A Powerful Calm For The Troubled Mind

How Does Jesus Bring Calm and Hope To Those With Mental Illness?

Ross Sawyers
Feb 7, 2021    54m
Have you ever dealt with depression or anxiety and felt there was nowhere to turn? This message explores how Jesus can bring calm and hope to those who struggle with mental illness and how we can learn from his example to help those in our lives. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: 00:08 So we've been thinking about real conversations in truth and love, and learning from Jesus how to have different kinds of conversations. And we find ourselves in an interesting spot in the conversation that Jesus had today, and I'll take us to that spot in just a moment.

Ross Sawyers: 00:26 But first I want to give a picture of the idea of which we're speaking today. Kevin Love, plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the National Basketball Association. In 2018, he had a panic attack in one of the games against Atlanta, and they worked on him back in the locker room, and it forced him to have to come out and talk about the struggles that he's had with mental illness, specifically for him, around depression and anxiety that has been a lifelong battle for him. Previously DeMar DeRozan, another NBA player, had come out and spoken about his mental illness and his challenges in that regard. Both of them, when they describe it, speak of the darkness, the emptiness, the exhaustion, the shame, that comes with it, and the despair being in the middle of it. It has enabled those two, and many others over the last few years, being open about their particular struggles has made this a more open conversation overall, which is a really good thing.

Ross Sawyers: 01:55 When we think about mental illness, there are a number of mental illnesses, and there are varying degrees of severity of those mental illnesses, there's multiple layers. And when we think about anxiety and depression, or really anything that troubles our mind, there is a wide range of ways to think about it, and a wide range of effects from those particular things. Ed Welch is a biblical counselor, and our staff and several in our church who counseled people in our church, lean on a number of works of Ed Welch. And we have a great deal of respect for him, his biblical anchoring, he also has his doctorate in neuropsychology, and has a deep understanding of the mind.

Ross Sawyers: 02:50 When he speaks about psychiatric problems, this is three things that he says about them. One, it's always a spiritual problem, and sometimes it's a physical problem. It's always a spiritual problem. And I think what he means by that is we never want to minimize that this is a spiritual problem, and what happens in secular culture today, we minimize the spiritual side and simply try to deal with it at a physical level. He says, and I agree, it's always a spiritual problem, and sometimes it is a physical problem. Secondly he says, sometimes meds are helpful. Sometimes meds are helpful. The third thing, psychiatric labels are descriptions, not explanations. Psychiatric labels are descriptions, not explanations. In other words, the explanation could be a wide variety of things, as to why someone struggles with mental illness or some degree of having a troubled mind.

Ross Sawyers: 03:59 For example, sometimes sin is what lies behind the problem, sometimes it is pride, and control, that creates anxiety and the subsequent effects of that. We're trying to hang on to things that are outside of our control, that sin. And sometimes there are habitual sins, things to which people are addicted, and over time that addiction plays itself out into mental kinds of challenges. Sometimes though, it's a chemical issue, that there is something that's just not right chemically, and sometimes that's the problem. It's not a sin issue, it's a chemical, it's a physical issue, that someone might have. Sometimes it's not a result of a chemical or physical issue, it's not because of a sin we committed, it's because of a sin someone committed against us. That could come in the form of childhood abuse, domestic abuse, anytime there's abuse towards someone, then that kind of trauma can create a troubled mind and sometimes the mental illnesses of which we speak. Sometimes the trauma could be from a wartime. There are a number in here that have been involved in the military, and there are things that you've seen, that none of the rest of us have any idea what it would be like to deal with what you've seen, and there is trauma that comes as a result of that to some. Sometimes the demonic is the problem for mental illness, not always, sometimes. The things I've just described are a few of the explanations for the labels that we sometimes receive.

