I have a declaration to make this morning. A statement that I just can’t keep to myself. I have been pondering the possible repercussions my announcement could bring about. I have been considering the potential consequences of my disclosure. I’ve weighed the benefits of keeping it to myself against the cost of letting the cat out of the bag. I don’t know what is going to happen, but I’ve got to tell you this morning, I just can’t keep it to myself – I am not ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I’m ashamed of a lot of things. I am ashamed of the things I have done and things I have failed to do. I am ashamed of seeing those who are hurting yet passing by while looking the other way. I am ashamed of not taking the time to celebrate with those whose joy has overflowed around me. I am ashamed of failing to help the lost find their way. I am ashamed of the days I have wasted, the grace I have tested, and that I have failed to give God my best. Oh, there are a lot of things that I am ashamed of, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I am ashamed of my failure as a minister and the failure of many of those who share my call to be a shepherd. I am ashamed of how we preachers continue to search for happiness and fun when we serve the One whom the Bible calls a “man of sorrows.” I am ashamed of the way we preachers validate our call by the size of the sanctuary issuing the invitation. I am ashamed at how we determine our value by the size of our check rather than the substance of His call. I am ashamed at how we determine our effectiveness by the applause of men rather than the approval of God. I am ashamed of how we fear those who sit on our Board and are bored with the One who sits on the Throne. I am ashamed at how we glory in the crowd rather than in the Cross. I am ashamed at how we tickle the ears of men and tear at the heart of God. I am ashamed at how we turn our backs on the poor and outcasts who can’t boost our budgets and instead, seek to boost our credibility with those who can. I am ashamed at how we twist and turn God’s Word in order to tell people how good they are, rather than telling sinners how good God is. I am ashamed of my failure as a minister and many of those men I have been called alongside, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I am ashamed at my failure as a father today and the way others of us who have been called to be fathers are failing. I am ashamed at how patient we can be with those we don’t even know, and yet lose our patience with those little ones who need it most. I am ashamed of how we pledge our lives to the company and yet walk away from our families. I am ashamed of how we willingly give overtime to our boss and yet tell our kids, “Not now, honey, I’m too busy.” I am ashamed of the high standards we hold up for our kids while lowering the cross bar of morality and holiness for our own lives. I am ashamed of how we tell our children how important it is to worship God and yet we rush out of worship to catch the latest sporting event on television. I am ashamed of how we teach our kids to have compassion on the poor and needy and yet lavish ourselves with more and more. I am ashamed of how we talk the good talk, but walk with a noticeable limp. I am ashamed of my failure as a father this morning, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I am ashamed of my failure as a husband and the way far too many of us who are called to bless our wives are failing. I am ashamed of how we pledged ourselves for better or worse, but now we want to renegotiate the contract. I am ashamed of how we promised to honor our wives, but we’ve brought dishonor to their name. I am ashamed at how we’ve been called to bless the Princess created in the image of Almighty God, and yet we’ve cursed her as we’ve torn at His image. I am ashamed at how easily we shout, shutdown, and stomp off when they need us to stand with them through thick and thin. I am ashamed of how we will go through hell and high water for our job, but call it quits at the drop of a hat in our home. I am ashamed of the black eyes, bruised bodies, broken bones, and battered hearts we’ve inflicted on the greatest gift God has given us in this life. I am ashamed of my failure as a husband, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I am sometimes ashamed of the Church today. I am ashamed of the way we build buildings while neglecting hearts and souls. I am ashamed of the way we cling to tradition rather than clinging to Almighty God. I am ashamed of the way we idolize the messengers instead of the Messiah. I am ashamed of the way we fixate on the budget of the Church instead of the blood of Christ. I am ashamed of the way we desire for our Church to be sanitized instead of sanctified. I am ashamed of the way the Church bows to the power brokers in her midst instead of bowing before the Power and the Glory. I am ashamed of the way we are incensed over broken things instead of broken hearts. I am ashamed of the way we are more willing to pledge our allegiance to our denomination instead of pledging our hearts to the Kingdom. I am ashamed of the way we celebrate our history with more vigor than we celebrate our destiny. I am ashamed of the way we bore our children with meaningless routine, powerless activities, and colorless dreams instead of inspiring them with the message of salvation, the power of the Cross, and the hope of glory. I am ashamed of the way we have chosen to tolerate a lifeless existence instead of walking in the newness of life everlasting. I am ashamed of the Church from time to time, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes I am ashamed of the United States of America. I am ashamed of the fact that this nation which declares “In God We Trust” won’t allow their children to pray in public school while other children are praying in schools in far away nations which only ten years ago declared “there is no God.” I am ashamed of the way we celebrate the immoral and immortalize the celebrated. I am ashamed that we claim to be open-minded, but we’ve closed our minds to the teachings of Jesus. I am ashamed that we say everyone is entitled to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and yet we’ve prevented 35 million innocent lives from ever pursuing any of these ideals. I am ashamed that we lionize Dr. Krevorkian and lampoon Dr. Dobson. I am ashamed that we give our kids condoms, but keep them from Christ. I am ashamed that we have more than 20% of our children being born out of wedlock, more than 50% of our marriages ending in divorce, and 50 million of our citizens walking around with some type of sexually transmitted disease. I am ashamed that we search for answers to our problems in the minds of men rather than the heart of God. Sometimes I am ashamed of the United States of America, but I am not ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes I am ashamed of various aspects and elements of life, most of all my own life, but I never have been, nor will I ever be ashamed of the Gospel of my Lord Jesus Christ.
