READ THIS FIRST

I am told that the truths that I share sometimes come across a bit too curt. Not that the truths shouldn’t be firmly held, but when I share them verbally my tone and expression and responses to the listener allow me to share the truth and the balance of grace at the same time (please listen to some of my audios for examples).

Whatever today’s topic, the full balance always involves the the following sweet coatings on the sometimes distasteful pill of truth of:

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

1. You are not alone, Dr. Verle Bell joins you as the chief of sinners and in no position to judge your worth, dignity, security, future, or God’s ability to help you.

2. There is Hope!

3. If you are a saved child of God, you have worth, strength, and hope just because. You can’t lose it or increase it, you have them just because Jesus died for you and loves you.

4. There are no have to‘s for us but there are a lot of sure-would-be-nice‘s. These blogs are to help you grab ahold of all the sure-would-be-nice’s God has for you in the present.

5. If you never change, grow, fight the good fight, etc, You are still a winner, for we are more than conquerors- we forever remain in his love!

Stop to think, how many people have passed through this world without confessing with God that they are a sinner in need of salvation, asking for that salvation based on the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Since we have, as a result we are now immortals. The rest is just icing on the cake.

Now read on to get your share of the icing!

If you ask Him nicely, He might even let you lick out of the icing bowl, just as my Mom did when I helped her in the kitchen as a boy.

TOO TIRED TO TANGO?

A blog reader writes: “A missionary shared how the Lord used thyroid cancer to humble her.

She had been raised in the mission field, was bilingual, and felt that her mission field was in that country where she was raised to serve. She was “hot” for the The Lord used this major life change to convict her of her pride and to teach her to be content in His will. Lord. She loved the language and the people and the culture. When she graduated college in the United States she returned to her father’s house in the mission field to continue his work. She served in her church, a Christian missionary training facility, and the local churches doing training seminars or playing special music. She befriended non-natives who needed to have a friend to speak English to. She refused all offers of marriage until she met a man called to that special place. They were joyfully married and got established in their field. The Lord provided their support, housing, and even special things like a washer and dryer-not common in that country. She was very happy serving God.

Overnight, my friend’s life changed when her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. She and her family had to leave their country, vocation, and all their well made plans and possessions to relocate in the Unites States.  When the child was well, my friend was diagnosed with thyroid cancer which when treated  left her without the abundant energy she previously possessed. Now instead of being a busy missionary joyfully serving in churches and Christian schools, she was a home-maker with no help in the house other than her family and she suffered from severe fatigue. Also her missionary husband had to take a regular job. She lost her identity. She struggled to get that “fire” back.

She said that the Lord revealed to her that when she had been a big producer for the Lord she sometimes lacked patience with others who did not have her training, abilities, high energy or drive to serve. The Lord used this major life change to convict her of her pride and to teach her to be content in His will making her walk with God deeper and she learned to serve where God took her instead of where she planned,  in a deeper way, with more empathy for others.

Dr. Bell shared years ago that when it is easy to jump  up and go, there may not be any special reward in that. Love is proved most in doing for Jesus what costs us. Then he shared that when we are sick or clinically depressed, and we do the little that we can  even when we don’t feel like it, that God rewards “our feeble efforts”.  He said, “Just yield the parts of your body and take the next step-just one step at a time”. Those words have encouraged me and helped me to try when I didn’t feel like it, and the words of my missionary friend have helped me not to judge others in areas that I might excel at. It is really hard to overcome physical and emotional limitations, but so much easier when we think of the Lord using even these hard things for our good and to see others overcoming and not being ashamed to share their struggles.

PS: You might read Hudson Taylor’s spiritual secret for further insight into how one can love the Lord, His word, His ways, His people and still burn out and become judgmental of those who are “less spiritual” He had to return to England a broken man , get to the end of himself, stop trying to cause God’s purpose for his life to come true, get out of the way and let God build His church through Hudson’s yielded self. John Wesley felt too much purpose and strived to do God’s work and build His church and he returned from Georgia a broken man, got to the end of himself and then let God see what He could do through John’s yielded body members.  Let’s get sick and tired of striving and just yield ourselves to God tiredness, impulsivity, judgmentality and all and see if He can do anything with the pieces.                                   Your fellow traveler Verle

DON’T MAKE GOD PUKE 2

Pause and think as to what is going on when we are lukewarm. Remember that important Bible study tool FIGURE OUT HOW I LEND MY BODY MEMBERS SLAVES TO INIQUITY AND UNCLEANNESS AND GOD’S WAY WOULD BE PRETTY MUCH—THE OPPOSITE OF MY NATURAL RESPONSE. This is one of those tools I ask people to memorize and refine, please give consideration to adding it to your toolbox.

