Monday, June 11, 2018

The Times, They Are a-Changin'

The opening verse of Bob Dylan’s 1964 song is as relevant today as it was then:

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

The fact is, Bob wasn’t saying anything original. The times are always a-changin’. It was the Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said “The only thing that is constant is change.” And even before that, the writer of Ecclesiastes said, "There’s a season for everything and a time for every matter under the heavens.”

However we say it or think about it, surely it’s true that we are almost always experiencing some kind of change, whether big or small, in some area of our life. Theresa, JJ and I have experienced all of the following in the last year: a new job for Theresa, a new school for JJ, the purchase of a house, and the change of pastors at church. That’s a lot. But in some ways it just sort of seems like the new normal, and I’m sure that everyone reading this could share a similar list.

For many of us at Broomfield UMC, that last item on my list - the change of pastors - is a big one. In this time of transition as we eagerly await our new Lead Pastor Don Bird, I’ve gotten the chance to talk with many of you about this change, and I’ve learned that we are all processing it in many ways. In these conversations, I’ve heard expressions of sadness and fear as well as excitement and hope for the future. All of these feelings and emotions are valid and understandable. Fortunately for us, there are so many examples in scripture of God leading his people through changes, and we can look to these stories to be reminded of God’s faithfulness. From the story of Abram being called to a foreign land, to Mary being called to be the mother of Jesus, to Jesus calling his first disciples to change their lives and follow him, the Bible gives us a look at how God calls us into new seasons and situations, as well as how God promises to be with us during these changes and transitions.

Something I’ve noticed as I read these stories is that when God calls us to something new, he always starts with a simple invitation. While we would probably prefer more details, what we get is, “Come, follow me.” We want the 5 point plan, we want the graphs and charts showing how things will end up, but God rarely, if ever, gives that. Some say that God speaks in sentences, not paragraphs; I like to think of it as God asking us to just put one foot in front of the other. It’s a lot like following a hiking trail through the woods - we can never see the whole trail laid out all at once, but when we follow and stay on it, we end up in the right place.

This is how the transitions and changes at Broomfield UMC have been unfolding, for sure. We got an announcement in February about Ken leaving, another announcement in April about Don’s arrival, and now we’re in a time of waiting and preparation. It’s just one foot in front of the other as we trust God’s new calling on our church family. So what do we do in order to stay close to God in times like these?

We thank and trust God. Transitions are a sign that God is at work in us. God is not distant, causing us to be born and then checking out and watching from above. God is active in your life and my life and when we sense things changing it’s often because, like the first disciples, God is calling us to join him in something new. That is a reason to rejoice because it means we are part of God’s plans to love and redeem the whole world.

We listen, talk, and lean on each other. Transitions are difficult, no doubt. But knowing that we’re not alone in them and leaning on each other makes them easier. Right now, there are a whole lot of people in our Broomfield UMC family who are eager to talk about the changes our church is experiencing. When we do this in constructive ways within our church community, the burdens and anxieties of not knowing what is coming next are spread out among all of us in a way that lightens our individual loads and dispels the what-if's that fill our heads. This is true about any transition you may be experiencing - there is always someone who has been through it before, or is going through it now.

We have hope. Pastor Thomas reminded us a couple of weeks ago that hope means “confident expectation.” We should all have a confident expectation that God is with us and has extraordinary plans for his church in Broomfield. This is evident in every transition story in the Bible. One of my personal favorite examples is from the book of Joshua. In this story, Moses, Israel’s leader, had just died and God commissioned Joshua to take the Israelites over the Jordan to the Promised Land. God spoke these words to Joshua, "No one will be able to stand up against you during your lifetime. I will be with you in the same way I was with Moses. I won’t desert you or leave you.” (Joshua 1:5, CEB).

The times, they are a-changin’. And now, as always, God is with us, thanks be to God.

One other small transition I want to let you know about concerns this blog. Broomfield UMC is about to get shiny new website, and when that happens, the blog will transition from its current home on to our site. This means that your email subscription will change. In the meantime, we are pausing new posts so we can work on migrating the old ones to the new blog. We will send out a few posts with instructions on how to sign up for blog emails once the new site is in place. Thanks for reading!

Joe Mazza is the Director of Worship Arts at Broomfield UMC and leads worship at our 8:30 and 9:45 worship services. He and his wife Theresa and son JJ can always be found making music around the church as a part of the Worship Arts family. Joe also plays guitar with local Colorado artists and if you friend him on Facebook, you can find out where he's playing and catch a show.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mother's Day

Post by: Cathy Stafford

This past Sunday, May 13, was Mother’s Day! I want to wish a wonderful day to all women reading this who nurture children. I believe that Mothers, Stepmothers, Grandmothers, Aunts, and Friends all have such an important part to play in raising children in the way God intends. We are truly blessed to have the opportunity to do so.

I want to share a proud Mom moment I had recently. This past Easter Sunday, my 9 year-old son gave the Gospel reading during one of the services at Broomfield UMC. He did a terrific job, as did the other young people who read during the other services. After the reading, my son came and sat down next to me in the front row, one of those reserved for service participants. The rest of our family was sitting in a row further back. Probably getting over some nervousness from reading, he wanted to draw pictures instead of listening intently to Pastor Ken. I drew with him, because I could tell he wanted me to, and I also listened to Pastor Ken. Moms know how to multi-task, am I right?

