Pastor's Blog
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July 14, 2017, 12:00 AM

Flying in the Storm

Yesterday (July 13th) Betsy and I awoke to our older dog panting and whining beside the bed. That usually means one of two things: she needs to go out or it’s going to storm. A quick look outside confirmed the later, and the time of morning confirmed the former. I got her outside before it started to rain, and then poured a cup of coffee and went out on the front porch to watch the storm. See…..I LOVE thunderstorms. Not really sure why, but I do. It was hot and humid, with very little breeze. A flash or two of lightning followed by the rumbles, and soon the rain was coming down with force. The wind picked up and the rain became sheets blowing down the road and across the tops of the trees. I was standing on the porch, back from the edge, when I noticed a flutter of white among the raindrops. I looked closer, and sure enough, there in the driving rain was one of those small white butterflies that hang around flower beds and gardens this time of year. Their flight path is never very straight or predictable in good weather. Here – in the midst of the storm – it wasn’t much better, BUT…… the bug was flying – he/she was airborne and going somewhere right through the rain. The wind and water did not seem to be a deterrent to wherever it was headed. It may have taken a bit longer to get there, but it was on its way.

I watched it for a moment or two, and as often happens in my life when I experience things that are a little strange, God spoke in my spirit, “pay attention. Your life can be like that butterfly. You can keep flying in the storm. You may get wet and blown around some, but I am still teaching, still revealing, still guiding even in the storm. Will you trust me?” I thought of that story where Jesus and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. They started out in decent weather, but suddenly a storm swept in from the surrounding hills and canyons. The boat was being battered, and the disciples were sure it was going down. Meanwhile, Jesus is sleeping in the back of the boat. When they wake him in a panic, he calms the storm and wonders about their faith. (Mark 4:35-41) He was with them in good weather, and in the storm - and he is Master over both.

Storms do not deter God’s work in your life or mine. They are simply other tools God uses to help us know more of who God really is, and how God operates in our lives. The question is not “Don’t you care that we’re going to drown?” (Mark 4:38). Rather, the PROMISE is that there, with us in the storm, is the one who is Master over it. Because of that truth, every moment of sunshine and driving rain serves God’s purpose for you and me. Like a small white butterfly, we can still fly in the storm……..if we’ll trust the One with us through it all. As always….

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.

Comments
Colleen Holtz on 07-20-2017 at 10:32 PM
I love storms also. I'll remember these beautiful words the next time I watch one.
Mikki Chmiel on 07-17-2017 at 11:10 PM
Storms in our life are God's teaching moments. "I am here hold onto me". Thanks for your story. It's the little things that make a memorable one.
Lynn harriger on 07-15-2017 at 3:08 PM
I love to watch storms also, good lesson. I always enjoy your sermons and Through you God makes me think! Thank you
Pat Mann on 07-15-2017 at 10:24 AM
When we walk in the Spirit with our Lord, we will always see these teachable moments? We need to open our Spiritual eyes. Good read, thank you!
Patty Hughes on 07-14-2017 at 9:45 PM
I love this reminder. 😊
Becky Martin on 07-14-2017 at 8:32 PM
Very beautiful! I really needed to see this today. Not sure how you do it but your word always has tremendous meaning to me. Thank you for all you do!
Michelle Schull on 07-14-2017 at 7:47 PM
Amen. I am so grateful that God chose you to be my teacher!! And to remind me to weather the storm and rely on God trust Him. Thanks friend!!
Elaine Young on 07-14-2017 at 7:34 PM
Thank you Pastor David. You KNOW why this is especially meaningful to me right now!
Kelly on 07-14-2017 at 6:16 PM
I love this!
Christy Doody on 07-14-2017 at 5:29 PM
So thankful for you and your guidance, wisdom and faith when I was weathering the storm of my life. Thank you
Lois Carr on 07-14-2017 at 5:26 PM
Really needed to be reminded of God's presence always with us in fair weather or the storms in life.
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May 19, 2017, 12:00 AM

A Pizza Parable....

