Thursday, July 31, 2014

Peacemaking

by Thomas Cross

I have been giving quite a bit of thought to the topic of peacemaking this summer. It started with my summer group on the “Dictionary of a Loving God.” We discussed the word “conviction,” which means to “prefect certitude” and being undivided mentally (not condemning yourself with dual-minded self-judgment). It turns out that most people in the group had seen “conviction” in a negative light, and were surprised to find it has positive connotations in the New Testament.

It turns out “peace” builds upon this positive meaning of conviction, describing a mind and spirit at rest, not tormented by doubt, distrust, or despair. Still, that’s a negative description of peace: I can tell you what peace isn’t, but exactly what is peace? So I did more research in the New Testament, and dug deeply to find the roots of peace.

What I learned from my research is that peace begins inside, in the heart and mind, and is nurtured by a personal faith. As we experience peace internally, we can share it with others, and adopt the practices of peace taught by Jesus and the apostles. My hope is we can nurture a conversation of instilling and nurturing peace, rather than merely reducing violence.

We live in a world where two major ethics, two major narratives, are vying to capture the hearts and minds of people. One is the Conquest Ethic, where might makes right and success is measured in terms of what the strong can take from the weak. When it comes to Conquest, you only need to turn on the news and see what is happening in the Middle East and Africa.

The other is the Love Ethic, which is based in the conviction that God wants all people to prosper, all people to live in peace. The Love Ethic finds its roots in the teachings of Jesus and the Gospel, and provides a distinct alternative to violence. Love can be practiced only by people who been changed from the inside-out by God. History has plenty of dark chapters, but our generation gets to write the next one. My prayer is for a heart that is centered in God’s peace and love, so I can learn to practice peace and love in my relationships. Could it be that peace will reach a tipping point of critical mass as Christ’s followers grow into mature discipleship?


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!




If the topic of peacemaking speaks to you, BUMC’s Curbing Violence Team is devoting the month of September to an emphasis upon peacemaking. This church-wide focus will culminate with Sunday messages on September 21 and 28, and a special Saturday afternoon seminar on September 27. The seminar, “Creating a Peaceable Kingdom,” will feature a keynote speaker and breakout sessions. You’ll be hearing more about this event in the weeks to come.


Thomas also volunteered to write a curriculum to give all of you the opportunity to explore and discuss what he discovered about peace in the Bible. It is a four-session series entitled, “Becoming a Peacemaker in a Violent World,” and he is making it available to all of our BUMC groups to use in September. We will have several groups doing the series and you can participate by signing up for a group next month. Here are the themes of the four sessions: What Is Peace, Faith as the Fuel for Peace, The Fruit of Faith – A Life of Peacemaking, and Ways to Grow as a Peacemaker.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In Real Life

by Kyle Rasmussen

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of working with the kids in BUMC’s summer musical entitled, “iAM.” Not only was it inspirational to see how hard these kids worked in their performance, but it has inspired a recent topic of inner reflection: technology and our relationship with God. In the musical, Solomon (a famous “app” designer) is reminded by his co-workers and admired fans that the most important part of our relationship with God can’t be experienced though games or computer software, it is getting out and sharing God’s love with others “in real life.” Truth. There are no technological replacements for a hug on Sunday morning, and no proxy for the impact made on our lives when someone took the time to comfort/encourage/help us when we felt lost and alone.

But where would the sharing of the Gospel be without technology? One could talk “old school” and look at how the Gutenberg Bible was the catalyst for how all of western society has communicated through the written word for the last 500+ years. Or one could go extremely old school and consider the book of Acts, where the sharing (Acts 2:4) and receiving (Acts 10:44-46) of the Holy Spirit was tied to “speaking in tongues.” Technology has made this seemingly miraculous gift of its day into an easily obtainable tool in modern times.  How many free translation apps are out there that make communicating about God’s amazing work possible between believers of native languages? I can’t speak or write in Telugu to communicate with the amazing church leaders spreading the Gospel in India, but there’s an app for that! Find it difficult to sit down with your Bible and would rather be able to read it on your phone, but don’t even know where to start a personal Bible study? There’s an app for that!

