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.


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 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



When Mama Prayed

Another great blog by my dad.  Check him out at: http://robasteele.wordpress.com/

When Mama prayed, she would sit down on the rug with her feet drawn up under her and lean over on her elbows, then drop her head into her hands. By the time her forehead touched her open palms, she would be in the Kingdom. I’ve been around a lot of folks who prayed, but she could reach beyond this present world and into the presence of Jesus faster than any of them. And let me tell you, if you were in the house when she talked to Jesus, you either tried to join her quickly or else found a way to get out of there quickly. For Mom, praying was not something you only did in a crisis, or as a ritual in church, instead it was the sustaining flow of life itself.

I once asked her if she learned to pray by watching her mother like we learned by watching her. She gave me a strange smile and said, “ When you were about 2 years old, I had a dream that my mother came to visit me, and I was praying when she walked in the house. In the dream she came up to me and slapped me to make me stop. I thought it was a strange dream. Then a few weeks later, I was in the living room praying in the Spirit, and she and Daddy came in the house. I didn’t hear them. My first awareness of them was mother calling my name so I slowed down and opened my eyes, and there she stood, just like the dream. She said, “ Barbara, you’re disgusting,” and then slapped me hard.”

This was developing into a most interesting conversation, and I urged her on “what did you do?” “Well, I just turned my face to the other side so she could give me another one, but nothing happened. I looked up at her, and she was white as a ghost and finally sat down on the couch. If I had not had the dream, I’m not sure what would have happened, but Jesus warned me and after that she never again said anything about the way I prayed.”

One time we were all riding in the back of Daddy’s pickup and had a bunch of cousins with us when our dog, Thirsty, somehow got under the rear tire. We ran over her. Thirsty was a very fruitful mother dog who usually gave us a dozen or so puppies each year and was ready to deliver. That old rear tire hit her square in the middle. Dad carried Thirsty into the kitchen and laid her down by the table. We were all standing around crying so Mom wiped her hands on her apron and gathered us all up. “Okay, lets all put our hands on Thirsty and ask Jesus to make her well.” No problem there, we all knew if Mama said Jesus would fix her that would happen. If I remember correctly, there were five of us at the time, and we prayed like she taught us. The next morning Thirsty gave us her usual big litter and not a blemish was found on any of them.

Then there was the time Daddy was working out of town and Mama loaded us all in the car for the weekly ladies’ prayer meeting in Burnet. On the way we stopped and picked up Sister Halbert who was all stooped and older than dirt, with one of those bonnet things on her head, but she was a prayer warrior from whom demons fled. I do not remember anything special about the prayer meeting, but on the way home the car died. Mama and Sister Halbert got out and lifted the hood, and all us kids followed to watch the action.

Of course, they knew nothing about mechanics and eventually closed the hood back down. Sister Halbert said, “Sister Barbara, let’s pray for it. I’m sure there were some double takes from the passing motorist who saw a little old granny, a young mother, and a bunch of kids standing around the car with our eyes closed, one hand in the air and the other on the car. After we prayed we all got back in and Mama turned the key, and it started right up. That really wasn’t a big deal, just the way we lived. However, when Daddy came back home three days later he heard the story and went out to check the car. I remember him sputtering a bit and finally admitting that the only thing wrong with the car was it was out of gas and would not start. I think even Mama was surprised that Jesus could make a car run for three days with no gas.

When I was about 12, we lived in an old farmhouse in Oklahoma and my brother, Randy, and I shared a bedroom up a very steep flight of stairs on the 2nd floor. One night after we went to bed, I woke up and noticed the light was on, but when I tried to get up, I discovered that I was frozen in place. I was on my side looking across the room at Randy, who was asleep, and no matter how I tried, not one muscle would respond. Shear stark terror engulfed my whole being, and then I heard Mom praying downstairs. As soon as I herd her praying, something even weirder happened.

Randy was dead centered in my line of sight. As Mom prayed, I saw a blue man superimposed over Randy, and he sat up and then stood up. He was staring directly at me, was aware of me, but never acknowledged me in any way. I noticed that he was bald headed and even stranger, I could sort of see through him. He turned and walked through the bedroom door. At that exact moment, my body returned to normal. I let out a scream and shot to the stairs, which I leaped down in two bounds, then crashed into the wall at the bottom. When I came back to my senses I was crying and trying to tell Dad what had happened, and all I could say was there is a man upstairs.

When Dad heard that, he went up the stirs in a couple of bounds, and we could hear doors crashing open and shut as he searched the rooms. When he stopped running around, he noticed that Randy was still lying on the bed, but something was not right; he was having some kind of a seizure. They immediately called the pastor and other folks who prayed, and a collective prayer meeting started up. I remember Mom on the floor in the living room praying for Randy and me at the same time. That night she vowed to God that if He would heal Randy she would give Him her iced tea. Mom loved iced tea, but from that day on she never drank it again to my knowledge. Randy never had another seizure either.

