Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tear it off

Have you ever just wanted to be yourself? Do you have such a carefully and elaborately constructed image that you wonder if anyone knows the real you? If so, welcome to being human. This has been our story for as long as anyone can remember. As Genesis tells it, the first two humans, upon disobeying God found that they were naked. They were ashamed. They covered up and tried to hide from God. We’ve been covering up ever since. I don’t mean clothing. I mean we present only our best selves and try to hide the rest beneath a mask.

Our masks have even gone digital. Our online personas are meticulously manicured. Even if you shun social media, it is highly likely that you are not completely transparent with all your friends and family. We hide. We cover up. We wear masks.

This week I met with a few friends who also work with youth. We get together a couple times a month to pray and to support one another. The tension between the image we project and what’s really going on beneath the surface became the focus of our time. We lamented our preoccupation with the things others can see, while we often ignore the unseen practices that really bring us closer to God.

The book of Hebrews brings us terrifyingly beautiful news. Nothing, not even a half-formed thought, is hidden from God’s eyes. In the sermon on Ash Wednesday I mentioned that God already knows all of our deepest darkness, and God loves us just the same. We were talking about repentance (an appropriate theme for Lent), and how it is a time for us to use certain practices to return our thoughts and hearts to God. We return to God because God is calling us back, even though we hide. After all, we’re only hiding from ourselves and our friends. The terrible beauty is that we can’t hide from God. As Hebrews puts it, we are “naked and laid bare…” Our masks won’t work. Our precious image is useless.

The beautiful things is that when we do spend time and energy on those unseen practices we become more of who we were meant to be. When we spend time in the presence of our Father, the one who sees all, we are freed up to be more authentic with friends and family. It’s like The Emperor’s New Clothes; we were naked the whole time, we just didn’t realize it. Spending time laid bare before God helps us to get more comfortable without our masks, without all the elaborate facades we construct. And that frees us to be more real with the people around us.

Have you ever wanted to just be yourself? With the Father, you can. In fact, with God it’s your only option. I’m much better a letting people know the real me when I’ve been spending time being the real me. That’s what happens when I take off my mask and spend time with God. Are you ready? Reach up. Grab a hold of that mask. Tear it off.


And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. - Hebrews 4:13 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)








Mike is the Director of Student Ministries at BUMC. He’s done ministry with students in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, California, and now Colorado. Mike recently finished his MDiv degree at Fuller Theological Seminary, and his passion is to lead kids of all ages toward adoption into the family of God. If he’s not hanging out with Middle School or High School students, you’ll probably find him on a bicycle or on skis. He makes killer chocolate chip cookies. Reach him at mike.orr@broomfieldumc.org

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Spiritual Immaturity of Steve Laser

Generally, when I decide to read scripture I go right to Matthew and Mark; you know, the good old hippie part of the new testament. It's all love thy neighbor, feed the masses, turn water into wine, cure the suffering, raise the dead, etc. This is my comfort zone, my spiritual wheelhouse, so this year during lent I have decided to read the book of Hebrews in an attempt to broaden my horizons.

Hebrews has a lot of ideas that are hard for me to wrap my head around. I catch myself reading and re-reading paragraphs over and over sometimes out loud. There is one point, though, that is quite clear to me and jumped out immediately- Hebrews 5:12-14: For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only in milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age,that is, those who by reason of use their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Here is a perfect analogy of my faith journey: Steve has little faith, finds a church, loves the sermons, finds Jesus, reads the bible. Steve starts to coast through his faith, forgets to pray, barely opens his bible. Steve (with a little help from the man upstairs) remembers to pray, wants to become more driven by scripture starts reading his bible again. I feel like at one point I thought I was ready for solid food but really I’m still a babe- stuck, relying on milk for my spiritual sustenance.

I find myself really wanting to dive into the principles of my faith, to be able to trust myself to discern between good and evil, sin and temptation. I think it’s time to find a bible study small group and continue reading parts of my bible that make me uncomfortable.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path -Psalms 119:105


How are you growing and expanding your faith this lenten season? Please leave a comment on this page and let me know your thoughts.


