9/19/18 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –

As some of you know, I am the chaplain for our local police department and part of my responsibility is to represent our town at the Concord Regional Crimeline board meetings. If you are not familiar with Crimeline, it is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote community education and awareness of criminal activities in order to deter and prevent their occurrence. Crimeline funds rewards for anonymous information that leads to arrest(s) or indictment for crimes that have been committed.

This past Thursday I was involved in the Crimeline golf tournament, which is used to raise money to help fund this organization. Usually Judy helps out as well with this tournament, but this year she finds herself in Columbia, South Carolina helping out with the newest addition to our family, our 18th grandchild, a girl, Ellory Gower.

But I digress… after arriving at the tournament at 6:30 AM, I hung some signs, sold some raffle tickets and while I am waiting for the tournament to begin, I watched 140+ golfers go through their routine to get ready to play golf. Some people are stretching, while others went to the driving range to practice. I am listening as some plan and discuss their strategy with their team members while still others are putting on their expensive golf shoes.

My next assignment was to watch hole #13 for the 1st 2 hours of the tournament. My responsibility was to watch and see who came closest to the hole on their first drive, as there was a cash prize for the person that came closest.

As I am watching people get ready to tee off, some of those people would take upwards of 2-3 minutes just to practice their swing. You would assume that golfers that stretched out before the tournament begins, golfers that practiced on the driving range, golfers that had prepared strategy, golfers that wore expensive shoes, golfers who would pay to play in this tournament, and then spend 2-3 minutes practicing their swing before they hit the ball, would be able to play golf. Wrong assumption!!

Many of these golfers were worse than I am. I mean, I am a hacker, I still play with woods actually made of wood! The only time I even play golf is when I am made to, and even then I wear a cheap pair of sneakers when I play. I am not exaggerating at all about these golfers! I had to run numerous times not to be hit by a golf ball that was headed in the wrong direction. I soon came to realize that many of these people were not real golfers at all!!

As I was standing by hole #13 watching these people golf, I am thinking, ‘You can have the right clothes, you can practice your swing, you can go to a driving range, you can stretch out like the other golfers, you can pay to play in a golf tournament at a fancy country club, you can even know all there is to know about golfing, but it does not make you a golfer.’

My thoughts then went to the words of Jesus… “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Matthew 7:21-23

Jesus is talking to people that look and act religious, they dressed like religious people, they know all the religious “terminology,” they called Jesus “Lord,” and they even did things that I have never done, such as performing miracles and casting out demons. Yet Jesus said, “I don’t know who you are.” They had a form of godliness; they were religious, others thought they were Christians… but they had deceived themselves into thinking that they could get to heaven their own way, on their own terms.

Deception of this magnitude is a tragedy beyond description. You can think you are a golfer and not be one, but the worst thing that will happen to you is that you lose a golf game. But to think that you are a genuine Christian because of the things that you do, to believe that you have a relationship with the God of the universe and believe that you are on your way to heaven and then find out you are not, has eternal consequences.

God wants you to know whether your faith is genuine or not. That is why He gave us the Bible, so that we could know… And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life. 1 John 5:11-13

There is a huge difference between the people that play in the PGA tournaments and those that play in the Crimeline tournaments. There is also a huge difference between those who claim to be a Christian and those who truly are. Real Christians are people that believe in and have accepted the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Those that claim to be religious and try to get to God by the things they do, are the ones that Jesus spoke to when He said… ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

I am a horrible golfer and I know it. It is delusional to think that I could ever play in a PGA tournament. It is also delusional to think that we can hear God’s Word and then try entering heaven by doing it our own way, without having to pay a horrific price. Jesus said… “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

If you have seen me play golf there is little doubt that I am a hacker and not a golfer, but I have no doubt where I will spend eternity. I listen to Jesus and am able to come to the Father through Him.  He truly knows me, and I am good to go!