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Jamie Johnson
1 February 2015

More Than a Feeling

NOTE: This is a written version of the message I delivered on March 1, 2015.

January 2015 brought me into the company of the countless victims of the flu. It was the sickest I had been in years. I was exhausted, but I couldn't sleep from all the coughing. I felt awful. The doctor prescribed Tamiflu as well as something that was supposed to help me sleep and feel better - cough syrup with codeine. I took it for a couple of nights and found that it didn't help me sleep. While I did not cough, my mind did unusual things when on the codeine. I would see things as if in a dream - bizarre things, even disturbing things. It actually made me feel more miserable in some ways. And there are some people out there who get addicted to codeine and abuse it! It reminds me of when my Dad was on his deathbed taking morphine. He thought what I thought about my codeine and exclaimed, "Why would anyone want to feel this way?" noting how some people took it for fun - those guilty of substance abuse.

Those who abuse such medications are looking for escape, an experience, or to satisfy an addiction as they fall into idolatry. Yet, is it the drug or something else that is the idol? I think if we really consider any destructive behavior, we will find that beneath the surface, there's an idol deep within the heart. The idol in this case seems to be a pursuing some sort of feeling - a feeling of freedom, rebellion or escape, and as a result, behaving in a way to open doors to grasp that idol.

This makes me think about feelings. Our culture is obsessed with feelings - self-esteem and not being offended. I am for building others up (see Ephesians 4:29) and speaking with tact and politeness, but I am also for speaking the truth (in love) even when the world does not want to hear it. While there is a way to speak the truth in love, self-esteem and not being offended have become false gods in our society. Feelings trump all else, even sound reason, it seems. If someone is upset about something, then there might be a lawsuit. Years ago in my prior career, I was told to be "sensitive" by not displaying Christian decorations in my office. That is where our world is. Feelings are the highest value and it seems people will do anything to cling to this idol, abusing power, abusing legislation and even abusing drugs.

There are some interesting Biblical truths applicable to feelings, however. Feelings come and go.

James 1:5-8 (NASB) says the following:

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Are you going on feelings, and as the verse says, "driven and tossed by the wind ... unstable" in all your ways? There is a concept in cognitive-behavioral therapy regarding feelings: Change the thoughts that lead to them. That is, identify the thoughts that are fueling emotions and change the thoughts. The Bible talks about such change. Consider Romans 12:2 (NASB):

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

And really, we need the Holy Spirit to transform us. Receiving the Holy Spirit comes with believing in faith in Jesus Christ - His life, death and burial on your behalf and His resurrection offering new life.

Further truth is seen in Ephesians 4:14-16 (NASB):

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Again, are you "tossed here and there by the waves" of the things mentioned in the verse? Are you tossed about by your emotions? Where is your anchor? What is your foundation? Remember what Jesus said of the man who built his house on the sand and the man who built his house on the rock? It comes from Matthew 7:24-27 (NASB) with Jesus speaking:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell ‐ and great was its fall.

Where is your foundation? Is it in Christ? That is one question, but there are others. What are you trying to escape? Are you trying to grasp idols to cope or walking with Him through the valley of the shadow of death as Psalm 23 describes? What are you running to? Are you running to your sense of control, your earthly comforts or your idols? Or are you running considering Proverbs 18:10 (NASB)?

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.

Life is full of circumstances. And these circumstances pass through perceptions and trigger thoughts or even memories that produce feelings. How many have ever had a feeling and wondered why? Sometimes there is no conscious reason for it. Sometimes, feelings just are. However, is that what you are going to trust? What you must trust is more than a feeling. Whom you must trust is more than a feeling.

What are others looking for? They may be looking to politics. They may be looking to money. They may be looking to status. They may be looking to health. They may be looking to man's opinion. They may be looking to their emotions. They may be looking to any number of things, including the ones I have mentioned, which can be idols. However, you do not need to consider what others are looking for outside of concern for their souls. Rather, what are you looking for? Are you looking for Jesus? Are you looking in His Word?

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