Updated: 6 days ago

The following article was originally published in the Ashland Times-Gazette on 9/3/21.

(Photo by Robert Ruggiero on Unsplash)

As I was contemplating what to write for this article, my husband made a reference to an unlikely source of inspiration. I am not a golfer, but he is and one of his favorite things to do is watch YouTube golf videos. The video that he brought to my attention was titled, “How You Can Play CONSISTENT Golf!” He then stated that there could be an important life lesson to be learned from it.

The golf pro, Peter Finch, declares that one of the most common questions he is asked is how to become a more consistent golfer. He says that it has nothing to do with technique. He also states that “Golf is not a game of perfect. The only thing you have control over is how you think about shots, but more importantly, how you react to shots.” He recommends picking out a spot a few yards in front of you -- hit the shot, make a few remarks or gestures of reaction -- but once you cross that “line of no return,” you no longer think of or dwell on the shot. It’s in the past; it’s gone and you focus on the next shot.

He then makes this brilliant statement, “Consistency is not about hitting the ball perfect; consistency is about being able to play golf in the present without being hindered by the shots of the past. He declares “just think how much freer and how much more you’re going to enjoy your golf going forward.”

What does this have to do with life? There is a well-known verse in the Bible that states “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” Psalm 103:12 (NLT) God has forgiven (removed) our bad shots in life or sins and has left them behind the line of “no return.” The phrase “as far as the east is from the west” means that they can never meet. If God has forgiven us of our sins, why do we keep bringing them up? We’ve been told to “forgive and forget.” We, as humans, have a hard time forgetting. Perhaps this means we should not allow our sins to hinder our present. Those sins need to stay behind the “line of no return” and we need to learn to leave our reactions to those bad shots there as well.

In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul says “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

Just as “golf is not a game of perfect” neither is life here on earth. It is only with God’s gift of salvation and forgiveness, and His power in our lives that we can learn to leave our past behind the “line of no return.”

Here's a song about God's mercy and grace:

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For some time, I have been thinking about faith and belief. We've all heard the verse that even the demons believe in God (James 2:19). Then about 2 months ago, I heard a song on the radio which seemed to speak directly to my heart. (And I've played it every day since then!)

This scripture came to mind when I first heard it:

"For this reason I am telling you, whatever things you ask for in prayer [in accordance with God’s will], believe [with confident trust] that you have received them, and they will be given to you." Mark 11:24 (Amplified Bible)

Believe with confident trust - is that how I'm living out my faith? Believing God or merely believing in God? This has challenged me lately to pray more boldly - believing that God will do what He says He will do. But we do have to be careful that we are also praying for things that align with His will, not ours.

As a dear brother in Christ, Joel Steigerwalt, proclaimed in a recent message on Psalm 23 [after I had determined the title of this blog]. "The real test is - do we believe God, do we believe Christ's promises, as our Great Shepherd, to lead us thru this time, amidst our fears of anxiety, depression, and the darkness of the soul?"

The song which started this train of thought, CeCe Winan's "Believe For It" (acoustic version is below) gives witness to the power of God's name and our faith in believing. I watched a mini-documentary about the recording of her live album of the same name (this video is a different version). One of the background vocalists made this statement: "There's a part of our faith that just goes beyond science or reason or understanding. That He is the God who makes miracles and He is the one who moves mountains. And with Him, in His time, all things are possible. So I'm just gonna believe!"

What I am choosing to do is to boldly believe "God For It." What about you?

I trust that this song will bless you as much as it has blessed me!

[To view the performance version of this song (of the whole recorded live television concert), click here. Ce Ce's testimony about this song begins at 14:00 min. She "prays that everyone who hears it will release their faith for the impossible..."]

Blog Cover Photo by Dean Cui on Unsplash

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Scripture Reading: Matthew 27:54, John 19:31-42, 20:1-18

Holy Week has been different for me this year. It started last week, with Palm Sunday. At our church service, during the Kid's Connection message, the speaker reminded us of the timeline of the events of Jesus’ last days on earth in his human body. During Sharing & Prayer time, another person talked about being in Rome for the observance of Palm Sunday. Then having actual palm branches to wave at the end of the service, I could see myself at that first Palm Sunday. I could see Jesus entering Jerusalem, I could hear his followers singing “Hallelujah!” I could feel the joy and hope of the coming of the promised Messiah, the King!

Later this week, at our Maundy Thursday service which was a Tenebrae observance, I felt the anguish and sorrow as Jesus stood trial before Pilate, being accused of things that were untrue. If I had been there, would I have screamed out in his defense, “He didn’t do anything wrong!” Or would I have turned on him and with the crowd, shouted, "Crucify him?"

Then one by one the candles were snuffed out to represent the life and light of the world, Jesus, dying on the cross. Would I have stayed to watch as the women did? Or would I too leave and abandon him as most of the disciples had? What would I have felt as I heard Jesus call out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

But on the day of His resurrection, what would it have felt like to have my emotions jolted back to joy and HOPE? Like Mary? Remember, she had witnessed both Jesus' crucifixion and his burial in the garden tomb, and then saw the Risen Saviour!

How we view the resurrection is a matter of perspective. All the early Christ-followers had built their hope upon was dashed to the ground on Good Friday. But as one writer put it, we have the benefit of hindsight. Two thousand plus years later, we know what was coming and for us, Easter is the day that changed everything. We have the advantage of having the written Scriptures, of being able to see the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The Gospel, the Good News, that Jesus was the sacrificial lamb who paid the debt of sin, and restored and is restoring our relationship with God, our Father, the creator of heaven and earth. This is the gift of Salvation – this is the message of the hope of the resurrection!

I ask you this, “What are we doing with doing this message of hope?”

While I was writing this message, I read the following story about a comedian, who was described as “quick to offend.” In a video he posted, he tells of a businessman from a previous night’s audience, who showed up a second time to give him a personally inscribed Bible. Visibly moved and assuming the businessman knew he was an atheist, he described how this really good guy looked him in the eye when he spoke, and how he cared enough to risk ridicule or rejection. From there, he went on to express his lack of respect for Christians who don’t proselytize – which means to share their faith (and make disciples). He said, “If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?”

That really got to me. If I, if we, have joy and hope in Easter, the resurrection, shouldn’t we continually be sharing this good news? Jesus told Mary to tell his disciples that he was risen; Jesus told his disciples and us, in Matthew 28, to go and make disciples of all the nations. And in Acts 1:8, Jesus again says, “and you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.”

I don’t know about you, but after my newfound experiences during this Holy Week, I want to become more bold about sharing the hope of the resurrection.''

"You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart!"

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

(adapted from Lori Lower's SonRise Service Sermon,

Ashland Brethren in Christ Church, 4/7/21)

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