Monday, September 10, 2007

Four Steps to Manage Stress in My Life-(Step #2)

Good morning! This is the day that that the Lord has made, are you rejoicing in it? Even if you think that you don't have many reasons to rejoice, step back and take another look. God's blessings surround us, we just get so used to them, that we can take them for granted at times.

We had a great day yesterday in church. I felt the Lord change my mind as far as what to preach right in the middle of the 8:15 am service, while I was sitting on the platform. I preached on, "Snakes, Suitcases, and Strangulations." Let me give you a brief synopsis before we get to step #2 in managing stress.

I felt that many people walked into our services yesterday struggling with three things that were attacking the peace of God in their lives:

Snakes=Represents those things that come at you all of a sudden. Life is going well, when SUDDENLY life changes. (Acts 28:1-10)
Suitcases=Represents the weights of this life: things that can become heavy, and almost unbearable. (Galatians 6:1-5)
Strangulations=Represents the worries and anxieties of life. The word Worry is derived from the old German word wurgen, meaning to CHOKE. Worry can choke the life out of your faith. (Matthew 13:22 & Philippians 4:4-8)

I also had an acrostic of WORRY:

Weights of this world
Occupational hazards
Relationship Strains
Resource depletions (Finances)
Yesterday's leftovers

It is for certain that "Snakes, Suitcases, and Strangulations" can and will attack God's peace in your life. Also, all of the things mentioned in the acrostic can cause worry, but thank God for the "peace of God which passes all understanding."

Friday we began to look at Four Steps to Manage Stress in My Life. Step #1 was to Check your schedule. Now, let's look at Step #2.

2. CHECK YOUR FINANCES

Money comes without instructions. There's no instruction book attached to a dollar bill. However, the book of Proverbs is a pretty good instruction book. It's got some pretty good guidelines for how to use money. As you look through the book of Proverbs, it reveals the fact that money is like a wild stallion. If you let it control you, it's going to take you on a wild ride for the rest of your life. But if you learn to tame it, you find the strength and the energy that's there; that can make a big impact on your life. Proverbs teaches us how to tame this thing called finances. We'd all agree when you take on too much financially it causes great stress. When you don't have enough financially it causes great stress. When you make irresponsible decisions financially it causes incredible stress.

Two simple principles from the book of Proverbs.

Principle #1
Proverbs 22:7 "The borrower is servant to the ender." That's just a principle of life. When I recognize that principle it helps me have less stress. In a country where consumer credit is now at an unprecedented 1.23 trillion dollars, there's a lot of serving going on out there. Because of this we need to recognize this principle every time we make a purchase. The borrower serves the lender. You make all your purchases with this principle in mind. Instead of asking when you make a purchase, "What am I getting?" ask, "What am I getting into?" Think, "How long am I going to have to serve to complete this purchase?" Statistics show that the average American has to serve one day out of five to pay off consumer debt now. That's where we're at. That's how much it's gotten hold of us. The borrower serves the lender.

To have less stress you've got to reduce your debt. Too much debt causes incredible stress. It keeps you awake at night. It's easy to say but it's tough to do. Couple of facts about reducing your debt that I hope are an encouragement.

1. The truth is, it's going to take you just about as long to get out of debt as it took you to get into debt. The encouraging thing about that is be patient. It's going to take time. Don't expect it to happen overnight.

2. Don't do this alone. Get help. Get encouragement.

If you had a physical problem you'd have no problem going to a doctor asking for help. But when we have a financial problem sometimes we don't talk to anybody about it. Sometimes we don't even talk to each other about it in a family. If there is anything that you refuse to talk about, anything you won't talk about as a family but you know it's there, it's causing incredible stress. Secrets, things we won't talk about, are huge stresses in our lives. So for less stress you've got to reduce your debt.

But that is only half the equation. I know some people who have no debt but they're very stressed about their money still. Holding on to it, making sure it goes here or there, people stealing it, what's happening with it.

Principle #2
Proverbs 11:25 "A generous man will prosper. He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." You've got to reduce your debt and you've got to increase your giving. It is very stressful to hold on to your STUFF so tightly that no one else can get hold of them. You don't know how stress relieving it is to begin to let go of your things enough to recognize, "I want to bless someone else. I want to encourage someone else with what God has given me." A generous man will be blessed, will be refreshed. The tighter I hold onto things, the tighter the grip they have on me. If I loosen my grip on things, they begin to loosen their grip on me.

So to reduce stress I reduce my debt and increase my giving. The obvious question is which do I need to do first if I need to do both? Do them at the same time. Don't do one without the other; it doesn't work. If you think, "I'll get the debt problem done first and then I'll start giving," it never works. You still feel the same amount of stress. It takes both parts of this equation in order to reduce the stress in our lives. (Malachi 3:6-12)

My prayer is that you will meditate on Step #2 today, and think about the two principles from Proverbs throughout the day. We are on a journey to relieve our life of unneeded stress.

I love you guys, and pray you have a blessed day!

Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty L. Blann

3 comments:

Wanda & Lynn said...

Pastor,

This is exactly what Lynn and I have been discussing and praying about for the past month. We want out of debt! We do not want to be a servant any longer to the lender. With that said, yesterday when Pastor Bill was taking up the offering and he read from Malachi and mentioned the first fruits, I always struggled whether we should pay our tithes on the gross or net. I know you can never out give God, it was just always easier and seemed to not hurt as much to pay on the net. I started reflecting on how it must have been in Old Testament times and as they gave from their crops or live stock, I thought they must have tithed before they paid their taxes (Uncle Sam) so their tithe must have been on the gross. We want to step out in faith and give more to God ...The word tells us to test Him...when you're already trying to get out of debt the flesh wonders okay, how is this going to happen, the spirit says trust me....So, stay tuned for testimonies coming from the Marion house not for what we have done but for what God has done!

Wanda

Wanda & Lynn said...

Pastor,

This is exactly what Lynn and I have been discussing and praying about for the past month. We want out of debt! We do not want to be a servant any longer to the lender. With that said, yesterday when Pastor Bill was taking up the offering and he read from Malachi and mentioned the first fruits, I always struggled whether we should pay our tithes on the gross or net. I know you can never out give God, it was just always easier and seemed to not hurt as much to pay on the net. I started reflecting on how it must have been in Old Testament times and as they gave from their crops or live stock, I thought they must have tithed before they paid their taxes (Uncle Sam) so their tithe must have been on the gross. We want to step out in faith and give more to God ...The word tells us to test Him...when you're already trying to get out of debt the flesh wonders okay, how is this going to happen, the spirit says trust me....So, stay tuned for testimonies coming from the Marion house not for what we have done but for what God has done!

Wanda

Clayton and Laurie said...

I loved what you had to say today about receiving freedom from financial stress. This is something that took us a while to learn but living within your means definetly lessens the stress load in your life. Financial stress will trickle over in every area of your life if you let it, I liked what you said about increasing your giving. It reminded me of something I heard once, "Instead of increasing your living, increase your giving". A principle we can all apply no matter what our finances look like. Thanks for your insight.
Laurie