Golf & God

July 17, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

Last summer, I watched the US Open golf tournament with my husband. An aerial view provided a unique perspective of how the game of golf compares with our Christian journey. The overhead camera showed Rory McIlroy at the tee box as he prepared to drive the ball. Divots in the turf surrounded him where many others had made their drive from that same box. Rather than solid green, the whole tee box was tightly dotted with brown divots.

A few moments later, Rory continued to drive towards the green. Another camera shot on the fairway showed more divots, only this time they were yards apart instead of inches apart. Due to the excellent skill of the professional golfers in the Open, their first shots took each of them fairly close to the same position. As they progressed down the fairway, their respective drives took them further and further from each other as they each made their own unique journey. However, they all worked toward a common goal—to land the ball in the hole on the green at the end of the fairway.

Each Christian makes a similar journey. We all start at the same point like the golfers who each placed their tee in the ground and began their drive from the box. At that beginning point, we each recognized our own sin and need for a Savior. We repented and placed our faith in Jesus Christ who forgave us through His grace. From that common point of beginning, we each branch out in different ways. Poor choices or uncontrollable circumstances may leave us out in the rough, aiming to get back on course. Some may drive a straight line to the hole while others may zigzag all over the fairway. Regardless of the journey we take, we all work toward a common place. As the golfer works toward landing his ball in the cup, we work toward our eternal home in heaven with the One who redeemed us, Jesus.

Some may say my analogy could show different journeys all lead us to the same desired end. For example, someone may say a journey through Islam or Buddhism will each have the same result of “their ball landing in the cup.” He or she might say that we all take different journeys but every journey of faith results in eternity in heaven with God.

A problem exists with a pluralistic application. In the golf analogy, each player began their journey at the same point on the appropriate tee box. A player could wander onto the course and begin his drive from out in the rough. Although they would reach the pin at the end, their drive wouldn’t be successful because he didn’t begin at the tee box. Likewise, a golfer might begin their drive on the tee box for hole six. They hit the ball off of six and it lands on the green for hole seven. We wouldn’t count that as success for hole seven. The drive only counts if it began on the tee box for hole seven. We may begin a spiritual journey on some other path only to realize we need to be on the one that leads to eternity with God. To find eternal success, we must begin on the appropriate tee box, or in other words, go through the saving grace offered by Jesus Christ.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6 NIV).

No. I Don’t Want To

April 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

One night I hurried to throw dinner together. I added spices and other ingredients to ground beef before shaping it into hamburger patties. My oldest daughter mixed up coleslaw. My youngest daughter sat on the stool beside me. At four years old, her eagerness to help and her frequent position right next to me already made her into quite the little chef. She could measure, pour, mix, and even chop a little—with a table knife, not a sharp knife.

This particular night, she pleaded to help me. However, even with her diverse skills, she could do nothing to help with the hamburger patties. Her older sister asked her to help by retrieving ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator but she wanted to help mommy, not sister. Besides, I believe she felt those tasks didn’t fit with her particularly advanced skill set. I could tell she only wanted to do the “bigger” jobs such as mixing and measuring.

So often I have seen myself in her position. Just as she sat beside me and watched me work, I have been in the presence of the work of God. I watch what He is doing and, like my helpful daughter, I eagerly want to join in and help. So He gives me a job to do.

Perhaps He says, “Make a phone call.” But I say, “No, I don’t want to do that. I want to teach a lesson about this issue.”

He says, “Donate some money.” But I say, “Hey, I could write a really great blog article about this.”
I might hear Him say, “Tell her about Jesus.” So I respond with, “No, not now. I’ll just be a good listener.”

Like my daughter, my heart is in the right place. I truly do want to be helpful. The things I want to do are all good things. However, if they aren’t what God is asking me to do, then am I really being helpful? We each have a unique way to fit into the work of God’s kingdom; however, God is the One who determines what that way should be.

“So the body is not one part but many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,’ in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:13-22 HCSB).

She is a…a…Sinner!

March 13, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

“Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is–that she is a sinner’” (Luke 7:36-39 NIV).

This story from Luke’s gospel reminds me of three different groups of people in this world.

The first group sits inside the church and thinks, “This is a good place to be. I’m comfortable here. How dare anyone come in here with their alcoholism, or drug abuse, or divorce, or this, or that.” So they sit, inside, thinking.

The second group sits outside the church and wonders, “What’s going on in there? Something is missing in my life and something deep within me thinks the church might be able to help. But I can’t go in because of my alcoholism, or drug abuse, or divorce, or this, or that.” So they sit, outside, wondering.

