As I write this, I can already feel the excitement of what will be taking place tomorrow (Thursday) as the Masters Golf Tournament finally gets underway. This year there will be, for the first time in the history of the Masters, two starts; one at the first hole and at the same time the 10th hole as they try to get the daily round in before the early sunset. I get excited because of two reasons; the first is that even though I don’t have the opportunity to play much, I love the game and secondly, I spent my adolescent years around the Masters. I would go every year as my Dad would have the tickets and my favorite spot to sit was where I could watch what was happening as the players played through what is called “Amen Corner”, holes 11-13. Great memories! I even worked at the Masters, selling sandwiches and drinks and I must say, that is not a good memory.

Speaking of the Amen Corner I will say that I have seen a lot of players make it or break it as they played through these three holes and that is why it is called the “Amen Corner.” I have seen some of my favorite players end up not making the cut because of how they played through the Corner and I have seen some on the last day of the tournament “blowing up” and falling out of contention. Players have pointed to #12 and hitting over Rae’s Creek as the most treacherous hole on the course. Yet, I have also seen some pretty amazing shots around Amen Corner and I have seen players win the Master’s as they pressed on and passed those who struggled. My favorite will always be in 1986, seeing Jack Nicklaus whom sports writers said was too old to ever win the Masters again, four shots back, cutting through the leaders as he conquered the Amen Corner and went on to win his 6th green jacket.

To end well is the key to winning the Masters, and it is also the key to our being successful in responding to God’s call to be wise stewards of all that He has entrusted us with. All of those who will be competing in the Masters tomorrow have one goal in mind, and that is to win, and in order to win, one must finish well. All of us have great intentions when we start out on our spiritual walk with Christ, but the world and life in general can get in our way of actually completing our plan. The same is true when it comes to our giving God the glory through our financial giving. We start out with a great desire to glorify God through our giving but then we encounter our own “Amen Corner”. Rather than negotiating the twists and turns successfully, we succumb to the hazards and pitfalls that come our away and for some people, they begin to pull back, and in some cases, drop out.

Throughout his writings, we are encouraged by Paul to “stay the course” and keep our mind “on the main thing” throughout our walk with Christ.

If you have been knocked down while pursuing God’s call to stewardship by a “Rae’s Creek” in your life and you are on the verge of giving up or maybe you already have, then hear the words of the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians 4:8-10. He reminds us that we may be “knocked down but we are not destroyed, that we are hard pressed from every side but not crushed.” It is the Holy Spirit inside of us that gives us the power and strength to keep going and accomplish what we set out to do at the beginning. If you have given up, then I invite you to get back into the game. It is not over. You can still win. I encourage you to make a faith commitment this week and give God the glory as He enables each of us to stay the course as we seek to honor God with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.

Pastor Steve

P.S. Please remember that Faith Commitment Sunday is this Sunday and to bring your faith commitment card to worship or either bring it to the church office or mail it in. Let’s stay the course and win!