Pastor's Blog
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January 13, 2015, 8:00 PM

I'm Still Here.........

It's hard to believe almost a month has passed since I wrote one of these. The last one was 12/15/14 - my son's 27th birthday. In the time that has elapsed between then and now, the flu - in multple mutations - has descended upon the Franklin community, and the Janz household.  Christmas has come and gone, including wonderful Christmas Eve celebrations. 2015 has arrived and we are almost half way through month number one. And after a fairly mild and snow-less December, the white stuff and the sub-zero temps have made their presence known significanly in these early days of January.

During this passage of time many other things have happened that I don't have room to mention here - as well as a number of other things that I am sure I've missed. See, that's the challenge with living as busy and swamped as most of us do - we miss so many of the little things - the subtle things - the handiwork of God in places that don't come with fanfare. Let me show you what I mean.

I saw a snow man today - maybe you saw it to. It stands on the corner of Fountain Park, across the street from the Post Office. This fellow is not like the ones we often see in front or back yards of homes in our community. He is taller than I am - almost perfectly shaped - like they look in the pictures. Tree branches for arms, a nice hat on his head, and a big smile - formed with what looks like pieces of coal. I stood briefly and watched him today - keeping his silent vigil while people walked past lost in some manifestation of cyber space and cars whizzed past on Elk Street or turned the corner at 12th. Not having the luxury of a "magic hat," he simply smiles, observes and occupies space. And he can be easily missed, if we're not paying attention. As I watched him watch me today, I couldn't help wonder, "Who made him? How long did it take? Did more than one person particiapte? Were kids involved? When was he created?" See, while he stands silently, his presence speaks things that can only be heard by slowing down - even just briefly - to open the door to wonder and mystery, the kind of things that rarely announce themselves with fanfare.

You've probably received this advice before - maybe you've even offered it to one or two people. But let me circle it for you again: SLOW DOWN. God's most magnificent handiwork often requires a pause in life's pace to behold. As always...

Keep Lookin' Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

01-14-2015 at 3:41 PM
Pat Mann
I "echo" the words of Lois Carr, slow down. Driving to Franklin on the roads from Rouseville to Rt 8 this morning, there was God's magnificant art work of frost on the trees and bushes lining the frozen Allegheny River at a minus 9 degrees. An awesome sight. Seeing the "snowman" today made me think of the last word in Pastor Jeff's Advent series "PEACE!" To God be the Glory. ;)
01-14-2015 at 9:45 AM
Dick Shaner
Should have SLOWED down a little. The hourse IN MY COMMENT is misspelled and should read....outside your house!
01-14-2015 at 9:40 AM
Dick Shaner
Don't forget to checkout the sunsets that are just outside you hourse in the evenings. Doesn't cost anything and you can appreciate God's handywork!
01-14-2015 at 9:05 AM
David Janz
Love the image, Mikki: an invitation to slow down and come and play......that'll preach... :)
01-14-2015 at 7:18 AM
Mikki Chmiel
I saw him on my way to WW last eve. I almost missed the turn to see him. He looks great standing sentry to the park like he is guarding it or maybe he's inviting us to slow down and come play!! As we get older we forget the joys that making a snowman can bring.
01-14-2015 at 7:12 AM
Sandy Homer
Great memories for us, but what wonderful memories for the children who helped build it!
01-14-2015 at 7:09 AM
Sharon Chandler
AMEN and thank you, Jane, for the info. I am SO guilty of always multitasking that I miss some of life happening!! Thank you, Pastor, for reminding us to SLOW DOWN!!
01-13-2015 at 10:08 PM
Jane Hoover
I drove by as this creation was being built. It peared to be a family, mom, dad, and two young children. Touched my heart...
01-13-2015 at 10:06 PM
Lois Carr
A lot of Gods awesome handy work is missed when we zoom by on our journey of life. So slow down and enjoy the little things! By the way, I noticed the big snowman today and wondered the same things you mentioned!
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December 15, 2014, 7:00 PM

Sticky Note Theology

Last night, after arriving home following the second of our two cantata presentations, I sat down in my living room chair and grabbed my iPad. As I flipped back the cover, I saw a yellow sticky note on the screen. It simply says, "I love you dad," followed by a colored-in heart. It's the handwriting of my daughter, Katie. She was alone in my office last night following the conclusion of the cantata, while her dad shook hands and practiced hospitality among those who had come to the worship experience.  It sent a "warm fuzzy" right to the center of this daddy's heart. And then tonight, after a great family meal celebrating my son Ben's birthday, I am told that she hid "yellow sticky notes" in several different places in my office. Makes me more excited about going to work tomorrow than usual.

