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Posts tagged ‘Yvonne’

JULIUS EWALD KARL: The story of His Life from Birth to Marriage

“Till death do us part” came in January 1999 after 31 years and 2 months of marriage ending Julius’ nearly 14-year fight with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Since that time, I [Yvonne] have chosen to focus on the positive and spend the rest of my life praising God for His mercy and grace. I take to heart the Apostle Paul’s words: A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes … In [Paul’s] judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is–and I think that I, Paul, also have the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 7:39-40).

Thank You Heavenly Father for bringing Julius and me through 31 years of marriage “to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health” till death parted us in this life. Thank You for Your grace that was greater than all of our problems and for faith in You that held us together till the end. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

This month, November 24, 2017, we would be celebrating our 50th Anniversary, and in his honor and memory, I am printing the story of his life from birth to marriage. It’s a story of overcoming hardship inflicted by war, living in four different countries, pursuing education to the highest degree and, through it all, loving and serving God, the Father of Jesus Christ.

Special thanks goes to Julius’ youngest sister Frieda, for contributing her written memories of the Karl Family’s life and for verifying specific dates and events. Some of the information was written and told by Julius himself before he died. Finally, Yvonne draws from stories Julius told over and over again to his family and friends. While somewhat in chronological order, there are overlapping stories and some repetition to bring clarity to the events.

Each chapter is short and listed separately below. It should open when you click on it.

JEK-Introduction

JEK-Chapter 01-His Immediate Family

JEK-Chapter 02-A Child in Time of War

JEK-Chapter 03-The Faith of My Parents, written by Julius in 1988

JEK-Chapter 04-Youth, Education, and Christian Commitment

JEK-Chapter 05-Growing Up and War Comes, by Frieda Karl, youngest sister of Julius

JEK-Chapter 06-Escape to Freedom, by Frieda

JEK-Chapter 07-Leaving Germany for Canada

JEK-Chapter 08-College Bound in USA

JEK-Chapter 09-Julius seeks and finds a wife 

JEK-Chapter 10-How Julius met Yvonne-The CHOG Connection

JEK-Chapter 11-The Wedding and After

JEK-Chapter 12-Short Stories from Julius

JEK-Dissertation Abstract IU – for PHD 1974

Papers Julius wrote for B. A. Classes in 1965

JEK AutoBio 01-65

JEK AutoBio 06-65

JEK-My Education 01-65

 

 

 

 

 

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

Author’s Bio

ABOUT YVONNE

A widow since 1999, Yvonne was married for 31 years to Julius Karl, who immigrated from Germany to Canada at age 22. He attended German Bibelschule in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and was the founding pastor of the Gemeinde Gottes (German Church of God) in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. After seven years in Canada, he came to the United States where he first attended Warner Pacific College, then received a B.S. degree from Anderson University-Indiana and a Master’s of Divinity from Anderson School of Theology. From there, he completed M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Indiana University. Julius and Yvonne met and married while both were teaching at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. (Read more about Julius’ life in war-torn Germany and subsequent immigration and education: https://yvonnekarl.com/2017/11/24/julius-ewald-karl-the-story-of-his-life/)

Yvonne grew up in Nitro, West Virginia and graduated from Nitro High School. After college she went back there to teach for three years before leaving to do graduate work.

MINISTRY                                                                                                                                  

Yvonne is intimately acquainted with the church community having been active in various aspects of church work for many years including serving as ecumenical minister to summer farm workers in Indiana and Michigan and as co-pastor with her husband at New Life Community Church in Michigan from 1984 until his death in 1999. She continued there as pastor until retiring in summer 2001. She was the speaker in various conferences including a gathering of Christian professionals in Cape Town South Africa and the Agape Association of Bible Schools in Ghana, West Africa. She also served several years on the Board of Agape Gospel Mission and traveled across the world. Passionate about the Lord Jesus Christ, she communicates His Word in a down-to-earth, unpretentious style knowing that all who so desire will experience His life-changing power in their lives.

PUBLICATIONS                                                                                                                        

Beginning in 1986, Yvonne served as editor of The Alabaster Box which was circulated around the world monthly for more than 20 years. She has authored six inspirational books and published hundreds of articles. Her books are out of stock and out of print, but occasionally they show up as used books on Amazon, Alibris, and Abe Books under author name: C. Yvonne Karl.

