Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 3

There’s no happier person than a truly Thankful, content person Joyce Meyer

This week, in an effort to help others overcome depression, I am focusing on gratitude. There are several steps for overcoming depression and gratitude is an essential step.

Just think how happy you would be if your sole intent was to find the negative in everything you encounter. (Not Very right?) Yet, that is what some do – not intentionally but from thought patterns that they have developed over time.

Is there a co-worker who drives you crazy? Are you constantly fussing about your children’s cleanliness habits or lack of? What about those inconsiderate ways of your spouse or family member? Are you concerned that you are always getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop? Has some incredible trauma been a part of your life?

During my near-death experience, I saw the reverence, love, and honor that everyone had for each other in heaven. Other than God, no one was perfect but everyone radiated an air of love and goodwill. Everyone celebrated the good in each other and genuinely supported each other. I believe there is a lesson there. I walked away from my near-death experience with a greater understanding of what make heaven heaven.

We are on earth now, having a mortal experience. There is an important purpose for mortality. We have come to learn, grow, and improve. We have come to develop faith. We are no longer surrounded and enveloped by God’s love, as we were in heaven, but we can choose to love, honor, and reverence each other on earth as well. It is not easy work but it is work that our lives will be blessed for.

If you would like to overcome depression or just improve your life, you must develop an attitude of gratitude! Our thoughts and emotions are powerful things. So powerful, they can help heal us or help make us ill. There is a book, published in 1995, that speaks powerfully to the power of thoughts and emotions, etc. making us ill. It is called the 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness by Greg Anderson. It is a wonderful book! Whether you are suffering from depression or any other illness, it is worth your time and effort to read! Greg Anderson was diagnosed with terminal cancer (a second time) and then studied the patterns and changes made by individuals who had survived terminal illnesses. As you might have guessed, he adopted those changes himself and has lived to teach others about how to heal and overcome illness (even terminal ones).

I hope you will take the time to read Greg Anderson’s book! I also hope that you will work to increase your gratitude! Today’s article shares more information on how to have an attitude of gratitude! I hope you enjoy!:

How to Have an Attitude of Gratitude

It is that time of year when giving thanks is top of mind. The holiday season, and Thanksgiving in particular, causes us to think about all of the special things in our lives and express gratitude for them. This is a favorite time of year for many, in large part because we are surrounded by loved ones and visibly reminded of all that we have to be grateful for.

If you’re like me, you wish this feeling could last all year long. Just imagine feeling proud, thankful, and joyful on an ongoing basis, not only during the holiday season.

A major step in that direction is developing an “Attitude of Gratitude,” according to New York Times best-selling author Lewis Howes. Howes writes extensively about cultivating a grateful mindset in his highly-inspirational new book, The School of Greatness. As Howes simply says, “Life is better if you develop an attitude of gratitude.”

But what exactly does that mean and how do we do it?

An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life, on a regular basis, for both the big and small things alike. As Howes puts it, “If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

Here is a menu of tactics (just pick a few!) he endorses to help develop this mindset:

  • Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with at the end of the day the 3 things you are most grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with right now (significant other, friend, family member, etc.) the 3 things that you are most grateful for in this moment
  • Start a gratitude journal – Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about
  • Acknowledge yourself for what you have done and accomplished in the last day/week/month/year. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give yourself credit for the big and small things you have been doing!
  • Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you – oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged (and yet it happens far too infrequently)!

If the gratitude process is hard to get started, begin by asking yourself, “What could I be grateful for?”, and see if the ideas start to flow. This is a mindset habit that is recommended by Tony Robbins in his book, Awaken the Giant Within.

Every day won’t be perfect, but focusing on what we are grateful for tends to wash away feelings of anger and negativity.

And in addition to improving mood, recent studies show that feeling and expressing gratitude leads to better physical health as well. Paul Mills, a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, conducted studies that looked at the role of gratitude on heart health.

Among other things, he found that participants who kept a journal most days of the week, writing about 2-3 things they were grateful for (everything from appreciating their children to travel and good food), had reduced levels of inflammation and improved heart rhythm compared to people who did not write in a journal. And the journal-keepers also showed a decreased risk of heart disease after only 2 months of this new routine!

So try adopting some of the above tactics, even just one or two, in order to develop an overall grateful mindset. It takes a bit of work, but having an attitude of gratitude is one of the most impactful habits for a fulfilling and healthy life.

