Why We Should Run from Popular Thinking

 

I recently submitted a softer version of this piece for publication in a local newspaper. I like to get readers thinking about their lives. This one is about that very thing: thinking.

knowledge, thoughts, journey, truthPopular thinking is defined as thoughts and/or beliefs regarded by the general population to be true and acceptable. Popular thinking is the lazy way to carry an opinion, but it gets worse. When we submit ourselves to an ideology, to a belief, to a culturally accepted standard, we are spiritually submitting ourselves, almost like we’re bowing down to it. We will become like what we bow down to – in thought, words, and behavior.

Things in your life are either expanding or shrinking depending on the focus you give them. Genuine growth, creativity, and achievement depend on new ideas, but what happens when we can’t escape the “good enough” ideas or won’t let go of the old ones? What happens when we believe we can’t change our lives or make them better? We grow stagnant, traditional, and while withering, we live our lives as a mere shell of the person God created us to be. The traditions of people can be very things – unless they are contrary to what God wants.

Personal growth is not automatic, but must be pursued. The way we think and believe will determine the outcome of our lives. Where is a reliance on popular thinking or tradition holding you back from what God wants for you?

Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.” John Maxwell says, “If you value popularity over good thinking, then you will severely limit your potential.” In speaking to an audience recently, I talked about the power of one’s potential to achieve more, exceedingly more than most of thoughts, popular thinkingus can imagine. Those of us, who pursue growth, end up pursuing broader, deeper thinking.

Whether you are part of a business, church, or family, traditional thinking can lock up your potential and cause problems that may go unidentified. It’s only when we stop and do the work of thinking do we solve problems with new creativity. When we do the work of personal spiritual growth, we learn to solve problems with the help of the Holy Spirit, not “What is everyone else doing?” or “What have we always done?”

Paul wrote his letter to the Romans encouraging them to not take on the thinking of the world, but to be transformed by having their minds renewed by the truth (Romans 12:2). When he said “Do not be conformed to the world” the original Greek word is schematizo from which we get our English word schematic, meaning design or blueprint. The root word actually means to twist together. If we are not supposed to model our lives after the blueprint of popular thinking (which models us after the image of society), then that requires we engage in better thinking that leads to greater discernment. Without strong discernment or astuteness, our thoughts and lives can get so twisted up with what is not true that we begin to believe it. Someone said, “A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good, just because it’s accepted by the majority.”

mind set thinking thoughts resultsToday our world is plagued with many rumors, contrary beliefs, and mixed philosophies. Do you find yourself wondering what is true? So do I. We need to pursue personal growth, deepen our relationship with God, and ask Him for greater wisdom and discernment. In Ephesians 4:23-25, Paul is exhorting us to untangle ourselves from what corrupts our lives and be renewed in the spirit of our minds; to push aside the false and speak only what we know to be true. This comes from growth! If there’s no renewing of our minds in Biblical truth, then we grab whatever is believed in our culture and it becomes ours. The same old thinking always brings the same old results.

Popular thinking sometimes means not thinking at all, and at best only brings average results. Our thoughts have the power to create what we experience, and whatever we focus on grows larger. If you’re tired of your own “stinkin thinkin” holding you back, here are some steps to consider:

  1. Stop and think before you follow popular thinking
  2. Include strong believers (who know how to hear God’s Spirit) who are innovative thinkers in your circle
  3. Continually question your own thinking; what worked yesterday might not be best for today – Does what I believe line up with God’s truth?
  4. There may be something new to discover so ask questions and seek options
  5. Even if uncomfortable, make decisions based on what is right according to the Word of God rather than on what is commonly accepted

Author, Mark Twain is noted for saying, “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” God designed our minds with the ability to be renewed which means we can change the way we think. If you want to change your life, you must change the way you think!

Be more than a follower; become a strong leader who exercises good thinking, births innovative solutions, and shares new ideas. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Know your values and let them be your guide. Remember, everything begins as a thought and our thoughts determine our destiny. It takes nothing to join the crowd, so before you follow popular or traditional thinking, think!

For help or suggestions, send me an email! I’d love to hear about your thinking!

Loads of grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window where possibility and creativity are in the air!

Robin L. Lewis is a certified life coach, speaker, and writer who challenges others to grow and achieve. For more information, email Robin at robinlewiswords@gmail.com and get free updates at www.sozolifeleaders.com/blog.

2016-08-20 19.26.36Where I do some of my best thinking! Fishing and beach combing with my husband, Jeff.

