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Karl Clauson: When Self-Help Isn’t Enough

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
September 16, 2022 12:00 am

Karl Clauson: When Self-Help Isn’t Enough

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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September 16, 2022 12:00 am

Stuck in bad habits? Given up on battles? Think some behavior can't be changed? Author Karl Clauson offers power when self-help can't cut it.

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Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

Oftentimes, we go to the Bible or go to prayer to prove that we love God, but He's trying to talk to us, praying God's way, reading the Bible.

God's way is keying the mic, reading something out of Galatians 2. I've been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me in the life I now live in the flesh.

I live by faith in the Son of God. Whoo! Man, that's power. And then you unkey the mic and you go, God, talk to me. And He goes, that's you.

That's you. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So one of the hardest things in the Christian life, I think, is getting stuck. I think we all get stuck at times.

We get stuck. It's like where, you know, you start out well and you think when you start out, this is never going to slow down. I'm going to be running after Jesus as hard as I am right now my whole life. And I tell you what, I honestly don't know a lot of Christians that have been followers of Christ 20, 30, 40 years who are running hard. On fire for Jesus.

In that decade of their life. It's like you get tired, you get stuck, you start doubting. I don't know what it is, but you need to get out of that rut.

And so we're going to help you get out of that rut today. We've got Carl Clausen in the house, in the studio. He's our radio host up in Chicago. This is what he does.

He sits behind a mic and talks. But Carl, you are a friend of Family Life. You were formerly a Family Life Weekend Remembers speaker, you and Joanne. But anyway, glad to have you here. It's a joy to be with you guys. It really is. I see you guys as fellow freedom fighters. I really, I really believe that.

It means that there's a freedom that we have in Christ that has been far too elusive for too long for the average person in the Western church. And it's all due to, and I mean this, it's self-help. I live to close the gap between where we are today, the battles that seem unwinnable, those hurts, those hang ups, those habits, that junk. It's that 10% that sits in the shadows, and we hope it can kind of stay over there, or we minimize it, and I just hope it goes away. We can't seem to outrun it.

It always runs stride for stride with us. But man, I live to see people close the gap between where they are today and the promises of God, because sometime that gap, it's often far too large. Well if I think anybody can help us get unstuck, I'm not kidding.

You're one of the first names that would come to my mind. You wrote a book really about that called The Seven Resolutions Where Self-Help Ends and God's Power Begins. We've already talked about a couple of these resolutions, although we started with JoinGod. We didn't talk about number two, and I'm guessing these are in order? Yeah, there's some order to them.

I mean, JoinGod has to be at the front end of this thing. Let me give you a metaphor from Alaska here. Let me take you back there. I was born in Homer, Alaska, a little two-bed hospital, raised in Alaska.

My dad went there. He went to Alaska before it was a state to be a temp maker, to teach school, be a principal, and share the gospel. He was the real deal.

He was a freedom fighter, and he is to this day at 94 years of age. But I've got to tell you, man, it is imperative that we stop the madness of trying to live the Christian life on our own. Galatians 1-3 was written for me. Paul penned it, and it could have said, Oh, foolish Carl, who has bewitched you? He said, Galatians, that that you began in the Spirit, why are you working out in the flesh?

And the whole goal of Paul was to try to get the Galatian church back to living in utter dependence, joining God, not doing work for God. So my Alaska story that makes this just come home for me. In Alaska, I fished eight seasons commercially. We caught the wily red salmon. Is there anything you haven't done?

I've done a few things. As I said in the earlier episode, you're a commercial fisherman. I started commercial fishing when I was 19 years old, and I did eight seasons of it. And it was amazing, mainly because the harder you work, the more you made. When I was 19 years old, I had 24 hours when I made 5600 bucks.

Now that's not bad pay. And it was a boom or bust kind of industry. But man, we were always on the razor's edge of swamping the boat. He put 20-30,000 pounds of fish on a 32-foot gillnetter out in the open ocean.

He got some challenges. One day we had a boatload of fish, and our captain was looking for the ship that we were going to deliver it to. And he got on the VHF radio, which stands for Very High Frequency.

And he got on the radio, and he's radioing for the ship. But we couldn't see it. And our Loran Sea, which was the navigation tool that we had back then, we could not spot that ship. The fog was thick, but the waves were high.

It was one of these weird mixes. And we're like, oh man, the keel. We're going across the sandbar. Boom. We hit the sandbar.

Boom. We're like, we got to get off of this thing. So my captain, Marvin, he radioed the ship. He says, hey, this is the G&M. We need some help here.

