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.

WHEN THE TRUTH DOESN’T SET YOU FREE

The truth won’t work on someone who WON’T examine themselves or accept feedback.

What can we learn from the struggles of our passive aggressive brethren?

PASSIVE AGGRESSION: Believing that we have good intentions and are actually unusually loving, kind, gentle, patient, faithful, peaceful.

We then cause others to count on us and then subconsciously, let them down.

When they complain we have an excuse (preferably making our own failure be their fault,”You didn’t give me enough time, I am trying don’t I get some credit for trying?, You weren’t clear enough, I didn’t intend to break it etc etc,.

We then promise to come through if they give you another chance

We then let them down again AND ROUND AND ROUND.

What can we learn from our passive aggressive brethren? THE CONSTANT NEED FOR SELF EXAMINATION AND FOR SEEKING AND FINDING BALANCING FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS!

Recent study has shown that people who do poorly THINK that they are doing much better than they are. The wonder why others don’t agree. They are “polite” but inwardly shake with rage when others point out their obvious shortcomings. The question was whether the ignorance of their own reality came from low IQ or what? Later research suggests it correlates with LACK OF FEEDBACK.

We need to be prayerful and honest to that extent that our delusional brains can be. We need to ask, “Do I appreciate negative feedback and apply it to my life?” Just saying to those around you, “I am always open to criticism my door is always open, you may tell me anything.” Does not mean it is true. I have NEVER had a boss who said that I could give them feedback, listened without defending or explaining and actually changed ANYTHING. Needless to say, most bosses think more highly of themselves than they ought to think. Do I encourage feedback by pointing out to those who know me that I am examining myself in order to grow and wonder if they see anything else. How do we make sure we have no feedback? Let me count the ways (at least a couple of them) We claim ability and dare others to disagree. I know of a woman who couldn’t sing a note on key who tried out for the choir saying “At least I can carry a tune.” What was the director supposed to say? “No you can’t!” We isolate and just make sure no one hears one of our opinions or sees us try anything that they could then give feedback on. We are always pointing out everyone else’s flaws as if we are the final judge. We counter attack, “Well, you’re not so great yourself” We only hang out with people who think exactly as we do.

Passives also are always preparing and never doing. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason Proverbs 26;16

Now is the day of salvation, now is the appointed time. Do we go to classes and meetings and keep waiting till we feel ready to reach out to others.

Needless to say, TRUTH does no good for passive aggressives, because feedback is truth accepted and applied.

Lord help me examine myself, especially before communion but also on a regular basis. I Corinthians 11;28

Lord teach me to think on my ways and turn my feet to your testimonies. Psalms 119;59

Lord help me search and try my own ways and turn again to you. Lamentations 3;40

Lord when I consider and turn from my ways to yours, give me LIFE. Ezekiel 18;28

Consider your ways! Yes consider your ways says the Lord. Haggai 1;5,7

Lord make me tired of this world’s pig-slop and bring me to  senses and return to you. Luke 15; 17

Go ahead and search me O God, even if you have to use other people even my enemies to help me see and learn.

 

 

 

 

WHEN TRUTH DOESN’T SET YOU FREE

Perhaps one of the most dangerous places to be found in is to be able to hear truth and love truth and be unable to benefit from truth. The phrase would be better put “being able to hear and apply to truth to oneself will set you free”

James 1:21 Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye does of the word, and not hearers only deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into th perfect law of liberty and continueth therein he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

When I was a young helper, I thought that filling people with practical truth would bring freedom. Boy was I surprised, to find that there were people (Borderline disorder) who were terrified to do well. I would share truth–they would grow–they would become terrified at their growth–they would do something to make all the progress fall apart.

What can the rest of us learn from them? Paul says that he LEARNED both how to abound and how to be abased. Philippians 4:12.  What did he learn? Perhaps that all sucess is the Lords’ We do not have to earn it or maintain it or fear what man may do to us if they don’t like God’s success in us. The second we take some responsibility to succeed or keep it up, we will just screw it up, like Moses saying,”Must WE bring water out of this rock for you?” Why  are so many Christians so shy, so hesitant to witness? Do we fear others will judge and wack on us? They probably will, but so what? The person with Borderline had an authority who NEVER TOLD THEM WHAT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR AND COULD NEVER BE PLEASED. The Lord on the other hand is VERY CLEAR ON WHAT HE WANTS but IS ALWAYS PLEASED THAT WE ARE TRYING AND THAT WE ARE HIS CHILDREN. The Borderline has to give up their identity because they try according to their God given design and are criticized. God on the other hand love to see the identity he has designed into us being developed and used to minister. Borderline folks tend to put others on a pedestal then knock them off. By God’s grace we see no person as being the source of our hope but even when they let us down (as they inevitably will) we continue to relate and help them. The Borderline tends to “awfulize” ever situation to justify once again trashing their latest endeavor. By God’s grace we stay calm and see things in the perspective of eternity. The Borderline has much trouble being mindfull and present. By God’s grace we grab ahold of the NOW and HERE and do not invest hope and anxiety in tomorrow but delight in and invest in what we have, who we have and what we can do in the present.

