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.

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.

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THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT!

You know that I have always been excited about the power of words to help people. What is true? What works?

One of the puzzles over the years have been people who are great at memorizing the ruth and spotting it’s practical application for others and unable to use it themselves. Patients with the diagnoses of e personality disorder are awesome  co-therapists and cal memorize the  and see how it applies  to others and share it in ways that bless others bt turn right around and ignore the truth so much that they are trying to kill themselves and running for all or life’s challenges and even success. Anti social personality disorder people can fake the truth so well that they convince you that they are genuine and really love the Lord and can be trusted. I was recently conned by a couple who were so seemingly genuine and needy that i still like them and wish I could believe that somehow I was mistaken in my perception that they ripped me off. The Bible teacher that contributed most to my practical understanding of using God’s truth for doctrine for reproof for correction for instruction in righteousness, wound up being thrown out of ministry for having sex with young girls he was supposed to be mentoring. I knew of an Army chaplain who quoted scripture so well he could convince his victims to have “godly” sex with him.

YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE! What a promise! So why doesn’t knowing the truth well enough to repeat it, teach in and use it to help or con others not set these people free?

Well, I don’t pretend to KNOW the answer, but you know me by now, I always have an opinion but want you to ponder this puzzle before I share my thoughts. The sobering truth is you and I must be careful that our own KNOWLEDGE  goes beyond what they did if we want to be free.

The clue lays in Jesus’ words “I AM THE TRUTH!”  It is all about ongoing relationship with Jesus. If you know Him, really know Him, HE will set you free!

This word know is interesting. It involves, “In all you do seek to know Him better and he will direct your paths.” It is knowledge by experience, the kind of knowledge I mean when I say that I know Lois after being married to her for 45 years. (Wow that sound old!) Why do you read Jesus’ love letter and loving advice column to you? (the Bible) So you can brag to others about how much you know the book or so you can know the author? Do you read it so that you can say “Sure God’s ways work for others but not for me so someone somewhere has to fix me I just can’t do my part; I’m trying and it just doesn’t work.”? Do you read it so that you can look godly and get people to like you or so that you can use them.

FREEDOM comes from only caring about Jesus, talking to him without ceasing,letting him comfort you and assure you of his unlosable love, fearing only the pain you might cause his loving heart, longing only for his wisdom his peace, talking like an infatuated high schooler to everyone who will listen only about Him. Then there will be nothing significant that you can lose, nothing to fear. “They were their whole lives in bondage because they feared death.” For to me, to die is gain, and the life that I now live down here, I live by the strength of his faith in his own ability to finish what he starts despite the feeble flesh he has in me to work with. He loves me now and will present me to himself a lovely bride without wrinkle or blemish!

THE TRUTH THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH                 =                      JESUS ALL OF JESUS AND NOTHING BUT JESUS!

HELPING PEOPLE HELP YOU

A new friend recently asked me to cover the elements of helping others help us so I’ve polished up this former discussion and hope it will help her and be a good reminder to you. We all hate to be a burden, so we try to be strong and tough it out ourselves. We are terrified that we will be rejected, that we will take a risk and reach out and be judged or, even worse, ignored. However every command in the new testament is given in the plural and we are to bear one another’s burdens. How are we to do that if no one ever shares what their burden is? There are some basic rules, which if followed, will cause others to be blessed by our sharing.

First let them know what you are looking for from them. Let them know this before you start sharing all the details. That way they can organize all the information around the task they have been given and it won’t overwhelm them.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS IT IS REASONABLE TO ASK OF OTHERS?

  • Ask for a hug, for a listening ear, “I don’t want you to do anything but it helps lessen the load and give me perspective just to share with someone, “
  • Ask for accountability” I plan to do this , but I tend to wimp out and it will help me to know that you will be holding me accountable.”
  • Tell them that you will share your situation and wonder if they have ever dealt with anything similar and what worked for them.
  • Tell them that you will be sharing what you plan to do and would appreciate feedback as to the godliness and practicality of your plan.
  • Tell them that you plan to appeal or apologize and would like to practice with the listener and get feedback before trying it out on the intended person.
  • Ask them to stand with you to pray with and for you.

