How many of you would say that you occasionally or often feel a little bit stressed?

How many would you would say: Occasionally or often feel some financial tension?

How many of you would say “I wish I had more time with myself”, or maybe “I wish I had more time to spend with my family and friends?”

Tonight : ‘Margin’.

Tonight I want to talk to you about something that God has really been dealing with me on, and that’s the idea of ‘Margin’.

We all have limits

One specific limitation that we all have is the limit of time.

Time is the one thing we can’t make more of.

Can’t buy it / steal it / trade it. – No one is selling time on craigslist.

There’s 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. And you’re not likely to get more than let’s say 100 of those, unless maybe you’re the descendant of Methuselah or something.

We all have this complex relationship with time.

So if you were to ask someone this week for they’re doing, likely the response you’ll get is this:

Things are going really good, I’m just really BUSY. Or maybe: They’re not going good and I don’t have time to talk about it!!!

40 Hours a week is a thing of the past.

Devices that make us more ‘productive’ like our phones, when in a way make us more productive, they also make it possible for us to carry our work with us wherever we go.

For me personally, if I allow it, it would be rare to go a full hour of being awake without someone texting me or me texting them something about the church.

The office used to be something you had to go to, now it’s something you carry with you every moment of every day.

What’s funny: if you read any of the writings of social theorists from the 1960’s, they were all assuming that by this point in time, we’d all be working part time and living the majority of our life in measure. Meanwhile here we are, working like crazy, never resting, no idea how to really relax and detach.

We fill our life to capacity, and perhaps even overcapacity, with our job, and email, and friends, and productivity, and church, and sports, and TV, and music, and family.

We speed up our lives to this crazy pace and we don’t even realize how emotionally unhealthy it is.

It’s a busyness that goes past our schedule and bleeds into our identity.

Vast majority – wish – more time – important.

The vast majority of us wish we had more time to do the things we think are important.

But if we were to magically get more time, – God were to come and poof! Now there’s 25 hours in a day.

MOST of us, would still not spend that extra hour doing those important things.

B/C the reality – our busy lives just have a way of filling however much time we give it.

If you think of a plant, that’s just going to fill up whatever size pot you put it in.

Picture the last time you had an unexpected day off.

Well I’d say the chances are pretty low that you spent 8 glorious hours with God.

No, I bet you did pretty normal, every day stuff.


Most people today have no margin for the most important things in life.

What is margin?

Margin is the amount available beyond what is necessary.

So for example if I have 30 minutes to get somewhere and it takes me 20, then I have 10 minutes of margin.

If I have $100 and I have $80 worth of bills, I have $20 of margin.

Bible study : ‘Sabbath’.

And to illustrate this point, I want to do a brief bible study on the the ‘sabbath’.

I think for the average Christian, they know about the sabbath from Sunday school, where they had to memorize the 10 commandments.

But in the idea of the sabbath is this beautiful model of how we’re supposed to live our lives as Christians.

Genesis 1:1-2, 1:31, 2:1-3

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Genesis 1:31)

So in this story, for 6 days God is busting his butt with work, he creates the heavens and the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the animals, birds, fish, and finally mankind.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. (Genesis 2:1)

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:2)

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)

And God works for 6 days, and here’s the crazy part: and then, he rested. God did. – Let that sink in.

This doesn’t mean that God was tired. In fact this Hebrew word is so bot. Which is where we get the word Sabbath. It means to rest, or cease, or be done.

It’s the idea of after a long days work, you come home sit in your favorite chair, crack open a nice cold beer, and look at what you’ve accomplished.

In fact, sabot CAN be translated: Celebrate.

God works – 6 days And then rests for one. And didn’t doing that he sets the example for mankind but we are to work hard and then on the 7th day, we rest. Just like God.


God Blesses the 7th Day.

God blesses 3 things: Animals, human beings, and the sabbath.

And with animals and humans the blessing is this: The ability to pro-create.

  • When he blessed the animals he says “Be fruitful and multiply.”
  • When he blessed Adam and eve he says “Be fruitful and multiply.”

The blessing : Ability – produce life

And then 3rd, God blessed (same word) the Sabbath.

So we could say it like this: “God’s day of rest has the ability to produce more life.”

Life can be draining.

Life can be draining. Even when it’s good and your family is good and you love what you do. It can still be draining.

For me, there will be days that I have 5 meetings, just back to back to back. And I LOVE what I do. But I’ve also learned that it’s incredibly draining.

