Pause and think about it!

The abyss between light and dark is growing wider every day. We’ve watched this happen over the past few decades as shaking took place around both the secular and church worlds. Men and women of position did not permit the Word of God to be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path. They walked in partial light. With the pathway still obscured, they stumbled and fell. Ah, but take heart! The Bright and Morning Star shines to give direction. When heeded, there will be no stumbling. There may be thorns and rocks in our pathway in the form of persecution and tribulation, but in the heart there will be no doom or gloom. Jesus said, I have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.

The Bright and Morning Star indicates a new day is about to dawn with new opportunities and clear direction visible to all. Jesus is that star! He will continue to shine brightly in the days to come. His Church will triumph in every battle, win over every obstacle, and disintegrate every weapon formed against Her. She will outshine every counterfeit, every bad report, and every evildoer. Jesus said He will build His Church. The Church of Jesus Christ is not defeated; she is alive and well, although in some geographical locations around the world her light may still be underground.

We thank God for the shaking. We are brave. We are disciplined persons. Those who judge themselves need not be judged. We discipline ourselves so we won’t have to receive imposed discipline. We’ll be strong to conquer in Jehovah’s strength. We are bold. Those who know their God are those who do great exploits. New discoveries, righteous feats, recovery of those things relinquished or stolen—all come to those who choose to follow Jesus. His disciples know that Light shines brighter in total darkness.

Shine like stars

Something wonderful happened on a dark night in Bethlehem. Jesus, the Son of God arrived! His star, bright and beautiful, was shining in a steady burst of light. There was something different about this star. The wise men, taking note of it, did some research. They determined it to be the star of the newborn king of the Jews whose prophesied birth was anticipated by many. In the midst of their excitement, the magi embarked on a journey to Bethlehem to meet and worship the Messiah. Bethlehem, meaning “house of bread”, was the place where they would find King Jesus and get fulfillment for their lives.

The Star of the Show

Those who become popular or famous in a certain setting are referred to as the “star.” Why? Because they stand out from the others. We are familiar with the expressions: Basketball star. Hockey star. Movie star. They’ve made it. They’re topping the pop charts! One question: What are they going to wear? Every pop star needs an image and a knockout wardrobe to match.

We often refer to a person who stands out in a performance as being the star of the show, All the characters are needed to make the show complete, but this one person just outshines the others. The audience, impressed with the character, leaves the event talking about this outstanding person. So it was with the star of Bethlehem when Jesus was born; it outshined all the other stars in the heavens. Everyone familiar with sky-watching would notice its glow.

We Shine like Stars

We, too, shine like stars. We may be a star in the dark life of someone near us. Although we may not like dark places, our light always shines more brightly there. Perhaps that’s why the Lord has placed us where we are—to bring light. As Christians we are to shine like lights in the universe. Wherever we live and work, we must be a light-bearer—a star others want to follow and when they do, it will lead them to Jesus. The starlight of Jesus in us should shine brighter than anything or anyone else around.

Parent Stars

Some of the brightest stars in our lives are parents. Parents who love Jesus and seek to be godly in all their ways light the way for their children to do the same. As they see their parents in situation after situation asking, “What would Jesus do?” children follow that star. Where will it lead? To Bethlehem—the house of bread. Here they can worship the King and find direction for their lives.

Teachers are stars

School teachers, Sunday School teachers, Bible teachers. Whatever they teach, if they love Jesus they are also stars in the lives of their students. Those who follow their teaching by precept and example will soon arrive in Bethlehem where they can worship King Jesus and set their lives on the right course.

Friends are stars

As friends who love Jesus, we will be a light by esteeming others more highly than ourselves. We will not demand our own way, but will exercise discernment with regard to good and evil. Our lips will not speak evil; our eyes will not look on evil; our ears will not listen to evil; and our mind will not think on evil things. We will think on things that are lovely, of a good report, pure, and honest. In so doing, we will be a bright shining star in the life of our friends who will see our good behavior and give glory to God.

Shine on!

Currently, there’s a promotion on to get people to buy a star for someone they love. They get to name the star and it becomes their very own. What a media rip off! Millions of stars exist in the galaxy. They are not for sale! Neither is the free gift of Light that Jesus offers to all who will accept it.

Whatever the season, let’s allow our star to shine. Jesus has put us here to shine forth His Word so that others may see it and follow the light to find Him. If Jesus has been born in our heart, we can be a friend’s Bethlehem—the place where they can find King Jesus. We can feed them the Word and lead them to worship Jesus and follow Him.

When we think of the people who have been stars in our life—helping to give us direction and encouragement at difficult times, let’s remember them with a thankful heart.

Jesus is the brightest star and always will outshine all the others, but we must be His stars shining in the universe as we lift up His Name, His Word, and point others to Him.

In a supernatural way, the glory of that Holy Night invades homes all over the world during the Christmas season. Customs and traditions have particular significance in bringing people together. Many books have been written on the subject of making memories—intentionally planning activities that the family will remember. In all of our planning, we must be sure that Jesus is the center. Without Him, there would be no Christmas. Without Him, all memories are merely temporal. Without Him, we live in darkness. No wonder the songwriter penned the passionate words: Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining; it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth.

(c) East of Bethlehem, C. Yvonne Karl, Brentwood Press, 2003. Chapter 8.

This book is out of stock and out of print but is occasionally offered as a used book on amazon.com, alibris.com, and abebooks.com.