As you know if you attended Broomfield UMC on Easter Sunday, Pastor Ken told the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, one of the youngest children who marched in the Children’s Crusades of 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama. She was the youngest child who was jailed during that event. Pastor Ken also discussed Audrey Faye Hendricks in the BUMC blog dated May 6, 2018. I did not know the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks before the sermon on Easter Sunday. I did not know the story about the Children’s Crusades either.

During this Easter Sunday sermon, a story about a nine year-old child being jailed for seven days is being told. I am sitting next to my nine year-old child. My mindset is pretty much one of shock and disbelief. I am thinking about this child who went to jail, and about my own child sitting next to me who is the same age. One thing that is going through my mind is what her parents must have felt like when their child was in jail and they were not allowed to contact her. I am not catching everything Pastor Ken is talking about due to my flood of emotions. I just can’t believe this child was put in jail. I want to know more about what happened.

Shortly after Easter, I think when everyone else was asleep in my house, I researched the Children’s Crusade and Audrey Faye Hendricks’ story. I found out that her parents were very active in their church and the Civil Rights Movement. Audrey knew about the injustices in her town. She was aware of bombings that occurred in her hometown. She went to planning meetings with her parents for many years. She knew that other young people, mostly teens in her community, were going to march and would likely have to go to jail. She told her parents that she wanted to participate in the march, knowing that she would almost certainly go to jail too.

Audrey’s parents let her participate in the march, and even bought her a game to take with her, in case she had to stay in jail. Some people may agree with their decision, and some people may not. I believe it is not my place to agree or disagree. During my research, I felt empathy and sympathy for Audrey Faye Hendricks’ parents, not judgment. I don’t feel entitled to even start to know their circumstances, or their child, or the other people involved in their lives. I just stand in awe of their bravery in how they supported their child. I feel relieved that their family made it through this ordeal.

I imagine Audrey’s parents could rely on the teens who were part of the march along with their daughter. I hope the teens who also participated were as trustworthy, responsible and kind as those who volunteer and work for Broomfield UMC. I imagine they were. I know I would be saying things to the teens prior to the march like, “Natalie, please check on him every 10 minutes, and ask two of your friends to do so as well in case you are pulled away.” History shows that Audrey Faye Hendricks’ and her family’s sacrifices were not in vain, and were very influential in bringing about change.

Among many other things, Audrey Faye Hendricks’ story reminds me that the greatest gifts we can give to parents are acceptance, support, and as much understanding as possible. Jesus is clear that we are not to judge. Parenting is a hard job. I hope Audrey’s parents had lots of support from family and friends in their community. On this week of Mother’s Day, let’s all find a way to support a Mom (or Stepmother, or Grandmother, or Aunt, or Friend) who is nurturing children.

Cathy Stafford is a church member, friend, daughter, sister, wife, and mother of two elementary-age children. She works as a Program Coordinator with the Family Ministries Team at BUMC, which serves children ages birth to 5th grade and their families.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Simplifying Faith

Post by: Kristan Marsden

I am on a mission to simplify my life. I’ve always been someone who appreciates tidiness, order and routines. But somewhere along the line, I’ve begun to feel trapped by a packed calendar, excessive “stuff” and a perceived to-do list I could never hope to complete. I’ve been intentionally applying the concept of simplicity to several areas of my life. It began with paring down my family’s schedule, focusing on the things that enrich our lives and learning to say no to the rest. Now I’ve moved on to all the “stuff.” I’ve been purging cabinets, closets and toy bins. The idea behind simplicity is removing the excess to focus on the things that truly spark joy. As I watch all the “stuff” leave my house, my calendar and my consciousness, I find myself wondering: Can the idea of simplicity be applied to faith?

It’s a tough time to navigate as a Christian. So many important social, political and scientific issues surround us everyday and it feels impossible to respond in a Christ-like way to all of them. How would Jesus carry himself in the world we live in? I had a WWJD bracelet back in middle school just like everyone else did, but now I’d really like to know! Seriously, what would Jesus do about all this crazy stuff going on in the world? Countries don’t agree, communities don’t agree, friends and families don’t agree. Christians certainly don’t agree.

Maybe this is where simplicity comes in. Maybe the key to finding common ground as a church, a community, even a country is to strip away the distractions and keep our eyes focused on the most basic Christian principles. Second Corinthians 11:3 puts it this way, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your mind will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

I attend a bible study with an amazing group of women. They happen to all be Catholic, except for me. We seek to understand each other and many of our conversations have been around different practices and traditions within our respective churches. At first, I thought this was a strength of our group. We were educating each other and accepting different points of view. I’ll admit, however, that I was growing a little tired of being the “odd man out.” It started to feel like we spent most of our time discussing the differences in our faith.

