Category Archives: Faith

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Inspiring People: Joni Eareckson Tata

Hi everyone!  Today I am back with another Inspiring People post.  This person inspires me so much, and here is her story:

Joni Eareckson was born in 1949.  She loved to be outside and do things like swimming and hiking.  One day when Joni was a teenager, she was swimming in the Chesapeake Bay.  Thinking the water was deep enough, she dove in head first.  She hit her head on a rock on the bottom and broke her neck, becoming paralyzed from the neck down.  Joni had to be in rehab for two years, during which time she had many spiritual struggles.  Before her accident she was a strong Christian, but now after her accident she doubted her faith in God as she lay useless in the hospital.  She had lots of friends who came to visit her, but she needed spiritual as well as physical healing.

One day Joni’s friend Steve came to see her.  She was so fed up and angry with God for letting her accident happen that she burst out with questions for Steve like, “Why did God do this to me?”, “If God is so powerful then why didn’t he stop it?”  Joni felt like she didn’t deserve to be handicapped for the rest of her life, and she was blaming God.  Steve shared a Bible verse with Joni that challenged her thinking.  Acts 4 :28, which reads, “They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”  If you read a little bit above this passage in the Bible you can figure out that this section is talking about Jesus’ death.  Meaning Jesus dying was no mistake on God’s part, or anyone else’s.  God knew what was going to happen to Jesus way before it ever happened, and it was for a reason.

This gave Joni the assurance that God allowed her accident for a reason.  She soon learned to paints pictures with her mouth instead of her hands and was out of the hospital in a short time.  Joni now knows that God’s plan is not always the plan she has in her mind, and she uses her disability to praise God.  She is now married and often speaks publicly about her faith.

I find this story inspiring because Joni went through so much, and God never failed to provide what she needed.  Her injury did not stop her from living for God and glorifying Him.  She went through some very hard emotional and spiritual times as well, but God came out on top.  God will always be with us, no matter what’s going on in our lives.

Did you like this story?  If you would like to find out more about Joni or read a more detailed version of her story, I recommend this book:  Joni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Eareckson Tata, or this blog post by GirlDefined.

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Inspiring People: Nate Saint

“Inspiring People” is a new series I”m starting that tells the stories of real people who have inspired me, and I hope their stories inspire you too!  I’ve decided to start with Nate Saint.

Nate Saint was born in 1923.  He grew up in a Christian home and from an early age knew that he wanted to serve the Lord in his work.  Nate took his first flight in an airplane at the age of seven and became fascinated with flying.  During World War II, Nate signed up for the US Army, hoping to become a commercial pilot but was not allowed to fly due to a leg infection that was bothering him.  While he was in the army, Nate noticed the need for missionary pilots.  He decided to join MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship) with his wife Marjorie.  They helped open a MAF base in Shell Mera, Ecuador.  Nate’s mission was to show the love of God to the Aucas (a tribe in Ecuador who attacked and killed most outsiders they came in contact with).  He and his MAF team first tried flying over the Auca village dropping gifts to be friendly, but after awhile they knew it was time to talk with the Aucas.  Nate and his teammates Jim, Ed, Peter, and Roger flew a plane to a place near the Auca village and set up camp.  A few tentative Aucas showed up and seemed to be friendly, but they soon left.  Nate and his team were excited to be finally making contact with the Aucas, but, only a few days later, the missionaries were attacked.  All five missionaries were killed.  After Nate died, his family continued to be evangelists and encourage the Aucas.  Many in the village became Christians, including some of those who had attacked the missionaries.

I find this story inspiring because Nate, Jim, Ed, Peter, and Roger did not give up.  They gave their lives serving the Lord.  They may have been discouraged or frustrated, but they kept going and spread the Word of God where others were afraid to.  They did not live to see the outcome of their work, but Nate’s sister Rachel did.  She continued to be a missionary to the Aucas and saw many come to Christ.  Nate’s love for the Lord and devotion to Him motivates me to glorify God in everything I do, even the little things.  Nate had the courage to fly to Ecuador because God was with him.  He trusted that God would use him to make an impact on others.  Nate not only made an impact on the Auca tribe, but his story still encourages us today.

