What Is Faith?

This is a beautiful post from my mom about faith. We often hear this word tossed around: “Just have faith!” But…in what?? And then if we decide to have faith in Jesus, we start to wonder, “Should I do more good works to pay Him back for saving me?” Check out my mom’s insights on this topic. You can also read more of her articles on her blog here!

What is faith?

We all wonder about this word, used so often in our culture.  Many chick flicks tout faith as the answer to any difficult situation. “Just have faith.” “Just believe.” One question usually remains unanswered: Faith in what?

Before we can answer the “What is faith?” question, we must know the object of our faith.

  • Is it goodness you believe in?
  • Or your faith might merely be a statement of optimism.
  • Or perhaps you believe in yourself — your own strength and ability.

Faith as described above is indefinable. At best, it is wishful thinking, and perhaps at worst, it could become the worship of idols.

If, however, Jesus Christ — who by the power of the Holy Spirit died and rose from the grave — is the object of your faith, then the definition is this: Confidence and hope in things unseen (see Hebrews 11:1).

Simple enough. But what does it mean?

I hope that all my dreams (the good ones that is) will come true. Is that faith?

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Questions about Singleness (post from my mom)

Here is one more guest post from my mom, in response to these two questions:

  • How can I be happy being single?

  • How do I break the cycle of always needing to have a boyfriend?

Here are my mom’s thoughts — profound and so helpful as always! 🙂

Questions about Singleness (by Pati Robison)

Wow! These are hard questions to answer. Especially because the longing to be married isn’t sinful or unbiblical. In fact, just the opposite is true!

The desire for a long term marriage relationship is God-given.

In Genesis 2:18, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” He was talking about this specific man, yet verse 24 indicates that this condition of needing a companion continues for all of mankind.

For a woman the condition is no different. Before God created Eve, she was, in a sense, a part of Adam, “for she was taken out of the man.” Both men and women are somewhat incomplete without a marital partner. Hence, the desire for a spouse is an excellent desire.

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What if I don’t feel God – is He there?

Here is another amazing question tackled by my amazing mother in this blog post!

Question: I’m trying to walk with God, but I don’t always feel Him there. How do I start walking with Him? Is He there anyway?

Mom’s Answer: Although many conversion experiences come with much emotion in the process of recognizing sin and the great godly sorrow produced in that recognition, our feelings do not always match up with our walk with God.

Emotions or feelings can be influenced by:

  • the environment/circumstances,
  • lack of sleep,
  • time of the month (for us females),
  • blood sugar levels,
  • chemical imbalances in the body, etc.

In other words, feelings certainly cannot be trusted. Feelings rarely indicate foundational truth. In light of this, on what do we base our walk with a God we cannot see?

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Where do I start reading the Bible? (guest post)

Here’s a common question I hear:

I want to read the Bible. Where do I start?

So I asked my mom to write her answer to this question. (Because she’s amazing. And super wise. And I wish she could meet all of you. So. Here goes. A blog from my mom about how to study the Bible, and where to start. :))

Where do I start reading the Bible?

By Pati Robison (mi madre)

(To visit Pati’s personal blog site, click here.)

2 Tim 3:16: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…”

John 17:3: “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

So you want to get to know your Bible better, but maybe (like many others) you have no idea where to start. Should you read straight through from the beginning? Start in the gospels? Close your eyes and read whatever verse you put your finger on?

In Which Category Are You?

Before answering this question, may I suggest that there is more than one category of beginning Bible reader.

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I know why the caged bird sings (guest post)

Today, I have the honor of sharing a guest blog post from my mom!! Ever since I was a little girl, she’s immersed herself in studying the Scriptures and journaling her insights and all she learns. Recently she wrote one such study up into a blog post on her blog site (which you can visit here), and I loved it so much that I asked if I could share it here as well. So without further ado, here it is:

I know why the caged bird sings

by Pati Robison

“Let those who love the Lord hate evil,

for He guards the lives of His faithful ones

and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Light is shed upon the righteous

and joy on the upright in heart.”

(Psalm 97:10-11, NIV)

This is my year of psalms.

Reading, learning, memorizing. Sometimes I even create a picture in my mind to help me remember certain verses.