Ross Sawyers: 06:04 What I'd like us to do, is look at a conversation that Jesus had with a man, and actually had with multiple people, in this particular story in Mark chapter 5 verses 1 through 20. And that's where we'll spend our time in thinking about the troubled mind, and that there actually is hope, there's hope for a powerful calm. There's hope for a powerful calm. Mark writes this gospel off of Peter who had a firsthand account, and the information he had passed on to Mark. Mark writes this gospel. It's written with a sense of urgency, and what we see throughout Mark from chapters 1 through 16, is the power and authority of Jesus, we see it again and again. And prior to this story in Mark chapter 5, we want to look at context when we look at scriptures, we look before it, and we want to look after it, and we want to look in the whole book. And when we look in Mark, we see that overarching theme of Jesus' power. And then in this story right before the one I'm going to spend our time in, Jesus had just calmed the sea that was stormy, the Sea of Galilee.

Ross Sawyers: 07:25 In Mark 5, we see Jesus coming now to calm the storm inside of a man's mind. Mark chapter 5 verses 1 through 20, I'd like to put it under one big idea. When I title sermons, what I'm looking for is what is the major theme that's running through that particular part of scripture, and then I try to tie a thought, a title to it, that will be a theme for us. So if anything sticks, you'll tie this passage to this idea. And the thought for today is A Powerful Calm For The Troubled Mind, a powerful, calm for the troubled mind.

Ross Sawyers: 08:07 And the first thing I'd like us to think about is in verses 1 and 2, and the idea of moving towards the trouble, not away from them. There's two things I'm hopeful for in this message that I've prayed. One, that people whose minds are troubled, in whatever degree, might find some hope today, they might find some calm. And I understand these are long-term kinds of things, but there might be at least a respite and a hope moving forward. The second persons that I'm hopeful will grab hold of something today, is those of us that see people with troubled minds and that we would move towards them and not away from them. Our tendency is to get around people that are easy for us, that are like us, and to group around that, rather than a move towards those who are troubled in mind. We're looking at the way Jesus did life, and the way Jesus did life is he moved toward the troubled, he didn't move away from them. And if we're like Jesus, we'll move towards the troubled, not away from them. We'll move towards them, not away.

Ross Sawyers: 09:25 We see that in these first two verses, "They came to the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gerasenes." So Jesus and his disciples, they're on a boat in the Sea of Galilee, they've come off this storm, they're going to the other side of the sea of Galilee into the country of the Gerasenes. There is some debate as to actually where this part of the country is, the gospels, three of the gospels tell this story, and there's some differing on the particular locale. I think the region is right, but the name and where it is, there is some debate around that, I at least wanting to acknowledge that. And then what we also know, is that this area is a Gentile area, meaning it's not Jewish, and Jesus is going to an area that is different than who he is and what his background is. And he's moving towards them, so he's moving into an area towards the outsider, towards the marginalized. And this is what Jesus does, Jesus moves toward the outsider, towards the marginalized, he brings them in so that now they're the insider. He makes the outsider part of the inside, that's what Jesus does. He doesn't surround himself with a few and just stay locked into those few, he reaches out and he goes to the marginalized and he brings the marginalized in, he makes the outsider and insider. We see Jesus doing that again, and again, it's actually what made the insiders, the religious people, mad. Because Jesus hung out with the people that were the outsiders of the day. He moved toward them, not away from them.

Ross Sawyers: 11:18 Dane Ortlund wrote a book called Gentle and Lowly, I think I might've mentioned it before, I've been reading it for a few weeks now. And it's just so good, because it's just chapter after chapter of thinking about the gentle and humble heart of Jesus. And Jesus moved towards the person that was troubled, and the more a person was sinful in that aspect of things, he moved towards that person, not away from that person. He moved in, and his grace is such that it covers the worst of the worst of sin, that's his heart to move towards and not away. I love how he describes the way the Puritans wrote about Jesus' judgment. Jesus is precise in his judgment, and he's abundant and rich in his mercy and his grace. We tend to think he's abundant and rich in his judgment, and he's precise and small in his mercy. No, his mercy is rich, his love is overwhelming, his grace abounds, that's why he moves towards the troubled, it's the heart of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 12:43 "When He got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs, in verse 2, with an unclean spirit met him." Notice Jesus gets out of the boat, he doesn't jump in the boat after he sees the man coming at him. This is a man with demons all over him, in him, through him, you pick it, he's being influenced by the demonic, coming towards him, Jesus doesn't panic and jump back in the boat, he goes towards the man, he goes towards him. Now, what is a demon? The last few weeks, we've talked about things that for some people, and we want to be a safe place where you can ask your questions, but we've talked about Satan and some people may have trouble with the reality of him. We've talked about hell, some people may have trouble with the reality of hell.

