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Watch 2022 online sermons » Andy Stanley » Andy Stanley - Because

Andy Stanley - Because


Andy Stanley - Because
TOPICS: Paper Walls, Character, Leadership, Influence, Spiritual Growth, Purpose, Direction, Excuses

Now, there are, and you know this, there are a lot of things that are worth carrying forward in our lives from one season to the next, one year to the next, good friends, good habits, and then there are some things that we should leave behind, things that are not worth carrying from one season to the next, from one year to the next. And for the next few weeks, we're gonna talk about one of those things, because one of those things that all of us should get in the habit of leaving behind are excuses, excuses. Excuses are like paper walls, that from a distance, they look like real obstacles. From a distance they look impenetrable, From a distance they look like we really don't have any choice but to do what we're doing or not to do what we're not doing, or to not try or to not try again. In fact, from a distance, an excuse looks like an actual reason.

Now, there's a reason I can't throw a 97-mile-an-hour fastball, right? But there is no actual reason for me not to, well, I'm not sure I know you well enough to finish that sentence. But there's some things that I need to do that, you know, I have reasons for, but if you were to push a little bit, you may discover that my reasons aren't really good reasons. They're really, they're really just excuses. So excuses get passed off as reasons, and excuses easily become, in the real world, becauses. Because all of us have some becauses that we habitually hide behind when certain things come up, right? I mean, "Why don't you"? "Well, you know, because". "Well, why haven't you"? "Well, because". You know, "Why do you just keep on, you know, with that"? "Well, because". "Why don't you start"? "Because". "Why don't you stop"? "Because". "Why don't you just, why don't you just forgive her"? "Well, because". You know, "Why did you quit", "Why did you stay"? "Why did you choose to leave"? "What, why don't you just tell him"? "Why don't you just tell her"? "Because, because, because, because".

We've got becauses, excuses pass themselves off as reasons, and then in our real world vocabulary, they become becauses, right? There's a fine line, we're gonna talk about this for a few weeks, there's actually a fine line between a reason and an excuse. And one always disguises itself as the other. In fact, the way that we talk about or refer to excuses when we're talking about other people actually underscores this. What do we say when we think somebody's, you know, they're making up excuses? We just say, "Hey, you are making excuses". In other words, you don't have any real reasons. You're passing these of as reasons. We here "Because, because, because, because, because," but the truth is, "I see what's going on here. "You are making excuses". That is, "You are just making things up". Or we say, "Quit making excuses. You are fabricating things, you are inventing things".

Again, and the implication is these aren't real. You think they're real. You're trying to pass them off as real, but I see what's going on here, right? Implication, you know, you're just making stuff up. You've created in your mind a paper wall, and you're trying to convince me that it's actually a real wall. You've created in your mind a paper wall and you're trying to pass it off as an actual obstacle. You're, what you're doing is you're dressing up an excuse, you're dressing up an excuse in an attempt to pass it off as a reason. And isn't it true, this is so easy to see in our children. It is so easy to see in our grandchildren. It was so easy for our parents to see in us, right, when we were children, living at home. It's pretty easy to see when our employees are doing it, even when a friend is doing it, or a neighbor's doing it, or a boss.

You know, if you've ever been in one of those meetings, you know, if your boss, your manager calls everybody together, and they start explaining something, and they start giving the reasons, and you're smart, you see right through it. It's like, that's not a reason. You had to come up with a reason, because you're busted. You had to come up with a reason because things aren't going well. Those aren't the actual reasons, those are excuses, and you're disguising your excuses as a reason. In fact, this is so easy to see and other people. it's so easy to see in other people, some of you are thinking right now about who you hope is listening to this message, or, how do I get my kids to listen to this one? How much will I have to pay them? It was 20 bucks last time. I don't, how much, you know, has the rate gone up? In other words, it's so easy to see in other people, we hope everybody will recognize those aren't real reasons.

