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.

REPROGRAMING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOW TO LOOK DEAD WHEN YOU ARE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HAPPY TO SEE YOU!

Dogs! Probably the only beings that are thrilled to see us no matter what!

I get so tired of acceptance being tinged with judgement, control, expectations, history etc. Even at church one wonders if the acceptance is because they are “supposed to”, or because you fill a pew and help the place run, or are they really are glad to see you? They would all swear that their greetings are genuine, so why doesn’t it translate into attempts to interact at other times  the obligatory handshaking session during morning service? Why do they look right past you if you aren’t part of their “in” group. Why do they shake your hand and look at the next person?

When I push my remote and my car flashes a “welcome” I know there is no actual feeling there but I almost feel more welcomed that at church. At least it isn’t looking for anything from me.

The divide between ages is especially evident. The young people walk into church, where I serve the Lord as a greeter, and stare blankly past you. They seem nervous when asked to pause shake hands and recognize your existence.

I used to attend a Southern Baptist prayer breakfast in Anchorage Alaska. The men would come in and do the ritual of going around the circle and shaking hands. The thing that drove me crazy was that they would shake my hand without looking at me, and be moving on to the next without really registering my existence.

Having been invisible my entire childhood, my comfort with pseudo acknowledgement is low.

Maybe one of the greatest gifts you may give your brethren is to ask the Lord to let you see them as he sees them. He is their great lover and is always enthusiastic about interrelating with them.

“Lord, help me be happy to see each individual , look them in the eye and genuinely ask after their welfare.’

As you practice mindfulness, make being mindful of who is near you and delighting in their presence and ideas and lives, a priority. Why did God put this person in my life? What are they experiencing? How would I feel if they treated me the way I am treating them?

Most of smile smile smile! They might wonder what you are up to or what you want. They might get a bit nervous. Still smiling releases endorphins and lifts their mood and when you don’t want anything but to care and relate they will calm down.

I JUST CAN’T, I JUST CAN’T

A fellow traveler complained this week that when his counselor gives him assignments, he feels that it is like asking a man to read a self help book when the man can’t read.

This would sound like a valid objection,but the man stopped there. He should have continued. I do have to change and grow, so maybe we could start by ( fill in the blank). Perhaps, in his case by learning to read.

I can always detect a malingerer from a truly limited person because, when given a suggestion or when complaining about a situation, they  point out what they can’t do about it; rather than sharing what they have tried and their willingness to do the little they can.

The sluggard complains there is a lion in the street. Rather than ask who will help him go chase off the lion. Or could he borrow your spear?

The disciples complain that there are too many to feed with the money at hand, rather than pointing out the little boy who does have a few fish and some bread.

At least Thomas, when the disciples feared going to Jerusalem, said “well we will probably all die but I’m going to go and die with him”

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t bring up realistic concerns, but only to the end of being practical when answering the question. Where do I start? What is the little I can do?

Zechariah got walloped with not being able to speak when he said. How can we make a baby we are too old? He was not asking how to do his part but how to do God’s part.

Mary asked How this could be but did not get consequenced because she was not doubting but reasonably puzzled as to how to proceed.

I had a patient come to my office. He drove up got out of his car walked in and said to me “I can’t talk to my parents!” I said, “didn’t you just drive up here, walk in and talk to me?” “Yes” “So, I replied, you could drive to your parents, walk up to their house and say (God has been convicting me of my ingratitude and judgmental spirit, please forgive me), you just don’t want to and are not sure of the result.

We must focus on WHAT’S THE LITTLE I CAN DO?

 

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.