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Dan's Musings

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

Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 11 October 2018 Category Dan's Musings
So, it’s October. Haunted houses spring up on empty lots. Pumpkins appear in stores. It is fall, and this week for the first time- I felt it. It’s harder to notice in Southern California. Just hints, really. The darker mornings. A bit of cooler breeze earlier in the evening. The quicker sunset. The grapevines on the garden fence actually showing a few colors.  Ernest Hemingway once wrote a eulogy for a friend, which some people speculate may have been for himself as well:    ...
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Thursday, 04 October 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Jesus is the answer!  Yes!  But it is increasingly important for followers of Jesus to reflect on this: What is the question?  The culture we live in today is not the same as it was 100 years ago. Or 50. Or 25. Or 10. There is  a certain resistance to faith- and particularly to faith in Christ.  Some days it seems as though holding absolutely any belief is okay, as long as it is not believing in Jesus. Additionally, people in our culture often resist anything that feels ...
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Friday, 28 September 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Hopefully you know by now that every topic for this weekly column reflects a work-in-progress. It’s not deep research or polished treatise. The title tells the truth: Musing. Rumination. Pondering. Reflection. Wondering. Recently I’ve been chewing on this: Has the word “evangelical” been ruined?  To be clear- I’m far from the first person from the evangelical tradition to wonder about this- books have been written, articles submitted, blogposts shared. The issue is that evangelical is per...
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Friday, 14 September 2018 Category Dan's Musings
 “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you!”  Satchell Paige, the old Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, is credited with this sage piece of advice.  There’s some real wisdom here.  We have to look ahead, concerned with what God is putting in front of us and choosing the right route for the future. We can’t be stuck in the past. At the same time, however, we NEED to look back. Not in fear that something is chasing us, but to honor people who have mentored us, and learn ...
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Friday, 31 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Despite the fact that one can earn a graduate degree or PhD in Homiletics, preaching is more art than science. It is more mystery than formula. It is more Holy Spirit lighting up scripture than an entertaining public speaker. I’ve preached regularly, nearly weekly, for about 20 years now. I’ve figured out a few things over time, but mostly I’m still in awe over the mystery part. How is it that God can speak to the heart of a long-time Christian who has studied the bible for decades, a friend liv...
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Friday, 24 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
“Have you ever done a blessing for an apartment building?”  The question from our friends who own such a facility here in Los Angeles, made me stop and think. Nope. I’ve done pastoral blessings over homes in Seattle and L.A. and Minneapolis. I once did a blessing over a restaurant in North Hollywood, but never exactly an apartment building. “Would you be willing to?”  Yes, of course. So, Wednesday morning Anne and I showed up at the building owned by our friends. A small group of peop...
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Thursday, 16 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Was it in my business years, trying to futilely juggle being a dad, husband, church elder, businessperson, family member and friend? Or was it in my first year of ministry, listening to someone pour out a heartbreaking situation in their life, and realizing there was nothing I could do to fix it?  At some point, I realized life is messy. It just is. I suspect you are like me. I have spent a great deal of effort trying to perfectly balance my time, clean-up messes, control outcomes and fix p...
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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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