Playing Golf with Jesus

In June, Foundations Christian Counseling Services held our 2nd Annual Golf Tournament to benefit the Karen Hoffner Memorial Fund, our scholarship program to reduce the rates for low-income families in need of Biblical counseling. This is a written summary of the message given:

How do you deal with making bad shots in golf?  Do you get mad at yourself?  Do you curse or throw your club?  Do you shrug it off?  Does it mess up your confidence level?  Do you carry your failure from hole to hole remembering it at each shot?  Henry Longhurst, a renowned British golf writer and commentator said, “No man can succeed at golf until he has mastered the art of not permitting one bad hole, or indeed one bad shot, to affect the rest of his game.”

What are the worst things that you have ever done?  You know what they are because you carry them in your memory only to be brought up on occasion to feel the guilt and shame and then to be buried again.  One terrible shot can bring us down for a hole.  A series of terrible shots may cause us to give up the game.  But it is the one good shot that keeps us coming back.  In life, one big mistake will bring us down awhile.  A series of mistakes may keep us down and ashamed for the rest of our lives.  Now there are some good things that we do that keep us in the game, but at best, they do not bring about what we need to play perfectly.

In golf, the perfect score is 18.  A hole in one…every hole.  You may, at best, get 1 hole-in-one, but for 18 holes it is impossible for us.  In life, the perfect score is O.  If every sin is a stroke against us, it is impossible to obtain.  Today, we played in a four person Scramble.  We each took our turns and made our best efforts to get as close to perfect as we could and we went with the person who had the best shot (or best ball)…the one that’s closest to perfection.  In life, we are in a two-person Scramble.  It’s you and Jesus.  In order to get to the 19th Hole of Heaven and the Trophy of Eternal Life, you need to score a perfect score.  This is impossible for us.  With each stroke we take, we fall short of that perfection.  The only way we can receive the prize is by Jesus’ efforts alone.  He met the standard of perfection.  We might as well put our own efforts down, lay down our clubs, and let Jesus do the work that is required…for the only work that we must do is believe in Him and accept the work that He did for us on the cross.  This can be difficult as we want to do our part, but our best shots (and efforts) end up being unplayable.  

Remember those things that you did in the past that you carry with you and cause shame?  All of those acts can be wiped clean.  You can begin a new round in life with Jesus.  Just ask Him to be your partner in the 2 person Scramble of life, lay down your clubs, and believe.  

The Great Cover-Up

My son cut his thumb the other week while cleaning a can.  The fact that he was cleaning his soup can…awesome.  The fact that he cut himself…not so much.  An ER visit and 4 stitches later, he is healing well.  While living in the age of Facebook, I decided to post this news as I knew the world would want to know about this tragic event in the Jacoby household.  However, I later learned that my son did not want such information posted for the world to know.  Thus began the great cover-up where I asked all who saw the post not to say anything to my son about the event or that they learned it from dad posting it on Facebook.  Why the cover-up? So my son would not become mad at me.  Did I do anything wrong?  Not exactly as I didn’t know about his request until it was too late.  Though perhaps I did do wrong while trying to cover up my actions…

Covering up is so natural (that is, in our sinful nature), isn’t it?  It started with Adam & Eve covering themselves with fig leaves and hiding in a covering of bushes from God and it continues to this day.  What is the purpose for the cover-up?  To hide our embarrassment & shame.  To avoid a punishment or consequence.  For Adam & Eve, they were naked and unashamed, but as soon as they went against God, they felt the need to cover up.  They were embarrassed.  They were ashamed.  They were naked before God and one another and they could not bear (bare) it.

Adam & Eve’s  fig leaf clothing cover up was insufficient.  What would happen after a day or two?  Exactly.  They would need a longer lasting covering for themselves.  God knew this, and so in His love and mercy, He sacrificed an animal to use the garments of skin to cover up their sin, guilt, and shame…their nakedness.  This was the first death recorded in Scripture and it was done by God providing the need for the covering of sin for Adam & Eve.

How often do we use our own fig leaves to cover up our guilt, shame, and sins?  Our fig leaves of busyness, alcohol, food, entertainment, self-deprecation, and blame-shifting, to name a few,  are insufficient.  Even some of the mental health disorders that plague our society can be attributed to our inability to deal with sin, guilt, and shame.

Like He did in the garden, God provided a covering for our sin, guilt, and shame.  He provided it through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The first sacrificial death was for the covering of the sin of Adam & Eve.  The sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross was the last death needed for the covering of sin, guilt, and shame.  The first sacrifice required Adam & Eve to put on the garments, the second sacrifice requires us to put on Christ by faith.

We can try to cover-up our sin, guilt, and shame, but in the end, our coverings will always fall short.  However, when we accept the coverings provided by faith in Christ, our sins, guilt, and shame are no longer seen by God.  Instead, when He sees us, He sees what we are covered by…He sees Christ.  He sees Christ’s righteousness (not our sins), He sees the One who is innocent (not guilty), and He sees the One with whom He delights in (not shame).   Yes, He sees Christ in us.  May we accept His Son by faith and accept His covering for us through Christ!

For more information on overcoming shame through the gospel, read Shame Interrupted by Ed Welch.

Letters To Sin: Part 1

Dear Sin,

It was great seeing you again!  I can’t tell you  how much you had helped me during my difficult time.  When I needed you, you were right there with me.  You comforted me.  You helped me to forget what was troubling me and you gave me my escape.  I know we shouldn’t be seen together, but you are so much fun and you bring me up when I feel down.  It’s like a high when we meet.   You’re intoxicating.  Anyway, thanks for being there for me.

Love, Me

Dear Sin,

Once again, thank you for being there.  You know, every time we get together, I look forward to it.  Sometimes I plan for us to meet while other times I don’t plan on it, but we get together anyway.  I know we shouldn’t be meeting like this…in secret.  If others knew, they would be upset.  But what they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?  Truth is, I don’t really think of others while we’re together.  It’s just me, myself, and I…and you.  Catch you later!

Love, Me

Dear Sin,

Well, together again.  You know, I’ve been thinking.  Maybe we shouldn’t be meeting like this.  Please don’t take that personally.  I like you and all, but something doesn’t seem right.  I’m starting to see areas in my life that are not going so well and it’s been happening since we’ve been meeting.  I don’t know, what do you think?  Anyway, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Love, Me

Dear Sin,

OK.  I’ve made a decision.  Though you’ve been there for me in the past and I’ve enjoyed it, we just can’t keep going on like this.  You see, after we get together, I feel real guilty and ashamed.  It’s not you, it’s me.  So I have a choice:  I can either make myself stop feeling guilty by hardening my heart and then we can keep seeing each other, or I can follow my conscience and stop.  I know that God does not want us to meet and I am hurting Him each time we meet…So, I’m going to get back together with God.  He loves me more than you do.  So, goodbye sin.

Respectfully Yours, Me