Questions & Answers…Preparing To Host A Student

First, I will say that it was not my idea to write a question/answer post but I thought it was an excellent idea from The Ann Arbor Exchange. The following questions come from them. This is their second year hosting a student so they included how their previous expectations actually worked with their first student and what changes they will be making with this year’s student. For this post though, I only have my current expectations to go on. Maybe after we have had our student for awhile I can revisit this to see if my expectations were reasonable.

So the idea behind these questions, is to evaluate your expectations before you choose a student. If you know the answers to these questions then when you receive student profiles you can compare common interests and look for red flags that might affect your family. This may help you avoid major conflicts throughout the time your student is a part of your family.

1. Is your family religious? How would you feel about hosting a student with a different religion? No religion? Can you commit to transporting a religious child to services if they are a regular attendee? Can you provide a quiet, distraction-free place for prayer if this is needed? If you are a non-religious family these questions are just as important!

144185625539529204_KGDI6yf4_cAbsolutely! While we don’t necessarily use the word religious to define ourselves, that is how most other people would define us. We are Christians. We go to a Baptist church. Our faith in God defines who we are and how we live our daily lives. We read our Bibles, we pray, we worship, we attend church services and activities throughout the week.

Although it would be easier to host a student with no religion, we would be okay with hosting a student with a different religion. We will ask our student to visit our church services and activities but we will not force her to come if she chooses not to. The youth group at our church will be very welcoming and would be a great way to meet friends since the majority of them go to the same high school. Also, there are 3-4 exchange student host families who attend our church and our hope is that they will be more comfortable here if they spend time with the other students and families.

 It would be difficult to transport a student to and from services of a different religion if they were during days/times that conflict with our schedules or own church services. If our student desires to attend services at another church or religious place, we would more than likely require that she makes transportation arrangements with someone whom we have met and who we are comfortable with driving her. If she chooses to pray privately, she will have her room to do so.

We have not brought up religion in our emails with Noriko but according to her profile she has no religion. We know from our experience living in Okinawa, Japan that Shintoism and Buddhism are the most common religions there and that one or both of them will probably have influenced her belief system whatever that may be.

2. Is your family active? Do you want a student who will be open to being active?

Shane is active. I am not. I do not think that this will be a problem for our family. If she is active, we will find avenues (like school or community sports) for her to be a part of.

3. Are you financially ready to provide three meals and snacks? Can you pay for school activities or will the student? How will you handle expenses? Will you work with the natural parents ahead of time to decide on the student’s allowance? Will the student give you cash? Or will you have them pay for an equivalent dollar amount of things?

We do not feel that adding one more person to feed will be that much of an added expense. We tend to cook enough to have left overs. Our girls are hit or miss as to whether they will eat a whole meal or not. And I try to save money by buying produce through a co-op and couponing (not extreme couponing) as I am able too. Our exchange organization requires that the student will have a $300.00 (or more) per month allowance. This money is for the student to pay for all school and extracurricular expenses. If she chooses to buy lunch at school, that will be her expense also. We personally will require her to have a cell phone and she will be responsible for paying the monthly bill. When the student arrives we will set up a savings account with a debit card at our local bank. We will also help the student budget her money so that she does not over spend and so that she plans ahead for larger expenses that she may have while here.

4. What are your family’s unspoken rules? Being aware of these is imperative – an exchange student will not simply intuit them.

The biggest one that I can think of is that Shane is military and his schedule is always changing. We as a family need to be respectful and understanding if he needs extra sleep, will leave for work extra early, will get home extra late, or will be away from home for days, weeks, or months.

Because we have never had a teenager live with us, there may be things that come to our attention along the way. I think we need to be somewhat flexible but if something starts to bother us (that wasn’t already mentioned as a “rule”) that we should explain it to the student tactfully.

5. What are your expectations for school? Chores? Technology? Dating? Social stuff? Curfew?

This question is a little hard for us since we have never had teenagers. So, I think there may be some learning on our part as to what is appropriate for our student. If something comes up that we are unsure of, we have several friends that we can go to for teen parenting advice 🙂 But here are some initial thoughts…

Our exchange organization requires that students maintain a C or higher in all classes. I feel that this is reasonable but will highly encourage Noriko to do her very best to get A’s and B’s. If she brings home C’s I will more than likely be talking to the teachers and arranging tutoring.

