Your Feelings and My Feelings

We all have feelings and our feelings are important.  The tell us what is going on inside and can indicate well-being or a warning. Feelings are important for understanding our relationships.  Feelings motivate us to react to our surroundings.

Sometimes our feelings are difficult for us.  We can be trapped by painful feelings.  They can keep us from doing what we need to do.  Our feelings can affect our health.

From earliest childhood both parents and society endeavor to teach us how to express feelings in a responsible way.  Most of us, at times, express our feelings in an irresponsible way and this damages both us and others.  Consequentially, many people bottle up their feelings and it can be dangerous for anyone to internalize their feelings rather than express them irresponsibly.  However, we can learn responsible ways of expressing how we feel.

Expressing our feelings in the right way can be healing and peace as Psalm 32:3-5 tells us:

When I did not confess my sins, I was worn out from crying all day long. . . . Then I confessed my                   sins to you; I did not conceal my wrongdoings. I decided to confess them to you, and you forgave all my sins.

We are responsible for what we do with feelings.  They are not right or wrong; they are neutral.  Feelings are not under our conscious control.  However, we can choose what we do with our feelings: deny them, bury them, feed them, or control them.  Being in control of your feelings, instead of them con trolling us, if difficult, but it is satisfying and worthwhile.

Feelings do and can change, and we can choose to change our feelings toward others and toward ourselves.  To do this takes much discipline and willpower.  Trying to change feelings can make us aware of how much we need God’s help.  So, follow the example of our psalmist and take our concerns to God in prayer and ask for his constant presence and support:  Why am I so sad? Why am I so troubled? I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise him, my savior and my God [Psalm 42:5]

If you are struggling with feelings you cannot control and you find it difficult to pray, try this prayer as a starting point.  Make the prayer your own by telling God what is dark in you, what is broken, what you are sick of.

Dear God,

Enlighten what’s dark in me;

Strengthen what’s weak in me;

Mend what’s broken in me;

Bind what’s wounded in me;

Heal what’s sick in me;

And lastly,

Revive whatever peace and love has

Died in me.

Amen.

 

 

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Healing or Cure?

Several years ago, one of our senior adults who had terminal cancer and only a few weeks to live, gave me a call.  She had a strong faith relationship with God through Christ and was ready for death.  So, the reason for her call surprised me.

She said she had been reading the Book of James, the section that tells us  to call for the elders of the church for anointing and prayer when we are sick.  She wanted to know if I would come and anoint her.  I was concerned about the reason for her request.  Was she expecting a miraculous cure?  No.  She felt she needed healing and not a cure.  She knew to ask for a cure would  be inappropriate under the circumstances and didn’t want a cure for her cancer.  She had lived alone as a widow for many years and needed affirmation from her spiritual community as she was waiting for death to come for her.

I replied that I would talk with the senior pastor and church staff.  Since elders, and not elder, is prescribed in James, I thought the ministerial staff would be the best representation of our spiritual community.

Not one of the Baptist ministers on our church staff had ever seen or thought about an anointing, so I was the designated anointer.  My ten years of rubbing shoulders with Anglicans was going to come in handy!  Taking a small bottle of olive oil with me, I had each member of staff lay hands on the woman while I used my thumb to make the sign of the cross on her forehead with the oil.  I prayed for God to give her the healing she needed and He wanted her to have.  I asked God to receive her unto Himself, both in life and in death, and that she would die in calmness and peace.  After a few moments of sharing God’s goodness, we left.

The woman called the next day to say how much the ritual had meant to her.  She felt at peace.  She felt surrounded and supported by her spiritual community and was ready to move on to her heavenly home.  A week or so later, she crossed the river into eternity.

Why do we avoid having healing services and anointing?  Are we confusing cure with healing? Sometimes we need healing more than we need a cure.  I think we fail to provide healing because we think of sensational cures that have been featured in the media. We hear talk of “divine healing” in terms of miracles or “signs and wonders,” so we pull back from any attempt at healing to avoid sensationalism.

We should not avoid healing in the church. All healing is divine healing; all cure is divine cure.  The laws of healing and cure are built into the universe by a loving Creator.  God has gifted individuals with the intelligence and gift of discovering and utilizing those laws.  Every time we take a tablet or get a shot, we are receiving divine healing.  Sometimes there is what appears to be a miraculous cure, but to God it is not a miracle.  God does not suspend natural laws in order to perform a miracle. That would throw the universe into chaos.  As Author of the laws that govern existence, God can heal at a higher level of natural law than we have been able to discover and utilize.

