Monthly Archives: February 2012

Sacred Passion – Praying the Emotions of Jesus

While at a conference last November, I was inspired by a teaching from Michael Card, a respected Christian folk artist and author. He taught on the emotional life of Jesus as explored in the book of Mark. This led me to write a short meditation full of prayers based on the emotions and life of Jesus. Over the next month, I will reveal parts of this mini-book/meditation.

Here is the introduction…

Sacred Passion – Praying the emotions of Jesus

Why Emotions?

Whether people would admit it or not, many think that God, being perfect, does not have nor shows emotion. This view is commonly held by many Christians even though they may not have expressed it. You seldom hear anyone preach or teach on the emotional life of Christ. It seems like a taboo topic – even in the Church. But if we are to be truly free, the power of God must also redeem our emotions as well as our minds.

Why is it so disturbing to think that God can “Get emotional?” Are we scared about what would happen if were to make God angry? Or is it something else? Maybe we find the notion of an emotional God disturbing because we somehow equate emotion to weakness. And if God is God, He certainly doesn’t have a weakness. At the core of this mindset, is a series of lies And I believed these lies for many years.

Mastering my emotions has been such an inner struggle that I couldn’t believe someone like Jesus would wrestle with such conflict. I saw emotions as weakness because they frequently led me to sin and self loathing. Somehow, you start to look at all emotions as a sign of weakness and thereby part of man’s fallen condition. Then, emotions become sinful in and of themselves. The only way to stay strong is to cut off emotions at the root, put them in a box inside your heart, and deny that they exist. But this was futile. They would always break out at the worst time. Then, I would be more resolute to never let emotions control me again. This was the cycle of my life for many years.

I was saved intellectually and bound up emotionally. I was a fairly decent guy morally, but I was a complete wreck on the inside. I was a complete fraud. I displayed a form of godliness but denied Christ’s real power. Jesus came to set us free from the law of sin and death. Jesus came to redeem all of us, including our emotions. Jesus shows us what it means to be perfectly human and to express perfect emotions. As I started to look at this reality, I had to unlearn much of what I thought that I knew.

Embracing Jesus’ emotional life has been part of my road to inner health. Jesus, being both man and God, had emotions and expressed them openly. Emotions are not sin neither are they a sign of weakness. Emotions are part of what it means to be human. What if they really reflect what it means to be created in the image of God? What if God wouldn’t be God unless He had an emotional side to His character?

As a man, I have struggled with the social norm that says, “Men are tough. We aren’t supposed to be emotional.” This is yet another lie that keeps people bound up from experiencing true healing and restoration.

Why emotions? Because we have them, and God desires to redeem them. Because we don’t need to fear them, and God can use them to accomplish His greatest work in us. Because they are frequently the part of our lives that we hold back and don’t release to God.

Why Prayer?
The answer quite simply is that prayer changes things. We can strategize or talk about our struggles as much as we want, and things stay the same. We can make resolutions in our heart and even strive in the flesh to follow what we know God wants us to do, but that can fall short too. The reason is that we can’t change our own hearts. We can’t heal us. If we could do this one thing, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Prayer is the vehicle for change in our hearts and lives. In prayer we invite God to act, surrender closed up areas of our heart, confess sin, declare God’s ability to transform us, and we praise God in advance for what He alone can do.

This little book is a meditation of prayers focused on the emotional life of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels. These prayers have been helpful for me as I am working through surrendering my emotions to God. And I pray that they are useful to you as you allow the Holy Spirit to to a deep work inside your heart.

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If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All.

My tongue tends to get me in trouble a lot. Or maybe it isn’t really the fault of the tongue. I think the real problem goes much deeper than that. Jesus said in Matthew 15:17-19 (NIV), “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

What I say reveals a lot about what is going on in my heart. This is especially true in those moments where I am not “focusing on being good.” We all have moments where we slip up and say something we would rather take back. What comes up in these moments may reveal things in our hearts that we need to allow God to resolve.

My tongue problem is really a heart problem. And the tongue is indeed a powerful part of the body. With the tongue we can curse or bless; we can hurt or heal; and we can encourage reconciliation or cause division. The words we say to others can come back and hurt us. I think of it sort of like bouncing a ball against a wall. All that force and destructive energy has to go somewhere. And it tends to bounce back at some point.

I am starting to realize that much of what I think should never be said. This is hard for someone who is a verbal processor. And while it may seem like common sense, it is hard to accept when you highly value honesty and justice. Keeping your tongue in line, is also hard for someone who is paid to make value judgments in his occupation. As a journalist, I am supposed to interview various people and write what I find. But this is always more than just dictation. You have to make judgments about the reliability of various sources, analyze the importance of the different aspects of a story, and make clarifying statements that some would seem as undue criticism. When it comes to writing opinion pieces, you have to be critical and analytical. That is what you are paid to do. It is hard to turn off this way of looking and speaking about the world when you are not at work.

Scripture offers a pretty harsh critique of the tongue. It calls the tongue a “restless evil, full of deadly poison.” The tongue is “set on fire by hell.” The tongue cannot be tamed by any man. It can “corrupt the whole person” according to James 3. This famous passage makes you almost want to take a knife to your tongue. But I think even a mute person might tell you this doesn’t really solve much.

Jesus clearly never shied away from making a harsh rebuke when necessary. He scolded His disciples and made all sort of tough rebukes (some might even call slanderous statements) against the political and religious leaders of the day. Jesus said all sort of things that baffled or enraged some who heard His statements. Of course, we are not Jesus. He is His own category. Yet, it doesn’t seem that Jesus forbid His followers from making judgments or giving harsh rebukes. The key comes back to the heart and why we say what we say. Is this rebuke to build up or just merely to cast mud on the reputation of another? Do you have standing so that your words matter to that person? Have you prayed about this first?

These questions all make me want to stop and think before I say anything. Maybe my momma was right. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all (that is unless you know that you have the authority, standing and the responsibility to give a godly rebuke).

Some interesting Scriptures on the tongue and its power.

Psalm 139:4
Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Proverbs 10:19
Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.

Proverbs 12:18
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:4
The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 16:1
To humans belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the proper answer of the tongue.

Proverbs 21:23
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.