Ross Sawyers: 13:35 We're going to talk about demons here for a few minutes, you may have trouble believing in the demonic. I would hope that your life group, you can find other people here, that you could have safe conversations about that if that's a struggle for you. One thing I think is interesting though, is we have a culture that loves to watch Netflix movies that are scary, and horror filled, supernatural, demonic, and go to bed on those things, that's a fantastic idea. Yet, when we talk about the demonic, it's like we want to dismiss it in reality. Jesus doesn't act like this isn't a reality, it is a reality. Who are demons? They are fallen angels, that is what we know from scripture, Satan is the chief of those fallen angels. They are rebels against God, they hate God.

Ross Sawyers: 14:45 Timothy Keller in a sermon on this passage, quotes a secular, I think the man atheist, he's for sure not a believer in Christ. But this man says, this is a secular person, a secular mind, not a spiritual mind, but even he says, "If there is not a transcendent God and a transcendent evil, then we really need to be concerned when we look at the atrocities of what human beings have done. If there's not some transcendent evil pushing that, it is unfathomable to think that a human being could come up with some of the things to do that people do." This is a secular man that believes in the reality of a transcendent God and a transcendent evil.

Ross Sawyers: 15:37 The demons attack people mentally, attack people spiritually, and attack people physically. Some mental illness is a result of the demonic, not all. How would we discern it? I don't always know for sure, but at least one test, because we're told in scripture to test the spirits. If someone hates God, and hates Jesus, there's a good chance the demonic is involved. If there's a hatred for Jesus, and a hatred for God, there's at least a good chance that the demonic is involved. We simply do not want to be dismissive, of what Jesus is not dismissive of. The demonic can also show itself in immorality, it can show itself in false teaching, and it can show itself in the occult.

Ross Sawyers: 16:51 I want to reiterate, Jesus did not go away from this man. Why do we tend to go away from those who are troubled in mind rather than towards them? My hunch is most of the time it's fear, and we don't know what to do. And I think Ed Welch gives great advice, ask for help. We have so many counselors, so many resources, so many ways we can be a help, that rather than just going away from someone instead of towards them, ask for help to know how to best love this person. There will be some role that we can play, I'll come back to that in a few minutes.

Ross Sawyers: 17:45 The conversation that ensues now, is what I describe as an intense conversation with demons. It's an intense conversation with demons, we see this start in verse 3, "And he had his dwelling among the tombs. And no one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain." At this point, when Jesus encounters this man he's living among the tombs and he's been bound, they couldn't bind him anymore. That word bind, is a word that means tame. They're thinking of this man now as an animal, and they can't figure out how to tame him, and they can't bind him which we need to note the strength and force of the demonic. A T-Shirt today is not going to do the trick to resist the evil and demonic world, we're talking about a demonic world that is incredibly strong, it's stronger than any human being. And when you put multiple demons together, you have some incredible strength.

Ross Sawyers: 18:41 This man struck fear in everyone in the city, no one could control him, so they banished him to the tombs. Verse 4, "Because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him." They tried probably every human method they knew, and then finally banished him from the city. "Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones." Constantly. screaming from the depths of his soul, and physically harming himself, in the tombs. Those who struggle with mental illnesses, regardless of the explanation for them, can relate to what I just shared there. It is a constant press on the mind, there is a screaming of the soul for help, and sometimes there's the physical harm that goes with it as well.

Ross Sawyers: 20:13 Kevin Love, the basketball player I started with, he described in his story, the only way...Now I have no idea what his spirituality is...The only way he could get rest in his mind was to play basketball hour after hour after hour, until he was just physically rung out, so that he couldn't even think, that's the only way he could get relief. And people look for different ways to find that relief, just like Kevin Love.