Today’s article was written by Andrew Merle and is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-merle/how-to-have-an-attitude-of-gratitude_b_8644102.html

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The D’s of Depression – Delve Into the Depths of Your Soul Part 4

The one thing you have that nobody else has is You. Your voice, your mind,  your story, your vision   Neil Gaiman

We have spent the last few days talking about getting to know yourself. Now, there is an additional step in that process…accepting who you are!

Have you thought of yourself as an author but determined that, because you can’t spell worth a darn, there is no way you can write a sentence let alone a book?

Maybe you are an artist at heart and you have swept that yearning into the deep recesses of your desires because your mom and dad told you that you could never make it in the world as an artist.

I don’t know your talents, strengths and abilities but the Lord does.

Now that you have identified what is important to you and gotten to know yourself better, it is time to ask for the Lord’s assistance with the whole process. The Lord knows you better than you know yourself. Even more important, no one wants you to succeed and have abundance in your life like the Lord does.

Today, I am sharing a portion of a lengthy but very good article. I hope you will take the time to read it! Getting to know yourself is work but it is oh so worth it!

How Does God Guide Us? Introduction

As a pastor, some of the most common questions I’ve received have do to with divine guidance. What is God’s will for my life? Is God leading me to take this new job? Does God want me to marry this person? Could God be pointing me in a new direction for my life?

Of course the question of how God guides us isn’t just a pastoral matter for me. Ever since I first put my faith in Jesus Christ over 40 years ago, I’ve been more or less eager to do what God wants me to do . . . if I only knew what he wanted! As hard as obedience can be at times, I’ve found that discerning God’s will can be even harder.

I think back to the summer of my sixteenth year. My parents really wanted me to go to Malibu Club, a Young Life camp in Canada. I didn’t want to go, partly because I didn’t know anybody and felt pretty shy, and partly because I just wanted to hang out at home with nothing to do. But my parents were persistent, reminding me of the exceptional beauty of Malibu, which stands guard over a salt-water inlet on the Canadian coast a few hours north of Vancouver. As a lover of natural beauty, especially mountains, I must admit I was tempted. But still I didn’t want to go.

Finally I decided to see if I could determine God’s will for whether I should go to camp or not. After praying for a while, I didn’t have any divine revelations. So I decided to do the only sensible thing. I told the Lord that I would go to camp if he wanted me to go, and that I would let the Bible give me his answer. Picking up my Bible and closing my eyes, I let the Scripture fall open, and then put my finger on a passage. “God,” I prayed, “if this passage tells me to go to camp, I’ll do it. Otherwise, I’m staying home.” I opened my eyes, looked down, and read:

By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
(Psalm 65:5-8)

As I read about the farthest seas and the mountains, and about “earth’s farthest bounds,” I felt sure I had received God’s answer. So I went to camp, and, to this day, my experience at Malibu remains as one of the highlights of my life.

Though I can’t prove it, I still believe that God used my silly little divination game to get me to Malibu. In his grace, he went along with my immature discernment scheme. But I do not believe that the “close-your-eyes-and-flip-to-a-Bible-passage” approach to spiritual guidance is God’s recommended approach. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever used this mode of discernment ever again, for good reason.

Yet this still leaves us with the question: How does God guide us? Today, I’m beginning a blog series in which I will propose several answers to this question. Indeed, I believe that God guides us in a variety of ways, besides the “flip-to-a-Bible-passage” method.

If you’re new to my blog, I should briefly explain my assumptions as I begin this series. I am a Christian who finds a theological home in the Reformed/evangelical tradition, though I’ve learned much from other Christian traditions as well. I believe, above all, that God has given us the Bible as our supreme guide in matters theological and practical. Thus I might be tempted to answer the “How does God guide us” question with a simple “Through the Bible.” But this answer is too simple, since the Bible itself reveals a large number of ways through which God guides his people. So, as this series unfolds, you’ll find that I turn to Scripture again and again for direction.