So it’s May 19, 2017 – Day 1 of the “Garage Sale for Missions” event here at Christ Church. (Day 2 is tomorrow, May 20 from 8am-1pm.) The place is bustling with people and activity. There is a wonderful group of servants helping the folks who have come to look at the items. There is another group of people working in the kitchen with the baked goods sale. Others in the parking lot are selling hotdogs and offering places for conversation on a beautiful sunny day. And then Louie Slautterback shows up to make pizza for the volunteers – HOMEMADE pizza – all the way down to the crust! As I type these words Louie is walking through the halls of the church announcing a fresh pepperoni coming out of the oven in two minutes (guess I should type faster……) I can say – from experience – absolutely delicious pizza! He and I were in the kitchen talking, and Louie said, “Isn’t this amazing!? All these folks serving and interacting with our community friends! This is such a GREAT place!” What struck me was the joy in his voice. “That’s what life should be like when the body of Christ gets together and serves together.”, I thought.  “There’s supposed to be joy, and laughter, and connection - not to random people, but to people on the journey with us.”

As I have spent time in the church – better said, WITH the church - over these 33 years of ministry, I know JOY can be on the short side sometimes. Tasks needing attention can seem endless, volunteers to help can seem few and far between, funds to do what needs done trickle in if we’re lucky… and all while the brokenness of people’s lives present themselves with unceasing consistency. Folks who do show up to help get burned out from caring and trying to make a difference, and frustration grows because “church” – the kingdom things we are to be about -  was not intended to be done by a few, but by ALL of us living fully into and out of the giftedness God has given. What made this morning so joyful was that multiple people were giving of themselves in multiple ways. No one person was overwhelmed - all were serving as they chose to and were being used in diverse ways for what God was doing here today. Reminds me of some scripture verses from 1 Corinthians 12: “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good…Now the body is not made up of one part but of many… But in fact, God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be… The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”… If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (7, 14, 18, 21, 26, 27)

In worship these past few weeks I have been saying that God needs every one of us. We ALL matter to the plan and purpose of God – our gifts matter, our talents matter, our stories matter. What God wants to do in and through Christ Church in Franklin will happen completely only as EACH of us surrenders ALL of us to the God who chooses to use EVERY ONE of us to bring his kingdom fully to His earth. And when we are all “employed” in the business of God’s kingdom work, joy will be frequent and full in our life together.  

Now then………… where’s Louie with that pizza…………..

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor David

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March 17, 2017, 12:00 AM

Words Matter...

Betsy and I are blessed to be part of a small group that meets for prayer and fellowship and spiritual conversation once a week (at Christ Church we call them “Connection Groups.”) We are currently reading a book together called “The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg. It’s a book about getting in touch with the real target of the Jesus-thing, what God really did when he came among us as one of us. “The primary goal of spiritual life is human transformation.” John writes. “It is not making sure people know where they’re going after they die, or helping them have a richer interior life, or seeing that they have lots of information about the Bible, although these can be good things. Let’s put first things first. The first goal of spiritual life is the reclamation of the human race.” (p. 21) The book builds on that idea by presenting several different “practices” (Celebration, Slowing, Prayer, Confession and others) that are really pathways that God travels with us so that we can live into the reclamation that was secured for us on the cross and the abandoned tomb of Easter morning.

The practice we are looking at this week is “servanthood.” It is the prescription John offers for the tendency we all have to think more of ourselves than we ought to – “the messiah complex” he calls it. We all struggle with pride – every so often, frequently, or habitually – (pick where you are in those descriptions – BE HONEST). All of us – from the Adam and Eve stories in Genesis 3, right down to the present moments of life in the now – have tried to take God’s place – to manage life for God, because we think God needs our help. John says, “In place of pride, Jesus invites us to a life of humility: ‘All who humble themselves will be exalted.”… Humility has to do with submitted willingness. It involves a healthy self-forgetfulness. We will know we have begun to make progress in humility when we find that we get so enabled by the Holy Spirit to live in the moment that we cease to be preoccupied with ourselves, one way or the other. When we are with others, we are truly with them, not wondering how they can benefit us.” (pp. 111-112)

John says one of the primary ways we can pursue humility is through the practice of servanthood. Servanthood involves devoting ourselves to things like recognizing the sacred in the mundane, and seeing kingdom opportunities in interruptions, and being real and honest about and thankful for our weaknesses and limitations. The one that really got my attention was “The Ministry of Holding Your Tongue.” Now isn’t that an interesting phrase – the notion that holding one’s tongue – being attentive to what one says, how one says it, and where one says it – is actually a ministry – a way of serving others. John quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words… It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.” (p. 123) Reminds me of something Bishop Tom Bickerton used to say: “Here in Western Pennsylvania, if you think it you say it, and when you say it, it comes out twice as bad as when you thought it.”

