Friday, March 31, 2017


Post by: Mike Orr

I like words. Finding out where words come from, how people use them, and how language develops over time is a fascinating subject to me. If you don’t get as excited about words, I totally understand. It’s one of my nerdy traits. Have you ever thought about the word “Christian”?

People often use it as an adjective, a word that describes a noun. We talk about Christian music, or a Christian movie. It’s perfectly appropriate to talk about Christian theology because it’s distinct. Calling a theology “Christian” describes it and differentiates it from other theologies, like Hindu theology.

“Christian” is a noun when it refers to a person. This is important. When you use “Christian” to refer to yourself, you are not describing yourself, you are defining yourself. You are “a Christian”, not simply “Christian”. It’s an issue of core identity, not simply one more characteristic that you happen to have.

The Bible only uses the noun version. It’s never used as an adjective. Not once. A song can’t be a Christian. A movie can’t either. Only people can be Christians. If you call yourself a Christian, you are making a statement about who you are, and who you follow. Jesus didn’t come to start a clothing brand or a record label. Jesus came to bring you back to his Father, to restore a broken relationship, and to bring you healing and wholeness.

You don’t have to be a word nerd to pay attention to how you use “Christian”. Do you use it as a noun or an adjective? Is it just one of your many traits, or is it your identity?

Act 11:25-26

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

Friday, March 24, 2017

Before I die, I want to _____: A Lenten reflection

This post was written by Joe Iovino and was shared with permission from the blog roll on the National United Methodist Church Web site which can be found here:

One day, not far from her home in New Orleans, artist Candy Chang noticed a large abandoned building.
“I thought about how I could make this a nicer space for my neighborhood,” she said during her TED Talk, “and I also thought about something that changed my life forever. In 2009, I lost someone I loved very much… Her death was sudden and unexpected. And I thought about death a lot, and this made me feel deep gratitude for the time I’ve had and brought clarity to the things that are meaningful to my life now. But I struggle to maintain this perspective in my daily life. I feel like it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you.”

Candy Chang's "Before I die..." wall turned an eyesore into art. Photo by Tony Webster [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
With permission from the town and her neighbors, Chang turned the eyesore into a work of art. She covered one side of the house with chalkboard paint. Then, she stenciled a few words on the wall approximately 80 times. The stencil read, “Before I die I want to _____________________.”
She put a bucket of chalk near the wall.
Before the wall was finished people were stopping by, asking if they could write on it. She reported on the TED Radio Hour that one of the first people to finish the sentence was dressed as a pirate, as people in New Orleans are wont to do. He finished the sentence, “Before I die I want to be tried for piracy.”
In her TED Talk, she reads some other things people wrote on the wall.
  • Before I die, I want to straddle the International Date Line.
  • Before I die, I want to sing for millions.
  • Before I die, I want to plant a tree.
  • Before I die, I want to hold her one more time.
  • Before I die, I want to be completely myself.
After playing that clip from her TED Talk, host of the TED Radio Hour Guy Raz, explained, “The power of the ‘Before I die…’ wall is that it actually didn’t make people think about death so much as it made them think about life.”
When Chang posted a few photos of the wall online, she was surprised how quickly the idea spread. “My inbox blew up with messages from people around the world who wanted to make a wall with their community.” Today there are more than 1,000 “Before I die…” walls in cities all over the world.
Asked about their death, people talked about life, real life, exciting things they would like to do with their lives. People focused on things of life that really matter.
In the interview Raz asks Chang what she has learned about death. “I think that contemplating it can lead to a lot of great things,” she says.
What a great image for reflection during Lent. Contemplating death can lead to a lot of great things.
Jesus taught this to his disciples as he contemplated his own death. Preparing his disciples for his glorification, Jesus says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24 CEB).
Life, real life, abundant life, comes when we are willing to die to self.
The power of the "Before I die" wall is that it makes people think about life. Photo by Tony Webster [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.
Later in her interview with Guy Raz, Candy Chang expounds on the thought. “Contemplating death really clarifies my life and regularly contemplating death,” she continues, “has been a really powerful tool for me to restore perspective and remember the things that make my life meaningful to me.”
In a lot of ways, that is exactly what this season of Lent is all about. A time to restore perspective and remember the things that make life meaningful.
And so we fast. We give up chocolate or Starbucks or soda, not just to do it. Not to prove anything to anyone or to impress God. We give it up to remind ourselves that those things don’t really matter. Our life in Christ does.
We worship on Ash Wednesday reflecting on our sin, asking forgiveness, and seeking to live a new life free from it. We don’t do this for a front row ticket to heaven, but because we know we have short-changed life by living our own way rather than God’s.
We receive ashes on the first day of Lent with the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” We remember our mortality, not to be morbid, but to remember to live for God now, because our life is a precious gift that we should live to the full.
Like Candy Chang, we struggle in daily life to maintain a perspective on what gives our lives meaning. “It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you.” Lent invites us to remember what gives our lives life.
During these 40 days, how will you restore perspective and remember the gifts you’ve received from the Lord Jesus Christ that make life full and meaningful?
Then maybe you’ll be ready to truly live.
Before I die, I want to _______.
Think about it.
*Joe Iovino works for at United Methodist Communications. Contact him by email or at 615-312-3733.
This story was first published on February 10, 2016.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Watching Them Grow

