Pause and think about it!

Archive for the ‘Thoughts to Ponder’ Category

Help, Lord! My Life is Like the White of an Egg

Help, Lord!

My Life is Like the White of an Egg

JOB 6:6

THE STORY OF JOB has been passed down through the centuries. Even folks who don’t read the Bible know about Job. You know his story, too, but let me repeat it. In Job 1:1 we meet this man whose name was job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and abstained from and shunned evil because it was wrong. He had ten children: seven sons and three daughters. A perfect family! Job was extremely prosperous–the richest man in the East.

AT A MEETING IN HEAVEN, the Lord was bragging on Job. Have you seen my servant Job? There is none like him on the earth! He is blameless, upright, fears God, and stays away from evil (1:8). Satan, who had been going to and fro seeking whom he could devour, also came to listen in on the meeting. When he heard the comments about Job, he immediately began to accuse him to the Lord, Does Job fear God for nothing? Isn’t it because You have blessed him and caused him to prosper abundantly? No! God assured satan that Job was righteous and no matter what he did to him, Job would still serve the Lord. Satan walked away from that meeting with a mission: to maim, kill, and destroy Job. 

Job was a righteous man and prayed fervently for his children. They liked to party. On this particular day, Job either wasn’t invited or didn’t want to be a part of the reveling. While his children partied at the older brother’s house, a messenger came to Job’s house to tell him that the Sabeans had stolen his oxen and donkeys and killed the servants. Another messenger came to say that lightning had struck and burned up all Job’s sheep and the shepherds with them. While he was still speaking there came another with the news that the Chaldeans had stolen Job’s camels and killed their keepers. In the twinkling of an eye, Job had lost his prosperity.

The last messenger was not yet finished speaking when another messenger came to tell Job that a tornado had leveled his eldest son’s house and all of his children were dead. Job was distraught to say the least. He did what everyone in those days did when they were grieving: he tore off his robe, shaved his head, fell down on the ground. Although he didn’t understand what was happening,

JOB WORSHIPPED THE LORD! He said he didn’t have anything when he was born and he couldn’t take anything with him when he died, so he might just as well praise the Lord anyway. Blessed be the Name of the Lord! And Job did not sin by becoming bitter and blaming God (1:22).

Satan didn’t like that response at all! He smote job with ugly, painful, oozing sores from top of his head to the soles of his feet. They hurt so badly that Job sat on an ash heap to try to get some relief. He took pieces of broken pottery and scratched the infection out of the sores. Job’s wife had reached her breaking point and finally spoke out: Job, she said, You didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, you did everything right and look at you now! You had better just forget this God of yours and go ahead and die! She couldn’t imagine that any miracle would be big enough to take care of this situation. Soon the word of Job’s tragic circumstances reached his good friends, and they decided to come to console him. But when they saw Job, they were speechless. They sat for a whole week unable to talk. When they finally did say something, it was the same thing you and I usually say: “Why?”

Job ‘s name means hated, persecuted. By whom? By satan! He’s the accuser of all the brethren. Sure, Job is discouraged. Who wouldn’t be! Material possessions are gone. Family is gone. Wife and friends have turned against him. Then he says, 

MY LIFE IS LIKE THE WHITE OF AN EGG ….

Is there any flavor in the white of an egg?(6.6) Did you ever try to eat just the white of an egg? When boiled, it’s flabby and rubbery. You start chewing it and if you don’t swallow it, you’ll still be chewing it hours later. You can take raw egg white and beat it full of air, but if you don’t add sugar to it, it’s not edible; and if you want it to retain any shape you have to add a pinch of cream of tartar. Is your life like that? Tasteless? Hard to swallow’? Bitter? Do you need some yellow nourishment? Some SonShine in your life? Job surely did. Job had the strength to make it through this difficult time in his life because he made a commitment:

THOUGH HE SLAY ME, YET WILL I SERVE HIM (13:15).

