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Tiger's first contact with golf came when he was just six months old. He used to sit and watch his dad practice into a net he'd made in the garage. At nine months, his dad recalls, Tiger suddenly jumped out of his baby carriage, promptly teed up a ball, picked up a club which his dad had cut down in size for him, and then proceeded to hit the golf ball into the makeshift net. Nine months old!
His dad said later, "I was flabbergasted, almost fell off my chair. It was the most frightening thing I have ever seen."
Tiger won his first golf competition when he entered the Under-10s tournament at the Navy Club in Los Alamitos, California. He was two-years-old. And he's been winning ever since.
In 1996, he decided to cut his college career short and turn pro. As soon as he announced, NIKE, the international sports conglomerate, signed him up with a $40 million endorsement deal. TITLEIST signed him for $20 million to use their clubs, and a separate $3 million to use their balls, glove and bag. Imagine this: right off the bat, he's only 19-years-old, because of his name and reputation, he's given a $63 million deal.
Ironically, right after that, when he arrived at the Greater Milwaukee Open for his first pro golf tournament, he had only $10 in his pocket. He had to ask another player to pay his $100 entry fee. Needless to say, that other player got reimbursed not long after!
Last year, 1999, Tiger earned $6.6 million on tournament winnings alone - that's $1 million more than Jack Nicklaus made in his entire PGA Tour career. Everywhere Tiger goes, he's mobbed by fans. The Tiger Woods Club has gone international. People e-mail him constantly from all over the world. In many countries, the name Tiger Woods is the biggest household name around.
Last week in Maui, he polished off 29 of the best golfers in the world with one of the strongest finishing kicks in golfing history: he made an eagle, two under par, and two birdies, one under par a piece, in the last three holes. During the tournament, long before this incredible win, there was an air of resignation among the players. His colleagues were sighing deeply, shaking their heads and saying, "He's on a roll . . . in the zone . . . almost unbeatable!"
That's Tiger Woods right now. The name itself brings weak knees to his competitors and awe from his fans.
Before the third round last week, two caddies were overheard talking outside the clubhouse. Watching dark clouds tumble down the mountain slopes toward the sea and their city, one of them asked, "Is it going to rain?"
The other replied, "Yeah. But it won't rain on Tiger. It never rains on Tiger."
Imagine having a name that evokes such honor and respect from people. So much so that TIME magazine's year-end "Person of the Year" issue listed Tiger Woods in the section titled "People Who Mattered" in 1999.
Let's face it, we live in a society and culture that give supreme honor and glory to the sports heros, movie stars, musicians, politicians and entrepreneurs who make it big. We worship them and what they accomplish. And without doubt, their accomplishments are often phenomenal! So we hang on to them for the inspiration they provide.
It's like Presidential contender John McCain said about Alan Greenspan this month. Greenspan is Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and viewed by many as instrumental in keeping the U.S. economy expanding and flourishing. McCain suggested that the one sure way to continue America's economic prosperity is to have Greenspan stay on, whether he's dead or alive.
As McCain put it, "If Mr. Greenspan should happen to die, God forbid . . . I would prop him up and put a pair of dark glasses on him."
That's an amazing perspective to have about another human being, isn't it? To consider them so valuable that even in death they should be kept around? Even seeing their lifeless body would provide inspiration and confidence?
Don't you think we as humans have our perspectives warped? We need a serious reality check! You see, who we are most in awe of, who we honor most, is who we most want to emulate. And who we want to emulate is what we become like.
That's why Jesus, in the model prayer He gives to His disciples, provides such a profound perspective on life. He deliberately reshapes our sense of reality by teaching us how to pray correctly. In this prayer He describes the six passions of real prayer. As I mentioned last week, the first three have to do with God, and the last three have to do with us.
Prayer always begins with God and a correct understanding of Who He is and what belongs to Him.
