Archive for May, 2014

Oops!

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

2014-S-CLASS-SEDAN-092-CCF-DFor heaven’s sake, some things are simply inappropriate; this is over the top!  It is arrogant excess, blatantly displayed for everyone to see. Her huge car is obviously a mismatch for her driving skills, as she nearly bumped a Ford F150 while backing out of her parking space. Frankly, I am totally put off by her crassness! There she is, as if she is the First Lady or perhaps a royal princess, behind the solid cherry steering wheel of a spotless black Mercedes Benz. I don’t know the model, but it is nice —- a big one and she still has the price tag on the window for the world to see. I am serious as a heart attack! I mean really, who in the world, other than perhaps the late Minnie Pearl, who would drive around with the price  still on a luxury car?  What an ego! This woman has problems. She must be really insecure — most likely from a dysfunctional family.

I’m behind her now, as we are both about to exit the “Y” parking lot.  I think I might blog about her. Oops! I just noticed something else. Tell me it isn’t so, the Benz has dealer tags! I’m going to have to change the ending of the blog. Ever feel like a fool?

As human beings, we seem to have a propensity for jumping to conclusions. Folks have been doing it for at least several thousand years. There is a great story in the Old Testament about that very thing. Found in Joshua 22:9:34, it is a classic narrative, probably written around 1390 BC, about forming conclusions before you have the facts. You might want to read it and file it away in your memory bank. I just did.

Spending Time Together

Monday, May 19th, 2014

0dog_cat_loveA few weeks ago a man from London, England contacted me through my blog. He said if he lived in Nashville, that he would try our church. He then told me that nearly all his life he has not wanted anything to do with God, because God let him down so many times. As a child, his church and his parents taught him that God was up there just waiting, as he said to “swat me to like a fly”.

Ouch! What he said resonated with me. Frankly, that is what the church of my childhood taught me or at least that is what I thought it taught.  Like the Brit, many of us have misconceptions about God that find their roots in faulty teaching. The problem is, when you believe stuff that’s not true about God, you’ll feel guilty when you shouldn’t. You’ll carry fears you don’t need to carry. You’ll worry about things you shouldn’t. And more than likely, you could even end up like my new friend from across the pond, who doesn’t have anything to do with God. That would simply be a tragedy, all because you misunderstand or you were taught stuff that was wrong about God. That kind of misinformation will rob you of a great portion of your happiness and you will never be completely fulfilled.

Hopefully, you have a best friend — one that you know backwards and forwards. You can probably complete his/her sentences. How did you get to that point? Did your read about him? Did someone tell you what she was like? Did someone teach you about him? My guess is that it was none of the above. Oh, perhaps someone introduced you, but you got to know each other by spending time together. That is the only way you will ever know God for Whom He really is. You can begin to get to know God anytime you are willing to shut it all down and spend time alone. Trust me, nothing else will work. Why not start with five minutes, as soon you turn your phone off?

Uniqueness

Monday, May 12th, 2014

2013-06-15_10-51-49_467Saturday biking on Old Hillsboro Road we passed a tranquil valley farm framed by golden pastures containing perhaps several hundred rolls of freshly cut hay scattered about like cloned works of art along a half mile of road frontage and four-rail Lexington fence. It was an incredible sight and it put a top hat on an early morning bicycle ride. From my vantage point atop a bicycle moving at 20 MPH I thought, “Gee, I’ve never noticed the raw beauty in a roll of hay before”. Perhaps that was the key, I was moving at 20 MPH, much too slow when I’m driving, but perfect when in the saddle of my bike.

The next day I drove back to the farm to take this picture. After asking a farmhand if I could get closer, I noticed that the rolls that had looked so uniformly identical from the highway actually had their own individual characteristics. One had remains of a tree branch, another a paper sack. On one the roll itself did not form correctly and it was a bit loose. I was reminded of the unshakeable uniqueness in all of God’s creation. From a distance we all look basically the same. Oh, our skin might be lighter or darker, but until you get up close we are all seemingly more or less homogeneous. It is when we dare to venture near that we see each other for what we really are —- works in varying degrees of progress. God is never early or late. His timing is perfect, as is His inimitable plan for you.

Hold the Egg

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

eggs2Standing in line at McDonald’s I overheard the woman in front of me ask the counter person if she could get an Egg McMuffin without the egg. “No problem” was the reply. I had to laugh. An Egg McMuffin® without the egg is no longer an Egg McMuffin. It becomes something else; something that it was not meant to be.  Without the egg it is just a ham and cheese sandwich.  As the name implies, the egg is the key ingredient.  As I thought about the eggless McMuffin it occurred to me that an Egg McMuffin without the egg can be a metaphor of a life without forgiveness.

I deal with people all the time who claim to be Christians but for one reason or the other they refuse to give forgiveness any space in their lives. Folks who choose to do that are left with shriveled up lives of bitterness, resentment and more often than not, hate.

By Divine design forgiveness is a necessary ingredient in God’s recipe for life.  When Peter tried to do an end run around forgiveness, Jesus threw a flag (Matthew 18:22). Accordingly when we choose not to forgive, life becomes something it was never meant to be. Quite often it becomes hell. Contrary to culture’s drumbeat, Scripture tells us that we are to live forgiving lives, that we should not hold grudges and that we are to even do good to folks who do us badly. Jesus did not design Christianity cafeteria style.

As a rule I think those sayings you see on church signs are usually pretty lame; however, I saw one last week while riding my bicycle that said. “Be nice to your enemies; it blows their minds”.  Perhaps that is what Jesus had in mind when he told Peter to forgive every offense.

© 2014 John Gouldener All Rights Reserved

Looking Back

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

images(Originally written during the Great Flood of 2010) The Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes has a couple of sentences that are always difficult for me to swallow in the moment, but with hindsight I’ve discovered that they have been true in my life without fail.

Yet, God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:10-12 NLT

As I write this Danny is missing in the flood waters of the Harpeth River. I had no idea until I saw Anderson Cooper interview his mom while we were in Destin last week. As I watched from afar I could feel a grieved mother’s soul-deep anguish. I thought “how sad”. But even then I didn’t know it was Danny from the gym, the man with the huge Jesus tattoo on his back, until his picture came up on the screen. I don’t recall ever having a feeling exactly like that. It was a shocking experience; a moment that I could actually feel in my gut. The very first thing I said to my wife was “I know him, he has a huge Jesus tattoo on his back!”

I didn’t know Danny well. Actually, I didn’t even know his last name. I’m sure he didn’t know mine. He was a boxer. He was tough in a good way. Over the years we chatted; he seemed to be interested in my bicycle riding. Often I overheard him talking to other folks at the gym about Jesus being his Savior. It was never any of what I call “Christianeese”. He didn’t use buzz words, but if someone opened a door he was willing to tell them what Jesus had done for him. Perhaps that is why he had the Jesus Tattoo. Who knows how many people Danny has touched.

For over a week volunteers have been searching for Danny. Many of them never knew him, but they have wadded through water, mud and briars because they care. ”…people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

I don’t believe for a New York second that God wanted Danny to die in a flood, but I believe to center of my heart that God’s work on earth includes using horrible happenings. No, we can’t see the whole picture, but God does always bring good out of bad. Some way or the other he will do it again even in the death of Danny with the Jesus tattoo.