How is this story inspiring to you?  What can you come away with?  Comment below on what other people have inspired you.

Note: If you want to learn more about Nate Saint, I recommend this book:  Nate Saint: On a Wing and a Prayer by Janet and Geoff Benge.

 

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Easter Miracles

Happy Easter everyone!  I love Easter because it is such a beautiful time of year and such a beautiful reason to celebrate!  Christ our Lord has conquered death!  Here is the Easter Bible passage, ESV style:

Luke 24:1-12, 36-40                                                                                                                                          “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen.  Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise?  And when they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told these things to the eleven and all the rest.  Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.  But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen clothes by  themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.”

“As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you!’  But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit.  And he said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?  See my hands and feet, that it is I myself.  Touch me, and see.  For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’  And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.”

When I was typing this out I noticed some things in the passage that I hadn’t noticed before.  One of them was that the disciples didn’t believe what the women told them about Jesus having risen.  You would think that someone wouldn’t joke about something as important as Jesus rising, wouldn’t you?  Well, they weren’t!  The disciples were Jesus’ followers, the ones who helped spread the word about Him and believed Him.  They should probably have known by then that Jesus is capable of rising from the dead, and more!  I think this accurately describes what most Christians are like today.  We say we believe in Jesus, but we can’t even begin to imagine what He can do!  Think about the Easter passage for a minute.  Jesus was dead, and we know that He was fully dead, like all the way dead, because He didn’t rise until three days after.  If it had happened on the same day He had died, then people might question whether He was really dead and had just come out of unconsciousness or something.  But no, Jesus was fully dead, and He came back to life after dying.  That’s impossible.  At least it is for an ordinary human.  But Jesus wasn’t an ordinary human.  He was 100% human and 100% God.  Just being that alone is beyond anything I could have imagined.  Christ rose from the dead.  He is alive.  We are going to see Him one day.  That is a miracle.

Dealing With: Disappointment

Disappointment.  The dictionary definition is, “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”  Disappointment can come in many shapes and sizes, whether it’s not making the track team you really wanted to be on, or simply not getting what you want.  When we’re little, like toddler age, we tend to deal with disappointment by throwing a temper tantrum.  A kid doesn’t get the piece of candy from the birthday piñata that he wanted, so he flips out.  We’ve all seen it, right?  Now that you’re past that stage, how do you deal with disappointment?  It could be that you get super upset and sulk and hole up in you room all day. It could also be that you blame others for what you didn’t get, whether it be the teacher who didn’t give you the part you wanted in the school play, or it could be a grudge against the person who did get the part.  Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)  God has mapped out a plan for your life, which may not be the plans you yourself have.  Knowing this, we will still have disappointment in our lives.  Here are a few ways to deal with disappointment:

1. Get a different perspective.  You’re not fast enough for the track team, but at least you CAN run.  You don’t get into your first choice college, but at least you have enough money to GO to college.  Think of it in the bigger picture.  If you have a goal, work hard to reach it.  If you don’t make it, keep going and make a new goal for yourself.

2.  Pray about it.  Ask God for perseverance and His guidance in your life.  If something disappoints you, don’t shut Him off; pray more!

3.  Read what the Bible has to say.  Here are a few verses to look up in your Bible: Romans 8:28, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalms 27:14

Disappointment can be a hard thing to overcome, but we can know that the Lord is watching over us!  Lift your eyes to the Lord and let all your worries, disappointment and sin rest on Him. God has a future for you, even though it might not be the one you’re expecting.

Did you like this post?  Comment below about other “Dealing With” posts you want me to write about!

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Differences Part 2: Those in Other Countries

Last week we talked about how we should love those around us even if they are different (especially if they’re different, for that matter!).  This week we are talking about differences between us and those in other countries.  People in many countries experience living conditions that are drastically different than what we are used to.  In fact, over 3 billion people in the world live in poverty today. This means a lot of people don’t have a nice, warm, furnished house to live in or get to go to school and learn.  It is dangerous to live in some places of the world, and some places don’t have clean water.