We do not really have set chores. Shane and I do what needs to be done as needed. We take turns when we can but more often than not, I take care of indoor chores and he takes care of outdoor chores. I asked Noriko what chores she likes to do and she said she likes to do dishes and vacuuming. It will be easy to set up a schedule for her to help with each of these. As well as, general care of her room and bathroom. We will probably have her help with watching the girls on occasion.

Our exchange organization has limits of 1 hour per week of communication with student’s home family and friends (phone or Skype). They feel that the more a student is interacting with home, the harder it is for them to adjust to being here. Their limit for internet (email, facebook, etc.) is 2 hours per week with the exception of school related internet usage (studying, research, etc.).

We will meet all friends and dates before Noriko spends any significant time outside of school with them. We will encourage her to invite her friends to our house and we will be open and honest with her about any concerns we may have about someone. We will not allow her to ride with friends unless we have met them and feel comfortable with them driving. We will also have an open policy with her. If she feels at all uncomfortable, she can call us and we will come get her. She can use us as an excuse to get out of an activity or date by saying she needs to be with us at that time.

We will have a 9:00 curfew on school nights, a 11:00 curfew on weekends, and a 12:00 curfew on special occasions (like prom). Exceptions may be made if Noriko specifically asks ahead of time (for instance, she is going to a movie and it will get out later than curfew).

6. If you have other children in the house how do they feel about hosting?

Our girls are ages 6 and 4 years old. We honestly did not consult them before deciding to have a student. In fact, we avoided talking to them about it until we knew for sure that our application was accepted and that we would be getting Noriko. After we were approved, we talked to them about it and told them that it would be like having a big sister while she was here. It took a few times of talking about it before they really understood that she was coming for more than just a short vacation. Now they both seem to be excited about having Noriko here!

7. Do you have pets? Have you honestly assessed their behavior? Have you shared any pertinent information about them with your student? What are the pet-related expectations for your student?

0ES1We have a black cat named Hashi (Japanese word for chopsticks) who is about 3  years old. He doesn’t like a lot of commotion or attention and usually hides away in our room throughout the day. He tends to explore during the night. It is not unusual for him to come out to the living room while guests are here (as long as it is somewhat quiet and calm) but if anyone moves in his direction he usually retreats back to the bedroom. He tolerates me the most out of anyone in the family. He will be okay with a student once he gets to know her.

0ES2We also have a black dog named Bear (lab mix) who is around 9 months old. He is all puppy. Very hyper and loves attention. He likes to play bite (but won’t intentionally hurt someone) and he chews anything he can get his teeth on (toys, brushes, headbands, bowls, cups, etc). We keep him locked up in his kennel at night and when we are not at home. We also make a habit of closing bedroom doors or putting up a baby gate so that he cannot get into them.

One of our requirements was that there be no animal allergies. I really liked everything about a Brazil girl’s profile until it said she was allergic to cats. This is something that we just cannot work around. Noriko’s profile said that she has a cat and loves pets. She said as much when we had the opportunity to Skype with her this past weekend. She was surprised that Bear was an indoor dog though.

8. How long will your student be with you before school starts? How will you handle the downtime?

Noriko will be with us for 5 days before school starts. There really will not be much downtime. We will allow her to sleep and rest for a couple of days but we also have to go to a school appointment to get her registered and make her class schedule. We will most likely need to do some shopping. And we will be spending a lot of time discussing rules and expectations, answering questions, and generally getting her settled and preparing for school to start.

9. Do you have any dietary restrictions? Does the student? Is everyone comfortable with this?

We do not have any dietary restrictions. According to Noriko’s profile, she does not either. We looked at several student profiles and a couple of them were vegetarians or vegans. Initially, I wanted to say that it wouldn’t be a problem. After thinking about it, though, I realized that with young children it would be almost impossible to cater to a dietary need or preference. Maybe when our girls are older (or out of the house) it would not be an issue but for now my girls need to be the priority when it comes to food preparation. I need to be able to prepare what I know they will eat. We do eat a wide variety of foods but having to eliminate whole food groups because of an allergy or preference just is not practical for us at this time.

