Where are my 21 Pilots Fans? Tyler Joseph, Nick Thomas? No? They have a song now on the radio that my son Declan likes it’s called “Stressed out” and I really love the lyrics, so I will read them for you.
I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think.
Sometimes a certain smell will take me back to when I was young,
How come I’m never able to identify where it’s coming from,
I’d make a candle out of it if I ever found it,
Try to sell it, never sell out of it, but I’d probably only sell one,
And It’d be to my brother, ‘cause we have the same nose,
Same clothes homegrown a stone’s throw from a creek we used to roam,
But it would remind us of when nothing really mattered,
Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter.
We used to play pretend, give each other different names,
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away,
Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face,
Saying, “wake up, you need to make money.”
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.
How many of you would say that you are stressed out? Busy? It’s the new normal. We almost feel obligated to stay busy, don’t we? How are you doing? Keeping busy.
How many consider yourselves to be too busy? How do you know if you’re too busy? How about….
· No matter what you’re doing, you have a vague sense you ought to be doing something else.
· or how about – No matter how hard you work, you always feel like you’re behind.
· or You feel like your spinning your wheels — you get to the end of the week, and in spite of all your activity, you find yourself asking, “what did I really get done?”
Growing up there was a classic rock song from the Byrds called “Turn Turn Turn” (ok it was long before I was born, but my parents liked it, so I heard it growing up) and the lyrics were actually taken from the Bible.
It’s Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
King Solomon, the Bible says, was the wisest man who ever lived, and he said there is time for everything. Really? Is that what you’ve found? Everything has a time? Or does it really feel like everything is rushing at you all at once?
Do you ever stop long enough to wonder if there should be time – more time to do it. That there should be “seasons” and time to do the important things? There should be. But I don’t have time…. do you?
Last week was a blur. Easter has already come and gone – did you enjoy it?
If you meet someone at the grocery store or you ran into them at McDonald’s, and you ask them how they’re doing, almost invariably they’ll tell you how busy they are and start rattling off a list of activities — and their children’s activities.
· Monday is pee-wee football, Tuesday is ballet, Wednesday is piano, Thursday is tae-kwon-do, Friday is swimming lessons, Saturday and Sunday are soccer games.
Americans are busier than ever. Let me give you another example. Dinner time. The “Leave it to Beaver” picture of the family sitting around a dinner table at six o’clock eating a home cooked meal has virtually disappeared.
· These days, when Mom calls, “dinner time!” the family doesn’t head for the dining room table, they head for the minivan. The percent of meals eaten away from home has increased from 16 to 29 percent since 1978.
· Almost no one takes a traditional “lunch hour” any more.
· Not only that, but we are increasingly eating meals while we are doing other things — working, driving, or watching television.
Studies show that the average American is working longer days, and taking shorter vacations. We have less recreation time, less time with our kids, less time with our spouse… all for what?
Who is making us do this? Who’s foot is on the gas pedal of life?
When I was a kid back in 1977 and we first saw the movie star wars, we got to see what hyper drive looked like. Star Trek had “warp speed” and we all knew it was fast, but when the Millennium Falcon took off and those white striped peeled past the ship, the entire universe spun around that ship as it blasted away.
That was fast when I was a kid, that was “super fast” we couldn’t imagine anything going that fast, but that’s how fast life seems to be now.
Everything happens at warp speed. Everything happens in “hyper drive.” Isn’t that how it feels? So let me ask you a question….
What moments of worth can you experience in your life at warp speed?
can you develop and sustain intimacy with your spouse
can you be vulnerable with your friends
can you pause and address the problems in your life
do you have time to dream
can you understand your 10 year old heart’s and mind
can you enjoy all of your relationships
can you relate to God in a meaningful, and heartfelt, fashion
if you’re still seeking God are you able to do an honest process about faith and god?
If you’re a Christian, can you receive god’s instruction, reflect, confess sin deeply, figure out problems and the direction God is leading you?
What moments of worth can you experience in your life at warp speed?
If you think back on your own life so far, what are those treasured moments that have added richness and texture to your life? What are those unbelievable memories? If I asked you what are those things that make you cry with gladness?
Would they be treasured time with friends? Family? Playing games with your parents?
What do they all have in common?
They all happened slowly. There was no speed involved. And so if the richest moments in our life require quietness ….. and slowness….. then why do we live as fast as we live?
