A Resolve to Believe

Oct. 10, 2008 Karen Loritts

Session Transcript

Announcer: Thank you for listening to this message from True Woman ’08, Revive Our Heart’s first National Women’s Conference. It’s our prayer that God blesses you with His Word and His heart as you listen.

Karen Loritts: If you have your Bibles, join me in James chapter 4. Please stand.

The music has been absolutely incredible. I told our song leaders that the theology of hymns—I love praise songs. We sing that a lot at our church. The theology of praise songs are great, but the theology of hymns have stood the test of time. They never get old. They are the things that you can go back to Scripture and sing those hymns out.

But I want us to read James chapter 4, starting with verse 7 to 10. I’m reading from the New American Standard, so it may sound a little different. James chapter 4, verse 7, 8, 9, and 10:

Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.

Let’s pray. Lord Jesus, it is at this time and this venue that you have gathered these women to pull away from the distractions that await them maybe at home or on their jobs, the television set, the radio; to come away in this oasis to do business with You.

So now, Father, we ask again that in Your presence individually, not the sister next to us or behind us or in front of us, but individually that we will say yes to the Holy Spirit, that we will allow the Holy Spirit to circumcise our hearts, to lay open those layers that have been crippling us, that we will not hide behind anything.

Lord, I don’t want to forget the sisters here who maybe have brought a friend who does not know You yet. We ask that the Holy Spirit will convict her of her sin and she will at the end of this weekend say yes to You and be able to live with You forever and ever.

So now, Lord, I have nothing cute to say. I just want to share my heart. I want You to speak to us, because if You don’t speak, then all that is said is in vain. Thank You, Father, for who You are. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Have a seat. Well, we have four children. And I knew that we were going to get to this day where  our last one was going to enter high school. So I was going to be smart. I really pride myself on having my little act together—you know, dot my “I’s” and cross my “T’s”. So she was going to go into high school.

I have all these friends that have gone through menopause and the empty nest. It was something sort of like a disease that was going to creep up on me. So I was now in my fifties. I was working through the menopause thing, and I was worried about if I would survive the empty nest, which was four years off.

So I decided I was going to be smart. I was going to prepare myself. I have a husband that at that time was on staff at Campus Crusade for Christ. He was traveling probably ten to fourteen days a month. The way we did it when we were first married before kids was we were just lovey-dovey, just talking across the table about each other and did all those romantic things.

Then children happened, and you sort of have the conversation change a little bit. I knew when my last one would leave the nest, then I would have to find something else to talk about and be lovey-dovey and sit across the table and talk to Crawford. So I started to really nurture our relationship, because he’s my best friend. I love that man!

I knew that when Holly would leave for school that it was just going to be the two of us. So I was working on it. So Holly graduates from high school. And those of you that have prepared your child to leave the nest and maybe to go to college or into the work force or into the military, you know there are some things you have to get done.

So my job that summer after graduation was to work on her dorm—the colors of the curtains and the bedspread and all the other kinds of things that I’m not going to bore you with. And I really worked hard June, July, and then August the 14th came. We packed all my baby girl’s stuff into Crawford’s SUV. I mean, it was incredible stuff. We drove her down to Xavier University in New Orleans where she was going to be a pre-med student.

Everything was fine. We stayed there for a couple of days. Then it was time for Crawford to put me back in the car and for me to leave my baby girl in New Orleans.

September was fine. I was just cleaning up stuff and rearranging her room now that she was gone. But ladies, on October the 19th—I’ll never forget that day. I had prepared all along the way to be prepared when my baby girl left, the last of our four children.

On October the 19th I was sitting in our bedroom at my chair next to my table, having my quiet time. I open up my book, my Bible, and I started reading and I started sobbing. It was as though someone had turned on a faucet. The next thing I knew, I had tear drops on my Bible. I couldn’t figure out what was happening. I just remember, I said “Lord, something is happening inside of me.”

I felt this wave of fear well up in my belly, and all of a sudden this floodgate of tears came, and I couldn’t figure out what it was. Was it my time of the month? Crawford was gone, but that was usual since we had been married, so it wasn’t that. It seems as though in that house that the walls of that house were talking to me. I was alone, and I was lonely.