Those are excuses that you're disguising as reasons. We can spot an excuse in somebody else a mile away. We can't see it six inches away in the mirror. What we say is, "The reason, the reason, the reason, the reason". What we almost never say is, wouldn't this be refreshing? "Well, my excuse is". So I thought as we get this started off, because this is so uncomfortable, right? In fact, some of you who are watching, you're like, I'm glad I'm not there for this, because I can distract myself and I can, you know, maybe change the subject and I hope my person one I'm watching with it doesn't finish this because we've already had this discussion, and he or she's already called me out on this. So I thought it would be fun to just practice something that we virtually never say that perhaps we should say more often. This may change a relationship for you. This may change the relationship between you and your kids or your parents or husband and wife.

So I just want you to repeat after me, and, you know, just look straight ahead, no elbows, you know, no texting "Did you hear that"? Just us, okay, just repeat after me. "My excuse is". Yeah, a little more, you know, we're all, "My excuse is". So repeat after me, "You know what, honey? My excuse is". Yeah, wouldn't that be refreshing? You know how you know it's be refreshing? Because you would love to hear him or her or your kids to say it. You know, "Why didn't you finish your homework"? "Well, Dad, my excuse is". Wow, hey at least were on this, at least we're, you know, dealing with reality, right? "Why are you late"? "Well, my excuse is". What if we, if nothing else, if we don't get anything else out of the series, what if we just quit disguising our excuses as reasons? And because, what if we acknowledge, "You know what, this isn't real. I've just made this up".

And here's the challenge and here's the question we're gonna come back to it for the next few weeks. Because it's, this is emotional, and I'm gonna give you some illustrations, but they're of light, you know, I'll admit that up front, but just to kind of get our head in the game. Is it possible, I'm not accusing you because I don't know you, is it possible, are you at least willing to consider that perhaps some of your reasons, some of your becauses are actually just paper walls? They're actually excuses, something you've created? And the thing is you, have a reason for why you created the paper wall, okay? The excuse, you know, is we present it as a reason, but there is a reason we make excuses, and if we ever get back to the source of our excuses, we'll probably drop some of the excuses, or acknowledge, you know what? That's just an excuse for something else. It's a paper wall or an excuse.

Maybe yours are constructed of things that someone told you, maybe something someone called you, maybe something someone labeled you in the past. Maybe it's something that someone expected of you, and you didn't come through, so now you're through, and anytime that topic or that challenge comes up, it's like, oh, no, no, no, because in your mind I tried that and I failed. Nope, nope, nope, just not gonna do it. Is it possible, and this is, I think this is all of us at some level, is it possible you've invented reasons to defend certain behaviors, reactions, overreactions? "Why do you always overreact"? "Well, I'll tell you why I overreact". And then you present your paper wall. "Why do you always over, you know, whenever your mom, whenever your dad who, whenever we see them, you just kind of light up, why"? "Well, let me tell you why," and it's really just the paper wall. And you got a reason because we're irrational people. We have to have a because.

We can't say, "I don't know. I have no idea, honey, but that's just what I'm gonna". You know, we just go, "Well, because". Is it possible you have created a paper wall or an excuse for why you procrastinate about certain things, why you neglect certain things, why you avoid certain things? Is it possible you've created a paper wall for why you avoid certain kinds of people, certain people, certain kinds of people, events, circumstances, opportunities? I'll give you an illustration again. This is kind of light. I've shared this with some of you before. When I was in high school, our high school went from eighth to 12th, we didn't have middle school, eighth to 12th grade, and so I was a failed high school athlete. Everything I tried out for, did not make it. Now, I'm tempted to tell you why, because that's what we do, right?

The reason, I mean, I'm tempted, as soon as I say that, I wanna go, the reason is because we had a big high school, you know, blah, blah, blah. But the point is, I just wasn't, I just, I was, didn't make it as an athlete and I loved sports, but I just wasn't good enough. There, I said it. I just wasn't good enough, right? I mean, I just, you know, you gotta get it out there, right? So what happened is I just didn't like athletes, starting in high school. I've told you some of this. So if you're an athlete, it's like, oh, no wonder he just walks by. No, I just, and you know why I didn't like 'em? Because I wanted to be one and I failed. I couldn't be what I wanted, so it's just, it's easier not to like them than to admit something about me, which is, let me, I'm just gonna ask you a question. This isn't the topic, but I just can't pass by this. This is, maybe this is why you're watching.

