Archive for the 'Faith & Forgiveness' Category

TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/24/16: THE WAY

May 24, 2016 on 10:29 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/24/16: THE WAY
 

In my early faith days, I’d ask God for help achieving my goals.  I’d give Him my list and ask Him to bless it.  Always indulgent of my whimsy, He’d often/usually give me that for which I asked.  Problem:  Few people, including me, have any idea what they really want or, more to the point, what will bring them genuine joy, peace, happiness (versus pleasure, comfort, distraction from problems).

These days, I’m much more inclined to ask God to show me what He wants me to do … and then ask Him to help me achieve it.  Ah, much better.  These days, even though there are problems, my life is double-dipped (with sprinkles on top) in joy, peace, happiness.

My point:  It’s called The Way.  It’s God’s way, and there is no other way worth pursuing.  Sit back.  Be patient.  Wait on God, and He will show you the way He has in mind for you.  Just trust, be patient, and be ready to respond when you get the tap on the shoulder.   – jri

Your own ears will hear him.

     Right behind you a voice will say,

‘This is the way you should  go,’

     whether to the right or to the left.”

—  Isaiah 30:21

Over the last few years, the men of my small group have periodically led Bible studies and presentations for the broken men at Set Free, a local drug rehab facility (and the place that saved the life of Susan’s brother, Phil, who then brought Susan to faith).  We’ve gotten to know the guys, many of whom have no family or friends outside the facility.  Before I began a study earlier this month, one of the men came up to me and said how glad he was to see us.  “We thought you’d forgotten about us,” he said, since we had not been there in several months.

Well, over lunch with a friend, Larry, the other day, the two of us sketched out a way to make sure we returned to Set Free on a regular basis, at least once a month, and that we had men who could lead the studies.  We also outlined how we could be spiritually supportive of Pastor Aaron, the director, who dedicates himself 24 hours a day to helping others and, as it turns out, could use a little faith fellowship of his own.

Larry and I believe – no, not in a  smug way — that God laid it out for us.  Though we had not seen it before, the need was two-by-four-across-the-bridge-of-the-nose obvious; so is the apparent course of action.  God’s Way.

Three favors:  (1) Please pray for the residents of Set Free, and especially for Pastor Aaron, a good man who takes no salary and lives on the premises;  (2) please pray that as we set up this seemingly simple ministry, we follow God’s will and not ours; and (3) if any of you men in Gainesville would like to volunteer for the rotation at Set Free, please let me know.   Thank you, and God bless.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

May 24, 2016

 

 

 

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TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/17/16: THE GIMME GOD

May 17, 2016 on 9:39 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/17/16: THE GIMME GOD

I had a friend who only showed up when he needed something. If I helped him, he’d disappear until the next time. If I hesitated, he’d boldly attempt to manipulate me into granting him what he wanted.  If I said, “Sorry, I can’t help you this time,” he would be hurt, angry, offended.  I have managed to avoid that “friend” for the last 30 or so years, and my life has been much better for it.  

However, aren’t some of us like that when it comes to God? We ignore Him, couldn’t care less what He would like from us and wouldn’t think of saying, “Thank you, Lord; I’d like to share some of my good fortune,” when everything goes our way. Then, lo and behold, we are in trouble, and we show up with a “Hey, God, old buddy, old pal, gimme this (or that).”  And if He doesn’t pony up pronto (snap fingers here), we are aghast and disappointed and claim He is a fraud, a phony, no god at all.    

My point:  That’s not how we should treat our friends, and that’s not how we should treat our God.  Instead, how about if we take a little time each day to spend with Him?  Read His book. Talk to Him, thanking Him for blessings, and, yes, also asking Him for blessings, for strength and for guidance.  Oh, and listen to Him.  He knows better than we what we truly need.  It’s called a relationship. – jri

Since they refused to listen when I

called to them, I would not listen when

they called to me.”

  • Zechariah 7:13

 

As a child, I thought of God (always God the Father) as a remote and not-all-that-friendly deity, more interested in punishing me when I screwed up than in loving me. I still have a hard time talking to Him, and I shake my head in disbelief when reading about all the smotings from the Old Testament.  Instead, these days, I prefer to address my prayers to Jesus (God the Son).  When younger, I saw Him as a less-than-appealing goody two-shoes who got suckered into dying for a bunch of worthless people (that would be us).  Over time, though, I began to recognize that Jesus is truly a God of love, who took my weaknesses and sins onto His shoulders.  It was His choice.  Now, I see Jesus as a friend and a brother, as well as King and, most of all, as the epitome of pure love.  So, Lord, no laundry list of favor requests today.  Just a thank you for everything … and it’s a long thank-you list.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections May 17, 2016

 

 

 

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TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/10/16: HUBRIS

May 10, 2016 on 10:56 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/10/16: HUBRIS
 

THE GOAL OF PERFECTION

Perfection!  Back when I was a hard-driving businessman, I accepted nothing less from myself (and often from others).  Three things resulted:  First, I was successful, very successful.  Second, I was relentlessly, ferociously miserable in my quest for this myth of perfection.  Third, I made others, those around me, miserable, too.  You see, perfection is an impossible quest, a fool’s quest.

These days?  Oh, I still try to do things right, but I recognize that there is no such thing as perfection.  Thinking I, or anyone, can achieve it is pure hubris.  (Now, there’s a word I love.)  The goal of perfection, pretty much by definition, leads, ultimately, to failure.

My point:  We should accept ourselves as we are.  Sure, work hard to achieve goals (write the best books we can write, work to lose those stubborn 20 pounds of extra weight, do our jobs to the best of our ability, keep that lawn looking good, etc.), but we should not let ourselves be driven by our goals.  In this world, there is only one who is perfect.  That is our Lord.  So, we should give thanks and try to accept ourselves just as we are … beautifully imperfect.  — jri

 

Because you are human, you will continue to make

mistakes.  Thinking that you should live an error-free

life is symptomatic of pride.  Your failures can be a

source of blessing, humbling you and giving you

empathy for other people in their weaknesses.”