I had this thought that I’m no longer a mother anymore. My biggest problem in life is I’m a worrier. I worry about worrying. That’s one of my handicaps. Anybody here is like that? Yes—there’s two of us. So I worry about worry. But the other thing that I had was fear. And I was so—it was as though this garment of fear was clothed around me.

Let me tell you some things about fear. Fear has a way of bringing its buddies. And so as I’m going through this thing that I’m going through—and it lasted for several days—I was really . . . I had what I call an emotional meltdown. For me to say that, I’ve been in ministry now—back then for thirty-something years. But for me to admit that I was having an emotional meltdown, it was an incredible indictment on me. I was having an emotional meltdown.

But I was cute enough and smart enough that I still had to pray. I still kept my speaking schedule. Crawford and I were finishing a book together on parenting. So I did all the right things, but I could not shake this whole attitude in my bosom that fear was gripping me. So I identified at least ten of my fear buddies. Let me just share ten of them. I promise you we’re getting to James chapter 4.

Some of my fear buddies, I wrote them down. When fear would overtake me, fear would always bring its buddy called it distorts reality. Fear told me that you’re no longer a mother. Who are you? That is ridiculous. But I felt as though my whole identity had just walked away on August 14th down at somebody’s school and no longer was I a mother, not to say that I had three adult married children.

Another thing that one of the fear buddies does, it victimizes the person. Fear absolutely beats you up. I remember just two weeks ago when I was sitting preparing this message for today sitting at my table looking out the window. All of a sudden this fear came over me again, and I was being victimized. I started weeping at the table saying, “Lord, what in the world am I going to say to 6,000 women when I’m just scared to death to admit that I have fear." So fear victimizes a person.

Another thing about fear: Fear puts stress on the body, physically, emotionally, spiritually, blood pressure problems, stress.

Another thing about fear, it alienates the truth, even the truth that we know. God was still with me. I was still a mother, but fear told me that that was all a lie, that no longer was that true.

Another thing about fear: Fear mobilizes. It freezes; it cripples you.

Another thing about fear: Fear replaces faith. I forgot or didn’t think about that perfect love casts out fear. But fear many times will replace the faith that we say that we have.

Fear disappoints. Fear takes more than it gives. It gives you nothing.

How about this one: Fear is afraid of success. When you are fearful, you are afraid of success. I knew about failure and all those things that drew me to failure, but I was afraid of moving forward.

Two more things: Fear fills the heart with despair. You become hopeless and helpless.

And then the last thing I identified—you probably could come up with another list—fear destroys. Fear takes you and just wants you to walk away into a bottomless pit of hopelessness. It steals away your joy, your victory, your blessing.

So those were my fear buddies. But God—knowing God, He wouldn’t let me stay there. See, when I was going through my emotional meltdown, there were times, ladies, when I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to tell Crawford, because I have the type of husband—he loves me; he’s my servant leader; he wants to protect me. He would want to fix it.

You know when you’re having a pity party, you want to be the only one and the guest of honor. You want to wear your own crown and you want to just have everything go your way. So I didn’t really tell him what was happening.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, honey.”

So I had my own pity party. But God wouldn’t let me stay there. I knew I was in big trouble, that I needed to get out of that bed, I needed to believe God and trust God with every single thing, with every fiber of my being because I didn’t want to move.

So I got out of my bed; I went to the Bible. And of course, the way God is with His Word, He showed me several Scriptures. So let me share with you a couple Scriptures. And I promise you—we will get to James chapter 4.

A couple things about fear that I knew, I read about, but I had forgotten. Fear robs your memory. Several things: (jot it down) Psalms 27:1-3. Psalms 27 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.” Question: “Whom shall I fear?”

Verse 3: “Though a host encamp against me,”—my fear buddies—“My heart will not fear. Though war arise against me, in [spite of] this, I shall be confident.”

In Philippians 4 it says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer bring your fears to God” (verse 6, paraphrased).

Let me read Isaiah chapter 41, verse 10. I love this! God reminded me, He said, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

And lastly, when the children of Israel were being led out of the wilderness when they got to the Red Sea, they were hemmed in by mountains on one side and the sea and the Egyptian army pursuing them from behind. Moses said to them in Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you. All you have to do is be still and stand still” (paraphrased).

