Finding Refuge in the Lord…His Wings of Protection

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint Isaiah 40:30

Just as Isaiah taught, those that wait upon the Lord shall find incredible assistance and protection. What does it mean to wait upon the Lord? Everyone can determine their own meaning but I believe that it is making the Lord a daily part of your life – through prayer, through meditation, through service to others…  I have found that there is a faith that comes and refuge – an inner peace that is abundantly given as I wait upon the Lord. It is a prize that comes with a price but it is a small price which is rewarded with great abundance!

God’s Wings
An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” – Psalm 91:4

Story shared from the following website: http://varietyreading.carlsguides.com/christian-stories/wings.php

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Faith and Overcoming Fear

The Future is as bright as your faith Thomas S. Monson

Fear is Soft and Smooth

Marina was extremely afraid of the dark. When the lights went out, everything and every shadow appeared to her as the most terrible of monsters. Her parents explained to her, everyday and with great patience, that these things were not monsters. Marina understood her parents, but she could not stop feeling an awful fear whenever it was dark.

One day her Aunt Valerie came to visit. Valerie was an incredible woman. She was famous for her courage, and for having gone on many journeys of adventure, some of which had been made into books and movies. Marina wanted to conquer her fear of the dark, so she asked her Aunt how she became so brave, and whether she had ever been frightened.

“A great many times, Marina,” answered her Aunt, “I remember when I was small and I was terribly afraid of the dark. I couldn’t stay in the dark for even a moment”.

Marina became very excited. How was it possible that someone so courageous could have been afraid of the dark?

“I’ll tell you a secret, Marina. It was some blind children who taught me how to be brave. They can’t see, so if they had never discovered the secret of how not to be afraid of the dark, they would have been forever frightened”.
“It’s true!” said Marina, intrigued, “Can you tell me that secret?”
“Of course! The secret is to change your eyes. Since blind children can’t see, their hands are their eyes. All you have to do to conquer your fear is what they do. Shut the eyes of your face and open the eyes of your hands. Let’s make a deal: tonight, when you go to bed and put out the light, if anything makes you afraid, close your eyes, carefully get out of bed, and try to see what it is that’s making you scared. But do it using your hands as eyes… and tomorrow tell me how you’re getting on with the fear”.

Marina accepted, but she was rather worried. She knew she would need to be brave to close her eyes and go and touch whatever it was that was frightening her; but she was willing to try because she was already too old for this. When her parents took her to bed, she herself put out the light. After a little while, she felt afraid of one of the shadows in the bedroom. Following the advice of Aunt Valerie, she closed the eyes of her face and opened the eyes of her hands. And, summoning up all her courage, she went over to touch that mysterious shadow…

The next morning Marina came running into the kitchen, a big smile on her face, and a song on her lips. “The monster is so soft and smooth!…” she cried,
“It’s my teddy bear!”

Story written by Pedro Pablo Sacristán and shared from the following website: https://freestoriesforkids.com/children/stories-and-tales/fear-soft-and-smooth

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Choose Your Fate!

 People are not Prisoners of Fate, but only Prisoners of their own mind Franklin D. Roosevelt

Our lives are created by our own choices…if you feel like a prisoner of your life, what self-limiting belief(s) do you have? Do you believe in your potential? Do you believe in your gifts?

The wonderful truth about life is that we do not have to be held hostage by our past. We can begin each day with a fresh start and each day we can improve!

Creating a new life takes work and it does not come without change, but it is wonderful what we can do with our choices!

As you read today’s story, think about your life. What successes could you experience with an exercise of faith in yourself? I hope you will enjoy!

Fate Is In Your Own Hands

Once upon a time, there was a general who was leading his army into battle against an enemy ten times the size of his own.

Along the way to the battlefield, the troops stopped by a small temple to pray for victory.

The general held up a coin and told his troops, “I am going to implore the gods to help us crush our enemy. If this coin lands with the heads on top, we’ll win. If it’s tails, we’ll lose. Our fate is in the hands of the gods. Let’s pray wholeheartedly.”

After a short prayer, the general tossed the coin. It landed with the heads on top. The troops were overjoyed and went into the battle with high spirit.

Just as predicted, the smaller army won the battle.

The soldiers were exalted; “It’s good to have the gods on our side! No one can change what they have determined.”

“Really?” The general shows them the coin–both sides of it were heads.

Today’s story shared from the following website: https://withanopenheart.org/2013/07/08/your-fate-is-in-your-own-hands

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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 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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