          — Sarah Young

            Jesus Calling (May 9)

 

The other day, I was expecting to win a writing award.  (That’s right, “expecting”; talk about hubris.)  I did not win; not even an honorable mention.  So, I pouted for a day … and then had to laugh.  I reminded myself that my purpose in writing books is to write the best books I can and to help others better understand the human condition; maybe I’d do better is I wrote about zombies and vampires, but I do not see the sense of that.  So, my name will probably not replace Stephen King on the New York Times Best Seller list.  Oh, well.  I like what I’m doing, and my wife likes what I am doing, and a number of others like what I am doing.  And that’s good enough.  In that respect, my life is purfect (and, yes, I did that on purpose).  Thank you, Lord.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections May 10, 2016

 

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WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 4/27/16: THE GIFT OF MORNING PRAYER

April 27, 2016 on 9:28 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 4/27/16: THE GIFT OF MORNING PRAYER

Much of the time, when God answers my prayers, I don’t even see it happening.  I spent much of my life kicking against the goads, doing everything one way:  MY way!  Fortunately, somewhere along the way, God gave me the gift of morning prayers.  I don’t remember exactly when or exactly how, but I began reading scripture and praying every morning.  It just happened.  Correction:  It did not just happen; God did it without briefing me first.

I prayed for many things, no, not selfish things, but good things. When I prayed for myself, I often found myself asking for three simple blessings:  “Lord, please give me faith, strength, and guidance.”  He did. What a wondrous way to start a day – talking to God and asking for His favor!

When God gave me the gift of Susan, I got a gift wrapped in a gift: Thanks to her late brother Phil, she had become a woman of faith. She was also becoming a woman of prayer.  So, these days, every day, first thing when we’re both up, Susan and I give thanks, read scripture together, and pray for others.  We never planned it.  We never said, “This is what we are going to do.”  We just starting doing it.  What an awesome gift.

My point: I don’t have a clue.  I just know that prayer is the most powerful gift God gives us. It strengthens us in times of difficulty; it opens up doors when we are in need of guidance and direction; it helps those for whom we pray, especially those who do not know how to pray for themselves and those who have no one else praying for them; and it centers us and reminds us that God knows exactly what He is doing.  Exactly.  — JRI 

 

Morning by morning he awakens me

     and opens my understanding of his will.”

                  — Isaiah 50:4b

 

While our morning prayers follow a specific pattern, they are far from formal. They’re mostly like a chat among three very special friends – God, Susan and me – enjoying a cup of morning tea or coffee.  We laugh.  We interrupt each other and comment on passages, events and people.  Sometimes we complain, knowing that complaints can be the most honest of prayers.  Sometimes our morning prayers are rote and feel devoid of feeling.  Sometimes they are passionate and filled with the Spirit.  When we are on the road together, we do our prayers in the car.  When apart, we do them on the phone.  They are an important part of our day.

If you would like to begin morning prayers, but are not sure where to start, here are a few suggestions that will take no more than 30 minutes each day: (1) Write down individually one thing for which you are most grateful this day, and then share it.  For us, it can be as broad as “grace” or as specific as a butterfly seen in the garden.  (2) Select daily readings.  We generally use Forward Day by Day or The Upper Room.  We also include the daily reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  (3)  Make a list of others who need your prayers, and pray for them by name each morning.  (4) Be flexible.  Add, adjust and change your prayer patterns as you are comfortable.  Sometimes when we are in a hurry, we do abbreviated prayers.  Sometimes we include a brief reading from something we encountered the day before.  Most of all, just talk to God, thank Him and offer Him your day.  Enjoy.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

April 27, 2016

TUESDAY THOUGHT 3/22/16: RESCUES

March 22, 2016 on 10:27 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 3/22/16: RESCUES

Rascal and MaxB

You could say that Rascal and Max are rescue dogs – Rascal from behind bars at the Humane Society, Max from the side of a busy road. Today, they spend their days lounging in the sun or under my desk, chasing other dogs around the dog park, playing tug-of-war with their chew toys, or just snugged up, on, and around us watching television in the evening.  They are saved and safe, without a worry in the world.  

 

I guess the same goes for Susan and me. God found me wandering around in what had become an aimless life, and Susan had seen more tough times than you would think. Now, together, we spend most of our days in joyful wonder – contented, at peace, free of guilt, anxiety, or worry, saved and safe, snugged up in the arms of the Lord.  

 

My point: All we have to do is let God in, and He will bless us with peace and joy beyond our comprehension.  Life will still have its challenges, but they are so much easier to handle when we put it all in God’s hands. He will rescue us from our foolishness, from our arrogance, from our stiff-necked stubbornness, from ourselves and from the world.  – jri

 

For he has rescued us from the kingdom of

darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom

of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom

and forgave our sins.”

 

  • Colossians 1: 13-145

 

 

Especially with Rascal, it was not always easy. At one point, because he was usually totally happy and often totally indifferent to being trained, we at one point considered giving him up.  But we persisted, and, yes, we also compromised a lot, adjusting our definition of a “good” dog.  Lots of patience helped.  And today, he is a borderline model dog … borderline.  I suspect that God has similar patience with me.  Though Susan is perfect, I still need some work.  Woof!  Thank you, Lord.  Amen.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections March 22, 2016

TUESDAY THOUGHT 3/15/16: FEARS FORGOTTEN

March 15, 2016 on 10:50 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | 1 Comment

The most difficult challenge I’ve taken on is to learn how to lay down my sword. You see, we live in a flawed, fallen world, one filled with danger. As a result, many people I know are filled to the brim with fear and anxiety; they live their lives cautious, wary, ready to strike first or run fast.  Gotta be, right?  (Aye, there be dragons on land and sea serpents in the deep.)

 

Many of us awake in the morning with a start, fearful of a long list of dangers: We are afraid we’ll never be quite good enough. (Of what?  Fill in the blank.)  We’re afraid that we’ll fail at something or everything.  (Again, fill in the blank.)  We’re afraid we’ll be hurt in our relationships, that we’ll look foolish or thought foolish, that we’ll be late for work, fired from work, be discovered to know a whole lot less than we want people to believe, or that our secret sins will be uncovered.

 

Me? Given to believe I was never quite good enough, I lived in fear. My compensation?  I got tough.  Very tough.  Borderline mean.  I swung a broad sword and cut a wide swath wherever and whenever threatened (sometimes, whenever approached – better to strike first and ask questions later).

 

Meanwhile, God watched over me, quietly guided and protected me. And over time, a funny thing happened.  The more I lay down my sword, the more I began to trust that God not only loved me, but that he had everything covered, and the smaller my fears became.  These days, though occasionally I still awake with a start and reach for my old, trusty sword, I find that I am increasingly able to leave it rusting in the corner of my past.

