Thursday, January 29, 2015

God Provides: Quandry Peak, Part 2

by Christine Rector

In July of 2013, I climbed my very first fourteener, Quandary Peak. This was an incredible experience and one that not only pushed me physically but also stretched my faith in God.

As I stood on the summit I felt victorious both physically and spiritually, God had given me strength to make it to the top. I felt invincible! After spending time taking in the splendor of the mountaintop view, it was time to head back down the mountain. As I made my way through the boulder field I stepped on a boulder and hyper-extended my knee. Needless to say, this was not good. I had a long way to go to get to the bottom of the mountain and now with a knee injury, getting to our car seemed unattainable, but I didn’t panic…yet.

By the time I made it to tree line both knees were swollen, in excruciating pain and I was exhausted. I couldn’t take another step. I sat down to rest and pray- I prayed for God to help me down the mountain: to provide a tree limb to use as a cane or even someone who had extra poles I could use…He was the only one who could get me down the mountain. As soon as I said “Amen,” God’s answer to my prayer appeared around the bend of the trail carrying poles! She asked me if I was okay and I explained that I had hurt my knee and that I could not take another step, she gave me ibuprofen and offered the use of her poles and told me she would meet me at the bottom.

As I slowly made my way down the mountain, I praised God and thanked Him for His provision. I was in awe of how God had answered my prayer.

Nearing the bottom of the trail, I met a gentleman, who had passed me up and down the mountain, and offered to help me down the rugged trail head. I was exhausted, and in pain, so of course I said yes!

To say my first fourteener climb was memorable would be an understatement! God had several faith lessons to teach me that day: first to trust God and rely on His strength instead of my own, and second, that God provides for my needs and blesses me beyond my imagination.

And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 

Christine is the Children's Ministry Assistant at BUMC.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Broken Bones, Burning Buildings, and Slowing Down

by Joe Mazza

If you were at BUMC any time between mid-October and Christmas, you know that I had a broken ankle for the majority of that time. I don’t like to brag so I kept the story kind of quiet, but it happened while I was saving a baby and a box of kittens from a burning building. I had to leap over the flames and dive to safety just as the building was collapsing. I knew I’d be injured, but you’re not NOT going to save kittens. Plus, the baby. 

For the following 8-10 weeks, my life was defined by two different orthopedic boots, a cast, crutches, and a pretty sweet rolling cart that, had it not been a rental, I would have tricked out with 20” rims and a tank of nitrous. Since I couldn’t do that, all of those things meant I was slowed down quite a bit from my usual pace. I even had a temporary handicap parking permit.

For some reason that I don’t really understand, I’m always moving as if I’m in a hurry. I tend to walk fast, moving quickly from task to task, and drive even faster. My brother in law recently got a speeding ticket and the first thing my 6-yr-old nephew said to him was, “It’s ok, dad, I bet Uncle Joe has gotten LOTS of speeding tickets.” He’s right.

But trying to get anywhere fast on crutches or in a walking boot that makes you look like a zombie out of The Walking Dead or Michael Jackson’s Thriller video just doesn’t work. I pretty quickly realized that I’d just have to deal with moving slowly. During Advent. The busiest time of the year for anyone working at a church.

Routine and simple parts of my week suddenly became challenging. Setting up drums, microphones, and guitars for band rehearsal. Hopping up on to the sanctuary stage for a worship service (I know you saw that, I heard you laughing). Or carrying ANYTHING around that couldn’t be wedged between a crutch and the side of my body. I did get some help in the beginning but after about three weeks, that wore off. So, faced with no choice, I just slowed down. I added margins of time to my calendar. I de-committed from things. And, through that, I found some extra peace, hope, joy, and love in a holy season in measures I haven’t experienced in the past 10 years of rushing through Advent to get to the big Christmas Eve extravaganza.

Now, as a professional Christian and a leader in the church, this is where I’m supposed to give you three specific things that God did through my slower pace. I’m supposed to match them with Bible references and end with an encouragement for you to slow down. But I can’t do that. I didn’t really have any specific moments where, because I was gimping along on crutches, I had some life-changing conversation with someone I would have previously ignored. I didn’t have some unknown church member offer to help me carry my guitar only to find out, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, that it was actually Jesus.

But the work of God through my injury and physical slowness was apparent and real. I was more present to my family if for no other reason than I spent half the time on the couch with an ice pack. The Christmas tradition moments we spent together had more meaning because I had to carve out extra time around them. And the church work of Advent that I do each year, sometimes without thinking, was more meaningful and rich because of the struggle it took to simply get it done.

I’m pretty much healed now. The bones that were fractured have been repairing themselves through the amazing process that God has figured into the creation of our bodies, something that I will never understand. The torn ligaments and the stretched tendons are healing as well, in no small way due to the efforts of the best PT ever, BUMC member Brian Forman of Form And Fitness Physical Therapy (shameless plug but, seriously, he’s great). And I’m starting to move more quickly again. I’m sure in six months or a year I’ll forget how it felt to move slowly and I'll be back to running around for no reason. But for now, I am trying to keep a slower pace in the expectation that I’ll see, feel, and experience more of God through it.