Are there types of people you just don't like? Rich people, pretty people, people who graduated, people who didn't graduate, you know, college grads? Are there whole categories of people you don't like? You should pay attention to that, because you think it's them. It's not, it's you. We're gonna come back to that. So just, you know, put a little check mark by that, you know. So here's what happened to me. So as I became, you know, started doing ministry and got kind of successful, I got invited to speak to all these sports franchises, college teams and chaplains, you know, do chapel before NFL game. Teams would come to town, I'd get all these calls, and 100% of the time, it's like, "Nope, my busy, nope I'm busy, nope I'm busy. I can't, I would love to," lie, "I would love to," lie, lie, lie. I would not love to. I would be so intimidated. I don't even know who you are. I don't even know the rules to that game, okay.

But, you know, "I would love to, but I'm too busy," and I would pass off these opportunities to some of my friends. "Oh, Andy, you're so humble". I'm so humble. It was just an excuse. I was just intimidated. I was just uncomfortable. Here's something, this is big, this is huge, okay? You know what is at the root of your excuses? And I know we've never met, but this is true of all excuses. At the root of an an excuse is blaming something internal on something external. This is so insidious. It's something that's wrong with me, but it's so hard to look in the mirror to admit, so it's, I decide it's not me, it's something out there, and the moment I decide it's something out there, the moment I decide it's something out there, I begin constructing a wall. And I think I'm protecting myself. I'm actually hemming myself in, and I'm keeping myself out of opportunities, and maybe relationships, and maybe better relationships, because of something I just won't admit to myself.

You know what happens? "I won't" sounds like, "Well, I can't". The truth is I won't, but I'm not gonna say I won't. I just say "I can't". "I'm afraid to try," sounds like, "Well that's just not my thing". You know, "That's just not me. I don't really care about that". The truth is I'm afraid to try, but I'm not gonna say, "I'm afraid to try". I'm gonna say, "You know what, it's just not my thing". And after a while, this becomes like a reality. Again, it's an excuse. It's a reason I've manufactured. It's a because I hide behind, that you hide behind.

So back to the sports thing for a second. So when Andrew and Garrett, my two sons, started, got interested in sports, I wanted them to be interested in music, they weren't interested in music, they were interested in sports because God's like, "I'll show you," anyway, so, which is fine. So they start playing baseball, you know, their eight, nine, 10 years old. So, you know, they always want dads to be the coaches. Well, do you think I volunteered to coach my sons? Are you kidding? It was like, "Nope, uh-uh. You guys got this," you know. I mean they're eight years old. I know, but you know, I'm left, ready for this one? Okay, don't laugh, or see if you can not laugh. I'm left-handed. I can't even borrow a glove. Get it? Because, you know, 'cause everybody's right-handed? Okay, you didn't get it.

Anyway, I had, came up with all kinds of paper walls, right? So then the coolest, or not coolest, the awful thing that turned out to be a cool thing happened. So Andrew, my oldest is 10 years old, and they just moved up to kid pitch. Some of you remember kid pitch. This is when 10-year-olds throw baseballs at other 10-year-olds, okay? They call it kid pitch, but there's, you know, this is a kid pitching. Anyway, so kid pitch. It's the second game, I'm on the bleachers with my friend, Dave, 'cause I'm not about, you know, I'm just gonna be, you know, the dad fan. Second game, this dad three bleachers down or three rows down, the umpire makes a call.

Now keep in mind, these boys are 10 years old, okay, 10 years old. And this dad goes berserk. He is literally, he jumps down, he is standing behind the umpire, his hands are wrapped around the chain link fence, and he is screaming at the umpire. They are 10 years old. He's lost his mind. And the empire turns around and says, "Okay," and he knew his name. He called him by name because he had done this before. He said, "You need the sit down or I'm gonna throw you to the park," and he's just, "Ra, ra, ra, ra". And he throws this dad out of the park, says, "Leave the park," and he says, "We're holding the game 'til you leave the park". And he's cussing, and I'm sitting there going, what have we signed our kids up for? Then our coach, daddy coach, comes out of the dugout, and he starts getting on the umpire about the call and throwing his buddy out, so the umpire, now, some of you are like, yeah, I've seen this a thousand times.

