Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Kindred Spirits

Post by: Thomas Cross

This fall, we will be celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. When we think of the Reformation, most of us think of Martin Luther and the 95 Theses he nailed on the Wittenburg door.

The story of the Reformation is a fascinating one, but it is truly a story of a movement that welled up in several cities and spread like wildfire, involving dozens of thoughtful, courageous leaders. While the most famous of these leaders were known for their preaching, some of the Reformers were also focused on nurturing the faith of the people through a variety of means.

One of these leaders, Martin Bucer (1491-1551), was an early disciple of Martin Luther, after hearing Luther defend himself and his critique of indulgence selling. Bucer, who was a monk like Luther, asked to be released from his vows, and he married a former nun, Elizabeth Silbereisen.

According to Elaine Heath and Scott Kisker, Bucer arrived in Stasbourg, a free city open to reforming ideas, in 1523. He began to lecture to small groups in a private home. That same year, he published the content of his teaching in a pamphlet entitled, “No one should live for himself but for others.”

Eventually, Bucer became one of the leading Reformers in Strasbourg, where a number of Anabaptists found relative security, and Bucer took their perspectives seriously. During his last years in Strasbourg, Bucer established Christian Fellowships within the authorized church. These were small groups of devout persons who voluntarily gathered together and pledged to submit to mutual discipline and live according to the law of love. (Heath and Kisker, Longing for Spring, p. 26). They were much like the Covenant Discipleship Groups of today.

Bucer eventually moved to England, where he served as the primary author of the 39 Articles of the Church of England. Some two hundred years later, John Wesley, an Anglican Priest, would condense those 39 Articles to 23 to serve as the Confession of Faith for the Methodist movement. Wesley adopted Bucer’s model of accountable Fellowship Groups, which he called Bands and Class Meetings, as he organized his own renewal movement in the Anglican Church. So both the theology and practice of Methodism have their roots in the work of Martin Bucer.

It is always a surprising joy for me to discover that I have a kindred spirit in somebody who lived centuries ago. Recently I ran across one of Bucer’s Prayers. I could not have described my personal mission in Small Groups ministry any better than he does in this beautiful prayer:

Eternal God, gracious Father: Your will is that we work together to create places among your people in which your word and teaching may be preserved and spread.

Grant us your help, who are gathered here in your name, so that all we say or do may serve to make your glory known and contribute to the good of your church.

Through your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, forever and ever.

Amen and Amen! I give thanks for all those kindred spirits here at BUMC with whom I get to work together to create places among God’s people in which his word and teaching may be preserved and spread. In this way, we all continue to grow in faith and love. 

Thomas Cross is one of the pastors at BUMC, starting his ninth 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! 

Friday, October 6, 2017

How I Learned to Listen to the Voice of God

Post by: Thomas Cross

In 1993, I arrived in Haxtun for my first solo pastorate after serving for six years as an associate pastor. Haxtun is 30 miles east of Sterling, a farm community of about 1,000. I had never lived in a rural community before, and it took me some time to understand the culture of the town and church. Fortunately, God was ready to teach me some new lessons. All I needed to do was give God room to speak – and start listening.

I served as pastor there for seven years, and found my time at Haxtun to be a rich season of learning, growing, teaching, and ministering. It was at Haxtun that I learned to listen to the voice of God and to be responsive to the ways that God was moving in our midst. I am profoundly thankful for all I learned during this fascinating season.

During my time in Haxtun, I learned that God speaks in quiet meditation, through other people, and through the Scriptures. My two favorite memories in Haxtun are of the group which read and discussed the entire Bible over the course of 18 months, and of the God Squad we started for older elementary students at the encouragement of Diana Green.

Early on in my tenure, we discussed the possibility of starting a contemporary worship service, but God made it clear that it wasn’t quite time for it yet. In those days, I was always on the go, attending meetings and events, visiting people, and writing. But God found a place where He could get my attention. This was in the sauna at the local health club on a day that only the desk attendant was in the building. To my surprise, in that quiet moment, God spoke to me with great clarity, instructing me to advise the Church Council to pursue a blended worship service rather than a contemporary one.

So we developed a lively spirited traditional worship service with Pat Meakins directing a good-sized adult choir, and Adele McConnell directing the children’s choir. About a dozen different people took turns playing the piano and organ together on a rotating schedule. We purchased a second hymnal, The Celebration Hymnal, which featured praise choruses and blended worship sequences in the same key, mixing liturgy, choruses, and hymns. It simply wasn’t yet time for the contemporary service.

