Sunday, February 26, 2017

Share God with Others…..Let one count the way(s)

Post by: Frank Oligmueller

While sitting in one of our recent Sunday services and listening to a brief announcement by a parishioner, our churches core mission was verbalized - Worship God, Grow with God and Share God with Others. I believe one of God’s primary purposes is for us to have a relationship with Him and each other, particularly through our salvation in Jesus Christ and the help of the Spirit living in us. Relationship is defined to be a connection by blood or marriage or a condition of being related. For all intent and purposes, it primarily involves having a physical interaction.

As our country has transitioned into, what you might say, a new experience of Presidential behavior including tweets, a growing examination of social media’s impact and moral responsibilities, and sometimes just puzzling whether news and information is being publicized for truth or merely sensationalizing opinions on events, the Share God with Others portion struck a thought of how this statement is being played out within the communication fabrics of this world. The fabrics of communication can involve anything from focused physical interaction to use of a social media platform for broad sharing with all in the chain of connections.

Sharing God with others can be applied to us within the walls as well as outside the walls and involve any method of communication. So, one question that could be asked is – does a method of sharing matter more than others?

If we look at the New Testament, there are two key communication methods used. One is by way of direct contact. This is exemplified by the territory covered by Jesus. Physically travelling primarily within the regions of Judea, Samaria and Galilee and engaging people in person. Another example is then by Paul, and the Disciples that took their testimony to Asia Minor, Greece, Rome and further. The second method displayed is via written letters by Paul, Peter, and others. And, the yet subsequent missionaries to other corners of the world. Given its timeframe, it would easily be surmised that those were used due to the known and available technology at the time. Advance 2000+ years, there is now the electronic age of emails, facebook, texting, and growing for communicating electronically. However, though faster, is this method more effective versus physical/direct engagement methods used many years ago?

We have seen evidence that the former methods of communication were effective by the mere fact that it established Christianity to build and take hold to this day. Infusing use of technological advances (not including voice since that is a form of direct contact) has helped become an enabler of the electronic communication methods to more quickly and more broadly emphasize Christian beliefs and personal stories to re-enforce what had already started hundreds of years ago with non-electronic means. In the definition sense, does a relationship exist or more importantly is it maintained via electronic methods?

I asked a member from my small group what their preferences are in sharing God with others. Her response was to primarily take action first, then, if needed, to share by a verbal interaction. These methods were inherent for how Jesus and his disciples shared God with others and thereby built relationships so fundamental to God’s desire. And, in the New Testament, there were several examples of when a physical encounter was given testimony (sharing God with others) to others causing a growth of believers. One of the many instances, is the case of the Samaritan women’s conversation with Jesus and later her testimony to others in the village.

Given the Bible provides us examples and guidelines for living our lives, we can’t ignore the impact of physical communication methods and its effectiveness. The electronic technology, though having its value to share and connect, lacks the ability to create and maintain relationships as God intended. I can repeat a verse I have submitted before - Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hallow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” At times I find myself deflated a bit from the aspect of having and then not having what I felt was a relationship. After my finding/having a wonderful relationship with a brother and/or sister in Christ but had, overtime, faded into a myriad of electronic exchanges because one or both sides couldn’t find the time to maintain the relationship. God has called us to be out to be face to face or voice to voice and not constantly behind and interface.

In Sharing God with Others, be careful not to let the ability of technology over take the ability (and opportunity) to build and maintain relationships.

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.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Transforming My Mind One Telephone Pole at a Time

Post by: Nicole Stegink

I believe in the concept of synchronicity. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung explained synchronicity as “events [that] are meaningful coincidence if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related.” There could be long discussions on whether synchronicity really is just random chance or if it’s some phenomenon of science or nature, but for me when it happens, it’s a God moment. It’s God reaching out to me or instructing me through a set of seemingly unrelated messages that merge in some way to alter my thought patterns, re-direct me toward Him and help me recognize His will for me. I recently experienced a moment of synchronicity when a text conversation I had with a friend, an old photograph I had taken and a quote I like converged and caused an epiphany of sorts.

In one of my previous blogs, I wrote about how I navigated my way through my own painful divorce by connecting to God through photography. Since then I have discovered God delivers many of his messages to me through pictures I have taken. And sometimes it takes one of His acts of synchronicity, such as this story, for the veil to lift and my mind to be transformed.

My friend went through a divorce a few months ago. He expressed some of the challenges of achieving balance between work, being a single dad to four children and finding time to heal and practice self-care. In this particular conversation he was without his children for the weekend, and struggling with a few things: fatigue, motivation and whether he deserved to take time for himself. His brain desired to get up early and go do an outdoor activity; his body wanted to sleep in the next morning; he heart questioned whether indulging in a “me day in the mountains” was selfish. The only thing I could think of to help him was to send him two things: a passage from Brendon Burchard’s book “Life’s Golden Ticket” which speaks to being present in your own life and a photograph I had taken a couple of years ago.

