When Faith Grows Strongest

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Photo by artemisphoto taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Those who know me well are familiar with my slight obsession with music. If a song touches or tugs on my heart, I’ll listen to it over, and over, and over. It’s interesting, in a round-about way, that through a certain song that’s landed on my replay list and Scripture verses read each morning, God appears to be saying the same thing, and that thing is focus. Surrender. And stay ever close, because life is too short and the stakes are too high to become complacent or self-centered.

The first two lines in this song get me every time, and call me to pray. To surrender. To fight the tendency to become complacent, distracted and lukewarm.

(To my sweet friend SandyT, I wanted to text you this song yesterday but couldn’t do so from my phone.)

I encourage you to prayerfully listen to this song by Cloverton before reading Paula Rose’s post below.

Turning From Lukewarm Faith by Paula Rose

There was a time in my life when I let my faith become lukewarm. It’s not an abstract, intangible place. Looking back, I realize this was my own doing. I hadn’t my circumstances nor my trials to blame. Pressure and pain weren’t the catalyst. My cool down came at a time when I was fine, but I was waiting in the hallway of life feeling like I’d been standing there too long, waiting for a window to open.

How can I even think about how long was too long?

I came to realize through tragedy something I forgot through the plush mountains of good times and inside the periods of “not just yet.”

My timeline isn’t His.

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Photo by anankkml taken from freedigitalphotos.net

We are all aware that tragedy will bring you to your knees like nothing other, but tragedy also brings with it silver linings that make you realize you are not alone. In the midst of pain, we can find who and what has been missing, and this is the greatest present of all.

I wasn’t granted a perfect ending. I was granted the ability to return to His embrace and to realize how off track I’d traveled. Through our life many changes will happen, people will leave, and our role may be increased or decreased on a certain stage. However, even through these emotional roller coaster rides, He is there.

I found in life that we can travel full circle and back again, but we might let go of Him when we’re too comfortable or too hurried. I’ve realized that the truest test of my faith wasn’t the tougher times, but for me, the true test was in the hallway. In the end, I had failed, but I was still welcome. I had failed, but I was still loved. I stayed silent too long, but He waited to hear from me.

This was how I came to be devoted, all over again.

***

Author Paula Rose brings an “average” family into extraordinary situations, brushes with life-size strokes of reality, adding just a touch of humor, and coats with suspense inside Christian fiction. Paula’s research gives readers a panoramic view from law enforcement and lends to character authenticity. She enjoys writing in the romantic suspense, suspense, and mystery genres, but when she’s not writing, Paula Rose is reading or playing amateur photographer. Member of ACFW. 2015 Genesis Contest judge. NetGalley member. 2014 Grace Awards judge.

Visit her online at Books-N-Reviews and on her website.

unnamedHer novel, Revenge:

As a job coach, it’s up to Olivia Foster to ensure her clients work in a safe environment, understand their positions, and serve their employer’s mission. The death of her brother drives her career choice, and she loves her job. It remains her only focus until one of her autistic clients goes missing. Then Olivia’s employer ends her position and adds her to the suspect list, but she makes plans to bring the missing young man home.

Detective Lt. Phillip Landon is deep into second-guessing his career choice, but his well-honed instincts see major flaws inside this missing person’s case. Surprising contacts, mysterious happenings, and threats can turn deadly. Can he keep Olivia safe, protect his heart, remove the job coach from someone’s target list, and adopt a faith he never knew all while adjusting to the new lives of his old family?

Find it online at ACFW Fiction Finder AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks, and discover deleted chapters and more of the story at Kobo!

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! When do you feel closest to God? When do you find your faith to be strongest and most influential? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Last Sunday a double amputee from my church shared his testimony, and in it, one phrase really stood out to me. He said God had trusted him to go through the trial he had.

Wow, is that not powerful? You can see his testimony in its entirety here:

Reality Stories – Dave Newell from Reality Church on Vimeo.

Finally, for those who are local and looking to do some Christmas shopping, stop by Barnes and Noble in Omaha near the Oakview mall on Dec. 13th from 1pm-3pm(ish); I’ll be signing all three of my novels.

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Sold out or Cruising the Bargain Racks

I know I said Wednesday’s would be parenting days, but unfortunately, I process things through my keyboard, which means you all are going to have to process them with me. Besides, this schedule doesn’t technically start until next week, so it’s all good. <grin> Our church is going over Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, and every week I leave thinking, “I’m gonna do better.” But somehow between Wednesdays I slip back into my nine to five. Oh, I’ll read a few verses in the morning and maybe offer a few prayers while I cook dinner. And if I’m feeling really “religious” I may even offer a word of encouragement to someone. So long as it doesn’t cut into my reading time. And yet, there was a time, back when I first gave my life to Christ, when His hands first plucked me out of the pit I was in and everything was so rosy and bright, nothing else mattered but God.

But then I got complacent. And my faith became predictable. I learned what an appropriate tithe was, how to schedule a quiet time and how to participate in the occasional prayer meeting… basically, how to go about my life in a respectable Christian manner. And when things get too uncomfortable, when this thing called Christianity somehow seeps out of Sunday, I run right back to my schedule. “Yes, Jesus, I’ll pray, as soon as I fold the laundry. Or can I pray while I fold? Does it count as worship if the music plays while I cook dinner? How can I multi-task You into my life…without disrupting my life?”

I wonder how different my faith would be if I had stood there watching as Jesus died. Would I still relegate Him to a nice, tidy morning quiet time? He gave His all…and I can’t even give him thirty minutes of uninterrupted time? And why? So my floors can be cleaner, or I can catch up on the latest sitcom or loose myself in a novel? Tonight I’m asking a different question: What would…no, strike that…what will my life look like when I release the reigns completely? When every day, instead of running to my to-do list I run to God instead?

I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know. It won’t be easy. In fact, just thinking about it is kind of scary, especially with the huge workload I have coming up this fall. But I guess that’s why it comes down to trust. Do I really believe that God has a plan…for me? And that He’s working out His plan?

Anyone want to join me? Let’s hold each other accountable, and share stories as God leads us on the adventures of our lives. I’m not sure where we’re headed, but I can guarantee one thing–we won’t regret it!