Mostly and always we need to stop and remind ourselves and the friend that the outcome belongs to God and that we need his strength to proceed. We do this by stopping with the friend and asking them to pray together with you about the situation. You might even suggest doing a Bible study to find out specifically what the word of God says on the subject.

When they give you an idea:

  • check to see if you understood it correctly
  • do all in your power to use the idea
  • be able to report back as to the usefulness of it and how much it helped

Then they will be encouraged to give you more support in the future.

We are actually more of a burden when we don’t share with those close to us what we are going through. If they know that we will share, then they can be at peace if we are not currently sharing.

We also need to share our joys and growth and not just problems, and let them know that we enjoy their participation in our lives even when there is no problem to solve.

WHAT NOT TO ASK SOMEONE ELSE TO DO FOR YOU:

1.What you don’t want to ask is for them to tell you what to do. You must take the risk first as to what you think might work and then ask for feedback. Otherwise they will expect the dreaded YES BUT! And will not offer their valuable ideas just to let you shoot them down.

2. Don’t ask others to do your work for you. If they do, it will wear them out and you will become weaker and dependant. Then, if they quit, you will find yourself high and dry and angry at them for their help and without godly gratitude for what they have done.

3. Don’t ask others to agree that “YOU THINK THAT I AM RIGHT AND THE OTHER PERSON IS WRONG, RIGHT?” You may ask for prayer and support but until they have the chance to listen to the other persons side it is damaging for you to expect them to take sides.

IT IS I!!!

Our church did an awesome job of putting on a passion play for Easter. The key thing emphasized was the question “Is it I?” Having asked this they all went on to abandon Jesus. John was so focussed on relationship that he did the best and returned to follow the Lord through most of the process and was there for Jesus to give him, from the cross, the responsibility for Mary.

They should have said, “Given all that I know about myself from being in Jesus’ presence for 3 years, SURELY IT MUST BE I WHO WOULD BETRAY HIM!”

Remember my suggestion that the word of God can not be read usefully unless, when it says we should do something, we conclude that we are probably not doing it; and when it tells us to not do something we conclude that we are probably doing it.

THERE IS NO GODLINESS WITHOUT A GROWING SENSE THAT “I, YES I, NO ONE ELSE BUT I AM THE CHIEF OF SINNERS!

And so let a man examine himself and so partake of communion. Are you doing well enough on the surface to believe that there are lots of worse people? Then, Like D.L. MOODY you should say “that is I only I’d be worse except for the grace of God” How can we boast as if anything we have is not given to us?

I had a pastor listen to all my tapes, and the only theological fault he could find was in my emphasis that all of us need to declare loudly, along with the apostle Paul, “This is a faithful saying ane worthy of all acceptation, than Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I, yes I, no one else but I am the chief! He really thought that the apostle was worse than Dr. Bell! I hope that my tombstone will read CHIEF OF SINNERS/FRIEND OF GOD!

My brother and his wife help young would-be missionary candidates prepare for launching into “full time ministry” One of their greatest flaws, the candidates that is, is to think that because they at THE CALLED therefore whatever they think feel or do must be godly. They stop examining themselves and stop taking feedback and stop growing and soon the God who called them can’t use them.Pastors and church leaders often fall into the same pit.

I grew up in a church where members were so eager to “arrive” at a position where they no longer needed to grow or struggle with sin that they simply declared themselves to have arrived and quit growing. Needless to say the church has not grown in 80 years, has abandoned its drive for holiness and tries to look good on the mission field by buying lies about how well they are doing.