The distinction between cure and healing must always be in mind. A person could be cured miraculously, but still need healing.  We sometimes need the healing of memories, or the healing of relationships, or the healing that comes from confession and restitution.  Especially when people are facing death, spiritual leaders need to offer the spiritual healing that comes through Christ, the Great Physician.

It was both a joy and a blessing to help our sister in Christ receive healing.  Amen.

God Does Love You! – 3

In the first two blogs on this topic I had some typos. Sorry about that! I would certainly expect better work out my students. At any rate, I have put this in Word first so I could spell check everything.

In Mark 4:35-41 we have a familiar story. Jesus and His disciples are in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is asleep. Suddenly, a storm blows up and the men are afraid. They cry out to Jesus, “Master, don’t you care that we are about to die?”

Most of the time emphasis has been placed upon the miraculous calming of the sea. I think we need to focus on the fear of the disciples: “Master, don’t you care that we are about to die?”

We all have those times when the storms of life threaten our being. If you have not experienced a storm, just wait; you will! When facing a storm of life we think and feel as if we are going to be overcome by things beyond our control.

Often things just happen and human choice has not been involved. It is at times like these that we cry out with Jesus’ disciples: “Master, don’t you care that we are about to die?” Does God care? Does anyone care when we hurt?

Storms come in life because of our poor choices and we, and sometimes others, suffer as a result of our behavior. Sometimes storms come because other people make poor choices and we suffer because of their behavior. However, for many storms there is no explanation for them. Insurance companies refer to “Acts of God,” but I do not think that is an adequate explanation.

A storm does not mean that God is angry with you, or God is paying you back for something you have said or done. The Bible clearly shows, as we experience ourselves, that good and bad things happen both to believers and unbelievers.

If you are in the midst of a storm, you may feel alone and helpless. You may feel isolated from friends and family. You may feel isolated from God, that he does not really care about the way you are feeling right now.

Sometimes people say, “Where is God in the storm?” Or in that wreck, or explosion, or any horrible event. In our biblical reference, Jesus is in the boat with the disciples in the storm. He is not looking on from some far-off distance. Jesus calms both the disciples and calms the storm.

I believe Jesus is with us in the storms we face. If we let him, he will calm those storms and calm us. The disciples reacted with fear, for they knew they were in the presence of holiness. We sometimes have the same feeling, that God is too great for us, that we do not deserve his presence; so we want to flee.

The Scriptures give us the assurance of God’s love and care for us. In Genesis, God pronounced creation was “Good.” That includes you and me. We bear the image of God and it is that image that enables us to have a relationship with God.

In his first epistle, the Apostle Peter wrote: “Leave all your worries with him (God), for he cares for you” (5:7). The psalmist wrote:

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him.
(Psalm 28:7)

My prayer for you: may you come to know the Christ who can calm your storms and give you peace.

Good Does Love You! – 2

Some people question God’s love because of the bad things that  happen in the world.  If there is a God and He is a good God who loves everyone, why does He do things to us that hurt?  Why does God “pay us back” for something we are not aware of doing? People will often say, “What have I done to deserve this?” God is  held responsible.  Even insurance companies use “acts of God” to describe events that have no causal explanation.  The idea seems to be that if there is a God, and He really loves us, He would intervene on our behalf every time something bad was about to happen or has happened.

The universe operates under certain laws that God has made to keep the universe running smoothly.   There are those things that we call “miracles,” and God does seem to  sometimes set aside natural laws to make things happen.  However, if a miracle occurs, I do not think God has suspended a natural law.  I believe He is operating at a higher level of natural law than we have discovered.  It is unrealistic to presume God will perform a miracle  when something bad has happened.  The universe would be in chaos.

Sometimes things happen because you and I make bad choices.  Not only do we suffer the consequences, but often others suffer the consequences of our choices.  Should God bd blamed for consequences resulting from our poor choices?

At other times bad things happen because of the choices other people make and we suffer because of them.  We may never who it is that has made a choice that affects us.  There are multitudes of bad decisions made every day the that impinge upon us and our families and we have no recourse.  Does God use the misdeeds of others to punish us?

Many natural calamities seems aimless, hitting innocent people and causing untold damage and loss of life.  This is where the “acts of God” come in.  Does God send a tornado or hurricane to punish people?  There were some preachers saying that hurricane Katrina was sent by God to punish New Orleans for being a wicked city or because homosexuals were gaining recognition and approval.  If so, that means God doesn’t love because innocent people were killed in the process.  God must punish indiscriminately.

When calamities strike, the cry goes up, “Where is God?” as if somehow He is not  doing His job.  I do not believe God causes calamity, but I do believe He is there in the calamity.  There is a story in chapter 4 of Mark’s Gospel that gives some guidance in this.  I will refer to it next time.