God, Golf and Godliness
Written by Bill Burkett
HAGIOS Position Paper No. GF994
God has called us to pray, not play!
We are to be joined in combat not to the club
This is war, brethren, It’s no time to play games.
The worldly trend of the Pentecostal denominations in the 1950’s started with preachers taking up golf. I watched it all happen. The country club is a place of status. It’s a rich man’s game. But dear brother, have you prayed today as long as you played today? They claimed it is “great relaxation” and it affords them an opportunity to get away from the “pressures of the ministry.” They claim it has “a lot of therapeutic good.” They say, “I really feel nearer to God out on the golf course … nearer to His creation and the beauty of nature.” It was this rationale that took our Pentecostal preachers out of the closets of prayer back in the fifties and put them out with the country club set. This was the beginning of our backsliding and one of the first early, “harmless” forms of worldliness.
It is the philosophy of a hippy to “find God in nature.” There are just some things that the beauty of nature cannot convey to us that basking in God’s presence does. There is no sanctifying power conveyed to man through the out-of-doors experience – but there is a holiness breathed into the spirit that waits behind closed doors alone with God. The preacher who feels that he gets something from golfing on the greens that God cannot give him in the secret closet is to be felt sorry for – he has slipped from true grace. God’s Word tells us how to have peace. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3
The prayer life and the good life do not go together as prayerless apostate preachers insist. Prayer and the burden for souls perish together. We are holding the thing together with the chicken wires of cheap substitutes, programs, sensationalism, graphics and mass media – but it will fall apart when the blazing light of His glory bursts upon it.
Golf is a game of competition, skill and scoring. Relaxation is to be free of all such things. Dear brethren, call it by its right name and be truthful. Golf “is a change of pace,” but it is not relaxing so long as it is a competing game. Relaxation is not to concentrate upon achieving a score or competing with a rival partner – relaxation in the purest sense is leisure, to be free from all the pressures and tensions of duty and effort. The most relaxing thing a man can do – if he is really intending to relax – is to wait before the Lord and meditate on His Word.
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
“It’s Good Exercise”
Who are we fooling? Surely only ourselves and not God or the godly. It consists of walking and stretching which a simple routine of calisthenics would provide much more effectively in the privacy of your bedroom.
Physical exercise consists of three things; 1. The heart beat goes above 100-120 beats a minute; 2. heavy breathing; and 3. perspiration. None of these conditions are caused by golfing (unless you lose your last golf ball in the woods and thrash around for an hour in a raspberry thicket trying to find it).
A CHALLENGE: Buy a skipping rope! Want something to tone you up physically? Master the jumping rope and by the time you can whip it around, cross rope, one leg, cross arm and stay with it five minutes – you will have reached the epitome of good physical condition and physically exercised yourself the equivalent of nine 11 hole golf courses! Its cheaper than clubs and golf balls too! You will have a one time investment in the jumping rope that can be used for years; it can be done in a small area such as a garage or in a room; it produces all of the vital physical exertions necessary to stimulate us physically; it accomplishes the very most good with the very least time and the rope can be carried with you in your attache wherever you go in the world. And – if you lose your rope, or it breaks – you can easily replace it with a simple rope or light chain. Five to ten minutes a day with a skipping rope will build your physical endurance, stimulate the brain and develop coordination. You will increase the heart beat, breathe hard and have good sweat. Golf does none of that. After you take up the skipping rope you can tell your golf partners you’ve taken up a much better physical regimen that leaves you more time to pray and won’t be returning to the country club.
Or, if you want exercise with a little excitement, go on a mission trip to deepest Nigeria, Africa and preach in the bush where the Muslims are martyring Pentecostal preachers.
When our Pentecostal pulpiteers gave up God for the greens and went from praying to God to playing golf, we are telling the world that we have lost the first love. The greatest release from the pressures of this world is to enter into the next world through the portals of prayer when you enter into the secret closet alone with God. The door to the closet is our gateway into the world of angels and throne of jasper. When a preacher starts thinking of a golfing green as a release from the pressures of the ministry, he has never been to the paradise of secret prayer – he is not beckoned, nor does he really know and love the pleasures that are at His right hand. The glories of prayer that strike joy to the soul seeking God is a divine therapy that does not compare with the manicured greens of a golf course.