Sometimes we get caught up in things we want that “everyone else has”, or we complain that we are hungry when we always have enough food to eat.  This week when you find yourself in one of these situations, take a step back and look at the big picture.  There are people in this world who live in mud huts and would be overjoyed to have nice clothes, let alone an iPhone.  There are children who consider it lucky to get one meal a day, let alone three.  It is so important to be grateful for what we have.

Like we talked about last week, all people are made in the image of God and He loves them, no matter where they live or what their social status is.  God wants us to love and serve our neighbors, whether it is our literal next door neighbors, or our neighbors in other countries.  There are lots of ways we can love and support people in poverty or without an education around the world, though sometimes we don’t know how.  Here are a few ways to get you started:

Pray.  Pray for others.  Pray a lot.  Pray for anything.  Think of a certain country or city in the world and pray for the people in it.  Right now.

Support a charity or ministry.  Give to those in need!  You don’t have to give a bazillion dollars, just whatever works for you.  Believe me, anything or any amount you give will be greatly appreciated.  You can give meals, clothes, money, school supplies, etc. depending on the organization.

Take a missions trip.  Go somewhere with your church (it doesn’t have to be far away) and show God’s love to others.  It is so rewarding to help others and see God working in their lives.

Everyone is different, and that is exactly how God created humans to be.  Differences make us who we are.  As we wrap up on this topic, think about what you want to come away with and what you are going to apply to your own life.  It might seem hard at first, but we all have the opportunity to make the world better for somebody else.  How are you going to do this?

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Differences Part 1: Those Around Us

“It is only when you accept how different you all are, that you will be able to see how much the same you all are.  Don’t expect anybody to be the same as you, then you will see that you are in many ways the same as everybody.”

– C. JoyBell C., Goodreads Author

Did you read the quote above?  So true, right?  This quote sets the tone for this whole post:  We are different, but we have lots of similarities, too.  Let’s start by talking about differences.  Everyone has different interests, ways of thinking, beliefs, basically everything.  It’s the way God made us human beings.  The world would be so boring if everyone was exactly the same.  I’m glad we were all made differently.  We can learn so many different things and do so much!

As you probably have noticed, the world as we know it is not all sunshine and roses.  Many things today have gone wrong due to differences.  In American history:  wars, segregation, slavery, different religious beliefs, etc.  In present day: bullying, wars (again), political issues, false understanding of what the Bible says, different religious beliefs (again), etc.  I think a lot of the time when someone has different interests or different religious beliefs than us, we tend to label them as “weird” or “bad”.  We tend to easily accept others who have similar interests or beliefs as us.  This is not how God wants us to function.  He made every single person on this planet in His image the way He wanted.  Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Praise God for making you!  Praise Him for making others fearfully and wonderfully too!  Sure, we are all different, but we all have something in common:  God made all of us and loves all of us.

This brings us to the topic of similarities.  Someone might have different religious beliefs, but they’re still treasured by God, just like you.  No human is better than anyone else or more like God than anyone else.  Show others in your school that they are equally loved by God!  Don’t treat others around you poorly because they aren’t the same as you.

Love them for it, because they are a treasured possession of God.

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St. Valentine

Valentine’s Day is coming!  I love this holiday (Mostly because there’s lots of chocolate), but where and when did it start?  There is some debate about how it started, and which stories are true.  One thing all Valentine’s Day myths agree on is a guy named St. Valentine.  Some say that St. Valentine lived during ancient Roman times.  The emperor at the time thought that unmarried men made better soldiers than married ones, so he outlawed marriage.  Kind of weird, right?  Well, St. Valentine didn’t like this law, so he performed marriages in secret.  The authorities were NOT happy when they found out.  Another story suggests that St. Valentine was put in prison for helping Christians escape prisons in Rome.  When he was there, he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter and sent her the first “valentine” card.  We can tell from both of these stories that St. Valentine was a loving man.