The third group kneels at the feet of Jesus and doesn’t think or wonder about anything. They don’t have to because their actions speak more than their words ever could. They have come face-to-face with their own depravity and recognized their inability to overcome it. Tears stream down their faces and land on the feet of Jesus. Each tear cries out, “Take my alcoholism, my drug abuse, my divorce, my lying, my stealing, my anger, my indifference, my vulgarity, my…” So they kneel, at His feet, forgiven.

This third group is much like the woman at the feet of Jesus. He says of her and to her, “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little. Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” (Luke 7:47-48 NIV). The third group of people knows these words weren’t just meant for the women alone but for all who kneel at Jesus’ feet and accept His gift of forgiveness.

The tender moment of forgiveness may have made a great ending to the story, but the story is not done. The third group of people doesn’t just sit there, continuing to weep and lament over their sins. With the glory and the beauty of their encounter with Christ ever forefront in their minds, they rise up and leave the home of the Pharisee. Each one goes to a different place where Christ has told them to go. Each one has a unique job for the kingdom. But they all go, and they go in peace.

“Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace’” (Luke 7:50 NIV).

If I Have Not Love

November 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

I hugged an endearing little orphan girl tightly and told her, “Good-bye, Benji. I love you.”

She startled and looked up at me, saying with her adorable accent, “Aww, I do not want you to go.”

I spent a week of the early part of January serving at the Haiti Home of Hope orphanage in Pignon, Haiti. I will confess that I do not usually work in children’s ministries. I am more comfortable teaching a class full of women. However, I would have to be lacking a heartbeat if the orphans of Haiti did not pull at my heartstrings. Benji became a favorite for many on my team. Her quick wit, warm smile, and inquisitive nature made her a delight to all who met her.

Mission teams serve at the orphanage on a regular basis and I am sure many people come in and out of Benji’s life, as well as the lives of the other 36 children who call the orphanage home. I am sure many team members have given gifts, played games, and offered snuggles to each of the children. I would think some team members have even expressed love for different children they have built a relationship with during their brief stay. However, Benji’s startled reaction made me wonder if anyone, other than the couple who runs the orphanage, has ever told her that she was loved. Love is not a common emotion in the poverty-stricken country where women offer to marry a man who can provide the best standard of living—a standard often defined as a man who is able to provide enough to keep them alive.

Millions of dollars in aid and support have poured into Haiti in the two years since a catastrophic earthquake claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. As my flight descended into the capitol city of Port-au-Prince, I looked out over the city still scarred by the horrific damage. Thoughts that had been floating around in my brain for weeks came together into a single clear message. Humanitarian aid and relief does little if we do not also offer spiritual hope and love. The hope of another meal is welcomed, but the hope of eternity in heaven makes a true impact. The love of generous people who give their lives to run an orphanage is a blessing, but the love of a Savior who gave His life to redeem ours makes a lasting change.

“If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV).

Who’s the Enemy?

September 22, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Kathi Woodall –

The Civil War was by far the bloodiest conflict our country has ever fought. Not only was the death rate the highest of any of our nation’s struggles, but it exceeded the sum of the deaths of all other American wars from the Revolutionary War through modern times. Although the methods of warfare contributed to the high death rate, one factor stands alone as the greatest cause of the phenomenal loss of life. Every drop of spilled blood was American blood. When the death tolls were counted, the distinction between “them” and “us” faded away. Whether the uniform was gray or blue, whether the flag was Union or Confederate, as brother fought against brother, they were all Americans.

Our family visited the site of the Battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia. I was touched by the story of Richard Kirkland, a nineteen year old Confederate sergeant. The Union army had been defeated, but many soldiers lay wounded on the battlefield. Those who were still alive remained in their battle positions. Sergeant Kirkland could not bear the sound of the wounded as they cried out for aid and relief. Placing his life in danger, he took canteens of water and offered drinks to the hurting men. Union soldiers began firing on him, but the firing ceased as they realized his actions were from a heart of compassion rather than malice.

Are we fighting a civil war within the church? The battle is now believer against believer as arguments are made and people are hurt. People leave churches. Believers lose the passion of serving their Savior. The spiritual death toll grows.

• Contemporary music vs. traditional
• Programs and activities vs. Bible studies and prayer meetings
• Casual dress vs. formal
• He said vs. she said
• It’s always been done this way vs. new and different
• My ministry vs. your ministry

Issues such as these pull us away from the real enemy; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV).

We are all either wounded soldiers lying on a spiritual battlefield or active soldiers fighting in the trenches. Shouldn’t we be offering drinks of water to our fallen brothers rather than firing fatal shots? After all, fellow believers aren’t the real enemy and by firing another verbal blow or spreading another slanderous story we may find ourselves serving within the ranks of the true enemy.
•  Worship
•  Learn
• Attend
• Share
• Do
• Serve

“…Whoever is not against us is for us. I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck” (Mark 9:40-42 NIV).

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