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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All About Heaven…Things You Need to Know

If we find ourselves with a desire  that nothing in this world can  satisfy, the most probable  explanation is that we were  made for another world   C.S. LewisHave you ever felt homesick for a place when you can’t even remember ever being there? Have you ever felt homesick for heaven?

Prior to my near-death experience, I would feel homesick from time to time for something that I knew existed though it seemed like I was homesick for a dream. I know now that what I was homesick for was heaven.

I understand the reasons behind our heavenly amnesia – we would all be incredibly miserable if we had full recall of the heavenly home that was ours before mortality. I also understand that despite God’s loving protectiveness over our past memories, our hearts still have the ability to sense the realm that we once were a part of and that we are invited to return to.

As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin so aptly said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
I hope that your heart speaks to you of heaven and our Creator. I promise you that they are real. This life is a precious growth opportunity! I hope you will cherish each day you are given to grow and to learn! And I hope that God will be a part of each of those days!
Please enjoy today’s story!:

The Hand Of God

By Joseph J. Mazzella • April 23, 2013

I think that most of us go through our days here with our eyes half-closed because we so seldom see the Hand of God working in our lives. It happens in countless ways every single day. Let me give you an example. Two years ago several of the Hawaiian shirts that I love to wear had become worn and threadbare. I really wanted some new ones so I saved any extra money I had for several weeks to pay for them. Finally, I headed to my favorite clothing store with a large denomination bill in my wallet to buy them.

When I got to the store I saw a local charity collecting money for the poor. I reached in my wallet for a five dollar bill to help them out. I grabbed it and dropped it in the bucket. As I let go of it, however, I noticed that it wasn’t the five dollar bill but rather the large denomination one that I had saved to pay for my new shirts. I went back home disappointed at my mistake, but I quickly made peace with it. I knew I could wear my old shirts for a while longer and it felt good knowing I was helping to buy food and clothes for people in desperate need.

The next week I stopped by the local Goodwill store to make a donation when I noticed several Hawaiian shirts brightening up the clothing racks. I went through them and picked out enough to last me a long while for a fraction of the price I would have paid for new ones. It made me laugh and smile when I realized that God had given me all I needed and also helped me to help others as well. I thanked Him for guiding my hand and for guiding my heart that day.

Saint Francis of Assisi said: “While we have time, let us do good!” Do all the good you can then in the days you are given here. Give all the help you can. Share all the love you can. Spread all the joy you can. Scatter all the sunshine you can. Utter all the truth you can. And don’t be surprised if the unseen Hand of God sometimes helps you out along the way.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.sunnyskyz.com/feel-good-story/173/The-Hand-of-God

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Friendship…The World Needs More Love One Another

The World is Round so that Friendship may encircle it

I don’t understand bias based on color of skin or religion. I have been a victim of prejudice many times and every time, it has seemed silly to me. When my spirit left my body – I noticed no color. I’m pretty sure that Good and Bad – Selfless and Selfish can be found in every race and every religion. Friendship is a gift that is best received when given.

I think a better way to judge people is by their ability to love. We are all connected more than most can even imagine. When we love each other, we improves our own lives and we improve the lives of those we share this world with.

I love today’s story! It embraces the true meaning of friendship! I hope you enjoy!:

Friends in Heaven

— Author unknown

An old cowboy was riding his trusty horse followed by his faithful dog along an unfamiliar road. The man was enjoying the new scenery, when he suddenly remembered dying, and realized that the dog beside him had been dead for years, as had his horse.

Confused, he wondered what was happening, and where the trail was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall that looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch topped by a golden letter “H” that glowed in the sunlight. Standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like gold.

He rode toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side. Parched and tired out by his journey, he called out, ‘Excuse me, where are we?’

‘This is ranch, Heaven, sir,’ the man answered.

‘Wow! Would you happen to have some water?’ the man asked.

 ‘Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.’

As the gate began to open, the cowboy asked, ‘Can I bring my partners, too?’

‘I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.’

The cowboy thought for a moment, then turned back to the road and continued riding, his dog trotting by his side.

After another long ride, at the top of another hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a ranch gate that looked as if it had never been closed. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book. ‘Excuse me,’ he called to the man. ‘Do you have any water?’

‘Sure, there’s a pump right over there. Help yourself.’

‘How about my friends here?’ the traveler gestured to the dog and his horse.

‘Of course! They look thirsty, too,’ said the man.

The trio went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with buckets beside it. The traveler filled a cup and the buckets with wonderfully cool water and took a long drink, as did his horse and dog. When they were full, he walked back to the man who was still standing by the tree. ‘What do you call this place?’ the traveler asked.

‘This is Heaven,’ he answered.

‘That’s confusing,’ the traveler said. ‘The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.’

