Life Lessons on the Golf Course (Part 1)

(I learn a lot on the golf course. I chronicled some of those lessons in a previous blog: The Greatest Game Ever Played. I expect this to be Part 1 of an ongoing series as I draw more life lessons from my time on the course.)

 

I got up to the short par 4  #7, selected an iron off the tee, and proceeded to hit my shot down the right side of the fairway. I then approached my golf ball safely in the fairway, only to find that this fairway was overrun by invasive weeds everywhere (where I come from, we call it crab grass).

There was evidence that the greens keeper was fighting the weeds, but in this particular battle, he was losing. The weeds had overwhelmed the fairway to the point of no return. At this stage, the course is better off to tear up everything, replace the soil, and replant the natural fairway grass.

How does this happen? How does something get so far out of control? The answer on the golf course is simple: lack of routine upkeep. The lack of small investments over time. Skip a ground treatment here and there. Let a few patches of weeds run wild, think that you can take care of it another day. Then, BOOM, it is too late and the only option is a complete excavation of the turf. The sad thing is, the routine maintenance over time probably costs less than the project to redeem the turf. All of those delayed investments over time finally catch up resulting in disaster.

We see this in the real world as well. This principle is alive in our lives. The principle of compounding decisions. Consider compound interest in the world of finance and investing. Compounding is considered one of the most powerful forces in the investment world (if not the most powerful!). Small investments over time can grow to large sums. Small debts over time can grow to large sums as well. As you can see, this sword can cut both ways.

On the golf course, the poor maintenance compounded over time resulted in disaster. On great golf courses, great maintenance over time results in exceptional conditions.

The Compounding Formula

Decisions + Repetitions ^(t) = Results

(t = Units of time. Days, months, years etc)

The only components of compounding are your decisions and the consistent repetition of those decisions over time.

The principle can be applied positively or negatively, working for us or against us.

How do we ensure this principle works for us?

  • Prioritize and Plan
    • Nobody plans to fail. But failing to plan is tantamount to planning to fail. You have to intentionally decide what is most important and build from there. Prioritize. We would be wise to heed this advice: “You do not prioritize your schedule, you schedule your priorities.”
    • What does this look like practically? In relationships, it means dedicating consistent quality time to the relationships that are most important to you.
    • In health, it means scheduling and following through with exercise and other healthy habits.
    • In your finances, it means establishing (and actually following!!) a budget.
  • Count the Costs
    • What would it cost you to skip a workout? Miss an important event with a loved one? Spend a little beyond your budget?
    • Well, the answer in the short term is… probably nothing. One instance is not going to set you back. If you miss a workout, you are probably not going to the hospital the next day for heart disease. Miss an event with a loved one and they will probably understand. Charge a little extra on the credit card and you can probably get by.
    • However, this is what lulls us into a false sense of security. The consequences of missing one instance are not immediately apparent so it makes it easy to skip more.
    • This is not how the principle works though is it? Missing one instance can begin to compound… against you. Then all of the sudden… decades of poor decisions may result in catastrophe in a key area of your life.
    • The cost to you in the end may end up being so much more than the tiny cost of each instance over time. And just like the golf course fairway overrun with crab grass, you may find yourself in a position where a complete excavation of the turf is your only option.
  • Consider the Future
    • Just think if you decided to leverage this principle now, what that could mean for your future.
    • In relationships, it could mean a thriving marriage and a healthy family.
    • In health it could mean more energy, avoidance of preventable diseases, and a higher quality of life.
    • In finances, it could mean financial freedom and the ability to bless others in need.

I encourage you to take some time and evaluate what decisions you are making repeatedly over time.

The compounding formula is real, make sure it is working for you.

Observations on the Passing Scene – 3.4.17

I am constantly making observations about the world around me, but have rarely shared them in writing. I usually reserve them for candid conversations with those who help me process my observations to the point of understanding. I value this practice, because it seems like we can lose sight of the shifting environment around us.

And just like the frog slowly boiling in the pot of water, we can be surprised by how sharply yet subtly our surroundings have changed.

The current state of affairs in our nation has lead to some interesting observations.

Not-my-President’s Day:

Donald Trump is a polarizing President in already polarized times for our nation.

I voted for him. He was not my first choice, but nonetheless I voted for him. I was as surprised as anyone when he won (and I have my electoral predictions to prove it).

And based on our process, he was elected President. Now, nearly half the nation did NOT vote for him, so I recognize the sentiment behind rejecting him because he does not represent your vote.

However, he is still the President. He may not represent your values or your vote, but he is in fact your President.
This may be troubling to you, and I understand that.

This sentiment is widely expressed, but is there any room for this for us? (By us, I mean followers of Christ)

I would argue no. Because we know that the Lord establishes those in positions of authority (Romans 13).  We are all subject to the law and to the government officials placed in positions of authority.