A couple of years later, God spoke to me through two members of the congregation. The first was a delightful middle-aged gentleman, a farmer, who had an idea for a new small group. He suggested a group that would read through the Bible, cover to cover, over a year’s time. This idea didn’t immediately appeal to me, because it sounded like a lot of work, but somehow I knew it was inspired by God. So I advertised the group and was pleasantly surprised when a dozen people from the church and community registered to participate.

We met every two weeks on Sunday evenings, discussing the insights the Spirit gave us, as well as the questions that puzzled us. It took more than 18 months, but we covered the whole Bible. I wish I had recorded our discussions; they were profound.

Then Diana Green, one of our faithful parents, approached me with an idea for a youth group for older elementary children. We already had a long-standing high school youth group, and I had started a junior high group with the help of a few parents. The junior high group was proving to be a bit of a struggle. Diana explained that the time to start interacting with the youth was at the age of identification, when they still admire adults and want to imitate them. With those bonds formed during the elementary years, productive relationships would continue through the years. Diana was absolutely correct, and the God Squad was born. Our three youth groups grew to be quite large, involving 75 students from the church and the larger community.

Finally, I learned to hear the voice of God in Scripture during my years in Haxtun. This started during our Bible-reading group, as verses would jump off the page and speak to me as I read passages in preparation for our discussions. I began to realize the Spirit was speaking me through Scripture and helping me to understand its meaning. Our Sunday-night discussions were rich, as we all shared what God was revealing to us.

Then in the summer of 1997, I attended the Aldersgate Renewal Conference in Dayton, Ohio. This conference was sponsored by Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, the charismatic United Methodist group which Darryl and June Todd helped to lead. Jack Pedotto, my colleague from Holyoke, took me to this fascinating conference. To my surprise, at every session I attended, somebody quoted Psalm 37. Some people quoted it in their remarks, and others quoted it in one-on-one conversations. It was clear that God was giving me a specific message for that season of my life, and I took Psalm 37 to heart. Its message, to delight in Yahweh, stop fretting, and keep trusting, became dear to me. My life changed as I practiced these principles.

As I let this message soak into my spirit, I realized it was a message God wanted me to share with the church and community as well, which I did over time. Returning from Aldersgate ’97 was an invigorating experience as well. With my glow from basking in the Holy Spirit, I discovered I could have spiritual conversations with people as I went about my business. I experienced many “God winks” that summer, connecting with people on a deeper level than before.

Before moving to Haxtun, I had no idea that our God is a speaking God. Given the fact that the Christ is referred to as the Word, I should have understood this truth, but some lessons are learned only by experience. Having lived my life at warp speed before my years in Haxtun, I hadn’t left large enough margins in my life to hear God’s voice. It was in Haxtun that I learned to slow down, practice quiet meditation, and read the Scriptures with expectation. I also learned to listen for God’s voice in others, whether they were quoting Scripture or suggesting new ministries. I would never be the same.

Thomas Cross is one of the pastors at BUMC, starting his ninth 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! 

Friday, September 22, 2017

The Open Road

Post by: Elliott Holm

As I'm writing this blog posting, I'm on the cusp of some big changes in my life. They're just about the biggest changes anyone can experience in their lives, known as parenting. We're due to have our first child on December 27th. While this comes with a whirlwind of thoughts, worries, massive excitement, and so much hope, it reminded me of A big learning I've had for so many of these big steps.

I'm a 29-year-old, so I'm at that time where a lot of the typical big major changes in my life have already occurred (buying a house, getting married, etc.). But as all adults know, the changes in our lives never stop happening, and this helped me remember something that has been a guiding force for me during these changes.

While I'm about to take this big jump into parenthood, I've been doing something I almost always do with every big change, which is over-research, over-read, over-ask questions, and generally bother everyone else, soliciting their opinions and information about parenting. I've worked to authentically work parenting in to conversations with people in my life who have been parents, and have wisdom to share. Of course, this makes for some odd conversations when I manage to segue from a golfer's performance in the Master's, to how the handle bedtime and how to put an over-excited toddler down to sleep (Seriously, try this one with your spouse or with a friend, it's a stretch). Other people's opinions and information on parenting, buying a house, marriage, being pet owners, and so many more things have been what guided my decisions on what to do when faced with a difficult decision.

