Thursday, September 30, 2010

The first key to stressing LESS

Hello and welcome back to A Good Bible Study. Let's pray and get right into the Word of God.

Our Father, who lives in heaven, and in our hearts, Your name is holy on our lips. Let Your kingdom rein in me, let Your will be done in me, let me be so malleable to Your will that I respond instantly to Your voice, just as the angels do in heaven. Take care of my needs today, Lord, and help me to have a soft, forgiving heart, like Yours. Go before me Lord, and remove obstacles for me. Let any evil plan formed against me whither and die before it reaches my awareness. For to You belongs this Kingdom, from You comes all Power, and You alone deserve any Glory in this world, or beyond. Thank you Father. In Jesus' name, amen.

During this bible study, I will share with you the three most important keys I have found to reduce stress, and increase joy and satisfaction in life. The first key is called Authenticate.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines authentic as: conforming to fact, and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief.

Do you conform to the fact of who you are inside, and as such do you inspire others to trust you, rely on you, and believe in you?

Living your life authentically means being genuinely who you are, at all times. Sounds easier than it is, if you have been raised to please others at all costs, or tend to feel you don't measure up just as you are. Don't worry. By the time we are through with this study you will have a much more accurate picture of your value both to God, to yourself, and to those around you.

How many of you grew up with all the affirmation you needed to feel valued and loved, all the experiences you needed to develop confidence and competency, all the opportunity you craved to allow your creativity to flourish? Anyone . . . . anyone . . . . anyone. (If you ever watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off, you got that.)

I'd be surprised to hear back from more than a tiny handful. That's just not how most of us were brought up because we are each raised not by perfect individuals with whole hearts and complete agape (self-less) love. No, you and I were raised by fallible human beings doing the best they could with the knowledge, resources, and inner strength that they possessed at the time. Bummer.

Guess what, we are raising our children with some of the same problems. Scary.

The good news is that children are able to respond very quickly to a change in our behavior and attitude. They want the best of us and from us, and will accept a new, improved me and you with ease. Other people might take a little time, but believe me, the best way to change the way someone treats you, is to change the way you treat you. All in good time.

Open your bibles to Genesis chapter 1, and read it all the way through.

Do you see that God created more and more complex and wonderful life each day. What did God create on each day?

Day one _________________
Day two _________________
Day three ________________
Day four _________________
Day five__________________

So, He created everything with less intelligence, capability, and creativity in the first six days, saving the best for last. His "p`iece de r'esistance."

Read verse 27.

In whose image were man and woman made? _______________
Strong's Concordance identifies the word image, used in this passage, as the Hebrew word tselem, which means just that: image or resemblance.

Is God unworthy, untalented, lacking, un-lovable, strange, boring, less-than? ______

If you are created in the image, the likeness of God, a resemblance of God Himself, how can you be anything except wonderful? Not a vain, self-centered, arrogant sort of wonderful. But think of it. You and I were designed from the beginning from the "form or molding" of God.

Read verse 31.

"And God saw everything He had made, and indeed it was very ___________. NKJV

Let's pray.

Father, I am so thankful to know that I am not an accident, not some random spark of genetic mutation that somehow created a chain of events leading to me. When I look at myself from now on, let me be fully aware that I am looking at the image of God, no less than when I look at my parents, or my siblings, or my cousins, that I am looking at the image of my family. I might have my parent's features, but I have my Father's genetic design. When others look at me now, I pray they see the family resemblance to You. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Folks, I have an assignment for you tomorrow, that is very important. Instead of reading this study, I want you to get your bible and look up all the verses you can find in which God expresses His value, love, appreciation, or pleasure in humans. Write them down so when you are feeling less-than, you can remind yourself of the truth.

I encourage you to share with each of us in this study, through the comments, what verses mean the most to you. You can just post the verse itself if you do not want to elaborate. Let's learn from one another.

Until Monday,

Love, Karen

Photo by ENTER_DESIGN, courtesy of

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Choose life

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!

Are you ready for the rest of the story? Are you ready to choose life?

Let's pray:

Lord, thank you for making it possible for us to be together and pray with each other. Even though I might never meet one person sharing in this study with me, as we read the words, and pray the prayers, time and space ceases to matter because You are in every time, and in every moment. You are with each of us, and in a way, that brings us together. Thank you for giving us eyes to see Your Word, and ears to hear Your Wisdom. In the name of Jesus, amen

Well now, let's begin. I've shared with you the events leading up to a lonely and helpless time in my life. I talked about taking a good look at the way I treated myself, and how I began to care for myself as I would someone I loved. I shared how making myself do a small amount of exercise each day began to spark a sense of pride in my small accomplishment, and give me something to look forward to.

It was good that I could feel the depression beginning to lift, but nothing seemed to affect the ongoing anxiety I was experiencing. I prayed about it everyday, but still the creeping dread was on me the moment I woke up and far into the night.

At one point I got so angry at that anxiety, as if it were a literal being trying to destroy my life. I was reminded of John 10:10. Read it now.

"The thief comes only to ______ and ______ and ______; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." (NIV)

The Amplified Version says it this way:

"The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows)." 

This spirit of anxiety was trying to steal, kill, and destroy my life and I had built up just enough self-esteem to be good and fed up with it!
I got an even bigger incentive to keep on fighting back when I found out all that extra weight I was carrying, all the stress, and feelings of despair were wreaking havoc on my health. What I learned was, I was pre-diabetic.

It wasn't enough to worry my doctor, but it was like a slap in the face for me. Seeing family members suffer from diabetes meant I knew this was not the future I wanted for me, or for my children.

I realized that even if no one else was concerned, I was, and that had to be enough. For once, I had to protect myself and not wait for someone else to step in and notice I needed help!

I started thinking, "If I were my own patient, and came to me asking what to do about anxiety, what would I tell myself?" Believe it or not, I had an answer.
I used to teach a class while I was a therapist at a psychiatric and substance abuse facility in Georgia, during which I explained to my clients that the physiological signs of anxiety, anger, excitement, even arousal, were all the same. It was our interpretation of the stimulus or cause, that resulted in the label we placed on the subsequent emotion.
Think about it: increased heart rate; faster breathing; release of adrenalin and cortisone, increased blood flow to the extremities, all of which are designed to enable us to fight, take flight, or some other appropriate action.
So, I decided that since I was in no physical danger, I was simply misinterpreting the cause of my emotional response, and if that was the case, I would choose how to interpret my feelings from then on. It was empowering!
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters ... they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God" (Isaiah 43:1-3).

