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.

THE GREATEST HUMILITY

QUESTION: Do you ever notice how we as (extremely, yet equally, imperfect beings) tend to have MUCH higher expectations of ourselves than we do others? We “excuse” others because we know that “nobody’s perfect”, yet the same behavior in ourselves is absolutely inexcusable. Why is that? Why do we do that? Why are we so much harder on ourselves than we ever would be on others?A blog partner writes”Is this    (list of ways I throw grace out the window and insist on wearing out)    going all the way up to Z????? I HAVE to keep reading cause I know GOOD NEWS is coming!”

(Maybe some day I’ll list J though Z but the blog would be too long)

Are you sure the list of how crazy we are in our natural self is BAD NEWS? The only thing that our personal craziness can do is reveal God’s wisdom, our weakness-his strength, our impulsivity-his steadfastness. Lists like this are only bad news if we try to fix them ourselves.

The question as to why we do the crazy things we do has been answered somewhat but the better question is how can we stop using SHAME BASED MOTIVATION? (Technique C from the last blog.)  Remember that your “heart” is the inner chatter others can’t hear and which we often hide even from ourselves. However, “as a man thinketh in his heart so is he.” The heart is deceitful above all things and we can’t know it. “I THE LORD search the heart I try the reins” so search me oh Lord and try my heart and find the deceived thoughts and lead me in new ways.

When my heart believes irrational things such as, I should be perfect, I can’t believe I did that, what’s wrong with me, come on you can do better, you must, you have to, etc. , it thinks that it is doing me a favor and this irrational expectation for myself will spur me on to greater deeds.

My heart fears that I must be perfect because I can’t trust God to come through, I have to compensate for his weakness or possibly just his disinterest; because I trusted him before and he didn’t come through.

It fears that, if I take a close look at my reality,  I will discover the scary truth that I am not only imperfect, not only messed up , but actually the CHIEF OF SINNERS! Which, in my opinion, would surely spell my doom.

MY HEART IS WRONG, yelling at myself and expecting too much, trying to do better; leads nowhere. Like a dog chasing it’s tail, I’ll endlessly strive to be better, which I can’t, for, in fact “Without Him I can do nothing.” Any negative focus that does not lead to DO AND DROP IT will cause endless circling. Since I am powerless I can’t do my part and because I am proud I can’t admit this or quit struggling.

As usual, the way to deal with the quicksand of works is to stop wrestling and lay down in it and float till rescued. Don’t even try to not yell at yourself for imperfections, just notice yourself doing it and laugh at your silliness a bit.

In counseling we would define some response to life that was wearing out the person and robbing them of joy. They would be trying not to do it, they would be aware that I was observing for the  pattern, and in the very effort to quit they would repeat the pattern. (How powerless is that?)

Now it was time to cry or laugh or both. We turn grace into works,”I should do better at resting in grace”Then say “Lord I can’t even rest in grace when I am concentrating on resting, I need your grace to remember grace, picture grace and act in the grace.” This condition is good! When you cause me to rest, all the credit will be yours.”

I’m not sure any of this answers the question so please comment on what makes sense or needs elaboration.

 

I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M REALLY THAT MESSED UP!

A friend writes. (Excellent! I have something that I’d love to see a blog on. Do you ever notice how we as (extremely, yet equally, imperfect beings) tend to have MUCH higher expectations of ourselves than we do others? We “excuse” others because we know that “nobody’s perfect”, yet the same behavior in ourselves is absolutely inexcusable. Why is that? Why do we do that? Why are we so much harder on ourselves than we ever would be on others? I’d love your thoughts on that.:))

My thoughts? OK here goes. We all hate grace. The brain is so designed (by the Designer) that grace is built into our neurotransmitters. Follow the owner’s manual and you will never burn out or feel stress beyond what you can bear. He promised. The list of how we waste our neurotransmitters corresponds exactly to the list of what we are driven to, if we forget grace thus trying to maintain or earn our worth security or strength.

A. We vex our spirit, ponder endlessly, feel tense over things we can do nothing about, because we resent our weak estate. We are not in control of the reality of life as is comes to us; then we can choose to rebel and respond without God or we can get out of God’s way and let Him grab the situation through our yielded body members; then the results are in God’s hands. Not much control there. Just enough choice to bolster accountability and free will, but not enough that we are tempted to take credit. The only thing we did was to get out of God’s way and let him work.