Yes, we know it was satan who was inflicting the tragedies on Job, but Job didn’t know that. We know the plans that God has for us are for good and not for evil (Jer. 29:11), yet, when problems come, all too often we waste precious time asking, Why? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo faced the fiery furnace saying We know our God is able to deliver us, but even if He doesn’t we won’t bow down… They were committed to God because He is God–not because of temporal blessings, powerful positions, wealth, and happiness. They believed there was something better waiting for them beyond this life. Job put it this way:

I KNOW THAT MY REDEEMER LIVES and in the end He will come back. And after my skin, even this body, has been destroyed, then from my flesh, or without it I shall see God, Whom I, even I, shall see for myself.. And my eyes shall behold Him, and not as a stranger” (19:15-17). I KNOW! I know that no matter what it looks like, my Redeemer lives! I know that no matter what my situation is all around, my Redeemer lives! I KNOW! I KNOW! I.KNOW! 

Paul says it this way: I KNOW in Whom I have believed and that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him…(2 Tim. 1:12). If you KNOW He is able to keep, then you’ll commit it to Him. Cast ALL your cares on Him for He cares for you! When there’s no way you can do it, it’s time to KNOW Whom you believe. .

The reason your life is like the white of an egg and is tasteless, blah, and/or you are unable to swallow what’s happening, may be simply that God is messing up YOUR plans in order to accomplish HIS purpose. Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand (Prov. 19.21). Maybe satan just knew human nature when he accused Job before God that day. As long as everything goes their way, most people will sing and praise the Lord. But let things go wrong and hardship come, they hang their harps on the willow tree and recite: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…” Not Job! He knew God is able!  

GOD IS ABLE!

He is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7.25). 

He is able to keep me from stumbling (Jude 24). 

He is able to build me up and give me an inheritance (Acts 20.32). 

He is able to make me stand; to hold me up (Rom. 14:4). 

He is able to help them that are tempted (Heb. 2:18). 

He is able to make all grace abound toward me (2 Cor. 9:8). 

He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask (Eph. 3:20). 

He is able to perform what He has promised (Rom. 4:21). 

He is able to scramble my egg and give it some flavor! The white of the egg is only the outside–our body and external circumstances. It will decay and return to dust anyway. What you do with the yellow–the inside-will last eternally! That’s where the nourishment is. Are you saying today, ‘Help, Lord! My Life is like the white of an egg? Blah. Tasteless. Difficult to swallow?” Let this be the moment that you determine in your heart to serve Him and KNOW He is able to bring you through–but even if He doesn’t, let it be said of you that you died in faith believing… (Heb. 11:-39-40) so He can present you faultless before the Throne (Jude 24). I KNOW He is able!

© C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, V10N9

yvonnekarl@gmail.com  

Trading a Title for a Towel

I’d rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to dwell in the tents of the wicked (Psalm 84:10).

It was another beautiful morning in Ghana, when about 6:30 AM I looked out the window and saw Stephen cutting the grass with a small sickle—an implement consisting of a curved metal blade with a short handle. Where, I queried, was the lawn mower? Of course, there was none. This was quite a large courtyard full of lovely bushes, flowers, and nice green grass. The young man was diligently manicuring the lawn with his body bent in a 90 degree angle as he moved along as if he were a machine. I was intrigued by his thoroughness and the beauty of the well-maintained courtyard. Who was this young man who always had a big smile on his face? He was obviously full of joy and had no bitterness or resentment toward his job.

Stephen’s main function at the compound was Gate Keeper. He arrived promptly at 6 AM, six days a week, and left at 6 PM, or whenever his alternate arrived. During those twelve hours on duty it was his primary responsibility to unlock the big gate when official residents arrived and departed and to make sure no unauthorized person gained access to the area. He watched over my friend and me when we walked across the alley to purchase a bag of cheese balls. He monitored the levels in the outdoor water tanks so if the city didn’t pump enough water that week, he could warn the residents and they could order a tank-truck of water to get them through until the next pumping time. He fed and watered the dog and cat. He did the ironing for the residents (I discovered that ironing is a man’s job in Ghana), and any other job delegated to him. In addition to all this, he maintained the mango trees and all the flowering bushes and beautiful shrubs, flowers, and grass in fresh and vibrant condition reaching heavenward for the daily sunshine. In the middle of the afternoon, at rest time, he could be seen sitting on the bench with a dictionary and a Christian book—the ones I saw were dealing with theology and the Christian life.

Who was this young man, really? I had to get to know him. One morning I prepared to leave the house well ahead of my driver’s arrival. This would give me time to linger a while outside and talk with Stephen rather than just exchanging greetings as I came and went.

