Ambushed by Anxiety

April 29th, 2018

David Sorn



When anxiety keeps creeping up in your life, what in the world can you do about it? Learn 4 steps you can take to start fighting back against the ambush of anxiety!



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TRANSCRIPT


INTRODUCTION

Morning.  Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday morning.  My name is David Sorn. 

I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.  

We are concluding our Overwhelmed series today with our third and final topic: anxiety. 

Anxiety has become an enormous deal in the last decade or two here in the US

Workers face unprecedented levels of anxiety

Parents are more anxious than ever about their babies, toddlers, or teenagers

One study reports that even average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient of the early 1950s.

This is not an isolated issue anymore. 

There are many of you sitting here this morning, praying that God will help you with your anxiety this morning. 

My prayer is that this morning, at least begins to point you in the right direction.  

All three of our topics in this series have significant overlap: 

(Show Venn Diagram of Overwhelmed series) 

STRESS is the mental or emotional tension that is the result of demanding circumstances  

FEAR is a response to an immediate and known threat

And ANXIETY is a response to the possibility that something MIGHT happen…SOMETIME in the future. 

They’re ALL related. 

So, if your boss gives you a really negative review at work.

It might emotionally stress you out. 

You might have fear that you’re going to be fired when you walk into work tomorrow

And if you don’t lose your job tomorrow, you could still have this nagging anxiety for months…or even years after that review…that you’re going to lose your job any day now. 

These three topics are often all rolled together as we face challenges. 

And so, in dealing with them, really we have to apply the Biblical teaching from all THREE of these messages…and not just one. 

Think of this series like one long message on how to deal with life…when you feel OVERWHELMED

Anxiety is a bit more complex than our first two topics, because there are really TWO types of anxiety. 

There is a basic anxiety that every one of us deals with from time to time. 

We might even more aptly call this “worry”

And there is a clinical anxiety that many struggle with. 

This is characterized by things like panic attacks, certain phobias, or an anxiety that seems to almost cripple daily living. 

So before we go any further today, let me be clear on something: 

I’m not a Psychologist. I’m not a Doctor.  

I’m a teacher of the Bible

I can guide you through what God’s word says directly about anxiety.  

But I want to be really sensitive to those of you who are dealing with anxiety that has begun to cripple your daily living…and made it quite difficult. 

I’m hopeful that today will be a good start for you…point you in the right direction… 

But if anxiety has gotten to the point where it’s begun to really take over your life…

My guess is that these next 28 minutes aren’t going to solve it.  

Might be helpful, but won’t be sufficient.  

If that’s you, I cannot encourage you enough to seek more help. 

Seek out a Christian counselor…we can give you guidance on that…Send me, or a staff member, or your house leader...an email.  

Because a Christian counselor can give you, not only Biblical guidance, but they can personally walk through your own life with you…and give you personalized recommendations to your unique struggle with anxiety. 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGE THE WORTHLESSNESS OF WORRYING

But I still want to talk about how anxiety hits most of us…and how to deal with it. 

Because I know we struggle with it.  All of us. 

Many of you in here know what it’s like to have anxiety regarding your kids. 

I remember when we had the twins…

In the first few weeks they were home from the hospital, I would lay down in bed at night and think, “Oh man, I hope they make it through the night.” 

“Did I put the swaddle on right?  Is it too close to their mouth?” 

I remember thinking about that very thing every night for a while.  

That’s anxiety.  A general worry about the possibility of something happening…someday

Or many of you know what it’s like to worry about your aging parents…

Will they be around? 

Will they be around to watch my kids go to school?  Graduate from school?  

What if they’re not?  

That’s anxiety.                                  

It’s not related to something imminent…it’s about something that “COULD” happen.   

So how does the Bible say to deal with our anxiety? 

Because we have anxiety, not just about the health of our loved ones, but about our relationships, about money, about our jobs, about all sorts of things

We’re going to look at a number of different Scriptures today, but we’re going to primarily work out of Paul’s letter to the Philippians

(Page 953)  

(renovation app) 

I’m going to read through the whole passage on anxiety, and then we’ll walk back through it.  

As always, keep it in front of you. 