From then on, every time I felt anxiety, from the moment I got up to anytime I felt a surge of that dread come upon me during the day, I told myself that this was a signal from my body that I wanted to move. This was a signal to get up and burn off that energy working out.
I'd walk in place, do some squats, walk around my house, and up and down the stairs, all the while proclaiming my thankfulness for this energy. I began to see it as a gift, believe it or not. I told myself this was going to make me lose weight, get in shape, and get happy, all in one.
I chose to see my anxiety as energy, to see it as a gift instead of a curse, and that made all the difference. I decided that spirit of anxiety wasn't going to outsmart me one more day. It might have got me down for a while, but I was going to fight back, and I was going to win!
I started out with five minutes of exercise at a time, because that's all I could do. Even though I was already doing some push-ups, sit-ups and squats, I still had to build up my wind. It took some time, but I didn't give up. After a few months, I realized I didn't feel so anxious anymore. I felt powerful.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

After nearly a year, I had lost almost 40 lbs. And I wasn't afraid anymore.
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wing's as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31)
God says, "Choose life." I do.

Let's pray:
Father, I am so thankful that You kept giving me answers, until I was ready to hear them. Thank you for helping me find strength in myself, instead of waiting to be rescued by others. I pray that every one reading these words finds the strength in themselves, that You have placed there, waiting there, to be discovered. Give us the courage to choose life! In the name of Jesus, amen.
Love, Karen
Photo by JScreationzs, courtesy of
Bible verses on anxiety.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The second step in overcoming depression and reducing stress

Hello again. It's good to see you here in A Good Bible Study.

Did you enjoy your weekend break? It's good to take that time off for the Sabbath, or the "rest" and just re-charge. Let's get started with prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, we bow our heads before You and thank You for providing us with Your Word. Please clear our thoughts, Lord, so we can spend this time with You, instead of our distractions. Open your Word to us and fill our minds with Your wisdom, and our hearts with Your love. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Let's read Proverbs 3:6 together. "________ Him and He will make your paths __________."

Last time we met, I told you about my becoming so downtrodden and depressed, I started giving up on myself and just making it through the day for my family's sake. A couple of things sparked hope in me, or at least a desire to help myself.

One was my sister's visit and her observations about the way I did not treat myself with value. I realized no one else would treat me with value, if I didn't show them how. I had to do it first.

After that, I went out and hit some sales and bought myself some clothes that fit me right then, not for when I lost weight. I also got a good haircut and bought some new makeup. You know what, it might seem unimportant to some, but it made a big difference in how I felt.

I also began telling myself I was valuable, good, and loveable. It wasn't easy at first, but after a few days, it felt more comfortable. Today, I can look myself in the mirror and say, " I love you. You are a great person and worth loving," and mean it.

Try that today. I hope it is an easy task, but I think for a lot of us, if not most, it will be harder than you expect. You might be suprised to find you don't love yourself, really.

But, even if it feels false, do it. I'll tell you the truth, the first time I did this exercise, I broke down and sobbed, because I needed to hear those words so badly.

Some of you think you are not loveable, that you have to do something special for God to favor you.

Read the following verses about how God loves:

Deuteronomy 1:17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of any man, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.


Deuteronomy 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.


2 Chronicles 19:7 Now let the fear of the LORD be upon you. Judge carefully, for with the LORD our God there is no injustice or partiality or bribery."


Job 34:19 who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of his hands?


Acts 15:9 He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.


Romans 2:11 For God does not show favoritism.


Romans 3:29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,


Galatians 2:6 As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message.


Ephesians 6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

See, God created each of us and loves each of us equally, wants the best for each of us, equally, works in each of our lives, equally. Does this mean we can expect as Christians that our life circumstances will measure equally to all others? Well, in some ways, yes. Read Matthew 5:45

It means that we all may seem different in social status, wealth, opportunities, outer appearance, etc., but each of our lives are marked by joy and pain, blessing and curse, rest and work.

Think about it, you might have thought my life is only marked by blessing, because your only knowledge of me was through my "bio" as a writer, which only talks about the successes, the exterior. Now you know differently. Until this study, you didn't know some of my pain, and I still don't know yours. But, I do know we are joined by the fact that we will both experience sunshine and rain, and we are both created, and loved, by God.

Now, I promised to tell you what the next thing was that helped spark my recovery from depression. What I didn't tell you was that during this time I began experiencing severe anxiety. In addition to the problems with my ex-husband and children, we were simultaneously going through a major financial crisis.

Like so many people, we felt the economic crunch. In 2006 my husband bought another truck and leased it to a friend who was a driver and needed a boost up, and we bought what we thought would be our dream home. Things were good, we thought.

Within three months, our trucking income was cut in half as rates fell to the basement in response to the financial climate. Stores put the brakes on ordering items, manufacturers cut way back, and all this affected the trucking industry. There is a saying, "If you've got it, a truck brought it."

Well, if no one is buying, making, or distributing products, truck's aren't bringing it and we weren't making the money we planned on making before we bought this house!

During this time, I woke up feeling my heart pound in my chest every morning. I felt a strange energy that wouldn't go away, and I just couldn't relax and enjoy anything about my day. Sure, I handled my daily responsibilities and kept a smile on my face for my kids, but inside I was a nervous wreck.

I talked to my son (the one living with his dad) about wanting to get in better shape and he told me, "Mom, just do 10 situps, 10 pushups, and 10 squats everyday. You''ll start to get stronger."

Well, I wanted to please my son, and I did want to get stronger, but 10 of each? I wasn't sure at that time that I could do 1!

I hung up the phone, and I got down on the floor and I did a push-up. Barely. So I rolled over and did 3 sit-ups, and then I stood up and did 5 squats. You know what? I felt just a tiny bit proud of myself.

The next day, and every day after that, I did 5 each of those exercises, and I kept building up until I could do 10, then 15, then 20, and finally I was doing 30 situps, push-ups and squats every day. It wasn't the cure to my anxiety, I will tell you about that tomorrow, but it was the next step in caring for myself that made all the difference.

As a former clinical therapist, I knew that exercise is one of the most effective ways we can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and a host of physical ailments. I knew it, but I still needed someone else to encourage me to do it. Let me encourage you now.

God says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Loving yourself is active, remember? He gave us bodies to use, not abuse.