 

My point:  I let God heal me of my fears … and He did. And you? Just say, “Here I am Lord,” and He will do the rest.  He can make you joyful, peace-filled, free or fear and anxiety.  Just ask.  Oh, and then remember to say “Thank you, Lord.” After all, God is in the miracle business, the transformation business.  And if He can change me, he can change anyone.  Anyone.  – jri

 

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.

     He freed me from all my fears.

Those who look to him for help will be

          radiant with joy;

     no shadow of shame will darken their

          faces.

                           — Psalm 34: 4-5

 

 

Trusting God was not easy for me at first. Even today, Jesus and I sometimes have fairly blunt conversations when things do not go quite as I had planned, and I strike out in doubt, fear, anger.  I remember when I first began trying to open up to God, to let Him in.  I felt like the wolf, Two Socks, in the Kevin Costner film, Dances With Wolves, pacing warily just out of John Dunbar’s reach.  I even told Jesus once:  “You didn’t tame me.  I let you touch me.”  But touch me He did.  Thank you, Lord.  Amen.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections March 15, 2016

TUESDAY THOUGHT 2/23/16: SURPRISED BY GRACE

February 23, 2016 on 11:06 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | 1 Comment

Witness/Confession Time: I was in a borderline dither this past week.  A family member is seriously ill, riddled with cancer, taking ever-increasing doses of morphine for the pain. Susan and I have done small bits to help out.  His time seems short.

He is not an active, practicing believer. I am.  That’s the rub. Doesn’t that mean I should reach out to discuss his salvation and his soul?  I have felt increasingly pushed and prodded – though far from motivated —  by the Spirit to visit and talk about these issues.  And I have been resisting doing so tooth and nail.  (Irony:  I can write about faith, and I can stand in front of hundreds of people and talk about faith, I can even chat about faith with other people of the cross, but I am lousy at – dread? – the idea of one-on-one witnessing.  I suspect there’s something about my Roman Catholic background here.)

I have found myself awakening in the middle of the night in that anxious, borderline dither and feeling “encouraged” to make the visit.  My response?  I kept thinking of Jonah running west when God told him to go east.  Even getting eaten by a big fish didn’t sound all that bad in comparison.

So, I prayed on it.  I asked God for guidance, for strength to make the visit, and for the words to make it a success.  I struggled honestly with this issue, doing my best to give it over to God, something I’m not all that good at. Well, albeit reluctantly, I finally agreed that – as ill-equipped as I was for this task — I would do what He asked of me.  (The thought of this family member dying without the benefit of at least discussing his salvation may have also been a factor in guilting me into obedience.  Whatever works.  I’d do it, but I wasn’t going to be happy about it.)

Still, part of me said, “Why me, God? Why not find somebody else?”  Well, He did.

The phone rang in the middle of our morning prayers the other day while I was praying for strength and guidance on this very issue. It turns out that a friend had brought up the situation with another friend, a woman, a minister who does end-of-life counseling.  She offered to help.  (Scary that it never dawned on me to get in touch with her myself.)

Instantly, all my concerns melted away. We contacted my sick family member (who, by the way, was quite open to getting together, but he didn’t “want to be preached at”) and set up a time for both of us to visit this week.  I’ll let you know the outcome.

My point:  God came through. Grace fell like rain.  I asked for help … and, like always, He sent it. Thank you, Lord.  – jri

“Prayer can do anything. Because with God,

‘all things are possible’ (Matthew 19:26)….

So this is not just a harmless little church ritual

we’re talking about. Nor a pitiful beggar asking

for a handout he’s almost sure he won’t receive.

There’s raw power here. There’s access to God

Almighty.”

  • Stephen & Alex Kendrick (The Battle Plan for Prayer)

 

When called to serve, is anyone truly prepared? Joseph was a young twerp with a talent for annoying his older half-brothers, but God chose him to help his people.  Moses was a reluctant leader who tried to beg off becoming his people’s leader (partially because he was not glib of tongue) and ended up bringing them to the Promised Land.  David was a young shepherd who eventually became a great warrior and king.  And look at the disciples: self-absorbed bumblers who often make me think of the Three Stooges times four … but look what God did for and with them!  So, when God calls, I guess the only thing we need to do is say, “Here I am Lord.  Send me.”

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

February 23, 2016

TUESDAY THOUGHT 2/2/16: “I BELIEVE.” SO WHAT?

February 2, 2016 on 11:48 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 2/2/16: “I BELIEVE.” SO WHAT?

I am hesitant about broaching the topic of Jesus to non-believers.  With one fellow in particular, whenever I bring up the subject, usually inviting him to church, his response is always the same. He brushes me aside with the words:  “Oh, I believe already.”  He thinks that is enough, and we never get beyond that point, even though he leads a very secular, sometimes immoral life.

 

Is that enough, announcing belief and then doing nothing with that alleged faith? No.  Even if living a moral life, do we not have an obligation to actively practice and share that faith?  I suspect so.

 

My point:  Faith, like love, is a verb. It calls for action. It is not something we should put in our pocket and, except for an occasional visit to church on Sundays (and God should be so thrilled that we came to visit), hide away.  That’s because faith is not about us alone, but about sharing and helping others – believers and non-believers alike – about sharing the gift of faith we have been given and spreading the word, supporting others and drawing strength from them in return.  Faith should be active.  That is how they grow.  That is how we grow.   – jri

 

So we are lying if we say we have fellowship

with God but go on living in spiritual darkness;

we are not practicing the truth but if we are

living in the light, as God is in the light, then we

have fellowship with each other, and the blood

of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.”

 

  • 1 John 1:6-7

 

 

This is not just about my vaguely believing friend. It is also about me.  What am I doing with my faith?  Though I can stand on a stage and boldly, joyfully preach to a thousand people, I am uncomfortable sitting down one-on-one with non-believes and semi-believers.  Do I give away enough pocket crosses?  Do I say “God bless you” enough in the grocery store checkout line?  Do I act like a follower of Christ among strangers, or am I rude or crude in public, an embarrassment to the cross I wear around my neck?  Do I step up enough?  Today, without guilt or angst, I will try harder.  Please join me.  And God bless.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

February 2, 2016

MONDAY THOUGHT 1/18/16: FIXING STUPID

January 18, 2016 on 11:21 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on MONDAY THOUGHT 1/18/16: FIXING STUPID

We’ve heard the phrase and seen the signs:  You can’t fix stupid!  It is a way of dismissing certain people and certain behavior as being beyond change or redemption.  And I’m sure we all know people who do seem hopeless.  It may be true for us:  We cannot fix stupid.

