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.

Advertisements

FREE WILL PART ONE

A friend recently asked me to discuss this fine topic.HAH! Like I will be able to convince anyone or compete with the “Great” minds of history!

Asking someone to discus free will is like inviting someone to spit on half of their friends.

FREE WILL: If my actions feel or think in a godly way, then God gets ALL the credit

BUT I get the blessing

If my actions,feelings or thoughts are harmful I get all the ‘credit’

God is just in giving me the curse.

Deuteronomy 11:26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing if you obey and a curse if ye will not obey.

I remember one lady who had found grace to let go of a terrible habit. She said “I give God 60 % of the credit, I give you (that’s me) 25% and keep 15% for herself”!    I said, “God forbid, give it all to him! Quick.”  She objected , “If I have the consequences for sin why can’t I take credit for obedience?” Because without him we can do NOTHING, John 15;5,      all we have that is good comes from him, James 1;17.

Seems fair to me. If I had a great idea for a company that would make things to bless others and had no money, so I go to a venture capitalist. He says, ” I will give you 100 million dollars free and clear and you may spend it on your idea but I want to guide you to success and then put MY NAME on the company but you may keep all the profits! What kind of fool would be so big on his  own control and fame to turn down such an offer? DON’T ANSWER! You knew the the answer was Verle Bell and probably even you! For such were some of us, but we got to the end of our stupidity and accepted  God’s ‘venture capital” of GRACE. So now the great-giver is boss, He gets all the credit and we get the blessing. Oh praise his holy generosity!

So, some gift!  Free will means that I CAN’T say yes to being his bride or obeying him on my own but I  CAN say no.  : FREE WILL: THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE WHOSE SLAVE WE WILL BE  by accepting grace for obedience to God: or by resisting the Grace that has appeared to all men,Titus 2:11, and saying NO which IS obedience to the devil!

He designs me to be unable to choose without his awakening and empowering and YET my choice still counts. I may not be the water behind the dam or the dam or the pipe or the generator or the wires empowering homes but I am the valve that can stop the flow and reroute it over the dam causing havoc, OR I can get out of the way and watch the power flow.

Still, this choice makes all the difference and justifies this whole mess of a world! IT DOES COUNT! When I let go and let God, He can take my life and run with it and he can be in a lover relationship with me without it being perverted! Imagine if I made a perfect virtual reality wife for myself as in the movie Stepford wives. I could design her to always agree with me and fix my favorite foods and never make unreasonable demands and tell me how wonderful I was but if I “loved” this robot emotionally you would consider me crazy. If I had sex with this machine you would consider me a pervert. If God made the illusion of choice in a robot he had created but there was no real choice, and he wanted intimate relationship with this robot, he too would be a crazy pervert. Besides, where would be the satisfaction. A crazy despot might get all his people to sing his praises and “love” him but it would mean nothing. Look at the ruler of North Korea or Hitler or bad bosses or adults molesting children. They all force the illusion of love and compliance. I don’t think that God wants to join that group. It is the devil who promises you can be your own boss then strips you of all identity and choice. God is a gentleman and never forces himself on unwilling partners. When I married Lois, she was terrified the damage from her parents perversions  would preclude any ability to be a good wife or mother. She would have gladly taken a “good wife” pill and argued that it would still be free will since she had decided to give away her free will. NO, NO,NO! She must choose me daily, or not, but when she does it means something. Then I am sane and holy in accepting her choice. In the same way I can not get rid of my free will but must daily take up my cross and follow him, daily present my body a LIVING sacrifice holy and which, thank God, is acceptable to him.

What an awesome accomplishment, to make a being that one could have a holy relationship with BECAUSE THE RELATIONSHIP IS FREELY ACCEPTED BY THE CHOSEN ONE. Yes, FREE WILL God’s greatest most misterious creation.

 

 

REJOICE, AND AGAIN I SAY REJOICE

INIQUITY = Deciding for myself what is right, doing this “right” in my own strength and moaning and groaning about how hard it is to do “good” so that we get extra credit from others.

