Golf and God

For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm to the end. – Hebrews 3:14

 

I write some really weird stuff when I’m under a spiritual attack. Do please pray for me as I am learning how to pass through these things as quickly as possible. But, it’s like every other sickness; you just have to soak in the medicine of the Word of God and rest in Him until restoration comes.

 

Anyway, years ago golf was my god. I would have told you I was a Christian, but what I really loved was playing golf. I live on a golf course right now because of that love. I forsook traveling with my wife in the early years of our marriage because of that love. I pretty much missed the first few years of my daughter’s life and the first year of my son because of that love. I would go to church every Sunday . . . unless there was a big golf event, and then I’m sure you can guess what I chose.

 

God and my wife confronted me about this . . . mostly my wife. I got mad. I pouted, but ultimately I realized she was right. So, I prayed. I asked God to help me dethrone golf in my life. Do you know what He did? He answered by making me absolutely stink at playing. Whereas I could absolutely stripe it at one time, I could barely make contact with the ball. I was frustrated and I tried to hold onto it for a bit longer, but ultimately, it wasn’t that hard to let go.

 

Here in these last few years, I’ve been playing a bit. I’m still not very good, but at least I can get around the course. I actually just enjoy being with my dad more than anything (except for the fact that I can’t beat him). I asked the Lord if it is ok to play. I felt He was saying, “Yes, because you will now keep golf in its rightful place in your heart. You will play now for reasons other than exalting yourself.” Ouch . . . but I got it.

 

So, if He is allowing me to play again, I want to get back to where I can really stripe it. I’m setting up a little practice facility in my yard so I can just go out there and work on it a few minutes every day. I started yesterday. I used the camera on my phone to examine my setup. I made a major discovery; I wasn’t holding the club properly. I wonder if all God did to destroy my swing back in the day was just have me hold the club a little differently.

 

How crazy is that? Years ago, I properly held a golf club, but improperly held the Word of God. He switched that around on me after I prayed. Now, here I am for the first time holding them both at the same time properly, physically and spiritually.

 

This realization is both really cool and really scary to me. All a person has to do to lose it spiritually is just hold the Word of God carelessly. Just believe you are going to be fine and never consider your grip. I remember seeing an older church member drop his Bible one time. He picked it up, paused, and kissed it. I knew it would be a long time before that man dropped it again.

 

We should all examine our hearts and think about how we are holding on to Him.

 

I know I sure am.

 

Later

 

Adam

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A Walk to Remember

God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. – Genesis 1:16

 

So I get up in the dead middle of the night. It is so bright in my house that I don’t even need to flip a switch to see where I’m going. I take a look outside and it is amazingly well lit. The moon is shining at its maximum capacity.

 

I get dressed and take a walk. Immediately, I connect with God. I tell Him, “This is amazing!” I quickly take it back and let Him know that I’m sorry that I still waste that word on things other than Him. Years ago, I told Him that I’d reserve that word for Him and Him alone, for only He is truly amazing.

 

I begin to pray. Pray for Lifeline, pray for myself, and pray that His light would be this present in this world even though it seems totally dark. I walk by a street lamp. For just a moment, I lose my awe. The light from the street lamp provides light as I descend to a valley with lots of trees. Very little light is provided. Something moves in the woods (of course it does) and I imagine being mauled by a bear and not even being discovered for several hours. I rebuke this fear in His Name.

 

I step back into the moonlight and the awe comes back. I pray some more. I think of how the moon is only reflecting the light of the sun. I think of how few people there are in the United States of America reflecting the light of the Son of God. I ask Him to help me be a light.

 

I pass another street lamp. Without any conscious effort, the awe switch is cut off. I focus on the things of this world in the artificial light. Once I’m out of the manmade light, I connect right back with Him. I ask Him to fill me with His light. As I see my house, I pray for my family inside . . . that they may truly reflect His light in this dark world. I pray that He will really be known by them and will be the greatest treasure they own.

 

Why do I write about this? I don’t really know. There’s just a perfect clarity at 3 a.m. in a world of total darkness under God’s reflected light that I’m not sure I’ve ever had at 3 p.m. The noise of the world, the heat of the day, and all the artificial lights just seem to destroy the pure sense of His Presence.

 

I write this so that one day when I read it again, I’ll remember.

