Summary: God offers us Do-Overs, the gift of forgiveness


September 11, 2016

I’ve played golf since I was about 8 years old. It’s a game I love and despise all at the same time. It’s a humbling game for someone who doesn’t play very often. You hit some great shots, and you hit some really, really bad shots. One of the great things about golf is something called a MULLIGAN.

In essence, when you hit a really bad shot, you may say, “I’m taking a mulligan!” If you’re with friends and you’re just having fun, nobody cares too much, unless you do it after every shot. When you take a mulligan, it’s like getting a do-over. And when you take that mulligan your first shot does not count against you, you just pick up the ball if you can find it, and move on.

There are different stories about how mulligan’s came into existence, but that’s not for today. Suffice it to say, a mulligan is a do-over, a free shot, an extra shot you take, because the first one was bad.

Have you ever been there? Have you ever wanted to take a mulligan? Maybe it was something pretty simply like you gave a wrong answer in class, you made a wrong turn, you wanted to ask someone out, but you didn’t, then they went out with your best friend, or you wore the same outfit as someone else; or you weren’t paying attention and got a speeding ticket or got into a car accident.

It moves all the way to moments when we say something hurtful to someone else, you respond to an email with a scathing email telling that person what we really think of them, and we hit send, or we become so angry - we say some things which are really mean; or maybe in our anger we throw something and break it

We’ve all been there in one way or another. We’ve all wanted to do something over again . . . we’ve all wanted a mulligan. We wish we could turn back the clock and start over again, to take back our words and actions, but we can’t.

There are a couple of things we can learn from our actions, even from our inactions. When we didn’t do what we knew we should do.

1. We can repent! We can ask for forgiveness from the people we have hurt. We can learn from what happened and change who we are because we realize we are not healthy. We see this with athletes.

On the negative side, we have seen football player, Johnny Manziel lose millions of dollars, be cut from the Cleveland Browns, because he refused to believe he was doing anything wrong. Partying, drugs, a wild lifestyle, abusive relationships were all acceptable in his eyes. But it all caught up to him. He refused to change. He refused to learn. He refused to ask for forgiveness. He’s now re-enrolled at Texas A&M, where he went to college.

Then, you can look at a guy like Michael Phelps. He’s the most decorated Olympian in history. He speaks about his downfall. He admits his sinfulness and wrongdoing. As great as he was, he was contemplating suicide. He had drunk driving arrests. His life was spinning out of control. That’s when another athlete told him to read Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life while he was in rehab. And it changed his life. He found faith and he found himself and changed.

Two lives, two very different results.

Now let me say this about the word sin. It’s a bad word. In fact, a few years ago, the word sin was removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary, as was the word disciple. They said, those words just aren’t used anymore. It’s not used anymore and not recognized by the younger generation.

To their credit, the Oxford Dictionary included MP3, blog and voicemail to the dictionary.

I would beg to differ with the folks at Oxford. We do need the word sin in our vocabulary. It helps us to understand better our relationship with God and with one another. The word sin, literally means “To miss the mark.” This means we were aiming for the bullseye, because that would bring glory to God, but we missed it because of something we did or didn’t do.

You see, we struggle with believing what Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 ~

23 for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God — Romans 3:23

You see, it’s so important for us to move beyond knowing . . . . to believing, believing in our heart and spirit that we are sinners. Paul said ALL have sinned, not just some, not just you, but ALL have sinned, that includes every person in this room, and every person outside of this room. We are all sinners.

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