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Max Lucado: Overcoming Anxiousness with Gratitude

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"I Am Your Refuge & Strength" - Jesus Calling Podcast Episode 59

Pastor Max Lucado discusses how we can face anxiousness in an increasingly tense world by focusing on gratitude. Max has written two books on this topic—one for adults called “Anxious for Nothing,” and another one for children called “I’m Not A Scaredy-Cat.” Max encourages everyone, adults and children alike, to engage with God in a deeper way as a refuge against anxious thoughts.

Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Today’s guests give us insight into a way of living that God implores each of us to pursue: “being anxious for nothing.” Our first guest is Pastor and author Max Lucado. Max has written two books on this topic—one for adults called “Anxious for Nothing,” and another one for children called “I’m Not A Scaredy-Cat.” Max tells us about why it was important to him to write on the topic of anxiety, which afflicts so many of us in a tense world. Now, here’s Max.

Max Lucado: Overcoming Anxiousness with Gratitude – Jesus Calling Podcast Episode 59

A portrait of pastor Max Lucado.Max Lucado: Writing about the topic of anxiety is a pretty easy call for somebody who’s involved in church work. All of my books come out of sermons. As you talk to people in this day and age, you realize it’s a very, very anxious culture in which we live and statistics have borne this out. The discovery that the United States is now considered to be the land of stress and strife more than Stars and Stripes is no surprise. It’s just an anxious time in which we live. You sense that, I think. In talking with church members, even in the span of my ministry, it seems like, especially young people, are more anxious today than they were. So it’s just a topic. It’s just where people are.

So that that’s what prompted me to delve in.

I differentiate between fear and anxiety. Fear is the emotion you feel when you see a rattlesnake on the side of the trail. Anxiety is the emotion that says, “I’ll never go on another trail for fear of a rattlesnake.” If fear is a God given, appropriate response to danger, anxiety is the assumption that danger lurks around every corner. So I think fear has an important place in our world. It keeps us safe. Anxiety–especially the perpetual sense of anxiety–can be crippling, and it can paralyze us, and that’s why it must be dealt with.

Fear is the emotion you feel when you see a rattlesnake on the side of the trail. Anxiety is the emotion that says, “I’ll never go on another trail for fear of a rattlesnake.”

One psychologist, Philip Zimbardo, says that the average high school student today feels the same amount of fear as a psychiatric patient of the 1950s. There is a level of anxiety, and we touched on the reason for that. One reason is we are in a fast changing society. The world is changing. We move fast, whereas our grandparents and great grandparents moved at one pace. We move at a pace they can only imagine. A century and a half ago, you could only go as far as your horse could take you; your camel could take you. Now, you can go travel as far as you want into the night. It’s just an amazing pace in which we live, so we try to cram more and more into it.

Paul’s solution for anxiety is the same, even though the manifestations of anxiety are different. You know you can make a case and say, “well, Paul was writing in prison–he had a level of anxiety that none of us will ever have to face.” Yet at the same time, the Apostle Paul wasn’t barraged by news feeds and didn’t live in a generation that saw more transition and change in it; more in 30 years than in the last 300 combined. So both situations are different. The two situations are different, but his solution of trusting the sovereignty of God, taking your concerns to God to prayer, managing your thoughts; all of these are trans-cultural. They are practical in whatever situation a person might find themselves.

Max Lucado’s Book, “I’m Not A Scaredy-Cat”

Narrator: Max looks at anxiousness as a problem that we can be prone to at any age. He talks about the special challenges for young people, and addresses this in his new book for kids called “I’m Not A Scaredy-Cat.”

Max: Every technology comes with its blessings and its burdens. The burden is, it creates this pace–this sense of “got to do more, got to go faster, gotta get more accomplished.” I think that’s especially impacted our young people. Now, how you deal with it is the same way that the Apostle Paul had to deal with it? What did he do? Well, he celebrated the sovereignty of the Lord. He went quickly to the Lord with his concerns and fears. He focused more on gratitude; what he had more than what he didn’t have. He was careful to “pick what he pondered.” He managed what he thought about. So, some of these principles, though written in a culture entirely different than ours, are amazingly appropriate and practical today.

