Love Swells – a poem

In the wee hours

The cock crows just three times

fore love swells… rises.

 

Poetry Lost Mind Image

Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge 321 Morrow & Surge

To learn more about the Shi Rensa Haiku and to use it for my weekly Haiku Challenge, click HERE.

 © 2020 Ronovan Hester Copyright reserved. The author asserts his moral and legal rights over this work.

Politics or Praise, what’s in your church?

Lately I’ve been doing research for a series of posts I plan to do in regards to why young people and even some older people leave the church, the Christian church. The reasons have been many and not all that surprising for the most part. After all, those that don’t like Christianity are happy to give you the reasons on air whenever they get the chance.

I will get in to each reason later, but it recently occurred to me that they all had something in common. Those in leadership positions of the church, elected or simply held in high regard, let the members of the church down. Why, because they are looked up to as examples of what a Christian should be. The fairly new Christians, and that is of any age, often see hypocrisy occurring when people forget they are a church and begin acting as though the church is some power organization that one needs to control or be a part of.

I’ve been part of a church that went from having to park on the grass and sitting in folding chairs of a 300+ capacity church to having only 100 show up for service. All because of politics. Most often it is because someone didn’t like the pastor and when that one influential person leaves, all those that are on that person’s side, follow suit. By the way, he was an amazing pastor who got my father back into church after being out for over 30 years.

While everyone is involved in the politics, as opposed to praising and praying, the people of the church are not being fed spiritually nor being fed the knowledge of scripture. Two very important things in a Christians foundation of belief.

Another thing that happens is members see the infighting and power struggle of the church and can’t help but notice the hypocrisy occurring. The gossip, the whispers, the sometimes outright lying. The causing of conflict and discord in the church.

Those involved in the conflict are so caught up in what is happening that they don’t realize they are failing others. They see their needs as being the most important needs, but they explain this away by saying it is also best for all those in the church. Is it really?

I am a fan of the Simple Church. It is a book by Thom S. Rainer and talks about how to cut out all of those things that a church doesn’t really need. In other words, back to basics. I heard him speak on this at a SBC conference once and the end to all the headaches of what was occurring in my church looked to be in sight. I’m a peacemaker. That’s what my spiritual gift has been identified as. That is one reason a lot of my posts seem to give a bit of two sides of things and rarely have an edge to them. As the head of the Deacons, and Sunday School, and Youth Director, I embraced the Simple Church.

For us it was almost too late. But we still survive.

I am not speaking about conflict in the church just be talking. It really dose run people off. If this is all you have experienced in a church, or the majority of your time, then why would you want to stay there?

With that I give you the following passage.

Proverbs 6:16-19

There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
        haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
        a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
        a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” NIV Translation

This is a list from lowest of the things he detests to his most. Note his most despised thing, those who cause conflict or discord within the church. This doesn’t mean those who ask questions, because one who believes wants to know as much as possible and needs to know in order to be able to give answers when asked. This means those who are out for some kind of control or want to get their way in a dispute.

When whispers and gossip begins to spread and your church numbers begin to dwindle , there is something wrong. Look in the mirror and see if you have the heart of Jesus for all members of your church. If you are not happy in your church, then find another one, but leave quietly. Don’t leave with a roar in an attempt to break a church down. Because when you do, the young Christians, and I mean young as in new to being a Christian at any age, only see hypocrisy and the discord caused. They do not receive the spiritual energizing and feeding they need with their fellow Christians that is so important, especially in the early stages.

For those thinking God only spoke to the Jews in the Old Testament about conflict and lying and gossipers, check out Romans Chapter 1 and see what He says they deserve.

Finally, I give you one of my favorite verses.

Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Emphasis mine.)

This is the Old Testament and means Christians and Jews alike, should be still and remember that what we can do is finite, what God can do is infinite.

Be still can mean that people who believe they can do good works to show they are good and mighty are foolish because they do not give God the credit for their ability to achieve.

Christians should be still and observe all that God has done and can do, and realize that we shouldn’t sweat over things we can’t control. Do what is within your control, and as you do so with God’s help, you will be able to discover there are more things in your control because you have grown. This is what young Christians should be able to look forward to, not a conflict torn church that denies them the opportunity, or perhaps a young person thinking of asking Jesus into his/her heart and walks away instead because of what they see.

It’s Sunday all over again.

