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Blog entries categorized under Dan's Musings
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Dan's Musings

364 posts in this category
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 14 December 2018 Category Dan's Musings
"All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth."  That's what the child's voice sings in the playful Christmas song of the same name.  As I ran along the East River at sunrise in New York City last week (see picture at top), I found myself thinking- "Actually, I want so much more."  My front teeth are intact, for now, but the world's a hot mess.  Every day's news is depressing. Deception, random violence, manipulative leadership, injustice. 15,000 children held in immigratio...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 01 November 2018 Category Dan's Musings
The news came from the Peterson family on my day off, Monday October 22nd: “The lantern that has been burning brightly on the shore of Flathead Lake all last week—a sentinel witness to the life-light of Eugene H. Peterson—was extinguished today at 6:30 am Mountain Time.” It was no surprise. Eugene had been failing rapidly in the prior weeks. Besides being a pastor, prolific author, translator of The Message version of the Bible, and mentor to thousands of people- he was also a friend and mentor...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 19 October 2018 Category Dan's Musings
It’s October, fall, the World Series starts next week. As of this writing, my Dodgers still have a chance to be in it. Yes, I said MY Dodgers. If you think that’s bold for a SoCal transplant, you need to know a little about my childhood in Seattle.  When I was a kid, Seattle had no major league baseball team, but my older brother and I were baseball fanatics. And we shared a bedroom. We discovered that on certain evenings, if the wind were blowing just right and we stood on the bed close t...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 20 September 2018 Category Dan's Musings
I have a reputation for saying, praying and advising people to pay attention. And it’s true that I think much of our calling in Christ is summarized in those two words.  The thoughts undergirding that phrase are: God is present with us all the time, actively doing things in and around us and through other people all the time, meeting us in circumstances and unplanned events all the time, whether we notice it or not. How can we practice noticing?  Pay attention. It’s hard to take your ...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 06 September 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Here we go, friends. Kick-off Sunday, the choir returns, classes either continue or re-start, service times return to normal (830 and 11am), and off we go!  Let me point out two important items from this week- an opportunity and a goodbye.  Back-to-School.  It’s September, and even though my neighborhood LA Unified elementary school started in August, I can’t help but think of this as back-to-school time.  That phrase means something different for Hollywood Presbyterian this...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 10 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
(Maui, Hawaii)  It’s 3:45am, and we are in a beat-up rental car driving uphill. Up and up. Haleakala is the dormant volcano that dominates the topography of this beautiful island. Up and up. It’s pitch black, and our route takes us from four lane highway to two lane highway to two lane road to small country lane curving back and forth on switchbacks. Always up. Up and up. An hour later we enter the state park near the top, show them our pass and drive through more darkness until we find th...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 02 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
It was a gorgeous July evening in Seattle. The sun was setting over Puget Sound, ferriesglided silently from downtown to various islands and back, and it was warm. We were on vacation. One of my uncles from rural Idaho was in town too, so I took him to a Mariners baseball game at Safeco Field. We joined a large throng of people making their way from the waterfront, downtown and the pubs and restaurants around Pioneer Square. The closer we got to the stadium, the more people crowded onto the side...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 26 July 2018 Category Dan's Musings
You saw it or read about it last weekend- a car chase starting in Hollywood ended in Silver Lake with police and a suspect exchanging fire. After crashing, the suspect ran into the busy Trader Joe’s on Hyperion. The store manager was caught in the crossfire and died. Some of those who became hostages in the store escaped, others were released. Eventually the gunman, who had already shot his grandmother and kidnapped his girlfriend, surrendered and was taken into custody. The neighborhood went in...
epres
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Thursday, 05 July 2018 Category Dan's Musings
“…share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:12   This past week, I settled in to a place I’ll be staying for a bit while I find housing in LA. It’s a gift in so many ways… and it’s got some lighting issues.   Being in a new place always makes me a little panicky. My mind gets caught on corners it hasn’t gotten used to yet, my senses triggered by weird sounds and shadows that aren’t yet familiar. So, like I always do when I’m somewhere new, on my fir...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 10 May 2018 Category Dan's Musings
So here I am on the Oregon coast, a bit north of Yachats. It is the annual gathering of what I call the "young pastors group plus Dan." For the last nine years, this group has gathered with me for a couple of days to play, pray, worship and talk about pastoring. The youngest in the group is 38, the oldest (besides me) is 49. They pastor churches in Missoula MT, Grand Junction CO, Spokane WA, Tacoma WA, Aberdeen WA, Milwaukie OR and Petaluma CA. It is a privilege to be with a group of leaders who...
