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.

ALREADY IMMORTAL

I was talking to someone who was concerned that they would get bored being immortal. What would we do for all eternity? Of course they were thinking of eternity on this planet surrounded by sin and with their own sinful tendency to be stressed with striving to be strong and perfect and the whole time being bothered by not dwelling in the here and now but letting their mind wander to the future and wallow in the past. Trust me, eternity won’t be a problem because our attitudes will be perfected, but it doesn’t hurt to practice in the NOW.

We are commanded to take no thought for the morrow but rather focus on today. One gift the Lord has given me as early as my teen years was the gift of dropping out of time. I had been immortally alive since I was 5 years old and time seemed irrelevant. I watched my peers ignore to privilege of learning and being in the present because their happiness was connected to the weekend.

WHAT’S THE RUSH? Death is but a transition from one home to another. Lois and I have moved over 30 times in our lives, so what’s one more move?

In heaven will we be eagerly awaiting the future, ignoring the wondrous present? But we are already immortal! It would be wise to start practicing seizing life one moment at a time, savoring what we have, relating to who is in our lives, doing all things with gusto.

The bad attitude of thinking life starts only after we get to heaven often causes us to not grasp the privilege of NOW!

Think with me of all the COOL STUFF WE CAN do now that WE CAN’T DO IN HEAVEN. Oh yeah I won’t object when he calls me home but WHAT’S THE RUSH? On earth we can do battle with evil, we can witness to the unsaved, we can practice faith, we can comfort the ill and wounded, we can lay up treasure in heaven, we can encourage the weak, we can restore brethren overtaken in a fault, we can apologize and ask forgiveness,we can join in Christ’s sufferings and labors, we can pray power into the battle, we can hold up our pastor’s hands when he is weak, we can teach and share with others what God has done for us. Now is the day of salvation, Now is the appointed time. When THEN becomes NOW  then we will be free to freely grab that reality BUT NOT YET MY FELLOW IMMORTALS.

SWEET EMPTINESS

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. When the scriptures share that I should be anxious for nothing–it often makes me anxious about my anxiety and feel that if I really had faith I would just snap out of it. I feel a little that way about being in want. If the Lord is enough, as I am often told, then why do I feel the need for friendship, why do i often feel empty. Telling me that i shouldn’t feel that way just makes me feel more empty. I am even suspicious that those who tell me that are not actually walking closer to God but instead just have no vision burden or life passion. Remember that loneliness existed in the Garden BEFORE there was any sin to muck it up. I believe God love for me to have a sense of need for him, for his church, for his word, for ministry, for belonging. That way when he fills my need I experience joy and gratitude and fulfillment.

The problem isn’t the longing it is wanting someone or something more than God. I know that this is the situation if I pull away from God or get mad at him is the other person or thing is denied, or if I try to fill the need in inappropriate ways. God raised the desire in Abraham for a gillion offspring and then it was years so he went out and tried to fulfill the desire and boy did that cause trouble. I am aware of desires in my life that I have come to believe will never be met till I get to see Jesus face to face, and it is OK to feel the need and bear the pain in order to experience the joy of the fulfillment. I used to ask God to take away the need and make me numb so it wouldn’t hurt. I guess that would not only rob me of the future joy but scar my soul in the process.

God gave king David a passion to build the temple and then said, No I’ll let your son build it. It was still probably cool to plan it and gather the material. I find that the desires he has placed in me often let me create situations where other people find fulfillment of that need for themselves and I use that to picture the future experience I will eventually find.

It also helps me worship God for who he is rather than what he makes me feel or does for me in the current moment. So, Lord fill me up with your passions but give me patience and peace to let you fill the emptiness in your time and way. Love Verle

THE EASY YOKE, LIGHT BURDEN

When should we cast our cares on Jesus, and when, instead, do we join him in his agonized praying?

I have often said that I can always tell when I have crossed the line and gone to meddling with God’s part of any situation; WHEN I FEEL OPPRESSED. Yet the Lord doesn’t say that he will not put yokes on us or ask us to carry burdens. He just said that they would not crush us. What is the difference between a burden and a stress?  Are the situations different, or is it what PART of the situation we focus on different?

