Goodbye Fear, Hello Freedom
About the Guest
Ungodly fear can rob us of the things we hold most dear -- peace, joy, trust, and our relationship with our family, friends and God, but author and pastor's wife Karen Loritts says the Apostle James provides clear Biblical instruction for overcoming sinful fear. Karen shares how she banished her "fear buddies" with the power of God's Word.
Karen LorittsKaren Loritts is a speaker, teacher, and author. Karen has served in ministry since 1972 with her husband, Crawford, who is currently the Senior Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. Karen served as the keynote speaker for the True Woman conferences held by Revive Our Hearts. Karen and Crawford are also featured speakers at FamilyLife's Weekend to Remember marriage conferences. Karen enjoys her four grown children and eleven grandchildren.
Ungodly fear can rob us of the things we hold most dear — peace, joy, trust, and our relationship with our family, friends and God.
Goodbye Fear, Hello Freedom
Bob: During different seasons of life, we are more susceptible to different kinds of fears. Here’s Karen Loritts.
Karen: I was getting through October. I was coming up on the month of November. The month of November is my birthday month. I always go and have all those tests that you need to have. You know, “Time to get that old mammogram.” (Laughter) 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.”
My little fear buddies surrounded me and distorted reality. That first one I talked about was doing a number on me. I was trying to be good; I was trying to be good. I said, “No, I’m not going to fear. It was just a misunderstanding with the mammogram.” I’m walking in the mall, crying, and saying, “God, what is happening? I’m having an emotional meltdown in October and now a physical breakdown in November. (Laughter) Can I get through this year?”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, April 10th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. You’ve had those emotional meltdowns; right?—where one thing after another is coming your way. What do you do about it? We’ll hear what Karen Loritts did, today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition.
Dennis: Bob, you are kind of a perfect enunciation guy—I don’t know if you are that much into grammar.
Bob: I don’t know if it’s perfect. I try to be clear and precise, but—
Dennis: Yes, you’re pretty—
Bob: I want to be—
Dennis: You’re on it. You’re on it. When it comes to the word imperative, what do you think?
Bob: Imperative is something that must be—must happen. If something is imperative, it is essential; right?
Dennis: If it is an imperative and somebody was about to give you five or six imperatives on how to handle fear, what would you do?
Bob: I’d get a pen out. I would take some notes.
Dennis: I think that is good advice, here at the start of the broadcast. We are going to air a message given at a true woman® conference a couple of years ago by Karen Loritts.
Karen and her husband Crawford speak at our Weekend to Remember® marriage conferences. They are great friends. Crawford is a board member of FamilyLife. This message—well, you were there. You heard the message, and you liked it so much you just wanted to give our listeners a taste of what women can experience at these true woman conferences and be ministered to at the same time.
Bob: Now, I saw how women at the true woman08 event responded to Karen’s message, which I thought it was very practical and very biblical. I thought, “This is something we ought to share with our listeners;” and we, also, wanted to let our listeners know about the true woman12® event that’s going to be hosted by Revive Our Hearts®, later this year. It’s going to be in September in Indianapolis, and I’m going to be the emcee for that event.
Dennis: I was glad you mentioned that because I think probably there might have been a listener or two wondering, “Why was Bob at the true woman conference?” (Laughter)
Bob: I was there helping out and serving. I also serve on the advisory board for Revive Our Hearts. I’m going to be at true woman12 in Indianapolis, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Mary Kassian, Joni Eareckson Tada, Janet Parshall, and Priscilla Shirer.
If our listeners are interested in more information about the upcoming true woman12 event, they can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ve got a link to the true woman website there. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information about true woman12, which is going to be held in Indianapolis in September.
Dennis: Well, I’m excited to hear Karen Loritts crack open James, Chapter 4, verses 7 through 10. You might want to get your Bible open and a piece of paper to write down five or six imperatives on how to handle fear.
