Emotion vs. Emotionalism

Emotion: Sacred & Essential


"There is a sound missing in our souls"

Oprah, reality TV shows and movies all need it. Even television ministries and political organizations stir it in order to create movement. Yet, we ironically also live in a culture which shows disdain for it. I am speaking of emotion, the third component of the soul (mind, will, emotion) and the doorway of our hearts into this natural world. Consider how many people show emotion, then apologize for it afterwards or how many devalue another's words, actions and reactions because that person was "just emotional".

But it isn't just emotion.

Emotion is sacred or atleast is intended to be. Yet we live in a time when emotion is mocked and abused. Consider how many individuals are paraded on so-called reality TV shows. The new gladiators are those who fight it out under the ruling spirit of Darwinism as millions are pulled in rooting for the person they identify with the most. Sacrificing souls has become a sport in America. At the end of the series, we have one so-called winner and 59 losers. Is it any wonder so many in our nation feel alone?

Another reason there is such emotional and intellectual disdain for emotion is because that often the emotions expressed in our culture are usually those under the influence selfishness and the Enemy. Consider how the award-winning movie "Titanic" touched people's emotions, but left us depressed. All that the main character retained in the end was the memories of the deceased boyfriend. There is no presentation of eternal life or grace; We're left with the message that leaves the viewer to assume that her wonderful memories will also die with her death. The true story of Archibald Butt, after whom a bridge is named in Augusta, GA, could have been told in Titanic. Butt gave his life to save as many people as he could. He was a Christian and servant of the Lord. His was a true story and far more meaningful. But emotions spawned by a message centered on True Love Himself are not readily available through the ministry of Hollywood.

No, we're stuck on sadness and despair in America. Consider how TV has evolved or better yet, devolved. The girl who's been hurt by a verbally abusive father and pours out her soul on TV used to move us. Years ago, people cried when watching this on TV because it was new. Now everybody says "join the club" as they turn the channel for something else. We're so hardened in heart that today we have ventured to believe that the very exploitation and discovery of emotion is somehow a virtue. If a movie makes 'em cry, then it must be good. "Titanic" made you cry and then left you despressed. Now the public raiding of emotions is so common on TV that it has become a joke and a new source of comedic entertainment.

Yet ironically, at the same time, this disdain for the emotional, has crept in to invalidate emotional expression, especially in the Church.  In fact, it has gotten so bad, that whenever someone gets emotional, that person feels compelled to apologize for getting emotional as if it were something small or imposing. "I just got a little emotional, sorry" What? A guy in the world who wins a million dollars can jump up and down, be hysterical and we understand, or the sports fanatic can raise his voice, but the soul who has just realized again that the Lord has spared his life, has to behave calmly? Bologna! Tha Apostle Paul would say "Dung!" We are not in view of reality here.

We are a people that are long overdue for one big, collective and deep cry. But this cry is not a big group hug centered on our pain, but one born of focusing on the heart of the Humble Christ. This is true Holy Spirit conviction. It is when we begin to feel more for the Lord than we do ourselves; For One who truly didn't deserve to be treated badly was treated the worst; All because He loves us and wants us. White-hot pure love walked among us, bowed down before us and washed our feet. His nation rejected Him, His closest friends fled His side, His family thought He was nuts and on top of all this, during His most critical hour, His Father turned His back on Him; The very One for Whom He lived every breath. A wounded and broken-hearted Jesus emotionally cried out the question: "Why have You (of all people) forsaken Me?"

"I will have compassion on You Oh Lord, my strength" Psalms 18:1 (Literally in the Hebrew)

But until Love and His humble character are once again in view, we will continue to muddle in the mediocrity of the intended deeds of our selfish hearts. We will continue to despair in depressing bonds of fellowship between people who are also sad and miserable; All this amidst a ruling lackluster appetite for the undiscovered mysteries that God has woven within His creation for the delight of those He loves. We are bored, but don't have to be. We are self-absorbed, but could learn to truly love. We feel we are without meaning and real purpose; But this is lie. We try desperately to create meaning and purpose for ourselves on every front. Consider that we have an awards ceremony on TV every weekend from every arena with tears and laughs being shared. Yet when the next morning comes there is nothing. We are consumed with nothingness. And everyday it becomes more apparent. We are searching for God and do not know it.

Revival is not centered on moral reform. Moral reform is a by-product of revival. Revival is a mass awakening to the intimate love of God. When eyes are opened, the altars will be filled with people weeping with joy from the deepest part of who they are. "Deep calleth unto deep". We will finally get it: "Oh, I see Lord. It's because you love people".

Many an organized ministry builds an empire touching upon our deep need to know Him personally, but there is no substitute for hearing from the Lord Himself, that one is truly loved. This is a major reason why prayer is so vital. Prayer makes us conduits for the Holy Spirit to fill and flow through with the truth of a love that is able to open the minds and hearts of others so they can hear directly from Him. Many prayerless preachers stand between the people and God, wanting to be the one to say God loves you, keeping God from being able to say it Himself directly.

