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.

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!

Don’t wait – contact me today!  And share this post with a friend!
843-319-5390
robinlewiswords@gmail.com

 

Struggles Prepare You For Success {don’t skip God’s preparation season}

This post was published in the Morning News on Sunday, May 22, 2016. I pray this is a blessing for you where you are – in your waiting, in your struggle, in your own unique period of preparation!

struggle, promotion, timing, Joseph calling, OsThroughout life, difficult times happen to everyone, but the person intent on personal growth finds a way to maximize the experience and gain from the lessons learned; whether personally or professionally, today’s struggle can prepare you for tomorrow’s promotion and success.

In the bible, Joseph walked a very difficult road for much of his life. It seemed that his circumstances would never improve. As a young man, he was given a dream from God that he would one day rule over others. But the reality was Joseph would be sold into slavery by his own brothers, purchased by an Egyptian as a house servant, and accused of sexual misconduct by his boss’ wife! He was thrown into prison for many years yet he continued to be faithful and serve those around him. Prison was where he began to be promoted in positions over sections of prisoners. The Lord continued to give Joseph favor even though his circumstances had not changed. What was he to do?

Never forgetting the dream he’d had, Joseph kept trusting God and became willing to be content where he was. He didn’t know how God would bring his dream to fulfillment, but God was using the long years of waiting to prepare him. Joseph would come to be positioned to rule the great nation of Egypt and there by save millions of people from starvation, including his own family. When they came face to face, Joseph helped his family see the bigger picture of what God had been doing in his life.

“I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt.  But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives and to preserve many others. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4-8)

God desires to be just as involved in our lives today as He was in the life of Joseph. He uses our periods of waiting, struggle, and dryness to prepare us for something bigger. Whether your calling is to business, community, or something individual, know that not everyone walks through a Joseph calling, but many do; and the experiences are usually related to the magnitude of the call on your life.

Many who are destined for greater impact lose much along the journey, so if God has purposed you for greater things, expect to walk through times that don’t make sense, where God seems silent. He has not forgotten you and will bring you to a place of success and restoration according to His timing and purpose for your life.

My Spiritual Life Coaching Clients who have walked through difficulties learn that our part is to submit to God, learn to trust Him, and continue to seek His direction. Our lives need God’s refining work for our strength and integrity to be developed.

While Joseph was “Called” as a young man, he wasn’t “Commissioned” into his destiny until many years later. Just as Joseph allowed God to refine and prepare him, so can you. Even in prison Joseph was being made ready and matured in his gifts and talents. While it may appear small, those very experiences would catapult him forward to rule over the nation and save many lives.

Maybe you, too, feel called to something great, destined to also to “save many lives” in some way. Don’t shortcut the season of preparation and continue to forgive those who “sell you out”. Be determined to serve faithfully where you are and seek God for all He wants to do in and through you. You may very well be a modern-day Joseph! The all-important middle years of “Preparation” that requires waiting and trusting will serve to have you ready for success.

Keep growing, 

Robin

From the desk by the window where the sun is rising on a cool Monday morning.

women sitting togetherRobin L. Lewis is a certified life coach, speaker, and writer who specializes in encouragement and confidence. For more information, email Robin at robinlewiswords@gmail.com and get free updates at www.sozolifeleaders.com/blog.

Sometimes You’re Wrong

oops, wrong, mistake, failIs that hard for you to hear? We never get it all right, do we? Of course not. But the brave keep trying. Not for perfection, but to learn and grow. And why is being wrong, making mistakes, or failing this awful experience we try to prevent?

There’s such freedom in accepting that we don’t have to have all the answers all the time! There’s freedom in knowing that I will be wrong and it’s not a failure to admit it. There’s creative freedom in knowing that I can take a chance, take a risk, be honest, and if I do fail, it can become an awesome learning experience for me!

wrong, fear, creative

“I don’t know.” Can you say that with me? “I just don’t know. But I’m sure I’ll figure it out.”

“I was wrong.” Can you say that one, too? “I am sorry, I was wrong for ____________.”

How about… “I really blew it. But here’s what I learned!”

The best of lessons come through the hard days. Those days when we have no answer, not even a clue, and not much strength left. Our solution is in remembering that God is who He says He is and it’s “perfectly alright for me to just be me, in Him.”