Today I want you to start adding things into your day that will cut down on your feelings of stress.
  1. Read this bible study every week-day and look up the verses, and pray aloud the prayers.
  2. Do 1, or 3, or 5 or how ever many you can do, each of a pushup, a crunch or a plank, and a squat. For proper form see here
  3. Buy yourself one new thing, an item of clothing, a new lipstick, a pair of shoes.
Promise yourself you will do this. I guarantee you will feel better this week if you keep your word. Comment to me and let's all be accountability partners to love ourselves this week, with ACTION!

Lord, as we begin a new week, help us to have thankful hearts. Help us to see the small moments of joy instead of the long stretches of anticipation, or struggle. Motivate us to get up and move this week, starting with today. Help us to see anxiety and depression as a message from our hearts that we need to help ourselves, and help us to take action now. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by .Shock, courtesy of

Friday, September 24, 2010


Hello again, I am so glad you have come back to A Good Bible Study. Today our topic is "value." Let's pray first and begin:

Lord, it's not easy to share our stories with others. Help us to be open to each other, and open to You. All change, I have learned, begins with the first step. Let today be the first step in a better life for each person reading this. In the name of Jesus, amen.

I spoke to you yesterday about how desperate, and despondant, I became after a series of "hard knocks." Today I want to share with you the rest of the story. I shared this not to show you what a martyr I am, or how tough I have had it, but so that my painful experience can help you in the midst of yours.

If you came out of a horrible ordeal, and you turned and saw others in the same pit, wouldn't you reach back and lift them out? If you are in that pit, lift up your hand right now.

Lord, see each person raising their hand. I know You do. I believe you are lifting them out of their despair right now, I thank You for the hope you are instilling in their hearts even as they read these words. Father, open their eyes to Your love, and give them right now a spark that will change their lives from now on! In the name of Jesus, we recieve this blessing even now, amen.

Now, back to where we left off. Know that at no point during my experience did I ever "lose" my faith. I knew God was there all along, and sometimes that made what I was going through even harder. I believed God loved me, and His plans for me were good (read Jeremiah 29:11-14.) What I had to come to terms with, was that His plans might not be the what and the how that I invisioned for myself.

His plans might not be the what and how that I invisioned for myself.

At the worst point, I found it difficult to get out of bed. I didn't feel sad or depressed, I just felt so tired. My entire body ached. I began to schedule rest time for my kids in the afternoon, so I could lay down and rest. We moved our lessons to my bed because I was just too tired to work with my children at their desks in the schoolroom we had created downstairs.

I didn't associate what I was feeling with depression, despite the fact that I have a master's degree in clinical psychology and spent years helping others recognize and treat depression. I just thought I was getting older and this was my fate.

A couple of events made tiny differences in my thinking, and eventually made all the difference in my world. The first was a visit by one of my sisters. We had a great time, but there was something she said before she left that hit me like a brick.

She commented on the fact that I made sure everyone else had enough clothes and the things they needed, but I only wore stretchy, comfortable things. I didn't do things that make a woman feel good about herself, like a regular haircut or manicure, fresh make-up, or new clothes. She also shamed us into taking a walk after dinner each night, instead of parking ourselves in front of the television, like usual.

Seeing myself in the eyes of my sister made me realize I didn't treat myself like an adult, a contributing member of our family. I treated my self like a servant, instead of an owner.

I realized that I didn't buy myself clothes because I didn't feel I deserved to "waste" money on clothes at my weight. I didn't get my hair cut because I didn't want to "waste" money on my hair when everyone else needed haircuts, and I can just pull mine back. I didn't want to "waste" money on a manicure, because it seemed so frivolous, and new make-up, well, I still had some left so why buy more? It was only a few years old, anyway.

My sister saw what I didn't. She made me realize that I did not treat myself well at all. In fact, I treated myself as unimportant, unworthy, and un-loved. I didn't love myself and didn't demonstrate to anyone else that I was worth loving. Lucky for me I have a husband and children who felt otherwise!

I decided that even if I was not the weight I felt I "should" be, I deserved proper clothing, a good haircut as often as needed, and once in a while, a manicure was good for the soul and the self-esteem. I worked harder than anyone else in our family at caring for our home, meals, schedules, education, you name it, but I "paid" myself the least. Taking action to care for myself was an important step in my recovery.

God says about me, in Psalm 139 "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." That's straight from God.

I was waiting for someone else to come to me and say, "It's alright for you to value yourself even if it seems no one else does."

I realized finally, that God already said that to me, and expected it of me, and to wait on a human who is usually more interested in their own comfort, than in mine or anyone else's, was to put that person in the place of God.

To let anyone tell us our value is crazy in and of itself. Only God can place value on His creations, and He sent His only Son, to sacrifice His physical life to save me. There is no one of more value to God, than me.

Say it to yourself, out loud: "There is no one of more value to God, than me."

That is true of each of us. God values us each, as if we are the only one. And we are. I am the only one of me. You are the only one of you. We are each irreplaceable and infinitely of value.

Father, open our eyes to the value you place on each of us. That's all I ask. Open our eyes to our innate value. In Jesus' name, amen.

Come back tomorrow and I will share what the next event was that made a difference for me. Until then,

Love, Karen

Photo by Orlando Florin Ruso, courtesy of

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In the storm

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!

Let's pray:

Lord, we are talking about change today, and for most of us, change is not an easy thing. Help us to embrace change. Help us to see that we cannot have anything new, if we refuse to let go of the old. Help us to keep what is helpful and good in our lives, and release the things that are not beneficial for us, anymore. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Have you ever felt stuck, trapped, or helpless in your situation in life? Are you in a storm? I have been, and it wasn't easy for me to break free.

I'm a pretty resilient person. I tend to be optimistic, see the glass as half full, look on the bright side, see the silver lining, you get it. But a few years ago I had a series of hard knocks come my way, and after a while, it became more and more difficult to get up, so to speak.

It began with a vicious custody battle over my three oldest children. I felt blindsided . . . betrayed. It was a real test of faith as a young Christian. How do you defend yourself with integrity against someone who seems to have none? I learned the hard way that having God on your heavenly side, does not mean winning every earthly battle.

During the next 8 years, our life was very difficult. There were periods of time when my ex-husband cut off communication with me while he had my children overseas, did not send them for court-ordered visitation, and did a fairly good job convincing my children that they didn't speak to me, or see me, because I had no interest in them. I cannot tell you how desperate I felt, at times.

Soon after, one of my children attempted suicide. I am so thankful God was there, when I could not be! During this same time I was far away in the states, pregnant with a little boy who was in the midst of his own fight for life, inside my womb.