Joe Mazza is the Director of Worship Arts at BUMC. When not heroically saving things from burning buildings, you can find him playing his guitar somewhere, most likely while leading worship at the 8:30, 9:45 and 5:05 services at BUMC. He, along with his wife Theresa and son JJ, is looking forward to enjoying the beautiful outdoors of Colorado now that Theresa doesn't have to deal with him whining about his ankle anymore.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Silent Nights

by Lisa Forrey

In the post-Christmas days, after the frenzy and majestic cacophony and build up to one of the biggest days on the Christian and secular calendar, there is a deafening silence. At least for me. The wind-up and excitement is over, the gloriously over the top decorations have been reboxed, the sugar laden treats have been eaten or are stale and the realization has hit that if I want to fit into the pants I bought last autumn, my friend Gym and I are going to spending a lot of time together. What is left is mind numbing routine, the bare cold, the drab darkness of the long days of winter still ahead.

But sitting alone in this silence, watching flakes fall, I become aware of something. At first it's just a faint inkling, the merest hint of a presence, a vague restlessness, a sense that I am not alone. And as I do a double take and reassure myself that I am alone in the room, it comes with more certainty. I begin to hear the snow speak as it lands in my yard. The sound is subtle and soft but it is there.

And as I listen and concentrate harder, letting the room fade from my view, I begin to hear the Voice. It tells me that this is the season of quiet contemplation, this is the time to reflect after a season of chaos, this is the time to renew and re-realize who you are and to whom you belong. These are the days to begin to sketch out your dreams knowing that the Master of the Universe will be by your side. These are the days when you rededicate yourself to be a child of the One Most High, when you pause and contemplate the greatness of what it means when He said, "I sent My Son to your world to be your Light. I love you."

After the miracles of Christmas, these are the days to let the enormity of that gift soak through our souls. These are the days to listen to the quiet whispers of God.

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. -Jeremiah 24:7

Lisa is the mom to two daughters who try to make her a better person. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A New Story for a New Year

by Thomas Cross

As we start a new year, I find it helpful to reflect upon how the coming of Jesus to the earth changed the way we think about time and history.

Before Jesus came to us, people thought of history as a series of repeating cycles, largely predetermined by fate or the gods. The ancient Greeks believed there was nothing new under the sun, and nothing you could do to escape your fate.

But when Jesus came to the earth, He gave history a plot line. If creation and fall was the beginning act, Christ’s life formed the middle act. And Jesus promised that earth’s story will have a third act. Time took on a new quality. Ever since Jesus came, we’ve been telling our stories with three-act plots. Quite a change from the Greek tragedies of the past!

For the individual, the coming of Jesus brought a greater sense of self-determination. No longer was life simply a matter of acting well your part, no matter how miserable that part might be. With Jesus came the opportunity to write our own stories.

So here we are on the cusp of 2015. Let me ask you: What stories dominated your thinking and your behavior last year? How did you think of yourself and God’s involvement in your life? Where would you like your story to go this year? Where do you need God’s help to get there?

I read an interesting editorial in Esquire magazine last month. In it, the editor, David Granger, talks about how his staff interviewed young adults who are shaping our future, the millennials who have become influential in our time. Their staff was uniformly surprised by how optimistic these young leaders are. They are giddily optimistic, despite coming of age during the War on Terror and the Great Recession.

How can this be, you ask? Granger’s answer is this: These young people haven’t bought into the fear tactics of politicians and media pundits. This is certainly true, but the answer goes deeper. Granger cites the attributes that have made us unique as Americans: “resilience, defiance, and hope.” Rather than reacting defensively to challenges, these young leaders are returning to our bedrock values.

Those values have their origin in our Christian heritage. Jesus offers us forgiveness for the past, freedom in the present, and opportunity for the future. These gifts make a world of difference. If I’m forgiven, I don’t have to keep repeating the same mistakes, reaping the same consequences. If I’m free, I can choose the voices I listen to, or I can offer a new voice in the conversation. I can listen to God’s voice, the still small voice that offers a whole new perspective. Finally, if I really believe I have an opportunity to write a new story with God, the future opens up with hope. I’m not stuck!

Not surprisingly, it was our first great American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, who started the practice
of writing New Year’s Resolutions. Whether you like to do so or not, one thing is for sure: Resolutions reflect a robust hope in what God can help us do. They have their root in the promise of Philippians 2:13: “…for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

Like God’s Big Plot, our own lives are filled with exciting chapters. Together, we’ll be writing some new chapters this year. So I invite you to turn down the pundits and fear mongers, open your heart to God, and listen to his still, small voice. I invite you to reflect upon your noblest dreams, and trust that the Holy Spirit wants to help you achieve them.

So Happy New Year, and Happy New Stories!

Thomas Cross is one of the pastors at BUMC.  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!