10. What are your expectations around travel? Holidays? Family time?

We want to travel to visit our families in Iowa and Delaware while Noriko is here. Right now we do not know if we will have the finances to be able to take these long distance trips or not. Our plan is to start saving for them now and hope that we are able to do them. I feel that if we can help Noriko see other parts of our country, it would be a great experience for her. If we make it to Delaware, I will most definitely take her to Washington DC for a day and possibly New York City as well. For most travel (long distance or not), we will require that she pays her portion of the trip. If we fly, she will have to pay for her plane ticket. If we go to a museum or amusement park, she will pay for her entrance tickets.

375547_2593634049248_1506571575_32756780_628022001_nFor holidays, we will celebrate them the way we usually do. Most holidays that we celebrate have a Christian theme or history (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.) and we will make it sure she knows the purpose and/or history behind each holiday. Our church is planning to do a Passover dinner next spring which will also give her a the experience of a Jewish holiday. The only major American holiday that we don’t really celebrate is Halloween. We tend to participate in whatever our church does for this holiday (harvest parties, trunk or treat) but we have only been attending our church since February so I don’t know what they do. I also plan to ask Noriko about her holiday traditions and would like to incorporate them into ours while she is here.

Most of the time family time is spent at home at meals and watching tv or movies together. I am a stay at home mom who homeschools, so family time (at least with the girls and I) is usually not an issue. When Shane is away for an extended period of time or due to long hours at work, the girls may start to be clingy and start to act out (attitudes, tantrums, etc.). When I notice this happening, I usually suggest that we go out to eat as a family so that we don’t have the distractions of being at home. We also try to go out as a family to the pool or park to spend time together. We will treat Noriko as a daughter and a part of the family. We want her to feel we are her family away from home.

How would you answer these questions? Can you think of any others that may be helpful?

Where’s The Binky?

I hardly ever find a binky immediately when I go to look for one. We have bought tons of them in the past 3 years between both girls. Not to mention all of the ones I have taken from my diaper cake order supply. My husband, Shane, and I always joke that Kendal has a hidden stockpile of pacifiers somewhere in this house. In the past, whenever we would take one away from her; she would leave the room and come back with another one in her mouth. Now she doesn’t need to do that; she just takes the one that is in Audrey’s mouth (no; we do not let her keep it). The problem now is that Kendal doesn’t seem to have a hidden stockpile anymore. So, whenever I want Audrey to have one; none of us can seem to find them. Most parents assume that they will find them whenever they pack up and move out of their house. Most parents that I have talked to (who have assumed that) did not ever find them. So where they go when they disappear???

We could ask the same question about socks that seem to disappear after they go into the dryer.

Do You Know The Answers? (Part 2)

If you missed “Do You Know The Answers? (Part 1)” I recommend reading it first. It gives more background on why I posted these particular blogs. Here is what is included in Part 1:

I have been reading a book called “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven” by Mark Cahill for my church’s book club… Writing to Christian readers; Mark points out that there is something that we as Christians will NOT be able to do when we get to heaven. So, what is it?  “One thing you cannot do in Heaven is share your faith with a non-believer. Why? Because everyone in Heaven is a believer.”

Mark Cahill mentions several common statements or questions that non-believers say or ask when a believer presents the gospel to them. He also explains how we as believers can answer them. It was nice to read the answers to them all in one place… I am going to quote most of Mark Cahill’s chapter called “Good Answer!” because I think he explains the answers much better than I can.

Part 1 answers the following statements and questions:

“There is no absolute truth.”

“Can you prove that there is a God?”

“How do you know the Bible is true?”

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Today I will continue Mark Cahill’s insights from the chapter in his book called “Good Answer!”

(Everything indented is quoted from the book “One Thing you can’t Do In Heaven” written by Mark Cahill. The questions are in bold and the answers follow. Anything that I inserted to the quotes, including scripture, I put in [brackets]. )

“Doesn’t evolution prove the Bible false?”

“… This is a crucial topic for many people, and is the reason many people do not believe in God… I use a four-step process to show that evolution cannot be true:

“1. Probability. Let’s say you had a cup with twenty dice, each labeled with a letter of the alphabet (a, b, c, etc.), and you wanted to roll the dice and have them come out in alphabetical order. The chance of this occurring is 1 in 2.4 x 10  to the 18th power [sorry I don’t know how to actually type that correctly]! And that is for only twenty things to occur in order. We have 206 bones in our body; how long would they take to appear in order? For 200 things to occur in order, the probability is 1 in 10 to the 375th power. Mathematicians say that anything over 10 to the 50th power is absolutely impossible.”

