Mix Up Your Stressful Nights

Weeknights can be stressful. It seems like the moment the kids come home from school the universe is set on a collision course with itself.  No that doesn’t make sense.  They get home and need food because the three block walk from school wipes them out and they must eat right now! Okay, I guess it has more to do with their early lunch time.  Hey, let me tell the story.  Anyway,  then they unpack their backpacks and papers are strewn about. You need to sign this.  I need this money for the school activity.  Some nights there are sports or other activities.  But there is always time for homework and then next best thing, complaining about homework.

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School days are full days.

Tonight I was feeling the tension.  The kids were fighting. Then a couple of them were playing some random game that involved barking and marbles.  No, I did not understand it, but they were getting along.  That seemed to be going okay until they broke the glass jar.  Then there were tears.  In the next room homework was going on.  That was no going so well.  The way they are teaching math now is like a foreign language to me.  My attitude was going south quickly.   And then the suggestion: “Let’s play telephone”

How long has it been since I played telephone?  I mean that would never have been a suggestion I would have made.  Okay.  Let’s see what happens.  The kids started to come up with their phrases.  “The barn is green and yellow.”  Then there was something about ice cream and kibbles.  We were quickly laughing.  It is amazing how quickly the tension was gone.  There was no more fighting as the kids now tried to think of fun things to say. Looks like the kids figured out a way to bring some life to the boredom and tension of the evening.  My suggestion for you:  play a game of telephone and see what happens. Lighten up a bit and mix it up.  You will be glad you did.  I know I am. 

Where is your faith?

Who is in the boat?
Who is in the boat?

It has been an interesting week on a number of levels.  We returned from Tampa late on Sunday and hit the ground running on Monday.  My 6-year-old son had his field day right away on Monday, so I attended that for a while.  I had some work to do on one of our vans.  But, before anything even happened, my coffee grinder stopped working.  You should have heard my lamenting! Of all the days to have a catastrophic failure of this precious piece of equipment!  I felt like Job.  (okay, maybe not)  I managed to survive, but it was not easy.

Wednesday I took my mom back to the airport.  She had spent a few weeks at our house and stayed with the kids while we were away.  It is always hard to see her go because we do enjoy having family around.  On the way back I blew a tire on my van.  The good news was that it blew in a ‘calm way’ and we did not get injured.  The bad news was that the tire was ruined.  As I looked at the other tires it became obvious that I needed new ones.  I love when money vanishes from my bank account, don’t you?  To add to the fun of the week of tires, the tire on the other van got a screw in it last night.  My wife went to a meeting and I had all the kids at someone’s house when I noticed the tire was getting low.  Just then song from the “Twilight Zone” began in my head.  We lived close so we just went home.  Upon arriving home, my kids were not being what I would call cooperative.  Shocking, right?  My oldest son managed to break a light bulb on the bedroom floor and my youngest son came and stood on the broken glass.  In the mean-time, my daughter was running around the house with her toothbrush and I was trying to figure out where to even begin.  It was chaos.

The week had other moments of stress in it.  People have issues to be handled.  Ministry involves pressures and listening to the Lord, which is not always an easy thing.  All of these things put together can make one anxious.  In fact, when I read the story of Jesus calming the storm this week I felt like I could relate to the disciples.  There are so many pieces flying around that it can be hard to stop and consider that the Lord is actually there in the midst of it all.

Think about the parallels here.   The boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. (Luke 8:23) Were they really in great danger or did they just think they were?  All I know is that they felt like the ship was going down and there was nothing they could do about it.  So, they went and got Jesus.  What is intriguing about it is that it doesn’t say they asked him to stop the storm.  It was as if they were just going to help him find his life vest.  But, Jesus rebukes the storm and it stops.  He then asks them a very probing question, “Where is your faith?”

I know that my list of things is small compared to what many are facing.  Even so, it doesn’t make the question any less important.  Placing faith in circumstances, jobs, or people will leave us sinking at some point with no real way out.  What a difference it does make to know that there is one in the boat who has the power over everything.   Where is your faith?

Better to be poor and blameless than rich and perverse.

fist_full_of_money_clip_art_22967Money has been a source of tension and stress for people for as long as there have been bills to pay.  People go to great lengths to get more money to spend on things they perceive they need.  The lottery has been one method people have tried to use to accumulate more wealth.  The problem is that most people don’t win, and those people who do win ruin their life.

There is a story I read this morning about a battle for the estate and monetary winnings of a man who won the lottery and then mysteriously died days before he collected his winnings.  There is some dispute about how he died, but some are saying he was killed with cyanide.  Now his siblings and widow are fighting over who gets what.

These cases seem to always miss something for me.  For one, they have just recently lost a loved one in a tragic way.  You would think that they would be able to work together in humility and love.   It is a lot of money, but it is only money.  It does make me wonder if the family was after his money.  But, even so, does a lust for money make you want to kill family members to get it?  That is absurd.  I would rather earn what I have without controversy or conflict.

The Bible talks about money a great deal and the way we earn it.

“Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a rich man whose ways are perverse”  – Proverbs 28:26

Money does not solve problems.  It does not cure illness.  It does not do anything for you other than provide a resource for you to use.  It is wise for us to remember that money does not define us and should never make use hurt other people.  We need to get a grip as a society and start thinking differently about money.