NAME CHANGE

“Stephen,” I said, “I’m curious. Where did you get your name?”  Ah, the joy on his face and the thrill of being able to share his testimony with me.

His father, who had been on active military duty when he was born, gave him the name Michael after one of his close comrades. He was taken to church regularly and was taught the Bible. As he grew up he continued to participate in church services and activities and called himself a Christian. One day he landed a good job as gatekeeper for a missionary. In the compound where he worked, there was a “boys house” where those on duty could rest and eat; and he brought his girlfriend there one day when the missionary was away. However, on that particular day, the head missionary came to check on the property of the staff member on furlough. When he saw the girl there, he asked Stephen, “Are you a Christian?” to which he replied, “Yes.” Then the missionary asked, “Are you sleeping with her?” to which Stephen also replied, “Yes.” At that point the head missionary looked right into Stephen’s eyes and said: “Then you are NOT a Christian. Christians don’t do that.”

Stephen told me that the Holy Spirit spoke to him so clearly through the missionary that he broke up with the girlfriend immediately explaining to her that he wants to be a true Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ. Then he changed his name from Michael to Stephen after the biblical Stephen who was a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ until it his death.

That happened several years ago. Since that time, Stephen has set himself apart as a servant of Jesus Christ. He expressed his belief that the Lord has given him this opportunity to serve the missionaries as their “gatekeeper.” This is his ministry, and he is making good use of free time to study and prepare himself for whatever else the Lord may have for him in the future. Meanwhile he is joyful, content, and witnessing to all those around with his life of servanthood.

SINCERE VS PHONY SERVING

Speaking of serving, there was another story that came to me about Stephen. A couple of years ago when the flood of the century came to Accra, Stephen had already gone home from his job. However, he knew that the missionary’s house was likely in danger of being flooded and went there to check on the property. He arrived in time to save some valuable things although it was impossible to control the water and mud which eventually permeated every part of the compound. He did what he could and realized later he himself had probably lost everything from his own modest little home. To his surprise, his neighbors had seen him leave and went to his home, pulled out everything valuable, and put it on higher ground. “In giving we will receive.”

It’s the difference between the sincere and the phony. Jim Fletcher writes, “I once accompanied a well-known author to an interview. As we were walking toward the escalators, he asked if I would refill his cup of ice, yet he was much closer to a juice cart than I was. His ego demanded that he be waited on. For me, his ministry message of love for his fellow man rang hollow.

“Another time I saw the positive attitude. Over lunch, I visited with an author who has a different agenda. Curious about his goals as a writer, I asked the usual questions: ‘Do you think publicity is the key to fame [in publishing]? How would you like to package your books in order to really put your name out there?’ He glanced at several celebrity authors and their entourages, then looked at me. ‘Jim,’ he began gently, ‘do you remember the story in the Bible of Moses on the mountain?’ I nodded, not sure of his point. ‘Well, he found himself in that place in the rock, near God. That’s all I want, to be near God.’ This was a private conversation, and the author was never going to speak of it publicly, but his attitude made a profound impact on me. (He gets his own ice too.)”[1]

The Psalmist expressed this principle of contentment, servanthood, and fulfillment when he said: A  day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents (palaces) of (the wicked) wickedness (Psalm 84:10).

SERVING GOD BY SERVING OTHERS

For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand spent elsewhere. To feel God’s love, to rejoice in the person of the anointed Savior, to survey the promises and feel the power of the Holy Ghost in applying precious truth to the soul, is a joy that thrills true believers. Even a glimpse at the love of God is better than ages spent in the pleasures of sin.

“I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

To bear burdens and open doors for the Lord is more honor than to be “somebody” in this world. Note how the psalmist calls the tabernacle the house of my God; if Jehovah is our God, His house, His altars, His doorstep, all become precious to us. We know by experience that where Jesus is within, the outside of the house is better than any place where the Son of God is not to be found.[2] Some of the Levites had the assignment to keep the doors of the Lord’s house, (see 1 Chron. 26:1). Or think of the beggars that lay at the gates of the temple for alms (see Acts 3:1). And remember the servant that was desirous of continuing in his master’s house, and serving him for ever; who was brought to the door post, and had his ears bored through with an awl (see Ex. 21:5).

