Have you Read “Feel” by Matthew Elliot?

Feel – Matthew Elliot   Download study guide at www.faithfulfeelings.com

Your emotional makeup is a complex interaction between your personality, culture, family background, personal experience, and belief system. Each of us can benefit by knowing what emotions are and how God designed them to operate in our lives. To grow toward emotional fullness and maturity, we must take steps to inform and build our emotional lives on the truth.

As God has promised, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart” (Ezekiel 36:26).

Chapter 1:           Feel

The author Matthew Elliot begins the book by sharing a few stories of people who have lost touch with their feelings.  They are trying to “do” their Christian life well but everything becomes something to check off on a list and they are losing ability to feel.  The negative passions are getting less, but so are the good passionate feelings.

The other issue that has risen up is what is being taught (especially in the Christian world) on the subject of emotions.  Many well known authors and teachers have portrayed emotions as signs of spiritual weakness.  They teach that our feelings cannot be trusted and that God cares about what we believe, not what we feel.

Through his study and writing a doctorate on emotions in the New Testament, Matthew has come to some conclusions.  He will take the rest of the book to explore the following statements.  Our emotions are given to us by God to drive us to our best.  Emotions can be among the most logical and dependable things in our lives and emotions give us a window to see truth like nothing else.

Chapter 2:           Discovery

Matthew shares about his study in Germany on his doctorate on emotions.  He recounts the early philosophers such as Plato and Descartes that attribute emotions as a kind of physical response and you have little control over them.  Charles Darwin wrote that emotion grew out of the basic instinct of survival – instinctual vestiges of early animal behavior…  James and Freud shared this view of emotions and put emotions in a category to be controlled.

As the author read from the writings of pastors and teachers in the present culture he found them saying much the same thing.    They do not say that emotions are generated from bodily organs, but that they should be viewed with a level of suspicion and concern.  One common statement was that the love Jesus commanded was not a feeling.  The general thought that you cannot command a feeling and we have little control over them and they need to be managed and not paid attention to.

As he began to dig into the Bible he found it teeming with emotions.  Passions, anger, fear, love, joy hate.  Some of Jesus’ most famous parables are about how we should feel – that is their main point.  The Bible tells about people who pursue duty and follow rules often miss out on the whole point – relationship.  Everyone who encountered Jesus began to feel.

Matthew then came upon some writings of Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley, Thomas Aquinas, Calvin and Augustine who had view about emotion that were very different from what many hold today.   They, like the Scriptures, talk about emotion just like we do in everyday conversation.  There is no special category for Christian love that intellectualizes an emotion into a philosophical ideal.  Love, hope, joy and even hatred in the Bible are not lofty ideas and concepts; they are feelings and emotions, just as we know them in our own lives.  Look at Romans 12 for example.

Matthew writes “It occurred to me that our spirituality is all about how we are feeling, whether we are feeling life or are numb to it.  If we are not feeling as we should, something is really wrong with our relationship to God…our emotions are intimately connected to our thinking and beliefs.

He writes in the accompanying study guide… “And I know it is important to love Him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself.   This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”   Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God. Mark 12:33-34

You can also checkout 1 Thessalonians 2:6-8; 1 Peter 1:18-22; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 34:1-5

Know the Truth: To be effective at growing your emotional life, you have to own the feelings you have right now. Real growth requires real honesty. What do you really feel?

What is the last thing you got really excited about? Why did it pump you up? Did you share your joy with anybody?

When is the last time you got angry? How did you express it? Did you hold it inside without telling anybody about how you were feeling? Are you more likely to hold anger inside or to let it out in your words or actions?

Value your Emotions: How do you measure your spirituality by keeping a set of duties or rules? What are some of those duties or rules?

Overall, do you feel like you are pursuing a new heart or a set of achievements in your Christian life? Why?

Believe for Transformation: How have you been taught to hide, belittle, or manage your emotions?

How have negative statements about emotions kept you from pursuing the life God wants you to have?

Capture in one sentence how you want to relate to your feelings in a new way.


Chapter 3:           Breathe

Matthew shares his awkwardness in social situations that are emotional such as weddings.  He feels he has been conditioned to think that a mature Christian man does not celebrate by displaying outward emotions, except perhaps while watching football.  There is too much temptation to separate the sacred and the secular.  Jesus was not like that.

“What is so insidious about this is the way playing down our emotions is a measure of maturity and character when the opposite is true: God created emotions and the Bibles tells us they are part of His character.  Emotions are our wings …sometimes I think the reason people get addicted to stuff is because they have worked so hard not to feel the things they were made to feel and enjoy.  They become desperate to feel something – anything – and they find something to fill the emptiness… and not just addictions, many of us find our emotions leak around the edges and come out where we don’t want them to.”p. 43

Think about how Jesus talked to the different people such as Zacharias or the rich young ruler.  He knew to go underneath the duty and the shackles of attempts to be perfect and call out their heart.

“Stop holding inside all that God created you to feel…Stop stuffing to keep your emotions in check and start living in and through and with them.  Emotion is the only motivation that is able to propel us toward a radically obedient and abundant life”p.47

There is an accompanying blog and study guide.  www.faithfulfeelings.com

Which blog did you most relate to? What about it hit you hard? Share your own blog(s) with the group.

Focus on the Word: We want God to do a new work in us, to breathe his life into us again!

Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.  Oh, give me back my joy again;  you have broken me—  now let me rejoice.  Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.  Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Psalm 51:7-10

You can also checkout:  Psalm 42; Jeremiah 17:7-10; Galatians 5:13-25

Know the Truth: Are you growing more in love with Jesus? Explain your answer.

Think about the religious man whom Jesus challenged to give away all his stuff and told to “follow me.” What loves are keeping you from giving your full heart to God?

Value your Emotions: What does your emotional life reveal about your spiritual life? Do you want to spend time with God?

Do you feel freedom to really celebrate with other people? How does your answer affect your relationship with God and with other people?

Believe for Transformation: Do you act like you really believe that God wants you to live in love, joy, and hope? Why or why not?

Do your feelings show that you believe that God’s Word is able to equip you to live this way, whatever you are facing?

What are you doing to immerse yourself, to breathe, in God’s truth?

Chapter 4:           Bound

“We are taught that emotions are not reliable indicators of truth and as a result we are conditioned to believe that our feelings are trivial and useless so we strap them down and box them away”p.54

“Emotion was made to supply the energy and vitality in our lives.  They are meant to work hand in hand with reason and logic to guide our decisions… p. 57  “we have also been taken hostage by the rationalism of our scentific age – and thus emotions should be dismissed as lesser than logic “p. 58

Antonio Damasio wrote a study on the anatomy and functions of human brains and wrote about a patient who had a segment of his brain removed due to a tumor.  The patient regained full function they thought and returned to normal living.  Troubles started occurring at work and after much trial and error they discovered that his logic was intact but he felt nothing for anything.  His lack of emotions prevented him from attaching any significance to a particular choice.  With no emotion to guide his reason, he could not choose.  The patient was function but no longer a rational person – the powers of reason and experience of emotion decline together …science tells us that emotion is necessary to make right and true and practical decisions.

“In the Bible, we are faced with a different Jesus, motivated by deep love.  For the joy set before him, he endured the pain of the cross.  If we choose to see Jesus like a Star Trek Spock , with rational logical thought taking the lead, dying on that cross would be doing his duty?  Or if you choose the Jesus whose love held him to the cross when at any moment he could have called down a legion of angels…. Love propelled him through the horror for your sake… If we really believe that Jesus’ great emotional love is what motivated the Cross, we will live differently.  Instead of just talking about how we can love people, our love will motivate  self sacrificing service.  Instead of serving others out of obligation, we will be drive to serve with joy. P, 67

Chapter 5            Release

Our biggest decisions are guided by our emotions.  Emotions fuel all our relationships and our relationship with God.   If we live completely run by our emotions we are living in the same danger as we are when we completely stuff our emotions.  When emotion is king, what we believe can too easily be diminished into something of low importance.  God made us emotional and rational beings.  The two go hand in hand.  We should not diminish or elevate either one.

“Sometimes we push down our emotions because we are afraid that strong emotions might embarrass us or hurt others.  But freedom from the box does not mean that if anger propels us to start screaming, we scream.  It does mean that we listen to why we want to scream…Strong emotions are not bad in themselves, we often equate them with “being out of control” yet for most of us, what we feel as “over the top” is not at all extreme or inappropriate.  We have conditioned ourselves to live in such a narrow, limited range of emotional expression that nearly any strong emotional response feels like it’s too much to us.” p.78  “

“We must understand that emotions are great and God given gifts, but we live in a sinful world that has perverted every part of God’s good creation.  What God planned for our good, sin has hijacked…. Emotions, good and bad, flowers and weeks, must be dealt with.  But they should never be ignored”. P.81

Focus on the Word: We have been bound up by false beliefs that often teach us to deny, suppress, and control emotion. We find something different in the Bible: a radical freedom.

And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. John 8:36

You can also checkout Genesis 45:1-15; Matthew 21:12-13; 2 Corinthians 4:8-16

Know the Truth: Which box are you more likely to be in, making reason king or making emotion king? Why are you in that box?

Describe a specific situation where you handled your emotions as if reason or emotion were king.

Value your Emotions: What false beliefs have you believed about emotion?

What feelings do you downplay, belittle, or ignore? What passionate, “uncontrollable” feelings do you blame for your wrong actions or shortcomings?

Believe for Transformation: Are you sharing your deep feelings with a close friend or spouse, or do you cover up what is in your heart? Why?

If you were emotionally released, how would you start to communicate more openly with those that are close to you? Can you give an example?

Chapter 6:           Power

“Emotion is God’s provision for powering through the tough stuff” p. 89  “Emotions not only power us to greater discipline and achievements, passion also produces in us the commitment to help others, sometimes at great cost to ourselves” p. 91

“If passion and emotion are the powers that can drive our lives in positive ways, then the opposite is true as well – the lack of passion and emotion deprives us of the power to live whole and healthy lives… our lives become dependent on sheer will, mental grit.  A life that makes relationship with God merely a process of logic, a rational understanding, is a life that “Embraces” God and “relates” to him only in mental concepts” p. 99

“Emotional transformation is hard, and for most people it’s easier to avoid it. Why?  I think in part it is a lack of faith – faith that God is big enough to provide for us the fully emotional spiritual life he promises.  When we keep God in the realm of rational thought, separate from other parts of our lives, we don’t have to test his greatness… By barring God from the real emotional places of our lives, we rob him of his power… Can we let go of our “forms of godliness and open ourselves fully to the power of emotional transformation in Christ?” p. 102

The difference between duty and godly obedience is passion.  Matthew gives many examples of lives ran by duty and ritual and how people start to compensate when they are not emotionally whole.  The author encourages us to reclaim the power of passion with the following 4 simple ideas:

1)  read the Bible again with new eyes

2) take a walk in the woods, but don’t just walk, talk and cry, pour out your heart

3) find something outside of your common world to love.  There is nothing like caring for someone else in need to help us feel again, overcome our own numbness and reach out in power to help and love.