It sort of reminds me of God’s great love for us.  This Valentine’s Day, thank God for loving you so much.  All day on February 14, be loving to everyone you come in contact with, reflecting God’s amazing love for them.  We can use Valentine’s Day not just as a day to send flowers and chocolate (although that is super nice), but as a day to be truly loving, helping others and encouraging them.  So how can you do that effectively this Valentine’s Day?

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What we can learn from the movie FROZEN

I love the movie Frozen.  It has great songs, great characters, and a great message.  We can learn a few things from some of the characters in Frozen that maybe you hadn’t thought about before.  Here are a few ways we can be more like Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff:

ELSA: Elsa is probably my favorite character in Frozen.  She has this amazing dress and cool cape, and somehow her hair is perfect.  She even has really awesome ice powers, but if you’ve seen the movie you know that she doesn’t think they’re so awesome.  Elsa keeps her powers hidden for as long as she can, afraid to show anyone.  This is how we sometimes can be as Christians.  We’re afraid to let others know that we’re Christians because we want them to like us or we don’t want them to make fun of us.  That’s not what God wants for us.  He wants us to Let it Go and share our faith with others, just like Elsa let go of her fear and accepted her powers.  Though unlike Elsa, who is afraid her powers will hurt others, if you let others see your faith, it won’t hurt them.  It’ll help them.

ANNA: Anna is a carefree girl who enjoys life.  One of Anna’s best qualities is how loyal she is to Elsa.  When Elsa was hiding from her, Anna still asked her to play.  When Elsa ran away Anna faithfully went after her.  The best part is when Hans is about to kill Elsa.  Anna, with her last remaining strength, puts herself in the way of Hans’ sword just before she freezes up.  I love the line, “An act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.”  All throughout the movie the characters think this means a true love’s kiss, but in the end it really means sacrifice.  Anna sacrificed herself  for Elsa (even though she ends up living anyway), just like Jesus sacrificed himself so we could be free from sin.  This is the kind of love that we need to have for others too.  Now I’m not saying you need to take a bullet for someone or something crazy like that, but instead strive to put others before yourself.

KRISTOFF: One of my favorite  things about Kristoff is that he’s just himself.  He doesn’t care what other people think about him sharing a carrot with a reindeer.  He also helps Anna even when she’s so focused on getting Elsa and may not be really nice to him all the time.  He’s persistent even though Anna can be annoying sometimes.  This is what we should be like.  We don’t need to care about what others think of us, but when others need our help we don’t need to get a reward for helping them (even though Kristoff sort of does).  We do it out of kindness even if we don’t particularly like the person.  We can show others God’s love and be kind to them.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Next time you watch Frozen look for more lessons we can learn!  Comment below about you favorite part of Frozen.

How Great Is Our God

Just recently I watched a video by Louie Giglio, a pastor in Atlanta, GA.  The video was called “How Great Is Our God” and it was AMAZING.  Seriously, just the things he talks about in the video are mind blowing.  (I really encourage you to watch this video.  It’s about 40 minutes long.  Click here to view it.)  After I watched it, it got me thinking.  God made each one of us so intricate and so special.  He understands and knows every single thing about you.  Now, you might be thinking, “Wow, That’s really stalkish”, but for me it’s also really comforting to know that He loves you anyway, even though He knows every sin you’ve ever done.  In 1 John 4:19 it says, “We love because He first loved us.”  God loves everyone even before they’re born.  If you ask His forgiveness for your sins, He will forget them and you will be wiped clean.  He doesn’t hold grudges.  Really, I want that superpower.  I would be able to forget all the sins that sometimes weigh me down.  But God didn’t give us that power because we weren’t meant to have it.  We learn from hard or embarrassing situations, and if someone else is having a bad day, we can share our own experiences.  It’s all part of God’s plan and design for us.  He loves us so much that He made us in His own image and put us on this planet to glorify Him.  Now this is what I want you to do if you haven’t already done it: Click on the link above and watch the video.  When you’ve watched the whole thing, come back and comment on this post and tell me what you thought of the video or this post.  Also, think about this question: How can I show God’s awesome love that He has for all people to others?