Like the psalmist, God’s courts were Stephen’s choice. He had chosen to be a Gate Keeper and loyal servant to the missionary; he was caring for the property as unto the Lord.  WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

The Pharisees loved synagogues well enough, provided they might have the uppermost seats there (Mt. 23:6) so they could be noticed and acknowledged. Not the Psalmist. Not Stephen. God Himself was their hope, and joy, and all. Therefore they loved the house of their God, because their expectation was from their God[3] and not from people. It is easy to imagine what pride the Pharisees took in having the preeminence, (3 Jn. 9). It is not possessing the uppermost rooms, nor sitting in the chief seats, that is condemned (somebody must sit uppermost), but loving to sit there.

Along with desiring pre-eminence comes the demand to be addressed with titles of honor and respect. The Pharisees loved greetings in the markets, loved to have people put off their hats to them, and show them respect when they met them in the streets. O how it pleased them, and fed their vain humor…to have way made for them in the crowd of market people, and to be complimented with the high and pompous title of Rabbi, Rabbi! The greetings would not have done them half so much good, if they had not been in the markets, where everybody might see how much they were respected, and how high they stood in the opinion of the people.

To give respect to them that teach and preach is commendable; but for the teachers and preachers to love and demand that respect, to be puffed up with it, and to be displeased if it be omitted, is sinful and abominable.

TRADING A TITLE FOR  TOWEL

In our early morning conversation, Stephen told me about an incident involving his pastor and dear friend. Some time earlier, the pastor had a burden for his people to grow in the knowledge of the Lord and in his attempts to challenge them, he began to recite the litany of his own successes, educational accomplishments, and titles earned. As Stephen was hearing this, the Holy Spirit within him was grieved. After the service, he spoke to the pastor and told him how as Christians we should be laying down our titles and picking up the towel to wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. That’s what Jesus did. He has called us to humble ourselves and be servants as well. It may have been helpful for the pastor to share his past with the congregation, as the Apostle Paul often did; but he needed to go a step further so they would know he was not demanding obeisance. At first when Stephen talked to him, the pastor was caught off guard and took offense, but soon he came to Stephen in all humility and thanked him. Today they are good friends. That’s the mark of a humble man—a meek man, one who is teachable.

Here is a precept of humility and mutual subjection: He that is greatest among you shall be your servant; not only call himself so, but shall be so.  John Wesley’s Rule says: Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can and as long as you can.[4]

A writer for a great newspaper visited India. One day he met a missionary nurse who lived among the lepers and helped them. How tender and loving she was to the poor lepers. The porter looked upon her with amazement. He said, “I wouldn’t wash the wounds of these lepers for a million dollars!” “Neither would I,” answered the missionary nurse, “but I gladly do it for Christ. I have no thought of any reward other than His smile of approval upon me!”[5]

Stephen wasn’t interested in a title, the name of his job, or recognition for his labor. He chose to take up the towel—he was a true servant, one who served with joy and purpose in the Name of the Lord and as unto the Lord—not just in church services but equally in his everyday life at home and work. He first humbled himself and repented for his sin, in compliance with his God, and now continues to humble himself in service and submission to his brethren. He shall be exalted to inherit the throne of glory.

May all of us follow in Stephen’s footsteps and give up our demand for titles and pick up the towel of service to God and to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Editor’s Note: A special thank you to Stephen for giving me permission to share his story.

 [1] Fletcher, Jim, “The Great Secret,” as published in The Christian Communicator, Volume 15, Number 2, p. 6. The Christian Communicator, PO BOX 110390 Nashville, TN 37222-03900.

[2]http://www.gospelcom.net/eword/comments/spurgeon/psalm84.htm

[3] http://www.blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/c/1043514619-2131.html

[4] Knight’s Treasury of Illustrations, Eerdman’s Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 357.

[5] Knight’s Treasury of Illustrations…

© The Alabaster Box/yvonnekarl  Vol 18 No 03 2007

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

 

Is my pastor starving?

Pastoring can be very lonely. Especially in small congregations, some pastors have more critics than cheerleaders and every little morsel of encouragement brightens their day. Ask the Lord to show you a way to bless your pastors. Remember, we don’t always reap WHERE we sow, but we do reap WHAT we sow (Gal.6:7-9). Next time you’re tempted to complain and criticize, double a blessing for your pastors instead. Show them your love in a way that does not impose on their time. Do something for them and expect nothing in return. After all, “It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.”