 When I got to Psalm 97:10, I imagined a cage: beautiful, like a birdcage, only larger. The faithful ones were inside the cage. (I thought of myself being inside the cage, even though I surely am not consistently faithful.)

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Ask Mom: Happy when I’m single?

Question: How can I be happy when I’m single? Or how do I break out of the cycle of always having to have a boyfriend?

Mom’s Answer: Wow!  This is a hard question to answer. Especially since the longing to be married isn’t sinful or unbiblical.  In fact, just the opposite is true.  The desire for a long term marriage relationship is God given.  In Genesis chapter 2:18, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”  He was talking about this specific man, yet verse 24 indicates that this condition of needing a companion continues for all of mankind.  For a woman the condition is no different.  Before God created Eve, she was, in a sense, a part of Adam, “for she was taken out of the man.”  Both men and women are somewhat incomplete without a marital partner.  Hence, the desire for a spouse is an excellent desire.

Think of how much training goes into the performing of any sport done with excellence.  In a sense, without realizing it, much of your life is spent in training for a relationship.  An alpine ski jumper doesn’t ski down the hill and throw a Triple Twisting Backwards Hurricane on the first day of training.  Nor does he do so during the first or second year of training.  Muscles must be conditioned, basic skiing and other preliminary moves learned.  Similarly, there are many characteristics which make for a great relationship.  These include self-control, self-denial, patience, faithfulness, kindness, etc.  If a skier were to try even the most basic jump the first day on the slopes, he might be injured for life.  Jumping into a relationship before developing the necessary skills may also injure you for life.  If you accumulate relational baggage through excessive numbers of boyfriends, your ability to train will be impeded.  Unlike an Olympic sport, marriage is meant to be a onetime jump, lasting for the rest of your life.  The Cycle of always wanting to be in a relationship hinders your ability to develop the necessary skills to stay in for the long run. Breaking out of this cycle will require great effort.  You may need someone in your life as a coach to spur you on. It is much easier to be in a comfortable, familiar place than to venture into new territory.  Consider your future.  What are you training for?  If you desire a marriage that goes the distance, then make the break and work on character and other preliminary work.

That said, let’s talk about contentment.  Even if, or when, you eventually get married, or find a great boyfriend, the heart issue will still be contentment.  Many marriages today end in divorce due to a lack of this quality.  If you cannot be content as a single person, I promise, you will not be content as a married one.  Let’s define contentment.  According to the Encarta Dictionary it means ‘to be reasonably happy and satisfied with the way things are,’ or to be ‘willing to accept a situation or comply with a proposed course of action.’  Think about Hollywood stars and the famous rich. Without the ability to choose happiness, any situation in life will seem lacking.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, 1 Tim 6:6. If your ‘proposed course of action’ is singleness, following are some ideas for growing in contentment:

#1 – Make the most of the situation you are in.  Focus on Now. As the old cliché says, “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Truth permeates this phrase.  Whatever your situation in life, there are potential benefits.  As a single person, you can be wholeheartedly devoted to serving the Lord, writes Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.  He actually advises singles to remain single for the sake of seeking first the Kingdom of God.  This is the greatest benefit of singleness, living for an audience of One.  Take this time to immerse yourself in the Lord.  Study His Word.  Worship.  Serve His people.  Only by His Strength will you be able to stay satisfied in this life.

#2 – Work on your issues.  After you are in a relationship for a while and the romance has a chance to fade, all those character flaws you were hiding will surface.   Now is the time to deal with them.    Humble yourself.  Prepare your heart to receive criticism. Then ask your closest friends and family what they think you need to work on. And PLEASE, don’t be too proud to get help if you need it.

One of the biggest issues in singlehood is finances.  Get yours in order.  Pay off those student loans and credit card bills.  Learn to live on a budget.  Better yet, learn to give a tithe as well as save 10% of your income. Again, get help if you need to.

#3 – Being Single doesn’t have to mean being alone.   Develop a network of great friends.  You weren’t meant to conquer everything alone.  This is the time to develop lifelong friendships. (Note from Tiffany: This includes building friendships with guys so you can feel comfortable interacting with the male species and see what sorts of characteristics you enjoy when hanging out with boys.)

#4 – Develop a hobby.  Travel.  Join a club.  There are so many options.  What is that dream you’ve always had?  Save your money and then do it.  It’s much easier to accomplish certain time consuming things when you are single.