Let's look at today's section of the Disciples' Prayer in Matthew 6:9. How to begin prayer. "Our Father who is in heaven (we looked at this last week), hallowed be Your name."
What does this last phrase mean? And what are its life implications for you and me?
A father was listening to his child say prayer. The child began, "Dear Harold . . ."
Dad quickly interrupted. "Wait a minute, son, don't be sacrilegious! Why are you calling God 'Harold?'"
The boy looked up and said, "But Dad, that's what they call Him in church. You know the prayer we say, 'Our Father who art in Heaven, Harold be Thy name."
Sadly, I think that's about as much meaning as many people give to this phrase. "Hallowed be Your Name." What does it really mean?
The word for "hallowed" has a fascinating background. It comes from the word "holy" which means "to be different, to be separate from other things or people because of a different purpose and use." The ancestry of the term can be traced back to an ancient word which means "to cut." So "to be holy" literally means "to be a cut above the norm, superior, extraordinary."
With that background in mind, Jesus' word for "hallowed" here takes on significant meaning: "To be honored, to be glorified, to be revered."
The problem is, in our society, we honor, glorify and revere the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
So here's what Jesus is telling us our prayer passion should be: "May Your Name be treated differently from all other names; may Your Name be given a position which is absolutely unique and superior to all others." "Hallowed by Your Name."
Here's the way the great theologian Arthur W. Pink put it in his book on the Sermon on the Mount: "We cannot pray aright unless the honour of God be dominant in our hearts."
This is a call, my friends, for you and me to give our supreme, our highest honor and glory to Father God. We worship Him and Him alone. We are jealous for His Name, for His reputation. We long to see His Name vindicated everywhere.
What's our motivation? Because we recognize that His Name is the Name above all names. That His Name represents the most important priority of life. That His Name deserves our highest regard and reverence. That His Name inspires our deepest devotion. That His Name resurrects our sincerest praise. That His Name evokes our most profound awe, love and passion. That His Name deserves our greatest respect.
Here's the way another author puts it: "Be hallowed, Lord. Do whatever it takes to be holy in my life. Take Your rightful place on the throne. Exalt Yourself. Magnify Yourself. Glorify Yourself. You be Lord, and I'll be quiet." (Max Lucado, The Great House of God, p. 54)
How do you think God feels when you and I recognize His Name for what It really is? Do you think it brings joy to His heart? Does it make Him feel good? Of course it does, not because He craves position and has to have the highest, but because it tells Him we value Him! We accept His importance to us! And there's nothing like being recognized for who we are to feel valued.
Jay Leno, the famous comedian and host of The Tonight Show, tells about the dream of his life when he was a young comedian. He was recently flipping through one of his early diaries and came to an entry dated April 28, 1972. His 22nd birthday. It said, "Hope to host 'The Tonight Show.'" Big dreams for a little comedian.
But, wouldn't you know it, in late 1986 he was asked by Johnny Carson to fill in as a guest host. Leno was absolutely thrilled! So on the first day, he proudly pulled up to the NBC gate in Burbank, California. The guard looked at him blankly.
Jay said, "I'm Jay Leno."
"Where are you going?"
"'The Tonight Show.'"
"Uh, just a minute." The guard picked up the phone, mumbled something about a 'Jim Reynolds' into the receiver, then said, "Sorry, your name's not on the list."
Jay said, "I think you had the wrong name. It's Leno. Jay Leno."
The guard said, "What do you do?"
"I'm hosting 'The Tonight Show.'"
He looked at Jay very condescendingly and then let out a long sigh. "I hate to tell you this, son, but Johnny Carson is the host of 'The Tonight Show.'"
"I know that. And I'm filling in!" By this time Jay's feeling pretty frustrated and wiped out. Even angry!
The guard shook his head and picked up the phone again. This time he got the name right, and this time Jay got in.
How does it feel to not be recognized for who you are? You don't feel very valued, do you? Imagine how excited Jay Leno is as he drives up to the studio to do what he's always dreamed of doing. Only to be unrecognized and unvalued by the guard.
