At The Movies: INSIDE OUT

At The Movies

April 03, 2016

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Rachel Billups

Emotions - who needs them? Why can't we just feel JOY all the time? 

Join us this weekend in worship as a girl named Riley and a colorful cast of feelings demonstrate the powerful truth Jesus taught long ago: our emotions are God's gift for life to the full. 

At The Movies: INSIDE OUT

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Message Map


John 16:16-23


STOP: denying your  emotions

  •    Mark 3:5
  •    Mark 8:11
  •    John 11:35
  •    Luke 22:44
  •    Luke 10:21


BE PRESENT: to all your emotions


EMBRACE: the paradox of life

  •   Mark 12:30-31


See this week’s REFOCUS questions for deeper reflection.

Sermon Questions


Questions to go Deeper

Emotions – who needs them? Why can’t we just feel JOY all the time? Jesus taught us a powerful truth: all emotions are a gift from God. Let this week’s scripture guide you to be present to your everyday emotions.  Daily devotionals that accompany each day's reading are also available on Facebook. They are created by a great Ginghamsburg unpaid servant team. You do not have to be a Facebook user to access them. View here.
MONDAY: Mark 12: 28-34 
How are you loving God with your mind and heart? What about your neighbor? Do you have emotional barriers to loving God and others? 
TUESDAY: Mark 3:1-6 
Who is the focus of Jesus’ anger? Why is he angry? Who or what is the focus of your anger? Name your anger. 
WEDNESDAY: Mark 8: 1-11
Distrust points to a deeper spiritual reality—a lack of understanding or even a lack of justice. Have you ever been disgusted with a situation? What was the deeper spiritual reality underneath your emotion?  
Have you ever lost someone you love? How did you respond—grief, anger, sadness and/or all of the above? What or who are you grieving right now? Share your sadness and grief with someone you know. 
FRIDAY: Luke 22:39-46
Jesus, filled with fear and anxiety, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane.
How did Jesus physically and emotionally respond to fear? How do you respond to fear?
SATURDAY: Luke 10:17-24
There were joy-filled moments in Jesus’ life and ministry. Name a few of your joy–filled moments. Share those moments with a friend, post them on Facebook or write them in a place that you can see them all week and celebrate. 
SUNDAY: John 16:16-24
What was Jesus trying to teach the disciples about emotion? How did this teaching help them? How does Jesus’ teaching help you navigate life’s toughest turns and transitions?   

Sermon Transcript

At the Movies: Inside Out
Pastor Rachel Billups

John 16: 16-23

Today’s movie begins inside the brain of an 11-year-old little girl named Riley (Show video clip).

Riley has experienced the trauma of transition at an age where transition is not easy—her family has moved from Minnesota to San Francisco. Riley has to trade winters on the ice playing hockey for a row house with absolutely no yard and no hope of ice anywhere. It’s not an easy move, for her mom, for her dad or for Riley. But soon after the movie begins, Riley’s mom reminds her that in the middle of all of this stress and family chaos, “You’ve stayed our happy girl. And if you and I can just keep smiling that would really help dad out?” Although mom is attempting to HELP with this one statement, she’s asked Riley to stuff her emotions—to not feel what she is feeling.    

Don’t think for a moment that Inside Out is a mere kids film—because here’s the truth—many of us whether we are 25, 35, 55 or even 75 on the outside – emotionally we are stuck somewhere around 10 or 11 on the inside. Maybe you had to move when you were young or someone you loved died or even something awful happened to you—and when it did, you stuffed the emotion and it left you stuck. So when life takes a turn, we react with one emotion - in our anger throwing temper tantrums, living in a state of fear, overwhelmed with sadness or allow joy to dominate and micro manage every single event that we experience.  

Emotions are something we don’t talk a lot about in church — sometimes I think we give people the impression that emotions are bad or at least all the ones except joy — stuff anger, reject fear, disgust—who needs it, and sadness, well she’s to be avoided at all costs! But today we will discover that emotions are vital to growing in our relationship with God and one another—they matter, and they are God’s gift to us. How do we embrace the gift? 

Open your Bibles, pull out your message maps and turn with me to John 16. Jesus was hanging out with the disciples around a table — what turned out to be the Last Supper table. He’s giving them instructions, and although it’s clear in the gospel of John that Jesus was prepping his disciples for his death and resurrection — the disciples don’t get it. They have questions; they are confused. It’s like moving from Minnesota to San Francisco, and you want to be excited but deep down you’re very, very sad.

So Jesus says, "Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.  In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (John 16: 19b-24 NIV). 

Those first followers of Jesus are getting ready to step into one of the darkest moments of their lives. So what does Jesus talk about? Emotions - SADNESS - grief and mourning and BUT also JOY—rejoicing in strange circumstances. Who knew that 2,000 years later, Pixar was going to pick up on what Jesus was attempting to teach us all along—that emotions when partnered together (sadness and joy) give God space in our hearts and in our heads to help us navigate some of life’s darkest turns. 

And so today we want to glean everything we can from this insightful movie and most of all the emotional genius of Jesus himself. Let’s explore some basic truths to put into practice.

First, stop denying your emotions. We’ve got to quit attempting to micro manage your life with joy. Confession... when I first watched this movie, I was rooting for Joy. I didn’t see anything wrong with attempting to make all of Riley’s experiences happy experiences. But that’s because I’ve bought a lie. You and I - we’ve been sold a lie; the lie that we are suppose to be happy all the time.

But to reject the other emotions—anger, sadness, disgust and fear is to reject gifts from God. Look at Jesus fully God, yes, but also fully human, this perfect, sinless, God man embraced all emotions, accepted all God’s gifts. 