My oldest son was sent home to live with my husband and me shortly after. It was a mixed blessing. What a joy to have my child home again, and how it hurt to see the angry young man he had become. My son was home when Matthew passed away just 25 hours after birth. One child returned, one child departed.

There was no time to grieve for me, and for my two children overseas, it was too hard to connect to, since there was no evidence but photos, that Matthew ever lived.

Life continued on. I hoped that some semblance of peace would resume, but instead we endured seemingly non-stop court filings, manipulation, threats, you know the score. I prayed for the day when all my children would be grown, both for their sake, and for my own.

The final straw for me, the one that broke my emotional back, came just before Christmas, about three years ago. I received a letter from my youngest son, telling me that his father had planned a "once-in-a-lifetime" family reunion over Christmas holidays and would not be sending my son for visitation. 

When the courts took so long to respond that Christmas came and went, again, I literally felt something give in me. That last shred of resolve that I was going to make it through this and come out victorious in some way, at some time, dissipated like fog burning off the water.

I felt like a clock that had been ticking away like, well, clockwork, was now ever so slightly beginning to run down.

I began to slow, each day I felt a little more tired. I woke up aching, and dreading the day. I began to gain weight, first ten lbs., then another, here and here a little more until I was a good 30-40 lbs overweight. Sure, some of it was left-over baby weight, after all, being pregnant 5 times in 6 years takes a toll on anyone. But it was more than that, I was giving up.

I felt like the psalmist in Psalm 88 "A Prayer for Help in Despondency." Read it, after all, may be you are feeling the same now, as I was then.

Then, come back tomorrow and I will share what made the difference for me, and how I was able to restore my faith in myself, and my God, and re-create a happy and healthy life in the midst of the storm, not in spite of it.

Love, Karen

Photo by Starush, courtesy of

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Surrender or explode

Hello again! I am so glad to see you again today, in A Good Bible Study.

Lord, thank you for each  person reading this. Bless them today in some way so personal, so meaningful, they have no doubt it is You! I praise You and thank You in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Yesterday I told you about an inspiring story I read some time ago about Jada Pinkett Smith, actess and wife of Will Smith. What struck me was that even people who you would think have virtually none of the problems that you and I face, really are no different in the ways that matter.

She had too much on her plate, sound familiar? And God was able to reach her and get her attention in the midst of what seemed only like chaos. She said, "I felt like God was telling me, Surrender or Explode!"

Can you relate? Do you need to surrender, or will you just explode?

"Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."

 Matthew 11:29-30 New International Version

Read Jada's story, and comment back how it relates to your life. Until tomorrow,

Love, Karen

Photo by Gleb Semenjuk, courtesy of

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Your stress tolerance level

Hello again, I am so glad to see you back in A Good Bible Study!

Today we are going to get some practical info on why we feel under stress, what it is doing to our bodies, and how we can start feeling much better. Let's pray:

Lord, thank you for giving us the answer, no matter the question. Our days are so filled with important tasks. Please order our day for us, Lord. Make it clear in our minds what is important and what can wait. Help us to focus on our relationships, and not so much on checking off our lists. Help us to focus right now, on Your Word, and let us be changed by the experience. In the name of Jesus we thank you and pray, amen.

Yesterday I introduced you to Dr. Marcelle Pick. She tells us that we all have a Stress Tolerance Level. Some people thrive on stress and the accompanying adrenalin rush, others crumble under the slightest frustration. We've got to know our limits to live in peace and joy.

Read Matthew 6:25-27. Is God saying just let everything go and lay about enjoying the day? No, but I love it that He puts it into perspective a bit when He says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your
life?" New International Version

Now, your stress tolerance level is influenced by the following:

  • your support network, or lack thereof
  • your sense of control
  • your attitude and outlook
  • your ability to deal with your emotions
  • your knowledge and preparation for situations
Read John 14:1 in which Jesus reassures you "Let not your _______ be ________; you believe in _____, believe in _____ also." New King James Version

Did you know that stress is not just a product of negative reasons, like job loss or being in an argument, but also for positive situations including a move to a new city for a promotion, or planning a 50th wedding anniversary?

Something else to think about is that the main cause of stress is not that you're experiencing danger, or a major life change, work issues, relationship problems, finances, being overly scheduled, dealing with children, or extended family. It's how you think  about those problems. It's internal as well as external and the good news is, you can change the way you think even when you can't change what is happening to you.
Thinking that causes more feelings of stress includes:

  • the inability to accept uncertainty
  • an attitude of pessimism
  • negative self-talk
  • unrealistic expectations
  • perfectionism
  • a lack of assertiveness
Read Psalm 46:1 "God is our ______ and _________, an ever present _____ in _______." New King James Version

So, problems develop when we feel emotionally, physically, financially or otherwise threatened, and our bodies react with the release of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol to give us the energy we need to respond. Our hearts race, increasing blood flow to our muscles, which tighten so we can fight or run, as necessary.

See, most situations that cause a physical stress response, don't require a massive physical output of energy. In fact, inour society, we are criticized for even showing signs of being under stress, even in very stressful situations! Our society values people who remain calm, cool, and collected, or at least can fake it really well. But it's just not realistic to deny we are having problems, nor is it healthy. Letting stress fester in our bodies is extremely damaging to our mental and physical health.

Read Matthew 11:28-30 in which Jesus offers His comfort to us in stressful times. He says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will _____ _______ ______!"

Dr. Pick asserts that chronic exposure to the stress response leads to sustained high cortisol levels which can:

  • destroy healthy muscle and bone
  • slow down healing and normal cell regeneration
  • co-opt parent molecules needed to make other vital hormones
  • impair digestion, metabolism and mental function
  • interfere with healthy endocrine function, and lead to
  • infertility
  • obesity
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • faster aging
  • and weight gain (we've all seen the t.v. commercials, right?)
During this study we are going to continue to search our bibles for God's wisdom in dealing with stress, as well as learn some techniques to change our thinking that will dramatically reduce your daily stress response.
Reading God's Word will relax you, give you wisdom and insight to your  problems, and remind you that the Maker of Heaven and Earth is on your side.

Read Proverbs 12:25 before you go and come back tomorrow to hear an inspiring story about Jada Pinkett Smith, and her own breaking point with stress, and how God made the difference in her response.

Father, I thank You that none of us are alone in our troubles. There is nothing too difficult for You, only to difficult for us to see through, on our own. I am so thankful that when I don't know what is coming next, You do. And I can count on You to see me through whatever it is. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by Nathalie P, courtesy of

Monday, September 20, 2010

The answer is: God.