Mom’s praying sometimes made us uncomfortable, and we never wanted our friends to hear her. It was kind of a love/hate deal. If we needed God‘s help, mom‘s prayers were a wonderful source of comfort, but when we flirted with the dark side of things, beware; Mom would have a dream and start praying for us. It was crazy how something like a car wreck would happen to get our attention.

Mom doesn’t have to pray anymore, that torch has been passed to us. How we carry it will determine the course of the next generation.

…The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:16

Jesus is in a Small Group…Are you?


Week One sermon notes for series: “Jesus is in a Small Group…Are you?”

Today, we have a gathering of people who are interested in Jesus. Some of you love him. You follow after him. Others are newer to this church or perhaps brand new (first timers). Regardless, the central theme of all the songs, scriptures, dancing, shouting, preaching, praying is JESUS.

We are looking to HIM for our salvation. We are wanting him to be an active part of our life.

I have a secret that I want to share with you. Many of you might not know.

I know where he meets with people.

I know how you can get to know him better.

I know where Jesus hangs out.


AND I WANT TO LET YOU IN ON THIS SECRET, and so I have titled this message series:



Jesus taught 5000 people and then fed them (Mark 6).  He led 120 to the upper room (Acts 1).  He sent 70 out in the Gospels to teach (Luke 10).

However, the reason that we are sitting here today is not because of the 5000 or the 120.

The reason that the gospel message is alive and well and continuing to bring freedom to people 2000 years after Jesus walked on the earth is because he spent the majority of his time with 12 men and a few women.

Read the rest of this entry

Is the World Going to Burn Up?

Back during Easter, I taught on “the Beginning”. We talked about the whole time line of world events from History and the Bible. Several things came up and I was unable to finish the series.

What is going to happen in the end? We want to know. We are curious.

Here is why:
Our perception of the end directly shapes the way we live now.

Eschatology is the part of our study of God that is concerned with the final events of the world, or the ultimate destiny of humanity.

For those of you who grew up in church, you probably have been taught some version of the end of the world. Heaven and Hell. Some churches talk about it a whole lot. The church I grew up in talked about it all the time!

We are going to spend the next few months on 1st Wednesdays talking about some key parts to Eschatology. Second Coming of Jesus, Marriage, Great Battle, Judgment/Justice, Harvest, Birth.

Tonight, we will start with a part that most might not think is important, but I believe it is one of the core concepts that Eschatology deals with.

Will the earth end or not? Will this place burn up until it no longer exists?  Your belief on that topic shapes how you live your life today.

Read the rest of this entry

Philippians Begins | Sermon Notes

philippiansbeginsWe have been studying the book of Philippians for the last month. Acts 16 tells the story of how the Philippian church began when some women were worshipping down by the river.

You could say that today’s sermon is the prequel of the Philippians series.  “Philippians Begins”

It is interesting to see these events converging. The Study of Philippians, They started at a River. Next week we are worshiping at the river.

Twenty years after Jesus ascended into the Heavenly realm, the Apostle Paul was called by God to go on a mission. Sail to foreign lands and preach the good news of Jesus. Jesus is still calling us to preach the gospel in foreign lands.

Mike just talked about our journey to Mexico the last 8 days. When I preached in the different churches, the message was simple. God is perfect, we are far from perfect. Instead of spending the rest of your life trying to earn God’s approval, I have good news for you. While you are in the midst of your sin and rebellion, Christ loved you so much that he lived the perfect life for you. He took your place of punishment and shame. He died in your place. Receive the Good news today! One of the pastors (that’s right, PASTOR), came to me weeping after the service and said, “Thank you so much. I have been working so hard and falling short of the expectations of others. Others put so much pressure on me. I almost feel like a prostitute in my position. I always feel guilty like I have not done enough and need to earn my identity.” I leaned in and touched her shoulder and said I have good news!

Your identity comes from Jesus and he completely accepts you. Stand tall, thank God for his salvation and acceptance, and then give him your allegiance.

This was the message Paul was on a mission to send to the continent of Europe. He saw a vision from God to go to Europe. This was a first! Until this trip, there is no record of the message of Jesus going west of Asia.

There was a Who’s Who of NT Bible characters on this journey. Paul, Timothy, and Luke were among them. They landed on the southern shores of Greece and went about 8 miles inland to the town of Philippi and stayed there a few days.

Philippi was very much a Roman population. Latin is spoken by the higher officials, and an air of Roman superiority pervades the place.  The local religion was a mixture of the worship of the old Thracian gods and goddesses, the Greek Athena, and the Roman gods of Jupiter, Mars, and of course the emperor Caesar.

The guys were hanging around town for a few days and then wanted to meet up with some people interested in the things of God. Whenever they wanted to start a church they would look for people of peace. People that would listen to the message.

