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.

“I am slow to judge others but I much-too-harshly judge myself and take others’ criticism very poorly. My self-worth is put into question every time.”

One of the problems with this blogging thing, is the difficulty of referring back to past blogs that covered the needed topic, but if the apostle Peter was willing to go over the same ground again, I am certainly happy to do so. I hope that in this world of always seeking something new that you will find my repetitions useful in consolidating interesting ideas into useful truths that you can remember and share and form into tools to use.

Let’s take the above phrase, “I too harshly judge myself”. Let’s clarify. Since this person is probably the second worst sinner ever to exist (I occupy the number one slot) and since they need to quibble with me because they are sure that they occupy the number one slot: How can they judge themselves too harshly? The too-harshly judging comes in when because of this proper view of their sin they conclude that therefore: they are worthless, hopeless, powerless and in no position to let God minister to others through them. Christian mathematics is weird. How can we, in fact, all be the chief of sinners? How can we have infinite worth when, “in me dwells no good thing”? How can we only get rid of disabling guilt by saying “I’m surely worse than that but I am clean and pure and undefiled? ONLY BY THE GRACE OF GOD.

Poem by John Newton author of AMAZING GRACE

To thee I bring my case;
My raging malady control,
And heal me by thy grace.

Pity the anguish I endure,
See how I mourn and pine;
For never can I hope a cure
From any hand but thine.

I would disclose my whole complaint,
But where shall I begin?
No words of mine can fully paint
That worst distemper, sin.

It lies not in a single part,
But through my frame is spread;
A burning fever in my heart,
A palsy in my head.

It makes me deaf, and dumb, and blind,
And impotent and lame;
And overclouds, and fills my mind,
With folly, fear, and shame.

A thousand evil thoughts intrude
Tumultuous in my breast;
Which indispose me for my food,
And rob me of my rest.

Lord I am sick, regard my cry,
And set my spirit free;
Say, canst thou let a sinner die,
Who longs to live to thee?

HOW TO NOT SPILL SERETONIN

Lois has been doing 12 hour shifts sitting with our new grandson Ray Sturgill who is in baby ICU in Columbus OH I have been driving 12 hours round trip to be with her on week ends. Pray for safe travel and a healthy grandson and for his mommy to rest in God’s peace. Ray is progressing nicely, in part due to the voices of parents and grandparents.
Do you want to rest in God’s peace?

It isn’t enough to beg for it, you also need to practice resting in the Peace He has already provided. In 2 Peter 1 we are reminded that Christians are always forgetting to apply the truth they already agree to and that Peter was going to use a practical tool to help them remember–remind them over and over of the truth. It takes 17 repetitions to memorize an idea and three months of concentrated application of the idea in order to form a new habit which can then change our life experience, so he flunked his tests.
2 Peter 1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.
13 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;
14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.
15 Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance

The same is true of Peace. If you want to calm down in the midst of the storm you need exercise the advice in God’s word. Paul was instructed and learned to be content.
Philippians 4:11Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

When we want to calm down, we must release Serotonin into the synapse. It attaches to the anxious nerves and dampens their reaction. Our brains are designed to need, and make only a small amount of serotonin in order to deal with the everyday concerns needed to notice life’s problems and turn to God and then do the little we can, leaving the rest to Him.

HERE’S THE SUGGESTED PRACTICAL HABIT TO PRACTICE TO INCREASE YOUR ABILITY TO STAND IN THE PEACE YOU ALREADY HAVE.
1.As you go through each day you must be present and mindful and noticing when you are starting to be anxious, angry, sad, overwhelmed etc.

2.Then you need to remind yourself, “I can’t, He can, but I need to yield my members in accordance to a growing picture of God’s principles in action.”