Steve Laser has been a member of BUMC for more than five years. He serves on the finance committee, 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 fabulous wife and two awesome children. He also makes a mean smoked brisket.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bronco Sundays

As an avid Broncos fan, I see the irony of my church and my beloved football having the stage on the same day. As we all know, the underdog Broncos recently won Super Bowl 50. But I'm not here to write about how my faith and my football team come together. I want to write about an image that came across my Facebook feed that was taken immediately after the final seconds ticked off the game clock.

While everyone on the Bronco's sideline was erupting in celebration, two players who are not superstars, or players who make millions of dollars a year, knelt down together hand-in-hand and prayed. The image resonated with me for the simple reason that these two players chose to thank God before they acknowledged the accomplishment they had just made as individual and team.

(Photo Credit: Associated Press)

These men chose to give thanks in a quiet moment before they celebrated with their teammates. I thought it showed the order of priorities they have in their lives. I believe this is a good reminder to stop and say thanks to God in my own life. In all of the business and the fun and the chaos that is my average week, like these players, I need to stop and be grateful.

This image made me even more respectful of the individual members of this great team and franchise I call my favorite. And, it showed how great of an accomplishment their victory was. Go Broncos!

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  
-Matthew 6:33 ESV




Eric is a Boulder County Sheriff's Deputy and Colorado native who loves to spend time with his family and (self admittedly) gets way too absorbed in the Broncos.  He and his wife, Cristen have two Children have been members of BUMC since 2011. 





Thursday, February 4, 2016

A New Theme For A New Year

Have you ever had the experience of receiving a theme Scripture from God for a season of your life?

God has given me theme Scriptures to guide me on a couple of occasions. The first was in 1997 when I attended the Aldersgate 97 Conference in Dayton, Ohio. This conference, sponsored by Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, is a gathering of Charismatic United Methodists.

Before that summer, I didn’t know there were Charismatically-inclined United Methodists, and the conference experience opened me to a whole new way of experiencing God. It seemed as if everyone in Dayton was quoting the same Scripture: Psalm 37. The conference leaders had sought God’s heart and the Spirit had given them Scriptures that were appropriate for the people and the season. As a result of that trip, I came to understand the message of Psalm 37 and I brought it back to the community where I was serving at the time. Quite simply: Don’t fret. Trust in the LORD, do the right thing, and delight yourself in God. If you do, God will watch over you and honor your deepest desires.

In 2003, I had a similar experience when I read a prophetic essay calling attention to Psalm 103. The writer believed that Psalm 103 was a timely word for that year. I had never paid serious attention to Psalm 103 before then, and I was drawn to the Psalm’s beautiful depiction of God. Here, I discovered, was a beautiful description of God’s character. As a result, I came to see and understand God as a loving Father, and to understand what that means in practical terms. Once again, the Psalm has a clear message: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” As a result of digging into that Psalm for a year, I don’t forget all the ways God cares for us as his children.

This year, the Spirit has drawn my attention to the Psalm of Moses, Psalm 97, especially verses 14-17. I believe it was Doug Hoffacker whoe mentioned the Psalm in our Monday Night Men’s Group discussion on January 25. The Psalm was cited in the book we were discussing, and Doug talked about how meaningful verse 14 is to him: “Oh, satisfy us early with your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Doug said as he focuses upon God’s presence and mercy early in the day, it sets the tone for everything that follows, helping him to approach the day joyfully.

In verses 16-17, Moses prays, “Let your work appear to your servants, and your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us…” In praying that prayer, I’m asking God’s work to become evident for me, God’s glory to light my way, and for God to give my own work lasting value.” What a beautiful prayer! From the satisfaction we experience in God’s mercy and joy, we can work with God in harmony to establish God’s goals and advance God’s kingdom. As always, our work begins with what God is already doing: “Let your work appear to your servants…”

With those verses already on my mind and heart, I was pleasantly surprised to see Psalm 90:17 appear again when Shereen quoted it for her daily inspirational verse on Thursday, January 28. After I saw that verse, I knew I had my theme Scripture for 2016.

I tell you this story for one reason, to encourage you to pay attention to what God may be showing you this year, what Scriptures God may give you to guide this season of your life. One thing Jesus showed us is this: God is a speaking God, still imparting truth and guidance to us. If God give you a Scripture, take the opportunity to bookmark it or write it down, so you can come back to it with awareness and joy throughout the year. Pay attention to see how this Scripture is fulfilled in your experiences, and how you can share it with the people in your life.

Happy New Year and God bless you!

Peace and Joy,

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!