March 26, 2023 The Stress Test: Waking Up Jesus (Lent 5)

Image by Rembrandt via Wikimedia

If you prefer to worship at home at this time or simply wish to listen to the service or sermon again, please click on the link below to watch the entire worship service as a video on your home computer, tablet or smartphone:

Link to Video:




If you would prefer not to view the video, you’re welcome to use the links below to have a time of worship at home. (Just right click on the link to “open link in a new tab” to play each hymn or the sermon in a separate tab, and close that tab when finished.)

CALL TO WORSHIP: Prayer of Confession & Words of Assurance
We confess, O God, that we are attracted to false gods and easy answers in life. We are vulnerable to temptations that could damage us in ways that are not obvious. Forgive us that sin that draws us like moths to a flame. Restore us and fill us with godly resolve. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Hear the good news: Christ died for our sins and rose again that God may free us from the tyranny of judging others to live fully in the power of God’s grace. In the name of Jesus Christ, God forgives your sins and offers you a transformed future. Live fully into God’s grace! Amen.

HYMN “Are Ye Able,” Said The Master
“Are Ye Able,” Said The Master | HBBC Choir

A TIME OF PRAYER (Testimonies, Joys & Concerns)

Congregational Prayer − The Centering Prayer

Lord Jesus, today I am far less than the person I want to be or can be with your help. I ask today that you would be more and more the center of my life. Guide me to all that is good, cleanse me from all that is not. Teach me Your ways and form in me Your nature. Help me to serve you as I am gifted. Help me to notice my neighbor and work through me to redeem my neighborhood. I am a sinner; please be my Shepherd, my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Please pray for yourself and your neighbors, lifting up your needs to God while giving thanks for answered prayer.

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

HYMN Fill My Cup, Lord
Fill My Cup, Lord – Jessy Dixon

MOMENTS WITH THE CHILDREN – If you are blessed to have children with you, ask them what they are thankful for, and then thank God together!

GIVING OF OUR TITHES AND OFFERINGS – these can be mailed to the church office.

MESSAGE: The Stress Test: Waking Up Jesus
Mark 4:35-41, John 16:33, Luke 18:1, 7-8
Series: The Jesus Revival (Times Of Refreshing)

Right-click, open in new tab to play … Sermon audioSermon slides as a PDF file.
Saturday Video AudioWesley Sermon Audio


John 16:33 I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Mark 4:35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” 41 And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

Luke 18:1 And he told them a parable, to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. 2 He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor regarded man; 3 and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Vindicate me against my adversary.’ 4 For a while he refused; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow bothers me, I will vindicate her, or she will wear me out by her continual coming.'” 6 And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. 7 And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?“

2 Corinthians 5:16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.

Acts 3:19 Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,


HYMN 534 Be Still, My Soul
Be Still My Soul – A cappella – Eclipse 6 – Official Video – on iTunes

BENEDICTION The Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood, as to understand
To be loved, as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

If you worship at home, please let us know so we can pray for you!


Since the beginning of Lent, we have been talking about this revival, this season of beautiful spiritual grace that happened at Asbury University, a small college in Wilmore, Kentucky, where the students, one day, started praying and they didn’t want to stop. In fact, they prayed all day and all night for 400 hours, and people felt very close to God. They felt that their sins were forgiven. And so they began to repent of their sins and ask God to make them whole, and they felt that God was answering their prayers. And this began to draw large crowds of people.

Why? Whenever God begins to answer prayers, it’ll draw a crowd of people. Whenever people begin to feel that God is present in a very real way, other people want to have that same feeling. I have a good friend who went to seminary at Asbury, just decide to go and visit the campus again. He and his children just got back. It’s a whole other month from what was going on in February, but he couldn’t help it. He loaded his kids in the car and he wanted to go to Wilmore just to be there, because he wanted to feel like that. Because, you see, a revival touches our emotions, a revival touches our hearts, and a revival increases feelings of faith, feelings of hope, and feelings of love. And human beings have a great hunger for that.

Now, here’s the truth. If you want to go all the way to Wilmore, Kentucky – maybe that’ll be a SALT trip one of these days! – you can do that. But God can be this close to you right here. And you can feel that faith and hope and love right here, you can. And that’s why we’ve been talking about it so that what happened down there, we believe God can do in our lives right here. Maybe on a smaller scale, but every bit as real and genuine.

A revival creates deep and meaningful feelings of faith, deep and meaningful feelings of hope, and deep and meaningful feelings of love. And I’ll be honest with you, there are times that we need those feelings. I have been feeling under stress lately, but certainly not as much stress as some of you.