I was talking to an older woman the other day and she told a story of her grandmother’s wise advice. The lady was 10 at the time and still remembered and tried to apply the advice. Grandma had said, ” people who spend all their time worrying about a problem are just too lazy to spend their time doing something about it.” Lukewarm people sit in the back of the church and think that the have done their part and ask  “what’s the least I can get by with and still have eternal life as a reward? ” They sit in the front of the church and run all the  classes and are impressed with what they are able to dig out of the Word through their intelligence and they think,” I hope that’s enough and no one asks me to examine myself or go witnessing or spend hours in prayer.” OR “Lord, Lord have I not done much for you so you owe me one?”  They find fault with how others do things and think that is doing things themselves. They are going to TRY but never quite show up and then complain, “I’m trying the best that I can, isn’t that enough?”

The HOT for God folks are so in love with Jesus and being a channel for His love that though they feel inadequate they but bring their fish and loaves multiplier. They grab ahold of the little piece of life flowing past them and do the little they can to minister, learn, enjoy and savor it. They are so aware of their own need for growth they never have time to find fault and are endlessly patient with other’s struggles. They are so fixed on the Lord that they have cast all their care on him. They keep no record of what they have done for Jesus but glowingly share what He has done and is doing for them. They are sad when others fall. They never ask “What’s in it for me?” They are joyously planning good for others and keep walking because they do not seek and end to the adventure of going down this present path with Jesus. I Corinthians 13.

Ecclesiastes 9 :7-10 They let go of all but Jesus and learn to be content with much or little fame, power, ministry etc. for it is all His. Instead they drink and eat what God gives them with joy; They offer their effort to Jesus knowing He  will accept and delight in them, They take care of and appreciate their clothes and perfume. They live joyfully with their families, doing what they can with gusto remembering that there are wonderful opportunities to minister and comfort and build fellow strugglers that will be but for a brief time and then we go to Heaven. (And yes that will be cool too) Never forget that we are already immortal and this little blip of immortality has its own glory. Philippians 1 23 Paul says that He’d love to go and be with Jesus but for now staying here and letting Jesus use him to bless the church was even better.

DON’T MAKE GOD PUKE

God wants his people hot or cold. This lukewarm stuff is nauseating to Him and He wants to “spue” us out of his mouth, a nice way of saying he is disgusted with lukewarm. He’ll take a passionate David any day even if David is passionately messed up at times, over a person who sits in the back row at church and doesn’t cause trouble but doesn’t change the world. He’s looking for a Saul to turn into a Paul.

Well I’m needing a spark these days. I believe that God is helping me relate to suffering people by gifting me with chronic pain leading to poor sleep. My usual abundant energy is playing hide and seek. True I’ve only to wait to October till I get a new hip and,if all goes well, the pain will decrease and I’ll have more energy. I guess on this blogging thing that I had come to count on all that energy to tack it on top of all the other things that I do. Lately the Lord has been talking to me about seeking His face in regards to prioritizing and doing the blog when I am dogtired, because it is what He wants. When David went to worship God, the local farmer offered to give the king his oxen and the wood of the plow for the sacrifice and David said “NO why should I offer God that which cost me nothing. So I guess the real act of worship arises more out of doing this despite being tired and not out of the work itself. So pray for me as I seek to be more regular despite being more tired. I want to be HOT not so much in emotional or physical passion but HOT in dependence on Him.

I had a pastor friend who was depressed. He spent many hours trying to stitch together a sermon and then delivered it in a flat monotone due to little energy. The whole time he is thinking, “I shouldn’t be in the pulpit, God needs and deserves enthusiastic pastors to build His church.

At the end of the sermon, as was his habit, he asked those who wanted to pray for salvation or for personal growth to come forwards. Half the church came forwards and the other half knelt to pray where they were and God moved in the people. The pastor swore he heard the Lord say, ” And you thought you had something to do with it!”

So ask the Lord to make you HOT for obedience more than in just passion.

PS: Lois is now a bionic wife with a new pacemaker! She had gotten to where she was too weak to walk to the car and too unsafe to drive with up to 16 seconds without a heartbeat. Sick Sinus Syndrome they called it. She is feeling much better and healing well. Now she has to rebuild her muscles and stamina that have been weakened by disuse.

All my love to my brothers and sisters in Christ who are in chronic pain and chronic tiredness. Do the little you can. It doesn’t take many fish to feed the crowd when Jesus is in it.

PS next blog, Lord willing, On how to spot our lukewarm ways.

LIVING IN THE CHURCH AS A PERPETUAL MISFIT

“My problem is, having followed your  outline well, and with Christian friends who have then decided that I am, in fact, too much of a burden because my depression never goes away (2.5 years all-treatment-resistant and out of medications to try.) I have lost friends forever for this specific reason – that was the reason they gave me. Now I have lost trust in telling people the truth of my story and the help I may need, even just asking for non-specific prayer.
I’m fighting a losing battle and though I know the Ultimate Winner, I’m exhausted from the years of no relief.”