I think it would be wise for us to take a step back and ask: Am I being a source of division, or a source of unity?

Our nation is divided enough as it is. This same nation needs to see a united Church, looking to Jesus for answers, because looking to Washington DC will leave us lacking every time.

Lawlessness:

Why have we become so comfortable with the breaking of laws?
Lawlessness is almost celebrated in our current culture. We have even had government officials allowing riots and the destruction of property to continue without taking action in a timely fashion.

Consider that: the very people elected to uphold the law allowing lawlessness to continue much longer than it should.

This is troubling to me.
Why? Because to me it reflects the subtle but steady moral decline of our society. This is not a social issue. This is not a political issue. It is a spiritual issue.

If you don’t believe me, at least take a quick look at your Bible and see all of the times lawlessness is mentioned.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:4

You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; this is why God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of joy rather than Your companions.
Hebrews 1:9

These are just a couple of examples pulled from the countless in Scripture. It is humbling to consider how the continual, ongoing practice of sin is tantamount to lawlessness.

Pretty serious stuff here.

Disagree without being Disagreeable

I was having a conversation with a few friends of mine who represent the opposite end of the political spectrum. We were having a candid conversation about the current state of affairs. I stated my positions, they stated theirs.
And in all of this, something amazing happened.

We didn’t fight, curse, snarl, character assassinate, name call, etc. We simple left the conversation and went on our way with a better understanding of opposing views.

It seems we are losing this art. The art of disagreeing without being disagreeable.

How do we regain this ability? Outside of just generally being respectful of everyone, I have discovered that it helps to practice empathy. A simple “Why?” can go a long way in aiding understanding.

Consider your background.
When I consider mine, it is not a surprise that I hold more conservative views.

I was

  • Raised in the Southeast
  • By middle class Christian parents
  • Including a father in law enforcement
  • And then I joined the military at age 20

I went to one of the most progressive universities in the country but that experience could not overwhelm the factors mentioned above.
My worldview was set. And the person you are talking to/disagreeing with, has the very same set of inputs influencing their views.

Disagree without being Disagreeable.

Journal Entry: October 9th 2016

October 9th, 2016

In some ways, I have allowed politics to become an idol. Maybe THE idol in my life right now. I follow it incessantly, yet hardly pray for my country, or open my Bible. I KNOW the truth, and the truth is that my country is not what I want it to be. Our values are not what I want them to be.

But doesn’t that miss the point? Is God not sovereign?
The answer of course is yes, but my idolatry and obsession over this election means that I am living more like it is a “no”.
Humbling indeed.

Both of our primary candidates are so deeply and fundamentally flawed. I recognize we are all deeply and fundamentally flawed, but can you recall a time where both candidates are such a far cry from anything resembling submission to the authority of God? This troubles me, but probably not for the right reasons as I think about it.

It troubles me because it means that the America that I have in my mind, that I believed would be present in my future, is fading rapidly. This America had strong Judeo-Christian values, was proud of what it meant to be an American and all that came with that.

This identity is dying and it breaks my heart. But it also means that (selfishly) my life will be harder. Prosperity will be threatened, my values will be of the minority and maybe even censored before too long.

So what are the right reasons for being troubled by this? Obviously the moral decline of our leadership is indicative of the moral decline of our nation. Wayward morality always has consequences. History has proved this time and time again. Heck, you don’t even need the Bible to see it but I believe Scripture provides the most coherent explanation.

Say what you want about the Founding Fathers, because many say they weren’t Christians. I don’t argue that here, I will say that they did view the world with a moral framework. There was a starting point, a foundation of morality that they looked to for inspiration and guidance.

We are losing this framework. We have no foundation or starting point to look to. And like a house without a strong frame or a body without bones, we fall in on ourselves.

There will be suffering and more suffering. Physical, psychological, social, economic. This is probably the saddest part of this, but also the greatest opportunity because suffering forces us to ask some pretty big questions.

What is the purpose of this?
Why do I suffer?
Is there any hope?

It is here that I return, because the answers to these questions, and the example of our lives is where the Church is indeed Salt and Light.

Salt prevents decay. Light shines brightest in the darkness.

13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:13-16

Random Thoughts: #TourDeDC2016

Last week I visited our nations capitol, Washington DC. I toured the Capitol, the White House, the Library of Congress, various museums, monuments, and the sacred grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

Visiting these various locations prompted so many thoughts (some random, some deliberate) that it has taken me some time to process through them all. Here are some of the main takeaways.

America: Scarred but still Great

I knew there was a reason that I rejected the notion that America was never great. This statement has been a common refrain by many who reject the mantra of Donald Trump when he says “Make America Great Again”. They simply state that “America was never great.”

A simple tour of DC proves this to be false.

Washington

The Washington monument. Created to honor our very first President. A man who, when given the opportunity to expand power, chose to relinquish power back to the people. This principle, the idea that the government belongs to the people, is great.

