Calling a Mulligan

Posted: October 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

I am not looking for any verbal hand-outs. As I write this I know that several of you who love me, as you read this, will start loading up the shopping cart with a healthy dose of encouragement, looking for a way to deliver it to me.

I appreciate that so very much, but it’s not necessary this time.

 

I don’t play Golf, but when I do, I need a lot of mulligans.

If you don’t know, a mulligan is a do-over.

So, say you step up to the first tee and you set the golf ball down on that little piece of wood that will hold your small white dimpled ball off the grass far enough so your shot will scoop as little turf as possible when sending the ball sailing through the air towards the flag in the distance, but, upon swinging your club, you lean into the swing and end up slicing the edge of the ball and digging twelve inches of dirt and sod up, sending the ball careening off into the nearby duck pond, possibly killing a feathered friend.

At that point, I like to say, “I’m calling a mulligan!”

When one calls for a mulligan, one hopes no one saw the horrible hack one previously took at the ball.  If the game is going to be played, the mulligan is taken and the game is continued, not ended.

This past Sunday’s sermon left me calling a mulligan. It was horrible. No, seriously.  Honestly, it happens, once in a while. I have been trying to figure out what happened. Why had my brain frozen up halfway through the message, followed by a core melt-down?  I think I said something, someone got up, a baby cried, a siren went off, I felt the hole in my sock, I wondered if I said something that offended or was theologically incorrect and as I continued talking with my mouth, my mind went into its own slightly psychotic conversation with itself and a guy named Burt, trying to assess if I was speaking any sense or theological truth and whether or not Dietrich Bonhoeffer would agree or if Joe Chambers would tell me in his sultry voice, “Soul Care.” And the words that came out of my mouth echoed around in the hollow space somewhere inside my head. Was I still speaking and if so, why wasn’t I stopping? Someone, press “Pause.”

For those of you who don’t preach every week, I’ll let you into the inner circle. It’s not really that easy.  I remember my thoughts as a young man in my twenties, sitting in church listening to my pastor and in my ignorant arrogance saying to myself, “I could do that, and probably better.”  And, then I would get a chance to preach, once a year. And every time I would knock it out of the park with a great message that would encourage, exhort and equip people. Afterwards, people would come up telling me how much they were moved and encouraged to live life for God in a new way. I was the man, and preaching was the plan! I was going to change the world one sermon at a time.

Then I grew up. And reality slapped me in the face.

When a person becomes a speaking pastor, he preaches every week, not once a year. I no longer have eleven months to prepare a sermon. I have to be inspired by the Word, lead by the Spirit, write thoughts and ideas in an orderly manner and deliver it to people who want and need God’s words, not mine, all the while remaining theologically sound.  Every time I approach Sunday, James 3:1 swims through my mind like a deep sea viper fish; “Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

My pastor friends and I are humans and we have fights with our spouses and parenting problems, we are wrecked with sin issues that plague us like multiple thorns in our flesh, we engage with people of the Church who like or dislike us or are just disgruntled, we have highs and lows and bounce between caffeine shakiness, sugar highs and food-induced comas. We have body and soul identity issues, addictions that haunt us in the night like monsters under the bed and loneliness that tears at our flesh. We often feel an overwhelming amount of guilt over our own sin as we abundantly stack grace on the heads of others. We are burdened by our income, the money we make off the backs of others and question whether or not our time is really that valuable.

The enemy fights hard against those whom God has called to lead his Church, especially those who are standing at the gates of hell trying to get in to rescue one more soul. We know salvation is God’s alone, but he has given that as our burden as well and Satan hates that. A Sunday morning is a conglomeration of a week, a month or year, of a burden, of a sensitive spirit following the Spirit. And frankly, it isn’t always going to go well.

And sometimes we need the grace to be able to call a mulligan.

But…thank God that it is His responsibility to build His Church. If people come and go because of my human-ness, I can’t really keep that from happening. My hope would be, that Epic Life Church would be a church that sees me as a man. Just a man, messed up, but redeemed. Saved by the blood of the Lamb, Justified and being Sanctified, every Sunday. And that we would be the Church together, as we all commit to speaking and sharing the Gospel well.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

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