We hear a lot today about reducing stress and the health benefits of living with less stress. The question is, how do you do it? How do you keep your cool when the pressure heats up?
How do you stop stress before it starts? Don't go away. Thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram.
Living on the Edge is an international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. I'm Dave Druey. And in just a minute, Chip picks up where he left off last time in his series, Overcoming Emotions That Destroy, with the second part of his message, Learning How to Stop Stress Before It Starts. After this teaching, Chip will be with us in studio to share some additional thoughts, so be sure to stay with us for that. With that said, let's join Chip now as he continues unpacking ways to minimize stress in our day-to-day lives. Number four, admit mistakes and imperfections. If we could just liberate one another, one of the core values, we only have four at Living on the Edge, and we did it with the acronym, L-O-T-E, and the L is for live it out.
We've got to be what we want others to become, and the O is for own your stuff. Don't blame, don't tell someone else, it wasn't on time, it was you're late. I love it when someone says, one of the new guys that's working with us, and I get this email, hey Chip, sorry man, haven't done this in years, I thought my plane was to leave at this time, it's no one else's fault, I didn't look at the thing, I missed my plane, I'll miss the meeting, I blew it, sorry. I wrote him an email back, I said, hey Rick, let me tell you this, you made my day, thanks so much, you didn't tell me it was someone else's fault, you didn't tell me your assistant blew it, you didn't tell me that you renegotiated things and thought it might be better to come a second day but you're really sorry, there was no smoke, there was no mirrors, you made a mistake, welcome to the human race, you owned your stuff, way to go, keep it up. Do you realize how much stress we're under to slightly bend the truth to say the traffic was really heavy, of course it was very heavy and you're left a half hour late, right?
You know, you would really love to do it, you would never want to do that in a million years, right, but you can't, you know, just, you forgot, how about that one? You know, like, you know what, I forgot to call you back, there was one, I was checking my messages from somewhere and I called the guy and this is human, I think, I thought to myself, okay, I was busy, I was traveling, there's got to be a legitimate excuse, this is an important relationship and it's been four days and then God thought, you know, had this little thought from the Holy Spirit, why don't you just tell him you forgot? Isn't that what happened? Yeah.
That doesn't sound very spiritual, Lord. Yeah, I know, but is it the truth? Yeah. Do you think human beings ever forget you? Yeah. Why don't you just tell him you forgot? Okay. So I called this guy and I said, hey, it was really one of those real important type things and I said, hi, this is Chip and by the way, I realized it's been a number of days and, you know, sounded pretty urgent and I just forgot. And, you know, the other end of the phone was, it wasn't like, you are a terrible person, you will now be sent to, if there's a purgatory, you will now go there, I mean, it was just, hey man, I understand.
What happens? Admit your mistakes. Five, laugh more often. Don't take life or yourself so seriously. Proverbs 17, 22 says, a cheerful heart is good medicine.
I mean, the people that I know that have inspired me and helped me have a great sense of humor and they laugh and they have fun. And I just want to encourage you to, a lot of the anger, a lot of the stress will leave when you just lighten up a little bit and enjoy yourself. Number six is take care of yourself. I mean, this is one that, you know, you almost don't want to say because it's going to go over the top but I'll just say it just so it can have a good stewardship is you need enough rest, you need to eat good food and you need to work out enough to keep your body in shape. And when you don't do those things, when you don't have very much rest, when you eat stuff that's no good for you and you don't do any kind of exercising, you're going to be angry more often.
That's the way it is. Less sleep, less energy, and you know, I don't think everyone has to be, quote, a health nut but I think you ought to ask yourself if this really is the temple of God, 1 Corinthians 6, 19, 20, if this really is the temple of God, am I treating it like God's temple? And you know, you just start slow with where you're at and start putting more good stuff instead of bad stuff in your body and if you've never jogged or anything, you just start walking and just little by little by little but you take care of yourself and you'll just find your anger. By the way, a lot of people that have not good eating habits and don't work out, guess who you're angry at? Yeah. My background in undergraduate and grad work, I did in undergrad but then in just a few classes in grad work in psychology and there's this weird thing the way our minds work is that when people don't like themselves or they feel guilty or bad, they feel like they need to punish themselves and we will actually create behaviors to produce outcomes to equalize things inside of us and so people will eat and do things that are bad for them that create outcomes that sort of say, wow, this is the kind of person I am, this is what I deserve.
Now, as weird as that sounds, it's true. Take care of yourself. You matter. You're important. You're precious.
