Tag Archives: stress

Why Taking A Vacation From Your Problems Doesn’t Work

In the movie What About Bob?, Richard Dreyfuss plays the role of egotistical psychiatrist Leo Marvin. On the heels of the release of his book Baby Steps, Dr. Marvin relishes in his recent success…until he meets Bob Wiley, a new client (played by Bill Murray). Wiley, however, isn’t your normal patient. His relentless personality and multiple fears drove his previous psychiatrist to a nervous breakdown. But after his initial consultation with Dr. Marvin, everything seemed remarkably better. As their session comes to a close, Marvin promises to see Wiley after he returns from his family vacation.

But true to his relentless personality, Wiley tracks down Dr. Marvin on vacation.

The video above relays what happens next.

So what does Dr. Marvin prescribe to his patient? A vacation from his problems.

Bob Wiley takes the recommendation to heart—and decides to vacation with the Marvins. Hilarity ensues.

Taking a vacation from our problems sounds so enticing. But is it good advice?

Please join us for our daily Bible conversation.


Ezekiel 3:16-6:14
Hebrews 4:1-16
Psalm 104:24-35
Proverbs 26:27


Ezekiel 3:16-6:14. The prophet Ezekiel was exiled to Babylon in 597 B.C., eleven years before Jerusalem was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian armies, which made him a contemporary of Daniel. Ezekiel was highly educated and displayed a broad degree of knowledge regarding international affairs and history. He also often acted out his prophecies, which made him appear a bit strange. Archaeologists have verified the many dates in his prophecies. Incidentally, Babylon was located in modern-day Iraq.

Ezekiel’s strange behavior can be explained though. God held him responsible for obediently relaying his prophecies. If he didn’t speak God’s messages, he would be liable for the people’s sin and destruction (Ezekiel 3:16-21).

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Think about it. Does taking a vacation from your problems solve anything? Unfortunately, following Dr. Marvin’s advice does as much for your problems as an evening of binge drinking or a shopping spree:  your problem greets you when you return. In fact, your vacation can appear—and often does appear—in the form of a variety of addictions. Taking a vacation from your problems is nothing more than disengagement from reality. It’s a form of numbing the pain, which acts as temporary relief. How do you sleep at night? How do you find solace in the middle of a crisis? And how do you live if the crisis continues?

A better solution must exist, because all of us need to sleep at night.

Yesterday, the writer of Hebrews warned us not to harden our hearts in the time of testing (Hebrews 3), which is another form of taking a vacation from our problems. For a little more insight into hardening our hearts, you might want to read our October 25 post.

In Hebrews 4, we’re called to enter God’s Sabbath rest. The writer recalls that on the seventh day of creation, God rested. In fact, biblical scholars point out that on the first six days of creation, morning and evening take place. But on the seventh day, no mention is made of evening. God’s rest continues to this day.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. Hebrews 4:9–11 (italics added)

Whose example are we told not to follow? The Israelites who hardened their hearts when they encountered a hardship. They took a vacation from their problems.

Instead, God invites us to enter his rest. Entering God’s rest means trusting that God is in control.

In fact, if God has been at rest since the seventh day of creation, then his work is already finished. The weather, world affairs, even the affairs of your life have already been set in motion. What happens next in your life is really a rerun—like watching a rerun of What About Bob. Better yet, it’s like watching a rerun of a sporting event. You may not know the score, but the winner has already been determined, so you don’t stress out so much. In our case, we’re watching the rerun for the first time, but we benefit from knowing who wins.

When you live in God’s rest, you can sleep at night (without medication!) and enjoy peace during the day. It doesn’t result from disengaging, it results by engaging in God’s rest and trusting that you can trust God not only with eternal life, but your everyday life as well.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. How do you take a vacation from your problems?
  3. According to Hebrews 4, can believers miss out on God’s rest? What prevents them from entering into it?
  4. How could the last three verses of Hebrews 4 bring you peace?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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Why Your Insomnia May Be Good For You

According to recent studies, one in three people suffer from insomnia. In fact, an astounding 40-60% of all people over 60 can’t sleep at night. This malady leads to weight gain, obesity, and depression.

But you may be surprised to learn that insomnia may be good for you.

Please join us in our daily Bible conversation to discover why.


Isaiah 25:1-28:13
Galatians 3:10-22
Psalm 61:1-8
Proverbs 23:17-18


Isaiah 25:1-28:13. Isaiah take’s an interesting turn here. While prophesying destruction, he breaks into an interlude that offers praise to God for their future deliverance.

The phrase “in that day” is used 43 times in Isaiah—and seven times in today’s reading. The phrase usually foretells the day of judgment when God dispenses his justice to the nations. Usually it points to the end of all time. The end of chapter 27 prophesies the day when people will come from the Gentile nations to worship God on the holy mountain. Initially, the Jews believed that it was referring to them. But the movement of God in the world is to draw everyone to his heart. Jesus said, “But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself” (John 12:32 italics included).

Isaiah 27:1 refers to the Leviathan, a mythic snake-like sea monster. In this context, the prophecy foretells the end of time when God will vanquish his enemy Satan. God is not an equal foe to the devil, he is the victor over all his enemies. His kingdom will come and his will done on earth as it is in heaven.

Galatians 3:10-22. The people in the church at Galatia believed that they were saved by God’s grace plus their good works. They needed to adhere to certain rituals in order to be in good standing with God. But in today’s reading, Paul writes that placing our trust in living by the rules places us under a curse. No one can live the perfect life—so if we want to take that path, we’re all doomed. He quotes Deuteronomy 27:26, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10).