In my next blog I will discuss what we can learn from out PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE brethren who also do not benefit from truth.

I SHALL NOT WANT?

Either God’s promises are true or he is a liar and he claims to be unable to lie. A friend recently texted that she loves Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me.  Still, she has trouble with Psalms 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want, (Presumably because her life,like all of ours in this sin damaged world, is full of want.

Put in ordinary words, she must see a world in which there is constant struggle and a very real sense of not having things she needs and definitely does “want” more.

I think that we can all relate. If you read Foxe’s book of Martyrs you will be appalled at what the Lord allows his servants to go through. Still, one Roman soldier warned the administrators that when the smoke from the burning Christians hit the watching crowd; it had magical power and turned the watchers into Christians also. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church’s growth. The first missionary to North Korea was murdered as he waded ashore; still it was on that very beach that a great revival started that spread throughout all of Korea.

It is helpful to put all truth in context. In Ephesians 4 we read Not that I speak in respect of want. (Paul was in real need and appreciated the gifts sent so what does he mean that he had no “want”?) for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, in this to be content. I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound; everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, (note that he was hungry) both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me.

We Christians are troubled on every side,perplexed,persecuted, cast down, bearing aabout in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, always delivered to death II Corinthians 4:8. But in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who strengthens us. We are his fellow sufferers, fellow laborers, fellow soldiers.

Don’t expect to feel content just because you are saved and if you could see the bigger picture would be content with what God is allowing. Note that even a man as disciplined as Paul had to LEARN and to BE INSTRUCTED in the art of contentment. Surely the Lord is our shepherd and we may have to walk through the valley of evil but he will never leave me nor forsake me. If you seek a god who will guarantee comfort or even function, look elsewhere. Our God only guarantees himself as our “enoughness” and that he will walk every path with us.

KINDLING STARTS FIRES

Many of the illnesses that I work with are KINDLED. That means that they tend to gradually worsen. It becomes easier to fall into a relapse and harder to recover.

Change for the better or for the worse tends to be like that. It can be discouraging how slowly we replace a bad habit with the healthy. We begin thinking that bad is good and wondering why it doesn’t work out for us. Then we find out that our ways are not his ways neither are our thoughts his thoughts. Then, once in a while, we catch ourselves and yield our members according to a gradually growing awareness of what his ways look like when applied to real life. After a while longer we find ourselves responding in his ways consistently, but must still concentrate to do it. Eventually we respond in his way automatically and wonder how we could have ever considered our old way reasonable.

Change for the worse sneaks up on us quietly. We start hating evil but maybe being a bit fascinated by it. Then we may “taste just a bit of it” and recoil in disgust, Then just as the frog in gradually heated water, goes to sleep and lets himself be cooked; we play around the edges of sinful behavior assuming that we can control it and enjoy the pleasure of sin for a season. Gradually we find ourselves hooked and even wondering what is so bad with it. We may even get to where we call good /bad and bad/good. We may find ourselves attacking those who stand for Christ. My daughter is fighting for the truth of God-spoken creation. She gets her most vicious attacks from fellow Christians who say that the truth is driving off young people. The truth is that evolution is convincing most of our youth that there is no need for a god to explain the intricacies of creation, so they are free to indulge in being their own god.

I pray that the fire of God’s love of all people and hatred of all sin, be kindled and grow in you.

Philippians 1:9 And this I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.

ALREADY IMMORTAL

I was talking to someone who was concerned that they would get bored being immortal. What would we do for all eternity? Of course they were thinking of eternity on this planet surrounded by sin and with their own sinful tendency to be stressed with striving to be strong and perfect and the whole time being bothered by not dwelling in the here and now but letting their mind wander to the future and wallow in the past. Trust me, eternity won’t be a problem because our attitudes will be perfected, but it doesn’t hurt to practice in the NOW.

We are commanded to take no thought for the morrow but rather focus on today. One gift the Lord has given me as early as my teen years was the gift of dropping out of time. I had been immortally alive since I was 5 years old and time seemed irrelevant. I watched my peers ignore to privilege of learning and being in the present because their happiness was connected to the weekend.

WHAT’S THE RUSH? Death is but a transition from one home to another. Lois and I have moved over 30 times in our lives, so what’s one more move?

In heaven will we be eagerly awaiting the future, ignoring the wondrous present? But we are already immortal! It would be wise to start practicing seizing life one moment at a time, savoring what we have, relating to who is in our lives, doing all things with gusto.

The bad attitude of thinking life starts only after we get to heaven often causes us to not grasp the privilege of NOW!

Think with me of all the COOL STUFF WE CAN do now that WE CAN’T DO IN HEAVEN. Oh yeah I won’t object when he calls me home but WHAT’S THE RUSH? On earth we can do battle with evil, we can witness to the unsaved, we can practice faith, we can comfort the ill and wounded, we can lay up treasure in heaven, we can encourage the weak, we can restore brethren overtaken in a fault, we can apologize and ask forgiveness,we can join in Christ’s sufferings and labors, we can pray power into the battle, we can hold up our pastor’s hands when he is weak, we can teach and share with others what God has done for us. Now is the day of salvation, Now is the appointed time. When THEN becomes NOW  then we will be free to freely grab that reality BUT NOT YET MY FELLOW IMMORTALS.

