A Believing Heart…Believing in God

In matters of religion, a skeptical mind is not a higher manifestation of virtue than is a believing heart

I’m not going to lie. Somehow, I have always known that there is a God and believed in Him and in His ability to help me. I have sensed Him in my heart and I have seen Him all around me: in nature, in loving relationships, in the solutions to life’s problems that seemed to be handed to me. I know that not everyone has that experience.

Though I know that not everyone believes in God or has a believing heart, I also know that virtually everyone born to this world questions at one time or another if there is a God.

I believe that my life is a testimony of his existence. Even if you exclude my near-death experience, there are just too many “directed” events for me to brush a belief in God under the carpet. If I had never had a near-death experience, I have found the “needle in the haystack” far too many times to ever question God’s existence!

In that light, I share today’s story. I love Marilyn’s story. I also love that she trusted her heart and recognized the tangibly intangible moments that she shared with God. I hope you enjoy!:

How an Atheist Found God

A personal account from an atheist who was convinced no god exists, and what facts led to God.

By Marilyn Adamson

Religious people seemed annoyed by my question, “How do you know that God exists?”

Perhaps they wondered about my motives. Or maybe they had no idea how to answer. Most of their responses were, “Well, you just know.”

I wasn’t trying to be difficult. But I certainly did not “just know.” And I was hoping someone did!

After many months of this, I thought, “Here are the people who say they believe in God, but no one knows why!” It was like learning the truth about Santa Claus. It seemed obvious that God was completely fabricated. Maybe some people needed to believe in God but clearly there was no proof. No objective evidence. I came to the most stark conclusion…God did not actually exist.

I held this belief for years, not expecting it to ever change. But then I met someone who caused me to become interested in the possibility of God. She was caring, kind, and very intelligent. It bothered me that someone that intelligent could believe in God.

She talked about God like he was her closest friend. She was convinced he deeply loved her. I knew her life well. Any concern she would take to God, trusting him to work it out or care for her in some way. She would tell me, quite candidly, that she was merely praying that God would act upon her concerns. For over a year, I regularly saw what seemed to be answers to her prayers. I watched her life through a myriad of circumstances, and her faith in God was unwavering.

So, I wanted to believe in God on one hand, because I admired her life and her love for others. But I couldn’t believe in something against my intellect, against my better judgment. God did not exist. A nice idea, but that was all. Wanting something to be true, doesn’t make it true.

During this time I was developing a personally built philosophy.

I tried something that I’m not sure many people do. Every few weeks, I would study a particular philosopher’s take on life …Nietzsche, Hume, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Plato, etc. and then try to apply it to my own life. I was looking for the perfect, workable philosophy for life. I found over and over, that either their philosophies seemed lacking, or were too impractical to implement. But I kept searching.

I was challenging my friend with every question that came to mind about God. I would find myself writing out questions late in the evening. This went on for well over a year. One day she handed me a book1 that briefly answered questions like, is there a God; is Jesus God; what about the Bible. It presented facts. No comments like, “you have to believe.”

I saw some evidence for God that was solidly logical. The parts particularly convincing to me were the chemical properties of water and the earth’s position to the sun. It was all too perfectly designed, too perfectly put together. My faith in “nothing behind it all” seemed weaker than the possibility of God. I had fewer reasons to be certain of nothing, and more reasons to conclude that God might be there.

I then encountered a situation that fully challenged my current philosophy on life. What I had been putting my faith in proved to be completely insufficient. It shocked me to see that I was at a loss for an approach to life that was fully reliable. However, the situation resolved itself and I moved ahead. I have a pretty steady personality. Throughout my life, I never really felt “needy.” No on-going crisis. No big gaps or struggles. And certainly nothing I felt guilty about.

But the concept of God was something I couldn’t get off my mind….was he there? does he exist? maybe there’s a God…..

One night I was talking to my friend again, and she knew I had all the information I needed. She knew that I had run out of questions to ask. Yet I was still trying to debate. In one clear, abrupt moment, my friend turned to me and said, “You know, I can’t make this decision for you, and God’s not going to wait forever.”

And I immediately knew she was right. I was playing around with a very important decision. So I went home and decided that I was going to decide. I was going to either ask God to come into my life, or I was going to end the subject forever and never allow myself to consider the possibility of God again. I was tired of dealing with this decision. I was tired of thinking about it.

So, for the next three or four hours, I reviewed everything I had read and observed. I evaluated it all.