Where are you guys located? We got offload. And then he let loose of the mic. We'd get the instructions from the ship. We'd move a little further. He'd key the mic. Hey, here's where we are right now. Where do we go from here? Boom.

Let loose of the mic. When I say join God, let's just take prayer. No, let's throw in Bible reading.

You can throw in fasting too. High road Christianity, right? Oftentimes, we go to the Bible or go to prayer to prove that we love God.

But he's trying to talk to us. Praying God's way, reading the Bible God's way is keying the mic, reading something out of Galatians 2. I've been crucified with Christ. It's no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me in the life and I live in the flesh.

I live by faith in the Son of God. Whoo, man, that's power. And then you unkey the mic and you go, God, talk to me. And he goes, that's you. And so you're praying and you're talking to God. Joining God is unkeying the mic and going, where am I?

And listening. That's the beauty of God's power. I got chills right now.

I'm fired up about it. But Carl, what about the person that says, I asked God, I want to hear him. I hear nothing. Really good question. Sometimes I'm just going to go from my pastoral experience. Sometimes it's an underexposure to the word of God.

Sometimes people do not have enough truth that they're armed up with. I'd say, get in your prayer closet and pray, but pray with a Bible open. I do this all the time. I find now that as I'm reading the Bible, I have prayer content constantly and it's awesome. I used to digest it to preach it. Now I digest it to live it and to talk with my God. So yeah, joining God. Resolution number one, we got to do that.

And the reason is all seven of these resolutions are designed to fix broken systems in our life. Jeremiah 2, we find these words. Oh, Israel, you've done two sins, man. You've forsaken God, me, the God, the God of living water, man, meaning spring runoff just pouring down and you've carved out cisterns that can't hold water.

Big old dug out of the rocks cisterns. We have life systems in the Western church that can't hold water. And my goal is starting with join God and then think truth and kill sin and choose friends and take risk and focus effort and redeem time. All of those are systems that have been co-opted by a Western mindset that need be reclaimed by God's power. And when we agree with God, unbelievable stuff can happen.

Let's hit number three. Let's kill sin. Yeah, it's a big one.

So we do have sin kind of sitting around in our life at times. We all do. We all do. Yeah, we all do. I was preaching at this church called Mariners in Southern Cal.

It's about 30 minutes before the message. And I said, can someone get me a hurdle, like fast? Somebody did. They went down to a high school. A hurdle that you jump over and track. Yeah, I used to be a hurdler. She was a big time hurdler. I was too. You were a hurdler, sister? Yes, yes.

She's a bug guy at conference. I was 110 lows. Were you really? Yeah, I was 110 lows. You were a hurdler. Way to go. And I knew you were not only saved but sanctified, sister. I didn't fish though or do the Iditarod.

You can still go to Alaska. So I had a hurdle brought. And, you know, I put that hurdle in front of me. And I said, you know, sometimes we're faced with things in our life that we need to deal with. And we try to run around that thing. We get out of the lane, we try to run around it.

And then we try to outrun it. But I said, God in His goodness puts that hurdle right back up there in front of us again. In His goodness. In His goodness.

Oh no, no. This is the good grace of God. God doesn't remind us of our sin to punish us. Every commandment of God is inextricably linked to greater reward. Every one.

God never tells us to do something that it isn't good for us to do. Period. Full stop. So sin is that. We got it out here and it's running stride for stride for us. We can't outrun the stupid stuff. And maybe we've got systems or an addiction or something. And a lot of times we think, whoa, yeah, boy, those guys that do drugs and alcohol like poor Carl, he was on cocaine and crown royal.

No, no, no, no, no. Don't diminish it that way. This is one of the reasons I love recovery ministry, but I don't like recovery ministry because recovery ministry in churches can give a false stigma and it creates an us and them mentality. Last I looked in the Word of God and being a pastor, we're all in recovery. Who isn't in recovery here?

Who in the world is not in recovery? And I'm talking about, you know, gossiping. I'm talking about fudging the truth. I'm talking about tax forms filled out that you know good and well aren't truthful. I'm talking about the secret sins, how you don't eat out of the refrigerator.

The refrigerator's eating you up and every other thing under the sun. So that sin sits over there. And so the agreement with God and the resolution to kill sin is a powerful one.

I see three constant reoccurring themes of how to deal with sin. And this is rarely done, but I want to make you a promise. You're listening right now. I want to make you a promise.

You do these and you're going to start breaking chains and running free like you never have in the past. One, expose it. You got to bring it into the light. You got to bring it into the light.