Spirit Guide Silliness

Spiritual guidance is a marketable commodity these days. If you’re willing to fork over a few bucks–sometimes, a few hundred–you can receive personal guidance from people who claim to have a special channel to “the spirit world.” Many of these gurus hock their supernatural wares at expensive conferences and workshops. Others have turned to the Internet. Yes, you can visit websites where, for a fee, you will receive personalized guidance that purportedly comes from some immaterial being. This “spirit guide” may be an angel, or a departed loved one, or a person who lived thousands of years ago. (I’m not going to put up any links because I don’t want to encourage use of such websites. But if you’re curious, you can find them easily through Google.)

Your spirit guide could even be the spirit of a plastic doll! Some years ago, Barbara Bell, an architectural illustrator from northern California (where else?), operated the world’s only Barbie channeling service. For only $3.00, Bell summoned up the spirit of Barbie to solve the problems of those seeking her advice. “I appreciate and understand Barbie,” Bell explains. “She has been forced to be shallow all these years, but underneath she’s a profound person.” And to think I never realized there was anything underneath her slick plastic exterior! (Little known fact: Barbie’s last name is “Roberts,” according to Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler. So Barbie must be one of my distant cousins.)

All of this talk about spiritual guidance from angels, dead people, and even dolls ought to give us pause as we consider the topic of spiritual guidance. Just because somebody claims to be guided by some supernatural being, even if this being is God, we ought not instantly to believe the claim. Spirit guide silliness should make us careful, even if we’re Christians who believe that God actually can and does offer supernatural guidance.

Sadly, however, some Christians have been caught in the current of spiritual silliness, claiming to be led by the Holy Spirit into all sorts of nonsense. I know a man who once claimed that God told him to have an adulterous affair with the wife of one of his best friends. He truly believed this, as did his friend’s wife. For some reason, they just didn’t think the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” part of Scripture applied to them. They ended up acting on their convictions, breaking up a marriage and messing up many lives in the process.

Attributing one’s peculiar behavior to God is nothing new. It’s been going on for centuries. Over thirty years ago, for example, I found myself in Mrs. Poole’s Sunday school class. She was a fine teacher, well-prepared, biblically-literate, and interesting even to a sixth-grade boy. Mrs. Poole’s Bible lessons were almost always succinct and compelling. Almost always, I say, because every now and then Mrs. Poole would claim that the Holy Spirit led her to depart from her notes and launch into the stratosphere of more direct revelation. As she spoke under the impetus of the Spirit, I was struck by how hard she was to follow and, frankly, how boring. If I took Mrs. Poole at her word, then I could only conclude that she was a much better a teacher than the Holy Spirit! Whereas she was succinct, the Spirit was long-winded. Whereas Mrs. Poole had a way of speaking right to the hearts of sixth-graders, the Holy Spirit could hardly keep our attention. Even then I suspected what I now believe to be the truth: Mrs. Poole was confused about the Spirit’s guidance. Her ramblings may have contained grains of genuine inspiration, but they issued more from her exuberant imagination than from the Spirit of God. Though I can’t claim to be the final authority on such matters, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Spirit actually inspired Mrs. Poole’s careful preparation of lessons more than her spontaneous sermons.

These days religious people are claiming divine inspiration for all sorts of behaviors that are, not only nonsensical, but downright horrible. The most obvious case is that of Muslim extremists who kill innocent victims in the name of Allah, something that is contrary to the beliefs of most of the Islamic world. Christian extremism of this sort rears its ugly head every now and then, especially in some conflict-ridden sections of Africa. These examples have led some critics to conclude that all spiritual guidance is nonsense, and even that the idea of God is both wrongheaded and dangerous.

I don’t agree with these conclusions. But I do take seriously the tendency for people, even well-intentioned ones, to misconstrue God’s direction. It’s especially tempting for all of us to project our own desires onto God, reading them back as confirmation of what we ourselves want. We believe God is speaking to us through our experience, when it may just be that our experience is drowning out God’s authentic voice. So, we must approach the subject of divine guidance with due caution. At the same time, we must not shrink back from one of the most precious aspects of the Christian life: divine guidance through the Holy Spirit.

Divine Guidance Through Circumstances

Yesterday, I showed how Scripture teaches that the Holy Spirit guides the people of God. As I continue my series on divine guidance, I’m beginning with this post to address specific ways we are guided by the Spirit of God. Today I begin by noting how the Spirit guides through circumstances.

Consider, for example, the following story.