4)  let go – stop trying to control everything in your life and to keep your emotions in check even from yourself.

Learn from King Jehosophat in 2 Chronicles when he realized he was powerless against the mighty army but he was looking to God for help.  Such irony, God’s power becomes real only after we recognize how utterly powerless our own efforts and duty driven actions really are.

From the study guide – What emotion can you most relate to? What about it hit you hard?

Focus on the Word: Good deeds, the most powerful examples of sacrifice and service, are driven by our love for other people.

Soon afterward Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. “Don’t cry!” he said. Then he walked over to the coffin and touched it, and the bearers stopped. “Young man,” he said, “I tell you, get up.” Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! And Jesus gave him back to his mother. Luke 7:12-15

You can also checkout Romans 5:1-5; Nehemiah 8:10; Ruth 1:11-18, 4:13-17; Galatians 3:2-6

Know the Truth: Emotions give us good advice when they line up with truth and bad advice when they do not. Either way, we need to listen, evaluate, and take action. When did an emotion give you a profound insight that helped you live life better or make a wise decision?

Value your Emotions: Have I usually acted like emotion is a friend or an enemy? Graphically represent this by drawing a line on this gauge.



Chapter 7            Friend

There is another way to look at emotions other than suspicious and fearful.  As we start to see what emotions really are we can welcome them as a wise counselor helping us to make informed decisions.   Separating emotions and thinking is like trying to ride a tandem bike with only one rider.  Your balance is off, you need the other.

Matthew started seeing how emotions could really benefit his relationship with God.  He writes  “I found as I focused on loving what God loved, it became much easier to obey him; when I was in sync, the things that were important to him were also important to me.  And when sin and evil were glorified; it grieved my spirit just as it grieves God’s.” p. 115

God made emotions to be emotions, thoughts to be thoughts, and both to be partners, working hand in hand.  Emotions are connected to what we focus on, what we know, what we value, and what we believe.  What we think and how we feel work together to point us to the truth.

Emotions are a complex judgment or evaluation or someone or something in light of the past, present or future.  We often use the words emotions and feelings interchangeably.  “We refer to emotions as “feeling something” because most often when we get emotional, our bodies react with physical feelings.  It is important to understand the difference between emotions and feelings.  Emotions are things that originate in our minds.  Feelings, on the other hand, can refer to anything that our bodies sense or perceive, such as a stomachache or pain when we stub a toe.  Emotions produce the feelings that are associated with the.  Emotion, from this perspective, is clearly different from what we feel in our bodies or nerves “ p. 122

Philosophers that have described emotion as a physical reaction are really stretching their thinking.  It is like saying I hit someone and then felt anger.  Emotions are connected to thinking.  Emotions are always about something, they have an object.    Some of us have so repressed and confused their emotions that the object isn’t always clear.  That is why we often use friends and pastors to help us pinpoint the object of our emotion.

Matthew writes “Emotions are verbs that must have nouns.  For instance a farmer can hope he will have a bumper crop of corn next year, but that is dependent on factors beyond his control.  There are no guarantees.  With Christian hope, it is like the sun coming up tomorrow.  That hope is something so grounded, so hard, so true that we can bank on it every second of every day.  The same is true of joy.  “Always be full of joy in the Lord.  I say it again – rejoice” He doesn’t tell us just to “have joy” Out joy is “in the Lord” There are few things in life that we can always rejoice in.  God is one of the few things that is constant and a reason for rejoicing.  We can do the always rejoicing part because it is “about” the always-loving, always-holy, always-good God.” P.126

Matthew quotes Jonathan Edwards a great American philosopher.  “If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart.  So the reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important and glorious things as they often read in the Word of God, in undoubtedly that they are blind.  To devalue all religious affections is the way to harden the hearts of men and to encourage them in their folly and senselessness.  This keeps them in a state of spiritual death, as long as they go on living and at last brings them to eternal death… Those who have little religious affection have very little religion. P. 127

Emotions can add dimension to our lives in so many way.  Just like friendship, they can bring great enjoyment and help us endure the hard stuff and also tell us the hard truths.  They don’t let us stay in the same, comfortable rut and they can be a catalyst to change.  As our friends, it is wrong to mistrust, diminish and to convert them into abstract rational ideas.

The author then talks about negative emotions such as anger or jealousy.  How can they be our friends?  Actually they can be great allies as we see that emotions have an object and negative emotions are attached to things we value and believe.  Negative emotions demand a response – they compel us to grow and since they are tied to deep realities we must deal with the truth.  We can see that the root problem behind negative emotions is not the emotion itself, but the mistaken belief, unhealthy values or faulty thinking.  Emotions can point you to what needs clarifying or changing.

From the study guide:  How has the chapter “Friend” helped you have a better understanding of emotion?

Emotion can be a powerful force for good. When has emotion motivated you to reach out and encourage, serve, or sacrifice for another person?

Believe for Transformation: How can emotion help you identify faulty thinking?

