All My Lame Excuses (and 5 ways to get rid of them)

Excuse. Sounds like a reasonable word. Acceptable. Perhaps even respectable. The word “excuse” describes a plea or request to be released from a promise or obligation or an appeal for forgiveness for failing to meet an agreement. So an excuse is something I offer when I’m not doing what I should be doing, failing to keep a promise, or as part of an apology for not doing what I said I would do. Excuses sound fine to a rationalizing mind but under the harsh light of the truth, they look pretty weak and ugly.

How many excuses do you generate in a day and for what?

  • Do you make excuses at school for why you didn’t have an assigment or do well on a test?
  • Do you make excuses to the coach or teacher for why you didn’t give 100% or perform well?
  • Do you make excuses to your parents for why you didn’t do your chores?
  • Do you make excuses to God for why you can’t study your Bible or spend time with Him in prayer?
  • Do you make excuses to yourself for why you didn’t stay on the exercise program, diet, or daily practice?

See, we even make excuses to ourselves…AND BELIEVE THEM! The better approach is just to admit that we gave up, didn’t give our best, got distracted, or whatever, then apologize and fulfill our commitment.

If we continue to offer excuses people will learn not to trust us. If we keep giving ourselves excuses, we limit and cripple ourselves and will eventually expect less of ourselves. As Benjamin Franklin said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”

5 Ways to Eliminate excuses

  1. Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep. You have a right to refuse anyone’s request for a favor and still be a good person. Recognize that the person might be disappointed but they would rather get an honest “no” from you and find someone else to fulfill their request than to get a “yes” then endure the frustration when you don’t keep your word. Jesus said to let your “yes” be “yes” and “no” be “no” and that anything beyond that was evil, Matthew 5:37.
  2. Keep your commitments and promises. It is good to make good promises and some commitments. If you have given your word, make haste to fulfill the obligation. You will preserve your integrity and the trust of others. Keeping your commitments strengthens the “no” that you must give for people learn that they can depend on your “yes” and “no”. As Elbert Hubbard, American writer, said, “Don’t make excuses–make good.”
  3. http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomasguest/5061459807/sizes/s/in/photostream/
    By Thomas Guest via Flickr (Creative Commons)
  4. Eat the toad. Excuses often follow procrastination. You agree to something, put it off telling yourself that you will get around to the task (excuse to yourself), then finally abandon the task and generate an excuse. If you absolutely had to eat a live toad every day when should you do it? First thing in the morning of course! You do it, get it out of the way, and you don’t have to dread it, put it off, brood over it, or kick yourself for not doing it. Don’t make an excuse–eat the toad, get it over with, and go on with your life.
  5. Embrace a “no excuses” policy. I used to keep a sign with what I understand is the motto of the British Foreign Office: “Never excuse. Never explain. Never complain.” If you are doing what you supposed to be doing, you should not have to explain or excuse your actions. If you commit to not giving excuses you have to commit to keeping your word. Remember that excuses weakens, execution strengthens.
  6. Practice at home. Decide that you will not offer any more excuses to your parents or God. You will “obey them in the Lord for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Strive for completion of your promises and obligations.If you fail, give them a straightforward apology and ask what you can do to correct the situation: no excuses or reasons for failure then strive to do better in the future. Don’t offer God lame excuses for not praying, studying, or doing other work in service to Him. Admit your failures, ask His forgiveness, then make specific plans for how you can fulfill these expectations (which ultimately are for your good anyway!)

This Nike commercial might inspire you to give up your excuses today.

How Do You Know What God Wants?

Guest Post by Phil Robertson.

My dad has always enjoyed telling a joke about the thermos. It goes like this. Three men were arguing over what had to be the greatest accomplishment of mankind. One said it was the trips to the moon. Another said it was modern medicine and all the cures. However a third guy said it had to be thermos. Bewildered the first two men said, “Why the thermos? All it does is keep hot things hot and cold thing cold” To which the third guy replied, “Yea, but how does it know?” Think about it. It’s silly, I know.

However, how often do you hear people saying they know what God wants? A young fella walks into a church for the first time and immediately says, “I know this is where God wants me to be.” A lady switches from one church to another because she likes the band and the entertaining worship service. When the emotion fills her heart, she says, “I know this is where God was directing me.” Another man looking for deeper love, leaves his wife and moves in with a girl friend. This new relationship is exciting and he thinks, “Doesn’t God want me to be happy? Obviously, this is where God wants me to be.”

Mankind has a long history of transforming personal opinion into God’s will. He wants to make God in his own image. He assumes that what makes him feel good is what God wants. God has always challenged these blind assumptions. “You thought that I was one just like yourself” (Ps. 50:21). He even challenged man’s ability to reason at all without His guidance.