‘Oh, you mean the place with the glitzy, gold street and fake pearly gates? That’s hell.’

‘Doesn’t it make you angry when they use your name like that?’

‘Not at all. Actually, we’re happy they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.’

Story is shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/friendshipstories/FriendsinHeaven

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Find Your True Self…Finding Your True Identity

If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out Who I am. C. S. Lewis

Are you trying to find your true self? Are there certain things you know about yourself and that have always made you who you are? Yet, do you find yourself surprised by things you learn about yourself?

Some of us know who we are and have known what we want to be “when we grown up”. Some of us have an idea of what we want to look like. Some of us have no idea what we want or who we are.

You will have to read my book to get the full account. Room does not permit sharing everything in today’s post. But here are a few things my near death experience taught me  about each of us no matter where we are in the spectrum of finding and knowing our true self:

  • We are each unique
  • We each made promises to God about what we would do with our life
  • We each have been blessed with gifts and talents that are meant to be shared with the world
  • We each have an innate desire for growth and learning

One thing that I hope more and more people will understand is that heaven honors us for our individuality. There, it doesn’t matter whether we have one talent or a multitude of talents. What matters is that we honor that talent by expressing it.

Today, I am sharing a couple of stories of well known personalities who knew what they wanted to do and worked through difficult times in order to share and utilize the talents they were blessed with.

As you read their stories, I hope you will reflect on your own situation. Have you been inclined to give up when life presents obstacles or have you been determined to allow your heart to guide you? Do you have talents and accomplishments that are waiting to be shared with the world? Who are you meant to inspire? What amazing you is meant to come to fruition? I hope you enjoy!:

Jim Carrey

When Carrey was 14 years old, his father lost his job, and his family hit rough times. They moved into a VW van on a relative’s lawn, and the young aspiring comedian—who was so dedicated to his craft that he mailed his resume to The Carroll Burnett Show just a few years earlier, at age 10—took an eight-hours-per-day factory job after school to help make ends meet.

At age 15, Carrey performed his comedy routine onstage for the first time—in a suit his mom made him—and totally bombed, but he was undeterred. The next year, at 16, he quit school to focus on comedy full time. He moved to LA shortly after, where he would park on Mulholland Drive every night and visualize his success. One of these nights he wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 for “Acting Services Rendered,” which he dated for Thanksgiving 1995. Just before that date, he hit his payday with Dumb and Dumber. He put the deteriorated check, which he’d kept in his wallet the whole time, in his father’s casket.

J. K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling had just gotten a divorce, was on government aid, and could barely afford to feed her baby in 1994, just three years before the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, was published. When she was shopping it out, she was so poor she couldn’t afford a computer or even the cost of photocopying the 90,000-word novel, so she manually typed out each version to send to publishers. It was rejected dozens of times until finally Bloomsbury, a small London publisher, gave it a second chance after the CEO’s eight year-old daughter fell in love with it.

The above stories have been shared from the following website: https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-famous-people-who-will-inspire-you-to-never-give-up

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The Future is as Bright as Your Faith!

the-future-is-as-bright-as-your-faith-alone-666078

Knowing God is knowing that his works are about faith. His works that are so interconnected in so many ways that I am humbled to know how vast and yet how intricate the work of the Lord is in this world.

I saw, during my near death experience, that faith is a critical component and the primary reason for our mortal experience. I do not claim to understand even a fraction of all that we are meant to learn and understand of this life experience, but I know that as we work to increase our faith, miracles happen and our growth becomes exponential. I love the story that I am sharing today. We too often rely on our physical senses and discount what we cannot see or hear or touch.

We are never alone and the Lord is always ready to assist and to bless. Enjoy!:

26 guards

Have you ever felt the urge to pray for someone and then just put it on a list and said, “I’ll pray for them later?”  Or, has anyone ever called you and said, “I need you to pray for me, I have this need?”  Read this story – may it change the way that you think about prayer and also the way you pray.  You will be blessed by this.
— Author unknown

A missionary on furlough told this story while visiting his home church in Michigan. “While serving at a small field hospital in Africa, every two weeks I traveled by bicycle through the jungle to a nearby city for supplies. This was a journey of two days and required camping overnight at the halfway point.

On one of these journeys, I arrived in the city where I planned to collect money from a bank, purchase medicine and supplies, and then begin my two-day journey back to the field hospital. 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.

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 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 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.

Nothing is ever hurt by prayer except the gates of hell. I encourage you to share this story with as many people as you know. If we all take it to heart, we can turn this world toward God once again. As the above true story clearly illustrates, “with God, all things are possible” – and more importantly, how God hears and answers the prayers of the faithful.

Story shared from the following website:http://www.inspire21.com/stories/faithstories/26Guards

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