My children and I have never been bashful about "I love you's." We end most phone calls with it, we part company with it, we say it in text messages. I think we have learned this from Betsy, who is the mother of "I love you's," at least for my family. They are most certainly VERY important words. Complacency and stagnation begin knocking on the door of marriage when those words are absent. Distance can develop between siblings when those words are neglected. Friendships can plateau when those words are assumed rather than said. Important words....for sure. 

But acting in loving ways infuses "I love you's" with a power that brings the words to life. Maybe that's why the most quoted verse in the Bible has such energy for us: "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16) God did not just say "I love you" and leave it at that. God acted - he gave His Son as the real life expression of "I love you." 

Oh, and then there's the whole Christmas thing. When the angel appeared to the shepherds that first Holy Night, God doesn't shout "I love you" from the halls of heaven. He sends shepherds to Bethlehem where they can see the living, breathing, enfleshed reality of His love sleeping in His mother's arms. 

"I love you." Never neglect the words. But while you're at it, give them some power - let them be SEEN in the ways you live, even if it's simply through a few yellow sticky notes......

Think on these things, and remember...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

12-18-2014 at 5:12 AM
Tom and Elaine Young
"I love you" sticky notes abound in our family as well......a great way to step back from technology and keep it personal with hand-written notes! If we could place a sticky note here in the blog it would say, "Thanks , Pastor David, we love you!"
12-16-2014 at 5:15 PM
DeWayne B. Greenlee
Amen! Enjoy your blogs!
12-16-2014 at 3:49 PM
Anne Bakker
I have been blessed with a family where "I Love you"s come easily, are shared daily, and are extended to those who need to hear it as well. Nothing makes me feel more cared for and cherished than those nightly "love you, Mom" texts from TX, and the daily I love yous from those still at home.
Thank you for sharing.
12-16-2014 at 3:45 PM
David Janz
Have found two more sticky notes so far.... :)
12-16-2014 at 9:09 AM
Jenny
Enjoy your blogs! Thanks for sharing!
12-15-2014 at 11:06 PM
Robyn Ohmer
This was a thing I did for the boys when they were younger. I'd stick notes in their lunch or in their bookbag. The days I found them in mine always touched my heart.
12-15-2014 at 9:41 PM
Tiffany
I remind my family words are only good if you back them up with the action, so this blog really hit home for me. Thank you for sharing these pieces of your life.
12-15-2014 at 9:24 PM
Adam G
Good stuff thank you
12-15-2014 at 8:35 PM
Beth Stanish
Thank you.
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December 9, 2014, 11:00 AM

Life Lesson from the Hospital

I ended up in the hospital this past Sunday (December 7th) because of some chest pain and discomfort. My doctor decided to run some tests that included an echocardiogram. This particular test requires you to lay on your left side with your left arm extended over your head. The technician then places an imaging instrument  on your chest and a picture of the heart appears on the screen attached to the machine. The technician can then move the instrument around giving many different "looks" at the heart and how it is functioning. 

I am glad to say my heart is functioning very well - at least that's what the doctor says. I must say, it is a fascinating thing - at least to me - to lay there and see your heart beating. Valves opening and closing, blood flowing in and out, the muscle pulsing like ticks on a clock with life itself. "Wow, I am alive," I thought. "I can see it right there on the screen." And then the humbling thing hit me: "If that thing stops doing what it's doing, I will not get off of this table. My life will end. I will not be alive any more." Not sure I can put into words the feeling I had at that moment. Looking at your life beating and realizing that if all of a sudden it quits, you will be no more - hmmm, beyond words. Life really is a fragile thing. I don't think about that very often. I am grateful for things like echocardiograms that give visual pictures of just how moment-by-moment, beat-by-beat life actually is. 

