Training Table — In His Grip (Week 6)

Monday

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For  you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3 (NLT)

Where is Your Faith?

It never crossed Bubba Watson’s mind that he couldn’t hit the shot he needed to hit at the time he needed to hit it. The second playoff hole of the 2012 Masters proved that. It was a blind shot. He grabbed his 9-iron and mashed a huge 30-yard hook that rolled to within 12 feet of the pin.

The most important shot of his career and he never had a doubt about his ability to pull it off. He had faith he could do it because he’d done it hundreds of times over the years growing up on his tree-lined home course in Bagdad, Fla., and on the practice range.

That is an example of faith, but I don’t want to press that analogy too far.

The faith to which God calls us is not believing more deeply in yourself or wishing harder for something to come true. Biblical faith is daily—circumstance by circumstance—becoming more convinced in the claims of Christ to do and to accomplish all that He has promised. There is a massive difference.

It is easy to live a Christian life in America more to the comforts our culture offers, but the Christian life was meant to be sailed, sometimes through stormy waters. Your “life” boat may get rocked by storms, but you can survive—and thrive—in unbelievable adversity if your faith in Christ alone remains strong. Here is a truth: God never calls us to something—even adversity—then shortchanges us on the resources to accomplish that calling. He knows we can’t do it without His help.

— Scott Lehman, In His Grip

Tuesday

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For  you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3 (NLT)

Are You a Grinder?

Are you a grinder? You know, you may score well once the golf ball finds the bottom of the cup, but for the most part, you’ve played through the woods, weeds and sand to chuck it on the green and eventually in for a par.

The 2012 U.S. Open was a tribute to grinders. The world’s elite players were reduced to grinders as they made their way around the Olympic Club. It was said that it may have been one of the hardest course setups ever, and the scores reflected it. Webb Simpson shot back-to-back sub-par rounds to win by a stroke. Throughout the week, many players lamented the course’s difficulty and said they just had to “grind it out.”

So, are you a grinder? No, not in golf, but in life. You may be going through life hitting fairways and greens with the greatest of ease, then suddenly, God presents you with a major challenge. How do you respond? You have similar options to pro golfers. You can withdraw, miss the cut, have a bad attitude and play poorly….or you can hang in there and grind it out. The Bible calls it perseverance, and there is a purpose for it. The joy in that verse is rooted in a deeper faith produced by enduring troubles. What challenges are you facing today? Keep grinding it out in faith.

— Scott Lehman, In His Grip

Wednesday

“[Jesus] made the things we can see and the things we can’t see…Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together.” Colossians 1:16-17

What’s Your perspective?

The golf swing only lasts a few seconds. Think about it: from the time the ball is placed on the tee until it is launched down the fairway takes very little time. Most golfers spend the majority of a round walking or riding to their next shots. But think how complicated those few seconds are, and the fact that they determine everything. You can focus on dozens of little pieces if you dissect the swing. Too often golfers fail to see the bigger picture. The point is not to have a better grip per se, it is to land the ball where you want it for a better score.

Our lives can often be like that. We focus on current circumstances and lose perspective of life. Real challenges absorb our full attention and we develop tunnel vision. We may feel trapped and may even blame God for the “mess” we’re in. What we need is a change of perspective, to stop looking at the parts of our lives and see them in the context of the whole.

This is great news! If our lives are connected to Jesus by faith, then we are connected to the very One who holds this crazy world and everything that happens in it—and to us—together! There’s hope in that, knowing that the challenges we face have meaning, and lead to His glory and for our benefit. Trust in His perspective and not yours.

— Scott Lehman, In His Grip

Thursday

“…And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how clearly God loves us…” Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)

The Discipline of Patience?

The opening shot at the 2012 British Open was to a par three, 205-yard, windswept hole surrounded by nine deep sand bunkers and deep grass. Trees line the right side of the fairway, blocking the wind near the tee box and making club selection difficult. As golfers looked toward the green, they saw a multitude of challenges on their very first shot.

Life throws a multitude of challenges our way. Our preference is to take our “normal” shot because most challenges require endurance. But the discipline of patience only comes by faithfully enduring.

Golfers know the best way to overcome adversity on the course is to endure challenges. Enduring well means being patient. Life is the same. God presents us with challenges to strengthen our character to become more Christlike. In the process, we develop the discipline of patience, to wait on and trust in the Lord. Like that first shot at Royal Lytham, there is a lot of life to live on the other side of our challenges. Your current challenge may be the very thing you need to prepare you for what’s ahead. Be patient, endure, and be strengthened by God’s grace, confident in His salvation.

— Scott Lehman, In His Grip

Friday

“Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. ‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.’” I Kings 19:3-4

Do You Really Trust God?

Trust is as fundamental to a golfer-caddy relationship as friendship. It is why you see long partnerships like the one between Tom Watson and Bruce Edwards. Edwards was on the bag when Watson hit what became known as his signature shot, a chip in from the deep rough at No. 17 at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. The two were trusted partners from the 1970s until Edwards’ premature death in 2004 at age 49 from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Trust is mentioned more than 140 times in the Bible. Why? I believe to help us with adversity. We become disoriented when adversity rocks our world. We need a reference point during a crisis, somewhere to focus when life is spinning out of control. God is the only absolute point of stability in existence. I love the hymn, “My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less,” written by Edward Mote in the 1800s. The final writing of the hymn was in response to encouraging, with the Gospel, a friend during the final moments of his  wife’s life. Here is the third stanza and chorus.

His oath, His covenant, His blood, Support me in the whelming flood; When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, All other ground is sinking sand.

Trust of God begins with a right understanding of God, and a right understanding of God recognizes God’s sovereignty over every atom in creation; and certainly over the circumstance of your life. When you have a huge vision for God’s greatness, you are free to implicitly trust Him through your adversity.

— Scott Lehman, In His Grip

Weekender

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8

Going Long

Read Matthew 5:8 and meditate on what it says about hearts that are pure. What is the promise it gives? How does that impact how you will live your life in regards to keeping your heart pure?

Uncommon Challenge