One woman in my bible study is an ER physician at a children’s hospital. At a recent meeting she told us that she has never lost a child in her care, but that fear is something that haunts her constantly. She told us that when she arrives at work, she sits for a minute in her car and prays. She asks God to guide her hands, to help her use her knowledge to treat her patients effectively. She asks God to work through her.

Shortly after this conversation, I found myself sitting in my own car praying. I recently became a CASA volunteer and had my first court date. CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of children involved in child abuse and neglect cases. Part of the role is attending court hearings and making recommendations to the judge based on the information I’ve gathered. Heading to my first court hearing, I was nervous. I was afraid I would not be able to articulate what I needed to say to effectively advocate for the child. So, I sat in my car at the courthouse and prayed. I asked God to give me the words to help this little girl, to work through me to better her situation.

Embracing one of the simplest Christian beliefs is where we found our common ground. At the core of our faith, we both seek a personal relationship with Jesus and, without hesitating, turn to God when the tasks we must do feel too big for us alone. Strip away all the traditions, the denomination-specific teachings and there you have it: Christ lives and works within us. Simple.

I’ve heard the bible described as so deep a theologian could drown in it, yet shallow enough that a child could wade through it. This is so true! As I continue my quest to remove the distractions from my life and focus on what is truly important to me, I will continue to study the bible and its complexities. But I will also focus on its simplicity. 

Kristan spends her days living and learning with her two young daughters, Shay and Grace. In her downtime, you’ll find her running (preferably with friends), skiing, struggling through the occasional yoga class and escaping to the mountains every chance she gets. As a teacher taking time off to raise her own kids, she enjoys volunteering in the Children’s Ministry as well as writing about her experiences as a parent and educator. She and her husband, Britton, have been members of BUMC since 2011.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Reason for All Seasons

Post by: Frank Oligmuller

I was recently looking out the window and taking in what was a very pleasant Spring day. And, from further pondering, I thought of how quickly the recent Winter had passed with Summer, I am sure, peeking around the corner. Subsequently, the next Fall will be following right behind.

As Christians, we also embed the Advent and Lent periods as additional seasons during the year. Christmas day and Easter as seen as the end of those seasons respectively. The phrase “He is the reason for the season” is commonly used during those time frames, especially Christmas. I so often try to convince myself to carry the spirit of those additional seasons into the days, weeks, and months following. But, for a variety of reasons, going back to the routine days of the standard seasons then take over and I soon find myself being overcome with the trappings of this world.

In curiosity, I perused the New Testament and saw a couple references to a time of the year. In John 10:22-23 it states, “Then came the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon’s Colonnade.” I don’t know why it was mentioned here other than to give some context on time of the year for this event and the events that followed leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. And then in Luke 1:26-27 it states “In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. To a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” Here a month of the year is called out. Again, not sure why other than the thought of a time of the year for the event that then keyed in on events that led up to the birth of Jesus.

Maybe because of those two references, it leads us to establish the proximity for celebrating these two events. However, and though those celebrations are of great significance, I don’t believe God limits us to carry retain those celebrations during the one time of year – but throughout the year. It is those events for which we can take into the world the good news of great joy and eternal life as seen in Matthew 28:19-20.. “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 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.”

So, as I turn to my work and/or play at hand for the day, I hope to keep whatever character of Christ at the forefront to keep my day in peace. It is so easy to go about the day owning our actions and feeling self-sufficient particularly when we think things are going well. But, by the end of most days, when exhausted by the meetings, calls, social interactions, and tasks involved with my day, I can find comfort - as long as I allow myself to face Him – knowing I have God who will take it all away and leave me with joy and peace. As John 16:22 says “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

In reflection, God made all things including All Seasons of the year. And, we are too use the Advent and Lent times as reminders of the reasons He sent His Son. Giving us gifts through Jesus birth and leaving us the Counselor/Spirit to enable us to be alive in Christ carry the message all year long. Thereby making Jesus Christ the reason for All Seasons.

May you find Hope, Love, Joy and Peace throughout the Year

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 13, 2018

Why Not ‘Commonplace’ Acts of Kindness?

Post by: Sara Godwin

I’ve been pondering, for a while now, the phrase, “random acts of kindness”. For a lot of reasons this phrase bugs the heck out of me. What does it even mean? That kindness isn’t normal? That it isn’t something that one sees every day? Is kindness something that must be sought out, ever the elusive act that only some practice? Or if everyone practices it, they only do it sometimes? It’s the word ‘random’ that I really have a problem with. Is kindness truly that uncommon? The very definition of random, according to is “a person or place that is odd or unpredictable; without uniformity; unknown, unidentified or suspiciously out of place”. Hmmmm.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you know that our society is troubled. We see, almost every day, in our news, headlines, and social media all of the acts of rage, anger, hate, sickness, and sadness that has pervaded humankind. Children are committing suicide, we are taunting and bullying each other, some enter places of learning, worship, or commerce and inflict pain, terror, or even death upon others. We sit back after hearing about these acts and scratch our heads. We wonder why these things are happening. We ask for prayers, we rant on social media, we hug our loved ones close, but nothing every really changes. I think that perhaps, collectively, we just hope that it won’t happen to us. But it is. I don’t think any of us hasn’t been affected directly by at least one of these types of acts. They’re too common.