Writing the story was a lot of fun. The way we approached it was; we envision this cat who really is a scaredy-cat even though he says he’s not one. He’s scared, he’s frightened of the most innocent things–even the sprinkles on a donut, he’s afraid of. But how does he deal with his fears? He deals with his fear by saying a prayer. That’s what we’re hoping to help children. To help them learn to deal with their fears early on, not by pretending that they’re not afraid; they’re not a scaredy-cat but by taking those fears to God in prayer.

“Anxious For Nothing” – Big Ideas For Dealing With Anxiety

Narrator: Max goes on to talk about the scripture that his new book “Anxious For Nothing,” is based upon; which specifically addresses how we can conquer anxiety. He breaks it down into 4 simple principles that we can all apply to our lives daily when facing anxious moments.

Max: The book is built around the Philippians 4 passage on anxiety, and that passage has four big ideas for dealing with anxiety.

First, rejoice in the Lord always. So I call that celebrate; celebrate God’s goodness, celebrate his sovereignty; make a big deal out of God. Then the Apostle says “be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made known to God with Thanksgiving.” So the second thing we do, is we ask God for help. We ask God for help. The second that anxiety enters your heart is the second that you give it to God. You don’t tolerate it or indulge it for a minute and then you leave it with God; you leave it with Him. You don’t for a second think that He’s calling on you to fix it. You resign as ruler of the universe and you let Him take over.

Max Lucado posing for a picture with his family.

I think that is part of what Paul meant when he said “with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God with thanksgiving.” So you’re grateful. Say “Thank You, Lord. I’m giving this to You.” You turn your mind away from what the anxiety is, and you turn your mind onto the things that you have, because anxiety and gratitude never share the same heart. One has to leave. So if you want anxiety to leave, you get gracious. Get gratitude in your heart. Then lastly, meditate on good things. Paul gives us a long list of things to meditate on, and none of those are negative things. All of them are positive, good, encouraging things. So pick what you ponder, think about what you think about, and practice thought management.

Engaging God In A Deeper Way With Jesus Calling

Narrator: Max’s writings around anxiety give practical steps on how to approach a world that can often provoke fear and stress. He also talks about our need to engage with God in a deeper way, and discusses how Jesus Calling can help people better understand a loving Father who wishes to shelter them from harm.

Max: I came to understand the power of the Jesus Calling book through some friends. Actually, a good friend of mine who owns a bookstore kind of discovered the book before everybody else did–and his wife called his attention to it before it was really a big seller. She urged him to place it front and center in the bookstore. He was amazed at the stories he began to hear.

He’s the one who called my attention to it, and I found that its unique ability to speak to hearts from the perspective of Christ is so deeply needed today. I think our culture is in need of a paternal understanding of God. In many ways, even those of us who have had good fathers, who have good fathers, still have a longing for a Fatherly presence. So when I pick up Jesus Calling, I feel like a Father is talking to my heart.

Anxious For Nothing by Max Lucado.For me, if I focus on what I have rather than what I don’t; if I attempt to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, then I think my heart is more open to being reminded that God is near. My challenge is I can get on a spiral of assuming something bad is going to happen quicker than quicksand, and I think it’s the devil. I’ll be in a meeting, or I’ll be in a conversation, or I’ll just be in a thought process, and I’ll begin imagining all the bad things that are about to happen. This is going to happen, then that’s going to happen, and that’s going to happen. I’m terrible about envisioning conversations–awkward conversations–and I’ll just go into this terribly awkward, painful, confronting conversation that I know I’m eventually going to have with that person if I’m ever going to get this sorted out. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked back and thought, “I spent ten minutes imagining that conversation.” It never even appeared on the radar screen. But I just think that’s the devil–he likes to stir up fear and stir up this anxiety. So I counter that by practicing what I wrote about, and that’s celebrating God’s sovereignty; asking the Lord for help to change my mindset and leave the problem with Him. Meditate on something good.

Narrator: To find out more about Max’s new books “Anxious for Nothing” and “I’m Not a Scaredy-Cat,” please visit MaxLucado.com.

We’ll be right back with more of the Jesus Calling Podcast after this brief message from Audible.


