||Last Updated: Feb 6, 2013 - 6:54:19 AM
- Jan 16, 2013 - 7:45:00 AM
This is a
rambler, but here goes: I confess that I like to be in control. Even
when Susan and I do a Sudoku or crossword puzzle, I want to/need to/must
hold the pen. In the past, my willful desire to control every detail
helped me build a mini-empire: Money in the bank, cars, homes, status,
etc., etc., etc. That willful desire for control also cost me
everything in the end … which laid the groundwork for something vastly
I discovered that what I was able to accomplish by
sheer power of my will was not enough; it was never enough. There was
always an ache, a something missing, a small (and growing) hole in my
soul. It was only after I lost everything and surrendered my will to
the power of God -- to God’s will – that I found peace, joy, and even
freedom. (Imagine that: freedom through surrender. Now, that’s a head
scratcher, eh? Hmmmm.)
Any God? Or The OTG
- Sep 12, 2012 - 8:15:00 AM
commentary: When I was a child, most people in America knew who they
were and where they fit in. They got married and stayed married (and
children were raised with Mom and Dad and Right and Wrong … none of
which changed); they went to church on Sunday and generally (if not
elaborately) believed in the OTG (One True God) all week long. They
knew what America stood for and believed in it. They were purposeful
(God, Family, Country) and, though not necessarily delighted and joyful
each and every day, they were confident and satisfied. Their beliefs
(including belief in The OTG) were good and their relationships were
Today? Not so much.
- Aug 29, 2012 - 8:15:45 AM
night I awoke to a keen awareness of three totally unrelated near-death
experiences from my past. They did not involve trauma or actual
accidents, but events that could/should have caused my death.
One involved the late-night jack-knifing of a semi on the snow-slick
Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1970. Beyond all odds, I veered, skidded and
swerved through and around crashed cars and jagged debris. Another
involved being chased across Kansas by deadly tornados a year or so ago,
traveling in what I later called “God’s Pocket,” because, in spite of
horrific destruction and deaths all around me, my car never got a drop
of rain or scratch from wind-driven projectiles during my 200-mile race
across the state.
I See Things
- Aug 15, 2012 - 8:15:33 AM
not nuts; nor do I have any super powers. However, I do see things. I
see miracles where others may see nothing but random luck or
happenstance. I see the hand of God.
But here’s what
astonishes me: I have come to realize that people choose to see or
choose to remain blind. It is a conscious decision. Example: When
Jesus cured the man with the withered hand, the doubters never
questioned the miracle. They did, however, gripe because Jesus did it
on the Sabbath. They chose blindness. It was the same at Pentecost
when some believed when they heard the Apostles speaking in tongues,
while others said they had to be drunk.
Always Good Enough ... Always
- Aug 8, 2012 - 8:20:16 AM
raised to believe I was never quite good enough. Yes, my parents
helped, but much of it had to do with my church upbringing, which tried
to convince me that I was born bad and had to spend my life on my knees,
in self-flagellation and atonement … pretty much being miserable and
hoping that God would accept me anyway.
The result was oozing, self-defeating guilt. (And knowing that I could
never measure up, I eventually decided, “Why bother?” and turned my back
on God and the church for about a decade.)
Local Author Publishes Second Book
- Jul 25, 2012 - 8:15:41 AM
of myself as a reformed heathen, a clay-footed believer,” says Algoma
resident John Ingrisano. This explains the title of his second
devotional book on faith, In God’s Pocket: Spiritual Ramblings from a
“Oh, I still have doubts,” says John. “I think doubts are part of
faith and, as I’ve heard somewhere, every believer is an agnostic at
times. I think that is why In God’s Pocket is, at least in my opinion, a
balance of joy and terror, of grace and doubt, of peace and
- Jun 20, 2012 - 8:27:12 AM
is not going to come out right, but here goes: There are days when I
struggle with the ferocious God of the Old Testament. Loving Father?
Papa? Hmmm. I don’t see it. Instead, I see a harsh taskmaster, an
angry, petty, jealous god who demands our first-born sons and punishes
minor infractions with severe penalties. I do not understand this God.
I read the New Testament and get to see God the Father through the eyes
of Jesus. Ah, this is a God I can wrap my arms around.
A Rocky Reminder
- Jun 6, 2012 - 8:25:14 AM
In one of
our pleasant morning rituals, Rocky, my Boxer, wanders into the kitchen
when he hears me pull out the chair to sit at the table for my morning
prayer and reading. Half asleep, he stands beside me, and I give him a
thorough, head-to-tail scratching, greeting him with the words, “You’re a
good dog and a handsome lad.”
