Is It Safe To Live According To Our Feelings? Wednesday's Wondering 22 January 2020

Because we believe our feelings are true about ourselves, we allow those feelings to give us our Identity–to define who we believe we really are.

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“Feelings, nothing more than feelings, trying to forget my feelings of love.” If you listened to music in 1974, you know this song. Is it stuck in your head now? Then tell yourself, “Self, I am not going to be singing that song to myself for rest of the day!” Good luck with that! This Wednesday I am wondering about feelings–no not the song; rather the feelings that come from within us.

Can we live a full, productive, even successful life based on our feelings? We hear a lot in our culture about “feelings”. In our culture, feelings seem to be the landmark of defining one’s identity. We also hear a lot about emotions. In my own way I want to address this and specifically how that feelings and emotions are not one in the same. I want you to be able to distinguish the difference between a feeling and an emotion.

The are NOT the same. I realize that some of you may disagree with me, and say I’m wrong. It’s OK for you to disagree with me and tell me I need to change this thought of mine. I could agree with you that I’m wrong on this–but then we’d both be wrong. Anyway. . .here’s the difference between a feeling and an emotion.

A feeling is something we believe to be true. . .about ourselves. . .or another person/group. . .or a situation we have faced, are facing, or may face. Feelings are just that–something that we believe to be true about ourselves, another person, or a particular situation. I’m not talking about what IS ACTUALLY TRUE, but what WE BELIEVE is true.

Now, let’s get to that other word: Emotions! Emotions are our response to those feelings; whether they are our feelings about ourselves, another person, or that particular situation. Emotions are the way we express the response to our feelings. If you have no feelings, you have no emotions. If you have no emotions, you have no feelings.

Now, feelings and emotions were created by God for us as human beings. Feelings and emotions are both gifts from God that reflect a part of HIS Image that HE placed in each person. We cannot deny them. We cannot ignore them. And we cannot downplay the role they have in us successfully becoming a whole person. We need both feelings and emotions if we are going to become the best possible self that God created for us to be.

However. . .well, let me use a “preacher” term here: BUT! Yeah, yeah, the preacher’s but. Just when you think you’ve got something good going on, that blessed preacher inserts his or her BUT! Don’t you just love a preacher’s but! I want to center in on “feelings” But feelings do not give us our true identity as a person created in the image of God. Feelings are simply what we believe to be true about ourselves. Because we believe our feelings are true about ourselves, we allow those feelings to give us our Identity–to define who we believe we really are.

Now God gave us the capacity to have feelings. He gave us the ability to have emotions. These are just a part of God’s identity–but they do not give God HIS Identity. They are a wonderful part of that unique blend of so many parts. Just like you can’t have a cake with just eggs, or just flour, or just sugar or just milk. You got to have all those other ingredients–and don’t forget all those extra “flavorings” you can add that changes everything about a cake.

Feelings are not the whole of a simple organism; feelings are a part of a very complex organism–just a part, but an essential part. We are living in a time when people are being told they MUST live and IDENTIFY who they are as a person based only upon one part of this complex organism. Feelings are allowed to become the dictator, and our emotions follow the lead of that dictator.

God never designed us to live by our feelings. And He never intended that we allow our feelings to define us and give us our true identity. Living only by feelings creates a false self–never your true self. Yes, He gave us feelings, but they are only a part of the process if you would, to help us become who HE created us to become–Our WHOLE, TRUE SELF. The Best Self Possible.

Remember that “feelings” are something we believe to be true; not necessarily true–but we believe they are true. Just because we believe it is true, doesn’t make it true. I am so sorry Calvinists. I am so sorry progressive thinkers and theologians. I am so sorry fellow evangelical sisters and brothers! We are NOT who we are based solely on our feelings. We human beings can’t define what is really TRUE! That ability is way beyond our pay grade.