As you go about your day, do you look for people of peace. Several times throughout scripture, the concept of People of Peace shows up. Jesus tells the disciples to go throughout the town and look for those that will accept them and the message. If people don’t, then don’t force it. No need to get bitter, sad or mad. Dust off your sandals and keep walking.

I encourage you to pray that God will reveal and make clear the People of Peace throughout your day.

These are farmer moments (sowing seed, tending the soil, or harvest time). Pray for it and expect it.

Paul and the guys wanted to find some Jews, but very few Jews lived there. Consider that about this time, in a.d. 49, Emperor Claudius had expelled the Jews from Rome because they had been blamed for creating a religious disturbance. We surmise that the Roman colony of Philippi had followed Claudius’s example and banished the Jews.

In fact, there was no Jewish Synagogue (a synagogue could not be started with fewer than ten male heads of households to form the congregation). In cities where no Jewish synagogue existed, believers gathered under the sky and near water so other Christians knew where to find them.

So it says in:

Acts 16:13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there.  14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

This verse is loaded with details.

This WOMAN (not a man) is a successful business woman that deals in some of the most expensive goods of that region. She bought and sold purple. We think that is no big deal. Because purple at hobby lobby is right by red, orange, bubble gum, magenta, etc. However, in that day, color was much more complicated.   The purple dye applied to fine linen was obtained from the secretion of shellfish that live in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. It took approximately eight thousand molluscs to produce one gram of purple dye. This made purple cloth was extremely expensive.

Purple garments were worn by emperors and by private citizens as a status symbol. Therefore, we can deduce that Lydia was loaded. She rolled up to the river that day in her Mercedes Benz! She had her Prada handbag! Lydia was not suffering financially.

In Philippi, she faithfully worshiped on the Sabbath at the river with some other women. When Paul taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, she listened attentively to his words.

Acts 16:15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

From this point the Philippian church began! With some women down by the river!  We have every indication that the church began to meet at her home.  Because of what we read in the book of Philippians (ch4) We have reason to believe that Lydia became a major contributor not only to the ongoing work in Philippi, but to the missionary activity of Paul.

This is not the end of the story. There are 2 other major events that happened in this church’s infancy. Over the next few days, Paul and the guys hung out with Lydia and the new church members. They would continue to go down to the river to pray and worship publically. Every time they would head to the river, a young woman slave girl would run alongside them and pester them. What is interesting is that she was telling the truth, but none the less, Paul finally had enough.


18 This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.

This brought peace to the immediate situation but difficulty in the long run. Her masters were very upset that she no longer would bring them money with her spiritual gift (from the devil). He began to falsely accuse them and eventually had them arrested.  They were stripped naked in the public square and beaten with rods! Then they were placed in an underground jail, bound hand and foot.

This was only a couple of days after the first river experience. Very early on in the church of Philippi.

How do you respond to being stripped naked and public, beaten bloody with rods and thrown in jail??

25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. 26 Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!

We make a DECISION to worship. Everyday no matter the circumstances, we can worship or not. I will worship.

A WAY smaller example of this. I was put to the test a couple of weeks ago when I started having back spasms and pain down my right arm. Numbness in my fingers.

I decided that my back pain was going to worship God. So, I intentionally started doing things that would make my back hurt while I was singing and dancing before God. I started talking to my back. If you are going to keep me up all night, then you are going to worship God with me all morning!

When the prisoners were set free, the Roman Jailer freaked out! He was responsible for the jail and he had failed at his job. This would mean certain death for him.

Paul and the guys immediately reassured the Jailer that they didn’t leave. He was safe. He wasn’t going to get in trouble.

HOWEVER, the jailer’s response is amazing. Even though, he is safe in his job, the supernatural experience compels him to ask Paul, “What must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” 32 And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. 33 Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized.  40 When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.

What a great story of the Philippian church beginning. We know from the book of Philippians that this local body of believers continued to flourish long after Paul and the superstar apostles journeyed on to the next church plant!

We believe that PromiseLand San Marcos is a body of believers that are pursuing the same God as Lydia. We are on the same mission as Paul. We are going to experience the same power of conversion.

Join me this week to pray for our time at the River next weekend and every following weekend. May we find people of peace. Hearts ready for the good news of Jesus.

As we go on our ordinary way, may we be not weary in well doing. Continue with passion and unity.

Let’s expect for the power of Jesus Christ to confirm his Gospel. This means signs, wonders, and miracles follow them who believe. Let’s worship God in the midnight jail cell, but let’s also expect him to deliver us from all evil. Let’s expect the supernatural to show up in our everyday lives!

Let’s pray. Some of you are far from God. Today is the day that God is calling you to join him. He is ready for you to accept his love and forgiveness.

It is a simple process but sometimes difficult to do. Letting Go. Jesus offers you a new life today. Let’s let go of our way and jump all in to the ways of Jesus.

He sent you here today to hear the good news of salvation! Repent!

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