 “And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thess.5:12-13. And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you! (1 Thess.5:27-28, Msg).

It is rare to hear a parishioner say, “My pastor is starving.” On the flip side of the coin, how many times have we church-going folks say: “I’m starving.” “I’m not being fed.”

These comments are not new. Thousands of years ago God chose Moses to lead His people. Even though they were headed for a land of freedom and prosperity, they balked and complained that they weren’t been fed properly. 

WHY CAN’T WE HAVE MEAT?

“Now the mixed multitude…yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: ‘Who will give us meat to eat?’” (Num.11:4, NKJV).

Another version says, “Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt, and the people of Israel also began to complain. ‘Oh, for some meat!’ they exclaimed” (NLT). The Message paraphrases this same verse: “The riff-raff among the people had a craving and soon they had the People of Israel whining.”

The mixed multitude was literally a great rabble, or riff-raff, who had come along with the Israelites as they escaped Egypt. Obviously they conjectured that if they hid themselves in the huge throng of God’s people they would also inherit His promises. After all, they had been in the crowd of more than a million Israelites when the Red Sea parted and they crossed over on dry land. They saw Pharaoh’s army swallowed up as the waters came back together.

The Red Sea miracle wet their appetite. They had seen other miracles, yet they became disgruntled and bitter because of days of mundane meals in a dry place. They gave no credit to God for supernaturally supplying them with an adequate source of food in a desert where no animals roamed and no plants grew. Nevertheless, their discontent was infectious and soon even the most devout among the Israelites were agreeing with them. “Nothing tastes good out here,” they said. “All we get is manna, manna, manna” (Num.11:6). “We want meat!”

They were not grumbling about their announced destination but rather about not getting their favorite meals along the way. The manna God sent them daily contained the necessary nutrients for them to eat and stay healthy. They didn’t have to work for it—neither to plant it nor harvest it. All they had to do was gather it each morning.

Isn’t this the way it is with us today? We lose sight of our destination—heaven—and complain about the spiritual food. It reminds me of one Christmas when my daughter was a toddler. She dreamed of getting a bride doll and talked about it incessantly for weeks before the holidays. I purchased lace and satin, cut and sewed, and turned a doll into a gorgeous bride. After she went to bed on Christmas Eve, my husband and I placed the new toy table and chairs from her grandmother under the tree and positioned the bride doll at the table. There! We thought. Our little girl will be so thrilled when she sees her dream has come true.

How wrong we were! Caroline came bouncing down the stairs on Christmas morning, but before reaching the bottom step she glanced into the room and saw the table and the bride doll. Immediately she began to cry and ran back upstairs to her room. Totally confused by her actions, I went to her room to hear her repeating over and over through her sobs: “My gifts are supposed to be wrapped up!” 

God’s manna did not come wrapped up. It was readily available, but it no longer held any mystique. The daily provision had become routine—they were not content to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” In fact, they already had daily bread. What was readily available did not fulfill their wants. They were selfishly expecting Moses to provide them meat. When He didn’t, “they all whined in front of their tents” (Num.11:10).

Lord, help us, but the same is often true of us believers. We spend more time complaining and whining about not being “fed” than we do in consuming the “Bread of Life” in whatever way it comes to us. A spiritual meal may come from routine teaching of the pastor in one service after another, or a Bible class, or a small group meeting. It may come from the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, or the teacher. More often it comes directly from God Himself, as we sit quietly before Him meditating upon His Word. However it comes, we must gather it and feed it to ourselves.

Nevertheless, in our humanness, we are more excited about the spiritual food desserts: the great miracles or passionate encounters with others who are “cheerleaders” in the Kingdom. It’s not really meat of the Word that we desire, but Paul says, “You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Are we selfish like children—demanding the food we want. Few children would choose vegetables and fruit; rather they beg for ice cream and cake. I wonder if this is not equivalent to the demand the Israelites made for “meat” and Paul’s contemporaries who chased after empty emotional experiences rather than spiritual ones.

WHY MEAT?

