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Monday June 18th 2018

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‘Relationship’ Archives

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 place in his stunning, mysterious world. I had a deep sense of awe but was not afraid. I was at peace, but not ready to retire. My heart was full of anticipation, but the unknowns were now to me a [...]

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, you’re taught not to tell a person in the pit of suffering: “The sun will come out tomorrow!” Most of the time, that’s not what they need to hear. They mostly need you to join them in their [...]

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 authority in the region, it was up to Pilate to question him. “Are You the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my [...]

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 ourselves. With as much honesty as we can muster, we must ask: Who am I? Why am I here? What do I want? Is there a difference between what I say I want and how I’m living my life? What does [...]

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 you await the next go around. Last night, it snowed. The forecasted one to three inches became nearly five, and flurries were still falling after the sunrise. I roused my wife, we put on our winter [...]

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 ending, but one of the happiest of endings. Every couple in the story is either married off or at least forecast to be married. Virtually every loose end is tied and every conflict resolved. What [...]

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 hellish cave. The current resident kept it very dark. Blankets over windows, few lights, low ceilings. The house reeked with the smell of cigarettes and dog urine. The walls were murky, the tile and [...]

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 small stone-wood-built, 50-year-old house above 4,000 feet. The property that day was deep within a rain cloud. Surrounded by close-knit Smoky Mountain peaks, it seemed to float upon a lofty, mystic [...]

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 leadership. You can't be passive and be kind. You can't just react to things. You can't just wait for things to happen to you. You certainly can't be kind if you're waiting around for others to be [...]

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 paths and uphill grades. It moves from the deep embrace of forest to expansive views of the lake. It has a variety of flowers, plants, and trees. It’s long enough to challenge me and short enough [...]

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, surrounded by quilting and chocolate shops, stores selling crafts and scrumptious food and drink. The light poles are wrapped with Christmas pine, ribbons, lights, and ornaments. Just beyond the [...]

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 general. *************************** About John Michalak An author, speaker, musician, and minister, John Michalak has spent more than 20 years equipping others in the areas of life-change and [...]

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 at a zoo wouldn’t trouble my conscience. The jury’s still out on this for me, but the argument that these creatures are being raised outside their natural habitat does trouble me. Our [...]

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 brokenness: these hypnotize our souls into a resigned stupor, where we assume we're living day-to-day, but are never truly alive. The book 365 Devotions To Embrace What Matters Most is less a Bible study [...]

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 just two letters: RV. (more…)

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 have a mean boss or feel under-appreciated for all they do. In truth, understanding our relationship to work is a fundamental life-question, and if we're not happy with what we do, this might be a [...]

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 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). Our [...]

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 cure all their ills; the preacher across the street shouts a solution (more…)

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 those shops and homes with smoke-filled chimneys. (more…)

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