Saturday, October 12, 2019

Dealing with Anxiety (Philippians 4:6-7)

INTRODUCTION The passage in Philippians 4 which tells us not to worry has been heavy on my heart this past year as our family has followed God’s leading to make multiple changes.

 Two summers ago, our church received a new pastor. After several sermons, I realized that the theology that my family believed and the theology of this new pastor were very different. It took us a while to decide how to handle the situation, but we eventually left the church in search of one with a solid Biblical foundation.

 Also, in the fall of this past year, I began trying to figure out how I could change jobs and which direction to go. While there were things in my previous district that I did indeed loved, I could also see changes happening which were telling me to dust off my feet and move on. I knew that my kids would also be coming with me and that my husband was supportive. He understood my stress. Together, we both wanted something different for our girls. I wrote out the Philippians passage on a notecard and set it on my bathroom counter for almost a year.

 Philippians 4:6-7 - “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 comprehension will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 Over that year, God brought me signs and confirmations that everything would work out just fine. I couldn’t tell exactly how things would work, and I didn’t have definite answers until almost April about my job. My family wouldn’t land on a decision about a church until later in the summer either. Yet I could see it coming. The Word from the Scripture kept ringing in my head, “Don’t worry. Just pray and find peace.” This summer, I made time finally to dig deeper into this verse. I wanted to unpack it. I wanted to find all the hidden treasures in it.

 I wanted to completely own this verse. I wanted to make it mine. I wanted to claim it wholeheartedly. 

Here is what I found.


 Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines it like this, “concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasiness. It expresses more than uneasiness or disturbance, and even more than trouble or solicitude. It usually springs from fear or serious apprehension of evil, and involves a suspense respecting an event, and often, a perplexity of mind, to know how to shape our conduct.”

 Proverbs 12:25 tells us that, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.” Is that not the truth? Anxiety can turn into more than just an emotional response to a stressful situation. Medical News Today lists common physical and psychological symptoms to include: panic attacks, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation, dizziness, sleep problems, nausea, chest pain, and others.


 If anxiety is so terrible, how are we supposed to “be anxious for nothing”? The Apostle Peter says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.” There are two ways to battle anxiety according to Philippians 4:6: pray and be thankful. By doing those two things, we are then able to hand our anxiety over to God. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16- 18, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.” We are to be in constant communication with God. Philippians 4:6 says, “in everything by prayer . . .” Handing over our anxiety is a daily maintenance type of issue, not just a one time deal, which mandates that we talk to God about it as often as we need.

 Being thankful in conjunction with prayer is a God designed way to battle anxiety. 2 Chronicles 20:21 and Psalm 118:1 both tell us to, “Give thanks to the Lord for His loving kindness is everlasting.” We have instructions to be thankful. God tells us to be thankful and science can explain why. says that, “there is also scientific evidence that expressing genuine gratitude on a daily basis can improve physical health as well by improving quality of sleep, cardiovascular (heart) health and immune function.”

 Therefore, in order to be anxious about nothing, we must be praying to God, giving thanks to God, and letting our requests be made known to Him. He already knows what we need, and there is an amazing peace in agreeing with Him so that we can see and watch Him work.


 The result of following verse 6 is astounding and very rewarding! Verse 7 is tied to verse 6 with the conjunction “and.” When we do verse 6, then verse 7 happens. Watch out because this second verse is loaded. Verse 7 talks about peace of God which stands in contrast and opposition to anxiety. In poetry, and literature in general, this is a shift or a climactic point. If we have a full understanding of what can be ours, then we might be more motivated to do what it takes to get that peace.

 Our culture, and probably those of all times, seeks after safety, contentment, and tranquility. The best type of peace is the kind that comes from God. Paul says that God’s peace, “surpasses all comprehension,” because in John 14:27, Jesus tells us that His peace is different from the world’s peace. His peace rises above. His peace is superior. Scripture tells us that this peace is beyond our comprehension in a spiritual truth type of way.

 I just love when someone speaks comfort to another person by encouraging him to have God’s peace. There is wealth and extreme value in God’s peace. However, there is so much more to it than a sweet sentiment. It is more than a sympathy card can handle. The card would need heavy armor and not just pretty flowers. The Apostle Paul says that the peace of God will guard us. The word “guard” in the Greek means to protect with a military style force from a hostile invasion and to preserve one for the attainment of something. God is strongly protecting us and saving us for a purpose! We know He has a plan for us because Jeremiah 29:11 says He does.

 With this great peace, God is specifically guarding our hearts and minds. First of all, Jesus instructed us to love God with our hearts and minds and souls according to Matthew 22:37. Our hearts and minds are valuable tools and important to God. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Romans 10:10 says, “with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness.”

 Finally, all of this is wrapped up “in Christ Jesus.” Allow me to just play a little word connection game for a moment. Jesus is the Word of God. John 1:1 says that the Word was in the beginning with God. Verse 14 says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Ephesians 6:17 says that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God. Jesus is the Word. The Word is the Sword. God wants to guard our hearts in a strong military way. I think we better spend time in the Word so that we can be well defended. We need to know it so well that world cannot shake us and cause anxiety. When we know the Word that is Scripture, then we also know Christ Jesus who wants to guard us and give us peace.