3.Then pray  “Lord thanks, Lord help, now Lord “What DO you want me to do about the thing I am concerned about?” Now LISTEN

(He may say, “It’s not your’s to do anything about,

there is nothing that can be done and that’s OK,

there’s nothing to do right now,

get help before proceeding,

don’t DO pray up a storm,

stand and watch what I am about to do and take notes so that I may receive my proper praise,

OR go ahead and yield your members slaves and instrument into my hand in the following way——–.)

4.Next, do the little you can and when there is nothing left to do, CHILL!= By the grace of God pull your focus from the area of concern back to the here and now and grab ahold of that.

Do not waste any anxiety on tomorrow, not even on food and clothing! God knows you will need those, you’ve got enough trouble to deal with today. God will not give you any grace to deal with tomorrow anymore than the Israelis could gather enough manna for tomorrow.

Do not indulge in the type of acceptance that admits the fact of powerlessness and then wallows in resenting yourself for not being able to fix the issue;in resenting others for their wrongdoing; in resenting reality. These resentments will eat up your brains’ reserves of Serotonin.

Our brains put out serotonin in response to, and in proportion to, the concerns we indulge in. Serotonin is released to help us chill, then we release norepinephrine to help us think things through, then dopamine to push us to act. Our brain has only meager supplies of these neurotransmitters and if we spend them worrying about things we can’t change, sweating the small stuff, refusing help, procrastinating and generally  wallowing in useless anxiety; we will have none to spend on what we should.

If there is nothing to do–but we are still concerned –we put out more serotonin, more norepinephrine, more dopamine–but there is nothing to do–but we are still concerned so we put out more serotonin more norepinephrine more dopamine–but there is nothing to do etc. etc. you get the picture

Then when there is a situation God  wants us to handle, we can’t, because we spent all our serotonin worrying uselessly. I promise you that if you allow yourself to get lost in useless concern that you will miss an opportunity in the present to learn, give, receive, worship and grow. we must:
2.1 Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

JUDGING

We are told in scripture to continually examine ourselves; and if we humbly do so, we will realize that we are absolutely nothing without Christ, we have wicked hearts, and there is NO good in us (aside from Christ Himself). Also as we are deeply warned in scripture not to judge others (as we truly have no place to judge anybody); we should wind up seeing ourselves as the chief of sinners. I know I certainly do. So .. at what point is it appropriate to correct one another (as fellow believers)? Where is that fine line? We are told to ‘sharpen’ one another; however if we really examine ourselves, are we EVER truly in a position to do so? I would love to hear your thoughts. :)

We are told to be careful judging others because we will be judged by the same yardstick that we use to judge others. Good, so take a look at the judging that would bless you if others did it for you. Would it be helpful if others pointed out that you are living life apart from God’s principles and that you won’t like the results?  Perhaps they could provoke you to righteousness by holding you accountable for memorizing and applying the word to your life. Rebuke a wise man and he will be wiser still. This week I asked my boss to bless me by taking of his valuable time and coming and helping me see where I need to improve my dictating and computer skills.

So, first, we need to be people who see warning and feedback as a blessing not a put down. I find that I also want the criticizer to make a suggestion as to how I might improve.

Then we will be in a position of one beggar telling another beggar where we found food. We may point the other to the same source of comfort and teaching that we have found. “If any of you lack wisdom,  let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberaly and upbraideth not and it shall be given him.”

The friend sharpening iron refers to, well, friends.

So, if others see your progress and humble openness and ask for feedback the share your own struggle and process and how God is working in you. If a friend wants to give and receive ideas in a humble sharing of each’s understanding of God’s word practically applied to life’s struggles-then go ahead and share. If we all wait till we have mastered the Christian life before we share with others than there will be no sharing.

WANT INPUT

I ran that list of relevant verses and felt overwhelmed that they had already said much of what I wanted to say. I ran a little experiment and just sent the verses but so far have had no thoughts from others. I fully expected to add my own to any comment offered. When I was a student I often had to work up a patient and present the case and then see what others found when they looked at the same case. When I used to comment on the Minirith Meijer program there were often three or more and I delighted in seeing the different angles God showed to each of us and how the whole was so much more balance when several shared on the same subject.