When we try to live out of our feelings it creates instability. Feelings can and will vary in a day–just like weather varies every day in Alabama. In the early mornings I get my jacket. By mid morning I hang it back up. By mid-day I’m putting on a short sleeve shirt. And my afternoon, I’m looking for my shorts and sandals. Feelings change.

God never designed feelings to be our sole or primary identification in life. And we need to be careful with our feelings. I’m sure you’ve had feelings in retrospect you knew were wrong. You didn’t know it as the time–but hindsight is always 20-20. And if you are honest, you know that those feelings (feelings you believed were true at the moment) caused damage and inflicted hurt–either on another person, on yourself, or both. And I bet right now you are remembering the damage your feelings that you believed were right at that moment caused. And that damage may still be present–the wounds haven’t yet healed. And you are aware of the damage that resulted when your feelings were wrong.

When feelings becomes the determining factor–the damage caused by feelings and the subsequent emotions runs deep; and it keeps us from our True Self, the one created in the Image of God.

Lips And Hearts–Wednesday's Wonderings 15 January 2020

Wednesday is the day I’ve chosen to wonder about. . .well about life and God. And today I’m adding another point to wonder about–people. Oh, yeah, I know I’ve wondered about people before, but usually in the context of my gifts of sarcasm and snarkiness. But this morning I’m setting aside those gifts. . .because my heart is breaking for a group of people.

My heart always breaks for the least, the last and the lost–people hurting, struggling, and doubting that there’s enough grace with God for them. The group my heart breaks for this morning is. . .well, look at how God describes them:

Most preachers, myself including myself, quote this passage with the sense that God is angry. That God is criticizing these people of lips without hearts. Even Jesus quoted this passage and we envision Jesus full of anger and foaming at the mouth. So we point out with criticism and anger these people who’s lips say one thing about God, but there hearts are far from God. Could it be, that when God said that to Isaiah, and when Jesus quoted this passage that there was sadness in His heart? Could He have been crying for them?

Many times I have questioned…scratch that…criticized Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters and Progressives for their attitudes and ways of thinking. But this morning…my wondering has my heart breaking for them. I’m grieving because they are missing so much of who God is and what God wants to do in their day to day life.

Lips say one thing but the heart says something different. It’s not just the aforementioned Churchians, Tenured Pew Sitters and Progressives who are herein described. I’ve seen Conservative and Orthodox folks who fit the bill of what God is saying through Isaiah. And even yours truly has been guilty of this. Seeing and believing only what we want to see and believe, and then say it’s God.

Why have we limited God? It’s easy to say, “Well, it’s the Devil! That’s what he does!” No doubt, that IS his job. But right now I’m remembering a sign on President Harry Truman’s desk:

WE have a choice; sadly many of us have chosen poorly. So today, I choose to accept responsibility for my lips; and My Heart! I choose to wonder about the Wonder Of God! I choose to remove the fences and walls that keeps me knowing ABOUT God to KNOWING GOD! I set aside whatever I’ve thought about God. I set aside everything others have said about God. And I open MY heart to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal the mysteries of God. I long for this, and so I choose to start with a clean sheet of paper and let God write what I need so that His Image becomes more clearer and brighter in me.

And thus I wonder: “How could I even think that MY understanding of God (which is spoken by my lips) is the ultimate expression of God?” Yes, we need to fight Satan in this world. But before we go to battle, let’s make sure that we honor God With Our Hearts. And the best way to do this is to quit pretending we’re the experts and surrender our heart to the wonders of God. Only as we give up our concepts can the heart be cleansed–and be drawn closer to God.

Wednesday Wondering-The Long Suffering Of God

Last night as I was lying in bed I heard in my heart “long suffering”. And the passage I thought of first was Psalm 86:15. Even though I cut my teeth on the King James Version, for decades I’ve used more recent translations. But those other translations miss something, in my humble opinion, that the translators used in the King James Version; and here it is:

But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

The subject is God and David proceeds to add some descriptive words about Him. Most like the idea that God has tons of compassion, grace, mercy and truth; and why not like that idea. But there is another description David has: Long-Suffering!

