Tag Archives: good news

Do you believe in God?

Colette Fabry, Co-Author of awriteheart.comI walked down the streets of NYC in awe.  In awe of the variety of people, of sin, of poverty & materialism, of smells…some good and some horrendous. I saw homeless teens taking shelter in cardboard boxes and people digging through garbage for scraps to eat.  No one else seemed to be alarmed by these sights. I was taking it all in for what seemed like hours as a heaviness eventually settled on my spirit.

Then I heard someone preaching from what I thought was the Bible. There were groups of men monopolizing corner after corner on street after street. They were dressed in robes and stood on ascending, throne-like platforms. As I got closer I heard clearly their confusing message.  They screamed into microphones… words of racial hatred and Bible mixed with blasphemy. They shouted loudly in Hebrew, and made hissing sounds, at several Jewish men who ran past me.

The man on the top of the platform yelled into his hand held mic “YOU, lady with blonde hair, DO YOU BELIEVE IN GOD?” Out of hundreds of people walking by, he was looking and speaking directly at me. I yelled back to him “Yes, I do believe in God.”

Later I thought about this experience and wondered how I would have felt if an evil man had held a gun to my head while asking me the question, “Do you believe in God?” The same question that the young college students in Oregon were asked this past week. They stood up and and declared their faith in God. And then were shot and killed.

[blockquote cite=”Hilary Mantel, author” type=”center”]I cannot unbelieve what I believe.  [/blockquote]

Where does such faith, such belief, come from?  A convicting, amazing faith that sees beyond this life and chooses Jesus over all else?  Unless a person knows Jesus, God incarnate, they cannot possibly understand.

Those who lack faith will not understand how Christians can stand in the face of death with sadness, yet boldness; those with faith know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the LORD. (2 Corinthians 5:8)

Those who lack faith will not understand a belief in something you cannot see; those with faith see Almighty God and His glory in everything. We see with spiritual eyes the purpose and meaning of this temporal life. Temporal… short, fleeting and passing quickly like a vapor. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

[pullquote cite=”Isaiah 26:3″ type=”right”]Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.[/pullquote]Those who lack faith may not understand why, in the face of death one would not save himself, if even out of fear alone; those with faith understand grace and peace. How it pours over one who needs it every single day and in perfect timing. We also know that Christ gave His life for us so that we can have life eternal.  I’m not sure every person who says they are a Christian would stand strong for Jesus in the presence of their murderer.  But I do know that genuine Christians would; there is no other choice.

Those who lack faith will not understand why God would allow such things like the tragic death of innocent students; those with faith understand that God is Sovereign. That nothing passes through His hand without his permission and that even the most horrible things are exchanged for a greater purpose. No heartache is wasted.  (Psalm 139)

[pullquote cite=”Revelation 21:4″ type=”left”]And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.[/pullquote]Those who lack faith may not understand why parents and families and a nation must suffer at the hands of such awful tragedy; those with faith feel deep sorrow and weep for the hurting.  We know that God miraculously heals broken hearts and comforts those who are suffering.  We know that one day all things we despise… sickness, sorrow, heartache, physical death and evil will come to an end. We know that we must walk through life so that we can understand good and evil. So that we learn to hate unrighteousness with all that is in us. We are living among the consequences of sin in a fallen world. One day there will be no more tears. It is then that we will understand the meaning of love and righteousness in all its fullness.

Those without faith can’t understand how Christians can believe in eternity; those with faith know that the dash between our birth and physical death is a tiny dot on a long line of never ending life. “For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

It is open to everyone….this invitation to receive faith in Jesus; this hope beyond understanding and peace that is not explainable.  This faith that gives one the ability to grasp the incredible love story of God-incarnate humbling himself to walk with us and become the payment for our salvation.  So that mankind might be saved from eternal separation from Himself.  So much is not fair in this upside down world.  Like homeless teens living in cardboard boxes. Or people eating out of garbage cans.  And, students being murdered for their faith.  But Jesus promises to make all wrong, right.  To settle every score and bring peace and righteous judgment.  He will do away with evil and we will forever praise Him.  He is the ONLY HOPE for all men.  It is for these reasons that we can never deny Jesus or that we belong to Him.  Not ever. As Hilary Mantel stated so simply, “I cannot unbelieve what I believe.”

My heart aches for the families of the murdered students in Oregon. Their loved ones proclaimed their faith in God through Jesus with their very lives.  Then their faith was made sight and they heard ‘Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the JOY OF THE LORD.” (Matthew 25)

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Singing hallelujah, Colette[/custom_headline]

Feature photo attribution: flickr photo by Fey Ilyas http://flickr.com/photos/renneville/3161518829 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

a lesson learned in the dust

FullSizeRenderWhen you look at me you see an introverted brunette. A lover of antiques, photography, strong coffee, and my totally amazing farming husband. A little deeper though, overflowing the capacity of my heart, is a place. A people. An experience that forever altered my view of the world, beauty, and life.

