The website of writer and speaker John Michalak
Monday January 20th 2020
I’ve Come Here to Be

I’ve Come Here to Be

Happy New Year, dear reader. While it may seem like I’m writing again due to some New Year’s resolution, it’s just coincidental to other circumstances. We recently landed back on US soil and have moved to the mountains of Virginia. We’re settled enough now that I can focus on moving [...]

The Things We Leave Behind

The Things We Leave Behind

The beauty of God’s eternal plan remains untouched by my worldly cares. That’s the thought that caressed through my brain as I sat on our mountain porch this morning. I looked out and as usual, the hills stretched lazily in their Sabbath repose. The clouds strolled by as playful as ever. The [...]

The Longest Day of the Year

The Longest Day of the Year

Today in the U.S. we celebrate the beginning of Summer and the “longest day of the year.” Of course, the day is no longer or shorter than any other day. But today in our town, there will be about 14 and a half hours of sunlight. Where we’re moving, Honduras, I read that the duration of [...]

A Stranger in a Land of Promise

A Stranger in a Land of Promise

I was in the mountains. I’d always wanted to be here. To look out over the great expanse before me and find myself such a small, integrated piece of God’s glorious creation. In the mountains I felt a part rather than just apart. I was an active participant in allowing God to remind me of my [...]

Hope Tempered With Tears

Hope Tempered With Tears

Back when I was being trained for pastoral counseling, the spirit of this verse was often emphasized: “Like vinegar poured on a wound, so is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.” (Proverbs 25:20) In counseling, you’re taught a lot about listening, about empathy, but as much as anything, [...]

Speaking Truth To Power

Speaking Truth To Power

Who was this man? Pontius Pilate stared at him. Dressed in the attire of the common poor, he was brought to him bound, disheveled, freshly bruised from some recent beating. He wasn’t much to look at, to be sure. And yet, he’d been accused of insurrection against Rome. And so, as Rome’s [...]

8 Questions: Why Spiritual Self-Examination Matters (sermon audio)

8 Questions: Why Spiritual Self-Examination Matters (sermon audio)

Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Jesus once said that his disciples would know the truth, and that the truth would set them free. This sermon asserts that the truth we’re encouraged to know isn’t just the truth about God, but also the truth about [...]

The Bloom of Winter

The Bloom of Winter

There’s still another reason I moved to the mountains. Snow. I love snow. Obsessing over the next snow forecast is one of my chief hobbies during the winter. But snow in the southern Appalachians isn’t too burdensome. To me anyway. You typically get a few inches at a time, it melts, and [...]

In Defense of Feel-Good Movies, Cheesy Melodramas, and Happy Endings

In Defense of Feel-Good Movies, Cheesy Melodramas, and Happy Endings

I recently completed another viewing of the television show, Downton Abbey. Lasting six seasons, it’s a melodrama about British high-society and servant life set in the early 1900s. I’ve watched it a few times and am always pleasantly flummoxed by how the show ends. It’s not just a happy [...]

This Is My Father’s World

This Is My Father’s World

It seemed to me at the time that I had stumbled upon the Last Homely House. And once I’d arrived there, I never wanted to leave. That is…until I got a look inside. As much as the natural world outside the house seemed like Elrond’s Rivendell, the inside felt more like Gollum’s [...]

The Last Homely House

The Last Homely House

It seemed to me at the time that I had stumbled upon the Last Homely House. That rainy, misty day, I wandered in my car like Tolkien’s Bilbo on his way to Rivendell. Upward through the North Carolina mountains, around one bend and still another, finally making a slow decent, I found this [...]

Kindness Is Leadership

Kindness Is Leadership

It occurred to me this morning: many of us don't feel like we're called to be leaders and feel a bit insecure when being asked to step up as a leader. However, one area where we're all called to leadership is kindness. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think kindness can be performed without [...]

My Head Is Bowed

My Head Is Bowed

My head is bowed. Not because I’m praying, but because I don’t want to trip over an unseen rock or protruding root. However, I don’t want to miss the larger view either. I want to look up as much as down. Which, is a good thing. I like this trail. It has natural variation in its straight [...]

Engage

Engage

It’s 28 degrees, but I’m not feeling it. Ok, I’m bundled up with my winter coat and knit cap, but I’m sitting when I should be moving and am still unaffected by the cold. My dog is at my feet, content to watch meandering cars go by. We’re stationary this morning on a sidewalk of brick, [...]

Stop in the Name of Love!

Stop in the Name of Love!

We so often look for God's will on where we should go with our lives. But what about the times we need to stop? My sermon examines Acts 16:6-12 when God told Paul to stop. It reflects on how this account might apply to our own approach to sharing the Gospel with others and to our lives in [...]

The Ring Of Truth

The Ring Of Truth

In slumber, I sleep In a stupor, I stoop In the sacred, I soar I recently applied for a part-time administrative job at the local zoo. I love animals. Some tell me I love animals more than people. That probably depends on the animal. Or the person. Because I love animals, I debated whether working [...]

Embrace What Matters – The Book Is Here!

Embrace What Matters – The Book Is Here!

About The Book It's said that as human beings, we spend about a third of our lives asleep. But, too many of us spend the rest of our lives in a type of waking sleep, held captive by the bonds of distraction. The shiny trinkets of entertainment and materialism, the prisons of anxiety and [...]

