Knocked Out of the Saddle…Again
Many years ago on the corner of Lincoln and Main, church-hopper Jeanette said during a Wednesday evening choir rehearsal to no one’s objection, “Dr. Kopp is a jackass!”
A few days later, an elder came to me and said, “I heard Jeanette called you a jackass at choir practice. I don’t like anybody calling my pastor a jackass.”
“But,” I said seriously as well as confessionally, “I can be a real jackass more often than I’d care to admit.”
I’ve always known I’m more than an occasional jackass that needs Jesus as my Lord and Savior since Donna exchanged penny candy for kisses in the cloakroom of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania’s Lincoln Street School in 4th grade.
Then there was Marilyn in 5th grade who…
No one is pure and perfect in every way.
That’s why Jesus came.
Go back to John 3:16-17 for a refresher.
Anyway, I got knocked out of the saddle…again…on March 7, 2021.
Actually, it happened four times that day.
Well, it was the 3rd Sunday in Lent.
First, during the sermon, I said the Mount Rushmore of golf would have to include Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. While I fended off people always looking for something wrong in the sermon by saying I know there are only four guys on the one in South Dakota, I think five should be on golf’s.
Greeting my-good-friend-and-better-golfer-than-me Steve after the service, I asked what he thought of my Mount Rushmore of golf.
He said, “You forgot Kathy Whitworth.”
He is right and I was wrong…again.
I’m reminded of when the gender imbalance changed in my third year of seminary and I got scolded by a professor for joking about it being because the degree programs were expanded to include a Mrs.
People were even losing their sense of humor way back then.
Second, a relative told me that I talk too loudly when I preach. While I was surprised to hear anyone was actually tuning into our online broadcast of worship, I asked, “Which part?”
After teaching the subject in two seminaries and surviving over four decades in the business, I’ve still got people – even blood relatives – telling me that I suck.
Third, a guy that I’m really tight with said, “Now I don’t want you to be defensive; but you are kind of wordy when you preach and write.”
How can I argue with that?
My book sales are running about a trillion to one behind that toothy guy in Texas, which is really humiliating, and there’s never SRO at either worship service on Sunday.
I guess I’m doing something wrong.
I said, “If this sounds defensive, let me know; but I’ve always said my style is kinda influenced by Dali, Picasso, Buechner, and Vonnegut along with Burke lately and Pink Floyd as I was…”
I thought, “I forgot to tell him that I want people to savor what I’m serving like sucking on a lozenge rather than gulping down a Whopper.”
Fourth, I was tempted to beat the…out of smartass millennial in the parking lot near Starbucks.
Let me set the scene.
I went through the drive-through, grabbed the cup of coffee with the top not securely fastened by the clerk, dumped the venti on my crotch, gave out a yelp like Jim Morrison, parked my truck, and went in for a refill.
I felt good about myself because I did not complain about the top not being securely fastened.
Then I went back to my truck and discovered that this guy had blocked my exit.
He read my lips: “Really?”
He gave me the finger.
He read my lips: “…hole!”
I left before carnality overcame me.
I spent two hours going over 1 John 1:5-10 after that.
In short, Jeannette remains right.
Just like everybody else, I’m never going to not need Jesus as my Lord and Savior by grace through faith.
Simply, I pray and labor to make my life more than less pleasing to God by following Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit who never contradicts Jesus by the book while knowing I will never become so pleasing to God that I won’t need Him to save me by grace through faith in Jesus.
If that last sentence-paragraph sounds redundant, good.
We need constant reminders that we won’t live confidently and calmly without the assurance of eternal life by grace through faith in Jesus.
BTW, I was also knocked out of the saddle…again…while celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday that happens to be on the same day as mine.
One of my sons said he’s working on my eulogy because my days left aren’t nearly as many as those already spent.
While I’m sure there will be lots of folks that will share Jeanette’s sentiments if there’s a reception after my funeral, here’s how I pray and labor and hope to be remembered: “He loved Jesus and loved people enough to point them to Jesus as Lord and Savior.”
Jesus always comes to mind when I’m knocked out of the saddle.