Paul said he had finished his course. That was not a golf course, but the battlefields of faith! (1 Timothy 4:7)
Golfing preachers are telling us they do not pursue the prize of the high calling with a seriousness the fathers did. They are telling us that we were wrong and narrow. To this we confess! For narrow is the way. But in our youth we worked hard and prayed long. Our convictions were strong and affection were separated from the world. We thought of such worldly pleasures as golf as evil and disconcerting to the spiritual life. We felt that all forms of worldliness and wasted time spent in pleasure took the cutting edge off of the spiritual man and grieved the Holy Spirit. But now our spiritual offspring have their own ideas about being effective in the ministry. To us the word was consecration – to this generation the word is relax, God wants you to enjoy yourself. Well, the Scripture says that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. I can tell you right now that I’ll be feeling mighty good to know I never believed that. At the end of the race they will have some big regrets if they keep this up. But those godly men who forged the church out of cities and countryside with blood sweat and tears will not regret their consecration when they stand before Him whose eyes will blaze like two phosphorus fires.
Playing golf is an escape from the serious business of revival and the cost required of men to have churches aflame. Don’t be fooled by these brothers who come along with dynamic ministries and tell you that you can play around on a golf course while 93 souls are going to hell every minute and still have God’s blessing and feel the anointing in the pulpit. There is a dynamism that is not of God – when he is finished preaching and then he turns you aside and teaches you his ways – that conflict with the Lord’s highest for you. Preacher, do you really want God’s highest? Can you have it with the habit of a golf course in your life? Let us not be occupied with the silly questions such as, is it really wrong to play golf? That is a devilish diversion from the main question – do you want God’s very highest? Do you want another higher plain anointing? Is your prayer life lacking? If the answers to these questions are yes, then come off of those country club greens and come with me to the paradises of prayer – that is, if you really want God’s highest.
Golf is a respectable form of worldliness. I watched the preachers of the 40’s in the Assemblies of God start running to the golf courses. It was the first sign that we had stopped praying when we started playing. It was this country club spirit that started the Pentecostal preachers on the slip and slide toward careless living and the big departure from the crucified life.
When preachers stopped denying themselves they had put off the cross and started carrying clubs; they laid down the cross and slung their golf bag over their shoulder and headed for the greens to mingle with the ungodly.
Pastors go out on the golf course and discuss for hours the great need of revival. They also do a lot of criticizing of their brethren who do not approve of their backslidden condition. But there they are ambling about on the greens of pleasure with minds addled by prayerlessness … doing the very thing that holds off revival.
“But you know, when I go golfing I feel close to God and I pray while I’m out there.” Usually you play with one other partner and that would make it impossible to do any serious praying. Jesus didn’t say, and when thou prayest, go golfing and pray to you Father in the wide open spaces of the country club golf course, and your heavenly Father shall reward thee openly right on the 7th hole!”
And do you proudly tell your church on Sunday mornings what your score was on the greens that week? … or do you really, in your heart know that it’s not a good testimony and not a thing to be spiritually proud of and you feel a little squeamish about other Christians knowing your doing it? If that’s the case, then you had better stop it while there is yet any feeling of the wrongness of it. Don’t mistake any sensations of pleasure as being God’s approval. Get it out of your life before you lose the shame and guilt of doing it!
Go to any community where the rich retired business men have settled and I will show you golf courses – many of them – where these white headed and bald old men spend their time rambling around in golf carts and shorts just whiling away their time in pleasure. Golfing can’t be so healthy and strenuous as some defend it to be else the old man under doctors orders would not be one of its chief customers.