Dan Baumgartner
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Wednesday, 02 May 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Anne and I met up in Atwater on Monday after our morning runs, part of the normal day-off exercise routine.  As we sipped our coffee and chatted at a sidewalk table, two young moms with one child apiece approached from opposite directions.  I heard an excited shout, “There they are!” The moms obviously knew each other, gave hugs and started talking energetically... but I only had eyes for the kids. Little Person #1 (female, dark hair, 3-4 years old) suddenly became shy and stared with...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 06 April 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Whew. It feels like I’ve lived a couple months in the last week or two. A Maundy Thursday communion service. The Good Friday service in a full and darkening sanctuary with our friends from Reality LA Church. The Prayer Vigil in Wylie Chapel. Two lively Easter morning services. Add to that a bit of hosting Anne and I did, and Villanova triumphing in the NCAA basketball tournament...it was quite a week. So when our pastoral staff jumped in the van on Tuesday morning and headed out toward Venice B...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 25 January 2018 Category Dan's Musings
I read, I write and I speak quite a bit, so I guess it’s fair to say I’m a word person. I love words! I notice vocabulary, word usage and grammar. I also like discovering interesting words, which are usually long and rarely used ones. Sometimes, though, it’s the small words that make all the difference. On Monday I was sitting in the garden reading, and I turned to my daily Psalm. Since it was January 22nd, that meant Psalm 22. That’s the one Jesus quotes from the cross, “My God, my God, why ha...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 19 January 2018 Category Dan's Musings
I don’t know who said it, but I like it: “If you’re going to be a leader, be a reader!”  It’s not an encouragement to inactivity nor an invitation to hide oneself in a library. Rather, good leadership needs to be informed, challenged and aware- but also in touch with beauty and ideas. Wide and deep reading is critical for God’s people to live out faith, and navigate our world.             And so, twice a year I publish a six-month mee...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 05 January 2018 Category Dan's Musings
When my dad passed away at the end of October, it was clear that he did not want any kind of memorial service. So our family decided to wait until Christmas, when all the grandkids could be in Seattle, and have an informal “storytelling” time. On December 26th we jammed into my mom’s tiny living room- me and my two siblings and spouses, eight grandchildren (all college age and older), along with some of their spouses and fiances, and one of the great-grandchildren. With some of my dad’s favorite...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 17 November 2017 Category Dan's Musings
It was only Wednesday night, and already it had been a very full week of people, meetings and conference calls. As a ministry team meeting finished up in my office, I felt a bit of weariness creeping in. And then. And then one of our team members, about to close the time with prayer...sang. It was just one verse of “Amazing Grace,” in a beautiful acapella voice. So lovely. In fact, it was so lovely and pure that the weary feeling dropped off me and my heart lifted and I was ready to pray. Music...
Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 05 October 2017 Category Dan's Musings
I wish, desperately, that I could quit writing articles or speaking about topics like this- another senseless mass shooting in the United States. This time in Las Vegas. This time at a concert. We add it to the list that includes elementary schools, high schools, colleges, nightclubs, churches and workplaces. People who pull the triggers do so for reasons ranging from racism to mental illness to nationalism. Regardless of specifics, this weekend there are thousands of people missing loved ones r...
Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 29 September 2017 Category Dan's Musings
The word is out- the Hollywood Pres pastoral staff reads together regularly. This should come as no surprise, since most of our staff members do plenty of reading on their own. However, the current senior pastor thinks it is imperative that the team read together, widely, regularly and deeply- and then process things together. Accordingly, here is the July-December reading list for staff meetings (not including regular readings in scripture):   1)     John Calvin from In...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 10 August 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Recently I was dog sitting for a lovable chocolate lab. One morning I came out to the backyard with a peppy “you wanna go for a WALK!” while she was poking around in some bushes by the side of the pool. She jumped for joy, half-spun around with tail-wagging momentum, and promptly fell into the water.Under normal doggie circumstances, this would not be a problem, but this lab is not a swimmer. She started frantically scrabbling at the side of the pool, yelping and straining to get out where the w...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 03 August 2017 Category Dan's Musings
It was supposed to just be a night at a concert.    But we left feeling as if we had witnessed someone’s heart being broken, and then, very slowly, healed. It was excruciating and yet hauntingly beautiful. And it all happened in choral song at Disney Hall. Some of you will remember a number of years ago a lovely young lady who was part of the college department at Hollywood Pres whose name was Julie Lawrence. Julie met a young man named Tony Silvestri, and soon became Julie Silve...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 21 April 2017 Category Dan's Musings
You hear me talk a great deal about our “community” or “family.” I do so intentionally, because I think it is the growing edge for Hollywood Presbyterian right now. Community and family mean people. That is a very different image than referring to the church as an institution or organization. In the same way, I shy away from talking about where people attend or go to church, much preferring to think about being church. The former sounds like a building or event, the latter a gathering of people....
