While reading articles on the web; I could not help but notice the repeated theme about how families can handle the stress of family get-togethers. Why are family functions some of the sweetest times of our holiday, but also some of our most stressful? Well, every family has problems, tensions, and dysfunctions, and those don’t take holiday breaks. It requires a lot of energy to care for a crowd, no matter how much we love them. Even the godly Martha became overwrought when Jesus brought His disciples for supper.
Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” Luke 10:40
Here are two suggestions to keep you from being swept away by the stress of family:
First, don’t be afraid to establish healthy boundaries. Give yourself permission to duck out of the room, escape the mob, and let them fend for themselves. If we’re the ones dropping in on others, sometimes it’s best to get a hotel room rather than crash in the spare room.
Second, make sure you don’t skimp on your devotional time with Christ. Martha needed to take a lesson from Mary’s book and sit at Jesus’ feet a while—and so do you. We love others best by loving Him more.
Jesus Christ was once asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
The great teacher and writer Oswald Chambers wrote, “Your mind is the greatest gift God has given you and it ought to be devoted entirely to Him.” I believe that is true and if the mind is greatly valued by God; then you can be sure Satan is going to fight it. The mind is the most important part of spiritual warfare. It is amazing how little Christ-followers give attention to safeguarding their minds.
Satan does not own this world but he does have access to it. His influence is seen everywhere – in government, education, entertainment, the family, business…everywhere! That is why Proverbs 4:23 says “Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” And yet we allow just about any thought to enter our thinking.
On the battlefield one of the most dangerous places is a mine field. What makes it so dangerous is that you do not know where the explosive are hidden.The enemy is not going to put little red flags everywhere a mine is planted. That is why you need to ask yourself, “Where did that thought come from?”
Every temptation has its origin in the mind. It is a thought before it is an action. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” [Matthew 5:28] The implication is what you are dwelling on in your mind.
“Satan is more concerned about what you think and believe than anything else.” [David Jeremiah] We must not fall for Satan’s trap. “I don’t want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming.” [2 Corinthians 2:11]
The battle is for your mind. Guard Your heart.
Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? They say that everyone has a twin but I could not verify the validity of that saying. But does everyone have a doppelganger? There is only so much genetic diversity to go around,” said Michael Sheehan, an assistant professor of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University.
A new baby is born and someone is bound to say, “Doesn’t he look just like his Uncle Elmer?” Or you go to a family reunion and you prepare yourself for, “You look just like your Aunt Mable!” My family tells me that my grandson, Brice, looks, and acts just like me. [I am not sure if that is a criticism or a compliment!]
I found an interesting verse of Scripture, Acts 4:13 that says, “Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
I am not sure all that this verse implies but I do know that you become like the people you “hang” with. Proverbs 13:20″ He who walks with the wise will become wise…” So as Christ-follower, we must ask ourselves, “Does my behavior, attitude, and actions reflect that I have been with Jesus?
Surrender: to yield (something) to the possession or power of another
Control: to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command
Let’s be honest; most of us like to be in control. We stress out when things seem out of our control. Growing up with two brothers, control was a big issue, whether it was who would ride “shotgun” in the car or would we watch cartoons or American Bandstand. It feels nice to call the shots, drive the car, hold the mic, dominate the remote, and plan out a detour-free itinerary for our lives.
Control becomes a major issue when we refuse to surrender control of our lives to God. I’m like, “Hey God, I know you created the world, and exist outside of time, and are unquestionably wiser than anyone could imagine, but I just want to give you a heads up. You’re going the wrong way!”
Jesus prayed, “Your will be done,” right before His crucifixion; and our hearts, words, and lives should continue His prayer.
We cannot micromanage God, but we can trust Him. We can yield to His guidance, knowing He only leads us in the right direction.
We all get to choose. The options are confidence in our own partial understanding or surrender to the one who holds the map.
You can’t control much of what happens to you in life. You can’t control who your parents are, where you were born, and a variety of things that have a significant influence on your life.
But you can choose how you react to what life throws your way. We have all heard people say, “They make me so bad!” Technically that is not correct. People may do things to you, lie about you or even cheat you but you have the choice how you will respond. The choice is always yours. Proverbs 29:11 (GW) says, “A fool expresses all his emotions but a wise person controls them.”
When we are mistreated, the proper reaction isn’t to blow up or clam up. Instead of responding in anger, God has a better solution. “A kind answer soothes angry feelings, but harsh words stir them up.” Proverbs 15:1
Here is the bottom line: Trust God to settle the score. After all, He has more and better resources to do that than you do.
I am sure that all of us can remember a favorite toy we received at Christmas. To be honest I probably had several “favorites” but the one toy that I remember most was a sock-em-bounce-back clown. No matter how hard or which direction you hit it, it would always bounce back.
I may be stretching the analogy a bit but Christians should be able to “bounce back” when struck by life’s “punches.” “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again…” Provergs 24:16 I read recently a definition of success that I rather like. “Success is falling down seven times but getting back up eight times.”
The secret of “bouncing back” for that toy and Christ-followers is the balance. Something at the center that brings us back to where we should be. Jesus Christ is our anchor that brings us back to center.
“We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.”
“John Wayne.” Just the mention of his name brings a mental image of a man’s man. He is the epitome of the rugged individual; courageous, strong, and never asking for help from anyone, no matter the odds. The concept of the ‘stand alone’ rugged individual is highly regarded in today’s culture.
To ask for help is often seen as a sign of weakness or a lack of self-confidence. I do not remember the “Duke” (or Dirty Harry) ever asking for help from anyone! That makes for a great movie but in reality, we DO need each other.
The Bible refers to Christ-followers as the Body. The Body (both physically and spiritually) is made up of many members which are dependent on each other. 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Sharing the load or asking someone for help is not a sign of weakness but a sign of good judgment.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. (ECCLESIASTES 4:10)