December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

A charming legend is told of Pepita, a poor Mexican girl who had no gift to present the Christ Child at Christmas Eve Services. As she walked slowly to the chapel, her heart was filled with sadness rather than joy. Not knowing what else to do, Pepita knelt by the roadside and gathered a handful of common weeds, fashioning them into a small bouquet. Looking at the scraggly bunch of weeds, she felt more saddened and embarrassed than ever by the humbleness of her offering. She fought back the tears as she entered the small village chapel and slowly knelt to lay the bouquet at the foot of the nativity scene. Suddenly, the bouquet of weeds burst into blooms of brilliant red, and all who saw them were certain that they had witnessed a Christmas miracle right before their eyes. From that day on, the bright red flowers were known as the Flores de Noche Buena, or Flowers of the Holy Night, for they bloomed each year during the Christmas season. That night, the legend of the poinsettia was born. (There are variations of this legend, but all have the same ending.)

NAME ORIGIN: Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779-1851) was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825-1829) by President Madison. (Mr. Poinsett later founded the institution that we know today as the Smithsonian Institution). While visiting Mexico in 1828, he became enchanted by the brilliant red blooms he saw there and immediately sent some of the plants back to his plantations in South Carolina. They were grown in his hot houses there, and he began sending them to friends and other botanical gardens. Around 1836, the name poinsettia was given to the plant honoring the man who first brought it to the United States. After his death in 1851, Congress honored Joel Poinsett by declaring December 12th as National Poinsettia Day. Since that time, the poinsettia has been known as the Christmas flower, now available in red, pink, and white.

*You can find this information on various internet sites.

 

 

And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way…When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem [they] took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord (Matt 21:1-9; Mk 11:8).

Palm Sunday is known to us believers as the day Jesus rode on a donkey and a colt into the city of Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowds and the waving of palm branches. This event came very soon after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Many people were caught up in the excitement of the miracle much in the same way people respond to miracles today. They want to be where the action is.

What were these outer garments that the crowds laid out for Jesus to ride on? They were large, loose, outer cloaks or robes that often fell to the ground if not tied up. They were also used to wrap up things that were to be carried. They were like our coats in that they were an outer covering worn outside of the house and they were easily laid aside.

What do these garments symbolize? Perhaps, like many Christians today, they have an OUTER show of praise to the Lord rather than true praise that comes from an inner commitment of self to Jesus. The multitudes on Palm Sunday had not given Jesus their hearts, but they were very happy to lay down their outer garments for him to ride over—it was like “rolling out the red carpet.” However, The Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me (Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:8).

I grew up with a philosophy that holiness was manifested in outer appearance. Throughout my childhood I never owned a pair of slacks or shorts. If my girlfriends wanted to play with me, they had to come to my house in a dress. Over the years I came to understand that one who is godly will desire to dress modestly, but the Lord said, Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart (1 Sam.16:7). The garment that Jesus is concerned with is the inner-garment, that is, the deepest part of our nature, our conscience, our heart, and our will.

Why is there so much superficiality in Christians? Probably because they’re more concerned with what people think of them than what God thinks of them. They don’t seek the eternal rewards that come from a genuine, inner commitment to Jesus that requires being emptied and cleansed of carnal, temporal rewards.

The saints of the ages whom we read about are those who have denied themselves, endured hardships and sufferings, and more often than not, have shed their blood for their faith. We think how wonderful it would be to have such a dedicated relationship to Jesus, but are we willing to pay the price they paid to achieve it? The testimonies of these saints were not just outer show; they were made of an eternal fabric that lines the soul and outlasts the body. The crowd on Palm Sunday had not comprehended anything beyond the outer show. They were willing to give their outer garments to the miracle-worker, but not their inner-self to the One soon to be crucified for their sin. They were concerned with the present political system and desired to be freed from it. Carnal nature demands instant gratification. It was true on the streets of Jerusalem two thousand years ago and has not changed today.

Palm Branches

We read about another aspect of the event that took place on that special Sunday in Jerusalem: ..when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, [they] took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet Him, and cried, Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord (John 12:13). Their cheers of “Hosanna” literally mean “Save us!” They were thinking of earthly provisions and expecting Jesus to save them from the oppression of the Roman government. This had all the hoopla of today’s political rally. It was the custom to strew flowers and branches, and to spread carpets and garments along the way for those to whom they wanted to show particular honor and respect and on this Sunday palm branches were plentiful.

It’s interesting to look at the symbolism of the Palm branches. The Palm tree grows from sixty to eighty feet high and lives over 200 years. Its six to eighteen feet wide leaves branch from the top to give this tree a very tall appearance. The palm tree is useful in many ways but most of all because of the fruit which it bears mostly between its thirtieth and eightieth years. At the bottom of the leaves of the Palm tree the fruit, called dates, grows in clusters, like grapes. Every year the Palm leaves yield about 300 or 400 pounds of dates. That’s a lot of fruit! Dates are sweet and agreeable to the palate. Get it? SWEET and AGREEABLE. The palm tree also yields a kind of honey, which when eaten is said to cause an agreeable spirit. Likewise, the Holy Spirit, when permitted to take up residence in us, brings forth a sweet smelling fragrance in the nostrils of our Lord, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our enemies. He yields an agreeable spirit in us because it is HIS SPIRIT and not ours that comes forth.

The righteous are useful, dependable, and fruit-yielding over a long period of time—not just for a day. Their fruits are not just outer garments that can be put on and off at will, but are grown from the inside out. The book of Revelation describes a scene in heaven where the saints have palm branches in their hands as they cry out with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb._

With what will we praise Him?

