Sunday, January 6, 2013

Never Give Up

January of last year, I was starting P21 (21 days of prayer and fasting) asking the Lord, once again, to help me overcome my unhealthy eating habits, break my bondage to food and to help me lose weight for good this time.  I’m sure I was beginning to sound like a broken record to the Lord. Another on the list of my ongoing prayer requests was that the Lord would tell me what He wanted me to do - show where I belong. The Lord had shown me my purpose years ago in that of a Counselor, but where would He utilize me to the fullest? I was beginning to feel “unused” by God and it was breaking my heart and my spirit. So for 21 days I poured myself to the Lord and then let it go. Now I really could write a short novel on how the entire year unfolded, but I am only going to provide a very condensed version. This is written to give encouragement to those who are facing battles, those who have been asking the Lord for the same thing(s) for a long time and are ready to give up hope on hearing a response, and most importantly to me, that you will see as the story unfolds, the renewed passion the Lord has given me to bring His truth to those willing to listen, healing to the brokenhearted and freedom to those in bondage (especially to food).
As P21 began to wind down, I found a new drive within me to eat right and begin to exercise (I always start off the year with that drive); only we did not have the money for a gym membership or any kind of diet plan. So back to my knees I went. I did not want to let the Lord down, but I knew He was going to have to provide everything needed to carry out His plan. February is when His plan began unfolding, although while walking through it none of the things present or to come were evident as part of His plan. So here is the recap of 2012 an example of how awesome our God is if we will just remain faithful, obedient, persistent, and trusting in the act that He has a better plan for us then we ever could imagine.
January 2012: P21 – 21 days of praying, fasting and seeking the Lord
February 2012: While attending a church fair in Baker, I win a one year membership to a health club around the corner from my house in Prairieville.
March 13, 2012: A conversation between me and the Lord as I stood in the mirror disgusted with what I was looking at:
Me: Lord, I am tired of this battle with food- why am I always thinking of food?
God: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man – even Jesus was tempted with food while in the desert –and He overcame
Me: Yes, but it was easy for Him, he is God – He couldn’t sin
God: Yes and it is no longer you who lives but Christ who lives in you
Me: Would You please lead me NOT into temptation?
God: Resist the devil and he will flee
Me: I know, but I am weak when it comes to food. I need you to make me strong - I can’t do this – please, please, please deliver me already!! Help me!
God: Three times Paul pleaded with me and I’ll tell you the same thing I told him – my grace is sufficient
Me: Then would you please tell my husband to stop being a stumbling block for to me – quit bringing the junk home and sabotaging my eating plan!
God: I will never allow temptation to be more than you can stand, when you are tempted I will show you the way out so you can endure.
Me: UGH!!! Why do I even try to argue with You – You know everything and You are always right!!!
God: Yes, I AM and I AM is with you always and will be your portion J
March 15, 2012 - A friend that we have not spoken to in years calls out of the blue to talk about his new business venture – a weight loss clinic - opening in Prairieville, Louisiana. He invites us to the open house and asks if I would consider trying the program. He knows we are very active in the business arena in that area and are also active at our church and wants help in getting the word about the program. So I am asked to become the proverbial “guinea pig” - I agree.
April 2012: Our oldest son loses control of his truck and flips it landing upside down in a ditch. Looking at the truck, it is clear that God was with Him and spared his life.
Completed the first 30 days on the program and lost 23 lbs!!!
May 2012: Our youngest sons graduates “salutatorian” from Bethany Christian School - I begin a 21 day maintenance phase of program
June 2012: I turn 50!!! If this is what 50 feels like – bring it on!!! 2nd 30 days on the program begins.
July 2012: 2nd 30 days completed; I lost another 19 lbs, making that a grand total of 42 so for!!!
August 2012: My son-in-law loses his mother to cancer.
I become employed at the weight loss clinic.
September 2012: Our oldest son leaves for Afghanistan and our youngest son leaves for the Internship in Baker – I now have an empty nest!
October 2012: Baton Rouge Clinic closes and my husband ask if I want to buy it – my answer “NO”!
November 2012:  The Prairieville clinic becomes available and my husband proceeds with talks on what it is going to take to buy it. I am just going along for the ride knowing there is no way we can buy it, we can’t afford it. As I realize that he is serious, I begin to pray “Lord, I trust in You, if this Your will then who I am to argue with You, but if this is not, I am trusting You to close every door so tight that not even my husband will be able to swing it open.”
December 2012: The Lord makes a way for us to take over the weight loss clinic. And at the time we were to take over the clinic I received this prophetic word:
“Karen, I am watching over you. I know your struggles. I know the things you think about and the things you set yourself to do. I know your motives and your attitudes; I know all about you. I know you better than you know yourself. I am leading and guiding you and I have never left you nor have I forsaken you. I know all things before you and all things that are yet unfulfilled. I know what the enemy is planning for you and because of these things I am able to work on your behalf, and I am able to bring you through storms and through valleys of desperation and through the wars that you will encounter. I am able to bring you into the place of liberty and victory if you will believe in Me, trust in Me, and walk with Me, says the Lord. You are in a season of adjustment. Stay calm and refuse to allow stress to steal your peace. Wisdom is being poured out in abundance so that you can find the most effective way to deal with every situation, says the Lord. Let me lead you!”
Wow, what a year is all I can say! If you would have told me in January of last year that in one short year I would lose a total of 44 lbs., be smaller than I was in high school, be counseling women on both physical, mental and spiritual health in my own clinic, own and operate a weight loss clinic and still have my peace, I would have asked you to share whatever it is you were on because the hallucinations you were experiencing were pretty amazing!! Thank God, His vision for our lives is so much more than we could ever think or believe.
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Eph 3:20
Dream big; set your sights on the Almighty and may 2013 be the year of answered prayers and dreams realized for you. God Bless :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Spirit is Overwhelmed

Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; My heart is appalled within me. PS 143:4 NASB

As I read this scripture this morning for whatever reason it struck a nerve within me concerning our nation. Many times we are asked by Christian leaders to pray for our nation, but how seriously do we take that request? As I attempted to pray for our nation this morning, this scripture perfectly captured the feelings and emotions that were going on within me. I was overwhelmed and appalled by the wickedness that has fallen upon a country that began because persecuted Christians sought out, fought for and died seeking religious freedoms. Where has that determination gone America? Why aren't we willing to fight for the salvation of our nation and the Christian values it was built on? Every day we watch as our nation continues to slide down the slippery slope of wickedness that can only be compared to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Every day we are surrounded by and being asked to accept the same types of moral decay as Lot witnessed in Sodom. How is it affecting us? Have we become deaf, dumb and blind to the sin and filth? Will we too have to suffer the consequences of Lot before we are awakened? It would appear that after spending so many years amongst the sin of Sodom, Lot himself had been affected. As the wickedness of Sodom threatened to break down the doors of his "comfortable" home, fear struck him - so much so that he was willing to throw his virgin daughters to the sex craved wolves standing outside his door. This same type of behavior is happening today right under our noses.

 But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. Look, I have two virgin daughters. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish. But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection. Gen 19:4-8 NLT

