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Everyday is new!

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I hope that you had a great summer and are now able to get back into the “fall” schedule.  My summer has been great although long and hot!  Texas was very warm this past July and August.  Over the past couple of months God has been doing amazing things in my life, my marriage, and in my church.  So many things that are happening that point straight to Him.  He’s always working.  Our job as believers is to say “yes” to His plans and to ask for guidance and strength to complete the task.

The goal of this blog is to link golf and our spiritual walk with the Father as well as share my personal relationship.  One of the most unique aspects in golf is that every day, round, hole, shot is new.  One of my favorite things to say in golf lessons with my students is, “you never know when your going to play your best!” It literally could happen at anytime. I have heard of a golfer that shot a 42 on the front nine and then a 30 on the back!  Or one that had 3 consecutive bogeys then followed it up with a hole in one or 2 birdies.  This game gives us no guarantees of when we will play good or bad.  This is however one of the main reasons we continue to play.  The hope of a great shot or great round could be right in front of us. We have to just hang in there and keep trying/hoping.

We can hope that with some direction/coaching, practice, and playing on the course we should see our games improve and become more consistent.  Everyday our expectations change for how we could play. Sometimes we put unrealistic expectations on ourselves and our games. This leads to frustration and regret. Regardless, of how we perform most golfers still revel in the experience of playing.  Mark Twain said golf is “a good walk spoiled” meaning the action of playing is so enjoyable but the game can quickly ruin the walk!

Our spiritual walk with the Father is similar, but always good!  Lamentation 3:23 tells us that His “mercies never end, they are new every morning.” Every day we wake up His mercy on us is new and the same as it has always been.  Know matter how we “played” the day before, His mercy never ceases.  We can believe this as a promise from God.

Everyday we can know that His love for us never changes. He loves us the same when we are at our best or not. (Romans 5:8) Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39 “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The bible tells us over and over that if we believe in Jesus, declare Jesus as the Savior and Lord of our lives, and love the Father with all our heart, mind, and soul, that we can stand on all of God’s promises for our lives.  He is faithful to His word.  This is where we can have the greatest expectation and consistency in our lives.  No matter how bad we play that day, or what decisions we make, God will always uphold His end of the deal.

So no matter where you are in spiritual walk and where you are with your golf game, know that your day can start with assurance of one thing!  He loves you and is for you!  You can “wake up to heaven!”

Shout out to my home church worship team with the song below!

 

Masters Recap/Easter

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Masters Recap/ Happy Easter!!