(Philippians 4:4-9) – NIV

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

We’re going to look at “4 Biblical steps for dealing with anxiety” today.  

Let’s walk through them. 

4 Steps for Dealing with Anxiety: 

1. Acknowledge the Worthlessness of Worrying

Look at verse 6 again: Paul very clearly says, “Don’t be anxious about anything.” 

What things should you be anxious about?? 

Nothing.  

Easier said than done…but the goal is to eliminate worry from our lives. 

Jesus also speaks at length about this. 

(Matthew 6:25-27) – NIV

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Jesus is pretty clear here. 

Worrying doesn’t really accomplish anything.  

In fact, there was a study done a few years ago that proved that 85% of what we worry about, never even happens. 

And so we need to begin by acknowledging the “worthlessness of worrying” 

And we need to do this because we’re pretty good at rationalizing our anxieties. 

We say, “I know I can’t stop thinking about this…but…but…I’m just trying to figure out how to make it work. I’m probably solving!” J

That may be true…for just a very short while

But you and I both know, that much beyond that, it’s not problem solving, it’s you and I playing out doomsday scenarios in our heads.   

And is all that time spent worrying really worth it? 

There was a study done with 1,200 senior citizens in 2013 where they were asked them to share the #1 regret of their lives. 

The #1 answer? 

“I wish I hadn’t spent so much of my life worrying” 

And so why do so many of us have so much anxiety in the first place? 

Let’s try and dig into our thinking a little deeper. 

As usual, I’ll be the guinea pig, and you observe my painful life experiment J

This is incredibly ironic, but I was feeling a bit more anxious than usual about giving this message on anxiety. 

I know this is a topic that many people struggle with, and that you’ll have high expectations for hearing something helpful today. 

And so I, as a human being, felt anxious this week about whether or not I could provide you with that. 

But what’s underneath the anxiety?  

Fascinatingly, the Bible says, what’s usually underneath anxiety…is pride.  

And seeing this, is the 2nd Biblical step for dealing with anxiety

4 Steps for Dealing with Anxiety: 

1. Acknowledge the Worthlessness of Worrying  

2. See the Pride Underneath Your Anxiety

Look at Scripture here: 

(1 Peter 5:6-7) – NIV

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

In the Greek, grammatically…those sentences are tied together. 

It reads like…humble yourselves…by casting your anxiety on God. 

Why does it say that? 

How are you humbling yourself by giving up your anxieties to God? 

(Put the 2 Steps back on screen) 

Or, said in reverse, “How exactly are we prideful by being anxious?” 

When we’re anxious, we’re worried because we see ourselves having to work it out

Or, we’re imagining scenarios where things are going wrong and thus we won’t be seen as perfect anymore… and how horrible that would be. 

And both of those things are steeped in pride. 

So, I’m anxious about you liking this message, because I’m (falsely) thinking that it must be ME who controls if you like this message or not (pride)

…and my image is apparently based in what you think of me (pride) 

Now, of course that’s not 100% of what I think, but that sort of thinking creeps into our lives all the time. 

Pastor Steven Furtick says it this way: “God says, “I am not going to take the anxiety away until you put away the pride that carries it.”  

He says, the pride is like onions. 

If you don’t like onions, you ask for them to be removed whenever you go out to eat. 

But sometimes onions are an ingredient in the pre-made sauce they serve you. 

And anxiety is in the sauce called pride.  

So when we can’t stop thinking about how others must think about us… 

When we can’t stop trying to control everything…

When we can’t just live in today, and let God handle the future…

Our anxiety is actually just in the sauce called pride. 

If you want to get rid of the onions, you have to throw the whole sauce out. 

And if you want to start dealing with your anxiety, you have to take a hard look at your pride. 

The less you see yourself responsible for every situation…the lower your anxiety gets

The less you see yourself as having to be perfect…the lower your anxiety gets   

The less you are insistent on having to do it your way, and the more you can submit yourself to God’s will/his plan…the lower your anxiety gets. 

And so…I don’t care if you like this message or not…I know God led me to it, and will handle the results. 