I had taken a photograph of a sunrise from my backyard, and I thought maybe if I sent my friend this photo it would inspire him to get up early. A kind of “see what you miss when you don’t get up early.” Part of me didn’t want to send the photo, because while the colors of the sunrise in the photo are stunning, there is a huge, unsightly utility pole featured prominently in the frame. It has always really annoyed me because my backyard is bookended on the east and west sides by large utility poles. Every sunrise and sunset picture taken from my backyard -- and believe me, there are hundreds -- is not without wooden poles, wires and cables interfering with view.

So I sent a text of the book passage. Then I sent the photo. Finally, I sent a text with my own message that taking time to recharge is not selfish, that practicing self-care is one of the healthiest things we can do and that maybe the words and my photo would inspire him to wake up early and head to a place that would restore his soul. He responded, “When I first looked at the photo, I saw a cross and a beautiful sky – which is always an inspiration. Then when I read your text, I was shocked that you took this picture and realized I was looking at a telephone pole! How cool is that?”

And in that moment of reading his response synchronicity happened for me. My mind instantly recalled one of my favorite Thoreau quotes, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” That quote, the photograph, and my friend’s reply all wove together and suddenly took on meaning. How had I not seen it? I had put so much focus on being irritated with what I was LOOKING at that I didn’t SEE. Clothed in my own earthly concerns and biases, my brain misdirected my heart and soul. I made the telephone pole be the thing that mattered to the point it inhibited my ability to see the cross. I had been looking with just my eyes so therefore, I was closed off to seeing with faith. That thought led my mind down a path of transformation, recognizing our human tendency to look rather than to see. I wondered if the Bible could offer any insight on this important matter of observation and perspective.

Researching passages in the Bible brought me to two verses: Romans 12:2 and Colossians 3:2. In the New International Version Romans 12:2 states, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I also like the New Living Translation version which states, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

No doubt this passage means different things to different people, but for me it essentially explains the dichotomy between looking and seeing. I equate “Looking” as the part in Romans about being conformed to the patterns of the world. It is being rooted in our own minds, in our own perspectives, in our own problems, in our own worldviews, without the ability to open ourselves up to receive God’s will and God’s grace. There is potential to place more importance on our own take on things than God’s. “Seeing” is the part in Romans about being transformed by the renewing of your mind. It is changing our thinking, replacing human truth with God’s truth. And once we transform our minds in this way, we no longer look with human perspective, we see with God’s perspective.

Is there an area in your life where you are stuck? Where you have been “looking” and not “seeing”? Is there a way you can let go of this world and allow yourself to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind” so that you can “see” God’s good and pleasing and perfect will for you?

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. – Colossians 3:2

Nicole Stegink is a Colorado native and currently lives in Arvada.  She is active in the music ministry of BUMC, singing for both the traditional & 505 services and has been a member of the church since 2010.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Creative Writing but currently works in the legal field and doesn’t get to exercise her writing skills as often as she would like which is why she is excited to be contributing to the church’s blog. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Life is Too Short for Matching Socks

Post by: Sara Godwin

As I have grown older, I’ve come to several conclusions; epiphanies if you will. These include, but are not limited to, the following: fighting with male members of the household over the position of the toilet seat is trite and not really worth it. Over is always better than under when one is talking about toilet paper positioning. Oreos can only be eaten after having been dunked in cold milk. The front row is absolutely fantastic; unless you’re in a movie theater, and, lo and behold, curds and whey is really just a fancy name for cottage cheese. Thanks Miss Muffet, that one confused me for years. What’s my latest and, truly, greatest realization? Life is too short for matching socks.

Yes, you heard me right, I’m talking about socks. This realization has rocked my world. Please, let me explain. I have spent a really large portion of my life trying to conform, to fit in, if you will. When I was a child, it was really important to have a cool lunch box. If it wasn’t just the right cartoon character or action hero, the entire school year could really be wrecked. One year my mom bought me a Fozzy Bear lunchbox and I thought I was going to die. As a tween and young teen, it was the need to be invited to the right birthday party, the quintessential sleep over (and to not be the first one to fall asleep), that really, really mattered. I worried about this one all the ding dang time. As a teenager, just finding my niche, being in the clique that really fit my personality, was all I could think about. Problem was, I didn’t really know who I was, what I wanted, where I wanted to go, or what really yanked my chain, so I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. It led me to do some pretty stupid things, all in the name of “fitting in”. 