God told Moses to call the people together and “Tell the people…You’ve been whining to God, ‘We want meat; give us meat.’ God has heard your whining and he’s going to give you meat. You’re going to eat meat. And it’s not just for a day that you’ll eat meat, and not two days, or five or ten or twenty, but for a whole month. You’re going to eat meat until its coming out your nostrils. You’re going to be so sick of meat that you’ll throw up at the mere mention of it. And here’s why: Because you have rejected God who is right here among you…”(Vs.18-20).

God was present with them—the all powerful, all knowing, ever present God. He would withhold nothing good from them—yet they were craving something outside the realm of “good.”  They demanded “flesh.” He was giving them “daily bread.” Using the flesh to satisfy our hunger will always result in death—death of a dream, death of a marriage, death of our spiritual life, or death—plain and simple! Who among us can grasp that God knows what is best for us? That man will be satisfied with God!

When we have God’s presence in our lives, we have everything we need—for He is our ALL in ALL. Only His Presence can satisfy our craving; not even God’s gifts can fulfill that hunger. That’s why even though we see miracles, participate in awesome worship services, live in prosperity and good health, we still have a craving, a yearning, a demand for more. We think we need MEAT; however, our appetite for meat is a mere substitute for allowing Christ—the Bread of Heaven to consume us.

Truly as mature Christians we hunger for more of Christ in us, thus we relinquish control to Him over each area of our heart, our mind, our will, our emotions. But this comes about by our one-on-one relationship with Him—not as a result of being fed by the pastor at church services.

HOW  DID PASTOR MOSES FEEL?

Did anyone ever ask how Moses must have felt with these complaining people nagging him all day every day? God had entrusted to him leadership in the largest congregation ever assembled, and he was totally frustrated—as are many pastors today. 

“Moses said to God, ‘What did I ever do to you to deserve this? Did I conceive these people? Was I their mother? So why dump the responsibility of this people on me? Why tell me to carry them around like a nursing mother, carry them all the way to the land you promised to their ancestors? Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people who are whining to me…If this is how you intend to treat me, do me a favor and kill me. I’ve seen enough; I’ve had enough. Let me out of here’” (vs.10-15).

This prayer is being prayed all across the United States and around the world by pastors of congregations large and small. Some are leaving the ministry—ill-equipped to handle all the whining and complaining. Many take this as rejection of them personally and throw in the towel. Some change jobs—never to realize their fulfillment in being faithful to the call of God on their lives. Others fall into tragic moral failure; sadly, some even commit suicide.

Who is to blame for these heartbreaking turns in the lives of some pastors? The people who grumble and complain? No—but perhaps they could have helped encourage the pastors rather than tear them down. Perhaps they could have spent more time on their knees praying for the pastors rather than spreading their discontent among other congregants.

But pastors, like Moses, need to go to the Lord in prayer and to the Holy counseling book and receive His counsel—remembering Who gave them their assignment in the first place. Nevertheless, as members of various congregations, we could do much to encourage, build up, and feed our pastors. 

Jesus told Peter, “Feed my sheep?” Yes—and God told Moses, “Lead my people.” However, the people didn’t like the food or the direction the pastors were taking. Peter says: Clean house! Get rid of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God” (1 Pet.2:1-3). Every church will have followers of Christ who are in all stages of spiritual growth—from infancy to maturity. As mature ones, we are patient with the young ones who need to feed on milk; we do not demand that we be fed instead of them. As a matter of fact, we know how to feed ourselves and no longer require being fed on demand—though we appreciate the help when we’re in distress.

FEED YOUR PASTOR

Pastors rarely make a public announcement about their needs—probably because they feel they are there to help the people not to put a burden on them. But how many of us recognize the pastors’ need for food in the form of affirmation and encouragement? The Lord told Moses, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” We see this promise carried out through Moses’ lifetime (Study the book of Exodus) and I believe it is still a prophetic promise for us today.

Yes, our pastors will fail if they don’t have a vital relationship with the Lord, but so will we. They cannot depend on the people in the congregation to fill that need, nor can we. Indeed the Apostle Paul faced a court hearing with not even one person there to support him, but listen to his testimony: “At my preliminary hearing no one stood by me. They all ran like scared rabbits. But it doesn’t matter—the Master stood by me and helped me spread the Message loud and clear to those who had never heard it. I was snatched from the jaws of the lion! God’s looking after me, keeping me safe in the kingdom of heaven. All praise to him, praise forever! Oh, yes!” (From 2 Tim.4).

