Category Archives: Daily Word

We all need Margin in our Life | Week 1

Here are sermon notes from Week One of our series called: Marginmargin_main

Click here to listen to the podcast.

One of favorite shows around the Steele home is Call of the Wildman – Ernie Brown Jr. “TURTLEMAN”

This show is wildly popular. He is a very likable guy, naïve, and humble. BUT the entertaining part is that he catches LIVE/Dangerous animals with his bare hands. Snapping turtles in NASTY ponds, rattlesnakes, possums, foxes, even skunks.

His show is fascinating because he has eliminated almost all safety barriers. There is no Margin for error. He has his bare hands.

No cages, no weapons, no devices. What is going to happen when there is absolutely no safety margin between Turtleman and the deadly animals? (diving down in murky water)

As you watch it, you think how did they come up with the idea of jumping into the pond and then how did they first person get picked to try it out?  Who thought about getting it on video tape?  I wouldn’t ever do it, but it is appealing to watch because there is no margin for error. People swimming with alligators and sharks.

And there is this guy thing that says you know if a guy is going to be eaten by a shark, and it going to happen any way I would kinda like to see that…

There is something entertaining about seeing them stretched to their emotional limit.  Extreme sports, motorcycles, Skateboarding 30’ above the ground.

As fun as all that is, back here in the real world, there is nothing entertaining about watching people in the real world get pushed to their limit

  • There is nothing fun about seeing your cousin’s marriage get pushed to the edge.
  • There is nothing fun about seeing a teen skating on the edge of morality
  • There is nothing fun about your scheduled stretched so tight that you have to remember if you spent any personal time with your kids that week.
  • There is nothing fun about a friend spending to the edge of their finances and then an unexpected injury or bill arises to drive them to bankruptcy.

Our culture says that we have to live there. There is a surge all around us. A pace of life that seems to swallow us up. A life of rapid fire, pedal to the metal.

The reality is that you DON’T have to live there! God has a plan for us where He asks us to back away from the edge.

OVER THE NEXT MONTH, WE ARE GOING TO HELP YOU FIND SOME MARGIN IN YOUR LIFE.  SOME BREATHING ROOM. A PACE OF LIFE. A PLACE OF FREEDOM.

Let’s talk quickly about 2 definitions of Margin.

Margins – amount available beyond what is actually needed.

  • We have Margins on a page
  • There is extra Margin on first class seats on a plane
  • Highways have Margin

Margin – Space between our current performance and our limits.

  • Running but not as fast as your could.
  • Showing up 15min before something begins
  • Getting to the end of the month and having money left over.
  • Getting in an argument and even when others get angry, you have enough emotional headroom that you don’t blow your top.

We want extra space. We strive for margin in our life,  YET how ironic is it that as soon as we find some in our relationships our finances, our time… we eat it. We live life without margin!  What happens when margins decrease?

  1. When margins decrease our stress goes up!

  • Traffic and running late for appt.
  • Financially – money is tight and when someone has an expense, stress goes up!
  • Girl in relationship – and you have boundaries, then the guy pushes your margin away. You get stressed.
  1. When margins decrease…Our focus narrows.

We become very self centered. We become aware of our personal needs. Mental Capacity shrinks.

  1. When margins decrease…Relationships suffer.

When you are living your life without healthy margins you are not engaged in relationships.

  • You are zoned out in conversations.
  • You can be listening to everything they are saying, you can be nodding at all the right sentences and then you realize you haven’t heard a thing they were saying.
  • How about worship music at church. You sing every word, throw in a halleluiah and an amen. And then realize that you haven’t thought of one word you have sung.

You are living without margins in your life.  Lack of margins destroy marriages.   Without margins you can’t listen as a parent.

Here is the key : Relationship happens in the margin of your life.

Our temptation is to get as much as we can crammed into our schedules.  We try to get as much as we can with our credit.  We try to get as much as we can with our girlfriend before we go to far.  We like to live in the danger zone.

BUT Why don’t we DO less? Why don’t we CREATE margins?