Golf is a form of pleasure. It is a sport and a pleasure sport that requires time and money to indulge in. It also has the image of having some “class.” It is the leisure of the rich and the rich retired. It is only pleasure and “fun” and nothing beside. It has no therapeutic or redemptive qualities; it has never been embraced by the godly man and shall never be considered anything but pure pleasure.
The logical question that follows (and needs an answer) is; Is there anything wrong with a Christian having pleasure? Now that depends on what kind of Christian you are talking about. There are as many kinds of Christians walking around as there are shades of Gray. There are Christians who never go to church, they beat their kids, cuss and drink hard liquor, but they are “Christians” if you ask them.
Then there is the Christian who has been born of God’s Spirit and who pursues the excellence of holiness. These Christians are separated from the world and walk in the Spirit doing always those things that please the Lord. These Christians are as sensitive to right and wrong as the Holy Spirit Himself. They rise up in the morning with God on their minds and start the day by waiting in His presence until the flesh is dominated by the joy and power of God’s presence.
What the professing “Christian” may think of as pleasure and what the praying Christian thinks of as pleasure would be two different concepts of pleasure.
What Happened to the original Pentecost?
When we say men “get away from God,” it is to say, men have stopped praying and seeking God in secret prayer. When the life of intimacy and searching the heart in God’s presence is lost, so is our sense of holiness lost with it. We retain certain standards because it is expected of us, but the desire to be holy and advocate the doctrines that are according to godliness have lost their luster in our hearts. Unconsciously we start losing some of our sensitivity (discernment) between what is holy and what is unholy. (Philippians 1:9-10) When we lose that intimacy with God through secret prayer, everything is lost with it; our desire to be holy and please God, the wisdom that discerns the ultimate evil in immediate pleasure, the extreme importance of separation – and most important – a child-like faith in God’s Word, diminishes and we lose the power to execute what we know is right in God’s sight.
In other words, my attitude changes from humility and meekness toward God to an attitude that thinks differently than God … and I begin to trifle with heavenly values.
This was Adam and eve’s condition. They lost their submission, their willingness to comply with God’s Word and placed their will above God’s will. Disobedience was the result because they no longer resigned to the perfect will of God. They lost that child-like humility toward God’s Word. When they lost their intimacy with God they also lost that precious attitude of the inner man that knows only submission to God’s will.
When we lose the love for the prayer life, we have lost everything Christ has secured for us. After all, the very liberty Calvary restores to us is the privilege to enter boldly through the riven veil into the presence of the Father.
It is the first privilege because it is the supreme efficacy of the redemption plan, for until we are restored to His presence there is no new life in Christ. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Psalm 16:11. The pleasure of the godly is in the presence of God. We transgress against the Holy Spirit when we seek pleasure in the world with the worldly.
Some modern preachers who profess to be holiness have traded the pleasure of sand traps for sanctification. They have abandoned the “path of life ” for wandering on the greens of the rich and the retired.
The Battles Are Won In The Closets Of Prayer!
I plead for all good brothers to return to the closets of secret prayer and discover again the pleasures and therapy of God’s presence. Have you been spending several hours on a given day at the golf course. Forsake its pleasure and go into your closet and wait in His presence and weep and cry out for the lost until rivers of tears are flowing. The pleasure of it cannot be described, but let us say this; the benefits transcend anything experienced from a game called golf.
When you merge from that closet, the immediate good realized will be the deep and calm sense of peace that literally soothes the spirit. Then you realize a deep sense of God’s presence. Then suddenly you realize that what was seemingly an insurmountable crisis you carried into the closet has turned into a joyful assurance. You will sense self mastery and notice that everything that is not pleasing to God is also abominable to you – your natures have become one – and you have entered into a state of oneness with the holiness of God. Now, these are only some of the immediate results of being alone with God. The BIG promise is yet to come! Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seethe in secret shall REWARD THEE OPENLY. Amazing is the only way to describe the way God causes everything to happen that we talked together about in the closet – Amazing!
