Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Thursday, September 21, 2017

How to Strengthen Your Spiritual Muscle

Are you a person of faith or fear? Do you worry about outcomes of situations? Do you get easily overwhelmed when things get out of control? This week I have been contemplating the issue of faith. When it comes down to the core issues and people in your life, how do you respond? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty?

I like to think of faith as our spiritual muscle. Just like our physical muscles, we have to exercise it. The Bible says each of us has been given a measure of faith (Rom 12:3). Like a muscle, we must exercise our faith for it to grow.  In order to live well, it is important to learn to walk by faith and not by sight. In other words, we need to expect good outcomes even before we see them. Faith pleases God because it shows we trust Him to intervene in our lives.


Perhaps like me, you trust God when it comes to some things, but not in others. Do you spend too much time and energy trying to "do" things that please God and not enough time listening, trusting, and believing?  I have worn myself out at different times in my life and by not trusting God to work in others and by trying to do too much in my own strength.

Rom 4:4 says "Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness." In other words, God sees us as righteous, not because of all our good works, but because of our faith and trust in Him. While I may be thinking I am pleasing God, I am saddened to realize that this does not please God at all. Scripture says that all my good works are like filthy rags (Is.64:6)

Nowadays, I expect a positive outcome even when I don't see it at the present moment. I don't have to know how God is going to work it out. All I have to do is trust that He WILL work it out. It has been a process to change my perspective, but slowly but surely we can all grow our faith. I've heard it said that we get what we expect. What are you expecting?

Faith is a positive expectation of the future. It helps us pull the dreams of tomorrow into today.
If you'd like to have more faith, you can start learning my simple but concrete steps by ordering a copy of my book, "The Power of Faith". While you're at it, order one for a friend. They make great Christmas gifts.

If  you enjoyed this post and would like to receive my bi-weekly posts of inspiration and personal growth, enter your email address in the box provided. I'll also send you out a copy of my free e-guide entitled" 7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". We're all on this journey together so do share it with a friend or loved one.

Until next time, have a little faith and keep looking up!

Ariel 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

10 Reasons Why Faith is More Important Than You Think

What is it in your life that you worry about? The future? Your health? Your kids? Your job? The stock market? Everytime we turn around there is some other disaster, crisis, or mass shooting that wrenches our heart strings. It's easy to feel hopeless and fearful but who wants to live like that? There is always something in life to stress over and there is a solution to help ease the anxiety that pervades society.

These days there is a lot of poo-pooing the idea of faith and belief in God. Many people have been turned off from "organized religion" and think of God as some strict punishing entity. Perhaps you are one of them. Others believe God is some distant heavenly body out there somewhere yet have no earthly idea how to connect with him. Still others doubt the existence of God as if this intricate created world of ours somehow was blown together by happenstance millions of years ago. I don't think so.


The fact is there is a God and it is up to us to get to know him. One way to do this is by developing the power of Faith. I like to think of Faith as my spiritual muscle. Just as we need to strengthen our physical muscles, we need to strengthen our spiritual muscle as well. Many of us work out and we wouldn't think of missing a yoga class, a run, or a bike ride, yet how often do we attend to the spiritual part of ourselves?

As some of you know, as a single mom of two boys,  I have been through many difficult and painful circumstances. If not for the grace of God and my Faith, I would not be on this earth today. In fact, I used to work with a beautiful single mom who had one son. We used to compare notes and talk about our kids. Often, she looked down and depressed. I tried to encourage her and talk to her about God.

One day, I heard she had died from an overdose of drugs. I attended her funeral. Her son was devastated. This is what hopelessness and despair can do. I did not want to end up like her and I certainly did not want to leave my sons without a mother. When we go through the darkest valleys, there is a better way.

It is the way of Faith.

Faith is what gives us hope to hold on, to keep on, and to stay strong. Life is tough and we were not made to go it alone. God is real and he wants to help us make it through the tough times we inevitably will face. Only God can make our crooked paths straight. Only God can fix the unfixable. Only God.

Here are 10 things Faith in God can do for you:

1) Give us strength to get through the challenges of life

2) Reduce anxiety when we don't know the outcome of events

3) Give us hope when relationships go awry

4) Give us power to achieve our goals and see our dreams come true

5) Give us victory over addictions and bad habits

6) Bring healing to sick minds and bodies despite the medical reports

7) Make miracles happen

8) Move obstacles we cannot move ourselves

9) Protect our children

10) Give us peace in times of crisis

Which of these do you need right now? If you need help developing your spiritual muscle, stay tuned for my upcoming posts. There are simple and doable steps you can take today to get stronger, have less anxiety, and more peace.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly emails plus a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".  We are all on a unique journey and this e-guide gives a step by step process to follow to find yours.

Stay tuned for more on igniting the power within and until next time,

Keep looking up!

Ariel 





Thursday, September 14, 2017

Ignite the Power Within Step 7: What to Do When God Ignores You

Do you ever pray and wonder why God is silent? Do you ask for answers and hear nothing? Do you feel like God is ignoring you? I have and let me tell you-it is no fun. It may feel like God is ignoring us, but the truth is He never ignores us. He is always watching over us and hears our prayers.

I was telling a friend recently that God speaks very clearly to us. He wants us to understand what He is saying so his three answers are short and sweet: "YES", "NO" and "WAIT". Today we'll talk about the third answer, which I think is the hardest one to accept - WAIT.

We all want an answer NOW, don't we? We want to move on, move forward, move ahead. But God is not on our timeframe, don't ya know? Nope, He has eternity to wait for us and sometimes that is what it seems like to us, right? An eternity?


So, what could possibly be holding things up? Why would our Heavenly Father delay his blessings in our lives? Let's put this in human terms for a sec. Why would a parent withhold something from their child say like getting their license or a new car? Because the parent is waiting till the child is ready for it, right? Kids need to learn responsibility, how to drive, how to be obey the laws and the limits of the road.

Same thing with God. He is waiting for us to learn some things. He is always teaching us something,even if we are not aware of it. The problem is we are slow-learners which is why we keep getting the same lesson over and over sometimes.

I have noticed that often when I don't get the message, God sends it in multiple areas of my life at the same time. It's like he is saying "Well, let me put this another way." God is a good god and a good father and like a good father he wants us to learn and to grow. God says "WAIT" because we are not ready to receive whatever it is we are asking for.

What is God trying to teach us? The same things we try to teach our children: patience, responsibility, obedience, and most of all He is trying to teach us to LISTEN. Yes, listen - to each other and to Him. How are you doing at listening these days? Are you spending time with the most important person in your life and are you really listening? Are you listening with an open mind and heart? God speaks to us through various ways. Sometimes through His Word and sometimes through other people. We may not like the messenger but don't miss the message. God will use whatever it takes to get through  to us.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on listening to God, answers you have heard, and even if you have a question I'm happy to try to answer it. If you'd like to join our community and receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll also receicve a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".

Stay tuned for more on igniting the power within and discovering YOUR destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Is God Trying to Get Our Attention?

Another shooting. Another tragedy. Floods. Hurricanes. Earthquakes. The list goes on and things are seem to be going from bad to worse.

Many people today don't believe in God. Others believe but don't understand the nature of God and the battle between good and evil. "How could God allow this to happen?" is a question I hear often. My answer is that there is evil in this world. And if you don't believe that, then just turn on the nightly news.



We cannot fully comprehend why God allows terrible things to happen to innocent people but it has been happening since the beginning of time.

We do know that good can come out of a bad situation. People make bad choices because we have free will and a sinful, uncontrolled nature. Now, I don't want to get too deep here, but bear with me.

Much of the bad stuff that happens in our world is a result of:
a) our poor choices or
b) someone else's poor choice. 

If we were all born inherently perfect, as some philosophies claim, then we wouldn't have these bad things happen, now would we?

