Pastor's Blog
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June 13, 2016, 12:00 AM

Wrestling With Orlando....

So it’s happened again… this time, in Orlando Florida. A man claiming allegiance to Isis killed 50 people and wounded 53 more in a nightclub for gay persons called “Pulse.” He used a semiautomatic assault rifle and was also carrying a semiautomatic pistol, both capable of delivering multiple bullets in rapid succession. We have been where we are so many times in recent years. As sad as it is, we feel the pain more today because this most recent occurrence has happened here at home. Terrorist attacks that happen in places outside the U.S. often don’t make our radar screen in this world where violence seems to be standard operating procedure.

But I feel like this one is different, and not just because it happened on American soil. It seems different to me because several issues are involved. It’s more than simply the all too familiar story of radical terrorists killing people who don’t think like they do. Orlando is an example of that, but it’s more. The attack took place at a night club for gay persons, using an assault weapon that is generally relegated to the realm of soldiers and warfare. That brings not only terrorism into the spotlight; it also shines that light on the societal struggles of LGBTQI persons, and the debate over gun control.

I need to be brutally honest at this point: I am not sure how to feel as I write these words. I confess feeling like I’m being pulled in opposite directions. On the one hand, the patriot in me feels angry at this most recent terrorist attack and I want to strike back in kind. On the other hand, the Lord I follow calls me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. (Matthew 5:44) On the one hand, I know the passages in the Bible about homosexuality, particularly in Leviticus and Romans. On the other hand, I am keenly aware of the pain and heartache many gay persons experience at the hand of people who claim to be Christ followers – the One who said in Matthew 7, Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s[a] eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor,[b] ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s[c] eye.” On the one hand, I am a responsible gun owner who was taught early to respect firearms and use them lawfully. I was raised to understand and embrace the Second Amendment as a fundamental right of every American. On the other hand, I wrestle with why any American other than those who defend our nation needs access to weapons whose primary purpose is enemy annihilation. And then there’s this Jesus who said,  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also…” (Matthew 5:39), and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Do you sense the tension? Do you feel it too?

Guess I’m not really sure what I want to say at this point. I guess I simply want to name the struggle going on inside of me, believing it’s probably going on in others as well. The world we live in is a complicated place, and I’m discovering answers to the challenges our society faces are not as easy or simple as some persons and groups suggest. We must always stand for truth as Jesus articulates it – but we must stand for it in the way he prescribes we should live – the way of love: “34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35) And I recognize THAT, too, is a complicated thing. In this complicated world, what does it mean to love as Jesus loves?

One thing I am sure of: God is not finished with us – with me – yet. God continues to reveal his heart and purpose with each breath, if we’ll pay attention. So I find myself praying a portion of Psalm 25 more and more these days: “Make me to know your ways, O Lord: teach me your paths.Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord! Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.”

Will you pray that with me? As always….

Keep Lookin’ Up!

Pastor David



Comments

06-23-2016 at 11:00 AM
ted
if i believe the word of GOD is truth, and it says , GODS word is the same yesterday,today and forever. that settells any argument for me. pilate asked JESUS what is truth. and he didn't relize he was looking at truth manifested in the flesh.
06-18-2016 at 11:43 AM
a concerned church member
Refreshing for a pastor to humanize the LGBTQI community, and not to hear the hypocritical phrase, "love the sinner, but hate the sin," which basically allows you to keep condemning the individual. Never been back to Sunday School because of the time the leader condemned gay people and basically told the class that they'd burn in hell if they didn't ask for "forgiveness." Our sign out back says, "Everyone Is Welcome," but if you were to ask each member of our congregation, would that still be true? If some members were to dare try to "love" a gay person, they might discover that being gay Is not a "lifestyle choice," or a willful disobedience to anyone, let alone our God. Many gay individuals are tortured inside over it, and it may drive them to commit suicide or kill many people (like in Orlando) because they or someone they love condemns what they know they can't change. The Orlando killer's father openly condemned homosexuality, and I'm wondering if Omar internalized this as a youth, and that this awareness of his own sexuality drove him to hate himself and others just like him so pathologically? There are LGBTQI individuals everywhere, including in our own church (gasp!), and their sexuality shouldn't be the barrier it is in loving that person unconditionally, just because of some ancient verses in the Bible, especially in the 21st century.
06-14-2016 at 11:21 AM
David Janz
Matt and Kevin - I appreciate both of your perspectives. It is a complicated time to be alive - and to follow Jesus. But by God's grace at work in each of us, we will find the way forward!
06-14-2016 at 8:23 AM
Matt Hayes
Please for give me, I'm not a good writer but I will try. I'm also still growing in my faith so these types of events become a consist struggle for me. We should love each other regardless of behavior. I heard that once on talking with the family radio show well driving in the car. It's a difficult topic to understand and apply in everyday life. How hard is it to love someone when you don't agree with their lifestyle choices? Let me tell you what it's difficult. So in my opinion it was just another night club that was sadly terrorized. The people involved where still just like you and me and they need help and guidance. It's a hard pill to swallow but these are the trying times that really shows what type of people we are and can be.

