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.

Change and Transition: Key to Moving Through It!

The last two months have radically changed my daily life.  If you study the elements of story, you find in every good one, a main character who wants something, and who usually must go to great risk to get it. The best stories include an inciting incident that closes a door to propel the character forward.  My most recent inciting incident?

key in doorAbout two months ago, I was fired from a job.  Knowing it was temporary, when the moment came, I was actually relieved!  I knew I was not “called” there for permanence, but positioned there to share and learn some things I wouldn’t have any other way.  The firing was like a key and when the door was opened, I walked out into the street wondering what God had next.  This will be one of the best moments in my story because it propelled me into my true calling.

pause buttonWhen change and transition come, I have learned to press my internal “Pause” button.  I have found that if I don’t press pause, that I don’t process the change well, and push myself forward…either stumbling or feeling disoriented.

And we know every good story has scenes where the main character is found sitting on a bench or walking on the shore.

A few years ago when my youngest daughter was planning to get married, I planned to move to a smaller apartment, yet I felt the nudging of the Holy Spirit to remain where I was, thinking I needed to adjust to these changes by giving myself the gift of time to emotionally process.  It was a good decision.  I didn’t need dual changes of learning how to live alone AND go through moving at the same time!  {Thank you, Holy Spirit, for the wisdom.}

Even when there is something outside your control – even the devastating days – those chapters where we don’t know what step to take and all we want to do is to lie down where we are.  Even that is not a waste of time for a season, for God is always pouring out love and comfort and peace.  {We feel it if we are open to receive it.}

We are made in this beautiful complex way – spirit, soul, body – mind, emotions, will, and all of that is housed in this skin we live in.  Transition through change requires time for all those God-knitted parts to be smoothed out – sort of like your hair when the convertible comes to a stop.

We live in this temporal world inside temporal moments and can easily lose sight of the eternal, the spiritual.  Earthly transitions are important, but there is more – a higher view woman sitting-on-a-benchthat we don’t always get in the middle of our story.  There is chapter after chapter yet to be written for the first time in our lives, and usually we are in the middle of the next one, when the Father reveals how He moved us across the last bit.

So my advice is this: don’t rush yourself through change.  Take time to process, then get your feet moving, back into your own unique story.  Learn to live a life of balance between working and resting.  And don’t forget to laugh! This is loving and caring for yourself.

Even if yours is a suspense story, the best kind have a few humorous moments sprinkled here and there among the mystery.  Isn’t that the best adventure?

Love & Grace,

Robin

From the desk by the window with the sun streaming in calling me to come outside and play.  (Thank you Donald Miller and Mike McDade for inspiring others to live good stories!)

(c) Sozo Life & Leadership, April 3, 2014

 

This is What It’s About…

Believe in the impossibleSozo Life & Leadership in purpose is about realizing that we still need to learn and grow and change, that we are worth the investment of time and effort to live a better story, a fuller life.

It’s about building identity & value which leads to passion & purpose which builds lives that make a difference in the family, community, church, and marketplace, with actions and words that create a ripple effect that moves people up just like the waves of the sea lift you higher, so that others are also encouraged to live lives of intention, refusing to settle for less than what they and God can accomplish together, bringing change, establishing God’s order, displaying love, honor, and respect, and bringing the Kingdom of Heaven atmosphere to earth.

This is about knowing our authority in Christ, walking in that authority, speaking to enhance life and change, because all created things on earth are under that Christ-authority that has been entrusted to us, and all created things know it, and all created things want God’s order established.

This is our assignment from the One who made us and all we see.  He designed a fuller life, a Sozo Life, and we can choose to get it and walk it out, or continue to believe that it’s impossible.  What do you want for your life and for those you love?  What change do you want to see take place?

rewarding journeyThe blessings of God are chasing us down and we are the main characters in the greatest adventure story!  What kind of story are you living?  Do you want to learn how to live a better story?  You are worth it.  You are designed to solve problems and carry out great things in your life…if you want it.

I want to help you set about pursuing it with eyes forward, with growth and faith and belief in yourself and in what God can do through you.

“Do not [earnestly] remember the former things nor consider the things of old (do not dwell on the past).  Behold!  I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs forth!  Do you not perceive it and know it, and will you not give heed to it?  I will even make a way (pathway, direction) in the wilderness and rivers (abundance) in the desert.”   Isaiah 43:18-19 AMP

(c) Robin Lawrimore Lewis, February 17, 2014

From the desk by the window on a brisk and sunny day.

Sozo logo 1

You’re Right Where You’re Supposed to Be

woman and computerYou’ve struggled and tried and the calendar says it’s today and you wonder how you’ve spent all your time.  Days run into days and people rush by like a blur.  Your mind doesn’t seem to keep up, like an old Studebaker when it needs oil.