As usual The Masters Tournament did not disappoint! Every year there is drama and excitement. I have been to Augusta National several times but have never played it. I have played some of the most famous and notable courses in the US. It always amazes me that there are a few courses in the world that are a clear cut above the rest. Augusta, in my opinion, is at the pinnacle of that list. The reason is not because it’s the most beautiful or the prize if you win, but because of what it demands. The design of the course and the tournament setup is what makes that course the best. For example, during the first round many of the players talked about how difficult the pins locations were and some were in new positions experienced players hadn’t seen before. Yet, Bryson Dechambeau was able to shoot six under that day. Yes the course is difficult but if you play the correct shot and execute it birdies and eagles are possible. I love that! The course and designer lay it all out for you and say, “Here’s the shot you need to hit. Can you do it?” If the player pulls it off then they will reap the reward! But, if they fail or play the wrong shot at anytime the results could knock them out of the tournament.
What a story that Tiger gave us this year! Just 16 months ago he was ranked outside of the top 1,000 in the world and questioning whether or not he will ever play competitive golf again due to the condition of his back. I can’t imagine the doubt, frustration, sadness, and soul searching he has gone through. Many of us doubted his return let alone him actually winning another tournament. However, what we know about Tiger is that when the doctors said that he would be able to play again he set a plan in motion. He put his team together. These were people he trusted and that could help him climb back up to the top of the golf world. I would say that Sunday afternoon the culmination of that plan came to fruition. I would bet that everyone on that team would say that it took countless hours of work, sacrifice, patience, sweat, tears, and perseverance to finish the plan. Simply put, it wasn’t easy. Now Tiger is once again a major champion and at the top of the sport. Incredible……
There are so many things that I could talk about from these stories and the tournament and how they relate to our spiritual walk with God. However, I’d like to expand on the two examples I just mentioned.
First, God is the ultimate designer and You are His “Augusta!” The Bible tells us that we are made in His image. God the Father, the creator of the universe made you in His image. He sees you as his prize creation. Did you know that? Since He created and knows you, He desires to have a relationship with you more than anything. Your heart is what He longs for. He has a plan in place for you and He wants to bless you beyond all understanding and at the same time bring Him glory. It’s a divine design that includes you and me.
John 3:16-17 tells us that “God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” What do we need saving from? Ourselves. God is perfect and so was His plan. But when Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden sin entered the world. God is perfect and cannot be present where there is sin and therefore we have been separated from Him. God’s love for us prevails as He didn’t give up on us. In order for us to have a relationship and be with Him in heaven for eternity God sent Jesus to to save us and to be a sacrifice for our sins. When we confess our sins and accept the gift of Jesus, we become a new creation and are justified in the eyes of the Father. This is the gracious plan that God has created for us. What a great example of the awesome love He has for us. Acts 2:23 says “This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge, and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” This is proof that God is the ultimate designer as it was always His plan to send Jesus to save us. He loves us so much that only the sacrifice of Jesus would be enough for us to be a part of His plan.
Secondly, Tiger did something that God calls us to do in our lives. Sixteen months ago there is no doubt that Tiger was at rock bottom. Once Tiger received the green light from his doctors that he could play golf again, he put together a team to help him. He found people who had specialized gifts, that he didn’t have, to help him recover and improve. Tiger did not isolate himself and try to do it on his own! Often when we have difficulties in our lives we keep to ourselves. We think that no one cares about our problems or that no one would want to help. These are lies and tricks from the devil.
God wants us to live in community; first with Him and then with others. God did not design us to be alone. He wants us to rely and depend on Him first. Then we need to rely on others that He has put in our lives who are blessed with gifts that we may not have. See God works in our lives through our relationship and interactions with others. We are designed to help and encourage one another, especially in our faith. If you have people in your life right now that encourage and help you be thankful as you are blessed. If you do not have anyone I pray that you ask God to place and reveal people in your life today that can help you.
Lastly, as Easter is a day away, if you haven’t accepted the gift of Jesus in your life I pray that you seek out the answer as to why you haven’t. Ask God the questions you need answers to. He will have all the answers. Jeremiah 29:13 says “you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” God promises to reveal himself to you when you seek him with all your heart. He never breaks a promise.

Hey, I messed up…..

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Golf is such an interesting sport/game.  One of the most unique aspects are the rules.  While you are playing a round of golf there are no referee’s or officials out there watching you to see if you break any rules.  In fact, as you may already know, a golfer is responsible to call a “foul” or breach of rule on him or herself.  This is where the saying “golf is a gentlemen’s game” comes from.  Now I don’t mean to get anyone upset by using this reference. In this day I guess that saying could be “offensive.”  What this saying means and what I want to write about is that how golf is a game of character.  A “gentlemen,” while playing golf, is supposed to hold themselves accountable to the rules and let their playing partners know if they mess up. Golfers are held to a higher standard in their game.  When I watch other sports I see many athletes intentionally break the rules or one of my favorites is “flopping.”  Flopping is acting like some hurt you or fouled you when in fact they didn’t to trick the referee into calling a foul on your opponent.  This is dishonest and wastes time during the game.  Golfers don’t do this. 