Hello - welcome back to A Good Bible Study! What a beautiful day to get into the Word and be blessed.

Let's pray:

Lord, I am so thankful that when I fall, you are there to pick me up. Just when I pray to not do something, I notice I shortly after have an opportunity to test my resolve. You promise that when we are faced with temptation, You have already provided the way out, if we will  pay attention and seek Your wisdom. Thank you for the answers, and when we miss the mark, thank you for Your forgiveness and love. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Are you like me? Do you pray about a fault, or an automatic response you have struggled with, and before you know it a prime opportunity presents itself to act on your resolve and bam! Before you know it, you've opened your big old mouth and hurt someone's feelings? I am so glad that God is not holding me up on a set of scales and weighing how many times I have failed before I remember how to respond with His heart, instead of mine!

Read 1 John 1:9. I like the God's Word translation below, as well as my good old New King James version:

"God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we've done wrong."

Amen sisters and brothers! Isn't God good?

We  live in a stressful society with lots of reasons to feel under pressure. The following is excerpted from Ken Boa's article on

"More than 18 million Americans are on Prozac. Credit card debt is at the highest level ever, with consumer debt currently standing at $1.4 trillion. According to Lyn Nell Hancock, in 1850, the average person slept nine-and-a-half hours per night. Now, thanks to electricity, the figure is seven hours per night and declining. There are 70 million people with sleep disorders; we live in a society that is “fried by work, frazzled by the lack of time.” Hancock quoted one woman, a mother of four from La Grange, Illinois: “I am so tired, my idea of a vacation is a trip to the dentist. I just can’t wait to sit in that chair and relax.”2 When society has reached the point where people start looking forward to getting their gums scraped and teeth drilled as a refreshing activity, something has gone terribly, terribly wrong."
When we come under repeated pressure, we can crack, blow, implode, dump, or just plain break down. God tells us we while we cannot always choose our situations, we can choose how to respond.

Believe me, God knows about stress. His Word is full of people who under stress, but turned to Him and were eventually victorious, or tried to handle things on their own and experienced the consequences of their poor choices.

David, who God called a "man after God's own heart," knew more about stress than most of us. When he was a boy, he faced a giant in battle, the father of his best friend tried to kill him numerous times, his wife was kidnapped and he had to go on the run for many years living in caves and fighting his way out, because the King placed a bounty on his head - all this because God chose David to replace King Saul as ruler.

David hadn't done anything wrong; he hadn't asked to be chosen as future ruler, and really only wanted to live in peace and praise God with his music, but here he was, forced to live in dirt and under constant attack. He was frequently afraid, angry, and worried about his future. But, read his response in Psalm 31.

Let's pray ourselves:

Father, when we are under stress, when we are angry, afraid, or have been mistreated by those we tried to be kind to, help us remember that while we are just people who are frail, insecure, and afraid, You are God, the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth. Nothing is too difficult for You. Help us remember that You have the answer, and You are the answer - no matter the problem. In Jesus' name, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by Stasys Eidiejus, courtesy of http://www.photoxpresscom/

Friday, September 17, 2010

Don't show your . . . what?!

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!

Let's pray and get prepared for God to speak to our hearts:

Lord, thank you for helping us make time for you even though we feel there is so little time to be had. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit who continually ministers to our hearts when we are not even aware of our need. And thank you for the sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus, who makes it possible for us to have this wonderful relationship with You. Please help us to give you back just a portion of the time You give to us. In the name of Jesus, amen.

What's the toughest part of being you? _______________________________

I started out with a blunt question because I don't want you to think about it, just answer.

If you are under stress, I bet one of the toughest things you have to deal with is ingratitude. I bet most people don't have a clue how much you do for them, or sacrifice for their needs. There are some days when it sure gets tempting to let someone know a thing or two, am I right?

We'd all like a little gratitude now and again. How do you respond when you are bending over backwards to help someone out and they treat like they are doing you a favor breathing the same air? ________________________________________________________

Read Matthew 5:43-48

What does it say to your situation?__________________________

Read Proverbs 19:11

What is to your glory?___________________________________

Read Luke 23:34. How did Jesus respond to those who were literally killing him? These same men actually mocked Jesus while He was laying down His life to save their souls, if only they'd ask Him. _______

Would anyone one of us have greater reason to take offense and act on it, than Jesus?

Now, I'm not Jesus and I am not saying any of us are going to have His patience, or His ability to see into one another's hearts. But, it is good to know that whatever we have felt, whatever we are enduring, He has felt it, and endured it, first. And He forgave.

He recognized our ignorance, our insecurities, our need for grace, and though none of us deserve it, He gave it freely and with a full heart. He asks us to love each other, give each other the benefit of the doubt, and do it for Him. Not because that snarly teen or huffy customer will appreciate it (may be), but because He will.

"Dear brothers, if a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humble help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong." Galatians 6: 1 The Living Bible

"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Matthew 25:40 New American Standard Bible

If all else fails, you can silently recite my mantra when I am really tempted to just let someone have it (verbally). It's a southern term that all Mamas tell their kids when they are getting ready to throw a good old fashioned fit. She'll give them the look and say, "Don't show your butt."

Believe me, you'll feel better if you just smile and say "Praise Jesus, this is for you Lord," and go on your way, lip buttoned up. See if I'm not right.

Lord, help us not to show our butts today (and help anyone who took offense at my butt comment to forgive me.) In Your name, amen.

Love, Karen
Photo by Hunta, courtesy of

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Helping helpers

Hello, it's good to see you here in A Good Bible Study! Let's begin with prayer:

Lord, here we are again, wanting You, wanting to be closer to You and closer to who You created each of us to be. Help us to drop the worries and stressors for these few moments, so You can minister to our spirits and equip us for the day ahead.

We might be tired, we might feel so burdened with our responsibilities, we might have nothing to give right now but our willingness to be refreshed by Your Word. I know that I only need to show up, for with You, all things are possible. In Jesus' name, amen.

I first called this study Stress Inoculation, because it helps you reduce stress before it gets out of hand, kind of like vaccination shot. Gee, wouldn't that be nice if all we had to do was get a little shot once a year, and we could be inoculated against the effects of stress for another 12 months?!

Ahh, hectic schedules would sort themselves into orderly blocks of time; telemarketers would lose our numbers; and annoying interruptions would be a faint memory in the distant past.

