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Dan's Musings

Latest thoughts from First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood Pastor, Dan Baumgartner

Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 29 June 2018 Category Dan's Musings
I’ve been reading Proverbs this month, that pithy and sometimes profound list of wisdom sayings that follows the book of Psalms.  I tripped over Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Guard your heart.  That could mean don’t slide down the slippery slope to bitterness. If we have been hurt by other people, betrayed in some way, it is easy to sip the cup of resentment. If we have been wronged by family, boss, company or an unjust system,...
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Thursday, 21 June 2018 Category Dan's Musings
For the twenty-second consecutive year, my covenant group from seminary met this week for our annual gathering. Our location changes every year- the main criteria is free rent. We've met in Scottsdale, Seattle, Whidbey Island, Los Angeles, Chattanooga and this year, San Diego. One friend's parents were on vacation, so we snagged their house. Due to unforeseen circumstances I had to cut my stay short, so I had only 30 hours. Here's what it looked like from a stream of consciousness standpoint: &...
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Friday, 15 June 2018 Category Dan's Musings
I was grabbed recently by Frederick Buechner writing this in his book Wishful Thinking: “Only God is holy, just as only people are human. God’s holiness is God’s goodness. To speak of anything else as holy is to say that it has something of God’s mark upon it. Times, places, things, and people can all be holy, and when they are, they are usually not hard to recognize.”  It’s the places I have been thinking about. Places like...a hospital room. Wednesday night after several meetings I drove...
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Friday, 08 June 2018 Category Dan's Musings
The leadership teams of Hollywood Pres were busy last weekend.  Session had its Elders Retreat Friday night and all-day Saturday. The Deacons retreated in the Mears Center on Sunday afternoon. In both settings, we spent time talking about...the Church. And our church. Of course we did. These were times for our leaders to revisit or think deeply about what kind of community God is calling us to be.  Between the two settings, we read several scripture texts, looked at our Vision Stateme...
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Thursday, 31 May 2018 Category Dan's Musings
I am increasingly appreciative of the value of things being done well over a long period of time. When Eugene Peterson wrote his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, he borrowed the title from an unlikely source- the atheist (debatable, perhaps) philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Peterson’s book is a reflection on Psalms 120-134. The title helps me remember that God often meets us in the ordinary, as we persistently follow him through various situations and seasons of life. The truth is, t...
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Friday, 25 May 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Once upon a time. That’s the classic way to begin a story, at least the fairy tale type. Once upon a time...something happened.  Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea that every one of us is living out a story. Our lives have beginnings, they have characters and plots and surprises and twists and turns and, of course, endings. It is true for every single one of us.  One of my favorite things about being a pastor is that I get to hear the stories of people’s lives. When I sit down w...
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Thursday, 17 May 2018 Category Dan's Musings
It’s funny how we can utterly ruin good words by distorting their meaning or just plain overuse. Our Christian vocabulary is littered with the corpses of words that have become so cliché as to seem meaningless. But oddly enough, one word we use quite a bit still retains something of its original power-  grace. Even the derivative words like graceful or gracious conjure up immediate images of beauty, gentleness or favor. Certainly, when grace is held in theologically adept hands like those ...
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Friday, 27 April 2018 Category Dan's Musings
The title sounds like a tabloid headline near the grocery store check-out stand, doesn’t it?  But that’s not what I’m thinking about.  On Tuesday night our elders and staff met for our monthly Session meeting. As I plan the agendas for those meetings, the goal is to spend roughly half our time on “business”- looking at finances, talking about property issues, approving baptisms, hearing ministry updates. The other half is for what I call “content”- times for prayer, small group discuss...
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Friday, 20 April 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Anne and I hit a milestone this week- Wednesday the 18th of April marked the 43rd anniversary of our FIRST DATE!  We were sophomores in high school, and through the wily manipulation of a mutual friend, we ended up going to the Spring Barn Dance together. Yes, we both lived in urban Seattle, but the dance had a "barn" theme.  Go figure.  We both wore jeans and checkered shirts. The picture shows us standing awkwardly (we hardly knew each other) in front of a bale of hay, and me ho...
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Thursday, 12 April 2018 Category Dan's Musings
“Mom, I’m alive. Come pick me up.”  That message was the joyful finale to a story which began on Easter afternoon in Griffith Park. I told it at the Lord’s Lighthouse on Sunday.  Some kids were playing in the park, managed to enter an area that was fenced off and climbed onto the roof of an off-limits old maintenance building. Thirteen-year old Jesse Hernandez was jumping on some boards covering a large pipe when they gave way, and he fell twenty-five feet down into a large sewer syst...
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