Feelings

How do feelings relate to the mystery and awe of God’s creative genius? We know we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), literally made a triune being in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) with a body, a spirit, and a “soulish” capability to reason and feel. Our spirit is eternal like God, though this earthly version of our bodies decays daily. (I understand that more every day!) God has all knowledge; we have some knowledge – limited and sometimes poorly used. God has character and personality, as do we, and God has feelings. He is grieved, angry, pleased, etc.

God created us with feelings as well. They enhance life as we experience joy, contentment, peace, etc. However, life also presents scenarios in which choices are made (sometimes by us and sometimes by others) that lead to sorrow, regret, anger, fear, etc. Though God meant for us to have feelings, He never meant for feelings to “have” us. They are often openly fickle, decidedly selfish, and frequently ungodly.

Why is it that we often hurl hurtful words, commit irreversible acts, and make life-changing decisions that affect others as well as ourselves in a highly emotional state – instead of taking time to calm down and seek direction from the Word, affirmation in prayer, and confirmation from godly brothers and sisters in the Lord? It is sad to admit that feelings often play a more dominant role in our decision-making than we care to admit. Unfortunately, honesty would force us to declare that feelings are often in charge of us. Our feelings “have” us, rather than our having them.

The Bible spends a significant amount of time reminding us that we are not to be afraid; that we are to put away “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor”; and that we are to “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving” (Ephesians 4:32-33). We are reminded repeatedly that all of our religiosity and spirituality is basically “nothing” but maybe some loud noise if we don’t have love (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). There are also countless verses that remind us that we are to guard our hearts to make sure that there is no lust, no impure thinking, and no malice because of the negative results produced.

It is astounding that Scripture is so full of admonition that is related to our feelings and the power they have to affect our decisions. It has been said that we should “Never make permanent decisions on temporary feelings” (unknown source). That makes great sense, but the question remains: why do we ignore that wisdom and foolishly make important decisions while we are driven by feelings? We need to make sure that the Spirit is directing our lives and that feelings are not in charge of us. Now how do you “feel” about that?

Pat Hart
Christian Education Pastor

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Your Worth to Him

(Isaiah 43:1) “. . . I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”

Adam had a relationship with God before he had one with Eve. There is a good reason for that because no one but God can tell you who you truly are and what you’re worth. Until you understand these things, you won’t know whether you’re in love or in need. People who struggle with a lack of self-worth tirelessly look that for that special someone who will love them so much that they’ll start feeling good about themselves. The trouble is that when they find that person they’ll cling to them excessively and obsessively.

Adam learned how to relate to Eve only after he learned how to relate to God. It’s in God’s presence, free from the demands of others, that a person can begin to see himself in the right mirror. God has always wanted the best for you; He’s just waiting for you to come into agreement with Him. Spend time in His presence, and rediscover how much you’re really worth.

The screech of breaks and the smell of burning rubber, the insistent ring of the phone at 3:00 A.M., the acrid smell of smoke wafting on the early-morning breeze, the unexpected legal envelope protruding menacingly from the stack of junk mail, the sudden scream of the child who is just out of sight, the harshness of blindsiding words spoken in anger – so many things that are frightening because they seem completely beyond our control can happen suddenly and seemingly change life forever.

No matter the circumstances, (though we often don’t realize it) we always have some control . . . control of ourselves and our choices, control of our attitude and the way we react, and control of the support system we select. When the unthinkable happens, we can choose to lean on the unshakeable strength of our never-failing Savior, or we can attempt to cope with the challenges life will inevitably throw our way in our own limited strength and ability. Unfortunately, because our anguish in crisis can cloud our logical thinking and spiritual insight, we often forget that God is there for us . . . forget that He is faithful to His Word . . . forget that His plans for us are for “peace and not disaster” so that we can have “a future filled with hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, GW).

We often feel weak and long for strength to cope. We need to practice the presence of God because we will find strength there.
(1 Chronicles 16:11) “Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!”

Instead of allowing fear to overwhelm us, we need to remember the One who is our omnipotent, ever-present God.
(Isaiah 41:10) “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

We need to remember that God is not only our Source of strength but also our song – even in the middle of crisis and disaster.
(Exodus 15:2) “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”

Because God’s strength is both limitless and available to us, we can make it.
(Philippians 4:13) “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Our strength, wisdom, and courage are inadequate, but our God is more than sufficient. In all things and at all times, we need to learn to lean on Him. Are you “leaning on the everlasting arms” today?

Pat Hart
CE & Care Pastor

Real Celebrating

Ahhhhh! June and the beginning of summer vacation (at least for some) is finally here. Certainly students associate June with a reprieve from school and an opportunity to sleep later and participate in outdoor activities. (Of course, parents often have a very different perspective, and I will NOT request that those opinions be shared.) Truthfully, June days represent so much more than an invitation to swim, to play ball, to go on vacation, etc.

