Busyness (not business…. busy-ness)

I am convinced there are 4-5 key areas of attack from the enemy on the heart of a man.  The goal of the enemy is to take you out.  Defeat you.  Wipe you out.  Tempt you and slather you in guilt later for falling for that temptation.  Beat you to a pulp.  Wear you out.  John 10:10 said he comes to steal, kill and destroy.  This isn’t a dance in the park boys, this is war.  And you are kidding yourself if you think otherwise and falling for yet another of his craftiest ploys…convincing us he’s not there.

So in no particular order we have — 1) our wounds from the past – from our Dad or our Mom or from being all alone or the wounds of our own making.  Then we have 2) money – the lust for it, the belief that money can fix our problems and make life “better” and then slavery of money (debt).  Then we have 3) sex –  many men are either too focused on it – selfishly focused on his needs being met multiple times a week – or – they have ventured into adultery either with another woman or cyber adultery with the illusion of what a woman can be for him.  And then we have 4) busyness – the craziness of life dragging a man down into oblivion.

And that’s what I want to talk to you (and me) about today.  I attended a B’not Mitvah last weekend for a family friend.  I enjoyed listening to the ancient Hebrew being read and the chants being sung.  My heart hurt for these people because the lack of a Savior is palpable among them.  They still wait.  They still cry out.  Tomorrow they will celebrate The Passover on the Day we celebrate Good Friday.  I digress.  The service said this about the Sabbath – “The meaning of Shabbat is to celebrate time rather than space.  Six days a week we live under the tyranny of space; on Shabbat we try to become attuned to holiness in time.  It is a day on which we are called upon to share what is eternal in time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation, from the world of creation to the creation of the world.”

I loved part of that – “We live under the tyranny of space…” and we should shift our focus from “the results of creation to the mystery of creation.”

We do live under the tyranny of space.  We spend our working days trying to build and acquire and expand and the more we conquer, the more our territory ends up owning us rather than us owning it.  The world we live in is crazy.  Busyness has exploded in the past decade.  The internet has fast forwarded our lives almost exponentially.  You can never unplug from work – emails, text messages, online reporting, online meetings, clients sending you emails at home at night that you get while relaxing with your iPad and your stress level goes up.  Relaxing with an iPad?  Really?  If you think about it, what about the iPad is relaxing?  Angry Birds?  Raises stress levels.  Words with Friends?  I end up cheating so I won’t lose.  Trying to land airplanes all converging at one airport and you’re the controller?  Right…that’s peaceful.  Reading the news?  No stress there.  Playing commando games where you are trying to knock off a drug lord without getting killed?  No pressure there.  Cruising Facebook stalking other people?  I’m NO Facebook fan.  It is voyeurism to me – peering into other people’s lives and homes and vacations while trying to present my life as perfect and wonderful.

Here’s my point – we cannot disconnect anymore.  In the 17 hours a day I am awake, I am “busy”.  There is always something tugging at me, pulling at me, pushing me, worrying me, annoying me.  This is not good.  It has the cumulative effect of simply wearing a man down.

And so when I see you and see your lives (and when I am honest about my life) I see the busyness.  I see men so “slammed” that they are rushing out the door leaving church just to get going to the next urgent thing in their life.  I see men that want to engage, the know there is something “more” out there they are missing, that have this deep craving for a passionate walk with the Lord but are just so worn out, so pulled, so busy that they just don’t have time to redirect.

John 10:10 also says, “But I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  Life is freedom.  It is freedom from tyranny of the urgent, the tyranny of all this space we’ve acquired and that now owns us.  Let us never forget that the graveyard is full of “indispensible people” – people so “important” that many imagined there’d be no way ____ Company would exist after they were gone or _____ Church could thrive without them.

