Archive for June, 2010

How do you stand for what you believe if you don’t truly KNOW what you believe!?!

Sure we all think we know what we believe for the majority of our lives. We are raised a certain way and “just believe” what we always have because we always have. (I know, that’s a little deep, but bear with me!) True belief in something, however, requires some true soul searching. First, you have to figure out WHAT you (think you) believe as well as WHY you do.

Maybe you are on that journey right now…deliberately rejecting some things you’ve always been taught and lived by, because, after all, what if they are not true? “What if my whole life up to this point has been a farce?” “Why do I believe the way my parents do…what if they’ve got it all wrong? They’re just humans like me, too.” Or, “why did I raise my kids to believe this way? What if I’ve misguided them? After all, my life hasn’t been going so well lately, so maybe I’ve been wrong all this time.”

All of these are legitimate, honest, real questions that we must admit we all have asked in one way or another at some time in our lives. Are you a bad person for thinking that way or questioning those long-held values? No, you are real.

So then, what do we do now?

Glad you asked!  (You did, didn’t you!?!)  Well, for one, we must accept that we will never know all of the answers nor were we ever intended to figure it all out. Some things are just too big to wrap our little finite heads around…and that’s okay! I personally don’t want any more responsiblity and expectation on me than I already have. How about you? Just let go of that control thing and accept that everything just will not fit into our nice little boxes.

Yeah, so, I got that…now what?

Once again, glad you asked! Now go on a truth-seeking journey.

A what!?!

Yeah, a truth-seeking journey. Since you always thought you knew what you believed but now you’ve figured out that you’re just not quite sure about that…now you’ve gotta find some truth to stand on, or trust me…you will fall…and it’s not fun! (True, often the lesson is in the fall, but try to avoid it if you can.)

So, for the first part of the search thing, what do I do? Well, once again, bear with me and listen (or read, rather) with an open mind…you do esteem that value in yourself, after all, don’t you!?! With an open mind, I dare you to take this challenge…no matter where you are in your journey of life. (We could all use a little refresher, huh?)

I challenge you to start this truth-seeking thing out by *hold on* praying. Yes, I said it…PRAYING.

Okay, if you don’t like the way that sounds and it’s just a little too out there for you (yeah, you with the “open mind”) then I’ll put it another way. Talk to God…yes, God…you know that whole belief that you are questioning right now…yes, Him! Okay, so how and why would you “talk to God” if you’re questioning His very existence in the first place? (Admit it, I’m not just talking to the un-churched crowd here, am I!?! You know who you are and, once again, that’s okay. Just be honest about it and come on this journey, too. What could it hurt?)

Well, to answer my question I asked before the little “aside”, the “How” is very easy…just open your mouth (or speak with your heart if you’re still uncomfortable speaking out loud to someone who is not physically sitting there with you). At this point, you don’t have to believe He is there with you listening to you, just trust me on this one and do it. Just tell Him, “God, if you’re out there…and I really feel kinda strange even talking like this, since I really don’t think you are right now, or I’m just not sure…but anyway, if you’re out there, then I ask you to show me.”

Come on, you can do it! Oh, and no, most likely you will not see fire come down from the sky right then and there, nor will you hear some booming voice audibly speak back to you (not that those things couldn’t happen, but they most likely won’t).

So now then, “Why”…especially if those cool, show-stopping things aren’t going to happen? Did you ever hear your mama say “Because”? Well, because…because that’s where it all starts. (Well, it really started way before that, but you’ll figure that out soon enough.) Another reason is because in order to take the next step on this journey, it will greatly behoove you to have started with that crazy prayer thing.

Should I keep going, or should I just save the next step for the next post? Okay, okay, okay…next post it is!

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Okay, so, you’ve followed me through Part 1 of this…if not Click HERE to go back and read it…so now what do you do!?!

Well, this part will be a bit shorter than Part 1 (at least in writing), but trust me…it is a very essential and life-changing part.

Now, you’ve laid aside your pride and preconceptions and you’ve said that prayer thing (or talked to God…or whatever you would prefer to call it). Now what? Once again, I have another challenge for you…I know you’re up to it! Especially if you’ve come this far.

I challenge you to read something that is not for the faint at heart (actually, it is…it is really for everyone of us). Not just anything, but I specifically am saying you should now find a * Bible * (yes, I said another one of those words) you could even go online to BibleGateway.com or some other Bible website to read online.

Hold on! I am not challenging you to read the whole Bible (though that’s not a bad idea over time)…you need to specifically read the book of (gospel of) John. (You know…Matthew, Mark, Luke, JOHN)

Whether you are able to read it in one sitting or it takes you a couple of sittings, please don’t forget that first step EACH TIME before you read it (pray that He will show Himself to you). You may even need to stop along the way and pray that again (and again).

