Feelings?

I’ve been listening the past few days to the Sovereign Grace Leadership Interview series with Josh Harris, CJ Mahaney, and Jeff Purswell. Frankly, I’m having a hard time of it. CJ keeps strongly asserting things that I just don’t believe with.

We’ll slide over the first interview, on The Pastor and His reading, where I had to stop and shout “What planet are you on?” over the general agreement everybody had that it takes careful scheduling to make sure that you get enough time in for reading. Seriously? Next they’ll remind me to make space for food.

The one that’s really getting to me now is The Pastor and His Soul, in which CJ Mahaney insists that I am directly, morally, responsible for the way I feel. I’ve always been of the opinion that feelings sometime present me with useful information, but that they’re just as likely to lie to me about the way things are. CJ tells pastors that if, over a period of time, they detect that their passion, their devotion to Christ is flagging, they need to take immediate and sometimes drastic action. Clear away hours in your schedule, study books and bible verses that have the appropriate effect on the way you feel. Find some way to adjust the way you feel about Jesus, immediately.

Two thoughts, off the top of my head –

  1. What about the “Dark night of the soul?” What about dry times? What about people who aren’t so blessed with strong happy emotions. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it. Some people are just preternaturally depressed. Am I guilty because I don’t feel devoted enough?
  2. Secondly, I know that this series is devoted to pastors, and there’s an imperative to pastors to make space in their schedule for devotions. That’s a privilege that pastors have. But if there’s a moral imperative to feel a certain way the predominant amount of the time, and if I can get that feeling right if I just spend enough time in prayer and reading the right kind of books, what does that say to the layman? “My pastor gets to feel a certain way because he gets to spend enough time in his prayer closet. Me, I don’t have that time at my disposal. I guess I’m just a second class Christian”?

1 thought on “Feelings?”

  1. All I can say is what the Lord once said to me — I know that’s very subjective.

    But I once spent a great deal of time repenting of my feelings. I considered my feelings the TRUE expression of me. Once in the midst of such a repentence, The Lord broke in and said. That’s not who you are — it’s just how you feel

    Similiar thing happened when we first moved to Tulsa. I was simply contemplating my last few months working with children in Lawton; ruminating on the adage that you can’t fool a child. Thinking, yes, you can. I fooled them every week. I didn’t love them but they thought I did. Again, I was interrupted when the Lord said, that was love. Love isn’t a warm fuzzy feeling — it’s what you do and you LOVED those children for me.

    One of the most powerful teachings I have hung onto through the years came from a converted Jewish woman whose name I have forgotten. She was the speaker at a retreat I went to when we first moved to Lawton. The series of messages was Obedience: Squeals, Squawks and the deluxe combo. Squealing obedience was when what we’re given to do is exactly what we want to do and we squeal with joy. Squawking obedience is the opposite. And the dexlue combo are those situations that begin either squeaking or squawking and then the experiences reverses itself. The point she made over and over again was that if we obeyed regardless of our feelings [squawking] The Lord would write in His book _________obeyed me, one more time.

    I think feelings matter but I don’t find evidence God is judging us by them. He is moved by the feelings of our infirmities.

    Side bar — but we all have ways we used to “fix” ourselves when our feelings begin to overwhelm us – my pesonal favorite is worship. Which anyone can do driving down the road. Lenghty devotions are not the only solution. Kerry uses worship and also has a wonderful testimony of using just giving thanks.

    Like

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