In the middle of your brain is a device known as the limbic system which God intends to fill you and your life with PASSION! Information comes flowing into the system and is processed by the amygdala to ascribe the proper emotion: fear, hope, love,pleasure, excitement, anger, loneliness, guilt, anger etc. this then goes round and round in the hypocampus pushing you to DO SOMETHING! When you have finished doing, there is a branch of the hypocampus which REMEMBERS THE PASSION and if the result of doing was pleasant it decides to watch for the chance to repeat. If the result was painful it watches to block you from repeating.

However, we are so messed up that we find pleasure in sin. We find godliness on the other hand, boring, embarrassing, tiring, scary, hard etc. I have a picture of three puppies looking mournful and the caption is, “It’s so hard to be good” . We smile and nod but it is a dangerous attitude. By finding sin pleasurable: unhealthy food, laziness, procrastination, indulging in controlling others with anger, doing less at work, etc. ; we train the long term memory of the hypocampus to DO THAT AGAIN! When we obey, but moan and groan about it, we train the long term memory to say LET’S FIND WAYS TO DO THAT LESS. I know of people who are putting off salvation because they see God as the big spoilsport in the sky so they are going to have their “fun” until they are all burned out and then give the remains for God to suck the life out of!

You may find responses that you have trained into your hypocampus which need to be changed and your logical frontal lobe agrees with God that you need to change. You might even catch yourself and try more godly responses, BUT if you MOAN AND GROAN on how hard it is, your passion-center will not let itself be reprogrammed, it will never learn to delight in God’s ways and you will always fall back into sin.

The problem is that sin and the world give powerful quick pleasure and relief and we compare this with how quickly godliness gives us pleasure and relief. We must picture the long term pleasure, health and benefits of obedience and assure our limbic system that this new way is delightful. For example if you sin by “putting up” with your job instead of being grateful and working even for an irritating boss as if you were working for Jesus, then you try to work more conscientiously but have a long face and feel like God owes you one for your obedience. You will never retrain the limbic system to hunger for and delight in work. I remember a lady who God helped quit using cocaine! For 6 months she thought that God owed her for giving up her wonderful cocaine. Then she realized that she owed God for taking away her artificial “high” her false god and replacing the false high with family friends and himself. Remember Lot’s wife, she obeyed and felt sorry for herself. Having put our hands to the task don’t look back.

Over and over we read in God’s word that we are to REJOICE  in the ordinary things or everyday life that he places in front of us, wives (or husbands) food labor clothes opportunities to minister.

Let me review for you the steps of reprogramming the long term passion memory so that obedience comes more automatic and natural:

  1. Identify the current passion programming
  2. predict what could trigger this response and prepare with accountability
  3. catch the old programming kicking in during a life situation (all reprogramming occurs during an obedience event and not during a sermon or counseling session)
  4. don’t yell at yourself or make excuses or moan “I just can’t resist”
  5. do assure your habit brain that God’s ways have to be better than your old way
  6. OBEY, yield your body members slaves to God “Know ye not that ye are the servants of whom you yield your members to obey?”
  7. Notice the sense of cleanness peace and the good blessings that accrue to you and others such as a good night’s sleep
  8. REJOICE and point out to your habit brain”Now wasn’t that a whole lot better! Boy obeying God is great!”

Now, slowly over about 3 months the old passion programming will fade and the new man will be strengthened.

SAVORING GODLINESS

What a man sows he will reap. We live in a cause and effect world. If you do the healthy things you will do better than if you don’t. We realize this and agree with the Lord that his ways are better, so we have a good attitude but poor application. We put off exercising daily or eating healthy or getting enough sleep or reaching out to invest in others, or obtaining feedback that we might grow or taking time for personal re-creation or for fellowship with God etc. because we are planning to but JUST NOT YET! What’s the big deal? Do we see godliness and health as boring, hard work unsatisfying, difficult, limiting? YUP we do!