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 19 January 2017 Category Dan's Musings
One of the best things about following Jesus is that we never arrive at some destination, because we always have more to learn. I’m still learning about praying, and I hope that is always true. When I was discipled in faith as a young person, I was taught that an early morning prayer time on my knees was non-negotiable. This was THE way a person developed intimacy with God. This was the right time of day to pray. This was what spiritually mature people did.  Today, a morning quiet time con...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 21 January 2016 Category Dan's Musings
Recently I’ve been using a devotional based on Dallas Willard’s book Hearing God. The main topic is obvious from the title. We’ve all heard people who frequently say “Well, God told me that...”  or “I heard God say...” Sometimes it seems credible, sometimes it doesn’t. I have had any number of experiences in my life when I felt like God has communicated with me directly, particularly in key decision moments. I’m very grateful for that. And like Willard, I have often assumed when someone com...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 28 August 2015 Category Dan's Musings
5:30AM.  We definitely live in the city- there is an active bar down the block, a busy auto body shop at the bottom of the hill, an elementary school across the street and lots of apartments in the neighborhood.  5:30AM. The sound that wakes me up comes from none of these places, nor is it my alarm clock.  It is a rooster. Crowing. Four million people in Los Angeles proper, cars and freeways and cement everywhere and I am roused from sleep by a rooster. It started about two weeks ...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 20 August 2015 Category Dan's Musings
Imagine this: four hundred people from Presbyterian (PCUSA) churches around the country spending three days together in worship, prayer, fellowship, teaching and talking about the mission of Christ in the world. Imagine this gathering NOT being about the struggling denomination or sexuality questions or political posturing. If you can imagine this, then you know what I have been doing in San Diego this week.  I am here along with FPCH elders Linda Garberson and Dan Nichols, and staffer J...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 13 August 2015 Category Dan's Musings
Pastor Dan and Anne are at the beach for a few vacation days. He sent us this picture, and one of his favorite poems about God's creation. John Leax is a retired professor and poet-in-residence at Houghton College in Western New York. my delight,                  by John Leax   Though you have made the earth for your delight, I walk your woods and find in hemlock, pine and poplar shelter from the burning of y...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 16 October 2014 Category Dan's Musings
            Greetings to you, Hollywood Pres!  This final sabbatical update is coming to you from the east coast.  We spent last week in the Cambridge/Harvard area, including several runs along the Charles River near Harvard and MIT (I think I’ve gotten smarter just by osmosis).  We visited museums and art galleries, attended a lecture, absorbed some of our nation’s history, and connected with a few of Anne’s grad school classmates. We also drove...
Mike Mccauley
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Wednesday, 15 October 2014 Category Dan's Musings
by Dan Nichols   My father was a numbers guy while my mother is a word person, having once taught math and English, respectively.  I’m grateful I received from them an interest and aptitude for both, as well as a passion for teaching.  Since joining session last year, I’ve wanted to put my gifting to use.  I recently had the privilege of teaching for the Partners in Christ Sunday School class and greatly enjoyed relating some of what I’ve learned through my love for languag...
Courtney Moore
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Friday, 08 August 2014 Category Dan's Musings
I spend a lot of time thinking about the Kingdom of God. I think about what it is, how we live in the now-but-not-yet-ness of its coming, how we are called into it and how, exactly, to convey that to children and families. I think about the way Jesus takes our human understandings and messes them all up. And when I think of the jumbling, reversing, upside-down nature of God's Kingdom, I instantly think of the way my mom sees the world.   My mom has dyslexia. Severe dyslexia. Words, sentence...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 14 February 2014 Category Dan's Musings
Last spring I stood before the Presbytery of the Pacific to be examined as a candidate for ordination.  This was a big day, and I felt it.  I knew I could be asked anything.  Anything.  One pastor asked me in so many words “Why Hollywood?”  Another pastor asked me about self-care.  Then, one gentleman who happened to be African-American, stood up and spoke with passion in his voice.  With visible concern, he asked me what I would do to help further race relatio...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 25 July 2013 Category Dan's Musings
I love to drive. Seriously. I especially enjoy driving long distances across the state or country, seeing different things and feeling the wide open horizon in front of me. It makes me realize how small I am and, if I’m alone, I have quiet time to reflect.  Love it.  So last Sunday after church I hopped in the car and drove over to Phoenix. It took roughly 5 ½ hours.  My covenant group from seminary days gathered there for our annual study leave retreat. What is a covenant group?...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 31 May 2013 Category Dan's Musings
It was just a regular Session meeting.  At last Tuesday’s gathering, elders and staff did what they often do- they prayed together.  At one point they met in groups of three to pray for one another, and for the needs of our Hollywood Pres community. The low voices, the hum of prayer rose up like a fragrant offering to God.  It was beautiful. This is a place our community shines- in prayer. Prayer lists, prayer walks, prayer vigils, prayers in worship, prayers in staff meetings, pr...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 24 May 2013 Category Dan's Musings