“2. Fossil Record. Even Darwin stated that the fossil record should contain millions of transitional forms to show that evolution is true. Interestingly, the fossil record doesn’t contain a single transitional form! It contains only complete kinds, but no transitional forms.”

“3. Missing Links. Every “missing link” between ape and man has now been scientifically disproved. This includes Lucy, Piltdown Man, Pecking Man, Neanderthal Man, Nebraska Man, etc Dirived more from fertile imagination than from fossil evidence, all have been shown to be either fully ape or fully human.”

“4. Why are there no missing links today? We see only whole dogs, cats, horses, birds, etc. We do not see creatures that are half cow and half whale, or half dog and half cat. They just aren’t there.”

“…The book that had the greatest impact on me in this area is The Collapse of Evolution, by Dr. Scoot Huse. It is the source for all the preceding arguments. Remember, that science is on our side. And once you’ve proved the Bible to be true, it supports your position against evolution: “All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.” 1 Corinthians 15:39 [KJV] “And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25 [KJV]

“How can Jesus be the only way to God? Aren’t there many paths to Heaven?”

“As our society becomes more pluralistic, increasing numbers of people think all faiths are equal and that people should simply believe whatever they want to believe. Oprah Winfrey shared her beliefs one day on her show. She pictures God at the top of a mountain, and believes there are many paths to get there. We can take the Christian path, the Jewish path, the Muslim path, the Hindu path, the good-works path, etc. When someone makes a similar claim, here is my response. If there are many paths to God, did the Son of God [Jesus] have to die on the cross for the sins of the world? Of course, the answer is “no.” If people could have remained on the Jewish path or the good-works path and still gotten to God, then Jesus did not have to endure an excruciating death on a cross as payment for our sins. Why would He die for us if He didn’t have to?”

“The Bible says that He did this voluntarily. If He chose to lay down His life for our sins when He didn’t have to, that would make it the most senseless, idiotic act in the history of the world… Why would He lead the only perfect life in the history of mankind, and then pull the bonehead move of the millennium–unless it is just as He said, that He is the only way to get to Heaven? When someone asks you why you are so sure Jesus is the only way to Heaven, you might first want to respond, “What makes you so sure that He is not?” Try to let others prove their positions. You will find out very quickly that a lot of lost people are banking on blind faith. You can explain that, once we repent of our sins and place our trust in Jesus, we are “born again.” He comes to live inside us through His Holy Spirit, giving us absolute assurance that we now have eternal life… “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:22 [KJV] “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” [KJV] “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” 1 Timothy 2:5 [KJV] “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 [KJV]

“I don’t believe in Hell, so there can’t be one.”

“Remember, it doesn’t matter what we believe, it matters what is true. Unbelief doesn’t change reality. We may believe that poison doesn’t kill, but it does. We might believe that the earth is flat, but it is not… Hell is a very real place, according to the Bible. Jesus spoke of it 33 times, describing its horrors in graphic detail. It is a place of eternal, conscious torment. We need to convince people of its reality and warn them not to go there.”

“The Bible says we are reincarnated when we die.”

“Many people today believe in reincarnation because it seems cool… However, in Hinduism, where the concept of reincarnation originates, reincarnation is not a good thing but a curse. Individuals must keep returning to life on earth until they get it right. When Jesus said we must be born again, He was referring to a spiritual, not a physical, birth. Those who place their trust in Christ are born spiritually into God’s family. Each of us, when we die, will go to one of two destinations–Heaven or Hell. We will not return to earth in another form. The Bible tells us: [“Only a few years will pass before I go on the journey of no return.” Job 16:22  (NIV)] “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27 [KJV]

“Can God create a rock so big that He can’t lift it?”

“Can God create the biggest rock in the universe? Yes, He created everything. Can God lift the biggest rock in the universe? Yes, He is all-powerful. So what is the point of the question? There really is no point. It is just one of the stump-the-Christian questions that non-believers sometimes ask. The answer to the question is “no.” It may bother some people when you say that God cannot do something, but there are actually numerous things that God can’t do… He can’t lie. He can’t sin. He can’t not love someone. But the fact that there are things God can’t do doesn’t mean that He isn’t all-powerful. It just means that certain things are outside of His character.”

