Archive for February, 2015

Double Helix

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

DNA-double-helixI recently read a scientific report prepared by The National Human Genome Research Institute that had some startling numbers. Each person reading this has approximately 100 trillion cells. Within each of the individual cells are 46 bundles of DNA, 23 from each parent. Each bundle of DNA is composed of four chemicals paired two by two into a twisted ladder called a double helix.  To cut to the chase here, the report says that genetically the earth’s 6.5 billion people are 99.5 % identical. The variations in the remaining half of a percent are what make us all different and unique genetically speaking. That is scientific fact.

We live in an age of hate like I have never seen before. We zero in on the bit of  difference.  We hate Obama, Cruz, Boehner, Pelosi, Clinton, Limbaugh, Fox News, The Huffington Post, Brian Williams, Bill O’Reilly  and those are just for starters. Don’t believe me? Look at your Twitter and Facebook feeds.  Why do we hate? Because they are different and that scares the hell out of us. That means that we are “us” and they are “them”. They are bad and we are good.   But really they are just like us. “…all people, whether Jews or Gentiles, are under the power of sin.  As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one. Romans 3:9-10

Those of us who claim to follow Jesus, whether   “us” or  “them”, are actually the worse of the lot because we know better. Our Savior boiled it all down to two very straightforward, easy to understand commands:  Love God. Love everybody else. 

Something to Think About


© 2015 John Gouldener All Rights Reserved

Brian’s Song

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

helicopter-41808_640NBC has announced that their news icon and leader of the pack Brian Williams has been sent to time out for six months without pay.  The statement from 30 Rock ended with this: “By his actions, Brian has jeopardized the trust millions of Americans place in NBC News. His actions are inexcusable and this suspension is severe and appropriate. Brian’s life’s work is delivering the news. I know Brian loves his country, NBC News and his colleagues. He deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him. Brian has shared his deep remorse with me and he is committed to winning back everyone’s trust.” So far it seems that the network is letting this story unfold as is without attempting to spin it in a more favorable light.  In an era when politicians of all strips seem to be obsessed with spinning their bad as our good and vice-versa, I find it refreshing for the NBC brass has so far not done that.

Perhaps there is a lesson here for the rest of us. How many of our lives would be enhanced for the good by uttering the single five word sentence: “I made a bad decision” or if you are under thirty simply say “My bad”.  Think about the pain you have carried because your pride would not let you admit to it after getting caught.  Suppose Brian’s song had simply been the cold hard truth instead of that nonsense about “twelve years and foggy memory”.  Something along the lines of: Folks the truth is I lied about that chopper ride to make myself look bigger, braver and a bit more like Clint Eastwood. Would the world have ended — nope! Would he be better off?  Yes, I think he would.  People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” — Proverbs 28:13 NLT 

Something to Think About

Ham and Eggs on a Wobbly Table

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

ham-and-eggA while back Cathy and I drove to Memphis to make a prison visit.  On the way down we stopped in Jackson, Tennessee at the Casey Jones Village for the buffet.  If you have never stopped there it is really a cool place especially if you are into trains. They serve country ham to die for. The restaurant has brick floors. Let me tell you something about brick floors. I love them! Our first house had brick floors in the kitchen. The problem with brick floors is most of the time, since part of their mystique is to look rustic and old, they are by design seldom smooth.

So here we were at Casey Jones’ chowing down on country ham and eggs and all the other stuff that goes with that kind of fare and our table was like a see – saw. Each time we touched it would go first one way and then the other.  Our coffee had whitecaps! We had to chase that ham all over our plates.  We got to laughing about it; so I folded a napkin and jammed it under one of the legs. I began to look around at the other tables and under nearly each one was a wadded up napkin or paper under one or another of the legs. Ham chasers who had come before us had stuffed them there. My paper wad pretty much fixed things until we were almost finished eating. At least no more coffee was spilled.