I’m not gonna lie; I have absolutely no idea what to do about all of this. I have no answers. I only know what I can do, as an educator and a parent and a human being in my own tiny, little sphere of breathing space on this planet. I can model and perform commonplace acts of kindness. I can smile at the cashier as I pay for my groceries, I can tip my waiter or waitress and voice my appreciation for their efforts, I can use my blinker and wait my turn to merge on the highway, I can hold the door for someone, I can thank others, no matter how small their act was, or, in other words, I can “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. Luke 6:31 It’s right there; all of it, that one tiny verse, so commonly known to everyone, Christians and non-Christians alike.

I recently taught my students the Easter story. We started with Palm Sunday and progressed all the way to the ascension. One of the best lessons in that story happens in the middle, during the Last Supper and how Jesus washes the feet of his disciples to show his love for them. After I told my students that part of the story we filled buckets with water and washed each other’s feet. As we washed each other’s feet, we said kind things to each other. The kids said things like, “I like your hair”. Or, “you’re fun to play with”. Or, “you’re good at coloring”. Things that 5 year olds think are important. Yet, aren’t these things important to all of us? We all just want to know that we’re doing a good job, or that our efforts are noticed and appreciated. My students talked about this activity for days and continued to say kind things to each other, long after we were done. I hope that as they grow, they’ll think back on this activity and remember how it felt to give and receive kindness.

I’m not going to pretend that I have any answers to the ills that are affecting our society, but I can hope that my acts, my smile, my words, might have a ripple effect. Maybe if I smile at my cashier, they’ll smile at their next customer, who will then hold the door on their way out for someone, who will then go on to say thank you or I’m sorry to someone else, who will then go on to perform another act of kindness with another soul. I can model the very foundation of Jesus’ teachings to us and do unto others. It doesn’t answer everything, but it’s definitely a start. If we get enough ripples going, constantly, commonly, always moving outwards, maybe some things will change. Join me, won’t you?

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, April 6, 2018

Remember Dreamers

Post by: Ken Brown

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Most of us have a response to hearing his name or seeing it in the media. The remembrances of his assassination (April 4, 1968) were global. When I hear or see his name, I’m left without adequate words to describe his impact on my life. 

Like Dr. King, I too am a career pastor. His ability to live with resolve and conviction in the face of violence is astonishing. Even more amazing is Dr. King’s organization of the Children’s Crusades that aroused the nation’s conscience in 1963. These events were monumental chapters during the Civil Rights Movement in Birmingham, Alabama. 

Armed with non-violent, peaceable tactics, thousands of young children were arrested in a march for their lives and the betterment of America. One of the youngest marchers in the Children’s Crusades was Audrey Faye Hendricks. She skipped school and went to a church that organized the peaceful march. “I wasn’t nervous or scared,” Audrey recounts. She chose to stand up to a system of racial violence. Audrey was nine. She spent seven days in jail and her parents were not allowed to contact her. 

Audrey’s story is the Easter story - walking out of tombs has a price. Every last one of us is a beneficiary of young Audrey’s courage. She made a choice to confront violence. The ripple for hope from her Birmingham jail cell continues a revolution to help us embrace one another on the content of character. 

After reading Audrey’s story, I felt embarrassed at my lack of knowledge of the Children’s Crusade of 1963. I thought, how many other people don’t know? It pierced my spirit and made me ache for those unheard. 

America’s children are standing up to our stagnation regarding gun violence. The church needs to follow their lead. 

As a church, we are grappling with the recurring questions about gun violence. Why? How? What’s to be done? 

What will you do to curb gun violence? What has Jesus whispered to your heart to speak when the stories of those like Audrey are told. Speak up. Find your words. Find your voice. Let’s be the type of church that remembers Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination was not in vain. 

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

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Costly Grace

Post by: Mwangi Ndonga

By far (arm lengths, miles, light years), my favorite book on the Christian life is The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I have an old copy that a former pastor lent to me. On the cover it says “A powerful attack on ‘easy Christianity’”. Is your Christian life easy?

I’m not asking if you becoming a Christian was easy.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8

I’m asking about life ex post facto.

Bonhoeffer distinguishes cheap grace from costly grace in his first chapter:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

He goes on to say that, “It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.” I don’t think that Bonhoeffer is saying that we “owe” Jesus for his sacrifice nor that we all have to enroll in seminary tomorrow. But we must recognize the cost at which our privilege was purchased.

A long time ago, I used to think: “So what’s the big deal about Jesus giving his life up? Firemen run into fires to save lives – giving up their lives for others at times. What’s so special about Jesus?”

Paul clarified this for me in Romans 5:6 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Would you step in and serve the sentence of a criminal? Would you lay your life so that a death row inmate is not executed? Would you sacrifice your child to bear the sin burden of the entire world and suffer? I wouldn’t. But Christ did. But God did.

And that is radical. And that is free. And that is costly.

Because of costly grace, Christianity isn’t a spectator sport.

“Are ye able,” said the Master,
“to be crucified with me?”
“Yea,” the sturdy dreamers answered,
“To the death we follow thee.”