Remember Noah and the ark? Due to the sin of the people, God sent the great floods to wipe out humanity. All except one faithful family - Noah's. By the way, did you know there is a flood story in every major religion? Interesting, huh? But, I digress. The point is God got disgusted with the way things were going back then and decided to wipe almost everybody out.

Could it be that God is trying to get our attention once again?

Who turns to God when everything is going smoothly? It's usually only when the tough times hit that we run to God in tears. God sees what is going on in the world and I bet he's not too happy. What is it going to take for us to turn to God? How many more acts of violence and disasters have to happen before we cry out and say enough?

God sees the future and knows just what we need to go through in our lives to build our characters and make us stronger. God knows what it takes to get us out of our complacency. Setting things right takes action and effort. It also requires a changed mindset.

Look at World War 2 for example. The United States didn't want to get involved with what was going on in the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Hitler's aggressive and violent policies were murdering thousands of Jews. It was a wake-up call then and perhaps this streak of violence and natural disasters is another one to perhaps not only America but to the world in general. We cannot tolerate violence of any sort and action must be taken.

We may not understand at the time, but eventually we can look back and see good that has come from bad. I know this is true in my life, how about yours?

If this post resonated with you and you'd like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts plus a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual wisdom.Your thoughts are always welcome.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Suffering: How to Get Thru the Tough Times

Nobody likes to suffer. But guess what? Suffering is part and parcel of life. Suffering exists in many forms such as physical, mental, or emotional suffering. Somethings come on us from outside sources and some suffering we bring on ourselves through faulty beliefs and poor choices. People all over the world are suffering in one form or another and yes, some people suffer more than others.

As we all belong to the human family, I believe we are called to alleviate suffering or at least to comfort those who are in pain. So to that end, I am writing this post. It is not an easy topic to write on, but it is important and touches each of us deeply. Recent events prompted me to think about this topic once again and perhaps you, too.





A few weeks ago, I was at the Baltimore Book Festival and since my tastes tend towards things spiritual, I stopped at the Christian Science booth. The two women explained how they believe in the power of prayer to heal ourselves and others. All well and good. But when I googled the religion, it said this under their "What we believe" tab : "We believe it is not God's will for people to be sick, suffer, or die." Really? What about Job? What about Paul and Peter? What about the countless migrants immigrating from Syria? What about the single parents of society or those with handicapped children? What about all those with AIDS? Victims of hurricanes and natural disasters?

Many belief systems and self-help gurus claim to be able to help their followers transcend or avoid suffering. According to self-help guru, Tony Robbins, most people try their best to avoid suffering and seek pleasure. As much as we seek pleasure, can anyone really say for certain they can avoid suffering? How many wealthy and successful people are struck with disease or tragedy? Wealth is not a guarantee against suffering. Nor is a life spent pursuing enlightenment. Look at Buddha. Did he not suffer? I have several Buddhist friends and they don't seem to be the happiest bunch either. How many monks have taken ill or ended up destitute? Perhaps a different perspective may be helpful.

Could it be that suffering is, in fact, good for us? Now I know this runs contrary to popular opinion. As the verse in James says "Count it all pure joy when you go through many trials for they produce character," (James 1:2).Trials exist for a purpose. Trials help us grow and develop character, even the ones we don't understand. Job didn't understand why he had to endure so many trials. His wife told him to "Curse God and die," she was so disgusted and hopeless. But in the end, Job did learn something about God, himself, and his friends. Isn't that what trials are all about? Suffering exists to teach us about ourselves, others, and God and this is where Faith comes in.

But what if we don't have Faith? Many people are leaving the church today. Some don't even give a thought to their spiritual life. I often wonder how they survive the inevitable trials of life. If we have no faith or belief in the infinite goodness of God, it is easy to be overcome by suffering.

When people don't take the time to look deeper to search for a reason for their suffering, they lose hope and eventually take desperate measures such as killing themselves or other people. This is why people often turn to alcohol, drugs, or excess in some area of life to comfort them and take their minds off their troubles. What these people don't realize is until they take the time to seek an answer, their troubles are not going to go away. Troubles are lessons in disguise. Life is a school, and the lessons we learn move us to the next grade. If we don't learn the lesson we'll keep repeating the grade. Let me give you a personal example.