In Frank Perettit's fictional, but real life-like story, "The Prophet", a Christian journalist and broadcaster begins to get glimpses into the spirit realm and hear the hearts of people crying, screaming and hurting. At first he thinks he is losing his mind. Then he sees the truth of what he is hearing. People are lonely, tormented and lost. It haunts him. This should haunt us. People are dying inside. They are desperately lonely while we pretend we know Love Himself as we ourselves feel alone. May we shake off the prideful pretense and seek Him until we are changed. Love intends Himself to be found. "Seek me with all your heart" and "Seek and you will find".

We will find there in Him something we see on rare occasion in good old movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" where George Baily comes to the wonderful revelation that he is loved beyond his wildest imagination. We cry watching this story because we want to know this truth for our individual selves. How interesting it is that 20 popular psychologists recently condemned this movie as dangerous to the American psyche. The word "psyche" comes from the Greek meaning "soul". But they are very wrong. Love is real, whether in a fictional movie or in real life. Love has come and Love lives. He cannot be stopped and He will come to us as His heart pounds for every soul.

Emotionalism is when we seek an experience at the expense of truth. But when Love comes to us, tears of despair and heartache turn to tears of joy and peace. Joy seizes the soul in such a way that everyone around can clearly hear Love's impact on the heart which basks in the great surpise: "Oh my goodness! I'm truly loved!"

I began to discover this one Tuesday evening when we lived in North Augusta. I had fasted for two days and felt nothing. We were a one car family then and Lisa, my wife, was a nurse on the third shift at an Augusta area hospital. After dropping her off at work I shot home to eat. After dinner, I flipped on the cd player and began blairing Hillsong's "Glory to the King" throughout the home. And an unchurched neighbor came to mind. She was someone we often waved to in passing, but had not yet had the chance to really know yet.

As I basked in the knowledge of the Lord's company, serenading the One who first loved me, the thought of her not knowing Him began to trouble. I immediately fell to my knees, declaratively hit the kitchen floor with my hand and cried out to the Lord "Lord, Do not let her NOT know You!" I wept for her in that moment. In the window of three seconds I could clearly see and feel His love for her. There's more to the story, but to make the point, we learned a month and a half later, that on that same night she was in her den alone and all of a sudden felt God's presence. She immediately got a Bible off the shelf and began reading it for the first time in five years, gave her heart to the Lord and joined a Presbyterian church that same weekend. We learned this because she approached us one day and began talking about her new church, which led to some questions on our part. "This may sound a little strange to you, but I was home in my den alone and..." When she shared this, I was speechless, goosebumps came all over and tears welled up in my eyes. She was pleased I was moved. After we hugged her I didn't speak for an hour. "Oh my God!" I thought, "For three seconds I could truly see and in that amount of time You changed a life...ON YOUR OWN through this vessel, this hardened heart!" It was hope for hers and my soul!

Isn't interesting that in the Bible, the specific petitions were offered after the Priest was in worship, not before! Most congregations start with the long list of wants and never get to Blood-bought paid intimacy with God. When we worship in Spirit and truth, we have power to pray God's will into the earth! It is there we are the most effective and  it is His will that none should perish! Most American congregations center their worship around the pulpit, not the Throneroom. Pastor Jim Cymbala reminds that God's house is not to be a house of preaching, but of prayer. Yet that is not the case in most churches.  

God is not so cruel as to bring us to a place of seeking and then believing in His love for it not to be true; For it not to be impacting; For it not to set captives free
. This is why Satan wants to impune emotion so badly. It is the final gateway from the Spirit's path into the natural world where Satan reigns temporarily. "It's all in your head" he says.  He is a liar.

We're wasting God's time doing all this other stuff. If we can seek to have our own eyes opened, then the rest will be the Lord's doing. That is a whole lot more appealing, exciting and encouraging than what most American Christians are living.

When the presence of the Lord manifests within and among His people, it is not uncommon for emotions to run high. An emotional trembling, born out of holy fear and overwhelming grace, can even affect human physiology. If a person gets the shakes when he wins a million or when a burglar invades his home while he is at home, why is it so surprising that soul contaminated with pride and sin, should shake under the realization of God's undeserved love?
Would not the body follow the soul's lead? 

Yes, there are those bazaar "professional" shakers and quakers, who seem to turn emotion on and off at will. They are caught up into emotionalism.  As a kid, growing up in a Pentecostal church, I found it hard not to giggle and laugh at ourselves when good friends tried to force upon themselves a certain experience. Oh! The melodrama! The theatre! The entertainment! Saturday Night Live's skits have not been mocking God as our religious pride proposes, but mocking us. But I also witnessed others, sometimes these same people, when they were truly moved by God's heart and the impact was great for the Kingdom.  If a supernatural God invades a heart with the truth of His love, via preaching, visions, a hug, praying hands or a timely word, what is so abnormal with being bowled over by a deep emotion which realizes it has just won the jackpot of God Himself and eternity?

