Posts Tagged ‘mistakes’

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.

Surrendered

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

SurrenderThe older I get the smarter I get. After church Sunday one of our long time members, Sunday volunteer and dear friend expressed a concern  about what I had written in my blog the previous week (“God Breathed” January 1, 2015  Johngouldener.com).

To make a long story short I had contrasted our first church plant with the second. In the first we experienced what I believe to be a series of God directed miracles. While the second church has obviously been blessed by God in many ways, it has not followed the “miraculous model” of the first. I had written, “During my Thanksgiving retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, God revealed the real difference (between the two)…The first church was itself a miracle. It was raised up by God himself. God breathed always trumps man-breathed. Miracles only come to pass when we completely surrender our will to His”.

Anybody who knows my story realizes that for a lumber salesman, who had taken a twenty year break from church, to walk out of the lumber company one day and walk into a church of 1000 the next as the associate pastor without any seminary study, something miraculous was going on. For my wife and me to take that step, we had to completely trust God because it made absolutely no sense in the human.

Here is what I believe was the key and it may be the key to most all answered prayer. Three years later when we helped, along with others, in launching our first church plant, I believe that we were all surrendered completely to God’s will, as far as the new church was concerned. As best as we knew how, we followed his leading in planting that first church. Our only thought was how our church would be a doorway to Jesus Christ. As far as I can recall there was no thought of how it would benefit any of us whatsoever.

Twelve years later when our church split and some of us formed a new church, as I have reflected back,  I now realize I was not completely surrendered to him on the second go around. Over time God has shown me that this time my primary concern was not how to reach people for Christ, but for me it was primarily about how to continue my personal ministry, take care of “my” people and show up my former church.

So Sunday my friend asked me if I thought that Crossroad was not in God’s will. I believe that it is.  But God never blesses something that is bad. “Continuing my ministry” is a good thing and “taking care of people” is a good thing. God has greatly blessed those two facets of  CCC.  On the other hand, “showing up my former church” (by growing a really large church), while it may be a normal human reaction, it is a very ungodly thing. It is sin and God never blesses sin.

Something to think about


Rationalizing

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

lance-armstrong-livestrong-shirt-1Often in my messages, I’ll talk about my “rationalizing machine” as a means of illustrating how easy it is to con ourselves into thinking our bad is really good. While working on a project, I compiled a list of some of my classic rationalizations. Some were quite harmless; others were not. Several were mean. Nearly all were sins.

As fallen human beings we have the unique ability of conning ourselves into actually believing that our bad is OK. Humans are the only creatures on earth that do that.  Since we seem to behave that way with such regularity, perhaps we are trying to make up for the critters that don’t have this ability.  Not sure about that, but I do know that when we flip the switch on our rationalizing machines to full blast, we are capable of off the chart conduct which often comes back to bite us in the butt.

When we let our own miscalculations, projections, hate, envy,  or insecurities float our boat, the boat invariably goes aground and the damage is always pretty extensive to ourselves. How many lives have been irreparably changed by things that made so much sense at the time?

The moral of this story is that rationalizing machines always lie; so beware when you turn yours on because bad is never good and things done in darkness are most always bad. Just like the sun, sooner or later the light will be turned on so that all can see.

Something to think about

http://www.nashvillecrossroad.com/

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.

Thugs

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Unless you have been in a coma for the last few days, then you know who Richard Sherman is and what he had to say about Michael Crabtree, during an ESPN interview following Sunday’s Niners and Seahawks Division Championship Game.  Within seconds after the interview, he became the number one trending on Twitter.  Immediately, he was referred to as a “thug” by millions on social media. I was one of them. My bad; I made an error in judgment based on a 27 second interview conducted in the midst of the media hype following the most important game he has ever played. Sherman is not a thug in any way, shape or form. I looked up the meaning of the term and it means a “violent criminal”. I also researched Richard Sherman. He is a Stanford graduate, an incredible football player, an articulate and generous figure in his community, and certainly not a thug.

There is another thing he is not. He is not cool. He did offer a qualified mea culpa for his postgame rant the following day; however, he later lashed out at his detractors by calling them racists. He said that calling a black man a “thug” is a socially acceptable way to convey the intent of the “N word” without actually using it.  My first recollection of the term “thug” was from gangster movies I saw at the Paramount Theater on Church Street back in the fifties. As I recall they were all white.  It has nothing to do with skin color or dreadlocks. I consider George Zimmerman a thug.  I remember calling Arron Hernandez a thug when he was charged with killing his friend.  I referred to all the accused rapists in the Vanderbilt rape case as thugs. There was a white kid, named David, in my high school who stole my favorite cowboy hat.  I called him a thug fifty years ago.  Sherman was wrong to call me a racist. I was wrong to call him a thug. Actually I think he is closer to being a spoiled brat.