B. We are way to surprised when we mess up, because we really think that God got a pretty good deal in us; that we were already a cut above. “I can’t believe that I did that!” This will wear you out by getting you to take on responsibilities without God and beating on yourself after the inevitable, frequent messups. OR.

C. We use negatives to motivate. This is called shame based motivation. We compare ourselves with how well we did, we compare with the unrealistic fantasy of how well we expected ourselves to be doing by now, we threaten ourselves with the dire future our current messed up approach is likely to reap,we compare ourselves with the false front others show us of their accomplishments; we compare with pointless accomplishment of others such as material possessions,fame, power, or worldly praise; we use rules to judge ourselves that are more severe than we would apply to others in the same situation.

All this because we don’t want to accept that our worth doesn’t come from us but from God’s love PERIOD. We would rather earn our self-contempt rather that accept infinite worth from God. Remember your high school math. Infinity plus 100,000 merit points is still just infinite ; infinity minus 100,000 demerits is still infinity. As the Father did not spare his own son but freely gave him up for you, how will he not, with him, also give you all things. This says that your worth is infinite and can not be increased our diminished by your behavior.

The worldly counselors know that shame based motivation does not work . Only those thoughts that lead to answering the question “What does God want me to DO right now?” will not lead to burnout. If I see that I have messed up, I can go to God ask for help and grow. If I conclude that I am a piece of dirt what can I do about it? So worldly counselors affirm that you are innately worthwhile and should believe in yourself and what the mind of man can conceive the will of man can achieve. This is nonsense but close enough to the truth to be seductive. The truth ? IN ME DWELLS NO GOOD THING WITHOUT HIM I CAN DO NOTHING : IN HIM I HAVE INFINITE WORTH WITH HIM I CAN DO ALL THINGS.

D. We refuse to ask for help or beat ourselves up if we have to.

E. We moan and groan and make mountains out of mole hills.

F We try to balance our guilt with blame and excuses which just weighs us down.

G. We fuss about a problem and immediately yell “but, but” to any suggested way to deal with it.

H. We stuff our feelings.

I. We procrastinate and try to ignore problems, which takes energy to suppress.

So the struggle with self contempt is just a part of the bigger mess that is Us. Next blog I will discuss how such weak messed up people with our delusional brains can actually progress.

THE POWER OF NEGATIVE THINKING

Two men leave the same housing development, drive through the same traffic to the same job at the same time. The only difference is Mr. A expects people to drive properly and believes that people are basically good.Mr B expects people to drive poorly mostly unaware of those around them and understands that people are basically messed up.

NOW which one A or B arrives at work upset and tense and spends the day getting more and more bothered when his boss is thoughtless and demanding and expresses no gratitude, when his coworkers don’t pull their fair share of the load?

The scriptures share that there is none righteous no not one. The heart is desperately wicked and we can’t even know our own heart. That our thoughts are not His thoughts nor are our ways his ways. There are ways that seem right to me and just lead to death.

Perhaps the most irrational thought possible is “HOW CAN PEOPLE BE THAT WAY?” They can be that way because they are just like I am, a sinner to the core.

When we learn to expect ourselves and others, in this sin plagued world, to drive badly and get away with slovenly work and not appreciate others; we are not so bothered when they, or we, act as expected . In fact we feel affirmed in the accuracy of our world view. When God’s grace and ways break through in the unsaved, due to the influence of Jesus’ thoughts on our society, or  due to the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives–then we are “tickled pink” (as my mother would say). So I find that Mr. B, the one who expects negative behavior winds up less stressed.

When we understand our own uncanny ability to pick the wrong response every time; then we are more likely to catch ourselves responding badly and to seek in God’s word , and with the Spirit’s help, to find the right response and the power to yield my body members slaves to God and not to evil.

