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?
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.
When margins decrease…Our focus narrows.
We become very self centered. We become aware of our personal needs. Mental Capacity shrinks.
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
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.
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.
More Financial Peace
What would it take to STAY IN God and not waver. Not sin back and forth. Not be a wishy-washy Christian. Not to be a hypocrite. Not to revert back to a lifestyle of sin.
Today, let’s talk about Guardrails. Guardrails are barriers that keep you from going into a danger area. They are before you get to the danger. They are set up in areas that you could technically drive in, but are warning you to not go any further. They cause a little bit of trouble before you get into a lot of trouble.
Proverbs 22:3 The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it
Most folks in here (if you were honest) would admit that the biggest trouble you have been in could have been avoided if there were guardrails or boundaries or habits that you participated in.
Bankruptcy, affairs, addictions, violence, lashing out, sticking your foot in your mouth, cheating, stealing…any sin. That one thing you wish you could take back!
Today, I am not going to give you a bunch of rules or clearly define the guardrails for your family.
There are some guardrails in scripture, but practically, we all need to examine our life and establish guardrails that are from our heart and intricately connected to our heart…forever.
I want to give you the premise of WHY we have them and then give you the freedom to work them out with your family.
Let’s begin with this simple premise:
Here is what I determined from that list:
- 12 families making up 19 people are still active
- 5 families making up 13 people are no longer here (unknown reason)
- 3 families making up 6 people have moved out of the area
Rick Warren says that pastoring a church is like pastoring a parade. There is a constant moving of people and you are saying, “hello, how are you, goodbye, hello, how are you, goodbye, hello, how are you, goodbye”.
Andy Stanley said, “Everyone leaves your church..at one point or another.” They either move, quit, or die.
Knowing how to pastor people in the flow of life is often challenging. We get personally attached to those who make big time investment. We wish that others would connect more. There are times when it seems like everyone is joining the church and then times when it all seems stale. Thankfully, we have never had a mass exodus or ‘split’. I say ‘thankfully’ because of the emotional pain and logistical nightmare that incurs on us as humans. I am not sure the real damage of this ‘church failure’ to the kingdom. It is quite possible that some mega churches do just as much harm to the message of the gospel. But, I digress…
To keep on loving people, preaching the gospel, correcting, encouraging and fulfilling the commission is exhaustive when looking through the fleshly eyes. We are tempted to believe that our next technique will solve the parade. It won’t. Jesus preached to a parade just as we do. We do our best and learn all we can, however, at the end of the day we need to be focused on Jesus Christ. (period)
When pastoring with a real, personal relationship with God and always centering on the gospel, we are able to:
- Remember what is important
- Reassess priorities
- Not be as concerned with comparisons to other churches or leaders.
- Celebrate everyday victories. (1 baptism, 1 new volunteer, 1 etc)