I am so blessed two have two young sons. The boys are the 
This last week was a bit of an odd one. First, my youngest son was sick for two days and couldn't attend daycare. This unexpected break gave us two full days together for me to build some fun memories. Despite the fact that we were home and he was in his PJ's all day, we still had hours of time snuggling on the couch watching movies and playing together. It showed me that I don't have to be far from home to have a good time with my children. I'll remember the couch time with him and I know that the next time he's home with me all day, he'll be a little older.

My pride in my 5-year-old son was at an all-time high this week as well. My family was at a housewarming party with a large group of my co-workers. My oldest son was having a fairly ornery and whiney day, and I was somewhat concerned that he'd be a pain in the neck about going to hang out with a bunch of adults. Before we exited the car, I asked (okay, told) him to be on his best behavior while at the party and he told me that he would. Lo and behold, he was so well behaved and polite. I watched him repeatedly approach adults at the party, put out his had for a handshake and say, "I'm Alex, it's nice to meet you."
I once watched Joe, our BUMC music director, turn around and nod at his son, JJ, on the drums after he played what sounded like a particularly tough drum rift during the contemporary service. It was pure paternal pride and I knew exactly how he felt. 
All of the hard work that we've poured into being parents was there on display! I was so proud of him. All week, I've had friends remarking on what a well behaved son I have. I was reminded of a time when I asked my mom about when I learned good manners and she replied, "Everyday." Raising kids is a constant task. My wife and I are constantly saying "please and thank you" and correcting minor mistakes. I guess it must be working! 
It took me having children of my own to fully understand what my mom meant and I look forward to seeing both of my boys grow into well-mannered Gentlemen. I can't wait to see what the future holds for them.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.  -Proverbs 22:6

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 boys and  have been members of BUMC since 2011.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Quiet Voice Of Lent

Post by: Joe Mazza

As we begin the season of Lent, these 40 days before Easter can be a rich and meaningful time in the life of a believer in Christ. I read a quote recently that describes the season beautifully:

If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know that it’s a struggle. Things start out well, but soon exhaustion sets in and each step becomes a reconsideration. If you hold out long enough, there awaits the sweet joy and relief of being so close to the top that you can see the view. You may be worn out, but the glory of the sight gives you new life… Lent is a climb toward the breathtaking panorama of what Jesus has done for us.

One of the best gifts this season offers us is the opportunity to be quiet. We have so many loud voices around us - non-stop news, the demands of work, and the often overwhelming expectations of our personal lives and schedules. On top of that, if we only look at our Facebook feeds, it seems like everyone else is handling life a lot better than we are. Oh look, there’s a beautiful picture of my friend on vacation! I wish I was in Hawaii. Oh wow, what a great party that must have been!  How come I don’t get to go to great parties? Has that stupid giraffe been born yet? That's a beautiful quote about peace and serenity that my friend just posted. She must really have her life together… more than I do, I bet. With the exception of the giraffe thing, this relentless stream of only the best of other people’s lives can tempt us to follow suit - to post only our triumphs, only our most fun moments, and that one picture out of a hundred that got our best side.

I used to write in journals all the time. I’d write about my day, my frustrations, and things that made me happy. Then at some point I stopped. I think maybe posting things on social media started to take the place of keeping a journal, but I lost something valuable along the way. I lost the place where I could express the struggles, the failures, the darker corners of my life into which I needed to invite God. Lent is the quiet voice that calls me back.

In Psalm 139, King David (who had some pretty serious triumphs and failures) starts out by resting in the fact that God knows him perfectly. Not just what he posts on social media, but everything.

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."

For 18 verses, David goes on about the safety and love he feels being known so well by God. Then, after a quick little complaint (David was great at complaining in the Psalms), he ends by saying,

"Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting."

I recently picked up a journal and I’ve been trying to get back into writing in it. I admit, it hasn’t been easy. There’s something less satisfying at first about writing in a book and then not being able to scroll to see if what I wrote was as good, cool, or interesting as what other people wrote. But I’m getting back into the hang of it and I’m committed to sharing with God more openly there than when I post things online. And as I climb this mountain towards Easter, I know that our faithful God will lead me in the way everlasting, as King David described in his psalm.

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