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.

YOUR JOB? REMEMBER, PICTURE, ACT IN THE FACT

Do you get tired at times? Of course. Yet, if you are doing your part of any endeavor, God will give you grace. So, if you are tired you must be doing God’s part of the endeavor. Job’s to big for anyone and God stubbornly refuses to give me grace to do his part.

How do I cooperate with the Holy Spirit to consistently remember, picture and act in the fact of who I am in him?

Here are the STEPS OF REPROGRAMMING THAT I share at work.

IDENTIFY a pattern to reprogram (ie trying to do God’s part for him), Admit that I do and don’t minimize or deny or water my pattern down. Realize that these patterns burn me out and rob me of joy, besides, just don’t work on the problem at hand.

  1. NOTICE that I am, right now, reacting to a life trigger by: letting my brain circle on: how stupid and bad I am, how I used to do better, how others are doing, all the bad outcomes possible, searching for solutions I can’t see, just how bad it all is, etc.
  2. DO NOT yell at myself for “doing it again” Jesus knows I’m made of dust.
  3. DO ASK, “What am I supposed to do about the situation I am tense about right now?” Then do the little I can. Yield my members slaves to God.
  4. GIVE MY BRAIN permission to quit going round and round if there is nothing to be done right now. It will not find a solution but rather burn itself out. Give my brain permission to quit motivating myself with negatives. It does not result in higher function. Then ask myself “what advice I would give someone else just like me in the same situation?” Then consider my own advice.
  5. REFOCUS ON THE NOW, (Who am I where am I what is the sweet little piece of life passing in front of me right now that all this round and round would cause me to miss?):a.What do I have in my life. b.WHO do I have in my life now. c.WHAT can I do
  6. .INVEST IN THESE THREE:a.Savor what I do have, my food, drink, clothes, shelter, music, nature, etc.(even if what I have doesn’t seem like much, it’s what I do have! b.Engage with who I do have in my life, love on them don’t try to fix them. (even if who I have are pretty limited and messed up. They are who I have! c.Those things my hands find to do: do with all my might, (even if it feels like I can’t do much! Just don’t get uptight)
  7. SEE OBEDIENCE AS VALUABLE EVEN IF IT DOESN’T MAKE ANYTHING FEEL BETTER RIGHT AWAY a.Investing large amounts of thought and energy in the NOW and then moving on, will not wear out the brain and allows the brain to slowly reprogram responses. (Don’t forget that reprogramming take 3 months of consistent practice.) b.Doing the healthy thing always leads to short term worsening of anxiety depression or problems in relationships but then to long term improvement. So we need to validate our efforts even if we feel worse or don’t get immediate benefit.

ACT IN THE FACT

Folks in AA often quote the phrase, “Fake it till you make it”

As a Christian in Christ and Christ in me, I much prefer the phrase, “ACT IN THE FACT!”

I like 2Peter 3:11 Seeing then that all these things (are so) , what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?

Now Peter is talking about the certain destruction of all current matter, but I think the idea aplys to our positional truths as well.

SO WHAT?

WHAT MANNER OF PERSON SHOULD I BE?

I am dead to sin——————-

I am alive to God——————

I am immortal——————–

I am a child of the creator of all——

I can do all things through Christ—–

I am the chief of sinners forgiven—–

I am to let my light SO SHINE that people will see my good works and conclude there is a God. For this to occur I must ACT IN THE FACT of who I already am in Christ.

But, you object, I don’t feel these truths and instead I struggle on the inside with comparison, anger, self contempt, fear of the future, fear of the opinions of men, confusion, lust etc.

The verse doesn’t say to feel in the fact  but to BE (Greek word hupoarcho) which means to begin and continue in the facts flowing to us from God. Like all adopted children, we have the right and power to act in the love and provisions of our new parents and respond with gratitude and love and delight in the things they make possible. As only makes sense, present yourself a living sacrifice.

So, fellow adoptee—-ACT IN THE FACT. Stop cringing when He goes to hug you, stop acting as though his rules are there to spoil your fun. You are loved.

IS JESUS ENOUGH FOR YOU?

We are all familiar with the discussion of  FAITH not WORKS. Boy is it a struggle not to want to attach some of our security and worth to what we do compared with others because “grace doesn’t feel quite adequate: or to skate by doing little and even wallowing in sin and refusing to examine ourselves because “It’s all under grace, all under the blood.”

There is a similar struggle with our need for JESUS vs. our need for OTHERS.

I feel that it is safe to say that Faith is enough, but if it doesn’t manifest in works then something is wrong. In a similar manner Jesus is enough, more than enough, but he himself will lead us to minister to and receive from others. If we have no burden for others or delight in fellowship and in being part of their growth: then can we be truly focused on Jesus. After all he is focused on them and if we are watching him we will give attention to what he cares about.

