Summary: With statistics concerning sociological changes in America this sermon discusses the stress Christians are experiencing. Movie clip from "Cheaper by the Dozen" provides an illustration.

Give Yourself a Break

Eccl. 4:6-12[1]



I want to begin this morning with a clip from the movie, Cheaper by the Dozen.[2]

In this movie Coach Tom (played by Steve Martin) and his wife Kate (Bonnie Hart) have twelve kids. They are doing fine until opportunity knocks—an opportunity for Tom to pursue his dream of coaching a successful Top Ten football team in another town. In addition to the stress this change puts on the family, his wife, Kate, gets a chance to pursue her career as the author of a best selling book.

In this scene you will see the strain that comes on this family as they try “to have it all.”

Ch 21 (01:12:41) to end of Ch 22 (o1:17:52).

Earlier in this movie when the opportunity for promotion comes to Tom he proclaims to Kate with great excitement, “We’re gonna have it all!” Cheaper by the Dozen identifies a myth that plagues both Christians and non-Christians alike in this country. Can we really have it all? Perhaps the answer to that question depends upon what you mean by “it all.” Can I have everything God has to offer me and everything the world has to offer me? Absolutely not! The Bible makes that abundantly clear. James 4:4 “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

There are a lot of things offered in life that are mutually exclusive. I can not be monogamous and a polygamist at the same time. I can not be in Russia and in America at the same time. I can not be a Buddhist and a Christian at the same time. We are finite beings with limited time, limited gifts, limited money, limited energy. When we choose to say yes to one thing, whether we intend to or not, we are by necessity saying no to other things.

It is very flattering and temporarily motivating to be told that you can have it all. But there is a subtle trap in that statement if you accept it the way the world means it to be interpreted. Can you have it all? You can if what you mean is that you can have everything your loving Creator and heavenly Father has designed for you to have. You can have everything He has prepared for you if you will only hear Him and obey His voice.[3] Hear the world and its myths and you will find yourself utterly frustrated. Hear God and pursue the course He has for you and the end result will be fulfilling and rewarding.

Are you a busy person? In a CNN pole 59% of all Americans answered by saying they wish they could slow down and cope better with the busyness of life.[4] Busyness is at epidemic proportions in America. And Christians seem to suffer from it just as much as non Christians. Most of us want to get our lives under control and enjoy the journey more than we are. But how do we do that? I want us to take a few minutes this morning and look at this issue of busyness in our lives. First, we will address the question as to what is happening to us in this. How is it affecting us spirit, soul, and body? Second, we will consider why this is happening. We keep inventing time saving devices. But in the end we seem to have less and less time. Finally, how can we deal with this in our daily lives?

I. What’s Happening to us as a result of all this busyness and stress?

Friday night I found myself at the emergency room at St. John’s Hospital looking at Jeanie and hearing her ask, “What is God trying to say to us in all this?” In addition to dealing with acid reflux, hiatal hernia, and sleep apnea we were also trying to get my cholesterol and blood pressure under control. I was having an allergic reaction to the blood pressure pills and had to have medication to counteract the medication. Something’s not right somewhere when all that is going on. We are in a society that stimulates itself with caffeine during the day so that everything gets done; then sedates itself at night trying to unwind enough to sleep. People are paying a high price physically for living under an unreasonable amount of stress.

In his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Live, Dr. Richard Swenson lists 13 physical symptoms of excess stress. I was amazed to find over half of them going on in my own life. Here are the thirteen:

Stimulation of the cardiovascular system—rapid pulse, palpitations, increased blood pressure, chest pain, arrhythmias.

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