Pause and think about it!

Jesus just finished a heart-to-heart talk with Peter. He gave him instructions: Feed my sheep! He gave him a prophecy: When you were young you dressed yourself and pretty much decided when and when you would go; but when you are old someone else will dress you and make decisions for you .. then Peter, turning about saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following … Peter seeing him (John) said to him, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus said to him, What is that to you? You follow me (John 21:20-22). When Peter looked away from Jesus and began to ask questions about John, Jesus gave Peter a rebuke: Peter, Mind your own business! It reminds me of a message I found on the floor at school:

The best BUSINESS

In the line of BUSINESS

Is to tend to the BUSINESS of your own

So if you have no BUSINESS

Then make it your BUSINESS

To leave other people’s BUSINESS alone!

When Peter turned, his focus was no longer on Jesus but on John. He was DISTRACTED. He began to ask questions that were none of his business. Very often, people and circumstances in your life DISTRACT you, DECEIVE you, and then DESTROY you.

BE ALERT TO DISTRACTIONS

How great are our tendencies to be distracted by the words of others, their actions, their great jobs, or their complaints about ours. It is common for us to think that we are required to sacrifice more than someone else. When we mature, we learn that every distraction, even momentarily, causes us to lose our focus on what is most important. Distractions weaken our faith and resolve, and they prevent us from being devoted wholeheartedly to our assignments. Scripture warns us repeatedly not to be led astray by false doctrine and philosophies. There is much emphasis on what seems right, sounds good, and satisfies our desires, but its satisfaction is only temporary. Any move away from the Way Jesus teaches, no matter how good it seems, will lead to deception and failing away from the Truth.

BE ALERT TO DECEPTIONS

No one is immune to deception. Some become distracted by pseudo-spiritual words and actions, and then are deceived by prophesies, signs, and wonders. Remember Jesus said, signs FOLLOW those who believe; He did not say believers are to FOLLOW signs! He says His disciples will be known by their FRUIT not by their gifts.

Do not be distracted, then deceived, by those who would intimidate you with their phony prophecies. Now, friends, there cannot be the counterfeit unless there is the real, and I believe in real prophecy; but there are far too many self-proclaimed prophets sitting in-wait to deceive. They manipulate, intimidate, regulate, and orchestrate by their own prophetic words. Once you are in their clutches, you move at their command–often as if hypnotized. You seek guidance from them. You desire a word from the Lord and go to them. You are deceived! This is the real co-dependency that should be abolished!

BE ALERT TO DEVOURERS

People will tear you apart. You speak the TRUTH to them, in love, and they’ll rip up your heart. They’ll knife you in the back. You think they are your dearest friends. You think they have your best interest at heart. You think they want to do all they can to help you. Then you say or do something that upsets them and they turn on you! Jesus said this would happen. He said people would take advantage of you and persecute YOU. The purpose of an attack is to sift you like wheat so you’ll be separated within yourself and have no direction; this is how the enemy can rob, kill, and destroy your influence, and to cause you to faint in your mind–wear you out! But if you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small (Prov. 24:10). You are able to withstand the fiery darts of the enemy and not be devoured because you know your God! Because you keep your eyes on Jesus! Because you mind your own business!

