Episode 2
15 November 2021

Above Anxiety | Unstuck

We don’t have to deal with anxiety on our own. When we get stuck, we have the power of the gospel to help us. Join us as we talk about how Jesus can transform our daily, anxious lives.

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[auto-generated transcript]
hey 242
monroe saginaw how are you they're
cheering right now i know they are
because i've been there and i know they
do hey my name is tony if i haven't had
a chance to meet you i'm one of the
pastors around here just so thrilled to
be with you in worship i love nothing
more than when the church gathers
to worship god and praise him together
we are in the midst of this series we
call above anxiety and ultimately what
we want is for you to rise above anxiety
oh we said last week when we started
this series that we don't anticipate
eliminating anxiety from your life we
know that that's not going to happen but
we can help you deal with it in a more
biblically god honoring jesus glorifying
way and that's that's really our
intention throughout this entire
series so last week if you weren't with
us i want to really encourage you to go
back online and check that out as we
really begin to dig into this this
initial idea of just kind of discovering
what our anxiety is identifying what
what makes us anxious what what makes us
feel those feelings
and you might be asking why in the world
are we doing a series on anxiety because
we all have anxiety in our lives and to
illustrate that i wanted to share some
statistics with you that i found this
week this was pre-pandemic era
in colleges they had a three to four
week weight at most colleges for
students to even get counseling care
that's how much the the demand has
increased but in fact there's been a
36 increase in staffing and counseling
departments at universities across the
nation because the demand for counseling
has risen to such high levels
now the
mental health association has collected
data they have this this online
assessment that you can take and through
this assessment between the months of
january and september of 2020 these are
some of the statistics that they've
anxiety screenings were up
634 percent
depression screens
873 percent
nearly 180 000 people who took the
screening reported suicidal ideation on
more than half the days
or nearly every day
with the highest percentage in september
of 37
over half hear this over half of 11 to
17 year olds reported having thoughts of
suicide or self-harm more than half or
nearly every day of the previous two
weeks before taking the assessment
like it's no secret to us
that anxiety is on the rise but
sometimes i think we we just assume that
anxiety is something that we wrestle
with on our own it's kind of our own
thing and we'll just deal with it but
the reality is is the body of christ is
the church we we should be walking
through anxiety
together that's what this series uh
really is all about and before we really
jump into it this morning i would just
love it if you would join me as we pray
together as we get started
almighty god we uh man we just come and
surrender everything to you
and we say everything we realize how big
of a task that is
because there's so many areas of our
lives we want to hold for ourselves
so today god even
even if for just the next 20 to 25
minutes or so
lord just help us to surrender it
and i mean
even our anxieties the things we try to
hide from you the things that we hold
the things that we're ashamed of
and god the things that we're scared to
give you
god help us to hand it all over to you
so that we are fully and completely
ready to experience you today
lord i just pray
personally that every word out of my
mouth be from you and if it's not from
you lord strike it down but every word
that comes out of my mouth that
originated from your heart may it root
deeply into ours
so we are forever transformed because
today is the day that we encountered the
living god amen
so if you were like me when you were a
kid you grew up collecting
baseball cards how many of you collected
baseball cards
in monroe saginaw you guys collected
baseball cards i'm sure if you're online
when i grew up it was the junk wax era
right so the junk wax era means they're
they're not worth anything now because
they overproduced them this is one of
the more recent cards that i've
purchased i was a big ryan sandberg fan
this is his thank you yeah there's fans
uh this one is his opici card now you
may not have heard of opichi but there
was flir donors and tops those were his
rookie cards opichi was the canadian
version of tops and i always wanted this
card and it took until i was like 41
years old to acquire the card and i was
so thrilled you guys don't care at all i
but for me it was a big deal it's not
worth much but it's like there's
nostalgia and there's memories to it
it's my childhood here in this card i
loved collecting baseball cards like we
would go to school we had a baseball
card collecting club at school that's
how awesome we were right
but we would collect these cards and my
brother was a sports card collector as
well and
and he came to me with a trade proposal
and he said tony i'll give you the
entire chicago cubs team set
for this one card and i thought when i
was like seven years old sucker i'm
taking that deal so i took the cubs team
set because it was the cubs team set why
would you not take that deal
the ryan sandberg card was not in it by
the way so i took the cubs team set
for this card
the 1985 mark maguire usa olympic
rookie card
that has recently sold in pristine
condition for ten thousand dollars
totally ripped me off man
he doesn't have the card anymore i'm not
kind of maybe a little bit bitter
what my brother did was he presented to
me this this scenario this story this
this reality that was a false reality