So let’s talk just a little bit about stress. When we are stressed, when our patience is tested, the thing I think that makes it the most powerful is that we feel very overwhelmed. People in need, and things that we have to do right now, come at us from all directions and they overwhelm us. And what I’ve come to realize about myself when I’m feeling under a great deal of stress, what I’m reaching is what I would call a competency limit. This much stress, I can deal with, but then it gets worse. This much stress, I can deal with, but just barely. But if it goes over the line, this much stress, I can’t deal with it. Over here I’m competent, but if it goes over the line to where I’m incompetent and things go from bad to worse, I feel overwhelmed by the stress.

Now, here’s a couple truths about that from how I experience it. You might be different. Sometimes when we get overwhelmed and stress gets higher and higher, we’re tempted to feel anxious. We’re tempted to press the panic button. Now the problem with giving in to your anxiety is it lowers your competency to deal with stress and, instantly, it makes everything worse. It’s always best if we’re able to hang on. We can’t always do it. It’s best if we can hang on.

But what helps me most when I’m under stress is the awareness that not everything in life is even. And there is this idea called the Pareto principle. It comes from an Italian economist that noticed, in his land of Italy, 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people. Now, the fraction might be a little bit different, but it tends to run to be true. 80% of the sales will be made by 20% of the salesmen. 80% of the complaints will come from 20% of your customers. And here’s the thing … when you apply that to problems that you’re having, 80% of the pain comes from 20% of the problems. Not every problem is equally bad. But, you see, when you’re overwhelmed, they all seem to be exactly the same, but they’re really not.

Now, if you understand fractions, you know 20%, that’s one out of five. One out of five things that you’re struggling with will cause four out of five parts of the pain. They are not equal. And when I’m too overwhelmed to think, I’m too overwhelmed to figure out which one of these things is the most critical one, and which are the four that really don’t matter that much. Because I lose the ability to distinguish and to discern when I’m overwhelmed. And that helps me when I’m feeling under stress.

Jesus said this stress would come. John 16:33, this is the night before he dies on the cross. “I have said this to you,” he said to his disciples, “that in me, you may have peace. But in the world, you have tribulation.” In the world, you’re going to have troubles. In the world, there are going to be problems. You have a nice day, and you have a nice day, you have a nice day, but sooner or later in the world, there’s going to be a storm that’s going to blow up and threaten to ruin your day. Jesus says, “In the world you have tribulation.” It’s built-in. “But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.”

Christian psychiatrist M. Scott Peck wrote a book that changed the lives of many, many people quite a long time ago. It was called The Road Less Traveled. The very first three words in the book: Life is difficult. And Peck goes on to say the astonishing thing is, if you understand that life is difficult, all of a sudden it’s not as difficult as it was before. What causes the greatest difficulty is believing that everything should be just fine and when it’s not that there’s something wrong and bad with you. I have known people literally to say: It rains. Snow falls. They have a flat tire. They literally will say, “Why is God punishing me?” And the answer is that life is difficult. It’s a part of creation. Life is difficult. But Jesus says, “Be of good cheer. For I have overcome this world and it’s difficulty.”

Last year, for quite some time, a couple of months at least, if not longer, we used this slide as our call to worship. And I think it really applies to what we’re talking about today. I think it really applies to repentance because there are two kinds of mistakes that we make.

So we would begin our prayer this way. “Lord, I believe,” and then you all would say, “Help my unbelief.” You remember, that comes from the story on the day of the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus and Peter and James and John are coming down the hill. And there’s a big crowd at the bottom of the hill, and there’s a man whose son who is sick. And the other disciples have not been able to cure him. And they have done their best, and the man comes up to Jesus and says, “My son needs your help. Help us.” And then he says this phrase, “If you can do anything.” And Jesus replies, “If? If?” Jesus says, “All things are possible to the one who believes.”

And the man instantly cries out. I think this is brilliant. He instantly cries out, “I believe. I do. I believe. Help me with my unbelief. Help me with my unbelief.” Now, here’s the truth: What does that mean? And what I would suggest to you what that means is we’re asking God to help us to see the world as God sees it. Because the way human beings are, we look at the world as if God had human limitations. We need to see problems the way God sees them. Because certainly, God understands problems in a much clearer way than we do. Certainly, God is smarter than we are. If there’s a simple solution, we may not know it, but God will know it. We need to see the world the way God sees it, and then we’ll see everything differently. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief. What’s going to help your faith more than anything is to see a problem the way God sees it.

And then the next problem, of course, Lord, I obey. You know what you’re supposed to do. Guess what? When you don’t do it, problems happen. And so it’s Lord I obey; help my disobedience. I’m not perfect. Help me to focus. Guide me to do what’s best. Prune me in what holds me back.

