What Sustains Me

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Is it knowledge and understanding that keeps me strong
Or perhaps the intellectual freedom
To pursue my thoughts and expand my mind
Some say knowledge is truth and nothing more
But for me it is faith that sustains me

For most of us perspective is truth
Those things we heard from our mother’s knee
The sermons preached from the Holy Book
Or perhaps the trauma and turmoil of life
Eats and gnaws its truth into our soul
But for me faith is what sustains me

Many believe they have a handle on truth
And all others are wrong who disagree
How small heaven must be
How few there must be who find the way
But for me my faith sustains me

To believe in God’s unfailing Love
Beyond knowledge and understanding
To see that Word made flesh in human form
Sharing His love all around me
It may be truth or it may be perspective
But for me it is this faith that sustains me.

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Expectations and Faith

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After seventy-two years of observing the way Faith and Expectation works, I have come to the conclusion that we put way more expectations on our faith than the writers of our scriptures ever intended. The following is something I have been mulling around in my mind for a couple of years. This is the best way I can express what I personally have experienced. You may see it differently and that is OK. To me faith is simple and easy to understand. Many have made it complicated and demanding, filled with unrealistic expectations.

I’ve prayed but had no answers;
Believed in miracles // still waited my turn;
Had faith to move mountains
but the mountains remained;
Read the promises of comfort in times of trouble…
Believed I would find peace in the storm;
Yet saw only blackness and overwhelming sorrow.
Believed Jesus would carry me when I could not go on;
Instead, fell flat on my face crying to God for help.
Discovered there is a time for everything under heaven;
Everything in due season // sometimes sooner // sometimes later.
So, when you pray don’t expect expected answers;
You will usually wait for things to take their course.
Don’t lay on God expectations beyond what might happen;
Leave the miracles for the unexpected occasion.
Don’t let your faith become a denial of reality;
Most illnesses take their course // healing may or may not come;
Most troubles will blow over in due time with scars to show;
And yes, you will feel scared to death through it all.
So, hang on for a wild ride on this roller coaster we call life;
And, if in the end we are blessed with a loving caring family
and friends //consider them a blessing from God.
They will sustain us and walk with us
through the valley of the shadow of death.
If not, we will endure to the end…
When our spirit rises to rejoin our creator.

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It is interesting to me how different most prayers are from this example Jesus gave his disciples!

Matthew 6:9 –
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11
Give us today our daily bread.
12
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one…

NIV – Gateway Bible.com

Photo: Dwight L. Roth

Shedding Religion… Finding God

The older I get the simpler life becomes
I feel sort of like a tree shedding it bark
End of life // is not too far in the future;
makes me stop and think…
“What is really important and true?”
The older I get
the more focused faith becomes;
Moving beyond religious trappings
guilt, fear, and control;
(Knowing those
were nailed to the cross for me.)
Understanding God’s grace in my life
brings me peace;
Knowing I am blessed
to have lived this long
in good health.
I let go of all those things
I once felt obligated to do;
Understanding that the metaphors,
taken so literally by some,
Are there to guide me along the way…
not to prove right or wrong.
I let go of “streets paved with gold”
and “mansions over the hilltop…”
knowing God is Spirit;
No need there
of physical things
we hold so dear.
I believe the image of God
is not flesh and blood
nor what I put on or take off,
but rather an attitude of spirit
that is loving and compassionate.
I came to the realization
that all those prayers I prayed
demanding results
never got past the ceiling.
I realize prayer is meant
to change me // not them
Prayer brings me closer to God,
as I focus on my needs
and the needs of others.
Infomercial religion has no appeal to me
…nor or to God…
There is no place for peddling the gospel
for personal gain…
nor to exert control over the faithful.
Hamster cage religion
leaves me frustrated
and going in circles;
Faith and action bring a feeling
of authenticity and connection.
Church should be uplifting…
an encouraging fellowship
full of good news
connecting us with God
showing us how to love as Jesus loved.
To me the Bible is my guide …
not my God…
words of truth to live by.

Photo:  Dwight L. Roth

Gathering Stones Together

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Kenny Rogers sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.” For a country song, those are real words of wisdom that apply to all of life. The writer of Ecclesiastes said it this way; “There’s a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together.” Life is full of choices that forever change our future. It is so important to take control of your life and set the life direction you choose to go.

Winter of life
I value my family most
Precious stones

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Today at d’Verse Poets Pub, Lillian reminded us of the importance of time. She shared Pete Seeger’s song, made popular by the Byrds, Turn, Turn, Turn. It is based on the passage from Ecclesiastes that says, “there’s a time for every purpose under heaven.” She asked that we chose one of the pairs of opposites and include them in a poem. I decided to write a haibun. using the discarding and gathering of stones together.

Join us at: https://dversepoets.com

Photos of the Cherokee Stone Wall at Banner Elk, NC: Dwight L. Roth

Cynical Reality

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I believe that faith and proof are really contradictions and tend to get us nowhere. It is interesting to me how some people say they believe by faith and yet spend endless amounts of time trying to prove that their faith is reality based on the Bible, or on history, etc. Reality is not found anywhere in the definition of faith. In the Christian Bible Hebrews tells us that faith the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen!  In essence it is telling us that faith is a belief in something that has no tangible reality. So to try to prove it to be otherwise is contradictory. Our belief system  is based on faith. Faith is what we believe is the truth of God in our lives.  The only tangible evidence we need is that my faith works for me. I can only tell my own story. Beyond that it becomes your story to tell. What the future holds remains to be seen.

Cynical Reality

Pursuing knowledge down roads of history

Truth collections worn as halos

Crosses robes and purple hearts

Learned studies revealing questions

Drawing us into an never ending spiral

In pursuit of truth that makes

It no longer faith out of necessity

Rather truth in its actuality

What contradictions we offer

Finding faith and actuality

On the same train

Finding reality and unreality

To be identical twins

In the end finding love

To be the ultimate unending truth

And faith the ultimate unreality

How foolish we are to attempt

To prove the substance of things hoped for

And the evidence of things unseen

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Books

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Books

Book covers husks of seeds

Contain life and inspiration

Lying in dust waiting

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For the right time

The right conditions

To germinate

Ideas growing in fertile minds

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Sprouting information

Inspiration and hope

Even after two thousand years

Fruit of wisdom and knowledge

Bringing light to the mind

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As husks laid bare

Revealing life and direction

Producing new seeds of hope

In the mind of the reader

Assuring all is not lost

Seeds for the future

When the time is right

For minds to be enlightened

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth