You Can Never Cross the Ocean Unless You Have the Courage to Lose Sight of the Shore…

art wood sign on beach

I don’t know about you but personal growth always feels like a remodeling project to me – with too many walls being demolished and the new construction always fraught with delays. Yet, when the work is done, I never fail to look back and feel a heart full of gratitude.

Personal growth is such a blessing! Self improvement always requires a leap of faith and courage. Although we may see massive benefits to changing, where we are is usually where we feel most comfortable. God is our most ardent fan. He is mindful of our capacity and our abilities. No one knows us better – not even ourselves. You only know yourself from a mortal perspective. He knows your mortal history and your pre-mortal history. He knows your magnificence! Best of all, He believes in You!!

Are you feeling a need for some changes? Perhaps God is nudging you! Listen to your heart and allow yourself to really feel deeply what God is trying to speak to your spirit. Then use His guidance to start the step by step process that He will provide. He will help you across your “oceans” and you will never regret the journey.

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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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Family….The Relationships and Love that Bind Us

She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her Proverbs 3:15I am biased – I admit it. I believe that I am blessed with the most amazing and wonderful family in the world!

I hope you feel that way about your family too!

I believe that our marital relationships and the relationships we have with our family are the most important mortal endeavors we can participate in. I also believe that families are for eternity. I don’t know, for sure, that our families existed prior to our birth but I do know for sure that our families were planned well before any of us were born.

Additionally, I know that our deceased family members are not far away and I know that they often help and mentor us. I believe that they are often our guardian angels.

I know that my grandparents have been with me and I know that my father was a part of the circle of angels who protected and gave strength to my granddaughter at the time of her accident and while she gingerly clung to life in the NICU at Primary Children’s Hospital.

I now have 18 grandchildren with the 19th on her way. When the newest member of our family makes her mortal entrance, she will be my 13th granddaughter and she join what I consider an elite team of incredible individuals. It is my hope and my duty as her grandmother to help her know just how amazing and wonderful she is. You see, once she takes her first breath, she will lose much of her pre-mortal memory. I will need to remind her of what I know of her – what I know of each of us: We are all precious children – all worth incredible sacrifice and effort as far as the Lord is concerned.

And I will pray for her and for the world as I always do – I will pray that she will know God’s love for her. I will pray that she comes to know Him well throughout her life. And…I will pray that each individual who is a part of this world will have the same blessing and knowledge of God that I want for my granddaughter and every member of my family.

I hope you enjoy today’s story!

The Lost Ruby

I’ve had only one experience in my life and this one changed my life and way of thinking.  When I was a teen my grandmother moved in with us.  I loved my grandmother, we were very close. My mother called me her ‘junior’.

When I was seventeen I went to the prom and my grandmother let me borrow her beautiful ruby necklace. At that age, being somewhat reckless, I lost it somewhere. To this day I still don’t know where, I just remember at the end of the night my mother was extremely upset with me. My grandmother being very understanding and forgiving was not upset at all.

A year later my grandmother passed away and not long afterwards I joined the military and was stationed in Germany. For years I had not talked to my family. My husband left me and at this point I‘d been in Europe four years with still another year to go.

One night I became an hysterical drunken mess, cried for hours and I passed out. The next morning I found clutched in my hand my grandmother’s beautiful ruby necklace. I don’t know how to explain this! I shared this with my mother and we both cried. Together with the help of my family and this miraculous event, I’m putting my life back together,

Contributed by Cindy Rowe

Story shared from the following website: https://www.keen.com/CommunityServer/UserBlogPosts/Ms_Claritynow/TEN-ORIGINAL–TRUE–DIVINE-INTERVENTION–ANGEL—-MIRACLE–INSPIRATIONAL–STORIES—collected-by-me–amp–till-now-unseen/141689.aspx

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God Commendeth His Love Toward Us…Romans 5:8

I don’t know when I realized that God loved me. It seems as though I have always known and perhaps I have.

I have seen many miracles in my life. I still remember the day I talked to a Christian adoption agency about finding the son that God instructed me I was to find. The man I spoke to, less empathetic than I expected, told me that I was trying to find a needle in a haystack and give him a call once I found my son.

I still wish I had kept track of the man’s name and the agency he was with. I would have called him with great pleasure the day that I found the needle in the haystack: my son Andrew. (Probably best I didn’t – I might no have been very kind spirited)

Some say that there is no life after death, no miracles, no visitations from other than the mortal world.

I say that I have seen life exist apart from body, many miracles, and I have certainly witnessed visits from the realm outside of mortality.

I would also say that having witnessed a pre-mortal visit between myself and God; this world, despite its flaws and uncertainties, has great reason to celebrate and seek after our Creator and his son Jesus Christ. There is no mortal being capable of knowing, loving, and blessing us like God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

I can’t even begin to find words that encompass their perfection, love, and concern for us.

At this Easter season, I will take time to express gratitude for the many gifts that became mine and all of mankind’s because of the Atonement made by the Savior of the world. I hope you will find a moment to express your gratitude as well.

I hope you will enjoy today’s miracle story!:

Didn’t You See Him?

Denise Meyer almost lost her mother and her children on a lake in Wisconsin.

When the boat capsized, Meyer lost sight of her two children. God gave her uncommon strength to lift her 2-year-old son Tim out from under the boat. Miraculously, he had found a pocket of air, so the ninety seconds underwater did not drown him.

After Meyer’s mother found her 4-year-old daughter Emily and everyone was back safely ashore, the grandmother started having a heart attack. “Had the heart attack started when we were in the water, she would surely have drowned,” the witness wrote.

Even then, God still had another miracle to reveal. When Emily was underwater, she had seen a man no one else had noticed. “Grandma,” she exclaimed, “the man under the water! He grabbed my foot and put it in your hand!”

Jacobson said this story reminded him of Hebrews 13:2, where Paul urges Christians to be hospitable because some have entertained angels without knowing it. “If God’s going to let anybody see them, it’s going to be those who still have the faith of children,” Jacobson said.

Today’s story is shared from the following website: http://www.christianpost.com/news/modern-miracles-5-stories-for-bible-skeptics-from-its-a-god-thing-104832/

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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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