I was reminded of an old man who went fishing, eighty years of age. Walked up to the lake, casted out his line; all of a sudden he heard a voice saying “hey pick me up, give me a kiss I’ll turn into a princess.” He looked around; he thought he was going nuts. A minute goes by, “hey pick me up, give me a kiss I’ll turn into a princess.” He looks down and he sees a frog. Says “are you talking to me?” “Yes! Pick me up, give me a kiss and I’ll turn into a princess.” He picks up the frog, he puts it in his coat pocket and the frog says “hey I said if you give me a kiss I’ll turn into a princess.” And the old man said “that’s okay. At my age I’d rather have a talking frog.”
I am overwhelmed with the honor of being here with you this day. I have been here four times in seven months. Very rarely do I have such an outstanding invitation to come to the same place so many times but for me it’s an honor and a privilege. And I want to thank Dr. Schuller, I want to thank Sheila and I want to thank Gretchen for expressing to me the confidence and the trust to stand before this great church because I love being here and I really enjoy being here because I like you. You are some of the finest people and I am a richer man because of friends like you. I believe that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Coming up with today’s message title was rather challenging. I’ve always believed and has sort of been mentored in a sense by Dr. Schuller that you should come up with a title that really nails it. A hook. Something that really grabs the attention. And when I decided what I wanted to speak on today the whole idea was is your reason for doing something larger than any excuse you could come up with. I thought well there’s not a hook there. I’ve got to come up with something better. Is your why bigger than any excuse you could come up with? I thought no I can do better than that and came up with “Is Your ‘Why’ Bigger than Your ‘But.’” I thought Dr. Schuller would really like that title and that is the truth. When our reason to do something is larger than our excuse then there’s nothing we cannot do in Jesus’ name. I believe that beyond a shadow of a doubt. No matter what it is that you set out to do if your excuse is larger than your reason you’ll look for a shorter short cut.
Now I lost sixty pounds thirteen years ago so I am half the man that I used to be. And no matter where I’ve traveled, no matter where I’ve gone throughout Latin America and the United States, no one has ever asked me why I lost the weight. Everyone wants to know (AUDIENCE: How). But the how is not the right question to ask. I could take you to Barnes and Noble and take you to a Borders or any other bookstore and show you thousands of books on how to make money, on how to lose weight, on how to have a healthy and happy marriage, how to raise godly kids, how to reach the goals and the dreams and the aspirations. What no one can show you and what can no one can do for you is give you a why. Only you and God can come up with a why. And if your why is bigger than your excuse, the but, the conjunction, then there isn’t anything, I believe there’s nothing you can’t overcome.
Numbers 16 has a wonderful story. Talks about a man by the name of Cora who was a rebellious man filled with pessimism. He was negative, he was a backbiter, he was a grumbler. And he walked up to Moses and he said to him “you put too many demands on the Lord’s people!” And the Lord, to make the story a little bit more concise, a little shorter, the Lord speaks to Moses and says “Move away from these grumbling, complaining people so I can put an end to them at once.” And that’s in fact what happened. The ground opens up and swallows up Cora and two hundred-fifty members of his family and his household. Now you would think that the nation of Israel would have learned their lesson. But apparently they didn’t because in verse 41 it says: “The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. ‘You killed the Lord’s people!’ they said. But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared.
Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting and the Lord said to Moses ‘get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.’ And they fell face down. Then Moses said to Aaron ‘take your sensor and put incense in it along with fire from the altar and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord. The plague has started.’
So Aaron did as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them, verse 48, and he stood between the living and the dead. And the plague stopped but 14,700 people died from the plague in addition to those who had died because of Cora. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting for the plague had stopped.’”
Have you ever stood between the living and the dead? Have you ever stood in a place where you could feel deaths breath on the back of your neck? Have you ever been in a place where you could see life or death literally passing before your eyes? I think most of us here would say yes. And I’ll tell you why because I was once lost and now I’m found. I was once dead and God brought me back to life. How many of you were once lost and now you’re found?