Not only before God, you got to bring someone else around you, someone trusted. Don't put this in front of a fool, but bring it before someone that you can trust. Bring it in light and go, here it is. Don't minimize it. Don't explain it away. Just say, here it is. That's number one.

Number two, this is radical. Jesus said, if your eye caused you to sin, what do you say guys? Gouge it out.

Gouge it out. I'm like, let's not make a movie out of this parable. And if your arm caused you to sin, cut it off. What's Jesus saying? He's saying, take extreme measures to kill what's killing you.

So is there effort in this growing process? Yeah, but you're efforting in God's power, not in your own strength. So expose it, attack it.

And I mean attack it. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to sin. And Paul writes about putting sin to death by the power of the Holy Spirit. It's replete. It's everywhere in scripture.

As I was studying, I'm like, wow, this is everywhere. And this is done simply. I help guys right now. And I do this myself. My phone turns into a dumb phone at 8 p.m. every night.

And my wife and my son have my screen code. Why do I do that? Because I'm weak and I can't handle it. Yeah.

Yeah, that's it. But in my weakness, he is strong. And I'm called to do something radical.

Now, I've helped other men who struggle with porn, take smartphones and turn them into dumb phones. And it's a powerful thing, guys. You have to take extreme measures to kill what's killing you and efforting in grace. And the way to do that is bring it out of the open and then get honest with God. But then you go to the book of Galatians. There is one verse that is at first blush, you look at it and you listen to Paul writing this and you're like, this can't be this simple. But it is. He says, But I say, walk by the Spirit, that's Holy Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

What? You will not. You will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

So if you want to kill sin, it's not a matter of going out saying, and here's what we sometimes say, I'm going to do it this time. I'm going to get victory of it. I'm going to suck it.

That's self-help. You aren't going to do dip diddly. Nothing. You aren't going to do it. Jesus can.

And the power of the Holy Spirit. So you bring it into the light. You attack it. You take extreme measures. I had a friend of mine who said, I just kept eating junk, man. And I said, well, what'd you do? He says, you know, I was, I was listening to what you were talking about, about taking extreme measures. So I decided, forget this. I'm not putting anything in my house for a season that isn't healthy to eat. I'm not going to keep these stupid things that are killing me and hurt my physical body.

I'm not even going to have them in close proximity to me. And he said, I am getting victory. I'm taking extreme measures to kill with killing me. My bride knows of a woman who went to a group and said, ladies, I got to be honest with you. Shopping is eating my lunch. It's hurting my marriage.

I've talked to women. They're saying Amazon is killing me because it can be there the next day. Yeah. And it's comfort. Yeah.

Comfort carbs. Right. So she said, first shot was, I need to be honest with you about this.

Second shot was, I need to be really honest with you. I'm going to show you my bank statements here. I want to show you that there's no way I'm doing an end around here to go get some needs met. Now you might say that's radical. It is. But the radical reward of getting victory over those things that have been killing you, ooh, it's freedom. Katie, bar the door. That's freedom.

Let me ask you this before you get the third one. Often when I was pastoring, a man would come up to me and expose some sin to me as, I don't even know the guy. I mean, he knows me cause I'm his, but I don't know him. And so he's almost a stranger. He'll tell me his porn struggle or whatever it is.

And here's what I noticed. He thinks I'm done. I told Dave and then he goes right back. And I always said, you can't tell me, you got to tell somebody that knows you. Somebody's going to walk with you.

I'm not going to walk with you unless you're my friend. So it's gotta be right. It's gotta be somebody that you're in doing life with, somebody you can trust with this information and somebody that'll walk beside you. Yeah. And that's how this is super important.

I'm so glad you mentioned this. It can't be the group of guys that you meet with every week and you commiserate over how you fell in a ditch again last week. You got to have a man or two that has been there, done that and they've gotten victory and they're not perfect, but they're willing to hold you to it. They're willing to talk with you honestly about it. And then they're willing to strategize with you. How are we going to put the machete to this thing? How are we going to gouge this out? Yeah, so many men's groups and I can't talk for women's groups, but I know they're just that Carl.

They come in every week and say, I blew it again. Yeah. Yeah, dude.

Me too. Okay. Let's, let's try harder. Yeah.

Let's try harder. They're not killing sin. It's the derailed disciples club, man.

I mean, it's just, it's just getting together and commiserating over how they blew it last week. Now you tell your wife. Yes. So you tell your spouse. Sure.

Yeah, absolutely. You're never going to kill that sin if you don't expose it. You guys, even having that conversation with your spouse, both husband and wife, what is your area of sin that you're just struggling with and you feel like you just keep falling back into it? I don't think we have those conversations all the time and yet it builds this oneness, this, this beauty. I mean, you might get mad at each other. It's scary. It's scary.

