Gratitude for a Good Man

Note: This post was automatically generated from John’s weekly newsletter, The Daly Grind. If you encounter broken links or images, you can go here to read from the original newsletter: Read More

I originally had a different topic in mind for this week’s newsletter, but Sunday afternoon I decided to write instead about a man I deeply admire. His name is John Knutson. He was the pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Greeley, Colorado for twelve years. He announced his retirement a few months back, and Sunday marked his last services at the church. It was a day of celebration, but also one of sadness from a congregation that will truly miss him. He and his lovely wife Diane will soon be moving to the Oregon coast.

My family and I were active members of Our Savior’s through most of his tenure. In fact, my wife was on the call committee in 2012 that ultimately selected him. The church was in pretty bad shape back then. We’d gone through a tough period of congregational turmoil, staffing changes, and hard feelings, so a big element in what we were all looking for in a new pastor was someone who could bring people back together and help heal the wounds.

Thankfully God sent us Pastor John, and our prayers were answered.

Our Savior’s did heal and grow under his leadership, and it became a much more positive and welcoming place. As often as John’s sermons would speak to me, what I regarded most about him — almost from the moment I met him — was his profound decency, grace, and thoughtfulness. Well, that and his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Unlike the pastors from my past, he wasn’t an intimidating figure. You never felt like you were being judged when talking to him, or worried you were going to say something inappropriate (which was of course a big plus for me). He had “regular guy” sensibilities, and you could tell he genuinely cared about and valued each and every person he met.

I witnessed him turn potentially hostile situations into moments of unity and peace. I watched him raise spirits and offer strength to those in need. I stood in awe of his extraordinary patience.

I just realized how weird it is writing about the man in past-tense. John didn’t die. He’s just retiring, and all of his wonderful traits will of course continue on. I guess it’s because my family and I haven’t been active church members for a few years (for reasons unrelated to him) that everything feels so nostalgic.

But even from a distance, John has remained on my mind. And whenever we’ve run into each other around town, it feels as though I never left the church. I guess that’s because, unlike other church leaders over my 50-plus years on this planet, I consider him a personal friend.

It meant a lot to me when he and Diane would show up at events in my life, like book signings and book-launch parties. In fact, as best I can tell, John’s read more of what I’ve written over the years (from my novels, to my columns, to this newsletter) than most members of my family.

He’s visited and prayed with my and my wife’s parents at their assisted living homes, which I’m also immensely great for.

I was honored a couple years ago when John asked me if I would edit personal accounts of God sightings that he’d witnessed and documented throughout his life. The idea was to put them in a booklet to share with others. These are stories that shaped his faith going back to his youth. As someone who aspires to be more like John, I found them quite meaningful, and I was grateful to have been part of the project.

When I showed up at the church on Sunday for John’s last day, I learned that the booklet had indeed been published — a parting gift of sorts from him to the congregation and beyond. There was a copy waiting for me in the church office.

Lots of John’s stories, that I first learned about during the editing process, stuck with me. I’ll close out this week’s newsletter by sharing one of them. It came at a time when John was still working a regular job while becoming more involved with church functions.

Whether you’re a person of faith or not, I hope you enjoy it:

Impossible! – July 1980

After a while, my manager job had lost its thrill. I looked much more forward to working with church groups, and I continued to visit Peniel Christian School.

One day, I finally felt the nudge to resign from my position at the cooperative, and become a volunteer counselor at the school. I went from making over $1,000 a month (which was pretty good for those days) to a monthly allowance of about $20, along with free room and board.

It was a stretching time of faith.

I was one of two counselors in a two-story building that housed 16 boys. We were always on the alert for fights, drugs, shoplifting and the occasional runaway. Most of the youth had already been in trouble with the law, and their parents were at their wit’s end trying to control them. While each boy had his own unique story, they also had a number of things in common. It was amazing to witness faith and prayer work miracles in their lives.

One boy, however, was not like the others. I’ll call him “Billy.” For peace of mind, as well as his safety, he stayed in a doublewide with the director’s family and several other boys. Billy was brought to the school because he had failed to thrive. He had no hobbies, nor anything that excited him. His skin was pale, his voice was soft and monotone, and we never saw him smile. The plan, or at least the hope, was that some of the rowdy, rebellious boys might rub off on him and bring him some life.