Remember: ALL scripture is given by God for 4 purposes. 1. That we might know what is the godly response to the current moment. 2. That we might be reproved “You tell me to do XYZ which means that I must naturally do the opposite to XYZ. The right way  would simply be to yield  my body members opposite of my natural inclination. You tell me not to do ABC so I must naturally to the opposite; so Lord help me to stop. 3. That we might find the tools and strength to change. 4. That we might move beyond quitting the negative response and find equipping for all good works. That we might not only find life but that we might find it abundantly

SIGNING BACK ON

If anyone is still listening out there, then you have my heartfelt appreciation. I haven’t blogged for a while for a couple of reasons. I was on a medication that messed with my short term memory so that the Lord would give me ideas and then when I was at the computer I couldn’t remember what they were. I’m off the medication and grateful to say the problem was not senility or “senior moments” because the memory has come back. Praise the Lord. I also makes me even more careful about hard to detect side effects of medication. Then my computer just wouldn’t connect to the internet. I finally spent 45 min on the telephone with a computer whiz at my provider’s and we finally figured it out. Again praise the Lord. Lastly, the Lord has made me to do best when interacting with others. So far I have had little response to any blogs. When I do get a question or comment, and I always respond to these, I never get a response to my response. I was whining to the Lord about this and He said that I should do the blogs for my own wellfare in order to fix the ideas in my own mind and life and quit worrying about anyone else listening in. STILL, if anyone would like to engage in a debate or add ideas or seek clarification or share how what I write helps, I’d be aided by that.

LIGHTEN UP!

Feel tense at times? Her are a few scripture inspired ramblings you might read and remind yourself, as I often do, of why anxiety is just plain ludicrous considering:
Isaiah 14;14 Fear not, thou worm Verle, and all your friends; I will help you, saith the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

If what I am now doing isn’t because God wants it done THEY WHY AM I DOING IT? If he does want it done then I should do it but get up at a reasonable time, whistle while I work, and get a good nights sleep. (My version of Psalms 127) Don’t waste any tension on tomorrow not even about necessities such as food and clothing(God know I need that do I really think he’s too busy or sleeping to handle his part? ie tomorrow.) Don’t wallow in yesterday but grab all the  good God has for me today. Besides, what do I vex my spirit over? I’m just going to die and rot and only God will remember anything I’ve done, and he already likes me so much that when I was his enemy Christ died for me. Besides, if God freely gave his only begotten son for me, do I really think he won’t give me whatever else I need to avoid sin (the only thing worth worrying about) He is faithful and will with the trial you face give me the way to avoid sin. Don ‘t forget, NOTHING, can snatch me from his love, NOT EVEN MY OWN WISHYWASHYNESS. Besides God knows I’m just dust, He fashioned me, so he only expects me to do DO WHAT LITTLE  I AM ABLE to move my body part in obedience to his principles empowered by his Grace:  not to be perfect or get perfect results, and when I’ve done what I can I’m a success in his eyes through faithful obedience, no matter what result he chooses to bring from my efforts. He has overcome the world, besides if I can’t add a smidgeon to my height by worry so why worry about the big things that are God’s to take care of. Remember that however this(whatever this I’m fussing about) turns out, it can’t affect my worth or power or strength because these all come from God. Besides, look around me, how carefully God takes care of the birds and trees, I think he can handle me. Don’t forget all the toils and snares His Grace has already brought me through. Remember that you are not in this alone He is with me and my hand is in his and it is his will that I also reach out to fellow believers and walk each trial with help letting them bear my overburden. Keeping my eye on the prize remembering all the good that is and will still be there no matter how this current trial ends. Lastly nothing lasts forever and next thing I know I will be like Him for I will see Him face to face.

SPIRIT POSSESSION by God or the Devil: take your pick

The things that are most neglected by the body of Christ are probably the most important ie: fellowship, grace, prayer and mutual accountability.

THE DEVIL IS  CRAFTY He will let you focus on one area of the religious walk so that, although off balance and dysfunctional in other areas, you may believe that you are doing well. Others looking at your life will see your overstriving in one area and neglecting others. They will conclude that the religious life is impossible,(which it is apart from God, so they conclude “why wast the energy trying?”) or they will react to your pressured pushing of one aspect and reject the whole area of religion. (Which is what they want to do and are looking at you to find the excuse to do so.)