tony you're going to get a great deal
you're going to get all these cards and
all these cards are so much better than
just one card right and at seven years
old i was like well absolutely it makes
so much sense so i took the trade but
the reality is he knew a different
there was a different truth he
understood the value of cards he was
three years older than me he knew that
card was worth more money he made this
trade and
you know the reality is we're all a
little bit like that
we all have areas of our life that
well it's just not reality right that we
present this
this showing to the world like we do the
jesus thing like we we met jesus we
we're baptized we read the bible we pray
we do the whole church thing we do
everything right and on the outside we
look like these amazing faithful
followers of jesus but the reality is on
the inside there's a different reality
because there's something that we
haven't surrendered to him yet
there's something that we're holding on
something that's holding us back
so the question for dave today that we
have is how do i get the transformation
of jesus into the deep inner parts of my
how do how do we get the transformation
of jesus to those deep fundamental parts
of my inner
that's the question that we're asking
richard rohr once said that christians
are usually sincere people
until you get to any real issues of ego
and security
that stings a little bit
i mean we read that and we think of
course for for non-jesus followers that
makes sense but for those of us who
follow jesus
well our life should be different
like it shouldn't be
that way right there should be something
different about us but yet we still ask
the question how do we get the
transformation of jesus
deep into my inner being
how do we allow jesus to transform our
entire selves
see i i want to be changed not just on
the outside i don't i don't just want
this this facade that you see and say oh
he's he looks like a christian i want to
be changed from the the inside out
and i want the same thing for you
i want you to be changed by the power of
jesus from the inside out change so
deeply within your inner being that you
have no other option
than to show that to the world
not just because you go through the
motions because
but because it's who you are
and some of you can resonate with all
this because you know that feeling of of
living out this life that doesn't match
the inner reality of
of who you are
and what you're feeling
so i want you to think about for a
moment just
think about these deeper more
fundamental parts of your lives think
about this list that roar gave us ego
think about that list for a minute now
you're not gonna share this with anybody
this is just in your own mind think
about that list and
which one of those do you just look at
and you're like you know i just
i feel stuck there
like for me it's sometimes it's ego
sometimes my ego gets the best of me
sometimes it's control i i like to have
control over things and sometimes it's
secure okay fine it's all of them
the reality is all of them are an issue
at some point in time
but all of those are things that i fall
victim to and my guess is in your own
life there are things that you struggle
with too
but you're not alone
you're not alone at all the consistent
witness of the new testament
says that there's this other thing in
our life
this other thing that that wrestles for
our hearts that wrestles for our
this thing that battles it out with
jesus for for our trust and calls us to
put our trust in that in that thing and
truthfully the reality is most of us
spend more time giving our attention to
that thing
than we do jesus
and i i don't have to tell you that
that's probably not a great idea
in fact i would say that learning to
notice this thing and put this thing to
death is an essential part of your
journey with jesus
i know you're dying to know what is this
so i'm about to tell you you ready
you don't need to take notes it's one
simple word
that thing that wrestles for your
attention with jesus
is you
it's you
well i mean it's sort of you
i mean let's look at what jesus says
here in um matthew 16 verse 24 jesus
says that he said to his disciples
whoever wants to be my disciple must
deny themselves and take up the cross
and follow me now so we already hear
this deny yourself already a tough
i mean i don't know about you but this
is a really hard thing to do is just
this is what jesus is telling us
we must deny ourselves take up our cross
and follow him
but it's not just him as the apostle
paul says it as well
in chapter 4 of the book of ephesians
verse 22
he says you were taught with regard to
your former way of life to put off your
old self which is being corrupted by its
deceitful desires
to be made new in the attitude of your
minds and to put on the new self created
to be like god in true righteousness
now paul uses this term old self or old
man when he talks about it and jesus
kind of talks about self and but they're
talking about the same thing in fact 26
times in the new testament jesus and
talk about this this self and every time
they do it it's the same thing
warning beware
danger ahead in fact if you take notes
in your bible you might as well draw one
of those like triangular yellow warning
because every time you see this come up
it's them warning you that there is this
other thing that is competing with me
for your heart
there's this other thing that's
competing with me for your attention and
it seeks to destroy
and it seeks to devour you
there's a story about how inuit eskimos
would catch and kill wolves
that lived in their area
now wolves i don't know if you know a
lot about wolves but they're they're
mean things in fact they're
with total disregard to whatever it is
they're dealing with and in fact if they
get hungry enough they will eat each
for food
so in order to keep themselves safe they