He moves around a little, so I don’t
miss any spots, and wags his stump of a tail. It’s our bonding time, a
reminder to him that he’s special to me … and I guess that I’m special
to him, too.
- May 16, 2012 - 8:35:00 AM
week I got my hands in the dirt and planted. First time in nearly ten
years. This past week I saw spring in all its explosive-color glory.
Again, first time in nearly ten years. I’d almost forgotten the miracle
of seeing seemingly dead, barren ground being transformed and renewed,
roaring silently into vibrant life.
This past week I felt
like God was so close I could feel His warmth; I could sense His
restoring love and soul-calming peace; I could believe almost without
doubt. This week, after so many, many years of roaming the barren
landscape, I felt renewed, guided, restored. I felt right.
- May 2, 2012 - 8:40:32 AM
over here. I found it! I had misplaced my simplistic, childhood faith
about 45 years ago, thanks in part to a combo of pleasure-seeking
teenage hormones and a smarmy know-it-all college professor in my
freshman year who spoke on the existence of God … and God lost. Over
time, as a seeker of truth, I eventually found God again, mostly by
holding up every experience and observation of life to the
Is-there-a-god-or-isn’t-there-a-god litmus test.
Roots Deep and Ever Present
- Apr 18, 2012 - 8:36:53 AM
year ago today a man died, a man who I loved deeply. I had not seen
Phil for nearly 42 years, since he was around 12 years old, when I had
ended my engagement to his older sister, Sue, back in 1970. (In
retrospect, Sue and I, neither yet 20, were children ourselves.) Phil
and I had had no contact until a little over a year ago, when we
exchanged brief emails over a planned Road to Emmaus weekend for Sue.
And then Phil went and died from a sudden and unexpected brain
The "Science" of Faith
- Apr 4, 2012 - 8:40:40 AM
to the scientific theory, one example of a proof can be read as
something like this: If we do X, we will get Y, Z % of the time.
(Example: when drug X is administered, it will achieve Y result in Z %
of the group.) In truth, we often do not know why we get the results we
get. We just know that we will. We take it on faith, whether we like
to admit it or not.
It is very much the
same with faith in God, really. If we do X (trust in God), we will get
Y result (multiple benefits, starting with deeper faith, assurance,
spiritual healing, peace and belief that goes beyond mere knowing) 100 %
of the time.
- Mar 21, 2012 - 8:35:00 AM
said in the past, I once saw love as a possession, a taking, a getting.
Love was about what made me feel good, what satisfied me. Over time,
thank God, I’ve grown to see love as a giving, a sharing, a putting of
the other first.
That is what came to mind as I read this morning of Jesus sleeping –
totally exhausted and spent -- in the boat while the storm raged all
My point: It seems to me that Jesus did not just die for us. During
His life, he took nothing, but gave all that He had … to the point of
total exhaustion. Oh, and then He let Himself be crucified … giving us
more than His all. Thank you, Lord.
A Fine Madness
- Mar 7, 2012 - 8:50:54 AM
two friends – intelligent, logical, skeptical, with a determined and
self-satisfied scientific bent – who look at my faith with a patient and
When it comes to God, they have very elaborate
theories (one fellow is a Deist; both view “organized religion” as pap
for the feeble-minded and gullible), all of which carefully and
deliberately sidestep anything traditional and Bible-based. (I suspect
they also see me as someone who clings to my Bible out of fear and
ignorance.) They are logical to a fault.
- Feb 15, 2012 - 8:50:39 AM
puzzles me. Last week, a dear friend, a long-ago love, sent me a
long-forgotten photo of a young man. It turned out to be me, age 17,
1968. I didn’t even recognize this young man at first. He is long
gone, a different person today, in both looks and spirit, at age 61.
(However, that boyish smile and life-embracing elan still come through,
don’t you think?)
The writer as a young man.
month ago, a friend and member of our church family was a seemingly
healthy women in her 60s. She felt a little off, went to the doctor,
was diagnosed with leukemia, and died last week. Gone in an instant.
Sure, such things happen all the time. Still, I do not think I will
ever truly get my arms around the understanding part.