EDUCATOR

In addition to ministry and writing assignments, Yvonne is a retired educator who served assignments in five states including teaching in secondary schools, as well as at Michigan State University, Anderson University-Indiana, and Agape Bible College-Ghana, W.Africa. She also served as school counselor and K-12 principal. Most recently she served a two-year term as Administrator of Wright Way Bible Institute in Culloden WV.

EDUCATION

Yvonne did undergraduate studies at West Virginia State University, graduate studies at Michigan State University and Anderson University-School of Theology, doctorate studies at Indiana University, Lake Charles Bible College, and post doc studies at The University of Michigan. While living in Las Vegas, she became a certified Chaplain with the Greater Western Division of MChapUSA.

Yvonne has been awarded multiple listings in Marquis’ Who’s Who in American Education, Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in the World.

CREDITS

For the many and varied exciting opportunities in her life, Yvonne gives credit first and foremost to her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She honors numerous others who impacted her life positively in ways only fully seen in retrospect: John Santrock, Raymond Arbogast, Jayne Jones, Philip Rambo, William Houghton, Multiples at IHS; Pastor Mark Haynie, Pastor Robert Hazen, Dr. E. E. Wolfram; WVSU Professors Dr. Sarah Crosby and Dr. Lawrence Jordan; AU Professors Nilah Meier and Dr. Nancy Osborne; AU-SOT Professor Dr. Irene Caldwell; MSU Professors Robert Bishop and Dr. Carlos Teran; IU Professor Jung and Professor Stone; family, friends, and the list is inexhaustible. No life is lived without the influence of others. To God be the glory forever and ever! Amen (Galatians 1:5)

FAMILY                                                                                                                                        

Yvonne has two adult children and three grandchildren. Her daughter is an orchestra teacher with Washoe County Schools and Reno Philharmonic Kids in Reno, Nevada, Her son is a Physician in South Carolina at https://familyphysiciansspartanburg.com.

UPDATED July 2017 – As of July 2017, Yvonne lives in the Greenville area of South Carolina.

Email for more information: yvonnekarl@gmail.com

…one thing I do, forgetting the things behind, but reaching out toward the things that lie ahead with reference to the goal, I pursue toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus  (Philippians 3:13-14, LNT).

For other articles about Yvonne’s life, click on PERSONAL under Categories on the right.

Our Miracle Son

The birth of our son, Robert J. Karl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The curse is broken.

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

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

*Local newspapers ran a feature article on Robert; a local TV station sent out a report to interview him as “Doogie Howser”  for the evening news.

My Testimony, by Yvonne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(c) Yvonne Karl. yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Peter helped me out of the Pit

Many people might say they know me—relatives, of course, but a variety of others. Some have known me since childhood, others since college, others in ministry situations, and others in academic settings. For the most part, these people would likely say I’m an extrovert, enjoy being around people, never depressed, a straight shooter. They might even say I’m organized, follow through with assignments, encourage others, and have a positive outlook. However, at times I have seen myself quite differently.

Like the Apostle Peter, in my teen years I had made a decision to be a Christ follower. I was determined to go where He sent me and to allow Him to use me to help others. However, the scripture, Take heed when you think you stand, lest you fall (1 Cor. 10:12), had not yet carved its way into my mind and spirit. Actually, The Message Bible further amplifies this thought: “These are all warning markers—danger!—in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes. Our positions in the story are parallel—they at the beginning, we at the end—and we are just as capable of messing it up as they were. Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”

Peter was faced with humiliation and disbelief at what was happening, separated from friends, watching the One whom He esteemed to be the Son of God being arrested. He couldn’t comprehend what was happening and ran away from his commitment to follow Jesus till death. In fact, he denied even knowing Him—not just once, but three times. He was angry, felt betrayed, became bitter and resentful. Peter did not intend or plan or expect to fail. Nor did I.

Decades ago, having endured slander against my pastor-husband—false reports due to lack of understanding of who he was and what his goals were—I was forgiving and had no bitterness toward the people involved. I felt I understood their perspective, and even though they were wrong, I forgave and held no offense. Some time afterward, several wrote letters of apology.

Years later, I was dealing with my full-time job, raising my children, caring for my cancer-ridden husband and his physical and emotional pain, and assisting in his pastoral duties. When those closest to me began separating themselves from us, I stood firm fully expecting that the God who delivered from the flood, the fiery furnace, and the lion’s den, would also deliver me. I was believing God would do something miraculous and praying that my husband would be healed and we would grow old together and enjoy life and ministry. But he got worse, and his behavior was sometimes disruptive—no doubt fueled by the invading cancer and the drugs pumped into his body to halt its spread.  Again, I agonized yet tried to understand the withdrawal of a number of friends and co-workers as they verbalized their concern with their pastor being ill. Some said,  “If only he had enough faith, he would be healed.”