Back in the day, which would be a couple of years ago now, I would spend Sundays on my blog sharing my thoughts about my faith. Please, don’t turn the channel yet. This particular post won’t exactly be faith sharing as one might think of it. It’s more like explaining, and that’s to Christians as well. We can all learn a little something we thought we knew already.

It’s Father’s Day here in the USA and in an article I read yesterday a celebrity of sorts was quoted as saying “It’s God first and family second.” I’ve seen and heard that phrase plenty during my years as a Christian, but when I read it this time, it occurred to me, for the first time, that many people probably misunderstand what that really means, including the Christians that say it. That brings me to my purpose for writing today.

I believe that a large majority of Christians today haven’t been taught properly about what being a Christian is, because I don’t see them being Christ like, and if you talk to them about Christianity, they can’t do what is called defending the faith. Meaning, they can’t explain why they are a Christian or why certain things are the way they are in the Bible. Even those who think they know it all continue to learn every day. And if they aren’t? They might need to be checked on by a brother or sister in Christ. No, there isn’t a Christ Cops airing on TV busting backsliding Baptists.

Christians are at various stages in their life as a Christian, ranging from Baby Christian, which is what I was at 23 when I was saved to Mature Christian, where I feel comfortable in saying I am now. Not telling you my age. But age don’t mean a thing when it comes to your walk with Christ. Here are some things any stage of a Christian’s maturity level in their walk and knowledge should think about when reading the Bible.  Or for non-believers who hear people quoting scripture to prove how evil Christians must be.

1) The Bible is a text book. More precisely, a History book. It’s not a book of fairy tales or approved by God events. If that were the case, the Bible would be a lot shorter. As with any text book, the author, God doesn’t have to, and most likely doesn’t, approve of every last fact in the Bible. God either directly told, as to Moses, what to write, or He inspired someone to write, as in the New Testament, those feelings and put them in to words that God approved of. Normally in the New Testament these are letters to either churches, mentors, or students who are helping a church.

2) The Old Testament is the history of the Jews and is included in the Bible to show us why Jesus had to come, and thus Christianity begins. That’s correct, Christians don’t follow the Old Testament. Christianity doesn’t begin until the New Testament. We don’t follow or believe in or even like the idea of the laws/rules that the Jews had to live by. There are some denominations of Christianity that do follow parts of the Old Testament, but they are in a very small minority but always seemed to get picked by media to represent all of Christianity.

3) All you really need are the words of Jesus to follow. If anything else in the New Testament disagrees with the words of Jesus then those words are incorrect and are just an opinion of whoever physically wrote those words. Usually the author will say, in some way, they are giving their own opinion.

4) If you are reading the Bible or hear a verse from scripture you need to keep these things in mind; where, when, and why (WWW). That goes for any historical text you might read.  I’ll give you an example. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” These are the words of Paul writing to the church in Corinth.

Where and When: Corinth, first century A.D.. Why is Corinth important? Because it is a Roman controlled city, under Roman law.

Why: Corinth is having problems with all sorts of members who are doing things to draw the attention of others.

Results of WWW: Roman law during this period forbade women from speaking in public gatherings and many other things. They couldn’t even own property. The house was their domain and that is where they were expected to talk and ask questions about anything from church to politics. Thus in order to keep the young Christian churches growing and spreading, it was important not to give Rome a reason to break up or give problems to a church. The use of the lowercase L in law is important here, as if Paul were referring to Jewish Law he would normally use the uppercase L, as he does earlier in the same portion of the text, not the lower which normally referred to Roman or local law.

I hope you see why the WWW is important to know when reading or interpreting something in the Bible. I’ve never really heard people outside of fellow Apologists who explain details like that. With Jews writing these letters, it is important to remember how important word selection and letter case is.

5) The Bible we have was put together by man. Man chose which letters and text to include in a unified book form. Constantine order for Bibles to be made for the Bishop of Constantinople and the churches in the area around the city. It is believed this may have been what prompted the idea of having just one version of the Bible that could be used, although some Bibles, even today, have a few extra books outside of what was finally decided upon. Some say it was divinely inspired as to what to include. Perhaps. I leave that for you to decide. I just know I stick to the words Jesus said, and I know I’m doing good. Although I still mess up in some way every day.