Ross Sawyers: 20:56 "Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him." These verses get a little confusing on what's going on, and who's speaking, whether it's this man or whether it's the demonic. It looks like to me, that Jesus is having the conversation with the demons who are speaking for him. But seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before him. Again, we're seeing the story played out, and Jesus has been seen, the man's running towards him, and then bows down before him in respect for him. "And then shouting with a loud voice..." He's right there, together. "And shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have?" Now It's we. So he's come, now it's we, it's the demon speaking, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!” The demons know who Jesus is.

Ross Sawyers: 21:59 James 2:19, the demons, they believe, they actually believe that God is one. They believe, and they shudder. But what the demons know, is that there'll be a final judgment, and that's it for them. And these demons are pleading with Jesus right now, because it's too early, the judgment's not, it's not here yet, why are you here? Don't torment us yet. Don't torment us yet, they know it's coming. So it's a belief in God, it's not a trust in him for their salvation. I thought about this in our culture a little bit, isn't it interesting that the demons are asking Jesus not to torment them when they have absolutely wrecked this man's life. Sometimes tormentors are like that, I think we see that play out in our culture in multiple ways. People don't want to be tormented, but they sure are pleased with doing the tormenting. That's what the demons are like, we want to do the torment, but Jesus don't torment us. They know who Jesus is, they know his power, they know his authority, and they are trembling before him, and people don't.

Ross Sawyers: 23:49 " For He had been saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” And He was asking him, “What is your name?” And he said to Him, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” And Jesus, he has a powerful calm in this whole story, and he's saying, come out of the man, you unclean spirit. He had been saying that, in the Greek is an imperfect tense, meaning he had asked him multiple times to come out. Multiple times he's imploring this demon to come out, and he's asking him his name, what's your name? And he said to him, my name is Legion, the word Legion in the Roman military, would have been 6,000 men in the Roman military. So we know that this man is being influenced by many demons. Now to give context, a lot of you like cruises, and the Royal Caribbean Ship Oasis of the Seas, it's a 225,000 ton ship that has a maximum capacity of 6,300 people. So think about that, that would be 6,000 people, that would be a Roman Legion. And whatever the number is of demons in this man, there is a mass amount that are occupying this one man.

Ross Sawyers: 25:07 "And he began to implore Him earnestly not to send them out of the country." And so we really don't know in this part, people have speculated and tried to say, this is why on the pigs and so forth, but we don't really know the why. We just know they're wanting, they know they're in trouble, as far as with this man and Jesus about a cast them out, and they're just trying to find somewhere to go. And see, "Now there was a large herd of swine feeding nearby on the mountain. The demons implored Him, saying, “Send us into the swine so that we may enter them.” Jesus gave them permission." Jesus has all the power here, Jesus has all the authority, even to where they're going. "Jesus gave them permission. And coming out, the unclean spirits entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea, about two thousand of them; and they were drowned in the sea." So whatever number of demons were occupying this man, there was enough to occupy 2000 swine and send them careening off a cliff into the Sea of Galilee. Just for a lighter moment, my understanding is we have a hog problem in Texas, this could be another way to approach it.

Ross Sawyers: 26:40 How do we help someone with a troubled mind? Jesus moved towards this man, in his helping of this man, how do you and I do that? And when we think about conversation with a troubled mind, what I want us to think today, is this idea of a powerful calm. That any conversation we're in, we have the power of Jesus, the power of his spirit within us, and we too can approach with a powerful calm on a situation. That's how Jesus is doing it. So one way we can help people that are trouble, is to just be a friend. To go to the person who might feel marginalized and be a friend to them, and to do it in community. Sometimes it's overwhelming, depending on the degree of trouble in someone. And if we have a group of people, then that kind of community, we can all work together. And it's not overwhelming for one person, it's multiple people who can get in on and be a part of it, so we do it with community. And then we recognize that there is help out there, and we look for the counselors and whoever can be of help professionally, whatever level of degree it is. We have people here that have been trained, that work with different people, but then there's another level, there's multiple levels. And then a place where I'm really poor, and was convicted of this as I was even reading this week, Jesus mentions in another story that sometimes things like this, they only happen by prayer and fasting. And I've thought how few times I've actually gone to battle, like we sing, on my knees in prayer and fasting for the calm and release of a person.