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, March 16, 2018

A Time for Gentleness

Post by: Thomas Cross

In our discussions of Anxious for Nothing, I ran across a word I had not noticed before. The word is “gentleness,” and it is a word that Paul uses in Philippians 4:5. “Let your gentleness be known to everyone,” Paul says. Paul also lists “gentleness” as one of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. As you know, I am fascinated by the Greek words used in the New Testament, so I looked it up and found that the Greek word for “gentleness” is epiekes, which is derived from the word “appropriate.” Epiekes means “gentle, moderate, patient, stable, steady.”

Gentleness doesn’t preclude exuberance, but it does describe a person that is not easily rocked, a person that has a strong center of gravity, a person that doesn’t fly off the handle when things get difficult. The best antonym for epiekes is “erratic.”

In Galatians 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit are arranged in three triads, moving from inner character qualities (love, joy, peace), to outward qualities that strengthen our relationships with others (patience, kindness, goodness), to character qualities that allow us to continue growing and following Christ for the long haul. One can see how the emotional constancy of gentleness helps us to keep our balance and composure. Our gentleness flows from our inner character, it is manifested in our relationships, and helps us to finish the race of faith in a way that glorifies God.

The last three fruit of the Spirit are qualities that mark mature believers in Christ who have abided in Christ over a period of years. Our part is to abide closely in Christ, as Jesus says in John 15:4: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me." As we abide in Christ, it is the nature of the Holy Spirit's work to begin by changing our inner character, to manifest this transformation in our relationships, and finally to equip us to persevere in our faith by grounding us deeply in Christ's steadfast love.

It is the nature of Christ's character to be constant, unchanging, and enduring in nature, and it is Christ's desire to call forth the same in us, from our human spirits, from the true self, as we let go of our ego attachments that are tied up in what is fleeting and transitory. Paul discusses this transformation in Philippians 3:1-14, in which he lists his "resume" of all the accomplishments he was so proud of as a young man, and then concludes, "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (vs. 8).

What Paul discovered in Christ was not "a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" (Philippians 3:9). With our new birth in Christ, this righteousness from God forms the basis of our identity and mission. We become "imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you..." (Ephesians 5:1-2). Our ongoing challenge is to claim this true identity which is ours in Christ, and to keep asking Christ to help us when we find ourselves resisting or rejecting the truth of who we really are. The Lord is always eager to answer this prayer and help us when we need to reaffirm who and whose we are.

I can be gentle because I’m not terribly impressed by my own credentials and accomplishments. What impresses me is that I have a God who loves me, a Savior who helps me, and a Spirit who guides me. I didn’t do anything to earn these gifts, and I receive them humbly and joyfully. My overwhelming response is gratitude to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In our own time, I believe biblical “gentleness” is a gift worth cultivating. We live in a time of dramatic change. It is said that every 500 years or so, God does a new thing, and we seem to be right on schedule (500 years after the start of the Protestant Reformation). The changes of our time are too numerous for any of us to track or fully understand. In the midst of events we may find unsettling or befuddling, it is important to have a strong center of gravity in Christ so we are not rocked by the events of the day. In a time when many people seem more focused on winning arguments than friends, it is also important to offer the gentle word of encouragement and hope. We can do so because we trust that God is sovereign over history and our lives, that God has good plans for us and our planet.

How do we cultivate such gentleness? Our gentleness springs from our relationship with Christ. As we abide in Christ, depend upon his Spirit, and own our identity as God’s children, his gentleness will become one of the marks of our character. We will become people who are not easily rocked by the vicissitudes of circumstances, but rather people who find deep balance, stability, and composure because our character is built upon the foundation and Chief Cornerstone of the Living Christ. This constant gentleness allows us to treat others as Christ treats us, with love, whether we agree with them or not. As the hymn writer Edward Mote puts it, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

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! 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Deal Breaker

Post by: Theresa Mazza

What side of the issue are you on? What do you stand for? What are your core values?

These questions are quickly becoming the litmus test for friendship and connection. Answer any of these questions wrong or hint at the wrong answer and you may be looking at a deal breaker. Our differences have somehow become unforgivable sins. You believe coffee should be enjoyed black? Deal breaker. You believe the most recent Star Wars movies are better than the original Star Wars movies? Deal breaker. Seems like an extreme position, right?

Agreeing to disagree may be a thing of the past. Now, I know the examples above don’t really represent the most serious deal breakers of our time but you get what I’m saying. The space to coexist with those who have different values or views is getting smaller and smaller with each passing day. Have we deemed our differences unforgivable offenses against friendship and community?

Is it okay for us to have such little space in our lives for those who challenge us to our core?

Maybe it’s okay when there is no potential for a civil and meaningful conversation. Maybe it’s okay if we seriously feel our life is in danger. Maybe it’s okay if nothing productive can take place and both parties are achieving nothing.

But maybe it’s not okay if we just don’t like being uncomfortable. Maybe it’s not okay if we’ve become addicts of “being right.” Maybe it’s not okay if we’re playing God and self-determining what is a sinful act and what is not.