Work drains & Rest fills.

You might be thinking: “Not me! Work fills me up!” I hear you. You’re just wrong.

Think of it like working out. Some of you LOVE working out, and you might be thinking “Working out fills me up!” Well, try doing it for 48 hours straight.

You can’t. Why? B/C it’s depleting. Even if you love it. Work is the same way.

So REST fills you. REST is life giving? Why? B/C God blessed the Sabbath.

God makes the 7th day ‘Holy’.

So here’s what’s interesting: The first time we read the word ‘Holy’ is the Bible is right here.

“God blessed the 7th day, and made it Holy.”

Isn’t that fascinating?!

What does God make holy? TIME. A day in a week.

In the ancient near east – The “Gods” they were found not in time but in space.

So the God’s were found at a specific location: a temple, a mountain, a cave, or a shrine, or spring, or something.

So if you were in this culture reading Genesis, you would expect God to work for 6 days then as the climax of the story, God would make a holy temple. / Mountain / Pool.

But instead God makes a Holy day.

One Concern… Lazy people I had one major concern coming into this week, and that’s this: I didn’t want to enourage people to be lazy. Just the opposite. In fact, I’m saying that you probably need to work hard 6 days a week. Just not 7.

Exodus 16

(The Exodus)

This is the time of ‘The Exodus’ if you don’t know the story, may I recommend the Christian Bale movie called ‘Exodus’. Or just, you know, read the book of Exodus.

Cliffnotes: Israel is our in the desert, 100’s of thousands of people without food and water. People in this story and anything but emotionally healthy.

So they grumble and complain, and whine, and whimper, “God we’re dying out in the desert.”

Exodus 16:9-15, 21-23a

Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’ ” (Exodus 16:9)

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud. (Exodus 16:10)

The LORD said to Moses, (Exodus 16:11)

“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’ ” (Exodus 16:12)

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. (Exodus 16:13)

When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. (Exodus 16:14)

When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” (Hebrew word: Mana) For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. (Exodus 16:15)

Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. (Exodus 16:21)

On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. (Exodus 16:22)

He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the LORD. (Exodus 16:23a)

So this word ‘Holy’ means ‘Dedicated To’.

So that’s the idea of a Sabbath. That it’s a day dedicated to God.

But the ‘Sabbath’ is a day dedicated to God. Which is very different.

Which is a new idea for many of you, that’s ok.

This is why Moses goes on to teach people how to get ready for the sabbath.

So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ ” (Exodus 16:23b)

So on the 6th day, you bake, you boil, do whatever you have to do, but the idea is that you get ready for the sabbath.

The writer John in the New Testament calls the 6th day, so the day before the sabbath the ‘Preparation Day.’

Exodus 16:24-30

So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. (Exodus 16:24)

“Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. (Exodus 16:25)

Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.” (Exodus 16:26)

Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it (over achievers), but they found none. (Exodus 16:27)

Then the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? (Exodus 16:28)

Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” (Exodus 16:29)

So the people rested on the seventh day. (Exodus 16:30)

Notice 2 statements: How long will you refuse to keep my COMMANDS? / “Bear in mind that the Lord has GIVEN YOU the Sabbath.”

So the Sabbath is a command but it’s also a gift.

So you may be aware of this criticism that says this ‘There’s no talk of the Sabbath anywhere in the New Testament.’

There’s all kinds of sabbath talk in the Old Testament – Genesis to Malachi, and then you get to the New Testament – Matthew to Revelation and there’s no mention of it.

But it’s true, that there’s no command anywhere in the New Testament for followers of Jesus to take a sabbath.

BUT it’s still a GIFT from God.

So it’s not a COMMAND, but if you want to live an emotionally healthy life, you’ll do this.


It’s like sleep. There’s no command that you have to sleep at least maybe 7 hours a night, I know it’s a little different for different people. But there’s no COMMAND to get enough sleep, I just feel bad for your spouse if you don’t. Or your roommates, or your girlfriend, or whatever.


There’s no COMMAND no not drink 7 cups of coffee a day. It’s stupid, but it’s not a sin. But if you want to be healthy, you’ll limit it to no more than let’s say 2 or 3. Whatever that number is for you. When you’re so jittery that you can’t get the cup up to your lip, stop!

So we don’t rest out of fear. We REST because it’s a beautiful gift from the creator to his creation.

Majority – Jesus’s healings – Sabbath.

If you’re familiar with the story of Jesus, you’ll know the majority of Jesus’s healings take place on what day? The Sabbath.