We don't have to say more than that. It's scary, but it's, it's necessary. I mean, Jesus said, I think it's John three, we love our sin and therefore we keep it in the dark.

It's scary to bring it into the light. We're afraid of the light and yet that's where sin gets killed. You don't get killed in the dark. The dark wins.

The light kills sin. Talk to the guy or maybe even the wife who's saying, my husband doesn't even have a friend. He has nobody to talk to. And the guy would say, yeah, I really don't and I don't need a friend. Well, the latter is a straight up lie.

The former happens all the time. I will say this, men, you got to take a risk here. You got to take a risk. You've got to walk to the front of the church and ask a pastor and you got to tell them, look, I know you can't be my friend and tell him that please, because he can't.

I mean, there's, he's got a dozen friends and that's what he can handle because Jesus put the limits on it himself. And then you say, can you point me somewhere? I need help. I think most guys that are dishing up the word will help you.

Yeah, I think so. But you've got to take a risk. You've got to find that person and you've got to get honest. So you expose it, you attack it, but overwhelming it. Here's the key about being filled up with the Holy Spirit.

This is your third one. Yes. Overwhelming. And this is almost what will keep you now from it. There's a certain amount of protection in this and I really mean this. Paul said, I'm going to say it again, but I say, walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Come on. What kind of a promise is that? You think he's going to say sometimes, right?

Sometimes you won't, but he's saying you will not. And I got to take him at his word. So what's this look like? We're listening to David Ann Wilson with Carl Clausen on Family Life Today. We'll hear more in just a minute. But first, we wanted you to hear a special message from Carl himself about Weekend to Remember. Hey, Carl Clausen here and I want to lay down a challenge and it's a good one for you.

A lot of us think of different things we're investing in in this world. The Weekend to Remember, whoa, don't turn away. I know you've heard it a bunch, but you want to see something rock your world. You want to take hold of God's power. You want to get challenged in a way and get hope in a way like you haven't lately. Weekend to Remember, it'll do something to fire those boilers of love in your marriage that maybe has been gone for a long time. I'm telling you, it'll put fuel in your soul and you will find your marriage radically transformed. I want to encourage you to check it out right now. This is a vital time.

It's like half off on this thing right now. So check it out. Family Life Weekend to Remember, there's got to be one near you and even if it's a bit of a drive, it's worth it. Take the trip. He's right. It's totally worth it.

Register now for your Weekend to Remember and get 50% off at All right, now back to David Ann with Carl Clausen and what walking by the Spirit looks like in a Christian's life. Is it just having a daily quiet time? I think there needs to be enough space in our life, not just once. I love quiet times, but they're often a misnomer.

I'm about all the time. Quiet times are good. They fuel you up with some good word. They get some good time with prayer.

But that should be the launching pad into an ongoing conversation with God. The first time I ever realized that the Holy Spirit actually wanted to really lead me into all truth and that when Jesus said, It's to your advantage that I go, to your advantage that I go so that the Holy Spirit will come, I was sitting in an office. I was working for Robert Lewis in Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock. And I was just reading something by Francois Fenlon. And I thought, Oh my goodness, the Holy Spirit is here.

You're here and you're working. And I walked into my meeting with another pastor named Bill. And as I sat down, the Holy Spirit was prompting me through the Word of God, how to talk, how to act, how to talk about tough stuff. The Holy Spirit was working in me. We need to be so careful here because some people, maybe you're listening right now and you've not heard much about the Holy Spirit. I want to apologize on behalf of most Bible-believing preachers out there because we've minimized it. And I think part of that is that there have been guys with kind of cheap suits, middle of the night preachers that have been exploiting the Holy Spirit. But don't let that steal away the reality that the Holy Spirit is at work and the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. So I look at my life like, let's just imagine a 55-gallon drum. There's a manhood illustration.

That's an oil drum. And you take a lid off that thing and let's say you've got one day you can pour in whatever you want, flesh or spirit. The more mindful we are throughout the day, Holy Spirit fill me up.

I'm sitting here right now, living this right now. As I'm sitting here, the Holy Spirit is guiding me. And as we're guided along by the Holy Spirit, the more we're filled up with the Holy Spirit, last time I looked, you won't have room for a gallon of flesh.

And that's what Paul's saying. Be filled up with the Holy Spirit. I think listeners hear that and there's this yearning like, I do want that.

I want that. And Carl, as you sit there and say, I'm doing it right now, that feels very elusive in some ways to people. So explain, how do we walk day by day, minute by minute in the power of the Holy Spirit? Well, this is art, not science.

