Tag Archives: stress

Are You Too Busy?


Are you too busy?

Well…what kind of question is that you might be thinking? It’s a question that’s really worth answering if you find yourself pre-occupied with other things at your kid’s ballgame, incapable of sleeping because your mind won’t stop spinning, unwilling to go home because you’ll be by yourself, unable to complete anything yet totally exhausted, or fearful of the gentle voice of God.

Is your life a blur—run, run, run but nothing gets done? If you watched a replay of your day would you look like a hummingbird tanked up on Red Bull? Are you too busy?

I know! I know! We all have things we are responsible for and chores that must get done, but is what you are so frantically engaged in really worth the wear and tear, the exertion of energy, the stress or strain, or the investment of your precious time? Is it? Come on…really?

Only you can answer the question. The problem is most people don’t slow down enough to even consider this question. They are just a blur of frenetic energy—here, there, and everywhere!

You are likely dog-tried—worn out but unwilling to admit it. Hey! It’s O.K! Everyone around you already knows it. You’re really not hiding anything…except from yourself.

Busyness is Bondage!

Busyness is not next to godliness (and neither is cleanliness for that matter, but that’s a topic for another day). Busyness for the sake of being busy or to avoid facing reality is bondage. And bondage eventually results in death—of relationships, joy, health, etc. You name it and busyness will eventually kill it.

I’m not talking about working hard. Hard work is necessary and important. But staying busy to avoid something or someone is unhealthy—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Perhaps your busyness is a choice you’ve made to avoid something God wants and intends to do in your life. Perhaps you don’t want whatever that is or perhaps you are terrified of it because it’s new to you and not something you are comfortable with. Perhaps your bondage has convinced you that anything new will create even more problems than you are equipped to handle at this moment. So you stay busy—content on enduring life rather than living and experiencing life to the fullest.

If that’s you—you’re far too busy! And busyness is one of the devil’s fundamental tools in drowning out the voice of God in your life. It’s the mindless chatter or the endless roar of static that deafens your ears to God’s  life-giving instructions. Busyness is nothing more than spiritual ear plugs in most cases.

What’s the solution?

Be Still!!!!!!!!!

God says, “Be still!” Simple, to the point, and amazingly effective. Stop moving! Stop talking! Stop doing! Just stop! “Be still” means exactly what you think—pause, intermission, time-out, take a breather, hiatus, or suspend all motion.

And listen! Silence is not your enemy—it’s the absence of your real enemy’s incessant condemnation and chatter. Hearing God’s voice is a choice. That choice results in a blessing out of the silence, rather than a capitulation to the noise of 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?

Be Still!

Be Still!

As a kid, I often heard one or both of my parents tell me in no uncertain tone, “Be still!” It was almost impossible and I often paid the price for not doing what I was told. I was in perpetual motion unless I was sleeping. That’s O.K. when you’re a kid, but it can cause problems when you become an adult if you don’t grow out of it.

And most of us don’t grow out of it. We live in a go—go—go world, but the more we go the farther behind we seem to get. All kind of things bid for our time, attention, and money. All those gadgets that were hailed as time saving tools have instead created an endless work cycle that never seems to end. We work—work—work with unlimited projects on impossible deadlines and then come home and shift into gear for the second or third shift. And—time passes quickly and before we know it, years and decades have passed and we never take the time to be still.

We never get still and as a result we rarely hear God’s gentle voice as he speaks to us with direction, encouragement, or to admonish. We are either coming or going and his voice often becomes garbled and indiscernible in the jet fumes of our frenzied pace. Our inability to hear God on a regular basis only creates a more chaotic life. We are convinced we can have it all—but we can’t.

We all have our limit. And believe it or not you will run out of gas at some point, usually at the worst possible moment. Stress will undo everything you have tried so hard to do with your hectic pace and it will kill you long before you accomplish everything on your limitless to-do list. At some point you will crash and burn.

What would happen if you were to hit pause as you hurtle toward the earth like a flaming meteor? What would happen if you were to get still and quiet for an extended period of time? What if for the first time in your long or short life you shut the door, pulled the shades, turned off your cell phone, TV, and radio, took a deep breath, and invited God to join you? What would happen indeed?

One thing for certain is God would show up. But…unless you be still you will never know!

The Forgiveness Factor (Part 8)

Curses tend to get worse with time. Unforgiveness smells of death, and its noxious aroma attracts dark creatures that traffic in death. Unforgiveness is an open invitation for all of hell to attend a grand party at your personal expense.