In my experience professional golfers won’t play another shot until they talk to their playing partners or call in an official if they even think they broke a rule.  I’ve seen experienced professionals call in an official for a drop out of a hazard area.  This is something so simple and remedial that they’ve done hundreds of times before yet they still call in an official because they want to do it the correct way. Also in my experience, I have never seen a bad situation happen after a player has confessed breaking a rule or that has been called out for doing so. Sure, it would be understandable for them to be upset but golfers are ready to accept the penalty for their actions.  This is the character issue I’m highlighting. I’ve seen other athletes physically attack other players or officials for calling fouls on them.  This doesn’t happen in golf.  Two good examples of this are Dustin Johnson in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and Lexi Thompson a couple of years ago in the desert.  Both players had penalties called on them, were both upset (it cost them the championship), yet they professionally accepted their consequences. 

How about the honesty of the golfer who calls a penalty on themselves even when their competitor didn’t see it?  There is something special that happens when a golfer confesses a breach of rule they committed to their playing partners.  I have never seen an opposing golfer condemn the confessing golf for breaking the rule.  The result of the confession is honesty, respect, graciousness, compassion, and admiration.  Let me know if I’m wrong here.  It sets an example of what other golfers should do in that situation and builds respect for that player and the game. I couldn’t be able to tell you how many other professionals and other golfers around the world felt bad for Dustin Johnson when that happened to him in the PGA. There was an outpouring of support for him.  No one called him a cheater. The character of confessing that you, as a golfer, broke a rule is what makes this game so interesting.
We all mess up.  Not all golfers are perfect but this game holds you to a higher standard and asks you to be honest.  Golf asks that we carry this over from the course into our lives off the course as well.  God, our referee or official of life, asks the same of us in our lives.  Lets take a look at an example of this out of Genesis 3.  Here, Adam and Eve have been deceived by the serpent and had eaten the forbidden fruit.  They had breached the rule, fouled, sinned.  In verse 8-9 it says, “the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden……..and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” What I find interesting here is that we see the character of man/woman. Adam and Even sinned and then hid!  They knew they messed up. I’d say that most of us do the same when we sin or break a rule against someone.  We try and conceal the sin or mistake. What about when we sin against God?  Do you hide or try and push it aside? I know I have tried. Since God appointed Adam as our legal representative for all mankind his sin is passed down to all of us. Because of their sin we are all sinners. We can’t hide from sin as we are born with this sinful nature. See Psalm 51:5.
 What’s also fascinating in this text is we have God walking in the garden and Adam and Eve are trying to hide from Him. God knows exactly where they are and what they did!  But here He gives them an opportunity to come out and talk with Him.  He wants to talk about their struggle. Yes, He gives them consequences of their sin, but He’s showing His character of a relational, loving God. Even though we are sinners God doesn’t want us to hide from Him. This is why Jesus had to come and die on the cross! John 3:16-17!  “God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son…….For God did not send his Son in tho the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him!” God’s character is loving, relational, redemptive, and forgiving. We are never too far gone nor have the ability to escape God’s love and grace. We can’t hide from it but we can miss it.  This text gives us a great example of what God asks of us. When we feel convicted of our sin against God, He wants us to come to Him and confess it to Him.  He made a way through Jesus for His love for us to endure, for our sins to be forgiven, and for us to have salvation and righteousness! These things are far greater than what happens on the golf course! 
Proverbs 28:13 “Whoever conceals their sin does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy”
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness”
Leviticus 5:5 “When anyone become aware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned.”

Lifted up!

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So yesterday in church our worship team started playing a song and the words of the song really resonated with me at the time. I believe that Holy Spirit was speaking to me through and about the song.  As I was singing the words “the name that’s so much higher than all names,” “be lifted up,” “be lifted higher” I started think about what that means. The lyrics say to lift up the name of Jesus and to put Him higher.  I thought to myself, “how can I do that? I can’t physically lift Him up.” That’s when Holy Spirit started to speak to me and I immediately sat down and started writing.

