know I recently had a lot of fun here on a Sunday in between church services.
Actually it was after church service and maybe you saw me, I got to go around
and talk to people for a while so I want you to take a look and see some of the
things I found out.
(VIDEO ROLL IN)
I just want to ask you to today, I want to ask you what you’re feeling anxious
about or worried about, or perhaps, I don’t know, stressed about?
FEMALE: I have a tea party in a half an hour and we’re a half an
hour away and I got to go change because I have dirt on my pants and my
daughter needs a change, and she’s got muddy and she’s hot, so yeah that, today
right at this second, that’s my stress.
I’m originally from Nigeria and I’m here alone, you know, so every other day I
continue to worry, I continue to pray and God continues to keep them, you know,
safe back home until I go to see them.
FEMALE: I think that busyness really just takes over my life, like
school and I play basketball and that takes over also, and then money being in
college, really is a tough thing right now.FEMALE:
Right now it’s my children. I have a daughter who’s 32 and she’s been having
heart problems and she had to wear a heart monitor all day Friday and so now we
have to wait for the results to find out what’s going on and what’s wrong with
FEMALE: You know
I sometimes question my calling and my function and my purpose.
FEMALE: Making sure that I’m doing the
best I can for him. That’s probably my biggest anxiety, is making sure that I’m
doing the best I can.
CHILD: I have a
lot of math.
DONNA: Oh, a lot
of math homework or just in school?
Just in school and at home, every time.
FEMALE: I’m a
school fanatic and I know that I’m going to be going back to school in the
evenings and where should I go, what should I be studying, is it going to
interfere with my marriage, with my work, it’s a pretty heavy question for me.
anxious about the world situation. Everything’s happening around us and
negative things people are involved in, that’s it for me. But in my personal
life, no, I believe in Jesus.
OF VIDEO ROLL IN)
everyone who participated. A few of you I see here this morning. I find it very
interesting. I’ve been a pastors wife for twenty four years and I think one of
the things people assume about me is since I’m a pastors wife I never have any
reason to be anxious or stressed or nervous or any of those anxiety filled. And
to a certain extent I would say yes I probably am better than most at putting
that over to the side and handing it over to the Lord and going on with my
life. But on the other hand I want you to know I’m just like all of you. In
fact let me tell you there are a couple things I can think of right now that
I’m stressed about. For one, my husband and I have two kids in college; okay
that’s very expensive. So we’ve got the financial stress. The third thing I can
think of right off the top of my head is we have a daughter that’s getting
married June 7th. That’s a positive stress, as is having kids in
college, but there you go. Once again there’s the anxiety associated with
planning a wedding and the financial stress. So those are just a few things I
can just come up with that quick.
You know it’s
really interesting we all get these emails from time to time. Does anybody else
get like what I call junk mail and some times you delete it and sometimes you
don’t. Yes I get tons of it, but most of the time you know I use my email a lot
for work, for ministry work so I don’t have time to read all those things. But
one came across my desk the other day. I took a minute to look at it because
the title caught my eye because I was planning on speaking to you about the
power of peacefulness. And it said how to have peace and calmness in your
lives. So I just want to read it to you, it’s very brief. This lady wrote this
email and she said; she recently saw a talk show where the talk show host was
sharing one of the ways to achieve inner peace was to finish all the things
that you’ve started and have never finished. That sounded good enough so I read
on. She went on to say, so I looked around my house to see all the things I’d
started and I hadn’t finished. Before the day was over I finished off a bottle
of white zinfandel, a bottle of bailey’s Irish cream, a package of Oreos, the
remainder of my old Prozac prescription, the rest of the cheesecake, some
Doritos, and a box of chocolates. And she goes on to say I felt terrific. Now
you know I read that I laughed also and there’s a real funny part about that.
It’s funny, but the flip side of that is it’s really rather tragic because
people do live their lives that way. That’s where they find their peace. And
I’ll admit I mean its temporary peace maybe, it feels great to go out and eat
chocolates doesn’t it? Afterwards you feel kind of bad and I could go on and
on. You know people that drink
excessively, excessive amounts of alcohol. People that abuse drugs. People that
don’t take care of this temple of the Holy Spirit as the bible instructs us.
They’re really not living a peaceful life.