I don’t know. So we have to ask the ‘smart people.’ What do the smart people say?
1. Explosion of Choices
Wouldn’t you agree? Now more than ever we have more opportunities everywhere – more choices – more of everything.
I walked past a lady in Wal-Mart this week and she was frozen in front of 40 different mustard options. Literally frozen. What do you do? How is that even a choice anyway? It’s mustard. I don’t want to buy the wrong one. Let me help you out. Its mustard. There is no winner.
And I know how difficult it is – when I was a kid we had way less options. On TV we had 4 channels. 3, 10, 13 and UHF. When HBO came out a little later, it was 1 channel. It was called HBO and now you had 5 channels. And if something good wasn’t on TV you turned it off.
For fun – we had 1 mall, 1 park and we could sign up for swim team in the Summer.
Now in 2016 how many things could your kids be into during the week? Almost one on every day. And for some reason there is a voice inside us that says “these are once in a lifetime opportunities” and you don’t want to “miss out.”
I don’t want to miss out. What if THAT mustard is better? What if that mustard is more life fulfilling? My kid wants to do soccer, and scouts and karate, who am I to deprive them of all of these great opportunities?
Ok, but ask yourself, at what point do the opportunities in your life become threats? When do they become thieves that rob you and your family? How much time have you wasted picking out mustard? What else to do the smart people say….. today we also have
2. A Streamlined Workforce
Most companies run leaner today. Goals are higher, margins are thinner – so as a boss you have to make all your employees crank up production – now your employees eat lunch at their desks – it’s no longer 9-5, now the average American stays at work from 6 am to 6pm. Your work “out-put” is high but your soul is dead. And this isn’t going away competitive levels in our economy is here to stay – the good ‘ol days are gone – this is the new normal. This is a new day.
I think our parents generation feared that the workforce would be replaced with robots and it has… it’s us. We’re the robots.
What does that do to the American family? More kids are in day care – longer. Marriages become less intimate, conversation breaks down. Your body needs more down time and between work and your family – it’s your family that suffers.
One more…..Americans also have a
3. High sensory addiction
Many Americans are addicted to high level stimulus. You submerse yourself in it all week long, movies, TV, sound systems, rock concerts, facebook, laptops, cell phones, the latest apps, the latest gadgets. And it’s not just us – it’s also your kids. – my kids always want a show – a game -Disney infinity – a screen – or one of us – they want us to play with them – not because they want the relationship, but because they constantly want to be entertained.
And then…. 6 days of that and you come to church and what does your pastor say? Your soul needs more attention, pray….. read your Bible.
Read my Bible? How do I turn it on? It’s just words? Does it come in High Definition? Is this it? A dusty old book?
How can the Bible compete with your cable TV sports package? How can the Bible compete with Batman vs Superman? This isn’t warp drive, this isn’t mach 2.
But the problem remains…. your soul needs attention, it needs nurture, and care. So what things are you going to do to refresh your soul? Do you have a hobby? What do you do with your hands? Are you building something? Growing something? How is your soul being nurtured?
Listen to this warning, Jesus gave to his followers…..
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Now, I’ve never become famous or written a book, so nobody has ever asked me to speak at a High School graduation, but if they ever do, I already have my speech prepared. It’s called “Be very careful…and guard the pace of your life.”
Listen, God wants to do life with you and so Jesus warns “guard your soul” What good will it be, if you gain the world and lose…. yourself… or your family?
So let me ask you this morning. How is your soul? Does your soul feel active? Does it feel young and alive? Jesus says your life should feel like a river.
Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Have you ever stopped life long enough to sit down by a brook or a stream? It’s an exciting feeling, to hear the voices of nature and the water bubbling past. Jesus says for the follower of God, life should feel rewarding…. life should feel… like living.
Is that how your life feels? And if not.. why not?
Is your soul more responsive to God – or less?
do you feel close to God in your life?
is He a part of your thoughts and conversations?
are you more or less responsive to other people?
or do you want to be left alone?
are you alive in your relationships?
are you interested in being a part of other peoples stories?
Or some days do you wake up and feel more like a stranger in your own body?
So are you ready to make a change?
Are you ready to say NO MORE?
The good news is, I won’t make you go to a seminar, or install a new time saving app, I won’t recommend a book… the only way you can fix this is if you examine the choices you are making and you learn to slow down.