Dear Brother, we have not been called to mediocrity, to some permissible shade of gray Christianity, to a fashionable and social lifestyle. We have been called to a much higher calling – the calling of the holy – to be His children and intimate partners in the redemption of the world. Put the greens and clubs out of your life and put God and the closet back in before the trumpet sounds and the church is whisked away into God’s world … where there are no golf courses.
Godly Men Inspire the Young to Godliness
Successful Men Inspire the Young to Leisure
The spirit of golfing is usually picked up by younger men from “successful preachers” who nevertheless are living a gray gospel, men who have an old fashioned style of preaching and even preach against certain sins but are not committed to or known as holiness preachers. Now, you know a holiness preacher by the fact that he seeks out other holiness preachers as companions. Usually their wives reveal their true claims to holiness. These are many times very good men with solid testimony but without a commitment to definitive sanctification holiness. Young preachers who admire and follow this gray gospel holiness are as guilty as the gospel preachers who leads them away to the golf courses.
The Laodicean church was, in God’s words, lukewarm, or tepid. Their faith was not hot but warm. To remain tepid just stay away from the heat, from the flames that consume and bring things to a boil. Our obsession with “finding a balance” is usually more correctly described as lukewarmness. They burst into flame in the pulpit, but alas after the church meeting the flame turns smoke and they retreat on Monday to the golf course to cool down and return to being balanced and tepid. The danger of this game with temperatures is that we lose our discernment and then never realize just how cold we have grown. You may declare that your just as close to God as you have always been – in fact, closer to God now than before you started playing golf. But what I say I am is not important – its what God says I am that is what I am. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: Revelation 3:17
You older brethren who have abandoned prayer for play and then teach your pernicious ways to the younger preachers are spoilers and will be judged by the Savior. Your ways are not black enough to condemn and yet you are not white and pure enough to commend – you are white with gray smudges of worldliness which makes you a gray bridge over which promising young holiness men pass from white to black and become critical of their holiness heritage and turn toward a more relaxed and moderate message. You have taught these young men to tolerate spots and wrinkles in their blood washed robes when Scripturally you are to be instructing the younger men to be meticulously pure and separated from the world if they are to be a part of the bride of Christ. Those you effect have become soft on separation and other Biblical truths that pertain to the perfection of the saints. Some of these young men have turned against their holiness Daddies and listen to your gray message of duplicity. It is duplicity because the fire you spew in the pulpit does not match your walk away from the pulpit. It is a double standard and the young brothers you have effected with this kind of preaching style is teaching them to be the same way – and it is the wrong way. Young brothers who have taken on this life of living under two standards and in two worlds at the same time are deceived and are no longer learning to improve the disciplines of their life and to perfect holiness (separation) in the fear of God. Instead of advancing toward perfection they are lapsing backward into worldliness and don’t even know it. They begin to relax from the battle and lean toward a Christian lifestyle that leans toward the carnal. The release they feel by tolerating worldliness is in reality the pressure of disciplines being taken off of the flesh and mistaken as being freedom when in fact it is ease and pleasure coming to the flesh life. But the truth is they have backslidden into a flesh mentality that resents any restrictions and disciplines upon the flesh. When they give the flesh its freedom to lapse back into a state of carnality they feel a release from the pressure of restrictions and call it the freedom of the Spirit when actually it was the flesh regaining its freedom after they were no longer living under the love of a holiness motivated life. The first love is a love so strong it has no desire to please the flesh. Carnality, when it returns, has no desire to please God and resents spiritual laws and restraints upon the flesh. This resentment of what God’s word teaches is rebellion – the same stuff that destroyed Adam and Eve’s communion with God.
Many modern Christians who want to think differently and live differently than Scripture teaches insist they DO have good communion with God. This we will not deny. But does God have communion with those who rebel against life in the Spirit? This was the delusion of the Laodicean church. They claimed that communion but God denied it. You cannot walk with God unless you be agreed with Him.
Getting back to the secret closet of prayer will restore all things! There are Christians who pray but continue on in error and open rebellion against traditional Biblical truths as taught by men who brought the truth of God down from the heavens with groaning and intercession – men of holiness who now stand with the great cloud of witnesses awaiting the trumpet sound.