Good Day, Bad Day
- Feb 1, 2012 - 8:51:48 AM
don’t know about you, but every day, I tend to judge and assess the
day. I do this by myself, as well as when anyone asks, “How are you
today?” as I go through some mental left-side, right-side inventory of
good stuff, bad stuff.
But isn’t every day a
blessing, a gift from God? Sure, we may not always see it as such
(this past month, one friend had a stroke; another was diagnosed with
leukemia, so I suspect neither one of them is all that thrilled with
these blessings), but it is all in God’s hands. If He is good, He is
good all the time. So, even if something makes no sense to us, that
does not mean that it makes no sense.
The Tim Tebow Effect
- Jan 18, 2012 - 8:38:58 AM
Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow has stirred up a lot of controversy this
year with his on-his-sleeve Christian faith. I have no opinion either
way about the man, except that (A) he seems genuine in his faith, the
expression of which is tasteful and humble, in spite of how naysayers
want to pretend otherwise; (2) hooters and mockers have delighted in,
well, hooting and mocking; and (3) those same hooters and mockers have
done soooooo much to further the cause of faith in this country. Kind
of funny, really.
Tim Tebow Prayer.
- Jan 4, 2012 - 8:54:08 AM
used to try to make something significant out of the end of one year
and the ringing in of a new one … but it never really rang true. Years
ago, I even tried, just once, the raucous New Year’s Eve celebrating in a
noisy room filled with a few friends and a few hundred strangers. (I
was okay with it until the lead singer in the band thought it would be
great to drop his trousers and moon the audience at the stroke of
midnight. The significance was lost on me.)
"Ring in each new day..."
days, I no longer celebrate endings. Instead, as my Mother was wont to
do, I usually (no, not always; I’m not perfect) ring in each new day,
each fresh morning, each new beginning with a simple prayer: “Thank
you, Lord.” (I even sometimes sing it loud and long.)
The Christmas Laundry List
- Dec 21, 2011 - 8:47:29 AM
many folks, our Christmas lists (as well as our prayers, wishes, and
hopes all year long) tend to be about what we want. We pray for just
one more break, one more goodie, one more pony under the tree. Our
petition may be as serious as the recovery of health for ourselves or a
loved one, or the restoration of a broken relationship. Or it may be as
frivolous as … well, back to that pony again.
That’s why we often
get disappointed, what with all these petitions and here’s-what-I-want
prayers. Very egoistic. Well, what about what God wants? What about
what He wants for us? See
- Dec 7, 2011 - 8:40:00 AM
know a man who, by at least one definition of success, has everything,
but who, in reality, knows nothing. He has several homes, a handful of
boats, more toys than he can shake a stick at. Plus, he walks with a
swagger, an arrogance, a false friendliness and chilly warmth that I
once almost admired … until one day I happened to catch him in an
unguarded moment, a moment when he could not be in control of a fairly
simple event. It betrayed way too much insecurity and inner fear …
almost terror. (He reminded me of the All-powerful Wizard of Oz with
the curtain pulled back.) He had surrounded his life with objects and
ideas to protect him, and it hadn’t worked. My admiration turned to
sadness bordering on pity.
The Stray Dog Club
- Nov 23, 2011 - 8:58:51 AM
many of you know, I have a special place in my heart for stray dogs,
people like Chicago Mike, who is doing time in federal prison, or Gary,
the married, hard-drinking womanizer. But I also include on that list
my friends who have not seen the political light (as in: they don’t see
it my way), atheists, agnostics … even a few Muslims. Worst of all, I
have family and a few friends who are – gasp, gasp – homosexuals … and
darn nice folks they are, by the way. For this (and more), I have on
occasion be roundly criticized for not doing my own separating of the
sheep from the goats.
Atheists, Deists, & Christians, Oh, My!
- Nov 9, 2011 - 8:57:07 AM
upon a time, when I was down and almost out, a couple reached out to me
and helped me up. They gave me a glimmer of caring and support (and
they fed me regularly) during a time of loneliness and borderline
despair. They were the friends when I could not find a friend. To this
day, I hold them in a special place in my heart, and I still cherish
the continuation of our periodic meals together, accompanied by lively
Accepting The Gift
- Nov 2, 2011 - 8:57:00 AM
ago, I knew of a man who went off to fight in World War II, and he
became very good at it. However, when he came home, he could not handle
the peace. He died a sad, miserable alcoholic.