Nothing draws the devil like unforgiveness. It gives him a foothold in your life—a base of operations to work from within you. It is surrendered ground, given up when you refuse to do what God demands. He plants his flag in your soul and invites his forces to dig trenches in that conquered ground. He does not own the real estate, but he holds it due to the darkness of disobedience. In the vacuum created by your disobedience, he has slipped back across the border. He’s no longer forced to attack you from the outside. No—you’ve left your screen door wide open and invited him in. You’ve given him legal rights to be there as long as you refuse to forgive.

You may find this hard to believe. You may be thinking, “There’s no way!”  I propose you read something Jesus taught in Matthew 18:21-35 in your Bible before you proceed any farther. We will re-visit this story over the next few blogs because there is a tremendous amount of truth contained in these few verse about the blessings of forgiveness and the curse of unforgiveness. Please read it and pay close attention to what takes place in verses 34-35.

 “And his lord moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all was owed him. So shall my heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother (or sister) from your heart.”  I believe the “torturers” are demonic spirits. I also believe the sin of unforgiveness (a sin one refuses to turn from) causes God to gradually remove his hand of protection, which then allows the enemy to move in, set up shop, and bring torment. Death always resides in darkness, and unforgiveness is darkness of the worst kind. Where sin lingers—the devil lurks.

I am in no way implying what many would call “possession.” This is not possession versus oppression. The Greek text of the New Testament uses neither word. In some translations, the term “possession” was supplied in an attempt to explain what was meant. In other words it was added to clarify by the translators, not by the Holy Spirit or the men who penned the original words of Scripture. That attempt to clarify has clouded this issue and coined a whole genre of inappropriate language and bogus beliefs concerning the work of both the devil and his demons. The New Testament primarily uses two descriptions: 1) to have a demon (ekw), or 2)to be demonized (daimonizomai). The issue is not ownership or whether a believer can be possessed or not. They may be issues to you, but they are arguments developed from silence or bad theology, not from the plain truth of Scripture. Both Greek words mean “to have a demon—to be under the influence or power of a demon in certain areas.” Don’t allow movie makers, bogus theology, or blind ignorance to influence your doctrine in these areas. Just allow the plain truth of the Bible to speak.

 Now, back to the issue at hand! If you struggle with the above paragraph, I invite you to do some study on your own. Don’t naively accept what you have been taught or even what I say. The tools you need are accessible even if you don’t have a mastery of biblical Greek. Check them out and allow the words of God to speak for themselves.

If forgiveness is not granted fairly quickly, the enemy expands his territory. That wound perpetrated on you may become a stronghold in your life. Many people who have been hurt in a particular manner eventually hurt others the very same way. Hurting people hurt people! The wound inflicted on you may eventually become a generational curse. Things like sexual abuse, emotional abuse, drug abuse, unfaithfulness in marital relationships, immorality, pornography, and alcoholism are all examples of generational curses that seem to follow families. I am not implying that if you were wounded, hurt, or offended you will automatically end up doing one of the above listed things. But if you don’t deal with whatever your wound is by forgiving the offender, you may do to someone else what was done to you. The sin perpetrated on you will affect you if you don’t forgive, and if it affects you, it will affect your children in some form or fashion. That is, unless someone breaks the pattern.

Sometimes a person who has been wounded becomes a control freak. Unforgiveness is often an attempt to get control of the chaos one has encountered. It’s your choice, but attempting to exercise control over everything and everyone will never heal the hurt or make you safer. Only forgiveness can do that.

Often people who are hurt become bitter, harsh, cold, uncaring, or unfeeling. Perhaps numb is the best word to describe this condition. They often turn to drugs or alcohol to insure the numbness, or to death-defying activities and life-on-the edge adventures to feeling something—anything to remind them that they are still alive.

Physical illness can be the result of the curse of unforgiveness. Stress triggers a domino effect of disaster in our physical bodies. I have witnessed people who were experiencing all kinds of physical conditions find healing once they offered forgiveness. God reversed the work of the tormenters in their case.

There is a curse that accompanies unforgiveness. It destroys the person from the inside out. Unforgiveness is the playground of Satan. As long as unforgiveness reigns, the devil will run roughshod through every area of your life. He cannot not get your soul if you know Christ, but if you refuse to extend forgiveness—he will eventually destroy you and possibly those you truly love.

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 of a Madman: The Mystery of Relationship (Part 3)

Where are you?

To get where you want to go you must first determine where you are at. To arrive at the desired destination will require an honest assessment of your present location. Where are you?

Long ago, God asked Adam the same question in Genesis 3:9: “Adam—where are you?” Just an FYI to tuck in your knapsack, God never asks questions to gain information. He is omniscient, which means he knows all the answers even before the questions are formulated. God asks questions so that we will stop for a moment and consider the current situation. An honest answer of this question could be the first step in the right direction on a journey that will lead you to the destination your hearts longs for. But, you will have to do the work. You will have to respond correctly.