You are probably wondering what all of this has to do with “It’s God first and family second.” When many Christians see or say this, they really put God before the family in such a way that it interferes with family. The truth of it is, if you are following God, following Jesus, then you are not allowing what I call pollutants to contaminate your life and interfere with your relationship with your family. When you put God first you really are doing so in order to be a stronger and better person for your family. No, you won’t be perfect. No one ever will be. The whole point is for you to know that and keep trying, talk to God and ask for His help to give you strength to get through whatever might be giving you problems. Don’t confuse God and church as the same thing. I know people, like myself at one point, who thought if I am doing everything that I’m asked to do for the church then that’s what God wants me to do. But that can interfere with your family life. You can put God first everywhere you are and at any time.

It’s God, Family, then church.

Well, I hope I helped someone out there understand a little bit more about Christianity, at least how I see it. I’ve experienced a lot, learned a lot, and led a lot. I’ve fallen even more than all of those three put together. God isn’t about a building or what a preacher says to you or about a clique or club inside the church. God can’t be contained by a building. The only time God is in a church is when his followers are there to talk to Him, to worship Him, or praise Him. Because each believer/follower, has a bit of God in their heart.

I end with a New Testament verse that I live by and an Old Testament I live by that is still relevant for we Christians.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” Romans 1:16

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;” 46:10a This helped in my time of great confusion, distress, and fear. We all need to learn to be still. Pick our battles. Choose our moments. And let all the other insanity be. Do what we can, and let others do what they can, and be happy with what we have done while still living our life by living it not existing it.

The Power of Positivity.

The power of positivity. In order for it to change your life you have to understand a few things and apply it across the board.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. That was the verse I was given to study upon. Not a lot to go on there and of course I did as I always do and went to the book itself and read the verses leading up to and following it.

“12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:12-18

That’s a lot to throw at you but I liked it. It’s something I’ve reminded people from time to time when things have looked bad and they’ve looked weary at church. This always leads into questioning about what good is happening in life. The bad things can be powerful because they can loom large. One reason problems can be large is because we give so much power to things. It’s like when you have that one favorite TV show and you MUST see it every week. Then it gets cancelled. You feel it’s the end of the world. But then what happens? You find a new favorite.

But sometimes big things are big things. You still can’t let them control your entire life. The worry about them affects the other areas. Eventually that one thing ends up destroying everything else.

You know, some people like to use that old idea of a grain of sand turning into a pearl when they talk about how an irritant can bring about something wonderful. Well, that irritant is in one spot, it doesn’t move around to all areas of the oyster. The oyster lives a fine and happy life with a pearl.

It’s a struggle to work against the negative. Or it can be. Put with practice, focusing on the positive, you end up having the positive weed its way into the negative areas. It’s always better to go into a job interview with a good and positive attitude than a negative one.

Ronovan

Romans 1:16

Change your mind…change your life.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:9-10)

One way to change your life is to change your mind. One sign of a changing mind is a changing tongue. Years ago I was a swearer. I wasn’t a major profanity person but I used some language. And yes, I was a Christian then too. Then I found out I was going to be a father so I made the decision to change. If I was going to tell my child to be a certain way, shouldn’t I be the living example of that way?

To do this I made certain to not fill my life with things that were filled with what I didn’t want. I changed my music listening, reading, TV viewing. No, I didn’t become a fanatic about it, but I did make deliberate decisions. An example would be TV. If a show happened to have a bad word in it as part of a scene because the scene was emotional or something, okay, I got it. If the whole show was laced with it, and had scenes that sensationalized things it shouldn’t, I stayed away.

The same thing went for music. Although for that I mostly went to Contemporary Christian music. I like it. I still listen to my old 80s music for fun. And there are some music acts I like even now. But I still heed my initial parameters. And let me tell you, it is sad when you hear a song with a good beat and then they start in with the language or sexist or derogatory content.

You can’t be two minds on a matter or it comes out in your language. If you give lip service to a subject you will get found out. People like to think you are what you are. No, you are what you turn yourself into. It’s been over a decade since I made myself a promise to watch my language. I continue to fulfill that promise. I’m still cautious of my viewing and listening indulgences. I figure if I’m not participating, that’s one less vote, so to speak, for that type of content.

Do you think you can change your life by changing your mind? Can you change your views of the world by changing your mind? Pick something this week that you know you shouldn’t be doing or saying and work at altering your life by finding out why you say that and then stop. For me, I found that by not having all those music and TV influences I was able to easily stop using language, even when people around me at work were using it. See what you can do this week.