Life doesn’t need to move at warp speed. You make the choice. Speed … or Soul?
Let’s look at how Jesus handled time management
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.”
What just happened? Jesus willingly left a place where many people were clamoring to see him. He was a preacher, and there were many people who wanted to hear his preaching. He was a healer, and there were many people who wanted to be healed. And yet… he left.
Wasn’t it worthwhile to teach and heal these people? Wasn’t this a good opportunity? Of course it was. But…. He had another purpose. AND Jesus “knew” his purpose.
His purpose was to spread the gospel throughout the whole region of Galilee, and he stuck to that purpose in spite of all of his choices.
Do you have a purpose in life?
Of course you do.
But do you know it? Do you have a clear idea in your head of what you are trying to accomplish in life?
Because, if not, then you will be controlled by the expectations and demands that others place on you. You will be leading your life according to the opinions and judgments of your family, your neighbors, your friends, your co-workers, your kids school, your kids coaches….. If you don’t have a clear purpose, then you will end up being directed by those who do.
And then you will look back on your life and wonder what you really accomplished by all your busyness.
Easter Sunday I asked if you felt buried alive, felt like a zombie? Listen, if you don’t care about your soul, keep the pedal to the medal and go. But… if you do care, and you’re tired of being a cog in the wheel…. then it’s time to make a change.
You need to rest
and You need to lean some new skills
Take a break – relax, stop, unwind, get away take a vacation
The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Jesus has 3 years to save the world. 3 years to start the church, inspire the new testament, make some good connections, and make his appearances. And he stops and takes a break. Are you kidding me?
But notice… they had no time to even eat…. so what does Jesus do? He makes time.
Is rest important to God? You bet it is – so much so that there are over 23 thousand verses in the Bible and just 32 verses in God takes a break.
God rests after a week of work – and then he commands his people to do the same. Commands. It’s one of the 10 Commandments. “Thus says the Lord… relax.”
This is my bow, it’s real wood, very strong, I’m no sure of the weight I think it’s 40lbs, but this is how I store it. It doesn’t look like a bow in this position. The bowstring is not on, the bow is not bent. Why do I store it like this?
Because I care about it. The bow is relaxed. If I put the string on, the bow locks up, it gets tense, the wood is taught and everything is on edge. This is a heightened state. If I leave it like this…. all the time …..what’s going to happen.
My bow will become worthless, and it will break.
The disciples find Jesus in prayer on a mountain side, in seclusion and they say “Jesus the people are ready for you – it worked – you’re more popular than ever.” And Jesus says…
“Let’s go someplace else.”
But you’re missing all of these opportunities! Listen, you and I – we need to come to the understanding that missing an opportunity is not the end of the world. It’s not the end of the world. Good, healthy, viable, fun opportunities need to be said “no” to.
Do you know how you carve out a time of rest? By saying “NO” when everyone is looking for you. If you want to start rebuilding your soul, you need to learn to exercise your “NO muscle.” Maybe for some of you, the reason you are saying NO to ministry and NO to God’s church, is because you’ve said YES to everything else.
So… let’s practice.
Can you make cookies for the second graders tomorrow?
Can you be the room mom for next week?
Can you run into town and pick up my dry cleaning?
I know, you’re driving your car along 105 and you don’t like hitting red lights, but guess what? Red lights STOP your car. and the word “NO” stops your life.
What is your purpose in life? because saying the word “NO” will help you define it. Are people going to like it? Of course not, nobody likes hearing no. So change your no….
“Hey, can you be a coach tomorrow for the walk-a-thon?”
“Oh wow, I would love to…. but I can’t.” Why can’t you? Because I need that time for me. I need that time for my family. I am already obligated for something else and that would push my week to it’s capacity – they don’t need to know why. And you know what happens when you say NO.
The end of the world.
Nope, they will ask someone else.
Listen, your soul is at stake, your family and your life are at stake, carve out time, make time – loosen your bowstring. Take off your shoes and your tie – take a break and learn to say “No.”
Here’s another thing you can learn….
Let someone else win
Somewhere along the line someone decided that life was a competition, it’s an unwritten thing, but we all do it.
On the freeway we’re all going to someplace different, but for some reason if we pass more cars, we feel like we’re winning and if cars pass us we feel like we’re losing.