Ross Sawyers: 28:44 Ed Welch says, "That with a person that has a troubled mind, treat them with dignity, and treat them with value." How many times does it cross someone's mind, when 20 minutes from here, you can drive and find people that are homeless and we'll look at them with disdain, when many of the homeless have mental illness. I know of somebody years ago they'd go by and yell out, get a job. My thought is, why don't you stop and give him one. It's easy to stay away, point, holler, banish, but that's not the way of Jesus, it's to move in with a powerful calm, the calming of Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: 29:56 The next piece of the conversation, I've called a bummer of a conversation, with the townspeople. In verse 14, "Their herdsmen ran away and reported it in the city and in the country. And the people came to see what it was that had happened." A few weeks ago, we talked in John chapter 4, and Jesus had an encounter with a woman, a Gentile woman, she was an immoral woman at a well, all kinds of barriers broke on that one. And once she realized she was with the Messiah, she ran back to the city. Same thing happens here, the herdsman, they see what just happened with the pigs and this man that had been in the tombs, and now these demons are out of him and they hightail it back to the city. Can you imagine if somebody said, having to run back to the city and tell your boss, hey, I've got, I think some good news and some bad news. Your livelihood is floating in the Sea of Galilee right now, I don't think you're going to be regathering those swine, but there is something going on with this guy, you should come see this guy.

Ross Sawyers: 30:58 And they come running back and they came to Jesus and observed the man who had been demon possessed, sitting down, clothed, and in his right mind, the very man who had had the Legion, and they became frightened. Jesus brought healing to this man, a calm to him, he's sitting there in his right mind. And the other gospel accounts of this, says that he was naked when he was in the tombs, and now he is clothed and in his right mind, their reaction is fear. I often wonder in stories like this, like couldn't somebody be happy for the man? He'd been in constant agony, and we see the self-centeredness of humanity in the townspeople. The first thought not is, oh my gosh, we couldn't figure out how to help this guy at all, all we knew to do is throw him out in the tombs and wash our hands of him. Maybe that's why they were frightened, couldn't they just be excited, this man's well, but they were fearful.

Ross Sawyers: 32:31 Peter, in one of the early encounters with Jesus, did somewhat of the same thing. Jesus did something, and Peter was kind of blown away by it, and he said, get away from me, I'm a sinful man. Sometimes when we're in the presence of that kind of purity, the only thing we know to do is be afraid. I said this was a bummer of a conversation of the townspeople, I'm not sure Jesus even had any conversation with them, "Those who had seen it described to them how it had happened to the demon-possessed man, and all about the swine." So the herdsmen are talking about it, and they're talking about the townspeople, and then they implore him, "They began to implore Him to leave their region.", verse 17, that their response. And I wonder what Jesus was thinking when he standing there amidst the people, he's the one that has just done everything, they're not even talking to him.

Ross Sawyers: 33:40 Now, a lot of you are in different meetings all week long, and have you ever been in a meeting where there's somebody that actually did the work? Let's say an analyst, for example, they did all the work. My son's an analyst, they do a lot of the work. Let's just say they're in the meeting, I don't know this story by the way, I'm making it up. I'm just giving an example, this is not specific to my son. But everybody's in the room, and this person did the work, and everybody's talking around them. I've got an idea, why don't we ask her? She actually did all the work, let's get her take on it. Nobody gets Jesus's take, instead they want him to leave. I think that's what our culture is doing today, they just want Jesus to leave. Leave us alone, we know better, we want to go the way of the judges, in whose time every person did what was right in their own eyes. Jesus, leave our country, we implore you. We are urgently asking you to leave, you're disrupting the way I want to do life.