 

 

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A Thirsty Land, A Thirsty Soul

strength to the weak

My desk by the window with coffee in hand is the first place I land after waking, stretching, and thanking.  The mist hangs low and veils the pines across the road after last night’s hard rain.  Two of the three horses in the pasture are visible, and I imagine are enjoying the dew-heavy grass.  Our land has been thirsty.  These rain drops that fell will soak into soil and bring shriveled corn into fullness again, encouraging the shriveled hearts of farmers as well.

We, too, can become thirsty in soul.  Made to need the One who made us, without receiving from Him, we become dry and the living out of our lives can become shriveled like the corn in nearby fields, not producing much.  A thirsty soul is a good thing to have as it draws us to God.  We learn not to fill ourselves with other things as they don’t long satisfy and we find ourselves needing more of a temporary solution.  Jesus said to the woman at the well, if you knew who was speaking to you, you would want what I can give.

“Everyone who drinks this  well water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”  ~John 4, The Message Bible

In the Saturday stillness, remember to get all you need for refreshment that satisfies and brings peace and new life within.  It will feel good to your soul and you are worth it.

Grace & peace,

Robin

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, August 2016

From the desk by the window on a day of rest. May you get filled up and may your rest be sweet!

 

When Faith Is Under Pressure {Stay the Course, Trust the Process}

book, journal, computerIt’s not one of  my favorite scriptures. In chapter 1, James is writing to Christians who are being persecuted and telling them how to think and live in order to win. He tells them to see difficulties as a gift.  Did you know that when we come into relationship with Christ it places a target on us? Yes, we are “saved” by believing, but then we have the same enemy that Christ had who wants to “steal, kill, and destroy” everything good the Father has planned for us. While Jesus defeated death and hell, we still have conflict over our lives today until He returns.

In His Name we pray, stand, speak, and live by His Authority that He won by His finished work on the cross. Through the trials we face in life we are changed, strengthened, and grown in maturity in our faith and love. The word Christian means anointed one. Yeah, that’s you if you believe in Him. Don’t feel anointed? Well, sometimes I don’t either. Sometimes it feels like my faith is under attack and the external and internal pressures of life are great. What then? Here’s that verse:

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-3 MSG)

Tests and challenges are a gift? Yes. And not only are they a gift, we have a choice as to whether we receive the gift or not. We can stay the course or leave it prematurely. Many people leave their church as soon as their feelings get hurt. Some quit a job when they feel it’s too hard or they weren’t invited to the office party. There are others who agree with an abusive person to avoid conflict, allowing their lives to be controlled. And most of us struggle with even the basics of letting God lead us through life’s choices and decisions. We need to learn to stay the course!

While growth is not easy and sometimes quite painful, we need it! Without that personal growth, we flounder where we are and end up a complaining, weeping, mess of a person in bondage to the very things from which Christ came to set us free! So how do we choose to grow? How do we find the gift in the trouble? We stick with God!

God will make a wayStart making a daily choice to become determined in your faith that no matter what comes, no matter how difficult the circumstance, you are going to stay the course and trust the process for the Lord is going to use it for your good. There’s a gift inside every problem. There’s an opportunity for more faith in every difficulty. Growth and maturity are woven into every moment of your life and is yours for the taking…IF you stay the course and trust the process of who you are as God’s dearly loved son or daughter.

Stop accepting what is unacceptable to Him. You are here for a reason – to know His love, yes, but for more. So when the pressure comes, when conflicts arise, when your heart is troubled, take it all to God. He has a way for you through the difficulty and promises to lead you through the fiery trial you are facing. Call someone to pray with you.

Suffering brings God’s presence near in a way nothing else can. – Timothy Keller

Learn to follow Him in the small things and then you’ll be able to follow Him through the big things that want to shatter your world. Build relationship with Him now in order to remain close in trust when things go dark.

His love for you really is perfect, lacking nothing that you need, and your trust in that love makes the darkness run! Fear cannot remain when we grow in trusting God’s love.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (1 John 4:17-18 MSG)

We typically relate God’s love to our own limited, human love. His love is deeper than the ocean and wider than the universe. Paul’s desire in Ephesians 3:18 was that we all would come to understand how wide, how high, and how deep the love of Christ really is! It’s a supernatural, all-enveloping, everything-you-need kind of love!

There are many who have been a Christian a long time who still aren’t well acquainted with God’s perfect love for them. Fear has a crippling power in their life. They are weak in the face of trouble. (That’s been me more times than I want to remember!) But “our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s” so that we are able to live an effective, powerful life with God while we are here. As long as we are depending on His love for us.