Others of you are like, I'm not allowing my kids to play organized sports, okay, if I ever have kids. So then the umpire, I'm not making any of this up, umpire throws our coach out. "You're out, leave the park". Then the assistant coach comes out, and this is almost a quote. "So I guess if you're gonna throw him out, you're gonna throw me out, too". Throws the assistant coach out, calls the game. The boys are 10 years old, they're like, this all happened within, you know, a minute and a half, right, the game over. Now, they're 10 years old. Do you know what their biggest concern is? Are we still going to Brewster's? Does this mean we can't go to? I mean, they're 10 years old. They want, that's an ice cream place for those of you who live in different parts of the country or the world, yeah.

So then the coaches, you know, get the boys together and they're apologizing. The umpire walks out and says, "You two, out of the park. You cannot come to the next two games". Yeah, he wasn't messing around. So there's Dave and I, you know, and all, we were the only dads. There were some moms, you know, it was an afternoon game. And the coaches come over and say to me, "Andy, look me and so-and-so, you know, we're out. Would you and Dave coach the next two games"? And I'm thinking, I know I can at least not get thrown out of the game, okay? I think this is something that, if the bar is as low as, don't get thrown out of the park, I can do this, I got this.

Now, my point in telling you that is this. Because of some silly way I thought about myself, and again, you think I'm exaggerating. I'm promise I'm not. I, because of, you know, well, they're them, and I can't do that, and these guys who all about baseball. Look at 'em, they're all professional, you know, they used to be college athletes, and I don't measure up. Because of some stupid, honestly, just, paper wall, I almost missed out on one of the greatest joys of my life. Because from that moment on, I started assistant coaching my boys' baseball teams. And when I look back on those pictures, and when I drive by those baseball parks, it is still emotional because of the joy to be with my sons, to learn. I mean, it's just, that season is one of the greatest seasons of my, and I'm telling you, I almost missed it, because I thought, oh no, I can't.

Now, here's the point. We all have these. And here's the thing. Do you know what's on the other side of this? We don't know. We just think we know. And because we think we know, we're like, I'm too afraid, I can't do that, I'm not talented enough, I didn't get education, I don't know anybody, whatever, whatever, right? So, is it possible, just, you gotta think about this. Is it possible you're missing out because you've walled yourself in? Is it possible that a because is actually an excuse? And you don't accept these from your children, you don't accept these from the people that you care about. You don't accept these at work. Why in the world would we accept these in people in the mirror, the person in the mirror? And maybe most importantly, why are we talking about this in church?

Here's why. This is so important. There is a relationship between your ability, not your willingness, I wanna be clear about this. There is a relationship between your ability to follow Jesus and your willingness to push through your paper walls and to acknowledge that your reasons are excuses, your becauses are actually excuses. And the reason I say that is because our excuses compete for lordship of our lives. An excuse can become your king. An excuse can become your master. An excuse can become your boss. Because you know what excuses do? Excuse to tell you what you can't do. You can't do that, you shouldn't try that. You shouldn't try that again. You should not talk to him. You should not apologize. You should not acknowledge that. You should, you shouldn't, you should, you shouldn't.

And next thing you know, your excuses are telling you what to do. You can't succeed at that. Nobody, you know, somebody already tried. You remember what they said You remember what they had, said last time. Next thing you know, your excuses are your king. They're sitting on the throne of your life, and you, as, if you're a Christian, you could spend the rest of your life singing about King Jesus and serving King Excuse. Excuses, if you don't like that, the throne analogy, I'll modernize it. They can become a board of directors. Nah, don't try that. Don't talk to him. Don't talk to her. Don't show up for that. Don't go early. Don't let them know you're coming. Don't acknowledge that. Don't admit that. Don't admit you're wrong. Why, well, because, because, because, because, because, because, because.

