Growth

Speaking Truth To Power

March 4, 2018

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 authority in the region, it was up to Pilate to question him. “Are You the King…

Growth

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

February 13, 2018

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 ourselves. With as much honesty as we can muster, we must ask: Who am I? Why am I here? What…

Creation

The Bloom of Winter

January 30, 2018

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 you await the next go around. Last night, it snowed. The forecasted one to three inches…

Art

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

November 3, 2017

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 ending, but one of the happiest of endings. Every couple in the story is either married off or at least…

Growth

This Is My Father’s World

August 27, 2017

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 hellish cave. The current resident kept it very dark. Blankets over windows, few lights, low ceilings. The…

Creation

The Last Homely House

August 20, 2017

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 small stone-wood-built, 50-year-old house above 4,000 feet. The property that day was deep within a rain…

Love

Kindness Is Leadership

July 27, 2017

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 leadership. You can’t be passive and be kind. You can’t just react…

Creation

My Head Is Bowed

December 13, 2016

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 paths and uphill grades. It moves from the deep embrace of…

Purpose

Engage

November 22, 2016

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, surrounded by quilting and chocolate shops, stores selling crafts and scrumptious food and…

Purpose

Stop in the Name of Love!

February 3, 2016

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 general. *************************** About John Michalak An author, speaker, musician, and minister, John…

Light in the Darkness

The Ring Of Truth

January 11, 2016

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 at a zoo wouldn’t trouble my conscience. The jury’s still out on this…

Purpose

Embrace What Matters – The Book Is Here!

August 16, 2015

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 brokenness: these hypnotize our souls into a resigned stupor, where we assume we’re living day-to-day,…

Marriage

Between Keith And The Nuns

April 18, 2011

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. ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Growth

Recreational Vehicles

January 5, 2011

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 just two letters: RV. ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Purpose

What’s Your Working Relationship?

October 6, 2010

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 have a mean boss or feel under-appreciated for all they do.…

Growth

Growing Up Again

June 30, 2010

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 quarter of our life as children. Then, sometime soon after becoming adults (and sometimes before) many of us have children of our own and raise them into our middle years (and sometimes beyond). …

Love

Social Networking & The Golden Rule

March 2, 2010

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 cure all their ills; the preacher across the street shouts a solution ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Light in the Darkness

A Bittersweet Season

December 18, 2009

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 those shops and homes with smoke-filled chimneys. ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Purpose

Minding Your Ps…

September 4, 2009

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 see all the way to the end. The…

Light in the Darkness

The Pain Now Is Part Of The Happiness Then

June 24, 2009

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 sometime last night, I lost one of the best friends I’ve…

Love

Three Questions To Ask Yourself Before Speaking

May 28, 2009

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 lessons on this I’ve ever heard. ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Relationship

Life Is Relationship

May 17, 2009

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 ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Art

Character and Wonder

May 16, 2009

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 ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Light in the Darkness

Humility and Gratitude

May 15, 2009

(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 life. She was married just under 2 years to a wonderful…

Purpose

Awakening From The American Dream

May 14, 2009

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 ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Light in the Darkness

The Greatest Of These

May 13, 2009

(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. ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Love

Throwing In The Towel

May 12, 2009

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 most of it was verbal–name-calling, etc. ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Art

Fingal’s Cave

May 11, 2009

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 with a work of art ; src="...&ref=top_left">…

Growth

Freedom In Relationship

May 10, 2009

(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, although now outside the prison walls, he knew he was still a prisoner, and the paper he carried…

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