The “Holy Spirit Chills” and Chasing Emotions In Church

tavanilla asked a question:

Do the “Holy Spirit” chills really come from the Holy Spirit? I feel like Christianity nowadays is based purely on feelings. I myself am a victim of this; chasing after that “feeling”. I know a relationship with God is more than just that feeling, but I want to ask you, what is “that thing” the surpasses those chills the come out of nowhere?

Hey dear friend, I’ve also heard of the “Holy Spirit chills,” also known as “the Spirit is really moving” or “I got the Ghost” or “I got totally wrecked.” I honestly thought it was a fun, goofy way of saying that we’ve connected with God on an undistracted level, but some of us are also very serious about the Spirit changing our body temperature, instead of changing our hearts. (#JesusJuke)

The thing is, I have nothing at all against the emotional element of Christianity. It can certainly be over-emphasized to a fault, but we’re all emotional beings. We’re meant to feel. Denying emotions can kill us. Some of us are never bothered by injustice or sin or never taken up by beauty and glory. We need to be spoken to in this emotional place if we’re to be well-rounded individuals who can have joyous community. Feelings are not the point, but without feelings, it’s all pretty pointless.

When a Christian tells me, “I’m looking for more than emotional religion!” – I understand what they mean, but I also hesitate, because it tends to sound like spiritualized snobbery. I think Reformed Calvinists tend to be down on Charismatics and vice versa, because no one is trying to understand that we need all of emotions and intellect to make us whole.

Instead of being too hard on our feelings, it’s better to give a balanced picture of our human needs in relation to God. In addition to emotions –

Intellect: We need a coherent theology that can explain our purpose, our suffering, the point of life and fellowship and a profound knowledge of our overarching story, so we know where we’re going.

Psychology: We need to know how our mind and motives work. What drives our will-power? How do we break bad habits and start good ones? How do other people work so we have a common foundation of contact?

Spirit: We need a conscious awareness of the supernatural, of a spiritual realm and power and reality beyond this one, where there’s a Kingdom and our citizenship in another world. Our flesh can only do so much; there’s an untapped wellspring of divinity residing within us and uniting us by a thread with others. There is a creative spark that brings us to create, heal, restore, and bring heaven to earth.

Each of us are going to have a tendency to one or two of those elements. I tend to be more intellectual/psychological, and it took me a while to realize the value of emotions and the spiritual. It also explains why some Christians love certain styles of preaching while some totally don’t. We can’t turn our nose up on any of these. God wired us all to uniquely receive and perceive in our specific ways, and we need each other to fill the areas we lack.

None of these elements are necessarily goals we chase: but if we’re chasing after Christ, we get a better handle on ourselves and how each part can break down, and also be built up. It’s only in Christ, the maker of our humanity, that we find the wholeness we’re looking for.

– J.S.

10 thoughts on “The “Holy Spirit Chills” and Chasing Emotions In Church

  1. I have a friend that is very theological minded. He relates and connects with God through his mind. He’s always talking about the need for sound doctrine. I can’t argue with that. But I agree with you, we need to allow people to receive and connect with God through other elements because we are not just intellectual beings. We are also spiritual and emotional. I used to chase after the experience of feelings…those “Holy Ghost goosebumps”, as I call it cuz I thought that was what I needed. Now, I understand the important thing is to chase after Christ not feelings or experiences. I want to experience God though in my everyday life and maybe that is what I was really looking for. An experience with God, but not so I can say, “Wow. Wasn’t that fun?!”, as if I just got off a thrilling roller coaster ride at the amusement park. Now, I want to experience God to see His glory, to know Him, and allow Him to change me from glory to glory.

    As always, I appreciate your insight and wisdom, J.S.! BTW…I just bought your book “Christianese Dating”! Good stuff so far! Blessings!


    1. Hey dear friend, thanks for grabbing the book! Praying you’d be rocked by His grace.

      Right on. Chasing God to get God. I think the fun part is okay, too, so long as it’s not the only thing. We’re all so widely varied and rich and vibrant that we need every part of God, the emotional and intellectual and the whole deal, to really come alive. I get so tempted to fall into doctrinal soundness, which is a good thing, but is not sufficient on its own.


      1. You said it! “Chasing God to get God.” The fun thrill is the cherry on top to chasing God. And I agree, I can fall into the same thing with doctrinal soundness, but realize more that it isn’t “sufficient on its own”, as you say. At the end of the day, we’re only human, and our “theology” is not perfectly sound. It never will be cuz we are constantly learning who God really is and how He is fitting us for His purpose, which means we’re learning whatever “theology” we held onto before was not exactly true.


  2. The manifestations of strange but wonderful things that the Holy Spirit allows babies in faith and the unsaved to see, is a sign of something “man cannot do” and impressions them quickly toward God and a personal relationship with God which is the key to eventual ministry to be used of God!
    For myself with no longer a “focus” on spiritual manifestations, I still love to see this wonderful presence and evidence of God when it is manifest!
    Lord bring even a greater manifestation of healing and deliverance to be the undeniable evidence of your love, mercy, and grace in Jesus name amen!


    1. Yes! There’s certainly a supernatural, unexplainable element to how God moves through our stubborn hearts, and I’m all the more glad for it. Your prayer is my prayer!


  3. Seeking Christ; I guess in chasing or seeking Him the best way is to read His word. There is a question I have always asked myself, sometimes I fail to read the word but read other staff. And the question I ask myself is do you really love Christ?


  4. I have found myself in both extremes. I let my feelings/heart rule me and I found myself in a scary place spiritually. The manifestations that I thought would bring me closer to God, actually brought oppression and the demonic. Then to escape I ran to good theology but was scared to death of silly things like Hillsong music. I didn’t know what real faith looked like and I jumped at anything that appeared to be similar to the word of faith movement/ charismatic movement/ new age/ Kundalini. It has taken years for me to find a balanced place. Finally sound doctrine and a joyful faith meet. I’m still not comfortable sharing my experience on my blog or with people I know still in the movements. I’ve got a sound knowledge of it Biblically and through experience and research. But still I feel too bruised to put it down in coherent thought…..afraid if confronted I’ll throw up my hands and stay silent or worse go overboard and drive someone away. Surely my pain should be used to help others though. I just don’t know when I’ll be ready, as selfish as that seems. Thanks again for another thought provoking post, bro! God bless 🙂


    1. Hi Amber! I’m reminded of what Matt Chandler said: “Our church swings between God’s love and God’s law every week, we might get it right about three days of the year.” I think balance is tough. We’ll probably never get it completely right (when do we ever?). I think that’s the part about trusting God with who we are and who He is, resting in that place of content, yet never getting complacent. Good to hear from you again always!!

      Liked by 1 person

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