But then another thought hit me as I stared at my beating heart: "Jesus had one of those." The One through whom "all things were made" (John 1:3) - that One took on the frailty and fragility of a life that lasts from beat to beat. Get this, friends: the One that started the very first heart beating, (Genesis 2:7) -  the One who authored life became the life he authored, with all of its fragility - hmmm, beyond words. That is what Christmas is really all about - the One who made us becoming one of us - with all that means, including a beating heart like the one I was looking at on the screen in front of me.

Why would God do that? Why would God subject himself to the frailty and fragility that plagues our human journey? Maybe a few verses from Hebrews will suggest some answers:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. (2:9-10)

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (4:15-16)

God became one of us - through the beating heart of an infant they called Jesus - so that we can confidently connect to the One who made us and know that He knows what life as a human being is really like - all the way to death itself. To quote Linus, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown..."

Think on these things, friends, and as always...

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.

 

 



Comments

12-09-2014 at 7:26 PM
DeWayne B. Greenlee
PTL - God is Good!
12-09-2014 at 6:47 PM
Tracy Jamieson
Thanks, I needed that.
12-09-2014 at 6:30 PM
Dick Shaner
Merry Christmas, David and family! Prayers for a healthy Christ UM Church family Christmas!
12-09-2014 at 6:30 PM
Colleen.Holtz
Also happy that your heart is okay and thankful that God speaks to us through you. Even on a table during an echocardiogram!
12-09-2014 at 1:36 PM
Lynn Harriger
life is a fragile blessing from God, I often think about the magnificents of the human body!
12-09-2014 at 1:27 PM
Jodi Lewis
God is good - and I am glad your heart and you are well. Thank for you for sharing
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November 24, 2014, 1:00 PM

Time Flies.........PERIOD!

So it was one of those bitter cold mornings last week. I was on my way to the church and had stopped at the stop sign at the end of our street. As I looked both ways, a bird flying into a bush across the road caught my attention. Now I know birds fly in and out of bushes all the time, but on this particular frigid morning, I took more notice than usual. Why? Because the bird looked like a robin to me. Do you know what immediately went through my mind: spring is on the way!!!!! Mind you, this occurred in the third week of NOVEMBER. Winter has not even officially arrived. I didn't force myself to think about spring. I didn't choose that option from other possible responses, having weighed all of them carefully. It simply happened as I turned the corner. And I thought, "Wow. Time not only flies in real time - it flies in imaginary time too!"

Multiple times in the last few days I have heard something like, "I can't believe Thursday is Thanksgiving." It does seem that the years are passing a lot faster now that I'm in my 50's. (I can hear many of you saying, "wait till you're 60!") Soon it will be Christmas Eve. At what will seem like a blink of an eye everyone will be dressed in red for Valentines Day. With a few more ticks on the clock we'll be shouting "He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!" And those little orange breasted beasts will be prancing all around our yards once again.

To this warp speed life we can't seem to escape, the psalmist offers an interesting prayer: "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalm 90:12, NIV) A really good prayer, in and of itself for the light speed lives we tend to live. As the days fly by like freight train cars running on the track at full throttle, help us, God, to work hard at living the preciousness of each day we're given. Verse 12 takes on even more meaning when it's connected to verse 10: "The length of our days is seventy years - or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." (NIV) Life is - in fact - a temporary thing, whether we like it or not. Early in life our "days" seem too numerous to count, and then in what seems like the length of a breath, there's more of them behind us than there are ahead of us.

"Thanks, Pastor, for those wonderfully uplifting words..." Well, I don't share them to bring you down in any way. I share them because the Lord is graciouly helping me to celebrate every moment I am given. To celebrate the moments, we must first recognize how precious - and how fleeting - they really are. Only then can we be truly awed and blessed by the gift that another day really is.

Friends, this Thursday IS Thanksgiving!! A day that - by God's grace - we are given to pause and celebrate God's generous provision for each of us, our families, and our nation. LIVE this Thanksgiving, sisters and brothers - don't just endure it. Realize the gifts that the people you love, the freedom you enjoy, and the breath you draw really are. Do it NOW, not when you're not as busy or when you get around to it or the next time you see them. Why? Because before you know it, we'll be saying "I can't believe Thursday is Thanksgiving," only the year will have a five at the end instead of a four. "Teach us to number our days..." And remember...