The multitudes had attended the Palm Sunday parade. They shouted and praised Jesus as He rode through the streets of Jerusalem. Some laid down their outer garments, others waved palm branches. Then the streets became quiet. Eerie! Monday. Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Where were the crowds and their garments on Friday? They had dropped their palm branches. No longer was there a multitude. No longer were there any outer garments cast down before Him. Now there was embarrassment. Disappointment. In the shadows they could see the cross being raised on Golgotha. The earth quaked. The sun ceased to shine. Where were those He had fed with the bread and fish? Where were those He had healed? Where were those He had set free? Where were those who had lived with Him, walked with Him, learned from Him?

Friends, we are all so willing to be in church on Sunday and give Him our praise and worship and our hopeful hosannas, but where will we be on the Good Fridays of our lives? Where will we be when we are called on to make sacrifices and have to crucify our flesh? Where will we be when we are called on to identify with RIGHT in the midst of an evil and perverse generation? Where will we be when all those around us today leave us or forsake us tomorrow? Will the praise we give in church service prove to be just an outer garment? Or will it be from the deep inner commitment of the heart? Will the waving of the hands as palms be truly the symbol of the righteous giving praise and adoration to Jesus, or just a mere outer show of emotion? If we genuinely comprehend the provision Jesus Christ made for us on Good Friday, we will allow Him the accolades of our hearts and minds at all times and in all situations.

When I think of Jesus hanging on the cross for me, I feel unworthy like Peter who said, Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man (Luke 5:8);_ and like Isaiah, who when he saw the Lord high and lifted up said, Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips (Isa. 6:5)._ He touches my spirit, and touches my lips and causes my words to reflect the joy of His presence in my heart.

In many churches on Palm Sunday, people are given palm branches as they come into the building for service. They wave them and celebrate Jesus. It is symbolic for we are the planting of the Lord that He might be glorifiedThe righteous shall flourish like the palm tree (Psa 92:12)._ To live a victorious life we need more than just outward obedience. We can’t harbor a grudge or hide anything in our heart. A fly in the soup ruins the soup although it’s just a little thing. We must not be superficial but real. We must be genuine inside and outside. We must be like that Palm tree, the planting of the Lord. We must grow and flourish. We must let the fruit of the Holy Spirit grow from inside our heart and be seen on the outside. Our Lord has made provision for this phenomenon.

Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest!

_______________

(c) The Alabaster Box. Volume 08. Number 03. 1993.  C. Yvonne Karl

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

How could the same scent attract one person and repulse the other? I had not yet entertained such a question. As I dressed that morning, little did I know the part my favorite fragrance would play in determining my life partner. It was my first day on the job as professor in a private college. We had not yet met, but my office was across the hall from his and others had taken care to inform me that my teaching cohort was a single professor and seminarian. Based on their descriptions, I formed a mental photo of this suave gentleman and was most curious to meet him, although the thought of marriage was far from my mind at the time. As I walked through the hallway toward my office, I heard someone call my name. I turned; and there he was, not looking at all like I expected. A little shorter. A little balder. His eyes danced a greeting equivalent to his big smile and extended hand. At once, he introduced himself and asked me if I would go to dinner with him that night so we could get acquainted. Before I had a chance to respond, he verbalized a request that I not wear the fragrance emitting from my person as the very smell of it made him sick.

A great war broke out in my mind. My perfume was expensive and I liked the smell about me when I wore it. How could he not like it? Obviously I had to make an instant decision. Convincing myself that I needed to get acquainted with my fellow staff member, I accepted the invitation and promised not to wear the cologne. At dinner that night, he thanked me for responding graciously to his request and said he thought a good bath was the best perfume anyone could wear. He also let me know he would not want the woman he married to wear any fragrance. Less than three months later, he proposed marriage to me and I accepted. Giving up my favorite fragrance seemed like a small sacrifice to be his wife. I found I didn’t even miss wearing it.

Years had passed when one day I remembered how much I missed the taste of the Brussels sprouts my mother used to cook. Guests were coming for dinner and I decided to prepare the delectable treat. My husband arrived home while the sprouts were cooking and immediately demanded that I identify the putrid smell that was permeating the house. He simply could not take the pungent odor even for the short time it took the dish to cook. “Get them out of the house,” he insisted. I considered arguing, refusing, or appealing, but decided a joyful evening was more important than serving the veggie dish. I carried the Brussels sprouts outside, pan and all, and buried them in the snow. Back inside, I hurriedly put some cinnamon in the oven to absorb the smell. Yes, of course, I chaffed a bit at the thought of not enjoying this tasty dish, but I rejoiced that I had a happy husband to entertain our visitors. Buried in the snow, the smell was completely gone. The next day, I scraped them into the garbage and cleaned my pan. In retrospect, I wonder why I didn’t eat them since they were well preserved in the snow!

This was not a one-sided problem we experienced over food likes and dislikes. He liked sardines and I gagged and choked at the thought of their smell. My husband graciously agreed to eat them only in my absence.

A simple yet major principle illustrated from these experiences in our life is that different people respond differently to the same smell. In each scenario, one of us liked the fragrance and one of us didn’t. Believe it or not, these responses also hold true in spiritual matters. The same gospel message brings the fragrance of life to the believer and the fragrance of death to those who reject it.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life (2 Cor. 2:14-16).