An interesting article I came across recently spotlighted a unique intersection of technology and faith: America’s Amish community. Devout Christians who’ve decided that the way to maintaining their faith is by living “off the grid” (or more appropriately “off the net”), the Amish, have recently found themselves embracing more and more modern technology (cell phones, iPads) in the pursuit of business ventures. As they have become wealthy, however, their spiritual principles and disciplines have actually made them a potential target for scamming. Because many feel that investing in the stock market is considered gambling, they will often invest their wealth back into each others’ business ventures. Non-Amish businessmen with close ties to the Amish community have seemingly exploited this caveat. Since a simple Google search to validate the legitimacy of the business proposals would equate to a compromising of faith-based technological values, dozens of members invest strictly on the basis of whom within their community has already invested.

So technology has proven itself integral to spreading the Gospel, but it also can present itself as a lurking evil amongst the most devout faith communities. I think it all comes back to the amazing gift that God has granted us in free will. God has always granted us amazing choice in how we receive His love, His commandments, His direction for what our lives should be. Just as technology can be used in amazing ways to bring God’s people together, it can just as easily be used to drive them away from their faith. As 2 Corinthians 9:7 reminds us that “God loves a cheerful giver,” a modern parallel would state that God loves a cheerful, diligent, and loving technology user. Proverbs 4:23 states: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

It is a challenge unto ourselves to make sure that we stay focused on all the great things technology offers our faith journey. We must also remember that no app replaces the fellowship and community of growing with God through our interpersonal relationships. But I’d like to believe that somewhere, someone is working on an app that will bring us together in more meaningful ways. Maybe I need to go visit Solomon in “The App Factory” myself? J Congratulations again to the kids, staff and volunteers of the summer musical, I’m excited to see how you will outdo yourselves again next year!






Kyle and his wife, Jenn are both active members in multiple BUMC ministries, including BUMC 2 India as well as TraffickStop.  When not around church, Kyle works in technical service for Veolia Environmental and also owns Blue Tower Studio.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Overcoming Doubt

by Shereen Fink

Years ago someone quoted this verse from Mark 9:24 to me during a conversation, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

It was such a curious statement that I’ve found myself thinking about the meaning of this verse off and on over the years. Lately I’ve been reading a devotional series through the online Bible, YouVersion, titled, “Grief Bites: Doubt Revealed.” This verse from Mark was part of the reading last Friday. The author of the devotional suggests in times when we are feeling distracted or stagnant in our faith the root cause is not apathy, rather, it is doubt. He goes on to describe his own experience by sharing he never doubts God’s goodness or His love. In fact, he doesn't doubt God’s ABILITY to work in his life…but he doubted God's WILLINGNESS to act and work on his behalf.

After processing that statement for a while I realized at certain times in my own life I've carried that type of doubt in my life. When asked if I’m a “believer” I confidently say that I am. I don't doubt at all the miracles God performs – including the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection. I don’t doubt that God hears prayers. Yet, I do find myself asking “why?” often. Why does heartache and pain exist? Why does it seem as though sometimes God doesn’t answer MY prayers? I realize even though I believe, sometimes I don’t believe my prayers carry more weight than the multitude of others who have far greater heartache and pain than mine.

I heard someone say recently that God has three responses to prayers: “Yes,” “Later,” “I have something bigger planned.” Re-read that and you’ll see what I saw: God always answers prayers. Just maybe not in the way or in the timeframe we have in mind. In order to overcome this doubt about God’s willingness to act on my behalf, I realize I need to be present and mindful of my relationship with Him and his son, Jesus. Meaning, it’s important to look for God’s blessings and answers to prayers. It’s important to convert our thoughts from “that was coincidence" to “God answered my prayer.”

Recently, God responded to my prayers during a time I struggled with doubt the most: the time just months ago when my mother was going through the end of her life. Four days before my mother passed, Thursday, December 19, 2013, I was sitting on the bed next to my mother praying and meditating about her situation. We were just beginning to embrace the stage of her final days. During the night my mother awakened several times and said she wished this wasn't taking so long. My prayers that morning were centered around asking God “why.” Why was this taking so long? Why did my mother have to wait if she was ready now?

Every day I send out verses through BUMC's Text Ministry. The verse I sent that morning came to me as a response to my prayers regarding God's timing.

"Wait for the lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the lord." Psalm 27:14 NIV

In the peacefulness of my mother's room; with her sleeping beside me and my looking at the morning sunshine over the lake view out of her bedroom window; it was comforting to think God had a plan and I could confidently wait for Him. But life doesn't always get lived out like a Norman Rockwell painting. Two mornings later I was suddenly awakened at 5:00 a.m. by my mother experiencing the first phases of leaving this life. Her situation, combined with my grogginess, made me feel panicked as I attempted to administer her home hospice medicine. In my frantic state of wanting peace and calm to return to that room, I felt helpless. Feeling unable to stop and calm myself, I spoke out loud to God. Honestly, I cannot recall my exact words, but in essence I audibly asked God why He wasn't doing something to help.

