Friday, April 29, 2016

Wrecked by a Stranger

She loved me within seconds. I’d never met this stranger before and I had no reason to believe she’d have more to say to me than a simple hello. But she seemed delighted in me. Her eyes looked straight into my heart. Then she held my face and said my name with the voice of an angel, “Theresa, a beautiful name and a beautiful person. Bless you.” The compassion and pure joy in her voice made time stand still. With one sentence and my face cupped in her hands, I felt like I had always known her.

I’d love to reveal that this angel of a woman was a famous celebrity but she wasn’t. I was having lunch with a local pastor a few days ago to introduce her to the work of El Porvenir, the clean water non-profit I work for. As I began talking about El Porvenir she recognized an elderly couple and stopped our conversation to introduce me to them. The wife asked me what I was sharing with the Pastor, so I explained “I work for an organization called El Porvenir. We partner with rural Nicaraguan families so that the poorest communities in Nicaragua have access to safe, clean water.” With conviction in her voice she repeated everything I said back to her husband, then she wrapped her arms around me and said, “that is beautiful, you are beautiful, how wonderful, Bless you, God bless you.” We talked for total of 8 minutes, the entire time this gracious lady was encouraging me and blessing me.


This stranger was so delighted in me that I didn’t know where I was. If she hadn’t been so genuine it would have been awkward but it wasn’t. Most the time, when I meet people, if they seem too interested in me I get kind of creeped out. But the loving soul of this stranger has convicted me. The truth is I can’t say I often take the opportunity to delight in people, especially people I’ve never met before.

When I meet people it usually goes down like this…

1. “Hey nice to meet you”, polite hand shake, then small talk “jeesh this weather is crazy right”, we go our separate way within a few minutes of being introduced with no expectation of ever having to talk to one another again. Phew, so glad that wasn’t awkward.

2. A friend introduces me to someone for the first time. While they talk I study new person’s vibe. Does new person seem friendly, are they funny, what are they about, what do they do, etc.? So many questions, so little time.

3. I meet someone new and we hit it off. Conversation is flowing easily, in fact, I’ve wanted to meet this person and I’m happy we’ve finally been introduced. We say we would love to hang out sometime but then we never get around to it.

4. Stranger says hi to me, I say hi back, we both nod and walk away. 

We meet new people all the time. Every day there’s a chance we might be introduced to a stranger. Just this past week I’ve been introduce to over a dozen people I’ve never met before. Honestly, I don’t think I’m making the most of these encounters. suggest that with the average life span of 78 years, if we live in the city and meet 3 new people a day, we would have the opportunity to meet 80,000 people in our life time. Even if you cut that number in half, that’s a lot of people. What if we weren’t in a hurry when we met people? What if, instead of figuring them out we just listened and looked for a reason to be delighted? What if we saw an opportunity to serve rather than be served?

The encounter I had this week I know is rare. It’s what I imagine it would be like if I met an angle or God himself. Who meets someone new and holds their face with delight and blesses them? Well, we know this about Jesus from the accounts in the gospels –

+Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at the well and asks her for a drink. She is blown away because Jews refused to have anything to do with Samaritans and did not usually talk to them. But he did. When she asked, “why are you talking to me?” Jesus replied, “You have no idea the gift God has for you,” then he offered her living water. The disciples we shocked to find Jesus talking to this Samaritan woman but according to the scripture none of them had the nerve to ask him about it.

+Jesus meets a roman officer. The officer knows that Jesus is the messiah and can heal his servant who has just been paralyzed. He believes Jesus has the authority to heal his servant right where he stands. The bible says Jesus was amazed by the officer’s faith. He heals the roman officer’s servant that very hour.

+Jesus meets a group of parents who brought their children to Jesus to be blessed. The disciples scold the parents for bothering Jesus. Jesus say’s to his disciples, “don’t stop them.” He takes the children in his arms and blesses them.

What do these encounters tell us about Jesus?