 

However, it’s not true for God.  That’s one of the things God does:  He fixes stupid; He takes the hopeless person and fills him or her with hope; He takes the lost cause and fixes it with ease; He fixes stupid every day.

 

My point:  Never give up on that lost cause or that lost person.  God can fix the most broken life.  He does it every day.  So, just trust.  – jri

 

Whenever he was put into chains and shackles –

as he often was – he snapped the chains from his

wrists and smashed the shackles.  No one was strong

enough to subdue him.  Day and night he wandered

among the burial caves and in the hills, howling and

cutting himself with sharp rocks.”

  • Mark 5:4-5

 

 

“A crowd soon gathered around Jesus, and they saw

the man who had been possessed by the legion of

demons.  He was sitting there fully clothed and perfectly

sane, and they were all afraid.”  

  • Mark 5: 15

 

 

People can and do change.  I’ve seen young women trapped in a hopeless cycle of sex and drugs turn away from their self-destructive lives and turn to the healing and forgiveness only God can offer.  I’ve seen men transformed from lives of crime and self-absorbed self-centeredness into men of faith and pure joy and selflessness.  Yes, God does fix stupid.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

January 18, 2016

DAILY THOUGHT 1/5/16 OBEDIENT GOD

January 5, 2016 on 11:24 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on DAILY THOUGHT 1/5/16 OBEDIENT GOD

“God didn’t do nuttin!” From my limited experience, it seems that the number one reason people turn their backs on God is because they figure He let them down. He didn’t give them that for which they asked.  It’s not that they do not believe in God.  They’re just not on speaking terms with Him.

 

These folks misunderstand. They want a step-n’-fetch servant for their God. They want to snap their fingers and, poof, God ponies up their latest request.  (Oh, and just for the record, this is generally the only time they talk to God – not to say thanks or tell Him how much they appreciate him – just to hand Him His next set of marching orders.  “Come on, God, step lively, or I won’t believe in you anymore!”)

 

My point: God is not our servant; He is our God.  Yes, Jesus came to serve, but not as our personal slave, employee or fairy god mother. God answers prayers, but I haven’t seen much evidence that He’s big on being ordered around.  Talk to God.  Yes, tell Him what you fear, what you believe you need, and what you desire, but also tell Him thank you … in all situations.  Then just be patient and trust.  God answers prayers.  Always, and in His own sweet time.   – jri

 

God is not our bellhop and doesn’t owe us an

immediate response…. [U]sually He waits.

For the perfect time. And His time is always

gloriously better than ours.” 

                  ~ Stephen & Alex Kendrick

The Battle Plan for Prayer

 

I personally rarely argue with God these days. Sure, once in a while, I get frustrated because He doesn’t hop to it when I have a problem.  However, when Susan and I pray (and we do so with more and more confidence), we always start by (1)praising God for His majesty, from the sunrise to the ordering of the seasons to His wisdom in ordering our lives to miracles and prayers answered; this is followed by (2) thanking  God, for He has showered down grace like rain on us; after that, (3) we ask – not order, but ask – for His intercession and favor, not just for ourselves, but for others; and then, (4) we go about our days in confidence that He is in charge.  No, God is not our servant.  He is our awesome God.  And, yes, in His own sweet time and way, He answers all our prayers.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

January 5, 2016

THURSDAY THOUGHT 12/17/15: MIRACLES

December 17, 2015 on 11:20 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 12/17/15: MIRACLES

I often forget to say thanks for the miracles that crowd my life. Maybe that’s because my life is filled with miracles: the gradual improving of Susan’s stomach condition; the restoration of a once-broken relationship with one daughter and the creation of a stable, against-all-odds joyous life for another; the loss of everything I had once desired, replaced by everything and more of what has brought me peace and joy … blessings I could never have thought to desire, let alone ask for.  And much, much more.

 

Why do I tend to not say thanks for the miracles in my life? I think it is because they come in such subtle ways.  You see, at least for me, the miracles don’t generally arrive in big thunderclaps.  Instead, they sneak up on me; I just wake up one day and a long and pesky problem is solved, a prayer is answered.  I almost don’t notice it.

 

Today, no point, just a suggestion:  Every morning, before we start our morning prayers, Susan and I each and separately write down in a book the one thing we are most grateful for that day.  Sometimes it may be something big like a restored relationship or a spiritual or physical healing.  Other days, it may be something subtle like the beautiful sunrise or, as I was traveling last week, “for a set of seats in the Denver airport without armrests,” so I could stretch out and get some sleep.  What this does is remind us to be grateful each day for something … for everything.  As a result, we find ourselves aware of the multitude of miracles that surround us each day.    – jri

 

The earnest prayer of a righteous person

has great power and produces wonderful

results.”

                  ~ James 5:16b

 

What does the above quote from James have to do with miracles? Sure, once in a while, God just drops a miracle on someone.  However, I have found that the miracles in my life come as the result of asking.  They come from prayer.  I don’t know about being a “righteous person”; I’m more flawed than a fresh paint job in a tornado.  But I ask.  I pray.  And I keep praying.  And so far I’d have to say I’m batting about .999.  (The restoration of the broken relationship between my son and me is still in the works, but it will come.  And any prayers you could send in that direction would be wondrously appreciated, too.)  God answers prayers — in His sweet time and in His sweet way – but He answers them… ALWAYS.  Just trust.  Just keep on praying.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

December 17, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 12/8/15: ARROGANT ME

December 8, 2015 on 11:25 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 12/8/15: ARROGANT ME

I once had the Midas Touch: I succeeded at everything I attempted.  And that  success made me arrogant.  (Or maybe it was my prideful arrogance that made me successful.)

 

It was all fool’s gold, however.  I was not all that happy; nor were those around me.  So, when it all came tumbling down, I was alone.  (Or maybe I was alone all along, but was too arrogant to pay attention.)

 

My point:  Our gifts and talents are gifts from God.  Being proud and arrogant about them makes us fools.   – jri

 

The deception behind pride is that it makes

us believe we’re much more important than

we really are ….  We get into trouble anytime

we overlook the fact that that our lives are a

gift from God and we are undeserving of the

mercy, grace, and blessings He has given us.

That’s why pride is one of the greatest sins of

all.  It leads to every other sin.” 

