Anxiety is rampant in our world these days. It doesn't have to rule your life. Read on to find help with learning how to deal with anxiety in your life.
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Here I am this big strong guy nothing to bother me, I've always been healthy, I've always been strong, athletic and nothing's ever bothered me, and here is something I cannot fix. I started having some chest issues, I started having some issues with some pain in my chest.
And I couldn't figure out what it was and I went to see a cardiologist and as I'm doing the stress test he looks at me and goes it looks like you have a left bundle branch block. So here I am nothing has ever happened to me in my life and nothing has ever been wrong with me. I could fix everything.
Well here's something I couldn't fix, the vision of not being here for my wife and not being here for my kids was kind of overwhelming for me. So I started thinking more about it hour after hour day after day month after month and it just got worse and worse and worse. So one day at work I was in the cafeteria when I got to work and I was feeling funny, feeling very faint and just not myself.
So I called Lindsey and I said hey I'm not feeling good I'll meet you at the hospital. As I'm driving down the toll road, I started getting these chest pressures and I'm just thinking like okay here it is here it is here it is. And I just pullover the side of the road and I just lay there in the passenger seat.
Thought I was having a heart attack. Turns out it was an anxiety attack. I go home and thought it was better cause everything was clear well it wasn't because I started worrying more about it and I started trying to fix it again. And I started, just the cycle just started over and over and over again.
>> I mean it was rough. I mean we didn't leave. We prayed a lot, I went through the bible a lot. At the time he didn't want to hear it he kinda wanted to do his own thing. He said said no, no. And I kept telling him pray instead of worrying when you start to worry just pray. And it was really really difficult for him to understand and to grasp.
And so I just prayed. I cried, I prayed, I cried I prayed. We just tried to get through it I mean, but like he said he was callous. He didn't talk to us, he didn't want to be around us. He just did what he wanted to do, said what he wanted to say, I mean he could be mean, he could say nasty things.
It was hard for me to understand that because that's not his character at all. >> I didn't ask for help at first because I thought it was weak. I was supposed to be a strong guy, the man, the father. I was supposed to fix everything and I couldn't fix it. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] >> Those of you who've been coming the last few weeks you know we're in a series called The Struggle is Real.
We've been talking about some of the struggles that we have in this world and today we're going to be talking about worry. Now, I know that probably nobody here struggles with worry but you probably know somebody who does so you might wanna take notes for them, okay? If you have a bible with you, I invite you turn with me to our passage which is in Philippians the fourth chapter.
How to Deal With Anxiety
If you don't, that same scripture is listed on the back of your handout today for your convenience. It's Paul who's writing these words and he writes, rejoice in the Lord always, and again I will say rejoice. Let your gentle spirit be made known to all men, the Lord is near. Don't miss verse six, be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding or comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of a good repute, if there is anything excellent, if there is anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. And the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me practice these things, and the God of peace, will be with you.
In verse six he says, be anxious for nothing. And if you're not real careful, if you're just flying through this particular passage in the bible, you'd think that Paul was just giving you a pep talk. That he's saying, don't worry, be happy. But he does more than that, because if you look deeper into this passage you see that he actually actually tells us how we can overcome worry.
And it's really pretty simple. If you get this next line that I am about to give you, you really have got the whole message. We are to obey God and we are to pray to God. Apologies that they rhyme, but they do, obey and pray. And so I want us to look at both of those things and see when we obey God and when we pray to God we can overcome our worry.
First of all, he says, obey God. Here's the reality, most of the things that we worry about, we worry about because we've stepped outside God's will for our life and we've created consequences or at least impending consequences. We know that they're coming and as a result, we worry about that and we could really resolve about 80% of the issues we worried about, if we will just take the power that God has given us to obey him and do that very thing.
Just obey him. It's that simple. I remember when I was moving around as a child, my dad worked for Mobile Oil Corporations, so we lived in many different places. We were in South Dakota, we were in Florida, we were in Louisiana. One particular time, when I was a young boy, we lived in Mississippi.
And I remember we lived in this little, best way to call it is a servant's quarters behind a larger house. And these people who lived in the larger house had rented this little house to my mom and my dad and us three boys. And in the little yard that was there next to that, there was no grass, there was just a strip of dirt but in the dirt there was this hole in the ground.
It was about five feet long and about three feet wide. I don't know why it was there, but there was just this whole in the ground. It was about three feet deep but it was the coolest place to play if you were a boy. That hole in the ground was the cock pit of a plane. It was a race car drivers and passengers side.
It was a fox hole in World War II. We had more fun in that hole in the ground. I remember one day it had rained. Boy, it really got fun then because there was about two inches of mud in the bottom of that thing. And we went out and we got some of my mother's pie tins and we made mud pies and we were drying them out in the sun around the edge of that hole and just over the fence, it wasn't dark, there was St.