With that in
mind I’d like to share with you where I find my peace and my comfort and how I
de-stress. So again we’re going to be referring to the Power for Life Bible. This
is a new bible put out by the Crystal Cathedral. It’s the same great bible Old
and New Testament. Happens to be today’s new international version. In the beginning of each book of the
bible there is a power purpose and a power focus. The power purpose of the book
of Philippians is where St. Paul encourages us to rejoice in all circumstances.
Now you have to remember something really important. Paul was in prison okay?
He was in prison in Rome. Now I know some of us today, some people that will be
listening to me when this airs, they will physically be in prison. But I also
realize that there are intangible prisons that we all put ourselves in from
time to time. That’s the prison of self-doubt; the prison of sadness and
anxiety or maybe it’s something a little more concrete, like maybe you’re in
the prison of drugs or alcohol. But I know this: Paul broke free. Paul teaches
us and again in the power focus of this book is that God will complete the
positive work He began in us and He will supply everything we need to fulfill
His plans for our lives.
So hear what Paul
says from prison. “Rejoice in the Lord always, I’ll say it again rejoice. Let
your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about
anything but in every situation by prayer and petition with thanksgiving
present your requests to God and the peace of God, which transcends all
understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. And
finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is
right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable if anything
is excellent or praiseworthy think about such things. Let your gentleness be
evident to all,” we read in that verse 5. Be gentle. Be gentle with yourself,
with others and with God’s creation. What do I mean by self? You know if you’re
like me you’re probably your worst critic. I know I am so hard on myself. I
have to constantly tell myself take it easy Donna, relax, chill out, be good to
yourself, right? I’m my worse critic. So be good to yourself.
Some of the ways
that I’ve found to do that is I try to wake up slowly in the morning. You know
that alarm clock or opportunity clock I try to call it, which is kind of tough
some mornings, it goes off. Instead of just bolting right out of bed, which is
my God given nature. That’s just the way I am. Robert will tell you I used to
make the bed up when he was still sleeping. Seriously. When we first got
married. I’ve overcome a lot and I don’t do that anymore. But that’s my natural
God given bent, that’s my personality. So I have learned to be gentle. If it
takes waking up two, three, four, five minutes is ideal, early, I like to
stretch before I get out of bed. I like to think about in my mind what I have
ahead of me. I like to say a quick prayer to God and I like to be gentle to
myself. It’s made a big difference to me in the way I wake up in the morning. I
try to eat right, I exercise and I encourage you to do the same thing as
difficult as it might be. It really does help.
Breathe. So many
of us don’t breathe. You know it’s the first thing we give up is proper
breathing when we get stressed out. And I think if you pay attention you’ll
agree with me that you know that when you’re anxious its like you either forget
to breathe and so you take a couple of deep breaths and then you don’t breathe
for a couple of minutes and then a couple more and then you don’t breath or you
do huffing and puffing. Not because you’re exhausted physically. So I want to
encourage you to breathe. Breathe in the beautiful, beautiful life that Jesus
has given to you and then breathe out all that stress and anxiety. I guess that
it’s worked for me, I’m practical.
Be gentle with
others. You know its amazing what you can see just driving around or walking
around and I’ll never forget just recently, this past Easter my husband and I
were taking a walk. We’re walking down the street and we don’t have little kids
at home anymore so I’m always busy looking at what everybody else’s little kids
are doing. I can’t wait to have grandkids, but we’re not quite there yet. But
I’m looking and we hear this woman come running out of her house and there are
quite a few children out playing on swing sets and fiddling with bikes and
things children do. But she says get in here! Get in here real quick, little
Johnny, little Bobby! We are going to die Easter eggs by golly and we’re going
to do it now! The Easter eggs are ready! Get in! We’re going to die Easter
eggs! We’re going to have fun. And I thought wow! Gee! You know and it reminded
me, right? It’s like holding a mirror up, it reminded me that perhaps I’ve been
a little harsh when I had little children at home, we all get a little stressed
out, but how interesting. You know that in the midst of trying to create a
beautiful, wonderful experience for our kids or for anybody, we can treat them
in less than a gentle way. So you know it’s like our guest Marian said today,
we never know, we never know when it’s our child’s last day or our spouse or
our friends. So I would just encourage you to look at people that way and to
treat people with gentle kindness.
