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.

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.

BELL’S CHRISTMAS LETTER

OPEN YOUR PRESENT.     I recently heard a pastor encourage us to take the present we’ve had for 2000 years and open it and play with it, already!

Jesus bought us the gift of forgiveness of sins and power to do the opposite of our natural inclination.

Once a group of monkeys, raised in cages, was released to the wild. Their cages were put into a clearing, bananas were placed in the clearing to draw them out, and the gates to their cages were opened. The monkeys clung to the back of the cages in terror of the gift of freedom. Jesus bought our freedom to live abundantly, not so that we could sing about freedom and stay in our cages.

Remember the lady who, being defiled, chose to touch Jesus’ robe?   She was a profound theologian. Before Jesus, every time dirty touched clean-the dirty stayed dirty and the clean was defiled. She realized that when her dirtiness touched his clean-He would stay clean and she would be cleansed!

This had happened before in a one cell embryo. When the godhead merged with human genes, boy did it have some dirtiness to clean up! Jesus was now a descendant of Adam! The scriptures say in Hebrews 7:9,10 that we did what our ancestors did! Fortunately He was still fully God and His infinite purity overcame the enormous inherited sin and cleansed it. 2Corinthians 5:21 He who knew no sin BECAME SIN for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God.

Look at His first ancestors Adam and Eve and right down the line: rebelling against having to ask God the Father as to what is right and wrong, enticing others to join into our own rebellion, failing to set limits on other sinners because we don’t want their displeasure, blaming God for tempting us, blaming others for our behavior, not facing up to what we’ve done and trying to hide our sin. And that’s just Adam and Eve! If you continue down His line of ancestors you find: lying to protect yourself, talking others into lying, trying to gain God’s favor through deceiving relatives, adultery, murder, prostitution, judgmentality, favoritism, trusting self rather than God, pride, etc .etc.

Jesus took on all these sins and overcame them and then paid for the sins of the whole human race and stands ready tol produce not only our cleansing but empowerment to do the opposite.

He did the opposite. He did not think His own thoughts but only what the Father told him “not my will but thine”, He draws others into submission to His Father, He spoke out clearly against sin, He was always completely open and honest, never used relationships to others’ hurt, brought the dead to life, judged evil not personal worth or hope, was not a respecter of one person over another, and trusted His Fathers judgment in all things.

It’s Christmas-time to open your GIFT and delight in and revel in and act in the cleansing and power He bought for us. Don’t just sing about, drive it, play with it, wear it, and rest in it.

 

BELL NEWS: New granddaughter, Cheri and Michael Fields and their other 5 children are all delighting in the new little girl HOPE. She is nine months and thinks her grandfather is worth bouncing up and down for when she sees him-so pretty smart. Robert and Cathy are living in Wisconsin where she is a professor at the university, having earned her doctorate. Robert’s job appreciated him so much that they allow him to work for his Texas firm from Wisconsin. William is living in California and we hear from him about every three months in his struggle to find stability. Debra and Danny Sturgill are expecting their second child and their first one, Ray was born two months early. Lois was able to go to Columbus Ohio and sit in the neonatal intensive care unit and spell Debra until little Ray was well enough to go home. Deborah is having some difficulties with the new one and must lie around for a couple months. Not an easy task for her as she is always on the go. Mary and Jay Kumar are in Kalamazoo. They enjoyed a visit from his parents this summer, all the way from southern India. We enjoyed meeting them but communication was difficult. They liked American ice-cream so we enjoyed a walk to a local Coldstone ice-cream store and when Jay was there he interpreted.

Lois and I were told by our condo that they did not want renters anymore, so buy or get out. The Lord provided a small cottage a block from work and we have decided to sell the farm and live near work. I have severe arthritis in the right hip so the farm is impractical and Lois’ diabetes makes her anxious about retiring to the farm anyhow. Old age need its own special grace to handle change. I’m a little tired from the move and haven’t been keeping up on the posts. Please forgive me and stay tuned for more consistancy as things settle down.

The Lord also talked to me about putting the time that the hobby-farm would have taken, into improving my blog. Look for improvements in the blog and hopefully some audio and video work. I am even reading Blogging for Dummies to try to drag myself into the modern age.

Please check out LASTINGVICTORY.COM Any and all comments on the blog will be gratefully received.

Also check out Cheri’s blog CREATIONSCIENCE4KIDS.COM which is full of fascinating facts and ideas and aimed to equip young people to stand their ground with knowledge to defend the truth of scripture.

FURTHER RESPONSE TO CHRISTIANS AND SIN

Please forgive the additions,in bold type, I hope that you can see the struggle the apostle John and others have in trying to get us out of works and to stop being tense about being strong and perfect YET wanting us to have the blessing of living an obedient life by finding strength in Him to do so. 