Holy Spirit said that “Jesus is already there! He’s already at the top, the highest of all heights.  He’s above all things right now and forever!” John tells us this in John 3:31 as he is explaining who Jesus is and why He is baptizing people, “He has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but He has come from Heaven and is greater than anyone else.” Ephesians 1:21-22 also says of Jesus, “now He is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else– not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made Him head over all things for the benefit of the church.” Singing that song does not physically lift up Jesus any higher.

Singing the song in worship does however elevate Jesus’ position in our life.  Holy Spirit said, “He just wants to hear it from your voice. He wants to hear you say it. To declare that He is highest in your life.” When we declare this in worship we are lifting Jesus up as our first priority.  Its shows His placement in our life. That’s what Jesus wants most from us. He wants to be the priority in my (our) life. I was His priority in His life.  

It’s easy for us to put other things in our life as our first priority like our jobs, health, money, hobbies, or even other people. It’s also easy to put control ahead of God. This looks like us putting our faith into our own strength and knowledge to do things rather than asking God to show us what His will is in that situation. The other way this is communicated is that we put God “in a box” so we can go get Him out of the box only when we need Him.

Whatever we may go through and experience in our lives our most important concern has to be sin. Sickness and situations do not separate us from God; sin does. Jesus has authority over everything and sin is included.  Jesus says in John 8:23-24, “You are from below; I am from above. You belong to this world; I do not. This is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” Jesus died so that we may be justified in the eyes of God the Father. His death and resurrection gave Him authority over sin and death. This results in eternal life with Him in Heaven for all who believe in Him.(John 3:16)

Why would we put our faith and worship into something that is on this earth or another person when Jesus is above it? Remember what Mark 4:39 tells us? Jesus woke up and rebuked the wind and told the waves to “be still.” Guess what? They listened! He has the authority over everything! No matter what you are going through, good or bad, Jesus is still higher than that situation.  We cannot do anything to change His physical placement or authority. However, when we declare Jesus as Lord and put Him first in our lives that activates His authority and promises over our lives.  So yes, Jesus, I lift up your name! Be lifted higher than anything else in my life. I believe and declare that you are who you say you are. Thank you Jesus!  Like the song ends, “let our praises fill the temple!” Tell him today!

Seasons

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Seasons  

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there will be a “time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” As a golf professional I have a hard time with “seasons.” I specifically don’t like winter.  I’m not a fan of the cold weather as I work outside and as you can imagine most people play less golf during the winter months. This could result in a slower time in my lesson business. I’m sure that my wife and kids would tell you that I get pretty cranky during the winter mostly due to the previously mentioned reasons.  I literally count down the days until Valentine’s Day because, in my mind, that’s when our weather here in Texas starts to change for the better.

I believe that I am supposed to use this season to press in to the promises of God. That’s what seasons are for.  First we need to praise God and thank Him for what He has a given us (every season) but also believe in the His promise to provide for His children (in the tough ones).  Romans 8:32 says, “For God has proved His love by giving us His greatest treasure, the gift of His son, and since God freely offered Him up as the sacrifice for us all, He certainly won’t withhold from us anything else He has to give.” During the winter season we also celebrate Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Jesus’ birth was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14 where it says we will call him Immanuel which means “God is with us.”  This is just another reminder that even in our toughest seasons God is still with us and we are not alone. He has not abandoned us and still freely gives. I am constantly praying for warm weather!! However, God wants me to focus less on the season I’m in but more on Him.

I’m also sure that the author of Ecclesiastes wasn’t specifically just talking about the seasons of weather throughout the year, but also our personal lives.  Seasons also apply to how we play golf.  We have seasons when we play well and seasons when we don’t play our best.  Golf always presents the question “what am I doing?” or “Why am I not playing well?” This is usually where and why I see people for lessons.  Most golfers come to see me in a season of bad golf or they are starting a season of training to improve. In our spiritual seasons God wants us to ask Him, “why am I in this season?” or “what are you trying to teach me here?”  Seeking His answer to those questions will be a much better option versus letting the situation we are in consume our thoughts and feelings, or try to figure our own way out.  As far as golf if we are in a season of not playing well we must evaluate and find where we are creating excess shots that are driving our scores and frustration up! We seek guidance to help our technique or change our strategy on the course.

