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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Knowing God is There…

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell C.S. LewisI love C.S. Lewis. I plan on interviewing him when I cross over to heaven once again. I suspect that when I interview him, I will find his mind to be fascinating and his stories about his life riveting.

I honor the explorations of his mind and respect that he refused to be a fence sitter. Once he knew that God existed, he endeavored to help others find Him as well.

I have seen God and I know that He exists but, of course, I am a rarity.

I hope that you can feel your Creator with you each day as you navigate your life. I hope you can feel and see Him lending you strength, giving you blessings, and increasing your understanding!

I was going to share a different story today but after a couple of “glitches” that brought me back to today’s story, I am taking the hint from above and sharing it! I hope you will enjoy

God’s Hands

Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert. After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”

When the house lights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing.

Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage. In horror, the mother saw her little boy was sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

Then, leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obligato. Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. The audience was so mesmerized they couldn’t recall what else the great master played. Only the classic “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

That’s the way it is with God. What we can accomplish on our own is hardly noteworthy. We try our best, but the results aren’t exactly graceful flowing music. But with the hand of the Master, our life’s work truly can be beautiful. Next time you set out to accomplish great feats, listen carefully. You can hear the voice of the Master, whispering in your ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.”

Feel His loving arms around you. Know that His strong hands are there helping you turn your feeble attempts into true masterpieces.

Remember, God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. And He’ll always be there to love and guide you on to great things. Life is more accurately measured by the lives you touch than the things you acquire.

Story shared from the following website: http://inspire21.com/stories/christianstories/godshands

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I Can Do All Things Through Christ…

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me    Philippians 4:13My youngest son became a part of our family as a result of incredible divine intervention. My experience in finding him and his sister is a powerful testimony to me of God’s awareness of each of His children and His willingness to do whatever it takes to assist us.

I know that many would suggest that God can do much more. I know that He does all that He can for us without removing our ability to choose and/or remove growth experiences that are designed for our eternal growth.

God can do much more for us when we ask for and reach for His assistance. I know that that was the apostle Paul’s personal experience and it has been mine, as well.

If life seems a unrelenting battle, I hope that you will reach out to the Lord for assistance. I know that when you give your all and then allow Him to give you His all, it is an amazing, synergistic formula for dealing with the challenges that are a natural and pre-designed part of life. I hope you have a wonderful weekend and that you enjoy today’s story!

Abandoned As a Child
 
In 2000, Oprah Show guest Kelly told viewers how she survived abandonment, a plane crash and leukemia—all before she turned 12. As a baby, Kelly was left on the side of the road in Vietnam by her parents. She had a short stay in a local orphanage, and then, in 1975, she was part of Operation Baby Life—a program that evacuated thousands of babies from Vietnam. Kelly was placed on a plane destined for the United States, but her journey did not go smoothly. The plane she was on crashed, killing 150 passengers. “I really don’t know why I was chosen to be one of those survivors. I feel incredibly lucky, and I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of second chances,” Kelly says. 

Kelly was eventually adopted by a couple in Seattle, but the obstacles did not stop there. At age 11, she was diagnosed with leukemia. With fight and determination, Kelly overcame her disease and went on to become a healthy and successful adult. “These obstacles that had happened in my life gave me strength and fueled my motivation to live and to succeed and to go on,” Kelly says.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/14-stories-of-overcoming-the-odds

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Finding Peace and Contentment…Living in Harmony with the Lord and Your Conscience

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. Helen KellerEvery life has it’s ups and downs – it’s trials and strife.

Yet, I have found that there is a simple way to have peace and contentment. The way to peace and contentment is to know the source of peace and contentment.

I have witnessed great effort on the part of many to utilize situational ethics or create man made parameters of what should be right and what should be wrong. Yet, what I witnessed in heaven gave me no assurance that God’s children are either adept at or are in a position to create eternal laws.

Those laws – God’s laws are eternal and, just like His love for us, fixed and immovable.

God has given each of us a conscience. That conscience allows us to know right and wrong. Additionally, He has given us laws and guidance that directs how we are expected to act and behave.

We have the right to choose whether we will accept and obey God’s laws or whether we will rebel against them.

However, just like jumping off of a ship – we can choose to jump ship but we can’t change the consequences of our actions.

I have found that, as I choose to listen to my conscience and to live in harmony with the Lord, I am given peace and contentment.

I love that, as a result of my conscious decision to align my actions with both my conscience and the Lord, I have been blessed to be at peace with myself. I am comfortable being alone with myself and I love silence. I love being able to commune with the Lord and to receive of His abundance in my heart.

My choices have not made me perfect but they have given me greater access to the Lord and His perfection.