As a special offering to you, the listeners of The Jesus Calling Podcast, Audible is offering a free audiobook download with a free 30-day trial to give you the opportunity to check out their service.

Find your favorite Sarah Young titles, including Jesus Calling and Jesus Always in an audiobook version and get it for free by trying audible.com. Check out a small sample of the Jesus Calling audiobook, featured at the end of this podcast. To download an entire free audiobook today, go to audibletrial.com/JesusCalling. Again, that’s audibletrial.com/JesusCalling for your full, free audiobook. Now, on to the second half of our program.


Narrator: Today we rebroadcast one of our most popular episodes featuring Dr. David Jeremiah. Dr. Jeremiah is a writer, teacher and pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church. Dr. Jeremiah shares about his own life and encourages listeners to trust God during fearful times.

Dr. David Jeremiah: The Bible is filled with such great encouragement. I think often of our Lord’s words about His ability. He’s able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think. He’s able to save us to the uttermost. The ability of God against the disability of the world is no match, it’s no contest, and God wins. God is in control.

Narrator: Welcome to the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast. Today, we speak with Dr. David Jeremiah, writer, teacher and pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church. Dr. Jeremiah shares his personal story and tells us about a new book he has written entitled: “People Are Asking, Is It The End? Signs of God’s Providence In a Disturbing New World.”

Meet Dr. Jeremiah

Dr. Jeremiah: I’m David Jeremiah and for 35 years I’ve been the pastor of the Shadow Mountain Community Church. I was born in Toledo, Ohio. I lived in the Midwest. My father was a pastor. I made a commitment when I was younger that I would never do that. Then when I was a senior in college God got ahold of my heart.

Dr. and Mrs. Jeremiah

Donna and I got married and went to Dallas where I went to seminary, and came back to Fort Wayne and started a church in Indiana and then in 1981 I moved to California, and that’s kind of where the journey that we’re on right now began.

The former pastor of Shadow Mountain Church was Tim LaHaye, the author the the Left Behind series. I got to meet him when he came to the Midwest to do an event at the church that I started. We had such a powerful event, he was doing events back then of Family Life Seminars, I think they were called. He asked me if I would help him organize and produce the other ones. For about a year or so, I was helping him organize Family Life Seminars in other Midwestern towns and we become good friends. One day he told me he was going to go to Washington and get more involved in the political end, and he announced to me that I was going to be the pastor of the church that he was the pastor of, which was very interesting. Two years later it actually happened. It didn’t happen when he thought it would.

Narrator: Dr. Jeremiah began pastoring at Shadow Mountain Church in 1981, and in 1982 he and his wife were inspired to start a radio and television ministry that ultimately became Turning Point Ministries. Their mission was to “deliver the unchanging Word of God to an ever-changing world.” Today, Turning Point is a multi-media network featuring radio, television, online programming, magazines and books. Dr. Jeremiah’s radio messages reach over 480 million listeners around the globe and Turning Point Television reaches 2.7 billion households worldwide.

Dr. Jeremiah: We started a radio and television ministry shortly after I came here, and that’s really taken off to such a degree, it’s pretty overwhelming every day to see what God does through the reach of this ministry. We started and it really wasn’t something where I said, “Okay let’s have the largest Bible teaching ministry in America or let’s be on more television stations or anything like that.” It all happened kind of like one station would grab the program and then another station would hear about it and they would call. For many years when we started it, we didn’t have an agency, we didn’t have anybody promoting it. God just allowed it to happen.

Turning Point on the radio is released over 6,000 times a day in America, several times on some of the same stations. So, it’s really amazing to look back and see what God has done. Did we plan this? Absolutely not. We had no idea what was going to happen.

Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah

Donna has been my partner in all of this. When we first started it she handled all the correspondence and the first year we were on the radio and on television we had a total annual budget of $35,000 so it didn’t take much of her time to manage it. From the very beginning all the way through to where we are right now she’s had a major role in encouraging and strengthening and with all the people that we have now, she’s highly regarded and loved.