would try to kill the wolves and and the
way that they would do that is they
would take a knife and they would coat
it in the blood of like a rabbit or
whatever it is that they had at the time
then they would freeze it
put more blood on it and freeze it put
more blood on it and freeze it until
there's a nice
thick coating of blood on the knife and
then they would go out in the snow and
they would stick it in the snow with the
handle and with the blades sticking out
of the snow
and then the wolf would come
in the middle of the night and begin to
lick the blood off of the knife
and as he's licking the blood off of the
knife his tongue because it's frozen
begins to get numb and eventually he
looks down to the blade of the knife and
begins to cut his own tongue but because
he's desensitized he doesn't realize
he's cut himself and he tastes his own
blood thinks he's the rabbit's blood and
continues to eat and eat and eat and
eventually loses so much blood that he
literally devours himself
so when they come out the next day they
find a knife and a dead wolf laying
there beside the knife and
and i think in a way this is what we do
to ourselves when we let our false self
control us we are literally
slowly devouring ourselves
and i think this is the picture that
jesus and paul is trying to paint
when you're under pressure when when
you're feeling scared or anxious our
tendency is to just depend on
our false self
rather than depending on god
let's be clear i'm not talking about
this the heaven and hell and forgiveness
of sins i'm talking about the freedom
and the transformation that jesus offers
you in your life
yet we still continually choose our
false self you see here's the truth
friends the fundamental battle for our
is where we put our identity
it's where we place our trust
and who we depend on to do the work
the self
tells us to rely on us
and rather than god
so if you were with us last week you
heard me talk about some of my story
with with anxiety recently
and the transition to 242 that i was so
excited about but but deeply grieving
the loss of of where i was
and part of what i learned about myself
is that i really liked putting trust and
faith in me
what i discovered through that time of
of grieving and struggle is that i had
convinced myself for a number of reasons
in my life that my job was to be the
strong one
that to be the the husband and the
father that i was supposed to be i have
to be the strong one and i'm not allowed
to be weak
so i hid my weakness from even my wife
and i tried to struggle alone
and it wasn't healthy
and what i did is i robbed my wife of
the opportunity to be strong and and
over that season what i began to learn
is that it's okay to be weak
i don't have to be the strong one all
the time
but what i convinced myself my false
self had convinced myself that i wasn't
allowed to be weak i had to be strong
all the time and it was a lie
it was a lie that i believed
you see the tricky part is recognizing
our false self
but we can actually begin to recognize
our false self see the psychologists
call them ants
automatic negative thoughts
and there are these thoughts that we
have that just kind of automatically
happen they just by reflex they happen
it's not free thinking you're not
voluntarily choosing to think this way
but they're very often coupled with
anxiety and depression and these are
these are just thoughts you tell
yourself that you would never choose to
tell yourself but you do because it
becomes an automatic response and
they're so deeply entrenched in us
because we've been telling ourselves the
story our entire lives
we've been telling ourselves the same
thing it's been like like on loop in our
and right now my guess is you're
thinking of of times in your life where
you've done this to yourself
that you've you've gone through a a
rough patch and maybe you had a had a
relationship that you you made a mistake
and instead of just saying oh they're
mad at me you begin to say oh everybody
hates me
or maybe a relationship broke apart and
instead of saying well they're just not
the right one for me you begin to say
i'm unlovable
or no one can love me
and you have this endless loop of these
negative thoughts that run through your
and they're so entrenched in us that we
begin to place our identity in those
you see mit did this article
a couple years ago
about the hipster effect
why non-conformists all end up looking
the same so they talked about how
all end up looking the same but they
would never claim it right so they find
on getty images this photo of this this
man with uh looks like a flannel shirt
and a beanie and a stubbly beard and i
did not wear a flannel shirt
specifically because
i was trying not to look like that
so they did they put this article on
they used this picture and and they got
this one complaint from a reader and the
complaint from the reader was i don't
think it's fair for you to generalize
all millennials
in hipsters like this
it's not fair we're all unique we're all
very different furthermore i never gave
you permission to use my picture in your
article so the author's like oh no
like we gotta check on this so they
checked with getty images to make sure
everything was legit
long story short
it wasn't him
like this guy read the article saw
another hipster in the article and said
that guy looks just like me
they use my picture
he proved their point right
that they all look the same
sometimes the narrative we tell
is just wrong
it's inaccurate and sometimes it's just
here's some common themes that we tell
take a second let you look at those
how many of those themes sound familiar
to you
like when you think about the story you
tell yourself how many of those
sound like you
and just imagine for a moment
if instead of being devoured by those
you're actually aware of them when they