Still there are times in life where we may not have ANYONE else listening to us, enjoying our presence, affirming our differences, or even paying attention. Sure we have facebook and the illusion of others involvement. It used to be that lonely people were left in a deep quietness and had to feel the pain and run to God and reach out to others. Then came books and TV and now the internet which can give the illusion of relationship but often leave us empty.

First we must be OK if all we ever have is Jesus. Yet he is invisible  and doesn’t help with the dishes. Still if we work at talking to him all the time it helps. Pray without ceasing, do not cease to pray for others, give thanks always for all things. In all your ways seek to know him better. His presence will grow if we are faithful to listen in the still small voice when we are still and know.

It is fine to ask him for others in your life who can help you better picture how he feels about you.  It’s not like a wife asking her husband if he wouldn’t mind if she had other boyfriends. It’s a lot more like enjoying your parents and the siblings as well. As long as you hold ALL relationships in an open palm, so that, if they were removed, you might say. My Jesus you gave me this relationship, thanks. Now you have taken it, thanks that you never leave me nor forsake me.

WHAT DO YOU WANT?-ASK!

The Lord asks the blind man what he wants, it was obvious, but He wanted the man to exercise faith by asking. He tells the king to ask Him for something, anything, and the king says “No, I don’t want to presume.” Then the Lord gets angry and says, “If I tell you to ask, it isn’t presumption if you do, it’s presumption if you don’t”. He says, “Don’t let your heart condemn you and question if you are saved or not, agree with me that I know more than you do, and I love you, because, if you wallow in self condemnation, you will have no confidence AND YOU WON’T ASK and if you don’t ask, YOU WON’T RECEIVE.

The Lord loves to raise passion and desire in our hearts so that when we receive from Him we are filled with gratitude and worship, and we will know that He cares and is intimately involved in our lives.

I had a “little” example of this the other day. (I don’t believe there are any truly little things, after all He counts the hair still left on my head.) I was riding my bicycle in the snow at 15 degrees and my ears were cold. I developed a desire for a hat with flaps, then I had a picture in my mind of one with red plaid, sort of a rugged woodsman’s hat. I went to Menards and was looking through their hats. No hats with flaps in sight. I was about to leave when I spied a bit of red flannel plaid deep under the pile and dug through. There was one and only one hat in the entire place which fit the description of what I was looking for; and the further proof of God’s care, it fit my head! I have always had trouble finding one that fit even with lots to pick from.

We already have so much from Him that we can be infinitely grateful no matter what we want or what we receive; still He seems to like to have us ask and receive for our needs. Sometimes He just wants us to desire, to pray , to work towards something and then leads in another direction. David wanted to build the temple but God said NO! but your son will. Yet David was able to gather the material. One man developed a desire to go the India and create a Jesus movie made by India people for Indian people. He got to India and found that a perfect movie had already just been made. He was puzzled , but God showed him that his real role was in organizing the distribution of the movie. Yet the desire was needed for God to guide him to the real need.

God loves passion, strong passion, over the top passion, to hate evil, hunger for righteousness, long for people to be saved and to grow, love his people, love Him with ALL our heart mind and strength, do everything with all our might,then ASK HIM for things in regards to these, especially MORE OF HIMSELF. I think we fear that, if we long for something and don’t get it right away, we will be miserable and angry at God. So we must start with being OK with what is , and OK with God’s timetable but full of passion nonetheless.

I once taught a sundayschool class and would split the whiteboard into PRAISES AND REQUESTS. People had lots of vague requests for health and things, none for more character and none for opportunities to witness to others, none for grace to overcome personal sin. Do we ask and receive not because we ask for the wrong things and for the wrong goals?

When is the last time you ASKED GOD for more of his character, for specific tools to carry out his work, for specific blessing on those around you especially on your enemies?

 

 

 

 

WANT, BUT BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WANT!

God gave them the desire of their heart; (but they did not want Him and his ways and his character) so He sent leanness to their souls.

A famous anonymous prayer written by a Confederate Soldier in the Civil War

I asked God for strength that I might achieve, I was made weak, that I might learn to humbly obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness, that I might feel the need for God.

I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life; I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.  I am, among all, most richly blessed.

God knows what is best for us.  He is never in a hurry and does not have deadlines.  Our God is a HUGE God:  bigger than any problem, sorrow, or hardship.  Go to Him and humbly receive His grace, mercy and love.

We seem to think that God charges too much for his paltry gifts! We quip, ” Don’t ask God for patience, He’ll give you trials!” YEA? SO?

We give each other gifts at Christmas to celebrate the greatest gift of all: GOD’S OWN SON TO DIE IN OUR PLACE!

God still likes to give good gifts to his children, we just don’t like the wrapping paper sometimes.

