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Married to my amazing wife Sonya, father of three beautiful girls, senior minister of LifeWay Community Church and most importantly friend of God.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Distressed or De-Stressed?!

I shared a message recently at LifeWay Community Church that seemed to hit home for several people so I thought I would give you a quick Cliff Notes version -

There are many sources of stress in our lives but today I want to narrow it down to two of the majors -

  1. Not accepting responsibility for obligations that belong to us.
  2. Accepting responsibility for obligations that don't belong to us.
The story of Jonah is a perfect example of both. In Chapter 1 God gives him a responsibility that he decides to shirk. It ends up costing him greatly. While the storm rages he is fast asleep in the hold of the ship. Here is the takeaway - ignoring the responsibilities in our lives doesn't make them go away. On the contrary. Ignored responsibilities eventually become problems. More often than not the sooner you deal with a situation the better. Don't let that mole hill become a mountain! One of the ways we ignore the problem is by wasting time placing blame. At the end of the day your life is your responsibility and no one else's. Quit giving control away to everyone else, take responsibility and empower yourself to change your life. Your marriage, your family, your health, your wealth, your career, your retirement, your church and your relationship with God are your responsibility! The consequence of Jonah's refusal was of course he was viciously consumed by a great white shark. We know this because Scripture tells us that he was swallowed by a great fish. First a whale is not a fish and second there are only a couple of sharks (which are fish) big enough to eat a man whole (and whale sharks are not man eaters). This is not just my irrational shark phobia talking, it's Bible truth!

Now in Chapter 2 he comes to his senses and prays for God's salvation. God then causes that perfect killing machine to 'deposit' him on the shore. In Chapter 3 he begrudgingly goes to the city of Ninevah to warn them of the impending judgment. They repent and God relents but that isn't the end of the story. In Chapter 4 we see Jonah perched on a hill waiting to see the Ninevites get theirs. When they don't he becomes angry because, and get this, God is compassionate and slow to anger. Of all the things to get mad about?!? To teach him a lesson God makes a plant to grow to provide shade for Jonah. Later God kills the plant and Jonah pitches a fit worthy of a 2 year old in Walmart. The problem is now Jonah is trying to take upon himself the responsibility that belongs to God. God is mankind's judge, not Jonah. We worry so much about things that aren't ours to worry about. We become so critical of people for decisions that are not ours to make. At the end of the day it is really an issue of trust. Do we trust a perfect God to take care of us and work through imperfect people?

I want to leave you with 2 thoughts -
  1. Whatever you are facing you don't have to do it alone. If you are willing God is faithful every step of the way.
  2. Others are depending on you. Jonah's choices affected both his fellow passengers and the 120,000 residents of Ninevah.
...and 2 questions -
  1.  What is that one thing that needs to be done to move you forward in your family, your career and/or your relationship with God?
  2. What responsibilities are you carrying right now that don’t belong to you?
 It's your life and you are in charge!