Posted tagged ‘mistakes’

Careful!

February 3, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                   February 3, 2019

                                         

Yesterday was nice and sunny here in Colorado Springs- about 60 degrees, in case anyone in the East and Midwest is wondering- so I took a walk. I went past the Liberty High School parking lot and noticed a young lady being taught how to drive. Her mom was giving her instructions and she slowly made a loop around. Whenever she made a turn she almost came to a complete stop as the tires were redirected. Her mom had her park in one of the parking spaces and it took her three times of going forward and then backwards before she put the Subaru in the spot. 

She was being extremely, extremely, really extremely careful! The question occurred to me as I watched this from the hillside overlooking the school, “when will she stop being careful?” Will there be a point where she will begin exiting the school parking lot at the end of a school day driving like a bat out of hell?

Our three year old granddaughter is determined. Otherwise known as being stubborn! There’s been a few times when she’s been given a cup of juice to drink and she grabs it like a Black Friday 5 A.M. shopper at Walmart! The juice goes every which way, sloshing to freedom on the table, chair, and floor. Sippy cups have made her reckless! They’ve taught her to proceed carefree! Perhaps when she’s five she will discover the relevance of carefulness for her life…cautious and controlled now to avoid spills and cleanups later.

Being careful appears and disappears like the fog along the Ohio River. Someone runs down the driveway to pick up the morning newspaper, trips and falls on a spot of ice, and breaks their arm. Another person, an elderly woman, walks with heightened fear taking each step slowly as if she’s on a tightrope. Her fear of breaking a hip has made her careful, whereas the first person has learned the hard way that there are times to slow down.

Working quite frequently with middle schoolers, I am amazed at how so many of them now have cell phones…without protective cases! A thirteen year old’s cell phone without a protective case is an accident waiting to happen! Little Jimmy, who races through the hallways between classes, now has an iPhone that has no many cracks in it there’s no way he can make out what anything on the screen says.

Careful or without a care, so much of our lives get spent at one end or the other of the pendulum.

I was surprised to discover that the Bible uses the word “careful” 120 times. the advice of Ephesians 5:15 is simple and clear. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise!”

Reckless behavior has its consequences. Decisions not thought through will have negative results. Doing something stupid has the potential to do damage for years to come. Here in Colorado we have had several devastating fires in the past decade. Last June’s Spring Creek fire burned over 108,000 acres and destroyed 141 homes. It was caused by a man who has been charged with arson. One moment of stupidity caused damage that will take decades to undo.

Scripture keeps reminding us to be careful in our words and actions. When something is said or put into print or onto social media it can’t be undone. It’s there, and will be there! Being careful is associated with being wise!

We need not be as careful as the young lady inching her Subaru along in the school parking lot, but so often we resemble our granddaughter, sitting in the splashes of our rash decisions. 

Fleeing The Embarrassment

August 4, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                               August 4, 2016

                                  

Yesterday I was at a stoplight waiting to turn right onto a six lane road in our area. The green arrow to turn left was lit for the vehicles coming towards me. I waited for four cars to make the turn, and then the green light appeared for me. I did not see the young lady who was beginning to cross the street. She noticed that I was beginning to turn and hesitated out of nervousness. I should have just stopped at that point, but, instead, I swung wide around her to the far lane and proceeded.

My thought at that moment was some guilt and shame at causing her a moment of questioning her safety, and my embarrassment at seeming to be in a rush to go…nowhere!

But then I noticed the car that had been behind me in the turn lane correctly pausing to allow the young lady to cross in the crosswalk before proceeding in the same direction I was going.

My thought at that moment was “He/She saw what I just did, and if that person catches up to me at the next red light they are going to give me “the look”, yell at me, and tell me that I’m going to Hell.”

I speeded up to get away from the pursuer!

Isn’t it interesting in our world where everything seems to get filmed by cell phones how we worry about those we fret are watching us?

Kind of like belching in a vacant area of a store and then looking around with embarrassment to see if anyone heard it!

What is it about that moment? The fear of being discovered to be a lawbreaker, the anxiety of being seen as doing something our mom would have scolded us for in our growing up years? What causes us to look in our rearview mirror to see if we got away with it?

The car that was “pursuing me”, actually turned right at the very next block. I experienced instant relief, like a get-away vehicle from a bank robbery.

Why?

Like David and his reaction about the after-effects of his Bathsheba rendezvous, I like to think that I get away with things that would cause me embarrassment. It is how I am wired. In fact, I think it’s how most of us are wired. In a world where the gray area is growing like the creature in the 1958 film The Blob, I believe we’re still fairly clear on what is right and what is wrong.

Some of us just like to think we’re getting away with things! Fleeing the embarrassment is the certainty of my imperfections, the signature on my humanness.

Building and Destroying

June 2, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                      June 2, 2015

                                              

Last week I swung by my insurance agent’s office to get a recommendation on a roofing company to call. As I pulled into the parking lot something was different. The two story building next door to theirs was no longer there.

