Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

destress — June 8, 2022


Famed news commentator, Paul Harvey, once reported about a man in India who was 120 years old.  Over the years the guy accumulated 23 wives, but he could remember the names of only 16 of them. 

And I thought my life was stressful!

What about yours?  At the end of the day, do you feel like there is more to do, but less of you to do it? 

Jesus wrestled with the same tension but seemed to be able to successfully manage it.  He offered to teach us to do it too.

He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me…”  Matthew 11:28-29   Here’s a few things He passed on.

– Jesus rested.

         A storm overwhelmed the disciples and threatened to swamp the boat.  The services of Jesus seemed to be desperately needed and yet we read, “He was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.”  (Mark 4:38)

Jesus slept when He needed to sleep regardless of what was going on.  A good sleep each night and a day off from work every week will refresh us too.   

– Jesus dined

         The Pharisees accused Him of being a glutton. (Luke 7:34) An exaggerated charge to be sure, but it tells us that Jesus enjoyed food.   A car without gas won’t be going far.  Get something to eat.

– Jesus charged His batteries.

He had just healed a man on the Sabbath.  Jesus’ critics “were filled with mindless rage and began debating with one another what they would do to Jesus.”  (Luke 6:11)   

This is how He responded, “Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God.”  (6:12) As His troubles got bigger, Jesus went deeper.  He prayed. 

– Jesus identified His priorities.

         Some of us are torn in a hundred directions but Jesus knew what his mission was, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10) That was the magnetic north that gave Him direction

                  We would be wise to identity our priorities.  Your spouse and children are primary.  Your job and your service to the Lord are too.  Cover them well.   If you want to, and have the time and energy left- feel free to take on more.

– Jesus said no when needed

He had put in a 16-hour day of ministry in Capernaum.  He then withdrew for a night of prayer.  In the morning, the town’s people found Him and pressed Him to return and resume His healing.  He replied “Let us go elsewhere, into the surrounding villages, so that I can preach there too. For that is what I came out here to do.”  (Mark 1:38)

                  He said, “No” to them.  He would not allow His preaching to be swallowed up by His healing ministry.   Once we have identified our priorities, we then have the freedom to lovingly say no to those things that are not.

– Jesus asked for help.  – Matt. 26:36-38

         At Gethsemane, Jesus asked Peter, James and John to remain awake and pray with Him as He approached the time of His betrayal.  He asked for help.  Sometimes, we are stressed because we have chosen to go it alone.  Those that do forfeit the support and wisdom and companionship that others bring.

I grew up where the streets were often coated in white in the winter.  When stuck in a rut, my teenage impulse was to put the pedal to the metal.  My wheels were spinning but I wasn’t moving.  Then I got smarter, I learned to accelerate slowly.  The tires found traction and I was set free.    

You may be stuck in a spiral of stress.  If so, accelerate a little more slowly.  Take time to rest and eat and pray and reflect on your priorities and even ask for help!  You’ll reduce the stress and find the traction you need.

A PRAYER: Thank you for the lesson, Lord.  Help me to live it.

This has been Jim Johnson and pickleheavenpress.com   

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Scripture from the NETBible ®

the name — October 28, 2020

the name

The pastor was both excited and stressed about officiating at his first wedding.  So, he took a Pastoral Ministry class at the Bible College to learn how to do it.  The prof even shared a sample ceremony that he could use. 

The couple were both new Christians.  Each of them had lived with the pastor and his wife for a time, to be mentored in the faith.  Both were as precious to him as his own children.

The church was packed.  Everyone loved Jack and Dean – his beautiful bride to be.   Dean was the boy named Sue, except in this case the girl named Dean.

The music began and the bridal party processed.  Then Dean debuted.  She was a bit of a tomboy who was transformed into a radiant bride.  The pastor and the groom waited for them at the altar.  One of the two was trembling and it wasn’t Jack.

He was thinking, “Everyone knows what happens at a wedding.  They can probably recite the words.  There is no wingin’ it here.”  He had a specific script to follow and he was concerned about blowing it.

There at the altar, he welcomed the guests and thanked them for being present to witness the marriage of Tom and Susan.   The congregation snickered.  Evidently the stress of the moment caused him to forget their names.

But he didn’t catch it – didn’t even hear the laughter.  He carried on.  A minute later, he again referred to them as Tom and Susan.   More laughter – still no response on his part.

Finally, he started in with the vows.  He was about to marry Tom and Susan when his wife stood up and shouted from mid-congregation, “Their names are Jack and Dean.” 

The church erupted!

He had been using the sample ceremony his prof had given him, complete with the fictitious filler names of Tom and Susan.   He was just too stressed to realize it.

Stress can do that!  It may be happening to you at the moment.

Psalm 119 is the longest of the Psalms in the Bible.  Forget a three-point sermon.  This Psalmist has 22 points to his message – all alliterated according to the Hebrew alphabet.

The Psalmist longed to be a righteous man amid the complexities of life.  He longed for a nation that honored God and was governed by His Word. 

Instead, he experienced arrogant people who scoffed at him and the values that he represented (vs 51).  Wickedness was overrunning the nation and it enraged the author. (vs 53)    

He was a songwriter.  What could he do about it except sing the blues?  Possibly but instead he wrote, “I remember your name during the night, O Lord.” (vs 55) NET Bible ®

Yes, He was stressed, but He did not forget that all important name – His name.  He remembered it in the night.  Did he have the darkness of his circumstances in mind, or the nights he lay on his bed stressing about life – or both? 

Either way, he chose to think on the name of the Lord. 

So, what does this mean?  It’s been a perpetual custom over time, in most cultures to give a person a name that befits them.  The child was a fuzz ball.  He was given the name Esau which meant hairy.

Jacob was born hanging on to his twin brother’s heel.   He was out to overtake him from the start.  He was named Jacob which meant to unseat someone. 

So, God, being God, named Himself.  He told Moses that His name was Yahweh – four Hebrew consonants that form the phrase, “I am.”  God said, “My name is, “I am.”  

The name He chose communicated that He was, is and ever will be – a rock that never rolls.

Half of us are going to be very upset by the results of this election.  The day after, we will need to remember that, “He is.” 

He will endure even if our political ambitions should not.  He will continue to save, even if things should appear to be hopeless.   He will sovereignly manage this world and our nation even if it all appears to us to be spinning out of control.

“He is.”  This is the name that needs to be remembered in the night. 

A PRAYER: Lord, even as we grope in the darkness, remind us that “You are”

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