When emotion, as a friend and counselor, helps you identify a need for change in your life, what are some things you can do to respond?

Chapter 8 – Truth

Emotions help us navigate life better.  They carry wisdom and intuition about situations and people beyond the mere facts.  Matthew points out that we may be reading this book to better understand emotions, but he hopes you can begin to see emotion as a way to understand life.

We all know that a child’s emotions are windows into what’s going on deep inside.  Mothers are especially attuned to this – they can hear their infants cry.   We can start to tune into our own emotions as we would our child’s.  Matthew presents a simple set of tools that help us to understand and interpret what our emotions are saying to us about ourselves and others.

Focus – we need to understand why we are feeling what we are feeling.  That takes focus.  What is behind this thing I’m feeling?  Start to evaluate the tapes that run in our heads.  Our emotional response to anything is collage of our personality, upbringing, self-image, worldview, experiences, and belief.  What we concentrate on, what we dwell on and run over and over again in our heads is what we get emotional about.  That is why we need to fill our minds with the right things.  “So we need to stop and think about what we are telling ourselves, if it does not line up with what is true, we must cancel the download – then we need to reboot our thoughts patterns with godly values and beliefs only then can our emotions reflect a godly perspective…Whatever podcast you play in your head is why you will eventually believe about God, others and yourself.  It will determine your emotional starting place out of which you will respond.  You can spend most of your life at a single spot emotionally because you pitched your tent on one thing that you relive p. 142

Sometime s grief can be like that – if we lose a friend we loved dearly, the first few months are the hardest – we are used to having that persona around to talk to – as we go about our days we are reminded that the loss has left a hole – but as the months pass the grief dissipates – daily reminders are not as fresh – read Deuteronomy 11 – These verses ask the questions – what we put before our eyes – If you focus on unfulfilled promises you will become bitter and presently.  If you focus on what you already have you will become thankful and joyous.  Dwell on the promises of the word and not the promises of the word unfulfilled.

Know – The plain facts often determine how we feel.  The Know tool is our assessment of the world around us, a determination of what is actual and not just imagined.  Sometimes our emotions are based on wrong knowledge – we make the mistake of saying our emotions are wrong, when much of the time they’re perfectly right – just based on the wrong information – the know tool helps us check to see if our information.  Knowing more of the context your feelings now change – a 500 pound grizzly bear 15 feet away from you – add the information zoo – and your feelings change.

God doesn’t tell us how to feel without telling us what truth to believe – He gives us the context in which to feel our emotions – He never just tells us about the bear without telling.  When there is a command to be joyful have hope or love one another there is also a corresponding truth.  Jesus taught that putting his trust at the center of our lives is what will bring lasting freedom and joy to our souls – Jesus said to the people who believed in him – you are truly my disciplines if you remain faithful to my teaching – and you will know the truth and  the trust will set you free – many people want to feel the joy of the Lord, but they do not know how God says they can attain it.  They have not discovered the information from God’s Word that leads to joy.

Value – We get the most emotional about the things that mean the most to us.  Nobody gets upset when somebody runs over something of no value.  The value tool is about asking ourselves what our emotions are telling about what’s really important  to us – where does this or that fall on our priority scales – ultimately we need to align our values with what God says is valuation – That’s what will transform us.

Believe – Our emotions reflect how we understand the world to work.  These beliefs are our assumptions about life.  Emotions reflect what we believe and reveal our assumptions about how the world works – emotions may also reflect mistaken beliefs – we jump to conclusions that alter our emotions – Just like Jonah we often expect God to work a certain way, and when we don’t see that he is we become frustration, even angry at him – our emotions are real, value – they honestly reflect our beliefs about God – but they are not well enough information about how God actually works – maybe we don’t really know God as well as we should.

The  “Believe tool” is something we need especially in times of suffering – what do you believe about ultimate reality – our emotions.

Treat emotions as indicators.  Sometimes we realize we are mad because God isn’t falling into our box.  The cost of getting to a good place is working through a process of development and training – it is a long road, a journey that takes a lifetime.  There is no magic pills – it is about allowing yourself to feel and learning to understand what your feelings and what they mean.  To get the best out of life, we must be on a journey towards the sanctification of our emotions – is your love greater this year than it was last year for that person in your life who is hard to understand what your feelings are and what they mean – by changing our thinking we can rewire our emotions God knows this – it is how HE built us – listen carefully to what God has to say and feeding our minds on his teaching – we make the mistake of looking at these situations as examples of people who can’t keep the emotions in check, under control or in a box – the truth the issue is not the emotions themselves but the lack of emotional maturity –  our toolbox of focus, know, value and believe we know that the boss is not screaming because of a pen, other things are going on –

Because we are authentic followers of Jesus, we will become really good at celebrating, enjoying good friends and living with joyful hearts.

We need to teach our children these skills – gradually learn what they are attached to , what they are truly focused on and what they mean in the context of others things – the questions is whether in adulthood we continue to develop in emotional skills and wisdom and grown the emotional maturity that God wants us to have

In the Chat Room:   Which blog did you most relate to? What about it hit you hard? Share your own blog(s) with the group.

Focus on the Word: Our emotions are grown and transformed when we change our focus, knowledge, values, and beliefs. If we say we believe something but our emotions say we do not, we had best listen. How does what you feel line up with what God says is true and valuable?