You're loved. And then finally, know what triggers your anger and let me give you an acronym here, H-A-L-T. HALT. When you're hungry, angry, lonely or tired, stop.
HALT. Don't make a big decision. Don't go anywhere.
Don't try and take on something. And I guess what I got from that acronym is what I found is when I'm hungry, I'm a lot un-nice to be with, right? I'm angry. When I'm lonely, my anger quotient goes up.
When I'm tired, you don't even want to go there, right? And so I just want to encourage you some real practical learnings about your AQ, your anger quotient is going to be your environment, that's what we talked about here, plus your perspective. We'll look at that in just a second. That's times obedience to 426 is in real life, these are things that will minimize the stress and help you with your AQ. The E is you minimize stress. To get the right perspective, you want to maximize God. You want to get a high, clear view of God.
Let me give you six things here to maximize or enlarge your perspective. This is what I call spiritual wisdom. Number one, get right with God. Believe in him, confess your sins, and forgive others.
Whatever chance you're here and you don't know Christ personally, don't leave this campus until you put your faith in Christ, allow him to forgive your sins, and give you a peace that's indescribable and a power that's within you. If you are a believer here, then take to heart, submit therefore to God, resist the devil, he'll flee from you. Submission, anything you know that God wants you to do or to act on that you're not is called lack of submission. You want to say to God, all that I am, all that I have is yours, and if he's been speaking to you about dealing with anger, dealing with your marriage, dealing with an alcohol issue, dealing with prescription drugs, dealing with forgiving someone in the past, just do it.
You'll be amazed. Things will, submit therefore to God, resist the devil, he'll flee from you. Then notice, draw near to God, and he'll draw near to you. And then he talks about, well, what's it mean to draw near to God?
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. And then he's going to go on in the passage, in this passage later on, and talk about, this is the picture of humbling yourself before God so that he can come and lift you up and help you. God is not an angry, mean God whose arms are crossed with a bony finger and a tapping toe that thinks you have messed up and you're messing up again, and he wants to whack you on sort of your spiritual knuckles and saying, get with the program. He is not down on you. He loves you, he's for you, he died for you. Now, certain behaviors and certain stiff arming of God will bring about what I call Hebrews 12, the velvet vice of consequences. He loves you so much that when you are living in a way that's contrary to your best and his word, he will begin to bring consequences into your life. And it can come in finances and relationships, it can come in your kids, it can come in your health.
He just wants to say, hello, I love you. And some of us, we keep thinking, why are all these things happening to me? And I'll stop and say, is there anything in my life that needs to be realigned with what I know is true and the perspective that you'll get and the peace that you'll receive? Some people have someone that's wounded you, you just need the last line, you need to forgive them, release them. God's a fair judge, he knows all things. The reason we don't want to release people is, well, I'm taking them off the hook. You're not taking them off the hook, vengeance is mine, says the Lord. But if God's absolutely fair and he's all wise and he knows all things actual and possible, he knows why the person did it, what the circumstances were, you just say, God will tell you what.
Either I'm going to be the referee or you're going to be the referee. I don't know the whole story. I'm going to give this person to you and then here's what's helped me. Now, God, when I really have been really honest about stuff in me, I do not want to get what I deserve.
I mean, not at all. And we're going to talk about this later, but it is if I'm going to receive your mercy, Ephesians 4-32, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God also has forgiven you. But get right with God. Your perspective, your life, a half-hearted, partially in, partially out relationship with Jesus Christ is the most miserable people on the face of the earth.
Just come clean. Number two, experience God's unconditional love and acceptance. When you wake up in the morning, I have this picture and I try and remember a lot of mornings, as soon as my eyes open, I have this picture of God looking down upon me and him saying to this, the Lord personal God, Elohim, is in your midst. The mighty one will save. And that word save means he'll deliver. It's not just save you from your sin, it means he's a deliverer. He'll help you. He'll take care of whatever you're facing. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing. Is that your view of God?
Is that how he feels about you? Well, that doesn't come naturally to me. And so one of the things that I do, and I don't know how it works, but some of us believe that God loves us, but emotionally we don't even feel like he likes us. That's why it's hard to pray.
A lot, a lot of Christians are like duty. I know it's right. You know, like walking with God is like, you know, it's like castor oil. I know it's really good for you.
It tastes terrible. I know you're supposed to pray. I'm going to pray down. Here's the list, man.