Secret prayer and intercession marked the lives of these men! They cried out for answers and revelation and through them revivals swept across our land in brush arbors and store fronts until the established churches came to loathe us. Those were the men who gave us our conscience and taught us the true holiness of God. These men desired to have truth in the inner parts of their soul, and unless we have that same desire we will not keep what they paid such a great price to give us. Without this broken and contrite spirit seeking only submission to the truth of God, the amount of time spent in prayer means nothing. Its not just the quantity of prayer but the quality of it, the humility of it that produces the holy nature.
The carnal nature begins to dominate when we have lost intimacy with God and no longer pursue God in the closet of secret prayer. First love can only be maintained through that fellowship with God – lose it – and the carnal nature begins to dominate and the flesh nature demands more freedom from the control of the Spirit over the flesh. Golf is just one of those freedoms we start taking back.
God and golf compete for the same things in a man’s life.
To move toward golf is to move away from God.
To move away from golf is to move toward God.
Men with unscriptural influence on others are not loyal to Christ, who is the Lord of those men you are influencing with your own value system.
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace who’s mind is stayed on thee. (Isaiah 26:3) These men have not found nor do they know the sublimation that comes from waiting in the presence of God. Golfing preachers have the same philosophy as the undisciplined Charismatics and liberals who spiritualize their worldly ways to justify their backslidden and unspiritual lifestyles. Men who seek pleasure in the world and then call it by a spiritual name ought never sing the choruses “He Is My Everything,” or “Jesus Is The One” with thousands other hymns and choruses that declare the all sufficiency of Jesus.
They have fallen into the pit of fleshly pastimes and want to drag every other preacher they can influence with them into the sand holes of the world’s golf courses. Preachers who defend this kind of passive holiness have a blind spot that will lead you deeper and deeper into liberalism while all the time denying it. It’s called self deception. The quickest way to self deception is to deny the truth when God sends reproof. It is His love that constrains us.
You older brethren who golf and then pull the young men after you are setting a bad example for the church, and especially the next generation that will carry it to its further extremes. Golf is a game of the rich and the extravagant. Country clubs, where most golf courses are located, are worldly in their environment. An anointed man of God will not be found there, he will not pay the price for the greens for such a vain pleasure so long as one lost soul remains on the face of the earth and one missionary or national pastor is crying bitter tears for help.
Young preacher, have enough of God to go into your prayer closet and then go by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Have the Grace to graciously say no to any good or great man who may try to lead you away from your God given convictions. That peer may be greatly admired but you may have some qualities that he does not. Do not let a luminary man eclipse the blinding glory of God’s holiness. Its better to walk in the desert with the Lord of glory than walk on the greens with a flashing comet.
I wish I had all of the money Pentecostal preachers spent last year for golf courses, club fees, golf balls and clubs, not to mention the clothes they buy for the country club look. It would be in the hundreds of thousands! How many souls could I win with that?
Show me a man of God, show me a C. T. Studd, a General Booth, or a Hudson Taylor entirely and utterly committed to the salvation of the lost who had the time or the desire to seek out the pleasure of the golf course or any other game of pleasure. James Stewart was a professional soccer player, but when God saved his soul he came off the field of sport and leaped into the arena of faith, quitting the game soundly!
We must return to the experience of the words consecration and dedication, and when we do, golfing and other worldly pastimes will be loathed right out of our lives.
Get a red marker and print the number 132 on a sticker and attach it to your golf clubs. 132 souls go to hell every minute while your out there. Put one of those little red stickers on each one of your golf club handles – 132 A MINUTE – put another one a little bigger on your golf bag . . . 132 A MINUTE!
In one hour, 1,920 souls departed into the mouth of hell while you were strolling in the sun with a friend talking about how close we are to the coming of the Lord (you hypocrite!).
When you spend 2 hours on the golf course, 3,840 souls went to hell while you were playing and laughing with your friends and telling funny jokes about God and St. Peter.