I'm a patriot. This is the greatest country on the face of the earth. Religion drove it from its infant stages to something great. It does seem like these days it has started to lose its way. Firearms are not terrible killing machines, but in the wrong hands they become a tool for such purpose. Does everyone need a firearm, no, but is it your right as a citizen of this great nation to go buy one, yes. It's that simply. God has give us a blessing and curse of choice. In life we face choices every day and with those choices come those consequences.

Firearms and location are not the issues at hand. It's the action of one, who brought terror to this country. The question is are we as a country going to be able to look past the fact that the terror event took place at a gay night club with a assault weapon. And focus on the needs of a country who has seemed to stumble.

I just feel like I'm rambling on and way off topic now. I hope someone can read this and understand my thoughts.

Sorry for any poor grammar.
06-13-2016 at 9:29 PM
Kevin Garmong
Well can a Christian be a Patriot? What is the second amendment for? What is a well armed militia? Could America ever become a dictatorship? Was the Holocaust real?Should diesel fuel and fertilizer be banned? Should we be thankful that the Orlando psycho didn't choose these weapons? All questions to ponder while contemplating denying my right to own the firearms of my choice as a law abiding citizen who (God forbid) could have to take part in a well armed militia...God bless you brother, I love your heart but can't go along with this.
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May 24, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Tribute to Silas...

My family and I moved to Franklin in June of 2007. One of the great joys of living and being in ministry here is that we get to share the journey with people like Sam and Kim Wagner. Not to long after we moved in, Sam and Kim invited us to dinner at their place in Tionesta. We ascended the driveway to their farm, parked the car, and the minute we opened the door we were greeted by a black lab with tail wagging and tongue hanging out the side of the mouth panting. You've probably seen a pooch like that before - one that simply is in love with life. That was our introduction to Silas. As the night wore on, Silas was always around, looking for food or joining the conversation or just plopping down on your feet for a little attention. On  subsequent trips to "the farm" Silas was either right there in the middle of things, or he made an appearance sometime during the visit having been busy running the hillsides visiting with other "friends" at other farms. Seeing Silas became something I looked forward to when we were invited to partake of Wagner hospitality. 

This past Sunday, almost nine years later, at the ripe old age of 14 and a half, Silas crossed the Rainbow Bridge. The farm won't quite be the same without him there - for those of us who visit once in a while - more profoundly for Sam and Kim who's lives were filled with joy everyday just because he was around. In a Facebook tribute to Silas this week, Kim described him this way: "for Silas, every day was the best day ever." What a marvelous thought - what a powerful lesson from a four legged member of their family. It's so easy sometimes to get caught up in the negativity of life. Circumstances can turn us sour, stories of violence and hatred in the world can drag us down, the media's hype can make us think the world will end by sun down. We all need a Silas, seems to me, to remind us to simply recognize the wonder and joy of being alive in this extraordinary place called God's world. We can all be a "Silas" to others by living in ways that help them see the joy of living in relationship with Jesus - the One who came, died, was raised and lives now in the power of the Holy Spirit to give us life in abundance. 

A big black spaniel mix lives with me. Her name is Emma Rose. No matter how challenging the day has been, no matter what I feel like physically, no matter how negative the diatribe on the TV seems to be, when I look at her, a smile comes to my face and "my heart is strangely warmed." I think there's a little Silas in Emma Rose. 