Let me tell you what's on the other side of this. So, I know the answer to this. You don't have to answer it out loud. And I hope I'm not, you know, insulting anybody, but do you want excuses to be the boss of you? I don't. And we've never met, but I know you don't. But they will be the boss of us until we acknowledge they're not reasons, they're not real becauses, they're just becauses, the reasons we give, they're just excuses. We're making stuff up. And, I wanna be fair. There are reasons why we make things up. There's something behind why we make things up. There's something behind why something inside of me causes me to blame something outside of me. But either way, regardless of the reason, regardless of the cause, regardless of the fact that if I heard your story, I would say, oh my goodness, yeah, I've had it happen to me.

I have all kinds of paper walls when it comes to relationships or money or sexuality or any other, you know, any other topic. I mean, I get it. Goodness gracious, right? But in spite of that, you don't want excuses to be the boss of you. You don't wanna get to the end of your life and look back and think, good grief, I spent my whole life behind this stupid wall that was nothing other than something I made up based on what somebody told me, something I believed, something I heard, something I read, something I was afraid of. So in the book of Hebrews, in the New, you know, the Old Testament, New Testament, the Bible is divided, two parts, in the New Testament, the New Covenant, there's a, we call it a book. It's not really a book. It's a sermon called Hebrews. We don't know who wrote Hebrews. And in the document, or the book of Hebrews, the author is trying to get some Jewish Christians not to use the difficult time they're going through as an excuse to quit following Jesus. Because they were following Jesus, they had hit some bumps.

There were some difficult things going on. So he's saying, "Look, please, please, please, don't give up following Jesus because of these difficult things. That's not a good reason. That really, you're just, you're making an excuse". And in the midst of this conversation, in the midst of this document, he gives a general principle that whether you're a Bible person or not, a Christian person or not, this is just great advice. And here's what he says. He says, "Look, look, I know what's going on. I know you got a reason for your reasons. I know, you know, that you've got a reason why you're manufacturing, you're fabricating these excuses, but let us," this is so good, "let us throw off everything that hinders. Let us throw," as you think about the future, as you think about moving forward, he says, "I want you to throw off anything that hinders". And the, it's sort of an analogy, it's kind of a sports analogy strangely enough. I don't use them much, but if they're in the Bible, I can't avoid 'em. Anyway, he's talking about running. He says, "Anything that hinders you from running, from racing, from staying in your lane, you just need to get rid of it. Rid yourself of every encumbrance. Rid yourself of anything that's an impediment, that trips you up". "And," this is so fascinating, "and," or as an example of, "and the sin that so easily entangles".

Now, if you used to be a Christian or you're exploring faith, what I'm gonna say next is so important as you think about moving forward. And maybe if you've been a Christian a long time, this will put some things in perspective. This word sin, if you follow Jesus through the gospels, Jesus is very specific about what sin is. And he doesn't give a list, "Here's five things not to do, here's four things not". He doesn't do it that way. Do you know what sin was for Jesus? This is so consistent. Sin was anything that hurt someone. Sin was anything that hurt someone, and sin was anything that hurt you. Which makes sense, because if God, "For God so loved the world," and he loved the people in the world that he doesn't want the people of the world to get hurt, and he doesn't want them to hurt each other. And he, like a good parent, you know, when you see somebody do something to one of your kids or one of your kids does something to a brother or sister that hurts them, you're not upset because they broke a rule. You're upset because your child got hurt.

Whether there was a rule about that or not. From now on, there's gonna be a rule. But, "We don't do that because it hurt your brother, it hurt your sister". So anything that hurts the other person, that's what sin is. And if you hurt yourself, from God's perspective, who loves you, that's a sin. Lying is a sin. Lying is a sin, because you know what lying does? We talk about this. Lying breaks a relationship. You can't have a real relationship with somebody who lies to you. Lying breaks the relationship. Well, anything that breaks a relationship breaks God's heart, because God's about relationship, so lying is a sin, and lying to yourself is a sin. Lying to yourself is a sin, because lying to yourself hurts you.