We don’t use that phrase in our everyday conversations and rarely consider what it means when it comes to God. It’s my contention that it’s because those two words, long and suffering, are words our culture does not like nor appreciate. We avoid long–long lines and long waits; and we avoid by all means possible suffering –because we don’t want to feel uncomfortable so we avoid the vexatious.

I took a moment this morning to look up that word/phrase long-suffering in both the Hebrew and from the dictionary. The Hebrew word is ‘arek and it comes from another Hebrew word ‘arak. It means to draw out, lengthen. From the dictionary it defines it as: having or showing patience in spite of troubles, especially those caused by other people.

And I realize that God experiences LONG-SUFFERING in dealing with me. There are still moments when, after I fail, I wonder how in the world God puts up with me. The Enemy whispers, “You blew it again, Randy, and God is through with you.” If you’ve faced many failures, it’s easy to believe him; that God is simply tired of you.

But then I remembered King David. He lied to protect himself; lusted for his friend’s wife; murdered that friend; sought to do things without seeking God’s guidance–and here in Psalm 86:15 David proclaims hope–through God’s Long-Suffering. God prolongs giving up on me–prolongs giving up on you. He persists for us because of His love. He shows patience in spite of the trouble we cause Him.

So, today, I want to remember God’s Long-Suffering, not as an excuse to keep on failing, but as a reminder that HE loves me so much that Jesus Long-Suffered in the Wilderness, in the Garden, and on the Cross–and I don’t want Him to Long-Suffer again because of me. At times my heart is divided, but today–in this moment–I choose to have an undivided heart for the ONE who is LONG-SUFFERING for me. I can’t give up–YOU can’t give up–because HE never gives up on us. HE goes the distance for us–whatever it takes. So, why would any of us do less for HIM!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to HIM!

Same Ol' Same Ol'–OR

And they are OFF TO THE RACES! All those people who have determined that this year is going to be different! New gym memberships by the boatload. New weight loss memberships by the truckload. Downloads of fitness and weight loss apps by the tens of thousands. A New Year and A New You, proclaims the self-help gurus. Just buy this book; pay for that monthly webinar; subscribe to the other life-coach and YOU WILL SEE A DIFFERENT YOU! Yeah…right…pardon my sarcastic look right now.

It seems that there are still those who think that the purpose of a New Year is so that they can make some resolutions that, when followed, will make them better…make them happier…make them contented. So they Google and Google about how to make realistic Resolutions. Then they Google some more about Steps To Take To Keep Those Resolutions. All this with the Illusion that 2020 is really going to be different for them. Add that this marks the beginning of a new decade–the Illusion gains strength.

REALITY CHECK! Most resolutions are broken the first week; or at best, in the first month. And the rare person who actually keeps those resolutions for the whole year? If they are honest with themselves, they will admit their resolutions didn’t really change them. I not convinced that there are any who keep all their resolutions–It’s a myth, I say! A MYTH! So on January 1, 2021 they will get back on the hamster wheel and make it squeak even louder.

Well, can you? The Truth is that no amount of resolutions can really make lasting changes in you. There is only one Source where this can happen in my life, your life, anyone’s life and everyone’s life. It is the place that is resisted and that’s why so many keep spinning the hamster wheel and making it squeak. That Place is at the foot of the Cross where we surrender to the truth that we are all screwed-up sinners and utterly incapable of changing our reality.

Not only does it take surrender, but it also requires something harder–SUBMISSION TO GOD! Many want to submit to God–but on their terms. That’s not submission–it’s a negotiation and God doesn’t NEGOTIATE! If you really want to be more than a better person–if you really want to become a DIFFERENT PERSON you don’t need more resolutions. We all need Transformation! Transformation happens only 1 way–by surrendering and submitting to the only one who knows who you can become when you stop trying to allow others, or even yourself, to define who you are. Read this next part slowly (I’m typing it slowly to help you read it slowly:)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

MERRY CHRISTMAS BECAUSE HE'S IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD!