were happening
and you actually put a stop to it
we said that during this series we're
going to give you some practical steps
and practical tips that you can
incorporate in your life and and we're
going to give you some of those so how
do you begin to identify when those
things happen
the first step
is to listen to your self-talk
and even write it down
when i was going through the process of
ordination in the previous church that i
served we
we had to go to some counseling
and as part of that they okay i had to
go to counseling and as a part of that
we had to write down our self-talk and i
thought this is the dumbest thing ever
like this is
whatever so i started doing it
and within a couple of hours of writing
down my self-talk i was
at how poorly i talked to myself
i mean i talk to myself in ways that i
would never talk to you
i said things about myself that i would
never say about someone else
it was brutal to read the things that i
said in my mind about myself
so i encourage you just write it down
think about yourself just keep track of
the thoughts in your mind and write
those down the second step is pay
attention to the superlatives
exaggerations and assumptions that we
make in our lives
because a lot of the comments that we
they're exaggerated
like when we make a comment where
someone's upset with us and we say
something like everybody hates me
or no one likes me
it's a major exaggeration based on one
but we do it to ourselves all the time
number three
ask someone who cares about you
to tell you what they hear in your words
oftentimes we're blind to it like we
don't even understand the things that
we're saying about ourselves that are
dangerous but those who are close to us
they hear your language they hear your
negative self talk
they hear all the bad things that they
say about you
well one of my friends has a one
a best friend that will often say to
like don't talk about my best friend
that way
and it's a constant reminder for them
that what you were saying about yourself
is not true
and i'm not going to let you talk about
my best friend the way you're talking
about my best friend
those who are closest to us will often
and recognize those things much better
than we do and after you do those things
the final step is i want you to sift
your story
to the good news of the gospel
and this is where the magic happens
we begin to take the story that we've
told ourselves
and we begin to compare it to the story
that god tells about us
so i encourage you if you're watching
online right now or when you get home
today i want you to grab a piece of
paper and once you draw two columns
one i want you to write my story
second column once you write god's story
and i want you the best of your ability
write down in that first column like
what is the narrative you tell yourself
like what are the words
in your head
that you say about yourself and write
that down and then i want you to get on
the other column and begin to write down
god's story for you what is the truth
that scripture says about you
i did this for myself and i want to be a
little bit vulnerable and share with you
kind of
what my story said
and then what god's story really says
growing up
my brother three years older than me you
know the one that ripped me off the
baseball card
um he was the athlete
awesome brother love him to death but
always lived in my brother's shadow
right we went to a small school and it
seemed like every year i met my new
teachers and they always call off roll
tony johnson oh you're scott's little
every year it was a constant theme in my
so i began to tell myself
i'm just not that important
and i began to convince myself that i'm
just not that important
that was my story
god's story in psalm 139 says i am
fearfully and wonderfully made
before i was knit together in my
mother's womb god knew me and he loves
i've made mistakes in my life
i've made mistakes in my life that at
times have convinced me that there is no
way that god can love me after that
and maybe that's where you're at
maybe you look at your past or your
current situation or whatever it may be
and you're just like i just don't know
how god could love
maybe you're watching online because
you don't feel like you can even walk
into a church
because of what your life has been like
you say there's no way
because of what i've done
that god could love me
but romans 5 8 tells us that god proves
his love for us
in this
while we were still sinners
christ died for us
you didn't have to get my life together
he died for me when i was the most
he died for me when i was the most
sinful he died for me when i was the
most lost
because god looked at me and saw me
even if i didn't believe it myself
the story i shared earlier about
thinking i had to be strong all the time
in that i can actually be weak you know
the ironic thing about this
is is the story that god says is one of
my favorite verses in scripture
second corinthians 12 9 my grace
is sufficient
for you
for my power
is made perfect in weakness
the truth of the matter is is when god
is strongest
is when i'm willing to be weak
because i stop relying on myself all the
time i stopped relying on my false self
you see the truth is your journey and my
maybe to be oversimplified is a journey
of replacing the false self
the story i tell myself
with my true self
a story that god tells about me
here's the deal you're not going to snap
your fingers and suddenly have this
it takes years of small steps years of
gradual progress to to get to the point
that we feel like we're actually living
into god's story for us
that's why
jesus says this is a constant dying to
daily i'd say hourly even minutely if
minutely is a word
it's a constant dying to ourselves so we
can live the new life that christ has
for us
so we can start believing the story that
he tells
so once you consider this question today