  • Mark 3:5- Anger—Jesus is arguing again with the religious elite about the rules of the Sabbath and the Bible tell us that Jesus, “look around at them with anger, and deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts.”
  • Mark 8:11—after Jesus has just fed 4000 people those same religious folk ask Jesus for a sign and in his disgust Jesus says, “Why does this generation ask for a sign?  Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it?” (Mark 8: 12 NIV). 
  • John 11:35—Sadness, Jesus is standing at the tomb of one of his closest friends and the Bible tells us that, “Jesus wept.”  This isn’t just tear streaming down the face—this is ugly cry!
  • Luke 22:44—Fear Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and he is so afraid, full of fear and anxiety that the bible says, “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
  • Luke 10:21—Jesus sends out his disciples and the Bible tells us that Jesus is filled with Joy through the Holy Spirit. 

Anger, disgust, sadness, fear, and joy—they are all there. Jesus embraces them all, so when we DENY our emotion or try to manipulate them into something they are not we are denying a gift of God. At the least we are attempting to control our own lives, BUT at it’s root is PRIDE, “I can fix this, I’ve got this, I can save myself." When we deny our emotions we deny our dependence on God. 

So what do we do? How do we change?  Be present to all our emotions—crap, she’s going to talk about feelings.  Turn to your neighbor and say, “How are you feeling?” The over sharers in the room got really excited, but for the rest of us; we just got a little sick to our stomach’s. But emotions, feelings—are a vital part of our faith in Jesus. Pastor and author, Peter Scazzero in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality reminds us “emotional health and spiritual maturity are inseparable” (12). You can’t expect to grow as a follow of Jesus—if you are stuck in emotional childhood. 

Today I’ve invited an expert to join me, John Jung that Director of Ginghamsburg’s Counseling Center, New Creation Counseling. John’s been a part of Ginghamsburg since 1990 and on staff 1995, to help talk with us a little about emotional health.  Let’s welcome John.

Self Awareness
Overlapping Health—Mind, Body, and Spirit
Tired in all three

You can’t grow in your relationship with God or others if you aren’t present to your real emotions. So what do we do?  Take practical steps, for some it means journaling writing it out.  On the back of your Message Maps are refocus questions. This week we are going to read through scripture to help us name our emotions.  For others it’s about getting into a group that is safe space, and whether that is a life group, accountability, group or even a support group. It’s other people that you need. Never forget we have a whole team of professional counselors and psychiatrists at New Creation Counseling—it’s a ministry of Ginghamsburg Church that is available to all of us. 

Brothers and sisters, I believe that we’ve screwed some people up or even ourselves emotionally, by intentionally or unintentionally asking people to stuff their emotions, don’t feel, don’t express, don’t be angry, or sad, or disgusted—just simply put on a happy face.  There is something cleansing, healing about bring to surface, letting out those emotions within. It’s the only way to experience wholeness and healing. Be present to all your emotions. 

Just like JOY in the movie, Inside Out—Jesus was attempting to teach his disciples how to embrace the paradox of life.  Let’s go back to John 16: 20, “You will grief, but your grief will turn into joy.”  (Show movie clip - Sad memory turned happy). Is there Joy, yes, but there also is sadness. Both important—both a gift of God—what we call grace. There gathered around that table, Jesus was teaching his disciples that the road to Joy is paved through sadness. There is no Easter Sunday without pain of the cross—brokenness, pain, grief, mourning, sadness, is as important to our emotional well being as joy, happiness, laughter, and contentment. Most of us have experienced pain, but also Joy.  So think with me for a moment—when did you experience sadness that turned to Joy?  Maybe the birth of a child, or even after losing someone you loved.  Could it be because of a transition in life, career or even relationship?  When you look back you realize that Joy only came through sadness and pain. 

Brothers and sisters, I don’t know about you, but I sometimes don’t want to hear that, I certainly don’t want to embrace it, it’s just so much easier to deny-to stuff my emotion - it than to actually live through it. Why because living through it, embracing it, being present in the moment takes time. And frankly for most of us in this room or watching on line—the pace our lives robs us of the time we need to tend to our emotional health. Peter Scazzero realized this when he said, “it takes time—lots of it—to feel, to grieve, to listen, to reflect, to be mindful of what is going on around us and in us, to live and not simply exist, and to love well” (51).  Was that not what Jesus was attempting to teach his disciples and us - to love well.  “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with al your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength... Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12: 30-31 NIV).  

By the end of the movie you realize that transition, change, emotional chaos are all a part of growing up, of becoming who we are intended to become. By the end of the movie, Joy’s not micromanaging—there is space at the control panel for all emotions. And Riley’s core memories are now multicolored.  She has embraced all of God’s gifts (Show movie clip).

Riley has grown from the inside out. Will you? Today we too gather around Jesus’ table. And Jesus reminds us each time of the paradox of life—there is no joy without sadness, there is no Resurrection without the pain of the cross.  Knowing that we would need a regular reminder, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke the bread, gave it to his disciples and said, “Take eat this is my body broken for you.” And when the Supper was nearly over he took a cup gave thanks to God and gave it to his disciples and said, “Drink from this all of you, this if for the forgiveness of your sin.” Jesus was telling his disciples and us that healing and redemption come through brokenness!  

Let’s pray. Jesus you are present to all the emotions that we experience everyday of our lives.  You didn’t stuff them or deny them, but embraced them as they were and as they came your way.  Pour out your Holy Spirit on us to free our minds and hearts—help us to see healthy emotions as not a sign of weakness, but as a sign of your healing strength.  We pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen. 

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