So far no specific comments on the SETTING LIMITS blog. Please?!

EMERGENCY KIT-God watch

Which comes easier to you, listing needs that you would like God’s help with: or listing praises as to what He has recently done in your life?

Our brains are naturally wired to be concerned about the problems of life: we have to work hard to see all the beauty and wonder and praiseworthy things that God is doing.

Sure we are grateful for things He has done in the distant past, but I find that it is the recent acts of the Holy Spirit in my life that give me the courage to get up and face today.

I led a sunday school class for adult mature Christians a few years ago. I would start by splitting the whiteboard into (praises / requests) and then we would go to prayer. At first the requests side was packed and the praise side was empty. I than posed the question,” Is it that God has not been answering prayers, in which case why ask Him for more? Or do we promptly forget His blessings, in which case why should He answer if it brings Him no glory?” It only took a few weeks to fill out the praises side with current answers to prayer. I guess the problem was lack of observing God at work and remembering.
I suggest to all I meet that they exercise their positive vision, of what God is doing in their lives, by mechanically 1. stopping at lunch, supper, and bedtime and 2. reviewing the previous four hours searching for anything positive. When God shows you a positive, savor it and appreciate it for a moment, let it balance your heart then move on. When you come into trials, the memory of all the good will lessen the impact of the problem and help you turn to God rather than overreact. Then take every opportunity to state appreciation to those around you for their positive acts and to witness to one and all what God has been doing in your life.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Philippians 4:8Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
At first being picky positive, may come with difficulty, you may feel that you are belittling the seriousness of the problems in your life by noting and savoring the positives. Or you may worry that, if you became too polyannish, you would not deal with the tasks at hand.
In reality, noticing the positives keeps us from being overwhelmed so that we have more stamina more creativity, hope and willingness to cast all our care on Him and do the little that we can. We have a greater ability to bring God glory by witnessing to what He is doing in our lives. We have greater peace that He can handle the current situation because He has been handling the recent situations.
Our singing and praising Him gains substance from being specific rather than vague. It is similar to the difference between saying to your spouse,”I love you” and saying to them. “I so enjoy and appreciate your dependability, enthusiasm, integrity, creativity etc. as I noticed in how you did _______.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (She was talking to an earthly love, I like to quote her to express my love to Jesus, He likes me to count the ways.)
(JESUS)How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise,
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints -I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! -and, if the FATHER choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Suggestions: Things of beauty, interest, feeble efforts, fun, joy, useful, comforting, encouraging, strengthening, helpful,courageous. Has God given you opportunities, opened your eyes to see and heart to pray. Taught you from nature, or His word, or through fellow travelers.

SETTING LIMITS, proper attitude

Let’s take a look at the attitude needed before we are in any position to judge ourselves superior to others and find fault with their faith. In this blog I ask you to just ponder the word and share what comes to mind, but remember to take heed to thyself, for all scripture will reprove correct and instruct to reader before it suggests we apply it to others. Please write your thoughts and add them to this discussion then I will share mine with you.

Galatians 5:14 KJV For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

15 But if ye bite and devour ONE ANOTHER, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

I Corinthians 11:28 But let a man examine HIMSELF, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

6:1BRETHREN, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, RESTORE such an one in the spirit of meekness; CONSIDERING THYSELF, lest thou also be tempted.

2 Bear ye ONE ANOTHER’S burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4 But let every man prove HIS OWN work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,ESPECIALLY unto them who are of the household of faith.

14 Him that is weak in the faith RECEIVE ye, but not to doubtful disputations.

2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.

3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.

4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.

8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.

9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.

10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

12 So then every one of us shall give account of HIMSELF to God.

13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.