Unfortunately, we're out of luck on that one. However, we can make a few small changes to the way we think about our lives and our relationships that, with practice, will make it seem like our load is much lighter.

For now, let's get God's take on stress. Read Isaiah 40:28-31 (New International Version)
     "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
     Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." Write that down somewhere for when you are ready to slap someone silly if they do that thing just one more time.

You know, I believe the people who experience the greatest level of stress are those who make it their job, or mission, to be helpers. A lot of people feel called to help others because of their upbringing.

When you experience trauma or harsh difficulties growing up, it seems to have one of two effects (and sometimes both at the same time): it creates a desire to protect yourself at all costs from financial, emotional, or physical insecurity; or it creates a desire to compassionately help others who are in the same situation that you survived.

Which one are you? Explain:

I responded to my own upbringing with both a difficulty in trusting other people, and also a fierce desire to parent in a way that would give my children no doubt of my love, and in my vested interest in their well-being. I also became a Clinical Therapist, helping adults and children with some of the same problems that I witnessed and experienced growing up.

Some of you are probably helpers, as well. You may not work in a helping field, but you likely have a helping personality. The hardest thing for a helper to do, is learn when it is more helpful to not help, am I right?

The second hardest thing is to know that no matter how you try, some people just don't want to, or are not ready to, be helped. Some times it seems like we see failure after failure, and nothing we do makes any lasting difference.

What in your life seems like a failure? _________________________

I want you to know that you are making a difference in ways that you might not see for years, if ever. The only way to cope with being a helper is to accept that, and help because you love people, even if you aren't getting the results you want all the time.

Winston Churchill said "Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."

I want you to keep your passion and your enthusiasm for helping others, while you also help yourself by reducing stress. Helping others can, and ideally should, come from a joyful, energized spirit, but sometimes all we can do is pray we get through the day without doing more than 3 things we have to apologize for later. The only way to keep giving love out, with joy and longevity, is to fill up with something greater than you. Re-read the verse above.

Let's pray:

Dear heavenly Father, when I am tired and weary, You are not. When I am dry, You can fill me up with Living water. Give me Your strength for the day, Your power. When I stumble and fall, remind me that I can turn to You, and You will renew my strength again.You'll make me feel like I can soar on the wings of eagles, that I can run and never get weary, that I can walk and never get faint. I praise you, Lord Jesus Christ! In Your name, amen.

Love, Karen
Photo by Simon Howden, courtesy of

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Stress LESS

Hello! It is so good to be back in A Good Bible Study with you!

Well, fellow love revolutionaries, we have completed our first mission - to transform. Now, we begin a new focus.

Today we will begin a study is based on a talk I give to corporate groups, employee mental health days, church groups, women's events - you name it, and why? Because we all let stress get the better of us at some time.

And, we all live more joy-filled, effective, and spontaneous lives when we focus on the same three areas of our lives that make a huge difference in reducing the effects of stress, and increase the experience of being in our blessings.

There are many names for these areas, but I call the areas Authenticate, Recuperate, and Activate, and to have real joy and peace, we need to address all three. And we will.

I call this study Stress Less, because that is what it is all about, creating, experiencing and living with less stress. It's a bible study because the source of stressing less is God. His desire is for you to love Him, love others, and to love yourself. Three areas, see?

Loving yourself, remember, is to treat yourself lovingly, which will in effect, decrease stress and increase joy. You can't love yourself without loving God (and receiving His love) and you can't love others without loving yourself. It's a circle and each area affects the other. So we are going to make this easy and make it second nature over the course of the next few weeks.

After the first time I presented this talk at a Tri-County Action/Head Start employee mental health day, I was amazed at how many people responded emotionally, and with such gratitude, for the fact that the talk is infused with scripture, and messages of God's love and intention for each of our lives. And this was a government agency, not a church group I was speaking to. Obviously, no matter what walk of life we are in, where we work, or what we even believe - we need this message!

So, we are going to learn exactly what God says about habits that increase stress, and how He provides the only answer that will create a life that is joy-full and stress-less. Amen to that!

I will leave you today with a quote and a scripture that will set the tone for our continuing series:

Whatever you are going through today, no matter what is leading you to focus on stressful situations, I want you to know that you are never alone, never without resources, never on your own. Read now Jeremiah 29:11-14.

'I know the thoughts that I think towards _____, says the Lord, thoughts of _______ and not _______, to give you a _________ and a __________. Then you will ________ on Me and go and ______ to Me and I WILL _______ to you. And you will ______ Me and _______ me, when you search for me with all your heart. I WILL be ________ by you, says the Lord." (New King James Version)

Is it easy to stop worrying? No, but it is a simple act to change your focus, if that's what you decide to do. Eleanor Roosevelt said "Happiness is not a goal, it is a by-product." Meaning, you don't get to happiness without taking action that leads to happiness.

So, how do I change my focus when I am stressed? That's Jeremiah 29:11-14. Seek Him, tell Him, trust Him.

Do you remember what Joyce Meyer said about faith? She said we must choose to believe that God is working on it, even when we don't see an instant change in our circumstances.

Step one- seek God's help, advice, and comfort. Then trust He is working on it.

Until tomorrow - love, Karen

Photo by Andrey Kiselev, courtesy of

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ready, set, hooray! You are a revolutionary!

Welcome back!

What a wonderful day to mark the beginning of our new lives as Love Revolutionaries. Let's pray before we begin today's lesson:

Lord, what a journey we are on. I just want to sit in silence a moment and let You speak to my heart. Along the way You have inspired my dreams and goals. You have given me divine sparks of enthusiasm to help hurting people, and are still working in my spirit to help me overcome the prejudices and preconceptions that have stopped me from reaching out in the past. Talk to me Lord as I spend this moment receiving Your love again. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Now, sit for a few moments.

I feel inspired by these thoughts:

We were asked to review the goals we set previously. Did you do that?
What are your revamped goals as a Love Revolutionary now?

Your mission is take this information and do one thing each day to bring you closer to your goal.

The one thing I will do today to bring me closer to my goal above, is:

Great -that's all there is to it. Easy, right?

Meet me here tomorrow as we learn an important tool in living the life of joy and peace that God intends for all of us, even revolutionaries. It's how to Stress Less.

Thank you for being a fellow love revolutionary with me. I have been blessed by knowing you were out there, a part of the same journey.

Lord, You have given us each our own mission as Love Revolutionaries. Give us whatever we need to follow through. In Jesus' name, amen.

See you tomorrow and love, Karen

Finalizing our Love Revolution goals and dreams

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!