An excuse, if you wanna look at it from this perspective, an excuse is really just a lie we tell ourselves about ourselves. I can't, I'm not good enough. I tried, I don't, you know, an excuse, it's just a lie we tell ourselves, we tell the person in the mirror about ourselves. And when we lie to ourselves, we hurt ourselves, and when we hurt ourselves, we sin against ourselves. So when the author says, "I want you to get rid of anything that's an impediment to you running your race and the sin that entangles you," it includes this. In fact, some of you've lied to yourself. You've got so many paper walls. In fact, before this series is over, maybe before this day is over, maybe we've already gotten there. You, some things have already come to mind. You've lied to yourself, you've hurt yourself. Which means, this is odd, but you owe yourself an apology. You should go home, you know, sort of being facetious, but maybe this would help you. You need to go home and look in the mirror and apologize to yourself.

"You know what, I've been lying to you, Andy, and I've been holding you back. I've been making up things and calling 'em reasons. They're not a reason. I make all these becauses, but I've been lying to you. I'm not gonna lie to you anymore. I promise never to do it again". Because those aren't reasons. That's just stuff I made up, and I'm standing here behind it like I can't move forward, and it's because I'm believing something and telling my myself something that's just not true. So he says, "Come on, come on, come on, throw". This is great advice, Christian, or not. "Throw off, throw off everything that hinders you and the sin that so easily entangles you". In other words, no more excuses, he says, "And once you do, you're gonna be free". Back to the running thing, "you're gonna be free to run," he says. "And once you do," this is so, I mean, you can almost hear the music in the background, "And let us run," he says, "let us run with perseverance," or endurance, "the race marked out for us".

Now, this is a fascinating thing. Whether you're a religious person or not may determine how you interpret this. But if you're a Christian and you grew up with the notion or you believe that God has a plan for you, that's your race, that God has a will for your life, for your family, for, you know, that you do something on purpose and end up with purpose and look back on your life and feel like, "Hey, I, you know, my life mattered". He says, the author says, "Look, I want you to run the race". There's a race that's been marked out for all of us Jesus-followers, and then there's a race that's been marked out for you specifically, and if you're not a Jesus-follower, if you're not a Christian, you've got goals, right? I mean, you've got some mental picture of what could and should be for your future and your family. And the author is saying, "Look, don't lose," come on, "don't lose your own race," and don't lose your own race because you blame things that really weren't even real to begin with.

Would you just get rid of anything that holds you back so that you can at least run and compete in the race that God has laid out for you? Yeah, instead of just making stuff up. Now, what he says next, I wanna tell you what he says next before I show you how the author says it next. This is such a huge idea. This could be a message in and of itself, but we talk about these kinds of things all the time, so I don't wanna just keep going back and back and back. What he says next, and this is so subtle. and this is so challenging. He says, "You need to quit focusing on yourself". Do what? He says, "Yeah, you need to quit focusing on yourself".

If you live for yourself, you only have yourself to show for yourself, right? Live for yourself, in the end, you only have yourself to show for yourself. Great funerals, you know what a great funeral is? There's so much to celebrate we run out of time. Do you know what a bad funeral is? Nobody wants to speak for the deceased, "Pastor Stanley, you've got 30 minutes. We got nothing. Well, I don't even know, well, it doesn't matter because there's just not a lot to talk about. Just, you know, let's just get through it," right? Live for yourself, you'll only have yourself to show for yourself. People who build paper walls, and again, nobody does it on purpose. But people who build paper walls and live behind paper walls, people who make excuses rarely make much of a difference. Have you noticed that? People who live behind paper walls and make excuses, even though their reasons, you know, we buy their reasons, at the end of the day, they rarely make much of a difference, because paper walls keep you and keep me from being engaged.

Paper walls, they make us small. They make us self-absorbed. Paper walls, they rob you, and they rob others, and paper walls rob the people around you of you. Here's a harsh reality. This is super deep. You may not agree with this and that's okay. Excuses, excuses, not always, but maybe more times than we wanna admit, excuses are often selfishness disguised as humility. Oh, that was me. "Like, thanks for that opportunity, but I'm busy". Liar, you sound so humble, you let the other pastors have that opportunity. You look so humble. You're just afraid. Sometimes our excuses, you know, they come across as humility when it's really anything but.