Men we are calling you to retreat.  To quiet.  To Shabbat.  To just simply “stop”.  Realize what this crazy world is doing to you.  Wake up and realize the busyness is slowly burying you and that in falling prey to busyness, we are missing so much of what the Lord wants for us.  Disconnect.  Unplug.  Walk in the garden in the cool of the day.  Don’t check emails, voicemail, texts at night at home or on the weekend.  Get your priorities in order.  And most importantly of all, get quiet.  You cannot hear the Lord running full speed with the music blaring, the cell phone ringing and 40 emails you just “have” to respond to.

Quiet.  Silence.  Peace.  Rest.  Retreat.  Sit outside on your driveway and watch the sun set.  Get up early and watch it rise on your back porch.   Time alone with God asking Him, “Lord what is it that you want for me?”

The men’s retreat is two weeks away.  Are you going?  Do you have time for it?

The lottery

John Piper put this on his blog today about the lottery.  It is very good.  Excellent really and it points to many of the things we have to battle in this fallen world.  A staggering fact he discusses – the extreme poor those making $13,000 a year spend 9% of their income on the lottery and the average American household spends $500 a year.  For 99.99% of us that is $500 down the drain year after year chasing the illusion that a whole bunch of money will make me truly happy.  Pray for our nation.

Tonight a ticket will be chosen worth over half a billion dollars. Lottery agents in New York were selling 1.3 million Mega Millions tickets per hour Thursday.  Officials were expecting to sell about 1.2 billion tickets total before the drawing.

“Americans spend about $60 billion on the lottery every year,” says Stephen Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics.  “More than $500 per American household goes to playing the lottery.”

There are at least seven reasons you should not gamble with your money in this way — and should tell your congressmen not to support it.

1. It is spiritually suicidal.

“Those who desire to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. . . They have pierced themselves with many a pang” (1 Timothy 6:7–10).

2. It is a kind of embezzlement.

Managers don’t gamble with their Master’s money. All you have belongs to God. All of it. Faithful trustees may not gamble with a trust fund. They have no right. The parable of the talents says Jesus will take account of how we handled his money. “They went and worked” (Matthew 25:16). That is how we seek to provide for ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:11; Ephesians 4:28)

3. It’s a fool’s errand.

The odds of winning are nearly 176 million-to-one. You take real money and buy with it a chance. That chance is so infinitesimally small that the dollar is virtually lost. 175,999,999 times. The smaller amounts paid out more often are like a fog to keep you from seeing what is happening.

4. The system is built on the necessity of most people losing.

The Lottery is just another form of gambling (without any of the glamour and glitz of Las Vegas, of course). The “house” controls the action, the players will all eventually lose.

5. It preys on the poor.

It supports and encourages “yet another corrosive addiction that preys upon the greed and hopeless dreams of those trapped in poverty. . . The Consumerist suggested that poor people in the U.S. — those earning $13,000 or less — spend an astounding 9 percent of their income on lottery tickets. . . making this ‘harmless’ game a ‘deeply regressive tax.’”

6. There is a better alternative.

A survey by Opinion Research Corporation for the Consumer Federation of America and the Financial Planning Association revealed that one-fifth (21 percent) of people surveyed thought the lottery was a practical way to accumulate wealth. We are teaching people to be fools.

If the $500 a year that on average all American households throw away on the lottery (see above) were invested in an index fund each year for 20 years, each family would have $24,000. Not maybe. Really. And the taxes on these earnings would not only support government services, but would be built on sound and sustainable habits of economic life.

7. For the sake of quick money, government is undermining the virtue without which it cannot survive.

A government that raises money by encouraging and exploiting the weaknesses of its citizens escapes that democratic mechanism of accountability. As important, state-sponsored gambling undercuts the civic virtue upon which democratic governance depends. (First Things, Sept., 1991, 12)

So, if you win, don’t tithe your lottery winnings to our church. Christ does not build his church on the backs of the poor. Pray that Christ’s people will be so satisfied in him that they will be freed from the greed that makes us crave to get rich.