Much Respect

Ronovan

It isn’t that easy.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)

If you’ve been visiting my site long enough you may have seen that verse before. It’s what I call my Life Verse. I have a couple of them. If you’re a Christian you’ve probably been asked what you’re Life Verse is. Imagine if you’re in your 20s, have been a Christian for like 2 years and are asked that. Your first thought is, “No one said that I had to have one of those when I got dunked in the water!”

You have to be careful and not just throw out any old verse.

A few readers have already clicked away by now, but the rest of you will find out what I’m writing about today.

I just finished going through one of those lists things, you know like ’10 Famous People Who Eat Chalk’ or ’23 Celebrities Who Used to be Famous’.

This was one about celebrities that we didn’t know were atheists.

There were some sad revelations: 1) I didn’t know who some of the people were, 2) Some are agnostic, not atheist (It’s okay to have questions.), and 3) Some you could just see being a Christian gets in the way of what they want in life.

One of the things that sparked me to write is what one person said. It was something like “It would be great if I were a Christian, then I could do anything and ask for forgiveness and be okay.”

That’s the voice of someone who hasn’t lived as a real Christian. When I do something wrong, yeah, I ask for forgiveness, but I don’t feel okay. You see, I’ve disappointed  God and insulted Jesus’s sacrifice. (And yes, you are supposed to put an ‘s for possessive when the name ends in s, I looked it up. Although either way is socially acceptable. Thus ends the editor voice version of me.) You can let a lot of people down and feel okay, you can get over it. But when you’ve done something bad, even if you get away with it, God knows, and you know God knows. Even when you say “Sorry!” you know God still knows.

It perturbs me when I see people speaking about the ease of Christianity. If I were not a Christian I would only have to deal with myself in those moments. I could forgive myself and move on. Now, I don’t wallow in my wrong doings. I know they are there. They come back to me at times. No, God isn’t reminding me. I remind myself because I know the injustice I’ve done to the one that made it possible for me to live without having to deal with what death brings. I will stand before God and answer for what I’ve done. The gifts in Heaven God had for me will be taken from for each of my wrong doings. But I will still be in Heaven. Even if all the gifts are gone, as long as I have one tiny spot in Heaven, I’m good.

Even that, I don’t DESERVE. Christians live like anyone else, except we carry a load that others shake off at times. If any Christian says they don’t have a load to carry then I would question them a little. I am able to lighten my load through prayer, Bible study, and trying to live my daily life the way I think Jesus would have me do it. Things will still happen to me here on Earth. Problems will still be faced. Sadness will still come. But I know at the end I’ll be good.

So it saddens me when I see comments about how easy it is. It saddens me to see people not wanting to be Christian because they don’t agree with something in the Bible. There’s a lot I don’t agree with but I understand the why of it during the time of it. That mainly applies to the Old Testament. You might realize at this time I am a New Testament guy. Jesus came to fulfill what was said in the Old Testament, about all those laws and things. Christians really have one law these days, follow Jesus. If you are a follower of his then you do what he taught. And he taught pretty good stuff. He’s the one that argued with the people who misinterpreted the Old Testament. He’s the one that helped people on the Sabbath. He’s the one that ate with the undesirable people of the time.

It isn’t easy inside or even out these days. Saying you’re a Christian can make people treat you differently, make jokes happen, bring about frowns. But I take it all in stride. That’s one thing that is easy with God. With God, you can face anything with a smile and head held up.

Think right to do right.

21 you, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 22 You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:21-24)

I have a problem with self-righteous people. Those people who teach about God while failing to acknowledge they are right there alongside those who they are teaching.

I’ve sat before preachers who try to be pastors. A preacher is someone who stands up and spouts off about the Word of God but has no humanity in them for others. A true pastor takes care of their flock, knows failures are across the board, and has humility.

One time we were looking for a new pastor. During that time we had guest preachers come in to fill the pulpit while we searched for who God wanted us to have. This one man came in and started yelling and shouting, started running down our church as a bad place. He apparently thought this was a good way to audition for the church. A big downfall for him was he worked with the relative of someone on the pastor search committee and bad mouthed us to her. He thought he was better than we were.