But the day came when I realized that some people were blaming me for not intervening to curb his sometimes erratic behavior. Instead of standing on my confession that Jesus would deliver us both, I became bitter, resentful, angry and downright ugly. I lashed out at those few people who had stood with me before but now distanced themselves. In retaliation, I attempted to expose their shortcomings and failures. Although I didn’t deny Jesus, I did deny His power because I tried to work it out myself in tongue and pen with vengeance–and that’s a recipe for sure failure.

For weeks I walked around feeling the accusing, fiery darts of the enemy. I was spiritually and emotionally paralyzed and don’t remember a lot of details from this time period. However, it was as if I was in a protective bubble while I continued to fulfill my daily responsibilities. Little by little, I was able to regain equilibrium, but just when I felt like I was free, the anger and sting of betrayal–perceived and real–would hit me again.

I don’t recall exactly how long I walked around in this cloud. After issuing apologies and requests for forgiveness, there came a wash of tears of repentance. In my distress, I cried unto the Lord and He heard me (Psa. 120:1). Like Jesus forgave Peter, He forgave me and directed me to strengthen my brothers and sisters (Luke 22:32). Times were still tough, but God who knew my heart directed my steps. I was learning to “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble me, corrupting many” (Heb.12:15b). My bitterness had only impaired my own life but, if not cancelled, would also pollute the lives of those around me. Thank God and others for forgiveness and new-found emotional freedom and for those who stood faithfully with us through the long battle.

Finally, after 13 years, my husband was declared cancer-free and the time together that I had dreamed of came to pass—a wonderful summer with a healthy, happy husband. But it was short-lived. There came a quick and consuming reappearance of cancer; and four-months later he was gone to his heavenly home. Cancer took him, but Jesus received Him in 1999.

That time, I was not caught off-guard. I had learned how easy it is to fall into traps of the enemy. Now when I begin to feel bitterness or resentment toward someone, I confess it to the Lord—as often as necessary. I do not ever want to repeat that feeling of sliding into the pit. Yes, I had been sliding, but Jesus rescued me. Like David, He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground 
and steadied me as I walked along. (Psa. 40:2, NLT) And as Job said: God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light (Job 33:28, NLT).

“You may fall on your knees and pray—to God’s delight! You’ll see God’s smile and celebrate, 
finding yourself set right with God.
 You’ll sing God’s praises to everyone you meet, 
testifying, ‘I messed up my life—and let me tell you, it wasn’t worth it.
 But God stepped in and saved me from certain death.
 I’m alive again! Once more I see the light!’  And believe me, now I aim to take heed when I think I stand, knowing full well how easy it is to be ensnared and fall” (Job 23:26-28  Msg).

To Peter, I say: You followed Jesus closely as one of His inner circle. You promised never to leave Him—yet you denied him under feelings of betrayal and pressure of accusation. Because of your experience, you would have understood my emotional pain and spiritual wavering. When you realized what was happening—and that Jesus had told you it would happen—you came to your senses and went out and cried and cried and cried—tears of repentance. Tears of “how could this have happened to me when I loved Him so” (See Matt. 26:75).  Jesus had mercy on you, forgave you and called you to “feed His sheep.”

Peter, the Holy Spirit used this incident in your life to help me out of the pit. Thank you for telling your story. It encouraged me!

______

UPDATE: Pastor Jamie Wright at Grace Life Church in Culloden, WV, preached an awesome message entitled “Can you smell that?” talking about Peter sitting by the fire after betraying Jesus… but, thank God, there came some time later a time sitting by another fire when Jesus asked him, “Do you love me?…Feed my sheep!” No longer did Peter smell the fire of his betrayal, now he smelled the fire of love. You can listen to his message here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KU3cv7h9DFY 

________________

I Almost Let Go (Kurt Carr)

I almost let go.

I felt like I just couldn’t take life anymore.

My problems had me bound.

Depression weighed me down.

But God held me close, so I wouldn’t let go.

God’s mercy kept me, so I wouldn’t let go.

I almost gave up.

I was right at the edge of a breakthrough but couldn’t see it.