So that’s what I did. I said, “God, I’m going to shut my mouth. There is nothing that I can say. So Lord, I want to make a resolve”—because I had a great relationship. I was a great wife, but really I was not a great woman, because I was letting fear grip my heart. And it was doing so much damage in my own life.

And I said, “God, enough is enough. No more will I allow fear to grip me and rob me of my joy and my blessing. So God, I want to resolve three things. God, I promise you that I won’t embarrass you.”

I promise I’m going to get to James chapter 4 and talk about that a little bit more.

The second thing I said was, “God, I won’t embarrass my husband. I made a vow on

May 22, 1971 that I would love, honor, obey in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. I made a vow to love that man. And Lord, I’m going to do that regardless of my hormones, PMS, and empty nest. I’m going to love that man the way you want me to love him. Lord, help me to do that.”

Next, I said, “Lord, I won’t embarrass myself.” I was born to an unwed teenage girl in the city of Philadelphia, called the concrete jungle. My mother had a brief affair with an older man and got pregnant with him and didn’t want to marry him. So we had this journey throughout the years of being in and out of our grandparents’ home, our auntie’s home, because Mother was a single parent.

At the age of 10, I was practically raising my two brothers. All three of us have different fathers. We were in and out of family homes, and I was a lost puppy. I tried, attempted suicide. That didn’t work. I was too afraid to swallow the pills that I had collected. I decided I was going to run away. When it came time for me to run away, I was afraid of the dark, so I didn’t run away. So God says, “You know what? I’m going to save this girl before she really hurts herself.”

And so March of 1965, I heard a message, John 3:16. It was delivered by a man called Thurlow Spur and his group called The Spurlows. That was an old group. I remember coming into the youth meeting. There were 4,000 young people. You could always find seats on the front row. We were late because of a snow storm. I sat right on the front row. And when that man read John 3:16, it was as though he had put my name in those spaces.

When he asked for those that wanted to know how to know a loving God, how to know that a God who had gave his only Son for me . . . Now, I love my mother, but my mother never hugged me. My mother never told me that she loved me. But this man was telling me that the God of history had come down and died on the cross for one little, skinny, black girl in the city of Philadelphia, and I could know for sure that love was there and offered to me.

And I accepted Christ on that snowy day of March of 1965. So I became a new person, and that’s the power of God.

And so, “God, I’m not going to embarrass myself because I know too much about You. And instead of me listening to myself, I need to start talking to myself.”

I started going into the bathroom and looking at that mirror and saying, “God, the only thing that I know is that you love me. I’m afraid right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I know that if you can raise a dead Jesus, you parted the Red Sea, then you can take any problems that I have—even this incredible sense of fear and emptiness and loneliness—and make me walk up. So I’m not going to embarrass You.”

But the top thing I said is, “God, I’m not going to embarrass you.” Of all the things, I am not going to embarrass God. God has done too much for me in my live. So I said, “God, I’m not going to embarrass you.”

So I made the decision, after going through all those days and weeks of getting myself out of this emotional meltdown that I was having, that the spiritual health and strength of my marriage will tell the truth about the depth and the spiritual health of my relationship with God. It’s a vertical relationship with God that tells the truth about how I treated my husband, how I treated myself, how I treated others.

So now we get to James chapter 4. He led me there, and God said, “James chapter 4, Karen, holds the key. All you have to do is work it.” So let me suggest to you out of those verses, James chapter 4, verses 7 to 10, six imperatives. And I’d like you if you’re taking notes to mark in your Bible, to mark them.

I’ll make mention of those six imperatives, closing remarks, then I’ll take my seat. James chapter 4, verse 7. The first imperative He says,

1)      “Submit therefore to God.”

I don’t know about you, but I had to wave the flag and say, “God, I surrender. I submit to you. I’m not smart enough to pull this off.” But it comes with a heart attitude that says, “God, I surrender to you,” bending the knee.

As I was going through my emotional meltdown, I had so much pride that I couldn’t even tell my best friends. I had this group of women that we’d been best friends, pregnant together, potty training together, nursery school together, baby showers, weddings, and graduations—the whole gamut. Now we’re grandmothers together—14 of us—I couldn’t even tell them.