Multiply that by six billion times and we just begin to get an inkling about how God feels to so often be dishonored and unvalued by human beings. That's why Jesus begins this model prayer by calling us to intentionally and deliberately pay recognition and homage to God as the Name above all names. To honor Him as a big cut above all others, superior and extraordinary, worthy of our highest praise and deepest respect. "Hallowed be Your Name."
Here's the way the apostle Peter puts it (1 Peter 1:14-17): "(14) Now that you are obedient children of God do not live as you did in the past. You did not understand, so you did the evil things you wanted. (15) But be holy in all you do, just as God, the One who called you, is holy. (16) It is written in the Scriptures, 'You must be holy, because I am holy.' (17) You pray to God and call Him Father, and He judges each person's work equally. So while you are here on earth, you should live with respect for God."
What is it that motivates us to honor God? It's His Name. And what's His Name? Peter reminds us. Jesus states it in the Disciples' Prayer. His Name is Father. Knowing God as Father empowers you and me to give Him honor and glory.
As Peter says in verse 17, He judges us all equally; that is, no one gets a better chance than another - we're all on an equal basis with the Father - He likes us, loves us all the same. That's what a father does with his children. That's grace. His unconditional favor, acceptance and kindness toward us all equally. He honors us. That's what motivates us to honor Him. Our hearts are drawn in awe, respect and reverence to a God like that.
And how do we show our honor to Him? How do we "hallow" His Name? Peter reminds us that our obedience to Him is what brings glory to Him. When we live in respect for Him we are choosing to honor what He honors, to respect what He respects. Being holy like God is holy means doing what God does. And what does He do according to verse 17? He judges others equally.
So we will treat others with equal respect, value and acceptance just like He does. When we live like that, we are truly hallowing His Name. We're showing Him that we value Him most of all because we're wanting to be just like Him!
When Tiger Woods was six-years-old, on his first day in Kindergarten, a group of older kids tied him to a tree, pelted him with stones and stood there calling him terrible names, laughing and making fun of him. Why? Because he was black.
Now, because of his incredible accomplishments and his meteoric success and fame, those same kids join the rest of the world in giving him praise and glory. Are they really honoring him for who he is? No. Their respect is based upon his accomplishments and his success and fame. Without those, he would be black again. Their honor is shallow.
Being holy like God is holy means doing what God does: honoring and showing value and respect to everyone equally no matter how much it costs Himself. When we do like that, we are truly "hallowing" God's Name. Is that the way you live your life?
In 1996, Tiger Woods was in a close showdown with competitor Steve Scott for the U.S. Amateur title. He'd already won the last two titles. This was going to be close.
On the sixteen green, Scott asked Tiger to move his ball marker so he could putt without obstruction. So Tiger picked up his marker and moved away. After Scott putted, Tiger went to put his ball back and suddenly couldn't remember where it went. Under the rules, had Tiger hit his putt from the wrong place, he would've forfeited the hole and, as it turns out, ended up losing the match.
Scott noticed Tiger looking confused. He could've kept quiet, knowing it would give him the win. But instead, he chose to speak up and reminded Tiger where the correct spot was for his ball. Tiger was relieved, put his ball down, made the putt and went on to win his third consecutive U.S. Amateur title.
I'm impressed with Steve Scott, aren't you? He showed real integrity. He gave honor and respect to Tiger, even at cost to himself. He "hallowed" Tiger's name.
That's what God's calling you and me to do. He calls us to show others equal honor and respect unconditionally. When we do, we give honor to God, we hallow God's Name, we show value to God's rightful place as our Father in Heaven.
So are you honoring God in your life? Is His glory the dominant desire of your heart? Do you want above all His Name to have its rightful place in your life? Will you pray today, "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your Name?"
Greg Nelson, CVC Senior Pastor
January 22, 2000