The devil thought he had me; 
but Jesus came and grabbed me,

And He held me close, so I wouldn’t let go.

God’s mercy kept me, so I wouldn’t let go.

So I’m here today because God kept me.

I’m alive today, only because of His grace.

Oh, He Kept me, 
God Kept me, 
He kept me, 
So I wouldn’t let go.

(Thank you Talma and MFC choir for introducing me to this powerful song.)

_____________

(c) C. Yvonne Karl, The Alabaster Box, 2013, Updated 2016

yvonnekarl@gmail.com

Holey or Wholly Holy

At the time, though I took them very seriously, I did not fully comprehend the impact and gravity of these words. Over the years they became more precious than ever, and today I treasure the wonderful memories and rewards of being joined to my husband by God and anchored in my marriage by these vows. One day I will see him again, but not as husband and wife for there is no marital union in heaven (Matt. 22:30). When we pass from this life into our eternal abode, we will shed our earthcoat of mud and dirt called flesh. We will struggle no more with its lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. We will be “as the angels” (Matt.22: 30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35).

In the last days before his departure for his heavenly home, my husband commended me to the Lord, gave me his love and blessings, and promised to be waiting to welcome me when our Father calls my name and says it’s time to come home. What a reunion that will be!  I can’t begin to comprehend a relationship that is purely spiritual (since we’ll be without our physical house), yet in some small way it does help me understand why spiritual relationships are so important while we live on this earth. We are beginning our eternal abiding in Jesus Christ and the natural life must submit to spiritual principles.

WHOLLY HOLY

After some direct and consequential teaching to the Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul wrote to them: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your WHOLE spirit and soul and body be preserved BLAMELESS unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).  He is saying that as a total being you are set apart from others by God to keep yourself unto Him and unto Him only. Jesus said, thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength (Mark 12:30), and you answer, “I will!”  The relationship begins. Over the weeks, months, and years that follow you find yourself renewing that vow daily as you face sickness and health, joy and sorrow, prosperity and adversity; and forsaking all others keep yourself to Him, and to Him only. The icing on the cake is that this vow we take is for eternity, not “till death do us part.” Those who are in Christ will never see death (John 8:51). Oh yes, they will shed their earthly body, but their spirit—which lives forever—won’t even miss it!

To sanctify you wholly means that every part of your being will be set apart for use by God: your mind, your will, your emotions, your attitudes, your actions, and your abilities. Nothing in your life will remain unaffected by this union with the Lord.

When we married, my husband was 36 and I was 27. Both of us were quite independent having lived alone for a few years without the encumbrance or necessity of looking after someone else. What an awakening when we realized that we were now accountable to each other. One no longer would decide to go away for a few days without the other. One no longer spent money without the input and consent of the other. We had a mutual concern now: our marriage. We were transparent before each other. Everything one of us did affected the other one in some way, thus we had to consider each other’s feelings, schedules, likes, dislikes, responsibilities, and personalities.

So it is in our relationship to the Lord. Our commitment to Him must penetrate and infiltrate every aspect of our being. No part of us can be withheld. In a marriage, when people are selfish and unwilling to work out such a relationship, they head for the divorce court. Before the marriage, they yearned for a husband or wife but later realized they didn’t want the changes that came with the commitment. They didn’t want to give up their old ways, their independence, and their pet indulgences. They did not give themselves wholly to the marriage. In the same way, often people make a vow to follow Jesus Christ then when adversity comes their way, they become angry and decide to split. When their selfish prayers are not answered to their liking, they reject God and harbor resentment toward Him. They did not give themselves wholly to Him.

God wants us to be WHOLLY HOLY—that is, every part of our lives to be in sync with Him. We are not under duress in this relationship.  When you answer His invitation, you say, “I will.” That means you choose to enter this commitment. You “will” to do it. You’re the benefactor of His blessings and His provisions and get all the inheritance that comes with carrying His name! He doesn’t come into this relationship with charge cards filled to the max. He comes with the wealth of a cattleman who owns all the cattle on a thousand hills! That alone ought to be worth giving up your spiritual poverty. His are eternal riches that outlast this life.

Thou shalt Love the LORD your God with your WHOLE HEART and with your WHOLE SOUL and with your WHOLE MIND and with your WHOLE STRENGTH(Deut. 6:5; Mark 12:30-NIV).

When Jesus quoted this Old Testament scripture, He was pointing out that a commitment to the Lord must have no holes in it. It must be whole, complete. When that commitment is not fragmented, it will result in a holy life.