Relationships have always been important to me. I have a tendency to want to make relationships work out. I put forth so much effort in my marriage to make the relationship work until I heard my then estranged husband utter these words: "Well, I'm not the first to be divorced, and I won't be the last." It was then I realized he had stopped trying. The pattern continued with the boyfriends who came into my life. I was always the one taking responsibility. The most hurtful situation was with my oldest son. I tried so hard so many times to make these relationships work but they all failed miserably. What was the lesson in all of these relationships that I failed to learn?

I kept searching and asking God and others "Why?" Now I have peace. Now I understand the lesson, but it has taken years and several buckets of tears. Eventually the answer comes.

The lesson was this. It takes two to make a relationship work. I needed to respect myself enough to say "Enough is enough". If the other person wasn't respecting me, I needed to set my boundaries and keep them at arm's length: husband, boyfriend, or son. The characters changed but the scenario remained the same. The pain kept getting worse. It was my youngest son who pointed this out to me and then I was able to tie all the pieces together. Now that I think about it, perhaps this all goes back to the fact that I never had a relationship with my alcoholic father. I tried many approaches then as well - excelling in school, music, and many other areas. None of these worked because my father was an alcoholic, and he was incapable of having a relationship with anyone except the bottle.

We don't always understand why God allows suffering at the time, because our minds are human in capacity and our awareness is often clouded. God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and His ways are higher than our ways (Is 55:8-9). This means God always has a purpose and a plan, even if it is not clear to us. God uses circumstances to mold us, to grow us up, and to teach us to take better care of ourselves. Yes, these lessons can be painful and difficult but in the same way a parent disciplines a child for his or her own good, so God disciplines his children (Heb 12:4-7).

We may not see what the outcome of our situations will be. This is what Faith is all about. Faith is the positive belief of things not yet seen. The Bible says that Faith is what pleases God (Heb 11:6). It shows we trust Him, even when we cannot see the path in front of us. Even when our eyes are filled with tears, and the days seem as dark as night, Faith is the power we each have to see us through. Faith is what carries us and keeps us. Suffering is difficult, no doubt, but when we can assign meaning to it, it loses some of its sting. Faith is the muscle we have to push through and to persevere.

What are you facing today? Have you lost a loved one? A relationship has failed? Financial woes? Health issues? Trust me, there are lessons in each of these circumstances. When we slow down enough to seek answers, they will come. I don't expect you to share your personal story but if you'd like, I encourage you to, because it is healing. Feel free to do so in the comments below.

If this post touched you and you'd like to join our community, enter your email in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly emails plus a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". It's a generic guide, not necessarily for Christian paths as we are all on a journey and I believe it will be helpful to anyone who is seeking spiritual direction.

I would love to hear your comments on this post. The experts advise talking about the raw stuff of life and this was certainly raw. I hope this has given you a different and encouraging perspective on the trials you are going through.

May your load be lightened and keep looking up!

Ariel

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

How to Find True Peace in Uncertain Times

Are you at peace? Do you have peace about your future? Your family? Your finances? Most of us struggle in some area. Finding peace is a challenge in today's chaotic and uncertain world. Many are seeking peace in a multitude of places and through a variety of means.

Some try to find peace by amassing a fortune or attaining a certain status only to find out wealth can all vanish in a short time. Who is popular today can be unpopular tomorrow. The world is fickle. Others try to find peace by medicating problems. Food, drink, drugs, and material possessions will never give us lasting peace. These provide only temporary satisfaction and in excess, do more harm than good.

Others go a more spiritual route. They try meditation, relaxation techniques, mindfulness, yoga and the like. Now I am all for relaxing the body and clearing the mind. But these, too, are only temporary, as practitioners well know. How many times have you and I gone for a massage,  or to an exercise or yoga class, and then, a few hours later the feeling of peace is disrupted by an aggravated phone call? It takes constant effort to remain at peace when we try to achieve it on our own.