In these instances I’ve mentioned above I have found that our consistency and our mental approach is crucial to our spiritual relationship as well as our golf games.  Personally, God craves and seeks a close relationship with me (and you) and offers His provision. In Luke 8:13 Jesus says, “The seed falling on the gravel represents those who initially respond to the Word with joy, but soon afterward, when a season of harassment of the enemy and difficulty come to them, they wither and fall away, for they have no root in the Truth and their faith is temporary.” We’ve all been through some tough seasons in our lives but our Heavenly Father wants to get you through every season for your whole life. He wants to be your rock and foundation because He never experiences seasons!  He’s the same all the time. His love and mercy never change! No season or mountain is big enough for God!  God wants you to root your life in His word and surrender your agenda to His will. Mark 13:33 tells us that we “must be waiting, watching and praying, because no one knows when that season of time will come.” When we pray and ask God to take care of us it can put into motion a season that may not have been in motion. Prayer lets God know what we desire but it also lets us know what God wants for us. Consistently seeking His will over ours will give you a new perspective about the season you are in as well as the ones to come.

Professionally, I would recommend keeping a consistent schedule of lessons throughout the year to help you stay sharp with your game.  The relationship you build with your instructor will grow as you communicate often with each other. Also, consistent lessons will allow you to not stray off into physical mistakes that can also create mental frustrations. Both of these will help you improve and get you through any tough seasons in your game that year.

1 Timothy 4:8 says, “for athletic training only benefits you for a short season, but righteousness brings lasting benefit in everything; for righteousness contains the promise of life, for time and eternity.  I love this.  Basically it says that we will always experience seasons in golf but if we seek God and righteousness it bares the promise of life for eternity! Even though we will have seasons in life, through Christ we have hope to get through them as well as the hope to spend eternity with Him.

Praise God!

Click the link here for a great song by Hillsong titled “Seasons”

Follow Through…

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Throughout my life and career one on of my biggest struggles is to follow through on things I’ve said or promised.  Most of the time it’s been about ideas I’ve had or plans I wanted to make. Those ideas and plans would just fall through as I would forget about them or move onto another idea. Recently, some Godly men in my life poured into me about this struggle.  My wife also got a word from the Lord about this.  She shared that God gave her a vision of a gate, an open gate.  The gate was my opportunity to reach people. She saw me struggling to walk through the gate. I needed help.  See I have all these great ideas but I didn’t know how to execute them.  I was unsure whether I had the strength or knowledge to do it. I had doubt. Doubt that people wanted to hear my ideas and doubt that I was worthy of others time if I asked them for help. I was being selfish and relying on my own strength (even though I didn’t think I could do it on my own).

“Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.” John 10.9

“Jesus never intended for us to fulfill His will in our own human strength.” Part of the follow through story is about me following through with Jesus and being consistent with asking Him for help and for direction to fulfill His will. When we hand over our struggles and weaknesses over to Jesus, He will make us strong and lead us to good pastures.

My Intro!

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Follow Through…..

“When you make a promise to God, don’t delay in following through, for God takes no pleasure in fools.  Keep all the promises you make to Him. It is better to say nothing than to make a promise and not keep it.” Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 NLT

First of all praise be to God!  He is so good! Starting a blog about my spiritual walk and tying that into golf has been on my mind for a long time and now is the time to start.  God has given me the gifts and opportunity through golf to share what He is doing in my life. “Follow Through” will be the way I get to share that with you.  There are so many connections between the game of golf and my (our) spiritual walk with our Father. I hope you are blessed by these posts and feel led to share how you can relate.