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Tiger issued his formal statement of regret today.  I listened on the radio.  You can read it here.

Of course, there is no way to know of his sincerity, though he seemed to be honest to me.  I haven’t listened to much afterward, but my guess is that all the pundits are commenting on whether he said the right things, did he really mean it, why he  said what he did and didn’t say what they wanted to hear (when he’s going to play golf again), why he didn’t allow questions and the like.

I think it might be interesting to look at the content of what he said to understand about making apologies.

One very true statement he made in a quote from his wife was: “my real apology to her will not come in the form of words; it will come from my behavior over time.”  The words are important, but ultimately his actions will still determine his relationships, with his family, friends, sponsors, business partners and the fans.  The perception of Tiger was that he was an upstanding man of integrity who was doing things the right way.  That all blew up on Thanksgiving weekend and it won’t be east to put his image back into any semblance of what it was before.  It will take time and proven behavior.  For his wife, that will involve complete transparency of time, money, schedule, friends, etc.  For others the time for restoration is probably proportional to the closeness of relationship.

He said he was sorry, truly, deeply sorry three different times.  But more important that even that, several times he called his actions “wrong,” “irresponsible,” “selfish,” “foolish” and the like.  He took ownership of his own wrongdoing. He said these were things he had done, without excuse really, though he did attempt to give explanations.

“I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong, but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. I never thought about who I was hurting. Instead, I thought only about myself. I ran straight through the boundaries that a married couple should live by. I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find them.

I was wrong. I was foolish. I don’t get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me.”

Those two paragraphs provide an amazing insight into the life and thoughts of Tiger Woods.  As much as we may want to condemn his actions that were deplorable, we must also take a careful look at ourselves to see how we would have dealt with such fame, wealth and opportunity.  As I listened and then read this transcript I see a lot of humility for a man who has not previously had to deal with much humility.

He also talks several times about the impact of his actions on others.  He acknowledges the hurt he caused his family, his friends and the other tour players.  He acknowledges the fans, and especially the kids, who have looked to him as a role model.  It seems to me that he understands the depth of pain he has caused to those closest to  him and the disappointment that others have.

The only part of his statement that is disappointing to me is his search for a solution in his childhood religion, Buddhism.  What a sad thought that his only hope for life is to reign himself in, exercising more self-control of which it appears he had none to little to begin with.  What a sad thing that he sees no need for ultimate redemption, forgiveness and restoration.  He say that “Buddhism teaches that a craving for things outside ourselves causes an unhappy and pointless search for security.”  How sad that Buddhism denies the very desire for God, “a craving for things outside ourselves,” who does provide our ultimate security.  By pointing back to within ourselves, Buddhism pushes the follower away from the illicit life that is unsatisfying but it also pushes away from the One who alone is satisfying.  Is life a “pointless search for security”?  Or is there a point to our search?  I believe that the point to the search is to find Christ.  And a news flash for Tiger:  Looking within yourself for security is also pointless.  Only Jesus satisfies.

You never know what’s going to happen on a Monday.  I think Monday is one of the toughest days of the week because I’m exhausted after Sunday, but I know that I’ve got to get back after things on Monday to get the new week started right.  If I get behind on Monday I feel behind all week.

Had a great meeting this morning with Heather and Paula about Camp Creek 2010, especially Vacation Bible School.  Our hope is to have 200 kids this year.  Last year we had 155 enrolled for the week.  It means some big changes in how we’ve done VBS and the afternoon Sports Camp.  But this year Camp Creek is going to be bigger and better than ever!

Then I met with Roy to help him get a blog started.  Check the link to his blog to the right of this page.  Roy wants to share what’s going on with Candy as she goes through recovery.  Keep praying for them, she has a long road back.

Several have asked me how to help them.  We’ve been working on things we could do and trying to provide a way for folks to give to help offset some of the medical expenses they will have.  Here is where we are today:
1. Working on a giving option.  This week we should have set up an account for you to give specifically toward Candy’s medical and recovery expenses.  You can give cash or write a check to “Spring Creek Baptist” and designate it for the Candy Dethloff Fund.  We will deposit the money in a separate account to be used solely for Candy’s medical and recovery expenses.  Spring Creek will designate two deacons to be responsible for authorizing payments from this account. They will be the only ones allowed to authorize payments and they will only do so for Candy’s expenses.  Any medical bills will be given to them and they will authorize payments from that account as long as there are available funds.  Per Roy’s requests, he won’t have access to the account and he will continue to work to make his own way.  His desire is for those who want to help Candy to have a clear way to give.  All gifts to this account will be tax deductible for income tax purposes.
2. There will be a need for help to get their home ready for Candy’s return.  Tim and Dave are working on a plan with Roy now and we should have more information about that later.