So we intend to, or we start in a partially sold out partially committed, half-hearted way. The Bible says, “try that on your governor and see how that goes”. Malachi 2:6 We know that God is worthy of worship and that his ways are better than ours but it does not always occur to us that part of worship is “Tasting and seeing that the Lord is good”, “Hungering and thirsting after righteousness as a long running deer thirsts after a cool mountain stream”

An analogy might be when we move from eating doughnuts to eating whole wheat bread, from jam to healthier things. At first the healthy is experienced as boring. When we experience life, certain things are pleasurable and we program our urge center to dump out dopamine even when thinking about obtaining the enjoyed person place or thing. The more we savor the enjoyed thing, the stronger the urge to do it again. But if we indulge in unhealthy and non God rewards they always let us down by loosing their pleasure. Yet they don’t seem to lose their pull on us when we are anticipating them. So we long for them, get them, get a diminishing reward but yet want more. When we chose godly healthy things, they may seem dull at first but they satisfy, make us rich and add no sorrow with them. Proverbs 10:22

It is an act of worship to slow down and savor what God gives us, our food, drink, clothes, houses, tools, people, health. We need to savor the good guiltless sleep he gives us when we resist sin and obey. We need to never-never do the right thing and expect extra credit by moaning and groaning about it. NO when we obey, don’t let others know so that we might get appreciated. Why should we be appreciated for doing that which is a privilege and brings blessing and joy. Instead rejoice and savor the moment as the Holy Spirit empowers you to do that which is healthy and right. If you go on a diet and the night before you go out and pig out you are telling your habit/urge part of the brain to pretend that you want to be healthy but look for ways to fail. Instead delight in the hunger and picture the blessing and that you have such a simple way to join in the sufferings of obedience and savor what ever is on your diet.

We used to suggest that people should get high on life. NO we need to enjoy and savor and feel peace and joy and hope but God has built a molecule into your brain to prevent highs from normal life. We want to be high and die when we should want to savor and live! Continue reading

THEY DID THE BEST THEY COULD?

Everyone receives enough grace from God to admit that they are messed up and need help and to cooperate with that help!

As a severe co-dependent, I love to let everyone off the hook. If I were the judge in the last day, I would go up to the last person in line and say “why did you do all those bad things?” When they gave me a long spiel about their tough childhood, the bad examples of their society, how they have done the best they could considering; their parents and siblings and life stress, their struggle with physical illness, how they were born too anxious, angry, lustful etc. etc. I would probably let them off the hook. Then I would go to their parents and say. “Why did you raise that poor person that way?” Of course they would start in with the excuses.

I heard a great quote the other day, “The only one who believes an excuse is the one making it.” And me of course and a few other co-dependents.

I’m sure it won’t be that way in the judgment but each man and woman will give account for what they did with the reality they faced. No it isn’t our job to be strong and overcome, but IS our job: 1. to admit that we are messed up and come from a people that are messed up. Isaiah 6:5   2. That we can’t fix ourselves or even see how messed up. “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9    3. To examine ourselves I Corinthians 11:28 ask for feedback, reward feedback and benefit from feedback. Proverbs 9:8 Rebuke a wise man and he will love thee.

Adam and Eve started the mess with excuses and blame and we have kept up the pattern. If we admit that we are so messed up that we can’t even see how badly or in what ways and ask God to “search my heart and know my ways and lead me in new paths.” Psalms 139:23; then God will help us grow and make up for our trouble seeing.

I was a transitional generation. I was not raised by my parents or anyone for that matter. So when I came to try to parent my children I had no clue, but I knew that I had no clue and was open to the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and friends and even my children in trying to do the job. I could have  fallen back on the tired old “I did the best I could” or instead go for “I did the best that I and my feedback team could.” Sometimes it may seem unfair to try to give what you never received but this world has little to do with fairness, (would you REALLY want to get what you REALLY deserve?) And I did want to let God give my family the best that he could given my limitations.

BOY I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU!

Just what does a really healthy person experience in regards to delighting in their God given design and the life He has given them?

When I discharge people from the day hospital, I sometimes tell them that my goal for them is that in a couple  of years they might wake up, sit on the edge of their bed and feel intensely sorry for everyone else on the planet because the other people can’t be them, and being them is just so cool. Yet, not being them is OK because they can be themselves and that is pretty cool too. Of course, they laugh out loud at the absurdity of the possibility that they might like being themselves so much that they would feel sorry for others.

