Category Archives: busyness

The Stress Assassin

imagesThis past weekend I took a few minutes to stop, take a deep breath, and do a little fishing. Now before you allow your mind run away with you please understand I am not a high tech fisherman. I fish very simply—a rod and reel, a small hook, a split shot of lead, a cork, and some type of bait. I don’t desire a high dollar boat, don’t require a tackle box filled with exotic and expensive lures, don’t have to worry about charged batteries or costly fuel, and don’t need to travel to exotic locations. I simply find a little water, bait the hook, give it a toss and relax.

For me fishing is therapeutic. It’s not about hooking that elusive world champion big mouth bass (although if that gigantic lunker decides he wants to take a run at my bait). It’s more about quieting myself, chilling out and enjoying God’s creation. It’s amazing the things you can see or hear when you take a little time and pull apart from all the hands trying to grab your attention. For me fishing is a stress assassin.

Stress is an enemy most of us face on a regular basis. And stress is a silent, but deadly killer. Everyone needs a stress slayer in their life—a hobby, an activity, or an exercise regime. We were not created to live stressed-out.

So I spent a few hours lowering the stress factor in my life by challenging all the fish in the Warrior River to contest to see who has the quickest reflexes. I bait the hook with some delectable morsel advertised as irresistible to the culinary palate of the average bream, crappie, or catfish and attempt to lure them out of the safety of their marine hideouts. It’s man against fish and may the quickest win. I wait and wait and wait—until finally, the bobber moves just the slightest bit. And the battle is on! All of a sudden that big decision I’m facing, that yearly doctor’s visit, or that uncomfortable meeting set for next week disappears. It just me and the fish—game on!

You may not care for fishing, but you need to find a way to decrease the stress factor in your life on a regular basis. It’s biblical. God tells us to be anxious for nothing. Personally, I find that fishing does the trick for me. Perhaps it’s the challenge, or perhaps it’s just the opportunity to get out into creation and allow creation to get back into me. Whatever it is—fishing works for me!

What kind of things help you deal with stress? What’s your stress assassin?

  • Is it a hobby?
  • Is it an exercise regime?
  • Is it unusual or common?
  • Is it expensive or inexpensive?

Musings from a Madman: The Reality of Relationship (Part 15)

In those quiet, tender moments in the presence of God there is a sense of timelessness that always seems to wage war with our own limited sense of time. Being human brings with it a feeling that we have so much to do in such a short time. Sadly, we often place our time with God in that list and then treat it like a box to check off.

In a genuine relationship, each person must be fully present to fully engage the other person. God wants our presence as much as we need his. He wants it! Let that sink deep in your spirit for a few moments. God wants to be with you! And he knows you think you have a million other things to do. He is intimately acquainted with your schedule.

But occasionally there are moments during our time with God that he will ask us to linger—to stay a little longer. It usually happens when we are slammed to the wall with responsibilities and obligations—when we have far more to do than we have time to do it all in. Deep inside there comes a desire to stay a few minutes longer with God. And the struggle begins!

When, not if, this happens, simply wait. Be still! Listen to your heart—God is drawing you into a deeper place. Here is where God will reveal himself to you in new ways that you will be unable to believe. These are those special moments when God pours out a new anointing or reveals the depth of his love for you in a richer way than you have ever known.

These are the moments you were made for, that you have longed for. These are the moments you must fight for. Time is an ally as well as an enemy. In the intimate presence of God time stands still. Oh, everything around you will continue to gallop along at break-neck speed, but you will find yourself immersed in a timeless moment that has all the trappings of eternity. If you can shut out the demands of your everyday experiences and enter into this relationship, God will take care of what needs to be done.

Linger a few minutes longer. Don’t rush in and then rush out. Allow God to open his heart and then you will receive everything you need to accomplish what he wants you to do and far more. In those moments, he will equip you to handle the time/space continuum you live in. He understands it far better than you—he created it.

So relax, and if the desire arises to stay a few extra moments—then by all means stay. Those few minutes spent with the Lover of your soul will do more for you than all the stuff you could ever get done on the outside.

Be still and know—God says, “I will…”

Musings from a Madman: The Reality of Relationship (Part 14)

Speak God your servant is listening!

Once the need to do something subsides and the joy of being in God’s presence settles in, things happen that defy explanation. Often in these moments of enjoying his company, God will whisper a fresh promise or revelation into our spirit and soul. That word is a gift that gives us a glimpse into our future. It is something we can deposit in our bank, begin to build on, and know that it will surely come to pass.

