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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Emotion = Devotion?

We put a lot of stock in "feelings" these days. Our present culture seems to believe that emotion equals reality --my reality, or your reality --no matter how facts cloud the situation.
This kind of thinking has invaded the churches and it worries me.
Just watch a typical evangelical church worship service.
You'll see these techniques employed:
  • "Let's show the Lord how much we love Him by standing (or bowing or swaying, etc.)."
  • "Let's sing this verse again (and again and again and again)
  • "Let's raise our hands."
  • "Let's sing that as loud as we can. Louder, people, I can't hear you."
  • "Amen, if that verse doesn't make you weep then you're just not worshipping."
  • "Let's hold that note a little longer."
  • "Let's sing that verse again but in a higher key."

I guess I'm kind of a cynic, but whenever I suspect that my emotions are being manipulated, I start resisting.
It's none of anyone's business what I'm currently feeling as I worship. That's between the Lord and me.
And telling me how I'm supposed to be feeling (and looking or acting) as I sing a particular song seems a little like taking on the role of the Holy Spirit.

Since when did a display of emotion equal spirit-filled devotion to Christ? Emotions are a great gift from God. But they can drive us one way or the other. Emotion must be tempered with wisdom, judgment, experience, maturity, knowledge and understanding of scripture.
I want a passion for Christ. Emotions that follow that passion are great. But emotion comes and goes. We cannot always feel the mountain-top emotions. But our deep love for Christ impels us forward in His worship and service.

 I resent having to "act" during worship services. I resent the philosophy behind the display of emotionalism. And I don't trust it when it's coerced and continuous.
It's like the person you see at church who's always, and I mean ALWAYS smiling. If they're human, they can't be feeling like smiling twenty-four/seven.

I desire real worship, worship in the spirit and the Spirit, no matter what I'm feeling. There are deeper things than feelings. Much deeper. Christ always connected worship and truth:
"Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in  truth." (John4: 23,24)

There's a lot of talk of "authenticity" in the church. Why then do we try to make corporate worshipers fit into a mold? That's not authentic.
  • Sometimes, I feel great emotion while worshiping.
  • Sometimes, I feel nothing, but think much.
  • Sometimes, both my emotional and rational side get in sync with my spirit in worship.
  • Sometimes, the music is distracting and hinders me from worship.
  • Sometimes, the greatest worship I can offer Jesus Christ is a quiet, waiting, willing spirit. That cannot be coerced or manipulated.
As Jesus, Himself, said, "You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3: 7,8)

I'm going to study up on the subject of corporate worship. I still love corporate worship. To bless the Lord within a Body of Believers in worship is a wonderful thing. I'll get back to you on this with a list of the wonderful things that happen when we worship together in humility, sincerity, and real unity.

In the meantime, would you please give me your thoughts?

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