Thursday, June 29, 2017

Changing Our Thinking

Post by: Pastor Ken Brown

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age. - Matthew 28: 16-20 (CEB)

One of the things I love most about our community is the capacity to change the world by changing how we think. A church attendee sent our staff-parish Relations (SPR) team a link to this Ted Talk by Dan Pallotta: The Way We Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong.

I want you to take 18 minutes and 54 seconds of your life to view it as an Independence Day assignment.

Dan Pallotta underscores radical liberation concepts regarding giving to the local church. And if you’re tired of me talking about money, you’re not alone. So am I! Yes I would be derelict in my office as a senior pastor or chief fundraising officer if I did not daringly broach the subject.
The founders of our nation had an audacious goal with the experiment we call democracy. Their persistence to craft a more perfect union can be inspirational to the church. If the American experience can change the world, imagine what we could do together if we change our thinking as Jesus followers.

Happy Independence Day and may we honor this day with our service to Christ to change the world to the glory of God.

Ken Brown is the senior pastor at BUMC. You can contact him at

Friday, June 23, 2017

Moving Closer To God

Post by: Heidi Schwandt

My family and I just closed on a new home and are in the process of selling our old. It is a mixed bag of emotions. We made the choice to move for a variety of reasons but the primary one was the result of our decision to send our girls to a Christian school. We believed strongly that is something God asked us to do.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  -
Proverbs 22:6 

And… the move also happened to get us much closer to the recreation we so love here in Colorado.

BUT the problem was I LOVED my existing home, I had big plans for it- hardwood floors, barn doors… the works! I just finished sanding and painting all the trim and doorways on the main floor--- by hand----by myself! I mean my blood sweat and tears went into this place. I took both my girls home from the hospital to this home, bought chickens, watched countless sunsets and flowers bloom and swore I would never leave. Plus my best friend and her kids lived 10 min. down the road.

When unloading at the new house I felt excited for our new adventure and our lovely new home…but as soon as I drove back to the old home and neighborhood I felt anxious and sad. I would miss my home and my friends (we are moving about 45 minutes away which feels like we are moving to Kansas or something!).

After several emotional phone calls to my mother about moving she finally said “you made this choice to follow what you felt God asked you to do as far as raising your children, He will provide for you – the friends you need, the right neighbors etc”

It was then that I remembered that the house, the neighborhood the friends are all gifts from God. He giveth and He taketh. And I trust that he will provide for me and my family. This is just a temporary place for us God has created an eternal home for us and, while not always easy, I am going to cast my emotions and fears aside and try to focus on that.

In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. -
John 14:2 

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. -
Hebrew 12:2 

I am a Chicago girl living in Colorado for 8 years now. I have been married to Ed for 12 years and have two beautiful children Vivian & Natalie. After spending several years working for the American Red Cross while living overseas in Germany I moved to Colorado and worked in the financial industry for 7 years. Now I have the privilege of being a stay at home mom and wife. I am mostly a homebody but will get out of the house for time on a lake or river (basically any body of water), dinner with friends or fishing! Most of my personal time is spent with my husband and kids or working on yet another one of my home improvement projects, I am a DIY junkie and have done everything from drywall to electrical and carpentry, not to mention hours of painting. I have been a member of BUMC for about 2 years and a follower of Christ for as long as I can remember. It’s been a blessed life thus far and I’m excited to see what else God has in store for me.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wise Guys

Post by: Mwangi Ndonga

A while back I was part of a men’s small group that was studying Proverbs. As you may know, Proverbs is a collection of lessons or pieces of advice that when understood and enacted promote wisdom. You will find that almost all cultures have some form of proverbs that distill wisdom from the wise (old) to the na├»ve (young). Being the wise guys that we were (or thought we were) it was obvious that we had enough wisdom ourselves to add several pages to this Book. If you use an NIV Bible, you’ll see that a lot of proverbs begin with the words “My son…”.

We pondered whether the advisor - let’s assume a father - giving advice to his son had erred often in his life in order to give such good advice. After all, aren’t some of the best lessons you’ve learned come from some very bad choices? If we go with that logic, truly how many of the proverbs that are communicated to the son will be heeded? How many lessons just have to be learned through experience?

Friend, the trajectory of your faith journey has been re-directed every time your conscience is challenged. In regards to sin, Paul says “Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.” (Romans 7:7) So, the Bible provides us with a myriad of proverbs that, most likely, none of us can heed in their entirety. However, without such guidance, we would have no reference as to what is holy and unholy.

Which proverbs or laws should I focus on to gain the most wisdom?

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40).

Mwangi Ndonga currently lives in Broomfield with his wife, Talesha, and son, Kamundia. They have been members of BUMC since 2010. Mwangi primarily serves on the Worship and Arts Ministry by playing piano and bass guitar during the Contemporary Services. He works as an environmental, health and safety professional in the oil and gas industry. An avid reader, Mwangi loves discussion on almost any topic, especially music and theology.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Power of Vision

Post by: Thomas Cross

In the June 4 edition of The Denver Post, two articles attracted my attention. The first is a front-page article which chronicles the rise of LoDo; the second is an article in the business section which chronicled the slow decline of Sears.

In the 1980’s, Lower Downtown was a neighborhood with only 200 residents and very little business activity – it was a neighborhood most people avoided. A few brave souls began investing in the area, and Mayor Federico Pena caught their vision for what the neighborhood could become. He worked hard to lure professional baseball to Denver, and he lobbied for the new stadium to be located at 20th and Blake, on a site next to the railyard surrounded by old warehouses. Mayor Pena believed that a downtown baseball stadium would jump-start development in the neighborhood. He was right.