And so it’s time for us to talk about repentance. Do you know what we’ll talk about? Lord, help me with all those things I’ve done wrong. And we completely forget about the first one: Help me, Lord, with all the times that I have seen wrong, that I have misunderstood the situation, that I had made things worse because I have decided my view of other people as if they are evil and sick and stupid and bad. We need to repent of how we see things when we see things wrong. Because, I tell you, if the Lord will help you with your unbelief and help you to see the way God sees things, it will change your whole life.

So here’s the storm, Mark 4:35, on that day, when evening had come he said to them, his disciples, let us go across to the other side. And leaving the crowd, they took him with him in the boat just as he was. And the other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose and the waves beat into the boat so that the boat was already filling. Now, let me remind you, 4 out of the 12 disciples, at least 4 out of the 12 disciples were professional fishermen. They had been fishing on the Sea of Galilee for most of their adult life. They were no stranger to storms. They knew what to do in a storm. They knew how to sail this boat.

But every now and then there will come a storm that is beyond your competency limit. A storm where you do not feel competent to deal with it. And this was that kind of storm. Professional fishermen began to panic. Now, strangely enough, Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat. I don’t quite understand that. He is sound asleep. His head is on the cushion. Water is coming into the boat, the boat is rocking back and forth. The men are, we assume, yelling and screaming at each other. They’re bailing water out of the boat, trying to stay afloat. 38, but He was in the stern, a sleep on the cushion, and they woke him and they said to Him, “Teacher, do you not care that we perish?”

In other words, why should you sleep when we are struggling so hard? Why should you be relaxed when we are scared to death? Why should you sleep when we’re bailing to try to keep the boat from sinking? And I want to tell you over all the years that I thought about this scripture, I’ve come to a conclusion. It’s my opinion. They’re panicking. They’re upset. Why did they wake up Jesus? What do they think that Jesus could do that would help? And here’s my opinion. You know what my opinion is? I think they wanted Jesus to bail.

Now, this is early on in the gospel. I think they thought that the best thing that Jesus could do to help them was to help bail. Because you see, when stress comes upon us, we begin to look and imagine that God has human limitations. What can Jesus do to help us? Hand him a bucket.

But here’s what happens. Verse 39. He awoke and he rebuked the wind. He insulted and cussed out the wind, like you talk to a bad dog. And he said to the sea, “Peace, be still.” And guess what? The wind ceased. And there was a great calm.

Because Jesus can do a lot more than bail. They didn’t know. But he could do a lot more than bail. You see, this storm had not reached God’s competency limit. Because whatever is beyond you and I is not beyond God and God’s ability to deal with it.

And then Jesus turns and looks at them, maybe they were still trying to hand him a bucket. I don’t know. And he says this, ”Why are you afraid? Don’t you understand who’s in the boat with you? “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

In Luke chapter 17:5, the disciples come to Jesus and they say, ”Lord, increase our faith.” That’s the prayer. But this probably was the first time they realized that there was a lot of increasing of faith that was needed. Because, looking verse 41, they were filled with awe. They were astonished. They were amazed. They were filled with amazement. And they said to one another, ”Who then is this?” And that phrase tells you they did not understand what Jesus could do. Now, they came to understand more, but at this stage in their life, they did not understand what Jesus could do, and so they are astonished. Who is this man that even wind and sea obey him?

”Why are you afraid?” Jesus says. ”Did you think this was beyond me?”

In Luke chapter 18, there is a parable about the unjust judge; a widow has been cheated and she comes to the judge and she says, ”I’ve been wronged, give me justice.” And the judge says, ”Eh.” Maybe she didn’t have bribe money, maybe he didn’t want to bother with her, but she kept coming back. She kept coming back. She kept coming back, and, finally, the judge decided to help her … so that she would stop coming back. Now that’s the parable. But let’s not forget the point of the parable. Luke 18:1, Jesus told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. And not stop praying. They are always to pray. And the parable ends with verse 8: Nevertheless, when the son of man comes, when Jesus Christ looks down on you and I, is he going to see that we have given up? Is he going to see that we have stopped praying … as if we don’t believe that God is going to help us? And so if we don’t believe that God can help us, that’s our faith. As if we don’t believe that God is willing to help us – that’s the state of our hope. As if we don’t feel that God cares, that’s the belief that God doesn’t love us. When the son of man comes, will he find people praying on earth? Will he find people who have given up just because it was a bad day or it was a hard time or it was a terrible storm?