The Early Days of Ministry

Narrator: In the early days of Dr. Jeremiah’s ministry at Shadow Mountain, he was approached to begin writing books. As a writer, he eventually authored or co-authored 54 books, including his latest work – “People Are Asking, Is This the End?” Dr. Jeremiah remembers how it all got started.

Dr. Jeremiah: I came to San Diego in 1981 to take over the leadership of what was then the Scott Memorial Baptist Church, which is now called Shadow Mountain. I preached a series of messages on Daniel. Then I went to a summer Bible conference to teach for a week, and I met a woman there named Carol Carlson. She had heard some of my teaching and she came and asked if she and her husband could meet with me, and when I met with them she said, “I think I might be able to help put some of your stuff in writing, would you be interested in talking about that?”

She began to tell me how she had helped write the book, The Late Great Planet Earth, which was one of the first big books on prophecy that ever was in public. The author of the book is Hal Lindsey. He’s the one who wrote that and to realize that down at the bottom of that book it says “with CC Carlson.” It was a huge success. She was very good. She and her husband both are now in heaven, but I always think that they still are bearing fruit on this earth because of those books that she helped me get started.

It’s just another way to reach out with the truth of the word of God.

Writing is the best of worlds and the worst of worlds all wrapped up into one. It’s very hard. It’s a very demanding discipline. I believe with all my heart that a person who throws themselves in the writing of the book benefits more from the process than anybody else. It’s just another way to reach out with the truth of the Word of God.

Many people would ask me as I moved around the country, “Dr. Jeremiah, what in the world is going on? Do you think this is the end?” I would say, “What do you mean?” They would begin to cite all of the things that have happened in the last ten years, for instance, and they’re unprecedented. There are things that have never happened before and people didn’t understand where that was going. I began to listen to their questions and write down once in awhile some of the things they asked. Before I wrote this book, I think I had a list of about 20 questions that I was looking at. I couldn’t possibly have known the items on the political agenda that’s being debated back and forth, I didn’t hit all of them but I hit a bunch of them. I gave them the perspective that I think the Bible gives to them and what God has to say about them. Perhaps for that reason this book has had great traction out of the gate.

Understanding God’s Plan For Us

Dr. David Jeremiah speaking to a group.God has a plan that lasts for eternity for those who put their trust in Christ. We have a message of hope that’s so desperately needed in this world. Wherever there’s hopelessness, the hunger is always for the hope. The hope that we have in Christ should be, and it is, a hot commodity. We ought to be sharing that hope with everything we have. I believe that we try to do that in this book. We do tell the story in accurate reporting, but we also remind everybody that God is still in control and we don’t have any right to live with anxiety every day. People ask me, “Well, what if the election doesn’t turn out?” I tell them, “Look. The day after that election the sun’s going to come up, the birds are going to sing, and I’m going to go to work. It doesn’t really matter in regard to those things what happens.” We all have our desires and our thoughts and whatever they might be really isn’t important right now, but we have to be careful that we don’t allow ourselves as Christians to be defined by an election.

The day after that election the sun’s going to come up, the birds are going to sing, and I’m going to go to work. It doesn’t really matter in regard to those things what happens.

I had non-Hodgkin’s large cell lymphoma. I got it 20 years ago and went through some chemotherapy and got it into remission and then it came back and I had a stem cell transplant; that at least up until this point has kept me cancer free. I don’t have it now. I get checkups every six months and scans and all that sort of thing. People ask me why I continue to work as hard as I do when I’m older than most people who’ve retired. I tell them, “When God gave me my life back, He didn’t do it so I’d go sit on a beach somewhere. He gave me my life back to serve Him.” I feel such great joy in being able to do what I do at this stage of my life and know that I have been preserved and granted these extra days by a gracious, loving God and I’m so thankful.

Keeping Hope In A Darkened World

Narrator: As a pastor and a teacher, Dr. Jeremiah advocates daily prayer and scripture reading. He appreciates how Sarah Young has helped many with their prayer lives through the words of Jesus Calling.

Dr. Jeremiah: When I read Sarah’s work, it’s pretty obvious to me why it’s been so highly regarded and received. She makes prayer very personal. Sometimes prayer isn’t personal, sometimes prayer can be very cold and empty. Maybe that’s why a lot of people have a hard time sustaining any kind of a prayer ministry. What Sarah has done has made it possible for people to say, “I talked to God today…I communicated with my Father.” That’s what prayer is supposed to be and she has moved the ball down the field quite aggressively in that direction.