#5 – Share your faith.  Perhaps this idea belongs with #1 or #3.  A larger percent of younger, single people will respond to the gospel than older married people.  Of course God can save anyone He chooses.  The point is to use this time to reach out to those who don’t know the Savior.  Let your light shine for Jesus and boldly proclaim the one who gives you the strength to be content as a single person.

Waiting. The lifelong struggle.  Whether it’s waiting to find a spouse or waiting for a child to conquer a difficult phase or waiting for a job or waiting for enough money or waiting for…  Life is full of waiting.  With God’s help you can learn ‘to be reasonably happy and satisfied with the way things are,’ while you’re waiting.

Ask Mom: Eating disorder?

Question: I have an eating disorder. What do I do to stop struggling with that?

Mom’s Answer: Inherent in this life is the concept of brokenness. The possibility of living apart from brokenness is slim.  The real questions are: How to live in spite of brokenness; How to continue to dream in spite of brokenness; How to continue to trust in spite of brokenness; How to continue to try in spite of brokenness.  I have yet to meet a human being void of some degree of pain and suffering, usually at the hands of another fallen human being.  Each person deals with the damage in a different manner.  From heavy involvement in sports, computer games or some other form of entertainment  to more self destructive behaviors like introversion, depression, addictions and eating disorders, people are dealing with their own problems.  What most people don’t realize is that the inflictor of pain is him/herself in pain.  Hurting people hurt people.  How do we break this cycle?  Is it possible to live a pain-free life?  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world.”  So then, the prospects of a tribulation-free life are null and void.  Perhaps it is in the overcoming that we find our answers.

The goal here, in the midst of tribulation, is to overcome the world – your world.  How?  Just as each person deals with pain differently, so each of us have different gifts given to us to help us overcome in the midst of pain.  Maybe you have a loving parent(s) who is waiting and hoping that you will share your hurt with them. Perhaps you’ve been gifted with the ability to write or with artistic or dramatic talent.  You might be a people person, able to befriend even the downtrodden. Use these gifts to create beauty out of sorrow.  In whatever way you’ve been gifted, God Himself wants to recycle your pain.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”

Our suffering is not purposeless.  When one suffers, God sends along another who has received comfort and can pass it on.  Eventually, in the healing process, you will also find a recipient to whom you can pass your comfort on as well.

“That’s how it is with God’s love. Once you’ve experienced it, you spread His love to everyone.  You want to pass it on.” (“God’s Love” Camp Song)

One thing is sure, Jesus never expected you to overcome alone.  Since eating disorders are self-destructive, this is a serious issue.  Get help.  Whatever the situation, there is never shame in asking for help.  There is no magic formula for overcoming problems, whether they are eating disorders or any other problems.  The first One to ask for help is your heavenly Father.  Make sure your life belongs to Him.  The next on the list is your parents.  Except for a few rare situations, most parents really want to help, though they often don’t know how.  If you ask them for help, be prepared to help them on the way by realizing that they are also hurting people and they might not do things the way you wish they would.  Give them the right to fail.  Next, since your problem is a health issue, get medical help from a counselor/doctor.  Again, remember, you were never meant to deal with life’s issues alone.  There is no shame in getting help.

Last of all, I recommend finding someone else to serve.  There are many other people in worse pain than we are in.  One of the best ways to forget your own pain is to improve someone else’s life.  Find a ministry, a neighbor, a classmate, or a relative who needs help too.   Giving of yourself will often help you to refocus.

To sum up, brokenness is the new (or not so new) normal and it’s definitely not the end of your life.  Your eating disorder is an opportunity to overcome and to pass on The Love of God. Trust Him.  Get help.  You are not alone!!

Ask Mom: Walking with God?

Question: I’m trying to walk with God, but I don’t always feel Him there. How do I start walking with Him? Is He there anyway?

Mom’s Answer: Although most conversion experiences come with much emotion in the process of recognizing sin and the great godly sorrow produced in that recognition, our feelings do not always match up with our walk with God. Emotions or feelings can be influenced by the environment/circumstances, lack of sleep, time of the month (for us females), blood sugar levels, chemical imbalances in the body, etc.  In other words, feelings certainly cannot be trusted.  Feelings rarely indicate foundational truth.  In light of this, on what do we base our walk with a God we cannot see?