THIS CHRISTMAS:Why not consider asking for some of the following? Then expect to receive and  thrill in the process of the delivery and maturation of the gifts in your life: Ask for the ABILITY TO LOVE the irritating unloving people in our lives; to choose JOY in the midst of loss; PEACE in the midst of life’s constant war; PATIENCE with the demanding impatient drivers and shoppers around you; GENTLENESS with the rough; KINDNESS towards the unkind; GODLINESS towards those who reject god and resent anyone who acts as though God is real.

How big a gift can you expect? God loves analogies to help our brains comprehend his wisdom. Try this: buy a bag of flour (it’s cheap and worth the cost) find a container less than half the size of the bag, pour flour into the container till full, scrape it even, then pour the flour in a pile on the counter: start a new pile by refilling the container but find something to press the flour down, then pour more on top till it mounds up and starts to spill on the counter around, about an extra cup worth, now pour out the contents to add to the spilled pile, now compare the two piles. God does not put you down for taking so long to ask. He does not consider the asking stupid.  God gives; pressed down heaped up and running over!

MAY YOUR GIFTS THIS CHRISTMAS BE SO ABUNDANT THAT THEY SPILL OVER ON ALL THE PEOPLE IN YOUR HOME FAMILY CHURCH JOB, ON  FELLOW DRIVERS AND SHOPPERS!

WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?

I remember being ridiculed as a youngster ( when I felt that I was, once again, being overlooked and ignored) for whining “How about me?” This was one of myriad events that convinced me that, even when almost perfect, I was nobody and, if I screwed up, I was less than nobody.

As I often claim, and no one believes me, I am terribly shy. I had to do a discharge lecture today to 20 people rather than the usual 2. It was terrible but the Lord helped me fight through my shyness and do a decent job. So it was with difficulty that I pushed myself to offer to sing a solo at church. They seemed to have only a few who did all the solos and I thought that they just didn’t have volunteers. I was told that “We don’t want to lift up individuals so we don’t let people sing solos” That didn’t seem to jibe with having the same 3 people do all the solos including the person telling me that we don’t want stars.

When some disciples went to Jesus and asked him, “What’s in this for us?” He didn’t yell at them but pointed out that no one will sacrifice anything for the kingdom without receiving 100 fold more in return.

We are commanded to “Lay up for yourself treasures in heaven” God loves to give good gifts to us.

Think about it. How would it cause any trouble to spend our energy laying up treasure above? Of course this is achieved by giving up material things now and fame and power and relationships if necessary.

Look up the words treasure and rewards and you will be amazed on how strongly God wants us to picture and be motivated towards heavenly rewards.

There are three parts to INIQUITY a. deciding for myself what is right or wrong, b. doing what I have decided is right in my way and in my strength, c. moaning and groaning about how hard obedience is. It seems to me that all three of these are defeated by being motivated by treasure in heaven. Treasure will only be given if we ask God what he wants us to do and how he wants it done, then doing it in his strength and delighting in the privilege of being a fellow servant, soldier, and laborer and in the future reward.

As I marched through 12 years of college, I kept my focus on the prize of becoming a doctor and it made the marching a pleasure, even the not sleeping and the long hours. (Not so sure it was worth it) However, let me assure you that there will be no such second guessing about whether it was worth it when you see your pile of treasure in heaven.

 

 

REWIRE YOUR BRAIN!

And be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing  (metamorphosis) of your mind. Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus. For His ways are not my ways nor His thoughts my thoughts. So take every thought into captivity. As I think in my heart so am I. Without Christ and salvation it is impossible to think Gods thoughts after Him but after salvation we still need to allow the transformation and do the work for His thoughts to dominate.

STEPS FOR REWIRING THE BRAIN: (Don’t forget it takes three months of consistent effort to let the old programming die and the new to become the default automatic response.)

  1. ADMIT, the specific way of thinking that needs to change, thoughts of anxiety, anger, frustration, judgmentality, self contempt, works, rights, etc.
  2. DON’T YELL AT SELF for having the thoughts. This just leads to pretending that I have already arrived and am already perfect. The Lord isn’t caught by surprise that I have fallen back into old lines of reasoning. He know the clay of which I am made.
  3. ASSURE MY BRAIN that it is OK TO LET GO of the round and round worry or motivation with self contempt, or protecting myself with bitter review of hurts etc.  The brain thinks that it will find solutions by continuing to worry. NO! It is really fine to cast all my cares on Him. He really does care for me.
  4. ASK “What does God want me to do about the thing I am focusing on right now? If He wants me to do, then do! If it is not my job, then don’t! If it can’t be done till later, then how will I remember? then let it go. If there is nothing for me to do right now then:
  5. REFOCUS by asking the following questions:

a. Where am I right now and what is going on in front of me?

b. What has God given me? Savor and steward it.

c. Who has God placed in my life? Cherish and encourage and build and relate to them.

d. What can I do? Then do it with all my might.

6. REST IN THE JOY OF OBEDIENCE. No matter the outcome I am a success if I have obeyed. Continue reading