 

Later

 

Adam

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Loving the Dark, Hating the Light

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light, because their deeds were evil. – John 3:19

 

When Jesus came on the scene over 2000 years ago, He came into a very dark world.   The nation of Israel, who was the only group who carried the Name of the one true God, was in captivity to the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, they carried His Name very poorly. The religious leaders had reduced following God down to keeping a bunch of rules and any idea of having a relationship with Him was completely lost. Absolutely no one was offering the hope of a changed life. When Jesus came and offered light, very few took it and ran with it . . . most loved darkness.

 

If there is one thing that I wish I had known when I started my walk with Him, it is that I could be completely honest with Him. I remember always asking Him to forgive me for sin in general, but I’d never get specific. For example, it seemed almost impossible to stop being sexually immoral. I was constantly sinning in this way, asking for forgiveness, promising I wouldn’t do it again, and then repeating the cycle. What was wrong with me?

 

The answer is pretty simple; I loved the things I did in the dark. So, why wouldn’t I just go ahead and tell God? I look back and I just don’t know. Then again, maybe I do. Maybe in my heart I thought I could have it both ways. If I feigned some sort of humility by asking for forgiveness, and then just went ahead and indulged in my favorite sin, then maybe it would still be well with my soul.

 

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. – Matthew 5:3

 

The first words Jesus ever spoke as a public teacher are contained in Matthew 5:3.   I have read over them so many times, but I never took the time to meditate upon them. I know now what He means: I bring nothing to the table spiritually. I cannot save myself by trying harder, attempting to change, or doing anything on my own. In fact, I tried that. Trying harder only produced more despair on the other side of each failure. I had one weapon and one weapon only and I never once used it. That weapon was admitting that I loved my sin and that there was nothing I could do about it.

 

To this day, this is my picture of poor in spirit. Just go ahead and confess to God what He already knows. American Christianity looks an awful lot like Judas Iscariot. We want give the appearance of loving Him, so we kiss Him on the cheek when we are in front of everyone else. But, behind the scenes, when we think He isn’t near and no one else will know, we indulge in what we really love . . . the forbidden pleasures of the world. If only he (and we) would just scream to Him, “Help me! I love the sin that lives in me! I can’t change myself! Will you change me?”

 

Now there is a blank canvas upon which God can paint. There is a workshop He can work in.   There is a foundation upon which He can build. When a person finally makes it to this point, he or she is finally poor in spirit. Jesus says he or she now has access to the kingdom of heaven.

 

It took me more than 10 years after becoming a Christian to finally make it to this point. There was no magic wand that He waved over me, but He did give me a real desire to dive into His word. As it daily washed over me, He slowly began to clean my soul and soften my heart. Every sin that He has washed away in me has been a slow, methodical process. Even now, there remains something in my heart that knows if I were to let Him go, sin would grow right back on some seriously fertile ground.

 

I still have to remain poor in spirit and admit that without Him, I’d never be clean. I still have to remain poor in spirit.

 

Right now, I am seriously battling with the sin of pride. As I’ve preached recently, God has given me a new level of anointing. I thought I could handle it, but now I’m not so sure. I’m admitting to Him that it puffs my ego up and that I’m afraid I could be like Lucifer himself and want some of God’s glory for myself. I’m going ahead and admitting to Him that I like the attention. I’m just being honest with Him and giving those desires over to Him. I must trust that His grace covers me. I must trust that He will deal as only He can deal with this sin that has reared it’s ugly head.

 

Lord, help me to remain poor in spirit.

 

Nothing in my hands I bring.

Simply to the cross I cling.

 

Amen

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The Difference in Praying and Seeking His Face

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14

 

Our great country needs to heal. America is hemorrhaging. The only way for the bleeding to stop and the healing to begin is for all the people who claim to be Christians to really humble themselves, recognize the sin that lives in them, and ask God to rid their hearts of sin at the foot of the cross of Christ. Notice I did not say all people have to do this, just the 75% or so of Americans who are still claiming His name by calling themselves Christians.

 

It all starts by humbling yourself and realizing that you are part of the problem. I preached last night. I had a new level of anointing that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced before. You know what I thought as I drove home? That I did really well. As soon as I got up this morning at 4:30, conviction was all over me. I did nothing but operate in His power and anointing. He gave me all that I needed to do it, and there I was basking in a bit of the glory. This morning, I’m humbling myself . . . I’m letting Him know that I hate the pride that lives within me. I’m praying that He destroys it. I’m praying that I might be as pure as possible.