Here's the list. Read the Bible. This is really fun. You get a little spiritual liver quiver just now and then. That's pretty good, you know. God wants you to experience his love. A lot of that goes back to how you were raised and some teaching you God and family background. Now this is loaded with music that causes my heart to remember how much God loves me. And almost every morning, part of my prayer time, there's two or three or four songs, and sometimes I just tell God, I just want to hang out.
I don't want to get anything done. If you want me to read something, let me know. I've got a program I usually follow. I just want to hang. And I put this on, and I sing along with the songs, and I just worship God. And all I can tell you is, I get up, I feel loved.
You know, when Teresa and I go out for coffee, it's not like, okay, what do you want to get accomplished here? Okay, you want to get intimate? Okay, I love you. Let me hear you say it.
You love me too. Good. Okay, we got that off. Okay, plan for the day. Let's hold hands at 101. All right, let's walk the dog and look up and say, isn't it beautiful? Okay, we'll get that one down. Okay. You think we can squeeze sex in here and make it real meaningful a little bit later?
You know, that should be important, you know. You know, I mean, some of us approach our relationship, when I am with Teresa, I just want to hang. I just like being with her. I just like looking in her eyes. I like just walking in the park.
I like getting up at 5 in the morning when the moon's out and the stars are just coming out when it's cool and sitting out on the porch and hearing all the birds and sipping on a cup of coffee and just sometimes we'll sit quietly for 15 minutes and sometimes we'll talk. I just, I like her. I love her. I want to be in her presence. God wants you to experience that. There's multiple ways you can do that. You can take walks in nature.
But see, you got to slow down. So this is helpful for me. So that's a little tool that I use. A second tool for me is my view of God was so warped that I have read portions of this book for about the last 32 years. It's called The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W.
Tozer. And I will never forget hitting the chapter on the goodness of God and reading, The goodness of God is that which disposes him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of good will toward men. He is tender-hearted and quick of sympathy in his unfailing attitude toward all moral beings as open, frank, and friendly. By his nature, he is inclined to bestow blessedness.
And I love this. He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of his people. Do you believe that?
Or are yours trying to measure up to something? He takes holy, when you're happy, God gets happy. And then I love the line. He says, if the whole outlook of mankind might be changed, if we could all believe we dwell under a friendly sky and that God in heaven, though exalted in power and majesty, is eager to be friends with us. I will tell you, this is the P of perspective. When you have a big God and you have a big perspective, your problems get real small. And when your problems are small, you don't get so angry.
It's not such a big deal. God is good. God is powerful. I'm the object of his love. He's got the whole universe under control, and I bet he can handle that business deal.
He's got the whole universe under control, and I bet he can handle what's happening with the economy. He's got the whole universe under control, and you are the object of his affection. So experience God.
Three, accept who God made you to be. Psalm 139, classic passage. He formed your inward parts. You're fearfully and wonderfully made.
His eyes saw your unformed substance. How do you learn to accept who you are? There's lots of tools. This is the one I'm using right now. I probably have about 30 of these, maybe 40.
I started in my last couple years of college. I don't think it's for everyone. If you don't do this, don't feel guilty. In fact, anything that I share that happens to help me, that you think that doesn't work for me, then I would not do it.
I have a sneaking suspicion. You're not me, and I'm not you. I've heard lots of wonderful things other people do, and I think, that sounds idiotic.
That doesn't work for me, but I used to try it. I'm learning to accept me because I'm tracking the journey that I have with God, and it's not formal, and sometimes I make a list. Sometimes I write out my prayers.
Some of them start out, God, I'm really tired. I'm really bummed out, and I don't feel like praying at all, but I thought I would check in, and here's what's going on in my heart, and what I realize is the more I process life with Him, and then I realize, you know something? I was struggling with this two years ago, and wow, you know something?
I really am changing. The grace of God is willing and working in and through me for His good pleasure, and you know, when you can't see it, and you can't track it, I mean, you know, S&P 500, don't they track stuff? Dow, don't they track stuff? NASDAQ, don't they track stuff?
Businesses, don't they have quarterly report? Most of us have no idea where am I spiritually, where have I been, where am I going, and I wonder where I'm at right now, and sometimes, like this is hard to believe I know, I get really tired and really discouraged, and I just think, you know what? I don't think my life's going anywhere.
I don't think God's using me at all. I don't think, you know, you know, the sort of condemnation journey, and I'll go pull out one of these from like five or ten years ago. I think, man, this is a sorry dude that wrote this. You know? And that's as sincere as he could be, and I think, wow.