Oh yeah....... remember, DOG is GOD spelled backwards...... just sayin'....

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

05-25-2016 at 9:19 AM
Jane Hoover
Beautiful tribute to a beloved pet.....

05-25-2016 at 6:51 AM
Marie Cozad
What a blessing that Silas walked along side of Kim and Sam for all these years tending the farm and watching over Bethany and Matt.
05-25-2016 at 4:46 AM
Ron and Christine Groeger
Amen! Ours is named Tinker Bell (because as Ron said when we brought our girl home from a shelter after being rescued from a puppy mill, she is "here one moment and gone the next"!) We have often wanted to bring her into church and where she could sit with Ron in the pew, instead of waiting in the car.
05-24-2016 at 11:01 PM
Karen McGowan
This is so beautiful. I've only had the pleasure of being at Sam and Kim's beautiful house a few times , but am so glad to have had the pleasure of their company and hospitality and being greeted by Silas. He was such a great wonderful part of their family. Remember all the good times with him and may God bless you during this sad time ! 💜 R.I.P. In doggie heaven Silas !
05-24-2016 at 10:42 PM
Diane Hayes
I, too, saw such powerful spiritual insight living from Kim's descriptive reference to their 'boys' daily reflection of his contentment/satisfaction with each day's experiences. To now read your beautiful addition and connection is so fulfilling for me as I can sense your deep relationship not only w/ Sam & Kim, but with our Lord & Savior and all His gifts of love - even our family pets. Silly me, I have had thoughts over the past 14 years of our Speckel - "wish she could sit in the pew w/ us instead of waiting in the car!" God Bless you all. Hope to see you in August.
05-24-2016 at 8:32 PM
Lea Guiney
Amen! Mine is named Shadow!
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May 11, 2016, 12:00 AM

The Story is Still Being Written...

Last night my son called to tell me about his day. He started a new job yesterday - the kind of job Betsy and I have been hoping and praying he'd get for a long time. He has had his ups and downs during the last decade, but he has persevered and worked hard and now life is in a much better place than it has been for him. This coming Monday - May 16 - he will celebrate 48 months sober. I am more proud of him than I can say. He will be 29 this coming December. Some people are married with children and careers by the time they reach 29. Ben was 3 years old and I had been preaching 7 years by the time I turned 29. But every person’s journey is different. We cannot use our individual stories to judge the correctness or authenticity of someone else’s journey. Our task as parents and as disciples is to do our best to point children and others to the God who has a plan for their lives, then trust God to work in and through choices and circumstances to bring that plan to fruition in his time and way. The way God has used Ben’s journey to shape me as a person and pastor calls forth deep gratitude and praise from my spirit.

 

I am so grateful that God doesn't easily give up on any of us. God allows us to make choices on our own - some of them in direct opposition to what he envisions for us. But he always finds a way to work with and within those choices to steer us back to his path for our lives, giving us the opportunity to make different choices than the ones we made before. Not long ago I was attending a continuing education event where my colleague Eric Raygor led the opening devotions. He referenced the way the book of Acts concludes “open ended” - as if there is more yet to come. Then Eric said, “The truth about Christianity is that the story is still being written.” There is good news in that statement, seems to me. If the story is still being written, God remains actively creative in your life, in my life, and in the story of the world we're living in, no matter how challenging or negative life may happen to be at any given moment. My son’s journey is real life testimony to that truth - thanks be to God!

 

One more quote from my friend Eric - from the prayer he closed his devotions with: “May your story continue to be written in the pages of our lives.” Amen,Eric……...Amen.

 

Keep lookin’ up, sisters and brothers!

Pastor D.