But part of the stress your feeling is the competitive edge. The need to win, the need to get the prize, first place, number one. But you know, certain contests need to be forfeited. This is going to be hard for those of you who have a competitive nature. In every facet of your life there is a need to be a winner. Mom of the Year, World’s Best Dad, Best Boss, Number One Teacher, Employee of the Month, Citizen of the Year, Best in Show…. you know how to find some peace and rest for your soul?
Let someone else win. You don’t need that one. Throw in the towel, declare defeat, you win. Everyone on your street does a bigger better Christmas lights display. Guess what? HEY, YOU WIN! I’ve come to be at peace with – that’s just not me. I have time to hang one strand of lights around half my house – and the rest of ya’ll can be the winners.
Everyone on your street got new mail boxes. I don’t need it. You can have em. You win best mail box. All your friends got new houses, new cars, new boats….. YOU WIN!
The Big Church out in Conroe has TV ads, church mailers, flashy stage, high volume sound system and millions of dollars, YOU WIN the big best church award. We don’t need it. You can have it.
You want some soul replenishing space in your life, just repeat this phrase – “I don’t have to compete for every promotion. ” My kid doesn’t need every medal.
If it means sacrificing your soul, let someone else win (last)
Turn off and Unplug
Sherry Turkle argues for unplugging from technology in her TED talk she says this
“Why does this matter? It matters to me because I think we’re setting ourselves up for trouble – trouble certainly in how we relate to each other, but also trouble in how we relate to ourselves and our capacity for self-reflection. We’re getting used to a new way of being alone together. People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere – connected to all the different places they want to be. People want to customize their lives. They want to go in and out of all the places they are because the thing that matters most to them is control over where they put their attention. So you want to go to that board meeting, but you only want to pay attention to the bits that interest you. And some people think that’s a good thing. But you can end up hiding from each other, even as we’re all constantly connected to each other.”
Mutli-tasking used to mean watching TV, talking on the phone and doing your homework. And now… we text and answer emails at funerals. Can you imagine? We don’t even allow our souls to grieve.
Listen, if you don’t make some boundaries with technology, it will run your life. Cut down on the stimulus. Cut back on the surround sound and the excitement, the car chases and the video games. Cut back and unplug the flashing blue screen.
I want you to listen to something, this is the Chairman of the FCC, Newton Minnow at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in 1961 and he’s talking about television.
(sound clip – video)
1961…. but I’ll go even older on you. This is a quote from a survey about the telephone taken in the 1930s
“… Most people saw telephoning as accelerating social life, which is another way of saying that telephoning broke isolation and augmented social contacts. A minority felt that telephones served this function too well. These people complained about too much gossip, about unwanted calls, or, as did some family patriarchs, about wives and children chatting too much. Most probably sensed that the telephone bell, besides disrupting their activities, could also bring bad news or bothersome requests. Yet only a few seemed to live in a heightened state of alertness, ears cocked for the telephone’s ring – no more, perhaps, than sat anxiously alert for a knock on the door.”
And it’s funny that people today…. we think this is a new issue. But we as a society have seen the dangers of media and electronics for the last 86 years! Phones do more, TVs are bigger and our movies and internet are flashy and thin – but the concept that these devices rob you of life, that they steal away your soul and that they accelerate your day and push you and push you – they’ve been warning us for generations – the signs have all been there.
So you need to decide. Is it going to be speed or soul? Do you want to continue the high stress, fast paced lifestyle? Are you going to get the blue ribbon in every event? Are you going to be first to work and last to leave? Or …does your life have another purpose?
Is something else more important? Is your family more important? Is God more important?
In Luke 10 when Martha complains that Mary isn’t helping her in the Kitchen, Jesus says
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”
That’s super good advice. Are you letting yourself be distracted and anxious by many things? Only one thing is important – the rest are distractions.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s not all a waste of time, we can all have the best of intentions and our schedule might include all the good and important things, but… they might not always be the BEST things.
And at the same time, God doesn’t want to make your life boring, take away your toys or condemn you. But He wants to free you from the trap of busyness so that you can give your time and energy to those things that have eternal value, and that won’t fade away.
God wants you, at the end of your life, to be able to look back and see that you have invested your years in something that will last forever. You want to know what matters most? Remember – only two things last forever: God and people.
The purpose of your life is to love them both. Love God, and Love others.