And then I'll read. I was praying this outlandish prayer. God did that. Wow.
If he did that for me, he sure must love me because I know who I am, and you know, it's just a journey. And by the way, most of these passages, I told you before it's been held, you can write them on a card. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.
Read them over. Pray them out loud to God. Your mind gets renewed. You want to maximize God. Trust God in his sovereignty.
Let him be in control. I mean, this Isaiah passage, to whom then will you liken me? Or who's my equal? Lift up your eyes. See who's created these things. He brings out their hosts, the stars, by number. He calls all these, you know, 200 billion stars and behind it 200 billion galaxies all by name. Who can know the strength of his power?
Not one of them is missing. Why do you say, oh, Jacob, and speak, oh, Israel, my way is hidden from the Lord? Have you not known, have you not heard the everlasting God, the Lord, the creator of the ends of the earth, neither faince nor is weary? His understanding is unsearchable. I don't mean I will never throw my brains in the trash and just say, oh, whatever. But I will do the most rigorous research I can, and I will study the scriptures, and I will review everything I can get my hands on to understand all the what's and the why's of this life.
And then when I get done, I just realize I don't know anything. And I have to entrust the mystery of this life and what God's doing in the world, in people I love, in me. And at the end of the day, I have to back it all the way up to this big, big P for perspective and say, he's good, he's holy, he's loving, he's wise. He knows all things. I'm the object of his affection. He has a good plan. I won't always understand it.
And he is in absolute control, and he's trustworthy. That will give you a different lens to look through. You either tend to look at life through the problem, the 5% of your marriage or 10% you don't like, the part of work, the three or four things that are bugging you, and you tend not to look at the 97 of all the grace of God and all the things that he's done. When you look at the problem pretty soon, you look at people and everything through the problem, and you become an angry, resentful, not very fun, sort of drinking the lemon juice type Christian. Or you take that and you pull it back, and you get a high, awesome view of God. And you don't say there's not a problem, but you see the problem in view of who God is. You maximize him.
You minimize stress. We covered this one. Be merciful.
All I can tell you is as you read Luke 6, love your enemies, do good to them. God's that way. Just let people off the hook. Just give them an ollie ollie and free. Remember when you played hide and seek?
You just need to do a spiritual ollie ollie and free. I've hated your guts for 11 years. I've been envious you for 10. You've been talking about me bad.
Everyone knows you have. Ollie ollie and free, just taking you off the hook, wrote your name on a piece of paper, offered you to God, burned a piece of paper. I'm just done with that.
Just let some people off the hook, and the person that will get free is you. Finally, number six, pray about everything. And we all know this very familiar passage about not being anxious, but in everything, by prayer and supplication of making a request known to God and that great promise of his peace. And prayer is hard for me.
I think it is for most Christians. This little tool, it's called the Handbook of Prayer by Ken Boa. And what it does is it takes just scripture and it personalizes it, and it'll start with praise, renewal, petition, intercession, affirmation, thanksgiving. And just, I mean, you can just see it's short, but you can read out loud a little portion of God's Word that's personalized, and it leads you, and then you can pray some thanksgiving. And there's some time of confession and some renewal. And I don't do anything every day. I mean, I read my Bible and I pray, but sometimes I read a lot and sometimes I pray a lot.
But I don't get up with Teresa every day and go, okay, now we need to talk for 37 minutes, we need to walk for 14.4 minutes, we need to have two and a half meals together, and then we need to, in other words, what's the relationship need? Let's get out of the three chapters keeps the devil away. Let's talk about a heart that hungers and thirsts for the living God, that pants to be in His presence, that longs to enjoy Him, and discipline ourselves and blocks off time not to fulfill a duty to check off a list, but to meet a God who is eager to be our friend. You get a high view of God, you will get small problems, or you'll get a different perspective on them.
And now we go back to where we were. Your anger quotient equals environment, minimizing the stress, E, plus P, perspective, maximizing God, times O, O, bang, Ephesians 4, 26. Be angry, but don't sin. Don't let the sun go down on your anger.
Chip will be right back with his application for this message learning how to stop stress before it starts from his series Overcoming Emotions That Destroy. Have you ever been told you have an anger problem? Has your temper damaged or ruined a meaningful relationship?