I don’t know the future of your church. I’ve lived long enough to see many congregations that spiraled to hundreds, even thousands, in the last few decades are now barely making it or have already closed their doors. Many that seem to be powerful, big, and mighty today may be just an offense away from destruction. It only takes one disagreement, one discord, to sift and divide a congregation, a marriage, a family, or even a corporation. Picking up offenses and joining the ranks of the discontented will result in a disappointment and collapse. Then comes the introspection: Since I couldn’t do anything to effect a positive change, why didn’t I leave the situation alone rather than sticking my nose into it. They come to regret not minding their own business rather than taking on the business of someone else.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds–maybe not much more of the wealth and prosperity so enjoyed by America over the past decades. Sadly, many have confused it with rewards for being good, or in the church it has been confused with God’s anointing. Probably not much more time of peace and fearless going to and fro as we pleased, for we have mistaken that for God’s freedom. But we do know, Jesus said, Occupy till I come… (Luke 19.13). And that means for us to do business! He gave each one of us an assignment. Do what’s assigned to you! And don’t turn and look at someone else! Don’t pick up their offenses, nor look for someone else to blame for your own plight! Neither be concerned that they aren’t doing their job, nor even be concerned what their job should be (unless that’s your business)! It’s your business to make sure you are fulfilling your assignment–as a mom, a dad, a boss, an employee, a pastor, an usher, a greeter. Be sure your account is settled and there’s nothing between your soul and your Savior! It’s your business to be concerned with yourself and your own purity.

Jesus is the author of your faith–the one who created it and gave it to you. He’s the finisher of your faith–the one who will bring you safely across the finish line of life. He’s the perfecter of your faith–the one who causes your faith to grow, mature, and be sufficient in times of stress and trial. The songwriter so aptly put it: When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay!

Mind your own business. Keep your heart pure and tender. Remember, Jesus gives you a heart of flesh in exchange for your heart of stone. Both break. But the heart Jesus gives also heals. The other one stays in pieces.

Do not be distracted.

Do not he deceived.

Do not he devoured.

Mind your own business!

_____________________________________________________________

(c) by C. Yvonne Karl. Revised from The Alabaster Box, Vol 9 No 01 Yr 1994. ykarl@alabasterbox.org

The birth of our son, Robert J. Karl

Sometimes we are tempted to falter and lose confidence as we face the scarecrows of our past. There was one such a scarecrow in my family tree.

My grandmother’s firstborn child was a baby girl, my mother. Soon grandmother gave birth to a baby boy, Denver Lee, who died at age two of complications from pneumonia.

My mother’s firstborn child was also a baby girl: yours truly, Carol Yvonne. Her second child was a boy, Charles Ray, who died from complications of the Rh factor when he was less than two days old.

Now, I was the third generation and, just like my grandmother and my mother, my firstborn child was a baby girl, Caroline Julia. More than four years later, I had a positive pregnancy test indicating our second child was on the way. The trial was here. The scarecrow was staring me in the face. Would family history be repeated?

Imagine the fear that was grabbing my mother. When I was about 24 weeks pregnant, three doctors could get no heartbeat and the ultrasounds lent suspicions that I was carrying a fast-growing tumor rather than a live fetus.

I went home from that appointment and shared the gloomy news with my husband. About that time, there was a knock at the door. A somewhat inebriated and elderly Lou Myers had come to ask for prayer. My husband invited him in and shared that it looked like we weren’t having a baby after all. He told Lou: “I’ll pray for you, and you pray with us that if it’s God’s will we’ll have this baby.” Lou responded quickly: “I don’t give you a dime for those preachers that say if it’s God’s will; you know it’s God’s will for you to have this baby.” And he began to pray: “Thank You God for giving Pastor and Mrs. Karl a healthy baby boy.” (We had hoped for a boy.)

While the doctors were planning to surgically eliminate the tumor, God was doing something in me. A few days later, the doctor said, “Whoa! No heartbeat, but it sounds like we might have a placenta swish here. Let’s wait a few days and see what develops.” Less than four months later, on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1978, my handsome son was born.

Had three doctors been wrong in their diagnosis? Or had God turned the tumor into a live fetus? In my mind, I’ll always believe God did a miracle.

Oh, the fiery trial wasn’t over yet. The pediatrician came to my hospital room that evening to inform me that my son had an incurable blood disease. More prayer. My husband went to a pastors’ conference where he requested prayer for our newborn.

After an extended stay in the hospital, the doctor allowed us to bring our baby home on the condition that I bring him in for daily blood monitoring. He advised removal of his spleen because of the blood disease. However, before the surgery was scheduled to take place, something miraculous happened.