1. Jesus broke cultural norms to offer a stranger eternal life.

2. Jesus loved and served his enemies.

3. Jesus stopped to bless those his followers didn’t think he had time to be bothered with.

When Jesus was introduced to people he was gracious, he loved, and was delighted in ALL of them. Every day, we have the opportunity to love and serve people we’ve never met before. Will we make the most of those opportunities? Are we willing to break cultural norms? Would we willingly help our enemy? Do we have time to stop for those no one else has time for? Or will it just be another introduction of the thousands we will encounter in our life time?

This week, a stranger held my face and blessed me and I will never be the same again!

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

Friday, April 22, 2016

Do I live as I worship?

I often start my days giving thanks to God, reading scripture and praying. It wasn’t too long ago that I began to think if I was just going through the motions from habit and not sincerely reflecting or contemplating in my devotions. Repetitiveness can lull one into a sense of numbness and possibly find aspects to be taken for granted.

The recent message being given from the letter of James shook me back into some honest questioning of myself with regard to seeking and living the truth. This led me to revisiting verses in James and finding the following ones having direct conviction.

James 1:22-23 “Do not merely listen to the Word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a person who looks at his face in the mirror”.

James 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds. Can such faith save him?”

With these verses, it led me to ask myself the question – Do I live as I worship? If I live as I worship, do I follow the example of Christ’s actions or just take it for granted that I am a Christian? As I pondered the question, I had to consider how I lived my “day”. The day may include work, home and/or any other place. Thereby, it was wherever I was present. Along with that, I had to reflect and sense if God was with me in those places. As with most, work as one of those places, you may wonder how God can be with us at work. I least I did. If you are like me, I have a job that is, from business sense, not Christ-centric. If that is the case, how could I find or involve Christ with me while performing my day to day duties.

But then in reflecting further on what James is saying, it was not to limit showing our faith in selected surroundings but ALL surroundings. This is further supported by Paul’s letter to the Colossians in 3:17 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him.” So, I was convicted that I needed to invite God directly to my place of work. It was something I couldn’t start little by little – it had to be done on a full front. With that, from the moment of arriving and through all my tasks, I took moments to thank God for being with me and asking for that bit of help as I faced challenges. I eventually realized that, though I attained skillsets and experience, it was not always ME being able to handle tasks by myself.

Along with an increased opening of my inner self to His will, I also needed to involve God’s nature in how I presented myself to others. . In some cases, openly conveying that I was a Christian but most importantly display the characteristics Christ taught me. But not limiting to personal interaction, I also involved Biblical teachings toward decisions at work as applicable. I began to experience an evolving peace and calmness in many situations at work. I was finding the ability to focus on the positive with all my interactions – and even prayed to God on helping me through my challenges.

In the last six months of 2015, the business unit I belonged had a limited future. Subsequently, many of the positions, including mine, were indeterminate in the long term – 6 months or more. Near the end of 2015, I prayed for guidance and asking for help in my next steps all the while looking at options outside and inside the company. Though I dealt with added worry and anxiety during that time, I had trust and faith God would provide me an opportunity that was for His good purpose. After much hope and prayer, I was offered an internal position in another business unit of the company in early 2016. Praising God for answering, but also knowing it is not a final answer in my journey.

So, do I live as I worship? I think so, at least more than I did more than a year ago. But I definitely know no matter where I am at, I must invite Christ “in”. I believe the conscious invite is necessary to help growth in me in God’s nature which empowers my ability to share God with others.

One other experience I had was at the last U2 concert here in Denver. Though U2 doesn’t overtly claim themselves as a “Christian” band or playing “Christian” music, they resonant much conviction of a Christian and depth of God’s word in their songs. But their songs were not what struck me most that night, it was after the concert. At the end, paper shreds were dropped within the arena like most bands end their concerts with some form of confetti. However, as the lights rose and the crowd began to prepare to exit, I picked up one of the pieces of paper and saw there was print on it. In looking closer, the paper contained verses from the Bible. Yes, the confetti was really pieces of the Bible showering all those in the arena. What a great method to send a message of “Live as I Worship”.