The truth is no one is actually better than anyone else. We just all are unique individuals. I like to share the Word of God with all of you from time to time, but I know the truth. I know I’m as guilty of things as anyone else. Even if the sins I commit are only in my mind, I am still thinking about them. I apparently want to do them so that’s just about as bad as doing them. And that goes for anything. You might be angry and want to fight someone and beat them up. That’s just as bad as doing it, perhaps even worse because more than likely, in your mind, you beat them up worse than you could in reality.

All of the problem solving of the world starts with ourselves. It starts in our thoughts. How do we solve a situation? How do we speak to someone? How we go about doing anything, starts in our minds.

We have to think right before we can do right. To think right we need to realize we are thinking wrong.

This week pay attention to where your mind goes.

  • Does it go to positive places?
  • Do you think of uplifting things or venture into the negative world?
  • Do you enter into the selfish part of your personality more than the selfless part?

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Each time you find yourself going to the negative and non productive places, begin to think the opposite. It starts with your thinking. Men, if you find yourself looking at a woman and thinking things you shouldn’t, start thinking of her as a human, as a person with troubles, as a sister, a daughter. Attempt to think of them in respectful ways. The key here is to try. You’ll fail a lot. But you will succeed some of the time.

Freedom to be free.

Do you know how to lead a fearless life? Fear means you have a problem with the end results of something that is going on. One thing that most people fear the most is death. They may not realize it but they do.

I don’t fear death. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to die and if someone was aiming a gun between my eyes I would be wetting myself so much Georgia would be the new location of the Great Lakes.

No, I mean I am not afraid of the results of that final destination. If I die, I’m not afraid of being dead. A lot of people will tell you that they are just going to be worm food so why be afraid. That’s what they say. Have a conversation with a great many of those people and you’ll find the story is different.

I’m not afraid because of the whole Christian thing. You see, Jesus on the cross, resurrection, ascension and all of that gives a chance at freedom. People wonder what it means by freedom when it comes to Christianity. The freedom we have is that death has no hold over us because we know where and who we belong to.

If I hadn’t accepted Jesus as my Savior, my Lord then I would fear the torture I would have to face for all the sins I’ve committed.  Instead, I try my best to do my best and will be judged and given a few less gifts in Heaven than I had to begin with. Each time I sin, I get a gift taken away. My idea is, put me at the back of Heaven against the wall and I’ll take it.

Before Jesus, before accepting him, I lived under the control of sin, and what that sin would do to me in the end. Some people don’t believe in sin. They think it’s just a point of view as to what is good and what is bad. I could give some examples and see what you say, but I’m not that sick of a person and some people are sick enough to disagree just to be jerks about it.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

What this verse is telling us is this, don’t let the things of this world control you. Alcohol, porn, any other vices, illegal activities, all of it, don’t let any of it be something you think you have to do. What control does it have on you? You’ll die without it? What are you doing with it? Are you truly living with it? You’re afraid or feeling ill with it. Let it go. Be free.

You will slowly begin to feel better. Will your life be better? Maybe not. No one can promise that. However, you will be a better person.


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In God’s Sight.

13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Romans 2)

Some might find it odd that Romans is one of my favorite books of the Bible, what with it being so controversial at times. It’s only controversial because of the way people take verses out of context and how a letter has been divided into chapters. Maybe I’m being a bit repetitive with my whole dividing books into chapters thing, but I think it’s worth saying, and saying often.

This verse is the one that came up today for me to study and I thought I would share it with you. Let’s look at all of it, and this is Paul speaking to the early church in Rome.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

A lot of people ‘hear’ the words of the Bible. Many people even sit in church two or three times a week hearing the Word of the Lord, yet walk out to the parking lot and immediately do the opposite of what they had just said Amen to.

Some of you may have heard that if a person claims to be a Christian they need to do things called works to show they are Christian. I’m not that flavor of Christian. I do believe you need to show in your way of life that a change has come over you, that you are no longer a person that things a certain way is okay to act. What I’m talking about here is living like what Jesus said we should.

A Gentile is a non-Jew. God reaches people around the world through various means, even dreams. He reaches people through their heart. When you see someone being ill treated, even in a minor way, and it tugs at your heart, that’s the goodness of God that’s written into your DNA. We all have that code to unlock.