You know exactly what it’s like to pass from death and come back to life and when I see Aaron standing in that gap, interceding for those people, I see an image of someone and then I ask myself that question why in the world would he do that? Because Aaron had a why that was bigger than his excuse. And I see the image of Aaron standing there. He’s bridging the gap between the living and the dead and I see the same image of Jesus on a cross that reaches into death, bringing people back to life. And that’s exactly what God does. That’s exactly what God can do. That’s exactly what God desires to do in your life. He desires to take your hand and lead you from that desolate spot of death and bring you back to life. There is great hope here this morning, friends. If you feel overwhelmed, if you don’t know how you’re going to make it, maybe you’ve started this year and it is not blossomed into the year that you hoped it would, I’ve come to tell you this morning that He stands in the gap and He invites you to take His hand from death, lead you back to life.
I received an email this week from a friend of mine from Costa Rica. His name is Andre. He told me that he is the father of two children, that he is in charge of international and national sales in that corporation, that God has helped him move up the corporate ladder. He’s a successful businessman in every sense of the word.
Now let me pause the tape and let me rewind the tape fifteen years. My wife and I are missionary evangelists along with our three daughters and we travel throughout north and south America. Much like Billy Graham open air evangelistic meetings, we hold those as well and the very first meeting we held was in a place called Los Cuadros, a marginalized neighborhood filled with gang violence, drug trafficking and prostitution. I walked up to one of the host pastors and I said “I want to locate our crusade in the most dangerous, most drug-infested area of the city.” He said “are you sure?” I said “oh I’m absolutely positive. If God is with me who can be against me?” We set up shop, put up our flat bed trailer, put up our sound system and our lighting.
The first night of that event during the second song, a gang came and started throwing huge concrete rocks that were exploding on top of that trailer. During the third song, an undercover cop grabbed another guy who was trying to sell him cocaine, beat him into the ground with nunchakus and threw him into the back of the squad car ten feet from where I was standing and where I was sharing. During the fourth song another enemy gang member pulled out a crow bar and struck another enemy gang member in the head, split his skull in two, bled everywhere and a huge brawl broke out in the middle of this service. And I thought to myself this is the most Holy Roller service I’ve ever been a part of in my life. I called the cops, got off the platform, called the cops. I said “you guys need to get here.” They said “where are you?” I said “we’re in Los Cuadros.” They said “we’ll be there tomorrow.” I was ready to throw in the towel, I really was. Scared out of my mind.
After that night I went home and I turned on Larry King and I saw a grey haired man with glasses talking to Larry King about his new book, a book entitled “If It’s Going to Be, It’s Up to Me,” written by Dr. Schuller. We not only continued with the crusade, but when I read the part where Dr. Schuller was always considered not to be an author, not to be a writer and how he overcame that barrier, that was the inspiration behind this book called Breaking the Barriers. I would highly recommend you get a copy of it and overcome the barriers that you face. I believe that God will help you overcome barriers that you never thought were possible and you will have an incredible year this year, I believe that.
We went into the fourth night of that campaign. After all the fighting and after all the brawls I saw five enemy gang leaders walk onto that lot and when these five enemy gang leaders walked onto that lot looking for that kid who had the crow bar earlier, I saw pastors and security moving out of their way to give these five guys passage. They planted themselves at the base of a light tower and began to scan that crowd for that kid with a crow bar. At that I was handed the microphone and I started to preach. Now when I preach I usually move all around the place. I mean I come off the platform, I come up the platform, I even walk down the aisles. And when I started to share, I looked out at that audience and I said “there is a hell and there is a heaven and the only you can get from one place to the other is by grabbing the hand of the Savior who leads you from death and brings you back to life.” At that the lead gang member turned to his associate, he said “what’d this guy just say?” He said “you mean that crazy gringo up there speaking?” “Yeah what did he just say?” He said “we’re all going to hell, there’s nothing we can do about it.” “He did didn’t he?” “Yeah that’s exactly. He pointed to the five of us, especially those five by the light tower.” And the leader turned to his associate and he said “well we’ll see who’s going to hell after this service is over” and they stopped looking for that kid with the crow bar and they started focusing on me. And I knew it.
So I didn’t come off the platform anymore. No sir. I stayed right in the middle, behind well lit. And as I concluded my message to give my invitation for people to begin a relationship with God, I looked over to the side and there were the musicians they were all huddled together because they knew what was going down. They were all huddled together and they were praying, ‘oh God, oh God please don’t let them kill Jason.’ I look over and there’s my wife, she’s over there in the other corner and she’s praying ‘oh God please don’t let them kill Jason.’ Now I’m the man of God. The man of God with power and might. What am I doing? What am I doing? I’m saying ‘oh God please don’t let them kill me.’
