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Bogey In Life

In just a few short weeks, Jordan Spieth, the uber-talented professional golfer, will return to the sight of his train wreck that was the 12th hole in the final round of the 2016 Master’s Golf Tournament. In less than 5 minutes, Jordan hit 2 golf balls into a water hazard near the green. Jordan’s epic collapse in the world of golf that afternoon interrupted his inevitable crowning as the winner of one of golf’s great events that day.

Have you ever felt like that? You are on top of the world…things are going great…..smooth sailing…and then SPLAT. In a few quick moments, you have turned things upside down with poor decision making or failure to see the big picture.

If Jordan Spieth is the consummate professional I believe him to be, I suspect his name will be back on the leaderboard when Sunday afternoon, April 9th, rolls around. Whether your name is Jordan Spieth or not, there are some valuable principles that come into play when you face that quadruple bogey in life.

1. Our FAILURES don’t DEFINE us.
One of the Old Testament Champions of Faith, King David, was hampered by stories of failure. There was the story of a census being taken in the Old Testament that David was responsible for and it brought consequences to 70,000 Israelites under David’s leadership. Then, there is the story of David’s sexual sin with Bathsheba and the subsequent hit David put out on Bathsheba’s husband, Urriah. These things might be enough to leave anyone feeling disqualified from life,
BUT

I Samuel 13:14 gives us that picture of King David that we all can affirm and embrace — “The Lord sought a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people.” Throughout the historical books of the Old Testament, we hear success stories about King David. King David, despite some epic failures in life, was a part of the lineage of the Savior born to mankind.

Failures, yes, sure. But they don’t define you or me. King David was a “man after God’s heart.” You, too, can be men and women after God’s heart despite a failure. Oh, and yeah, Jordan Spieth won’t ultimately be defined by hitting 2 golf balls into the water in the final round of the Master’s—his legacy will be defined in different terms, I suspect.

2. Take time to REFLECT on those FAILURES.

There is a huge difference between reflecting on something and dwelling on something!

Author and pastor Tony Campolo told of a survey he did of people over the age of 95 and, if given the chance, what would they do differently in life if they could relive it. One of the things people said was to pause and reflect on life more. Campolo strengthened his point by illustrating a Harvard Business School study which said true learning only occurs when one takes the time to reflect on aspects of that learning, rather than just walking through it blindly. Therefore, whether it is the Jordan Spieth’s of the golf world, or you in your daily life, when the unthinkable happens to you, don’t just push through it without giving it the attention of your mind and your soul. THINK about what happened. WHY? WHAT COULD I HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY TO AVOID IT? WHAT WOULD/SHOULD I CHANGE?

Take a cue from Jordan Spieth: I guarantee you over the past 11 months, he has spent countless hours revisiting those moments. He has evaluated his golf swing, his attitude, his emotions, the input of his caddie, and how he handled the pressure of the moment. He will learn from his failure that day—YOU CAN TOO!

3. Evaluate your PURPOSE.

Jon Gordon, an author in the world of leadership, has said “people are most energized when they are using their talents and abilities for something beyond themselves.” When you read about Jordan Spieth, you realize there is so much more to him than just a great golfer. He still drives the same vehicle he drove when he was in high school despite the fact he has banked $23 million dollars by the age of 23. Spieth has a 14-year old sister who has autism and the golfer is known for his deep love for his sister. He brings her gifts from every tournament and town he visits. He vocalizes often she is a motivator for him because of the day-to-day challenges she faces because of her special needs.

I read recently that Jordan had the opportunity after his first Master’s win to book a dinner at a fancy, local restaurant in Augusta, Georgia for a celebration. Instead, he and his family bought out the Chick-Fil-A in the area for that same celebration.

When we come to that point in life where we begin to serve and give of ourselves to others, and think less of ourselves in the process, we have reached a stage where our legacy will be one of greater purpose in life and those FAILURES won’t seem so large when measured against the character of the person making those MISTAKES.