So how much space should there be to coexist and even potentially respect and love those “other” people? Well, how much space has God allowed for us to abide in him in all of our sinfulness and imperfection?

In the book of Matthew, Peter asked Jesus, “how many times should I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven? Jesus replied, “Seven! Hardly. Try seventy times seven.”

So maybe we can create more space for one another in our hearts. Next time you face a deal breaker, remember the space Jesus creates in his reply to Peter. 70 X 7!

If we can forgive someone 490 times (okay Jesus is amazing so let’s cut that number in half because we aren’t Jesus, if we can forgive someone 245 times, nope that’s still too much for me, let’s cut that in half again, if we can forgive someone 122 times) maybe that gives us enough space to see them through the eyes of Jesus and to love them as we love ourselves.

Theresa is a youth advocate, writer and speaker, as well as the Volunteer Coordinator for Hope House of Colorado, an organization empowering teenage moms to strive for personal and economic self-sufficiency. She sings with BUMC's worship team and is married to Worship Arts Director, Joe Mazza. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

Show Your Love to Thy Neighbor

Post by: Elliott Holm

I haven’t written a blog entry for a while now, and a lot has changed! Kyla and I became parents to our beautiful daughter, Ella, and she has brought so much to our lives. We absolutely adore being with her, holding her, watching her smile, and never missing a moment

Through all the excitements of parenting and life, though, it’s very easy to forget to also be there for the people you love. I was reminded of this when I returned to work, and began teaching my students. We are knee-deep right now in a two year-long unit on how to be successful and productive adults, so the students will hopefully be equipped for many more things that will come their way.

It was during this week, I started a new chapter with my “Adulting” group, called Friends and Neighbors, with the hopes that it will teach the kids how to make healthy friends when they’re adults, as well as how to be there for their neighbors. I taught them about so many things I was so excited to talk about; deciding what size of friend group was right for their personalities, choosing healthy places to find new friends, being nice to new people who just started working with you, and much more. I truly felt that we were having some great conversations, and the students were very engaged; I had them right where I wanted them!

That’s when I got this sign that this lesson needed to be a little bit more. It happened to be on Valentine’s Day, and I teach each chapter in numbered “Tips.” I got to my final Tip for the day, which was Tip number 14, on February 14th. This tip was: “Tell the people you love why you love them.” I hadn’t realized when I made this presentation, that I stopped here, at this tip, on Valentine’s Day, and it happened to be about love. But there was this quote I found from an author I frequently use in these lessons to end the lesson with: “I try, once a year, to write a letter to each of my closest friends and let them know why they mean so much to me, and why I am so lucky to have them in my life. Everyone wants to be acknowledged and everyone wants to feel loved. There is no reason to withhold this, especially from people who are worthy of it.” I stopped in my tracks for that day’s lesson. I knew this had to be bigger than me just telling students this author’s quote. I told the students we had 20 minutes left in class, let’s do this exact thing the author does and write to someone we love. The students were a bit hesitant at first, but quickly thought of someone who was important to their lives, and began scrawling handwritten notes on torn-out lined paper as quickly as they could. Some of them even wrote 3 or 4 letters. I was in a whirlwind of kids asking if they could run to another class to give it to a friend, or a teacher, or if I could mail it for them, to someone important (Which I did, I promise!).

But I always tell my students I’ve got to “put my money where my mouth is” and be willing to do any of the tasks I assign to them. I reached out to a friend I actually talk to very regularly, and let him know these things, how great of a friend he is, and how lucky I am to have him. He took a while to reply, but eventually told me he had a very difficult day at work, and Valentine’s Day usually reminds him of loneliness. He told me how much that simple message, that took me about 30 seconds to write, meant to him, and how it completely turned his day around and turned it into something special. Now, I’m not trying to make a case for Valentine’s Day; I’m well aware that many people are averse to it, I mean, I do teach High School, after all! What I do want to make a case for, though, is exactly what the author states. If you love someone in your life, or even just appreciate them, because they bring something special, let them know. Even if it seems trivial, or you think they won’t care, or even if they react like they don’t, they really do care. Your gestures to reach out to someone could mean the world to them, can give them the strength to carry on, and can put the biggest smile on their face. Whatever it is you choose to do, or who you choose to be there for, just always try to put aside all the busy-ness of life, and remind the people you care for why they’re important, and be the light in their world, even if just for a day.

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, new baby daughter and two dogs.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Judgment: An Act of Love or Condemnation?

Post by: Reid Lester

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday on the same day, I’ve been spending the week thinking about both how we love each other and how we repent from our sins. These two important days have always made me feel very different emotions. Love and bliss are the focus of Valentine’s Day, while repentance and sacrifice are the focus of Ash Wednesday. It made me wonder, is there is an intersection between love and repentance?

Whenever I think about repentance, it makes me think about judgment. I’ve always been more comfortable than most with the idea of judgment. Perhaps it’s because my job outside of church is as a professional sports official. I get paid to make hundreds of judgments every night on both actions and intentions.