Are the frustrations of daily life weighing you down? Well, let me tell you, there's a better way to handle these emotions. In this series, Chip reveals how we all struggle with anger and breaks down the most common ways we express it. You'll learn practical, biblical solutions to rein in anger before it destroys you and your most treasured relationships. Don't miss How We Can Be, As Jesus Said, Angry But Without Sin.
Now, if you miss any part of this series, Overcoming Emotions That Destroy, or want to learn more about our helpful resources, the Chip Ingram app is a great way to get plugged in. Well, Chip, you spent the last two programs explaining the importance of reducing stress, but you know, just talking about stress is actually kind of stressful. All kidding aside, now, this topic is one that really requires some time to think about.
Yeah, it does, Dave, and this is one of those where the issue is renewing your mind. A lot of people don't understand that a lot of their anger is about 90% preventable, and they've learned to live in such a way that creates situations that produce stress that violate expectations they have. In other words, like, traffic will be perfect going to the airport, therefore, I leave myself no margin, and when I'm stuck in traffic and going through security, why am I mad at everybody? I have to admit, I used to be, this was many years ago, the last person on the plane, and I thought, oh, because my life's so busy, and I realized that my blood pressure and my emotions were so shot because I unwisely just didn't leave margin. I remember, for two years, I went into, during a time when I was studying this, I was also the guy that was weaving in and out of traffic to save that 30 seconds over 20 miles, you know? I've always been frustrated. I weave in and out of traffic, then I get a red light and some little Volkswagen that was, you know, I passed back there, pulls next to me, and I'm going, ah, this is killing me.
But my point is, is that, you know, you've got to train your mind to think differently, and different people learn in different ways. So I literally put an extra half hour going to the airport. I drove for two years in the right lane, not passing people. I mean, it was like killing me. And then I relaxed and listened to music during that time.
It changed my commute. Now, people hearing that are thinking, I could never do that. Well, you can't do that because you don't believe it.
And the way to believe it is to renew your mind. If you were an audio learner, I would get this message on MP3, and I would put it in my car, and I'd listen to Every Day for 10 Days. Every Day for 10 Days.
And you know what you do? You would unconsciously start doing that. If I was not an audio learner, I would get the book, and I would read this chapter in the book every day.
It's not very long. Read the chapter in the book every day for 10 or 12 days. And what I can tell you is, then one or two things you start doing that you realize, oh, I always cause stress when I come home like this, and I ask these two questions. Or I cause stress at the dinner table because I don't pre-decide what I'm going to cook.
There's a million ways to prevent stress that leads to anger. But you need to go into training and renew your mind, and we would love to help you do that. Thanks, Chip. To help you get the most out of this series, for a limited time, we've discounted all of the resources for overcoming emotions that destroy. Whether you order Chip's book, stream the video teaching, download the MP3s, or get the small group study guides, we've got you covered. Learn more about the discounts on all of the series resources by going to LivingOnTheEdge.org or by calling 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003, or go to LivingOnTheEdge.org.
App listeners, tap special offers. As we close today's program, maximizing God will greatly reduce stress in your life. I went through a number of very specific things very quickly. If you need to see those and get some help, go to the website, LivingOnTheEdge.org, and you can download the notes for free. Now, under each one of those things in the book, we actually develop very specific ways and tell stories and show you how to do it.
So if this is helpful, that might be a tool. But just for our purposes today, let me just remind you of the HALT, H-A-L-T. When you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, know that you just got to stop. Don't make a big decision.
If you even feel mildly tempted, just realize HALT, stop. That's when really good, really godly people do very stupid, sinful things. That one's worth the whole day today. I remember when someone shared that with me, it was like, wow. I've been in airports, hungry, tired.
Someone jumps in line. I feel the anger, and I just realized, ooh, wait a minute, Ingram, HALT. Just HALT. Father, I pray for those under overwhelming stress that you'll help them today to HALT, to stop, to pray, to take five minutes they don't think they have, and to open the Psalms and read them out loud and tell you how they honestly feel. And I pray that you would calm their heart and give them perspective.
In Jesus' name, amen. Well, before we close, let me take just a second and thank the generous people who make monthly donations to support the ministry of Living on the Edge. Your faithful gifts help us inspire Christians to live like Christians.
Every gift makes a huge difference. Now, if you haven't partnered with us yet, would you prayerfully consider joining the Living on the Edge team? Make a one-time gift or set up a recurring donation by going to livingontheedge.org or by calling us at 888-333-6003. That's livingontheedge.org or 888-333-6003. App listeners, tap donate and know that we're blessed by whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, until next time, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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