Augustine grass and they were big beautiful magnolia trees and there was the big home where the people who rented us the little servant's quarter lived. And in that yard there was a little girl who used to come out and play everyday and she never spoke to us but we could see her playing on the other side of the picket fence.
She was a beautiful little girl, she grecian curls and lots of ribbons in her hair and she was always dressed up, she didn't play in plain clothes she had petticoats and thrilly things and everything. The kid was not normal, you know what I'm saying? That particular day she saw that we were making those mud pies and she got so curious that she came and she leaned over the fence and she said, what are you boys doing? And so I picked up one of the mud pies and I walked over to the fence and I said, 'we are making mud pies, would you like to have a bite?' and I smashed it into her face. Now this was before my call to ministry. But at that point, that little girl, covered completely in the mud turned, and began to run back towards that large house and it was at that moment that I began to worry.
Now, I share that story because it's a metaphor of your life and mine, is it not? And when we step outside of God's will for our life we create the difficulties that create the anxieties in our life. And so Paul's says to us obey God, just obey God. And what he does he goes further in that he actually gives us three categories so we can kinda get a sense of what he is talking about.
First of all he says obey God by having right relationships. Look there in verse five. He says let your gentle spirit be made known to all men. The Lord is near. Now this past week I actually had the privilege of spending sometime with Henry Cloud. Some of you know him as the author of the series called Boundaries and he shared with me that there is a book that's is coming out in May.
In fact I even got an advanced copy, a galley, that they're still proof reading. And the tittle of the book is called The Power of the Other. And in this book he talks about how important our relationships are. How important the human connections of our life are. And one part of this galley he says research has shown over and over that people trying to reach goals succeed at a much greater rate if they are connected to a strong human support system.
Research also shows that elderly has suffered a heart attack or stroke fare much better with lower incidence of recurrence when they join the support group. Other research shows that people who tap into the power of others have stronger immune systems, tend to get sick less frequently and recover faster when they do.
This whole book, and I was able to read half of it on my way back this week, talks about the power of relationships. And here is the reality Jesus said there is nothing more important in our lives than our relationships. The relationships have for us the greatest potential for joy but because they are so important they also have the greatest potential for worry.
And to rob us of our joy. And so Paul says be careful to tend to your relationships. And he says in this way he says let your gentle spirit be made known to all men. That word there, in the Greek, gentle literally means to go beyond justice. Stay with me here. Let the spirit of going beyond justice of going beyond what is fair literally going beyond halfway be true in all of your relationships.
What is he saying here? He's saying that we have a tendency in relationships to only do what we consider our part. Have you ever heard this phrase? I'll meet you halfway. Here's the problem with meeting someone halfway in a relationship. Their halfway and your halfway never total a whole way.
Everybody wants to limit their part in it and Paul says here let your spirit of going beyond halfway be made known to all men. In other words in every single relationship that you have do more than your fair share. I'm so glad today to state that Jesus didn't meet me halfway. He came all the way from heaven to earth and He didn't pay for half of my sins, He paid for all of my sins.
Relationship with God
The relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ is an example of what it means to go beyond justice. I am glad we didn't get justice when it came to Jesus Christ, aren't you? That's true love is to go beyond halfway, and he says in all of your relationships, go beyond halfway.
I think it's interesting here that it says let your general spirit, the spirit of going beyond halfway be made known to all men. That would include our enemies. In other words, he's saying here to live in such a way that even your enemy will have to admit that you've done more than your than your fair share in the relationship.
Wow! That's something else. In Romans, the 12th chapter in verse 18 it says this if possible so far as it depends up on you be at peace with all men. All men- there's that phrase again. Now there are some people that you will never be at peace with because they won't cooperate, they won't respond to your invitation, they won't be inspired by your ability to go beyond halfway, but it says as far as it is possible with you, live at peace with all men.
We'll always have enemies, we'll always have irregular people in our life, but I think we can live with those relationships. I think we can put our head on the pillow at night and sleep well as long as we've done everything we could do to make reconciliation possible. He says let your general spirit, the spirit of going beyond halfway be made known to all men and then he gives us the motivation to do that.
He says the Lord is near. What does he mean by that? I think he means two things. He says the Lord is near in time and space. He's there in time first of all, in that today the coming of Jesus Christ, the return of Jesus Christ is closer than it has ever been in the history of mankind.
He said let your generous spirit be made known to all men because the Lord's gonna come and make things right you don't need to play God. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. One of these days the Lord is gonna come and make everything right. He is gonna put everything in it's right order so you just do your business right now and that's to represent the love of God, go beyond halfway.