In the days of Hosea, the Israelites, who were “God’s chosen people,” were condemned for trusting in their “own ways” (Hos 10:13). They claimed to praise the Most High but they never consulted Him (Hos 11:7). God said, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). They did not consult God, instead they sought counsel from their “wooden idols” and allowed the culture to direct their spiritual aspirations (Hos 4:12).

Jeremiah warned the nation of Judah about seeking man’s advice. He said, “O Lord I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer 10:23).

Even Solomon, the wisest man ever to live, repeatedly warned of the foolishness of following human wisdom:
• “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds counsel is wise.” (Pro 12:15).
• “There is a way that seems right unto a man, but its end is the way to death” (Pro 14:12)
• “Every way of man is right is in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts” (Pro 21:2)
• “The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge but the mouth of the fools feeds on foolishness” (Pro 15:14)
Instead of assuming we know what God wants, we should trust God knows what we need. “Seek Me and live” says the Lord (Amos 5:4). He will illuminate our path and direct us in the ways of righteousness (Psa 116:165; Psa 23:3).

The only way we can really know what God wants is to study the Bible. It is His Word and His will for our lives (2 Tim 3:16-17). He wants to obey His directions so He can mold us into His image. Therefore, if we cannot find it in His Book, then we do not have any reason to say, “I know this is where God wants me to be.”

Think on THESE Things

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

My mother used to quote this to me when I was watching a music video or movie that had material that was not appropriate to remind me that I was poisoning, not nourishing, my mind. Do not let your mind wallow in filthiness. Let your thoughts soar above to heavenly things.

True: Manifest, fact, conforming to reality Opposite: False

Noble: Honest, grave, venerable, serious Foolish: Foolish

Just: Right conduct; state of being right judged by a divine standard Opposite: Unjust

Pure: Clean, free of impurities Opposite: Polluted

Lovely: Pleasing, agreeable Opposite: Unpleasant

Good Report: Well spoken of, reputable Opposite: Worthless

Do the songs you listen to, books you read, or things you watch pass this test?
Think on these things!

A Mind Like Christ

Action follows thought. If we want to act like Christ we must think like Christ. Consider these verses:

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We must bring every thought under control
Mark 7:20-23 – The heart of a man is the source of his actions
Romans 1:21-22 – Terrible abominations are rooted in evil and futile thoughts
Colossians 3:1-3 – Set your mind on things above
The worldly mind dwells on empty, meaningless, and demeaning thoughts. Abominations, evil inventions, and cruelty (even in the name of religion), or indifference to others is the common result. The worldly mind focuses on the present world and fulfilling lusts. This mind is trained by the philosophy of the world through television, movies, songs, books, and through popular opinion.

The mind of Christ is taught by the word of God. We consciously decide to think like Christ so that the natural state of the changed mind dwells on godly things and makes judgments in light of Christ’s doctrine. It is a mind that seeks to develop a relationship with the Father, live pure and holy, and esteem others better than self.

In contrast to the chaos of the mind, it is a mind at peace. Instead of being selfish it serves. It is not directed by the whims of passion but by purposeful direction and discipline. It takes a while to develop this mind but the effects on the attitude and behavior of the transformed Christian are worth it.

Choosing God Over The World

Paul stressed to the Romans, in Romans 13:11-14, the importance of casting off the works of darkness and walking in the light.  We have spent enough of our life sinning and now we are closer to our salvation than when we first believed.  Since there is much to do and little time in which to do it, we must be diligent to put away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light and get to work for the Lord.

Some Christians are ineffective in the service of God because they are not totally dedicated themselves to God.  They are keeping some things of the world with them: lust, evil speaking, covetousness, worldliness, etc. These things are weighing them down and they cannot grow properly in the Lord and are useless in his service.  The Hebrew writer urges us to “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us” so we can run with endurance, unencumbered by the world, Hebrews 12:1.

We must either grasp God completely or the world completely.  We will fail if we try to serve both, Matthew 6:24; 1 Kings 18:21.  We can deceive ourselves into thinking that we are serving God while our hearts are devoted to the world.  We must examine our thoughts and our actions to see if we are bearing fruit to the world or to the Lord.

Joshua urged the people to decide whom they would serve, Joshua 24:14-25.  They needed to make a decision that day and stick with it.  When they answered that they would serve the Lord, Joshua rebuked them telling them that they could not serve the Lord because they were too fickle. A brief study of history would confirm Joshua’s assessment.  They frequently declared their dedication to God only to murmur against Him and His chosen leaders soon afterward.  Like that audience, we must choose today whom we will serve and then follow wholeheartedly.

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