4. KEEP SWINGING.

Jordan Spieth did not put away his clubs following that tournament. He did not go into retirement. You don’t need to either. Jordan is back out there almost every week in PGA tournaments honing his craft. When his name gets called on that first tee to begin play, he puts that tee in the ground and gets to work. The same applies for us. One failure, or even a series of failures, doesn’t mean we put the golf clubs back in the bag. Keep swinging. Keep grinding. Be prepared because your name will be called at some point to get back into the game, and you don’t want to be found with your clubs in the bag. I promise you can TEE IT UP again with confidence.
So, when the Quadruple bogeys in life come your way:

 

  • Don’t let that failure DEFINE you.
  • REFLECT, but don’t dwell on it.
  • Evaluate your ultimate PURPOSE
  • Keep SWINGING!

Pastor Jeff Thompson | Pastoral Care

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When Life Is Stressing You Out

Have you been feeling stressed lately?  Whether you’re a woman who's feeling overwhelmed and pulled in five directions, a student anxious over upcoming finals, or a man worried about where your next paycheck is going to come from, there's no shortage of stress these days.  In these moments when life's challenges cause stress in your life, you can turn to God's Word for strength and encouragement. 

These six Bible verses will get you started:

1. When you want God to do things your way, in your timing
Read Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”
You might have heard this one before, but it’s still hard to put our troubles in God’s hands. We want Him to solve our problems with our own methods and in our own time. However, we never see the big picture — but God does. And He’ll come through in ways we’ll never be able to imagine.


2. When your circumstances steal your happiness
Read James 1:2: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”
This is a verse you might find odd: Why would we be joyful when we experience trials? It’s contrary to our natural reaction. Joy during hard times is difficult, but with God all things are possible. When we’re close to Him, it’s possible to have peace and joy when it seems like the ship is about to go down. For more on this, check out what Jesus does in Matthew 8:23-27.


3. When you’re uncertain about what the future holds
Read Psalm 112:7: “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
If we have joy through the storms, we’re probably not worrying too much on what’s to come. If we fear bad news, we’re worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. We can trust in our heavenly Father to carry us through what’s to come, leaving tomorrow’s problems for tomorrow. Which leads me to…


4. When you can’t focus on today
Read Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Jesus essentially reiterates Psalm 112:7 with this verse. When you focus only on what’s ahead, you can’t see or deal with the problems today. If you want to successfully assemble a piece of IKEA furniture, you’re certainly not going to start with Step 10; you’re going to start with Step 1 and go one step at a time. Our walk with Jesus is like that.


5. When you don’t have any energy left
Read Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
When you’re running on fumes, it’s important to keep this verse in mind. If you’re out of strength, Jesus has good news for you: He can become your strength! When we’re at our weakest, He’s at His strongest (2 Corinthians 11:30).


6. When you don’t know how to handle your anxiety
Read Philippians 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
The first sentence commands us to present our needs to God. But the second verse comes with an amazing promise: we’ll receive the peace of God, “which transcends all understanding.” What a blessing!

What verse have you found useful to remember when you're stressed?  Share it with us!

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Who Am I?

“Is that just a person dressed up?” my 4-year old daughter asked, sitting on the edge of her seat. She was in awe of the costumes, the music and the grandeur of her first musical. I took her to see The Little Mermaid a couple weeks ago when it was in town, and she loved it.

But the questions kept coming: “Did she really take her voice?” “Is that jellyfish real?” “Is Ursula a bad girl?”

She kept asking in her sweet 4-year old way, “Is what I’m seeing real?” She was asking “What is true?”

Even at our youngest, we want to know what’s true and what is make believe. Some days, we struggle to remember what is true – especially when it comes to who God says we are. But what if we believed it? What is we lived each day in the truth of what God did for us on the cross?

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight… Ephesians 1:7-8

This coming week, Women’s Ministry is diving into just that: what does it mean to live Redeemed? It sounds complicated, and I love that this study breaks it down, explains some of the big churchy words we often use and really helps us see the truth about who we are.

On the surface, this sounds pretty foundational, and in some aspects, it is. But this study is one of the best I’ve ever done. It really helped me walk through areas of my life no other Bible study has before. It’s deep, rich and potentially life-changing. It was for me.

I know some of you are thinking, “there’s no way I could keep up and add this to my plate right now.” That’s why I want to offer you three levels of learning with this one:

 

Level 1 – Just show up to group time!

You can come, glean, listen and learn. I believe the words in Isaiah 55 with all my heart:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

God’s word never returns void, and always has a purpose in our lives. He can work in your life even through listening to other women sitting around a table in a small group Bible Study.