12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to (follow the rules they pick); only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

13 For neither they themselves… keep the law; but desire to have you (keep the laws they chose to emphasize) that they may glory in your flesh.

14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.Amen,Amen!

In the Old testament the Benjamites raped and slaughtered the concubine of a priest. He went to all the other tribes and roused them to action to punish the obviously evil Benjamites. The other tribes went to God at the tabernacle in Shilo and asked God “do you want us to punish the tribe of Benjamin?” God said that He did. Then the tribes went to battle and in the first two battles they were beaten badly by the Benjamites. Then God said that,”this time you will win,” and they did. If you count the number lost in the two first battles, it was exactly on tenth of the army. God was saying that they were not so great themselves and had not been serving him with the dedication of their firstborn and tithes and He couldn’t use them to wipe out the Benjamites until He had dealt with them. Judges 19

Matthew 5:7 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye

John 8:7 he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.

9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone,

Psalms 119:59 I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.

60 I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.

Leviticus 19:16 Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; I am the Lord.

17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.

18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

Matthew 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against THEE, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone (Considering the high probability that you have misjudged the situation): if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16 But if he will not hear thee,(and you are pretty sure you still have a case, but humbly realizing that you may still be mistaken) then take with thee one or two more (neutral parties that are not already on your side against the brother), that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17 And if he shall neglect to hear them,( realizing that the two of you may still be mistaken) tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. ( This would be a church leadership decision never a personal one)

“FRIENDLY FIRE”

Some thoughts in regards to a friend who is being shunned by family:
God allows us to experience suffering and often does His best work in ways we would rather alter. Suffering hits us differently. It’s not so much the size of the loss or the physical pain as it is how personal the source of the pain is. There are the so-called “acts of God” you know, a tree falls on your car. This actually happened to my son William in Kalamazoo during a storm. Thank God he wasn’t hurt. Then there the losses caused by other’s carelessness. Then there the deliberate attacks of our enemies. The most emotionally painful suffering comes when we are attacked by family and friends, especially when they justify it by claiming that we deserve it and they are doing it “for your own good.”

Psalms 41:5 KJV Mine enemies speak evil of me, When shall he die, and his name perish? And if he come to see me, he speaketh vanity: his heart gathereth iniquity to itself; when he goeth abroad, he telleth it. All that hate me whisper together against me: against me do they devise my hurt. An evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth he shall rise up no more. YEA, MINE OWN FAMILIAR FRIEND, IN WHOM I TRUSTED, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me. But thou, O LORD, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.

OK, pause and review all the tools we’ve covered and ask yourself, “where do I begin?”

You got it! Worship God by praying, THANKS! HELP! SHOW ME YOUR WILL!

Next ask God to show you if you are suffering for your own misdeeds. If so, it is no big deal to suffer patiently and learn the lesson involved. Is not, then happy are you for so persecuted the prophets which were before you. I Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

Next, ask yourself why the rejection and criticism hit you so hard. I, for example am a severe co-dependent and must always please everyone and have them approve me in order to feel OK about myself. Are you focussed, not on your own loss, but, on the loss that the judgment is causing a third party. (Such as grandchildren?) Remember that taking up a fault for a third party ALWAYS causes the third party more damage than whatever you would save them from. Have you considered the loss to the judgmental person themselves?

RULE: When someone sins and their choices cause you loss and pain, who is sinned against? Who is the victim? Who stands to benefit?
God is sinned against, the victim is the sinner, you are the one who stands to gain if you walk the fiery trial with God.

Psalm 51:4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. .
I peter 3:4 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.

Read Psalm 73. Perhaps the most balancing and healing focus is to realize the awful consequences the other person is pulling down on themselves. Of course this is harder when the other person is all puffed up and believe that their sin is actually righteousness.How to decide if they are righteous judges and we are the sinners, or they are sinning in their judgment and we are suffering for righteousness? The key is in attitude more than in theology. Tune in on my next blog for thoughts on this.