The Apostle Paul, who wrote the above scripture, was in tune with the culture and politics of his day and often refers to public events in his epistles using them as analogies to communicate spiritual truths. He explains to the Corinthian believers how they are a fragrance liked by some and hated by others.  It is the same message with opposite responses.

An eternal fragrance

We are all putting forth an odor from our life. Is it a sweet fragrance that gives forth the love of Christ? Or is it a putrid smell revealing death? If our life has been hidden with God in Christ Jesus, we are a new creation full of the fragrance of Christ. We are a precious trophy carried by our conqueror, Jesus Christ, for all to see. He conquered us, then freed us. Now the Lord has put up His banner over us symbolizing His love for us. Those who desire life will love the fragrance. Those who despise the Lord will command us to take our banner out and bury it in the snow so they can’t see or smell it to remind them of how much they dislike it. No worry. He washed us as white as that snow. They can’t make us rid ourselves of the fragrance of Jesus in our life; we have everything to win! We will allow the fragrance of our Christian life to be smelled by all regardless of their reaction. It’s an eternal fragrance. One day, when their final battle is fought in life, those who rejected the gospel will wish they wore His fragrance. Meanwhile, we will be rejoicing in our triumphal entry into heaven with our Savior. Ah, the fragrance of victory.

Life application

Am I willing to forego my petty likes and dislikes in order to be successful in the critical relationships of my life? 

Prayer

Heavenly Father, In all my relationships grant my desire to be an aroma of life. In Jesus’ name, I pray.

 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl – yvonnekarl@gmail.com

From C. Yvonne Karl,  Brussels Sprouts in the Snow, Chapter 5, by Brentwood Press, 2003

Published by UPCI in The Vision, November 29, 2009

As often happens with newly married men, my husband gained a few pounds. Not many—just enough to make his trousers a bit uncomfortable and cause the seams to split. He assumed that I, his new wife, knew something about tailoring since I frequently sewed my own clothes. Not wanting to disappoint him, I willingly took on the task of mending the seams. 

My zeal, however, was exceeded by my ignorance. Instead of opening the seam and sewing it properly, I merely applied iron-on patches. Imagine his discomfort when he slipped into the trousers without looking at the repair job. He spent the evening trying to ignore the scratchy irritation caused by the patch. Kindly and graciously he did not comment about it until we got home.

Although the patch closed the seam temporarily, it did more harm than good causing damage to the surrounding fabric and the skin of my beloved husband. The trousers found their way to the trash can. I had looked for a quick fix and it ended in destruction. In the same way, many are throwing away the best God has for them because they don’t stop to think. They try to get around problems rather than solving them to the benefit of themselves and others.

In Luke 5:36, Jesus spoke a parable: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old” (NKJV). My own experience confirms this truth; but as I meditate and apply the basic principle to life, it begins to take on a much deeper meaning. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor.5:17,NKJV).  Patches are not allowed.

When we are born-again (John 3:3,7), we are created anew—not our outer shell called the body, but the real person that we are—our spirit. Jesus doesn’t patch up the old; He gives us a brand new start:  “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new’” (Rev.21:5,NKJV).

“You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God’s likeness – righteous, holy, and true” (Eph.4:24,NLT).

In the next verse, Jesus continues:  “And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Luke 5:38, NKJV).

In the New Testament world there were no college degrees in packaging. Containers as we know them today did not exist. They took animal skins, sewed them together and used them as we would use bottles and jars and plastic boxes.  As they aged, the skins would become dry and hard and eventually they cracked and liquid spilled out. If new wine was poured into the old wineskins, it would continue to ferment and the gasses would cause the wineskin to explode. Jesus told the parable and He said new wine must be put into new wineskins.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Rom. 12:2, NLT).

Many of our friends and relatives “act as if they are religious, but they reject the power that could make them godly” (2 Tim.3:5,NLT). They try to patch up their life in their own way—unwilling to let the power of God make them new because it might mean giving up some of their old ways of living in immorality and materialism, undisciplined in every way. At first, their ungodly attitudes and actions may be concealed from others, but soon they will become obvious. In fact, the Apostle Paul says: “You must stay away from people like that” (2 Tim.3:5b, NLT)—people like what? Those who say they’re Christians but do not live godly.

“When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A NEW life has begun” (2 Cor. 5:17,TLB). That’s what it means to be “in Christ.”  Die to old way; get a fresh start. Jesus says you can’t put new wine in old wineskins because they’ll burst and the joy will fall out of your life. “Now you can really serve God; not in the old way, mechanically obeying a set of rules, but in a new way” (Rom. 7:6b-TLB) having a life and breath relationship with Jesus Christ thus allowing Him to make all things new in you.

By the way, my husband never again asked me to mend his trousers. He did it himself for the rest of his life—and he never complained about it. In the same way, we cannot expect others to take care of the problems in our life. We have the Mighty Counselor living in us, continually reminding us of our responsibility to “put off” and “put on” certain things. Scripture tells us what natural tendencies we need to put off and the spiritual attributes that must replace them. We get in trouble when we try to keep our old ways and simply patch them up with something new. We cannot put the new attribute on the old pattern. It simply won’t work. No patches allowed.