The devil speaks out of both sides of his mouth and lies out of both sides. (A neat little trick of his!) First he will suggest that you are fine because you do this or that better and more accurately than others:OR he will point out your imbalance and suggest that you give up because if you are not perfect in all areas you are still a lawbreaker so why try? (Make up your mind devil, which is it?). He replies “Whichever lie gets you all bound up or smug but either way useless to God but Oh so useful to me!”.

GOD IS WISE: He says that you don’t have to DO anything to earn or maintain your worth or his love for you but that, if you would walk moment by moment with him, you will discover yourself using all of his marvelous tools and gifts. Experiencing love for the enemy, joy in loss,peace in battle, patience with the impatient, gentleness with the rough, kindness to the mean. You will find yourself using the tools of prayer, study of the word, application of the word to your moment by moment reactions,application of the word to needy people, singing in your heart and out loud for emotional balance, telling others about your experiences with boldness, asking fellow believers for feedback and accountability, living in the now and seizing the challenges with gusto and the present delights with gratitude and pleasure.

This never comes from RELIGION and doesn’t even seem to come from regular church participation or from trying hard to be good. It only comes from RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. In all your ways seek to know his nature better, to ask him what he thinks what he wants to do. Tell him your realistic pains fears worries hopes joys.

I have seen demon possessed people in India, witchdoctors and their followers and even have run into some here in this country who are possessed of demons. These people do not do anything on their own. They are owned by the spirit that possesses them and it destroys their choice and personality.

When the Holy Spirit invades he never destroys our personality,(why should he he designed it?) He never robs you of choice, (why should he your free will choice is one of his most awesome accomplishments?) However you must moment by moment STOP and ask him what he thinks and feels and wants to do and how you might yield to him. Consider the hymn by Mr. and Mrs Whittle:

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;
Living with Jesus, a new life divine;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Never a trial that He is not there,
Never a burden that He doth not bear,
Never a sorrow that He doth not share,
Moment by moment, I’m under His care.Never a heartache, and never a groan,
Never a teardrop and never a moan;
Never a danger but there on the throne,
Moment by moment He thinks of His own.Never a weakness that He doth not feel,
Never a sickness that He cannot heal;
Moment by moment, in woe or in weal,
Jesus my Savior, abides with me still.

Luke 16:13

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

John 14:10King James Version (KJV)

10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. (May we follow his blessed example and let ourselves be possessed by the Holy Spirit moment by moment)

OUR TREMENDOUS LOVER

What is the proper focus for a christian? REMAIN IN HIS LOVE

Some churches emphasize the Bible, studying it preaching it memorizing it, others emphasize singing and praise, others urge to go witnessing, others encourage a life of holiness, others the need to rest in grace. I think that all these and other things of value are wrapped up in being a good wife to my eternal lover. I’ve been re-reading HindsFeet on High Places, and my Shepherd bridegroom has been using the allegory to call me into a walk of greater love with Him.

I always seem to be relearning Basic Love 101.

Revelation 2:2

“Verle, (Put your own name in) I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.– “Thank you lord, I appreciate you noticing and being pleased with all that!”

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because THOU HAST LEFT THY FIRST LOVE.– “OUCH!”

I always had trouble with my children getting them to realize that the purpose of doing a task or experiencing an outing together was not about the task or the outing. It was about sharing and building memories and getting to know each other better, and I especially hoped they would get to know me better.

If I came home and my wife were to keep a perfect house and cook perfect food and care for the children perfectly and do perfect handicrafts etc etc. but didn’t like to hang out with me and enjoy being with me, ALL THE REST WOULD NOT COUNT. In the love chapter of 1 corinthians 13 I usually interpreted agape love to mean that, by God’s grace, I was to love other people like that: but it also means that all those achievements would mean nothing if I have not agape for my immortal bridegroom and revel in His love for me.

Perhaps the most important book in the Bible is the SONG OF SONGS after all.

Romans 7:4

Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Revelation 21:9

And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

Ephesians 5:25

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.

29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

As any healthy groom, my groom is jealous. Do you remember the difference between envy and jealousy? He will fight for our relationship against anything that would get in the way of the relationship and love between groom and bride– even all the labour and patience and fighting for the right etc.