The war of words has multiple battle fronts these days: news media, newspapers and magazines, internet news, and of course, social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. The “soldiers” in this war include everyone from Trump’s tweets to Hillary’s emails to the Facebook posts that show up on my newsfeed moment by moment. Pastor David addressing Trump’s tweets or Hillary’s emails is wasted energy, but can I say a word to those of us who post things on Facebook - especially to those who are my sisters and brothers in Christ? Can I encourage us to remember Who we are following as Lord? Can I challenge us to keep our allegiance to Jesus front and center when we are engaging stories or situations via social media? Can I remind us that as followers of Jesus it is absolutely right and proper to interact with the issues of our day in the light of who Jesus is and what Jesus says, but we must express our thoughts about those issues in the Jesus way (take a look at Matthew 5-7) I get concerned when I see responses to Facebook posts from folks who I know claim Jesus as Lord that don’t look a lot different from the responses of people who don’t give much time to Jesus at all. As Christ followers, we are to be vessels of grace and peace – calling for rational and respectful conversation about things, even if others would choose to be hostile and heated with their words. And believe me, after writing those last four sentences, I am going to get up immediately and read them back to myself while looking in the mirror. My wife, my daughter, our Administrative Assistant – all would be voices telling me to “practice what I preach!”

 WORDS MATTER sisters and brothers – what we say, how we say it, when and where we say it. Our words either honor the Christ we follow, or betray Him. If you’re game, look back over some of the things you’ve written recently – emails, tweets, Facebook posts – and shine the light of your allegiance to Jesus on them. In that light, ask yourself a simple question: Honor or betrayal?

Now then…….let me hit print and make my way to the mirror…………..

Keep Lookin’ Up!

Pastor David

 

Comments
Lynn Harriger on 03-18-2017 at 1:42 PM
I was confronted with love by a special friend about one post I posted! God moment, very careful now! God first in everything!
Tom Lux on 03-18-2017 at 10:14 AM
Hi. This is off subject but we met a amazing teacher/pastor at Ft. Meyers. He said he studies and from 4-8 every day. He mentioned that the 20-30 minutes or sermon most Christians hear is close to nothing. He owns a full time business, but the Word is his passion. He teaches/preaches a 5 HOUR lesson at Naples on Sunday but considers Saturday as his Sabbath. He explains the Bible in old Hebrew & Aramaic and considers him self a Rabbi but we do not think he is Jewish.He lives the dream.no haircuts or beard cut, wears four (forgot name0 tassels on his pants and that we should too! I could go on but just wanted to share We love ya Tom&joyce.
Pat Mann on 03-17-2017 at 1:08 PM
Often I've "opened mouth, inserted foot" and regretted that. I ask the Holy Spirit daily to keep a check on my mouth, to give me the "mind & mouth" of Jesus. I would like to borrow that book from someone, someday.
Mikki on 03-17-2017 at 12:54 PM
Thank you!! We all need a reality check once in awhile.
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December 26, 2016, 12:00 AM

Passing On...

I taught my 18 year old daughter to shoot a gun today. I will not take time or space to say why I felt this lesson important for her - that’s a topic for another conversation. Suffice it to say we took advantage of a rare “warmer” day in late December to make our way to the shooting range. The lesson began with basic safety elements common to handling any firearm. Then came the specifics of handling the gun she would learn to shoot. Following that, we spent time with shooting positions and postures, and dry fired the weapon several times. At that point we were ready for ammunition. I showed her how to load the gun, and then fired it a few times so she could get familiar with the sound. Then she sat down, took aim, and squeezed the trigger - a hit! By that I mean her first shot actually appeared on the target - not close to where she was aiming, but it was on the paper. As she fired subsequent shots, she got better and better - putting a smile on her dad’s face.

But as I stood behind her while she continued to practice, another thought occurred to me: everything about today - the lessons, the gun and ammunition, even the binoculars I used to watch the shots - my father first shared with me. Dad taught me the basic safety lessons that I shared with Kate. The process of handling and firing a weapon I taught her were the ones my dad first taught me. As I looked at her standing there, arms extended toward the target with the revolver in her hands, I realized the gun she held belonged to dad, and had been fired numerous times by him during his life. He had passed on his knowledge and experience and equipment to me, and I in turn was passing those things on to her.

Reminded me of a brief conversation we had via Facetime with our son on Saturday night. He was asked by his new bride’s family what traditions were part of the Janz Christmas Eve observance. Ben said simply, “church, food at home, midnight mass on TV.” Betsy and I didn’t sit down and say, “Here’s what we want our kids to remember about Christmas Eve.” That’s simply what has stayed with him from the Christmas Eve’s he remembers - that’s what we’ve “passed on” to him, which could be some of what he passes on to his children.