Peace and Comfort,

Frank Oligmueller

I grew up in the states of Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. After finishing my Computer Science degree at University California - Irvine, I eventually moved back to Colorado with my wife. Over the past 32 years, I have worked in both the aerospace and commercial industries with my degree getting many opportunities to grow in my professional life. However, there always seemed a gap in the growth of my spiritual life. That gap has began to fill measurably since my attendance and involvement at BUMC for which I praise God to have brought us at a key time of our lives. Outside major interests include playing hockey, but time and the physical ability has been an increasing challenging, planning a yearly 14er climb and trips to Disney - most favorably - Walt Disney World. However, I love spending anytime and anywhere with my wife, family and friends. All the while - inviting Christ with me.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The One Who Smiled

The other day, I went to the memorial of a woman I knew in high school. We were never great friends but I remember passing Beth in the hallway. After I heard of her passing, the one thing that stood out in my mind was a quote by Grace Kelly.

“It’s better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back.”

Beth always smiled back and many times…she would be the one who smiled. Few words were exchanged but there was always a simple understanding in that smile.

At the memorial, we were all asked to stand up and share a memory about Beth. For a while, I struggled to come up with a memory and then I remembered that smile. I stood up and told her friends and family exactly that. My only real and true memory of Beth is that she was always the one to smile or smile back. In a high school culture in which I rarely felt accepted, there was always that smile to look forward to. A smile can be considered such a small or trivial gesture but now when I think about it, I know it’s not.

This memory of Beth, reminds me that one of the simplest acts of kindness is to “be the one who smiled.”

I don’t smile as often as I used to. Sometimes…I just let life get me down. Now; however, my plan is to smile more often. I shouldn’t just smile at the ones who smile at me, I should always smile back!

If I say 'I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression and smile'. -Job 9:27-29

I grew up in Colorado and spent most of my time growing up in Arvada, Colorado until I went to the University of Northern Colorado. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance in 1994. Now, I work at The Link A Community Assessment and Resource Center. At The Link, I work with youth who are either gang involved or at risk of becoming gang involved. I love my work and I get to see transformation in these kids on a daily basis. I am actively involved in the music ministry at Broomfield United Methodist Church. I enjoy singing with the Sunrise Singers and Chancel Choir. I also love having the opportunity to play my flute and sing whenever given the opportunity.
My life is now in transition as I recover from brain surgery. I had a MRI in December of 2013. At that time, I was told I had a large brain tumor and that surgery was needed as soon as possible. I had a craniotomy on December 23, 2013. My healing and progress is moving along now and I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of my friends and family and the community at Broomfield United Methodist Church. So many people and groups within BUMC reached out to me with cards and offers of support. Most importantly, of course, I praise God for his hand in my healing.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Sometimes You've Got To Pitch To 'Em

This post previously appeared on the BUMC Blog in August of 2013.

Summertime means baseball to me. It always has. And now that the MLB playoff push is beginning, my son’s Little League season over, and I'm on my second round of my favorite baseball movies, I’ve been thinking about one of the best life lessons I ever learned. The lesson came through baseball, but from my dad.

I wasn’t the greatest athlete on my Little League team (there’s a reason I’m a guitar player) but I loved the game and knew a lot about it, even as a kid. I watched a lot of baseball and picked up on all of the small things that make the game great.

I was pitching, which is to say throwing the ball slowly right down the middle. We were hanging on to a lead and the other team’s best batter was up. He was a great hitter but not that great of a runner. And there was a much weaker hitter behind him. I surveyed the situation, called time and summed my coach (my dad) from the dugout. I told him I’d like to walk the guy and take my chances with the next batter. A perfect strategy by all accounts. One so obvious that a major league manager wouldn’t even have to think twice about it.

My dad said no.

I protested and explained my strategy reasoning again, in case he was too slow to pick up on it.

Dad said no again. “This isn’t the major leagues. You need to pitch to him. Just throw strikes and see if you can get him out.”

I nodded my head reluctantly and said I would. After briefly thinking about unintentionally intentionally walking him, I stared down to my catcher’s target and threw my best pitch.

