By Dr. Mark H. Creech
When I was pastor of the First Baptist Church, LaGrange, North Carolina, my next door neighbor, Ed Denmark, was the church’s chairman of deacons. Ed was a good friend and a wise elderly gentleman who was the consummate teacher, adept at taking the circumstances at hand and turning them into a life’s lesson.
One day my car wouldn’t crank as I headed to work. Ed was sitting in a rocker on his front porch. So I went over and asked him if he had a pair of jumper cables I might borrow to help start the car. He replied, “Well, I like to keep my milk wrapped up with them.” Totally confused, I responded, “I’m sorry Ed, I didn’t understand you.” He said again, with a sheepish grin on his face, “I like to keep my milk wrapped up with them.” For a moment, I thought Ed might have had a stroke or something. Once more I inquired, “You like to keep your milk wrapped up with them? Ed, for heaven’s sake, what do you mean?” With a chuckle he replied, “It’s like this, when you don’t want to lend something out, one excuse is just as good as another.”
You’ll be pleased to know Ed got up from his chair and cheerfully retrieved his jumper cables for me. He was just relishing in an opportunity through humor to teach me a very important lesson: When you don’t want to do something, any ole excuse will do. I’ve found that true over and again.
I once heard a story about some girls in a college dorm who came up with a scheme for turning down dates with guys they didn’t really like. To solve the problem, one of them wrote a list of ten handy excuses and tacked them next to the phone in the hall. It worked quite well except for the time when one girl got flustered and told the earnest caller, “I’d love to go out with you, Tom, but I can’t because of Number Seven.”
Yeah, any ole excuse will do.
A fellow once told me why he didn’t think he excelled on the job. He said, “It’s tough to soar with eagles when you work with a bunch of turkeys.” He thought it was always someone else’s fault.
Right, any ole excuse will do.
You may have heard that story about the time the Police League of Indiana sponsored a “Best Speeding Alibi” contest. One honorable mention award went to an exasperated father who was stopped with a load of fighting, squalling children in the backseat. He told the officer, “I was trying to get away from all the noise behind me.”
Again, any ole excuse will do.
This is certainly true for many Christians when it comes to their spiritual duties, especially God’s command to speak up for Christ’s sake. Any ole excuse will do, as there is all-too often a shrinking away because of self. Self fears people might consider you a religious fanatic. Self feels it’s undignified to speak about a matter as personal as religion. Self is afraid you might not articulate what needs to be said well. Self is afraid someone might consider you interfering and imposing, and thereby cast reproach.
There are a thousand other excuses self may offer in trying to avoid the responsibility of standing for Christ. Self always rises head and shoulders above anything else in life. Self longs to occupy the throne in our hearts. But Didn’t Jesus say that his Spirit would empower his followers as they obeyed his command, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me”? (Acts 1:8) Didn’t he call upon his followers to deny self and take up their crosses daily and follow him (Matthew 16:24)?
I was recently moved by a remark made by Dr. Andy Bloom, Pastor of Central Baptist Church, Ocala, Florida. Dr. Bloom noted:
“Isn’t it a strange land in which we live? On the one hand, we have young men and women living together and saying that marriage is outmoded; on the other hand, we have homosexuals clamoring to get married…
We need to stand up, speak up and witness for God! We must be a reliably stable spiritual oasis that stands for the truth in a time that stands for nothing.
We are now the ones who need to come out of the closet. We need to come out of the closet of fear, the closet of compromise and the closet of silence about our God when his truth is attacked. We need to stand and stand righteously! Too many of our pulpits have been criminally silent…”
These are perilous times. And Christians have the answers in Christ and the Word of God. There’s too much at stake! We’re living in a time when everything is on the line – our way of life – our institutions – the future for our children – the eternal fate of millions.
No, any ole excuse won’t do!!!