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

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW GOD’S DIRECTION?

Of course the “Sunday school mind” replies, “Of course I want to be directed by God, what could possibly lead to a better life?”

In my own case I’m not so sure. His “better” has nothing to do with comfort or function but rather in bringing Himself glory and conforming me to His image. In Romans 8:35 I find that He may lead me down the path of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril,and sword; to be killed all the day long, accounted as a sheep for slaughter. What then is my promise? that in all these things I will remain in his love.

He is so unfair! I often ask people if they would like to live in a fair world, and with normal human foolishness they quickly say, “of course!” So I ask them if they would like me to pray and ask God to give them exactly what they deserve? If so, would they mind if I backed away a good distance before asking for “fairness”! We have been unfairly forgiven cleansed, healed and given immortal life as the bride of Christ.

With this great unfairness comes His right to take me through trials for his glory that may seem unfair. Still the balance of fairness is always in our favor since we are His and He is ours.

I’m afraid that I often err on the side of the double minded person in James one who asks God for wisdom in order to look properly christian but then doesn’t pay attention to the lessons God arrainges to teach me or go searching in His word for how he wants me to proceed.

If you have been following me for a while you should be able to stop for a moment and give the definition of Iniquity:

Good , you said that it is DOING GOOD in which I decide for myself what that good is, I then do it in my own strength and then moan and groan about it for extra credit. It is good to know that ANY one of these steps ruins the effort and takes it from God doing good through me and into GOOD WORKS which always exhausts and brings damage rather than blessing.

I was reading about churches that fast and pray and seek God’s guidance as to WHAT to do but then rush ahead and do not seek God’s WHEN and God’s WAYS or accept God’s appointed authorities or accept help from the people God brings alongside. This leads to burn out and failure and wondering why, if God wanted it done, then why didn’t it work?

In all my ways I need to acknowledge Him and like a good soldier, constantly defer to my commander for directions.

Perhaps the key is Peter’s reply to Jesus when Jesus asked “will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

I believe that the mustard seed of faith is this: ( I may not see how God’s way will work, I may be terrified that I will lose all, I certainly know that I am not strong enough to walk in this way, but I definitely know that going my own way is a guaranteed bust and that no one else has the words of life,so, Lord, direct me down the path you choose).

 

BE STILL

A look at Psalms 46:10

Be still, and know that I …God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts … with us; the God of Jacob … our refuge. Ponder this.

I’ve been having trouble being still in my heart for a month or so. As a severe co-dependant, I can’t stand anyone being angry with me but in the effort to help someone, (I also have a lot of trouble saying NO because of co-dependancy) they chose to get very angry. I didn’t think that the Lord was mad at me but it seems that 100 people can appreciate me and one is mad; and guess which I focus on! The other day I received a letter from my boss with the typical general “you’re doing great BUT” format followed by a couple of specific “shape ups!”

Then I was upset with myself for not being “still” inside, since that was the topic of my last Sunday school class. So I went back to the last chapter and realized that being still has nothing to do with how I am doing or what others think about me or what I fear but rather it has to do with STOP AND LOOK AT THE LORD. Still is not a feeling/it is a ceasing of my mind from fussing with this and that and getting it to look at the Lord and remember:

1.That God is my place to run to when under attack. He is my refuge and not work or food or family, these are all his tools to protect me but he is the protector.

2.That God is my only hope of handling the stress well he must be and is my strength not myself or other people.

3.That God is present, he doesn’t run away when trials come, will never leave me nor forsake me He is in me (can’t get much closer than that!)

4.That my present problem is not as big as an earthquake, or mountain slides, or tsunamis, so, if I’m not to fear those then surely fear of this is not needed or helpful

5.To drink from the streams of his word that bring gladness no matter what else.

6.That, though my enemy is ranting and raving, God’s voice drowns out their sound with his great, “FEAR NOT”

7.That God loves to bring peace out of war and when my ways please the Lord, He makes even my enemies to become my friends.

 

FINALLY BRETHREN THINK ON THESE THINGS

We all know that going round and round in our heads on negatives, eats up all our energy and leaves us depressed. Still, we keep finding ourselves doing it again. We yell at ourselves for doing it again, hoping that that would get us to quit but it is like fighting quicksand and only makes bad matters worse.

Besides, the things that we are focused on are often significant and seem worth fussing with. They are unfair, or dangerous. They could be easily changed if only this or that person would admit that they are wrong.