Comments

05-12-2016 at 8:13 PM
Colleen Holtz
Profound words I absolutely relate to.
05-12-2016 at 9:01 AM
Marie Cozad
Wonderful news of a job. Praying he will have wonderful work friends.
05-11-2016 at 11:01 PM
Becky Brammell
So happy for Ben and for you as his parents. What a great sentiment, 'that the story is still being written'.
05-11-2016 at 8:21 PM
Robyn Ohmer
Resignates with me,Pastor. Close to a detour but God nudged me just in time.
05-11-2016 at 7:55 PM
Jenny Lehman
Thank you for sharing!
05-11-2016 at 10:41 AM
Doug Burns
Well said
05-11-2016 at 9:39 AM
Susan Reitz
Thank you so much. You always say just what my spirit needs to hear. Miss Christ Church and your wisdom.
05-11-2016 at 8:08 AM
Elaine Davison
Praising God for Ben's journey and for God's love and faithfulness. You're always in my thoughts and prayers, my friend.
05-11-2016 at 7:29 AM
Christy Doody
Love, love, love this! Miss you!
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April 25, 2016, 12:00 AM

"Prince" Reflections...

So… on my wife Betsy’s birthday – April 21, 2016 – musician and pop superstar Prince died. Tributes celebrating his music and life have been shared in multiple ways and places all across the globe. The balloons and flowers and various other expressions of grief outside his Paisley Park compound rival the tribute in Brussels after the bombings there. An all-night “block party” where thousands danced and sang to Prince tunes occurred in downtown Minneapolis. Saturday Night Live over the weekend devoted the entire episode to remembering the times he appeared as a guest on the show. Bruce Springsteen opened a weekend concert with a rendering of “Purple Rain.” Many people have lamented the star’s untimely death, recalling the place his music and performances had in their younger years. A whole new generation of fans for whom Prince is a current musical giant have shared words of shock and disbelief about his death on social media. The Minnesota Wild held a moment of silence to remember him at their hockey playoff game on Sunday night. And Minnesota state senator Karin Housley has introduced a measure to make purple the official color of the state in honor of the musical legend.

That being said, I confess Prince was never a part of my musical experience. From the snippets of his songs and guitar performances I’ve heard over the years, there can be no debate that he was an extraordinary musician. I grieve with those who engage his music the same ways I engaged the music of Simon and Garfunkel and Chicago and Billy Joel and ZZ Top and Maynard Ferguson and Chuck Mangione – among many others.

I say all of that so you’ll know the place I’m coming from when I say what I’m about to say. It is not meant to disparage Prince, his music or his legacy in any way. But the overwhelming attention his death has received causes me to ponder this, once again: I wonder when we as a people will care about the plight of the hungry and the poor and the suffering to the same degree we care about the death of a multi-millionaire celebrity? The death of celebrities and sports figures and media heroes certainly are as grief filled and sorrow producing as any other person’s death. But why do we focus so much on them when multiple children die every day because they lack simple things like clean water and a meal more often than once a week? When will we mourn for those children in the same overwhelming ways we mourn for our celebrities?

Guess I don’t have any answers to these questions – but I’ve sure been thinking about them again since last Thursday……as the nation – indeed, the world - takes on a purple hue……..

Pondering…………

Pastor David

PS – These thoughts brought to mind a song written by Kurt Bestor a few years ago reflecting on the ethnic cleansing going on in the former Yugoslavia at the time. It’s been used to reflect on other events as well, such as the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Interestingly, it’s called “Prayer for the Children.” Check it out here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BI6SlqIUG4s&list=RDBI6SlqIUG4s#t=17