Often it will be a verse from the Scriptures you have read in your quest for a deeper relationship with God. It may be a verse you’ve memorized and prayed for years. This word now takes on a fresh meaning as God speaks, interprets, or applies it personally to you and your life. This utterance or rhema word is timely and will be extremely valuable in your future pursuit of God. Wrap your arms around it—it’s yours!

Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak a specific word to your spirit. This word may be the answer to a situation, the solution for a dilemma, or clear directions for the next phase in your journey. It may even be a word of commendation or validation, precisely tailored for you. A word that settles so perfectly into your inner being that the very act of hearing those words comforts and confirms for you that God knows what you are facing or struggling with—that God is intimately aware of your every thought.

All of us hunger to hear the answers to the questions we hesitate to ask or the ones we cannot even put into words. It is here in the silence of these moments that those answers come or the solution is given that radically alters our life. This is not just any word, this is God’s word for you—his heart revealed.

 Listen carefully. God may disclose a word that allows you to destroy the enemy’s stranglehold on your family, your finances, your job, or any number of things associated with you and your sphere of influence. Often God will pour out warfare strategies that when implemented bring freedom and a rapid expansion of your territory.  A word spoken over someone who humbly hears it and then obediently applies it without hesitation, almost always brings a powerful anointing and an equally powerful demonstration of God’s power. This kind of word will transform your destiny, as well as those around you.

One sentence or one simple word spoken from the mouth of God has the power to change everything. Lean in closer and listen. Listen with your spirit and grasp what it is God is speaking into you right now. As he etched the Ten Commandments on a stone with the tip of his finger, so too will he engrave his instructions into the recesses of you heart if you will only listen.

Simple is Superior

Simple is a word we must define if we plan to use it as a description in or a goal for life. People automatically hear their own definition whenever the word is used regardless of the context. So for this reason, I want to define it and clarify the meaning I hope to convey.

Simple can mean lack intelligence, education, or experience. Toss that meaning in the garbage can; I will not be using that one. Simple can also mean of humble origin or modest means or position. This is a great definition but often misunderstood, so forget that one as well. The meaning I hope to convey is one often overlooked but equally essential—simple means not complex.

Let’s all agree, life would be a lot happier if we were to simplify our lives. We live in a chaotic world—a technological world where we as masters are quickly becoming the slaves to the gadgets we’ve invented to help us cut our work loads. Just look around next time you are out in public (now that will meaning looking up from your texting or web-browsing) and count how many people are staring at smart phone or tablet and are plunging through the day without ever looking up and seeing the world around them. If that’s you—your world is too complex.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a cell phone, I-pad, or nook. Those little inventions are nothing more than tools that have been created to assist us in our day-to-day lives. The problem happens when we can’t do without them—when we become techno junkies who go into the DT’s when the that little screen goes black. Simplify! Cut back a little! Stop and smell the roses instead of googling a picture of roses.

Most of us don’t like to admit this, but we are simple (not very complex) creatures. Now some would argue against this, and if you are debating the intricacy of our individual biological systems, I would agree those are wonderfully complex. But…to really enjoy life and find satisfaction, simple is far more fulfilling than the complexity we are drowning in.

You may be thinking—you must live somewhere in outer space. No, my humble abode is next door on the same street or cul-de-sac on which you live. I have just decided to unplug from time to time. I can only process so much information (likely you are in the same boat), and the fact is, I will never know or understand everything. I’m not God, and I never will be.

I am tired of running here and there—worrying about ten thousand details that really don’t matter and won’t matter ten seconds after I take my last breath. I’m not that important, nor am I in control, and neither are you. So, why do we live like we are? Why do we stop meaningful conversations with living breathing people—put them on hold—to catch a tweet, a text, a call, or an email from a non-present entity floating through the nether world of the web? Let it rest a few minutes—the message will be there when your real life conversation is over, but the real person may turn you off if you allow an interruption to control who you are willing to listen to. Simplify! That’s why you have voice mail and memory on your data plan.

Simple is superior. Use the media tools. Enjoy the techno gadgets. Just don’t become their slaves. Simplify your life! Red alert—none of us are that important anyway. Slow down a little and take a deep breath. Look at the sky for a few moments. Feel the warmth of the sunshine on your skin. Listen and see if you can hear the rocking tune of a mocking bird. That Bluetooth and BlueRay stuff will be there when you get back, so put it down and grab a cup of coffee and look at the world you live in. If you look around you may just see the problem for which you are the solution.