In Acts 26 29 Paul says, ” I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” Now he was rejoicing in his being a Christian, but I think it went deeper and he had come to accept who he was, his time in history, his past, God’s unique design for each person, the tasks at hand etc. and he really could recommend to others “being like him”.  I Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me as I follow Christ. Galatians 4 :12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am. I Corinthians 7:7 For I would that all men were even as I myself. (single and celebate) This is what he was called to and he rejoiced in it not feeling sorry for himself.

Does feeling wonderful about all that your in present reality is true about you  seem ridiculous to you? Maybe you need to take who you are, where you are, when you are, who are your people, what you are able to do, what you do have, who you are in Christ, and walk the second mile with them. The first mile would be to stop resenting them. We often feel that it is somehow spiritual to put ourselves down, but we are God’s workmanship and he has done a good job on each one. Those who feel like the least are actually the most important! The second mile is to rejoice and be grateful for all your current realities especially the ones you can do nothing about. The third mile is to seize a hold of those realities and enjoy what we have, minister to and love on and receive from who we have, and whatever your hands find to do; to do with all your might. The fourth mile is to delight in what the Lord has done in making you and preparing you to be the right one for the job and lastly bringing him glory by sharing with others how cool it is to be you and how cool it would be if they would let the Lord have his way in their reality as well.

Now we seek to grab the present reality and live it for God with enthusiam. This does not mean that we don’t try to grow and set limits and alter that reality as God leads. It just means that we start being grateful for the current reality and follow God’s lead from there.

SMILE THOUGH YOUR HEART IS BREAKING.

I was very encouraged by the replies to my last post. I went back to my opthalmologist and, by not using my left eye for two weeks the problem has settled down. Just another part of getting old I guess. She said that I can use both eyes now, just don’t read without my glasses and not too long.

The scriptures suggest that we should be aware of what we are saying with our faces and our body posture and the way we care for ourselves. Do we look people in the eye and SMILE, or look blankly past them?Do we lean towards them when they are talking or look slightly preoccupied? I was saying that we need a class at church on how to say with our bodies that God is on the throne and we are happy to be here with those around us. Pastor said that the people would not stand any such practical guidance. So what do we do with all that general preaching? Do we assume that we must be applying it well? Do we assume that we ARE lending our body parts as slaves to God including our faces and body posture. Well from what I see, there is room for improvement in this area. So I’m going to stand in front of the mirror this week and  practice smiling and looking interested and pleased to see you etc.

There are so many vicious circles in life. One of them is the circle between our habit brain deciding that there is some value to continuing to focus on our misery even when there is nothing to do about it. We expect, I suppose, to find a solution at last, or at least to get someone else to notice and help us or at least reward us with their sympathy. This choice to worry or ruminate on the details of past hurt or past failure or of a current situation we can do nothing about: causes our passion center to send signals into the body to dump out adrenaline which begins to jangle the nerves, cortisone is released which, if chronically released, will cause burn out depression, brain fog, lower immune function, thin bones, weight gain, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease etc. The immune system is told to go on high alert, which leads to fibromyalgia, migraines, TMJ, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, asthma: because the body begins attacking itself.

One thing that locks us into the perpetual tension phase, is to “say” with out bodies that we are miserable. The brain feels tense and then it notices that the muscles are tight and that your face is sad and your stomach is full of butterflies, and your posture is slumped, and your hair unbrushed, and fingernails unpolished. (We are trained to look at how far the polish has grown out to estimate the length of current severe misery.) All these body signals pump up the brains misery which causes you to slump more etc.