One day after taking the slide to the lab to test our baby’s blood, the doctor returned to the room with a huge smile on his face. There was no trace of the blood disease. It had totally disappeared, and tests repeated over the next few weeks showed no trace of it.

At age six, Robert made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Throughout his school years he excelled in academics, and at age eighteen he graduated from university with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry/Bio-Chemistry. At age twenty-one he graduated from medical school. He is a family practice physician and has a beautiful Christian wife and three gorgeous, healthy, young  children.

The curse is broken.

To God be the glory. “He does all things well” (Mark 7:37).

“Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done” (Psalm 105:1).

IMG_2822

Some years ago Noah and Laura, two of my students, gave me a treasured Christmas gift: a ceramic Santa kneeling at the manger worshipping Jesus.

I am well aware that there are those who would like to eradicate the legend of Santa, but he does typify what every Christian should be like for He is described as being full of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, and faith. (cf. Gal.5)

The Santa custom actually began as a person named Nicholas who was born around the year 300 A.D. in what is now Turkey. He was a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ. When his parents died and he inherited their wealth, he simply gave it away in the form of gifts—primarily to poor children. If the recipient discovered his identity, he would request that they tell no one. From this came the custom of gifts coming from an unnamed Santa. We should not lie to our children about who Santa is, but enjoy the custom while making certain we teach them that Christmas is all about God giving His Son Jesus to deliver us from our sin and bring us into His family.

St. Nicholas, the generous gift-giver, was a church leader throughout his life and known for his warm personality, his compassionate spirit, and boldness in preaching. In later generations his death on December sixth was celebrated by giving gifts. Christians were already celebrating the birth of Jesus on a Roman festival day December 25, and at some point along the way, the St. Nicholas remembrance became a part of the Christmas celebration with the exchange of gifts as a reminder of the greatest gift of all—Jesus Christ.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we meet the Wise Men—kings from the East—who recognized Jesus as God’s gift to them and brought Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Likewise we acknowledge the gift that others are to us by giving something appropriate to them. It may be a gift of time, thanksgiving, a card, or something of substance. A gift is not given with the expectation of receiving a gift in return but rather in the spirit of having already received something. It is more blessed to give than to receive. St. Nicholas’ life reflected this attitude of heart. He is known as Jolly old St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, Papa Noel, Father Christmas, and various other names in different countries and languages.

It is difficult to find a person who looks happier than a “Santa” with his twinkling eyes and joyful laugh. It is difficult to find a person so eager and ready to give to others with no thought of getting something in return. It is difficult to find a person so willing to forgive and be gracious to the smallest of offenders. Yet, these are precisely the characteristics that we Christians are to have day after day; they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. If people all ages are drawn to these characteristics in Santa, how much more are they drawn to spirit-filled Christians who are in circulation 365 days a year rather than just a few days around Christmas time.

During the Christmas season, each time we see his symbol, let’s remember the life of St. Nicholas who gave himself and his wealth and time to those around him as he served Jesus. Perhaps someone will look at you this Christmas and say, “Hi Santa, I see Jesus in you!” The Santa in our house should be filled with Ho-Ho-Ho laughter that does our heart good like medicine. Such joy comes from knowing Jesus and is kept in manifestation by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Thank the Lord for St. Nicholas who worshipped Jesus and whose unselfish life continues to point us to Jesus Christ—the Greatest Gift ever given. No matter how good anyone may appear to be, how perfect, how jovial, or how benevolent, only Jesus is the real source of these characteristics for He alone is the giver of the abundant life. Above all else, JESUS IS THE CENTER AND FOCUS OF CHRISTMAS. May all of our activities and celebrations point to HIM.

Merry Christmas!

Notes: On Christmas Eve when our children were small, we always read the biblical account of Jesus’ birth from the Gospel of Luke, but  I also read “The Night before Christmas” story to them and under the tree they would find gifts from “Santa.”

