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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Blayne Barber Q School

When I was involved with Boy Scouting, I spent a little time trying to learn
the
use of a compass. A compass, if it's working properly, always points to
true
north. One who is skilled in orienteering knows how to use such information
to
find his way. Such a skill was never mine, however, and I've found a GPS to
be
a better alternative.

Each of us have within us an inner compass. This (we call it a conscience)
isn't helpful in finding physical directions, but when it comes to moral
direction it can be quite effective. If it's used, that is, it can be
helpful.
But many ignore the promptings of this direction-finder.

Blayne Barber has attracted attention for the skillful use of his inner
compass.
Barber is an aspiring professional golfer. Last week he was on his way
toward
that goal. He was doing quite well in "Q School", a setting where golfers
compete to see who will be allowed to play in PGA events. Barber was close
to
receiving his qualification. Then he disqualified himself.

Earlier in the week Barber was about to make a shot, and wondered if he had
brushed a leaf, an act that carries a two-stroke penalty. His brother, who
was
acting as his caddy, stated confidently that he had not brushed the leaf.
Still, Barber assessed himself a one-stroke penalty just in case.

Six days later Barber gave in to his conscience and notified authorities
that he
was disqualifying himself. His uncertainty over whether or not he committed
the
violation was too strong, and removing himself from competition would settle
the
matter. He states he now feels peace and has no regrets. The majority of
the
golfing world is giving him a hearty round of applause.

What do we do when no one is looking? Can we live with ourselves after
embezzling funds that no one is likely to miss? When no police officer is
present to clock our speed? When we falsify the figures we enter on the
1040
form? Too many, it seems, have learned to ignore their conscience.

The apostle Paul once made a strong statement: "... I myself always strive
to
have a conscience without offense toward God and men" (Acts 24:16). That
may
strike some as hypocritical. Didn't Paul once lead the persecution against
the
early church? Was he not responsible for arresting and even executing
otherwise-innocent men and women?

He did indeed do such things - until he realized his error. After meeting
Jesus
on the road to Damascus, he humbled himself by asking, "Lord, what do You
want
me to do?" (Acts 9:6). Later he would affirm, "Therefore, King Agrippa, I
was
not disobedient to the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19).

An old adage says, "Let your conscience be your guide." To a point that is
true. But Paul had a good conscience even as he led the effort to
exterminate
Christianity. Here's the first question: Are we listening to God? Do we
know
what He has commanded us to do?

Once we know the will of God (from reading the Bible), then the conscience's
value shines, as it pulls us along to do what is right. If we ignore this
inner
compass, we expose ourselves to this possibility: "Having faith and a good
conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered
shipwreck" (1 Timothy 1:19). Let's not be shipwrecked. After finding true
faith in God's word, let's then heed the promptings of our consciences.

Timothy D. Hall

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