Adam and Eve had tasted the forbidden fruit. In doing so, they disobeyed God’s expressed will—they sinned. Filled with guilt and shame, they fled from his presence, hoping to find some kind of sanctuary in the bushes. They fled from a God who is also omnipresent—everywhere present at the same time…even in the darkness of the bushes. Now they heard the footsteps of God in the garden, and dread, rather than anticipation, filled their hearts.

Those haunting words—where are you?—echoed through the garden as God came for his daily visit. He was pursuing them but they were no longer pursuing him. An intimate relationship is always a two-way street. It takes two—God and you. God will always be on time as he awaits your arrival. Where are you?

That question could easily be a statement of fact: “You’re not where you are supposed to be. Adam, we have a pre-arranged time and place to meet but you’re missing. You are not here! Where are you?” This is not an angry God with smoke billowing from his ears and lightning bolts dancing on his fingertips looking for someone to annihilate. No, this is a loving Father looking for his son and daughter who are now lost. They are absent because they have chosen something else over God. They have sacrificed relationship for knowledge.

What have you sacrificed? What have you chosen over God? What garners your attention and occupies first place in your heart, that place God designed for himself alone? No-thing—nothing can replace God. That’s why there’s emptiness there even though you are frantic in your daily pursuit of satisfaction, cramming everything you can into that ravenous cavern. It cannot be filled by anything but God. That is the source of your frustration—not your spouse, your kids, your job, or your __________ (you fill in the blank). Where are you?

That question was asked by God to enable Adam to recognize where he was and why he had ended up in his present predicament and location. The question really is: “Why are you hiding? Why are you hiding from the one Person who really loves you? Why are you hiding from the One who can meet every need you have? Why are you hiding?” Adam’s location in the bushes was his answer—“I am hiding because I don’t want to be found!” Tragically, when we hide we answer this question with the very same answer.

Adam and Eve were hiding because they did not want to be transparent with God. They were no longer willing to pay the price. Transparency reveals everything and sin hates transparency because it can only germinate and grow in darkness.

Where are you? As we get start on this journey—this pursuit of an intimate relationship with God, you must answer this question. Or…you have no place from which to begin. The confession of your present location will propel you in confidence into the destination of your dreams.

Come out of the bushes…God is here!

The Ultimate Futility: A Well-Mowed Lawn

Cutting grass has always seemed futile to me—a waste of time and effort. I know, I know, you have to keep the yard cut or it looks as though someone has moved off and abandoned their home. You know the thoughts that go through your mind whenever you pass by an overgrown lot. Yea, the ones that wonder what kind of family must live there. Or don’t they care what that plot of grass looks like and how it affects the neighborhood. One of the unspoken rules of having a yard in a subdivision or out in the country is that one must maintain a meticulously mowed lawn.

I must admit that a freshly cut yard has an intoxicating fragrance (unless you’re cultivating wild onions in the midst of your Bermuda blades), and it’s pretty easy on the eyes as well. You know you have a serious purveyor of turf when the mower cuts are on the diagonal or in checkerboards like the outfield of Yankee stadium. These lawn aficionados detest even the slightest hint of a weed in their manicured meadows—so they pull, and dig, and pay big buck to the Lawn Green guy to beat back the incessant invasion of those pesky invaders. Countless dollars are spent amassing mowing paraphernalia and chemical milkshakes of every size and flavor in an endless battle to maintain( a code word in gardening that means to break even with the seemingly endless cycle of green growth). Add to that periodic infestations by grub worms, moles, armadillos, wild hogs, brown spot, and an endless horde of pestilence that delights in dining on your perfectly cut and clipped lawn…Well—you know what I mean.

It just seems futile to me. Since I was a kid, cutting grass seemed like a waste of time and money. And here’s the reason—grass keeps growing. It is incessant in its desire to propagate and flourish. You knock it down with those rotating blades and it bounces right back up and picks up where it left off. By the time you finish your lawn, it is already well on its way to needing cut again in a few days. That, my friend, is why it seems futile. You rake and burn the leaves and you’re done. You can paint a door and the job is finished. You can trim the roses and they’re fine for the season, but the grass never lets up. That’s why I find it pointless—vanity of vanities as the writer of Ecclesiastes so succinctly put it. You can lull yourself into believing you are winning the war, but guess what? In a few short days you will be right back out there wearing out that expensive lawnmower on a foe that cannot be defeated.

There is one consolation, if you feel the same way I do. Fall is in the air and cooler weather is on the way. The only thing other than Round-Up or 2-4-D that stops grass dead in its tracks is Jack Frost. That means I can store the gas cans away and winterize the lawnmower, the battle is over, at least for another season.