Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ferguson, Missouri

A few months ago, I received an email from BUMC member, Kathy Case. I have been waiting for the right time to share this with the congregation, and in light of the events this week in Baltimore, the timing now seems appropriate:

I have given a lot of thought to the fact that the town where my mother lived for 42 years is now considered the hotbed of racism. It makes me sad and confused. My two younger brothers were raised there. My parents moved to Ferguson, Missouri two weeks after I got married but my family and I have visited there almost every year. I don't get it. I have never felt uncomfortable there even though half of the people I saw in restaurants and stores were not white. I felt fine letting my children go for a walk even after dark. It never occurred to me that there would be a problem. I did not worry about my mother staying there after my father died. She was happy there and was watched after by her neighbors. The lady across the street refused to let my mother take out her garbage. She sent her sons to take care of it and would not allow mother to pay them. She did, however, allow her to give them some hot chocolate when they shoveled her snow. When Mother was 90 and those young black boys had grown into men and had jobs and responsibilities, they still came by to take out Ms. Jones' trash because that is what you do for your neighbors who shouldn't be doing heavy lifting. One day, my mom slipped on the ice and fell in the street. Cars from both directions blocked the street while 5 other people came out of their houses to see if they could help. None of them were white. None of them ever seemed to notice a skin color difference. They were just neighbors.

Perhaps the way my family was treated has to do with the fact that they treated others the same. In the military we always lived among people that were different from us. When I was born, the Okinawan ladies could not believe what big eyes I had (I guess they had never seen a Caucasian baby). We lived among people from all parts of the US, people of different races, and people that did not speak our language. We made friends all over. My parents always invited people into our home that Dad worked with regardless of color. Mother was always active in the German-American club and the Franco-American club when we lived overseas. They both made lifelong friends who in turn welcomed my husband and family into their homes later.

My parents taught us that when you feel uncomfortable, smile and find someone to be nice to. It is not necessary to like everyone, just give everyone a chance.


When I went to St Louis in September, people told me to be careful so soon after the Ferguson incident. I went to my brother's wedding where several black people were in attendance and one spoke at the wedding. We smiled and were pleasant and there was no hatred from any side, just kindness and friendship. I know that these are still troubled times but I cannot feel that Ferguson and St. Louis are the epicenter of racism. If we refuse to take an us versus them attitude, in time I hope that sanity will prevail. It only takes one incident to cause a calm situation to explode. I hope someday the dream of Martin Luther King can really be a reality "Black and White together." For good measure, we should add every different race, religion or belief.   -Kathy Case


I post this as a reminder to us that God's vision of community does transcend race and now is a season for us all to contribute building the "beloved community" Dr. Martin Luther King imagined by loving our neighbors in the image of Jesus.

-Ken

Thursday, April 23, 2015

For the Love of Spring!

I love Spring time. I really, really do. It’s my favorite season. Come March, I can not wait for the Garden Centers to start opening. I have had many plants die because I jumped the gun and planted too early and they were caught by a cold April storm in Colorado. My excitement often gets the best of me!

I have a giant vegetable garden. It consists of five raised beds. I started with two and then added another and another until I ran out of room. Now, in the summers we grow all of our own produce. Come July, I am desperate to give away zucchini. Last year, I provided squash for our entire block! This year, we’ve already planted six types of lettuce and peas and I’ve plotted out where the tomatoes and zucchini and cucumbers are going to live.

I am also a bit neurotic about watching the plants grow. I take it personally when they are hit by frost or they don’t survive a hotter-than-average June. I love to go outside after a tough day at work and see all the little shoots poking out of the ground and later in the Summer to pull fresh tomatoes and eat them still warmed from the sun.

I equate, in many ways, my love of all of these plants to God’s love for us. He provides the guidance and foundation for us to grow and love each other. Much like my plants that need water and good soil, I need the direction and strength that I find through prayer and the constant comfort of God’s love for me.

This magical time of year always seems like a fresh start for more than just the plants and trees. It is a fresh start for me too. I can spend my precious Spring time watching life come back to my garden and focusing on the ever-present renewal of God’s love.