Here are some “put off…put on” admonitions:

  1. PUT OFF lovelessness, 1 Jo.4:7,8,20; PUT ON love, Jhn.15:12
  1. PUT OFF judging, Matt. 7:1,2; PUT ON God consciousness, Jhn. 8:9
  1. PUT OFF bitterness, Hbr.12:15; PUT ON tenderheartedness, Eph.4:32
  1. PUT OFF unforgiveness, Mrk.11:26; PUT ON forgiveness, Col.3:13
  1. PUT OFF selfishness, Phil.2:21; PUT ON self-denial, Jhn.12:24
  1. PUT OFF pride, Pro.16:5; PUT ON humility, Jam.4:6
  1. PUT OFF boasting, 1 Cor.4:7; PUT ON esteeming others, Phil.2:3
  1. PUT OFF stubbornness, 1 Sa.15:23; PUT ON brokenness, Rom.6:13
  1. PUT OFF disrespect for authority, Acts 23:5; PUT ON honoring authority, Hebr.13:17
  1. PUT OFF rebellion, 1 Sam.15:23; PUT ON submission, Heb.13:17
  1. PUT OFF disobedience, 1 Sam.12:15; PUT ON obedience, Deu.11:27
  1. PUT OFF impatience, Jam.1:2-4; PUT ON patience, Heb.10:36
  1. PUT OFF ungratefulness, Rom.1:21; PUT ON gratitude, Eph.5:20
  1. PUT OFF covetousness, Luke12:15; PUT ON contentment, Heb.13:5
  1. PUT OFF discontent, Heb.13:5; PUT ON contentment, 1 Tim6:8
  1. PUT OFF murmuring/complaining, Phil.2:14; PUT ON praise, Heb.13:15
  1. PUT OFF irritating others, Gal.5:26; PUT ON preferring others, Phil.2:3-4
  1. PUT OFF jealousy, Gal.5:26; PUT ON trust, 1 Cor.13:4
  1. PUT OFF strife, Pro.13:10; PUT ON peace, Jam.3:17
  1. PUT OFF retaliation, Pro.24:29; PUT ON doing good for evil, Rom.12:19-20
  1. PUT OFF losing temper, Pro.25:28; PUT ON self-control, Pro.16:32
  1. PUT OFF anger, Pro.29:22; PUT ON self-control, Gal.5:22-23
  1. PUT OFF wrath, Jam.1:19-20; PUT ON soft answer, Pro.15:1
  1. PUT OFF being easily irritated, 1 Cor.13:5; PUT ON not being easily provoked, Pro.19:11
  1. PUT OFF hatred, Matt.5:21-22; PUT ON love, 1 Cor.13:3
  1. PUT OFF murder, Exod.20:13; PUT ON love, Rom.13:10
  1. PUT OFF gossip, 1 Tim.5:13; PUT ON edifying speech, Eph.4:29
  1. PUT OFF evil speaking, Jam.4:11; PUT ON a good report, Prov.15:30
  1. PUT OFF critical spirit, Gal.5:15; PUT ON kindness, Col.3:12
  1. PUT OFF lying, Eph.4:25; PUT ON speaking truth, Zec.8:16
  1. PUT OFF profanity, Prov.4:24; PUT ON pure speech, Prov.15:4
  1. PUT OFF idle words, Matt.12:36; PUT ON bridling your tongue, Prov.21:23
  1. PUT OFF wrong motives, 1 Sam.16:7; PUT ON spiritual motives, 1 Cor.10:31
  1. PUT OFF evil thoughts, Matt.5:19-20; PUT ON pure thoughts, Phil.4:8
  1. PUT OFF complacency, Rev.3:15; PUT ON zeal, Rev.3:19
  1. PUT OFF laziness, Prov.20:4; PUT ON diligence, Prov.6:6-11
  1. PUT OFF slothfulness, Prov.18:9; PUT ON wholeheartedness, Col.3:23
  1. PUT OFF hypocrisy, Job.8:13; PUT ON sincerity, 1 Thes.2:3
  1. PUT OFF idolatry, Deu.11:6; PUT ON worship God only, Col.1:18
  1. PUT OFF leaving first love, Rev.2:4; PUT ON fervent devotion, Rev.2:5
  1. PUT OFF lack of rejoicing, Phil.4:4; PUT ON rejoicing always, 1 Thes.5:18
  1. PUT OFF worry and fear, Matt.6:25-32; PUT ON trust, 1 Pe.5:7
  1. PUT OFF unbelief, Heb.3:12; PUT ON faith, Heb.11:1,6
  1. PUT OFF unfaithfulness, Prov.25:19; PUT ON faithfulness, Luke 16:10-12
  1. PUT OFF neglect of Bible study, 2 Tim.3:14-17; PUT ON Bible study, Psa.1:2
  1. PUT OFF lack of prayer, Luk.18:1; PUT ON praying, Matt.26:41
  1. PUT OFF misuse of talents, Luke 12:48; PUT ON developing abilities, 1 Cor.4:2
  1. PUT OFF irresponsibility in family and work, Luk.16:12; PUT ON responsibility, Luke16:10
  1. PUT OFF procrastination, Pro.10:5; PUT ON diligence, Pro.27:1
  1. PUT OFF cheating, 2 Cor.4:2; PUT ON honesty, 2 Cor.8:21
  1. PUT OFF stealing Pro.29:24; PUT ON working and giving, Eph.4:28
  1. PUT OFF overindulgence Pro.11:1; PUT ON temperance, 1 Cor.9:25
  1. PUT OFF gluttony, Pro.23:21; PUT ON discipline, 1 Cor.9:27
  1. PUT OFF wrong friends, Ps.1:1; PUT ON godly friends, Pro.13:20
  1. PUT OFF temporal values, Matt.6:19-21; PUT ON eternal value, 2 Cor.4:18
  1. PUT OFF stinginess, 1 Jo.3:17; PUT ON generosity, Pro.11:24-25
  1. PUT OFF moral impurity, 1 Th.4:7; PUT ON moral purity, 1 Thes.4:4
  1. PUT OFF fornication, 1 Cor.6:18; PUT ON abstinence, 1 Thes.4:3
  1. PUT OFF lust, 1 Pet.2:11; PUT ON pure desires, Tit.2:12
  1. PUT OFF adultery, Matt.5:27-28; PUT ON marital fidelity, Prov.5:14-19
  1. PUT OFF homosexuality, Lev.18:22; PUT ON moral purity, 1 Thes.4:4-5
  1. PUT OFF pornography, Ps.101:3; PUT ON pure thoughts, Phil.4:8