_______________

P.S. This is the first time I’ve had my picture taken with a Mall Santa, but it goes with the above story about how I relate to him. -December 2016

yvonne-santa2016-final2-copy

 

___________________________

Above article adapted and expanded from East of Bethlehem, Chapter 13, by C. Yvonne Karl. Brentwood Press, 2003.  (www.alabasterbox.org; ykarl@alabasterbox.orgyvonnekarl@gmail.com)

 

 

 

 

I was blessed to grow up in a home with parents who taught me about John 3:16—how God loved me so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to be my Savior. From the time I can remember, it was my desire to be accepted and loved by Him. Even though I was told that God’s love for me was not dependent upon what I did or didn’t do, I still stumbled through times of darkness and feeling separated from Him.

Often at night, I would be gripped with fear that the world was coming to an end and I had not achieved the perfection needed to go to heaven. I could literally hear the congregation singing, “Oh when the saints go marching in…” But the part that haunted me was, “Oh Lord, I want to be in that number…” It was as though I was crying out, Wait for me! Don’t leave me behind. Usually these night-doubts would drive me to my parents’ bedroom where I would plead with them to pray for me to have peace.

Finally, at age eleven, I had an encounter with God on my knees between my parents at the sofa of our home. Soon thereafter, I was baptized in Coal River on a cold November day—so cold, they had to crack the surface ice to complete the baptism. I expected that after that day, I would no longer be plagued with doubts about my salvation. I had such a wonderful peace—and a feeling of being on top of the world. However, I still didn’t comprehend that feelings are fickle—that salvation is by faith, not by feelings, and that I would not always “feel” saved–loved and accepted by Jesus.

My hunger to be accepted by God was misappropriated. I picked up the list of “thou shalt nots” from my holiness teaching. Conforming to outward appearance only sufficed to appease the flesh. My spirit continually hungered for more of God. I struggled to perfect my thoughts and attitudes and clung to God’s promises of being with me “always.” I involved myself in as many spiritual activities as I could—revival meetings, conferences, Bible reading, choir, classes, church services, and Bible Club at school. Each one gave me the euphoric “feeling” for which I longed, but much like caffeine gives you a lift, it soon wore off and I needed more.

Probably the most significant characteristic that derailed me was my often-untamed temper. I doubt that few outside my family knew there were times when I simply “lost it.” I was not rebellious against my parents. I was not disobedient. But the emotional outbursts came primarily when I was unable to accomplish my short-term goals or to rule over my spirit in certain emotional settings. He who has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down and without walls (Prov.25:28, Amp). When-ever this happened, the enemy brought accusations against me—both true, based on what I had done or thought, and false, just to torment my mind.

I had just turned 18 and recently graduated from high school when a very wise Pastor Haynie prayed with me that the Lord would “restore the joy of her salvation.” That summer, I spent many hours driving out onto the dirt roads of the countryside, finding a place to park and pray. There, in those meetings just between God and me, I confessed to Him that I longed to measure up to what I thought were His expectations of me. And He spoke to me about His unlimited love—how it wasn’t based on how I performed or felt. There, with the wildflowers blooming around my feet and the cows grazing and gazing over the fence, I gave Him my life with all of its quirks, doubts, misgivings, and frailties. I surrendered to Him my plans, my goals, my desires, and my excessive temper—all of me. In exchange, He gave me a promise of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom.14:17).

That summer a new chapter in my life began. Did I ever fall short and fail Him in my attitudes and thoughts? Of course—but I confessed, and He forgave. Did I ever have doubts again? Of course—but I cast them down and refused to doubt my salvation. Did I ever feel unworthy again? Of course—but I remembered that it was not by works of righteousness which I have done that saved me in the first place. Did I ever have more out-of-control tempter? By God’s grace, no more tantrums, but thankfully healthy emotions remained.