~*~*~*~

Foundational truth #1: Know what you believe and believe it regardless of your feelings.

The emotions of your conversion enabled you to repent and turn from a life of sin.  It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance (Romans 2:4).  Yet we still live in this earthly body which is generally tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine.  My first suggestion for a stable walk with God is that you know what you believe.  There are many courses such as the ALPHA course which will lead you through basic foundational biblical teaching.

The best way to know what you believe, though, is to read your Bible.  Bible reading will ground you in your faith.  Set aside a time in your schedule to read God’s Word.  Remember, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1).  God’s word is living.  It will change you! Ask Him to teach you as you read.

Developing the habit of reading will take time, so persevere.  If you skip or forget a day, start over on the next day.  Each person will learn at a different level.  If you are a slow reader, don’t expect to read 5 chapters a day.  Even a few verses a day can be life changing.  The point is to connect with the life-giving water of the Word of God.

Foundational truth #2: Jesus is Lord.

This sounds trite and cliché, but unless it is true in your life you will be fruitless in the kingdom of God.  By the way, shouldn’t this be foundational truth #1? Here’s why I put it as #2: An attitude of surrendering to Christ’s lordship is an attitude of obedience to His Word.  Thus reading His word brings you to the possibility Lordship.  But it’s your choice.  I’m definitely not talking about obeying emotions here.  Jesus often equated love for Him with obeying His commands (John 14).  As you read God’s word you will be convicted in areas of your life which need to change.  Obey those inclinations.

Foundational truth #3:  Worship

Another thing the Word of God will do in your life is inspire you to worship our great and awesome God.  As we read of His sacrificial love for us, the soul responds with worship.  For you worship may be silence, or dancing, or singing or playing an instrument.  It matters not the form.  What matters is that the worship is directed toward the King of the Universe.  Worship is not about sounding good or looking good.  It’s not about saying the right words.  It’s not even about words.  A heart of worship adores the object of its worship in every aspect.  Worship is inspired by God’s Spirit as we learn of His majesty and it extends to every area of life.

Foundational truth #4: Fellowship

We were created a social species.  In Genesis we read that it is not good for man to be alone.  Although this is referring to male humans, we can safely say, as we look further into scripture which instructs us in many ways to encourage and build one another up, that it’s not good for anyone to be alone.  Find a place where you can spend time with other believers and talk about the things of God.

Foundational truth #5: Honesty

Being with other believers can sometimes lead to a feeling of isolation apart from the virtue of complete honesty.  It is not uncommon for a Christian to think he/she is not as good/spiritual as others in the group.  This can lead to a false front or a mask.  Next, when help is needed this person who feels like a ‘lesser’ Christian is afraid to ask for fear of being judged.  Eliminate this right at the beginning by being transparently honest.  If you admit to your failures, others will let their guard down.  This can pave the way to deep and meaningful fellowship.  Believe me, no one you know is perfect!!  Nor did He intend for us all to be the same.  We are individually members of one another.  Your gifts and purpose are somewhat different than those around you.  Don’t covet your neighbor’s goods by comparing yourself with her!  Be the best follower of Christ you can be with what you’ve been given and let others do the same.

Foundational truth #6: Trust

God’s timing and my timing almost never coincide.  I’m usually in a rush to get to that perfect state of…  I don’t even know what it is I’m speeding full steam ahead to.  Christ died to give you life.  Trust Him.  He is surely able to do it.  You don’t need to worry if the feelings don’t match, or if your life is not as together as that super spiritual friend of yours.  If God is for you, who can be against you?? Don’t compare yourself with others.  He is able to accomplish what He has in store for you.  Trust Him.

~*~*~*~

If you are reading this blog, you are more likely than not a female in her teens or early twenties.  Whatever your situation in life, the hormones associated with your youth and femaleness are intimately connected with your feelings and emotions.  Because of the hormonal surges during this time of life, your feelings cannot necessarily be trusted.  It is very normal and natural to swing from one emotion to another; hence, the extreme importance of basing your spiritual foundation and understanding on the Word of God and not on feelings.  Learn to identify and evaluate the things you feel and think. At times your feelings may match up with God’s Truth and at times they may not.  Be sure you know the Truth.  God’s Word is truth. It will set you FREE!