The Pursuit of “Holeyness”

Pursuit of “Holeyness”

                When the Olivet Baptist Church Men’s group asked me if I wanted to golf, I gladly accepted.  It had been about two and a half years since I golfed last and it was two and a half years ago that I realized my golf shoes were too small, so this should serve as insight as to how much I golf.

                If you have never golfed, here’s the gist.  You have a bunch of sticks of various lengths, with heads on top of them of various sizes and angles.  With those sticks you are to hit a tiny ball, (under two inches in diameter) at various distances and angles to a well-manicured grass area called the “green”.  Positioned somewhere on this green, which is often sloped in one or more direction, is a hole or cup that is less than four times the diameter of the ball.   With the shortest stick in the bag you must determine the slope of the green and the speed the ball will roll, in order to get it in the hole.  Is it a challenging game?  YES!

                My gracious golf partners, Ray and Wilfred, tolerated me as I sliced and hooked my ball into trees and bushes.   Some balls barely trickled off the tee and others shot high into the air about 15-20 yards in front of us.  There were many holes I made in the ground that my club dug up and many balls were donated to the course.  While at times there were glimpses of a golf game, it was mostly painful and as the day went on and I walked from one hole to the next, I got more exhausted and my game got worse, my focus lost and thoughts of calling it a day crossed my mind.  You could say my pursuit of “holeyness” was not up to par.

                In reflection of this day, my golf game is probably better than my pursuit of holiness as a follower of Christ.  If you can imagine life as a golf course and all along the way we move from one hole to the next, I have not scored so well. Time and again I end up in the bushes, stuck in sand traps and drowning in water hazards.  The pursuit of holiness is not too far off from golf and it’s about as easy to live a holy life as it is to nail a 1 inch ball into a 3 inch cup from 400 yards away.  Why live a holy life, why pursue holiness?  Just as the Lord called to the Jews in Leviticus 20:26, I believe through Jesus Christ He says the same to all believers today, “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”  The Lord wants us to be His!  Our Creator is calling for us to live a holy life, which is a life that is consecrated and honoring to Him.  Our pursuit of holiness is our external expression of our belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Word made flesh. 

                The wonder of it all is that while none of us attain holiness on our own efforts, we are holy because we are sanctified by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  God of all creation brought all things into being through his Word, His mighty Word.  Imagine your Word being so powerful it is in itself an entity.  Laws were given, commands spoken, people provided for guidance and only by the blood of Jesus are we atoned from our sins, justified of our lack of holiness and sanctified from our imperfection.  Like the amazing handicap I received in my round of golf that made me look way better than I really am, even greater still is the handicap of the grace of God. 

                If today you find yourself defeated by your inabilities, overcome by imperfections or exhausted from the pursuit of holiness, you have not fully experienced the grace of God.  We are people of holeyness and only find holiness through the grace of God.  Don’t stop your pursuit of holiness, but don’t be fooled to think that you will get there on your own regard.  Only through your belief and commitment to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will you ever be sanctified. -jason Image


Love and Marriage

You certainly cannot have one without the other, and there is also a whole lot more involved.  Marriage, like parenting, is on the job training and I require(d) a lot of training.  I have admittedly been very poor at relationships in the past, understanding what was involved, the significance of “significant” other, learning how to express emotions, caring for the heart of another, and so many other things I lacked in being a good life partner.  
This week I was tasked with trying to prepare the Junior class of Hawaii Baptist Academy with some lessons to prepare them for lifelong relationships. Here are the topics they wanted me to discuss and just a summary of the thoughts I had shared on them:

1) What to look for in a future spouse?
I had them make a list, some were serious, some not so serious. One boy said, “A female, a human and alive.” Low standards there brother!
2) Preparing yourself to be a good marriage partner
As much as you want your spouse to have all of these wonderful attributes, you have to do your part too. Know what you priorities and passions are in life, find someone that share those passions or at least encourage you in them. Sacrificing dreams and goals reluctantly can lead to bitterness and resentment. Find someone that will journey together with you.
3) Communication –
With our growing accessibility to technology, the skill of active listening is dying. This is destructive to relationships. One thing that would drive me crazy when I worked at a restaurant is when people would talk on their cell phones while at dinner with someone else! Practice active listening with the people you encounter today.
4) 5 love language
Word of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service
These five love languages were identified by Dr Gary Chapman and he suggests that people receive and express love by one of these five love languages. Know the way you give and receive love and also know the way other people give and receive love, especially your spouse.
5) Co-Dependency
When I asked the groups what they thought this was the common answer was, “depending on each other”. In some ways yes, but not in a healthy way. Simply put it’s depending on a person depending on you. When I did substance abuse counseling the most common example was the spouse of an alcoholic. Most commonly co-dependent people have poor self-esteem and are seeking wholeness in another person. You must be a whole person before entering into a relationship. Mind, body and spirit. Colossians 2:9,10a says, “9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete” Paul is writing to the church in Colossae who is being persuaded by false theology and teaching. Paul encourages them, your wholeness is in Christ and what He has done. The Word of God, through whom all things came into being, took on the curse of the flesh and yet did not sin. He taught and preached and guided and ministered all the way to his death on the cross only to break the curse of sin, by being sinless Himself and allowing for reunification with our Creator should we repent and put our faith in Jesus. This is spiritual wholeness, and I believe so important for relationships. Many people lack this, sadly, many even that call themselves Christian. Find wholeness in mind, body and spirit for healthy relationships.
6) Taking things like pornography addiction into your marriage
Avoid hiding things from your spouse. Pornography addiction is a rapidly growing issue, so accessible to people of all ages, boys and girls, men and women. This addiction is one that leads to secrecy, and living a double life, secrets have their way of eventually coming into the light. If you struggle with pornography addiction, tell someone you trust today.
7) A physical relationship before marriage
“Dessert before dinner.”
My girls all day long will ask for a snack or a special treat. Many times at 5pm they will ask, “Can I have a snack?” to which Emily and I respond, “We are about to have dinner.” Of course what would a four-year-old rather have, a cookie or a piece of broccoli? So we as parents need to make sure she gets her proper nutrition before her treats. Having a healthy sex life is so important for marriage, it is a good thing, but a relationship that is built on a physical foundation will be at high risk of not receiving the strength of a firm foundation that is built on spiritual and emotional bonds. A relationship built on the physical is a highly unstable foundation.
I also told this class of Juniors, “You are not ready to have a child! I don’t even know you guys, but I am telling you, you are not ready! I have three, I’m not even sure I’m ready!”
8) How to guard your marriage
Having healthy boundaries. Keeping your family as your first priority. Never comparing your spouse with anyone else. No secrets.

There is so much more that goes into having a healthy relationship. As I shared with all the groups I met with, I’m still learning and it is an ongoing process. There is no magic answer, there are no guarantees, but hopefully I gave them some tips for a head start into a healthy relationship. The Lord knows I could have used that when I was a teenager!


New Beginnings

Going to a new church was surprisingly filled with levels of anxiety. Surprising because it really was not a new church, it was a church that I had been a member at before I left for California in 2005. Pulling into the parking lot was familiar but different. In just a few years there had been so much that had changed in my life: married, three children and so much personal growth. Funny, growth often comes with the acknowledgement of how much more growing needs to take place. Friendly faces are scattered across the parking lot, many I know from years ago, some exactly as I remember, some I recall with some uncertainty. They have a nursery and a Sunday school for my girls, a wonderful resource for Emily and I to focus on our Sunday worship and oddly a slightly cold feeling as I reminisce of moments in our country church when Aubs or Kammy would just run up to me during a sermon and I would carry them up and continue my message. None good or bad, just different, appropriate for each setting. We are grateful to see that there are warm and loving volunteers to welcome our children into their care. When we enter the sanctuary scenes flash from the archives of my memory. I remember time spent in the balcony as good friends operate the sound and lighting, I am taken back to a monologue that I delivered for a Christmas performance. Then on that very stage I sat with the Senior Pastor and the former Youth Minister. We watched as the empty seats slowly filled, more faces from my past visiting my memory once more, searching for names to attach to faces. Behind us the authoritative sound of the organ and the choir fill the large space. The combination of the commanding music and the spotlight shining on the stage send ripples into my nerves and the anxiety is revisited. I stare down at the program in my hands and again my thoughts drift to my country church and the fond memories there. I smile to myself as I recall standing in front of no more than a dozen, slippahs on my feet, stained pants that represent the battles of parenthood and a partially wrinkled shirt, no bulletins, no commitment to a set order of worship, sometimes not even music planned. With hymnals on the seats I would ask, “Does anyone feel led to share a hymn of worship?” and almost certainly someone would speak up and we would worship together in song. I am brought back to the present by the majestic organ, beautiful, powerful sound. As the service got underway and the parts were played and the schedule unfolded, a peace came over me, there are new beginnings in life, some may be new experiences in old places, some may be old experiences in new places and while often times there will be differences I am resting in the knowledge that Jesus Christ is the center of it all. New additions to my family, new residence, new employment and new place of worship, if I live by the understanding that “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me and the life I now live in the flesh I life by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me”(Galatians 2:20), I rest assured that my foundation will always be the same. Wherever life may lead, wherever the Lord may call, lean upon Jesus Christ for all things. Call upon the name of the Lord, in repentance and humility, in belief of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh and you find your hopes, your dreams, your expectations secured in the knowledge that the Will of the Lord is good and perfect beyond our understanding. We are excited to be with the Olivet Baptist Church family, many I already knew as brothers and sisters in Christ, many I am meeting for the first time. I am also grateful that my brothers and sisters from Kahalu`u will always be apart of the family of God, a bond that is not broken as long as we walk in the Light of Jesus Christ. Here’s to new beginnings! May you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, as the firm foundation of which you live your life, so no matter where you go, no matter what changes, no matter your experiences, your feet will always be planted on the solid Rock of Jesus.