Ross Sawyers: 35:22 But don't be discouraged. In Mark chapter 4, Jesus told a parable, it's the sower and the seed. And in that parable, he says, throw the seed out, talk about Jesus, that's the gospel, the good news. It's what Jesus did, he died on a cross, God raised him from the dead. He did that for our sin, he took on the wrath of God, so we wouldn't. He says, you're going to throw that seed out, it's going to fall on hard ground, and Satan's going to snap that up before anybody even gets to taste it. You're going to throw out there, and it's going to get in a place where people are going to like it at first, and then persecution is going to come and they're going to say, I'm out on that. I like the idea of, I get to go to heaven, I'm not in on the idea of their suffering and persecution while I'm still here. And then people are going to be caught up in the worries and riches of the world. But don't be discouraged, because there's a fourth group he says, and they're going to hear that message of Jesus, and they're going to say yes, and you're going to see a life change. And you're going to see a calming of heart, and a calming of mind. Because Jesus Christ, when he hung on that cross, he took on every trouble our minds get ever conceive of, anything that's sin, he took it, anything that's Satan wreaking havoc, he broke his power, anything that brings trouble in thinking about the future and beyond this life, he conquered them. He did it all right there, and life will spring up in people that respond to that message.

Ross Sawyers: 37:33 The last piece of this story, I call a surprising conversation with the now calmed man, it's a surprising conversation he has. There's still a powerful, calm that's moving through this story, in verse 18, "As He was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed was imploring Him that he might accompany Him." Whenever you're doing good Bible study, and you're studying a story or a passage of scripture, one thing you want to look for is repeated words. Is there a word you've heard me say multiple times in the last few minutes? What is it? Implore, that is a word of urgency, Mark is all about urgency. He is just telling story after story quick, this is actually one of his longer ones. But he's imploring, and who's doing the imploring in this story? The demons, they're urgently asking Jesus, don't torment us yet, just move us somewhere else. Who's imploring? The townspeople, they're imploring, leave, we don't want you here. Now who's imploring? The man who's calmed. And what does he want to do? He wants to accompany Jesus. You know, I would too, I would want to go with the person that just brought calm to my mind, that's who I'd want to be with. It's a perfectly logical request.

Ross Sawyers: 39:10 And he's urgently asking Jesus that he could accompany him. Here's the surprise, Jesus didn't let him. "And He did not let him, but He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you.” You're not coming with me, you know those people who just want me to leave, I'm leaving. And as I heard somebody say, one time, Jesus is a perfect gentlemen, if you want him to leave, he'll leave. Now. I want you to go to those same people and more, and you tell them what the Lord's done for you, and you tell him about the mercy that's been given to you. Go home to your people, go establish worship, where there is none. You know, it's easier to get with our tribe and to stay there, Jesus sends this man alone, back to the city. He doesn't even send anybody with him, at least when he's training his disciples, he sends them out in pairs. He's telling this guy, you head on back, and you start talking about what just happened here. But the same power, and calm, and mercy of Jesus, the one who calms the storm of the sea, the storm of the heart, gives us the same power and calm, to carry his mercy back into the city.

Ross Sawyers: 41:03 In the fall, we were preparing our church, the underground church, those who are being persecuted all over the world. I was reading a voice of the martyrs article this weekend, and the intro article to it said, we can avoid suffering and persecution. We can go in these next years where our culture is increasingly hostile towards Christ, and we can avoid suffering, we can avoid persecution. And the way he said we can avoid it. Is to go silent, we can just go silent and we won't have much trouble come our way. But that's not the way of Jesus, Jesus didn't go silent, and that's not the way of his followers, to go silent.

Ross Sawyers: 42:10 We've trained our church in these eight ways of what it means to love God and love our neighbor, simple, simple ways to train. Because partly what I see in this story that's concerning, this guy got no training. His training was an encounter with Jesus who totally changed his life, and Jesus, didn't say, you know what, I've got this book. If you'll go spend some time in this book, then you'll learn the right ways to go talk to the people. Now I think there's value in training, so did Jesus, because he trained his disciples, he taught them how to pray, he taught them everything. So I'm not dismantling that idea, I'm just saying, it seems to me when we encounter Jesus, there's not a waiting period or a training period, before we talk about him. At a minimum, we have a story, somehow Jesus intersected my life and everything changed, that's all I know. I don't know what to tell you, come with me, I'll take you to 121, get online with me, I'll let you hear, I'll bring you to him. I don't know how to speak about him yet, I just know something went wrong and where changed in my life. Something was wrong and off, now. it's right, that much I know.