I know how he must have felt … kind of. Over the years, I have
struggled through many challenges. Every day I arose to do battle with
dragons; that was much of my life. So, you can imagine that most of my
prayers have been calls for support, relief from pain, or just
complaints that the reinforcements had not arrived on my time schedule.
here’s the scary part: My prayers have been answered (well, except the
one about the pony and the Mercedes). No, my life is nothing like I
had imagined or prayed for -- it’s better, much better.
The Cookie Tree
- Oct 19, 2011 - 8:59:40 AM
used to have a dog called Jackie. One day, roaming the property, she
took a nap under a tree. For reasons no longer remembered, I quietly
opened a window and tossed a cookie in her direction. It landed by her
nose. Slowly, her nose twitched as she sniffed its presence; then she
opened her eyes, stretched out, grabbed it, ate it, and went back to
sleep. So, I threw another, which she also found and ate. Of course,
being a pea-brained dog, she never gave a thought to how those cookies
It Takes Faith to Believe
- Oct 12, 2011 - 8:57:00 AM
a young girl, my mother could not figure out where eggs came from.
After her family told her, she still didn’t believe, even though she
spent a lot of time turning over and over and inspecting one of their
poor egg-laying hens (which, I suspect, pretty soon quit laying
altogether after such maulings).
- Oct 5, 2011 - 8:51:17 AM
my travels, I did not see God today, but I saw His footprint. I am
traveling a lot these days, doing writing and business seminars across
the country, sometimes “seeing” four cities in four days. It can get
lonely at times.
Last night I checked
into a hotel in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. It was an everyday, decent,
mid-range motel. And then I saw God’s footprint: In the info rack on
the desk was a card titled, “A Prayer for Today.” Ah, I was in a house
of believers … no longer alone. On the other side of the card was
another message, shared in part below.
- Sep 28, 2011 - 8:50:00 AM
husband of Mary and earthly protector and father of Jesus, is one of my
favorites. He had steadiness, and that, to me, is the highest
compliment. He wasn’t brash or rash, but quiet. We hear and know
little about him, except that three times an angel of the Lord spoke to
him, told him to pack up the family and move great distances … and he
obeyed without hesitation. He never walked on water or did miracles,
but he was steady. My kind of hero.
Joseph, with Mary and Jesus.
- Sep 21, 2011 - 8:57:00 AM
somewhat saddened this weekend because I was unable to enjoy two special
events due to timing and schedule conflicts. One was the wedding of my
dear cousin, Karen, several states away; she and I had been through
much together and had held each other's hearts through old sorrows. The
other was to see my daughter, Nicky, visiting from Seattle; she and I
had rooted for each other and stood by each other in past times when few
others would. In neither situation, however, did we let our
expectations (being together) darken our expectancies (love and trust
and ongoing appreciation). We all accepted the unavoidable
disappointments without complaint.
The Gravel in My Shoe
- Sep 14, 2011 - 8:43:41 AM
have few talents. Give me a hammer, board and nail, and I will
struggle over what to do with them. My only talent - and it is a small
one - is words. I can write a fairly decent letter and I can, on
occasion, bring an audience to its feet (in enthusiasm, not protest)
through my public speaking.
- Sep 7, 2011 - 8:55:40 AM
never met a saint. I've never met a man or woman so overwhelmingly in
tune with God that I was left awe-struck. All the spiritually striving
folks I know are flawed and imperfect, and that's fine. They (and I
include myself here at the top of the list) stumble, fall and disappoint
God pretty much every day.
what? God cares anyway. That's why, in spite of Peter's cowardly
retreat from Jesus Christ on Holy Thursday ("I tell you, I don't know
the man!"), he wasn't banned or condemned. Instead, he went on to
become the head of the Church and to spread the Good News.
- Aug 31, 2011 - 8:55:26 AM
falls under the category of we-always-hate-the-one-we-hurt. I had a
friend for better than 25 years. I was loyal, true, supportive through
tough times. We were buds ... at least until I went through a divorce,
and he took the opportunity to put the moves on my almost-ex-wife. Nice
guy, eh? (She laughed and told him where to go.) But the real kicker
was that he never apologized to me, or ever talked to me again, for that
matter. After trying to screw me over, he turned away from me.
Interesting. I call it wrongful indignation.
Adam and Eve by Lucas Cranach the Elder.
- Aug 24, 2011 - 8:59:10 AM
business, "Relationship Selling" is a primary key to success, to
getting what we want. That means that before asking for the sale, we
should have a solid working relationship with the prospect. We do not
just walk up to a stranger (or even a past buyer) out of the blue and
try to make a sale. It doesn't work.