I for one, think that’s on purpose. It’s b/c that for Jesus, Sabbath is a day for healing.

In the first century, Jesus does some of his best work on the Sabbath, and that’s still true today.

Unfortunately, most Christians don’t have margin. Why?

Margin can seem unamerican.

We know how to work, we know how to play, but we don’t really know how to rest. It’s kinda the whole ‘work hard, play hard.’ idea. There’s need to be a time where you’re taking it easy too.

Luke 10

Great story about 2 different women. 1 had some margin, and the other did not.

Luke 10:38-40

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. (Luke 10:38)

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. (Luke 10:39)

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40)

2 women w/ same opportunity.

So here you have 2 women with the exact same opportunity. Mary seized the opportunity. I’m sure she had plenty to do, there was chores and laundry, and chickens to feed, and all that. But she had some space around her so that she was able to see the miracle in front of her, who of course is Jesus.

Martha, on the other hand, missed it b/c she was too busy. She was distracted. Notice she wasn’t distracted by something that was bad or evil, she was distracted by good stuff.

Many of us would do the same thing. “Oh my gosh! Jesus is coming over! I better make sure everythings clean! Are all the toilet’s flushed?! There better be toilet paper in there!!!”

She was busy with lesser things, and missed out on the most important things.

Me – Jordan — NOT Distraction

Last year I wrote and preached 87 sermons. Which is a lot. And I’m continuing to experiment how to do that all that while still having a life with my wife where I’m not working all the time. One thing we try to do is go to a movie. My wife loves movies so we try to do a lunch and a movie on Friday. Well one Friday, I got up, flipped open my laptop, and started working. And then it came time to leave to go to lunch and the movie. And I just thought to myself “Gosh, I don’t have time for that right now, I don’t have time for distractions.”

And right at that moment, I felt like God said to me: “Your wife isn’t a distraction, you work is the distraction.”

And ever since then, I don’t work on Fridays. I mean unless someone is getting married or has died, you aren’t getting ahold of me on Friday.

Just like Martha, who was obsessed with working FOR Jesus, that she missed JESUS, so many of us are obsessed with the urgent than we miss the most important,.

Again : 40, 41-42

She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:41)

Here’s what’s funny, Martha was absolutely convinced that what she was doing was right.

“I’m in here busting my butt, and my dumb sister is out there just relaxing, Jesus, take me side!!!!!”

Jesus says “No”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, (Luke 10:41)

but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Here’s what you have to understand: The choice is yours to make.

“Yeah but my boss…” No, the choice is yours.
“Yeah but my family…” No, the choice is yours.

Have make – choice – REST.

Choose to sometimes REST. A lot of us don’t even know what that is.

Vacation You go on vacation and it’s so packed with activities that you need a vacation from your vacation.

Husbands I think for some of you husbands, you feel like if you’re not working working working, that’s you’re a failure. – “That’s how I show love to my family.” Do you realize how crazy that is?

Moms who would say ‘I don’t have any time for ME. And if I did something for me, I’d feel incredibly guilty.’ Do you realize how sick that is?

Single people Single people who feel like they need to always be doing doing doing or they feel like a loser. No, live your life with some margin.

What happens when margin decreases?

1. When margin decreases, your stress increases.

When you’re running late, your stress increases. I’m sure lots of you have had the experience of running late for a movie. Oh my gosh, it ruins the whole experience.

Coming – church.

Some of you, coming to church on time can be incredibly stressful. I mean, YOU’RE ready, but one of your family members, They’re still trying to figure out what to wear. There on outfit 5.

Same is true financially.

When margin decreases, your stress increases. When your financial margin goes down and you’re married, what happens? You start fighting. “You spent WHAT on WHAT?!” No margin.

Margins in a bible.

I’m a sucker for a good bible, specifically a good study bible. I have these huge commentary sets that I use and love, but for me, a good study bible is an incredible resource for learning the bible.

And they’re always packing these things with TONS of information.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned: If you buy a Bible where the margins are too small, it’s a chore to read. It feels exhausting in a way, it stops feeling relaxing and it almost feels stressful.

Same is true for your life.

2. When you margin decreases, your relational intimacy also decreases.

You know this is true. When you’re a workaholic, you can go an entire weekend without having your mind disengage from work.

So you’re WITH the people you love, but you’re not WITH them. You can go on vacation and never really experience the vacation.

Dinner – 4 people on phones.