I’m watching our college-age daughter get ready for an exciting summer.  She is majoring in Spanish, and she will spend two months studying and working in Spain.  Between the airline restrictions, her housing situation and the sheer logistics of traveling, she is extremely limited as to what she can take on the trip.  Everything that goes in the suitcase is preceded by a couple of questions:  Is this really important?  Can I do without it?     It wouldn’t ...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 03 May 2013 Category Dan's Musings
Sometimes we just have to slow down.  Maybe even stop.  Last week Anne and I took a very quick trip to the east coast to spend time with two of our kids.  Scrambling to get everything done at work, I was a little out of breath by the time we boarded a Wednesday morning flight out of Burbank.      Our youngest child, daughter Dana, attends college in Madison, New Jersey, just an hour out of New York City.  Since Dana had classes on Thursday after lunch, Anne ...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 25 April 2013 Category Dan's Musings
It is campaign time in Los Angeles.  The mayoral race is up for grabs, the automated voice phone calls are flying in, augmented by the obligatory flyers, tweets, and television.  Endorsements are lining up.  Accusations are flying about which achievements are overstated and whose past mistakes are more appalling.  Yep, it's election time.  I find myself strangely conflicted during such times.  On the one hand, I think it is very important for us to be engaged in the...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 12 April 2013 Category Dan's Musings
After church last Sunday Anne and I threw the bikes on the back of the car, and drove out to Santa Monica for a quick 24-hour getaway.  When we walked back to the hotel from dinner there was a stunning sunset, the soft orange glow laying gently across the beach and water.  That night on the news the weatherman talked about an LA “wind event” for the next day.  I think they used to call those windstorms, but now they are apparently “events.”  Anyway, he was right on the button...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 01 March 2013 Category Dan's Musings
            Allow me a moment of unadulterated nostalgia.  I think I have it coming.  Our youngest child, daughter Dana, turns 21 on Sunday.  Repeat- our YOUNGEST child is turning 21.  I have all sorts of thoughts and feelings about this.  One is, of course, I am immensely proud of Dana and could easily fill a column with what a great young woman she is, how she has grown up so much in her first three years of colleg...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 08 February 2013 Category Dan's Musings
     “The Annual Meeting of the Congregation.”  For most Presbyterian churches, those words are enough to send shivers up the collective spine. It is a requirement in the By-Laws and the Book of Order, therefore it must be endured, carried out and persevered through. Grit your teeth and get it done.         But something happened on Sunday January 27th.  For the third year in a row, we had a different kind of Annual Meeting.  It ...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 31 January 2013 Category Dan's Musings
I thought it would be just a hike.  It turned out to be much more. This past Saturday, I took our dog Ella on a  hike in the hills above Hollywood, just a couple of miles northeast of our church campus.  Just a chance to exercise myself and our faithful Labrador.    But it seems God had more in mind.  That morning hike turned out to be an epiphany of sorts for me.  As Pastor Dan is taking some time off, he asked me to share my hiking reflections with you.&n...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 09 November 2012 Category Dan's Musings
I love poetry, but I don’t really consider myself a poet.  Oh sure, occasionally the muse strikes me and I scribble something down on paper- almost always near Good Friday, and maybe a few other times a year. But those are pretty fleeting, nothing like Hollywood Presbyterian’s Jack Kerr who practically thinks in couplets.  I’ve never had any training nor worked seriously at writing poetry, but I do enjoy reading it.             ...
Mike Mccauley
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Thursday, 02 August 2012 Category Dan's Musings
What says “summer” like a family reunion? Every few years, my parents, Leonard and Celestine, make a summer trip to spend time with our extended families in cities hotter and more humid than Los Angeles. This year, the Holman Reunion (my mom’s side of the family) was held in Lufkin and Houston, Texas. The Westbrooks Reunion was held in Chicago. That’s my dad’s side – Westbrooks, by way of the Olives and Browns from Mississippi. My folks got back into town about a week ago and after a few...
Mike Mccauley
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Friday, 24 June 2011 Category Dan's Musings
Pastor Dan’s Musings June 24, 2011 In June of 2008 I was privileged to participate in a small seminar called Writing and the Pastoral Life, with Eugene Peterson.  It was held at the Collegeville Institute, located on the campus of St. John’s College in rural Collegeville, MN.  There is an active Benedictine Abbey there and we were invited to participate in the community life, including the regular times of worship.  The following is a reflection I wrote later that mon...
Mike Mccauley
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Tuesday, 17 May 2011 Category Dan's Musings
Last Monday (my sabbath, and day off), Anne and I went to “Art in the Streets,” a huge exhibit of graffiti and urban art at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in Little Tokyo.  Wow.  It was a fascinating array of the mainly youth-driven street art scene around the country and world.  I learned a lot.  It provoked some rich conversation between Anne and I over what art is really about, the uses and abuses of private or public property, the imposition of one person’s ex...
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