This is like music, not mechanics. Dave plays a mean guitar and it's fun to watch him kind of pick around and even here before we went on air and he's picking around on this thing, walking with God is picking around on this thing. And it's allowing the Lord to make music in your heart with the word of God.

Now this is what I'd say. It is almost impossible to be led by the Spirit without the word of God in your heart. Why do I know that to be true? Because Jesus said the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to guide us into all truth. Well, He can't guide us into truth if we don't know anything. So knowing the truth is going to set us free.

And the way the Holy Spirit works with me is that the Holy Spirit reminds me of things. I'm sitting here going, okay, that's a great story about Alaska and the Iditarod and this, but the Holy Spirit will prompt me. Let's not get self-aggrandizing in this, Carl. Let's keep this story just as it was. It's good enough. And we're going to keep plowing here. And Carl, you might be coming up empty for words here right now, but that's okay.

I'm going to reload you. That's what's happened in this interview so far. Now that might sound crazy, but it's really what the saints of old did. I got my great-great-grandfather's Bible given to me here about two months ago. My cousin, who is not a follower of Jesus yet, always say yet about people that aren't following Jesus, by the way.

I'm going to throw that in for free. But he said, you're going to want this more than me. And I opened it up and I could not believe my eyes. Guys, it's dated in the back, barely faintly read it, penciled in, my great-great-grandfather immigrated from Sweden to Chicago. He was sitting, listening to D.L. Moody, get this, April 8th, 1886.

It's within a decade. And he says, listening to D.L. Moody preach on the power of the Holy Spirit in Chicago.

This is before audio recordings. And then I go to the book of Acts and my great-great-granddad has every Holy Spirit reference underlined. Guys, the church didn't happen without the Holy Spirit. And now we're trying to become knowledge brokers today. And all I'm saying is, good, learn the Word, but make certain the Holy Spirit's interpreting this thing into your everyday life.

Yeah. And I tell you what, hearing you say that fires me up, because I think it's the mindset of the current community of God, the church, is not overwhelm it. It's mediocrity.

It's like, oh, I'll just up and down. Every day will be a struggle. And I'm saying we live perfect. We still sin. We're always going to sin. But to have a mindset that says, no, the power of the Holy Spirit means I live a different life. My life will not look like my unbelieving neighbor. If it does, something's wrong here because I have literally the resurrection power of God living within me. So there should be a sense that there is an overwhelming of sin in my life. Again, I'm not saying we don't sin.

We will sin, but man, I'm going to live in a day. It should be the opposite. It should be my neighbor comes over and says, dude, I'm watching your life. What do you got? You got something that I've never seen. And it isn't like we're perfect. It's like, no, I can tell you what I got. It ain't me. It's Jesus and you can have him too. That's the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit, right?

Yes. C. S. Lewis said, if you consider the unblushing promises of God's word, it would appear that we've not shot too high. That's a little Carl modification of that quote, but we've settled for too little. Those are his words. He says we fooled around with drink and sex and other ambitions when this huge, vast goodness of God lay before us. I want to be careful here because the minute we say, yeah, we're going to sin, that becomes sometimes now the catchall or permission for guys to live with shadow sins and gals to live with shadow sins.

So I want to say yes, but don't settle for too little. If you consider the unblushing promises of God, look at him. I know words like success and prosperity have been co-opted by crazies.

I get that. But you look at Joshua 1, Joshua's promise, success and prosperity. Yes, we've redivined it into a Bentley or whatever your car would be, but that's minuscule compared to what God wants to do. If you look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, whoa, self-control and love and joy and peace and patience. My goodness, C.F.

Lewis was right. And we need to go back and reclaim what God wants for us. I'd say until your life is taking hold of the promises of God, stop settling for too little. Will you sin?

Yes, but that's an asterisk. And I'm not talking about some holiness movement where it's sinless perfection, but there's a big gap between where most of us are living and the promises of God. And I'm just begging you, close that gap in the power of God. You've been listening to David Ann Wilson with Carl Clausen on Family Life Today. His book is called The Seven Resolutions, where self-help ends and God's power begins. You can get a copy at or by giving us a call at 800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. A weekend to remember that we were talking about earlier, there's one happening in Tampa, Florida. We'd love it if you join us in praying for all the couples who will be attending there. Now stay tuned next week as the Wilsons are joined with Michael and Melissa Krueger to talk about the importance of praying for your spouse. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry, helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 21:34:03 / 2023-01-12 21:46:48 / 13

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