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.

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.

 

NEW IDEAS ON SERITONIN WASTAGE

To review, we use up our calming serotonin faster than we can replace it by:

  1. Circling on things we can’t change
  2. By making things bigger than they need to be
  3. Suppressing things we should look at,

Solution: Cast our cares on Him and move on.

The other day, I was talking to a friend and realized that there were a couple other ways we waste calming chemical in our heads.

Once we accept that we are powerless and can’t change something, then we move on to Resenting. We review the details of the problem, pointing out how unfair it all is. We wallow in the “if only”s and the “why me?”s.

We resent

  • Ourselves for not being able to handle everything
  • Others for not co-operating
  • Ultimately God for allowing it.

Sooner or later we will realize this leads nowhere, but, then accepting that we can’t fix it and there is no point to resenting, we:

  • Hop to another problem  and then to another.

It is as if we are addicted to observing and reviewing negatives.

The brain can’t support constant negatives. Hopping problems is just as draining as circling on the same one, but a little harder to feel the error of.

When I am talking with someone in this state, I keep asking them what I have come to believe is the most important question in mental health,

“So what are you supposed to do about that right now?”

“They then give me the “yes but, I can’t. But, it is a problem. And it is bad. And it is unfair”, OR they say, ” Well, here’s another problem!”

The way out? Remember your tool to say THANKS for this problem that I can’t fix! HELP me let go, SHOW ME what you want me to focus on instead.

HEART FEELING

Genesis 42:28
And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart FAILED them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us? Genesis 45:26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart FAINTED, for he believed them not .  Leviticus 26:16 I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause SORROW of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.

MORE ON BURNOUT

First, on a personal note, I pointed out that all caring godly people hit bottom and burnout sooner or later. I always have admired my dad for his faithful following of the Lord and service to the kingdom. He shared with me that there was a time not too long ago when he felt burned out. I know that about 6 years ago I was pretty depressed. I felt that, based on how my children were doing, I was a complete failure as a parent. The church did not want anything that I had to offer. Work just wanted a pill pusher, not a counselor, my back was always hurting. Whatever, I started to feel sorry for myself and could relate to Jonah, Moses, and Elijah, “God why don’t you just take me?” I knew that suicide was not an option and even that felt like being trapped.  It felt that everyone wanted me only for what they could get from me and not for myself.

So what helped. I guess I just kept walking and decided that Jesus was enough even if I never accomplished great things or had lots of people want to hang out with me. I am doing better at keeping my focus on the fulfillment that must wait till I see Him face to face.

In my last blog, I said that there are three ways that we use up our serotonin and become burned out. This week I spotted a fourth. So let me review and elaborate. First we circle round and round on things we can’t control. Second we make mountains out of small stuff. (I covered two tools for dealing with these. 1. ask the question, “Is it my job right now to do something about the circling concern?”2. bring problems down to size by continually noting things God has helped me do, things that others have done well and things that are just plain positive.

Third is to suppress issues we should see’ accept the reality of, and move on.                                                                                                                          In regards to the present: we procrastinate, in regards to the past: we bury, in regards to the future: we stick our heads in the sand . ” I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it” I know that we are not to WORRY about tomorrow but it is OK to prepare and do today things that are relevant to tomorrow.Proverbs 22:3A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Don’t procrastinate. My daughter Cheri is wise beyond my years. A while ago I was thrilled to have the chance to teach a sunday school class. I’ve been going to this church for over a year and finally had a chance to contribute something out of my God design. I prepared well and thought I did a good job and was excited about continued oportunity to give to my brethren. The next week pastor called and said to Lois, “Have Verle bring back the teachers manual we won’t need him to teach again.” Being the fagile person I am, I was feeling hurt and was going to take the rest of the week to build up to asking pastor what I’d done wrong. That would have used up enormous amounts of serotonin to suppress my feeling, gotten in the way of performing well at work and then I would have wound up dealing with a bigger problem come sunday. Cheri encouraged me to check with pastor and not procrastinate. I called him and he was just thinking that I was a busy doctor and he’d appreciated my help and found someone else to cover.

Next blog I’ll cover the fourth way I squander my serotonin. Meanwhile let’s let go of, fussing with things we can’t control, let’s  find positives three times a day and not suppress issues.

A word of caution: before opening up memories of past abuse. you must be prepared to bring healing truth into the memory and it is wise to have a pastor or counselor help you. If you just uncover things and get agitated and stop thinking about them. they will go back into your memory more poisonous then they were.

COMMENTS ON CHRISTMAS MEDITATION

The monkey story reminds me on how people like to go swimming, but only put their feet in, they don’t want to get wet even though they enjoy dancing in the rain.
 “they enjoy the fun worship but are terrified they would drown if they gave themselves over to fully trustin and being fully immersed in Jesus” (quote by myself Verle Bell).
 If only they would get in they then would truly know what it means to fully enjoy the water.
At times in our christian lives we want to have that fullness of Christ in relationship, but we only put part of our body into the water not our full selves. We make limitations/ barriers on ourselves to safeguard ourselves so that we do not get hurt.
 “Can you believe that we fear that God, having given us His Son would not also with Him freely give us all things? That God would rob us of our identity after He so brilliantly crafted us? That He somehow intends our hurt? That we would be better at safeguarding ourselves?” (quotes be Verle)
 If only we would only put our full trust in Him, then we would become the person He made us to be.
   Paul stepped out and got into the “water”. If he had held back, feeling unworthy as the Chief of Sinners, what kind of witness would he have been? He knew in the process that there may be things he would not enjoy; mostly though, he knew that in the outcome he would bring glory to, and have a close Relationship with, Christ and the Father. 
    I like the fact that you tied everything together in the main point, WE WERE GIVEN A GIFT THAT WE HAVE NOT FULLY OPENED.

 The main question we have to ask ourselves is when and how are we going to open it? Today is the day of salvation and today ought to be the day that we rip the rest of the wrapping off and enjoy the gift fully.

By Danny Ray Sturgill Lois and Verle’s son in law and a youth minister.