The scriptures admonish us to “lift up the hands that hang down and straighten the feeble knees and wash you face and put on cologne ‘oil’ . It is OK to take into account your struggle and”make straight paths for your feel if they are lame. Hebrews 12:12. Strengthen the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, be strong fear not: behold your God will come. Isaiah 35:3 Go thy way , eat thy bread with joy and drink thy wine with a merry heart’ Let thy garment be always white (clean and pressed) and let thy head lack no ointment, ( take care of your appearance.) Ecclesiastes 9:7,8

Hannah’s husband Elkanah suggested in first Samuel 1 that her being miserable reflected on him, “Am I not better to thee than ten sons? So she got she ate and drank, ‘which she had not been doing’ and took her request to the Lord rather than wandering around miserable. We are to cast all our cares on him for her cares for us. When we circle endlessly on the details and walk around miserable, we are saying to the world that Jesus is not enough and being a Christian is sure a drag. Sure we grieve, sure we want children and other blessings so take it to the Lord and leave it there

  1. If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold,
    And you have to get along with meager fare,
    Just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

    • Refrain:
      Leave it there, leave it there,
      Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there;
      If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out—
      Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  2. If your body suffers pain and your health you can’t regain,
    And your soul is almost sinking in despair,
    Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  3. When your enemies assail and your heart begins to fail,
    Don’t forget that God in Heaven answers prayer;
    He will make a way for you and will lead you safely through—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.
  4. When your youthful days are gone and old age is stealing on,
    And your body bends beneath the weight of care;
    He will never leave you then, He’ll go with you to the end—
    Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.

GOD LEADS INTO VALLEYS BUT HE IS THERE

Sorry, it’s been a while. I did have a fabulous reunion with my children and grandchildren in southern Illinois during the solar eclipse. Then I fell ill with a bad cold and even had some weird  symptoms that turned out to be my left eyeball trying to pull itself apart due the the shrinkage that comes with drying aqueous humor as you get old. (I am 68 after all).  Then I get behind and the technophobia hits and I have an electronic version or writers block where I have urges to do everything except get at the blog I’m now behind on. Can any of you relate?

During all of this I have been pondering God’s ways with me.

(It takes a lot of pondering because even after 63 years as his child, my thoughts are not his thoughts and my ways are not his ways.)

He seems to allow things into my life that, frankly, I would not choose. THEN he works in almost miraculous ways to cover for the stress so that I am not too overwhelmed and so that I can see his hand at work and relax in the things that I don’t understand.

Last weekend I started having lightning flashes out of the left field of vision and pieces of lint floating in front of my vision. I don’t like to fuss and I am thinking,”if I don’t go get it checked out and it turns out to be serious, then people will be upset at me for not taking care of myself, but I also figured that if I took my PHP’s advice, which is always, “go to the ER” that they would run up a hugh copay and then tell me that I am just old! Besides when would I have time. Then on Monday I had the shortest workday I’ve had in a year, as only two admissions showed up. Then the Lord reminded me that my wife, Lois, sees a great ophthalmologist in Grand Rapids. So I called her office to see if any of the doctors there might have a cancellation and be able to handle a walk in. They did! but I needed to get there in a hurry. The traffic was clear and I arrived 10 min early. The doctor I saw was a little uncertain of what she was seeing so called their “retina specialist” who turns out to be Lois’ doctor and the best in the area. I would have been impossible to schedule with him directly but the Lord worked it out. Of course they didn’t have time to answer my questions so I have to rest in the Lord till I see them again in two weeks.  Of course I will have to rest in him then also, but it is so much easier not to let your imagination run on all the possible outcomes when you know what the most likely outcomes might be. They just told me to not do any strenuous lifting and DON’T READ! I reminded them of what I do at work. The Lord led me to wear a piece of paper over my left eye in order to rest it.

With the bad cold, God gave me shorter work days and a long weekend to recover on. I should be just about back to normal in time to return to a full busy week.

Of course I would prefer eyeballs that work perfectly till I die of old age, older age than this that is, and abounding energy for all the kingdoms labors. I guess he is reminding me not to take anything for granted and that it is OK to slow down and take care of myself sometimes. Of course, I wouldn’t mind you putting in a good word for me with the Lord in regards to my eyeball. The doctor told me that, if a thousand little red dots showed up in my vision that I should call back early. I’d rather not experience that, but it is good to know that NO MATTER WHAT God will be with me in that valley also.