Allow Him to grow you up in your relationship with Him. Make the decision daily that you are going to grow in knowing that love and allow it to grow you. Then when your faith is under pressure, you will so trust in that love that you are able to stay the course no matter what and receive the gift hidden in the problem. Your true colors will be displayed to a fearful and hurting world and others will be inspired by the life you live.

There’s so much grace for the journey,Robin 12

Robin

From the desk by the window where the morning mist is floating gently through the pines.

Want more info about book Robin to speak? Or maybe some info on her Spiritual Life Coaching program for women? Robin does individual and group coaching and her clients are simply amazing! Email her at robinlewiswords@gmail.com and visit the here and here for more info.

Trying to be Something I’m Not

woman mirrorLiving in the world can cause you can take on a wrong idea about who you are, almost like a false identity that’s uncomfortable, like an itchy sweater, because it’s not the real you, the God-designed you. Many times this starts by what we learned from our parents, teachers, culture, or media, or by wanting approval and acceptance from others. If you’re concerned about disappointing certain people in your life or looking to others to know who you are, you are placing yourself in a type of prison where the real you steps back and is hidden by an impostor. What you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside. 

The Father wants you to recognize this false self and the wrong expectations you live under. He can “take the chains off” that connect you to a wrong need of other people. He is the only place, the only one who can surround you and heal you, to set you free. He wants you to become the unique, amazing, and precious person He created. He never expects you to try to fill the roles that others plan for you. He can see through the false self that’s been created and into the glorious future He plans for your life. And He wants you to know the truth: you have no rival. No one rivals you in His eyes. His enormous love is the same, and just as huge, for you as for any other.

You never have to compete or comply with the demands or requests of others to feel safe or have what you need. Your Father knows what you need. You can come to Him and ask for healing in all your relationships, and let the truth of who you are renew your mind so that your thoughts about you agree with what the Father says is true. Receive the blessing of His security, acceptance, and affirmation of who you are.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners. Isaiah 61:1 NIV

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Galatians 5:1 NLT

affirmation, live, authentic, lifeThe Father wants you to know that He doesn’t want you to be weakened by the souls of other people. He did not create you for that. Remain strong in Him by staying close to Him. His Fathering of you will be complete and perfect and He will set you free. There’s always grace and safety for the real you in the Father’s embrace…just like you are.

Let your heart respond to your Father’s thoughts about you…

Much love,

Robin

From the desk by the window where sunshine and a cool breeze beckon and the dog is wanting to go for a walk. Be back later.

yay, celebrate

Spiritual Life Coaching is available for women with Robin Lewis – robinlewiswords@gmail.com or (843) 319-5390. You never know how high you can soar until you begin to spread your wings! Contact Robin today for your FREE 30 minute introductory call! Don’t wait, dear one, this is your time!

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, July 30, 2016

Thanks, Mary Crimmins & Learning to Become Fully Alive, for the image.

You Are A History Maker and Just May Be A Hero

I can almost hear you, “Me? A history maker?” I know, I felt the same way until I understood. It is common for most of us to think in terms of a history maker being someone like the Founding Fathers who wrote the Constitution or fought for liberty. People like George Washington, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, Martin Luther King, Jr. But we too are history makers – every day, every moment.

The voices of culture and tradition want to define your life and make you dependent on their approval and acceptance. These voices say that your identity is linked to your position, income level, skin color, or circle of friends. These voices want to fill your mind with fear, doubt, and insignificance. They want to define and paint a picture of your life that’s less than who God says you are. This is small-scale living.

The truth is you are a masterpiece and you might just be a hero.

A few years ago, I took classes in an art gallery and learned that a Master Artist is one who has learned all the rules of shape and color, of texture, brush strokes, and canvas, and then breaks those rules in such a way that creates something new, one-of-a-kind, a can’t-be-duplicated work of art, a masterpiece.

Ephesians 2:10 (AMP) says, “We are God’s own masterpiece, recreated in Christ Jesus with a new start so that we may do all the good works for which we were created, taking the paths which He prepared for us ahead of time, so that we can walk in them and live the good life God thought out, prearranged, and made ready for us to live.”

journey masterpiece

You are a can’t-be-duplicated, without-rival, highly valued creation by God who rightly defines you. He created you to be a person who connects with Him for vision, a man or woman with a voice that is here to create positive change and make a difference for the betterment of mankind. God chose the timing of your birth to be in this generation. He chose the talents, spiritual gifts, and dreams that would be developed for the purpose of your life. And He chose your gender. Whether you are a man or a woman, you have been made in God’s image and have been created to be a person of power, love, and great influence.