The Lord is near, whether He comes He'll take care of that, but it also means the Lord is near in space. You ever notice how you talked to your family members nicer when other people are listening than maybe perhaps when you're at home and nobody is listening? Do you ever notice that when you're driving down the road and there is a policeman on the road, you drive better and you keep the speed limit better then if he is not there? When Paul says here the Lord is near he is saying guys if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, Jesus is always there when you are talking to your family.
Jesus, Son of God
Jesus is always there when you are driving. Jesus is always there when you are filling out your end of the year taxes. Live with a reality of the presence of the Lord. Let your spirit of generosity your spirit of going beyond half way be made known to all men because God gonna make it right one day when Jesus returns and Jesus is with you right now and He's viewing what you are doing do it in the light of the Lord is near.
First of all he talks about obey God in right relationship and then he gives a broader category, he says obey God and right living, look in verse nine. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, don't miss this, practice these things and what will happen? The God of peace will be with you.
Here is one problem with attending church is that we talk a lot about what God wants us to do and sometimes we get vaccinated from actually doing it. It's so easy to play the game where we talk a good talk but we don't walk a good walk. And the reality is no matter what we say in this room, no matter what we say in our bible studies, no matter what we pronounce, if we are not living those things we're gonna create some worry in our life.
To actually live like we say we ought to live, to let there be a better alignment between our theology, our belief and our behavior. And then he gives an interesting last category, he says, that you're to obey God with your right thinking. If you will, back to verse eight it says, finally brethren whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, whatever is a good repute, if there's any excellence, if there's anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
What does our thought process have to do with all of this? Reality is that, there are some of you that are listening today and you have flabby minds. What I mean by flabby minds is you've never exercised the right that you have as a Christian to say no to certain thoughts. You daydream about things you shouldn't daydream about, you watch movies that you shouldn't watch, you listen to conversations that you shouldn't listen to.
You fantasize about what it would be like to disobey God. You never say you know what that probably wouldn't be a good thing to think about because where those thoughts might lead. Somebody hurt you or said something to offend you and you play it over and over and over in your mind so you can play the victim and rationalize why you're about to hurt them.
You've never exercised your mental muscles to say no perhaps as a believer I shouldn't think about that, now follow me. So then when worrisome thoughts come into your mind you don't have the muscle to keep them out. You become obsessive and compulsive about an impending possible danger or consequence and you can't turn it off.
You lay in bed at night and you can not turn it off because you don't exercise your mental muscles in any other area of thought. And what he's saying here is begin a habit where the only thoughts that you think about are thoughts that are honorable, thoughts that are true, thoughts that are right and pure.
Excellent thoughts. And then when worry comes, when satan sends unreasonable worry in your life because you are so trained at what you allow to come into your brain you say no I'm not going to go there. And you're able to exercise your mental muscles. Paul tells us that the secret of overcoming worry is first of all to obey God.
To obey God in our relationships, most of all to obey God in our practices of life and even obey God in our thinking. But here's the reality, even if we could be perfect in all those areas and we're not, we're in process aren't we? There's still things that happen in our life that cause us worry, things that we can't control, the sin of others that splash over into our life.
What do we do about those things? We can prevent some of the things that we've been worrying about but we can't prevent all the things that we have a tendency to worry about. And in answer to that, Paul says pray about those things. Obey God in arenas that you can actually have some control over with the power God has given you but in the areas that you can't control, pray about those things.
Look if you will back in verse 6 it's the heart of this passage. It says be anxious for nothing but in everything, and then he uses three words for prayer. He says by prayer and then he says and supplication, a second word for prayer and thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.
Prescription for Worry
So he uses three words here. In fact, what he's doing is he's giving us a prescription for worry, its a prescription pill. Actually he's gonna ask us to take three pills. He's gonna say first of all take the praise pill. Because that first word for prayer there literally means to praise God.
Now, why would we praise God when we begin to worry? Well, when we began to praise God, what we're doing is we are talking about how great God is, we're talking about how he created things, God You are the creator, You are mighty, You are able. As we begin to praise God You know what happens? Our God gets bigger.
God was already big before we praised Him. But we begin to see how big He is when we remind ourselves in the process of praising Him how great He is. Now let me ask you something, this is not a trick question, if our God is getting bigger, what is our problem doing? That's exactly right.
In comparison, our problem we can see God can handle this. He's handled things bigger than this before. And that's why when you begin to worry about something the very first thing we need to do is we need to take the praise pill. And then there's a second word there and the word is supplication.
Supplication is a fancy word for ask. And the second pill that we wanna take is we wanna take the prayer pill of asking, we want to invite God to take care of the problem. We wanna invite Him in. We wanna ask Him to help us. Now I wanna warn you here in fact I wanna just put an asterisk on this one, because full disclosure if you ask God to take care of a problem He may take you from pray back to obey.