What then is true peace and more importantly, where then does one find it?

True peace is steady. It is an inner calmness that resides deep in our souls. It is an anchor we can hold on to during the storms of life. It does not change with external circumstances or our fleeting feelings. We may doubt and become anxious when the challenges of life muddy up the waters, but the storms of life are meant to help grow us up and become more steady.

True peace is knowing that we are in the hands of a loving and gracious God.
No matter what happens to us or how bad things may seem, God has our back. He is still on the throne and he is still in control. Even though it may not look like it in the moment, he is working things out for our good. Every trial is a test meant to move us forward into our destiny and when the test is over and we have passed it, we will look back with thanks and gratitude for what it taught us.

True peace is a fruit of the Spirit. 
Fruit begins with a small seed. As it is watered and nourished, the seed grows into luscious fruit. In the same way, peace is a fruit of the Spirit that grows as we experience more and more of God's love. Now if you don't know Jesus, you may not understand this, and that's okay. I encourage you to let Christ into your heart today and get to know him for yourself. Those of us who have been through the fires of hell know God more intimately. We have met Jesus and we have seen the power of the Holy Spirit work in our lives.

Perhaps like me, you've tried to find peace in different places. Peace was not in yoga class. Nor in church. Nor in food. When everything around me is in chaos and the ground is shaking beneath me, I hold onto the one person who is faithful, steady, and ever-present. The one person whose promises I can depend on. I hold on to Jesus.

If the storms of life threaten to capsize your ship, remember what Jesus said: "I came to bring you peace not as the world gives," The peace of Jesus far more powerful than the peace that is offered by anything else in this world. It is an unfathomable peace that only Jesus can give.

When the disciples were in a tizzy on the sea of Galilee and the winds and the rain pounded their tiny boat, what did Jesus tell them? He said "Oh ye of little faith,". In other words, Jesus was right there in the ship with them and they had no need to be afraid. The storms of life are a test of our faith. They help to grow our spiritual muscle so that next time, we won't be as rattled by the winds and the waves.

Whatever you are going through, remember Jesus is right there in the ship with you. Jesus promised "I will never leave you or forsake you." We can count on the promises of  God. He never goes back on His word. Whatever storm we are going through, Jesus promises to navigate us through it and bring us out of it. I know, because, I have been through many storms in my life and I'm still here today.

So what storm are you going through in your life? Relationship issues? Financial problems? Health concerns? Whatever it is, do not let these steal your peace. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus and stay in peace.

If you'd like to join our community and receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email address in the box provided. I'll also send you out a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual wisdom to help you ignite the power within!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Faith for the Hurricanes of Life

Life is full of trials and tribulations. Some of them are brought on by our own choices and others are not. Some are small and others are hurricane-size. Many are out of our control.

So who or what do we turn to when life starts handing us lemons instead of lemonade? Our bank account? Our spouse? The wine bottle? Or..... someone bigger, stronger, and more powerful than us?

As for me, I choose to take my troubles to someone who can handle the weight of the world. His name is God. God is real, despite what you may or may not believe. He believes in you, even if you don't believe in him. God is able to get you through every situation , every obstacle, and every disappointment you encounter in life. In fact, God allows situations to grow us up and make us stronger. You know that phrase "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Well, it's true. And it is our choice on how we will respond.

Faith in God is the only thing that can sustain us throught the trials of life: faith to believe that we will get through the tough times, faith to trust when the path before us is not clear, faith to have hope for a better tomorrow,  and, yes, even faith to be joyful in the midst of trials.

James 1:2 says "Count it all pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." If we look at trials this way, it helps ease the pain.

Today, if you are going thru a storm, remember Jesus is in your boat. Jesus promised and God never breaks a promise. But we do have to do some of the paddling.

What can you do to help survive the storm? Get your finances in order? Set better boundaries? Stop fretting about things that are out of your control? Trust God more? Whatever it is, know that God is using the situation for your good and for His glory.

If you'd like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts and also a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned for more practical wisdom on how to ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Until next time,

Keep looking up!

Ariel