                  ~ Stephen & Alex Kendrick

                    The Battle Plan for Prayer

 

These days, if I’m proud of anything, it is how blessed I am, how God in His mercy has guided me away (well, mostly) from my arrogant, prideful ways.  I no longer keep score or compare myself to others.  Instead, I just try to love them.  And if I boast of anything, it is of God’s glory.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

December 8, 2015

THURSDAY THOUGHT 12/3/15 SIMPLEMINDED ME

December 3, 2015 on 10:55 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | 1 Comment

I confess that I have grown bored, bored, bored with my hard-nosed intellectual friends.  Educated and knowledgeable about just about everything, they are erudite, self-assured, and inclined to drink only fine Madagascan wines (and only after swirling it and sniffing it and pronouncing their informed assessment).

 

Most of all, if ever I would dare to speak of anything as silly as faith or God in front of them, they would smile pityingly (dare I say, with ennui?) and look at me as if I were pleasantly simpleminded, if not hopelessly retarded.  (Well, at least they never patted me on the head and sighed, though I suspect they wanted to.)  They were too smart, too astute, too too too to believe in such a stupid concept as God.

 

Finally, I realized, “How sad.”  These are the people my father used to caustically refer to as “brilliant morons,” highly educated men and women who did not know how to think for themselves and who were afraid to open their hearts, minds, and souls to the possibility of knowledge beyond knowledge, of understanding beyond understanding, and of Truth beyond knowing.  Usually relying heavily on science, these brainiacs too often failed to realize that science is nothing more than the discovery of small bits of the incredible system that God put in place.  Contrary to what many of them think, every new discovery does not disprove the existence of God; it verifies it.

 

My point:  Wisdom, knowledge, and faith are gifts, gifts that cannot be discovered or unearthed by study, research, or logic.  So, I guess we should be pityingly patient with our over-educated, intellectual friends.  Maybe someday, maybe, they’ll get it.  Poor souls.   – jri

 

The message of the cross is foolish to

those who are headed for destruction! 

But we who are being saved know it is

the very power of God.  As the Scriptures

say,

          ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise

          and discard the intelligence of the

          intelligent.’

So, where does this leave the philosophers,

the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters?

God has made wisdom of this world look

foolish.’”

                  ~ St. Paul (1 Corinthians 1:18-20)

 

Just for the record, and I say this both defensively and tongue in cheek, I am one fairly well-educated guy myself.  I have a handful of college degrees, usually am reading between four and six books at a time, know a decent wine from syrupy swill, and am generally thrilled by discoveries in science.  Oh, and I also bring 65 years of worldly experience and personal observation to the table.  I believe in God (no, more than that, I will dare to say that I know, love and respect God) and I respect science.  Just saying.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections 

December 3, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 12/1/15: THE STUBBORN HEART

December 1, 2015 on 10:51 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 12/1/15: THE STUBBORN HEART

If you have ever owned a goat (and from personal experience, I must recommend against it), you know that if you want the beast to go from point A to point B, it will go anywhere but point B, even if point B is where good food and a clean and dry stall await.  It is the nature of goats; they are determinedly stubborn creatures.

 

I know people who are similar.  God offers them a life of peace and joy, of happiness beyond comprehension … and they know it.  However, it would require doing things God’s way.  Their response:  No way.  If they were to put their attitude to music, it would sound like the Sammy Davis, Jr., song, “I Gotta Be Me” or Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”  So, they live their lives their way – stubbornly, defiantly, and ultimately miserably.  Plus, they usually make everyone around them miserable, too.

 

My point:  Don’t be a goat.   Don’t let a senseless and stubborn heart keep you from a life of joy and peace.  At the very least, just try doing it God’s way.  Today is December 1.  Give it this month.  Read the Word of God.  Pray.  Most of all, just stop trying to tell God what to do and try listening … if only just for one month.  And pay attention to what begins to take place in your heart.  I guarantee that you will see and feel a difference.  It’s a good life, the life God has chosen for you and for all of us.   – jri

 

What sorrow awaits those who argue

          with their Creator.

    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?

Does the clay dispute with the one who

          shapes it, saying,

     ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’

Does the pot exclaim,

     ‘How clumsy can you be?’”

                  ~ Isaiah 45:9

 

I was once like the goat – defiant for the sake of defiance, stubborn for the sake of stubbornness.  I would see the way, the path of true joy and peace, clearly ahead, and I would turn my head and trot down the other road.  Even when I got everything I set out to acquire or achieve, it never worked out.  The pleasure and satisfaction were short lived … always.  Then one day I said, “Okay, God, I’ll try it your way.”  I started out accepting God’s will, feeling at first like a man going to the gallows.  However, my heart slowly softened and opened.  I went from begrudgingly accepting God’s will to willingly embracing His will, to actively seeking His will.  These days?  Well, I want nothing more than to do God’s will.  I guess you could say I’m all in.  Oh, and not only is my life filled with peace and joy, but those around me are a lot less miserable, too.  Amen.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road Gainesville, GA 30506

December 1, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 9/22/15: PRAYING FOR OUR ENEMIES

September 22, 2015 on 10:34 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 9/22/15: PRAYING FOR OUR ENEMIES

At our men’s small group several weeks ago, a friend was lamenting that he was a hair’s breadth away from quitting his new job because his supervisor was making his life downright miserable. Though he has decades of experience, she criticized everything he did, picked at this, commented negatively on that, and in the probationary review, came to the meeting with pages upon pages of notes with which to censure him.

So, at the end of our men’s meeting, when we go around the table and share prayer concerns, we were all sure our friend would pray for a bolt of lightning to strike the supervisor, or at least for guidance about what to do about his situation. Instead, we were all stunned and then delighted when he surprised us all by praying for this supervisor, by asking God to bless her, and to give him understanding, strength, and guidance.

The point:  Well, this one’s pretty simple. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. Our friend did just that. Good advice for all of us. Pray for those who torment us or who we would like to kick so hard in the butt that their teeth flew out. Not only is it what God said we should do, but it will make us feel better and help remove the bitterness inside. –jri

But I say, love your enemies! Pray

for those who persecute you! In

that way, you will be acting like true

children of your Father in heaven.

For he gives his sunlight to both the evil

and the good, and he sends rain on the

just and the unjust alike.

  • Jesus (Matthew 5:44-45)

P.S. on that story: The supervisor in turn was censured by other members of the staff and backed off. Though there will probably never be any love lost between my friend and the supervisor, he expressed marvel at how the job has turned around, and he is so glad he did not act rashly and quit. Funny how God handles things, eh?

