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I long to lead people to worship God for his practical advice. All scripture gives me practical truth that will show me I’m worse than I realized, then fix the mess it has exposed, purify and perfect me and equip me to help others. God is so smart and caring, yes and kind and powerful etc. etc. Let us worship his wisdom by listening with both the spirit and the understanding then apply it and witness to other of it’s benefit. I need your questions, comments and balance so please become a follower and leave questions and comments.

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SHAKY FAITH? OBEDIENCE STILL COUNTS

One of the many paradoxes of the Biblical walk is, the need to “shoot for the stars and feel good if you get to the treetops”.

In shooting for the stars God says that I should be as perfect as he is perfect. Even if I read the word “perfect” as “mature” it is still a tall order for me to be as mature as God is mature. Still way beyond my reach.

The easy mistake is to water down his rules to versions that I think that I can accomplish. I replace the word impossible with difficult and then try to reach that so that I can take credit and compare with others and feel in control.

A Christian should never say “difficult” but rather “impossible”. We divide things into what I can handle and what I can’t. The Bible says that without Christ I can do nothing so where is the divide? In even the smallest tasks I need to pray the three fold reminder, (Lord I can’t-help/ but you can-thanks,/I need to move my body parts in accordance to a growing picture of God’s ways in action–so show me how you want me to act.)

The other mistake is to leave God’s rules where they belong–in the impossible category, and then not even try to obey.

No I must obey and try the impossible and see it’s value despite its feebleness and imperfections. Because, when I try, God meets me there and adds his power to my efforts to accomplish the impossible.

The purpose of “Spiritual perfectionism” is to keep me from doing anything in my own strength or by my lonesome self. Instead I need to do all things as “fellow” laborer together with Christ, fellow soldiering along, fellow suffering the wrath of the world and finally fellow enjoyer of eternal blessedness in heaven.

Remember when the early believers prayed and Peter was released from the impossible prison? Remember how shocked they were that their prayers had been heard? Well that is how I feel every time that I do anything because of the foolish feeling that I have to generate some “faith” before God’s strength kicks in. The mere act of praying and testifying and teaching is what faith is all about.

Dear Lord help me to step out and try the impossible and please add your power to my feeble efforts.

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POOR ME! I’M THE ONLY ONE

It seems that we have two choices in life: to give up my unique personality and gifts and “fit in” or to be who God designed and intended me to be and not “fit in”. Then when the inevitable struggles of life pop up I think, like Elijah, “Poor me I’m the only one. I’m out here all alone and no one understands me.” Well, frankly I don’t understand me either. Why do I tend to do what I don’t really want to do and know it is not in my own best interest and do not consistently do what I know would be healthy and proper? And, “all alone?” Ultimately I belong to a large group of people who are living the uniqueness of their God design, so how can I be alone in so large a group? The Lord said to Elijah, “What are you doing here sulking in the middle of nowhere? Get up and listen to my still small voice. I have over 7000 that have not bowed the knee to Baal. Now go for me and get to work. I Kings 19:14-18 Romans 11:4

Which picture is more beautiful? A 150 lb. eyeball or 150 lbs of body pieces fitted together and working together in a living human body? 150 lbs of unique body parts divided and scattered around the room, or those same parts together accepting each other, guarding each other’s dignity and affirming each other’s worth? I Corinthians 12:17 God wants us to delight in each other’s differences and to give and receive from each others gifts. No comparing! The Bible says all comparing is foolishness. 2 Corinthians 10:12

I have learned and continue to learn to delight in my unique design, to delight in others unique design and try to give and receive in a united body of unique people. This often leaves me standing alone because so many people want to “fit in” by suppressing their special gifts and they find my stance to be frightening. They do not realize that they are rebelling against God’s right to design some clay pots this way and some that way.

“Lord, thank you for: how old I am, my gender, my family of origin, my height, my IQ, my time in history, my appearance, my personality, my gifts, in fact for all the unchangeable things that make me unique, make me stand out, and make me useful to you and others.

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UNDER HIS WINGS

Matthew 23:27/Luke 13:34 How often I wanted to gather your children together, like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings.

Dear, dear, Lord, what have you done?

A brand new life you’ve just begun.

You gave this life eternity,

then gave it’s first few steps to me!

For such a task, I don’t feel fit.

I know I”m just not up to it.

I stumble on my rambling way,

and seldom find the words to say.

If, with just me, I muddle through,

how will I ever manage two?

Another soul to bless and guide,

to teach and cheer and walk beside.