I love to think–sometimes out loud (which many times gets me in trouble), sometimes in my mind (which occasionally wanders off and takes a while to come back)–and especially in my writing. But today, THIS DAY, I simply cannot match my thoughts to those who told about that moment when Mary gave birth to Jesus.

So, today, I will share with you what one of those who walked with Jesus had to say about that moment, and what followed. Not Matthew’s or Luke’s account–but John’s account. There are no full inns or stables or mangers or shepherds or Magi–just the wonder of that event. Read this slowly, and take it all in–especially that part about God moving into our neighborhood. That phrase is why I’m led to share it with you from The Message: John 1:1-18

1-2 The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one.

3-5 Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
    and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
    the darkness couldn’t put it out.

6-8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.

9-13 The Life-Light was the real thing:
    Every person entering Life
    he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
    who believed he was who he claimed
    and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
    their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,

    not blood-begotten,
    not flesh-begotten,
    not sex-begotten.

14 The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.

15 John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”

16-18 We all live off his generous bounty,
        gift after gift after gift.
    We got the basics from Moses,
        and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
    This endless knowing and understanding—
        all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
    No one has ever seen God,
        not so much as a glimpse.
    This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,

        who exists at the very heart of the Father,
        has made him plain as day.

For some of you, this is a hectic day trying to make all of your expected appearances. For some of you, it’s a day of deep sadness because you are alone. Remember, PLEASE REMEMBER, that Jesus has moved into YOUR neighborhood, whatever it looks like. He didn’t shun leaving Heaven to enter Mary’s womb–He didn’t shun being born in a stable–He didn’t shun the Cross. And He won’t shun your neighborhood–after all, He’s Moved Right In! And to quote another person:

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

So let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together, we might as well say
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please
Won’t you please
Please won’t you be my neighbor?

Mr. Rogers made this song famous–but it’s Jesus who makes it POWERFUL.

The Wonder Of The New Day

(Morning View from my hunting blind)

Some call it “Hump Day” because the weekend is closer and they can forget about all they’ve been dealing with and unwind. Others call it just another day filled with more stuff. How do you see Wednesday? How do you see ANY new day’s morning?

How you see this and every morning is YOUR choice. You may say, “Wait a minute! You don’t know what I’m facing, what I’m forced to deal with. I can’t change my circumstances!” No. . .you cannot change your circumstances. And if circumstances determine how you see this new morning–it is because you have chosen to allow those circumstances influence how you see this morning. . .and every morning.

There is a different way, a different CHOICE about how you see each and every new morning. Look back up at my picture. Sunrise! It happens every morning regardless of my circumstances. I can be in a place to see it’s beauty and wonder. . .or I can be in a place where I miss it all. And that, my friends, is my choice.

There is a different way to see this and every morning. This guy named Jeremiah, facing some tough and horrible and ugly circumstances wrote these words:

22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
    his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Jeremiah 3:22-23 (NLT)

In every circumstance, even the toughest, count on two unchangeable truths: 1. God loves you. 2. He has fresh mercy and grace for you every morning. Your choice this morning is to allow your circumstances influence your day. . .or you can choose to allow God’s Love, Mercy and Grace to guide you and sustain you.

Some mornings the clouds block that view of sunrise. But you know what? Even if I can’t see it happen–It happens! Sunrise happens NOT because I see it happens–but because I KNOW it happens. You may not feel the faithfulness of God for you–but it doesn’t change the fact that He is Faithful to you. The choice is yours. And from that immortal line spoken by the ancient knight in the movie “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade”: CHOOSE WISELY!

Love God with all your heart. Love others the way HE loves you. And make sure ALL the glory goes to HIM!