If you struggle to find peace and contentment in your life – analyze where you are in your relationship with both the Lord and your conscience. If your analysis finds you needing some improvement, go to the Lord for help. If you are willing to provide sincere effort, I know that He will provide the assistance that you need!

Please remember that the Lord loves you and it is His desire for you to have His greatest blessings!

I hope you will enjoy today’s story!:

Real Meaning Of Peace

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

“Inner peace: a state of mind, body and perhaps soul, a peace within ourselves. People that experience inner peace say that the feeling is not dependent on time, people, place, or any external object or situation, asserting that an individual may experience inner peace even in the midst of war”

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.” Dalai Lama quotes (Head of the Dge-lugs-pa order of Tibetan Buddhists, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, b.1935)

Story is shared from the following website: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Love-Inspirational-Story/734744

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One Can Never Consent to Creep…Overcoming Adversity

One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar. Helen KellerAre you a fan of adversity? Do you wish it would go away and never haunt your life again?

I used to believe that adversity was a sign that my life was off track and/or I had done something to incur the Lord’s wrath.

Since the time of my near-death experience, I recognize it for what it is: difficult experiences which grow my depth, abilities and gifts.

My near-death taught me about the incalculable worth of adversity. Yet, even now, it is always difficult and often trying.

Yet, I find that as I keep my spiritual muscles well-exercised, I am able to utilize the Lord’s assistance with each trial and get through each event successfully. The bonus is that as I do so, I find myself additionally armed with greater wisdom, strength, and ammunition to address the next trial that comes my way.

What perspective do you use as you endure your trials?

I hope that as life provides difficulties, you will lean on the Lord to help you! I know that He is always there anxious to help you and me!

May great blessings be yours! I hope you will enjoy today’s story!:

Jim Abbott – A Story about Overcoming Adversity

If you’re a baseball fan—and even if you’re not—then you know that with spring comes Spring Training, wherein hope springs eternal…unless, of course, you’re a Mets fan.  (Sadly, we speak from experience here.)…

While we’re on the subject of pitchers, there have been quite a few who truly were and are inspirational people—you might say overcoming adversity is a prerequisite to succeeding in any sport.

Christy Mathewson, one of the game’s first clean-cut role models and a WWI veteran, and Sandy Koufax, another great pitcher and role model, throwing no-hitters (including a perfect game and Vin Scully’s legendary 9th inning call) while standing up for his Jewish heritage, refusing to pitch on Yom Kippur—the holiest day on the Hebrew Calendar—before coming back in pitch the Dodgers to victory, both come to mind, as does Tommy John himself, the pitcher for whom the surgery is named.overcoming adversity 6 Inspiring Stories of Overcoming Adversity You Might not Know ir t interconnectedlives 20 l as2 o 1 a 0345523261

But while Christy and Sandy are in the Hall of Fame and Tommy was a trailblazer, when it comes to overcoming adversity, few compare to Jim Abbott.  In making the big leagues, Abbott truly was one of a kind—he is the only player to have played Major League Baseball with only one hand.

As a boy, he would throw a rubber ball against a wall, slip his throwing hand into his glove—which rested on the stump which ends his right hand—and then fielded the ball using his now-gloved left hand.

But those rubber ball exercises gave Abbott great reflexes, and he went on to not just make his high school and later college baseball teams, where he not only pitched, but batted for himself—and hit home runs one-handed.

He attended and pitched for the University of Michigan, where he won the Big Ten Player of the Year in 1988.  From there he made the US Men’s Baseball Team and won an unofficial Gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the following year he realized his dream and made it to the big leagues, signing with the then-California Angels.

But his crowning moment of glory was still to come.  After pitching solidly for the Angels, Jim Abbott moved on to the biggest names in baseball—and sworn enemies of every Mets fan out there—the New York Yankees.

The original Yankee Stadium was called “the House that Ruth Built,” and it saw more than two dozen World Series winners, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, the 1950s Yankees of Mantle, Berra, Ford and Casey, the 1970s variety with Reggie Jackson—suffice it to say it saw some of the biggest names and moments in baseball history.

Even among such hallowed baseball history, Jim Abbott not only showed himself to be an All-Star when it came to overcoming adversity, he earned baseball immortality and joined those other Yankee greats in 1993 by pitching a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium.  He also pitched for the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he got his first MLB hit—an RBI.

No one overcame more physical adversity to make it to the major leagues than Jim Abbott, after that incredible no-hitter and a career that spanned more than a decade, he’s still working to inspire people, having appeared on Boy Meets World and making his living today as a motivational speaker.

Remember—with baseball, hope springs eternal.  Here’s hoping that Matt Harvey makes a great comeback this year…and that he and everyone else who plays the game may do so with the same degree of determination and character as Jim Abbott.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.interconnectedlives.com/overcoming-adversity/2/

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