What was he thinking? Where was his faith? Why was he not willing to lay down his life for the sake of his family? Instead he was willing to bargain, comply, compromise, whatever word you want to use, with the world at the cost of his children. Thank goodness for his "guests", the angels sent by God to get him out of all that mess. And why exactly had they been sent there anyway? The answer would be found in Genesis 18 with Abraham, Lot's uncle. Upon hearing that the Lord was intending to destroy Sodom, Abraham's heart was filled with compassion and an urgency to pray, even though he did not approve of the wickedness that was going on there. He decided to "come near" to God to pray and plead for the righteous in Sodom. And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? (Gen 18:23-24 NKJ) As Abraham pleads his case to the Lord, God assures him that he will NOT destroy the righteous with the wicked. Once Abraham is assured of their safety, he approaches the Lord again in humbleness and begins to "negotiate" for the number of righteous people it will require to save this wicked nation. "Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?” Their conversation goes on for several verses as Abraham's prayer begins to get more and more specific. Each time he is approaches the Lord with more confidence and boldness, yet staying humble. Abraham continues “negotiating” with the Lord, each time lowering the number of the righteous that may be required. Abraham held onto hope. He believed there was still some good even in the worst of places. This is the kind of heart God wants to see in us, one that is so touched by the needs and state of others that we are willing to pray and intercede for them - even the ones that deserve judgment. After all, didn't we deserve judgment? Weren't we saved by grace? Surely there was someone along the way that was interceding to the Lord on our behalf. Abraham's prayer ends by asking the Lord if He will spare Sodom even if there are only ten righteous people there to which God agrees that He will. But why did Abraham stop at ten? I mean so far God had been granting his every request. Would the Lord have been willing to spare Sodom even if there was only one righteous man in the city? Only God knows the answer to that. 

But God also rescued Lot out of Sodom because he was a righteous man who was sick of the shameful immorality of the wicked people around him. Yes, Lot was a righteous man who was tormented in his soul by the wickedness he saw and heard day after day. So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment. (2Pet 2:7-9 NLT)

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah paints a picture of the patient and merciful heart of our Father. God does not delight in handing down judgment, but rather in issuing mercy. The Lord was willing to save this entire city for the sake of only ten righteous people living among the thousands of wicked ones, the problem was there weren't ten righteous people living in Sodom - there was only one - Lot - and the Lord made a way of escape for him and all of the family members he was able to pull out. What this story tells me is that it only takes a few people with a heart for God to make a difference in whether a nation is saved or destroyed – God would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of only ten. Are there enough “righteous” people living in America to withhold the judgment of God? Are there enough people in America willing to intercede on her behalf and hold onto to the hope that our nation can be saved?

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2Chron 7:14 NLT)

Here are just a few of the lessons I pulled out of this story:

1) God’s definition of righteous and mine are not even close (which is one of the many reasons why I am not God) I mean would you have ever put Lot on your “righteous men” list?

2) A man’s leadership in his home is vital. Come on men it is really time to “man up”! You are the center pole of your home – its stabilizing force. You were chosen by God to be the priest, the head, the leader, the covering, etc. of your family. Your wives look to you to lead them, love them, and unite with them. Your children need you to be the “Christ” example of your home; to provide discipline, along with affirmation. Your family needs you to be strong and unafraid to be set apart from the standards of this world – unwilling to compromise. It bothers me to hear parents excuse wrong behavior by justifying “that it’s just what kids are doing at this age”. It doesn’t have to be – that’s compromise! Following the standard of Christ is not going to make you your child’s best friend and it definitely will not make you the coolest parent on the block. Training a child up in the way they should go will not win you any popularity contests – but do it anyway!

3) Lot’s lack of leadership and poor decisions cost him his family. Although Lot was able to drag two of his daughters and his wife out of Sodom with him, his married daughters remained in Sodom with their worldly husbands and were destroyed in the city. His wife had become so accustomed to her worldly lifestyle that she couldn’t bear to let it go. So alas, she did what the angel of God warned her not to do – she looked back – missing her old life, maybe missing her children that had stayed behind either way she was not looking forward, she was holding onto the past and didn't listen to the warning of God and as a result died.

4) Women will still be held accountable despite the actions of our husbands. Lot’s wife was warned not to look back, but she didn’t listen and she was taken out. Ladies, Lot lived and the surviving girls were left motherless and alone to be raised by their father (which didn’t turn out to be the greatest thing for them; Sodom had gotten into their system as well. Read Gen 20:30-38). I can just hear Lot’s wife as she is being drug out of Sodom kicking and screaming, blaming him for everything. “You’re the one who decided where we were going to live”, “You always let the girls do whatever they wanted”, “You are the reason why we are in this situation” and “You are the reason I am so emotional”! Never the less God held her accountable for her own actions and took her out. We are responsible for our relationship with the Lord – no one else. We cannot blame a complacent or lazy husband for our own complacency or laziness – that’s on us! We also share the responsibility in building the foundation that is being placed underneath our children. Chances are they spend more time with us than dad, so what are they seeing in us?