He has all the answers and He never expects us to get it perfectly every time – in my thoughts, words, or actions. He created us to be human (imperfectly perfect) and our salvation, strength, and success are in doing what we resist the most: completely depending on Him in our successes and in our failures, where we are strong and where we are weak.

I love Psalm 46:10 and if you will allow me to paraphrase this verse, I understand it this way:

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still (in your thoughts, words, and actions, in your soul that wants to know why) and know (learn and remember this) that I Am God (and not only are you not, you never have to be for I am everything you need).

failure, wrong, growth

 

The most successful people in the world understand the truth about being wrong and are OK with it. They have learned to not judge themselves harshly, but instead to give themselves grace and encouragement to learn and keep going forward.

Decide today that from now on, with God helping you, that it will be alright to admit defeat, mistakes, and even failure. Believe that it’s alright to cry out honestly to Him for help. For failures are not permanent, but simply the way to the solution. It’s OK to be wrong. It’s great to learn from it.

Grace for growing up,

Robin

From the desk by the window where the smell of buttered toast is still in the air and the coffee is still hot.

I love what I do! Every woman at multiple points in life’s journey needs someone to come alongside for a season to help her 2016-01-05 16.50.00forward. I’ve had these coaches and mentors in my own life and it’s made all the difference in coming to live an effective and fulfilling life. And oh boy, did I have issues to overcome! Visit my Start Here page and my Coaching page for more info and if you’d like to try it out, just ask for your FREE introductory coaching session. I’d love to hear your story. You are welcome to email or call me: robinlewiswords@gmail.com and (843) 319-5390.

 

The Jesus Who Surprises Me – an artistic expression

There have been so many times in my life that my circumstances obscured my vision and I wondered if the Lord was still with me. Of course, as I waited and kept breathing, He would show me that He had been there all the time.

When you are faced with sudden disaster or feel as if you have been sinking for years in quicksand, when you don’t know the way forward, and when nothing is lighting the next step, just remember that He is with you. He is teaching you to trust Him. He has promised to never leave you. And He is doing a mighty inner work! He is the Author and Finisher of our faith in Him, the Jesus who surprises and appears in moments.

“Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on God.” {Isaiah 50:10}

There’s lots of grace for the journey,

Robin 

From the desk by the window on a breezy March day in the South.

conquer, wall, fear, goalsSpiritual Life Coaching is available for women. Get your FREE / no strings Introductory Session today! Are you really living the life the Father created for you to live? Are you experiencing fulfillment, freedom, and joy in every area of your life?

Let’s talk about unpacking what holds you back and “repacking” for the Sozo Life you were meant to live. Sozo Life Coaching is confidential and inspiring! Email me today: robinlewiswords@gmail.com or call (843) 319-5390. You are already amazing!

 

Stumbling Along in Following God {when seasons shift}

Are you having some trouble following God’s will right now?

Dutch Sheets, one of my all-time-favorite Bible teachers said, “I find that I stumble into the will of God more times than I find it on purpose.” That helps me a lot for when I have trouble knowing God’s will, I can still be confident that He will get me where I need to be even if I stumble into it.

Many of you are feeling an uncomfortable shift in your life this year. It’s OK. It’s God getting your course corrected. So if you wake up most mornings wondering if you’re still in your right mind or feeling out of sorts, just keep leaning on Him. He can get you right where you need to be. (Learn to be aware of His presence with you. Pray honest prayers. Read your Bible. Listen for His subtle leading.)  

woman thinkingYou may be in a physical shift from one job to another. This may be a mental shift as your thinking is changed in an area. But this is definitely a spiritual shift. (Remember, everything is spiritual because you first are spiritual!) Everything is about getting you in a better, more blessed, more free place looking more like His Son. 

How do you handle it? Let yourself be keenly aware of how much you need God’s help and direction. (That means you don’t know everything you need to know.) The challenges you face are far too great to handle alone. To walk with God in humble dependence is the most strong, blessed, and protected place you can be! Practice resting your mind, will, and emotions, and let Him “train you in trust” while you wait.

How long will it last? That is between you and God. Your shift and season may be similar to another, but will be uniquely different from anyone else. This is about you and God, so let it be… about you and God.

Why is it so hard to submit and follow? Because we think we know best! We think we know what our life should look like and be like, but without God our life will never have the meaning and outcome He has in mind. We want God’s best, but we usually don’t want the trials, work, introspection, change, and personal growth that goes along with it.