 My friend, do you see the intense nature of these two verses? God wants us to have this amazing peace which is such a wonderful treasure. When we have it, we will be heavily guarded when we have it. Will you invest in the treasure? Will you do what it takes to receive this? God loves you and wants to give it to you. Talk to Him about it.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Did Jesus Fail?

Looking over the Sunday morning bulletin, I noticed that the title of the sermon was "Holy Failure." This should be interesting.  I wonder who failed?  Romans 3:23 says we all fail and fall short.  However, the sermon was not just about us failing.  It was about Jesus failing.  

The sermon text was Mark 6:1 - 13.  In this passage, Jesus returns to Nazareth, but a prophet in his home town is never accepted.  Jesus wonders at their disbelief.  Therefore, He commissions His disciples to go out and perform miracles.  

The pastor said, "Failing at one thing does not make us a failure."  While this is a good point, I still struggled with the idea that Jesus failed.  When I asked about this concept, I was told that in the world's view, Jesus failed because the people of Nazareth didn't accept Him.  Did Jesus fail? or did the people of Nazareth fail? 

1 Corinthians 1:9 says, "God never fails." 
Joshua 21:45 - All of God's promises came true. 
Luke 1:37 - Nothing is impossible with God. 
Romans 9:6 - The Word of God has not failed.  
1 John 4:8 - God is love. 
1 Corinthians 13:8 - Love never fails.  

Perhaps the pastor was trying to make Jesus more relevant.  I'm still trying to figure that part out.  However, I can't change the Gospel of Christ to be something that it just isn't.  Jesus did not fail.  Do people struggle with that?  Jesus was perfect.  1 Peter 2:22 says that Jesus never sinned.  This is Truth.  I suppose that a failure doesn't always add up to sin, but we are talking about the Son of the Living God.  As fallen creation, we sin and we fail.  God does not.  His Son does not.  

It is dangerous to change the Gospel and the character of Christ to make Him relevant to the world.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Teacher Tuesday: Broken Coffee Cup

Teacher Tuesday: Broken Coffee Cup

About ten years ago, a friend brought me a ceramic travel coffee mug.  It was pink and black with
a teal tiara under which read "Kiss my tiara." I have other travel mugs that I like and rotate, but
this was my favorite.

I brought it to school today and had only finished half of my coffee by mid-morning when my
students were switching classes.  At the end of each class, I take a moment with each student to
sign a communication binder and conference about how class went.  Sometimes I get to praise a
student for a job well done. Sometimes I take a personal moment to find out what went wrong and
try to give encouragement.  Sometimes it just doesn't go well when a student doesn't understand
consequences for actions. I'm not necessarily angry with the student when I record that no points
were earned.  Several students will confess it and own it.

Today, this was not the case.

Today, a student didn't agree with the points I recorded.  I was mid-sentence in the binder when he
yanked it from my firm grip which then knocked over my coffee mug.  My mug was broken and sweet
life-giving liquid was wasted on my desk and on student papers ready to be returned.  I sent him to
the office. What happened after that is out of my hands and not really the point.

I was angry.  I was angry at how my cup was broken.  I was angry at the student for his attitude
and lack of remorse.  I could probably be angry for when he will undoubtedly return to my class
and I will have to be polite and helpful.

Then I was angry with myself.  It's just a cup. I have others.  This situation is not totally about me
but about the very sad situation that the student is in that has resulted in his placement at a
discipline campus.  What kind of home life does he have that has nurtured this attitude in him?

Then the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the stories of the Hebrew people.  God loved on them and
yet they still rebelled. And sometimes His anger burned against them.

I've met the parent of this student which does shed light on the situation.  He may not know better
or may be conditioned to act this way.

God's people knew better, and so do I.  What should my response be?

When God did something amazing, His people would stop and build an altar as a reminder.  
If I keep this broken cup, will it be an altar to God to remind me of His love and forgiveness that is
available  to all, to me, to this student? Or am I just holding on to one more thing that I don't really
need? Or will it just remind me of my anger?

Today the tiara coffee mug is sitting on my desk.  Broken. I think I will need to let go of it soon
because I don't really need it or an altar.  Maybe journaling this event will serve as my monument
to remember 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins
and purify us from all unrighteousness."  This forgiveness is extended until our last breath. And
although I need to hold this student accountable, I also need to offer forgiveness. I'm not sure he
will accept it, but that's not my responsibility.

Update: My friends are the most awesome people ever!
Very soon after the incident, a friend was cleaning out her cabinet and found the cup. She
brought it to school for me. It says, "Queen for a day," but we all know that I'm royal every
single day! I love the fun character on it and will enjoy it on my back porch this summer!
Thank you Carol!
And more recently, another long time friend brought me this travel mug with the same saying on
it that my other cup had. She had asked me for a picture of my tiara some time back and then had
it etched into the cup.That's my tiara, y'all! I cried right there on the spot. Thank you Jennifer!