Usher stands up, he walks to the back, he looks these five guys down the barrel. He says “you know you brought drugs and delinquency, organized crime into this neighborhood and my brother’s dying in the gutter because of the stuff that you brought into my community.” He said “if you had any sense what so ever you would stop this nonsense, you’d listen to what this guy is saying on the platform, you’d begin a relationship with God that would set you free. And you’d experience freedom like you could never imagine. You want power? God shows real power, friend.” He says “I’d like to pray for you. Do you have a problem with that?” These five guys said “no.” And as he started to pray as only Hispanics can pray, (SPEAKS SPANISH) “Father, send Your spirit” and the power of God began to ascend, the presence of God began to descend upon that group of five people. And then he stopped about halfway through, he said “you know I believe that if we just bow our hearts before the Lord and we ask Him to be Lord of our lives that He’ll transform us and we’ll leave this place free. Would you like to do that?” And these five guys made the decision and all of a sudden I began to witness the miracle of miracles. As they began to pray I was standing from a well protected place on the platform and I could look out and I could see these five guys on their knees asking the Lord into their lives. And they got up with tears in their eyes and they came down to the front and they were crying and they said “oh Jason, oh Jason we just wanted to ask for forgiveness because we were going to kill you afterwards but now you don’t have to worry about that.” And I said “thank you Jesus.”
Four days later I received a phone call. On the other end of the phone was a guy. His name was John. He said, “Is this Jason Frenn?” I said “yes.” He said “This is John! I was the guy who was going to kill you after the service. You remember me?” I said “I will never forget you for the rest of my life.” He said “God is so good. He’s been doing something revolutionary in my life. Hold on a second Carlos wants to talk to you.” Carlos gets on the phone “you remember me?” I said “I won’t forget you either.” “God is so good. He’s been doing something tremendous in my life. Hang on a second Roberto wants to say hi to you.” Talked to all five guys. The last one to get on the line was a young man by the name of Andre. All five of these guys had left their organized crime behind and when they left they began to join local churches and this day each and every one of them are involved in ministry. The gang activity has never been the same in that neighborhood ever since.
I got the email from Andre fifteen years after the fact. Transformational power of God working in the life of the individual and why does He do it, friend? He does it. Why does He stand between the living and the dead? He does it because He has a why. Jesus has a why and you know who that why is? You. You are God’s why. He loves you. You are the apple of His eye. There is nothing, there is no barrier; there is no obstacle that could ever prevent God from trying to reach you because you are His why. He loves you and whatever it is that you may face, whatever difficulty that you may be trying to overcome, what is it that we all want? We all want to be happy. We all want to be healthy. We all want to be reasonably prosperous. Some of us want to be unreasonably prosperous. We all want to have healthy family relationships, decent friendships, we all want to have hope and peace of mind. I can tell you the Savior understands and He reaches out to pull people from death to bring them back to life. Take His hand this morning friend. It will be the wisest decision that you ever make.
Father, in Jesus’ name I thank You for Your presence and I ask God that You would do something wonderful this morning. Help us, Lord, to understand that the why is bigger than any excuse in Your mind and help us to understand that every one does count because Your why is bigger than any excuse. So I pray for my friends across this wonderful sanctuary and over the television airwaves. Anyone who is facing that difficult issue, that trial, who desires to make a breakthrough this year, I pray that the power of God would meet them, grab their hand and pull them from death and bring them back to life.
As I continue to pray, friend, I’m not going to ask you to stand or come down to the front but if you’re facing that difficult challenge this morning, I want to invite you to slip up your hand as a gesture before the Lord and saying God I am ready to take Your hand. I am ready to overcome. Slip up that hand as I continue to pray.
Father, I thank You for each and every hand that is raised this morning. I pray that You would take these hands and lead them from death back to life. I pray Lord that You would break through and that each and every one of us would experience Your power, Your might, Your goodness, Your grace, Your hope. And upon this church and upon every voice, upon this church and upon every ear that hears my voice and every eye that watches this television program, I speak the blessings of God. I speak His goodness, I speak His peace, I speak His provision upon your life, my friend. In Jesus’ mighty name and all God’s people said amen, and amen.