Monday is also a day for looking back at Sunday.  We had a great day in church yesterday morning with 176 in Bible Study and 167 in worship.  So far in 2010 we are averaging about the same in our second service as we did in one worship service last year through the first four months.  God is blessing Spring Creek!  Now to get over that 200 barrier.

Keep inviting people this week.  Think through that list of people who need to be in Bible Study and invite them to come to your class.  Look around in worship and find someone who isn’t coming to Bible Study and invite them to your class.  We can do it with the ready help of the Lord.

The passage for this Sunday is Luke 4:16-30.  It’s the story of Jesus’ return to Nazareth after spending the first part of his ministry in the area of Galilee.  He enters the synagogue in Nazareth as the returning favored son.  He leaves the synagogue as the leader of a great army.  Unfortunately the great army is not following Him, it’s chasing Him out of town to kill Him.

We’ll look at what happened in that synagogue to make the crowd turn from favorable to angry and defiant.  Some questions to consider, that I may or may not answer Sunday: Have you ever been angered by a biblical message preached with love and grace?  Why don’t more messages leave the congregation angry?  Should the message leave us angry at least occasionally?  Are preachers not confrontational enough, or do congregations refuse to make personal application, i.e. do they assume the message must be about someone else?

Just updated the site  to list some books I’m reading, have read and will read.  Check out the list to find something you might like.

Most recently I finished The Myth of the 200 Barrier.  It was an interesting read from Kevin Martin who works with Episcopal churches in Texas now and has consulted on church development with churches across the U.S., mostly in the mainline denominations.  He was greatly influenced by Lyle Schaller who is a prolific writer and speaker on church growth.

The basic premise of Martin’s book was that churches that want to grow from through the 200 barrier, a term with which he has issues, must change their culture from that of a “pastoral” church to a more “program oriented” church.  The transition between these is the space between about 140 average attendance and 225 attendance.  The transition time is one of the most difficult and stressful on a church.  The stresses occur on pastor, staff, volunteers and church members.  Because of a new paradigm of doing church that must occur, there are challenges to change.  The pastor and staff must relate differently to the church and the church must relate differently to the staff and especially to one another.

Of course, some don’t like these changes.  They are comfortable in the smaller setting, that may be why they joined the church in the first place.  Others like things they way they are because that is how they relate and how they validate themselves.  This is especially true for pastor and staff.  To change the way pastoring happens can be hard for the pastor as well as the people.

While there were many things in the book that showed the mainline experience of Martin and were not relevant in a Southern Baptist church, many of the principles were true and applied to the ministry here.  It was somewhat of a confirmation to me of my previous post about the difficulties I see ahead this year.

2010 is the beginning of our 18th year here at Spring Creek!
That means we have seen a lot of life, a lot of changes, a lot of struggles, a lot of victories in our time here. Considering each of these years, as I look forward I think this year coming up may be the most difficult of our ministry. I also think it may be the most rewarding.

It’s going to be a challenging year because we’ll send our firstborn off to college in the fall, that’s hard for any family. But in ministry it will be difficult because we are looking at opportunities that none of us has experienced before and that seem to be well beyond our capabilities and will require stretching for me and for you. There will be challenges in beginning another campus that we cannot envision and for which we will be hard pressed to negotiate. There are challenges to growing our Sunday School to 200 in attendance. There are challenges in raising up new leaders for new ministries. Add to these the things we cannot anticipate or predict and 2010 is going to be require lots of trust in the Lord and strength from the Lord.  I don’t know about you, but I know for me there is a great challenge in living in complete trust and reliance.  I’d rather know all the in’s and out’s, be familiar with the work before me and feel entirely competent to complete it.

At the same time, the opportunity to be completely reliant on the Lord means there are faith rewards beyond our imagination. His desire is to have us in the place of trust, where our only hope is Him. I’m reminded of the very passage I preached from this past Sunday.  We have everything set before us and the Lord has promised us everything we need to excel in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8). So lets get to it. This is gonna be a great year!!!