Now, if you're not a religious person, not a Christian, exploring faith but not quite there yet, I'm just gonna, I need to drop you off right there. You're certainly welcome to listen to the rest of the message, but I'm just gonna leave you there. So between now and next time, don't miss next time, you know, just acknowledge, start looking for paper walls, and decide you're gonna throw off anything that gets in the way of you finishing the race that you have set out for you, whether you think God has set one out for you or not, okay? Because this is relevant to all of us. But if you're a Jesus-follower, there's more. If you're a Jesus-follower, the author says, "Oh yeah, one more step". This is so powerful. And many of you've heard this verse so many times you've memorized it. He says, "And while you're," you know, well, let me just read the whole thing. "Let us throw off, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us," no period, just same sentence, "fixing," it's a participle, as you go, "fixing your eyes, fixing our eyes on Jesus".

Literally looking away to Jesus or looking away to Jesus. Looking away from the excuses, looking away from the fears, the lack of opportunity, the lack of resources, the failure in the past, maybe even a disability. Looking away, fixing our eyes on Jesus. When we, this is so powerful, when you you fix your eyes on Jesus, or we talk about following Jesus, when you choose to follow Jesus, you will eventually have to stop manufacturing excuses. If you really decide to follow Jesus, Jesus will lead you through these. Jesus will expose those.

If you follow Jesus, you will eventually have to stop manufacturing excuses, because you'll eventually have to stop lying to the people around you and lying to yourself. We will stop hiding behind the, you know, the why nots, and I know this is a little hokey, but it's true. We'll begin asking, why not? Why not forgive? Why not initiate that conversation? Why not try again? Why not sign up? Why not finish my education? Why not just pay off that debt? Why not just be honest with her, be honest with him. Why not? And when you follow Jesus, he's gonna lead you through all this nonsense, and what was so scary and what shuts you down one minute, it's gonna be an opportunity the next, because he loves you. And you know this, right?

The people, isn't it true, the people who do the most good in the world are often the people who have the most reasons not to. I mean, aren't those the stories where like, oh my goodness, I mean, they didn't have paper walls, they had actual reasons and look at what they accomplished in the world. They just took what they had and they did something with it, and instead of, you know, spending all this energy coming out with becauses and reasons and excuses, they just did what they could, and they've done remarkable thing. I feel like my dad's one of those people, Sandra's dad is one of those people. So you, Dad, why don't you be one of those people? Mom, be one of those people? High school senior, be one of those people. Single adult, new to Atlanta, just to be one of those people that decides, you know what, it doesn't matter what I have or don't have, I'm just not gonna live my life behind a fabricated reason, an excuse.

I'm almost done. There's a relationship between our ability to run our race with endurance and our willingness, and its willingness, it's not ability, and our willingness to acknowledge that we're living behind paper walls. There is a, there's an, you know, undeniable relationship between your ability to become what you wanna become and to fulfill your potential, whether it's spiritual or not. There's a relationship between that and your willingness to acknowledge excuses for what they are. And then for those of us who are Jesus-followers, there's a relationship between our ability, not our willingness, our ability to follow Jesus, and our willingness to acknowledge an excuse for what it really is, something that hinders us. So whether you're a religious person or not, Christian or not, here's what we can all agree on. We all need to shut down the excuse factory. We all need to get in the habit of saying, "Well, they're, okay, my excuse is," well because, my excuse is, well, I've never been. Well, my excuse up until now has been".

Because they just weigh you down, they hold you back, they rob you of potential, and do you know what? They make you small. They make us small. They make us self-centered. And we pass it off or try to pass it off as humility. Some things are worth carrying forward season to season, some things are worth carrying forward year to year. Excuses are not one of those things. They need to be left behind. And if you choose to leave them behind, you'll be better off. And if you choose to leave 'em behind, your family will be better off, or your future family be better off, and if we all decide to leave them behind, the world would be a better place, because we will be free to follow our Savior instead of saying no for reasons that are no reason at all. So let's shut down the excuse factory. Let's move beyond our paper walls. And in Part Two, I'll start the process of telling you how. So don't miss Part Two of "Paper Walls, Moving Beyond The Excuses That Hold You Back".
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