I was born into a family of 2nd generation Christians. I grew up in church. The Bible was fed to me by day and played on my tape recorder by night. At the age of 4 I asked God to forgive me for pinching my sisters and taking short cuts on my chores, and God forgave me of my sins. As I grew up, I grew away from what I had always been taught. I didn’t run away, start drugs, or live immorally, but I began to doubt the reality of my faith. I began to struggle with cynicism and bitterness; I wandered and pretended for years. During my senior year God used Psalm 139 to grip and destroy my hardened heart. Little did I know that God was forming those “ashes” into the stage from which He could begin His work.

The following May found me on a plane bound for adventure. I tried to mentally prepare myself for what I was about to see, but no amount of self-coaching could have taught my heart these new emotions I was about to experience. When our plane finally landed, this place was no longer just an outline on a map. It was real, and about to wreck my heart forever.

[custom_headline type=”center” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]It was ZAMBIA.[/custom_headline]

I wish I could tell you the exact moment it happened. My new point of view came together in pieces. A mosaic. Feelings of helplessness, giggling dark skinned babies, and broken particles of my old calloused heart are what make up this work of art that God has put together. I want to share with you one pivotal moment that my mind will forever have bookmarked.

389211_402422273135262_2120319288_nI will never forget their faces. Scratch that. I can never forget their faces. Plans had been interrupted for that day for my team, and we stopped at a daytime “home” for abused children. God doesn’t make mistakes. I know for certain this “interruption” was orchestrated by God Himself. There were probably 40 souls present. All of these precious children came to this home for love, support and protection during the day and then had to return to their abusive homes at night. My heart screamed out knowing that these little ones would have to leave the safety of this place in just a few short hours to endure the horrors of “Hell” for yet another night. When we emerged from the bus, swarms of dirty, unkept children greeted us. One by one each child approached, shook our hands and curtseyed at our feet. What a humbling moment as these “untouchables” paid such respect to us who had never known hunger. Us who had secure and loving homes, stable upbringings, and every felt need provided for. My heart ached as I longed to grab their tiny hands, and show these bleeding souls who really deserved the recognition. Who the real brave ones were. We sang a few songs and tried to make them smile; but these children were serious. The nights of abuse etched deeply on their faces. I wanted to come in, snap my fingers and rescue every one of them from these horrors. The helplessness was suffocating. When our time was up, we walked back to the bus, shrouded by children who had given us all their love and trust. My thoughts ran wild and untamed. Outside my window was a little boy looking especially alone. He reminded me of my cousin Lincoln who was 3 at the time. Just then, like a bolt of lightning, the thought raced through my mind.

[custom_headline type=”center” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″]“What if that was Lincoln out there?”[/custom_headline]

562613_402424019801754_295080829_nThe revelation took my breath away. I sat there willing myself to not glance back into his sad eyes as the bus began to pull away. The kids began chasing after us waving and yelling their goodbyes. I couldn’t hold it back any longer and the tears began to flow. I turned around in my seat and watched as those tiny faces chased us until their legs couldn’t run anymore, and disappeared into the billowing dust. I couldn’t shake that God whispered question from my head. “What if that were Lincoln? What if that was ME?”

Sometimes my weak human mind falters. Has my Father missed this tiny village? Has His omnipresent eyes somehow forgotten to check on these despised children? Why have I never been truly hungry? Why do I have a house with heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer? Why do I belong to a family full of healthy people? How does it seem that the cards have been dealt so desperately unfair? God WHY?

In my weakness, God’s gentle answer revealed His strength. Not one child in a grass hut is unseen, ignored or without purpose. Not one tear falls uncaught. There is not one sleepless night where He is not there cradling their heart. He has them all in the palm of His hands and their names on His tongue.

My heart has been broken and rebuilt by dedicated bush pastors, cheerful blind villagers, brave malnourished children, and the prayers of weak lepers. It’s only by God’s grace I was born where I was. It’s easy to ask God “WHY”, but it’s not so easy when He asks that question back to us. The Bible reminds us in Luke 12:48 “to whom much is given, much is required.” God has redeemed us to be His hands and feet. What an honor!

God doesn’t have to bring us to Africa to make a difference in this world. My story is deeply entwined in Zambia’s grass huts in the same way that others are rooted in a personal tragedy or Vacation Bible School. Every story is unique. Hand crafted. The key is, what are we doing with those God orchestrated events? It doesn’t have to be big to make an impact. In fact, all through Scripture we see that God specializes in the small and mundane. He simply calls us to act. Share a smile with the cashier at the grocery store, leave change and a Bible verse for the next person to come to the laundry mat, invest in the child who can’t fit in at school, visit the lonely widow in the nursing home. No act is too small that God can’t use it in mind blowing ways. He just calls us to plant the seeds. He will take care of the watering.

