Check Your Heart with Jonathan Edwards

Resolution 60. Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination. July 4, and 13, 1723.

I’ve found this resolution of Jonathan Edwards to be incredibly helpful. Our feelings are typically the manifestation of something that’s going on in our heart. If I’m feeling depressed or anxious, it’s usually because I’m craving something or believing something wrong about God.

A few months ago, Bob Kauflin asked me to do the “announcements” at Sovereign Grace Ministries’ Worship God 08 conference, which really meant I was to attempt to entertain everyone with some humorous comments before the main session speakers.

Ever been asked to be funny in front of others?

Friend: “Come on Mark, do your Bob Dylan imitation for everybody. Mark does this great Bob Dylan imitation. Have you ever heard him? It’s hilarious.”

Me: “No, it’s really not that good…”

Friend: “Are you kidding? It’s incredible. Come on Mark, do Bob Dylan.”

Me: “Honestly, it’s really not that good…”

Others: “Come on, Mark, let’s hear it. We want Mark, we want Mark….”

Me: “Oh, all right.” Clear throat. Begin singing in nasally tone: “Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me, I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to…”

Awkward silence, a cough.

Me: “See I told you it wasn’t funny!”

I’m always concerned my attempts at humor during the “announcements” will have a similar effect. Though I had run the announcements past my humor advisors (my sons Stephen and David and my wife Kristi) and they thought they’d get some laughs, during the times of corporate worship in the conference I found myself distracted and anxious.

So I prayed, “Lord, what’s going on in my heart? What am I craving? Why am I feeling anxious?”

God graciously revealed to me that I was craving the approval of man (flip side of the fear of man). I wanted everybody to think I was funny. I was more concerned about myself and what everyone would think of me than seeking to glorify God by serving his people. Also, I was not trusting Jesus to help me: unbelief. As I confessed my unbelief and selfish craving of man’s approval, Jesus brought a measure of peace to my heart and I was able to enjoy worship, though I still had to continue battling to focus on Christ.

So the next time you find your feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when you are conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I would encourage you to subject yourself to the strictest examination. Ask the Lord what you are craving that is driving your feelings and ask yourself what you are believing about God at the moment.

photo by practicalowl

  • http://www.asacrificeofpraise.wordpress.com Emily

    wow. thank you for your humility. thanks also for sharing this resolution with us. its very helpful.

  • http://www.photosandquotes.blogspot.com YellerDaisies

    Wow! That’s really good…Thank you.

    It’s amazing how many times unbelief walks hand in hand with fear of man/approval from man, isn’t it?

  • http://www.judahupdate.blogspot.com Briana

    Thank you..in the middle of my day, after a phone call w/ my hubby, I am in need of the strictest examination of my own heart as it is not getting its way today. Thank you for this exhortation and the reminder that Christ stands ready to help us.
    And, thank you for humbly sharing from your own life.

  • http://www.wellspringsg.org Tim

    Mark, thanks for this post. I needed it.

  • Andrew Calvetti

    Your announcements were nothing less than darn funny, Mr. Altrogge.

  • Minna

    Thank you so much for posting. I’ve often wondered about this myself. What do I do with public speaking nerves? Where are they coming from?

    For me, I’ve realized that they come from fear of man/ wanting man’s approval as well. Giving testimony before the church, singing a solo- all of these are gifts from the Lord. When I get so nervous and afraid of what people will think, I don’t get to enjoy these opportunities for what they are- privileges, blessings, opportunities to serve the body. I’ve been praying to grow in this area. This post was so helpful for my soul!

    On a side note, I’ve been thinking that there’s a big difference between personal-funny and public-speaking-funny. I never know what will make a large group of people laugh. I kinda have a feel for what will make people laugh if I’m with them one-on-one, but have no gauge when it comes to a lot of them. Anytime I’m in front of a bunch of people, I find that they laugh at things that I didn’t think they would laugh at, and then there’s total silence at my attempts at being funny.

    I have to say, though, that I was at WorshipGod08 and I thought you were HILARIOUS. My favorite was your opening (the heroic theme/ music and then you standing there at the podium, looking, uh, less than heroic). :)

    So thank you for serving us at the conference! My husband and I were saying that all that you did could not have been easy, it was such an act of service to us attendees!

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Emily and Yeller, thanks for your encouragement.

    Yep, fear of man/craving approval/unbelief – seems like when you whack one on the head, the other one pops up…these are all regular temptations for me.

    Thanks Briana. Why is everybody so bent on keeping me from getting my own way? I can sure relate…

    Thanks Tim.

    Thanks Andrew – you know, your dad was really funny at Youth Camp. I never realized he was such a comedian.

    Thanks for your encouragement, Minna. I generally have a feel for what’s funny in a large group, since I preach almost weekly, but the worship conference was much larger than our church. In my church, I’m not so concerned about their approval, since I’ve known most of them for years and years, but the Worship Conference involved more “risk” of not being funny – which required more trusting Jesus, which I obviously was failing to do. It was helpful as I was praying to remind myself that Jesus loves his people and desires to give them laughter. The whole thing was a wonderful heart revealer.

  • http://racheldulaney.blogspot.com Rachel Dulaney

    That’s so encouraging that you would post this, because literally in the last 24 hours, I’ve come to same conclusion. I was wondering and wondering why it was that I was still choosing to sin and do the wrong thing when I KNEW the truth, and I finally realized I was sinning because I was basing my actions, thoughts, words, deeds, etc. on my emotions and feelings AT THE MOMENT rather than the truth I KNOW in the Bible is steady and everlasting. If every time we are stressed, sad, angry, lonely, guilt-ridden, tempted, impatient, doubtful we turn to the Word, we will find truth to set us outside ourselves, to set our eyes “not on the things which are seen, but on those which are unseen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal.” Thanks for the post!

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Rachel,

    Great comment. You hit the nail on the head – what are we going to believe – our feelings or the Word of God? Thanks.

  • Daniel Nah

    Mark,

    I was so blessed and encouraged by your announcements. In the midst of all the laughter, my heart was seriously ministered to by your willingness to serve us in this way, the humility of the leaders to be able to laugh at themselves, and your desire not to take yourself too seriously. THANK YOU for your service to us and for your willingness to go out on a limb for the body of Christ. This was my first Sovereign Grace conference and my life will never be the same. Heroic Worship!!!

    Dan

  • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Mark Altrogge

    Dan,

    Isn’t God good to give us all the gift of laughter and joy? Thanks for all your encouragement! I’m glad you were able to come to the conference.