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. 1 John 2:7-11 [NIV]

You can also checkout Ephesians 1:1-14; Matthew 13:44-46; Deuteronomy 6:4-12

Know the Truth: We have created the Truth Box, a practical tool you can use to understand and evaluate the emotions you are experiencing.   See attached.  The Truth Box is a tool to train ourselves to connect the dots between what we feel and why we are feeling it.

Think about an intensely positive emotion you have had in last few months. Fill out a Truth Box (see page 14) for this experience.

Fill out a second Truth Box for a negative emotion you have experienced—something that was particularly damaging to you or those you loved. When you come across false thoughts (focus), facts (knowledge), values, or beliefs, make sure that, in the final step, you write down the truths that you want to hold onto deeply and believe.

The Truth Box is available for download at www.faithfulfeelings.com

Value your Emotions:  What did you discover in filling out the Truth Box that surprised or convicted you?

Which area — Focus, Know, Value, Believe — do you think has the greatest effect on your emotions?

Believe for Transformation: When you evaluated the negative or destructive emotion, which area of our toolbox — Fo­cus, Know, Value, Believe — did not line up with God’s truth?

How do you think applying God’s truth would have made you feel differently?

Truth Box

1. Describe the situation or context. Start here and follow the numbers in order.

Driving 4 hours to spend 3 days with my parents

2. Emotion/Feeling




3. FOCUS: What are your predominant thoughts about this situation?

4. KNOW: What facts influence the way you see the situation?


Last visit, my mom and I had a big fight. How do I avoid that now? I have way too much work to take all that time off.

With the drive and family time, I won’t get all my work done.  X

5. VALUE: What are your highest? values in the situation?

6. BELIEVE: What beliefs or assumptions do you attach to the situation?


I am afraid of another conflict with my mom. There will be a lot of tension and pressure.


Avoiding Conflict

Check the Truth Box if you believe that what you are thinking lines up with reality/God’s truth. If it does not, explain below.

Put an X or star the toolbox quadrant that seems to have the most influence on the emotion.

VALUE: God wants more for me than just focusing on work and avoiding conflict. Maybe it is time for me to work toward a better relationship and put work in the right perspective. How can I show mom love?

KNOW: It will be good to see my brother and have a great time. It is better than being alone.

Truth Box

1. Describe the situation or context. Start here and follow the numbers in order.

2. Emotion/Feeling

3. FOCUS: What are your predominant thoughts about this situation?

4. KNOW: What facts influence the way you see the situation?

5. VALUE: What are your highest?  values in the situation?

6. BELIEVE: What beliefs or assumptions do you attach to the situation?

Check the Truth Box if you believe that what you are thinking lines up with reality/God’s truth. If it does not, explain below.

Star the toolbox quadrant that seems to have the most influence on the emotion.



Week 6: Grow

A changed heart is salt and light to the world around you – that is what makes our lives vibrant and alive and draws people to Jesus – God wants these emotions to grow in us – to become distinctive qualities – so powerful and magnetic that others take notice and say – I’ve got to have what they have – As the world sees emotions flourish in us – it sees God – as the author read through the Bible to categorize every verse on emotions according to how it viewed the emotions

1) God has intentions for our emotions – Scripture is a three part model of emotions that helps develop our character and make us more like Jesus – the Bible indicates that some emotions are ones we should grow and develop – others we are encouraged to keep, cherish or allow ourselves to feel and then some emotions we should eliminate.  Look at emotions as a garden we are to tend and cultivate

2) The understanding is that some emotions are in all three categories – grow, keep and eliminate

There are 4 emotions that God wants us to grow

Love – what is the difference between love and duty   why is love a higher goal – because duty never motivated anybody to do anything great.  Love is up close and personal – true love is about people you can touch – he has no interest in his wife loving him in general – he wants up close, specific – not just because but because she takes great pleasure in who I am – God spent time in thinking how He made us – Ps 139  A suggestion to grow love is to just do one thing – spend time with one person in need – take some real time with that person – ask God to grow love in you for this person – give yourself one person in need

Joy – we are told to rejoice and be filled with joy – it is clear that God wants to grow joy inside of us – theologians suggest that joy from God in not dependent on our circumstances and that because of this – biblical joy is not really an emotion – they say things like joy is confidence that operates irrespective of our moods, joy is the certainty that all is well – however we feel – if joy is not an emotion, what’s the point – I believe God has in mind and what the Bible really says is that joy is a real emotion – God commands us to feel happy, feel joy, feel good – to feel real emotions – not all the time of course will be feel joy – God is not interested in plastic Christians – but somehow the good feelings of joy should be something that defines who we are – What God has in mind is not a redefinition of joy – but a redefinition of us – shouldn’t knowing Jesus change your happiness level in totally radical way?  The key to experiences this abundant life is to keep focused on God as our source of joy – our circumstances change from day to day – life sometimes is difficult but when we focus on God himself and his love for us – it brings real joy regardless of the circumstances – we are often a prisoner of my circumstance – I am too often discouraged when daily things are hard – I fear tomorrow and miss God’s smile and forget his remarkable salvation and provision – In the Bible – the joy gives is always because of something – because of something he has done, given, Paul rejoices over seeing friends, because God has been faithful in history, because someday we will be in a better place — focus, value, know and believe – joy because our focus is on our ultimate future – not immediate – because we value our salvation more than promotions at work or lack thereof.  We lack happiness because our joy is based on the wrong because – we’ve based happiness on objects that cannot bring us joy for more  than a short time – joy is also sweeter when it is hard won, when it comes after times of hardship – a specific kind of psalm called a lament starts off bad – the author is brutally honest – (there’s a tip for us – to set the stage for newfound realizations of joy – we need to recall where we’ve been , what we have endured…) see Ps 77 – notice the switch the conscious and deliberate change of focus, transforming despair to joy – these last verses are full of “because” it is all there – God’s power, provision, control, care…..