Rest is needed.  But you don’t want to believe it.  You want to believe you can change where you are, and with a little more effort and a pulling up on those careworn boot straps, you can lift yourself a few steps forward.  You carry your future goals like a heavy suitcase.  You’ve forgotten that God knows exactly where you are ~ that His hands woman with suitcase walking down roadare big enough to carry it all ~ that only He can take something so impossible or disappointing and bring a miracle ~ that He can carry you and your dreams {that He placed in your heart} forward so they become reality.

{Rest.  Breathe.  Look up.}

Don’t be discouraged by an enemy or obstacle before you.  God will allow you to come face to face with your trouble so that you will see His hand do something mighty in your life.

If we pursue our dreams in our strength, we grow tired.  If we step forward in the Lord’s strength, we see Him work on our behalf.  We see Him do something mighty in our life.

No matter where you today on the way to where you want to be, pray, eyes on the Father, take a step or be still – whichever works, but follow PEACE.  Let your soul rest on Him and wait.  He is, many times, doing the unseen work, like all those wolves in Yosemite who keep a balance in nature.  It’s when the wolves are gone that we realize the need for them.  And it’s when we walk away in our own effort that we realize the need for God’s strength and continued creation in our lives.

woman on beach with scarfHis eyes are so focused on you that it’s like you’re the only person He knows.  And you are right where you are supposed to be.

Let trust in Him develop and grow.

You are doing great.

You are stronger and more brave than you know.

And walking here…where you are…is the place of miracles.

(c) Robin Lawrimore Lewis, Jan. 14, 2014

 

When the Heart Waits…Again

You work up the courage to ask a question that comes from a deep place in your heart and get an answer you didn’t expect.  It’s tender for days as it creates even more questions.  indiana-jones-fedora-hat-5Or you risk stepping out like Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade hoping your feet find solid ground, and instead find yourself in what feels like a free-fall.  You wonder if your expectations were too high or you still are not ready.  Again, you must wait and you really don’t want to, but you know from experience that the Father is trustworthy in the timing of your life.  Or do you?

There is nothing in your life that He is not completely aware of, enormously concerned about, and intricately involved in.  And it helps to remember that.  There are some days I repeat it often to myself, out loud, and it continues to drip into a deeper place in me where I am coming to believe it completely.

And it’s always the deep desires of our hearts that can trip us up, isn’t it?  (I hear your whispered yes.)  The things we’ve desired all our lives that often come to the surface skin of the heart and woman dark hairjust touching it, caressing it with easy finger tips can cause a painful longing.  Or if those desires get bumped into by words or actions of others, it’s worse than a knee skinned on a rough sidewalk.

And I think of Jesus and how the enemy tempted Him to go after quickly what was promised by the Father.  The enemy knew what He wanted, all the nations, but the shortcut offered would have been their destruction.  And we would have had no hope as an anchor for the tempest of our souls.  His waiting for God’s timing and perfect plan was…perfect like a full-term pregnancy that gives a healthy baby.  Not an aborted plan, not a preemie weakling.  Fullness.

And isn’t that what we want and truly desire?  Fullness?  Fullest life.

So how do we respond when we must wait...”Take a seat please, and the promise will be with you in a few _______”….minutes, months, years?

mustard treeWe continue to choose faith.  We continue to choose to believe.  And we take action steps.  We continue to sow seed into believing that promise.  We speak out our believing and it does drip in and it does feel that Father’s smile at our seedling faith.  And that is really all we need…faith the size of a mustard seed.  The smallest of seeds can become the largest of trees and the limbs are strong for the roots have gone in deep, and we find there is room in the branches for more than we could have imagined, more than we even believed for, and we are living full.  Thank-full.

Waiting.  Necessary, needed, maturing kind of waiting.  And that Bible-God is fully aware of where we are, how we feel, and like a good Father, He is parenting us, loving us, and showing us that we can trust Him with the desires He placed in us as part of who we are.  They will not fall flat.  They will not die.  They will not be weak.

orchid stonesOur hearts respond and we believe, speak, and do faith, and He comes through and brings it about and we had no idea it was just around the corner.

Thank-full for these gifts, these blossoms of faith from my life….(please consider sharing your list in a comment?)….

  • Healing and growth from hard experiences like divorce and death.
  • Voices of grandchildren over the phone excited about the family hike.
  • Remembering how God has kept me through life’s everything.
  • Seeing my Mom extend love to the “hard to love” in her life.
  • Chocolate cake with 6 layers of homemade icing.
  • A man’s hands that take mine to hold them close.
  • A man’s hands that wipe away tears.
  • A dog that sometimes play-attacks and cuddles simultaneously.
  • Church with friends who smile and are glad.
  • Daughters lives – getting to see them learn to walk again and again.
  • A Dad who doesn’t remember everything now, but is always glad to see me.
  • Answered prayer from faith words.
  • Invited to speak and seeing in eyes the response to the call to fullest life.
  • Mistakes forgiven, acceptance no matter what.
  • A friend who writes thrilled at the sponsorship of a child in Africa.
  • A friend who listens when the Spirit says “call her and pray.”

