No More Excuses—an essay

111I have to admit that the mention of UBF elicits several mixed reactions. On one hand, I personally received the grace of God’s love and salvation through Bible study. I heard God calling me no longer to live for myself but to live for him in service to others. I admired the sincerity and zeal of those who truly wanted to live for Jesus. I also admired the relentless outreach when it would have been easier to stay at home.

Then I became a leader. I learned to put God in the center of my thoughts and actions. I learned to reflect on myself based on God’s word. I learned to repent and come closer to God. I learned to value individuals and love their soul through prayer and Bible study.

However, I began to notice ugly things in me. Once I realized I was in a position of influence, a greed for power and control started growing inside of me. My original desire to purely spread God’s love was almost immediately tainted with my own ambition to amass large amounts of people and enjoy people’s recognition. I was also confused by my own inability to pray, my stubborn resistance to depend on God, inner criticism of those who were not as devoted as me, and resentment toward those who seemed to have it easier than me. In short, although I had been saved, I was very selfish and self-centered.
I was motivated no longer by love but by my greed and ambition which was countered only by despair and sense of failure. As I married and had children, I realized that although some parents may have been sincere in devoting themselves to God and trusting God to take care of their children, I realized that it could have been just as easy to use God’s work as an excuse to avoid the thankless job of raising children, cleaning up their mess, and feeding them day in and day out. How often I also wanted to run away and immerse myself in other activities if they were only available. Alas, as a small chapter, we didn’t have many programs or students. So I would try to escape in other ways instead. In the same way, some leaders could have also been sincere in their challenges and directions, but it could have also come from a desire for more power and control.

As much as I respected UBF ministry and members, there were things that bothered me too—the messages that did not speak to me, the way people were given direction without explanation or understanding of individual situations, the prejudice, the awkwardness. If we were a community that loved Jesus more than others, then I assumed we would love others as Jesus loved us. If we were a community with the joy of salvation, then people would naturally be attracted to us, join, and find the same joy that we have. The fruit of God’s salvation would be flowing down as God’s gift to us, encouraging and strengthening us. But instead, I saw fighting, complaining, competition, and people becoming enemies. It felt forced and difficult and draining.

Although I was firmly loyal to our group, I could not but look longingly at bigger ministries with good programs, talented speakers, and many members. Even in America, where it looked like the church was dying, we were seeing mega churches springing up, drawing large crowds of people and making a difference in people’s lives. Then people started leaving our ministry in droves, not quietly, but angrily, making quite a stir as they left. As I read their stories, my heart broke and shame entered in. I had made excuses before, but they weren’t working anymore. Especially when other churches were thriving and obviously doing much better than us, it seemed that we were obviously doing something wrong.
Then came the scandal with Mark Driscoll, which sounded similar to the scandals in our own ministry. Suddenly, I realized that our problem was not just our problem. It was not something I had to hide and feel ashamed of. It is quite simply, the curse of our human race.

From the beginning of time, ever since man decided to disobey God, people have been blaming each other for their problems in life and in the church. We blame the leader, the congregation, the programs, each other, and even ourselves.
We need change. People need to change and grow, otherwise we die. But change doesn’t come from telling somehow how to change. We experience a revelation and suddenly we are the expert on what needs to be done and how people should change. Congregation doesn’t change because the leader tells them what to do. The church doesn’t change because the congregation tells the leader what to do. Change comes from God and is continually motivated by the joy we experience from living in his will.

Change progresses by God’s sovereign time schedule, not by our will. God loves us more than anyone else. Only he knows our hearts and whether we are living in his will or not. In addition, he has infinite patience for us to turn our hearts to him. We do not have to do anything. God works and waits until we want to love him and love our neighbor with joy.
Likewise, God loves that other person more than you or anyone else. God has his own time schedule for that person. It may not coincide with our time schedule or even our lifetime, but it does not matter. We need to entrust that person in God’s hands, believing that God knows what he’s doing better than we do. There is no excuse for trying to change someone or getting upset when that person doesn’t change according to your time schedule.

At the same time, we need to acknowledge God as the creator and keeper of our lives. We need to accept everything that has happened to us, both good and bad, as from the hand of God. It is here we may discover inner anger toward a person or to God. It is sin that hurts us and causes us pain. But God is watching over us all and he shows no favoritism. His final judgment will be righteous and just. This gives us rest from trying to fix all the wrongs ourselves. It also compels us to live honestly before God rather than pretending to be ok.

God has also promised to make all things work for the good of those who love him. (Ro 8:28) God is working for us at all times whether it looks like it or not, whether it feels like it or not. It is our job not to fix the world but to thank God for the life he has given us and the blessings he has placed in our lives. It is our job to thank God even for the pain and difficulty because it is through them we grow closer to God. When we thank God in all circumstances, God often does mighty work in and around us which blesses and strengthens us. For example, this web page can be used as a vehicle for ranting or healing or provoking, but it is not the web page, but God who is working behind each and every situation to challenge us, change us, and help us. It is our job to receive what God wants to give us, to learn what he wants to teach us, to obey what he wants us to do. There is no excuse for not accepting everything from God, living before him, and trusting him.

Finally, we come to realize we are nothing but broken jars of clay. But God in his great mercy and love has chosen to shine his light through us through Jesus. We were nothing but we were made into heirs of his kingdom and co-heirs with Christ. It might be like we are each presidents of a small country. In light of that, there can be no hierarchy or status among believers. We must treat each other with respect as a co-heir of God’s salvation in Christ. At the same time, our minds and bodies are no longer our own. We are not slaves to sin, but ambassadors of God’s love and promise to the world. So there is no excuse for not loving, not accepting someone even if we don’t feel like it. There is no excuse not to be generous toward others or love them as Jesus loved us.

What we need is not more rules, practices, and traditions. We also don’t need more blame and outlines of how to change. We need to listen to God’s voice and stand before him alone. We need to listen to each other and love each other in Jesus. After, and only after, can we think of influencing another, and that would be only to help that person by our example, to learn to listen to God’s voice for himself and make his own decisions standing before God without expectation or condemnation.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Friend. I’ve enjoyed your contributions here. I surely can relate to many of the emotions you describe here, as I’m sure most of our readers can too. I have learned that sharing such thoughts publicly is an important part of the healing of our souls.

  2. Love your title and your broad and diverse and balanced reflections that reflect both the good and bad.

    Anyone who expresses all good without any bad (because you should not discourage or be negative), or all bad without any good (which comes across as unilateral condemnation without any critical self-assessment or self-reflection) is problematic and is almost always unappealing and likely biased and that reveals more about them than about others.

    It is also absolutely true that all of us without exception have no excuses whatsoever.