Like an inspiring work of art, you are here to lead others into their greatness. As you grow into a person of authenticity, you experience freedom to move in your strengths, giftedness, and passion because your authentic self will always display your uniqueness. A false self will only display a clouded, partial version of who you are to be. You are designed to be an overcomer, not a copy. You are created to be a problem solver, not one who just accepts things as they are. You are fashioned to be a one-of-a-kind, greatly valued individual with a purpose.

Our problem? We don’t believe it. More people are held back by self-limiting beliefs than by any other barrier. We will always live out what we really believe is true or possible for us. It’s time to let the real you emerge, the beautiful parts, and the places where you are strong. For this to happen, you must be intentional about your personal growth. There are parts of you that need to be healed and strengthened. When you choose to trust and receive, you become your truest self, enabled by God to fully live with eternal significance.

artist, creator, canvas, masterpiece

In 2015, America watched my home state as the Confederate Flag was removed from the statehouse grounds in Columbia, SC. The news reporter kept repeating, “You are seeing history being made.” Events of historical significance are distinguished and memorable, but do you think of the importance of your own life in creating history? With your life, you are writing history! Your life has an impact on others around you and on the generations yet to be born. Generations after us will look back and discuss some of us who realized the power of our choice and voice and used them to set the stage for the future. Some of us will be thanked and honored and some of us will be ridiculed and shamed. Don’t let the authentic you be painted over or muted by the brush strokes of the world that seek to diminish your beauty and purpose.

We are all history makers, for better or for worse, and if we pursue Him, God will help you become all He originally intended you to be – a leader, a history maker, and a person characterized by confidence and joy. Our stories were written to be joined with God so we can know first hand His ability to restore! No more boxed in, insignificant living. With authenticity, you can learn to lead like the unique, significant history maker you are. History may write you down as a hero. How you walk out your one life with God will determine how history views you. Set your focus on Him and live with intention to bring transformation into your world.

Love & Grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window on a cloudy Saturday where the trees are waiting for rain.

You’re invited to email Robin L. Lewis at robinlewiswords@gmail.com about Spiritual Life Coaching or to book her to speak. Visit her website to subscribe to her inspiration blog at www.sozolifeleaders.com.

Some Days You Just Feel Like Crap

hard times, difficultyIt’s one of those. Yeah, you know the kind – a day where your head aches and your heart aches and your life just aches for relief. We’re all subject to those kinds of days.

And it’s when things seem to be falling apart and there are bills and sick people and laid off spouses and more questions than answers and if we draw close to the Father, we can get a measure of relief. I think sometimes He doesn’t explain our lives just so we’ll snuggle up close enough to hear His heartbeat.

When days are lonely and the work doesn’t seem to end and we feel like that old sweater in the back of the drawer, you know, the unraveling one, that we realize we need to be knit together again.

Even Jesus told us (and we act surprised when it happens) that “in this world, we will have trouble, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Wait – I don’t want some Hallmark card gospel! I need to know what this means!

That word “trouble” in its Greek definition means to crush, press, compress, squeeze, and symbolically means grievous affliction or distress, a narrowness of room. (We know this, don’t we? Those times it feels like the room and the lungs are too small.)

“Be of good cheer” literally means to exercise courage, confidence, and boldness. (Okay, that’s better.)

But the word for “overcome” means to subdue, conquer, overcome, prevail, and get the victory! (That’s what we want!)

When it feels like you’re being crushed, pressed, squeezed and under grievous affliction, you are to exercise courage, stir up confidence, and act in boldness in a way that stands in faith. That rise in faith helps us wait until the trouble has passed. With all that Jesus endured, He subdued and conquered all the evil in the world and gained the victory! And that victory? It’s the ability to receive His peace in the middle of the storm.

Our lives are supposed to look like His and while He had tough days, we will have tough days. Embrace it all and give thanks. As we embrace our life in Him, we come to know how He embraces us and sees us through every. single. thing.

But…I skipped over the first half of the verse:

These things I have spoken to you that in Me, you might have peace. -John 16:33a

peaceJesus’ peace, in contrast with strife, is a state of untroubled and undisturbed well-being found IN HIM and never found in the world. The same word is used in Ephesians 6:13 describing “the shoes of the Gospel of peace”. It’s protective armor!

This kind of peace doesn’t mean our emotions won’t be troubled and is not some state of unfeeling. It means there will be no trouble that can ever remove the peace He gives. The reality of the bad days is they are real and they will come, but as we focus on Him in the middle of the crappy days, the hard things, we will know that He has promised to help us through.

Ann Voskamp writes, “Let Him kneel & wash your wounded places… keep company with Jesus. Stop & feel the humming Peace of something sacred in our veins, enlarging our lungs. Even in our darkest places — look for it, feel along for it — there is the light of Christ’s graces.”