Around the 4th of July, I joined with Jim (the other counselor) to take a dozen boys to a Minnesota Twins/Texas Rangers game in the Twin Cities. Having never been to a game before, the boys were very excited. Well, at least everyone other than Billy.

Most of the boys had brought gloves, hoping to catch a baseball during the game. They begged Jim and me to get them there early, as they knew about the batting practice taking place beforehand. We obliged, and soon found our cheap seats in the outfield.

It was a sunny, blistering hot day. Nothing too exciting happened during the practice, and by the time the game started, the boys were getting a bit restless. We’d already eaten, but looking to soothe the situation, Jim offered to take the group to get some ice-cream. Eight boys went with him, and I stayed with the other four. One of them was Billy, who sat right next to me.

Buddy Bell was up to bat for the Texas Rangers. He took a big swing and connected hard with the ball. It soared high in the air and seemed to be headed our way. Everyone around us was suddenly on their feet, arms stretched to the sky.

I looked up and saw the ball bounce off one glove to our left and then another glove to our right and drop right into Billy’s open hands that rested on his lap. He had never even gotten out of his seat!

Billy held the ball, looking at it. A warm smile formed on his face.

The other boys and I watched in disbelief as strangers swarmed him, congratulating him and celebrating his home-run catch. Jim soon arrived back with the rest of the group.

“Billy caught a home run!” shouted the boys who’d witnessed it.

The returning boys couldn’t believe it. “Impossible!” one of them said.

But that day, the impossible had become possible.

As the rest of the group took their seats, even the popular boys asked Billy if they could touch the ball. It was humorous and heart-warming at the same time. After we got home, Billy would even let some of the boys have the ball in their room overnight… for a small price.

I can’t say Billy was “healed” that day, but his life was changed, and so was mine.

Out of everyone in the stadium, it’s hard to imagine anyone who was less likely, but more needing, to catch that ball.

God had delivered him a home run. God had delivered him the impossible.

Thank you, Pastor John. You’re an amazing messenger of God, a very good man, and a valued friend. Safe travels to you and Diane!


A Noble Cause

An acquaintance of mine (and also a very good guy), Patrick Chovanec, is involved in a very important cause.

In support of Ukraine, in the country’s ongoing battle against its ruthless Russian invaders, an organization called Ambulances for Ukraine has been stepping in to help. They’re supplying Ukraine with donated and refurbished ambulances (and other emergency vehicles) to be used for medical relief during the war effort. The vehicles will be packed with additional medical supplies.

Patrick is part of a convoy that’s driving those ambulances all the way from London to Kyiv to deliver them.

His journey is about to begin (it may have already started by the time you’re reading this newsletter), and you can help the organization — if you like — by donating to them through their GoFundMe page. The money goes toward the refurbishing and transportation costs, which aren’t cheap. And the organization has just about reached their fundraising goal. If you feel so inclined, please join me in helping them reach that goal (and beyond).

We Interrupt This Week’s Newsletter for a Special Announcement

For a limited time, my Sean Coleman Thrillers are just $3.99 each on eBook! Make sure you take advantage of it!

Random Thought

Obligatory Dog Shot

The best of both worlds.

Featured Vinyl

Another Record Store Day exclusive this week.

Tesla, in my view, was one of the best rock bands of the 1980s (and their stuff in the 90s was pretty great too).

In 2007, the band released “Real to Reel,” a studio album featuring classic-rock cover songs from the late 1960s and early 1970s. It includes songs originally recorded by bands like Deep Purple, The Guess Who, and Led Zeppelin… but with Tesla’s unique sound.

The album was finally released on vinyl for Record Store Day this year, and it’s a great listen.

Catch Up on the Sean Coleman Thrillers

All of my Sean Coleman Thriller novels can be purchased through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Books-A-Million, and wherever else books are sold.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.

Want to drop me a line? You can email me at, and also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now Threads! If you haven’t subscribed to this newsletter yet, please click on the “Subscribe now” button below. Doing so will get these posts emailed directly to you.

Also, if you’re not caught up on my Sean Coleman Thrillers, you can pick the entire series up at a great price on Amazon. And if you’re interested in signed, personalized copies of my books, you can order them directly from my website.

Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!

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