Why don’t we buy cheaper cars? Why don’t we get out of that relationship? Why don’t you just break up? Why don’t we just create margin?  We have FEAR. We are afraid that we are going to miss out on the good life.  I can’t turn down any invitation. I can’t let anyone down.

WE ARE AFRAID

We are afraid of falling behind. Everyone else has their kids in basketball and air hockey leagues, and ballet, and if I don’t HELP my kid keep up, then it will be my fault.  All the time we are helping our kids destroy the margins of their life.

WE are afraid that we will end up with a life that is not worth living. HOWEVER:

  • Most folks in here are making more money than you ever have and yet we are afraid of not having enough money.
  • We have more technology than we ever have had and yet we have less time. We are afraid of not being able to squeeze things in.
  • (church leaders!) We are afraid of not mattering. We are afraid of not accomplishing this great task that God has given us or that we have imposed on ourselves. To start a business or change the school system or raise the standard of our local government.

Reducing the margin in your personal life is NOT a success strategy.  That is a recipe for disaster.

 We live at limits that are self imposed and culturally imposed.

We think we are going to hit a finish line and then there is a release. But that never happens!  We are trying to catch up to people that don’t have margins either.

God says for us to “come back” come back from the edge. You might can sustain that pace but your wife can’t or your kids can’t!

 

Scripture reveals that

  1. We all have Limits!

Financially, I can only afford certain things, I can only do one thing at a time, be at one place at a time.

This is elementary, but it is so true. Emotionally, morally, physically (I can go on 4 hours sleep. Shut up. That is not something to brag about. Go sleep.)

God has a plan for how we should live, and it is within certain limits.

  1. We are Relational Beings.

We are created for relationships. God says we have limits. So he leads us to limits where relationships THRIVE.  He leads us there for relationship. Not to leave a mark. Not to matter. Not keeping up with the joneses. (they refinance anyway)  If your relationships are suffering, then you have chosen limits that are outside of God’s limits.

When God chose His nation (Jews). He mandated it. Thou shalt have MARGIN.

Exodus 20:8 Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

  • On Friday night, you hang it up. Even if you haven’t done everything you needed to do, you hang it up. You stop everything for 24hours.
  • God even gave margin to the land. You can plant here and not there. Now and not later.
  • He gave margins to them financially. You must live on 80%. 10% to temple, 10% to poor

 

God says I know what you can do, AND I am calling you back. I want you to live with margins!

The Jews told God to FORGET the margins! So, God took care of that situation. He allowed the Babylonians to conquer them for 70 years. The Jews were put into slavery and then all of the sudden the Jews said, “hmmm, maybe margins were a good way to live after all.”  God says: “I created time. I created economy. I created morality. I created you as a relational and emotional being.”

Jesus said the most important command was ”love the Lord God with all your heart, soul and mind AND love your neighbor as yourself”  This is how you prioritize your life. Loving God and loving others!  Make sure you give space for God and others and then the rest is up to you.  The Great Commission takes time! Yes, Jesus was subtly telling them that they need margins.

As you squeeze margin our of your life, you squeeze God out of your life.

Relationship happens in the Margin.

Many people in America USED to go to church. And they left, not because of theological reasons, but because THEY GOT BUSY. Their margins were destroyed and they no longer had time for the things of God.  Why do we drift from God? Our time, money, affection and morality margins are squeezed.  We squeeze out God because we are pushing everything out.

You will thrive, grow, and prosper when you live in margins.

What is crazy is that many of you are probably saying, ‘pastor’ I don’t have time for margins.  You are pastor so you have time to pray and read and fast and be with your family. whatevs!

It’s amazing how:

  • When you have a heart attack, all of the sudden you make margins!
  • When you marriage is on the rocks all of the sudden you take the time to make margins.
  • In Texas when we have an ice storm, we realize that no matter what plans you made, they don’t matter. You don’t drive. No matter what tests are scheduled, schools are canceled.
  • Many years ago, Christians said, “we can’t live on 90% and give 10% to God. And then the Govt said we’ll take 10% and everyone was forced to live on 90%. Then 15%, then 20%. WE HAD TO and we found a way. Or we go to jail.