And I 90% believe what I just said J

As C.S. Lewis said: 

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself.  It’s thinking of yourself less.” – C.S. Lewis

And so when you can see pride at the root of your anxiety, you can begin to think of yourself less, and that in turn, begins to lessen your anxiety. 

 

 

TURN YOUR WORRIES INTO PRAYERS

Let’s take a look at step 3

4 Steps for Dealing with Anxiety: 

1. Acknowledge the Worthlessness of Worrying

2. See the Pride Underneath Your Anxiety

3. Turn Your Worries into Prayers

Look at verse 6 again of Philippians 4

(Philippians 4:6) – NIV

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  

So what does it say? 

Don’t worry.  Don’t be anxious. 

But instead, in everything, pray. 

Feeling worried about your marriage?  

Pray

Feeling worried about an argument you had with a friend…that hasn’t been resolved? 

Pray…and then go talk to your friend J

Think of it this way: 

If you have time to worry, you have time to pray

If some of you really live out step 3 here, you’d be in prayer 3 to 4 hours a day. 

This is a really helpful spiritual discipline you can learn.

When you feel worried, or have anxious thoughts…train yourself to turn every anxious thought into a prayer instead. 

So let me give you a practical example: 

Sometimes, as a parent, I feel anxious about how my kids will turn out when they’re older. 

I know they’re only 5, 5, and 2…but I do. 

I see their gifts, their strengths…but I can also see where they’re probably going to have challenges. 

And sometimes I find my mind drifting to how those challenges might play out…

And as I was thinking about this passage, I was convicted by how rarely I turn those worries into prayer. 

I think them…and they sit in my mind…and they kind of sink into my soul….

But what do the Scriptures say? 

They say, “In EVERY situation (not 1 in 10…EVERY), present your requests to God” 

In everything, turn your worries into prayers. 

Think of your anxieties like a hat…each anxious thought, adding weight upon your head

Now I had my friend & fellow staff member, Ryan Speck, borrow me all of his Philadelphia Eagle’s hats. 

I figured the Eagles cause anxiety for him (or used to) 

When I starting worrying about my kids…it’s like putting on a hat (put one on) 

It’s just sitting there…adding weight to my mind…

Then I start worrying if we’re going to be able raise all the money for our future building (another hat on)

And then I’m worrying about what you think of me with so many hats on (another hat on) 

But the Bible says, I’m supposed to turn every worry into prayer

Remember, that’s why 1 Peter said, “Cast your anxieties on Him” 

So, with every worry, I need to turn it into a prayer

“Will my kids be okay in Kindergarten, what will happen? àLord, I pray, when they go to Kindergarten, that your hand is on them” (throw the hat in the crowd) 

Cast your anxiety upon Him! 

Instead of “What happens if I can’t pay the rent…and what am I going to do with all of this debt àAs soon as those thoughts hit, you say, “Nope…Lord, help me pay the rent…show me ho to pay off this debt.. Provide” 

Cast your anxiety up on Him (throw hat off) 

When you’re lying in bed at night…and the anxieties of all the things you’ve got to do the next day are keeping you up… àjust say, “God, I don’t need to stay up all night worrying about the stuff you’re already working on…you’ll do what needs to be done” 

Cast your anxiety upon Him (throw hat off)   

By the way, can you put those back on stage when this is done? J

And if you do that…you will feel lighter. 

You’ll feel more confident in God because you’re walking out a life that is dependent upon Him and not just you. 

And what will happen is those thoughts of anxiety will lessen…because they’ll learn that they don’t have a home in your head anymore.  They can’t take root there. 

This is the promise of verse 7

(Philippians 4:7) – NIV – Leave up until next slide

7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Look at that word GUARD… 

When you turn your worries into prayers, the Scripture is saying that it’s like building up a wall around your heart & mind…

Protecting you from future anxieties!

 

 

 

SPEAK TRUTH TO YOUR PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

Now, you might be thinking, “I get that we need to pray and cast our anxiety on God, but I try and do that…and it just keeps coming back…” 

Well, let’s look at the rest of the passage to see how to deal with this

This is the 4th step. 

4 Steps for Dealing with Anxiety: 

1. Acknowledge the Worthlessness of Worrying

2. See the Pride Underneath Your Anxiety

3. Turn Your Worries into Prayers

4. Speak Truth to your Past & Future

Anxiety has a funny way of talking us out of reality. 