I concluded that the evidence for God was so strong that it made more sense to believe in God than to believe he wasn’t there. Then I had to act on that conclusion.

I knew that just intellectually concluding God existed, was way too light. It would be like deciding…airplanes exist. Faith in an airplane means nothing. However, if you need to get somewhere and an airplane is the way, you have to decide to act and actually get on the plane.

I needed to make the decision to actually talk to God. I needed to ask him to come into my life.

After a few hours of thought I addressed God, “Ok you win. I ask you to come into my life, and you may do with it whatever you’d like.” (It seemed reasonable to me, that since God exists, God had every right to influence and direct my life, if he wanted to.)

I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of “sensed” that he was. One thing I knew for sure. I immediately had a huge desire to get to know this God whom I now believed in.

I wanted to read the Bible. When I did, it seemed that God was spelling out who he is and how he viewed this relationship with him. It was amazing. What really surprised me is how often he talked about his love. I hadn’t expected that. In my mind, I was simply acknowledging God’s existence. I had no expectations of him, but as I read the Bible, he chose to communicate his love to me. That was a surprise.

Now, my basic, skeptical nature was still there. The first few months or year, I would ask myself, “Am I really believing in God? And, why am I?” And I would methodically review five objective reasons why I believed God existed. So my “faith” in God did not rest on feelings, but on facts, on reasons.

To me, it’s like the foundation of a building. The facts/reasons support my faith. It’s like someone driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. They can feel whatever they’d like about the bridge. But it’s the construction/design/materials of the bridge itself that allows them to safely get from one end to the other. In the same way, the objective reality of God–the logical, historical, scientific reasons to believe in his existence, are important to me. There are people who don’t seem to need that. But I hate being fooled, and I have little regard for wishful thinking. The substantiating reasons for God’s existence mattered to me.

My Experience, Part 2 – Further Evidence of God

Since that time, now that I’ve been a Christian for a number of years—-why do I now believe in God? What reasons do I have for continuing to believe in God?

I’m not sure any of these are going to be believable to you. But I’ll try to put that concern aside and be candid with you. Previously my questions were about God’s existence. After beginning a relationship with God, I saw additional evidence that God is real. Such as…

1. When I have questions, concerns, or would like insight on a matter, God speaks to me through the Bible. What he shows me is always perfectly suited to my question, and a better, more satisfying answer than I expected. Here’s an example.

One day, my schedule, deadlines, and obligations were crawling up my neck and tightening their hold. You know that feeling when you’re so overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do first?

So I got out a piece of paper and pen, and asked God: “Just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.” I was fully prepared for shouldering 100% responsibility, and was basically asking God to just set the priorities, tell me how to approach it all, and I would.

I then opened my Bible and immediately read where Jesus was talking with a man who was blind. Jesus was asking him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I read it again. Jesus asked: “What do you want me to do for you?” Rather amazed, I picked up my pen and began writing an entirely different list…to God. This, I have found, is characteristic of God. Reminding us that he is there. That he cares, and he’s capable.

I choose that example because it’s brief. But I could cite hundreds of examples where I was asking God a question and he perfectly, thoroughly answered me. It probably is the characteristic of God that I most appreciate and value–that he is willing to answer my questions.

This isn’t something I learned from other Christians. It’s just how my relationship with God operates. I ask a question, with an attitude that I really want to give him freedom to tell me whatever he wants to….to correct my thinking, to point out an area in my life that isn’t right, to show me where I’m not trusting him, whatever. And he always graciously speaks to me.

2. Similarly, when I need direction for a decision, he gives it. I believe that God cares about our decisions. I believe he has a plan for our lives, that he cares about who I marry, what kind of job I have, and some decisions smaller than that. I don’t believe he cares what toothpaste I buy, or lots of mundane decisions. But decisions that will affect my life or what he wants to accomplish through my life…I think he cares.

When has God given me clear direction?

One time I needed to decide about a trip to the Middle East. There was risk involved, and I was willing to go only if God wanted me to go. It was important to me that I knew what he wanted.

Two different times I asked God about a job. Both times his leading on it was so clear, that anyone watching would have concluded the same. Let me try one thin slice of an example.

During my senior year of college, I had decided to take a job with a Christian organization after graduation, that would require a move to California.

It was Christmas break, and I was now visiting my parents. One evening, I was alone and thinking through a long list of friends. I was wondering who I could talk into moving to California with me to be roommates. One person named Christy, came to mind, who had already graduated and settled in a job in Iowa. I thought she’d be the perfect roommate, but I hadn’t talked to her in several months. Just 30 minutes later, at my parents home, Christy calls me on the phone.