Ross Sawyers: 43:39 And the difference in this man and so many, will we be like him, or will we be like the townspeople? Because in verse 20, "And he went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed." Decapolis, it was a league of 10 cities. I was thinking about 121, and I thought through 14 cities that we'll be sending people out today from here, we have people from 14 cities that can go out and talk about the mercies of God in their lives. The difference in this man, and most people, is obedience, he went and did what Jesus said.

Ross Sawyers: 44:31 And Jesus started in Mark 1 by saying, "Repent and believe, follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men." He ended Mark in chapter 16, "Go into all the world and proclaim this good news." Y'all mostly know David Parker as our worship pastor, and he leads in phenomenal way week after week. What I'd like you to hear from him, just briefly, is where his own struggles have been in regard to the things we've talked about, and then the hope that we have in Christ.

David Parker: 45:27 Until today, I've never shared this other than just one-on-one conversations with different people. But from my early twenties, I have struggled with anxiety to the degree that I understand what it's like to have a panic attack and not understand what's going on with your body. And just be like your skin's on fire, and like the whole world is just kind collapsing in on you. I know what it's like to have thoughts that run away where they shouldn't go, and you feel like you can't get them back. And for a very, very long time in my life, that was a reality, and still is a struggle to this day. And I got to a point so far, where I had to go and I had to stay with my parents and leave my wife and my two sons, and I had to stay with my parents when they were in Waco, just to get away from things. And I slept for a solid two weeks, because the weight was so heavy and the struggle was so real. I mean, I would even have a panic attack leading worship sometimes, and I would lean over to one of the leaders and go, if I pass out, just keep going with the song, I'll be all right in a little while. I mean, it's that intense.

David Parker: 46:37 And during that time when I was with my parents, I just started to write out my prayers and just say, God, what is going on? This is impossible, because you never know when something like that's going to hit you, and it's paralyzing, it's debilitating. And in those prayers that I wrote out, God just started to meet me there in the quietness of those moments when I would just wake up for a moment and just say, write it out, write it out. And you guys, when I got home from my parents' house, I went to my doctor who is a believer. And this was the beginning of being set free, when I was 35, I went to him and I said, I can't deal with this anymore, I'm going out of my mind, I'm coming out of my skin. As we talked, he said, Dave, just like other people have different things going on in their lives, different afflictions, different things, this is what God has put in your life. And you need to accept it, and you to let God do what he wants to do in you. And I don't know why, but him saying that started me on a path of just pressing into God when those moments came.

David Parker: 47:55 And he helped me out with medicine, I'm just one of those people that Ross was talking about, that's just wired that way. And why am I wired that way? Because I am the kind of person that needs to be totally dependent on Christ for everything, especially as one who leads worship with you guys, I get to come here, I sing these songs because they're the cry of my heart, just like I hope through the cry of your heart. Because this is the only thing we have, not these songs, Jesus is all we have. And I don't care what mountains in front of you today, what the struggle is, we've all got something. And the more I've talked about this out loud to different people, the more I find out there's a lot of people just like me, but we've all got something. I want you to know today that God is here to meet you, right where you are, and there's nothing you're bringing to him that he surprised about, and he knows the solution. But we've got to go in there, and we've got to press into him. And that's why the song Graves Into Gardens, I could hang out in the graves where I was for a while, but I would rather God turn me into the garden that's beautiful, that only he can do, that kind of restorative thing that only God can do in our lives. And I hope we can sing that with that heart today, knowing that God is here to meet u, he's here to restore us and to make us whole.

Band: 50:27 (Music plays)

David Parker: 53:59 God is good. Amen? All the time, all the time. As you're leaving today, we invite you to leave your tithes and offerings as a continued act of worship. And have a blessed and peaceful week this week.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051