Whether or not we admit it, we all do this a lot. In my job, I'll watch someone else teach a lesson and spend so much time critiquing myself on all the things they do or say, and tell myself "I wish I could be more like them with their ability to...." Maybe this is just a millennial thing, but I know I can't be the only one who has done this at least once. I've spoken in blogs before about "stealing" techniques from other people and making them your own (teachers are the best at stealing techniques and pretending we invented them, trust me).

I do want to use this post, though, to reinforce a message we've been hearing at church for the last few months. Pastors Ken and Thomas have been putting in the extra effort lately to connect members of the church with each other (If you've exchanged phone numbers with other people in church, way-to-go)! What we need to remember, though, is to "use" these people. Obviously, I don't mean you should only use them for your own gain, but instead to "employ" them in your life. Your church family is so happy to be a part of your life, and people in general are always so excited to feel needed, and feel that they fill a gap in each other's lives. I did this recently, when I made the rounds, talking to parents in my church family who I know I can learn so much from, and I really have.

It doesn't matter how small or trivial your life-change is, your church family is going to be happy to have been a part of that change with you. And of course, after you've employed them, like any good employer would do, make sure you follow up with your church family and let them know how you're doing, and how they helped. You'll be very surprised with how much support you can find in your church family, when you find the strength (and it is strength, not weakness) to reach out to them.

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.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Chance to Serve

Post by: Reid Lester

Four hours into a five-hour flight, we’ve been battling turbulence on the edge the gulf coast.  I’m in the back seat of a small Cessna with my camera hanging out the window.  I’ve been battling the wind and bumpy air while taking more than 2,100 photos of the devastation. 

This past week I flew to Texas with the Civil Air Patrol to assist in search and rescue missions for Hurricane Harvey.  Witnessing the damage every day was difficult.  We saw houses demolished by the winds while the house next door was left undamaged.

As we circled high above, my crew started asking each other if there was more we could do than just taking pictures.  We spend our free time training for this exact situation.  What could we do to help the people we saw below us?  It’s personal for me.  When I serve on an aircrew after a disaster, I feel like I’m making a difference in a tangible and permanent way, but it still feels like it’s not enough.

We landed at Aransas County airport in Rockport, TX to take on fuel, and that is when we got up close and personal with the damage.  The airport hadn’t had running water in days.  As I waited for the fuel truck, I walked around the airport and surveyed the damage.  There were collapsed buildings and totaled cars everywhere.  People were sitting in the lounge of the remaining building just staring out the windows.

My crew got a chance to talk with some of the people who lost everything.  We asked them what they needed and I was surprised by the answer.  I assumed what they would need most was money or supplies, or help replacing all the things they lost.  Instead, they asked for more people to come and help.  They expect the cleanup and rebuilding process to takes a minimum of nine months to a year.  They told us the news coverage would soon change as Hurricane Irma got closer to Florida.  They asked us to keep praying for them.  Their biggest fear now, was as the water receded and the rebuilding process began, they would soon be forgotten.

I promised them I wouldn’t let our church forget.  I told them we were going to try and organize a Spring mission trip to come back to TX and help with the rebuilding.  They said we would be welcome and much needed.  We talked a little about what BUMC currently does for missions.  I asked them why with all the devastation around them, they cared about what was happening in Broomfield, CO?  Then they surprised me again.  One of the older men told me that he has seen this before.  “Everyone will want to find a way to serve, because in major disasters, people feel helpless when they see the devastation on TV.  Not everyone will be able to join a mission trip to TX.”  He asked me to encourage our church to engage in our own community.  “When someone asks what they can do, point them to a local food bank or shelter.  Let people know how important it can be when they volunteer.”

I told them about all the ways we serve our community both locally and globally.  We believe that each person can make a difference in someone’s life.  We offer so many chances to serve because we want everyone to find the way they best fit in God’s plan.  Some of our service opportunities like becoming an advocate for abused and neglected children, or becoming a Stephen Minister require a good deal of training and a large time commitment, but give you the chance to change an individual’s life forever.  Some opportunities like volunteering at FISH, attending a social justice talk, or ushering, only take a small commitment, but give those who serve a chance to make a difference every time the volunteer.  BUMC also offers mission trips through our partners.  Just this year, people have gone to Haiti, Nicaragua, Kenya, and Chicago.  Next year we hope to offer a Spring mission trip to the Houston area.  These trips offer an incredible chance for dedicated service over a short period of time. 