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The church has always been uncomfortable with emotional or mental illness. The first thing God wanted to say to man and have it written down and recorded for ever was “if some is suffering and depressed and even complaining about God, comfort them and don’t suggest that, if they were just as godly as you, they wouldn’t be suffering” JOB is the oldest book in the Bible.

Many of my patients find troubling comfort in listening to christian radio because they find teaching and worship and testimonies from people who have gone through the valley but are now on the mountain top–praise God! So the message is that godly people don’t suffer depression, or if they do it is temporary and leads to better testimonies. What about those who suffer longterm?

When I was a young doctor, our medications were far less helpful. I would look at a young person and tell them that the Elavil had a 40% chance of working and a 20 % chance of pooping out and a 100% chance of making them fat. We are better now at helping the depression but far worse at supporting those who do not respond and struggle with ongoing depression. If that is true about the medical field, it is even more true about the church which is great at worship, OK at teaching and poor at being real and supporting each other in the struggles of life. Whether pain, depression, job, or family, many struggles are longterm, even lifelong.

So what to suggest?

It is better to walk with the church, screwed up as it is, than to walk alone.

Also I suggest that you consider the ultimate act of worship. Now this act is radical and unreasonable from the world’s perspective,but I have personally witnessed it’s benefit in my own life and that of others.

1.Thank God for the struggle even for  depression.

2.Thank God that the battle is His and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to rest in Him despite the illness of depression.

3. Ask God to use your feeble efforts to bless others.

I recall one person who 1.finally responded to an antidepressant, 2.was discharged from the hospital, and 3. the government promptly pulled the medication off the market and 4.she relapsed and we had tried all the alternatives.—  Finally she said to the Lord, ” You don’t have to take away my depression I am even going to thank you for it, but please use my life to bless others.”— That week she was allowed to lead two friends to salvation and talk another friend out of getting a divorce and going to counseling instead. She called me in a panic. “Does that mean God will never cure me?” I told her that I could not answer that, but at least He was using her.

Another old lady from my church was almost blind, was lame, and constantly hallucinated old revival hymns. She kept asking God to heal her or take her home to heaven. I told her that if she kept that up she would live to 120. Elijah and others have asked God to just kill them and He never obliged. When she said, “Lord you don’t have to heal me but please help me to witness to the caregivers that enter my room-He did! Now with the first one God led us to a new approach that worked and with the second He let her minster for a few weeks then took her home.

It seems so me that when we submit to his sovereignty, telling God that He may fix me or give me grace,and thanking Him for the struggle; one of two things will happen   1. God will fix you so that you will have the energy to serve, or   2. He will give you sufficient Grace.

He did the former for me when I had my claustrophobia but the latter in regards to my never fitting into the church. I don’t know, but suspect that if he made me so that I fit in then I would no longer fit his plans for me.

WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE?

Do you remember what happened when a certain rich man invited the “proper” guests to the wedding

17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

18  AND THEY ALL WITH ONE CONSENT BEGAN TO MAKE EXCUSE. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

I was at church last night and stuck my foot in my mouth. The pastor had twice asked people to get up and move forward to sit together for better fellowship. NO ONE MOVED! I then responded to what I felt was the Spirit’s leading and overcoming my severe shyness, arose and pled with them. NO ONE MOVED! They even laughed at me till they realized that I was serious when I said that I believed that the Lord had revealed to me that sitting towards the back of the church seems small but reveals the severe lack of teamwork enthusiasm and fellowship that is destroying His church’s impact in the world. STILL NO ONE MOVED! So I had the audacity to ask three young men in the back row to explain to me their reasoning. They just shrugged their shoulders and DID NOT MOVE! One dear godly lady who is very involved and hospitable got up and said that her excuse was that she needed to leave unpredictably to the nursery and did not want to disturb people. The whole incident was painful to me. When I pastored a church in Chicago, it died because everyone had their sufficient excuse to sit in the back trusting God and others would fill the void.

I think that each one who finds their EXCUSE to avoid being real with each other thinks their EXCUSE is legitimate and that others will fill the need and besides it is just a little issue.

I was rebuked by an elder afterwards, because he correctly noted that pastor had not sanctioned my feedback and would never have “called out specific people” to explain their rebellion. In my defense, I am an eternal (if somewhat unrealistic) optimist and actually thought people just needed some prodding to move,to their benefit and the salvation of the church. When they didn’t I was genuinely puzzled.

Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?

Please, I bed you, be very careful with reasonable excuses to not get close to one another, “I’m just shy, maybe later, I do my part, etc.

Pr