Grace Baptist Church Decatur, IL



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Desperate Households

Dealing with Stress and Tension

Prov. 15:13-25


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With several weddings scheduled now thru summer I feel like the Lord would have us talk about marriage today.  And the principles apply even to singles, though in this church right now I get the feeling that some of the singles may be thinking about marriage anyway!  And if not, don't look for the right one, be the right one, and when God says the time is right, you'll get the right one.


We have right in this room some great examples of marriage for our young couples to pattern after.

joke--Bob asked Sharon, "Will you love me when I'm old and gray?"  She said, "Sure I do!"


Marriage and family, by God's design, is one of life's greatest privileges and most amazing adventures.  But the devil's plan for marriage includes making life miserable and destroying you to the core.  You will notice in this passage some negative words…


v. 13        sorrow

15                                    afflicted

16                                    trouble

17                                    hatred

18                                    strife

22                                    disappointed


These are all synonyms for stress and tension.  They represent those times when the string gets too tight…and then it snaps!

Ill—guitar string can snap if too tight/balloon seems fine...maybe it can take a little more, then boom!/volcano: beneath surface…fire! / Pressure cooker boils over!


These are stressful times in which we live.  And almost everyday you hear about another home where the string has snapped.

        For example:  did you know that an act of domestic violence is committed every 15 seconds in America?  Scary, isn’t it?  In 1/4th of all marriages, violence occurs at least occasionally.  20% of all murders take place w/in the family!  Of those, 13% are committed against a spouse!

We used to say it’s a jungle out there.  Now we’d have to say, it’s a jungle in here!


Stress in a home is like sand to machinery, and a marriage which should be smooth and efficient, instead begins to slowly grind away!


So, how do we reduce stress and tension in the home?


1.               Learn to Laugh

15:13, 15

Proverbs 17:22
22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

                What is a broken spirit?  Well, the spirit of a man is the wellspring of life, and when the spirit is broken, it means you’ve lost your zest, your enthusiasm, and you’re tempted to give up.

Laughter is a gift God has given to us, to release tension, and to keep our spirits from being broken in this sin-cursed earth.  According to this verse, it’s one of God’s ways of keeping us healthy, emotionally and physically.

        Medical science has proven that when you laugh, chemicals and enzymes are released in the brain which are extremely important to the health of our vital organs.


Listen to part of an article from a secular magazine called Executive Digest:  “Scientists have been studying the effects of laughter on human beings and have found, among other things, that laughter has a profound and instantaneous effect on virtually every important organ of the human body.  Laughter reduces unhealthy tensions, and relaxes the tissues, as well as exercising the most vital organs.  Laughter, even when forced, results in a beneficial effect on us, both mentally and physically.  So, the next time you feel nervous and jittery, indulge in a good laugh.”


I don’t think I could ever possibly deal w/ the stresses and pressures of the ministry if home were not a fun place to be.  Kimberly will vouch for the fact that most of the time our home just rings w/ laughter…once in a while there are other sounds!  But there’s just something wonderful in the air there…


This girl [my wife] gets giddy every night at 9!  You say, I thought she was giddy at church!  No, at church, she’s a “Goth” compared to home!


And the kids pick up on our spirits and join right in…they don’t even know what they’re doing sometimes, but they love the spirit!  And our home is a place of laughter, a place of “playing”, games, jokes, chasing, walks, piles of leaves, etc.!

ill.--chasing around the circle


3 things you ought to give your children:

·       Life

·       Love

·       Laughter


3 rules you ought to have for your home:

·       Be fair

·       Be firm

·       Be fun

Learn to laugh…don’t take things so seriously…lighten up!


Parent's responsibility:  to create an atmosphere in the home where the children can easily choose the right paths in life.


2.               Cultivate Contentment

15:16, 17

vegetable plate/filet mignon


We try to have too much too quickly...we want everything our parents got over several decades, and now...on credit!  The devil is heaping stress upon us and we need to remember things won't make us happy.


ill.—dad pulls up to little frame house in old car/kids run to meet him/enters: smells aroma of fried chicken, ocre, etc./no tablecloth, just placemats, no china, just mismatched dishes…some chipped, stainless steel silverware, paper napkins/dad reaches out and they all hold hands, he thanks God for their love and the food/amen…and dig in!/not in a dining room, just kitchen, but it rings w/ laughter/they tell about their day: hit homerun, dog chewed hair off my dolly.


...contrast this with a mansion w/ white columns out front, dad pulls up in BMW, kicks cat out of the way.  No one comes out to meet him, they’re all in their rooms watching their private TV’s, playing on their X-Box or Nintendo/time to eat…long formal dining room, china, crystal, cloth/servants bring out ors d oeuvre’s, appetizers, soup du jour, salad, smoking roast./Dad eats as fast as he can, preoccupied, thinking about work/Mom has a face like a hatchet, she just knows he’s messin’ around w/ that secretary/surly, rebellious teenagers say nothing unless it’s sarcastic and cutting…


Which of these homes would you like to have?  The first!