In Acts, 16 the Apostle Paul and his colleague Silas were in Philippi, where they shared the good news of Jesus with a man and his family (Acts 16:16-34). The whole household believed the message and all members were immediately baptized. How did Paul and Silas get to the home of this man and his family? Not through inner spiritual guidance, that’s for sure. Not through dreams or angelic visions. Not through biblical interpretation. Rather, they got there through circumstances, rather odd circumstances at that. The man was a jailer who had been assigned to guard two prisoners, Paul and Silas.

The two missionaries got in trouble with the authorities when they cast an evil spirit out of a girl who had been used to make money for her opportunistic masters. Her spiritual freedom took away their source of income, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and accused them before the civic leaders of Philippi: “They are teaching the people to do things that are against Roman customs.” The officials had the Christians beaten and thrown into prison, where they met the jailer, who had no idea what was about to happen to him and his family.

Around midnight, when the two prisoners should have been licking their wounds and bemoaning their fate, Paul and Silas were praying and praising God. All of a sudden, a great earthquake shook the prison, knocking the chains off the prisoners. The poor jailer, supposing that his prisoners had escaped, was about to fall on his sword when Paul shouted: “Don’t do it! We are all here!” In shock, the jailer fell instead at the feet of the missionaries. He then took them to his home, where they proceeded to convert him and his entire family.

Given the whole tenor of Acts of the Apostles, we are surely meant to believe that the visit of Paul and Silas to the jailer’s home was no mere coincidence. Though not identified explicitly in this passage, the Holy Spirit was directing the action of Acts 16, just as the Spirit oversaw the mission of Christ throughout Acts. The Spirit got Paul and Silas into the jailer’s home by manipulating circumstances, some of which were obviously miraculous, others of which appeared on the surface to be both ordinary and distressing.

The Bible is full of stories in which God’s guidance comes, not by word or vision, but through circumstances. Such stories also fill most Christian communities where people seek God’s direction. We often don’t realize the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit until we look back in retrospect. But, later on, we see how God wove events together to accomplish his will in our lives.

Of course, the skeptic would deny that God was involved with such things. “Mere coincidence!” would be the claim. But sometimes the coincidences are so astounding that I find it very, very hard to believe anything other than that some Supreme Being is guiding events. In my next post in this series, I share one of my own experiences in which I’m convinced God was guiding me.

An Experience of God’s Guidance Through Circumstances

In my last post I explained that God guides us, in part, through circumstances. In this post I want to tell a story from my own life in which I experienced this sort of guidance.

When I was a sophomore in college, I wanted to share my Christian faith with others. But, as an introverted person, I wasn’t likely to walk up to a stranger or even a friend and get into a conversation about God. So I decided to pray and ask God to help me.

One brisk Saturday evening in October, I decided to go down to Harvard Square–which was always bustling with people–and see if I could share my faith with somebody. The Square was filled with students from all over the Boston area and it seemed a likely place for God to drop a seeker into my lap. I prayed earnestly for God to guide me to someone with whom I could talk openly about Christianity. “Lord,” I prayed, “you know I’m pretty shy about this. So it would be great if you’d work a little miracle here and find me somebody with whom I could talk about you. And if you could make it obvious, that would be really helpful.” With this prayer in my heart, I set off for the Square.

I wandered around for a while, wondering where “my person” was. “Lord,” I kept on praying, “please bring me somebody who wants to learn about you.” Still nothing happened. After a half hour or so, I began to feel both discouraged and silly. It almost seemed as if God was having a good laugh at my expense.

Just then, two young women approached me. “We’re going to a party at Dunster House,” they explained, “but we don’t know how to get there. Could you help us?”

“Sure,” I said. “Glad to.” Meanwhile I thought to myself, “This is great. Not only has God brought these people into my life so I can talk to them about my faith, but they happen to be two attractive women. God, you’ve outdone yourself this time!” Dunster House was about a ten minute’s walk from Harvard Square, so I figured this would be plenty of time to engage these women in a conversation about God.

On the walk down to Dunster, I kept bringing up subjects that I felt sure would lead to a productive dialogue about Christian faith. “I’m majoring in philosophy,” I said, “Are you interested in philosophy?” They weren’t. “Sometimes I wonder why we’re here on this earth? Do you every think about this?” They didn’t. Basically, all they wanted to do that night was to party at Dunster House, not to reflect on the meaning of life with their overly-eager guide. For ten minutes I tried everything I could think of to get these women to talk about God. Nothing doing. Of the thousands of students in Cambridge that night, it seemed as if they were the least interested in God.