Mayor Pena’s other notable project was a new airport for Denver. His vision for a new airport was grounded on his vision for a city which would grow into a regional business center with flights to cities around the world. The location he chose for DIA seemed remote, to say the least, and many people questioned the need for a new airport. Both projects required taxpayer funding, and Mayor Pena had to sell his visions for the ballpark and the airport to a wide constituency.

At the time these projects were brewing, I lived in Salt Lake City, but I thought both of them were unnecessary and extravagant. Mile High stadium had the capacity to house both football and baseball, so why build Coors Field? Likewise, Stapleton accommodated Denver’s air travel needs adequately, and some of the terminals were relatively new, so why waste money of a new facility?

Twenty-five years later, LoDo is a thriving residential neighborhood with many attractions, including the newly restored Union Station, which is the hub for the region’s multifaceted transportation system. Thousands live in LoDo, and tens of thousands visit every week to enjoy the baseball and the area’s great restaurants. LoDo is beautiful and liveable, with grocery stores, condos, and apartments.

What was once Stapleton Airport is now a thriving mature neighborhood, with tree-lined streets and a wide variety of stores, parks, and restaurants. Denver International Airport is an architectural attraction with a top-notch hotel, the nation’s best airport restaurants, and a light-rail station. Air travel through DIA is nearing the facility’s capacity, which will necessitate a remodeling project to facilitate faster check-ins and security screenings.

The area around the airport is taking shape into a thriving business center, and will soon be home to the Gaylord destination hotel complex.

Denver now has the lowest unemployment rate of any major U.S. city, and people are flocking to the metro are area to work and enjoy the area’s geographical and cultural amenities. One of those amenities, Coors Field, is a delightful place to spend a mild summer evening. Even when the Rockies have a bad game, the view is wonderful, and bad games are becoming pretty rare.

The transformation of Denver has its roots in the vision of a few people who were considered a little bit “out there” when they first discussed their dreams. The vision caught fire and many people were willing to invest in it. While some of us had questions, we cannot argue with Jesus’ old adage, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Luke 7:35).

The story of Sears provides a strong contrast. Sears has suffered a long, slow decline with leaders who lacked vision and failed to invest in the property and brands the chain enjoyed. If you can even find a Sears store anymore, it is a discouraging experience to visit it. What you will find is a dated, poorly-maintained store with spotty inventory and service. Many Millennials have never set foot in a Sears. The story of Sears illustrates another biblical proverb, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained…” (Proverbs 29:18a). With no focus, the executives at Sears have experimented with numerous concepts, but committed to none. The result is a hodgepodge of ugly, unappealing, unpopulated stores.

My conservative temperament makes me cautious in embracing new visions. When something is working well, as Stapleton Airport was 30 years ago, it is hard for me to get excited about an expensive replacement. But the future belongs to visionaries who can see ahead and paint a picture of what can take shape three decades hence. In a dynamic world, change will happen. If that change is not guided by vision, the result will be entropy, as Sears so aptly illustrates.

In all honesty, the great biblical leaders were visionaries, from Joseph with his vision for provision in time of famine, to Moses with his vision for a “land flowing with milk and honey,” to the prophets for their vision of the Peaceable Kingdom. What vision has the Holy Spirit implanted in you? Have you shared your vision with anyone? Have you embraced the visions of other people? Are you willing to take some risks to see a new future unfold? I’m not sure that “fortune favors the bold,” but I have a suspicion God does favor the visionaries.

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, June 2, 2017

A Mother's Love

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Bishop Karen Oliveto preach at a local church. It was one of those sermons that just sticks with me, centers me, helps me to deeply reflect on how my day to day life is either a reflection of me as someone who is Christ-like OR, on the other side, a big fear of mine- someone who says they are a Christian but acts nothing like Christ himself did.

Before the sermon began, someone read a poem titled Pink and Blue. It’s one of those poems that has such deep imagery that it makes me feel like an artist. I can’t read it without getting lost in the words and the meaning. Here’s the “Cliffnotes” version (but seriously, do read it): our tendency as humans is to create this very specific image of God as a powerful father. For me, the image is the merging of Santa combined with Zeus. There is a tenderness and jollyness to him, yet also this powerful authoritative stance. But the poem describes a God who isn’t so categorical. His love is beyond our true comprehension, so to bind that as a “fatherly” love and to disregard the “motherly” love is to only capture part of who God is. His ability to provide motherly love is a huge part of who he is.

I need this love. We need this love.

Listen, there’s times when the love of a father sounds just perfect. The strong, protective father who would do anything to provide what his child needs. But it isn’t complete. We need to rely on the unconditional love from God that we, on earth, typically regard as “motherly” love. The tender hugs, the scratch my back until I fall asleep, the lending of an ear, the wipe away my tears kind of love.

The poem ends in this amazing way:

God our Mother, believing in us. That’s what a mother does: she looks into your eyes
and she says, I believe in you. I know you. I know you were made for great things. A
mother says, you’re not too small or too scared. You’re not too frail or too flawed. You’re
mine. And that’s all you need to know.

God our Mother whispers to each one of us ‘You’re mine. And that’s all you need to know.’ ”

We all wish we could have some love from our mother sometimes. And while I believe that most mothers would love to be there for their child always, we know that distance, death, and division often make that love hard to feel. That’s the amazing thing about God- when relationships here aren’t what we need them to be, his love is always there. As our father when we need it- and as our mother when we need that even more.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. -Romans 8:37-39

Andrea is an Early Childhood Special Educator, as well as mom to Paxton and Wyatt. She and her husband Steve, have been members of BUMC since 2009.