Where it gets difficult for me (and I think we need to be careful) is when we judge another person’s intentions. It has been famously said that we often judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their actions. That being said, I believe it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to repent from our sins if we don’t know about our sin. I believe the Holy Spirit brings us conviction and helps us realize that we are sinning, but I also believe the Holy Spirit speaks through spiritual leaders and those we trust to point out the areas in which we are missing the mark.

This past week I read an interesting blog about judgment vs feeling welcomed. It started off saying,

“It was decided some decades ago that no one must ever feel uncomfortable, guilty, or, worst of all, judged. They especially must not feel this way at church. Church is a place where all must be welcomed, we’re told.”

The point of the blog is that we as Christians would rather feel comfortable as we continue down the destructive path of sin, than have someone point out our sin and make us feel uncomfortable, even though that revelation would give us a chance to correct our behavior and grow in our relationship with God.

Since a big part of my job is making sure everyone feels welcome at our church, I was intrigued, and I had to read the rest of the blog. I didn’t agree with everything in the article, but it did raise some interesting questions about how we in modern society feel about judgment.

I struggled a little with how we define judgment, the motivation behind judgment, and how that correlates to our relationship with other Christians. Judgment can be defined as “to distinguish or to decide.” “The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.” We all make hundreds of judgments every day. We make judgments about what we eat, how we spend our time, what we wear, and who we listen to.

So what is the motivation behind judgment? Does judgment equal condemnation, or are we able to separate the two? I believe equating judgment with condemnation is why people have a visceral reaction to judgment. After the Gospels, the majority of the New Testament is made up of spiritual leaders offering judgment and corrective feedback to followers of Christ and their churches. Can we as Christians get over our discomfort around judgment and be able to both offer and receive judgment understanding love is the motivation.

As parents, you have to lead your children in the understanding of what is right and wrong. You must judge their behavior and give corrective feedback. This is done to make them better people as they grow up.

The new language heard in churches across the nation on Sunday mornings goes something like this… “We just want to come along side you in your own personal journey. We don’t want to make you uncomfortable.” My personal belief is this language is unproductive and destructive. The blog went on to say,

“If I'm lost and moments away from walking over a cliff, I'd much prefer that you point me in the right direction than "accompany" me over the edge and "welcome" me to my demise and see that I am "included" at the morgue. That is all very polite, I guess, but your pleasant manners won't be much help to me when I'm a pancake. And what if I'm very lost? What if I'm distracted in my wandering, and obstinate, and arrogant, and unable to hear or unwilling to listen to your gentle reminders and subtle nudges? Well, then maybe you'll have to shout. Maybe you'll have to get in my face a little. Maybe, God forbid, you'll have to cast harsh judgments on my chosen path and make me feel bad and icky inside. If that's the only way to get my attention, I should be grateful that you took such a "harsh" and "judgmental" approach.”

I believe we as Christians need to be brave. I think of it a little like when I finally got up the courage to ask RuthAnn (now my wife) out on a date. I needed courage in the moment. There was a chance it could be awkward or that I might get rejected, but the possibility of building a relationship outweighed my fear. We need that same courage when we feel led to speak out.

In the Wednesday Word of the Day Pastor Ken talked about “wilderness.” Ken spoke about being brave and having the ability to speak out. He referenced BrenĂ© Brown’s new book Braving the Wilderness. In the book BrenĂ© shares a quote from another author about how difficult it can be to step out in the wilderness.

“Standing on the precipice of the wilderness is bone-chilling. Because belonging is so primal, so necessary, the threat of losing your tribe or going alone feels so terrifying as to keep most of us distanced from the wilderness our whole lives. Human approval is one of the most treasured idols, and the offering we must lay at its hungry feet is keeping others comfortable. I’m convinced that discomfort is the great deterrent of our generation.”

We are willing to sacrifice truth to fit in. We give up the courage in our desire to be accepted. Can you think of a time when you knew someone was making a mistake, but you were too afraid to say something? We need to follow the example of Jesus in John Chapter 8. When talking with the woman at the well and being fully aware of her sin, Jesus says “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus speaks to her from a place of love, while still addressing the fact that she needs to stop her sinful behavior.

Your willingness to say something might be what keeps someone from experiencing pain or tragedy. We need to step out of our comfort zone, step into the wilderness, and be willing to offer judgment and corrective feedback to those we care about. We need to care more about each other and our eternal salvation than about the possibility of making someone uncomfortable.

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.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Post by: Kyle Rasmussen 

Honestly, 2 weeks ago I had a completely different blog planned. I had an epic baseball-inspired reflection of faith that would have stoked discipleship (and spring fever) into all-out contagion.

God’s timing is perfect and mine is not, however. He comes along and demands a rewrite. Where I was stretching the ties of my faith to the love of baseball, He welded the core tenets of what it means to be a Christian to the events of the other week.