I have come to the conclusion that since we are fallible, sin-scared people, we will experience shame from time to time. There are things that we have done in our past that we do not want anyone to find out about. If the truth got out we would be covered with shame. There are things others have done to us or said about us that have caused us great shame in the past. Sometimes we are falsely accused of things we’ve not even done, but still, shower shame upon us. You only have to think back to this summer’s past Olympics and remember the name of Richard Jewell to understand what I mean. The hero soon turned suspect by shoddy police work. I will never forget seeing his mother crying on television, asking people to please believe her that her son was not the horrible person he was painted to be.
Shame is real, my friend. We hear people say today, “Is there no shame?” as if shame is obsolete in our sophisticated day. Some of you may be led to believe that shame is an archaic, outdated state of being that only applies to politicians and preachers who commit shameful deeds and then act as if nothing has happened. I will tell you that the appearance is not always the reality. Though a person may be smiling and shrugging it off on the outside, on the inside a different reality is draining the life from the perpetrator. Why, when we work so hard to dismiss and discard shame is shame still tracking us? I will tell you why. Shame tracks us like a relentless hunter refusing to give up the hunt because he has been sent out from the throne room of Almighty God to bring us to our knees.
128 times in the Bible you will find the word shame. Let me give you a few examples.
16 Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O LORD. 17 May they ever be ashamed and dismayed; may they perish in disgrace. 18 Let them know that you, whose name is the LORD– that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Psalm 83:16-18)
35 The wise inherit honor, but fools he holds up to shame. (Proverbs 3:35)
15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. 16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. (Habakuk 2:15-16)
25 “Let us lie down in our shame, and let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the LORD our God, both we and our fathers; from our youth till this day we have not obeyed the LORD our God.” (Jeremiah 31:25)
9 The wise will be put to shame; they will be dismayed and trapped. Since they have rejected the word of the LORD, what kind of wisdom do they have? (Jeremiah 8:9)
What do we do when shame engulfs us, grabs us by the throat and withdraws our very life from us? What do we do? What do we do? We turn our faces toward heaven and realize that we have absolutely nothing to offer, nothing to be proud of in and of ourselves, and we place our confidence in Almighty God!
I have come to the conclusion that the remedy to my shame is contained in the Cross. Jesus will take away our shame; He will clothe us in His righteousness, and give us a new life. That is good news, church. All of my best efforts have never proven to be lasting, they have always been tainted with my sin, but His efforts are sinless, they are pure, they are holy.
Shame will pursue us until we are exhausted. When we’ve run out of energy we will be confronted with two options – create a fictitious existence trying to hide or explain away our shame, or bear our soul before the One who already knows our ways and accept His forgiving grace which takes away our shame and covers us with His holiness.
If God says that we will be put to shame if we continue to trust in ourselves, our abilities, our confidence, our strength then what are we to do? We are to trust in Jesus. The Bible says,
6 For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (1 Peter 2:6)
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: 9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11 As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (Romans 10:8-11)
80 May my heart be blameless toward your decrees, that I may not be put to shame. 81 My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word. (Psalm 119:80-81)
I have tried everything known to man in the past to alleviate my guilt and my shame for the things that I’ve failed to do and the despicable things I have done, but none of them has worked. When I’ve tried to explain it away, the haunting voice of Truth shouts at me. When I’ve tried to diminish its effect on my life, it has drained me of strength. Shame has, in the past, paralyzed me, incapacitated me, and drained me of life. I’ve tried it all and none of it has worked so I’m through trusting in myself. I no longer want to lie down with shame; I want to walk with the Savior! I want to trust in His power to take me out of my grave of shame and lift me up to newness of life everlasting. Today I want to announce that Mike Hays is dead. His power is powerless. His strength is impotent. His wisdom is foolishness. Oh, but his name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. His faith is in the Savior. His life is now everlasting. His shame is taken away by the One who bore his shame on the cross. I am no longer a member of the fellowship of the shameful, but:
I am a member of the fellowship of the unashamed.
I have Holy Spirit power.
The die has been cast.
I have stepped over the line.
The decision has been made.
I am a disciple of His.
I won’t look back, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure.
I am finished and done with low living, side walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, same visions, mundane talking, chincy giving, and dwarf goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, promotions, positions, plaudits, or popularity.
I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, regarded, rewarded, or praised.
I now live by present, lean by faith, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.
My face is set, my gate is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, lured, manipulated, enticed, or bribed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of the Adversary, negotiate at the table of the Enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won’t give up, shut up, or let up until I’ve stayed up, prayed up, and preached for the cause for Christ.
I am a disciple of His.
I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till all know, work till He stops me.
And when He comes back He will have no problem recognizing me.
For I have forgotten all that is in the past, I’m pressing on for the prize, the high calling of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My colors are clear.
I am a disciple of His!