Also see Matthew 13 – the switch to joy is made when the value is seen – Acts 16 Paul and Silas were singing in prison – because!!!!!!  We can do amazing things, endure amazing things because…….. our joy grows as our need and desire for God grows – if we don’t have joy in our lives, perhaps we do not need God enough – it is about where we are putting value

Hope – we have often been taught that hope is a noun, and God means it to be a verb – life transforming hope is not merely an idea or concept – it is the real expectation that God will happen to us today.  Let hope become a verb – and the object be God Himself – Hope based on anything else is a temporary fix – what infuses hope with its emotional vigor is the value and excitement we attach to our beliefs and expectations – Paul writes in Rom 15:13 that God the source of hope would fill us with joy and peace because you trust in him – then you will overflow with confident hope through the Holy Spirit – take the promise that he will wipe every tear – build hope into your life – (Joyce Meyers says we are prisoners of hope).  Remind yourself throughout the day that our home is in heaven –

Hate – surprising to see the Bible calls us to grow in this emotion – God hates sin and so should we – see Jude – be merciful to those who doubt, snatch them from the fire – show mercy mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.  P. 186 – do we hate sin – do we tolerate pornography in movies and settle for things or do we have a growing hate of all that offends his holiness – PS 97v10 – you who love the Lord – hate evil – see Ps 101 – I refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar….I will stay away from every evil

So how do we turn these nouns into verbs in our lives – 1) realize that there’s something more – a more passionate love, a more exuberant joy – a more fervent hope that we’re missing out on – let’s get intense and figure out what we need to be feeling 2)  Spend time putting God’s word into our lives 3) be honest with where you are now and what you need to change to become emotionally whole – don’t settle for less than God intends – He is fully emotional and wants that for you as well. 4) growing our emotions is Spirit led – interactive process – it doesn’t not all depend on you and your ability to change old habits of thinking – you don’t have to struggle to grow – that is God’s job – submit to his leading and what He brings into your life – be willing to let him do whatever he wants to grow in your garden.

In the Chat Room:

Which blog did you most relate to? What about it hit you hard? Share your own blog(s) with the group.

Focus on the Word: If we ever want to become the people we long to be, we must cry out for God to fill us with his love, joy, and hope. And we must seek it by choosing to focus on the beliefs, values, and knowledge of God.

We always thank God for all of you and pray for you constantly. As we pray to our God and Father about you, we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We know dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people. For when we brought you the Good News, it was not only with words but also with power, for the Holy Spirit gave you full assurance that what we said was true. And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you. So you received the message with joy from the Holy Spirit in spite of the severe suffering it brought you. In this way, you imitated both us and the Lord. As a result, you have become an example to all the believers in Greece—throughout both Macedonia and Achaia. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-7

You can also checkout Luke 6:27-36; Philippians 1:9-11, 4:4; Jeremiah 29:11; Proverbs 8:13

Know the Truth: List five to ten favorite things that bring you a lot of joy, pleasure, and happiness.

What are a few things you really hope will happen in the next six months?

What items on your joy list are not necessarily related to your spiritual life?

What on your joy list is directly about worship, serving God, and serving others? Do you feel the same or more joy and pleasure for these things than the things that are not directly related to worship, serving God, and serving others?

How do the hopes you listed line up with your spiritual values?

What steps can you take to increase your joy and hope in the things that matter most?

Value your Emotions: Write one thing you learned from the chapter for each of the Grow emotions.

Love for neighbors, God, and goodness

Joy in God, good relationships, and the good things in life

Hope in our eternal destiny, God’s supreme power, goodness, and promises

Hatred of evil

Believe for Transformation: Look at your answers for “Value Your Emotions.” What is a very practical application you can make to your life from each of the four truths you highlighted?

Love for neighbors, God, and goodness

Joy in God, good relationships, and the good things in life

Hope in our eternal destiny, God’s supreme power, goodness, and promises

Hatred of evil

Week 7: Keep and Done

Matthew shares of his battle with cancer – – had some honest days of wondering why all this was happening – yet they turned to God concentrating on what he was trying to teach them and realizing how dependent we were on him – gained allot of compassion for those who are sick – all emotions have to be felt and worked through – John Piper wrote “Don’t waste your cancer ‘” when he faced his own cancer “you will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God…if you let it drive you to solitude instead of deepen your relationships with affection – if you grieve as those who have not hope – if you treat sin as casually as before – there is great value of emotions that come from unexpected places….

The list of keep emotions is long – some are beautiful annuals – brief pleasures of favorite ice cream or celebrating an achievement… others are strange –

Anger that communicates truth or corrects justice

Jealousy for God and his righteousness

Sorrow in repentance

Sickness or grief over loss.