And that starts with the past. 

I find that when we get ambushed by anxiety, we often forget what has truly happened in our past:

So we start speaking in terms like: 

“It’s just always been this way.” 

“Yeah, it never works out” 

“My life has always been a mess.” 

And God is really clear, that part of the pathway out of anxiety is you have to speak truth into those lies. 

Verse 6, which may be one of the most spiritually loaded verses of the Bible, tells us that you when you turn your worries into prayer, you do so, WITH THANKSGIVING. 

That “thanking God for what He’s already done” is like the soap that helps wash away the stain of anxiety. 

So watch how we add another step to this: 

Let’s say you’re feeling anxious about your health or maybe a family member’s

You start w/ Steps 1 & 2: 

“God, my worrying is a waste of time…sorry I was playing God again about how it has to work out. 

Step 3: 

Turn your worries into prayers

Lord, heal me.  Heal my father.  My child.  Do the miraculous, Lord.  

And Step 4: 

Speak some truth.        

And start with the past

“God, I thank you…because you’ve proven yourself worthy already in my life!” 

“you’ve saved me…remember that time you, and remember when you…wow, that was powerful” 

Do you see how the truth is washing away anxiety?  

It helps you see, “Okay, I don’t need to worry so much because…He was faithful then, so He can be faithful now!”  

And maybe, most importantly, speak that truth into your future. 

We can’t spend our time focusing on things that have an 85% chance of never happening, but must be focused on the truth

Look at verse 8 again. 

(Philippians 4:8) – NIV

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

When it comes to the future…so many of us are living in this dystopian future where we picture everything going wrong. 

And Paul is saying, “Don’t even let that hat weigh on your head” 

Instead, speak truth to those anxieties before they settle on your mind again: 

This is what Paul says to do in 2 Corinthians 10

(2 Corinthians 10:5) – NIV

5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

So before these anxieties even settle into your mind, take them captive

Your life is shaped by your thoughts. 

Jesus so clearly teaches that the fruit of our lives (good or bad) comes from what happens on the inside of us. 

That’s why this 4th step is so important!

So much of anxiety is rooted in the exact opposite of all of those good things that are listed in verse 8

With anxiety we tend to focus on all the things that are false, instead of true

So when you feel anxiety coming back…

And you start thinking lies like, “God is not in control” 

Take the thought captive (grab the hat) and speak the truth

“TRUTH:  God is in control” 

When anxiety has you feeling unlovely, Paul says focus on the lovely: 

Rather than dwelling on the unlovely lies like, “You’re such a mess…if people only knew…” 

Take the thought captive (grab the hat) and speak truth: 

“TRUTH:  What is lovely is:  My God says I am worthy…and He loves me no matter what” 

And if it gets on your head, then pray it away. 

Even if you have to pray it away 100 times, 1,000 times… 

This is FAITH

Where we move from doubt and worry about the future to trust in our God. 

That’s faith.  

And again, there is a promise of Scripture in here for you in our final verse

(Philippians 4:9) – NIV

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Put this into practice…and God will bring you peace. 

In fact, I want to give you a prayer technique to go home with, and try out this week.  

The battle against anxiety requires living out these Biblical steps as it happens in real time…and ALSO being diligent to rewire your mind when it’s not happening

And you can do that through prayer

Write this down. 

In your notes in your app, on your bulletin, or take a picture of this with your phone. 

4 Minutes of Prayer to Fight Anxiety

Minute 1: Confess your Worries to God

Minute 2: Turn your Worries into Prayer

Minute 3: Thank God for Something in the Past

Minute 4: Praise God for what He can do in your Future

Now, you aren’t going to this one time and be cured. 

And as I said, for some of you…this is just the beginning…your next step is to start working on some of this more personally with a Christian counselor. 

But I believe, for many of you, if you practice this prayer discipline, you will see a difference in your life.  

This is a long battle…a lifelong battle really, but if you follow the Scriptures, God will give you more and more freedom in this. 

Let me pray.


Copyright: David Sorn

Renovation Church in Blaine, MN




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