To be a mother brave and strong

I’d need your strength the whole day long.

Oh right! I see what you’re up to!

You want me to rely on you,

to step aside and let you be:

MOM, TO BOTH MY CHILD AND ME

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TRANSITIONAL GENERATION? HOW UNFAIR!

Is it reasonable for God to expect me to give when I was not given to? To give when there is no likelihood of receiving in return or even being appreciated for having given?

YES!

First: ” This is the example of what love (Agape) is, that when I was his enemy Jesus died for me! I John 4:10, Romans 5:8

Second: I am told that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35

Third: My reward is from the Lord not from the person I am ministering to and the Lord’s rewards are great. Also, I am his child and like all children, I am trying to copy my Daddy, My Daddy is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil, sending his rain and sunshine on both. Luke 6:32-38

I have often found myself in a situation of trying to give my children what I never was given. This is hard because, in the very giving, I am reminder of what I lost out on and how sweet it would have been. Also it is a struggle because I do not have a clear experiential picture of how to do it. Still, would I want to ignore my children because I was ignored? NO! It is a blessing from the Lord to find grace to give.

I have also found that when I give time and love and guidance to my children, they seem to take it for granted and do not realize how hard it is.

I also found that when I was not able to involve my children in a healthy relationship with their grandparents and uncles and aunts because my family was not safe or interensted; that it is hard for them to relate to me as a grandparent as fully as I might wish.

Still, if my goal is to be like Jesus, his example is definitely to being treated “unfairly”. He gives even when there is not likelihood of return.

I need to bear in mind that my “paycheck” comes from the Lord and I will never outgive him. He will never wind up owing me. If I was hired to spy on a fast food place for another company and went to work at minimum wage at the fast food, but was paid $50 an hour from the other company; I wouldn’t complain if my fast food check was low. Colossians 3:23,24

I need to remember that each generation will be rewarded or judged on it’s own choice to follow God, or not. I can not get off the hook just because the last generation did not do it’s part, or the next generation takes it for granted. The, “cards dealt out to me” are from the Lord and include the family and time I was born into. Even if they meant them for evil, my Lord means it for good.

Lord, thank you for the inequities of life. Help me to walk them with you so that you may bring the good you intended from them to fashion me into your image and give me compassion for others.

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BE A BOTHER, PLEASE!

It is worth noting that most prayers in the Bible are “supplications”. They are “bothering God” for our needs.

I have seen a lot of trouble caused over to years by people who, “don’t want to be a bother.” (Including myself) We don’t ask for their needs to be met, but then feel hurt that others don’t just see and meet the need.

If the other person is a servant who loves to meet expressed needs, the joy of giving is often ruined if we do not ask for what we want.

What are some reasons that I am hesitant to ask? Why does God have to tell me over and over, ASK? Maybe I believe that letting the other know that their help is really appreciated, would put pressure on that person to have to do it again, and I don’t want to be a bother.

Isn’t it good to not bother others? No, it makes it hard for those caring for us to know what we do or do not want. Then when my unspoken needs are not met, it is easy to store up hurt and let it eventually explode. The other person realizes that they have been doing the irritating thing all along and not realizing it, or not doing the helpful thing and not realizing that it was needed. Now, all of a sudden it comes out. The giving person wonders what else they might be doing or not doing that will come out down the line. They find themselves walking on eggshells or just giving up on the relationship. Then the person who did not want to be a bother thinks, “See ,when I speak up for myself I just get abandoned.” However if they had asked for their needs all along the relationship would have been fine.

God says: “Ask and it shall be given unto you seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened unto you. Luke 11:9/Matthew 7:7 Jesus is willing to be a good example by knocking on our hearts door. Revelation 3:20 God told king Ahaz to ask for a sign. Ahaz refused because he did not want to “test” the Lord. But God had asked him to ask so not asking was disobedience. I must learn to please, bother the Lord with my needs and even ask others.

Not wanting to be a bother feels like a real humble thing but it is actually a judgement of the other person. It is to judge that they would find a request from you to be a bother. Presumably the need is not ridiculous so, if the other person were to be bothered it would mean that they are judgemental or uncaring.

The truth is that we are terrified that we might ask and be turned down and that would be a real blow to our sense of worth. It is a risk to “be a bother” but the risk is worth it. If the response is negative, then at least you have clarified that the relationship is unhealthy and that is worth knowing. If you don’t ask and the response would have been positive then you lose out on the opportunity to build relationship and bring meaning to the other person.

