer love and support in times of crisis, grief, and need.  We are not equipped to address chronic needs or to do extensive case management.  Short-term assistance is our primary focus.

What kinds of caring ministries can we provide?  Here’s a pretty complete list:  Minor automobile repairs, short-term counseling and referrals for in-depth counseling, emergency food boxes, Financial Peace University courses, visits for seniors (Heart to Heart), minor home maintenance, meals during times of recuperation, a Mental Health Support Group, prayer shawls, intercessory prayers from our Prayer Team, confidential prayers for mental health issues, rent and utility assistance in certain circumstances, Stephen Ministers to provide one-on-one support, Wheels to Worship (transportation to the 11:05 a.m. Worship Service), and a Widows and Widowers Group.  We can also make referrals to agencies for children’s clothing, more extensive home repairs, and ongoing food needs.     

These ministries are only possible because of the time and love so many of you invest to make them possible.  I appreciate all of you who are so faithful to “find a need and fill it,” and I invite all of you who are reading this blog to consider participating in one of these caring ministries.  If you have time, compassion, and skill to share, and you feel drawn by the Spirit to participate, please contact me at 720-880-5221 or thomas.cross@broomfieldumc.org.  I can explain the parameters and expectations of the ministry you are considering, and I can put you in touch with a team leader.  We also need monetary support for some of these ministries if you prefer to share financially.  And if you have a gift to share not listed already, let me know.  New ministries start because people like you step forward and take initiative.

If you or a friend has a need for greater care, please don’t remain silent.  We can only respond if we know what you need.  While we cannot meet all needs, we are able to address many of them.  Please reach out to us and contact Mike Young.

Thank you to all of you who serve!

God bless you!

Peace in Christ,

Thomas



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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Like a Powerhouse

by Vicki Cromarty

This past Sunday, I was once again reminded why I love my job – getting to know, teach, and be amused
and awed by kids and their faith. I think it is fair to say that even though working with kids in a church
setting has been my job for almost 18 years, I still never know what might come out of kids’ mouths or
little hearts at any point and time. That is what makes it the best job ever!

So this past Sunday wasn’t all that different from many Sundays at BUMC, except that the kids from PreK through 5th grade were helping to lead worship at our two contemporary services. They do that every so often, and it is so fun to enjoy the kids that come for these “singing in worship” Sundays. It’s even more fun to see them up front with our Praise Team leading a worship song that they’ve been learning and practicing over the last several weeks. A couple of children in particular really struck me on this special Sunday. I haven’t been able to quit thinking about them since.

First, let me tell you about Tommy. Tommy is in Kindergarten, and was especially enthusiastic as he
came bouncing down the hall earlier than most of the other kids. He was excited about singing in “big
church” and wasn’t afraid to tell me about it. In fact, he sang most of the song with gusto for me and
his Sunday School teacher long before ever entering the Sanctuary. And when he was done, he quickly
and confidently told us, “I’M LIKE A POWERHOUSE!!”

I’m like a powerhouse! I haven’t been able to get that out of my head since! And he WAS like a
powerhouse, singing the words and moving with motions in front of the whole congregation. He was on
fire!

Then there was Bella. Bella is a sweet and wiser than her years elementary kid who loves God and lights
up a room with her personality. Bella had been practicing chords on her guitar for weeks to get to help
accompany, along with the praise band, all the kids who would be praising God with their song. When
the two services were over, I got to thank her and ask her if she thinks she might like to do that again.
She was very quiet and humble about it – and shared that she had been pretty nervous and was glad it
had gone okay. A different kind of powerhouse, you might say….shyly confident enough to go a little out
of her comfort zone in order to serve God!

What has rolled around in my head ever since is the question – What if we were all like little Tommy,
and like Bella - confident in the gifts God has given us, ready to use them to glorify Him, like an all-
around GOD POWERHOUSE?! I don’t think it matters to God how we do that – some of us are bold and confident, others quietly confident. But the point is that we JUST DO IT! So often we may get too busy,
letting trivial details of life that “seem” more important take precedence over serving Him. We might
feel too self-conscious, thinking our gifts aren’t good enough. We might get caught up in ourselves,
thinking inwardly instead of outwardly. We are all blessed by God with unique gifts and talents and can
use them to serve God and others. We can do this loudly or quietly, publicly or privately, shyly or boldly
– but all in a powerhouse kind of way!

I could write pages about all of the kids in our ministry who are willing to share their gifts for God and
how they constantly amaze me with their faith and teach me so much. But since there isn’t room, let’s
all take a lesson from Tommy and Bella and the rest of our kids- what has God gifted you to do to serve
Him and others? Where can you serve with gusto, like a powerhouse, or even quietly and humbly? Are
you actively serving within these gifts, and if not, what is holding you back? JUST DO IT! I’d love to hear
from you in the comments below.

From the rising of the sun til the sun goes down, let the name of the Lord be praised!




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. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Falling, not failing

by Theresa Mazza

I love the Winter Olympics: every crash, every photo finish, and every twizzle. This year I found myself going through boxes of tissues as the stories of some of these amazing athletes were revealed. It turns out they are human just like us. Their stories go beyond their victories and athletic celebrity. They've sacrificed their bodies for the opportunity to medal for their country- fall after fall!

Jeremy Abbott had one of the most memorable crashes on the ice I've ever seen. During his first jump, he fell hard, slamming to the ice, landing on his hip and ribs. He seemed stunned by the fall, but when he looked up and saw an audience of people watching and waiting, he knew he couldn’t stay down. They didn’t come to watch him quit. The failure to complete one jump, didn’t mean that he would fail to finish his routine. He could have crumbled under the humiliation, but he didn’t- he picked himself up and finished.  As we looked on, we saw a big fall, but we also witnessed a heroic rise.
              Have you started something that you didn’t finish because it seemed like a complete failure? Just because you've fallen doesn't mean you can't finish. What will you finish?

Later on during the games, Trevor Jacob and Alex Deibold crashed through the finish line during the snowboard cross semi-finals. During this particular race, only the top three finishers would advance to the medal round. Trevor Jacob, looked like he had secured his position to finish in the top three, but he was unable to hold his lead when he and fellow US athlete, Alex Deibold, simultaneously crashed right before the finish line.  Deibold would slide into the medal round literally by a hair, and then go on to win Bronze for the United States.

What fascinated me about this fall was how a defeated Trevor Jacob got up and immediately went to Alex Deibold to celebrate his victory. He didn't see this fall as his failure, but rather as his teammate's victory. This was one of the most powerful moments for me as I watched the winter games, and the most dynamic displays of sportsmanship I've ever witnessed.
                                                    


In the midst of your defeat, do you have the courage to celebrate the victory of others?



What did the Sochi Winter Games demonstrate and teach us that we can apply to our life and faith?

Falling is not the same as failing!
Maybe we can relate with Jeremy Abbott, we’ve worked hard to offer up something incredible, but ended up on the ground instead. Falling is not the same as failing. We don’t have to stay on the ground, defeated by the fall. We can lean on the redeeming love, and grace of God. Our audience of one encourages us to rise as we hear his voice say to us, "Get up, you're not finished." Maybe like Trevor, victory has been snatched from us at the last second, as we’ve crashed to the ground we’ve watched others enjoy victory and realize our dream. Falling is not failing. When those around us succeed we can be encouraged by their victory and know that defeat is only defeat when we stay on the ground. 






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