Bob: We’ve already heard, in the first part of this message, Karen address what she called her fear buddies. You called them fear fiends. These are the attributes that kind of come alongside fear—things like discouragement, and unbelief, and fear as a thief and how it robs you of emotional and physical health.
In Part 2 of this message, she addresses what the Scriptures have to say about how we are to respond to fear, when we experience it in our lives.
Karen: [Recorded message] Now, we get to James, Chapter 4. He led me there. God said, “James, Chapter 4, Karen, holds the key. All you have to do is work it.” Let me suggest to you out of those verses—James chapter 4, verses 7-10—six imperatives. I’d like you, if you’re taking notes to mark in your Bible, to mark them—James, Chapter 4, verse seven.
The first imperative—He says, “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.” 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. 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.
Second thing is, “Resist the Devil,” and he will do what, ladies? (“He will flee.) “He will flee!” 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 wear the armor of God and say, “God, I’ll submit to You;” but also, “I’m going to resist the enemy.”
Third thing He says, “Draw near to God.” I knew that! 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 know everything. Resist the devil.” Resist the temptation to have those pity parties all the time—to believe those fear buddies, “That you’re nothing, 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.
A fourth thing He says, “Draw near to God,”—verse eight—“Cleanse your hands and purify your hearts.” Two things about this: Deal with sin—public and it is 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 bitterly I was. 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 down from Pennsylvania 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, “Why my mother didn’t raise me this way? Why am I 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 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 like a week after that letter. 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, “When you cleanse your hands”—in 1 John 1:9—you do two things. You confess it—specifically tell God, “God, I am angry and bitter with my mom at how she raised me.” Then, repentance means I had to turn my back on what I thought was my right to be bitter and walk away from that.
That, ladies, was freedom; 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. It was as though someone had opened a prison door and let me walk out. Cleanse your hands. Do business about your sin, and purify your hearts with an attitude.
Last, but not least, in verse 10, it says, “Humble yourselves.” 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. The month of November is my birthday month. I always go and have all those tests that you need to have. You know?—the OB guy, the GP guy—all these letters and things 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. (Laughter) You know what I mean?—(“Yes!”)—“Time to get that old mammogram!” (Laughter) 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.” Wouldn’t you know it—they couldn’t fit me in for three weeks.
My little fear buddies surrounded me and distorted reality. That first one I talked about was doing a number on me. I was trying to be good. I was trying to be good! I said, “No, I’m not going to fear. It was just a misunderstanding with the mammogram.” I prayed through that.
Then, I went to my GP guy, general practitioner. 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. Now, I’m walking around the mall—I’ve become a mall walker. I thought I had at least ten more years (Laughter) 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! (Laughter) Can I get through this year?” God had my attention. With me—I don’t know about you—with me, 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 got my attention.
Well, just to clear up, the mammogram was fine. I’m still walking the malls—genetics—but God—He brought me through that because my fear was trying to victimize me. I thought that I was just reaching the top of the mountain, and I was almost through—and 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 said, “God, I surrender. I don’t know what to do, but I know that You know. 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’s still there. We’ve still been working on that little fibroid.
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. (Clapping) God is a God that 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—and you just see no hope. Can you believe me that there is hope? If God can save a little, black girl from the streets of Philadelphia, from public housing—a woman, who was involved in ministry, who had an emotional meltdown—and He still loves me—what is it that He can’t do? What is it? (Clapping) 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. God has to talk to the new man in charge. 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 Karen paraphrase. “Three things I want to say to you, Joshua,” Joshua Chapter 1. “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!” I don’t know about you—get your hands up, “God, 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, and with humble hearts, humble ourselves under Your mighty care. Lord, I pray this for my sisters here. Lord, that whatever buffet of stuff that they may have to go through, may they not crumble under the weight of anything but the Word of God.
“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.”
Bob: Well, we’ve been listening to Part 2 of a message by Karen Loritts, presented at the true woman08 conference in Chicago. As I was listening to her, I was thinking, “Is it fair to call fear a sin? Is it sinful to be fearful?”