When I was in my very early 20’s, I wanted so badly to please a person, that I married him. He wasn’t a person who wanted me to have a voice or my own opinion and because I desperately wanted to be liked, I allowed him to tailor my thinking to his ideology. I knew deep down that I was making a huge mistake, but I just didn’t know how to find my spine or how to stand up for myself, so I jumped in with both feet to a situation that I knew I couldn’t make last. At least I learned a few lessons from that one. As a young mother I wanted to do everything “the right way”. I read all the books, all the articles, all the blogs, on how to birth my babies, how to feed my babies, what sort of doctor I should look for, etcetera, etcetera. I was terrified of being criticized.

It wasn’t until I began to teach 4 and 5 year olds that I started noticing something. This need to fit in and conform can begin at a very early age. My students love to say things like, “If you don’t play this with me, I won’t be your friend.” “You’re not sharing with me, I don’t like you”. And the coup de grace, the one that really cuts deep, “You’re not invited to my birthday party”. I spend my days helping the children navigate these touchy waters, encouraging them to be kind, to stand up for themselves, and to resolve their conflicts without hurting each other. If I can help them, then I decided that I better be able to help myself!

I have finally decided that I no longer (for the most part) care what people think of me and my decisions. I mean, I want people to think of me as a good teacher, a caring individual, and a generally all around good person, but at the end of the day I’m not going to get all wrapped up in the drama of trying to please everyone. It’s just not worth it. That is why I have decided that I will no longer wear matching socks. It pleases me to wear goofy socks. It pleases me to wear as many goofy socks as possible. If I wear socks that don’t match, then I get more bang for my buck. And guess what? I don’t care if anyone else cares. I’ve decided to apply this philosophy to everything I do.

The Bible says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2. Yup. That pretty much sums it up. God’s opinion is the one that really matters and it’s the only one that I’m going to worry about.

Sara Godwin has been a member of BUMC since 2003. She is the Assistant Director and Teacher at Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten where she has worked since 2007. She has two wonderful children, Rachel and Ian, a loving husband, Shawn, two awesome kitties, Lewis and Lucy, and a sweet dog, Minnie. She began at BUMC working in the Children’s Ministry, assisting with Sunday School before moving to the preschool. She also helps with Wacky Wednesday and is the self-described crazy lady who wears all sorts of costumes every year at VBS.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Serving and Protecting

Post by: Cristen Underwood

Three years ago, the dynamic of our family life changed drastically when my husband made a major career switch from being a banker to being a Sherriff’s Deputy. There is a lot that comes with the police life. Much of it we knew about going in; crazy hours, missed Holidays and Birthdays, insane amounts of training.

But there’s so much more that we weren’t expecting. This is a tough time to be a cop. There are more people than ever that are vocal on their dislike of law enforcement. There are crooked cops but there are also crooked doctors and lawyers and teachers and store owners and taxi cab drivers. However, unlike most other career fields, police officers are judged by the actions of a few. I see often see quick judgement when I tell people that I am the wife of a Law Enforcement Officer.

But here’s the thing, I am beyond proud of my husband. He is giving up so much purely in service and the desire to help others. What angers me most about these people that are preaching hate for our law enforcement is that those very same officers they rage against have made a conscious decision to protect them. The brave men and women that sign up to be cops run towards the problem instead of running away. These officer are the ones that come when there is trouble and fear and chaos and work to provide safety and peace.

I’m sure that my husband sees way more than he’ll ever tell me. I know he’s dealt with fatal car accidents and been there after suicides. I’ve seen him come home in tears after dealing with a child abuse case. He left a family outing to go help during a wildfire and came home covered in black soot, so tired he could barely move after working for 16 straight hours. Yet, after all the negativity and the difficult days, he comes home and plays with his sons and smiles and tries so hard to rejoin our regular family life.

I started following the police blogs and the police spouse pages on Facebook and just about every day, somewhere in America, a Law Enforcement Officer is killed in the line of duty. A wildly troubling statistic for the spouse of an officer. Several times a week a picture of a stoic man or woman in full uniform shows up on my news feed with the story of how they were killed and the spouse and children that they leave behind. And yet, even with a job so dangerous, my husband and all of the other Law Enforcement Officers get up to go to work at weird hours, put on a bullet-proof vest and promise to run towards the danger.

So, next time that you see a Law Enforcement Officer, say thanks. Tell them you appreciate their dedication. Tell them that you appreciate that on Christmas morning, while you were home with your family eating breakfast, they were out on patrol keeping you safe. Tell them to stay safe so they can go home to their families that love them.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. -John 15:13

Cristen Underwood has been a member of BUMC for five years.   She lives in Westminster with her husband, five-year old son, two-year old son, a very old Siberian Husky and a really fat cat.