“When I am old, I will get right with God.”

“When people make this comment, I always ask them, “Can you guarantee that you will wake up tomorrow morning?” Of course, the answer is “no.” So I just say, “You shouldn’t put your head on your pillow tonight unless you know for sure where you are going to spend eternity.” A youth pastor once said, “Whether you are old or young isn’t determined by your age, it is determined by when you die.” It is an interesting statement. If a seventeen-year-old is going to die at age seventy, he has a lot of life left; relatively speaking, he is a very young man. If a seventeen-year-old is going to die a week from now, relative to his lifespan, he is a very old man… The Bible says: [“Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” James 4:13-14 (NIV)] “behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 [KJV]

“How can there be a God when there is so much evil and suffering in the world?”

“Evil doesn’t prove that there is no God; it only proves that there is evil. Some argue that a loving God wouldn’t allow evil, so either there is no God or He is not loving 0r powerful enough to prevent it. Love by definition demands a choice. We can choose to love our parents. We can choose to love our spouse. We can choose to love our kids. We can also choose to love God, or choose not to love God. The evil that we see around the world is because people choose not to love God and obey Him… Be aware that when a person mentions evil like this, it might be due to a bad experience he has had. That is also true when a person is angry toward God or church. Very often, he has been hurt somehow. Try to find out what that event was, if he is willing to share it, and then minister to him. He is questioning the love of God at this point, so show it to him.”

“One young lady I talked with asked me, “What kind of God would take my dad away from me when I was nineteen years old?” Her anger toward God was misplaced. The Bible says that all death is caused by sin, and that sin entered the world through Adam. It was mankind’s sin that brought the death of her father. Blaming Adam is accurate, but pointless. He’s been dead for thousands of years. Mistakenly blaming God distracts us from finding the solution to death–eternal life, that God offers through faith in Christ. Remember, there was no death in the Garden of Eden until sin entered. Thanks to a loving God, there is no death in Heaven because there is no sin in Heaven. Keep sharing God’s truth in love…”

“What about someone in Africa who has never heard the Gospel? Is he condemned to Hell?”

“When people ask this question, I challenge them: “if you are so concerned about the person in Africa, why don’t you repent of your sin and commit your life to Jesus, then go and reach that person in Africa?” You quickly find that the individual really doesn’t care about anyone in Africa. He is just trying to stump you. Explain to the individual that people don’t go to Hell because they haven’t heard of Jesus. They go to Hell because they have transgressed the Law of Almighty God, which is sin (1 John 3:4) [“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (KJV)] Romans 1:20 also tells us that God’s invisible attributes are clearly seen in nature, so that men are without excuse [see Part 1 for full quoted verse]. Since His grace appears to all men, but there are some who go to Hell, the bottom line is that people are rejecting God and wanting to selfishly choose their own way in life… After addressing this question, say something like, “When that person stands in front of Jesus, he may be able to say that he has never heard about Him. But when you stand if front of God, will you be able to say that you have never heard about Jesus?” One night I asked this question of a man outside of a bar and he answered, “No, because you told me about Him tonight.”

“The church is filled with hypocrites.”

“I was talking with a yuppie in a mall one day who had no faith in God, but said his parents were committed believers in Jesus. He blamed all of the hypocrites for keeping him away from church. I asked him, “If I walked up to you drinking a beer and smoking a joint, and shared Jesus with you, what would you think?” “You would be just another freak in the world.” “You are exactly right,” I said. “That makes me 100-percent wrong, but that doesn’t make God wrong at all.” I was trying to help him make the distinction between the actions of followers (or supposed followers) and God’s character. I continued, “There are hypocrites in the mall today, and it didn’t stop you from coming to the mall. There will be hypocrites in the restaurant tonight when you and your girlfriend go out to eat, and it won’t stop you from going there. So why in the world would you let hypocrites stop you from finding out about the one true God who loves you unconditionally and wants to forgive all of your sins?…” [I personally do not believe that drinking beer or a glass of wine is something that a Christian cannot do. The Bible clearly says not to get drunk; not do not drink. This is not at all the point of what Mark Cahill was trying to make. So, if you disagree with that; I would say just look past it and insert something else that would definitely be considered wrong. If you are interested in reading more on what the Bible says about alcohol click here.]

“There are so many different religions; how do I know which is the right one?”