The purpose of the Book of the Law (Genesis through Deuteronomy) was to show us our inability to live perfect lives—and our need for Jesus. We simply cannot be good enough to save ourselves. “So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).

Only the grace of God through Jesus can save us! Not baptism, communion, confirmation, church attendance, avoiding pornography, abstaining from alcohol, feeding the poor, or anything else. The only thing that can save us is placing our trust in Jesus to forgive our sins and give us eternal life.

Psalm 61:1-8. Scholars believe David wrote this while fleeing from his son Absalom, who was attempting to overthrow his father’s throne.

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The most astounding fact about insomnia is that 51% of Americans lose sleep due to stress or anxiety. I’m sure similar statistics exist regarding other countries…

David was on the run from his son Absalom. His life was in danger. In the midst of his turmoil, he wrote a phrase in Psalm 61 that reveals an important truth and perhaps the key to our insomnia:

“Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (verse 2).

David understood that his capacity to save himself was limited. He was positioned on a rock in the middle of a river that was rising. What he needed was a rock that was higher than him. A rock that would save him from the rising flood water.

Then today’s reading led us to Isaiah 26:3-4: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal” (italics added). Jumping from one rock to the higher rock means trusting in the Lord.

Derivatives of the words “trust” and “faith” appear in Scripture 588 times. The foundation—the rock—of our faith and one of the recurring themes of Scripture is trust in God.

A few days ago, we looked at the fact that we’re not the messiah. We cannot save people. In the same way, we cannot save ourselves. We need a rock that is higher than us. But the tendency of the human heart is resist jumping to that higher rock until the rising river reveals our incapacity to make it on our own. We wait until the water is neck-high before we move.

But what if God allows the water to rise so we’ll be motivated to make the jump? What if he loves us so much and desires communion with us so much that he causes the flood to consume us?

You see, the rising flood isn’t necessarily our enemy. Oftentimes it is our blessing in disguise because it leads us to a more intimate knowledge of God, a deeper communion with the Almighty.

When we trust in the Lord and make him our rock, those worries that whisper in our ears in the middle of the night suddenly become silent. We don’t hear them because they don’t exist. The problems may exist but not the worries because we trust that we’re situated on the Rock that is higher than us.

And then we can get that good night’s sleep.


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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.


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The Best Stress Reliever

How do you deal with stress? If you watch the video above, you’ll see one way NOT to deal with stress.

But there is a better way.

Please join me!


Numbers 11:24-13:33
Mark 14:22-52
Psalm 52:1-9
Proverbs 11:1-3


Numbers 12. On the heels of dealing with the Israelites’ complaints followed by an refreshing encounter with the Holy Spirit, Moses was forced to deal with insurrection from his sister Miriam and brother Aaron.

Moses’ wife was a Cushite, meaning she was probably Ethiopian. This was his second wife because we know that his first wife Zipporah was a Midianite (see Exodus 2:16-21). Scholars aren’t sure why the nationality of Moses’ wife served as an excuse to question his authority.
The takeaway for all of us in this chapter is to treat the authorities God has placed over us with respect.

Numbers 13. This account where the 12 men spy out the land and 10 return with a negative report is fairly well-known. But something struck the other day about the claims of the 10 men. They asserted that the land was filled with giants, which they called “Nephilim.” Strangely enough, when the Israelites returned 40 years later, the Nephilim were nowhere to be found. Something tells me that the 10 men exaggerated their claim. I don’t think they made it up, but fear can cause us to blow things out of proportion.

The giants we often fear usually don’t even exist.

Mark 14:32-42. Imagine the pressure Jesus must have felt in the garden of Gethsemane, In a few hours he would be hung on a cross to die. This account gives us a window into Jesus’ humanness. In verse 36 he prayed, “Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. He didn’t want to suffer the pain and humiliation. Yet he chose to lay down his will to die for you and me.

Then after he finishes praying, he returns to his disciples to find them asleep. Jesus truly walked to the cross alone.

Proverbs 11:2. “With humility comes wisdom.” This is one more example from Scripture that humility may be the most important virtue of all.

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My favorite overlooked story in the Bible comes from today’s reading, Numbers 11:16-30. Moses was feeling burned out from dealing with a nation of complainers. He was also feeling burned out from singularly carrying the load of leading a country of over a million people.

So God told Moses to round up 70 elders who would help him lead the nation. Sixty-eight showed up, but most importantly the Holy Spirit showed up.

Suddenly, all the elders began prophesying—which up to this point only Moses was gifted to do.

The refreshment that came from the Holy Spirit’s touch and the benefit of being surrounded by 68 prophets (Eldad and Medad were still back at the camp) caused Moses to remark, “I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” (vs. 29).

Centuries later, God fulfilled Moses’ wish by giving the Holy Spirit to the church of Jesus Christ at Pentecost (see Acts 2).

So what does this mean to us today?

If you’re feeling burned out and you need a stress reliever, you can do better than go shopping or take on vacation or reach for a stiff drink. The best stress reliever is a touch from the Holy Spirit. Fortunately, if you’re a follower of Jesus, you already have the Holy Spirit.

So how do we access this stress reliever we call the Holy Spirit? I wish I could give you a formula, but none exists. But I can give you this advice: seek him and wait for him. Acts 1:12-2:13 describes what the early church did as they waited for Moses’ wish to be fulfilled.

In Jeremiah 29:13, God told his people, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What fears do you tend to exaggerate? How can Numbers 13 help you deal with your fear?
  3. Describe a time when you experienced the refreshing touch of the Holy Spirit. What were the events that led up to it?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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