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

September 22, 2015

THURSDAY THOUGHT 9/10/15: GOD’S WAY IS THE EASY WAY

September 10, 2015 on 10:34 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 9/10/15: GOD’S WAY IS THE EASY WAY

I used to love swinging the sword of my own dynamic ambition.  I had plans; I had goals. I drove myself relentlessly, often working 70 hours a week. Every night I’d fall into bed exhausted, but satisfied. I was master of my destiny, and I was very successful. I accomplished everything I set out to achieve.

Then I found a better way. I gradually came to realize that nothing I had accomplished really mattered. I had not only wasted 25 years climbing a ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall, but it finally dawned on me that there was also an easier way, a much easier way. What I finally figured out was that everything is God’s, not mine, and all I had to do was ask Him what He had in mind for me, and He would give me what I needed … though, no, not always what I wanted.

So, I do not work so hard anymore; nor do I have a list of goals and agendas for achieving them. What I do have is everything I could ever want, need or desire: good things, including accomplishments, love, faith, family, friends, forgiveness, freedom from guilt and anxiety, a gentler spirit (I like me better these days, and I think others do, too), along with a joyful heart and a peaceful soul. In short, I have everything I could possibly need. Oh, and the bills get paid, too.

My point:  No matter how much we may want to think otherwise, our life is God’s. We have no power. And the things we accomplish without God’s help are worthless. But we can have everything – everything worth having — if we just ask, and then trust and leave it in God’s hands that everything He has in store for us is good and worthwhile. – jri

“Do not be anxious about anything,

but in everything by prayer and supplication

with thanksgiving let your requests

be made known to God. And the peace

of God, which surpasses all understanding,

will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ

Jesus.”

  • Philippians 4:6-8

 

I turn 65 in two months. I am already celebrating it as one of the most personally fulfilling birthdays of my life. Why? Well, for one thing, my lifelong desire to write and get published a novel, a decent book of literary fiction, has finally come to fruition. Captain Jolly’s Do Over comes out this month. I am as delighted as a kid on Christmas morning. Second, though supposedly retired, I am teaching three sections of freshman composition/writing at the University of North Georgia. I love teaching, and I have great classes and great students.  And this is on top of all my other blessings. How did I get here? I just let go and trusted God, telling Him: “Lord, you lead; I’ll follow.” Nothing could be easier.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

September 10, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 7/21: TURN FROM WORRY & ANGER

July 21, 2015 on 10:28 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 7/21: TURN FROM WORRY & ANGER

These are tense times.  In the U.S., the dissension and anger today reminds me of the late 1960s and early ‘70s: the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Bobby Kennedy, race and anti-war riots, even the shooting of college students at Kent State. In the rest of the world, I can only think of Europe and the Pacific Far East in the late 1930s: the rise of bloodthirsty tyrants like Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, along with the brutal, seemingly unstoppable expansion of the Japanese war machine. Every indication today is that we are on the verge of similarly challenging times. And many people I know are either worried or worried and angry.

This is where, as I did last week, I urge followers of Christ to turn to their faith. If ever there was one, this is the time for prayer. No one individual can change the course of history. However, millions and millions of Christians, heads bowed in prayer, can make a difference. Pray for the world, pray for our nation, pray for our children and grandchildren, pray for the mercy and grace of God. Pray.

My point: The answer to the challenges facing the world today is not worry and anger. It is prayer. That is the most powerful weapon in the world, more powerful than rocket-propelled-grenades, AK47s, tanks, and, yes, even nuclear bombs. Pray. – jri

“Be still in the presence of the Lord,

     and wait patiently for him to act.

Don’t worry about evil people who prosper

     Or fret about their wicked schemes.

Stop being angry!

     Turn from your rage!

Do not lose your temper –

     it only leads to harm.

For the wicked will be destroyed,

     but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.

                        – Psalm 37:7-9

Believe it or not, I’ve tended to be a contentious person, always drawn to the challenge. Especially when it comes to politics, I often tended to swing a large sword. Today, I realize that I am not going to change anyone’s mind. Today I try – and I aim to try harder – to remember my own advice: “ Only talk politics with people who agree with you! Pray for the rest.” Life is so much better when I remember that. And it is even better when I remember that I am not in charge. God is. Period.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

July 21, 2015

 

TUESDAY THOUGHT: OVERCOMING THE SADNESS

June 30, 2015 on 10:00 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT: OVERCOMING THE SADNESS

We tend to be a sad, frenetic species.  This is especially true in America.  Even though we are a society overflowing with abundance, prosperity and opportunity, so you’d think we’d be downright joyful, many of us are wretched.  We seek ever-stranger sexual thrills, mutilate our flesh with “body art” and piercings, gorge and starve ourselves, mentally and sometimes physically change our gender, drink, smoke, and drug ourselves into oblivion to escape … to escape what?

Want out?  Then walk into a church … and by that I mean a Spirit-filled church, a church where the people know they are unconditionally accepted and welcomed, as they are, by a God whose love is unshakeable.  And, yes, they are unconditionally accepted and welcomed even if they are sexually oriented differently from others or show up with tattoos, just as they are unconditionally accepted and welcomed if they have committed adultery, harmed others, sinned so badly they believe they can never be forgiven.  They can, and they are.        

My point:  God loves us.  He loves all of us, without exception.  When we learn that, when we believe that, when we understand that we can trust God totally and in all circumstances, then we will put aside the angst, the anger, the pain, the sadness.    – jri

“God loves you, and there is absolutely

nothing you can do about it.

                        – Church banner

                           Seattle, Washington

Susan and I are blessed to be part of The Highlands United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Georgia, a church filled with loving, accepting men and women, and joyous children.  Even though I tend to forget how great God is, my heart swells with that wondrous love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit when I am among these other clay-footed believers inside the walls of that modest building.  Thank you, Lord, for bringing us home to this place.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

June 30, 2015

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 5/27/15

May 27, 2015 on 8:52 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, Living Joyously | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 5/27/15

OVERCOMING OUR PASTS

Yes, we do tend to reflect our parents’ characters and influence.  If Dad couldn’t hold down a job, odds are we too will have a lousy work ethic.  If Mom beat us, odds are that we will be violent parents.  If our folks were emotionally cold or highly critical, odds are that we will have poor self-esteem and often feel we are worthless, never quite good enough.

It doesn’t have to be like that.  God set us free from the bondage of our parents’ sins.  We are free to be the person the Lord wants us to be and to reach our full potential as His children.  Those chains can be broken.