Let's pray for God to infuse our time together with His Spirit, and His direction.

Father, these past weeks have been a blessing. We are learning about the greatest of Your gifts, and the greatest of Your expectations for us: love. I'm getting it, Lord. You love me. I love You. You love every sister and brother reading this study and those who are not. It's not a difficult concept, is it? My prayer today, our prayer today, is that You make it more easy for each of us to love, than it is to be indifferent. Make it so easy in our spirits that it is just like breathing, Lord. In Your name, Jesus, amen.

Let's look back for just a minute. We are nearing the end of The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer, but rest assured we are not ending A Good Bible Study. There is so much to share together, to learn with one another. So, keep coming back because we are moving into a study I wrote based on one of my most requested talks, "Stress-Less." What do you think that's about, hmm?

But, back in chapter 4 here, we learned our "love revolutionary war verse," do you remember? Look it up again. 2 Corinthians 5:15.

"He died for all people, so that those who live should no longer live ___ themselves but ___ the one who died and rose for them." International Standard Version

In chapter 6 we wrote our Love Revolution goals and dreams, along with some dates by which we would accomplish them. In chapter 7 we made adjustments to keep on the path, because obstacles are a part of any revolution.

Joyce asks us at this point: What challenges are you facing and what do you need to do to keep your Love Revolution goals and dreams moving forward?

Also, in what specific areas do you need to continue to seek God's wisdom for your Love Revolution goals and dreams? Do you need more self-discipline or motivation; more of God's grace and power; help from a friend; or resources?

We are challenged to develop the habit to review and update our lives as Love Revolutionaries! Don't let your love stagnate through business and distraction, or simple inactivity. Get out your calendar and write down when and how you will follow through on your Love Revolution goals!

Read John 13:17

If you know these things, _____ are you if you do them. American King James Version

Let's all get happy, yeah?
Let's meet tomorrow and after thinking over today's lesson, share about our goals. In the meantime, decide whether or not you need to adjust or revise your goals. Let's close with Joyce's final prayer:

"Father God, I come to you in Jesus' name. I thank you, Lord, for teaching me to be a Love Revolutionary. I know I have more to learn, and I am excited about You working in me each extraordinary day of my life! Teach me what love really means and how to apply that every day in my life and for others. God, I pray that this would not be a short-term thing I do for a month and then forget all about it. No, I want this to be life-changing - a permanent change in me by the grace and power of Your Word and Holy Spirit.
Father, I thank You for helping me to follow through, I desire more than good intentions, so I lift this up to You and ask You to empower me to love the way You love, each day, every day, as a way of life - a Love Revolution life! In Jesus' name, amen."

Love, Karen

Photo by Andy Newson, courtesy of

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Your first assignment as a revolutionary

Hello - welcome again to A Good Bible Study. Pray with me.

Lord, here we are again, seeking Your Word and Your Wisdom. I pray that each lesson You have revealed to each of us through this study, will become a part of who we are, of what we do, and how we live out our lives. Don't let this be one more thing we "did," then forgot as we went on to the next emotional, spiritual experience. A true revolution creates lasting change - and I want the changeto last in each person who sees this study, today or any other day. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Are you ready for your first assignment? It's not too difficult.

Name one thing different about you today, than from when you began this study:

God met each of us where we were a few weeks ago, and He brought us to where we are today, hopefully more aware of His love, and for His desire for us to show that love to someone else.

Do you remember when we looked up 1 Corinthians 9:19-23? Read it again now.

Paul met people where they were. He didn't judge their practices, he embraced them so that he could relate to hurting people. Does that mean we should begin taking drugs, or committing crimes to show people we accept them? No, no, no. Come on and tell me you know the difference:
We should ________________________________________

That's right. It means to stop judging people based on where they are at emotionally, morally, and socially and see their immediate needs.

No one cares about your message until they know you care about them.

Did you get that one, 'cause it's a good one. Read it one more time for good measure.

Think about the people you see on a daily basis: in the market, at work, in church, on the street where you live; those who are young, or old, or poor, even those who are sophisticated or highly educated.  Are there some specific ways you can change in order to relate to these people?

How about your church, if you have one? Would all of these people be welcome there, or only some of them?

In The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer, we are asked to pretend for just a moment that you are meeting a friend. You are going to explain to this friend that you've joined a revolution. In fact, you have received a call to be a world-changing, life-changing operative - and this revolution is really going to make a positive difference in people's lives!

You'll explain that there has been training; there is an operations manual and a field guide. "There will be risks, daily maneuvers, special operations and programs, uncertainty, some uncomfortable conditions, and may be even some danger. And part of your assignment is to find others who have a desire for change and revolution!"

What would you say? How would you explain this to your friend?

OK, now that you have figured out what you will say, who can you meet and tell it to? Who can you witness to about your faith and discover who will join you as a fellow revolutionary?

Write the names of two or three people to whom you can tell your story?
1. ______________________________
2. ______________________________
3. ______________________________

When and where will you arrange to meet with these people?
Date: __________________- Location: _______________
Date: __________________- Location: _______________
Date: __________________- Location: _______________

Read Philippians 1:6 and then pray with me:

Lord, change is scary. You have called us to change, to revolutionize the lives of those we meet. You have promised You will complete the work You begin in us so I know what You started, You will bring to the fullness of completion. All I need to do is be willing. I am willing, Lord. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by Christopher Meder, courtesy of

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rebel, or revolutionary?

Welcome back to A Good Bible Study!

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, thank You for continuing to bless each person reading this. Thank You for continuing to work in our hearts to not only receive Your love, but share it with others. We are Your revolutionaries now - In Jesus' name, amen.

We talked about forgiveness recently. Have you changed your beliefs regarding active forgiveness since that discussion? If so, how? If not, why?

What's so important about forgiveness anyway?

Read Ephesians 4:32

So, answer again, why is important to forgive others?

Love Revolutionaries do things differently than most people. That's the thing about being a revolutionary - you bring about change. What is the difference between a revolutionary and a rebel?

In The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, Paul Scanlon, Pastor of Abundant Life Church, is quoted as saying, " Rebels are known for what they are against, but revolutionaries are known for what they are for."

As Love Revolutionaries we are going to be challenged to do some things differently, and that can be uncomfortable. Joyce Meyer says that "Often we see the need for change, and we learn about and pray for change, but then when it comes, it frightens us and makes us uncomfortable. Have there been things in our study that have challenged you or made you a bit uncomfortable?"


