"Tests are not a plot and conspiracy against you.  A test is to determine what you know, to see if you're ready for the next level (ie - a math test).  Don't moan over tests — count them all joy, and pass them!" — Karen Jensen

Get Your Hopes Up!

I’ve met people who, either by their words or their actions, say, “Don’t get your hopes up.”

The logic behind that, I suppose, is that if you don’t get your hopes up, then you won’t be disappointed.

But that is a terrible way to live! It’s so much lower than the life God wants for His children.

Hope can be defined as “to desire with expectation of obtainment” and “to expect with confidence—trust.” That sounds like a better way to live than dialing back your expectations to nothing just to protect yourself.

I think God wants us to lift up our eyes and heart, and then begin to believe the best. I say get your hopes up as high as you can! One thing you can do to keep your hopes up is start using your God-given imagination to embrace all the possibilities He has for you.

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6 Supernatural Benefits You Don't Want to Live Without

You know what? God has given us an amazing, supernatural, empowering, life-altering gift that you don’t want to live another moment without. This powerful gift is a game-changer on every level. What is it, you ask? It’s praying in tongues!

I get so excited when talking about praying in tongues! It changed my life and it can change yours too – for the better. It's why I even have a teaching on the subject! (check it out here).

I want you to know about this wonderful gift of power from God and get excited about it! You do not want to go another day without these supernatural benefits. Here are 6 ways that praying in tongues can benefit you:

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One Thing Nobody Likes but Everybody Needs

I’ve met a lot of people whose lives aren’t going in the direction they want, but they don’t know why.

As I talk with them, they’ll tell me about someone who tried to help them — but they didn’t listen. They seem surprised by how their life is going. Yet it’s obvious that God sent people along the way to give them a clue.  

So what’s the deal? Well, I think it’s happened to all of us. We are trying to hear from God, make right decisions and live a life of purpose, then we run head on into the one thing that nobody likes but everybody needs. 

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I Was Angry and Embarrassed

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in junior high, playing in the band, and on this day, we were in our first period class, practicing. Suddenly my band teacher stopped the whole band to tell me I was playing a certain passage wrong.

Immediately I jumped to my own defense and made a bunch of excuses. He listened for about 5 seconds, then looked down over the tops of his glasses with a frown and said, “Do you want to learn to do it right, or do you want to make excuses? Listen to me!”

You can imagine how angry and embarrassed that made me feel. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me! I felt the eyes of all my friends and fellow band members boring a hole into my back. It was horrible and humiliating.

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4 Things Every Parent of a Teenager Needs to Know

Let’s face it -- teenagers are basically hard-wired to butt heads with their parents. If that’s happening at your house, here’s the good news: you’re normal.

Your teenager is going through a million changes in their body, their mind, and their surroundings. Meanwhile, they’re trying to fire you as a parent, then rehire you later…as a consultant.

But hey, if they weren’t growing and changing, something would be wrong. Is it possible to celebrate their changes and progress, enjoy the process, and emerge from the teenage years with our sanity intact and our kids headed for their divine destiny? I think it is.  

Here are four important things you need to know:

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The WRONG WAY to Ask Someone for Advice

Hopefully you’ve been reading my last couple of blogs about getting godly advice when you need it. If you haven’t, you can catch up here: Do's and Don'ts for Giving Someone Advice, Who Should You Get Advice From? and What I Learned from a Razor Blade. Getting good advice is important, but we don’t just ask anyone.

Once you know who to ask, then it’s important to know how to ask. It turns out that when you’re asking someone for advice, there’s a right way, and a wrong way. Ask me how I know. I’ve done it the wrong way!

Don’t Do What I Did

After my first husband died and I took over pastoring alone at our church in Boise, Idaho, God provided me with a wonderful pastor-mentor and his wife. They were dear friends. They had been pastors for a number of years, and they helped me through the process of pastoring alone. They helped my staff and me in more ways than I can tell you. What a blessing they were! Anytime I needed pastoral advice they were on hand to help.

But one time I went to that pastor and said, “God told me to do such-and-such, so I’m going to do it.” I can’t even remember now what it was. At the time he just nodded and said, “OK.”

But when I did it, it turned out badly. Later when I was telling him about it, he said, “Yeah, I figured that would happen.” Sort of miffed, I asked him, “Why in the world didn’t you tell me that beforehand! Why did you just let me go ahead and do it?”

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Do's and Don'ts for Giving Someone Advice

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people ask me for advice. As a result, I’ve learned some things, and I want to pass them along. If someone sees you as their mentor, friend, or spiritual overseer and comes to you asking for your advice, there are some important things you should know.