My point:  Do not let your past determine your future.  Turn your fears, your doubts, and your anxieties over to God.  He has plans for you, and those plans are to not be pulled down by the past.  Just ask.  Just trust.  He cares.  – jri

“’What?’ you ask.  ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the

parents’ sins?’  No!  For if the child does what

is just and right and keeps my decrees, that

child will surely live.  The person who sins is

the one who will die.  The child will not be

punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent

will not be punished for the child’s sins. 

Righteous people will be rewarded for their

own righteous behavior, and wicked people

will be punished for their own wickedness.  But

if wicked people turn away from all their sins

and begin to obey my decrees and do what is

just and right, they will surely live and not die.

All their past sins will be forgotten, and they

will live because of the righteous things they

have done.”

                        – Ezekiel 18:19-22

 

“You’re just like your father/mother!” is a curse (the gravest insult) sometimes spit out by an angry parent or spouse.  My father was emotionally cold to the point of cruelty.  In a sense, I was raised in the cage with the wire monkey (versus the one with the fur-covered stuffed animal).  I grew up shy and totally lacking in self-confidence.  So what?  I addressed the issues.  Through my determination and the help of the Lord, I turned it around.  My weaknesses became my strengths.  I broke the chains and shed the sins of the father.  If I can, you can, too.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

May 27, 2015

TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/5/14: LETTING GOD WIN

May 5, 2015 on 9:40 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 5/5/14: LETTING GOD WIN

GOD DIDN’T BEAT ME

Dear Jesus:  You were very gentle on me … but don’t forget that you didn’t beat me; I let you win!  And that’s why I love you.

***

I am not afraid of God.  Never was.  I guess I just don’t scare easily (except when it has to do with snakes).  Sure, I suspect He could smite me with a terrible case of scoliosis that would bring me crashing to my knees.  Or he could lay a mystical staff across my stubbornly stiff neck and push until I fell.

But He never did.  Though I realize now that He was always with me, guiding and protecting me, He pretty well let me go my own way and, ultimately, gave me everything for which I asked (and that, ultimately, turned out to be punishment enough).

I now know that the game was rigged:  In this wrestling match of wills, God let me win fall after fall … until one day I finally let Him win.

So, today, Jesus and I are friends.  We are brothers.  And while my prayers these days often include laughter and sometimes playful complaints, I never forget (nor do I want to forget) that He is my Lord and my Savior.  I willingly seek and try to follow His will.  I give Him what I can.  He gives me all I need.    – jri

“So the LORD must wait for you

          to come to him

     so he can show you his love

          and compassion.

                        – Isaiah 30:18

To me, one of God’s most interesting mysteries is that my surrendering to Him and kneeling before Him in total submission has not made me a slave, but free.  He released me from the chains of fear, guilt, sorrow and uncertainty.  He also blessed me far, far, far beyond what I could ever imagine.  Thank you, Lord.  You are awesome!

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

(770) 314-2649

May 5, 2015

THURSDAY THOUGHT 4/30/15 LOVE LOVE LOVE

April 30, 2015 on 10:24 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness, In God's Pocket | Comments Off on THURSDAY THOUGHT 4/30/15 LOVE LOVE LOVE

JUDGE NOT; LOVE A LOT

The finger pointing has started regarding the Baltimore riots.  Who is to blame?  Somebody has to be fired or prosecuted or at least publicly humiliated.  [My favorite in these situations is when members of one faction demand an apology, and if they get it, they say (A) it isn’t enough or (B) it isn’t sincere.]  It’s the same in Washington.  Closer to home, it’s also the same in our own lives.

We seem to have a need to judge others.  As a species, we pick at, gossip about, find fault with, and tear down others.  Or we just sit in smug silence, reveling in our own superiority.  We tend to demand perfection from others, although we are completely willing to overlook our own flaws.  Most of all, we seem to feel we have to judge, to form an opinion about everything, to weigh in and vote yea or nay on every person or issue, even when we know little or nothing about the facts.  Whew!  Downright exhausting.

My point:  Stop judging.  As followers of Christ, we are commanded to love one another, not judge one another.  Not only is it what Christ told us to do, but it is so much easier.  So, here’s your homework (and mine, too):  Today, when you meet people at work, in the grocery store, or driving on the road, don’t judge.  Just love.  Even if they do something that seems outrageous, just nod and say to yourself, “Lord, bless this person.”  That’s called love.    – jri

“Most important of all, continue to

show deep love for each other for

love covers a multitude of sins.

                        – St. Peter (1 Peter 4:8)

As for the rioters or the police or the politicians in Baltimore and elsewhere this week, just remember that the Lord told us to love our enemies.  I know, that can be a tough one, but keep in mind that even that person we judge to be hideous, well, he or she is a child of God, and is loved by God just as much as we are.  So, just let it go.  Just love each one.  Just try.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

(770) 314-2649

April 30, 2015

 

TUESDAY THOUGHT 4/28/15: WHY PRAY?

April 28, 2015 on 10:11 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 4/28/15: WHY PRAY?

WHY PRAY?

Some people scoff at the idea of prayer.  They say people pray to reassure themselves, to calm their own fears, but other than that, it does no good, accomplishes nothing.  And then there is the curious fact that there are very few (I’ve seen none) spontaneous cures or burning bushes resulting from people praying.  Hmmmm.

So why do we pray?  Well, I’m not a biblical scholar.  However, I know that prayer changes things.  It changes hearts and minds and lives; it gives strength and brings about positive results … often very concrete results.  Oh, and BTW, prayers are always answered. However, I have found that they are almost never answered in the way we expect.  God has a better way.  I’ve seen it time after time after time.

My point (and I think I’ve proven it poorly, but God is beyond proving):  Pray!  Pray in thanksgiving for all your blessings, if only to say, “Thank you, Lord.”  And pray for forgiveness, pray for strength, pray for guidance and enlightenment.  But also pray for others (prayers of intercession), not just for yourself: for the spiritual, physical and financial healing of others, for healing of their relationships, pray that the lonely will be surrounded by family and friendship and love, that nonbelievers may be gifted with faith, that the lost will be given hope.  Why pray?  Because prayer works.  Prayers are answered.  (And in case you have questions, ask me:  God has granted me every request I’ve ever made, though never – I repeat: NEVER — in the way I asked.)  So, these days, I just say, “Thank you, Lord; whatever you have in mind for me, that’s fine with me.”  Amen.    – jri

Therefore confess your sins to each

other and pray for each other so that

you may be healed. The prayer of a

righteous person is powerful and effective.