“When you take the time to prove the Bible is true, people have evidence for the truth of the Christian faith. Use the Law, the Ten Commandments, to show people their sin, because it will carry them to the cross to show them how only Jesus can get rid of their sin. At that point, they realize that Mohammed, Buddha, Krishna, etc., cannot help them. Also, always talk about the resurrection of Jesus–the historical event that sets Him apart from any other human being… Jesus stated He is the only way to get to Heaven (John 14:6) [“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)]… When taken at face value, it is an arrogant statement–unless of course it can be backed up… explain about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection… The resurrection substantiates the words of Jesus. The eyewitness testimony of the resurrection is very convincing evidence that must be shared…”

“These are just a few of the questions you will deal with when witnessing. What I have suggested are not the perfect answers, but keep studying your Bible, and ask the Lord to lead you to those answers. You will only discover what lost people are asking by talking to them. So be bold, and get out there and talk with them!”

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This is only a basic guideline and definitely not all inclusive. If you noticed all of the … in this post and in part 1; you will know that there is more information that I didn’t quote from the chapter. And remember that Part 1 and Part 2 only refer to one chapter in the book. Mark gives a whole lot more advice, personal experience, etc. throughout the book. So, I highly recommend that all Christians read Mark Cahill’s book “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven.” You can purchase it at Christian Book Distributers here.

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Overall this book has made me more aware that our time here on earth is short compared to eternity. I know where I am going to spend eternity because of God’s grace and mercy that he has extended toward me. I pray that Christians (me included) who read this will be able to better defend their faith in Jesus and be more intentional about sharing their beliefs. I also pray that non-believers who read this will at least have something to think about and maybe get some answers that they have been looking for. Friends, I truly care about your search for eternal answers, and hope that I will someday see you in Heaven where we can worship our Almighty God together in eternity!

If I can answer other questions, or at least lead you toward more resources, I would be happy to do so. Please feel free to e-mail me at: hearttreasurescontact@yahoo.com

Do You Know The Answers? (Part 1)

I have been reading a book called “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven” by Mark Cahill for my church’s book club. We have not met to discuss the book yet but I am looking forward to when we do! Writing to Christian readers; Mark points out that there is something that we as Christians will NOT be able to do when we get to heaven. So, what is it?  “One thing you cannot do in Heaven is share your faith with a non-believer. Why? Because everyone in Heaven is a believer.”

I have had many opportunities to share my faith with others in my life. Unfortunately, I have not acted on all of those opportunities. It is easy for us to share our faith and tell what we know of God and the Bible with those who already believe. It is much harder to share it with those who don’t. For me it is because of fear. I fear being rejected and/or laughed at. I fear not being able to answer questions that come my way. I fear that people will see my faults and think I am being hypocritical. I want people to like me! Maybe it was to people like me that Jesus spoke to when he said:

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man [Jesus]. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven…” Luke 6:22-23

There has been one time or another where all of my fears mentioned above proved to be things that happened when sharing my faith. I remember a guy in middle school calling me names like “holy roller” or “Bible thumper” because I carried my Bible with me at school. I have encountered several people who have just been plain smarter than me in almost everything who threw questions at me that I had no clue how to answer. I have also been called hypocritical. I can think of a specific example where I was living in sin and a person I worked with knew of my sin and what I claimed to believe. Needless to say, to that person, my actions spoke much louder than my words. I may have been in that person’s life for the sole purpose of sharing Jesus. It breaks my heart knowing that (because of how I lived my life at that time) I may be the reason that they won’t get to go to heaven. I can only pray that God will send someone else to that person who is a much greater example of who Jesus is.

Throughout the past seven months; I have had the privilege of sharing my faith and beliefs with someone who I now consider a friend. We talk two or three times a month and most of the time we end up on a spiritual related topic. Her beliefs about the spiritual world and life in general are very different from mine but I truly enjoy talking with her whenever I can. She asks a lot of good questions and I have been able to dig deep into the Bible and do research in order to answer them to the best of my ability. This has caused my faith to get stronger and has made me more educated about my personal beliefs. Did you know that God calls us to be educated believers?

“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15

I can give my basic foundational beliefs and personal testimony to anyone who asked me about them at any given time. But when the hard questions come (whether Biblical, scientific, hypothetical, etc.); I am not afraid to answer a question with “I don’t know.” If I do not know an answer to one of my friend’s questions; I go and search out the answer and bring it back to her either through e-mail or the next time I see her.