 

But, this next one is messing with me: Seek His face. On the surface, I would think that it would be no different than praying. Surely if I’m praying, I’m seeking His face.

 

Not necessarily.

 

As I pray this morning, I’m asking for Him to do something for me. I’m petitioning Him. Once I have asked, I should believe in faith that I will receive it. “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13) If what I’m asking for will bring more glory to His Name, then I should certainly believe that He would grant my request. However, I should not stop there, for after prayer comes seeking His face.

 

This is such a powerful part of the process. If I’m praying, I want what He can do for me, my family, loved ones, etc. But, if I’m seeking His face, then I just want Him for Him. I just want to hang out with Him. At this point, I should just read His Word for enjoyment. I should just go and take a walk in the cool of the day and just be with Him. Not to say anything . . . just to hang out . . . seek His face.

 

I’m sure if you’re reading this, you have actually prayed recently. But, when is the last time you hung out with Him just because you love Him? When is the last time you sought His face?

 

I want to do more of this.

 

Later

 

Adam

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The Love of my Life

For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. – Romans 8:38 (NLT)

 

So I’m binge watching a show called “This is us.” Binge watching is not something that I normally do, but Hurricane Irma has shut down our schools for a couple of days and I don’t have to go to work. I liked the show when I started watching last year. I watched all the way up until Christmas, and then never finished the season. I’m trying to finish it now so I might understand the second season when it comes on. I never thought I’d learn a spiritual lesson from watching, but I did.

 

I had a conversation recently with someone who really loves animals. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone give all of themselves away to their pets. But, this person comes as close as anyone I’ve ever met. I made the comment that it was pretty easy to love an animal because an animal can’t hurt you. This person immediately shot back with, “Of course they can . . . they will die.”

 

In this one episode of “This is us,” there is a doctor who is extremely lonely. His wife of 53 years has been dead for 14 months. He loved her so much, but now she was gone. She didn’t want to or mean to, but she devastated him by doing something all of us are going to do . . . die. The doctor’s son was trying so hard to try to get him to “move on” and meet someone else, but he didn’t want to hear it. He tried to immerse himself in work, but that was only a temporary Band-Aid. When he was alone, he still talked to the wife he missed so much.

 

I couldn’t help but think about my relationship with my wife. This December, we will have been married for 16 years. I don’t worry about her hurting me emotionally or physically. I love her like crazy and she actually loves me back. I could only hope and pray that we get 53 years together. But, we said in our marriage vows that we’d love each other and be there for each other . . . “until separated by death.”

 

I depress you to give you a glorious hope. I “received” Jesus when I was 16 years old. I didn’t really know what I was getting in to. I just pretty much figured Heaven was better than hell. Five years later, at 21, after He had been pursuing me for 5 years, I started to pursue Him back. In 10 years, by the time I was 31, all of the major idols in my life had finally been cast down and He had won first place in my heart, mind, and life. I can’t believe how our relationship has grown. In the 26 years I have been a Christian, there is just no relationship like it. I had no idea it was possible to really love God. Like, for real love Him.

 

I am recognizing with astonishing intensity today that this is the one and only relationship that I will ever have that will last for all eternity. I can absolutely never be separated from Him. The Lord of my life will never ever hurt me. He is my one and only friend that death has no power over. Death only makes my faith become sight. When I take my last breath here on Earth, I will be with Him there. I can rest in the most secure relationship I will ever experience.

 

Thank you Lord that you love me, and nothing, nothing can ever separate me from your love.

 

Later

 

Adam

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Right Motives

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others more significant than yourselves.  – Philippians 2:3 (ESV)

Last night, I got to make something right.  For the past several years, a few churches in Oconee County have joined together to produce what we call Men’s United.  It is a four-night event spread out over a couple of months.  The leaders of these churches simply want the hearts of men to line up with the heart of God.  We try to come together simply as Christians.  We aren’t really representing churches or denominations . . . just God.  I just joined in last year.  Lifeline has hosted the event two times.  The first thing I have learned from this group is Philippians 2:3.

The first MU meeting I went to was solid.  The praise and worship band was simple, but they absolutely rocked out while they worshipped.  I loved it.  There weren’t very many people there, but the ones who were just exuded a love for God.  I liked just being there around other men who didn’t mind professing a love for Jesus.  I knew I wanted to buy in to being a part of this.