We were having our retreat, and I would just do the regular kinds of “Everything’s fine.” God nailed me on that. He says, “Karen, you have to put everything out on the table.” “Submit therefore to God” (James 4:7).

2)       “Resist the devil.” And he will do what, ladies? “He will flee” (verse 7).

It doesn’t say he might flee. God says, “You resist the devil, and he will flee.” You take your stand against the devil. You just say, “Devil, you know what?” as I was talking to myself, “no more am I going to become a victim of the enemy. I am a victor through Christ.”

So you need to take a stand. You need to wear the armor of God and say, “God, I’ll submit to you, but also I’m going to resist the enemy.” That’s going to be a constant battle because sometimes we think too much. We talk ourselves into being fearful and worrying and griping and complaining and whining. God says, “Submit to me. Resist the devil, and he will get his hands off of you” (verse 7, paraphrased).

3)       “Draw near to God” (verse 8).

I knew that. In the midst of my emotional meltdown, I was still having my quiet times. I have no idea where those prayers went. I have no idea even today what I was reading. They were empty words. Do you understand what I’m saying?

God says, “Submit. Surrender." Put aside that pride and that arrogance, just knowing everything. Resist the devil. Resist the temptation to have those pity parties all the time, to believe those fear buddies that you’re nothing, that when your kids leave, your life ends, when your husband walks out on you.

God says, “Resist the devil. Draw near to Me.” In that quiet time, those quiet moments, those prayer times, draw near to God and ask God to bring someone into your life that can pray with you and for you.

4)      “Cleanse your hands” (verse 8).

5)       “Purify your hearts” (verse 8).

Two things about this: Deal with sin in public and external, in cleansing your hands. First John 1:9—I understood about 1 John 1:9, but here was the deal. For many years, I was a bitter and angry woman. Now, verbally I wasn’t angry, but bitter I was. And I was really bitter towards my mom.

My mom did a bad job. She could not give me what she did not have, but I could not forgive her. I remember we had moved from Pennsylvania down to Texas to be involved in church planting. I was sitting there just hashing through all the trash that had been involved in my life growing up and why my mother didn’t raise me. This is why I am struggling so hard as a believer to really grasp this thing about love and making that good commitment to God.

How come I wasn’t feeling the presence of God in my life?  I knew that it was because I was harboring bitterness and anger towards my mom. So I sat down and I wrote my mom a letter to let her know that I loved her. She knew that I was a Christian, but she didn’t—she had never heard from me how much I loved her in spite of who I was, not condemning her, but putting it back on myself.

I remember saying, “I just love you, Mom.” My mother never responded to that letter. I saw her a week after that letter, and she never hugged me or thanked me, but I knew that she saw it, because I saw it opened on her dresser. And that was okay, because I had a burying party.

First John 1:9 says that when you cleanse your hands, you do two things. You confess it, specifically tell God, “God I am angry and bitter with my mom at how she raised me. It was bad for a 10-year-old girl to have to be raising her own brothers. It was bad for a 10-year-old girl to have to do all this stuff that an adult woman needed to be doing.”

But I had to forgive my mom. I had to release her so that I can just look her in the eye and tell her with a clean heart that I loved her. But then repentance means I had to turn my back on what I thought was my right to be bitter and walk away from that. And that, ladies, was freedom. It was as though someone had opened a prison door and let me walk out.

First John 1:9—when it says here in James to cleanse your hands, do business about your sin. Name it. But it also says to purify your hearts. I take that to mean our attitudes. It says in the Psalms, “Create in me a new heart, O God. And renew a right spirit, a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10 paraphrased).

We have to have the right motives, holiness of heart and mind and thought and emotions. The inside of me needs to tell the story on how the outside looks. Cleanse your hands, do business, and purify your hearts with an attitude.

6)      “Humble yourselves” (verse 10).

Humility was not a big thing for me. Like I said, I had a lot of pride. But it’s something when God gets your attention. During my emotional meltdown time, I was getting through October. I was coming up on the month of November. And the month of November is my birthday month, and I always go and have all those tests that you need to have—the OB guy, the GP guy—all these things and letters like that.