That's exactly how a lot of folks
pray, however. I know a young man who wouldn't give God the time of
day. He never prayed or went to church.
- Aug 17, 2011 - 8:24:09 AM
had the pleasure recently of watching my four-year-old grandson,
Charlie, enjoy his first solo ride on a mini-go kart. All he had to do
was push one pedal to go, another to stop, and steer clear of the
walls. Easier said than done. He was constantly distracted: one moment
deciding to rub his sandal on the front tire and crashing head-on into
the wall; another watching one side of the wall only to crash into a
parked go kart right in front of him.
Challenged With Blessings
- Aug 10, 2011 - 8:45:58 AM
A tad longer than usual. Sorry.
who know me know that I spent my first 45 years building wealth and
arrogance, followed by another nine or so of mixed battles with angels
and demons, and the last six struggling with great material losses and
beautiful spiritual healings. It's no wonder I have a bit of an edge on
- Aug 3, 2011 - 8:53:34 AM
have a death wish," my brother, Lou, once told me with a shrug when I
asked why he does medical mission work to the most dangerous places on
earth. I almost believe it. Almost.
He got mobbed by a
group of street children in South America who discovered he had a
knapsack full of tennis balls. (He brought them for the children, but
had to abandon the knapsack for his own safety.)
faced armed and nervous teenage militants in Darfur who weren't sure
his papers were in order. (He kept working on patients in a makeshift
clinic while, guns aimed at him, they sorted out the papers, which I
suspect they could not read.)
JC Super Hero? Nah!
- Jul 27, 2011 - 8:45:20 AM
Christ would have failed as a super hero. Sure, He could heal an
illness, give sight to the blind, cure a leper. (Cool.) Sure, he could
wither an under-producing fig tree with a glance. (Way cool.) Sure,
He could even control the weather and command a storm to stop making
such a fuss. (Awesome.)
But He never
smote an enemy. Not a one. (Sigh.) He didn't knock down walls or
beat up the bad guys. I mean, imagine Him standing on a hill and mowing
down legions of Romans with a flick of His fingers; or at least
shutting up some of His major critics, such as the Pharisees, by making
them run out of the temple with loose bowls.
Oh Yeah? Prove It!
- Jul 20, 2011 - 8:45:53 AM
know people who believe the most outrageous things, often without
thought or proof. They love what they believe (how they "feel") mostly
because, well, because it is their idea, their thoughts. In truth, it
is an ego thing. No need to bother them with the facts. They believe
what they choose to believe, even when you hit them with contradictory
information - including facts or at least a reasonable degree of
Why Are We Here?
- Jul 13, 2011 - 8:33:59 AM
have an acquaintance - a bit of a reprobate - who snarfs down God's
blessings at the buffet table without the slightest thought of paying
the bill. He is a taker who acknowledges the existence of God (as if
God should be grateful), says he tries to be nice to kids and old folks,
and then uses and abuses pretty much everyone else. He never considers
the questions: Okay, God, so why am I here, and what can I do for you?
The Laundry List Gimme Prayer
- Jul 6, 2011 - 8:40:29 AM
give me this. Lord, give me that. Lord, help me. Lord, Lord, Lord.
Too often, that is what we do, or at least it is what I do, when we
pray. I'm no theologian, but I'm also not all that sure that this is
how we should be praying ... reciting a long list of very specific gimme
Because I have come to believe that we may know what we want
(sometimes), but we have not a clue what we really need (often) or, more
specifically, what God wants for us.
And Tiny Seeds Become Giant Trees ... How?
- Jun 29, 2011 - 8:52:01 AM
am not an earthy guy. I get no deep, spiritual high by putting my
hands in the soil. However, I am always in awe of the miracle of
spring, as I drive by farmers' fields that were brown, plowed dirt just
weeks earlier and are now lush with corn or soybeans. What awes me the
most is that seeds do not just become bigger and better seeds; they
become something quite different from what they were. They are
transformed into plants, shrubs and trees. Amazing!
From a tiny seed ...
my experience, it is the same with faith. I believe the seed of faith
is given to all of us -- ALL of us, without exception. But then it is
up to us to plant it, nurture it, feed it and encourage it. We do this
by prayer, by studying the Bible and other good books, and by actively
seeking the Truth. We do this, and God will find us and transform us …
slowly, gradually over time.