Jesus never stops praying for us standing right next to the throne of God, and His prayers are always heard. I have an affirmation in my phone that sounds every evening that reads, Being mindful of Jesus blood and His prayers for me keeps me calm and grateful. In this very moment, here, now, what do I need? Not a thing. So take a deep breath of His peace knowing that His plan for your life is active and good and nothing can separate you from His love.

Loads of grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window where the sun is behind the trees and the local deer have come to find their supper and mine is baking in the oven.

(c) Robin L. Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, July 13, 20162016-05-25 13.20.43

Spiritual Life Coaching helps with every area of life encouraging self-examination, growth, and maturity. Specializing in bringing clarity and building confidence, our coaching program may be just what you need to give your life the umph it needs to move forward into more of what your life was designed to be!

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Life Satisfaction Assessment: how do you score?

question, uncertainty

 

If asked, most of us would say we are dissatisfied with some area of our lives, and some of us would admit to several areas where we would like to see improvement. We easily recognize the disappointment and regret we feel that characterizes the lives of so many, yet we struggle with knowing how to actually live our lives. Many feel stuck not knowing how to take steps for change and growth while others live in some form of denial, assuming they will eventually achieve the life they want. Make it your aim to break free of this denial and realize that the choices you make every day impact and determine the rest of your life.

Below is a tool I use with my Life Coaching clients to help them gain more self-awareness by identifying areas that need change. This tool is partnered with “The Principle of the Path” by Andy Stanley, a book that teaches that if you know the destination you desire, but are not taking steps that lead IN THAT DIRECTION, you will actually arrive someplace else and miss your goal, living a life that is less than what God purposed for you.

Using the 10 life areas in the list below, rate yourself 1-10 with 1 being very dissatisfied and 10 being extremely satisfied.

  1. Spirituality / Faith
  2. Career / Callinghappy, sad, emotions, happiness
  3. Money / Finances
  4. Health / Exercise
  5. Friends / Family
  6. Spouse / Significant Other
  7. Physical Environment
  8. Personal Growth
  9. Fun / Recreation / Hobbies
  10. Future Plans / Goals / Hopes

All these life areas are a visible part of your outer, obvious person, but the pleasure or disappointment you experience in each area is directly related to your inner, sometimes secret person. In what areas are you the least satisfied? In those areas you need to choose specific steps that create a direct path to help you achieve the change and growth you desire. “Direction – not intentions, hopes, dreams, prayers, beliefs, intellect, or education – determines your destination.” (Andy Stanley)

Next, think about what current beliefs, thoughts, and habits need to change in order for you to take the necessary steps to attain your goals and enjoy those areas of your life.

Example: Your goal is to retire at age 65 and travel, but you are not putting much money into savings. To arrive at the destination you desire, changes must be made in your spending and saving in order for you to achieve your goal of retirement and travel.

Example: You think of exercising to become more healthy and strong, yet you never schedule the time. You just hope that your body will last until you die without weakness or disease. Unused muscles weaken so that your hope will not become reality without intentional steps in that direction.

Life is a process that never stops. The necessary changes will require an investment of time and intentional course correction.

directionRemember, our direction determines our destination; without the necessary steps simply hoping and praying won’t get you there. Our choices every day build into outcomes, and our decisions today invariably have ramifications later in life.

So what now? Don’t attempt to get it all together in a month. Choose 1 or 2 areas from the list and write down the next step you need to take in order to begin to change that part of your life. You don’t have to take giant steps, small steps will do. Set goals for the next 6 months and track your progress. You will find yourself feeling more optimistic and confident as you see favorable change begin to take place. You will realize that you really can adjust, grow, and alter your life’s direction for the better. The more fulfilled you become in living the life God created for you, the higher your general happiness and joy and the more you positively influence those around you.

Life Coaching helps you through changes like these. In the beginning change is hard, in the middle it can be a little messy, but in the end the life you make can be fulfilling as you realize your accomplishments. Take heart and refuse to let go of hope. Ask a friend to hold you accountable and encourage you forward. The choices you make each and every day do matter. Make better choices for a better life and remember to always seek God. He promises that His Word can light your way. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and light for my path”. When we commit our lives and choices to Him, He helps us know the way forward.

Keep growing,

Robin

From the desk by the window where I’m working on my choices as the sun shines in warm.

For more info on Sozo Life Coaching for Women, contact me today! DON’T WAIT ANY LONGER – this is your time, dear one.

Email me today: robinlewiswords@gmail.com

(c) Robin Lewis, Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, July 4, 2016