Be gentle with
God’s creation. What do I mean by that? You know it was recently Earth Day and
I’m not going to get off on a big green message although I think that a lot of
that is just really wonderful, but we don’t have time for that today. I will
say this; my mom raised me, I’m now looking back and realizing my mom raised me
to be so ecologically minded. I mean I have been recycling my whole life. And
like in every way imaginable. I think it’s because she was brought up so poor
that it was just part of her nature and thus I’ve just kind of probably
inherited that and passed it on. But let me give you a couple of examples of
what you can do, just a few. And we won’t go into them in great detail but
these are just really easy things you can do to be gentle with the earth.
Number one: recycle. We recycle Christmas cards. We get Christmas cards, my mom
and I have been doing this together since I was a little kid. It’s like a craft
project, but I never really realized that, it was just part of what we did. You
rip off the cover of the Christmas card if people don’t write in it, right? And
then you make little gift tags and you put them on your gifts and you make them
so they can coordinate in with your wrapping. I’m sounding like Martha Stewart
aren’t I, but anyway. That’s the only Martha Stewart part of me; I’m not that
crafty. But that is something we can do that is so easy.
that is so easy, you know how we all get those bags, like either you go to a
luncheon or maybe somebody will give you one for Christmas, it’s a book bag or
sometimes you can get them at various bookstores. They are canvas bags. Put all
those bags that you don’t know what to do, put them in the trunk of your car.
Next time you go to the grocery store pull them out so you don’t have to use
the bags in the grocery store. Now these are just easy things. And if you’re
anything like me, you’ll leave them in the trunk of your car, you’ll be
checking out and you’ll have to say wait a minute, wait a minute, I’ll be right
back I promise, and you go sprinting out to your car and you open your trunk
and you get them and you bring them in. But it works.
Third thing is that
I think is so easy to do to be gentle with our earth is to turn off the lights
and the TV’s before you leave the bedrooms, the dining rooms or your house.
Turn off the radio, I don’t know I think maybe women are better at turning
things off than men; I’m not sure how it is in your house. But turn things off.
You know it’s so easy. So be gentle. Be gentle with yourself with others and
with God’s creation.
Moving on to
verse 6, Paul tells us to pray with thanksgiving. Be grateful; be grateful for
where you are, for what you have. I also saw driving down the street a couple
weeks ago a young man had a shirt on; it said peace is a state of mind. It was
a simple t-shirt and I though wow that’s great. What a great message. And I
thought a little more about it and I thought you know it could say peace is a
state of mind or prayer is a state of mind. I really believe prayer is a state
of mind. Being grateful for all things all the time. You know I took a class
many years ago where the professor said that one of our assignments was to come
up with a gratitude list. And he said you will be graded depending on how heavy
it is. Make a gratitude list; it will help you be grateful.
You know I’m
wearing this suit this morning and it’s not by accident that I chose this suit.
I’m wondering if one of the cameramen might be able to get the buttons here
because I wore this because of the buttons. These buttons belonged to my
grandmother who died last year just shy of her one hundred and first birthday.
And it’s interesting because I think they actually were my great grandmothers.
My grandmother was a great seamstress. With that being said, every time I look
at these buttons they remind me of my grandmother’s last year or two of her
life and how grateful I am that she taught me how to stop and smell the roses.
Now I know that’s cliché, but I mean that literally. I used to take my
grandmother from the center she lived in, and I would take her for a ride in
the wheelchair around the building and that was the highlight of her day. She’d
put on her little hat, and she’d put on her little glasses so she wouldn’t get
sunburned and we’d wheel around and you know I’d be like okay I’ve got an hour,
and hour and a half, I’m going to wheel my grandmother, but I’ve got to get
back. I’ve got to get to work, I’ve got to go shopping, I’ve got to make
dinner, you know? And sure enough as God would have it, my grandmother would
say something like, “wait, wait, wait Donna. Wait honey, stop there. Look at
those flowers. Aren’t they beautiful?” And I’m sitting there yeah they’re
beautiful grandma. So we’d stop. I’d pick flowers for her. She’d collect them,
we’d smell them together. We’d go a little further she’d say wait, wait, wait
look at the birds. Listen to those birds. Aren’t those birds beautiful? Wow,
grandma yeah they’re beautiful. I don’t take time to appreciate the birds. You
know there are so many beautiful things. Look at this building here. This
building is just unbelievable. We have a gorgeous church, we have gorgeous
campus. Everything about life can either be looked at in its splendor or you
can look at it negatively. So I want to encourage you to just be grateful for
what you do have.
