SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20140216: "Winter Weariness"

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          This morning I'm talking about the exhausted, out-of-gas energy levels that residents in NE Ohio / Western PA contend with as the end of winter slowly approaches. Today there are officially only 32 days left of winter.
          We are weary from the cold, painful loneliness of the winters that seem to drag at the end. Our first winters in this region were 1976 and 1977. Snow was everywhere. In the church parking lot the snow was piled up by the plows until it was over a tall man's head in places. Snow plows threw snow to the roadsides. There the snow piled up until it was only a few feet to the phone and the lines carrying electric power.
          My oldest girl came to me with winter weariness on her face and in her voice. She had traveled with us from bland, warm Southern California and had never experienced weather like this. She said earnestly,
"Dad, are you sure we haven't made a mistake coming here?"
          I never felt coming here was a mistake. Protecting her and her siblings was part of our decision to move 2600 miles to our parsonage home in NE Ohio. I have always felt we were sent here by God. I believed it then and I believe it now thirty-six years later. We prayed for a country church remote enough that our kids could be protected from big city pressures. God answered our prayers and we served that church more than 11 years.
          Winters, however, have always been a trial of endurance. We have learned to adapt. We wear long johns and extra clothing even around the house. My favorite cloth has become flannel, the thicker the better. When you go out always cover your head and ears. This winter, however, has been so cold a face mask outdoors is recommended.
          Then, there is the emotional response to perpetually grey skies and very limited sunlight. It's difficult not to experience some depression. My sermon this morning is about spiritual coping.        Pastor Phil  <><<
February 16, 2014 - Sheepfold Ministries
Pastor Phil Roland


"We are nationally weary from the strangest, coldest, snowiest winter in recent history. We have had unseasonably warm spells, followed by cold deeper than we have known that has left most of us both sick and exhausted. We are winter weary. We need relief."                Pastor Phil  <><<

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."        Matthew 11:28-30

"Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd. 12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."
            A. Enduring Winter is an Out-of-Control Experience
                        1. Can't Control Skyrocketing Utility Bills
                        2. Can't Control Property Damage from Freezing Temps
                                    a. Broken Plumbing
                                    b. Inadequate or Broken Furnaces
                        3. Can't Control Automobile Damage
                                    a. Dead Batteries
                                    b. Tire, Brake and Suspension  Problems
                        4. Can't Control the Weather
            B. The Grieving Widow at Nain had Plenty to Worry about
                        1. Her Husband was Dead
                                    a. It was a male dominant culture
                                    b. He was her financial and personal security
                        2. Her Only Son was Dead
                                    a. He was her $ocial $ecurity
                                    b. He was her Protector
                        3. Her Future was as Barren and Bleak as our Winters
            C. Jesus met her Worries with His Compassion
                        1. He comforted her and said, "Do not weep!"
                        2. Jesus then called her son from Death to Life
                        3. He can speak life into the deadness of your soul
                        4. He can replace your worries with His Peace - John 14:27



"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives
                    do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

"By the rivers of Babylon, There we sat down, yea, we wept When we remembered Zion. 2 We hung our harps Upon the willows in the midst of it. 3 For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, And those who plundered us requested mirth, Saying, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" 4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land?"
            A. We are weary from the daily chores of human existence
                        1. Weary from scraping ice from the windshields of our cars
                        2. Weary from shoveling snow from our porches and drives
                        3. Weary from numb, fingers and toes
                        4. Weary from the tension of driving on slippery roads
                        5. Weary from drafty houses and outrageous utility billls
            B. The Children of Israel were weary from captivity
                        1. They lost everything from Babylonian invaders
                        2. Their strongest offspring became slaves to the wealthy
                        3. They were more than 500 weary miles from their homeland
                        4. They were taunted by their captors
"Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
                        5. They were trauma-weary and grief-weary
                        6. They could sing the joyful songs of their homeland
                          " 4 How shall we sing the LORD'S song In a foreign land?"
C. Jesus understood our Captivity to Depression and Circumstance
                 Hebrews 12:3-4
For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against
                  Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
                  4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin."
1. He understood our out-of-control feelings of Depression
                        2. Jesus understood we are controlled by our Circumstances
                        3. He experienced Hostility and Rejection
                        4. He still sings the Lord's Song from the Cross - See Ps. 22
D. In the midst of Weariness there are Things we can do - 1 Pet. 5:6,7
            "Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may
           exalt you in due time, 7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
1. Humble yourself and Submit to God
                                    a. Give God your reins of control
                                    b. Allow Him to lead
                        2. Trust in the Lord with all your heart - Prov. 3:5
                        3. Spring will come - The crocus will appear and bloom soon
                        4. Talk to God regularly, Cast your troubles onto Him
                             "7casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you"
                        5. Let go of that tight grip and allow Him to work



" Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. 6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar."
        A. Winter has worn out its welcome
                        1. 7 Degrees F. at 6:30 am
                        2. At least 20 people have died from weather-related causes
                        3. Everything is wearing itself out
                        4. We are Worn Out
            B. We are Worried, Weary and Worn Out
                        1. We have Worn Out High Mileage Cars
                        2. Hate to replace the old car: like a family member, used to it
                        3. Feeling our age at the end of hard, grueling day. . .
            C. David is Worn out In Psalm 42
                        1. He Doesn't Know how he got there
                        2. The Blackness of Depression eased up on him slowly
                        3. Suddenly, he's aware his joy and zest for life is gone
                        4. Life has changed from high resolution color to blurry black                                  and white
                        5. He becomes like Robert Frost in his famous poem,
                                    The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
                                    But I have promises to keep,
                                    And miles to go before I sleep,
                                    And miles to go before I sleep.