Something to Think About

Falling

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

I’ve learned another critical life-lesson while riding my bicycle. As a point of information, many bicycle riders wear special shoes that are attached to the pedals via a clip system.  The advantage is that bike shoes make the pedaling much more efficient. The disadvantage is if you don’t get at least one shoe unclipped fast enough when you are coming to a stop, the  result is an embarrassing spill while still attached to the bike. Trust me this is something you don’t want to have happen for a couple of reasons.  Skin and asphalt aren’t designed for real close proximity, but more than the physical hurt is the emotional one. A grown man dressed in Lycra falling over on a bicycle is not at pretty sight and certainly not at all ego boosting.

Early on in my riding career a friend told me that he finds bicycle riding to be a metaphor of life itself. I have found that to be true. Just like the fact that all bike riders will take spills, that same truth is mirrored in life itself.  In other words in life everybody will “fall” some. Here is some of what I learned during and after one of my more public falls: I was overconfident. I had ridden so many miles without falling over that I had become complacent. I had gotten to the place where I no longer had a healthy fear of falling. Carelessness was the direct cause of my spill.  I no longer thought it could happen to me.  I didn’t keep my guard up.

During the time just before the fall I made some poor choices. Instead of taking care of business and doing the things I knew to do, I panicked. In other words all the way to the tipping point, I knew what to do. I had the skills; I could have taken control, but I didn’t.  I nearly took my riding partner down with me.  Had that happened, he would have been an innocent victim of my mistake.  Yep, bicycle riding is indeed a metaphor of life.

All that was learned was not negative.  While lying there on the pavement in downtownFranklin,Tennessee, still fully attached to the bicycle with God knows how many eyes glued to me, I realized that the spill was not nearly as embarrassing and ego wounding as I had visualized.  All I really had to do to put it behind me was get up, laugh and start pedaling again.

Something to Think About.

http://www.nashvillecrossroad.com/

Couple of Idiots

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

This past Sunday my message was about why God allows bad stuff to happen to good people. About an hour before the service started God gave me a painful and nearly tragic illustration. As I was hanging a sign, a 30” bungee cord that I had stretched much too far came loose and hit me in the head just above my left eye. I saw stars and think I remember hearing the coo- coo birds! Another inch and most likely I would have lost an eye. Here I was literally doing the Lord’s work on earth and that happened. What kind of God is that?  The same one that allowed me to get an education so I could read the warning label that said “Bungee cords are extremely dangerous. Always wear eye protection and never stretch a bungee cord more than 50%.” It was the same God that blessed me with a free will that allowed me to choose to disregard the warning. I have gone through life disregarding warnings as a matter of routine. Let those of you without sin cast the first stone. “It can never happen to me” is the mantra that has infected humanity since  before Eve plucked the apple off the forbidden tree.

Last week I was in line at Kroger when the woman in front of me bought two cases of beer, some frozen pizzas and two cartons of Marlboros. The woman behind me remarked that she did not see how people could afford to smoke. The cigarette lady retorted, “Honey, I’ve had a bout of throat cancer, but I’ve still got to have my smokes”.  At the time I thought she was an idiot. Each time that I have looked at my black eye in the last few days, I have understood that she is not the only one that I know.

Something to think about

My Bad Back Flip

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Yesterday, totally out of the blue, I received some news from a person that I have known, respected and trusted for twenty years. This information was about a man that once cussed me out in a crowded restaurant with the vilest  and sickest  conglomeration of obscene words that I have ever heard strung together and who has stalked me via email for years.  A while back, he sent me another of his odious dispatches, informing me that he was “retiring” from his position and was going to enjoy life and even suggested that we should fight each other.  I am at a loss as to what has prompted his years of harassment and hate.  But knowing him and how much he delighted in his “dream job” I was a bit surprised why he would suddenly choose to retire. I suspected that there might be more to his “retirement” than he was telling.

Well, the information that I received was that he was actually fired from his job for a major issue. When I heard that I could have done a back flip. As a matter of fact it made my day. Who would blame me?  I expect that, given what this man has put me through most anybody would react about like me; wouldn’t they? Perhaps, but the problem is that was the wrong reaction. That is not the way a man who claims to be a Christian should ever react.  My Savior forgave the men would were in the process of driving nails into his hands and feet. He died for me and he died for this guy too.  We are both in the same boat. I would be very surprised if Jesus did a back flip when the guy was canned. I find that for me living a Christian life is a constant challenge. I fail at it a lot. Today, I am praying for the man and his wife, which is what I should have done yesterday.

Matthew 5:44-45 (NLT) But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. 

Something to think about