Between Keith And The Nuns

Between Keith And The Nuns

There is a mystery to belonging. I'm usually reminded of this early on Sunday mornings. I bought one of those clock alarms with a CD player so you can wake up to the music of your choice rather than some annoying radio station or a loud buzzer. (more…)

Recreational Vehicles

Recreational Vehicles

Previously, I wrote about our pursuit of the American Dream, its pros and cons, and how most view it as improving yourself economically, owning your own home, building a retirement nest-egg, etc. But, perhaps the most compelling symbol for those who've achieved the American Dream is embodied in [...]

What’s Your Working Relationship?

What’s Your Working Relationship?

The precious possession of a man is diligence. -- Proverbs 12:27 Do you like what you do? According to recent surveys, most Americans don't. Most of us are unhappy and wishing we were somewhere else. Some of us are lazy. Others are unchallenged. Some can't get along with our co-workers. Others [...]

Growing Up Again

Growing Up Again

When I was very young and bursting with faith. "There exists in most men a poet who died young, while the man survived." -- Sainte-Beuve It is one of the gifts of life to me that, no matter how old we are, we're never far from the glory and imagery of childhood. We, of course, spend perhaps a [...]

Social Networking & The Golden Rule

Social Networking & The Golden Rule

I've always loved the old Spaghetti Westerns. Clint Eastwood rides into some frontier town covered with dust, mystery, and rawhide testosterone. The Old West town he surveys is riddled with the oddest mix of characters: the snake-oil salesman bellows to anyone within shouting distance that he can [...]

A Bittersweet Season

A Bittersweet Season

Like many, Christmas is by far my favorite time of year. There is a richness of life and color. Houses, trees and city streets seem to stand up a bit straighter as we all do when we put on our best clothes. The world shines a pregnant glow. The air grows cooler, and we imagine the warmth inside all [...]

Minding Your Ps…

Minding Your Ps…

No need to tell you where I was, but it was wonderful. It was high summer and I was on vacation, visiting a location I had been many times before. The sun was setting, I was alone, standing on a quiet country road at the head of an expansive bean field. The crop was low and plush, and you could [...]

The Pain Now Is Part Of The Happiness Then

The Pain Now Is Part Of The Happiness Then

Today, I'm in mourning. There's a weight on me that feels like the dense pressure in your chest they say is common with a heart attack. I've cried more in the last few days than I have in years. My emotions go from disorientation to shock, from guilt to a sense of peace. I'm in mourning because [...]

Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Speaking

Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Speaking

If you're like me, you get in trouble for opening your mouth a lot. It's part of being human. But, there are lessons we can learn on how to filter our speech, whether it's with our family, our friends, co-workers, or with the stranger on the street. The following is one of the most effective [...]

Life Is Relationship

Life Is Relationship

Have you ever heard of Viktor Frankl? He was an author and psychotherapist who died about 9 years ago at the age of 92. Among his other accomplishments, he wrote a great book called Man's Search For Meaning. This book begins by showing the way Dr. Frankl would start out his therapy (more…)

Character and Wonder

Character and Wonder

I love movies. For good or ill, they have had a major impact on my life. I'm a fan of most genres—comedy, romance, drama, action. As a fairly analytical human, I was thinking a while back on what makes a great movie…great. Certainly there are many ingredients—good writing, talented [...]

Humility and Gratitude

Humility and Gratitude

(Originally written June 2007) A beautiful woman died the other day. And, for my own life, I have no reason at all to complain. Jacqui was to turn 28 in a month or so. She was a gorgeous, petite girl with striking eyes and auburn hair. She was filled with love and with an amazing energy for [...]

Awakening From The American Dream

Awakening From The American Dream

I hate to admit this, but there’s a side of me that sometimes enjoys the idea of oncoming disaster. Maybe I’m too detached and numbed by the virtual world of movies and television, where a 10.5 earthquake sends California into the ocean or an ice (more…)

The Greatest Of These

The Greatest Of These

(This is a feature I wrote for Good News Magazine back in 2000) How Alzheimer’s other victims have loved, persevered and come to terms with one of life’s most dehumanizing diseases. (more…)

Throwing In The Towel

Throwing In The Towel

Here's another life lesson I had as a kid that has left a significant mark on who I am today. In my early teens and at various other periods growing up, I was the victim of a lot of "persecution" by my peers...teasing. The persecution came in a lot of forms, some physical with bullies, but I guess [...]

Fingal’s Cave

Fingal’s Cave

There are certain works of art that have a lifetime impact on you. At least for me. They literally shape who you are. Reading Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Madeline L'Engle as a kid could qualify. Reading Plato in high school was significant for me (if that qualifies as art). One of the most epic encounters [...]

Freedom In Relationship

Freedom In Relationship

(Originally written just prior to the 4th of July) Jean Valjean was "a very dangerous man." That was the description written about him on the yellow passport he carried. After nineteen years of horrible imprisonment for the small crime of stealing a loaf of bread, he was set free. But, [...]

Vengeance Is Mine: An analysis of the spiritual origins of violence and murder

Vengeance Is Mine: An analysis of the spiritual origins of violence and murder

(Note: This may seem a departure from the typical theme of this blog, but given the recent rash of mass shootings, I though it appropriate to re-print an article I wrote several years ago on the subject. Specifically my analysis considers the spiritual origins and causes of such violence. The [...]