Thursday, 3 May 2007

Can You Feel It?

I was privileged enough to spend 1 1/2 hours in the car today with Shane Willard

I thought I'd share one of the gems that we spoke about:

You can only serve what you feel...

ie. If you are in a really really foul mood... what do you serve up to people?
If you are really lost in your own self importance... what do you serve up to people?
If you are ecstatically joyful... what do you serve up to people?

If I am feeling miserable and depressed... is it possible for me to serve up joy to those I come into contact with (even if I do plaster on the fake smile and jovial platitudes)?
No... I serve up what I am feeling!

So how do we change our feelings?
We must meditate / think on the feelings that we are after!
eg. If I am stuck in traffic and I'm getting really ticked off... I am faced with some choices.
Either I can give into the irritation and become irate and do a whole bunch of things that I may later regret...
Or I can ask myself this question, "How does God feel right now?"
I then begin to sense God's calmness... peace...
I can then take that further by asking myself, "How would I feel if God's calmness and peace enveloped me right now?"

How do you think that you would begin to feel in this situation if you meditated correctly?

The western mindset has really scoffed at the whole 'feelings' thing... guys especially try and stay well clear of that subject. We have exalted the stoic philosophy's cutting out emotion and exalting logic...
But this is not the Eastern mindset (from which the Bible has been written) at all!
Its only in the western thinking that we could write a paper on God's attributes and think about grabbing a MacDonalds after...
An Eastern minded person would be caught up in the feeling of the majesty of God! Just look at the Psalms!

Anyway... I'm rambling now... just do yourself a favour... spend a few minutes... and begin asking God how He feels... about you! Get ready to have your world ROCKED!!!

If you tried the exercise... please leave a comment and let me know about your experience!!!


James said...

Hey Clive,

I'm aiming for 'top commenter' glory, so I thought I'd add a quick reply to this one...

I think the post is great. We do totally 'serve up' how we feel. I have a couple of thoughts or ideas though.

1stly Some times I find it hard to know what 'God is feeling' maybe because he is so big and powerful it is hard to relate? Anyway, one thing I find helps me at times is to think "What would this person want me to feel?" (I should note that this approach has problems if some is deliberately wanting to make you angry or unnecessarily sad etc...) But I find it really helps when say someone goes on and on about how busy their day was, or why their new cellphone is better than sliced bread. Think about what feeling they are trying to communicate, should you feel happy for them? Share in their sorrows?

It even helps when someone cuts you off in the car, they probably aren't trying to make your mad. More likely they hope you think "they are probably late for work, I'll let them go first".

As I said, what other people want you to think/feel isn't always the best thing to do, but in most situations it can be a huge help.

I once heard Frank Ritchie put it like this. It isn't WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) any more, it is HWIAITWJ (Not quite as catchy :) How Would I Act If This Was Jesus. Would you get mad if Jesus cut you off in the car or spent 10 hours explaining in detail how many electrons are in the universe? Or course not! Treating people around you like you might treat Jesus is a great way to 'be Jesus' to others. Naturally this is to be used with caution, Just because If Jesus told you to jump off a bridge you would do it, doesn't mean you should do it when it is your next door neighbour!

2ndly I'd like to hear some justification for your theory of Western and Eastern mind sets. Firstly I don't think the mindsets of the east and west could/should be lumped into such big categories. Maybe you could get away with the 'Jewish Mindset' but Eastern? Does that include people in Iraq, India, and Israel? It is probably just a case where the terms need to be defined a little more clearly. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts anyway...

I also think it is a mistake to instantly think that some other mindset is necessarily right, you need some kind of justification. Perhaps one of the strengths of the western mind set is "that we could write a paper on God's attributes and think about grabbing a MacDonalds after"? People who spend their lives lost in the majesty of God might not actually achieve much more than a great feeling inside.

Anyway, That's just my thoughts on the east-west thing. I think it is something we too readily simplify (which perhaps is fine to make a point), and too readily assume it is somehow 'better' (especially when the implication is that the whole mindset is better). Personally I think it would be much safer to talk about 'strengths and weaknesses'.

Well now I'm the one who's rambling... Look forward to hearing your thoughts on mine.


Clive Smit said...

Top Commentor Glory is all yours!

About not relating to God's thoughts...
1Co 2:16 CEV
(16) The Scriptures ask, "Has anyone ever known the thoughts of the Lord or given him advice?" But we understand what Christ is thinking.

Although I agree we have to get passed ourselves... if I honestly ask the question... I believe that Christ can drop His thoughts into our spirits.
Can we get it wrong? Of course we can! But if we thought like that... would we even cross the street... fearful of not seeing a car?
I believe that what is important to God is... giving it a go... stepping out in faith... thats how we please Him!

Although asking what the other person is feeling or would want to feel... aren't God's thoughts higher and much better?
Anyways... thats just my humble opinion.

About the mindsets...
I'm referring to the stoic mindset of the West where we separate our emotions vs the Eastern mindset which is far more open to engaging emotions.
(This was the comparison... not the entire way of Eastern thought vs the entire way of Western thought.

You are sooo right though... we do love to genralise and we can make some serious errors like that.

Hey, thanks for your comments... it helps me to think through stuff!
Loving your work James!

Ryan said...

Hey Clive. Sounds like some good ideas you and Shane discussed.

I'm not sure about the whole "meditating on feelings" thing myself. It doesn't feel to me like a complete "Christian concept". Sounds more like buddhism or something.

The mindset I have is when I walk in the Holy Spirit, I trust god to bless me with fruits of the spirit. I know the Spirit is opposed to the desires of the flesh, which include anger (Gal 5:16-21).

Now we know the fruit of the Spirit from Gal 5:22-23. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness... these are feelings. They are positive feelings. They are Jesus feelings :) They are from God.

Taking the car example: If I'm truly walking with the Spirit, I have patience and self-control and gentleness etc. (most of the time) so I never get angry in the first place! - or even think a bad thought about someone cutting in front of me etc. In fact, I can't think of a single time I've been angry since I've been walking with the Lord (about 9 months). Although, obviously it does happen to people. We are far from perfect :)

I still take a look at myself and evaluate whether I need any specific fruits of the spirit - and I pray for those regularly. I also make sure I am turning from the desires of the flesh.

Random though: it's interesting that strife is a works of the flesh. Maybe that ties in with your shape theme about getting burnt out from our own efforts. It's something I'm struggling with at the moment - I can see burnout happening if I don't really focus in on God and do something about my schedule, so I can't wait to go to shape and discuss this stuff!

James said...

Hi Clive,

Thanks for the response. It's exciting to see the blog coming alive with comments! Keep up the good work!

As a quick aside, generally my comments on blogs are not well thought out and reasoned responses, just what jumps into my head on the spot :) Just so you know if I say something strange it doesn't mean I've gone crazy...

I think looking back on it was I was trying to say was really more like 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you'. I'm not denying that we can have 'God Thoughts' or try to think of feel like God would. I was just trying to say if you find that hard the next best thing might be to think what is best for the other person?

I'm also aware of the many times through history when people thought (or at least said) they were don't God's work, while actually undermining everything that God is...

Maybe 'do unto others' 'wwjd' and 'hwaiatwj' are all helpful tools to make sure we don't give ourselves an excuse to think we are following God's will or thoughts, when in fact what we are doing contradicts and important part of his character, Love?