SWEET EMPTINESS

The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. When the scriptures share that I should be anxious for nothing–it often makes me anxious about my anxiety and feel that if I really had faith I would just snap out of it. I feel a little that way about being in want. If the Lord is enough, as I am often told, then why do I feel the need for friendship, why do i often feel empty. Telling me that i shouldn’t feel that way just makes me feel more empty. I am even suspicious that those who tell me that are not actually walking closer to God but instead just have no vision burden or life passion. Remember that loneliness existed in the Garden BEFORE there was any sin to muck it up. I believe God love for me to have a sense of need for him, for his church, for his word, for ministry, for belonging. That way when he fills my need I experience joy and gratitude and fulfillment.

The problem isn’t the longing it is wanting someone or something more than God. I know that this is the situation if I pull away from God or get mad at him is the other person or thing is denied, or if I try to fill the need in inappropriate ways. God raised the desire in Abraham for a gillion offspring and then it was years so he went out and tried to fulfill the desire and boy did that cause trouble. I am aware of desires in my life that I have come to believe will never be met till I get to see Jesus face to face, and it is OK to feel the need and bear the pain in order to experience the joy of the fulfillment. I used to ask God to take away the need and make me numb so it wouldn’t hurt. I guess that would not only rob me of the future joy but scar my soul in the process.

God gave king David a passion to build the temple and then said, No I’ll let your son build it. It was still probably cool to plan it and gather the material. I find that the desires he has placed in me often let me create situations where other people find fulfillment of that need for themselves and I use that to picture the future experience I will eventually find.

It also helps me worship God for who he is rather than what he makes me feel or does for me in the current moment. So, Lord fill me up with your passions but give me patience and peace to let you fill the emptiness in your time and way. Love Verle

THE EASY YOKE, LIGHT BURDEN

When should we cast our cares on Jesus, and when, instead, do we join him in his agonized praying?

I have often said that I can always tell when I have crossed the line and gone to meddling with God’s part of any situation; WHEN I FEEL OPPRESSED. Yet the Lord doesn’t say that he will not put yokes on us or ask us to carry burdens. He just said that they would not crush us. What is the difference between a burden and a stress?  Are the situations different, or is it what PART of the situation we focus on different?

Nehemiah felt so great a burden for his suffering people that he could not hide it from king Artaxerxes and God blessed him with the chance to rebuild Jerusalem. He was not torn down by his burden but found purpose and a life ministry instead. 1. If we are burdened for the pain of others and not just focused on our own pain, God gives us grace to minister into their pain.

Paul would have been willing to be, himself, estranged from God if it would save his Jewish people. 2. If we are burdened for the salvation of others and are not upset on how they won’t listen to us or respond to “our” cause, God will give us grace to pray for and witness to them.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem and the consequences they were pulling on their own heads. 3. If we weep over the damage the sinner is doing to themselves and not about how their sin hurts us, God will give us grace to reach out to them. He prayed “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

There was the Phoenician mother burdened for her daughter, Jairus burdened for his daughter, and the soldier burdened for his servant. Ask God to give you a burden for friends and family as a good place to start. Then let your burden turn you into a prayer warrior with a good attitude but one who wrestles with God for a blessing.

If we  weep over our own sin and not over the consequences it has caused. God will give us grace to quit sinning.

Imagine that you are led out into a field and your neck is tied into one side of a huge yoke. You are told that you will need to help pull a large wagon. You are filled with dread until they bring out the largest workhorse you have ever seen and strap his neck into the other part. You realize that you will just have to walk along and let him do the pulling. It isn’t that God’s yoke is small or the burden to pull is light but that it is God’s yoke too and he provides the power, not you.

STRESS and BURDEN have the same situations to trigger us but in STRESS I am the one to fix it and my worth and security are at stake and I fuss with God’s part of the task. With a BURDEN I actively let go of God’s part of the situation and do my part.

Strength is not found in not caring, or in caring and being destroyed by it: but rather it is found in caring and pouring ourselves out for others in passionate battle against evil forces YET not being destroyed by the caring. Being CARING and CALM, PASSIONATE and PEACEFUL, DOING WITH ALL OUR MIGHT and LETTING IT GO WHEN WE HAVE DONE THE LITTLE WE CAN.

In every endeavor God’s part is in calling our attention to it, giving us he heart for it, calling us to obedience, making us worthy, equipping us, preparing the task, bringing the opportunities, providing the tools, bringing the results, giving the eternal rewards.

OUR PART? Moving my body parts in accordance to a growing vision of God’s ways in action relevant to his will and his heart. Praying for the situation. Allowing God to give us passion, remaining at peace so that God may use us without  crushing us. Remembering that in all we do our greatest goal is  to get to know Jesus more and enjoy him forever,by sharing as fellow laborers, soldiers and sufferers,