So life is difficult. Well, the first thing for us to remember is that life is difficult when we do stupid things. I happened to run across this picture on Facebook. I have no idea how it came up, but that is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen. Out of all those things that are causing you stress, and if you think every single one of them is of equal importance, one of them is something you should stop doing. During January and February, we talked about Wesley’s General Rules. If you’re overwhelmed, remember the first rule that John Wesley had was do no harm. There are things that you and I should stop doing or at the very least do less of. If you can figure out what one of those are … like this young lady here, what she’s doing … the minute you stop that, you will raise your level of competency to deal with everything else that you’re dealing with. If we are doing stupid things, that makes us less competent to deal with the stress.

John Wesley’s second rule is, “Do all the good you can.” If we stop doing a stupid thing, we can replace it with a good thing and our competency to deal with stress will increase.

Wesley’s third rule was to attend upon all the ordinances of God. That’s a literal quote, but it’s hard to understand. But what it means is do the work that takes care of your spiritual health. Show up for worship. (By the way, so glad all of you are here!) Take time to pray. Take time to read the Bible. Take communion. Do the things that lead to you being spiritually strong, and when life is difficult, you will be more competent to deal with it.

Second, when life is difficult, you can put yourself in timeout. Now we have school teachers in the room. We have parents in the room. Do you remember what timeout is? Time out is where you don’t spank a child but you say, “You go over to the corner and you think about what you just did. You go over to the corner and you think about what you just said.” And the kids go over to the corner and because they get bored, this works.

But sometimes as a grown-up, you have to put yourself in time out, because if you give yourself a moment to think, you will become more competent to deal with whatever the problems are. If you give yourself a moment to ask, “Lord, what shall I do,” you’ll find that you will be more competent in dealing with the stress you’re experiencing. If you give yourself a pause to think, you’ll be able to distinguish between all the things that are assaulting you and which one is the biggest problem and needs to be dealt with first. And that will make you more competent in the time of stress. When life is difficult, take a pause to think, especially if you use that pause to think with God. What is prayer anyway? If you use that pause to think with God, you will have God’s help with what you’re dealing with. So when you’re under stress, sometimes you need to just go away for a moment. You can go hide in the restroom. You can go to take a walk. You can say to the little children, you can say, “Watch this movie. Mom has got to give herself a rest break,” whatever.

When you’re feeling pushed beyond the level where you’re competent, take a pause. Things are not as bad as you’ve perceived them because, you see, that’s what we miss: We see the problem not the way God sees it, but the way we see it. We see the stress not the way God sees it but based on our experiences from the past that come back to haunt us. We need to see things the way God sees them. And I can’t think of anything that would help us to be calmer and more able to deal with problems as they happen, because if Jesus Christ is with you, you do not face any problem in this life alone.

And so the apostle Paul says these words, 2nd Corinthians 5:16: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view.” You should not regard your life from a human point of view because God is a part of your life now.

And Paul goes on to say, “Even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.” Because we understand that Christ does not have human limitations … but he can love us, watch over us, and help us because he is God with us.

Please pray with me. Lord Jesus, help us when stressful things happen. When a storm blows up all of a sudden that we did not expect, and there we are, dealing with great difficulty, Lord, help us not to underestimate the power of God and what you can do in our lives in the midst of any storm. But also, Lord, before the storm happens, you can help us prepare. And also, Lord, after the storm happens, you can help us repair any damage. Lord, help us to live with a clear perception and understanding that we and God together deal with every aspect of our lives. And so, Lord, we ask you to help us, to increase our faith, to increase our hope, and to increase our understanding of how much you love your people in the midst of their problems. And we ask this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION: Let’s have a conversation! Please reflect upon the questions below as you consider the material presented above. In a comment, share your thoughts and additional questions. What would you like to know?

What grabbed your attention?
What is the human need or problem?
What questions do you have about any quotes provided?
Does the Bible say anything about this?
What solutions do you see for the problem?
What specifically could we begin to do to make a change?

Additional Resources

Kinmundy United Methodist Church is located at 308 E. Third Street, Kinmundy, IL 62854. Worship begins at 9 am Sundays. The building is handicap accessible.
Wesley United Methodist Church is located at 3381 Kinoka Road, Patoka, IL 62875 in the country between Kinmundy and Patoka. Worship begins at 10.45 am Sundays.
VISION: We are a functional family of God, where Jesus is Lord and people grow.
MISSION: Every layperson is called to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20); every layperson is called to be missional. (¶126 of the 2016 Book of Discipline)
Paradigm: There are two kinds of people in this world: people who need to become disciples and disciples who need to become disciple makers.

(If you wish, you can listen to the Prayer of St. Francis being sung:
Sarah McLachlan – Prayer of St. Francis )

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