Nehemiah felt so great a burden for his suffering people that he could not hide it from king Artaxerxes and God blessed him with the chance to rebuild Jerusalem. He was not torn down by his burden but found purpose and a life ministry instead. 1. If we are burdened for the pain of others and not just focused on our own pain, God gives us grace to minister into their pain.

Paul would have been willing to be, himself, estranged from God if it would save his Jewish people. 2. If we are burdened for the salvation of others and are not upset on how they won’t listen to us or respond to “our” cause, God will give us grace to pray for and witness to them.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem and the consequences they were pulling on their own heads. 3. If we weep over the damage the sinner is doing to themselves and not about how their sin hurts us, God will give us grace to reach out to them. He prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

There was the Phoenician mother burdened for her daughter, Jairus burdened for his daughter, and the soldier burdened for his servant. Ask God to give you a burden for friends and family as a good place to start. Then let your burden turn you into a prayer warrior with a good attitude but one who wrestles with God for a blessing.

If we  weep over our own sin and not over the consequences it has caused. God will give us grace to quit sinning.

Imagine that you are led out into a field and your neck is tied into one side of a huge yoke. You are told that you will need to help pull a large wagon. You are filled with dread until they bring out the largest workhorse you have ever seen and strap his neck into the other part. You realize that you will just have to walk along and let him do the pulling. It isn’t that God’s yoke is small or the burden to pull is light but that it is God’s yoke too and he provides the power, not you.

STRESS and BURDEN have the same situations to trigger us but in STRESS I am the one to fix it and my worth and security are at stake and I fuss with God’s part of the task. With a BURDEN I actively let go of God’s part of the situation and do my part.

Strength is not found in not caring, or in caring and being destroyed by it: but rather it is found in caring and pouring ourselves out for others in passionate battle against evil forces YET not being destroyed by the caring. Being CARING and CALM, PASSIONATE and PEACEFUL, DOING WITH ALL OUR MIGHT and LETTING IT GO WHEN WE HAVE DONE THE LITTLE WE CAN.

In every endeavor God’s part is in calling our attention to it, giving us he heart for it, calling us to obedience, making us worthy, equipping us, preparing the task, bringing the opportunities, providing the tools, bringing the results, giving the eternal rewards.

OUR PART? Moving my body parts in accordance to a growing vision of God’s ways in action relevant to his will and his heart. Praying for the situation. Allowing God to give us passion, remaining at peace so that God may use us without  crushing us. Remembering that in all we do our greatest goal is  to get to know Jesus more and enjoy him forever,by sharing as fellow laborers, soldiers and sufferers,

 

ONLY PAINFUL APOLOGIES ARE WORTH THE BOTHER

I  recently read a blog on apologizing that seemed rather shallow so thought I might throw out into the “blogosphere” Jesus’ recommendations. (Yes, by  God’s grace I have actually used this tool myself and boy is it painful. However, I felt clean and restored by God and usually get a decent restoration of the relationship I have harmed.

Anything you include in your apology that makes it hurt less will decrease the chance of RESTORING THE RELATIONSHIP or HEALING THE DAMAGE DONE TO THE OTHER.

Ponder the elements of the prodigal son’s planned apology to his faithful follower. Luke 15:11

(One caveat, you’d better do the apology with no expectations of ever receiving a proper apology in return. Make sure that knowing God’s proper techniques does not make you judgmental of others who aren’t fortunate enough to seek God’s ways in their dealings with you. Doing things God’s way is a reward in itself and often times the only one who notices is God and our reward won’t come till we see him.)

CONFESS MY ATTITUDE(this is the sin against God) : “God is convicting me of my bad attitude of ________. ”  (Do not suggest it is the other persons pouting or limits that is the only reason you are apologizing. Remember that if you just change a BEHAVIOR and not the ATTITUDE you will simply come up with another behavior to hurt the other.)

BE SPECIFIC : “Which caused me to hurt you by _________________.” (Don’t water it down so the other knows that you know what you did and will be less likely to repeat. No “Sorry for whatever I did to make you pout” In English that actually means “I am so wonderful that I am willing to apologize for things too small for ordinary people to detect. You are so judgmental that you get upset over undetectable things. Sounds more like an attack to me. The word SORRY does not make  an apology/)

PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES: “I can only guess, but you must have felt _____________ and I am sorry for the pain I caused you.” (Don’t imply that it wasn’t that big a deal after all and they are making a mountain out of a mole hill.”