The second meeting I attended was even better.  The praise and worship band was absolutely killer.  It might have been one of the most professional sounding praise and worship bands I’ve ever heard.  I just stood there and soaked it all in.  I was the preacher for the night, so I preached my heart out, men responded, and it was another great night.

Lifeline Community Church was to host the next Men’s United.  We were also to lead praise and worship for the night.  God had been seriously impressing upon my heart to go really simple for worship.  I really felt in my spirit that I was to just play simple, familiar songs on my acoustic and just allow the men’s voices to be heard.  Well, I did the exact opposite.  Something in me just wanted to “compete” with the other bands.  I wanted to show how big we could go too.  I ended up putting a complete band together and going big.  Philippians 2:3 absolutely sums up what I did.  As if to put an exclamation point on my disobedience, the speaker for the night at the end of the service asked, “Can someone come up here and just play Amazing Grace?”

Well, last night MU came once again to Lifeline.  I was not going to get it wrong twice.  I took my acoustic and played “Sweet Hour of Prayer.”  After each section, men would come grab the microphone and pour out their hearts in prayer.  I thought my heart was going to burst.  I was so full of the Holy Spirit that I just did not ever want to let go.  The night was absolutely wonderful.  There was probably double the number of men as the previous year.  God really moved and I just loved all of it.

I hate to think that my heart can still be so arrogant.  Keeping the old nature in check can be quite difficult.  I will give an account for what I did last year when I stand before the Lord.  It will be made of wood, hay, or straw, and it will burn up on His holy altar.  I shudder to think of how many things I have done for Him out of vain conceit.  But, this whole ordeal has taught me a great lesson that I hope you can learn from as well.  I have learned that for the rest of my days I want to serve Him because I love Him, not because I want others to look at me, and what I can do.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men.  – Colossians 3:23

Later

Adam

If you are interested, come to our next Men’s United meeting at Whitestone Freedom Fellowship on Sunday, September 24, at 6:00.

4271 SC-11

Westminster, SC 29693

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When the Problem is Not the Problem

When the Problem is not the Problem

 

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things.” — Luke 10:41

 

In this story, Martha came to Jesus with what she thought was her problem: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?” At that moment, she really thought her sister’s laziness was the problem. Jesus, knowing her heart, stated the real problem; “You are worried and upset about many things.”

 

When the word “worry” is seen in the original language of the Bible, it denotes that a person’s heart is divided. A Christian should not have a divided heart. I cannot say that I really believe that “all things work together for the good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28) and then constantly be concerned with what might happen. Truth be known, if I love God, then whatever happens is supposed to happen and it works together for my own good.

 

This past Sunday we had communion at our church. I do my best to examine my own heart, and then preach in a way that makes others examine theirs. When we get really brutally honest with ourselves, it is crazy the things that we find in our hearts that simply have to go. Jesus basically told Martha that what she thought was the problem, was not the problem. She wasn’t simply worried that stuff wouldn’t get done. She was worried about “many things.” This is going to change my whole perspective every time I get upset and start pointing my finger at others. I must pause and ask, “What is the real reason?”

 

In further examining why I went off on the kid last week, I realize that his attitude was certainly not the problem. If it was, then my problem will never go away because dealing with attitude is pretty much what I do for a living. The real problem was my pride. The whole incident took place publically. I felt like I had to win, so I made sure I won. In doing so, I realize now that what I said was the problem, was not the problem at all. I might have looked at him and said he was the problem, but I was the real problem. I just had to come out on top looking good. I ended up looking pretty ridiculous.

 

Today, I don’t want a divided heart worried about many things. I have found that it is so difficult for me to keep a constant connection with God and awareness of His ways. I can do it when I’m taking a walk, taking a drive, typing my WMD’s, teaching God’s Word, studying God’s Word, and when I’m all alone in the quiet of my home before everyone wakes up. It’s not that I’m necessarily praying, but I just have this constant feeling of being connected to God. Unfortunately, I get busy with many things and stop just simply abiding in Him. There must be a way to stay connected to Him while I’m getting the necessary things in my life done. I’m thinking Martha could have totally done her work and kept that connection. I guess even all those years ago, it was still easier to blame others as the source your problems.

 

I’m thinking that Martha eventually figured all this out.

 

I will too.

 

Later

 

Adam

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