THE POINT? You are going to live with limits. Either ones that you choose (mostly at the edge) or ones that God invites you to live with (with margins)

I’ll close with this:

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

God will wait for you to let him in. He will patiently wait. If you wait until bankruptcy, illness, divorce, He will come in a be with you.

Why don’t we choose, instead of being forced, to live within the Margin that God gives us

Here is my time.

Here is my morality.

Here is my money.

He will come in and lead you in a life of balance, health, and blessing.

 

Week 2

More Time

Week 3

More Financial Peace

Week 5

More Values

 

 

Honorology Discussion Guide

Instead of posting my sermon notes today, I decided to post our small group discussion guide.  It gives a good picture of the story and how to apply to your everyday life.

PROMISEGROUP DISCUSSION GUIDE: WEEK OF MAY 19 – Honorology – Bringing Honor Back!

What part of our society is missing honor the most?

David was a man of great honor.  He honored the man of God, Saul even when Saul hunted David to destroy him.  He told his men to never touch Saul.

But David lost his honor when we found comfort in the palace.  He found himself lost in the maze of adultery.  Sin had crept into David’s life and when that happened, honor was the first to leave.  When he found out that his lover, Bathsheba, was pregnant, he sent for her husband Uriah.  Ironically, it would be Uriah that brought honor back to the palace.

2 Samuel 11:And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house.  10 And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house?  11 And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.  12 And David said to Uriah, Tarry here to day also, and to morrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow.  13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.   14 And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah.   15 And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die.

What part of that story is most upsetting to you?

Where all does dishonor show up in that passage? 

What characteristics does Uriah display in this story? How does he honor his God and his country?

What pleasures did he sacrifice to display this honor?  

What ultimately happened to Uriah because of his honor? 

Because of Uriah’s integrity, honor was brought back to David. His sin was revealed and purity/honor returned to the Kingdom.

Compare the act of Uriah and his act of integrity and honor with the life and work of Jesus Christ.

How does Jesus’ submission to man (disciples and Romans) pave the way for righteousness to return to Earth?

How does our honor or lack of honor display our heart? Explain.

How do we bring honor back to the society where we live?

How can we mirror Uriah and Jesus in modern times?

Is there anyone in your life right now that you need to show your honor to? 

How can we pray with you today  for any of these questions/topics of honor?

How Superstition Has Crept into the Church

1932769_10152302758534887_2049324636_oRELIGIOUS SUPERSTITION strips away the whole concept of relationship.

With superstition, God is no longer your father, and you are not his child. Instead, God is a magician.  You have to say the right recipe prayer and it will unlock some secret door of heaven and all of the sudden YOU will get what you want.  People often read the Bible from a selfish perspective as if the end objective or Goal is about you. As if the story is about you.

Here are 3 areas that I believe superstition has crept into the church.  After I describe them, I will give my thoughts on the truth of the Gospel. Click here to hear my sermon on the topic.

1.  Power of Tongue (good or bad) or the Power of your Speech

I actually read this phrase on church website last week.  It summarizes the belief of the “Power of the Tongue”  -

“What you say is what you have! The sum of where you are today, good or bad, is the sum of what you have been saying.”

People that believe this statement have taken a few scriptures and turned them into a superstitious ritual of getting what YOU want out of life.

Just a quick question before we go any further: If everything that comes out of your mouth is immediately becoming fact, then who is God? You.  Whatever God speaks happens. Therefore, if whatever you speaks happens then you are God.