What have you learned that you can do when you come up against fear, such as the fear of reaching out to someone who needs to know Christ, or the fear of making changes when people are used to us as we are?

I encourage you to pray when you feel afraid, or unsure. The Holy Spirit is always with you, always listening and ready to answer your every need. God wants us to turn to Him, He promises that He is our strength, an ever present help in every storm. Let's pray now:

Lord, change is uncomfortable. It's very tempting to crawl back to our familiar way of doing things, even if those ways are bringing us pain, or keeping us in fear. Help us to remember that You have promised never to leave or forsake us. Help us come to You, allow Your comfort, and to choose to believe that You are working on it! In the name of Jesus, amen.

Love, Karen

Thursday, September 9, 2010

This man went to heaven, and returned with a message for you

Hello again - it is good to see you in A Good Bible Study!

Let's pray:

Father, thank you again for meeting with us, for if two or more are gathered together in Your name, You are here! It is such a blessing to find so many examples of Your love, every where I look. You say if we search for You we will find You. I realize the more the I dwell on Your love and Your goodness, the more I see it! Give us more, Lord, more than we can almost take! In the name of Jesus, amen.

Taking a segue from our Joyce Meyer book, The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, but not from the subject of love, I want to share with you a video.

It's from this mornings television show "It's Supernatural, with Sid Roth." You might think supernatural means satanic. That is not true. According to Mirriam-Webster's dictionary, Supernatural means :

1. of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

2. a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
    b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)
God is very much super-natural, He is beyond the visible observable universe except when He chooses to be otherwise. God made all the laws, and He bends them at His will.

We'd all love to have a sign, to have proof of God's love, right? What if you could talk to someone who had direct experience with God, face to face?
Watch this interview between Sid Roth and Dean Braxton. Dean died when his heart stopped for 1 hour and 45 minutes. In this interview he relates what his experience was during the time he was dead.

Some of the things he said rang so true that I began to weep and praise God while watching:

DEAN: "But what got me about his eyes is I literally saw the love for me, like I was the only creation of his that he loved, knowing that he loved everyone else, knowing that he loves you and everyone else on this planet. But I came to understand that in his eyes when he looks at me he loves me like I’m the only creation that he loves. People got to really understand that. Sometimes we don’t understand the deepness of his love for us.

SID: It’s a different type of love.

DEAN: It’s a different type, yes, yes. It was created just for me. The love for you is created just for you. So I can’t take his love away that he has for you away from you and you can’t take his love he has for me away from me. His love that he has for you, understand this, Sid, is created literally for you."

Have you ever wanted to know what awaits you in heaven? Watch this for Dean's experience. Comment back to me when you are finished. 
Love, Karen
Photo by Karsten Fischbach, courtesy of

I forgive you, I forgive you not

Welcome back to a good bible study!

Today we begin chapter eight of The Love Revolution Devotional Workbook and Field Journal, by Joyce Meyer. Let's begin with prayer:

Lord, thank you for this time we are spending sharing time in Your Word. We ask You to make a difference in our lives through this study. Help us to keep the way clear for Your Holy Spirit to work in us, and through us, daily. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Joyce Meyer says, "If I am angry at anybody, I will take it out on everybody." Ouch. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Sometimes we have habits that really block the flow of God's love through us.

Have you ever said, "Well, I'll forgive but I won't forget!?"Jesus doesn't want people to just say they forgive, because they know it is expected, and act all big about it. Those are just words. Neither does forgiveness mean you allow someone to repeat their mistreatment of you.

It means you accept that this person made a mistake, or that they don't know any better, or that this is a person who really needs to be prayed for. Then shake it off and move on. That's what God told the apostles when he instructed them in how to deal with people who rejected their message. Read Matthew 10:14.

"And whoever will not _______ you or hear your ______, when you depart from that house or city, ______ off the _____ from your feet." NKJV

God said, you don't need to worry about those people who mistreat you because of My Word, I will deal with them. Shake it off and don't let it stop you from your purpose, don't let it ruin your day.

The problem is that if we don't feel worthy of forgiveness ourselves, we will have a hard time letting things go and forgiving others. And if we cannot receive God's love, we certainly can't comprehend having an attitude of love towards someone who has hurt us. We want to see them get their comeuppance first, then we will think about forgiving, right?

Believe it or not, God knows how badly you have been hurt, and He will deal with it as He sees fit and in His timing. In the meantime, He desires mercy, not a "sacrifical" forgiveness that is not genuine.

 Read Matthew 9:13

So, how do you forgive when you are still hurting? Simple (not easy, simple): you tell God on 'em.

Tell Him how badly you are hurt, that's right, tell God all about it. Get it all out. Then pray for God to help them see their error, offer them up to God to help, and choose to let God deal with them. Set yourself free by acknowledging your pain and anger, then decide to see them as ignorant, misguided folk that need God's love to change. Forgive.

Look, make no mistake that this might not be a person to enter into a deep friendship with right now, but there is a difference between being aware, and being unforgiving. Choose to let God have this problem and just praise Jesus that you have learned your lesson on this person until they get the Holy Ghost themselves!

Isn't that better than nursing that wound and drinking that emotional poison the rest of your life while your offender walks around oblivious?

God doesn't hesitate to forgive us. Hebrews 10:16-17 shares how God shows us mercy. It says that once we open our hearts to God and believe His forgiveness is necessary, we not only receive it, but He helps us know how to live better. He says " . . . I will put my Laws into their __________, and in their ________ I will write them," 'then He adds,' 'Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more."

Here is a test: if you have forgiven, over time, you get to a point where you hardly even recall the offense. If every time the matter comes up you get angry all over again, you haven't forgiven.

People can't change if we keep reminding them of their failings. Now, I don't mean give complete trust again to someone who has cheated on you,  or stolen, etc. I do mean change your boundaries, be clear as to how their offense affected you, and decide whether they understand it or not so you can redefine your relationship, or have more peace in wishing them well and letting it go.

The important thing is to give this offense to God and be set free. It's not easy. But it's necessary for true freedom and joy.

Let's pray:

Lord, sometimes we can't see past our anger to even think about forgiveness. In those times, help us to call on You to take our pain on Your shoulders. Lord, you know. You see what has happened. When You were on the cross, you said, "Father, forgive them for they don't know what they are doing." Help me to remind myself that if this person really knew better, felt the pain I am feeling, there is no way they could treat me this way. Help me to forgive so that I can be free from this poison of hate. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by Pavel Losevsky, courtesy of