I mean…gone! A dirt-covered empty lot!

It’s interesting when you become accustomed to something being there…and then it isn’t…you are taken back a little bit! In fact, my insurance agent’s one story building suddenly seemed to look smaller because of the vast empty space that now shadowed it to the east.

I asked Michelle, one of my agents, what was going on next door. She said they were going to build some other structure in the coming year on that spot. And then she made this statement:

“You wouldn’t believe it, but it took them less than a day to tear down the building that was there!”

Less than a day!

Six to eight months to build…less than a day to tear it all down!

A reputation is built over a long period of time, but it can be destroyed quickly.

As I think about that, a photo book of faces flashes through my mind of people who have been evidence of that statement. Well-respected, intelligent, esteemed for their leadership, recognized and followed…and then a weakened moment, or a hidden flaw that suddenly was exposed, or a conversation that went viral…and the structure came tumbling down.

It goes without saying that we all fall and stumble. The lives that we build are filled with pockets of errors…some more like chips of the plaster, but others that threaten the stability of tomorrow.

Writing a blog post about building and destroying won’t solve our tendency to screw up our blessedness, but maybe it will be a wake up moment for someone who is teetering on the edge of the cliff.

What is evident about the empty lot by the insurance office is just that! The emptiness of it…where just a few weeks ago there was life being lived, decisions being made, a structure to protect from the uncertain weather elements…and now having to start over from the ground up.

May today be a day of building just one more solid brick on to the firm foundation…a day where we are solid in our thoughts and actions, anchored even deeper to the Foundation!

The Worship of Excellence

May 18, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                              May 18, 2015

                                  

Our church strives to do things the best we can in worship of our Lord, but I could write a book on the number of times when we have fallen short of excellence. Here’s a few examples:

-We are a Baptist church that has had a baptistry that kept leaking…bad! One baptism Sunday there was hardly enough water in it to qualify the person to be a Methodist, let alone a Baptist. One memorable Christmas Eve we baptized people in the inflatable pool of my grandkids that was shaped to look like a whale…including the tail! Joe, one of the people being baptized, and I still joke about him getting baptized in the belly of a whale.

-One Easter Sunday we had the wrong video shown. Instead of a nice beautiful melody that made the resurrection sound celebrate (which it is!) we had a video of heavy metal music that I’m pretty sure mentioned Satan and demon worship a few times. Awkward!

-A couple of people have done special music who missed more notes than hit them.

-People still remember my “oops” slip in a sermon when I referenced giving out “Lady Godiva” chocolates. Red face!

-I’ve led the reciting of The Lord’s Prayer a couple of times and I gone blank on the words. When the pastor stops midway through the prayer the silence becomes like a wave moving though the congregation.

In many ways we are a Lake Wobegon congregation!

We strive for our best, but often miss excellence.

And yet, I’m okay with that. People put their hearts and souls into using the gifts God has given them, and if that falls short of a concert hall experience…that’s okay.

Our culture…and especially church culture…worships excellence. It worships the seamless flow of worship where “dead time” is almost non-existent, and people can marvel at the precision, the timing, the carefully manuscripted event.

There is a difference between a worship experience and the worship of excellence. The first is about an encounter with God that stirs the soul. The second is a production that is a delight to the senses. One is spirit-moving and the other is foot-stomping. One gives us the feeling that God is seeing the condition of our heart and the other is a taste treat for our eyes.

The worship of excellence is like a glass of evening wine that is satisfying for a few moments with our feet propped up as we sit in the recliner. A worship experience is “new wine” that quenches the thirst of my soul.

We worship excellence. The difficulty is that the worship of excellence is prone to have grace evicted. Sometimes church culture is a mirror image of a professional football stadium crowd who break out into the booing of their team that is falling short of excellence in a contest. Very rarely is anyone on the field giving less than their best effort, but pro football fans have a tendency to check their forgiveness at the door…or after the third beer!

Worshiping excellence leads us to critical spirits where less than perfection is not tolerated. The worship of excellence does not allow students and interns who are still trying to figure out and be perfect. Worshipping excellence is about keeping score like Olympic gymnastics judges.

Worshipping excellence becomes deaf to prophetic voices. The words of Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel would not gain a hearing in a gathering of excellence worshippers.

There are those who have been gifted by God in the leading of people into a worship experience that will be remembered as being excellent…and we thank God for those he has so incredibly gifted. A gifted worship leader will always lead people to God, not to an experience.

In my office are several “drawings” from my grandkids. They will never be in an art studio, pinned to a wall with quality lighting on them to bring out the vibrancy of the colors, but they are works of art that bring delight to a grandfather’s heart…more meaning to me than a Rembrandt, and even more understandable than a Picasso.

Sometimes we encounter a display of love, such as that, and we respond “Excellent!”