And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. -Isaiah 58:11

-Cristen


Cristen Underwood has been a member of BUMC for three years.  She is actively involved in the First Friday Fellowship. She lives in Westminster with her husband and two-year old son.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Missions Don't Have Borders

I’ve long been fascinated by the psychology that goes into mission statements. Personally every time I see one, I ponder the inspiration that was driving the person or people who wrote down those words and said, “THIS is who we are and what we believe.” Of course mission statements have to be impactful yet demonstrate brevity because reciting your mission statement shouldn’t require the memorization skills of someone who got an "A" in organic chemistry!

I love the mission statement of BUMC: Worship God. Grow with God. Share God with others. Short, to the point, inspiring, but without boundaries and limits.

For those don’t know my family and I will be relocating to the Salt Lake City area this summer as part of a fantastic new position with a former employer. My greatest sadness in this new adventure is leaving behind the amazing faith family that is BUMC. The other day though I realized that right there in our mission statement was something completely counter to this notion that I am leaving anything behind. Share God with others. Not others in Broomfield, not others in Arvada, not others in Colorado…others. Period.

It is the same simplicity that is contained in John 15:16-17 where Jesus says:

"You didn’t chose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. This is my command: Love each other.”

I get extremely frustrated when people who call themselves true followers of Christ forget the simplicity of this command, wanting to put boundaries on Jesus’s mission statement. He didn’t say, “Love each other so long as they live in the same community and have the same beliefs and values and have never done anything really, really, really bad before….” No, he said simply, “Love each other.” Likewise, when our mission statement at BUMC says Share God with others, that means with everyone, everywhere. When Ken talks about that spiritual stake that we put in the ground as a member of BUMC, that’s a stake that stays behind even when my zip code isn’t in Colorado. I’m forever an ambassador of BUMC, wherever my journey takes me.

What we most commonly think of as “mission work”, traveling somewhere outside of our comfort zone to help others and spread the love of Christ is far from easy work. Several people who I have discussed this upcoming relocation with have said something along the lines of, “Well you know, it’s Utah and it can be tough to practice your faith if you’re not LDS…” To which I just smile and laugh and point out that there are plenty of harder places in the world to be a Christian. When representing BUMC in India in 2013, there were frequent reminders that Christians are a minority, but those who are believers there have a faith that is so epic it becomes evident that I traveled there to gain rather than give.

The YouVersion verse of the day for my birthday a couple weeks ago captured this sentiment perfectly. Hebrews 11:6 says: “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”

I step out onto this next leg of my journey electrified with the faith of BUMC and our common mission, sharing God with others wherever they are. Although my spiritual stake forever remains connected to BUMC, there are certain logistical issues which do require a handing off of the spiritual baton. There is an upcoming team representing BUMC that is currently planning to travel to India with Global Hope India to dig a well and help spread the Gospel to the millions there that have not heard it. There is an interest and fundraising dinner on April 30 at Yak and Yeti in Arvada. I would love for you to be my guest at the dinner if you are interested in the trip or GHI’s mission. Also the BUMC youth are having a fundraiser dinner featuring live classical music the night before (April 29) in the Fellowship Hall to help raise funds for their upcoming mission trip to San Francisco this June.

Worship God. Grow with God. Share God with others. Simple. Boundless. Empowering.

Thank you BUMC for an amazing 9 years of spiritual growth. I bless your continuing mission and am blessed to carry it and expand the walls of this church.
-Kyle





Kyle and his wife Jenn have been members of BUMC since 2006. He now works as a Quality Control Specialist with Holly Energy Partners, based out of Salt Lake City.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

My Wife, A Sports Psychologist, Pastor Ken, and Justin Bieber

Never in my life would I think I would hear God speak through Justin Bieber. I don’t want to say anything bad about him, because I don’t know how many fourteen year olds read the blog, but he isn’t exactly my favorite celebrity. But then the other day I saw such a human moment with him. He admitted he had lost focus on what really mattered and then said, “God, thank you for your grace, and for never giving up on me.” It’s surprising sometimes where God shows up in unexpected ways... I could relate in a way.

A while back, I, too, was having a hard time focusing on what was really important, letting a whirlwind of unimportant things get in the way. I prayed for focus. Guide my focus to the parts of my life that truly matter.