 

Level 2 – Reading and Praying through Psalms

One of my favorite elements of this study has been 40 Days of Praying through Psalms. If you can’t commit to the homework, just do the daily Psalms reading and prayer and come to small group. The Psalms are beautiful prayers, laments and words of praise. We all have our favorites, but to read them, meditate and pray the words from this book takes our hearts to a new level in our relationship with God. I also found myself sending verses to friends as comfort during their rough days.

 

Level 3 – Do it all

Redeemed has five days of homework each week. It’s not a lot each day, and the words of truth on these pages are truly life-changing. You’ll learn about what it means to be redeemed (hint: it’s not just a moment in time), to be made in His image, to suffer, to overcome sin and more.

 

Here’s my challenge to you: take a step (remember Pastor David’s word for the year?!).  Be open to hearing from God no matter how long you’ve been a believer or a part of First Orlando. I can’t wait to see what God does through these small groups!

To sign up or for more information, click here.

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5 Things You Can Do When God Is Silent

God answers prayer. But sometimes, God is silent.  As Christians we've all been there -- or will be there. We seek God, but in return only sense His silence. And this silence can be difficult, even frustrating.

You pray, but your prayer isn't answered. You listen, but God’s voice is silent. So you wonder where God is – or even if He’s there at all.  The times when God is silent are difficult to go through, but they do have a purpose. If you hold onto your faith through the silence, you can find God even when you can’t hear His voice.

Here’s 5 things you can do when God seems silent:

Believe that God is still there.

Remember God’s promises to always be present with you. Rest assured that He is there, even when you’re not feeling it. Trust Him to be faithful to His promises. Know that God’s silence doesn’t mean He has abandoned you. Be confident that God’s position toward you is to love and reach out to you. "Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deut.31:6

Listen for a subtle voice instead of a loud, dramatic one.

God most often chooses to speak in subtle ways. So tune into the ways He may already be speaking to you by making an effort to notice Him in your ordinary moments. Realize that, while God does sometimes decide to speak in dramatic ways, you shouldn’t limit your expectations on how you'll hear Him. Seek God Himself rather than just what you want Him to do for you. Move closer to God in your relationship with Him so you’ll be able to hear Him when He speaks subtly to you. Let the times when God is silent increase your faith and dependence upon Him.

Trust More…Not less.

Times of silence may be filled with fear, but ironically, these times require more faith. Times come in our spiritual life when our enthusiasm isn’t as real as when we began our walk with God. That’s not an indication to quit… it may be that God is using that time for something bigger than you could have imagined… but whatever is next will most likely require a deeper level of trust. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding." Prov.3:5

Turn off the noise that drowns God’s voice out.

Become aware of the “noise” in your life that draws your attention away from God. Noise is anything that assaults your senses so much that it distracts you from hearing God: constant being on your cell phone, a schedule that’s too busy, and even too much clutter in your own mind to think clearly. Some ways you can turn off noise in your life include: cutting out one hour of TV or Internet time a day and spending that time in prayer, or Bible reading; walk or jog quietly and use the time for reflection and prayer.

Look for the lessons in the silence.

Realize that God may be doing some of His most significant spiritual work in you during the times He’s silent. Let the silence motivate you to seek Him more, and depend on Him more when you do find Him. If you become aware that you can’t hear God because you’ve been involved with sin that’s blocking your relationship with Him, repent and ask Him to forgive you. Be grateful that He has given you time to do so.  If God’s silence signals that you need to wait on His timing for something, pray for patience and the strength to hold onto faith. Understand that God’s silence may be a natural pause as He works out His long-term plans for your life; decide to trust Him as He works behind the scenes. Remember that His timing and methods may be different from what you’d prefer, but He always knows best.

I hope that you'll find one or more of these ideas useful.  What have you found that works for you in the "silent seasons" of your life?  What would you add to this list?

 

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A Season Of Testing

Sometimes when God is preparing us for greater things we have to go through a season of testing.

• We encounter people who are hard to deal with.
• Circumstances begin to feel out of control.
• Our mind starts to become overwhelmed with stress and anger.
• It feels like it’s just one thing after another.

I’ve been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.

Today, if you’re in a season of preparation, lean in.

Trust the loving hand of your Father and know that He often has to do a work in you...before He can work through you.

Are YOU in a season? If so, how can we pray for you?

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