At that precise moment (5:19 a.m.) my phone that was on the bedside table, lit up and I briefly saw a text message had appeared, "Wait for the lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the lord." The text I sent two mornings prior for that day's Text Ministry was just delivered to my phone. I can't do justice in words to describe what I felt at that moment. What I can tell you is that I immediately knew God sent me that verse so I would be reminded of His presence and omnipotent power.

Two days later Jesus came to take my mother with Him to heaven. It was still a difficult time for me. I still experienced moments of pain and helplessness. But the doubt was gone. I knew God was with us. I knew God had a plan for my mother and He was orchestrating each step in her walk with Him. I knew God had an intimate interest in every thing happening in that room. He had made that abundantly clear to me.

Having spent over 30 years in the high tech industry, I can come up with multiple explanations for this apparent coincidence of that specific text arriving two days late on my cell phone. Instead, I choose simply to believe. I choose to believe that our God doesn't always play by the rules - He makes the rules. While this seemed like a coincidence, I believe it was a Godincidence. He tried whispering in my ear that everything was in His control but I was too distracted to hear the whisper. He decided to use the very tool I use every day to share His word to remind me that I wasn't alone and He heard my prayers. He absolved me of my doubt.

"I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me." Psalms 16:8 NLT


Shereen Fink is the Director of Servant Ministries at Broomfield United Methodist Church. In her role she has developed a comprehensive ministry, curriculum and community service network designed to guide individuals to live purposeful lives through recognition and application of their God-given strengths.  She combines her education in business management, certification in Positive Psychology coaching and extensive self-study in theology with life experiences from years in corporate environments to provide a holistic view of God's meaning and purpose for our lives.  She is the author of a daily devotional book: God's Transformation for Our Lives and a devotional meditation CD.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Clock Scriptures

by Thomas Cross

Andrea’s recent blog on “Clock Birthdays” reminded me of an experience I had about ten years ago. A friend called me up and left a voicemail that began, “It’s 4:07 p.m.” For some reason, the numbers four and seven caught my attention, and I wondered what the Scriptures with a 4:7 address would say.

Well, the Old Testament 4:7 Scriptures didn’t tell much of a story, and some books in the New Testament didn’t have four chapters. But in the New Testament epistles (letters) which did have four chapters, the 4:7 Scriptures were quite meaningful and had a big impact (with the exception of 1 Corinthians 4:7, which is a series of personal questions).

What surprised me the most was this: When you put these 4:7 Scriptures together, they tell a coherent story and provide a great summary of the apostles’ gospel message. I call it the 4:7 Path of Discipleship. I invite you to see for yourself!

Romans 4:7 – “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.”

2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Galatians 4:7 – “So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Philippians 4:7 – “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 4:7 – “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.”

1 Timothy 4:7 – “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.”

2 Timothy 4:7 – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Hebrews 4:7 – “...Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”

James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

1 Peter 4:7 – “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.”

1 John 4:7 – “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”


The 4.7 Path of Discipleship:

Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.



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, July 9, 2014

Clock Birthdays

by Andrea Laser

Growing up, my brother, Matt and I had some interesting car traditions. For instance, every time we rode in the car on a dirt road, we would put our heads on the windows and whoever itched their ears first, lost. Others included the infamous, “I’m not touching you,” “You are on my side of the line,” and of course, staring contests, alphabet games, and license plate games.

A few years ago, my brother taught me a new “tradition.” I learned it in the car, but it works well with any digital clock. It’s called clock birthday. Here’s how it works: twice a day, the clock displays your birthday in the hour and minutes. For example, my birthday is August 18th, so my clock birthday is 8:18. Every morning at 8:18 and every evening at 8:18, if I happen to look at the clock at that exact minute, I get to sing a little celebration song (clock birthday, It’s my clock birthday), and have a moment of celebration in my day. On days when I happen to see the clock on my clock birthday, it changes my day, even just for a few minutes. It’s like an unexpected acknowledgement of something that is special about me. Fun, right?

After a while, I noticed I glanced at the clock at certain times almost every day. For example, I often saw the time 3:16. One day I was driving and I saw 3:16 on the clock and then a few blocks down the road saw spray painted on the side of an old barn the words, “John 3:16.” When I got home, I reread that scripture. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The next few times I saw the time 3:16, I thought about this scripture.