Some of these we cultivate for a time – and managed that they have their place and don’t take over the entire garden – grief is one of the more difficult to keep but God wants us to embrace our grief.  Too often we identify it as being the same as our loss and we stuff it, repress it.  This creates bad stuff underground and creates problems later.  Bob Buford tells of the tragic loss of his son and after more than two decades all the good it has done in his life – he says God may never have gotten such a powerful hold on his life – Bob has kept the emotion of grief in his life and it has deepened him and enriched him and matured him in his relationship with God p.201

Anger is an emotion that we as Christians tend to get wrong.  It should never be shoved back inside – even sinful and destructive anger cannot be healed without dealing with the feelings head on.

It would be hard to be a good parent without anger – how we communicate the difference between right and wrong.  God gets angry.  Our disobedience offends him.  His anger is a fierce emotion – God takes evil very personally – it destroys all he loves.

Some anger pops up like weeds in our lives – and can be destructive.  Will discuss more in next chapter.

Jealousy – we are taught to be afraid of this emotion – the Bible speaks of good jealousy too…  Some translations use zeal instead.  Paul writes to the Corinthians I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God Himself

When felt for the right reasons, jealousy can result in some of our most spiritual and sacred moments – even prove our love and devotion.  See Numbers 25

Genuine sorrow over sin is another emotion we tent to ignore or forget.  Jonathan Edwards in his book “Religious Affections” wrote in defense of the great Puritan revivals.  Critics were concerned of the emotional displays of sorrow.  Read about Ahab in the Old Testament – God was touched by his change of heart.

If emotion tells us something about the truth of what we value, think and believe –emotional sorry shows a change of heart.  We also need to get a fiery hatred over sin and a determination to make changes in our society.

Many may call the emotions above negative.  They are difficult to understand and deal with so we want to repress them.  Emotion is there to keep us from doing others harm; part of our conscience – like an immune system.  Many of us will need help from our friends and small groups to get our feelings out in the open.  Henry Cloud writes “Stop acting in ways that cover up what you are really feeling…the common ways we do that is silence, withdrawal, over activity, anger, argumentativeness, indirectness, sarcasm, nitpicking, blaming and bitterness…most of the time a problem that involves feelings can’t be fixed until the feelings are heard and understood

In the Chat Room: Which blog did you most relate to? What about it hit you hard? Share your own blog(s) with the group.  Focus on the Word: We must live in and get through Keep emotions and work to shed those emotions we need to be done with. We must get rid of our love for evil if we want to overcome besetting sins.

Keep:   When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” John 11:33-36, [NIV]


Chapter 11          Done

You may be asking “But there are bad emotions aren’t there?  Are you saying all emotions are good?  Not at all.  But remember emotions always have an object – sometimes it is good and proper – sometimes it is a bad thing.  Anger is proper against sin.  Some emotions fall into all three categories of grown, keep and done – it all depends on the object.

Clearly some emotions depending on the object can be bad for us – God speaks harshly of these emotions – commanding us to banish them – these are in the done category.   See Romans 1, 2 Timothy 3 and Ephesians 4.    These are attached to objects that are not worthy or have the intent of hurting God or others – we need to get rid of these – not control them.  Banish them from the garden.  Some are listed right alongside of murder.

Jesus evaluates the failed religious leaders of his day by talking about what they love – everything they do is for show – they love to sit at the head table…. Sin is about the bad things we love – love for evil things demands our attention and often directs our actions.  Sin replaces God in our lives.  If you want to conquer a besetting sin you need to stop loving it.   One man was cured from pornography on the internet because as he was surfing looking at terrible things – his own son showed up in one of the videos – the jolt was unbearable – all the sorrow he needed for true repentance was upon him in a great wave – all desire gone.  Willpower is important but only turning love to hate will win a lasting victory.

Listen to what your emotions, desires and loves are telling you.  What is behind that particular love of something bad in my life? What does this love do to my family, friends, what harm do they cause to those involved – teaching yourself to despise what you love.

What is the love of money doing to our relationships?  What is fear and worry about future things doing to relationships?

Anger is sinful when it is destructive to relationships.  Rarely if ever are we justified to get angry for personal offence against us.  Anger is always to be short lived and quickly covered by grace, longsuffering and forgiveness.

If your life is full of worry, fear and anxiety – chances are that you are not living in God’s time.

How do we weed out done emotions from our lives?

One woman gave the example of asking herself a series of questions and she started when the anger was small.  She said it was hard work but that God changed her emotional life so instead of being known as an angry woman she is known as a joyous one.  This has to be experienced to be believed

– What am I upset about?

– Am I really angry about this or just stressed about something else?

– Is this something I should be angry about?

– How can I see this from another point of view?

To see the negative effect of wrong objects – read “These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths.   They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil”. Proverbs 2:13-14  You can also checkout Jeremiah 8:18–9:1; Psalm 27:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10; Colossians 3:8-10; 2 Corinthians 7

Know the Truth: What are some ways you can tell the difference between a Keep emotion and a Done emotion?

Value your Emotions: Have you faced a big-time trial in which you tried to be strong and stuff down what you were really feeling? Explain this situation. What were your reasons for not expressing what you felt?

How does your response match up with some of the full emotional expression we see in the Bible? How would you handle things differently now toward God and other people?

Believe for Transformation: What is a love you need to be done with? Use the chart on page 21 to identify two or three “Done” emotions in your life. Make sure to add an object to the emotion. (For example: love for pornography, anger at insignificant things, or jealousy of others’ lifestyles.) Start to work to identify changes you wish to make in your focus, knowledge, values, and beliefs. If you would like, download a Truth Box and use that as a tool to help you in the journey of transformation.