I went to my OBGYN guy, and my little fibroid tumor was staying. It wasn’t growing too much. I was cleared for that. Then I had to go get my mammogram. You know what I mean? Time to get that old mammogram. I went, and for the first time—I always get it year by year—I got a call back. He said, “Mrs. Loritts, you need to come in because we need to check your mammogram. Something showed up.”

And would you know it, they couldn’t fit me in for three weeks. So my little fear buddies surrounded me and distorted reality. That first one I talked about was doing a number on me. So I was trying to be good. I said, “No, I’m not going to fear. It was just a misunderstanding with the mammogram.” So I prayed through that.

Then I went to my GP guy, general practitioner. And of all the things, he told me I needed to lose weight, that my cholesterol was gone out the roof, and to watch my blood pressure. So now I’m walking around the mall—I’ve become a mall walker. I thought I had at least ten more years to join the other ladies, and I’m walking in the mall.

I’m walking in the mall and crying. I said, “God, what’s happening? I’m having an emotional meltdown in October and now a physical breakdown in November. Can I get through this year?” So God had my attention.

And with me (I don’t know about you) but it seems as though when crisis comes into my life, those challenges, there’s always like a buffet. It’s never like here’s one little thing you have to worry about. It’s always a buffet of stuff. God had got my attention!

Well, just to clear up, the mammogram was fine. I’m still walking the malls—genetics. But God brought me through that because my fear was trying to victimize me. And I thought that I was just reaching the top of the mountain, and I was almost through. Then November came.

God is an incredible God and the only one I could talk to—not my girlfriends. I don’t want to bore Crawford with that, because I don’t want him to fix anything. I had to fix it. Stop listening to yourself. Start talking to yourself.

I don’t know what you have to do, but I had to go in my bathroom and look in the mirror and say, “Karen, you know what? You’re a wimp. You’ve been doing a lot of whining, a lot of lying, because you’re telling everybody else in these conferences all the great things about God and look at your life.” I had a good talk with myself.

I said, “God, I surrender. I don’t know what to do. But I know that You know, and You know what to do. You do it, God.” God had gotten my attention. When everything checked out, my body was okay. The little fibroid is still there. We’ve still been working on that little fibroid.

But I want to tell you that I just love what Dr. Piper said, “Wimpy theology makes you a wimpy woman.” This is the only thing that makes sense. God is a God who loves us. I don’t know what your issue is, whether it’s with your husband, your children, your family, or—like with my mother—you just see no hope. Can you believe me? There is hope.

If God can save a little black girl from the streets of Philadelphia from public housing—a woman that was involved in ministry that had an emotional meltdown, and He still loves me—what is it that He can’t do? What is it? There’s nothing our God can’t do.

Let me close with this. In Joshua chapter 1 Moses is dead. Big Moses, he’s gone. So God has to talk to the new man in charge, and He tells Joshua, “Joshua, out of all the things I want to say, there are three things I want to say to you.” This is the Karen paraphrase. “Three things I want to say to you, Joshua.”

“Be strong and courageous. Be strong and very courageous. Joshua, be strong and courageous. Don’t tremble. Don’t be dismayed, because God is with you” (see verses 6-9).  And I don’t know about you—get your hands up. I surrender to You.

Ladies, we have to be strong. We have to be courageous. Stop listening to yourself. Talk to yourself and talk to God. Let’s pray.

God, You are a God that’s incredible. You are the only one that can help us to be strong and courageous. But God, we have to do our part. We have to stop listening to the junk. We have to talk to ourselves about the God that we know.

Father, You called us to submit to You, to resist that conniving, defeated enemy, the devil, to draw near to you, to do those hard things, to work on the sin issue, whether it’s sin of pride—whatever it is—tell You specifically about it.

I ask You to cleanse our hearts, make our hearts pure. Create in us a clean heart. And with humble hearts, we humble ourselves under Your mighty care. Lord, I pray this for my sisters here, that whatever buffet of stuff that they may have to go through, may they not crumble under anything but the weight of the Word of God.

Lord, help us, as my brother said, not to be wimpy women. You’ve given us a backbone. Let us stand strong because of the blood of Jesus that flows in each one of His children’s bodies, that we believe You because You’re a good Father.

We won’t embarrass You. We won’t embarrass our families. We won’t embarrass ourselves because we’re going to believe You for who You are. Give us a resolve to believe. In Your precious name we pray, amen.

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