Her first sentence was, “I heard you are taking a job with this Christian organization.” I was floored because I had only told one friend, in Ohio.

Her next statement was, “Ok, I’ve got the pots and pans and dishes.” I said, “WHAT?!” She was moving to the same town in California and was calling to see if I would room with her.

Ok, so you see my point.

You might ask, why such a big deal, to even need God’s help in this decision? I knew that my parents would be completely opposed to this job. I thought it might cost me my relationship with my parents forever. So it was not a light decision. I asked God to guide me toward what he wanted. And he did. There were about ten other events related to this job, just as clear.

Other reasons I still believe in God…

3. In terms of explanations about life–why we’re here, what the purpose is, what is important in life, what to value or strive for–God has better answers than anything I’ve ever read anywhere. I have studied multiple philosophies and religions and other life approaches. What I read in the Bible, what I see from God’s perspective, all the pieces of the puzzle fit.

There is still a lot I’ll read in the Bible and close the Bible saying, “I don’t get it.” So I don’t mean to suggest I fully understand everything in the Bible. Instead, I’m saying that life only makes sense from the perspective of what God has revealed. It’s like reading the operating manual to life on earth, only we are not left to merely follow the manual. The inventor is explaining to us how it all works, and then offers to personally guide us through it, on a daily basis.

4. The intimacy with God is deeper than intimacy with any human being. I say that married, with two children, and tons of very close friends. His love is perfect. He’s incredibly gracious. He takes me right where I’m at, and as I said, speaks to me. He intervenes with actions that leave me amazed as the observer. He is not a belief or doctrine. I see him act in my life.

5. He has done more with my life than I would have done on my own. This is not a statement of inferiority or lack of self confidence. I’m speaking in terms of accomplishments that far exceeded what I ever had in mind. He provides ideas, direction, solutions, wisdom, and better motives than I could aspire to on my own.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.everystudent.com/wires/atheist.html

 

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The Holy Ghost…the Gift We Receive

We will never be prompted by the Holy Ghost to do something we cannot do Richard G. Scott

The story I share today reminds me a little of my near-death experience. The details do not match but the feelings of beauty and awe do.

My near-death experience helped me to understand how great the gifts are that God gives to us. It also taught me how much we tend to underestimate and neglect the gifts that we are given.

One tremendous gift that is available to us, as we live lives with a connection to our Creator, is the gift of the Holy Ghost. We may not have that gift continuously but it can speak to us nonetheless.

Those moments when we sense that heaven’s angels may be speaking to us; those reminders that seem to “pop” into our heads, ideas that suddenly come to us, or feelings that inspire us are usually just that! Angels in the form of deceased family members, friends or those yet to be born often assist us. Though we probably don’t remember it, we most likely did the same for them!

We each have been given at least one if not more wonderful assignments to accomplish while we are having this mortal experience! I hope that you are listening to your heart and that you are endeavoring to fulfill the personal tasks you, uniquely, have been commissioned with! As we each work to manifest the life that we were created to fulfill, we contribute to the overall success of God’s work on this earth!

True happiness comes as a result of our connection to and relationships with God. I know that most of us don’t remember how well we know Him or how familiar we are with Him. However, I also know that our hearts consistently speak to us of Him as we keep them open and receptive. If the windows of heaven could be opened for just a few minutes, those brief glimpses of heaven would change our world and our understanding of it’s purpose! This world is not an accident and neither are we!

It is my prayer that you will know of the love that God has for each of His children – ESPECIALLY you! I hope you enjoy today’s story!

The Dream

 I always used to ask God to show me how to live faith ….. It’s already a few years since I had a very significant dream, which is vividly imprinted in my mind and in my heart forevermore. No doubt it was an answer to my prayers and it made me feel so deeply cared for and loved! The dream:

“I climb up a rather high mountain together with many other people. We walk in silence on a narrow path, in a row. I understand that we are pilgrims, when I see a church far away high up on the mountain, beautifully “set” on the horizon. I am full of expectance. I love the mountains and I enjoy the view and the peaceful climbing. When we reach the church and when everybody is inside, I immediately notice a Priest who shuts all the doors in what seems to me a definitive manner. He blocks the doors nailing pieces of wood on them. Instantly I feel claustrophobic and ask the Priest to please open the doors again. I don’t like to be closed in, I feel uneasy, I want to go outside again, but there is no reply from the Priest. I look around and there I see a staircase. I run up the stairs and indeed I find a little door which opens to a balcony and I step out: What I see in that moment is so immensely moving! I see a beautiful green valley stretched before my eyes (it does not seem the same valley we have come from). At the end of this valley there is a golden city. Everything is so extremely brilliant and beautiful that my heart fills with a longing so strong that I can hardly bear it. I’m overwhelmed and stand there in utter awe for quite a while. Then I do not resist anymore. I cry out, I want to go there, I feel within my heart that the Place is like Paradise. It’s as if from the shining town a voice called me, “come, come, here is beauty, here is love, here is peace “. ….. Then I hurry downstairs shouting “How can I reach the place I’ve seen from the balcony? There is a golden city! Please open the doors …” Nobody answers and I feel deeply frustrated for being closed in. Then I find myself standing right in front of the Altar with a little golden Tabernacle. The Tabernacle is beautifully decorated. While gazing at the Tabernacle I suddenly become silent and I feel at peace. In that moment I hear a beautiful voice saying “You know the way, I am the way, there is no other way to reach the place you’ve seen ….. come through the Tabernacle, this is the only way”. The Voice vibrated softly in my heart. My reaction to the “invitation” was strange. I thought “the Tabernacle is too small to get through, I’ll never manage ……..”.

The dream ended and I woke up just in that moment when I was doubting to make it “through” the Tabernacle.

I remembered vividly everything and finally, my heart strongly pounding, I understood.

JESUS had told me that HE WAS THE WAY! HE IS THE WAY to perfect joy “perfecta laetitia”! And I remembered the words He said to His disciples during the Last Supper “Do this in memory of Me…..”. The Holy Eucharisty! …. The Tabernacle!

Since I had this wonderful dream I approach the Holy Eucharisty in much deeper awareness that JESUS TRULY IS THE WAY.

WRITTEN BY MARGHERITA RUEGER

Story shared from the following website: http://godslittleacre.net/inspirationalstories/the_dream.html

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The Lord’s Work…Building Our Lives

The Lord’s Work is not just to Solve Problems, it is to Build People Henry B. Eyring

I have met a lot of people who work under the assumption that if the Lord loves them, He will bless them to have problem free lives and He will give them annual vacations to a tropical island, perfect children, and everything else they want.

The reality that I witnessed in heaven is that this life was never meant to be a pleasure cruise. Instead, it is meant to be a growth experience. I believe we all know that subconsciously irregardless of what else we might say or what we might wish.

Do you ever scratch your head when you hear of someone who has gone through something amazingly difficult like treatment for cancer say that they are grateful for the experience and that they wouldn’t give up that experience for the world? Maybe they have said something like “the experience has made me a better person”.

I used to scratch my head when I heard others say things like that but now I understand.

I witnessed in heaven that we all inherently crave and desire personal growth. In heaven, we all wanted to be like the Father of our souls. We were soooo excited to be granted a chance at mortality and learn all that it would give us opportunity to learn!

The difficult part now is that we no longer remember heaven or how excited we were. We don’t remember God and we don’t understand how amazing we truly are.

That is where faith comes in. That is why we need to listen to our hearts. This life is a test but it is a test that is meant to provide us with the maximum growth each of us individually and all of us collectively are capable of.

We all have been entrusted with a mortal body and an experience we call mortality. We all have the personal power to do wonderful things with this thing we call life. We are the Lord’s work and He loves us like you can’t even begin to comprehend!

Life is difficult – not by accident but on purpose. However, we have a wonderful Father, Mentor, and Coach called God and his son Jesus Christ who stand by ever ready to assist us and teach us.

I hope you are able to feel them in your life. Please enjoy today’s story!

Are you Steel or Glass?

by JERMAINE

I haven’t met a person yet that has found a way to truly live carefree 100% of the time. I’ve talked with multi-millionaires (at work), the extremely famous, and the extremely talented, even near geniuses… all of them still had problems that came up through the course of their lives (and continued to come as long as they are alive). Thus, the conclusion I came to was that regardless of status, age, race, class, or gifting… adversity has no respect of person, it will forever be a part of this human existence.

Adversity Reveals Our Core

Be that as it may, I am thankful for this truth. Not because I am a hater and want everyone who has ever walked the face of this earth to struggle as I have struggled. Nope that’s not it at all. I’m excited about this fact because I know that it is adversity (not prosperity) that reveals the core of a person. I believe Francis Bacon said it best:

While prosperity best discovers vice, adversity best discovers virtue, and the virtue that comes from adversity is fortitude. The good things, which belong to prosperity, are to be wished, but the good things, which belong to adversity, are to be admired. Therefore we know not of our own strength that has not met adversity.