But in 3 hours 5760 souls went screaming into an eternal hell while you were playing instead of praying. Everything we do should be redemptive of others and take nothing from the glory of the cross.
Two souls a second, 6 souls every 6 seconds, fall headlong into the flames of damnation while the preacher casually strolls the greens of indifference.
You will never find a totally committed saint who has a burden for the lost gliding across a dance floor, playing cards, watching television or strolling on a golf green. God don’t build those kind of saints.
Have you ever read C.T. Studd’s “CHOCOLATE SOLDIERS?” I am including a few lines of this great missionaries words so we can hear how a real man of God talks who would never been seen lollygagging on a golf green. Every preacher should read this man’s biography. C. T. Studd was a wealthy English gentleman with a large fortune. But when he was converted he sold all and gave his fortune away and dedicated his entire life to the heathen, to hardship and self denial that never waned the least until his death. A large mission is still operating today which he started. Listen to some of the words he penned about Chocolate Soldiers;
“EVERY TRUE CHRISTIAN IS A SOLDIER – of Christ – a hero ‘par excellence’! Braver than the bravest – scorning the soft seductions of peace and her oft-repeated warnings against hardship, disease, danger, and death, whom he counts among his bosom friends.
“THE OTHERWISE CHRISTIAN IS A CHOCOLATE CHRISTIAN! Dissolving in water and melting at the smell of fire. ‘Sweeties’ they are! Bonbons, lollipops! Living their lives on a glass dish or in a cardboard box, each clad in his soft clothing, a little frilled white paper to preserve his dear little delicate constitution.”
C. T. Studd’s words about the soft and stylish life is also coined in a poem I have committed to memory:
Living for self and self alone, Living for self and none beside Living as if Christ had never lived, Living as if Christ had never died.
You Need a Release from the pressures of the ministry?
Two bits of advice; First, get out of the ministry! If you find God’s work to be so devastating that you must go to the world to find a release from His labors then your not qualified to take on the sacrifices of the ministry, you are not a partaker of the cross and the chances are that you are doing harm to the work of God. Your priorities are all out of whack and you have lost the joy and fragrance of secret prayer from your life. The chances are you have not accomplished many of your spiritual goals because you spend precious time that should be spent in accomplishing your goals frittering around having fun while trying to impress people with how busy you are. You have no business being a minister of the gospel. You are a detriment to the ministry, and the next generation of the church, by your philosophy and by your example.
The sad thing about men of God turning to the pleasures and places of the world to find there “release,” is that golfing will not give them the peace they are seeking, either. It is more liable to make them soft and more passive toward the regimens and disciplines of true holiness.
The secret of peace is the presence of God. This is the only place for the soul of man to find his respite from all of the pressures of life. When saints lose that precious love for God’s secret meeting, when the soul no longer seeks that retreat and refreshing that comes only from the prolonged encounter with the very presence of God – then they seek the beggarly pleasures of this world to replace that joy of knowing His warm smile in the closet of prayer. If a man knows the contriteness and the joys of God’s presence he will want to throw-up thinking of a golf course.
Where are the men who know the secret, the power, the deep satisfaction and contentment of waiting on the Lord in His presence.
Brethren, this is Pentecost.
A man is a traitor who has traded his tears of communion with God for a set of golf clubs. A preacher who goes laughing on a golf course need not ever pine to God about a revival in his church! He who can do such a thing is blind to his own hypocrisy!
They have a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.
Can you stand in the midst of men of God in some great camp meeting and testify of your golf game, how much your game has improved with your new set of clubs? or do you hide it from godly men? And if that be so, how will you face God with this waste of precious time that we are commanded to redeem for the high purposes of God?
Will you stand before God at the judgment bars of heaven and be commended when the angels read how much you spent renting the greens, the cost of your golf balls and clubs over a years time while the world was going to hell and missionaries were struggling?
A golfing preacher made the mistake of encountering Mike Shelton one day on the subject of playing golf.