I’m sure you’ve gone out to eat before and looked at a table of 4 people, and all 4 are on their phones.

They’re on Facebook “I’m having a nice dinner with my family.” – No you’re not!

Advice: Sometimes it’s healthy to just experience something and let it pass without the need of putting it online.

When your margin decreases, your relational intimacy decreases.

That’s not just true with PEOPLE, it’s also true with GOD.

Church – ‘busy.’ Sometimes I’ll run into people and I’ll say ‘Hey man I haven’t seen you at church in a long time.’ They hang their heads in shame. ‘Awww man… I used to come, but I got so busy.’

“How it’s going with you and God?” – “Oh man, I used to pray and I’d read my bible.. but then I just got too…. Busy.”

Too busy for people, too busy for God. And we think that’s normal.


Ok, so what do we do about it?

Andy Stanley wrote a book called ‘The Best Question Ever’

So let’s say I asked you about doing something this Saturday. Well what you would probably do is look at your calendar, and ask this question: “Am I free?”

Which is an ok question so ask, but it’s not the BEST question.

Here’s Andy’s best question ever: Is it wise?

Expand : In light of (Blank), is it wise?

In fact, you can expand this question to this: In light of (Blank) is it wise?

Here’s some examples.

  • In light – fact – have a newborn baby at the house, is It Wise?
  • In light – fact – I’m already working 50 hours a week, is it wise?
  • In light – fact – trying to save up for a new car, is it wise?
  • In light – fact – have a limited time on this planet, is it wise?

Not: Is it wrong? Not: CAN we do it? But: “Is it wise?”

Simple statement: “We must learn to say no to many good things so that we can say yes to the best things.”

Just b/c you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you SHOULD do something.

Awhile back I found myself asking myself “How can say no that?! That’s a great opportunity!” So I would go home to Jordan and ask ‘How can I say no to that?!”

Well here’s how you say no: “No.”

Whoa. How’s that again? “No.”

“No.” is a completely sentence.

You might think that’s not very fancy. Well then try this: “No” (with hand wave).

Or how about this one, I do this all the time: “I love you, but no.”

I know that saying no isn’t normal, but normal isn’t working.

  • What’s normal in marriage? Divorce.
  • What’s normal in kids? Rebellion.
  • What’s normal relationally? Emptiness.
  • What’s normal in scheduling? Being overwhelmed. Being overworked. Being stressed.


Let me get a little practical here. Here’s some things that I’ve decided to say no to.

Jordan and I : clean house.

Jordan and I both like a neat, clean house.

Well being that we’re both in the full time ministry, and we have 2 wild chiwawa’s that will pee in the house when it gets too cold or too hot outside. We’ve just had to make the decision that there’s going to be times where our house isn’t flawless.

And we’ve chosen our relationship over being clean freaks.

Me – Ministry – Meetings

Me – Being in the ministry, sometimes there’s people who want to meet with me. And when I first got in the ministry, I was just so flattered. “You wanna meet with me?! That’s so cool! How’s tomorrow?”

But I found that if I had 5 meetings in a day, I would go home and I’d have no energy for anything else.

So now, I try to limit myself, I don’t always succeed, to 2 meetings a day.

And so I’ve just started having to schedule people like a month out, but that’s just what I have to do. And people say ‘Hey can you do lunch on Wednesday?’ ‘I love you but no’.

Me and Jordan : Sabbath.

Staff knows – call me friday.

The people that work for me know, if you’re gonna call me on Friday, you’re grandma better be missing or something.

You make – choice – how – live your life.

You make the choice about how you’re going to live your life.

You’re not a victim of anyone else priorities. B/C you can always say no.

“Next promotion.” Well that might be true, but that’s still a choice.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

It’s God will for each and every one of us, that He would come and bring us rest. And that we would live our life in a way where we’re able to receive the gift of rest.

And I would say it like this: Living a life with margin impacts your ability to receive from God.

You learn to live in that spirit through the rest of the week. Even when you work, and strive, and sweat, you’re still at rest.

And that’s what I want for me, it’s what I want for my wife, it’s what I want for my children when the time comes. I don’t want us to be just classic, crazy busy Americans, who don’t know how rest. That’s not who I want to be. That’s not the kind of family I want to help lead.

And it’s something that I want for you, as my friends.

May we become people who fight against the insanity of our frenzied culture.

May we become people who live ours lives in rhythm with the spirit.

And may YOU always be sensitive to the beautiful voice of God that would tell you to come, and find rest for you soul.