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Golf and God

April 23, 2012 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? So, on Friday I got to play in the Lutherhill golf tournament. I play golf, but I don’t PLAY golf. I love being out there more than anything, and not only that, in a way golf teaches me about life and about my faith. Three things that I have learned from the game of golf in relation to my life and my faith life.

YOU ONLY GET ONE SHOT- If anything golf has taught me that this is my only shot in life. Yes, in golf you can get do-overs, and Lord knows God gives us do-0vers (forgiveness) each day. But as far as life goes, this is my one and only shot to get it right. Not only that, but as I have taught through my messages on Sunday mornings, WE are God’s only plan. God doesn’t have a plan B, we are God’s only plan. Let’s make sure it’s a good shot!

PLAY IT WHERE IT IS- In golf you have to play it where you ball lands. I guess it’s that way in life as well. We don’t always have control over what life gives us, most of the time, due to the choices we make, we do have control. But like the game of golf, it’s up to us to decide how we are going to play what we are given. We can choose to look on the bad side of things and grumble about where our ball is, or we can choose to look at it as an opportunity. How will you play it?

COMMUNITY- We played in a four man scramble, and I realized- this game is better when played with others. God created us to be in community, and as a community of faith we play together. Not only that, like in a scramble, we help one another move forward in life and in our faith. I love the collegiality of our ministerium. I know that I can count on some of my fellow pastors when I have a question or a situation I need help with. It’s all what Rick Warren gets at in his book “Better Together”. (Side note- thank goodness for my teammates the other day. Together we were better than if it had just been me!)

And that’s the good word for today!

 

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Take The Road

What’s the good word? This past Sunday in the church we celebrated Palm/Passion Sunday. Well, not at my church. We celebrated Palm Sunday. I don’t exactly know when it was that we started to read not only the palm Sunday story but also the Passion narrative the same day. Seems a little schizophrenic to me for one, but also it doesn’t allow us to take the journey through Holy Week. I recently received a mailing from a local church here in Houston, no not Joel, and it asked me to join them in one of…ready for it?….24 Easter Worships that would start on THURSDAY!!! No Holy week, no Good Friday, just STRAIGHT TO EASTER! It really is important for us to take Holy Week as it is. But for some reason we don’t like to go to the messy places that Holy Week takes us. We don’t like to go to the upper room and see Jesus wash the disciples feet. Perhaps it is because we know what it means for us- that not only are our feet washed, but that Jesus calls us to wash others’ feet. We don’t like to go to the staged and ridiculous trial that will take place that night. We don’t like to see Peter deny Jesus. Perhaps it is because we too do the same in our lives. Not that we deny “knowing” Jesus, but deny Jesus a part of our lives. We don’t like to go to the cross. A path that is littered with mockery, spit, beatings, and pain. Perhaps it is because we know that when Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me,” we know he’s talking about making sacrifices. YIKES! We don’t like to see Jesus hanging on the cross, bleeding, dying, gasping for his last breath. I admit, it’s hard for me to watch this part in any movie, let alone “The Passion of the Christ”. Perhaps it is because we feel a tinge of guilt that someone, much less God, would do this FOR US! But for all intents, taking this journey IS GOOD FOR US!

Martin Luther talked about being theologians of the cross. According to Luther, the theologian of the cross preaches what seems foolish to the world (1 Cor. 1:18). In particular, the theologian of the cross preaches that (1) humans can in no way earn righteousness, (2) humans cannot add to or increase the righteousness of the cross, and (3) any righteousness given to humanity comes from outside of us (extra nos).For the theologian of the cross, it is only from the self-revelation of God that people can learn about God and their relation to God—and the most perfect self-revelation of God is God’s Word become flesh, Jesus the Christ. Thus, even if an action appears good, still Christ died on the cross for human sins and sinfulness, so the action is not as good as it appears.

In reference to the theology of the cross Gerhard Forde explains, “A theology of the cross is not sentimentalism. To be sure, it speaks much about suffering. A theologian of the cross, Luther says, looks at all things through suffering and the cross. It is also certainly true that in Christ God enters into our suffering and death. But in a theology of the cross it is soon apparent that we cannot ignore the fact that suffering comes about because we are at odds with God and are trying to rush headlong into some sort of cozy identification with him.”

I believe there is no way we can skip to the good stuff this week. I believe we are being called to be theologians of the cross. To take in the goodness of what we may perceive as bad and, pardon the deep theological word here, “yucky”. It’s in the “yucky-ness” that we find love. A love that we can’t explain, but that comes to us free and without conditions. And that’s the good word for today!

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