PRAYER-“Lord and lover, thank you for knowing me and still loving me and wanting to be in me and live through me and share with me in all my thoughts and events. Help me to overcome my fears of intimacy and learn to be real with you, and thank you for your persistence and never quit drawing me to a deeper love even beyond the first love we shared at the start.”

THE HOUND OF HEAVEN
Francis Thompson

(FOR THE BRILLIANT ORIGINAL-go online)

-this is the poem made a bit more accessible by Verle Bell)

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days; I fled Him, through the years; I fled Him, in the twisted thoughts of my own mind;

I sought to hide from Him, in tears or laughter. Up emotional highs I sped; And shot, down into gloomy fears, I ran from those strong Feet that followed, followed after.

But with un-hurrying chase, And unperturbèd pace, Deliberate speed, majestic constancy, Beat on those feet, and with them a Voice beat More instant than the Feet—
(JESUS) ‘All things betray you, who betray Me’.

I plead, desperate for a place to hide (For, though I knew His love Who followed,                       Yet was I consumed with dread Lest, having Him, I must have nothing else beside.) But, if one little door for me was parted wide, The gust of His approach would clash it to: Fear’s urge to hide was weaker than Love’s urge to pursue.
Across deserts of the world I fled, And reached up to the gateway of the stars, Seeking in science, shelter from His love; I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon; Hide me in the mists of Dawn the hush of Eve from this tremendous Lover— Float your vague veil about me, lest He see! I tempted all His servants, only to find My own betrayal in their constancy, In faith to Him their fickleness to me, Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.

I sought the thrill of speed; Clung to the whistling mane of every wind. But whether I swept,The long savannas of the blue; Or, whether, I surged past danger close at hand
Still with un-hurrying chase, And unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic constancy, Came on the following Feet, And a Voice above their beat— (JESUS) ‘Nothing shelters you, who will not shelter Me.’

I sought no more for help In face of man or maid; But still within the little children’s eyes Seems something, something that replies, They at least are for me, surely for me! I turned me to them very wistfully; But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair With dawning answers there, Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.

Come then, ye other children, Nature’s—share With me’ (said I) ‘your delicate fellowship; Let me greet you lip to lip, Let me twine with you caresses,.’ So it was done: I in their delicate fellowship was one— Drew the bolt of Nature’s secrecies. I knew all the changing faces of skies; I knew what makes the clouds arise; I studied all that’s born or dies I tied my moods to Natures moods I laughed in the morning’s eyes. I triumphed and I saddened with all weather, In vain my tears were wet on Heaven’s grey cheek. For ah! we know not what each other says,

Nigh and nigh draws the chase, With unperturbed pace, Deliberate speed, majestic constancy; And past those noisèd Feet A voice comes yet more fleet— ‘Lo! nothing contents you, who does not content Me.’

Naked I wait Thy love to strike me down! Already You have knocked me to my knee; I am defenseless utterly.

I spent my youth’s passion running full of fears And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears, I stand amidst the dust of wasted years— My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap. Yet apart from you I cannot even plan Nor play the flute you place within my hand; Ah! is Thy love indeed A weed, yes a gorgeous weed, but one that lets no other flowers grow?,
Ah! must— Designer infinite!— Ah! must You burn the wood before You use it? In my despair I hear a distant trumpet sound. His name I know, who follows and what his trumpet says.

Now comes that voice Surrounds me like a bursting sea:

(JESUS) “Lo, all things fly you, who fly from Me!” ‘Strange, piteous, futile thing! Why should anyone save their love for you? Since only I can make something out of nothing’ (He said), ‘And human love must be earned: What have you earned or yet hope to earn?— You of all man’s clotted clay the dingiest clot? Alas, you little realize, How little worthy of any love you are! Who will you find to love ignoble you, Save Me, save only Me? All which I took from you I did but take, Not for your harm, But just that you might seek it in My arms. All which your child’s mistake Fancies as lost, I have stored for you at home: Rise, clasp My hand, and come!’

He halts beside me and I think Is my gloom, after all, just the Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?

(JESUS) ‘Ah, you my love, though blind and weak, I am He for whom you seek! You drove love from you, who fled from Me.’