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.

DOESN’T MATTER?

 

A friend in Jesus writes. (I have been thinking a lot about this blog entry on Ecclesiastes since I read it. I’m confused about how to deal with my (many) addictions, my perfectionism, and my inability to trust a Heavenly Father after my earthly father sexually abused me. If, in the end, it doesn’t matter, then why keep fighting to get better?, I still struggle every single day with all of the above.
I just don’t know how to respond now. Keep battling my “demons” or just give up and say that it doesn’t matter in the end?)

“If, in the end, it doesn’t matter”—I believe the words of Ecclesiastes are tools to help us get rid of VEXATION OF SPIRIT. They do not imply that because we will move off the scene and will be forgotten by people on this earth, that what we do doesn’t matter; but rather that we should lighten up and rest in Grace. Everything matters to God and He  is on the scene and will still be on the scene after we pass making our feeble efforts matter and projecting their impact into the future and using them as an excuse to pile up treasures in heaven for us. The confusion is that we humans justify being tense and vexing our spirits because after all it matters so much and being tense must be helpful somehow. It is evident that being uptight and taking undue responsibility causes us to be less creative and have less stamina and energy and to make impulsive rash mistakes. SO THE MORE THE MATTER IS: THE MORE WE NEED TO LIGHTEN UP. We need to limit our efforts to, yielding our body members servants  according to a growing picture of God’s ways in action and according to our understanding of His will. Ecclesiastes says this is your gift from God and your limited portion in the tasks of your life: enjoy what you DO have , enjoy who you DO have, do what you DO have available to do, take care of yourself. So what is God’s part in any endeavor? Calling  you, preparing you to be the right one for the task, empowering you, then His are the results, the making up the difference between your efforts and what the situation calls for, the making your efforts worthwhile , the rewarding you for obeying.

“Not that fighting to get better has really helped all that much”—See you are making my point, ie. fighting doesn’t work. We are not to fight to get better but rather to fight to get out of the way of the Holy Spirit moment by moment and let THE ALREADY BETTER ONE live through us. Paul:

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.
The battle is the Lord’s but it is true that we have to resist the devil then the Lord meets us in our feeble obedience and strengthens us and helps us. In a sword fight, if all you do is stand and parry the devil’s thrusts; you will burn out and be wounded over and over. “Because of what the Lord let your father do to you, you are worthless, damaged, why did he let this happen, can you trust him now if he let that happen then etc. etc.” It is important to thrust back. When attacked, have prayer targets such as your pastor to respond to the devil with, ” just for that I’m going to pray for my pastor and God’s power will strengthen him and weaken your kingdom.” Also sing songs or better yet write them and sing them to the Lord and against the attacking one. Martin Luther was frequently depressed. You could borrow his song A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD he wrote that and sang it to the Lord and at the devil and found relief from a month long attack of depression.
Well enough for now please comment on the above so I can clarify. I never am sure how well I am communicating without feedback.

 

THEN YOU DIE AND EVERYONE FORGETS YOU!

 

 

I’ve always struggled to see what was the point of Ecclesiastes. Recently I was participating in a sunday-school class for veterans and the Lord led us to Ecclesiastes chapter nine verses 5-10–    For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

 I.Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy,

II. drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

 III.Let thy garments be always white;

IV.and let thy head lack no ointment.

V.Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life,

VI.In thy labour which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

I’ve come to understand that, like all scripture, the thrust of Ecclesiastes is GRACE! Lighten up, it screams, what’s the big deal, what are you so uptight about? Money, power, education, people, popularity, health? You’re just going to die and rot and everyone will forget you, so lighten up! We used to have a question in counseling–“If you die on the way home will the world continue?” When I was uptight in school carrying an 18 credit hour load with working full-time driving bus, I’d study in the cemetery above Ann Arbour Michigan. It was quiet and I’d ask myself, “are these people tense? They probably had big tests and futures that hung in the balance but they seem quite peaceful now!”

So should we care about nothing? What should we focus on? Well the above verses say we should tear our minds away from: what we don’t have; who we can’t relate to; what we can’t do; and instead focus on what we do have; who is in our life; and what we can do. Makes sense to me! Then we should grab it with gusto enjoy our food and drink with gratitude; take care of our appearance with clean clothes and ointment; live joyfully with the people God has given to you; grab ahold of what there is to do and do it with all you might. All the days of your vanity for then you die and rot and everyone will forget!

Why add the die and rot stuff? Because we are so addicted to WORKS! We turn resting in GRACE into WORKS! We enjoy our food and drink and clothes and ointment and people and work and then start to “vex our spirits” with having to secure it and enjoy it intensely and do it perfectly. NO NO NO! You are just going to die rot and be forgotten by this world. Leave it all in God’s hand to remember and to reward and you move on to grab ahold of the next moment He gives you.

And having food and raiment let us be therewith content25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? (So do enjoy food drink etc just don’t “take thought” or worry about it.)
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Do grab ahold of the NOW moment and do what you can with the evil thereof but then drop it and appreciate all the little ordinary good as it passes by.

LOVE HOPE FAITH

In comparing ideas, it is useful to ask” WHAT IS THE SAME BETWEEN THESE? AND WHAT IS DIFFERENT?”

SAME:

All three, love hope and faith arise out of belief that is so strong and real that it forces us to act ,grabs our thoughts and engenders powerful emotions . There are beliefs that are neutral such as, (the nearest star beyond the sun is a brown dwarf called Proxima Centauri) Too many Christians allow their beliefs to be just that. Things that they know but forget and never ask the question. What manner of person ought I than to be?

DIFFERENT:

LOVE–Is focusing on the other,s best interest without regard for self. Love for God arises out of accepting that He first loved me, that He really really likes me and wants to be my best friend and awesome lover for all eternity. LOVE–for others arises out of the belief that this person I am now interacting with is of infinite worth, purchased by the blood of the Lamb and loved by my Lord:

This causes me to think through what would be in their best interest and be willing to seek their interest without regards to personal cost or needs,and delight in ministering to them.

HOPE-Is actively picturing that which will be but now I cannot see. Hope arises out of the belief that God’s promises are true:

This causes me to picture these unseen and future promised realities,give up current pleasures of sin for the solid awesome treasures He has for me, and act in ways that fit with these pictures, laying up treasure in heaven, and being excited at the privilege to be fellow sufferers and laborers with Christ.

FAITH– Is doing what only makes sense based on LOVE AND HOPE offering ourselves living sacrifices Faith arises out of the belief that doing things God’s way has got to be better than any other way:

This causes me to study His ways and yield my body members according to a growing picture of these ways in action; obeying when I am sure I will loose all, look like a fool, fall on my face, botch it all horribly yet  obeying out of a love for God and for those he loves (everyone) and being pulled forward by the things hoped for. The grain of mustard seed faith is “where else can I go? what else can I do? I confess that I’ve tried it my way and know for sure that can’t work. So here goes.”

The three are tied together and feed each other. Ask God to increase your love for him and others by increasing your awareness of being the chief of sinners forgiven. This will allow you to picture how having Jesus, eternal life, and salvation that God will surely, along with Him, freely give us all things. So jump in and act accordingly which lends solidness to your Hope and strength to your Love and on and on.

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.