There is a sound missing in our souls; Souls unpenetrated by the truth of Love. Is this really normal for a Church in love with Christ?

The lack of emotional expression in the Church over God's love points to a deadly reality we're going to have to finally admit: We don't really see or believe in the love of God. We have a mental concept, but not much more. It's time to seek Him together. It is time to get real with ourselves and God. It's time to say "Open our eyes!"

What if just 300 Park Circle area Christians had three illuminating seconds at the same time for people they know? It'd all be over. Revival would break out, because the truth would be out of the bag! The Lord lives and loves! Let the dominoes fall!

Prayer in His presence continually washes us of pride and reintroduces us to His love for people; And thereby continually reintroduces us to His progessive work in others, so that our hearts do not abandon others to their own pride as we would not want to be abandoned by God to ourselves. Our hearts stay soft and open to His voice here. This is another reason why corporate prayer is central to real ministry.

Corporate prayer also demonstrates who is really praying and who is not. You can't fake it here for long. This is the setting our church leaders ought to be chosen from and no other. How many a pastor has placed a leader in a position, to discover he or she building a personal kingdom at friendship's expense?  Prayerless Christian is an oxymoron. If a person doesn't submit to God, how will his or her heart submit to anyone else? The corporate prayer meeting can serve as a helpful filter to determine who is really on the team. 

Why aren't flocks being led toward lifestyles of prayer? The answers vary, but the results are the same. When American Christians begin coming together to seek God for the lost, then things will change. This is life and death, but we don't believe it. It is time to open of the gates and allow the King of Glory to come in.

May the Truth penetrate our thinking. May the Truth sit upon the Throne of our will. May the Truth flow through the doorway of our emotion in prayer into the lives of those near us.

For the Truth is Love and Love is a Person. Yes, Love is not an emotion, but He intends to be felt.

Parkcircleprayer.com is a parachurch and laypeople's effort, not a congregation, with the sole purpose of glorifying the Lord by supporting the divine institutions of the family and local congregation through the facilitation of community-wide prayer events which are led by Christian leaders who are concerned for the souls in the Park Circle - Remount Road and Rivers Avenue Area and who desire to please the Lord by seeking Him together.

...know them that labour among you... 1 Thessalonians 5:12 * ...pray for one another... James 5:6 * ...the eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of thee... 1 Corinthians 12:21 * ...there is one Body and one Spirit... Ephesians 4:4 * ...the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth... Ephesians 4:16 * ...I pray that they may be one with us so that the world will believe...John 17:21 * ...how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity...Psalm 133:1 "The purpose of life is companionship." *** "Worship is that form of companionship where we love on Him in response to His great love for us." *** "The most powerful drive in the human heart is the desire for companionship." *** "We inherited this drive from the One we were patterned after." *** "The difference between manipulation and leadership is motive." *** "Motive is purified and guided in the presence of God: Prayer." *** "Pride is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, an attitude of self-entitlement and a motive for self-glorification." *** "Pride starts subtly and then turns into the aggressive enemy of real companionship" *** "The Cross and the presence of God brings fellowship (heart to heart), but the world offers only socializing (facade to facade)." *** "Every relationship has a foundation. The pride of public ministry has been a foundation for too many. At some point it consumes" *** "There is a difference between worshipping the idea that we worship God and actually worshipping God." *** "Why do we want to see prayer back in the schools, when it is no longer in our homes or churches?" *** "Corporate prayer around the Throne must return the center of church life if there is to be any hope for the masses." *** "Corporate prayer produces effective preaching, not preaching produces corporate prayer." *** "If we are so in the know, why do we no longer gather together to seek God, navigate through our haughty hearts to get a glimpse of God's heart and then pray in the lost?" *** "Christianity is not an enterprise, venture for self-discovery or political or civic organization. It is a Blood-bought fellowship of prayer focused on One." *** "Prayer-based friendships are the only ones that last." *** "Prayer-bathed friendships are not incidental to ministry, they are foundational." *** "Prayer is not a ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the ministry" *** "It's one thing to tell somebody what we believe about Jesus, it's quite another to be able to introduce someone to our Best Friend." *** "We are more like Martha than Mary; More like Christian activists, than people of prayer." *** "We need unity in humility found at the foot of the Cross, not prideful uniformity that says: 'Look at us doing God's work'" "There has got to be a practical, excecutable strategy in place for us to dethrone the ministry of Hollywood in our homes and bring families and communities together via corporate prayer inspired by the Spirit. Technology is not the enemy; Our disobedient laziness is the enemy." ***