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Abraham Lincoln. A man who fought for the idea that all men are created equal and managed to keep our nation intact as it sought to dissolve. This is great.

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This photo is front the entrance to the Holocaust Museum. A museum dedicated to remembering the millions of lives that were exterminated by the evil Nazi regime.

When confronted with evil in the world, the United States fought to destroy it.

And succeeded. This is great.

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Finally. Arlington National Cemetery. Countless rows of head stones with the names of honorable Americans. Many of whom died in combat securing the very freedom we have to proclaim that our country was never great.

The free air that we breathe is because of their sacrifice.

This is great.

Our Nation has its scars. A past full of things that caused deep pain and sorrow for many. But don’t you? What do you expect from a nation full of people that have pasts full of things that have caused deep pain and sorrow? We are scarred, but this does not fully eliminate the collective greatness of our Nation. Our scars do not define us. Just like your scars do not define you.

The Rest of DC:

  • DC was surprisingly quiet despite it being election season. I anticipated more but was actually pleasantly surprised.
  • Uber is the way to go when traveling around town
  • Clean city! As someone who understands custodial operations, I appreciated this aspect
  • Knocked off another MLB park while visiting. Enjoyed watching the Nationals play the Braves.

Thanks for stopping by!

– Brian

The Gospel: Watch, Hear, Experience

The Gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ and His redemption of our sins. I read this. I know this. I have said this and I believe this. But, what does it look like? Jesus arrived on the scene in human flesh 2,000 years ago, and has appeared in various mediums of art for the last 2,000 years. We have depictions of Him all over the world. What does the Gospel look like? What does it sound like today?

Change gears for a moment:

I appreciate artistic expression and I believe this is a manifestation of God in me. In all of us. The Creator of light, sight, sound, hearing, flavor, taste, colors and everything in between left his imprint on us. Being created in His image means so much more than appearance.

The art of communication is my preferred medium (those that have experienced the horror of me singing or observed my drawing skills will back me up on this). This art is increasingly robust in the Christian faith and with the technological advances of the last decade, we have access to SO MUCH great content. I have included some of my favorites below! I hope and pray you enjoy watching, hearing, and experiencing the Gospel in a whole new way!

John 3:16 – The Story of Love

G.O.S.P.E.L.

The Story of God

Comment below with some of your favorites and I will be sure to watch, hear, and experience the Gospel again!

Random Thoughts 2015 – 2016

Wow. So much has happened in the last year. One thing that has not happened is much publishing of blogs. I have been writing consistently, just not publishing. I figured returning with some Random Thoughts from the last year would be a good start

Glacial River Meets Saltwater 08142010 f v2

Salt Water:

Election season is upon us (and has been for the better part of a year) and I can’t help but think that our current situation is like being thirsty and only having salt water to drink. An overwhelming majority of Americans say that the country is heading in the wrong direction, but the leading candidate promises to continue (if not double down on) the enforcement of policies that push us towards our current direction. The insurgent candidate is so loathed by the power brokers within his party that they are actively undermining his success, likely ensuring defeat. Both instances are strange indeed.

Note: drinking salt water when thirsty will kill you.

Pokemon Go:

I will admit. I  have been participating in the Pokemon Go craze. As if my generation needed another reason to look down at our phones. I suppose this craze is a little less selfish in nature but it also brings back nostalgic memories of the elementary school days when “gotta catch em all” meant going to Books A Million and buying packs of Pokemon cards hoping to catch a holigraphic Charizard. All I know is, many Pokemon hoarders wiser than I are making some decent profit on their stash of cards.

Titles and Tunes:

Here is what I have been reading and listening to lately –

  • Crisis of Character by Gary J. Byrne
  • Unconditional Love by John Joseph Powell
  • The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom
  • The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
  • Testify by NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Clear by NEEDTOBREATHE
  • Love Will Take You Places by Danny Gokey
  • Even When it Hurts by Hillsong

Enjoy!

– Brian

 

My Word for 2016

NewThe practice of choosing a word for the year is something I have done for the last three years under the encouragement of the leadership of a local church. The word has served as a point of focus in my walk with Christ.

My word for 2016 is New.

new |n(y)o͞o|

adjective

1 not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time

2 just beginning or beginning anew and regarded as better than what went before

We celebrate things that are new.

  • New Years are exciting.
  • New Cars smell amazing.
  • New Shoes look great.

As I thought about my word for this year, I was reminded that the Lord celebrates making things new as well.

We are given a new heart and a new spirit

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

We are a new creation

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:17

We follow a new command

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:34

We will see a new heaven and new earth

1Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea… 5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Revelation 21:1,5

I just listened to a sermon today that said God views each day with the same excitement that we view each year. His mercies are new each and every day.

I am made new. You can be too.