LOVE WITH YOUR WHOLE HEART

When Jesus says to love the Lord with all your heart He is referring to your innermost being.

Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life (Prov. 4:23, KJV).

The word “heart” comes from the Greek word kardia; In Latin, it is cor—the very “core” of your being. Men look on the outward appearance. God looks on the heart (1 Sam. 16:7).  The heart is the center of the inner life of man and the source or seat of all the forces and functions of soul and spirit…It is supremely the one center in man to which God turns, in which the religious life is rooted…the center of his personal life (Kittel, III:611-612)[i].  We can actually say the word “heart” refers to attitudes which motivate, radiate, and energize our lives.

Some may ask how they can love others, as Jesus commanded, when they love the Lord with ALL their heart. It seems there would be nothing left for anyone else. Quite the contrary. If you have children, do you remember when you were expecting the second child? You wondered how you could possibly love that child after focusing all your love on the first one. Would there be any room left in your heart for another? And another? And perhaps another? Of course! When you love the Lord with your whole heart, love just oozes from that heart into the lives of others. When you fill the coffee cup to the brim and keep pouring, it runs over onto the saucer and onto the table and onto the floor. It covers everything around it. The Love of God is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). It will fill up as much of our heart as we permit.

If you allow unforgiveness, resentment, and bitterness in your heart, they will choke you to the very core of your being. They are like an infection that spreads to every part of your heart. Soon your motives are not seeded by love but by these negative thoughts and emotions and they eat at you until you have no part of your heart left for loving. But if you allow yourself to be cleansed by the Word of God and get all those negative attitudes out of your heart, you’ll have a fresh new love for the Lord and others.

Many marriages break apart, as do many commitments to Christ, because little hurts have been allowed to fester and absorb all seeds of love for one another.  Serve [the Lord] with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD SEARCHES every HEART and understands every motive behind the thoughts (1 Chr. 28:9, NIV). You can’t hide anything from God. Whether you acknowledge it or not, He knows what is in your heart. He knows how you continuously replay the pictures of mistreatment, rejection, abuse, and deprivation and desire to get revenge on those who were responsible for them. The Lord says it’s time to clean up your heart and make a vow to God that you will love Him with your whole heart—reserving no chamber therein for growing bitter roots. You want your heart to be whole, and holy, not holey—as in full of holes.

LOVE WITH YOUR WHOLE SOUL

Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul  (Ps 143:8). “Soul” comes from the Greek word “psyche” which literally means “breath.” It is difficult to distinguish “soul” from “spirit” (pneuma) which also means “breath.” However, Hebrew 4:12 tells us the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. God’s Word is the medicine that goes deep into your innermost being and brings healing to places that have holes, wounds, hurts, and bruises. It causes the breath you breathe to be pure and not filled with venom and hatred, accusations and retribution. The Word restores that which was lost so you will be whole again.

Everyone has stories about things that were lost and found. I, too, have many. One that comes back to me again and again is the time I was washing my hands and my engagement ring slipped off my finger and went down the drain while I stood helpless—watching. It happened in an instant. You know the feeling. It appeared to be lost forever. Ah, but the one who had given it to me was now my husband. When I told him about it, he went right to work, tore out the pipe under the sink, and presented me with the brilliantly shining diamond ring. It was a messy job, but he knew exactly what to do. So it is with our Lord. He has given beautiful gifts of life and forgiveness of sin. Often in the process of the daily routine of life, in a moment of vulnerability we see it slipping away from us and we cry out to Him for help. No problem! He sends His Word, takes a few things apart, cleans us out, puts us back together again, and restores us to the joy of His salvation (Ps. 51:12).

The Psalmist says, Let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Ps. 150:6). In fact, Paul says In Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). Our soul is the very breath that God has breathed into us (Gen. 2:7). We are commanded to love the Lord who gave us that breath, with our WHOLE soul—every breath we take. As the deer pants for the water so my soul pants for You (Ps. 42:1). Our desire is to be one with Him. Then He [Jesus] breathed on them and told them, Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:22). First, our Lord breathed into us the breath of life itself. Some then experience forgiveness of sin and give themselves to the Lord, but don’t go the extra step to consecrate themselves wholly to Him. They need to ask Jesus to breath on them and be filled with His Holy Spirit—to be sanctified, that is to be separated from the world, set apart as a vessel through whom the Holy Spirit of God can flow in fruit and gifts. Those who have experienced this second breath and love the Lord with their WHOLE soul find loving God as natural as breathing air.