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them, and hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. Which are given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That you may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. God’s truth will show you your sins, search you and find the anxious thoughts, divide asunder soul and spirit, then reprove, correct and go beyond that to equip you . My little children these things write we unto you,

that your joy may be full, and.that ye sin not. YES, YES, YES both are our heritage.

 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (Written to christians) But don’t hide your sins, instead, if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. No, it’s not OK to sin but, if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins. But it’s about relationship so confess and accept forgiveness and walk closer to the Lord. If you’ve sinned you must have taken your eyes off the Lord,and hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. It’s not about fixing yourself and paying for your sin so that you can be acceptable. It’s about abiding in Him and talking with him and bringing your focus back to Him. Then you too will walk on the water of ceasing to sin. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to,let Him live through us in order to, love one another. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me

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RESPONSE TO CHRISTIANS AND SIN

COMMENTER 1:It’s how we ask for forgiveness. Are we truly sorry (contrite), do we hate our sin, do we fight against it more every day? By faith in Christ we are justified (He looks upon us in love as if we had never sinned). By His Spirit we are sanctified (more and more we reflect His image by being good stewards of His gifts and blessings). When we live in the Vine we produce good fruit – and we will resist the devil and sin. Does that fit the question?

COMMENTER 2:God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: He makes saints out of sinners.
― The Journals of Kierkegaard
Yes God is an enabler! He enables me to resist sin and when I fall, to ask for His forgiveness.”

COMMENTER 3.I sin every day even with a thought.” I am sinful but I don’t think that my thoughts make me sinful. James 1: 14-15 says we are tempted and drawn away by our own lust. Thoughts will come to me but it is my choice to act/not act on the thought. If I reject the thought I have not sinned, rather I’ve had a victory.

VERLE: The apostle of love, JOHN struggled with this balance, as have christians through the years. On difficult discussions like this, I find analogies better than words and ideas. Let’s start with the kindest best father that you know and remember that if he,(being evil) can be good to his children–how much more would our father in heaven be kind and good to us his children?

At the very least a good father will not disown his children for struggling and struggling with their attitudes and behaviors. However when those attitudes and behaviors get in the way of a good relationship with him, or cause danger and damage to the loved child; he offers help that they “sin not”. He works to restore relationship and to heal damage and to lead beyond healing to equip them for all life situations.

Christians and sin

COMMENTER:” I really listened to this on grace. I was very good. I am going out to get a notebook and listen again.

Question.  I sin every day even with a thought. I don’t believe anyone is sinless free. We sin every day but God forgives us.  This I am having trouble with .

Sinless (how) do you yourself not have a thought that is sin or an action.

Do you just ask for forgiveness? This I’m not sure I agree with.

I am going to listen again it is great what you spoke of grace. But we are human and God knows this, we just have to ask for forgiveness.”

VERLE: OK my friends, let’s have some thoughts from you. Are you sinless? If not is it OK for God to forgive you? Is He co-dependant and an enabler if He loves screwed up people?

I was moderating a group a few years ago which contained a young man who spent all his time building his muscles and practicing kick-boxing. He kept wanting my opinion and I would redirect him to asking the group first and then I promised to add my thoughts afterwards. He saw this as a putdown and flew into a rage and tried to kill me. The Lord gave me grace, and enough wind, to talk to him as he was strangling me and remind him that God did love him and so did I and he might want to pick another approach. He left off killing me and yelled, “Now see what you made me do!” and stormed out.

So, here I go again and I’m asking the “group” out there in blogland to try to answer the above question and I will post your thoughts and will probably have a few of my own. Continue reading

WHAT TO DO WITH MY WORST CHARACTER FLAWS?

Have you ever wished that God would just take away one of your problem reactions to life and make it easier for you to be good?

Do you struggle with anger, constantly finding fault with what everyone around you does? Does it happen as naturally as “falling of a log”? Do you automatically excuse others and let them off the hook for their improper choices? Why can’t we find balance? Do you struggle with sexual lust, or a drive to get others to do things your way. Do you jump in and help and then get mad at those who don’t? Have you heard that hard work never killed anyone, but you aren’t going to take the risk to find out? Do you work so much that your life is out of balance and then get angry at all those lazy bums? Do you only feel happy if you are eating more than you should, or do you only feel clean and in control if you can go another day without eating, etc. etc. etc?

We are all out of balance.                                Either are too comfortable with our reactions: or want them to be taken away magically.

Since these extremes are NATURAL then what should we do? Remember the rule?  Take my natural response and DO THE OPPOSITE and the result will be close to God’s way. We are so thoroughly messed up that we get it exactly wrong each time

So what is the opposite? The opposite of being comfortable and justifying my responses is not to beat myself up and look for a magic cure. The truth is that our struggles represent a good quality that God has designed into us for His glory and the welfare of others. So to just have it taken away would leave us less useful and to resent the creativity of the creator. To say, as one man I knew, “Well, if God didn’t want me to indulge in pornography, why did He make me so sexy?” is no better than resenting our struggle.