Not long after that, my wife, Andrea, began working on a project called One Little Word, and chose the word “here.” She explained to me that she wanted to be more present in her own life. It made sense, but I didn’t really think twice about it. Then, a couple months later, my firm had Kevin Elko, a sports psychologist for the Alabama Crimson Tide come and speak to us. Most of his talk revolved around staying focused and being present. One particular thing he said stuck with me. “Be where your feet are.” Be where your feet are. It’s been rattling around in my brain since I heard it.

And then this past weekend for the big Easter Sunday service, Pastor Ken talked about this concept of mindfulness...being present in the moment. Right then, the dots connected for me. God had answered my prayer: in order to focus on what matters, I had to be present in the moment. It’s changing the way I look at my life and is putting me back on track to focusing on what I should have been all along. Besides all that, it’s reaffirmed for me that fact that God definitely has a sense of humor. I can almost hear the joke now… “Andrea, Kevin, Ken, and the Biebs walk into Steve’s consciousness...”

-Steve



Steve Laser has been a member of BUMC for over five years. He will begin serving on the finance committee in 2015, and has previously been involved in the First Friday Fellowship, Theology on Tap, and has served as an usher. He is a native to Broomfield, Colorado, and lives here now with his wife and two children.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Know and Be Known

Community.

When I search this word on my phone, here is the definition:

noun: a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government and have a common cultural and historical heritage.

I guess that does describe a community--like Broomfield, Westminster, Thornton.

But when I think of “community” in relationship to my faith, it means so much more.

Lately I’ve been in a season where God has given me a great awareness and deep gratitude for the community of believers that He has allowed me to be in relationship with over the years. This got me thinking about years ago when my husband and I were pretty newly married and helping with the youth group with a number of other married couples at our church in Florida. Our Youth Director and his wife had moved from the New England area and had been in a small group at their previous church with other married couples. They suggested that all of us couples should form a small group and meet regularly. Well, this was quite the foreign concept to us at the time – we had never been in a small group. What do we do there? Is it super formal, like a class? Would we have to share all about our marriage, our lives, our struggles? Did we know enough about the Bible to be in this group? Honestly I was fearful of the unknown. As much of a “people person” as I was, I wasn’t really sure that this small group thing was for me!

I remember not too long after that season I heard of small groups being defined as a place to “Know and be known.” That did resonate with me. To know and be known. It sounded like a good thing, but still a little scary when you’re first starting in a group. Knowing and being known comes with some real vulnerability, responsibility and accountability!

While that first experience with our Youth Director and friends did turn out to be ok, and we still remain close with many of those people today, “community” or “knowing and being known” didn’t just magically happen overnight. It took time, intentionality, and the choice to be a little vulnerable with one another.

It was hard at times, but worth making the choice. Today, I wouldn’t trade the community that I’ve experienced in some of the small groups I’ve been in for anything! The community built has always been totally worth the work it took to overcome all of those fears listed above. I’m so grateful for the ladies I get to be in Bible Study with each Friday and all I learn from them, and for the families that my family meets with monthly. These people are the first ones I go to with prayer requests. They are the ones who brought dinner for us when my husband had neck surgery. They are the ones that will email me encouragement at exactly the time I need it. And when in community with them, that is often where I see God show up in the most amazing of ways.

Maybe you have a group like this. Maybe it is a group of friends in your neighborhood, parents at your child’s sports games, a club you belong to. You can build community anywhere. At BUMC, we are so fortunate to have such a vibrant small group ministry. If you don’t have community in your life, or if you haven’t ever joined a group here with others who share your faith - take a step. Check out a ladies group. Check out a Bible Study, a men’s group, or a family group. Pastor Thomas has small groups for so many different types of purposes. Overcome those fears. Know and be known. It is worth it and a choice you will not regret! God created us to be in community with Him and with others! Community is at the core of how we are designed. This may be natural for some, and not so much for others. But it is important all the same. The blessings are SO worth taking the chance.

-Vicki


Do you have an awesome small group? Tell us about it in the comments below!

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10: 24-25



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 16 years and they have one beautiful daughter, Lauren, who is 12 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.