Moral muscle memory l Worship

By Pastor Jeff Dutra, Mukilteo Foursquare Church | Aug 21, 2019

I have a lot of activities that I enjoy doing, but by far one of my favorites is golfing.

We have one the best golf courses in Snohomish County right here in good ol’ Muk Town – Harbour Pointe Golf Course – and I regularly go there at lunchtime to practice my chipping and putting.

As much as I practice you’d think I’d be a scratch golfer by now, but … NOPE, far from it!

You see, golf isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I’ve been naturally athletic my whole life, but golf is a different animal! Just when you think you’re all that, the game of golf can quickly bring you to your knees. And just when you think you’ve got your swing dialed in, a hook, slice, chunk, chilly dip, or shank rudely awakens you from your delusion!

What makes golf such an intriguing game is that in a typical four-hour round, it will bring you to your highest highs and your lowest lows.  After one beautiful shot, it will cause you to say, “I love this game!” but the very next shot say, “I hate this game!”

Golf instructors say that the key to developing a good, consistent golf swing is to develop good muscle memory, but the problem for most of us amateurs is that we’ve developed bad muscle memory over time, which causes us to repeat the same mistakes over and over, and it can be so frustrating!

For example, the dreaded shank has recently reared its ugly head in my chipping. A shank is when you’re aiming straight at the pin, but when you hit the ball it violently shoots off to the right, and the harder you try to stop doing it, the worse it gets. It’s the most helpless feeling in golf! Thankfully, after watching some YouTube videos on the causes and cures of shanking, I’m making some headway, and hopefully, well on my way to developing good muscle memory.

I know I’m talking a lot about golf, but that’s not really what this article is about. I’m simply using it to illustrate the human condition.

Morally speaking, we’ve all developed bad muscle memory in one way or another, and to one degree or another. We try to be good people and make right choices, but we’re all human and prone to making moral mistakes, which the Bible calls sin. We may be doing well in most areas of our lives, but often there’s one area that keep tripping us up. Like trying to fix the dreaded shank in golf, we sometimes feel powerless to correct the bad habits we’ve developed, and depending on the nature of those habits, it can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this in Romans chapter 7, and he pinpointed the problem and the cure. The problem is the sin nature that we all have. He writes, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Can any of you golfers relate? Maybe some of you fellow humans can relate, too.

Paul identified the problem, which is the sinful nature that we all have. However, he also identified the cure. He writes, “Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The phrase “Jesus Is the Answer” might sound like a cliché, but when it comes to breaking sinful habits that cause so much heartache in our lives, and developing good moral muscle memory that leads to us making right choices on a more consistent basis, Jesus really is the answer!

We’re all in this boat of fallen humanity together, but His nail-scarred hands are reaching out to each of us. Will you take hold of them?

If you’d like to but you’re not sure how, or if you already have but you’re looking for a new church home, I’d like to personally invite you to come be our guest at Mukilteo Foursquare Church for our Back to Church Sunday on Sept. 15 at 10 a.m.

You’ll be warmly welcomed, encouraged in your heart, and we’ll have free coffee, donuts and a welcome gift waiting for you!

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