Tag Archives: excuses

Is It Legal to Call a Pig “Mrs. Johnson”?

Story of the Day for Friday July 13, 2012

Is It Legal to Call a Pig “Mrs. Johnson”?

 

                “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it means nothing. But whoever swears by the gold in the temple must keep his oath.’” 

                                                        Matthew 23:16

 

When a man yelled at Mrs. Johnson and called her a pig, she sued him for defamation of character. The judge found the man guilty and fined him.

After the trial, the man asked the judge. “Does this mean, then, that I can’t call Mrs. Johnson a pig anymore?”

“That is correct,” said the judge.

“Am I allowed to call a pig Mrs. Johnson?”

The judge looked surprised, but said, “Yes, it’s legal to call a pig Mrs. Johnson.”

The man immediately glared at Mrs. Johnson and said, “Hello, Mrs. Johnson!”

 

Ever since we were young, we’ve been honing our skill at “Getting Around the Law.”  Do you remember, as a kid, how you could renege on your promise if you explained that you had your fingers crossed when you made it?

As adults, did we outgrow this impulse, or simply become more sophisticated in doing it?

Most Americans still remember the infamous attempt to dodge the letter of the law in the response, “It all depends on what the meaning of “is” is.”

 

Not much has changed since Jesus’ day. The religious leaders of his day had their own version of “crossing your fingers.”  They took the obligation to fulfill your vows very seriously. And well they should. But they created clever ways to get out of their oaths by differentiating the object by which they swore. If you swore by the gold in the temple, it counted. But, if you merely swore by the temple itself, you didn’t have to keep your promise.

 

Look – God is not fooled by our excuses to get around His law. He wants us to face squarely the obligations of righteous living. And, when you fail, honestly admit it.

He forgives.

 

Years ago, the French king would pardon one man from prison. As he went from cell to cell, each prisoner made emphatic appeals to being innocent and wrongfully imprisoned. All except for one man. He hung his head and said, “Your Majesty, I am a criminal. I deserve to be here because I committed the crimes for which I was sentenced.” The king shouted, “Warden! Release this man at once . . . before he corrupts all these other innocent men.”

Face the will of God head on, and the Lord will pick you up when you stumble.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

 

 

No Excuses

Story of the Day for Wednesday February 15, 2012

No Excuses

                     Moses said to the Lord, “Look, the Israelites will not listen to me. Why would Pharaoh listen, since I speak with a stammering tongue?” 

                                                                   Exodus 6:12

While the people of Israel moaned under the crushing weight of slavery in Egypt, God sent Moses on a mission. He was to tell the people a word from God: “I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.”

Moses told his fellow Israelites the good news. Yet, instead of exuberant shouts of joy, the Israelites ignored him. They were far too discouraged to believe in good news.

 

Great. You say exactly what the Lord wants, and no one listens. The next time, the Lord wants Moses to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. This time Moses is ready . . . with excuses. “Tried it already.” “Didn’t work.” And, just for good measure, Moses adds, “I’m a lousy public speaker.”

 

We can’t brag up Moses too much, (because he’s not walking away as the winner of this argument), but these are really good excuses. And, Moses was absolutely right. He did go to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh scoffed at him – just as Moses said he would.

 

Excuses are wonderful things because they absolve us from responsibility.  They defend us against embarrassment and failure.

But, in the process we become “victimized” by life. Listen to these actual insurance claims and see if you notice a pattern:

  • “A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.”

  • “. . . as I reached an intersection, a hedge sprang up obscuring my vision.”

  • “As I approached the intersection, a stop sign suddenly appeared. . . “

  • “The telephone pole was approaching fast. I attempted to swerve out of its path when it struck my front end.”

Did you notice it? When those filing insurance claims try to avoid responsibility, their  passivity becomes comical. They are poor, passive victims living in a hostile world where stop signs and telephone poles dart in front of their cars and attack them.

 

Moses had good excuses for not becoming God’s messenger. But God told Moses to speak; he didn’t tell him to make Pharaoh respond. That’s God’s department.

Moses did end up doing what God said (with Aaron’s help), and, in the end, everything turned out all right.

Do you have excuses for not doing what the Lord wants you to do? I hope they’re good ones (and don’t forget that “I already tried it; doesn’t work” is a solid performer). But, at the end of the day, are we trying to persuade God, or just ourselves?

God’s ways often don’t make sense – to us anyway. But once we know His will, it’s always best to trust him. No excuses.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Good Excuses

Story of the Day for Friday November 4, 2011

Good Excuses

                     And from the first one to the last, they all made excuses. 