A Choice

As Christ followers, none of are what we will become, but neither are we what we once were. All of us are in a state of flux and yet, we are new creations—not reconditioned or remodeled—but brand spanking new (2 Cor. 5:17). In the mind of God we have already arrived, but in most our minds we feel lost somewhere along the way.

I know in my head what the Scripture teaches, and believe with all my heart it’s true. And yet I struggle with the uncertainties and stress of life. I know God is control but secretly inside I wish I were. I’m not, and if I ever had any illusions of grandeur, God is dashing them on the rocks of reality even as I write this.

I’m like you—we’re all made out of the same stuff. I want to be in control, but I’m not qualified—not strong enough—in a two words—not God. Therefore, moment by moment I (and you as well) must release my stranglehold on what I think is safe and secure to step into the destiny God has chosen for me. To step into I must step out of—to enter I must exit—to go forward I must leave behind. That’s just the way it is—no exceptions.

It’s Monday as I write this. In a matter of moments with the reception of two different phone calls I’ve gone from the heights of exhilaration to the pits of despair (not to mention bouncing off the jagged rocks of anger, rage, nausea, and abject terror in between). I have a choice to make—trust God or trust in my own power, plans, and personality. The solution is quite simple—I have no real power except over how I choose to respond, I don’t have a plan B, and let’s face it my personality won’t get me close to where I want or need to go.

Therefore, it’s let go and let God, or…well, there’s really not an “or” option. I can act like I’m in control, which is what most people do, and die prematurely of some unpronounceable stress related disorder, or pull my hair out and run screaming incoherently into the woods—or I can rest in the absolute peace that comes from knowing God is in control and fully able to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done.

Hmmm…I choose that option.

Holidays or Holy Days?

What do you do when all the turkey’s gone and the dressing is just a faint memory exemplified by some solitary crumbs scattered across the pan? What happens when you wake up and Black Friday has become an even blacker Saturday and Cyber Monday turns into penniless Tuesday? The holidays have become a mind numbing scramble for what can I get and how much. The motto for many during this season is: Get all you can, can all you get, sit on the lid, and poison the rest. Sadly, the holidays have degenerated into a selfish materialism ruled by the terrible triplets Me, My, and I.

What do you do when the holidays become horror days rather than holy days? Thanksgiving was once a day of sharing the bounty of God’s blessings, and Christmas, a birthday celebration for the greatest gift ever given. Not the mindless grabbing and snatching at 3 am in the morning in the dim glow of a blue light special or in the rush of pushing and shoving to get that early bird special on sale. Will you even remember what you bought on January 1 when the credit card bill comes; or even worse, will you even know where you put it?

The original intent of holy days was to celebrate the gifts of God and His magnificent grace shared with those who had nothing and absolutely no hope of ever having anything. God gave…and gave…and gave. Something is terribly wrong with this picture if we are called to imitate Him (make no mistake we are), and all we do is take…and take…and take some more. Consuming, but never giving; blind to the needs of those around us, but stuffed, bloated, and selfishly addicted to our own selves.

There is a better choice—a far nobler pursuit available, but it will mean the tenacious application of what many consider a dirty word—“no.” There. I’ve said it; and you’re probably in shock that a pastor would say such a thing! Surely you don’t mean that I should tell me, myself, and I no. Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. To borrow a slogan of another day and another cause…just say no!

Take the two hundred dollars you would have wasted on another mindless video game for the kids and buy some groceries for a family that’s struggling. That money you would have spent on a top-of-the-line battery powered drill that would have looked so good in your tool box—spend it on soap, socks, and coats, and drop it off at the local homeless shelter. Instead of wasting your money on a designer handbag and matching shoes that will not be in vogue next season, invest in the life of a family that will have nothing for Christmas.

The rush of the holidays will come to a screeching halt, and the joy of the holy days will return when imitating Jesus becomes more important than entertaining ourselves. Remember, Jesus did not come to be served, but to seek, to serve, and save those who are lost. I know, I know—you’ve been standing in line a long time, awaiting your opportunity to give this glitzy department store money you don’t have for something you don’t really need. Step out of line and allow that person behind you to take your place and then take that fist full of dollars, open your eyes wide, look around, ask God what He wants to do with the money He has entrusted to your care, and then give it away.