This introverted doubter flew to Zambia to change lives, but left changed instead. My eyes have been opened to the reality of suffering all around me. It’s not just across the ocean – it’s here even in our own neighborhoods. May we strive to make our corners of the world better places.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]For the sake of the world, Kate[/custom_headline]

Kate Foster is 23 from Rochester, NY and recently moved to Athens, MI. She is a lover of Jesus, her husband Ethan and dark chocolate. She dabbles in many things but enjoys crafting, decorating, and photography. You can browse her work at www.etsy.com/shop/fosterhappiness

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Subscribe to our email newsletter during the month of June and be entered to win a basket full of gifts from our guest blogger, Kate! On mobile scroll to the end of any post to subscribe…On a desktop, subscribe on the right sidebar or in the footer below. OR just use the “Contact Us” tab in the main menu and we’ll do the work for you!

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giftbasketkateKate’s gift basket includes Foster Happiness designed coffee mug, gift tags and a framed Bible verse. There is also 1 set of Jamberry nail wraps, manicure set, a Zambian wall hanging, and coffee and candle donated from Cafe Macchiato in Spencerport, NY!

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the good news: how to blow it in 10 easy steps

Melissa @ awriteheart.comI’ve had a lot of opportunities to tell others about my faith in Jesus. There have been some successes, but there have definitely been some major failures. A command for everyone who follows Christ is to go, tell, and baptize in His name…Outside the door of each of our homes, or maybe even inside them, are countless individuals who don’t know the good news of Jesus. Here are ten ways to make sure that they never do.

Don’t pray for opportunities.

Thank God for your food and your warm house…Pray for your sick neighbor and your daughter’s spelling test…But don’t ask for Him to open doors for you to tell other people about Him. He might answer it, and then you’d have to move on to the following steps.

Don’t be friends with anyone who isn’t a Christian.

One way to avoid sharing the love of Christ is never to seek out meaningful relationships with unsaved people. Easy-peasy, right? Right. Stay in the bubble and keep those heathens at arms length. If you actually come into contact with someone who isn’t a Christian, the best policy is to invest nothing. Ask nothing. They might infect you with their unspiritual-ness, so definitely don’t spend a substantial amount of time with them. If a tangible need becomes evident, don’t meet it. Just ignore it and someone else will probably take care of it. Or not.

Don’t let them know the real you.

Don’t even think of telling someone how your life has been transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. This is super easy if your life shows no evidence that you follow Jesus, but even if it does you can just not tell anyone that it was Him who made the difference. And under no circumstance should you tell them that you have had doubts, fears, or failures. They might relate to it, and we wouldn’t want that.

Be the sin police.

sin policeNaturally, people who don’t follow Christ don’t necessarily know or care how He wants Christians to live their lives. It stands to reason, then, that if you point out the sins of unsaved people and inform them of how badly they need to change before they even understand their need for a savior, they will continue not to see their need and subsequently avoid you and your critiques of their lives. Put a cherry on top and inform them of why you don’t do what they’re doing, so they can see how much better you are than them.

Make up rules that don’t exist.

People love rules, don’t they? Make up a few about how you think people should act or dress or worship or entertain themselves that aren’t in the Bible but are based on your personal preference, and inflict them upon others. It’s perfect because they’ll know they can look to you instead of to the word of God for the standard of what a Christ-follower looks like.

Gossip about other people.

Talking about other people behind their backs is very effective if you want someone to see clearly how you love yourself more than anything on earth, how you only like people who are as awesome as you, and how your friendship actually isn’t friendship at all. In no time you will have lost their trust, and the game is over.

Gossip about other churches.

A great way to let unsaved people know that they should steer clear is to talk negatively about other Bible-believing churches that have practices that you don’t agree with. It shows superiority, disunity, and a lack of vision for what it actually means to be the body of Christ, and will dissuade most anyone from wanting to be a part of any such body of believers.

Insist that Christianity should only be done the way you do it.

worship warsI mean, we all know that when we get to heaven, everything will be done exactly the way you do it right now. Why wouldn’t you share that with someone who could potentially be in heaven with you?

Talk trash on social media.

This one’s pretty fun. Go on Facebook and call unsaved people unintelligent at an opportune moment, like under a post about evolution. It’s sure to evoke lots of negative comments that you can then make more derogatory comments on. If you persevere, you’ll have the last word and many less prospective converts to worry about discipling.

Idolize something other than Jesus.

Soap-boxes, obsessions, and social causes are amazing distractions from what should be the main thing in a Christian’s life. If you can find something to live more passionately for than God, or a message to tell more adamantly than the good news of the gospel, that’ll help divert a non-Christian’s attention to all of the other stuff in their own lives that they could live for.

With these ten tips, you can reach no one with the message of Christ, or you can reach everyone with no message at all. Either way you can rest assured that nothing eternal will ever happen because of you.

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