DON’T PROMISE TO BE BETTER IN YOUR OWN STRENGTH: (This would make any same person run screaming in the other direction or worse cause them to pretend to forgive you.” I know that in my own strength I would fail you again, but I want you to know that I am obtaining the following help and accountability to decrease the chance.

OFFER TO MAKE AMENDS: “I know that I can’t make up for what I did but if I could make amends by _______________ I’d be so grateful. (Remember the scriptures tell us to go overboard in making amends. If we stole, pay back several fold.)

DON’T SUGGEST THAT THEY OWE YOU THE FORGIVENESS YOU CRAVE: (After all you were the one to trigger me, or your’s not so great yourself, or considering all that you owe me etc.) “If I were you I’d be hesitant to take another chance on relationship with me, however I really value your friendship.”

DO SUGGEST A LOW RISK FIRST STEP IN REBUILDING THE RELATIONSHIP: “Maybe I could be one of your servants” said the prodigal son.

DON’T SETTLE FOR TOO EASY A FORGIVENESS: If they say, “forget it, it wasn’t anything, I screwed up too.” Reply with, “thank you for your forgiveness, I know that wasn’t easy for you and I really do feel bad for what I did.

 

I LOVE PAIN AND SO SHOULD YOU

I recently had a friend with severe longterm diabetes mellitus. The high sugars had destroyed his ability to feel pain. He stepped on a nail and walked around for a while wondering who was getting blood on the rug. By the time he realized the source, he had to have major surgery on his foot.

Did you know that leprosy does not damage the body directly? Instead it robs the person for the ability to feel pain. That’s why they lose their fingers and develop sores all over. They also lose the ability to feel pleasure. They spend enormous time protecting their bodies, while the rest of us pain feelers are running around without the worry because our pain will protect us.

It isn’t enough to know that there is a problem, IT HAS TO HURT! We developed gloves for leprosy patients to wear that measured the degree of pressure or length of irritation and warned the person to quit what they were doing or risk damage.  BECAUSE IT DIDN’T HURT they ignored it and lost their fingers from playing the guitar too long. Even worse, what if the nail in the foot made you feel higher than you’d ever felt?  Be real, you’d tromp around on nails all day. (I’m referring to crack cocaine or crystal meth or sex with the wrong people etc.)

Just as physical pain is good for us and 1. identifies a problem 2.motivates to deal with the problem 3. motivates to deal with the consequences of the problem 4. motivates to not do the damage again 5. allows us to go through life without always double checking every little thing 6 and informs our appreciation of the good things: EVEN SO  EMOTIONAL FEELINGS ARE A BLESSING including fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, hurt, depression, irritation, loneliness, guilt, remorse, etc.

The next time you feel a “BAD” feeling, thank God for it, ask him to show you where the nail is, ask for help in dealing with the feeling , ask him to LET THE PAIN DRIVE YOU CLOSER TO HIM.

Take a minute and think of all the pain God got himself into when he decided to LOVE YOU! Really , it’s OK he thinks you are worth every bit!

Colossians 1:24 My (Paul) sufferings for you, ..fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh. 2 Corinthians 1:5 For the SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST abound in us. Philippians 3 10 That I may know him and the FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS. Psalms 56 8 put thou my tears into thy bottle:are they not in thy book? Hebrews 4 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.

Perhaps my favorite passage of God’s pain filled love of us, is in Hosea 11 8

How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repenting are kindled together. I will not excuse the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: FOR I AM GOD AND NOT MAN .

 

REPROGRAMING

Did you know that 100% of the things you feel think and do today will be PREPROGAMMED?

Yes there is free will and accountability but it lies in the ability to spot our preprogrammed impulses ramming their way into control and by concentration, preparation, predicting, accountability and support; grabbing ahold of them. We must first admit that our programming is not godly and then cooperate in the process of rewiring the brain. Most of your decoding of what is going on, how you feel about it, and what figuring out what you should do right now : arrives at the front of the brain fully formed and totally determined by what you have yielded your body members to in the past. “Know ye not that his slave you are to whom you have obeyed, whether to God of evil.”