Comparing yourself to others is a dead end. There are many famous TV pastors or authors with followers who say, “I want to do what you do!” They  see the glory in it and may want to do it, but do they realize the price that’s been paid to get there? Jesus faced a similar question from Peter in John 13:37 who boldly proclaimed, “Lord, I am willing to lay down my life for you!” To which Jesus responded, “Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, I say to you, a rooster shall not crow until you deny me three times. Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in Me.”  (John 13:37-14:1)

We think we are strong enough. We think we are ready. But our Father knows our hearts and what we need next. He is faithful to lead us through preparation, shifts, and changes that are right for us individually. While many are not easy or comfortable, and some are downright hard, hang on for He’s not finished yet and neither your past nor your present gets the last word!

Listen – I understand. In my life, I’ve experienced many shifts and literal moves that seemed crazy at the time, but looking in that wonderful rearview mirror it’s easy to see how the Lord was faithful in every step.

For today, can we just say something honest like this? “Lord, help me, I’m an unblended mess. This is hard, but I am willing to be made willing to take the next step with You. Give me a desire for what pleases Your heart. Protect me and strengthen me for what is to come.”

You’re going to do alright. You are unconditionally and greatly loved. You are held in very strong hands. So get still and listen.  Practice resting your mind, will, and emotions, woman, walk, road, directionand let Him “train you in trust” while you wait. 

When this shift is over, you will stand in a new place. A place that maybe you weren’t expecting, but a place where you know with more certainty than ever that the Father’s eyes are upon you and His hand is guiding you. You are living a journey to remember. 

Lots of love & grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window where the robins are resting in the yard, taking all they need, and then taking flight!!

Want to find out more about how Spiritual Life Coaching can help you go forward? Email me at robinlewiswords@gmail.com. No one has to do life alone.

 

The Weight of Chronic Overthinking {How to be Free}

how-to-tell-when-youre-overthinking

Chronic. I have been a chronic over-thinker. And I can still fall into it at times. It. feels. awful. And yet, we do it because we don’t know what “might” happen.

The “what if’s” come like rapid fire gun shots at our thoughts and we scramble like soldiers for a bunker of mental safety, strategizing a plan to make sure everything turns out alright.

Like we think we are that powerful. Newsflash: WE ARE NOT THAT POWERFUL.

As Christians, we talk about our faith walk, and then worry about what could be around the next corner. We are listening to the wrong voices. We are believing the wrong things.

In fact, the only way to grow our faith is to NOT KNOW and still lean hard with all the weight of our concerns upon God. We are to “cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us.”

We are not to cast it like a fishing lure, then reel it back in. We’re to throw it out like the garbage and trust that God is going to be God.

I was telling a new friend yesterday that sometimes when life circumstances seem way too big, we just need to walk outside and look up at that really big sky and remember that our Heavenly Father made that sky…with His words! And that His hands hold it and us together.

So when you catch yourself with the “what if” or the “I’ve got to do something about this” thoughts, walk outside and throw it all at the Lord who is so very big. Then come back in, make a nice cuppa tea, and ask for His help. He promises to give it.

  • Reflection time: If you have the habit of reflecting over the day or over your life at the end of the day, look for ways you lived well, give thanks, and rest easy knowing you’re a process.
  • Maxwell’s Law of the Mirror: You must see value in yourself to add value to yourself. Give yourself a check up in your “self talk” and “self behavior” where they relate to stress, criticism, comparison to others, and how you use your mental time.
  • It’s impossible to worry and trust God at the same time. To shift it to trust, control your thoughts (yes this is possible), and choose to focus on giving thanks. Gratitude trips worry and over-thinking every time, making it fall on it’s ugly little face.

Trusting Him feels so very good and is the way to living free!

Grace & Peace,
Robin

From the desk by the window, realizing my smallness and God bigness, and feeling pretty good about that.

2016-01-05 16.50.00

Ever wondered if Life Coaching is for you? I work with women ages 16 and up, up, up who feel stuck, going through something hard, or wanting to change their life and don’t know where to begin. Let’s meet for coffee and talk about it! Email or call me – robinlewiswords@gmail.com or (843) 319-5390.

Hey! For some great FREE coaching tools I use with every client, shoot me an email and I’ll send them right over!

ask, think, imagine, ephesians 3 20

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, LLC, 2015