We pass on a number of things to those around us - some things intentionally, some things without even realizing it. Connection to God is one of those things, I think. We pass on what we believe and experience about God through intentional things like teaching Sunday School or daily family devotions. And our God connection is also passed on by the simple ways we choose to live - the choices we make, the patterns of life we live by. I remember reading once “The Gospel is as much caught as it is taught.” The reality is that for all of us, our connection to God has been “passed on” - through intentional and unintentional ways - by the people that surround us.

That leads me to ask two questions: who has passed their faith on to you - whether you’ve realized it before or not? And who - right now - might be on the receiving end of your connection to God? I’m recalling the end of a song we sang a lot when I was a youth: “I wish for you my friend, this happiness that I’ve found. You can depend on him, it matters not where you’re bound. I’ll shout it from the mountain top - HEY WORLD! - I want my world to know. The Lord of love has come to me, I want to pass it on.” As always…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.

 

Comments
Pat Mann on 12-27-2016 at 7:58 AM
Reminds me of Deut 11:19-20 to continue this tradition / pattern on to the next generations. What is seen and experienced continues throughout the generation of family whether spiritual or otherwise. Great blog.
Jenny on 12-26-2016 at 10:54 PM
Very nice blog! We also sang that song a lot in our youth group.
Robyn Ohmer on 12-26-2016 at 8:09 PM
Always enjoy your posts. This one hits the heartstrings. Just what do I want to pass on?
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December 16, 2016, 12:00 AM

HAIL TO PITT!!

So I walked into the church building on Thursday morning, 12/15/16. As I approached my office I noticed the green holiday wreath that adorned the door had been replaced by a different one. It had Christmas tree ornaments on it and canes that looked like the candy ones. As I got closer I noticed there was writing on the ornaments and the canes - one word: PITT. Someone (and you know who you are) had crafted a holiday wreath for my office door celebrating the University of Pittsburgh. The humor in all of this is that when you open my office door and walk in, you realize pretty quickly that I am a fan of WEST VIRGINA, not Pitt. The colors of my office are WEST VIRGINIA blue and yellow and a quick glance around reveals at least eight different things that say WEST VIRGINIA, including my bachelor’s degree that hangs on the wall. Mountaineers and Panthers have not cared for each other – at least on the football field – for a very long time. Even now that the “Back Yard Brawl” has gone the way of the dodo, it is hard for me to acknowledge the great season the Pitt football team has had this year, and hard for me not to brag about WEST VIRGINIA’S  10-2 record, particularly to Pitt fans…….

That being said, if you visit me at my office you will see the Pitt wreath is still hanging on my door. I confess I have thought a lot about taking it down…maybe using it to start a fire or something like that. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that’s one of the challenges in our culture today – turf wars. We spend huge amounts of time trying to defend and prove the correctness of our particular ground, and all that happens is the canyon between us gets wider making it harder and harder to build a bridge. As long as there have been more human beings than one on this planet, people have viewed things differently. History is replete with examples of progress that only came from different viewpoints choosing compromise and giving a little bit so that a relationship, an organization, a nation could find its way forward. The most rewarding moments in my journey of ministry have been the times we have let go of who wins and who loses and searched hard for the ground where all of us could stand shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, even while we saw things differently. It is hard work – this work of compromise and common ground – but it is key to following Jesus, seems to me. Romans 12: “Live in harmony with each other…If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Verses 16a, 18) And I just read these words from Jesus yesterday, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Sooooooooo……..in the spirit of those verses, here goes….. (swallow)…….HAIL TO PITT!!!!.....especially a running back named James Connor, who would be exciting to watch no matter whose uniform he had on……. And remember…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor D.

Comments
Tom Young on 12-17-2016 at 7:20 AM
I am NOT a poster of things on media sites, however in this case I need to say: SPOT ON BROTHER. There are those who would say that this is about a football rivalry, but it is much more than that. Your scripture verses are as relevant today as they were when they were written, perhaps even more. Just as you and many of us Pitt fans jockey back and forth about sports, we are all here for the glory of GOD.
Pat Mann on 12-16-2016 at 4:11 PM
Great "blog." I remember reading this verse somewhere as such: "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone, especially those of the brethern." Makes sense!! Often enough, opposition or oppression comes from within the church, as Nehemiah found out. BUT, not in this case, Praise God.
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