What if….

What if I drop the eggs….whoops

Charles Schulz, creator of the Peanuts comic strip, once said, : “Stop worrying about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” That clever word play actually highlights some of the craziness people experience everyday.  We spend a lot of our time worrying about things we can’t control.  What if the sun explodes?  What if we fall of a fiscal cliff without any parachutes and never recover?  What if someone I love gets a life changing illness?  What if my favorite sports team ceases to exist? This can be even more dramatically displayed if you watch the show ‘Domesday Preppers.”

Worry does nothing to solve problems.  If anything, it makes a bigger problem in your mind out of a small issue.  I know if I dwell on something it always looks bigger than it actually is.  That simple comment that person made is now all out war complete with an arsenal of weapons.  The might have meant nothing by it, but I have been worrying about it and now I am ready to pounce.  Do you see how destructive that can be?

Worry does not change the outcome.  When have you ever changed something because you worried about it?  Worrying might help you think something through, but it doesn’t present a healthy way to do so.  Let’s say you have a job interview.  You spend the entire night before rehearsing lines in your mind.  One might say you are better prepared for the interview.  The problem is that when you arrive the next day nothing about your preparation turns out to be helpful.  If you just would have been yourself,without the added stress of worrying, you might have landed the job.  Instead you forgot your lines and were passed on for someone else.

Worry places us in God’s position.  This one is hard to swallow, but I am guilty of it also.  When we worry about everything we can’t control, we actually set ourselves up as someone who might be able to solve these issues.  This is not reality.  God is in control of it all whether we acknowledge it or not.  Our 5 year old son had to have an MRI when he was maybe 2 years old.  They were looking for something specific there.  We were concerned about it, but really needed to leave it up to God.  The truth is that whatever was there was there whether we worried about it or not.  There was no problem.

What if I get picked up by a child? Will I live? (says the worm)

Worry creates scenarios that might never happen.  My son used to worry about the doors being locked in the house.  We live in a very safe area, and we have never had anyone try to break into our house.  Still he was concerned that someone might break in and steal his toys while we slept.  This was not a very likely concern,  but worry creates new problems.   I say we don’t need to buy any trouble.  There is enough of it without us looking for more.

Worry messes up your healthy lifestyle.  Have you ever lost sleep over something?  Have you ever been concerned about how you would pay a bill, or whether or not something awful is about to happen to you?  Losing sleep does not help your body.  It adds stress and actually has a negative impact on you.  That bad thing about to happen to you might be the result of you worrying about a bad thing happening to you.

Jesus provided a helpful solution for this.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34

Worry does not honor God. He wants us to stop worrying about things that we cannot control.  Instead we are to focus on seeking first His righteousness and His Kingdom.  When we do that we find out heart’s true joy, rest and comfort is found only in Him.

What if we truly trusted God?  What if we accepted all of life as a key part of God’s plan for our lives?  What if we brought all that we were concerned about to God in prayer?    What if we took Him at His Word and passionately sought after Him, letting the results up to Him.

If we want to spend time worrying about something  we should worry about that.

Will God ever give me more than I can handle?

This week’s Sunday Series post has to do with something I have heard a number of times.  In case you have missed what these are about, I am doing a series of commonly misused Bible verses.  I keep getting more of them from readers.  If you have any to add, please pass them along.

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I have been around enough people to have heard other well meaning believers say that God will not give you more than you can handle.  But, where do you see that in Scripture?  There are a number of places where burden is talked about, but being in control of circumstances, or never at the end of self, is certainly not the Gospel.

Does this sound like the life of someone who never has more than he can handle?

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. – Galatians 2:20

Or, how about this?

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.-Romans 7:19

Where the confusion often comes in.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. -1 Corinthians 10:13

This discussion about temptation and always seeing a way out has been misused to imply something more.  It is true that there are ways out of all temptation, but even that doesn’t come in your own strength.  God provides a way out, but people still need to choose to take it.

We do know that with God we are not consumed.  

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

That does not mean that bad things will never happen, just that the compassion and faithfulness of God are evident in them. In other words, there may be more than you can handle on your own, but since God is with you, things are going to be alright.

We know that Jesus wants to take our burdens

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

Burdens and stresses are a part of our lives, but Jesus Christ wants to carry them for you.  Does that imply that we can handle it?  I think it implies that the burdens get to be far more than we can handle.  We need a Savior to take those burdens from us.

We struggle in His energy

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.  To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. – Colossians 1:28-29

If we were able to hand it all ourselves, why would we both to struggle in His energy?   We need the work of the Holy Spirit in us to handle all that comes our way.  Without him we burn out.

We know there is purpose in suffering and struggle

As I referred to in last week’s Sunday post, suffering is a part of the world we live in. It doesn’t mean God is distant or mean, it does illustrate our desperate need for Jesus Christ.

Does God gives us more than we can handle?

If everything could be accomplished in our strength, we would be less likely to call upon the Lord.  It is in those times when we are at a complete loss that we learn to lean on Him all the more.  Seeing our limitations only highlights how much we need God’s power in our lives.

 What do you think? What is a verse you would add to this list?  Is there something you would add to explain this better?