So what’s the process of change? First, when you awaken, thank God for the struggle that teaches you to hate sin and appreciate the Lord, then out-predict the habit brain and try to think ahead, What is likely to happen today that could trigger me into going round and round?

Second, notice myself doing it again, without yelling at myself for doing it.

Third, assure myself that if there is nothing that I can do right now, then it is OK to let it go. (This will not get to brain to quit but it must have permission to quit since it thinks that it is fussing for our own good.

Fourth, focus on A. What can I do through Christ who strengthens me. B. What do I have that God want me to stop and appreciate. C. Who is in my life that I can give and receive from and relate to? D. Who am I and what are the unchangeable feature of that? So let me be grateful to God for my design and even the negatives that sin has added but God intends for good?

Fifth, Invest in what can be done what I have who is in my life and who I am.

Sixth, Thank God for the help in refocusing and see. it as a healing thing to de despite the imperfection of the effort and the results.

Over time this will block the round and rounds that lead nowhere.

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

One of the devil’s best ways to keep us from growth and blessing and ministry is to get us to ask God for wisdom and then not pay attention.

Good intentions are the  enemy of the good, because, since our attitude feels right, we assume that we are alright, even when we haven’t done right.

In James 1 we read, if any one lacks wisdom (hopefully we realize who that includes) let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and doesn’t yell at you for not knowing or for taking so long to ask, and it shall be given him, but let him ask in faith nothing wavering.

What does that imply? I must be prone to ask for wisdom in order to LOOK spiritual and not because I humbly admit that I am not.

Is it possible that, deep down, I am aware that ALL scripture, if paid attention to will reprove me and I don’t particularly like to be reproved. I want to go to church and to pray like a pharasee and ask for wisdom in order to feel and look better to myself and others, not so that I may see the painful truth about myself.

All our research show that ONLY a person who honestly examines himself and asks for painful feedback and then  rewards it, WILL DO WELL, but  will wonder if he is doing well because he is so acutely aware of his shortcomings.

I was asked by a friend who had been saved for only  a year. “When do you get to where you aren’t always slipping up and having to repent and get back on track? When do you arrive at consistent godliness?” “Well”, I said, “I’ve been saved for 62 years and am not there yet. I hope I didn’t discourage him. Remember, it’s the walk not the arrival that lets God. use us and reward us on this side of heaven.

We may only pretend to ask God for feedback, and then not go to his word for reproof). We may also ask others to give us feedback yet subtly let them know that, if they do, we will make it painful for them.

If our friends were foolish enough to give us honest feedback: we would pretend to listen and then not change, we would explain why they have misperceived, we might point out that they are not so great themselves, we could make an excuse (the only one who believes an excuse is the person who makes it) or we might agree and then depress at them, “you’re right I’ll just quit and do less or go kill myself right now”.

I know of a boss who wanted to be more godly and figured that feedback from his troops would help. So he scheduled 15 min sessions with all his workers to give him feedback. Now he had been truly striving to be a godly boss. So, when he met with them and they said, ” Oh you’re fine boss”,he assured them that he was for real and shared with them  something he’d NOTICED ABOUT HIMSELF.  Then they said,” Oh you really want to know?” Then each of them needed an hour instead of the scheduled 15 min. He was a bit depressed but became a much better boss. If a person,like that boss, is trying to see their own flaws but can’t see themselves clearly; then a double minded man will receive nothing from the Lord, from his word or his people or sermons or even superficial devotions.

We need to show the Holy Spirit that we are for real so that he will open the word to us.

 

FREE WIILL PART TWO

SORRY, I’ve been procrastinating lately. As a codependant, I often take on too much but God has convicted me that I need to say no to some things and He wants me to prioritize the internet work so I’ve said no to some things and hope to be more faithful to this blog.  I looked at my comments and God spoke to me through the last comment to get with it. So here goes.

God is pretty much in charge of  everything, (sovereignty) .

He weaves us in our mother’s womb, gives 0us our parents, our sex our IQ our families and our life circumstances. When young, our brains  soak in the conclusions of  parents, siblings and same age peers, pre-programming our brains. Our brains are predicting machines guessing what will soon happen and PRE-PREPARE WHAT WE WILL FEEL THINK AND DO. Our thinking brain believes it is analyzing and choosing but 100% of our responses are driven by the past. The iniquities of our parents pass down for 3 and 4 generations.