As we drove on toward Memphis I got to thinking about all those wobbly tables and how they are a great parable of life itself.  For one reason or another, often times our lives get a little wobbly.  Perhaps the cause was a not so wise choice we made, or maybe it was a choice someone else made, but either way our lives were adversely affected.  Things are now a little wobbly. About 99.9% percent of the time, figuratively the first thing we do is wad up a napkin so to speak and stick it under a leg or two. That metaphor for a quick fix will not stand the test of time. When our lives get uneven and out of kilter, quick fixes are mostly no fixes. I wonder how many of us right now are depending on quick fix instead of biting the bullet and taking the bull by the horns and saying, “Whatever it takes to really fix what is wrong in my life, I am going to do with God’s help”.

Maybe your wobble is a relationship issue. Maybe it’s a personal issue of the past or present. Maybe something happened to you and you have kept it a secret for many years and it is eating a hole in your soul.  Maybe it is something you did or said or that you should have done or said. Maybe for you your pride will not allow you to seek help. Whatever it is, a wobbly table only gets worse with time, never better. I expect the person that I visited in prison that day,  might have said the first time those steel doors slammed behind him “Gee, I sure wish I had done something about my wobbly table before it collapsed on me”.

Something to think about.


Friday, February 6th, 2015

057199205_Super_Babies_xlargeLike the picture I am a bit weird and a study in contrasts. I much prefer chicken over beef but enjoy them both. I own two guns but think guns almost everywhere is a terrible idea. As far as I’m concerned, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush are both good men, but possibly the two worse presidents in my lifetime. I believe that global warming is a reality but I’m not sure about the cause or the solution. I believe that President Obama means well but is a highly ineffective leader. I believe that I can and should eat healthy  but sometimes I do not. I am a season ticket holder for the Titans, but have not been to a game in years. I agree with the verdicts in the Vandy Rape trial, but am heartbroken not only for the victim, but the rapists too. I do not like paying taxes but do not want to do away with them. I follow both Tennessee and Vanderbilt but sometimes I like it when Vandy loses.

I have always considered myself “Pro Life” but I’m not sure any longer what the term means. For me it means exactly what it says. “Pro-Life” is much more that than being anti-abortion, which I am 99% of the time. The way I see it “Pro-Life” means protecting life both inside the womb and outside. I believe that to figure out what “Pro-Life” means, all I have to do is look at the message of my Savior Jesus Christ. I think it is time for some of us with “Pro-Life” stickers on our cars to get a big, black Sharpie and insert the word “some” over the hyphen in the term. To deny health care to “the least of these” in our state is not Pro-Life any way political hacks try to spin it.  To me it seems a really weird thing to do. Pro-Life is not a bumper sticker; it is a lifestyle.  Most of the time I am happy; today I’m sad.

Something to Think About


Thursday, February 5th, 2015

71_1112005142510Sunday at the end of our service, I mentioned that when I first got into recovery many years  ago they explained that doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of the word “insanity”. That off the cuff comment has led to several discussions this week  with folks about various aspects of their lives. I’m the kind of person who probably spends too much time wondering why things do or do not happen.  I wonder about people. It seems like some folks never change, while others seem to flip flop with the shifting wind.

Many of us spend great quantities of time thinking about making tweaks in our lives that require change of more or less degrees. We can talk a good game, but we also know that most change is going to involve pain for us and often for others.  It is miles and miles from talk to action. Sadly, many of us don’t make it that far. Quite often, when we began the journey of change, we may have to pull some scabs off.  When you mess with a scab, you bleed a little and sometimes stuff oozes out, but a while down the road you feel much better.

Occasionally I will become a bit introspective, noticing areas of life that I need to do differently. Most often they are simple adjustments like rearranging my office; sometimes they have been foundational shifts in how I do life. In the last several years, my changes, both major and minor have served me well.  I expect that maybe you have some areas of your life that need some attention too.

Perhaps it is the area of anger, resentment, pride, rigidness,   or envy.  Maybe for you, it has to do with remorse or shame or guilt or fear that someone will find out and won’t love you anymore.  It could be anything, but I expect we all could do with a few changes. Perhaps you need to do what I did.  Say, “God I’ve had enough, I’m powerless over me”. I found that God isn’t powerless over me or any problem in my life. If we are willing to allow God to work his changes in our lives, then a while down the road, there will come a morning when you look into the mirror, you will see the man/woman you always wanted to be. Only through change does that miracle take place.

Something to Think About