LOVING GOD WITH YOUR WHOLE MIND

{The Lord] will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is fixed on Him  (Is. 26:3). The “mind” is the sum total of our faculties of perception and understanding. It includes acts of thinking and knowing. As we read earlier, God knows not only our thoughts but also our intentions (Heb. 4:12).  He is omniscient—He knows everything! He knows our thoughts before we think them (Ps. 139:2). His thoughts are so much greater than our thoughts (Is. 55:8). He knows our ability, our capability, our vulnerability, and our instability. If we love Him with our WHOLE mind, not just giving Him a “piece” of it, He can elevate our thinking, reform it, transform it, and cause us to be conformed to His image rather than to the world.

We are to control our thoughts, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor.10: 5). When we follow this advice, we will not be meditating upon our circumstances, our inhibitions, our past hurts, or our limitations. God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). A “sound” mind is not sick. It is not divided. It does not waver. It knows what to do and directs the body to do it! While some people sit around saying, “I can’t”, others are defying circumstances and succeeding. While some sit around saying, “I’ve been offended”, others are forgetting, forgiving, and moving on toward better things.  If Paul had not chosen to love the Lord with his WHOLE mind, he would have fainted at the persecution and rejections he suffered in his ministry. If Peter had not chosen to love the Lord with his WHOLE mind, he would have wallowed in his own misery at having denied the Lord. Don’t allow any holes in your commitment! Be wholly committed to the Lord.

LOVE THE LORD WITH YOUR WHOLE STRENGTH

The word “strength” comes from the Greek word “ischus” which is “ability”. Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Eph. 3:20). It is His power in us that enables us to do the things He has equipped us to do. We must realize that without Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). We are co-workers with the Lord. We do our part; He does His part—and the job gets done.

The word “strength” also has in its meaning, “forcefulness”, which implies the need to willfully choose to do those things we have the ability to do. Let us not be weary for in due season we will reap if we do not faint (give up) (Gal. 6:9). We are to love the Lord with ALL of our ability—whatsoever you do in word or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him (Col. 3:17). When you do a task half-heartedly, there is no joy in it. It becomes drudgery. When you only do tasks that are easy, there is no challenge in them. They become mundane. But when you put everything you have, all the effort you can muster up, and stretch beyond that which you know and activate the power of Almighty God within you, it is exciting, extraordinary, and fulfilling to you, and of tremendous benefit and encouragement to others.

HOLEY or WHOLLY, HOLY

People who have holes in their relationships to one another and to God are not happy people. They are fragmented. They are forever searching for someone to blame for their failures, unhappiness, and lack. They are quick to point out the evils of society, the weaknesses of their friends, and the shortcomings of their relatives. They cling to their past abuses and present difficult or strange circumstances as if to have an excuse for being scattered mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Paul prayed that there be no holes in our lives—and this mending of our daily lives begins by being made WHOLE by the God of Peace: And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your WHOLE spirit and soul and body be preserved BLAMELESS unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:23).

If you give yourself WHOLLY to the Lord—loving Him with your WHOLE heart, mind, soul, and strength, you will be HOLY—pure. Paul’s prayer is a prayer we should have for one another today as well. I pray that you allow the God of peace to set you apart completely for Him—your whole being, every part of you; and that you continue living and moving and having your very existence in Him—24 hours a day, seven days a week; and that you remain holy—pure—until the Lord comes for you.  This relationship will permeate every thought, attitude, intention, act, deed, word, movement, and choice you make. The fruit of the Spirit will be evident in your life. You will have a merry heart, a sound mind, and an abundant life.

Does that mean your life will be perfect? No. But it will be holy because you approach adversity, persecution, disappointments, and afflictions from God’s perspective because your mind is fixed on Him.

Does it mean you’ll have no problems? No. But you will have wholeness because the Holy Spirit is your comforter, your helper, your guide, and your teacher.

Does it mean you’ll not face temptation? No. But you will have the power to resist the temptation because you are wholly yielded to the Lord and sin shall not have dominion over you…now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, you have your fruits unto holiness, and the end everlasting life (Rom. 6:14,22).

Don’t be holey. Be wholly holy!

© Reprinted from V16N06Y2001 The Alabaster Box by Yvonne Karl.

[i] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 9th printing, 1980. Vol. 3, p. 611-612.