                        – James 5:16

For Susan and me, one of the favorite times of each day is our daily prayer time together.  First thing in the morning, we sit down and read the Bible and prayer.  We devote maybe 30 minutes to offering prayers of thanksgiving, reading of the daily Bible selections (We use Forward Day by Day and Jesus Calling), sprinkled with lots of personal comment, laughter and special petitions and thanksgiving as Susan and Jesus and I come together to talk each morning.  And, yes, we have a special intentions prayer list of people who are in need of prayers.  We even make a point of including the names of some people for whom we believe nobody else prays.  And, yes, those prayers are heard and answered.  God seems to like us, and He listens to us.  Oh, and, yes, we also get a real spiritual rush from this time of devotion.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

(770) 314-2649

April 28, 2015

WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 4/22/15: BLIND PIGS

April 22, 2015 on 10:18 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on WEDNESDAY THOUGHT 4/22/15: BLIND PIGS

BLIND PIGS & ACORNS

It was a weekly ritual between Angie and me back in the 1980s:  “So what did you learn in Sunday school?” I’d ask at dinner each week.  (These were the days when the Catholic Church had lost its way and, at least at the local level, had forgotten what it believed.  Activities, it turns out, consisted mostly of putting crayons to biblical coloring books.)

Poor Angie, a grade-schooler, would stammer as her older brother and sister hooted and smirked at my request/demand that she stand and deliver.  Finally, she’d blurt it out (the same answer each week), the always safe answer:  “Uh, uh, Jesus loves me?”  (Note the question mark.)  I was always disappointed and often irritated.

The point:  In truth, she actually got it right every week, a lesson it took me years to learn.  Jesus loves us.  That’s it.  That’s all.  If we ever get that, we have it all figured out.  — jri   

 

A new commandment I give to you,

that you love one another; just as I

have loved you, you also are to love

one another. By this all people will

know that you are my disciples, if

you have love for one another.”

—  John 13:34-35

The good and wondrous news about Angie and me:  Though she is passionate and fiery and outspoken (not sure where she gets that), we have always borne a deep love for each other.  (Before I had heart surgery several years back, she and I had not been on speaking terms for more than six months.  When she heard I was in the hospital, without hesitation, she and her sister, Nicky, flew to Georgia.  Spiritually, we have not been apart since.)  My greatest joy about Angie is that, in spite of my oft heavy handed efforts to pound the love of God into her head, she and her family are now believers and regular church goers.  (And, oh, how things have changed:  Her daughters love going to church.)  So, for me, maybe this blind pig found an acorn.  Or maybe God just did it in His own, sweet way.  All we had to do was let the wondrous love of God in.  Thank you, Lord.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

April 22, 2015

SUNDAY/MONDAY THOUGHT 4/12-13/15

April 12, 2015 on 7:24 pm | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on SUNDAY/MONDAY THOUGHT 4/12-13/15

FROM NOTHING TO PURE BEAUTY

tulips

The band in church this morning played “Beautiful Things.”   It’s one of my favorite Christian songs.  (The chorus is below.)  It made me think of the tulips that came up in our garden this week.  We take a lot for granted, but think about this:  Several weeks ago, all we could see was dirt (attractive dirt, but dirt nonetheless).  Buried below was a handful of gnarly looking tulip bulbs.  Ugly?  Sort of.  Plain?  Most definitely.

And then, KAPOW!  As if overnight (it took several days, actually), these absolutely beautiful flowers (not just one, but a flock of eight, and more getting ready) sprang from the ground.  Something from nothing. Splendid beauty from plain, ugly dirt!  Awesome.

Here’s the point:  That’s what God can do with us!  That’s what He does with us every day.  He takes tired, old, sinful souls and makes them beautiful.  No one is too bad, too sinful, too far gone.  God is in the miracle business.  Turn your pain, your sadness, your tiredness over to God.  He will make your old soul radiantly new and beautiful. – jri

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make beautiful things

You make beautiful things out of us.”

— Michael & Lisa Gungor (Beautiful Things)

Susan and I have seen our share of sorrow, loneliness and pain.  Today, however, because of the miracles we have let God perform in our lives (correction, our life), we are joyful.  God has transformed us.  The best part:  It’s soooooooooo  easy.  We just handed our life over to the Lord, trusting that He knows much better than we what we need.  (God always gave me everything I asked for.  It’s just that for years I didn’t have the sense to ask for things worth having.)  Thank you, Lord.

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

April 13, 2015

 

TUESDAY THOUGHT 4/7/15

April 7, 2015 on 8:56 am | By | In Faith & Forgiveness | Comments Off on TUESDAY THOUGHT 4/7/15

CONFUSING THE CLOSED-MINDED

“Aha, this Bible is full of inconsistencies,” I’ve been told by a few non-believers.  “Just look at the gospels.  All the stories do not match.”  Scrupulous scholars love this.  For example, two criminals were crucified beside Christ.  In one account (Luke 23:42), one of the criminals repented:  “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.’”  However, in another account (Matthew 27:44), the two men were referred to as insurgents and both of them mocked Jesus: “Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.”

Here’s the problem, at least as I see it (though, keep in mind that I’m no Bible scholar):  Approaching the Bible from a purely academic point of view will reveal what appears to be a jumble of disconnected stories, many of which seem primitive, quaint and naive from our modern, sophisticated perspective.  The problem is that you cannot approach the Bible from a purely academic point of view.

My point:  Follow these three stepsOne, open your mind and put aside your preconceptions.  Two, open your heart and be prepared to seek what is truth.  Three, open your Bible and read.  No, you do not have to believe, but to truly understand the Bible, you cannot approach it with a closed mind.  Oh, and if you already have faith, the Bible makes complete sense, although it may well take years to truly understand all its beauty, as its Truths become apparent with time and study. – jri

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart;

     do not depend on you own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

     and he will show you which path to take.”

                  ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

One of the many great beauties of the Bible is that the men who compiled it were not afraid to include all four gospels, along with their apparent discrepancies and contradictions.  The gospels were four different accounts of the same events, recorded by men who had different recollections, perceptions, and reasons for writing their stories.  The stories in the Bible would make lousy fiction, but they make awesome Truth.

 

John Ingrisano

DailyConnections

4279 Hunter Road

Gainesville, GA 30506

April 7, 2015

 

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