It hasn’t landed yet. Seriously, he crushed the ball. Knocked a bird’s nest out of a tree, broke a car windshield, and separated the cover from the core. Ok, those last three only happened in my mind. But he jacked the ball.

I felt like Charlie Brown in every game he’s ever played. In my head, I even said his classic line, “I could have been the hero, but instead, I’m the goat.” And I also felt a lot of anger toward my dad. I had been proved right and because he wouldn’t listen, we were now losing, and I was the reason.

Whenever my dad and I are together I find a way to work this story into conversation and claim extreme childhood pain and suffering. But I learned a great lesson that day.

You can’t always go around your problems. Often you have to pitch to them and see what happens. Sometimes they jack you for a home run. Sometimes you get them out. But you have to face them.

Every time I watch a baseball game and an intentional walk situation comes up, I think about that pitch and what I learned. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t realize the lesson until much later. But whenever I’m facing a problem and the temptation to find some way around it comes up, I hear my dad saying, “You need to pitch to him.”

What hard lessons have you learned? Let me know in the comments below.

Joe Mazza is the Director of Worship Arts at BUMC and leads worship at our 8:30, 9:45, and 5:05 worship services.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A Lesson in Prayer from a Beginner

I’ve been going to BUMC now for almost 4 years, which is the only experience I’ve had with religion in my life. Before coming here, I was not raised with any religion, and was a very close-minded atheist. However, that’s a story for another time.

This story is about my experience with group prayer. My wife, Kyla, and I have been involved with the worship band and technology for the services since shortly after coming to BUMC. For those who haven’t seen a rehearsal of the worship band, there is always a group prayer before and after the practice of the songs. The very first time I was called up to the group prayer, I was very uncomfortable, and had no idea what to say or do. I didn’t know that passing the prayer meant to squeeze someone’s hand, so I squeezed both hands, which I thought was right, and inadvertently sent the prayer backwards and forwards at the same time. You could easily tell I was out of my element.

Fast forward 3.5 years, and I’ve worked in many services, and have lots of experience. I have a co-worker who I teach with every day at school, and she was going through a very hard time. In one week, she lost her 14 year old dog who grew up with her grandkids, her neighbor who she shared a big part of her life with was diagnosed with 3 different kinds of cancer, and her best friend back home had just passed away from a sudden brain aneurysm. Her life was headed in a very difficult direction, and I had no idea how to support her. I knew she used to go to church every week, but that was years ago.

So now, I was standing in the group prayer for worship band (knowing which way to send the prayer, now) and for the first time in almost 4 years, I spoke during the prayer, asking for all the prayer warriors in the group to keep my co-worker in their thoughts, minds, and prayers throughout the week. Of course, with my brain, I immediately thought I must have done something wrong, said something out of order, or talked over someone else’s turn. But I hadn’t. Everyone there was extremely supportive, and stopped their thoughts and their processes to keep my friend in their hearts.

I went back to school the next day, and nervously told my co-worker what I had done the night before, trying to bring some stability back into her life via prayer. I had no idea what her reaction would be, being that I don’t know how she and God have left their relationship. Her voice began to shake, and she thanked me so profusely that I thought I’d see her cry for the first time in knowing her for 5 years. She said she was missing the prayer from her life so much, and was hoping someone would tell her exactly what I did. She said she would go home and add her own prayers to the people thinking about her loved ones, but that what I had done had meant so much to her.

So this is my charge to all of you who have been using prayer their whole lives, from a couple times a month, to multiple times a day. Always remember to pray for your loved ones, but also never forget to tell them how much you think about them, love them, and hope for the best for them; you never know how much of an impact you can have just by sharing your love for others.

Elliott has been attending BUMC since 2012 with his wife, Kyla. Since attending, he has worked with technology for services, as well as camera work on Easter and Christmas, while Kyla sings. He is a high school Gifted and Talented teacher at Wheat Ridge High School, and is in his 6th year of teaching. He lives in Arvada with his wife and two dogs.