How should I respond?

What should I be thinking?

What does God say about it?

Why do I love it? What do I really believe?

DONE: pressing delete for Done emotions


Chapter 12:         Heart

God made us emotional beings because He is emotional.  His love for us is a passionate verb and it grieves him when we respond with a lifeless noun.  We are called to live in the heart of God.  Love is at the center of God’s heart and actions.  It is at the center of why we are to do what we do.  Living out of the heart of God is living in genuine relational love with God and others.

We are conditioned to think that if we believe love, whether we feel it or not, doesn’t really matter.  All that matters is reason, theology, truth.  But God has so much more for us.  1 John 4:7ff shows us that if we are not feeling love we do not really believe the truth.   Living in the heart of God means our actions must flow from holy passion, just as God’s actions do.  We think if we force ourselves to do the right stuff, control our reactions, grit our teeth and do our duty – it is godly.  That kind of willpower living is far from godliness – what can look like spiritual maturity to many is really just emotional repression – our deluded efforts to look good, assuming a form of godliness without the truth being in us.  John Calvin said “Duties however are not fulfilled by the mere discharge of them, though none be omitted, unless it is done from a pure feelings of love.”  (Shell’s note here – I learned allot from my relationship with my husband Mark, because he knows when I am just acting out of duty and he said he would rather be ignored than have someone do something out of duty without love.  Makes us stop and realize how God must feel.  Find out what is behind the emotion or lack of emotion and ask for God’s help).

In the book by Malcolm Gladwell called Blink he discusses how emotions guide our daily live and how informed. Instantaneous emotions and impressions are often more truth worthy that well though our reasoning.

Our emotions as they are informed by immersing ourselves in studying and loving the things of God can lead the way in understanding and right living.  Living in the heart of God means knowing him so well and believing him so much that we can live out and understand the truth through our emotions.  Loving God with our mind and heart.  That is what true belief is.

John Wesley said “Feelings are the divine consolations of the Holy Ghost shed abroad in the heart of him that truly believes.  If they are not in us it is a sure sign that through the wilderness became a pool, the pool is become a wilderness again.”

Matthew shares a story about a woman who left an abusive husband and was left with nothing.  But in the midst of all the sorrow her relationship with God came to life, its passion restored.  She said “I had happy moments in my marriage but no joy; I was not focusing on the Lord. Now when the circumstances are so much worse I find myself singing The Joy of the Lord is my strength” The Psalms were very important to her – she was changing her focus.

Living in the heart of God is making priority and room for Him.  No matter what seems true in this world, followers of Jesus decide to base their hearts on what God says is valuable and true.  God promised a new heart for all who put their trust in Him.

In the Chat Room:  Which blog did you most relate to? What about it hit you hard? Share your own blog(s) with the group.

Focus on the Word: God wants you to be so full of his Holy Spirit, so immersed in his truth, that you can live out of that fullness.

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kind­ness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:12-17

You can also checkout 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:3, 5:16-22; Deuteronomy 30:6-20; John 15

Know the Truth: How has your heart changed over the course of this study? What do you long to see God do in your heart?

Value your Emotions:   Is loving God and other people at the center of your life? If so, what is that love motivating you to do? If not, which love is driving your life?

Believe for Transformation: We want to live out of the overflow of our hearts. Do you feel that you have the new heart that God has promised you? Psalm 42:1 reads, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.” Take some time to pray, confessing the true state of your heart and asking God to give you a heart that longs for him more than anything else


Quote from Neil Anderson p. 12 a missionary writes about her battle with bulimia “I would confess to God and beg His forgiveness when I binged and purged.  Yet the next time, I fell deeper into Satan’s trap because I couldn’t forgive myself, I couldn’t accept God’s forgiveness.  I also thought the answer lay in drawing closer to God, yet I went to Him in fear and confusion, acting as a sinner who couldn’t be loved”.

Cynthia Heard from her book “Intimacy with God” How much the psalmist have taught me about relating to and being intimate with God.  My heart is humbled within me. For I have realized how shallow my concept of walking with God has been.  The psalms have shown me not only their heart’s response in all situation, but they have also meaningfully testified to God’s heart in faithfully relating to them in those situations….“There is a restlessness deep within each of us that compels us to search for the person.  Place, the job the “god” that will fill the void and give us peace.  The restlessness essentially becomes a pursuit to find someone who will love us for who we are, understand our fears and anxieties, affirm our worth and call our lives in to account.  To admit our need and dependence upon God requires humility and vulnerability which paves the way not only for knowing God but also for become intimate with Him.  Mutual love and confidence are the keys to intimacy – deepening intimacy with God is the outcome of deep desire… Intimacy connotes familiarity and closeness – involves our deepest nature and marked but a warm friendship developed through long association.

From World Mag.com

Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart | Matthew Elliott

What are emotions? Must we learn to control them? Do evangelicals often try to explain away biblical emotions—love, joy, anger, jealousy, hope—by turning them into something else? Matthew Elliott makes a convincing case that we’ve turned real feelings into abstract concepts, a misunderstanding that owes more to Plato than it does to Luther, Calvin, or Jonathan Edwards. Elliott asserts that feelings are God given and a source of knowledge not at war with logic but in partnership with it. Feelings trained by the Bible can be trustworthy guides. Another book by Elliott, Faithful Feelings: Rethinking Emotion in the New Testament, contains the scholarly research upon which Feel is based.

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