God surely did lead my life from that point on—in a way that neither I nor anyone who knew me could have predicted. His unlimited love has enveloped me until this day—and will forever be mine. The Psalmist wrote from his heart, and I share his testimony: If God hadn’t been there for me, I never would have made it. The minute I said, “I’m slipping, I’m falling,” God’s love took hold and held me fast. When I was upset and beside myself, He calmed me down and cheered me up (Psalm 94:17-19, MSG).

I thank God every day for His love. It cannot be grasped. It cannot be comprehended. It is so high, so wide, and so deep that it covers every imaginable situation. And He’s given it for free. Oh how He loves me—and you!

Eph. 3:17-19, NLT – Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

(c) Yvonne Karl. yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Who is Jesus Christ to Whom we give thanks? 

In Genesis, He is The Promised Seed of the woman.
In Exodus, He is the Passover lamb.
In Leviticus, He is the high priest.
In Numbers, He is the star to rise out of Jacob.
In Deuteronomy, He is the two laws: love God and love your neighbor.
In Joshua, He is the captain of the hosts.
In Judges, He is the covenant angel named “Wonderful.”
In Ruth, He is the kinsman redeemer.
In Samuel, He is the root and offspring of David.
In Kings, He is the greater than the temple.
In Chronicles, He is the king’s son.
In Ezra and Nehemiah, He is the Rebuilder.
In Esther, He is the savior of God’s people.
In Job, He is the Daysman.
In Psalms, He is the song.
In Proverbs, He is the wisdom of God.
In Ecclesiastes, He is the one among the thousand.
In Song of Solomon, He is the bridegroom of the bride.
In Isaiah, He is Jacob’s branch.
In Jeremiah, He is our righteousness.
In Lamentations, He is the unbeliever’s judgment.
In Ezekiel, He the true shepherd.
In Daniel, He is the stone that became the head of the corner.
In Hosea, He is the latter rain.
In Joel, He is God’s dwelling in Zion.
In Amos, He is the raiser of David’s tabernacle.
In Obadiah, He is the deliverer on Mount Zion.
In Jonah, He is our salvation.
In Micah, He is the lord of kings.
In Nahum, He is the stronghold in the time of trouble.
In Habakkuk, He is our joy and confidence.
In Zephaniah, He is our mighty lord.
In Haggai, He is the desire of the nations.
In Zechariah, He is our servant, the branch.
In Malachi, He is the Son of righteousness.

In Matthew, He is Jehovah’s messiah.

In Mark, He is Jehovah’s servant.

In Luke, He is Jehovah’s man.

In John, He is the Son of God

In Acts, He is the Builder of the Church

In Romans, He is the Justifier of him who believes

In 1 Corinthians, He is the first-fruits from among the dead

In 2 Corinthians, He is the unspeakable gift

In Galatians, He is the Seed of Abraham

In Ephesians, He is head of the church

In Philippians, He is the supplier of every need

In Colossians, He is the preeminent One

In 1 and 2 Thessalonians, He is the returning Lord

In 1 Timothy, He is God manifest in the flesh

In 2 Timothy, He is the Lord, the righteous judge

In Titus, He is the Blessed Hope

In Philemon, He is Savior of Slaves

In Hebrews, He is the High Priest

In James, He is the royal law.

In 1 Peter, He is the chief shepherd

In 2 Peter, He is the day star arising in our heart

In 1 John, He is our Advocate

In 2 John, He is the confession of one who is true

In 3 John, He is source of prosperity

In Jude, He is the beloved.

In Revelation, He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Several variations of this can be found on the internet and in various book collections with no mention anywhere of the source.

(Also quoted in Chapter 25 of Yvonne’s Book, East of Bethlehem, 2003).

An article out of the Archives

 

Click on link below

VOL 02 NO 03-The River of Life

The following article was written on my return from Israel in April 2006.

Click here:  My Experience at the Tomb