Remember as you read it that this is not a fairy tale. (I know, you’re possibly questioning that, too, but trust me…or Him, rather…this is Truth…He is Truth, the ultimate one and only Truth.) The events you read about really did take place. You don’t believe it? Well, how do you know that George Washington lived, or the Civil War happened, or Julius Caesar existed…and I could go on and on…but I think you get the point.

Now, this is, of course nowhere near the final step of the journey…but the first steps are always the hardest. Take this challenge, no matter what age you are, no matter how long you’ve gone to church – or not – , no matter how many times you’ve read the Bible…doesn’t matter…take the challenge! I am, and believe me, you will see things you’ve never seen before.

These are the first steps of discovering and defining what you believe, because, after all…To Not Decide Is To Decide!

Answers…

Posted: June 7, 2010 by Haelie in What About..., What If...
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I want to share a response I wrote via email to a friend of mine who is a professed Agnostic and reads my blog faithfully.  He has had two very good comments/replies that he tried to post to a couple of different posts of mine, but…in case you didn’t know…Blogger’s comment fields do not accept more than 4,096 characters!!!  (My blog is a Blogger blog, not WordPress)  So, instead he emailed his comments/replies to me.  I really wish his would have fit, as they have some very interesting and probably commonly shared thoughts in them.  So, in order to let you in a bit on his thoughts and my responses, I will just have to share some snip-its with you that you may find of interest.  I believe my friend of whom I am speaking will not mind a bit, as like I said, he attempted to share his comments publicly himself.

What I am actually going to primarily share with you right now is a portion of my response to one of his comments.  So, keep in mind that some of my statements are specifically spurred by some of his.  Either way, I think you’ll follow it just fine.  And, please feel free to comment anytime! 

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…As far as answers to all of your questions and points made…I do not and will not pretend to have them. (As I have said before, I have had many of the same thoughts and questions myself over the years.) Neither will I attempt to proselytize you, as I know you likewise are not doing to me. I merely am here to share with you the Essence of who I am – Jesus in me. Though I cannot begin to battle wits with you in the intellectual realms, nor do I want to – battle with you is the farthest thing from what I would ever want (I, of course, mean that in a very complimentary and endearing way.)…I merely can share with you why I am the person that you know and are kindred spirits with. How you chose to respond to that is, well, not something I intend to try to force a certain direction, nor is it of my concern. I respect your very thoroughly contemplated and eloquently expressed views and honestly do not feel it is my responsibilty to change them.

– Yes, I do whole-heartedly believe there is a God and that He loves me (and you and all of the world – John 3:16) and that He is working out His divine plan in my life (as in everyone’s) every minute of every day. (I know all of that opens up several more cans of worms, but I am just stating who I am and what I believe. I leave the cans of worms up to Him.)

– My life is not defined by my death, rather by His death on the cross for me (John 3:16).

And because my life is defined by my acceptance of His gift of His death on the cross, my life is truly now and forever an eternal life.

And, because of His death, I may die a physical death (even before I have the chance to see you again, or not) but I now and forever am free from having to pay the ultimate price of spiritual death and eternal separation from God that is the price of my inherent sin-nature.

– I, at one time, worked very hard to believe that there was nothing beyond this life and no meaning to my existence, because that for me was much easier (in a sense) than living with the knowledge that I would one day face my Maker and have to give an answer as to why I did not choose to accept His costly-to-Him yet free-to-me gift.

– Honestly, though, for me, convincing myself of the nothingness of life and existence was a very tiring and difficult struggle. Something always, deep down, ate at me and would not let me ultimately and deeply believe what I was trying so hard to believe. I had many of my own “gauntlets”, as you so cleverly and accurately call them, that would be thrown down in my face right and left. I was just never at peace, not once, the entire time I was trying so hard to believe in a way that seemed to lend itself to the most peaceful, freeing, and consequence-less life possible. I read things, even in the Bible, that I attempted to use to prove what I so wanted to believe, but ultimately, for me, it was all a dead end…a dead end that lead to life, that is.

– I cannot begin to explain to you in words what it feels like to have “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding” (Phil. 4:7), but I can only hope that one day you may come to experience that for yourself.

– I cannot begin to describe to you in words what it is like to know and feel “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) who is always with me – Emmanuel.

– I cannot begin to accurately explain to you in words what it is like to pray, not just seeking an answer – though those often do come, rather just to pray – to talk to the One who knows me better than anyone on this earth ever could (because He made me just the way I am, my faults and all, just like He intended for me to be) – to cry to Him, knowing He understands every struggle I face and that He, because He was once on this earth as a human (as is so well chronicled in the Book of John), understands so truly those human emotional as well as physical experiences that I have.

– These are all things I cannot explain to you in words as much as I may try, because they are things you just have to experience for yourself to understand.

– I realize you may not agree that there is any legitimacy to experiences such as these, at least in your own life, but all I can say is that they are very real and very legitimate in my life.