As you study the Bible, you will find many more references to “putting off” and “putting on.”  It’s not enough to know about them; their purpose is to change you and give you abundant life.

“May the God of peace himself make you holy in every way; and may your spirit and soul and body be free from all sin at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess.5:23, NEB).                                 

(c) C. Yvonne Karl – yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Published by UPCI in The Vision – September 27, 2009

For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office…                        (Romans 12:4, KJV).

The phone call came in the middle of the day. “Pastor wants you to teach the third grade boys’ class in Vacation Bible School.” Since I was a high school teacher, I guess the pastor thought I should be able to teach any age anywhere. Reluctantly, I agreed to accept the assignment out of respect for him. The planning went well, but when the first day’s session was over, I was in tears—a woman in my twenties overwhelmed by eight third grade boys. They showed no interest in the class projects nor my object lessons. They talked louder than I and scattered crayons and snacks about the room. I could not grasp the psychology of “wiggling.” I pulled myself together and the with encouragement from other staff members decided to try again. After an even worse second day, I quit.   

What did I learn from this? There are people who are called and chosen to teach third grade boys and I am not one of them. I had neither the gift, nor the ability, nor the talent, nor the desire to teach third grade boys. I was beginning to understand that “all members have not the same office,” and I should not try to fit into a niche for which I was neither called nor equipped.

(c) C. Yvonne Karl – yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Published by UPCI in The Vision – May 31, 2009.

Get Over It!

Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, is vividly etched in my mind. My mother was incurably excited about reaching that mountaintop. With my father at the steering wheel, we approached the little road that would take us to the top. Since I had grown up in the hills of West Virginia, driving around curves up and down hills was not new to me, however this was different. On that day, the mountain rose above the clouds. In fact, it seemed so high to my little eleven-year old eyes and mind that I feared we might be traveling to heaven. “Can we stop now?” I begged. “No! We aren’t there yet!” my mother replied with incomprehensible joy and anticipation. Why were we putting our lives in danger just to get to the top of a mountain?  It was her dream. She had heard about it and nothing else would satisfy her. What drives one person upward is often exactly the same thing that paralyzes another with fear. Once at the summit, I was awestruck by the breath-taking view, all the while trembling and holding tightly to my mother’s hand. Years later, I treasure the memory of that beautiful scene and better understand my mother’s ecstasy as she drank it in.

This fear popped up again and again in my life. My first trip to Mexico was a frightening experience for me. Mother obviously had a love for adventure and decided to take a little-traveled road through the mountains. She heard about it from a physician friend who had been there and highly recommended it. My father was driving and I cried with fear that the brakes would fail on those unpaved mountain passes with only one lane and no guard rails. I had looked forward to this family trip but, because of my fear, could not enjoy the beautiful scenery. To make matters worse, I was not a child. I was twenty-four years old and at one time had considered a missionary assignment in Mexico. Would this mountain experience discourage me from making other such trips in the future? I knew I had to overcome this fear.

Like the Psalmist, “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4 KJV). Since then I’ve been back to Mexico with my husband and thoroughly delighted in the land and the people. I’ve traveled throughout North America, Europe and Africa and encountered some frightful situations, but was not fearful.

In the summer of 1999, a ministry friend met me at the Cape Town, South Africa airport. We were within a couple of miles of her residence when a car ran a stop sign and totaled her station wagon. I knew we were both injured and was softly calling out to Jesus. We dared not go to the hospital since  they had no medical staff in the emergency room. Some locals took us to Ruth’s house, and she phoned a Christian physician friend of hers who came right away. Ruth had whiplash and a nasty knot on her forehead. I had a broken wrist and broken ribs. There was nothing the doctor could do for the ribs, but was able to purchase a metal wrist brace to protect my wrist. We rejoiced that we were alive and completed our three-week schedule as if nothing had happened (although I had to do everything with one hand and experienced pain every time I stood up or sat down or turned over in the bed at night). Three weeks later when I arrived back home to Detroit, x-rays confirmed five broken ribs and a fractured wrist—but all were healing as they should. All praise to Jesus.

Some have said to me, “Did that accident discourage you from traveling?” My answer is, No! Since that time, I have traveled through many other countries. My fear is gone. I commit myself into the hands of the Lord who is able to keep me and accomplish His purpose through my life. After all, “ whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s (Romans 14:8, KJV).