It’s lists like these that build faith for the unknown, the unseen, the yet-to-be, and instead of the waiting in agony, life starts to become an adventure.  Can you share a list that builds your faith?  Write as much as you want, friend.

(c) Robin Lawrimore, April 2013

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord,…plans to give you hope and a future…You will seek Me and find me when you seek Me with all your heart.  ~Jeremiah 29:11, 13


Linking with Ann Voskamp today…



Believe ~ 2013

Intrigued by the idea of choosing one word as a theme for 2013, I joined the folks at One Word 365.

Forget those New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap that long list of goals you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway. Choose just one word.

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.

This is about living intentionally.  About letting your one word be a filter, a guide for how you use your decisions, time, resources, purpose, and life so that it impacts your life and spills over onto others.  It might be what steadies you.  It might be what you need.

One word.  365 days.

John Maxwell’s latest book is The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth.  Just six chapters into it and my thinking is already challenged.  I knew instantly what my One Word would be.

What I need is to believe…Photobucket

… more of Who God says He is, more about my calling and potential, more about the restoration and forward movement of my life for where I am now.

As Christians, we don’t like to have to admit that we don’t always believe what God says.  It can be difficult if physical reality is preaching something other than what you hope will be.  As 2012 was being lived out, I was challenged to change my thinking in many areas, but my problems and over-concern were always to be found in pockets of unbelief.

God is positioning me, and many others, for forward movement and some things promised, prayed for, waited for over years are within reach…and the closer I get to stepping onto that highway, the more challenged I am to actually believe these things can happen.

If all hell seems to be coming against your dreams, then you are in good company.  I believe the Lord wants to do some big restoring in many lives.  We can defeat fear by taking small steps and refusing to put off what we know we were created to do.  It is for now.  I love football and touch downs are made by making progress down the field a few yards at the time. 

For my personal progress, I have a life coach and accountability and wise counsel.  What God calls us to do will always be bigger than we are and will keep us on our knees, but we have to move forward.   It’s always what we really believe, isn’t it?

“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he.  ~Isaiah 43:10

believe noteMy friend, Sam Williamson at Beliefs of the Heart, said, “We feel this is a year of breaking out – maybe breaking forth – into something new and delightful.  I sense this is true for you too, a year of breaking forth into life and joy and offering.”  Isn’t it great when others urge you on?  Let these words become yours, too.

There are some moments you know the enemy of your soul is doing his very darndest to sow in seeds of fear and unbelief.  Crazy thoughts seem to come out of nowhere like an attack of killer bees.  And I figure if hell is sending out fear in droves, then they are actually afraid themselves of what we might do.  Now there’s a thought!  Sam says the enemy is terrified of what we will be when we are our true selves.

Believe.  Just one word.

Ephesians 3 20 21Believe in God’s power, in our potential, in others.  Believe before we see – for His promises are good.  We can take them to the bank.  I am choosing to believe for more.  Asking for increased vision, increased discernment, and increased wisdom.  Expecting all – more than I can imagine.  Focusing on this word, this idea, theme, could be life changing.

It will be a year of stretching, of dreaming big, of gripping God and stepping out.  Nope, still  don’t feel ready, but if I wait until I’m ready, I will never step forward.  It’s time to live a better story.  It’s time to believe.

What would your ONE WORD be?

(c) Robin Lawrimore, January 4, 2012

{Thanks a ton to Melanie at Only A Breath for creating my new free Believe button.  To request a button, please read this post: http://www.onlyabreath.com/2012/12/theyre-here-free-one-word-blog-buttons/ on Melanie’s site.  She’ll even make you one whether you have a blog or not.  Isn’t she so nice?}

 

Anything Can Happen

So many times we run smack dab into an opportunity and don’t see it because it doesn’t look like what we expected.  God’s ways certainly do not fit neatly inside my box and He is always thinking and working on a larger scale than I am.  {I am learning to think bigger.}

This week I finish my first semester of a Life Coaching Certification course that will add to my list of skills and add to the tools in my toolbox.  Do I want to be a life coach?  No, but I can use what I am learning here combined with what I have learned about ministry and healing to coach and bring restoration and direction to churches and church leaders. Believing God, I step forward, sometimes running or dancing, to follow Him through twists and turns, always getting to know Him better.

{Anything can happen if you let it.}

(c) Robin Lawrimore, June 2012