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Speaking of questions; Mark Cahill mentions several common statements or questions that non-believers say or ask when a believer presents the gospel to them. He also explains how we as believers can answer them. It was nice to read the answers to them all in one place. I think I have covered most of these questions with my friend at one point or another; either because she asked the question or I brought it up to explain something I was talking to her about. In today’s and tomorrow’s blogs; I am going to quote most of Mark Cahill’s chapter called “Good Answer!” because I think he explains the answers much better than I can.

(Everything indented is quoted from the book “One Thing you can’t Do In Heaven” written by Mark Cahill. The questions are in bold and the answers follow. Anything that I inserted to the quotes, including scripture, I put in [brackets]. )

“There is no absolute truth.”

“Always remember that all truth, by definition, is very narrow. It has one right answer and many wrong answers. For example, 2 + 2 = 4, not 5, not 11, not 67 (one right answer and many wrong answers). There is only one person who is the president of the United States right now (one right answer and many wrong answers). I would expect when it comes to eternity that there would be one right answer and many wrong answers. And that is exactly the case. There is one truth, and it’s found in the Bible. We must continue to steer people toward the eternal truth of God’s Word… It doesn’t matter what you believe, it matters what is true. People need to think about truth rather than just belief. I might believe that the earth is flat, but it isn’t. I might believe the sky is green, but it isn’t…”

“In explaining his spiritual beliefs, [Jim] said that, as long as he believed in his heart that something was true, then it was true. One issue you’ll encounter frequently… is the concept of absolute truth versus relative truth. The belief that truth is relative to a given situation. Here is one of the arguments that I use: “Adolph Hitler killed six million of God’s chosen people. So as long as he believed in his heart that it was an okay thing to do, then it was definitely okay to do, wasn’t it, Jim?” At this point Jim is in a bind. I have had only three people answer yes to that question. Some people get caught in their argument an don’t want to admit that they are wrong. Jim answered, “There must be some absolute truth.”… “Jim, if you ever want to find absolute truth, you can find it in the Bible…”

“In what situation is rape okay?” … Think about it. Can you think of one situation in which it would be okay? Since it is wrong for all people, in all places, at all times, then the statement “rape is wrong” would be an absolute truth. And if there is one absolute truth, there can be two, three, or more.” [Definition of rape: noun-the unlawful compelling of a woman through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.]

“Can you prove that there is a God?”

“People frequently ask this question, implying that our faith is blind while reason is on their side… God has never asked us to have blind faith, and He never will. Blind faith is what leads people into cults. We use calculated faith for most decisions in life, and we should do the same for eternal decisions.”

“I was… chatting with a theater professor as he was walking to class. He asked, “Can you prove there is a God?” I said, “Sure, I can.” … I explained… “Every time you see a shirt… you know it has a creator. Every time you see a watch, you know it has a designer. Every time you see art… you know there is an artist. Every time you see order, like twenty Coke cups in a row, you know there is an order. When you look around the universe, what do you see? You see creation, design, art, and order. If every other thing has a creator, a designer, an artist, and an orderer behind it, why would you not think that there is a Creator, a Designer, an Artist, and an Orderer behind this universe?” …

Romans 1:20 says, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…” [KJV] People will have no excuse before God if they claim there wasn’t enough evidence for Him, because the creation speaks of a Creator. How do we know a building had a builder? Just by looking! The building itself is the proof that there is a builder. This universe itself is the proof that there is a God. Period.”

“How do you know the Bible is true?”

“1. The Bible is the best-selling book in the world. That alone doesn’t mean that the Bible is true, but because it is the best selling book in history, we should take a look at it. Approximately 150 million Bibles are printed each year! No other book even comes close… there is a good chance the Bible contains at least some truth; reading is a great way to find out.”