It has been my experience that most of the times that I ask others for help, they say no or just ignore me. I sometimes feel the Lord is like them, that he is too busy to be bothered with me and my needs. After all he is taken up with helping all the other more worthy people, that my needs would just be a bother and I should deal with them myself.. I know where this comes from, because as a child my earthly father was too busy as a missionary to meet my needs. My head knows that transferring this feeling to God is silly but I am working hard at becoming more of a “bother” to him and bringing all my situations to him and sharing the burden. So far he has never let me down.

There is also the worry that by sharing the need I might be judged as weak. I have personally experienced letting my boss know my strengths and weaknesses. I asked them to capitalize on my strengths and help me with my weakness, only to have them make fun of my weakness and ignore my strengths. It is still good to ask people for support but not to attach my sense of worth to the outcome.

There might also be a factor of wanting to feel abandoned or unsupported in order to justify feeling sorry for myself. I remember once as a child lamenting that no one loved me. My brothers started singing, “everybody hates me, nobody loves me I think I’ll just eat worms.” They made fun of my misery so I, rationally, concluded to just stuff it and deal with it alone. The Lord assures me that he will never leave me nor forsake me, that as it would be very hard for a woman to forget her sucking child, (and they may) still God will not forget me. Isaiah 49 15

“Dear Lord, the truth is, I need you every hour, without you I can do nothing! I even need your help to be aware of my need and to ask for help. So from now on I plan to be a real “bother” and bring everything to your loving attention. Love Verle”

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HOW MANY GODS DOES IT TAKE TO CHANGE A LIGHTBULB?

I know, the title is a bit silly. There is only one God. Thankfully it only takes one God to “change a light bulb if the light bulb wants to be changed?”

Not all that humorous but it makes a point. Because of the importance of free will, the light bulb, Me, has to want to be changed before God will work with me to change.

When Jesus was looking down on Jerusalem, he cried out “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” He offered salvation to all but only those who wanted change got it.

In Hosea 11:8 God cries out, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I make thee as Admah? I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger. I am God and not man—13:6 (but) they were filled and their heart was exalted: therefore have they forgotten me. Therefore I will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: O Israel , thou hast destroyed thyself.” No one wanted to leave their sex and demon worship so they were all destroyed even though God did not want that. He is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to salvation–but they would not.

In Ezekiel 22:30 God says, “I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.”

Most people seem to think that they really have no need to change. Even most regular church attenders can come up with nothing when I ask them what they are working on with the Lord’s help.

Some readily admit they need to change but feel hopeless because they have struggled in their own strength and now have given in and become a prisoner of war. The are still in God’s army but, as prisoners, are useless to the fight.

God is always looking to do me good but so often I am afraid of his good and do not allow him to do the good that he wants to. Why do I fear grace? I know that, if I accept it, I can never feel superior to anyone else, I can never judge another as hopeless, it will be reasonable for God to ask anything of me because of the debt that I owe, I will not be able to get my identity from what I do but rather from who I am in him. I feel that I will lose the little control that I do have over my life, (Such a sense of control is just an illusion)

Remember the definition of Faith? (Look on my menu under word definitions) When God calls me to change, it is normal to feel scared and that it is impossible and everyone will consider me to be crazy and it will never work. That is why God needs me to be entirely willing to let God change me. I remember one man who was caught in the clutches of pornography and was trying to change but still saw indulging as pleasant and exciting and godly celibacy as boring and empty. He complained to God, “God why don’t you take away my sex drive?” God replied, “But you love your porno more than you love me and would be angry at me if I took it away!”

Step 5 in the 12 steps of change is to become entirely willing to let God change you. My wording is a bit different. I tell God:

“Truth is, I am so messed up that part of me would like you to change your rules and tell me to go ahead and indulge, part of me still wants to return to my vomit. Proverbs 26:11 But Lord, I need to change so search me and show me my need and then teach me to hate my sin and hunger for you and your righteosness then lead me in new paths.”

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FAIR? YOU WANT FAIR?

Getting worked up over the crazy, unfair, dangerous world I live in is just plain crazy.

I think that one of the reasons God has helped me see more and more of his perspective on things, is that I am very aware of how naturally crazy I am. I then don’t expect sanity in the world around me. Not even from my fellow Christians.

God’s ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts. Sanity is seeing things the way they are which is the way God sees. But God has to open my eyes before I can see things his way. The devil sometimes lets people see bits of God’s truth but only bits and often puts a hook in the worm. For example, people can go to AA and apply the ideas and quit drinking and function better till they die and go to Hell because they missed the part of the truth that to have grace I must submit to Jesus and not invent a god that I am comfortable with.