Our responses are not just habits of practice and memory but they become powerful well defended urges. The Habit Brain DOES NOT WANT TO CHANGE. We try things and if it makes our dopamine rise, we say “hey lets remember to do that again.” If it makes us uncomfortable we remember to not do that.But, often, godly behavior is not as immediately pleasant as unhealthy choices are.These become controlling habits. We guess as to the meaning of things and try to make sense of patterns and believe principles that don’t reflect reality.

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and we can’t know it. So we come of adulthood thoroughly miss-programmed unable to see truth while CONVINCED THAT WE DO! Blind leaders of the blind who follow the blind, mistaking part of truth for the whole, emphasizing the negatives, calling good-evil and evil-good. Totally unable to even want, let alone see or choose God’s ways.

Then God steps in to make free will possible. First he wakes us up using the Law and the consequences of sin  to make us question if we have GOT IT RIGHT. The truth of God’s nature is evident in the world around us and convicts us. The witness of the WORD and of God’s servants,  jab at us. Next he  gives grace enough for us to sense our need and to admit that we can’t even see, let alone change our ways and that we are unable to earn his love. Then he gives us faith and hope and strength to cry out to him for forgiveness for cleansing and the power to overcome,  even the faith is not of ourselves. He gives the grace for us to ask for and co-operate with help and the feedback of others. I believe that this grace has appeared to all men: BUT we can refuse to admit our sin, we can water it down or try to fix ourselves or try to be good. This blockage of God’s grace results in consequences. God is not mocked what WE SOW we reap and God is just in holding us accountable for the results.

People often say” My parents did the best that they could.” That was the problem. God didn’t ask them to do the best they could, but to admit their sin and damage and cooperate with him and others to do the right thing. God then takes our IMPERFECT obedience and makes it work.

My friend fears that FREE WILL means that if she doesn’t pray perfectly that others will suffer and it will be her fault. My own litmus test for whether a thought is of God is to see if it causes me to be tense and uptight at the idea ME CARRYING IT OUT. God is not a fool. He knows I am made of dust and never asks me to be strong or do ANYTHING perfectly. So, if I am tense, I must have crossed a line into seeing obedience in a graceless way. I think that he wants me to use my free will after salvation to continue to be shown that without him I can do nothing. To continue to be shown that I need to focus my heart and will and love on him and to move my body member according to a GROWING sense of his principles applied, for him to make something out of. NOT FOR ME TO PAY HIM BACK OR BE TENSE DOING HIS WORK. He can take my feeble inadequate efforts and make up the difference and bless others , IF I SIMPLY ACKNOWLEDGE WHAT IS RIGHT AND SEEK TO GET TO KNOW HIM THROUGH THE OBEDIENCE. It is similar to a father hanging on to the seat of the bicycle as the child learns to ride, rather badly. The father wants cooperation and companionship and effort. He does not want perfect effort. In fact someone with a seminary degree in ministry might do a more nearly perfect effort but have it mean nothing if he has a  lack of relationship with the father.

When I get up to speak to large crowds, I am aware of my BAD ATTITUDE and my GOOD ATTITUDE. I want people to like me to tell me how intelligent I am and that I am an important person. Yup! pretty screwed up co dependent. Part of me wants the listeners to be blessed by God’s practical ideas and to worship God for his wisdom and practicality. So I say, ” Lord you know my mixed up mess but please use my efforts for your kingdom despite their imperfect motivation and delivery. AND HE DOES! Woah, how cool is that?

Every person mightily used by God, became suicidally depressed in the effort and gave up. They loved God and his word and his ways and his people and his kingdom. BUT they did it in their own strength. We must arrive at each moment of obedience with the prayer, “Lord if you can make anything out of this go ahead! I sure can’t do anything well enough to work.

I say, gently, to my friend. ” Has someone cast a spell on you, tell me one thing, How did you get saved?Didn’t you trust in the finished work of Jesus? Grace has not gone away the same grace that saves you keeps you. It is not for nothing that pastors fear that grace will make people so peaceful that they will quit teaching sunday school, or sin to let grace abound. But they don’t get it. Once we rest in grace for all eternity we have vastly MORE ability to be his tool. God want to give you power in prayer, but that is like giving a child a high powered car. For the gift to not destroy you, you must let him do the driving and just go along for the ride.

 

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.