As each of us face another day in which we probably have yet to reach perfection in every area of our life… smile! Let us embrace the fact that we are being sharpened (not shattered) by the pressures of life. All things are working together for our good! Once the pressure is released from our current situation we will not only know our existing strength but also become acutely aware of new strength that was born out of the process of being sharpened. So, I conclude by asking “will you embrace the qualities of steel -or- those of glass?”

The same hammer that breaks the glass, also sharpens the steel. -Bob Johnson, Ex President of BET

Story shared from the following website: http://www.asparkstarts.com/are-you-steel-or-glass/

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God’s Gifts…Take Advantage of His Abundance!

God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame Elizabeth Barrett BrowningI happen to believe that God is a God of abundance. Okay….I know that He is a God of abundance. I witnessed His abundance during my near-death experience.

Yet, I still have days in which it just seems like my ability to overcome the difficulties in my life has been put on hold.

Because of my near-death experience, I know how important life is, that each of us has been given gifts, and that we are to use those gifts in handling and creating our lives.

I know this – I witnessed our preparations for this life. I also know that waaaay too many of us don’t believe that they have anything to offer this world in which we live or some think that they know themselves and their abilities better than God.

The truth is that we could live for thousands of years and still not have the handle on ourselves that God has. Perhaps Methuselah was beginning to get a glimpse of his potential by the time he exited this life but the only way we have a chance to do that ourselves is to utilize faith and God’s superior wisdom.

I love today’s story. I think it provides each of us with some good things to think about. We all have gifts – are we putting them on the shelf or are we demonstrating to our Giver that we love them and are using them?!! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Unopened Gifts

What would you think if you brought a valuable gift to a friend’s house only to have them put it on a shelf, unopened?

A story like that is told of a faithful but tired Christian man who died and went to heaven. An angel greeted him and offered a tour of heaven’s grandeur. Along the way, the man noticed an unusual building with no windows and only one door. Asking to see it, the man was advised that he really would not want to see what was inside. But the man pleaded to see inside the building. Once inside, he saw rows and rows of shelves from floor to ceiling, all filled with beautifully decorated boxes. Examining them further, he found one that had his name written on the tag. Again, against the warning of the angel, the man opened the box. Instantly, he recognized its contents. They were blessings God intended for him to enjoy on earth, but some, he never asked for, and others he had not accepted.

It is the same with us. God wants the very best for us, but we have to ask. And once offered them, we have to accept them. Otherwise, there is no blessing received. God tells us that if we, being mortal parents would give good things to our own children, how much more would our heavenly father give to us, His children?

We might not always FEEL it, but there is no end to God’s goodness. We just need to ask for it. I’m not talking about some name it and claim it prosperity gospel too often preached today. I’m talking about the goodness of God: his grace when we deserve none, his strength when we are oh so very weak, his truth when we face lies, his hope when we are in despair, his faithfulness when we feel betrayed.

Have you ever felt nudged by God to step out in faith but you declined, because it seemed awkward or weird? Unopened blessings are like that too. When we know what God desires for us, but don’t respond, we also miss out on blessings that remain instead unopened.

Do you really want God’s best for you? Ask Him and respond when he answers, no matter how awkward it feels. Tell Him that you want to experience His joy, even if you can’t hear him respond right away. Enjoying God’s goodness and enjoying the life he gives you are one and the same.

Believe God, seek him, desire His goodness, and it will be yours. Enjoy God and open the gifts he offers you each day.

Today’s story was shared from the following website: http://www.golightourworld.org/tag/unopened-gifts/

 

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Gratitude Is the Healthiest of All Emotions…

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions, the more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for Zig ZiglarToday, as I searched for a story on gratitude and it’s healing effect, I came across a wonderful website called 365grateful.com. It is a wonderful website – I would recommend it to everyone!

Even though my intent is for you to be able to receive a quick tidbit of inspiration from this website, I am going to step beyond that a little today and share a video from 365grateful.com. I think the extra time it will take you to watch the video will be well worth it…It definitely was worth it for me.

I know that gratitude and freeing our hearts of pain, remorse and bitterness is HUGE to our health and well being. I also know it is huge in the process of letting God into our lives.

So, with that intent, I hope you will enjoy today’s story in video form:

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