Keep Lookin' Up!
Pastor D.



Comments

11-26-2014 at 7:19 AM
Kelli
I've been living through the same feelings. I've been appreciating walking everyday with Jesus and seeing His mighty hand in my life. I've been appreciating my precious children more and more realizing the short amount of time I will have with them before they're "all grown up". I've been appreciating my strong husband who works so many hours for us. Thanks again for the reminder to hold on to each moment God gives us here to be a witness for those around us, and to be thankful in everything! (Especially as I am preparing for "the morning rush".
11-24-2014 at 10:34 PM
Kelly Swatzler
you have such a way of describing things in such an "everyday way". Thank you for making the complicated understandable & put to use in our day to day lives
11-24-2014 at 4:23 PM
Pat Mann
Enjoying my Caf'e Mocha at McD's while having conversation with some acquaintances, the topic was how "time flied!" Later today as I began packing for our trip to VA to be with family for Thanksgiving, I was sure to add a book Jane Allen lent me by Billy Graham, "Nearing Home" (on life, faith & finishing well). Turning to chapter 1, was the title, "Running Toward Home." with the scripture verse: Psalm 90:12 - teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Hmmm? Were both of these a coincidence, or a GOD-incident. Definitely, the latter. I'm always encouraged by your writings, Pastor. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Blessings, too.
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November 17, 2014, 12:00 AM

Performance Based Living

It is Sunday evening. I am sitting in our living room thinking about the morning worship times, specifically the sermon part of those experiences. I often do this on Sunday evenings - review what I said and how I said it before I turn the corner and begin work on the next message. Usually there are some smiles, and prayers of thanks for a few things that went well. But the reflections are often dominated by thoughts like, "I could have said that better." or "Did I really say THAT?" or "Darn it - I left that illustration out." or "That point could have been a little clearer." or "The whole thing was too long." I know - I can hear some of you saying, "Don't be so hard on yourself." And sometimes I hear myself saying that. But as one who is constantly trying to improve, trying to give his absolute best to the Master, critical self-evaluation is extremely important for improvement. 

The danger in this process is that there is a hair-thin line between self evaluation and self abuse. We can beat ourselves up at times about the should-haves and the wish-I-would-haves to the point where our self identity gets wrapped up in whether or not we have performed well - even perfectly. And how we feel about ourselves - postive or negative - spills over into all other areas of our lives - families, friendships, careers, attitudes towards life in general. The fickleness of performance based self image can lead to a host of challenges for us ranging from deep depression and hopelessness on one end, to downright arrogance on the other.

I am grateful for a God who constantly finds creative ways to remind me of who I really am, not who I feel I am based on whether or not I have performed well. Texts like these are bedrock for a healthy Biblical self image: 

"Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1Peter 2:10)

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1)

You and I are accepted by God because God says so, not because we have performed or not performed well enough. That's not to say self reflection has no place in our lives. It's where we start the reflection that matters: as a child of God seeking to deepen one's experience of God's grace, or as a man or woman that hopes to qualify for grace somewhere, somehow, sometime before its to late.

I imagine my Sunday evening sermonic reflection times will continue into the foreseeable future.....but God, help me remember I am your child, whether I get it right or not. That's my prayer for you, too: remember you are a child of God not based on getting it right or wrong, but because God in Christ claims you as one. 

Keep Lookin' Up!

Pastor D.



Comments

12-16-2014 at 3:42 PM
Dawn Anderson
I love the way you say "through me or in spite of me." God already has it figured out!
11-18-2014 at 9:42 PM
Sue Dreves
Love it...it reminds me of the recent sermon you preached on living from the "Inside Out." I put this up in my office to remind me that the one whose opinion matters most has already made up His mind if I am worthy enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough,...etc. Thanks for sharing!
11-17-2014 at 10:43 AM
Beth Stanish
Thank you
11-17-2014 at 9:08 AM
Pat Mann
Wow! Coincidence, I don't think so. My BFF and I had some conversation about this same thing in the parking lot of an incident I experienced on Friday. (self examination - self abuse) Lo and behold, her words to me - comforting ,encouraging and building me up. I thank God for this series of messages the Lord has laid upon your heart, and, for those God is using in my journey with Him. As iron sharpens iron. (Prov 27:17)
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