5) One man really can make a difference. In Genesis 18, we are told that all the other men turned away and headed toward Sodom and it was Abraham who stood alone before God. It was Abraham’s courage to approach God, the humility he showed when asking, the boldness he showed in his negotiating, and most importantly the heart of compassion and faith that he exhibited that grabbed the heart of the Father. Abraham held onto the hope that surely there must be some righteous people left in that despicable city and God I’m praying it’s my nephew Lot and his family. Abraham was the only one appealing to God to spare the good from the evil. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16 NLT)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Imitators of God

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.   (Eph 4:32-5:1-2)

Who or what is the standard in your life? Too many times today it is an athelete, an actor, the pastor, or it can even be the neighbor next door who seems to have it all - the perfect marriage, a gorgeous home and the best behaved children you ever been around. We think to ourselves how nice it would be if my family could act like that - just once! If you knew what was going on behnd closed doors, would you really want it? We all have masks that we like to pull out and slip on from time to time depending on the situation or who we happen to be standing in front of - I mean let's face it, my pastor has never seen some of the faces/masks I have shown my husband - and trust me it's best for all of us that way! But you know what? God has - He has seen every one and sometimes that can be a scary thought. The Word says to imitate God in everything we do. So as I read over Ephesians 5, I made a list of things that I am supposed to be doing if in fact I am going to imitate God:

  1. Be forgiving (Eph 4:32) - it just says "forgive one another" - strange, but it doesn't list anything I can omit from the forgiveness list.
  2. Walk in love - and not just any love, but a self sacrificing love. (Eph 5:2) Die flesh die!!
  3. Walk in purity (Eph 5:3) In morality, in speech, and in actions
  4. Give thanks always (Eph 5:4, 20) - not just when the kids are behaving and when there's money in the checking account
  5. Understand and walk in the will of the Father (5:17) - His will be done, not mine.
  6. Be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18) - I know a lot of people who fill themselves with a lot of things, and it's definitely not the Spirit (of God anyway).
  7. Be submissive; accountable (Eph 5:21) This one is speaking loudly to wives!
  8. Love and respect without conditions (Eph 5:33)

Remember ladies, when we said "I do" we signed on to be part of a mission - God's mission. We were meant to be part of a team. God's Word clearly states "the husband is the head of the wife". It doesn't mean we are beneath him or less than he is, it just means that he is our "mission" leader here on this earth. We don't walk behind him or in front of him, but we walk beside him as his helpmate. God has placed him over our little mission team and we are to allow him to walk in the position God has set him in. We are the "help" not the boss. And men, remember, God gave us to you to be helpful - not helpless. Yes ultimately, you do have the last say, but sometimes the help comes up with some really good ideas that will contribute to the succes of the mission. Be open minded!

God gave us only 2 rules to abide by in order to have a successful marriage - one for the woman and one for the man. I guess he thought any more than that would be too much for our pea brains to remember. To the woman, "respect your husband" and to the man, "love you wife, the way Jesus loved the church". Almost all problems within a marriage are to due to the disobedience of these two rules. Once one of these rules is broken by either spouse, it gives way for the remaining spouse to retaliate so to speak. They begin to have the mindset of a child in their thinking believing that if you don't have to play by the rules than neither do I. This mentality of "when she respects me then I'll love her" or vice versa "if he would just love me the way I need to be loved, I would have no problem respecting him" only leads to a life cycle of craziness. Somebody has to be willing to jump off. So who's it going to be? It will be the one whose goal is to please God. It will be the one who is willing to be selfless. It will be the one who determines to be an imitator of God.