When we got to Dunster House, I walked them to the door. They thanked me and left quickly, no doubt glad to be away from that stranger who kept asking invasive questions. I felt like a complete idiot. “Okay, God,” I prayed, “I get the point. You’ve probably had a good chuckle over my silliness. Well, that’s enough. I’m going home. This was a stupid idea.” I left the entrance to Dunster House and headed back to my dorm.

Just then I passed a student I recognized as being a friend of a friend, somebody I had met briefly during my freshman year. He said “Hi” so I returned the greeting as we went off in opposite directions. All of a sudden he stopped, turned around, and called to me, “Hey, are you Mark Roberts?”

“Yes,” I said, surprised that he remembered my name.

“Well, I’m Matt. I’m a friend of your roommate Bob.”

“Oh, yeah. Hello, Matt,” I said.

“I’ve been wanting to talk to you,” Matt said.

“Me?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes, you!” Matt asserted.

“Why me?”

“Because I hear you’re a Christian. I need to talk to you about God.”

That’s the line, exactly as it happened. I need to talk to you about God. It couldn’t get much clearer than that, could it?

And so began a conversation that lasted well into the night. That conversation turned into a weekly Bible study, as Matt and I studied the Gospels to find out about Jesus. When we finished, Matt wasn’t ready to give his life to Christ. But he was closer than he had been on that strange night when we met on the sidewalk outside of Dunster House. End of story.

Now I suppose a skeptic could always say that my meeting with Matt was just an accident. But it seems to me much more likely that God used the rather strange circumstances of that evening to guide me–and to guide Matt –so that God’s work would be done in our lives. I could tell a dozen more stories like this, hundreds if I drew from the experiences of people I have known during my years as a pastor. There is no doubt in my mind that the guidance of the Holy Spirit often comes through the circumstances of our lives.

But there is a downside to this kind of guidance. How can we be sure that our interpretation of our circumstances is correct? Suppose I had been so convinced that God wanted me to share my faith with the two young women on their way to the party that I managed to worm my way into the festivities, spending the whole night beating my head against the rock of their disinterest, and thereby missing that providential meeting with Matt. Spiritual guidance through circumstances is great, but it’s usually ambiguous. What will help us sort out the circumstances of our lives so as to discern God’s guidance with confidence?

Tomorrow I will share more of this post.

Today’s article is shared from the following website:http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-does-god-guide-us/

 

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Prayer….It Does the Spirit Good!

A lot  of Kneeling will keep you in  Good  Standing

THE POWER OF PRAYER

Upon arrival in the city, I observed two men fighting, one of whom had been seriously injured. I treated him for his injuries and at the same time talked to him about the Lord Jesus Christ. I then traveled two days, camping overnight, and arrived home without incident. Two weeks later I repeated my journey. Upon arriving in the city, I was approached by the young man I had treated.

He told me that he had known I carried money and medicines. He said, “Some friends and I followed you into the jungle, knowing you would camp overnight. We planned to kill you and take your money and drugs. But, just as we were about to move into your camp, we saw that you were surrounded by 26 armed guards.”

At this I laughed and said that I was certainly all alone out in that jungle campsite. The young man pressed the point, however, and said “No sir, I was not the only person to see the guards. My five friends also saw them and we all counted them. It was because of those guards that we were afraid and left you alone.”

At this point in the sermon, one of the men in the congregation jumped to his feet and interrupted the missionary and asked if he could tell him the exact day that this happened. The missionary told the congregation the date, and the man who interrupted told him this story:

“On the night of your incident in Africa, it was morning here and I was preparing to go play golf. I was about to putt when I felt the urge to pray for you. In fact, the urging of the Lord was so strong, I called men in this church to meet with me here in the sanctuary to pray for you. Would all of those men who met with me on that day stand up?”

The men who had met together to pray that day stood up. The missionary wasn’t concerned with who they were – he was too busy counting how many men he saw. There were 26.

This story is an incredible example of how the Spirit of the Lord moves in mysterious ways. If you ever hear such prodding, go along with it.

Today’s inspiring story shared from the following websiteL: http://www.motivateus.com/stories/prayer.htm

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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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