1. DO realize your influence. Just by asking for your advice, chances are pretty good that this person looks up to you and reveres you. You probably have a great deal of influence with them, so treat it respectfully. Realize they might be ready to act upon any advice you give them, so don’t take that lightly and just blurt out something without seriously considering your answer first. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines advice as “an opinion or suggestion about what someone should do.” Emphasis on opinion. A person comes to you because of your experience, wisdom, or relationship with them—and hopefully because they know you care about them.

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Who Should You Get Advice From?

What I’m about to say may or may not come as a revelation to you: you don’t know everything. But thankfully, there are people around you who have been through some things and might have some wisdom that will be helpful to you.

The Bible says we should seek some of these people out when we’re making plans and decisions, and get their advice, or their “counsel.” Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established.”

Several brains are simply better than one. We need one another. Of course, when someone gives you advice you should weigh it, ultimately relying on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you. But none of us ever were meant to live the Christian life alone. There are times when we need to seek advice and, as the Bible says, imitate others as they imitate Christ (see 1 Cor. 11:1).

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Be Brave - Launch Out!

Sometimes it’s scary to start out on a new adventure. Sometimes we want God (or someone else) to do all the work – we don’t want to take the first step(s), because we might do it wrong.

But as the old saying goes, you can’t steer a parked car. It’s much easier for God to steer us in His plan for our life when we’re moving in a direction. I envision it like this: when you’re moving in a certain direction in the natural then God can come along and add His super to it. Then you have the supernatural!

Catch the Wind

The trouble is, you can’t get anywhere if you don’t start. A ship at anchor never catches the wind. Only the ships that launch out will catch the wind and actually make the trip to end up where they’re supposed to be. The ship that stays anchored in the harbor never gets anywhere.

Your part and mine is to take a step. Launch out. Then check with the Holy Spirit to see if you are going the right direction. If you stay in one place—if you keep your anchor down—you may never take any steps of faith and never end up at your divine destination.

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What I Learned From a Razor Blade – A Story About Taking Good Advice

Here’s what I’ve noticed – sometimes we humans can be pretty stupid. (Just keep smiling, no one will know it’s you). Sometimes we ask people for advice, but if we don’t like their advice, we don’t take it. Have you ever done that? I have! And it didn’t turn out very well.

We Can Do This the Easy Way, or the Hard Way

There’s just something about us humans—sometimes we have to try things for ourselves and learn our life lessons the hard way, don’t we?

When we were young and someone said, “Whatever you do, don’t touch that hot stove,” what did we do? Nine times out of ten we just had to touch it, didn’t we? And when we did, we found out they were right—it was hot and it burned us! But we had to find out the hard way.

I remember one time when I was just a little tyke, maybe five or six years old, I learned a lesson the hard way.

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Got Peace?

In a world that is full of trouble and turmoil, it’s so great to have peace! Now, you might be saying today, “Karen, I wish I had peace! I’m not at all peaceful.”

But here’s the deal – in the spirit realm, you have it. It already belongs to you. Because no matter what’s happening in your life right now, you’re seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:21).

That means you’re in the position of power. You’re a victory going somewhere to happen. Jesus is still firmly on the throne, and you are firmly seated there with Him in heavenly places.

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Don't Get Mad, Just Get Even!

I know, you’re thinking, “What in the world? That’s a really carnal statement, Karen!” Ha, you’re exactly right. But we’ve all heard it (and maybe even said it) haven’t we. It’s a really socially accepted thought: when someone does you wrong, get back at them. Yep, revenge is a very popular notion.

Of course we Christians know that phrase isn’t in the Bible, don’t we. So what do we do when someone treats us badly? Do we just roll over and let it happen? Do we “turn the other cheek”? Because we know that’s in the Bible -- ugh!   

Let’s face it, the real question is – what does God want us to do?

I’ve found that what my flesh wants to do and what God wants me to do are often quite different. But I’ve also found that if I do things God’s way, the whole situation can turn out supernaturally good!

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3 Strategies When Troubles Pile On

Have you ever had a bunch of hard stuff happen at all once?  I have! There have been times in my life when everything seemed wrong and nothing seemed right.

One minister I know calls it “the stacking theory.”  The devil loves to pile on the trouble, and he does it to wear us down. He wants us to throw up our hands and cry, “I can’t take it anymore!” He does it to make us feel sorry for ourselves – to steal the Word from our heart (Mark 4:14), or to strangle it with the cares of this world (v. 19). Remember: the devil can’t defeat you. So instead he pressures you so you’ll throw down the Word and quit.

But take heart – the devil is a liar and you’re more than a conqueror! (Romans 8:37). Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  Don’t get weary! Don’t quit! It’s just as easy for God to give you the victory when a lot of things are wrong, as when there is one or two.

Here are 3 things I do when troubles seem to be stacking on top of each other:

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3 Keys to Encourage Singles

Ever since I got remarried a bit ago, I’ve had lots of single people tell me that our story encouraged them, and helped them keep believing.

So I want to talk about that. If you’re single and you want to be married, here are three keys:

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