“2. The Bible claims to be written by God… people believe that man wrote the Bible, but the Bible claims that God is the author: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…” 2 Timothy 3:16 [KJV] “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:21 [KJV] However, just because the Bible claims God as its author, does that mean He is? Actually, no it doesn’t… We need more proof than that…”

“3. Historical evidence supports the Bible. No one has yet been able to identify a single historical mistake anywhere in the Bible. That in itself is amazing. If man wrote it, we would certainly find historical errors after all these years–but there are none. So that you can study more on this point, as well as on the next two, I recommend that you read any of the following books: *New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, by Josh McDowell  *The Case For Christ, by Lee Strobel  *The Signature Of God, by Grant Jeffrey. All three books provide powerful evidence that the Bible is not from the hands of man, but from the hand of Almighty God…”

“4. Archaeological evidence supports the Bible. To date, archaeologists have not discovered a single thing in the Middle East that has proved the Bible wrong. As a mater of fact, each additional discovery continues to prove it true. There have been 25,000 archaeological finds relating to people, places, and events in the Bible, and not one has contradicted anything in the Scriptures. That’s incredible proof of the Bible’s trust worthiness. The three books mentioned above contain numerous quotes and great information about this archaeological evidence… If you can believe the historical and archaeological evidence for the Bible, why can’t you believe the spiritual part of the book?…”

“5. Fulfilled prophesies validate the Bible… Fulfilled prophecies not only prove the Bible true, they also are a proof for God… “What is the only book in the world that contains hundreds of very detailed prophecies?” The correct answer is the Bible. The Book of  Morman doesn’t; the Koran for Muslims doesn’t; the Bhagavad Gita for Hindus doesn’t. I ask, “If the text contains prophecies that do not come true, what does that say about the book?” People will answer that the book is false. And that’s absolutely right… If a book predicted something that didn’t come true, the book could not be trusted. I point out to people that when the Bible was written, 25 percent of the content predicted future events. And every single one of those prophecies has come true in the minutest detail, except for the few remaining prophecies about the return of Jesus Christ to earth. Statistically, there is no way that man can predict the future with 100-percent accuracy. I then ask people, “Who is the only one who can do this?” One time I asked this question of an atheist, and he answered “God” –and he doesn’t even believe that there is one! But he recognized that only God could know the future…”

“Sometimes the person… will ask what some of the prophecies are. I usually use the following three:

*The Book of Micah (5:2) [Micah prophesied sometime between 750 and 686 B.C.] tells us that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem–not in Jerusalem, Atlanta, or New York [“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” (KJV)]. And Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7) [“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” (KJV)].

*The Book of Zechariah (11:12-13) [Zechariah prophesied between 520 and sometime after 480 B.C.] says that this Messiah will be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver [“And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” (KJV)]. Jesus was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15) [“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” (KJV)].

*The Book of Psalms (22:16-18) says that this Messiah will be pierced in His hands and His feet. [“…they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”] This prophecy is amazing because it was written 800 years before crucifixion was ever used as a means of punishment, yet Jesus was pierced in His hands and feet (Matthew 27:35) [And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.” (KJV)]…”

“The Bible is not just a single book, but a compilation of sixty-six books written by some forty authors over 1,500 years. Its internal consistency and fulfilled prophecies prove its divine origin.”

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If you haven’t already; I recommend reading my continuation of this post: “Do You Know The Answers? (Part 2)” Part 2 includes the following arguments and questions that non-believers often say or ask:

“Doesn’t evolution prove the Bible false?”

“How can Jesus be the only way to God? Aren’t there many paths to Heaven?”

“I don’t believe in Hell, so there can’t be one.”

“The Bible says we are reincarnated when we die.”

“Can God create a rock so big that He can’t lift it?”

“When I am old, I will get right with God.”

“How can there be a God when there is so much evil and suffering in the world?”

“What about someone in Africa who has never heard the Gospel? Is he condemned to Hell?”

“The church is filled with hypocrites.”

“There are so many different religions; how do I know which is the right one?”

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I highly recommend that all Christians read Mark Cahill’s book “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven.” You can purchase it at Christian Book Distributers here.

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Overall this book has made me more aware that our time here on earth is short compared to eternity. I know where I am going to spend eternity because of God’s grace and mercy that he has extended toward me. I pray that Christians (me included) who read this will be able to better defend their faith in Jesus and be more intentional about sharing their beliefs. I also pray that non-believers who read this will at least have something to think about and maybe get some answers that they have been looking for. Friends, I truly care about your search for eternal answers, and hope that I will someday see you in Heaven where we can worship our Almighty God together in eternity!

If I can answer other questions, or at least lead you toward more resources, I would be happy to do so. Please feel free to e-mail me at: hearttreasurescontact@yahoo.com