  Read the rest of this entry

Why Do We Watch Movies?

animated_slideMy thoughts on Movies

We are currently in a sermon series where we are using animated movies as parables.  We are taking the storyline and seeing how it can be used to preach the gospel and illustrating where the storyline deviates from the authentic message of scripture.  Why?  Why not just stick to other storylines?  Well, millions of people are shaped by movies. Movies seems to be the mainstream voice of the culture today.  Instead of just ‘preaching against’ movies, I think it is very eye-opening to see ‘innocent’ movies picked apart and illustrate how the message makes a difference.  The biggest risk is that we take the message of redemption (almost all box office hits are stories of redemption) from movies and apply them to scriptures.  We often get a tainted or skewed picture of Jesus’ gospel if we use modern cultures version of redemption.

Here are some bulleted thoughts I have on watching movies:

  • Movies can cause us to sin immediately. Porn and even mainstream movies could lead to you to actual/literal sin.
  • Movies show us what we are entertained by.  You can step back from a movie and say, “that disgusted me. I don’t want to watch that type of movie.”  You can step back and say I liked to be entertained by that. Wholesome movies are encouraging.  However, it should be convicting to you if the entertainment came from activities that nailed Jesus to the cross.  In other words, if you are entertained (amused or thrilled) by sinful activities, then that reveals where your heart might be or might be headed…a bad place.
  • Movies can show us the gospel AND what is not the gospel if we go into the viewing with a firm grip on what the gospel really is.  We can be entertained and at the same time learn and distinguish what is correct and not correct about the storyline of the movie.

How do I determine what movie I will watch?

Erica and I have set up boundaries to help our movie watching decisions.  It is laborious to review movies one by one and find out if the movie will violate our conscious or cause us to sin.  It is a waste of time/money to begin watching a movie that disgusts us and we eventually turn it off or leave the theater (we go to theaters some).  A very easy way to get a quick, easy review is www.kidsinmind.com.  This website reviews movies on 3 criteria: sexual content, violence/gore, and language.  It gives a number rating for each of these categories.  Depending on your background and culture, you should determine what movies are appropriate for you and your family. As for our house hold, our general max rating in these categories are: sexual content 3, violence/gore 7, and Language 4.  There are exceptions to these boundaries on rare occations.  For example, sometimes we watch movies for educational purposes in order to learn a sub-culture.  We have to sit through things mostly language and violence that we wouldn’t normally sit through.  An example of this would be: The Passion of the Christ.

What are your thoughts? How do you determine what you watch?

Why Are We Obedient?

People from my religious tradition are very weary to believe that ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God’.  Even though we know that scripture is in the Bible and we recite the fact that we are not saved by our works, we are reluctant to freely jump into the waters of ‘no matter what you do, Jesus still loves you’.

Why?

I believe we are afraid (and I have heard it taught) that if people believe that concept, they will begin to sin wildly because there are no consequences to the action.  If we believe that we will start sinning because there are no consequences to the sin, then we are identifying our wrong motivation for good works.  We are acting virtuous because we are either fearful of the consequences of not doing it or we are prideful and enjoy the credit we get for good works.  Both Pride and Fear are motivating factors and can be used to achieve the desired goal.  However, both have a very short shelf life.  We forget the consequence and find ourselves delving into the wrong activity.

Jonathan Edwards said this about ‘true virtue':

What is true virtue?  It is when you are honest not because it profits you or makes you feel better, but because you are smitten with the beauty of the God who is all truth and sincerity and faithfulness…True virtue comes when you see Christ dying for you, keeping a promise He made despite the infinite suffering it brought him.  On the one hand that destroys pride: he had to do this for us, because we were so lost.  On the other hand it also destroys fear: because if he’d do this for us while we were his enemies, then he values us infinitely, and nothing we can do will wear out his love.  Consequently, our hearts are not just restrained but changed.  Their fundamental orientation is transformed.

 

We want our hearts changed.  We do not want to continue to pursue good works because it is the avenue to a right relationship with God.  Jesus said we would be identified by our fruit.  Fruit is most definitely the final product of the plant.  The outward sign or ‘works’ of the plant.  We want the same for ourselves.  Our good works should be the final product generated from a deep devotion and love of God.  If we put the works in front of the relationship as if they earn us the right to know God, then we are putting the cart before the horse.

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