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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And Now, After the Many Testimonies Which Have Been Given of Him…

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the  testimony, last of all,  which we give of him: That He Lives!  D&C 76:22May this Easter Season be a wonderful time of reflection and gratitude for the gift of our Living Savior!

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He is Not Here, For He Has Risen…Matthew 28:6

He is Not Here, For He Has Risen   Matthew 28:6

Because the Savior rose the third day, we can rise each new day and know that we can make a fresh new start.

A special gift was given to each of us that Easter long, long ago.

We can learn, improve, overcome and choose a better way – even if we have made a mistake, committed sin, or forgotten something important. The number of times we have failed does not matter. The number of times we pick ourselves up and try again and make a true and sincere effort does.

Life is a precious gift and we have the opportunity to make something glorious of it!

I hope you enjoy today’s story!:

The Easter Miracle

A True Story by Debbie Orrico

Grandma Lily was a very special woman with a fierce streak of independence
that showed itself at an early age.  When she was just 16 years old, she
eloped with a 28 year old man.  Although her family placed bets that this
union would not last, she proved herself by becoming a loving wife, and a
mother to 8 children.

That is, until her world was turned upside down. Grandpa John passed away
right before the depression, leaving Grandma Lily alone with 8 young
children to raise.  It was a tremendous struggle.  The family was dirt poor.
The children had to sleep 3 to a bed.  The good clothes were worn by the
first ones up in the morning.  The rest had to make due with the patched
hand-me downs that were left behind.  Some clothing was even made from flour
sacks.  During the cold Connecticut winters, none of the children had boots,
so if the ground was wet or snow-covered, Grandma Lily would line her
children’s shoes with newspapers and canvas to keep their feet warm and dry.
Meals were meager, with meat served only once or twice a month.

Throughout the years, Grandma Lily longed for Grandpa John, often spending
hours at the cemetery, planting flowers at his graveside and remembering
their good times together.  Some fifty odd years after Grandpa John passed
away, as Grandma Lily returned from the cemetery, she noticed that her
wedding band was missing.  She was frantic!  It was the only tangible thing
she had left to remember her husband.  It was a symbol of their eternal
love.  She quickly went back to the cemetery, but the ring was no where to
be found.  Her children also made several of the searches of the area in
vain.  The ring was gone — vanished into thin air!  Grandma Lily was
absolutely heartbroken.

The next Mother’s Day, her children gifted her with a new wedding band.
Although Grandma Lily was touched by the thought that went into the gift, it
made her sad to realize her original wedding band was gone forever.

The following Easter, Grandma Lily went to the cemetery accompanied by her
daughter Grace.  They stood side by side, silently saying their prayers for
Grandpa John.  They admired the flowers, especially the Easter Lilies that
were standing tall and proud, sending their fragrance out for all to enjoy.
Out of the corner of her eye, Grace noticed a glint of something shiny, and
pointed it out to Grandma Lily.  Since she was the closest to the plant,
Grandma Lily bent over, and examined the leaves of the lily plant.  She
could not believe her eyes when she saw what it was.  There, brilliantly
glowing in the sunlight was her original wedding band!  The one that she had
lost the previous year…the symbol of eternal love…the one that her
husband had given her more that fifty years before!

The Easter season is known as a time of miracles, and of resurrection.  For
Grandma Lily, the miracle WAS a resurrection…her wedding band,
resurrected on a lily plant.  The fact that my Grandma’s name was Lily makes
this story even more special!

Grandma Lily passed away a few years later.  We made sure that we buried her
with her original wedding band, and kept her second wedding band as a family
keepsake.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/holidaystories/TheEasterMiracle

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Trust in the Lord With All Thine Heart…

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean  not unto thine own understanding.  Proverbs 3:5Trusting in the Lord requires faith and accepting the design and timing of the Lord.

I have often struggled with trusting in the Lord with all my heart. The positive side to that struggle is that the Lord never gives up on me and is always willing to let me repent and try again.

I know that trusting in the Lord is always the best choice – it just it not always the easiest choice or the most obvious choice. Often, I have thought that I was trusting fully in the Lord only to find, in retrospect, that I was holding back in some way.

If you sometimes struggle to trust in the Lord, I hope you will take the time to read today’s story.Today’s story shares a wonderful lesson in Trusting the Lord!:

Trust in God’s Plan for You

Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up. The first little tree looked up at the stars and said, “I want to hold treasure. I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I’ll be the most beautiful treasure in the world!” The second little tree looked out at a small stream trickling by on it’s way to the ocean. “I want to be traveling mighty waters and carrying powerful kings. I’ll be the strongest ship in the world.”

The third tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and women worked in a busy town. “I don’t want to leave this mountain top at all. I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me, they will raise there eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest tree in the world.” Years passed. Rain came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, “This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. “Now I will be made into a beautiful chest. I shall hold wonderful treasure!” the first tree said. The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, “this tree is strong, it is perfect for me.” With a swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. “Now I shall sail mighty waters!” thought the second tree. “I shall be a strong ship for mighty kings!” The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looker her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter toppled it. Any kind of tree will do for me.” he muttered. With a swoop of his shining ax the third tree fell.

The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought her to a carpenter’s shop. But the carpenter fashioned the tree into a feedbox for animals. The once beautiful tree was not covered with gold, nor with treasure. She was covered in saw dust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals. The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took her to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ship was made that day. Instead, the once strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. She was too small and too weak to sail an ocean, or even a river; instead she was taken to a small lake. The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. “What happened?” the once tall tree wondered. “All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountain top and point to God.”

Many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night, golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in the feed box. “I wish I could make a cradle for him, her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. “This manger is beautiful,” she said. And suddenly the first tree knew she was holding the greatest treasure in the world.

One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out into the lake. Soon a thundering and thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. She knew she did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through with the wind and the rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand and said, “Peace, be still.” The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew she was carrying the King of Heaven and Earth. Early one morning a couple years later, the third tree was startled when her beam was yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry jeering crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man’s hands to her. She felt ugly and harsh and cruel. But three days later, with he sun shining and the earth trembling beneath her, the third tree knew that God’s love had changed everything. It had made the third tree strong, And every time people thought of the third tree, they would think of God, that was better than being the tallest tree in the world!

Story shared from the following website: https://2jesus.org/inspstories/trust.html

 

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