Most of you are probably well aware, January is Girl Scout cookie season. My daughter, Noellyn is a Brownie this year and going through her third season of cookie sales. She’s set lofty goals the past two years and even if she doesn’t meet them this year she’s blown last year’s impressive number out of the water already. When I’m walking the neighborhood with her, about 4 out of every 5 people who answer their door order cookies! Pretty sure you couldn’t sell free beer at that percentage here…

What’s mind-blowing to me is that about 80% of houses in the neighborhood also have some sort of “No Soliciting” sign on their front door. Honestly I always have this prepared speech in my head to potentially apologize to an irate home owner who challenges our literacy. I guess there’s a universal exception for Thin Mints within that mandate. Some people literally joked about their signs saying, “It should say ‘except for Girl Scouts selling cookies’ under there…”

But I wonder, behind our closed blinds and “No Soliciting” signs, how many of our neighbors are propelling themselves privately toward rock bottom? I heard an interview with journalist Sam Quinones this fall about his research into the opioid epidemic. He was amazed at how much of the root cause can be assigned to cultural issues within the US, not economic or political issues in the countries where most illegal drugs are manufactured. “We have destroyed community. We have exalted the private,” he says. We don’t even need shady drug dealers anymore, we’ve got doctors and pharmaceutical companies lining up to pass drugs legally into our hands to feed our addictions. And we drive in our $50,000 SUV to our million dollar suburban homes with perfectly manicured lawns to make it look to our neighbors like we’ve got the perfect life going; so whatever you’re selling, we’re not interested.

Jesus clearly had something to say about our neighbors and how we should think of them. Luke’s Gospel tells us that those who prefer to “cross to the other side of the road” and ignore our neighbors in need are disobeying God’s essential commandment. Jesus asks the lawyer, “Which of these three (the priest, Levite, or Samaritan), do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” (Luke 10:36-37 ESV)

So on a recent Monday evening, Noellyn walked up to a door a couple blocks from our house and rang the doorbell. She had already decided it was her last cookie sales pitch of the day as the sun was setting. An elderly woman (we’ll call her Mary) answered the door and was beyond delighted to have visitors. She claimed Noellyn and my wife, Jenn were the first walk-up visitors they’ve had in the 20 years they’ve lived in Centerville. Stop and let that wash over you for a minute: 20 years, no visitors at the door.

As Noellyn rolled her cookie pitch, Jenn could tell something wasn’t normal about this suburban house. Portable space heaters were being used in the living room. When Jenn asked about them, Mary disclosed that their furnace hadn’t been working for a couple weeks. Again, this is January, let that wash over you as well. They talked for the better part of 40 minutes (they were the first visitors in a long time after all) and then Jenn and Noellyn walked through the now dark evening back home.

I was working out of town and got a call from Jenn telling me about their encounter. We both pondered, “That’s really weird” but I could tell in Jenn’s voice this was moving her to action. Sure enough, the next day she called our pastor and told him about Mary. She asked if there were any programs he knew of that could help or if there was something we, as the church could do. Our church has an amazing and talented jack-of-all-trades handyman, Brian. He is usually less busy in the winter so an impromptu house call in January was no problem. Almost if scripted, Pastor Loren happened to be having lunch with Brian that day. Together, Jenn and Brian decided they would go to visit Mary in hopes that Brian could fix the furnace. Jenn perceived that Mary’s pride would try to keep them from helping, so they kept their visit unannounced.

So Wednesday they dropped in on Mary and found out that, in addition to no heat, their water had also been off for over a month. Mary’s husband had brought a plumber in to diagnose the problem, but he had left the water off and not returned. She was using any receptacle possible (bowls, empty detergent bottles) to catch the water from the still leaking pipe for use in cooking and cleaning. Let me just throw in the fact that the median household income in our city is over $82,000 and the median home value is north of $275,000. So why would anyone assume their neighbors would be living with no working heat or running water, right?

In no time, Brian had the thermostat and furnace switch fixed, and the furnace roared to life. A couple parts runs later, he had bypassed the surge tank (which was the cause of the leaks), getting the water running again. Again, I was still out of town, but knowing Brian I can only imagine that every time Mary thanked him he said, “Don’t thank me. I’m just being Jesus’s hands.” Brian invited Mary and her husband to church (offering a ride as well - Did I mention their car isn’t working right now too?)

Jenn called me later that afternoon and told me what had happened and started to fill in more details of Mary’s story. In self disclosure, I got pretty angry. Angry that in this Utah culture that espouses family, community, helping our neighbors, etc. was an elderly couple who were in dire straits lacking basic needs. “How stuck in self-righteousness do we need to be that either nobody took notice or nobody cared?” I thought to myself. “Are we so lost in our ‘doing’ that we forget what has been ‘done’ for us?”

Again, Jesus hits us head on in Matthew’s Gospel when it comes to what service looks like to our almighty King: “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matthew 25: 37-40 ESV) I fail miserably at this every day, though I’m continually trying to put my own needs on the shelf and look to others’ needs first. And I sincerely hope that someday in future (because I don’t think she gets it yet), Noellyn will realize that because she was selling cookies to pay for summer camp, she made sure an elderly couple got heat and running water back. Most importantly, she showed someone God’s love.

I think Jesus is telling us in Luke and Matthew, “Look, I know you don’t really like all your neighbors. I know you think you’re too busy and it looks like they’re probably fine. But I LOVE YOU, and I LOVE THEM, and I put YOU close to THEM to make sure they know ME.”

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.