        Not saying it’s impossible to have both, although it’s not common to have both.


Let's not play pretend.  It does no good to come here and gather around the Lord's table if all you do is bicker around your kitchen table!


If you want to have a happy home, you have to cultivate contentment.  Live w/in your means.  Financial stress will kill the spirit of a home…you don’t need that.

Our children need more love and less technology.

"On the information superhighway our children are the roadkill!"


“Better is a dinner of herbs…”

Don’t even get on the treadmill of materialism, it doesn’t take you anywhere! (if only we had a bigger, nicer house, newer car…no, if you’re not happy w/ what you’ve got now, you wouldn’t be then, it has nothing to do w/ it.)


We're supposed to love people and use things, but many of us love things and use people.


Phil. 4:11

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

I Tim. 6:8

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

Heb. 13:5

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.


We are blessed w/ a nice house, and some nice things…modest, but nice…but you know, we’re no happier than we were in that 2 room apartment, driving that little Cavalier with 180,000 miles on it!  We’re thankful for what we now have, but we know it doesn’t bring happiness w/ it…it’s all wood, hay, and stubble!


In Luke 12:15, Jesus said:

Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.

I Tim. 6

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.


Cultivate contentment!

I know many people today have to work 2 jobs, and many hours, just to make ends meet…that’s ok, I’m not talking about making a living, and providing the basics…I’m talking about the tyranny of things, that prompts some people to go out seeking more money to buy more things, or to pay off what they already bought on credit, when they should be out in the yard teaching that boy to throw a baseball, or reading that book to that girl.


But many have to keep up w/ the Joneses’…we buy things we don’t need, w/ money we don’t have, to impress people that we don’t like!


And singles can be content to, and focus on the advantages!


So, learn to laugh, cultivate contentment…


3.               Alleviate Anger

Proverbs 15:18
18 A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife.

Proverbs 14:17
17 He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.

Proverbs 18:13
13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.
[put mouth in gear before brain]
Proverbs 29:20
20 Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

The clear lesson here:  the way to control anger is to control your mouth…your tongue! 

Joke—I always get the last word…yes dear!

          Last argument:  I had her on her hands and knees…come out from under that bed and fight like a man!


        Nothing will reduce stress and tension in the home like getting control of your words.

        When you are mad, angry, upset (and those times will come) keep your mouth shut!  “Be angry, and sin not!”

What we think:  “maybe I will make my point better if I say it a little louder” (then they get louder) “or if I add some sarcasm or a cutting insult…then they’ll get the point!”


You say, "Yeah, but in the heat of that moment, I can’t control my mouth"…oh yes you can!

Ill—argument (simulate)/phone rings/ (sweetly) hello!


You can control it if you want to!


Proverbs 15:1
1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

 Don’t take the bait!  “I’m not biting”  It ends there!


So, learn to laugh / cultivate contentment / alleviate anger…


4.               Walk in Wisdom

15:21, 22, 33


We need to do some prevention, especially if things are good now at home.  Because many times the marriage which started out as the ideal becomes an ordeal and somebody starts looking for a new deal!


We need to have a real plan, not just fly by the seat of our pants.  The Bible says that God is not the author of confusion…if your home is characterized by confusion, understand that God is not in that!  Strife and tension result when there’s confusion, when we’re not on the same page, when the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing…the result isn’t unity and harmony, it’s division, strife, tension, and stress!


Problems WILL arise on a daily basis, that’s normal, but wisdom begs us to start attacking the problem, together, in unity, and stop attacking each other.  Attack the problem, not the person.


Listen to Mt. 7

24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.


You can build your home on 1 of 2 foundations:  rock or sand

        The difference is whether or not you put Christ first in your life/marriage…that's building on The Rock…and when the winds of adversity blow, and the waves of disappointment roll in, your house will be able to weather the storm.  That’s walking in wisdom!


And then you can build something beautiful together!  On the foundation of Christ, if your salvation is anything more than just fire insurance to you, or a tradition, or a duty, if there’s any depth to your salvation at all, then on top of that rock foundation, you will build walls of worship, w/ studs of Sunday school and siding of Sunday night, windows of wed. night attendance.  Paint the interior w/ peace, and carpet w/ contentment.  Build a kitchen of kindness, and stock the shelves well in the pantry of purity…then hang a chandelier of charity.  A hallway of holiness will often lead you back to a bedroom of bliss!  And make sure and have that special room where the whole family can bathe in the lather of laughter.  That fireplace of forgiveness will warm the atmosphere, and leads right up to the roof of repentance which will keep your whole family sheltered from the storms of sin.  The blessings are right in your own backyard if you want them!  And if you’ll build your house on the rock!



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