You might say God I'm having all these financial problems I really need your help and He says great I'm wanna give you some help, I'm gonna give you some advice- stop spending so much money. Hey, God I've got this enemy and he's doing all these things to me and everything and I need for you to help me with this guy.
He said great, what you need to do is apologize to him for what you did to him. But God he's done, I know he has. That's his part, you do your part. Be careful with asking God into your problem that you are worried about because He may take you from pray back to obey, I'm just warning you.
And then there is a last word and the word there in English is thanksgiving, the Greek word means thanksgiving. Say well why would we thank God while we're worrying? Well the reason is when we begin to worry about something, here's our tendency, our tendency is to focus in only in that part of our life that we're having trouble with.
We have a tendency to get tunnel vision. You got a health problem and that's all you think about is your health problem. You got a financial problem, that's all you think about your financial problem and here's what God says, God says if it's big enough for you to worry about, it's big enough for you to praise me and the problem gets smaller to ask me to be involved in it but don't you dare get up from your prayer before you tell me everything else that's going right in your life.
And why does he ask us to do that? Because He wants us to get a healthy, fuller, perspective on life. You may be having a health problem right now but you've got some of the best friends that God could ever give someone. You've got a significant meaningful place to serve God, to make a difference in eternity.
You got all these other things that are going on, that are going on right and you need to have a better view of your reality because here's the truth, if I were to take all of the things and write them down that are going on in my life, things that are pluses maybe my finances or my friends or whatever then may be my health is a deficit, maybe I'm having trouble with my health, maybe I've got a problem with something else.
And then I've sot some other positive things. When those of us who are believers make list like this about our life, we wanna be sure to factor in the most important part of our life, and that is the Lord being in our life. And guys I don't care what else is on your list, if the Lord is in your life when you add it up, and you subtract out the negatives, guess what? You're always gonna come out with a plus.
You realize that? What does he say there? How does he begin this passage? He says rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice, that's where we find our joy friends is in the Lord. And this relationship, this relationship outshines every other negative thing in our life. The fact that we have been forgiven of all of our sins, and we don't have to drag our past behind us anymore.
The fact that even in the problem areas God has promised to come in and redeem and bring more good out of evil in any area of our life. The fact that God is this very day preparing a place for those of us who call ourselves His children. And one day we will go to a place where there will be no reds.
It will all be positive and in the black. Don't get up from praying about what you're worrying about without rehearsing all of God's blessings. Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice. And if we'll do those two simple things. If we will obey God, and in those areas that we can't control, we will pray to Godthen verse 7 will become reality.
Verse 7 says, and the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your hearts, how you feel, and your minds, what you think about, in Christ Jesus. I had a choice to make, either I go to church and I face my issues, and I get closer to God and I take what comes with that or I turn around and run the other way.
[MUSIC] After looking back at all that I think God put me in church, because he knew what was gonna happen to me in the months to come. And he knew I would need to rely on him and what helps me is I love to listen to Christian music. It's not something I used to listen before, I listen to it every once in a while, my wife listens to it a lot.
And I change to a country station or something. But it really relaxes me and really reminds me, because a lot of the songs have struggle, and they have fear and they have anxious moments, and they have everything that is real in life, they have them in this songs. I started reading the bible once we started really going to church.
And I just couldn't believe how many times it says fear, worry, anxious, all these things are in the Bible because it is real. The struggle is real because it's in there so many times and people do this in so many ways, in a way I'm not happy this happened to me because, it's been difficult on my family and my kids, but I am glad it happened to me because it brought me close to what matters, and that's putting God first and family second.
So it's been a struggle and- >> Everyday struggle? >> It's still an everyday struggle, but I know how to deal with it now. God has put me in a place to where I went through what I went through, because He wants me to use my story and He wants me to help other people go through it.
He has a plan for me and I am put here for a purpose, and I am looking at it from that point of view. And I am trusting Him with everything I have and letting go of my will to give to Him and He can set the path for my life and move me in the direction He wants me to move in. Let's pray together.
Dear heavenly Father, we thank you for your word and we thank you for how practical it is that it meets us where we live everyday. We thank you dear Father that we don't have to be prisoners to anxiety and worry, and that we can actually be victorious. Thank you dear Father for even the worry in our life that it points out those areas where we are not following you or we're not obeying you, we're not following your warnings and your protection.
And thank you dear Father that even when it's not about us, and disobedience in our life, that we know that you're faithful to meet us where we are and to redeem everything. And that as we praise you, and as we invite you once again into every area of our life, we're careful to note all of the good things that you already have given us.
That we can have a peace that passes all understanding to guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. We pray all these things in the name of Jesus, Amen.
If you are dealing with anxiety, please talk to a Christian counselor near you. You don't have to struggle on your own.
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