As we sit and watch those affected by the hurricanes, we will feel the need to make things better.  We want to make a difference.  If you’ve been inspired by the events of the past few weeks, and you want to make a difference, we can help you find a way to serve.

For more information on ways you can serve through BUMC check out

Reid Lester is the Director of Servant Ministries at Broomfield United Methodist Church.  Reid’s job is to help people find ways to serve our Church and the community through our Church Ministries and our Community Partnerships.  Reid and his wife RuthAnn have been attending BUMC for 2 years.  When Reid isn’t at BUMC he serves as a pilot for the Civil Air Patrol.  Reid also umpires Division 1 baseball for the NCAA.

Monday, September 11, 2017

For as the heavens are higher than the earth…

Post by: Kyle Rasmussen

Did you see it?

How much traffic did you endure?

What did you do with your “special glasses”?

Of course I’m talking about the solar eclipse that ran across the U.S. on August 21st. My family and I happened to be camping in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. We still had to drive about 2 hours to get to the edge of totality. Even then the eclipse itself was a rapid event, so fast it was almost over before it started. We didn’t get stuck in too bad of traffic jams, but the human “mass migration” of cars heading south immediately afterwards was as much a spectacle as having watched the earth go dark in the middle of the day.

Near where we had parked there was (what I assumed to be) a vehicle of Native Americans who were beating on their ceremonial drums and singing into the darkening sky. Our son, Blake asked, “Why would they be doing that?” We explained that in their culture a solar eclipse is more than just an astronomical event; that deeply rooted legends about the origin and nature of the sun create a different significance for them. There are tribes who believe the sun itself is associated with their creator or another divine being. I’ve also read that many tribes believe that an eclipse represents some animal devouring the sun, so a loud and raucous song is needed to chase them away.

It made me wonder, how many other people starting into the sky that morning were seeking a “God experience”?

How many people had a deep longing in their hearts to get closer to their creator, and had ventured out onto the Wyoming plains hoping they would find God there?

Don’t get me wrong, He was most certainly there! He was there the day before, and the day before that, and last month, and in 2007, and 1492, and 683 B.C., and (you get my point!) As we sat there with our opaque glasses on because we couldn’t stare at the sun without risking blindness, I thought about Moses asking God to reveal Himself in Exodus 33. God’s reply - “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” If someone far from God that Monday morning ended one step closer to Him because of that awesome display of nature (which had the science nerd in me geeking out pretty bad by the way), then by any means fantastic!

But reflecting on that hope, something else in Exodus began to bother me (that those drums were provoking as well). “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20: 4-5) Anyone that was out there seeking God in the shadow cast by the moon, or thought He is contained in the light of the sun was missing the entire point of God’s second commandment to Moses. We don’t need to literally craft idols, we don’t even need to violate the first commandment of a monotheistic God for that matter. Merely putting God into a box we’ve created or by compartmentalizing Him into only some elements of our lives defies the relationship God wants with us.

Since the eclipse, our nation has been captivated and heartbroken by the hurricane and floods that have hit Texas and Louisiana. Undoubtedly there are many who have asked, “Where is God in the suffering?” or “Why would God allow this to happen?” Whenever these kind of thoughts creep into my mind I instantly recall one of my favorite verses from the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We cannot project our presuppositions about God onto His sovereignty. As Isaiah was telling the tribes of Israel that bad things were going to happen, more importantly he was telling them God had it under control. Are we not making a false idol of our God if we somehow dictate where He should be and what He should and shouldn’t be responsible for?

God was out there in Wyoming – although my best time with Him was not in the frantic eclipse but in the long clear nights at a picnic table with our daughter Noellyn, staring at the Milky Way that draped from the apex of the sky to beyond the horizon. I could not stop saying, “Wow” and “Thanks” to God, night after night. But through our TV and computer screens, have we not seen God in the flood waters of Texas? Neighbor helping neighbor. Stranger serving stranger. All the partisanship and vile of our political landscape leveled into a plain of common good.

God is there in the awesome. God is there in the awful. He has told us that we shouldn’t put boundaries on Him, because there are no boundaries on His love for us.

Kyle Rasmussen and his family currently live in Centerville, UT and attend The Bridge Community Church. He is a Quality Control Specialist with Holly Energy Partners in the greater Salt Lake City area.