I would never want to nor try to force you to feel these things for yourself by succumbing to agreeing with me on anything or everything I have put forth. However, because of what I know in my heart to be true, I can only hope that you, my very dear friend, can and will also one day come to experience my God for all He is and even come to a point that (one can dream, can’t she!?!) you will even call Him your God one day. Not because I want so bad to be right, nor that I want to say “I told you so” or anything at all like that, rather because I know the love and peace and freedom that comes with knowing and accepting Him and the gift He offers us all.

– Again, I must remind you that, as much as it may sometimes seem otherwise, I truly am not trying to proselytize you, rather I am merely sharing my heart and the Essence of who I am with you, for all it is worth.

Because of Who He is,
Haelie

I doubt it!

Posted: June 7, 2010 by Haelie in What About...
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Yes, I said it…I doubt…do you?

This is a very appropriate subject, in light of the fact that we are currently on a journey to figure out what we believe and why. Are you one of those people who thinks that a “good Christian” does not doubt God, His existence, the Bible, etc….? Are you one of those people who not only doubts all of that, but just out-right doesn’t believe in any of that at all? Either way, doubt in itself is not a bad thing. As a matter of fact, denying that you doubt could end up being more harmful to you than doubt itself. WHEN you doubt, not IF, it often can be a good thing, because it forces you to go on a journey to discover why you believe what you think you believe…sound familiar!?!

I thought this one email I got was very timely this week. Max Lucado puts things in a very down-to-earth, easy-to-relate-to perspective. One of his daily emails this week was on just this subject. CLICK HERE to check it out.

A couple of the things he said that I liked a lot (I really liked it all!) is that Doubt will “tell you not to believe in the invisible yet offer no answer for the inadequacy of the visible…His aim is not to convince you to confuse you. He doesn’t offer solutions, he only raises questions.”

And another thing he said that was oh-so-true is, “If you are more cynical about Christians than sincere about Christ, then guess who came to dinner?” Ouch!!! I think we can all relate to being burnt by Christians…after all, Christians are HUMAN BEINGS…very imperfect just like anyone else. The trick is to realize that our hope is not in people, our hope is in Christ! Yes, He lives inside of Christians, but that doesn’t mean Christians are made perfect on this earth. We still do and say very disrespectful, selfish, rude, hurtful things to fellow believers and non-believers alike. We still have our innate personalities, which when given to God to be used can be used amazingly (He made us the way we are for a reason!), however when we take our eyes off of Him and get too caught up in ourselves and doing things the way we think are best, those God-given personalities can be quite difficult for others to deal with – not to mention difficult to deal with ourselves.

Sooooo, what are you going to do with this?

I doubt (pun intended!) you can go away from this without reconsidering some things in your life, as I am in mine.

Specifically, Why are you avoiding God (if you are)? Are you using excuses that are fed by doubt? Give your doubts and fears and failures and guilt to HIMaccept His love and grace and forgiveness and faithfulness to you and acceptance of you.

Don’t put off getting on the right road with Him (or BACK on it) until you “get some things straight” or “figure it all out” or find a church and/or denomination with which you completely agree and find no “bad” Christians. You will NEVER be satisfied if you are waiting on any of those things! Just come to Him…NOW…NOT LATER…just like you are right now.

Even if you’ve walked away from Him deliberately and feel guilty about it. Even if you think you’ve been just fine and living the “good Christian life”…still take this time to really think about that and re-evaluate it all. He wants to go deeper with you right now…not later! He wants to show you who He is in YOUR life, not just who He is period. I dare you to be real with Him and to trust Him! He will shock your socks off with what He wants to do in YOUR life!!! Hold on…are you ready?

Come to Him now, be real with Him…if you dare!

I’m still learnin’ what I believe. Sometimes I’m a hero, sometimes I’m a fool.”  That’s part of a song I heard tonight on the radio as I was driving.  So very true!!!

Here’s a deep thought for ya’…

If you were to spend only 5 minutes a day hearing negative news (sounds like a fairly typical day, doesn’t it!?!), how do you think that would affect you? Well, as a matter of fact, on that very same radio station tonight I heard that a study was done with just that notion in mind. And, after a certain period of time (maybe a month, but forgive my lack of recall as I have just driven 5 1/2 hours after a full weekend) the group of people who were tested in that way were notably depressed and fearful and even had begun to believe that many of the same very bad things reported on the negative news were very likely to happen to them as well. Sound familiar? Then, stop exposing yourself to all of that negativity (quite possibly far more than 5 minutes a day, I bet!)! As I tell you that, please know that I have 3 fingers pointing back at me.

On a more positive note, some of the most powerful and influential speakers and writers of any time (past and present) have merely written and/or spoken out of the vast amount of great, contemplative thoughts that have poured through their minds! That means, all of those deep things you and I think about all day and night could potentially be channelled into something that can be used to inspire and help others…all from our own deep thoughts!

Contemplate this…”For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7) Who are you?