I need to expect “crazy”, to expect sinners to sin, worldly people to be worldly, people who consider themselves wise to reject God. I need to expect sinners trying to look good, to believe that mankind is basically good, that knowledge will bring wisdom, that giving money to needy people will cause them to work hard and do better, that politics can solve our problems, that they can drive as if they are the center of the universe and not get in an accident etc etc.

I need to revel in the unfairness of things. Fairness: getting what I truly deserve right now! Ouch! Are you sure that is what you want? Anyone who wants fair must truly think that they are basically so good that their just deserts would be wonderful. No, I live in a fantastically unfair world, with lots of unfair misery pulled on my head by my own sins, which are bigger than I realize, and by the sins of the world. It is also full of unfair mercy and grace flowing from God. I have learned to focus on the wonder of his grace to where I do not think that the pains and losses of this world are worthy to be compared to the unfair gifts of God. Romans 8:18

Danger? Yeah, what can this world do to me? Well it can bring: tribulation, distress, persecution, famine,cold and nakedness, peril , sword, killing us all the day long, treating us like sheep for the slaughter, being reviled, imprisonment, be hated by all even our families, beatings, labors, poverty, abandonment and other such light afflictions which are unworthy to be compared with the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:17/ Romans 8:36

Lord help me to quit whining about the world that is, to quit being caught by surprise. To think it not strange but rather to rejoice and be exceeding glad, to join in as fellow sufferers, fellow soldiers. I Peter 4:12 Looking forward to the trials refining my faith and piling up treasure in heaven.

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HUMILITY

If pride is the basic cause of sin, then humility is the basic virtue.

The devil will fight me tooth and nail to prevent me from resting in perpetual humility.

One of his better techniques is to confuse humility with humiliation. Humiliation is a form of pride. When I have been exposed as weak or ignorant or sinful and feel less worthwhile as a result then I feel humiliated. This is clear evidence that my worth, hope and security come from my own performance and not from God’s acceptance of me .

Humility is very different from humiliation. With humiliation when my weakness is seen, I feel terrible and try to deny and defend or just fall into despair. With humility when my weakness is seen I feel full of joy and gratitude that God loves me and is bigger than all my sin.

To acknowledge my struggle with sin and have a sense of worth and hope; is to be humble.

Humility is liking myself, choosing to attack the current moment with energy and rejoicing in the future when the only basis for this is the love power and grace of Jesus and clearly not my own ability.

Non Christians can only have humiliation/pride or puffed up/pride, they can not be humble, because humility requires grace. They will either feel superior to others or worthless based on their own performance.

At the point of salvation I admit that I am the world’s worst sinner and deserve eternal separation from God; but I ask for and accept salvation owing it all to the finished work of Jesus. This is the first baby step into humility.

As I go along in the Christian walk, my awareness of my weak foolish sinful nature grows but my ability to see, picture, and act in who I am in Christ also grows. The blessed and growing gap between the two is my humility, the measure of my gratitude and the reason that I do not judge others as worthless or hopeless.

Both ends of the balance of my sin and Gods’ love lead to imbalance.

If I think that I needed salvation but I was not, “that bad” and that God got a pretty good deal in me then, clearly I am still proud.

If I think that, “Maybe God loves me but, “big deal!” My sins as so great that they are bigger than God’s grace and I continue to wallow in self contempt, continue to try to pay for my sins and show myself strong: then I am in the clutches of Pride.

I must keep my eyes on Jesus and find dynamic balance. If I get cocky, I remember who I am without grace. If I get discouraged and down on myself, I remember who I am in Christ.

“Dear Lord, show me more and more of the enormity of my weakness, foolishness and debt and the enormity of your power and grace in my life.”

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A BACKUP SAVIOR?

No one would ever admit it in Sunday school, but I have come to realize that it is awfully easy to have a back up savior, a plan B for life, just in case this one falls short.

“Yes, Jesus is enough for my current happiness and for eternity, but I am going to also seek pleasure and a sense of being in control and being secure by….!

For example, Demas hung out with the apostle Paul and with Luke and was listed as a fellow labourer with Mark and Aristarchus but then he forsook Paul, having loved this present world. When things seemed to be going well he was all gung ho! Then he was gone when things were seeming to fall apart. Lots’ wife came along with him as he was fleeing sinful Sodom, but she looked back and wham! Salt pillar! Boy am I glad that God doesn’t treat me the way I deserve as an example to others. Paul complained that he had almost no one to send to the Philippians because, “all seek their own and not the things of Christ”. Three people offered to become followers of Jesus, (The master and creator of the universe) BUT first they wanted to do something else or couldn’t bear the thought of sleeping on the ground with no pillow but a stone and no where to call home. So, they lost the chance to follow the master and support him. Phygellus and Hermogenes went down in history because they turned away from working with the Apostle Paul.