The next time I saw my clock birthday, I first celebrated (clock birthday, It’s my clock birthday), and then the thought came to mind that a favorite scripture of mine is Romans 8:18. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” The shift from celebrating clock birthdays to reflecting on “clock scripture” had began. When I drive in the car now, I challenge myself to try to think of scripture I might know that corresponds to different times. It’s not life changing, but it is one way that I am reminded of God’s presence in my day to day routines.

For me, these little moments in my day make the distance that I sometimes create between God and I dissolve- if even for a minute. I recently read an from Creighton University that spoke to me, “It is simple. A sense of absence vanishes when I am open to a sense of presence.” Or for me, the sense absence vanishes when there is an unexpected acknowledgement of His presence.


What scripture speaks to you that could correspond with a time of day? Please share in the comments below.





Andrea is an Early Childhood Special Educator, as well as mom to Paxton, 5, and Wyatt, 2. She and her husband Steve have been members at BUMC since 2009. They are active members of the First Friday group, and Andrea leads the Blog Team at BUMC. To contact Andrea, or if you are interested in writing for the BUMC Blog, please email her at abp818@gmail.com

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My "Holey" Garden

by Jordan Shute

My husband and I have lived in our home for just over a year now. One of the great things about being a homeowner is that we have a yard and ample space to grow vegetables and fruits. With our home purchase we inherited two apple trees and a cherry tree, and a whole mess of strawberry plants. My favorite thing about our backyard is my garden. I didn’t grow up with a garden, so all my knowledge of garden growing has been gleaned from grandparents, the Internet and the weekly "Grow" section in The Denver Post. And of course, trial and error!

After last year’s abundant harvest of spinach and zucchini, and virtually no harvest of tomatoes and peppers, I decided to take a different approach this year. I only planted a few rows of lettuce at a time and took better care of my indoor seed starts. But before my lettuce, spinach and kale sproutlings even saw the light of day Brighton experienced a few days of severe wind. And then it snowed. And it got cold. I was so meticulous with my rows of seeds and I spaced everything out with extreme accuracy. But now I have kale in the spinach row and I am simply missing half a row of lettuce. It’s like the seeds just up and flew away in the wind. I also replanted my pumpkins only to find some of the original seeds survived the snow and now I may have more pumpkins than Rock Creek Farm (which may turn out to be only slightly better than last year’s frozen pumpkin vines that ended up in the trash, sans pumpkins). 
     
Once summer hit on June 21st I figured I was home free. My tomatoes and peppers were getting used to the outdoor soil and everything else was thriving. Until last week. There had previously been the threat of hail in Brighton, but nothing happened. However, I learned the hard way that if you live east of the Denver metro area, then you will get hailed on at some point. My spinach leaves now look like Swiss cheese, the lettuce just looks like a pile of dead leaves, and the one squash blossom that had emerged is no longer attached to the vine. From here on out, any plant that produces a vegetable will be considered a miracle!

For as much time and care that I put into my garden, two nights of hail didn’t cause stress or anxiety, oddly. I wasn’t angry at the meteorologists. I didn’t curse the tornado sirens. I simply accepted that sometimes, no matter how hard you work on something or how much energy you pour into a project, not everything turns out just how you imagine it. In some cases we just have to learn to let go, lest we get pelted – and bruised – by hail. And maybe that’s OK.

Recently, I’ve been pondering this scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:17-18:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The lesson I’ve gleaned from my hail damaged spinach salads is that my time wasn’t wasted being exact with my rows or nurturing seeds. Some plants won’t survive or simply won’t be edible, but the plants that do survive will be stronger because of the storm. We’ll all get caught in a hail storm at some point in our lives– whether literal or figurative. But it’s the part of you that emerges when the sun comes out that gets stronger and continues to grow. I think The Message translation of 2 Corinthians 17-18 is fitting for my story:

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

If I can remember to think of all “hard times” as “small potatoes” I think I’ll get through the next hail storm just fine. Plus, I really want to get to that lavish celebration (in the future) and see if the ruined pieces of my garden made it to the table.




Jordan Shute is the Executive Ministry Assistant at Broomfield United Methodist Church. Her main role is to assist the senior pastor, and organize logistics for Sunday services. In the summer, Jordan loves spending time in the mountains, and tending to her garden. You can reach Jordan by email at Jordan.Shute@broomfieldumc.org.