In the year 2000, I had the opportunity to visit the Alps on the border of Germany and Austria. I traveled to the top of one mountain via a narrow road in the only transportation allowed, an authorized tour bus. Since there was no room for two vehicles to pass, all traffic was controlled by radio. Each bus had to wait until the other one had arrived at the peak before the next one could begin the trip. Once we arrived at a parking place, we walked through a 400 foot long tunnel to an elevator which took us to the top of the mountain. There we saw the famous Kehlsteinhaus sitting all alone overlooking Salzburg and Bavaria. A short hike on foot took us higher yet to the foot of a cross perched on a rock atop the mountain. The view was worth all the emotional ups and downs and the perceived dangers we experienced on the way. A number of people in our entourage opted not to make the trip. “I just can’t do it,” they said of the mountain looming above them. But those of us who chose to go will always marvel at the beauty of God’s creation seen from the heights: heaven and earth, clouds and sea, mountains and valleys, all giving praise to their Creator. The old fear attempted to invade my consciousness, but I denied it entrance. “…but thou shalt utterly overthrow them, and quite break down their images” (Exodus 23:24, KJV). 

Israel was commanded to defeat the various tribes, one of which was the Amorites whose name means mountains. We, too can conquer the mountains in our life—the situations that seem too big to overcome. Comparing our impossible circumstances with mountains is a common metaphor. We often say, “I just can’t get over it!” We don’t feel we have the physical strength or emotional stamina to rout them. They make us feel so small. We succumb to this image concocted in our mind and readily disclose we never were mountain climbers—in fact, we can’t even get up a flight of steps without being worn out. Thus we approach the mountains in our life in the same way—with physical and spiritual energy depleted.

Remember Deborah? What if she had said, “Lord, I’m just a woman. I’ll sit here and counsel these people; but why do I have to ride with Barak into battle? Isn’t that asking too much? Isn’t war for men only?”  Of course, no such words came from Deborah’s lips. No situation would prevent her from doing whatever necessary to win the victory. When faced with the magnanimous task of leading the troops into battle, she said, “I will surely go with thee…” (Judges 4:9). Because of her obedience to God, Israel won the battle. Deborah didn’t look to the bigness of the task but to the greatness of her God who would go before her and bring the victory.

Remember David? What if he had said, “Lord, I’m just a teenager. Look at all these brave men dressed in their armor. If they can’t defeat the giant Goliath, why should I even try?”  Of course, no such words came from David’s lips. No mountain giant would intimidate him. He said to the giant Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD…(1 Samuel 17:45, KJV). David didn’t fear the giant or his dagger because he had confidence in God. Likewise, when we put our trust completely in God Almighty, we shake off intimidations from mental images and sharp tongues while we implement a plan of attack.

In the Name of the Lord, we not only can, but we will get over every situation in life that otherwise might paralyze us from moving on to enjoy the abundant life that Jesus came to give (John 10:10, KJV). “For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:23). 

Get over it!

(c) C. Yvonne Karl  –  yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Published by UPCI in The Vision, April 26, 2009

At the home of artist Patti in Somerset West (Cape Town) South Africa. L-R: Patti, Yvonne, Ruth. Note bandage on Yvonne’s wrist and Ruth’s black eyes from the accident.

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.[i]

My husband and I had been married nine years all the while praying and believing God for children. The Lord encouraged us many times through His Word and through brothers and sisters in Christ that we would have children. We learned during that time that Jesus, not children, must be the most important person in our life—that if we would delight ourselves in the Him, He would give us the desires of our heart. So we committed our future to the Lord and trusted in Him knowing that our steps were ordered by Him and He would bring the desires to pass even though we knew not how.[ii]

During the winter of 1988, God sent a fourteen year old girl across our path who was pregnant and planning to give up her baby for adoption. While investigating ways to help her, the Lord began to birth a vision in our hearts about foster care. Scriptures we had meditated on many times before now began to have new meaning for us. We remembered how Pharaoh’s daughter had adopted Moses and reared him in her palace. Now we just needed to trust, rest, and wait patiently for Him[iii]

In February 1989 we began our eight weeks of training and became licensed as foster parents in mid-April. Six weeks later. I received a call from the agency saying only that they wanted to place a four month old baby named Maria in our home. I arrived at the agency eager to meet her. After an hour delay, the long awaited moment arrived. They brought to me a tiny baby girl with dark brown wavy hair and blue eyes—just like the little girl I had dreamed to have.

I wasn’t prepared for a baby with so many special needs. Maria was born three months premature, weighed two pounds and four ounces, was drug addicted, had a large growth on her ear, and was both blind and deaf! Nevertheless, she was beautiful and needed to be loved, nurtured and healed. Part of me wanted to get up and leave her there, but I knew deep inside myself that she was a gift from the Lord even with all her imperfections.

From that very first day the Lord gave us a vision for Maria, and we began by faith to see her completely whole and healed even though we had to keep her on an apnea monitor for several weeks. My husband and I prayed over her every night—and often many times during the day. On her very first Sunday in our home, we dedicated her to the Lord at our church. All of our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as our natural family fell in love with Maria.

On Father’s Day, only a few weeks after she came to us, we could already see the healing process beginning as she was following us with her eyes. Near the end of June our church family gave us a surprise baby shower, and Mrs. Karl’s Bible study was about adoption: specifically how as believers we are adopted into the family of God. Even though we had taken Maria as a foster child, there was strong faith among the people at the shower that Maria had come to our home to stay.