                        6. He's simply Worn Out
        D. David's remedy for Winter Weariness is to Hope in God - Ps. 42:5b
        "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance/"
                1. Remember God's goodness when you feel you can't go on
                        2. Praise Him through the Cold Days of Winter - Phil 4:4
"4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!"


Luke 7:11-17 (NKJV)
"Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.
12 And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.
13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep."
14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise."
15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
16 Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, "A great prophet has risen up among us"; and, "God has visited His people."
17 And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.








Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Robert Frost







Through The Weary Winter

We must live through the weary winter,
If we would value the spring
And the woods must be cold and silent,
Before the robins sing.

The flowers must be buried in darkness,
Before they can bud and bloom.
And the sweetest and warmest sunshine,
Comes after the storm and gloom.

So the heart, from the hardest trial,
Gains the purest joy of all.
And from the lips that have tasted sadness,
The sweetest songs will fall.

For the peace comes after suffering
And love is reward of pain
So, after earth, comes heaven
And out of our loss, the gain.

(unknown, 1988)









Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;
7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.


Luke 12:22-26 (NKJV)
22 Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.
23 Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing.
24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds?
25 And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
26 If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?





For the past few years, the Sleep in America polls -- conducted on behalf of the National Sleep Foundation - have provided a snapshot of the nation's bedroom woes. Today, about 20% of Americans report that they get less than 6 hours of sleep on average, and the number of Americans that report that they get 8 hours of more has decreased.
"It's no secret that we live in a 24/7 society," says Carl Hunt, MD, director of the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research at the National Institutes of Health. "There are many more opportunities to do things other than sleep - 24-hour cable TV, the Internet, email, plus long work shifts."



Why are 70 million Americans having trouble getting a good night's sleep? Let us count the ways:
We are over-caffeinated and overmedicated, wreaking havoc with slumber patterns.
We are over-wired and overstressed, making us too restless to doze off when we should.
We are overworked and overweight.
And then there's societal pressure, what nationally recognized sleep expert Dr. Mark Mahowald calls "the pervasive, erroneous attitude that sleep is not a biological imperative, that it is negotiable. We have raised sleep deprivation to a badge of honor."
The effects might outnumber the causes and are hardly as benign as many of us might think. "Any degree of sleep deprivation will impair performance: behind the wheel, in the classroom or workplace," Mahowald said.
He added that the Bhopal, Challenger, Exxon Valdez and Three Mile Island disasters "all are officially attributed to problems from sleep deprivation. But the biggest risk of sleep deprivation is car crashes, period."
No wonder the number of accredited sleep centers has risen nationwide by 630 percent in just 15 years. And while sleep-study results have been all over the map and sometimes contradictory, experts such as doctors Mahowald and Michael Schmitz know a lot more than researchers did even a decade ago.
The Lowdown
Insomnia victims have trouble falling or staying asleep in a setting with adequate conditions for sleep; this becomes chronic insomnia if it lasts more than three weeks. Sleep deprivation is caused by behavioral or situational factors that curtail or mitigate the ability to get enough sleep time.
Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. The amount a person needs is genetically determined, Mahowald said. "Some people might need four hours on the short end, up to 10 on the high end. We have absolutely no control over this."
Anyone who uses an alarm clock "is by definition sleep-deprived," Mahowald said, "because if the brain had received the amount of sleep it wanted, you would have woken up before the alarm went off."
Melatonin is a hormone, secreted daily by the brain's pineal gland, that helps maintain the body's sleeping cycle. A nonprescription synthetic melatonin pill is sold in the United States and is widely used. The Food and Drug Administration does not test or regulate melatonin because it doesn't consider it a drug.
Larks and owls: "Some people are early to bed, early to rise; others late to bed, late to rise. We have very little control over that," Mahowald said. "So you see a lot of problems when an owl marries a lark and each one thinks the other is being stubborn."
With sleep deprivation, some glucose-metabolism problems might predispose one to diabetes. And if so, a consequence could be heart disease and stroke.
With insomnia, there is no evidence of long-term physical problems or links to other diseases. But insomnia results in poorer quality of life and work absences and can lead to depression.
There is some evidence that severe sleep apnea can lead to hypertension, heart problems and a higher risk of strokes.
Improving sleep hygiene — avoiding late eating and drinking, keeping the room cool and dark, winding down before bedtime — can improve transient insomnia but probably not chronic insomnia.
For chronic insomnia, cognitive-behavioral therapy is equally as or more effective than medications. Medication often is useful for acute insomnia.
Naps can help — except when they don't. "We discourage napping when anyone has problems falling or staying asleep at night, which might be an untreated sleep disorder," said behavioral-sleep specialist Schmitz. "We encourage power naps, 30 minutes or less, when folks can't stay awake or will have late-night events."
See your doctor if: You have had difficulty falling and staying asleep for more than a week. Or if you snore, have frequent awakenings and are reporting sleepiness during the day. Anyone with apnea symptoms should seek treatment.