The word worship derives from the word worth and one would refer to someone of worth as “your worthship”. Worship is seen and experienced in whatever grabs my time and thought and money and heart. I need to guard my heart and bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

I need to practice the “grain of mustard seed faith” which Peter voiced in John 6:68 When Jesus asked him if he also would go away, Peter said, “To whom shall we go?” He understood that there are NO back up saviors, no other sources of life truth and no alternatives.

I remember a patient that was not making much progress on the problems in his marriage. Come to find out, he had a girlfriend in the wings waiting for him if his marriage efforts failed. The Bible says that I should make no provision for the flesh, if I want to overcome it.

Jesus says to me, “Verle if you don’t come to me, and hate your father, and mother and wife, and children and brothers, and yes your own life also, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not bear your cross, and come after me you cannot be my disciple. So likewise, if you do not forsake all that you have, you cannot be my disciple.”

“Dear Lord, help me to see any hidden back-up saviors or plan B’s and love you so much that I hate any attempt by any other good person or good thing to get between us.”

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HOLD EVERYTHING IN AN OPEN PALM, NO CLINGING!

The Lord gives and he takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord! Job 1:22

Now, come on, be real! Is that the first thing you think of when you have lost something very very important to your happiness? It sure is not what I think of, “Blessed be the name of the Lord”.

I was a very lonely child and longed to have a family and along came Lois and then our firstborn Cheri. Talk about important to my happiness! Then God decided to test my assertion that I held all things in and open palm. Cheri became quite ill, and the doctors had no clue what to do. I faced the possibility of losing her and by God’s grace I ran to him and affirmed that she belonged to him and asked for the grace to love and serve him no matter what the outcome. I then had the elders of my church fast and pray with me and anoint her and God chose to heal whatever the illness was. James 5:14, Mark 9:29

God, in his sovereign wisdom might say “Yes, or NO, or Later”, depending on what is best. I need to say, “You know what I want but have your way even if it isn’t mine”. Luke 22:42 I need to remember that if I whine a lot, God might give me the desire of my heart and send leanness to my soul. Psalm 106:15

An excellent exercise is to review all the things that are in my life on a regular basis. I then ask how I would feel and think about God if those things were taken away. If I honestly would feel destroyed and bitter, then, that thing has become my God. I remind myself that whatever I “own” will soon own me and I will be a slave either to God or to people and things. Romans 6:16 (I would rather be a slave to God). I remember that my God will fight for his relationship with me against anything that threatens to get in the way. (Jealousy for a relationship) Exodus 20:5 So, if anything is more important that God, then both the devil and God are motivated to see it taken away. The devil wants it taken from me because I have promised to be angry with God and God wants it because he will have no rivals in his love relationships. Wow! I had better hold everything in an open palm.

When I was about 12, I was envious of a man at church that had a beautiful baritone singing voice. (Unlike my high squeaky soprano). I remember him singing the following song. by:Bill & Gloria Gaither

I don’t know about tomorrow
I just live from day to day
I don’t borrow from its sunshine
For its skies may turn to grey
I don’t worry o’er the future
For I know what Jesus said
And today I’ll walk beside Him
For He knows what is ahead
Many things about tomorrow
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow,
And I know who holds my hand
I don’t know about tomorrow
It may bring me poverty
But the one who feeds the sparrow
Is the one who stands by me
And the path that be portion
May be through the flame or flood
But His presence goes before me
And I’m covered with His blood

I used to sing this song from the top of a 50 foot tree in the mountains of India in order to cheer up my lonely soul. Later, as a young adult, I returned to the church where I had first heard the song and I shared about how it had blessed me. The congregation seemed strangely quiet in response to my sharing. Later I learned that the man, who had sung this song of faith, had lost his daughter to a car accident when she was 18 and had become bitter towards God and had abandoned the church as a result. His daughter had become his god. God is interested in “total surrender” and not in some sort of insurance bargain where I pay my weekly installments and he must come through with———– (fill in the blanks).

“Dear Lord help me to carry all people and things in an open palm and be able to say, “The Lord gave and then took away blessed be his holy name!”