We all know that June is often associated with weddings and sometimes graduations that did not occur in May. A fast check of June holiday websites brings awareness that every day of June (and most other months) has been named some special day of recognition – many days having several commemorative designations. What kind of holidays, recreational days, sabbaticals are most meaningful and important to you? When someone mentions June celebrations, do you only think of summer fun?

Some June holidays, such as National Doughnut Day (June 6th this year but always the first Friday in June) and National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (June 7th), appeal to our fleshly appetites (ugh!). Others have undeniable value. For example, Father’s Day (Sunday, June 15th this year but always the third Sunday in June), reminds us of the value and importance of family – a fact we definitely should note. (I personally am very grateful for the stable, godly influence my father was in my life.) Still others, such as the first day of summer (Summer Solstice, June 21st) may hopefully give us pause to recognize the fleeting nature of times and seasons. Of course, Juneteenth (specifically June 19th, though the celebration is often expanded to longer periods of time) reminds us of the historical struggle for African American freedom. Finally, holidays such as Forgiveness Day (June 26th) might just remind us of both our spiritual and relational needs.

It is not likely that most people will celebrate Shavuot (Pentecost), which was originally a Jewish holiday. This year it occurs Wednesday, June 4th – Thursday, June 5th. Shavuot is another name for the Festival of Weeks (Pentecost) and Chaq Habikurim (the Festival of the First Fruit, associated with bringing first fruits to the temple and offering sacrifices). It occurs the 50th day after the first day of Passover and commemorates the reception of the Torah at Mr. Sinai. It is one of the three festivals that required Jewish men to travel to the temple in Jerusalem. This holiday should not only be meaningful to the Jews but also to believers, especally Pentecostal believers.

It is important that Christians realize that remembering a day on the calendar is not as important as understanding that we need the power of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives, in our families and homes, and in our churches like we never have before. It is the Holy Spirit Who enables us to live an overcoming life, to have spiritual insight related to the Word and the things of God, to witness with power and effectiveness, and to be used in the gifts of the Spirit – to name only a few of His roles.

In an age when church has become an optional “event” and Christianity has become “politically incorrect,” it is more important than ever before that we seek God, rely on the Holy Spirit, and decide what really matters so that we can keep our priorities straight. We need to pray that the power and boldness of Pentecost will fill us once again and that we will “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.”
Truthfully every day is a gift from God to be celebrated and what we do with each one of them is very important. Unfortunately, we sometimes pay more attention to holidays and activities that appeal to other aspects of our lives – rather than our “spirit man.” May we celebrate life empowered by the Spirit . . . every day!

Pat Hart
Pastoral Care & Christian Education

A Lesson from “Ole Forgetful”

Do you remember the Sesame Street character Forgetful Jones? If you were that character, you would have to say “No” (because you would not remember). For years the Sesame Street character came into the homes of kids around the world and (with the help of his friend, Clementine) tried to remember the things that he had forgotten. One particular meeting between Clementine and Forgetful was very memorable because of its practical application. As always, Forgetful had forgotten something. However, Clementine came up with a surefire way to help ole Jones remember things from that point forward. Clementine encouraged Forgetful to tie a small string around his finger. The string would serve as a reminder to Forgetful of the things he needed to pay special attention to or remember. Sure enough the string worked, and on this particular occasion Forgetful Jones remembered what he had to do.

Each day people do things to remind themselves of important appointments, engagements, etc. Memos are written, notes are written on small strips of paper, and dates are added to a calendar — all for the sake of remembering what’s important. Why? The reason is obvious: people don’t want to be like Forgetful Jones. People want to keep the important things first.

As Christians we are asked and, in fact, commanded to do the same. In ancient Israel God commanded the Israelites to keep and remember His Word and His commands.

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your house and on your gates.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-9

See we are commanded to keep His Word and His commands constantly before us. God is basically saying, “Don’t forget.” Nevertheless, the question must be asked: “How often do we forget?” How often do we forget about God’s commands regarding what we are to do or not do? How often do we forget about God’s promises that are both for us and to us? It could be proposed that it’s easy to forget how good God is in bad times. However, it could also be suggested that it’s even easier to forget God’s commands and promises in good times. Good times can lull us into a lethargic attitude. Good times can keep us from remembering just how desperate and depraved we are without God. So to fight this tendency to forgetfulness, it’s important to keep a constant reminder of what is most important before us.

Forgetful Jones tied a string around his finger to remember what was most important. The “string” for us as Christians is the Word of God. His Word constantly reminds us of who He is, what He has done, when He did it, how He continues to do it, where He lives, how He loves us, and why a relationship to Him is the most important thing. A day without the Word of God as an active agent consistently present in our lives because we study and meditate on it is like a day without spiritual food because the “string” is no longer tied around our finger. Ole Forgetful got into trouble when he forgot important things. Let’s not make the same mistake. Keep the Word of God ever before you and tied to the heart of your life. Every time you look into the Word, you will be reminded of the most important things. However, don’t just be reminded of the Word; be a doer of the Word.

Don’t forget!
Doug Walls
Student Pastor

Monday Manna