Comments

04-26-2016 at 3:25 PM
Pat Mann
I may be "old fashioned;" but, to me there are no "super heroes" other than my Lord Jesus Christ. I think it's all about where one is in life "Fans or Followers!" Now remember, this is me, and not tearing anyone down. Love ya'll ;)
04-25-2016 at 8:40 PM
Anne Bakker
I am one of the many who has actually been in mourning over this man's death. To me, his music, his personna, his gifts were unmatched by today's "musicians", and he did so much good in the world that the average person is unaware becasue he was such a humble, solitary person. He represents, to me, a period in my life that was joyful, new, and beautiful, and I will forever think fondly of those times when I hear his music. I, too, am a champion for the hungry and the poor, and do my part to the best of my ability and my finances through my work and my personal life, but I don't see mourning his life as less than or greater than those precious lives that are lost daily. I guess it comes down to what one relates to most easily....when put that way, it is sad that we don't place balloons at every death site or lay teddy bears at the feet of starved children.....I personally felt a loss this past week that surprised me...but I felt much the same way three weeks ago over the death of an AF Commander at the hand of another Airman....it's all in what we know, and how close we are to the experience, I think. Thanks for such a thought provoking message!
04-25-2016 at 8:29 PM
Colleen Holtz
Good words to ponder. It has always bothered me that we, as a nation, can still have children going to bed hungry or in need of a bed.
04-25-2016 at 7:59 PM
David Janz
Good observations, Sue. Not questioning Prince's motivation or contributions at all. Just find it interesting how we as a society respond to things as we do. Thanks for the conversation!
04-25-2016 at 7:48 PM
Ray Jones
Our value-system is a mess. I'm not saying we cannot appreciate musicians & the talent they have... Same with athletes. They're larger than life... But look at what they make compared to teachers... Who really has more influence?
04-25-2016 at 7:42 PM
Susan Agin
Much like you, Prince was also very concerned about the plight of the poor and suffering. He donated millions of dollars to schools and shelters in his home state., He held concerts, whose sole purpose it was to raise money for uniforms and athletic equipment for inner-city schools. In the 1990's he became a devout Jehovah's Witness. We took our son, Justin to see prince in concert for his first concert. It was a rock concert with Prince and Shaka Khan. He sang a lot of his own original music and also gospel music. It was a tremendous contrast. He was an immensely private entertainer and a lot of the good he did went unnoticed by those who did not benefit from it. But much like the man who rescued the starfish after the storm, it made no difference to anyone other than those who were saved. To them though, it meant the world. We could all learn of loving our fellow people and humbling ourselves in the eyes of God from Prince Nelson.
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March 17, 2016, 12:00 AM

Smelling God....

Every Thursday at noon I have the joy of meeting with my Franklin United Methodist colleagues for lunch. During this time together we share the joys and the struggles of life and ministry, and then spend a few minutes praying for each other. Last week I shared the current state of my battle with spinal stenosis. It has been a rough few weeks filled with increasing amounts of pain and mobility challenges. In response to what I shared, my friend Gary asked if he could anoint me and pray. I gratefully said, “Absolutely!” So Gary opened his anointing oil and placed the sign of the cross on my forehead. Then my sister and brothers placed their hands on my head and prayed for God’s healing, strength and grace to touch my body. After praying for other needs, we each went our separate ways.

 

I went back to the church and as I got out of the car, I caught a whiff of the anointing oil still on my forehead. Immediately I was back in the prayer circle with my colleagues praying for me. I walked into my office and took off my coat, and the whole thing happened again. A short time later I walked into Amy’s office and yet again the aroma of prayers lifted surrounded me. This experience occurred several more times through the afternoon and into the evening. Each time I was reminded of God’s presence with me, that God cared for me, and that I was not alone on the journey – colleagues – sisters and brothers in Christ – were praying for me.

 

Can I suggest a real benefit of consistency in practicing the means of grace is a similar thing to my experience with the anointing oil? We don’t worship and pray and read scripture and serve others with others and practice generosity because some pastor somewhere told us we should. We don’t do those things to earn God’s presence and care for us. We engage those practices because they open the doors of our spirits so that God’s grace can flood into our lives. As a result, a scripture verse read in the morning, or a song sung during choir or praise team rehearsal, or the lingering words of a prayer offered on our behalf – they stay with us longer than a moment, like the fragrance of anointing oil on one’s forehead. Each time the verse or the song or the prayer surfaces during the day they bring with them reminders of God’s presence and care, and the fact that we are not alone on the journey. How often in your life has one day been a struggle because you neglected your time with God, while the next day has had strength and peace and calm of spirit because you took the time to open your spirit to God’s Spirit?

 

Think on these things, and remember…

 

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

03-20-2016 at 5:12 PM
Tish Way
How true it is that these simple things, a song, a prayer, a fragrance, a verse and others, bring us the reminder of God's presence with each minute of each day which we sometimes tend to forget in our daily busy world. These precious moments during the day are refreshing and are to be enjoyed. Thank you for this reminder, David.
03-17-2016 at 10:00 PM
Carolyn Bashore
Beautiful!! Thanks!!
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