Imagine a family with a husband and wife and 4 children. He labors under the delusion that he is in charge.(That’s like your frontal lobe) He wants a quiet Friday night to read his magazines BUT THEY are in the other room plotting on how to get  him to take them out to a new movie. SUDDENLY they burst into the room declaring,” Hey dad there is this cool new movie blah, blah, blah. Next thing you know, he’s on his way to the movie with the gang.

I push Lois around in her wheelchair at the mall, and notice that people decide to go to another part of the mall and  take two steps in that direction BEFORE they start looking to see if they are about to bang into anyone. Their brain has decided what to do and has started their body moving accordingly even before their frontal lobe starts to assess the situation. Has your mouth ever started talking before you had thought through what the Lord would have you say? Have your emotions been riled up at “those horrible drivers” before you asked what would Jesus do?

We become to slave to righteousness or evil: to God or the devil– by yielding our members over and over till our neurons are wired to push in that direction every time. That’s why we have good intentions and poor follow through, why we have insight and no application. Here are the steps of rewiring and all require grace to overcome our nature and let his nature take over. Before salvation we can only do the unrighteousness because even trying to be good in our own strength is sin. After salvation we have the right to reprogram but it is not forced on you (as you probably wish it would be) Instead you must cooperate with God to REPROGRAM:

  1. Ask God to open your eyes to the responses he wants you to change. Reading his word for reproof is a good place to start.
  2. Ask God to show you what the opposite response would look like. The goal is to put off the old BY putting on the new.
  3. Pay attention to life as it flows by. God teaches and renews by giving you opportunities to obey and to yield your neurons to a new way of firing.PREDICT, PREPARE AND NOTICE THE PATTERN POPPING UP IN YOU “Hey, there I go again, thanks for helping me catch myself.”
  4. Do not yell at self for doing it again, this just strengthens the response like an alcoholic yelling at themselves for drinking again.
  5. Realize that your brain learned the wrong response because (there are ways that SEEM right to a man but the end is death) so lower brain thinks it is trying to help. ie: worry will find a solution, bitterness will protect, comparison will motivate me etc, etc, GIVE YOUR BRAIN PERMISSION TO CHANGE by saying “my responses haven’t worked and won’t, might as well try God’s way.
  6. Move your body members according to a growing picture of God’s principles in action.
  7. Focus on the now: a.what do I HAVE?, b. WHO is in my life?,what can I DO?
  8. Grab ahold of the NOW:savor the things he gives us, invest in the people he gives us and do tasks he gives us with all our might.
  9. Tell your brain: “see that is what God’s ways look like, isn’t that better?”

Don’t be impatient, it take roughly 3 months of obedient practice for the new wiring to be automatic.(Even then be careful) You begin by experiencing God’s ways as strange and impractical and hard to picture and remember but maybe better than your, then you start catching yourself from time to time, then by doing it his way consistently , then finally wondering how you could have done it any other way.

NOW YOU HAVE BECOME THE SLAVE TO GOD. Remember there is no option 3 only SLAVE TO GOD OR SLAVE TO THE DEVIL.

HOW TO LOOK DEAD WHEN YOU ARE

I do have an advantage over some fellow followers of Jesus; in that I have been priveleged to observe dead people. There was the people who generously left their “tents” for me to learn anatomy in medical school. Victims of auto accidents, bodies in morgues waiting to be moved on.

So when the Bible says, Likewise reckon yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin; I have an excellent picture of what that looks like. Now, I don’t recommend that you actually carry a corpse around in your car in order to keep the picture clear as to what deadness looks like. But, it does help to form a clear portable picture in your head.

Let’s take some situations and try to imagine the corpses’ response.

1.Someone says to you,”You stupid lazy good for nothing lout!”                                                      And the corpse responds—————–

2.A person of the opposite sex offers immodest views of their body                                                And the corpse responds——————-

3.”Hey would you like to go party and get drunk?”                                                                                 And the corps responds.

Well, you get the picture. When it comes to sin be more corpse like. Yes, I know, you may have more urges and desires than a corpse but by God’s grace you can yield your members according to this useful picture of a responding corpse. It is still obedience even if it doesn’t come easily and requires support from the Holy Spirit and others to emulate.

I am practicing for our Easter Play and I am pretty bad at it at this point but I have a picture of what I want to act like and each time I practice I look a little more as though I really want to “Kill the blasphemer!” (I’m a scribe) So, don’t get discouraged, you too can ACT LIKE A CORPSE! When it comes to sin.