if you get nothing else this is the
question i want you to think about what
if i were at least as blank to myself
as god is
what if i were at least as kind to
myself as god is or or patient or
forgiving or loving or you fill in the
what if you were at least blank to
as god is
what would your life look like
what would your life look like if you
believed god's story over your story
what would your life look like if you
believed god over yourself what would
your life look like if you trusted god
over yourself
how different might your life look
now i know part of your anxiety and part
of your struggle is
is the fact that your false self is a
really loud voice
it is a really loud voice sometimes a
deafening voice in your life
sometimes it's hard to hear anything
martin luther who is a great protestant
he struggled with anxiety he struggled
with self-loathing he struggled with
with depression there was a season in
his life where he was kind of hid away
in a castle as he was translating the
bible into german he was excommunicated
from the catholic church and they had
labeled him a heretic it was a really
rough time in his life and while he was
at the castle he spent most of his days
most of his time all by himself alone
working on this project
and during that time he battled a lot of
in fact he says it was like
literal and physical demons there's a
story that he threw an ink pot across
the room at the devil during this time
it was a it was a crazy time for him it
was an intense time for him
but but the interesting thing about him
is how he responded to those attacks
every time he felt attacked he would
shout out the words i am baptized
that was his response
every single time that was his response
and tim chester writes this about luther
his circumstances
looked bleak
but his baptism
was a fact
it embodied the promise
of god
you see friends no matter what kind of
anxiety you deal with was depression
chronic anxiety acute anxiety
debilitating whatever form the truth of
the matter is the real you is not found
in your false self
the real you is found in the truth of
what god says about you
and he says you're
chosen he says you're forgiven healed
and redeemed
he says you're set free
he says you're loved
he says you are his
your identity friends is not in the
false self and the lies that you tell
yourself and have been telling yourself
for so long your identity is found in
who you are in christ
so are you ready
are you ready to just give up that false
self and
and allow the transformation of jesus to
to penetrate to our our inner depths
to transform us from the the inside out
so we're no longer just living this
facade of christianity but we're
actually jesus followers because we've
died to ourself and we've taken up the
new life that he offers us
so what do you
say are you ready to be set free
are you ready to say goodbye to your
false self and hello to the the real you
the you that god sees
are you ready to take up the challenge
that the apostle paul gives us in
ephesians 4
you were taught with regard to your
former way of life
to put off your old self which is being
corrupted by its deceitful desires
to be made new in the attitude of your
minds and to put on the new self
created to be like god in true
and holiness
would you pray with me
lord god we are so very thankful
that the narrative that we tell
the lies that we live with
is not the real reality of who we are
that's the old us
but because we know you
because you've healed us and redeemed us
that doesn't define us
you do
so lord would you allow that to
deep in the fundamental parts of who we
lord today
we all carry different levels of
anxiety and we all carry different types
of false selves the lie to us and lord
the power of your holy spirit just come
and wipe those out
would you shrink those voices
so that your voice is the loudest
it's in christ's name that we pray
as we enter into our time of encounter
it's an opportunity for us to just come
before god in a very maybe different way
it's an opportunity for us to to cast
aside our false self to
embrace the
the true self that god gives us
and there's various ways you can do that
during our time of encounter you came in
you received your communion cups and
when you're prepared during this next
song we invite you to take communion
pull that top layer off and you'll eat
the bread and then open the second layer
to get to the juice and this is a kind
of a reminder of what jesus has done for
us when you think about about communion
for us this is this is the symbol this
is the sign this is the realization that
your false self has been put to death
and through jesus
we have new life
we have received newness in him
maybe today you are just facing the
reality that there is a really loud
false self speaking into your life and
you're really struggling to allow the
transformation of jesus to penetrate
your entire being
we have a prayer
station in the back
and we'd love for you to to go get some
prayer maybe you just need to confess
that to someone else and let them pray
over you you know what here's the
reality when you go back you don't even
have to tell them why
just walk up and they'll pray for you
let's let the holy spirit speak today
or maybe maybe
you need to actually put to death the
false self today
and you need to be baptized
you flirted with this jesus thing
and you've looked like a christian
on the outside
but on the inside
there's another story
on the inside you haven't surrendered
all of yourself to him
and if that's you and
if you feel the holy spirit nudging you
today i encourage you to come right over
and have a conversation with you and
help you take your next step to be
to surrender your life to him
to put to death the old self
and take on the new self the new life
that jesus

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