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Thoughts for A New Year.....................................

                     Living With Margin or Living Razor-Thin?

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we willreap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity(and time), let us do good to all people especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:9,10

Consider the following stats........................................

People now sleep 2 1/2 fewer hours each night than people did 100 years ago. We're sleeping less than our grandparents did. (I'm writing this at 5 AM!)
The average work week is longer now than it was in the 1960's.
The average office worker has 36 hours of work piled up on his/her desk.
It takes 3 hours a week just to sort through it all and find what we need.
We spend 8 months of our lives opening junk mail, two years of our lives playing phone tag with people who are busy or who are not answering, five years waiting for people who are trying to do too much and are late for meetings.
We're a piled-on, stretched-to-the-limit society. Our lives are razor-thin.
Overload comes when we have too much activity in our lives, too much change, too many choices, too much work, too much debt, and too much media exposure. To put it simply, we're stressed by the pace of life!
Is there a solution? Yes! The solution is to put margin in your life. Margin
is breathing room. It's keeping a little reserve that you're not using up.
It's not going from one meeting to the next with no space in between.
Margin is the space between your load and your limit.

One of the speakers that Ann and I enjoyed at Catalyst West, in Irvine, CA sometime ago was Andy Stanley. Andy pastors North Point Ministries in Atlanta, GA overseeing about 30,000 people at 5 different church campuses in the Alanta area. He also offers great insight into helping leaders to maximize their giftedness where ever God has called them to lead and serve.
In his talk he reminded the 3,500 church leaders that the more "successful" you become the less accessible you are. "Often", he said, 'our reponse is to become all things to all people." That's a recipe for crashing and burning (my words!).
We all recognize that we can't shut it all out BUT we also can't take it all on!
We need balance! The most helpful thought from that talk was this: "Do forONE what you wish you could do for ALL." It's impossible to be all things for all people so we have to be selective in what we do. That is good stewardship of the time God gives to each of us. Please read again the Scripture noted above.

In his book, MARGIN, Dr. Richard Swenson writes:
The conditions of modern day living devour margin. If you're homeless we direct you to a shelter. If you're penniless we offer you food stamps. If you're breathless we connect you to oxygen. But if you're marginless we give you more to do. Marginless is being 30 minutes late to the doctors officebecause you were 20 minutes late out of the hairdresser because you were
10 minutes late dropping the children off at school because the car ran out of gas two blocks from a gas station and you forgot your purse. That's marginless. Margin, on the other hand, is having breath at the top of a staircase, money at the end of the month, and sanity left over at the end of adolescence. Margin is grandma taking the baby for the afternoon. Margin is having a friend help carry the burden. Marginless is not having the time to finish the book you're reading on stress. Margin is having the time to read it twice. Marginless is our culture. Margin is counter-culture, having some space in your life and schedule. Marginless is the disease of our decade and margin is the cure."

When we choose to live with margin there are immediate benefits we will enjoy.

1. You will begin to experience peace of mind.

When you're not hurrying and worrying all the time you have time to think.
You have time to relax and time to enjoy life.

2. You begin to experience better health.

Unrelenting stress and overload harms our bodies. We all know that, yet we let it continue day after day after day. Many times the only time we get margin is when the heart attack almost happens or does happen or the blood pressure skyrockets. Why do we wait until our health plummets before we make this decision? Why not realize that TODAY is the day to build margin into our lives?
Our bodies NEED downtime in order to heal. Even race cars make pit stops every so many laps to get repaired. You can't fix anything at 200 miles an hour!
Yet we try to repair while racing through life. Margin makes for better health!

3. You begin to experience stronger relationships.

Lack of margin is one big reason for the collapse of families. Relationships take time and margin provides the time time to sit and talk, to listen and enjoy one another and to offer help to one another.

4. You begin to experience freedom to serve others.

When you're overloaded by activity, you can only think of yourself. You're in survival mode, just trying to make it through another day. Being available to God for God's use makes all the difference in the world. When you have no margin in your life,
when God taps you on the shoulder and says, "I'd like you to do this for me", your first response isn't joy. Your first response is, "Oh, no! Another thing to do!
Sorry God.... I'd like to do that but I'm just too busy!" We end up resenting the great opportunities that God brings into our lives. But when you have margin, you're available for God to use.
We don't have to live on overload. We don't have to try to be all things to all people.
We don't have to live in survival mode. Begin TODAY to build a buffer around your schedule. You'll enjoy the benefits of margin. The choice is yours. And then, see what God does next! Blessings!
Pastor Loren

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