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The growing trend in Christianity is emotionalism.  I say "growing trend" because I have personally observed this rise in emotionalism in the church only recently, in the past decade; however, I am sure there has always been a battle to be fought against emotions in the human experience.  After all, each human - whether here today, yesterday, or tomorrow - has emotions.

What I am talking about is the desire among Christian leaders to make people feel good about themselves.  Or, in some cases, to make people feel bad about themselves so that they change.  There are two examples that illustrate this point that I have experienced in the last few years.

Once, at a Sunday morning church service, the pastor began his sermon with the following words (paraphrased):
What a great time in worship today.  Amen?  [Silence.]  Don't you all feel the Spirit?  [More silence.]  I guess you aren't because you all are just sitting there.  Come on, people!  Let's get giddy for God!
Immediately, as I sat in my chair, my head looked to the floor after hearing his "hoo-rah-rah" talk.  I thought, "What is this guy talking about?  We don't need a pep talk.  We need the Word of God!"

Another more recent Sunday morning church service focused on joy, one of the fruit of the Spirit.  The pastor began his sermon very well, building on the meaning of joy and its meaning in the believer's life, even showing us the context of the verses.  But when he began to explain the reason for the Christian's joy, he fell off the wagon:
Just look at Joe back there.  Joe had cancer last year.  And he prayed and prayed and prayed.  And we prayed with him.  Joe kept fighting and fighting.  He simply would not give up.  Well, now Joe is healed from his cancer and he is joyful!  Just look at that smiling face!
Once again my eyes went to the floor, embarrassed and disgusted, as the only reasons for joy given were answered prayers and miraculous healings.  As story after story wafted through the air of the sanctuary, and were returned with thunderous applause, I begged for the chance to ask the question: "But what if Joe hadn't been cured from cancer?  Can he still have joy?"  (Yes, Joe, you can.  Your joy is in Christ, not your physical body!)

After the service, the pastor asked me what I thought of the sermon.  I told him, "Ya know, I was really hoping for a little more depth."  The pastor didn't want to talk to me anymore after that comment, so he mumbled a few closing words and turned to another bystander.

Emotions certainly have there place in the life of any human, especially a Christian.  Can you imagine singing "Amazing Grace" without any emotion, without any heartfelt love and joy and gratefulness to the One who saved your soul?  Emotions are good!  But they cannot be the foundation for our lives.  Why?  Because they change so often and so fast.  The believer must be rooted in the truth of God, and then must respond to that truth with heartfelt emotion.  R.C. Sproul says it this way: You cannot worship (with your heart) what you do not first know (with your mind).  Both the heart and the mind are important, but while the mind is first in priority, the heart is first in prominence.

Just last week my family and I were driving back from Texas after visiting Lauren's family.  Our daughter was sleeping in the back, and Lauren and I were fighting in the front.  I don't remember what about, but we were angry with each other.

I thought many angry and mean thoughts about her as I drove down the interstate, after saying all I had to say and listening to all I could bear.  Soon, my thoughts of anger turned toward God.  I wanted to be mad at Him, but I couldn't.  God was still good regardless of my emotional ups and downs.  A verse I had been memorizing came to my mind: "Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power.  For You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created" (Revelation 4:11).  As I looked at the countryside around me, I was reminded that, regardless of my emotional struggles with my wife, God is still worthy of our praise; for He gives the sun and rain to make the plants grow, the oxygen for us to breathe, and - everything!

Soon, I said to Lauren, my eyes straight ahead, "Lauren, I don't feel like doing this, but I know we need to: Can you continue reading in the Bible where we left off yesterday?  And then let's pray and sing together.  Now, I don't feel like doing this, but God is still worthy of our praise because He made everything."

Humbly, we worshiped the Lord together in our car.  The blessing we received from honoring God in the midst of our trials was amazing.

If someone were to have told me, however, in my anger, "Hey man, you need to love your wife!  You've been blessed with a great family and you need to feel more love toward her," I would have knocked them out.  I didn't feel any of that at the moment.  What I needed was a remedy of truth.

Truth is what remains and sustains long after the emotions come and go.  Therefore, study the Word of God and get to a church where the truth is taught, so that you will be able to stand on solid ground and not shifting sand.

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving" (Colossians 2:6-7).