Another way to
always live your life in gratitude is to give back. You can give of your
finances; you can give of your time by volunteering and serving. The great
Bishop Fulton Sheen said, “The way not to lead a monotonous life is to live for
others.” And I truly believe that. And I truly believe that God wants us to
live that way. You know living for others starts in our home. We already talked
about being gentle in our home to our children. But if you have the urge and if
you have the desire there’s so many great things going on at this church
locally out in the mission field. Just last week I went with a group of women
to the house of hope. It’s a transitional home for women and children that have
nowhere else to go. And I’ve got to tell you if I didn’t feel just filled,
overflowing with gratitude after I left that place it was just fantastic. I’m
going back. We have all kinds of these things happening all the time, every
day. Get in touch with somebody if you’re interested. Once you start giving
locally, I want to encourage you to give globally. We’re a global church. We
are televised to the entire world. We are going; Robert and I are going to China.
So we have a China project you can get involved in. If you are interested we
will let you know what you can do for the people in China. China has one sixth
of the world’s population. We have a responsibility to share the good news, to
share the gospel of Jesus Christ with China. They’re huge, they need us. They
need the positive word of Christ. So you can get involved there. Nepal: my
son’s church, The Gathering, they’re leaving for Nepal on June 18th I believe, it’s coming up real quick. They’re going on a medical mission there.
I know three of my kids are going on that one. My son and his wife and then
Anthony, our college son is going to Nepal. So if you want more information on
how you can support that mission I can tell you there’s a lot of kids that
can’t afford to go and they’re just, every day writing letters to their aunts,
uncles, friends, neighbors so if you want to help with Nepal it’s an amazing
thing! You want to feel grateful? They’ll come back with a report about
Christ’s word exploding in Nepal like you won’t believe.
Going on to
verse eight: Be deliberate. The bible says in verse eight Paul says, “Think of
good things. Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever
is pure, whatever is lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy, think about
those things. Be deliberate. Be deliberate in what you choose to watch before
you go to bed at night. Be deliberate if you’re having a bad day of what kind
of music you listen to in your car. Surround yourself with good people. This
bible, every bible is filled with power people. They’re powerful not because
they had power on their own. They were ordinary people, many times, just like
you and I. But they filled their life with powerful purpose and that’s what
made them powerful people. So surround yourself with power people. Everyone you
have a relationship with is either bringing you closer to God or pulling you
further away from Him. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that before but I
truly believe that.
And then back to
Marian; gee it’s just so humbling having her share about the loss of her
daughter; I have two daughters, I can’t even begin to imagine. But one thing I
heard loud and clear is she talked about not being angry. And another way to be
deliberate in our attitudes and all is to not hold resentments, to not be angry
with people, to not hate. Now I don’t know if you’ve heard it said before but
I’ve heard that anger and resentment, if you hold onto those things, it’s like
drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. So please be deliberate
about getting rid of your anger and your resentments.
And in verse
nine we go on to read, “Put these things into practice.” St. Paul says, “Put
them into practice. Be persistent. Practice makes perfect, you’ve heard of that
before, right? Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. Not finding
one that satisfied, he announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The
challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere and paintings arrived
from far and wide. Finally, the great day of revelation arrived. The judge’s
uncovered one peaceful scene after another while the viewers clapped and
cheered. The tensions grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As the judge
pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror smooth lake
reflected lacy green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the
grassy shore a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely, this picture was the
winner. The man with the vision uncovered the second painting himself and the
crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace? A tumultuous waterfall cascaded
down a rocky precipice. The crowd could almost feel its cold penetrating spray.
Stormy gray clouds threatened to explode with lightening, wind and rain. In the
midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the
rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the
torrential waters as it foolishly was seeking to experience its full and
powerful force. A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch.
Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs.
With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she
manifested the peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.
Be gentle, be
grateful, be deliberate and be persistent and finally in verse nine we read and
this is a promise: “The God of peace, He will be with you.” Thank you.