“C’mon brother Shelton, there’s no difference between you buying a license and hunting deer and me going golfing.”
Brother Shelton replied, “When I come back from hunting deer I eat the deer, but I haven’t seen any of you golfers come home and eat your golf balls.”
Do you really believe that golfing is better therapy for you than slipping away into the secret presence of God and spending three hours broken before Him?
Are you spiritually proud of your interest in golfing or have you kept it from those you know to be spiritually discerning? You may talk it with those who are backslidden with you but you do not boast of this to the godly holiness brethren you respect.
The Word of God tells us that there is healing in His presence. Do you need a mental healing? Go and wait in His presence. Do you need a physical touch? Go and wait before Him. Do you need a spiritual restoration? Go before His presence, call His name and wait there till the tears are flowing and the waves of His glory and holiness sweep again and again over your soul.
PRAY NOT PLAY will give your soul the thing it really longs for whether it is a spiritual, mental or physical need – it is all in God’s closet, not the golf course.
I entreat our preacher brethren caught in this snare to get back into God’s presence and repent. Get rid of your clubs and return to your first love. Then testify to others what you have done and what God has done for you since taking the step. Then vow to God that you will start spending the time in secret prayer that you were spending on the golf course and give the money you were spending on golf to a missionary ministry, …and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)
A most fitting word of closing that cannot be repeated to often in these last days are the immortal words entitled…
Others May But I Cannot
If God has called you to be really like Jesus he will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility, and put upon you such demands of obedience, that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways he will seem to let other people do things which he will not let you do.
OTHER CHRISTIANS and ministries who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull strings, and work schemes to carry out their plans, but you cannot do it, and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.
OTHERS MAY boast of themselves, of their work, of their successes, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, he will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.
OTHERS MAY be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because he wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence upon him, that he may have the privilege of supplying your needs day by day out of an unseen treasury.
THE LORD MAY LET OTHERS be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because he wants to produce some choice fragrant fruit for his coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for him and get the credit for it, but he will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious he may let others get credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.
The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings or for wasting your time, which other Christians never feel distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign, and has a right to do as he pleases with his own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in his dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be his love slave, he will wrap you up in a jealous love, and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.
Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that he is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that he does not seem to require of others. Now, when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.
Until you trade your clubs for the closet, may you miss your swings, land in sand traps and may it rain torrents every time you plan to go golfing, and may your clubs rust and rot, your club fees skyrocket with your golf scores and the Holy Spirit make your life miserable with holy conviction driving you into the closet where you belong until this new kind of “holiness” you’ve gotten ahold of somewhere other than the Bible, and from someone other than Jesus, is replaced with that “good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
We must become children again in our understanding the Word of God. When Jesus taught the church how to pray He mentioned a very important fact that we should take literally. Jesus prayed, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Out lives here on this earth as His children should be the same as we shall live in heaven. There is just one big difference – here while we play a game of golf thousands of souls went screaming and lost for eternity into the belching mouth of hell. Playing golf just not what a man of God would do while souls are perishing. We have a rest coming, but now we have no time for such idleness and worldliness. Live here as closely as possible just as you will live in heaven, and if you do you will not be seen in the club house with the country club set.
It is the younger generation of preachers who have been taken up with golf in recent times. Many of our young “holiness” preachers have started this trend in their generation and it is the wrong direction to be taking the church. If your golfing offends a brother then you should not do it as long as the world stands. But if it offends the Lord and is contrary to the crucified life in Christ then you should fall on your face and repent with
weeping. Any brother who feels nothing wrong with golfing is in deep spiritual danger and most certainly out of fellowship with the Spirit led life.
If I pursue anything that is questionable and allow that activity to give me hard feelings against a brother who sees it as wrong and worldly, that is the very first and best reason to know it is not of God. If you feel bad toward me because I am calling your obsession with golf a worldly activity – then you are proven as worldly and placing this foolish game and the good feeling you get being seen at the country above a brother’s spiritual advice. When the golf is more important to you than what the brethren think then at that point golf is a sin!