Mosses was called dramatically at the burning bush , gathered him wife and kids and headed for full time ministry. God then stopped him and offered to strike him dead because he had not circumcised him sons. Aaron’s boys offered incense to worship God that was more interesting and which they liked better and God struck them dead and told Aaron not to morn. Annanias and Sapharia  gave a lot of money to the church and were struck dead because they pretended it was more. The early church gathered for communion and didn’t examine themselves and died like flies.

Oh brother and sister, read the word and pray and talk with fellow believers with a constant assurance that IT IS I and rejoice in feedback and spankings and anything that leads to growth. Do not expect to arrive or your arrival will be the end of your growth or usefulness to God. Two things should increase as you go, and they will produce ever increasing humility gratitude and usefulness 1. humble awareness that in you apart for God dwells no good thing 2. that you are not apart from God and can do all things through Him!

GETTING RID OF THE DARK

A sister in Christ writes: “I have so many character flaws that I am aware of  more now . I am trying to work on them slowly. Not so easy. One is negativity. Another is trust which I haven’t started on yet. Want to overcome the negative the best I can first. “I have many, many, flaws, as we all do. But I always seem to see my depression and anxiety, which really doesn’t qualify as a character flaw, as my worst offender. But I see it as what makes my family’s life harder, and what makes for financial strain”

VERLE: The first thing that strikes me as I read your comment, is a feeling of exhaustion just thinking of trying to not be negative and to try to trust and to try to not worry and to try to not be depressed.

Remember there are only two religions: the religion of BE GOOD AND YOU WILL BE REWARDED (even atheism falls into this religion) and the religion of YOU’LL NEVER MANAGE TO BE GOOD ENOUGH FOR GOD TO OWE YOU ANYTHING–BUT IT’S OK– BECAUSE OF JESUS THERE IS GRACE.

Even when you have accepted salvation from your sins by trusting in the FINISHED work of Jesus (He is the worker NOT YOU-quit trying to rip off his job or, ungratefully, trying to provide what he has already provided(strength,worth, security)-he really likes his job and will not help you take it from him, he gives no grace for you to succeed apart from him.)   Even then, it is important to continue to trust him for strength moment by moment. The same thing that saves you keeps and secures you.

Galatians 3:1-3 (KJV) O foolish CHRISTIAN, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?Are ye so foolish? HAVING BEGUN in the Spirit, are ye NOW MADE PERFECT by the flesh? (Yea, I know, we are that foolish)

Watchman Nee was discouraged because he read the verse that we should recon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God. Every morning he would get up and TRY TRY TRY  to act dead to sin and alive to God. (Just as you are trying to not worry not be depressed not be negative and not mistrust) He took 40 days and 40 nights to fast and pray and couldn’t figure it out so he gave up and was eating breakfast when the Holy Spirit asked him if he wanted the answer. The Spirit said, “You can’t kill dead people.” Watchman pondered this and applied it this way: (as I suggest you do too) Each morning he thanked God that, in Christ, he was ALREADY dead to sin(although it didn’t feel like it) and was ALREADY alive to God. He pictured “what manner of person ought I then to be?” (If you have trouble picturing how dead people respond to sin, visit a morgue, if you have trouble picturing how alive people respond to life and God watch a loved child with their parents.) Then all day he would yield his body parts according to a GROWING picture of deadness and aliveness. He  stopped TRYING so hard and rested all day long moving his body members according to a growing picture of deadness and aliveness, and at the end of the day he committed the day to the Lord and went peacefully to sleep.

YOU CAN’T PUSH OUT DARKNESS BY STRUGGLING BUT BY LIVING IN THE LORD’S LIGHT.

Thank Him for your struggles with anxiety, depression, negativity, and mistrust that remind you of why you needed salvation and why you need Him now. Ask Him to help you improve your picture of inner love joy peace patience gentleness godliness self control which ARE ALREADY YOURS as gifts from the Holy Spirit. Practice acting in what you already have and who you already are. At the  end of the day leave the results to God and sleep peacefully.