In spite of Paul’s spiritual strength and determination, he lets us know that he longed for companionship and helpers—to affirm and assist him. He says to Timothy: Get here as fast as you can…Bring Mark with you; he’ll be my right-hand man…Bring the winter coat I left in Troas with Carpus; also the books and parchment notebooks. Watch out for Alexander the coppersmith. Fiercely opposed to our Message, he caused no end of trouble. God will give him what he’s got coming” (From 2 Tim. 4). Is this not what God told Moses? “I will curse them who curse you!”

One of the lessons Jesus taught in the parable of the talents was affirmation: To those who were faithful, He commended them with words we all desire to hear: “Good work! You did your job well” (Matt.25:21). Jesus didn’t comment on the little details and find ways to point out their faults or how He disagreed with some things they might have done—He commended them. It’s a two-way street: the pastors need to affirm their people and the people need to encourage their pastors.

Throughout three decades of ministry, like most pastors, my husband and I experienced both the ire and the love of God’s people. Some were faithful to the end and are still lovingly and prayerfully bonded, but the love of others was short-lived. People came into the church fellowship, gave both public and written commitments to be by our side forever, then in a flash they were gone. Some stayed a few weeks; others a few months; some worshipped and worked with us for years before moving on. 

Of those who moved, some were geographically transferred, some bowed out gracefully, some created a mountain out of a molehill, and some attempted to invoke a major takeover. In my opinion, all were there for a season, for a purpose. Only God knows whether or not that purpose was fulfilled. We were not in the ministry to be affirmed by people but to be approved by God, yet the accolades of our brothers and sisters played a huge roll in encouraging us—often in times of near despair. 

There were always people in our lives who cared deeply about us and our family. There were several dear ones who seemed to be listening for me to say, “I really like that!” so they could run out and get it for me. During my husband’s illness, some dear sisters came and cleaned our house and even washed the curtains. There were those who dropped off my husband’s favorite food dishes—just at the time they were needed. Some brought groceries and home canned goods from time to time. Some volunteered to work at the church to do many and varied tasks throughout the week. Some precious saints worked in our house—painting, building, remodeling. And the list goes on. The Apostle Paul calls all of these “labors of love” (1 Thess.1:3).

In one church, a family brought to the pastor’s office a fresh rose every Sunday morning. Some people are especially eloquent with words and write poems, prayers, and thank you notes to the pastor on days other than birthdays, holidays, and pastor appreciation days.

There are many ways to feed your pastors with love, encouragement, and affirmation so that when they’re being bombarded by whiners and complainers and their own sense of inadequacy, the Lord will use your good deeds to remind them of His love.

Pastoring can be very lonely. Most pastors have more critics than cheerleaders and every little morsel of encouragement brightens their day. Ask the Lord to show you a way to bless your pastors. Remember, we don’t always reap WHERE we sow, but we do reap WHAT we sow. Next time you’re tempted to complain and criticize, double that blessing for your pastors instead. Show them your love in a way that does not impose on their time. Do something for them and expect nothing in return. After all, “It is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.”

And now, friends, we ask you to honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thess.5:12-13).

And make sure this letter gets read to all the brothers and sisters. Don’t leave anyone out. The amazing grace of Jesus Christ be with you! (1 Thess.5:27-28).

Reprinted from The Alabaster Box, C. Yvonne Karl © Volume18 Number10 2003.

Yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Patches Not Allowed (Put off … Put on)

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

Twelve Churches in Twelve Weeks

Since I moved to South Carolina without knowing where I would become part of a church family, I decided to take advantage of the situation and visit several houses of worship. Here is my summary of those visits:

Click on the title below to open up the article.

Visiting SC Churches 12 wks 2017

Mind Your Own Business!

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

Scarecrows in my Cerebellum (“ites”)

Here is a pdf of my book: Scarecrows in my Cerebellum. The Chapters are named after the “ites” which Joshua told the people God would drive out of their land (Joshua 3:10; Exodus 23:23). This book is out of print. Occasionally it shows up as a used book on alibris, abebooks, or amazon.

Click on the link below.

Scarecrows-Brentwood-Final

Tag Cloud