Dennis: I don’t think it is automatically. I’ve had some interesting theological discussions with friends about this; but I think, like a lot of emotions, it can become sinful if we allow it to control us.
Well, I’ll give you an illustration. Is it wrong to warn your children about being afraid to go in the street? It is self preservation, at that point. I think God gave us fear, like a red light on a dashboard, to tell us, “Something is not right.” We need to address something in our soul, our emotions, and our lives. What I think that red light on the dashboard should do to us is it should do what Karen did. It should take us to the Bible and go, “What is the truth about how I handle these circumstances?”
Bob: So, the flash of emotion that you get that causes you to be fearful about circumstances or events—the question really is, “What are you going to do with that? Are you going to respond in a way that believes God?”
Dennis: That is where you start. “Submit to God.” “Resist the devil”—that means you resist the lies. Then, “You draw near to God”—which means you keep on processing Who He is and the truth of His Word. “You deal with your sin”—at the point where your fear has become worry, and sinful, and controls you. Then, finally, “You humble yourself.” You just get in a right relationship with God.
I’ll tell you Bob, it is so easy to reduce something like this to five points, here in a studio, and be talking to somebody driving down the road, or in their home, or their place of work, or as they jog—but when the rubber meets the road, I’m going to tell you something. I would have to say, “I am susceptible to fear. I have to work at dealing with my worry, dealing with maybe thinking about, ‘The worst is going to happen.’” It has become, for me, a point of belief—of testing my faith with, “Will I believe the truth about Who God is and what He is up to on planet earth?” He does not come to destroy. He came to bring life, and hope, and encouragement for us.
It is interesting. We all walk through these valleys. We all go through them, and we all experience it; but not everybody moves to faith.
Bob: Yes. One of the things I most appreciated about Karen’s message was how transparent she was—but also, how biblical it was—how practical it was. I think that is characteristic of what has been the case at the true woman events that our friends at Revive Our Hearts have hosted. As I’ve mentioned, they’ve got an event happening in Indianapolis this fall. It’s going to be in September.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss is going to be there, Mary Kassian, Joni Eareckson Tada, Priscilla Shirer, and Janet Parshall. I’ll be there emceeing again. Keith and Kristyn Getty are going to be there as well—helping to lead the worship.
If our listeners are interested, they can go to FamilyLifeToday.com. We’ve got a link to the true woman site. You can find out more about the event and how you can get signed up and be with us, in September, for true woman12. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information.
Let me just say this, “While you’re on our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, we have a link there to a video curriculum that FamilyLife has put together called Life Ready Woman® that is hosted by Shaunti Feldhahn.” We’re getting some great feedback from women who have gone through this material.
One of the interesting things about it is a lot of women have used this material with other women in their neighborhood or in their community. Some of these women are not women who are church-going women; and yet, they have found what Shaunti shares in The Life Ready Woman material to be very helpful, very practical. It’s opened up a lot of conversations among these women.
If you go to FamilyLifeToday.com and you click on the link to The Life Ready Woman curriculum, there are some video clips that are available. This is something you may want to do with the women’s ministry at your church or do on your own, in your neighborhood—have women over for a cup of coffee, or on a Saturday morning, or sometime in the evening—to go through these videos together and build some relationships and talk about what it means a woman in the 21st century.
Again, more information is available about The Life Ready Woman material when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click on the “Life Ready Woman” link; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information, 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800- “F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”. Ask about The Life Ready Woman video curriculum when you get in touch with us here at FamilyLife Today.
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We want to invite you to be back with us again tomorrow. Donald Miller is going to join us. He is the author of the book, Blue Like Jazz, which is coming out as a movie this weekend. We’re not going to talk so much about the movie; but we want to talk with Don about what it was like for him as a young man, growing up without a dad in the home—because that marked him in a significant way. We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Hope you can join us.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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