What Sarah has done has made it possible for people to say, “I talked to God today…I communicated with my Father.”

In this world today an actual Christian who’s sold out for Jesus Christ stands out. The backdrop against which we live our lives is darker than before, but that just means the light is brighter than it’s ever been. So we should be encouraged; I believe this is one of the greatest time for evangelism we’ve ever had. We are candidates for a revival if we will just use our judgment properly and do what the Lord says which is confess our sins and humbly ourselves before God and repent and God might come and visit us.

In the book of Second Chronicles which is the biblical handbook on revival, the most famous formula is in the seventh chapter of the Second Book of Chronicles. It’s really interesting, it says “if My people will humble themselves and pray…” Just stop the verse right there. If we want to see God work in the culture in which we live, which we see going so rapidly and gaining momentum in the wrong direction, that’s what we should do. If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray. We often think, I have people come to me and say, “Well I tried everything else, I guess I’m just going to have to pray.” I remind them that they’re reducing themselves to the most powerful influence in the world. Prayer can do what nothing else can do so why should we make it a last resort? Why wouldn’t we make it a first resort? God says if you want something to change in the culture in which you live, you better start with prayer.

Finding God’s Call For Your Life

Narrator: During a tumultuous and divided season in our country, Dr. Jeremiah continues to spread God’s message of hope and encouragement to those who are seeking answers during these difficult times. As we all learn how to cope with frightening events that happen in our world today, he reiterates the truth that no matter what happens, God’s purposes will ultimately prevail.

Dr. Jeremiah: One of the things I’d hoped to convey through this book, even through the subtitle, is that in the midst of all of the decline in morality and the fear of terrorism and all of the rest, God is still on the throne and He will accomplish His purpose.

People Are Asking, Is This The End? by David JeremiahI don’t know who originally said this, I think I might have heard Chuck Swindoll say it, that God has a formula and that is unless He crushes a person, He can’t use that person. I remember praying that I wanted to be used but I would prefer not to be crushed. God just doesn’t answer that. When we decide that we want to serve the Lord, He puts us through a training school and He shows himself to be sufficient for every need. When I came back from cancer after the stem cell transplant and walked into the pulpit of my church, I didn’t know what to say. I know that I was being watched by everybody and I just stood in the pulpit and looked at everybody for a moment and then I just said, “God is enough.” And He is, God is enough.


Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, we speak with Chrystal Evans Hurst, a writer, speaker and worship leader. Chrystal loves to encourage other women to fulfill their full potential in Christ and firmly believes God’s promise in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans that I have for you…” and she desires to help other Christian women believe and apply that truth to their lives.

Chrystal Evans Hurst: None of us are 100 percent living the life we expected to live. Not one person. And if they say that then they haven’t lived long and because life is life but we can learn. if we only focus on what we expected and hold on to that at all costs, we may be missing the other beautiful things that are right in front of us.

Narrator: Our featured passage for today’s show comes from the December 28th entry of the Jesus Calling audiobook.

I am your Refuge and Strength, an ever-present Help in trouble. Therefore, you don’t need to be afraid of anything—not even cataclysmic circumstances. The media are increasingly devoted to fear-inducing subject matter: terrorism, serial killers, environmental catastrophes. If you focus on such dangers and forget that I am your Refuge in all circumstances, you will become increasingly fearful. Every day I manifest My grace in countless places and situations, but the media take no notice. I shower not only blessings but also outright miracles on your planet.

As you grow closer to Me, I open your eyes to see more and more of My Presence all around you. Things that most people hardly notice, like shifting shades of sunlight, fill you with heart-bursting Joy. You have eyes that see and ears that hear, so proclaim My abiding Presence in the world.

Narrator: Hear more great stories about the impact Jesus Calling is having all over the world. Be sure to subscribe to the Jesus Calling podcast on iTunes. We value your reviews and comments so we can reach even more people with the message of Jesus Calling. And if you have your own story to share, we’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com to share your story today.

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