Over the next three months we continued to love, care for, and most of all, pray for our baby girl. In late September 1989, she had surgery to remove the growth from her ear. During the pre-operative exams we were told that Maria showed no side effects of her premature birth, and her vision and hearing appeared to be normal. Her healing was being made obvious to all. We were confident that the Lord was completing the word He had began in her.[iv]

The next four months were a very difficult time as the Lord reminded us that Maria was not ours but His, yet our desire to adopt her was intense. Just as Abraham had to be willing to give up Isaac, we had to be willing to give up Maria. Both our church family and our natural family were a great source of comfort during this time, and they will never know what a blessing they were to us as they prayed and believed God that the decision made concerning Maria and her future would be His best for all concerned.

At the beginning of February 1990, we received the news that we may be able to adopt Maria who was now one year old and had been in our home for almost nine months. At her one year checkup with the pediatrician she was considered to be a normal one year old with no delays. She walked at fourteen months and began to say words shortly thereafter. What a miracle had taken place before our very eyes! Initial medical reports said she was blind—but now she could see! They said she was deaf—but now she could hear! They said she may not be able to take steps—but now she was walking! So great was our rejoicing and thanksgiving to God.

We were then faced with another challenge: we really wanted to foster more children, but we lived in a mobile home and the room Maria slept in was not large enough for two. Then it occurred to us, why not switch her to the master bedroom? We did, and on March 7, 1990, our capacity was increased to two children.

Our first home visit for Maria’s adoption was scheduled on April 5, 1990. At 9:45 a.m. that day, the agency called asking if they could place a healthy two-day old baby girl in our home. The following day, I brought Ashley home from the hospital—a beautiful little girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. What a blessing she was—a perfect picture of health.

Later that month, during a visit with our adoption worker, I asked if she thought we might be permitted to adopt Ashley as well as Maria. She said she would not recommend us because we were already adopting one child, and they had several couples waiting for healthy white babies. We were disappointed but thankful to have Ashley even for a short time. Again we prayed. We were blessed to have Maria and didn’t want to be selfish. We knew the Lord would prepare us if Ashley came up for adoption and we had to send her to another home.

When Ashley was two and one-half months old, she appeared to have a typical attack of fever. I took her to Dr. Luttmann—a wise and concerned pediatrician—who immediately ordered more detailed tests on her. The diagnosis was a total shock: spinal meningitis. He sent her by helicopter to The University of Michigan Children’s Hospital where a team of medical experts fought to save her life. My husband and I sat by her bedside and prayed. God intervened!

With all glory to our wonderful God, after ten days Ashley was released from the hospital to our care. She was tested for any side effects of the illness and had none. She was completely healed from a disease that continues to kill children every year.

About this time, we were assigned a new adoption worker, and she continued the home studies to finalize Maria’s adoption. She had the report of our relationship with Ashley while she was in the hospital, and in our home she observed the tie between Ashley and Maria who already related as sisters. As a result, in late September 1990, the worker came with the tremendous news that we would be allowed to adopt Ashley because of the severe illness she had suffered and the bond that was established between Ashley and our family.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose…Jesus…said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.[v]

Maria’s adoption was final on October 4, 1990, and we began the proceedings for Ashley whose adoption was final a year later, October 27, 1991. We are truly blessed. Now unto Him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.[vi]

Our daughters are now teenagers and continue to amaze us with their gifts and abilities as well as their deep respect and affection for one another and us—their parents. From the beginning we have let them know they are adopted and loved perhaps more than some children because they were chosen and did not arrive by accident.

Maria loves the Lord, is active in the high school youth group at our church, plays the keyboard for the high school praise team, plays piano and flute and has won a number of awards in local, state, and national competitions. She also works with special needs children in our church, is an avid tennis player, studies guitar, and writes original songs—both lyrics and music. It is no surprise that she wishes to be a music teacher one day.

Ashley is athletic and full of energy which helped her develop her skills and win several awards in gymnastics. She also plays tennis, is a gifted artist and very active in the junior high youth group at our church where she is part of the praise team. She loves music, plays the violin, and especially enjoyed being a part of a fiddling group. Her adventuresome spirit keeps us on our toes and she has become the family comedian. Butterflies, rabbits and our family pooch have found safe shelter under Ashley’s care. She dreams of one day working with animals.

As I look back over the years at our two blessings from the Lord, we stand in awe of what God has done in our lives. We are most grateful for their birth mothers who chose not to abort them but allowed them to be born. We are thankful to the Lord for bringing them into our lives and entrusting them to us for love, nurture, and care, and know that He will lead them, guide them, and keep them on the path He has chosen for them.

 Heavenly Father, in Jesus’ name, we pray for the mothers who feel the need to give up their babies for adoption, and we pray that you would send the babies into the homes of loving, caring, Christian people. We are thankful that these mothers have chosen life and pray that both the mothers and fathers and the babies will come to experience the abundant New Life that comes through knowing Jesus Christ. Amen.

NOTE: This article was written in 2000. As of January 2018, Maria is a teaching working with special needs students.

Below you can read the speech Maria gave to a ProLife meeting when she was 18.

[i] Proverbs 3:5-6

[ii] Psalm 37:3-7

[iii] Exodus 2:10; Psalm 37:3-5

[iv] Philippians 1:6; 4:6-7

[v] Rom. 8:28 -John 11 :4, KJV

[vi] Ephesians. 3:20,21

CLICK BELOW TO READ MARIA’S ProLife speech at age 18.

Maria’s ProLife Speech

Below: Maria and Ashley with their Kindergarten teacher, Bev Bettega.

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