                                                                Luke 14:18

Life was good. Our daughter, Erika, had just gotten married, hunting season was starting in two weeks, and I finally had some time to finish cutting firewood for the winter.

Then my friend, Warren Ellis, ruined it all.

 

Warren gave a presentation to our congregation about volunteering to help the flood victims in Minot, North Dakota. I think appeals to help people in need are wonderful – and I always hope that others will volunteer to help out.

But, afterward, Warren didn’t ask how many other people had signed up to go; he asked me if I had signed up. When I balked and explained my complicated schedule, he offered no sympathy. “Pray about it,” is all he said.

 

I didn’t really pray about it much, because I knew I’d end up going, but I just wished there was someone who would listen empathetically to my excuses for not going.

Warren had plenty of excuses for not going to Minot, but he never invoked them. He has bad knees and a sore back. Nevertheless, he continues to squander his vacation days to volunteer his time to help the flood victims. He makes presentations to churches about the desperate need in Minot, but he told me privately that he is scared to death to speak in public. Yet, week after week he battles his anxiety, and, with his pulse racing wildly, he stands up in front of people to urge others to join him in helping out the flood victims.

 

When we arrived in Minot I was disappointed to learn that almost everyone had better excuses than me for not being there. But there they were.

The one volunteer who captured my attention was Ashley, a young woman in her mid-twenties who came from over 900 miles to help out. Ashley was a spunky one. Mucking out flooded basements is a messy job, but she didn’t shy away from any task, no matter how unpleasant. She worked hard – without whining. Without excuses.

You should also know that Ashley was a paraplegic. A spinal injury two years ago has left her paralyzed in a wheel chair. But she has regained enough use of her arms to outwork anyone around her.

 

Jesus told a story comparing the kingdom of God to a wedding banquet. His point was that those who turn down God’s invitation to join the party don’t do so because they have good reasons; they only have good excuses.

 

I’m learning that, if you’re heart isn’t into sharing the love of Jesus, you can always find a good excuse for not doing it. Those who are passionate about caring ignore excuses.  They just do it.

                                  (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

 

 

The Dog Ate My Lug Wrench

Story of the Day for Thursday June 30, 2011

The Dog Ate My Lug Wrench

                                              . . . he sent his servant to tell those invited, “Come, because everything is prepared.”’ But one by one, they began to make excuses.” 

                                                                                     Luke 14:17-18

If I would teach my dog to fetch, and then throw a pipe wrench into my garage, he wouldn’t come out until November. I have no excuse for not cleaning it up. But I’m not worried. I have all afternoon to think up a good reason for waiting until tomorrow.

Excuses are so handy. They free us from doing unpleasant tasks or acting responsibly. Not only that, making excuses exercises our creativity – and, although I’m not an expert, I think the process of inventing excuses keeps brain cells from dying.

I have a friend who doesn’t like to make excuses. When his garage gets messy he just cleans it up. He worries me because I have no idea what his lack of excuse-making may be doing to his brain cells.

As beneficial as making excuses can be, there is a serious drawback. Once we get into the habit of making excuses, we begin to lose credibility. Let me ask you: can you recognize a person who habitually makes excuses? Of course you can.  But do you see what that means? Other people can see through your excuses as well. It doesn’t take many excuses before others become skeptical and we lose believability.

Making excuses is really a desperate attempt to avoid repentance. When we repent, we acknowledge our failures and own up to them. But when we make an excuse, we are claiming we are not responsible for our present state of affairs.

So, what do you do? When you’re late for an appointment do you apologize or make excuses?  I find I can fool myself by sounding like I am apologizing when really I’m making an excuse: “I’m sorry I’m late, but I had a flat tire and the dog ate my lug wrench.” The crucial word is “but.” If you apologize, and then use the word, “but,” you didn’t really apologize – you made an excuse.

Want to know what repentance sounds like? “I’m sorry I’m late,” (followed by total silence). You are confessing your fault to the person and asking him to forgive you.

Do you see why this is such a big deal? If we get into the comfortable habit of making excuses to ourselves and others, then why not try it out on God? You can say that’s ridiculous – God knows our heart and mind – you can’t buffalo the Lord. That may be true, but you have no idea how clueless we can be at times. We try it anyway.  Once we become addicted to making excuses, we can’t help ourselves.

We need to repent of not repenting. (I hope I didn’t just say something theologically dopey, but there you are.) I admit, I still like my excuses (and don’t forget about those brain cells), but repentance is so much better.  Jesus wants to forgive, and that feels good. Growing in integrity feels good. And when we take responsibility for our faults, we become more than we were – which is what we were created for.

                                                                (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)