We must thank God for his design and hate the misuse of it, keep our eyes on the example of Jesus, get the accountability and support from the Holy Spirit, the church, the Bible: in order to allow God to transform the struggle into our number one strength and usefulness. Of course this requires humility and the refusal to jump to the conclusion that we are totally right or totally wrong. Balance is not a set of fixed rules but is dynamic and arises out of relationship.

I remember a pastor’s wife who burned out from too much cleaning and uptight hospitality. God saw fit to give her a roommate in the hospital who had perfected the art of the trashed room. The poor lady took one look at the room and cried, “I just can’t stay in here you must get me another room.” I told her that I did not believe in accidents and that God had arraigned the perfect roommate  for her. She decided to try, found that she really liked the other lady and then listened to God as He told her “If the other lady is lovable even though a slob maybe it would be OK if you didn’t dust quite so often.

Saul was zealous, focused  on God and the kingdom and wound up killing the people of God/after transformation he was the same but yielded in a new direction.

Angry at the stupid wrong things others do? Ask God to help you note the positive things they do and encourage them specifically.

Enable others to stay messed up by being too understanding? Get mad at those who aren’t as understanding as you? God probably intends you to be the number one confronter of others because you will do it in such a way (taking their situation and feelings into account) that they might actually listen. You must, however, “sound a clear trumpet”. Most counselors were codependent enablers before they became counselors and had to learn to say painful truths in palatable ways.

Struggle with sexual urges and God has not given you a partner He approves of? Our civilization says that acting out sexually is a basic right and it would somehow be wrong or damaging to not indulge. God, through the apostle Paul says that the reverse is true! It would be better if we could take all that natural energy and turn it into drive to serve God and others, but if God gives a man a wife or a woman a husband, that is OK. If God just took away your sex drive struggle, you would not be more godly, you would be less passionate in all areas. I have seen where someone begs God to take away the struggle and He does for a while but then they expect Him to magically make all struggle against sin vanish. They then find struggles in other areas and don’t want to do the work to learn and grow and rely on Him, His word , the church and others. Sometimes , after years of bland “peace” the struggle returns. I think that God has assessed them and their supports and their walk with Him and believes it is time to restore their design and turn THEIR GREATEST FLAW INTO THEIR MOST VALUABLE ASSET!

DESIGN

Faith is yielding my body members according to a growing picture of God’s principles ,                           when I don’t want to and know I will lose all,                   but I owe Him all,so I yield and leave the results to Him.

PRINCIPLE:

DESIGN= everything that God has made, including you, is designed to be used according to certain principles for His preordained purposes: if I use them in other ways, according to my own PLEASURE I do so at my own PERIL! If I co-operate with his design principles but resent having to do so, I am criticizing the designer. If I am embarrassed by the limits evident in the things about me that I can’t control, this is not being humble, rather I am ungrateful and question His wisdom. If I compare with other’s design and feel inferior, or superior, I question His right to make different pots for different uses.

It is our job to think through and ponder what is the proper use of each created thing.

Take a minute and ponder the proper use and misuse the following: Food, sleep, recreation,friends, housing, cars, jobs, clothing, exercise, learning, health,mind,time,family,money etc.

Ponder your own design: these are the unchangeable things about you and your support systems : your sex, age, family of origin, intellect, voice, height,illnesses,friends, foes, time in history, etc.

Some thoughts to get you started. We are His masterworks created unto tasks that He prepared for us and prepared us for.Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Shall the pot say to the potter “what bad job you did on me?” or shall a man say to his mother,”what kind of junk did you produce?”Isaiah 64:8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand. Romans 9:20-22King James Version (KJV)20 Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

What is food for: for nutrition, fellowship, remembering God’s goodness, ministering to others; not for antidepressant,not an end in itself,not to impress others

What is sleep for: for refreshing for the battle; not for running away from life, not to be neglected in order to do too much.Psalm 127:2 It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Now ponder the DESIGN of the other things in your life.

Thank you Lord for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you that I am the right one for the tasks you call me to. Help me to take my design and develop it by taking care of my body and sharpening my mind by meditating on your word. When I see other parts of your body who have designs that I would prefer, help me to rejoice in their abilities without the foolishness of comparing.

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?
Is there something about your design that you especially dislike? Even if it is the result of post birth damage, it is now part of your design. In order to rest in the principle of design you will have to worship God by saying, “Lord you are greater than this design difference that I am troubled by, every time I am reminded of it I will say, that reminds me that I am the slave of God and He has the right   with me as He wills, thank you God for your good intentions in allowing this.”