It’s a shame when professed Christians do things completely opposite of Christ. I share from time to time good words here on my blog. I like to encourage people. I like to give hope. I like to inspire. I like to show a side of Christianity that is nonjudgmental. The only person I can judge is another Christian when I see them doing something against the Word of God, and even then it’s only to say, “Hey, brother, maybe you should take a step back and think about what you’re doing.” I’ve done lots of things in my life, thus I know I’m far from perfect. That lack of perfection gives me the ability and inclination to speak out at times to others to say, “I changed. If I did all of these things with a decision, so can you.”

The world doesn’t become a better place when you become a Christian or if you decide to simply use the words of the Bible as a guide to a good way of living. Actually you see the world with a different pair of eyes. That new world is far worse than you ever knew. You see the problems, you see answers, but you know people think your solutions are just Jesus Freak brainwashing.

A lady from another country commented on a recent post about how her own faith leads to thinking much like my own, and words much like that of the Bible. Gentiles are given God’s words and will in so many ways. Who knows, maybe He spoke to someone and said, “Put this down, tell your people this.” I am not above saying God won’t use anything good to do his will.

Do good. Do what Jesus says. You can’t go wrong. Even Gandhi loved the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew Chapter 5.

Casting Crowns has a great song about how people in a church don’t really do what they are hearing.


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KEEP ON LOVING.

1Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. (Hebrews 13)

Beautiful words, aren’t they? Some may even be surprised they come from the Bible. There are people that don’t realize there are two parts of the Bible, a historical half and an application part. I always like to point to the fact the ugly parts of the historical being included as being signs of how true the Bible is. If all those who put the Bible together wanted was a positive point of view without any negative parts for people to point fingers at, they would have left the Old Testament out.

But more about those words up there. I have a friend visiting the south this week. A stranger to this country and especially this part of the world. Southern Hospitality has reined and dispelled some naysayers to how Americans are, and how Southerners might be. I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t get adopted into a family here before she makes it to the airport for her trip back home.

As a Christian, living in the Bible Belt of the nation, I like to think some of the verses above seep into the culture. Even those not attending church, not reading or believing the Bible, are exposed to the behavior of Christians. Some say these characteristics are only basic polite gestures. If so, then why don’t all parts of the world do the same? I’m not saying all parts of the world don’t have nice people, every part of the world does have nice people.

What I’m saying is, here in the South we have this culture of politeness and respect for one another that even the young get eventually. They like to act a certain way in front of their friends but once away from them, they slip into the polite culture. They KNOW how to act.

Or perhaps it’s that they act that way around adults who don’t jump to a conclusion about them. Perhaps it’s to those adults that treat them with respect and pleasantries they will reciprocate. If anyone can find fault in the words above, well, it would be interesting.

Just because we have a loved one in prison does not mean they cease to exist. And as for those suffering, have you not suffered in some way that you cannot empathize?

The scripture at the beginning of this post are the first verses of Hebrews Chapter 13. As some of you who have read me long enough may know, I don’t like the chapter divisions of the Bible.

The end of Hebrews Chapter 12:

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”

The above is the paragraph right before the paragraph I started off the post with. I like to show previous verses at times to show context and how one leads into the other.


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Renew your mind and the rest will follow.

For the “Change” theme of the Writers Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge this week, which I chose, I wanted to share one of my favorite verses.

“2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2a)

A lot of people stop at this point in the reading. I’ve heard this partial verse preached on a number of times, but I always have my Bible out to read further. You see, I understand something many preachers don’t preach about.

The writings of the Bible were done as letters, not books, chapters, and verses. One sentence leads into the next. I like what some pastors say, if you see a “Therefore” in the Bible, it means it’s “there for” a reason. With this verse, you look at the next sentence.

Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2b)

Now that your mind is not polluted by the goings on of the world, you will be able to see for yourself the truth of God’s will. Polluted is a strong word. However, I’m not certain what other word to use when I think about what happens when the TV, movie, and music influences begin their work on an individual. Tiger Woods didn’t become a sex addict by watching Bugs Bunny or Andy Griffith. He became corrupted by everything around him that fed his ego and appetites.

In the Bible there have been headings added within the created chapters. This can break up meaning at times.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3)

Here you see a continuing explanation of the Romans 12:2a. Paul is reminding us that even with the renewing of our minds, our new unpolluted selves, we are still not higher than anyone else, and are only as good as we are by the faith God has given us.

We need to be on guard to not allow the pollution in. We worry about the ozone layer, climate change, and landfills, but we care little about the one true unique resource on earth, ourselves. Each of us is unique. You could have a twin and they are not exactly like you even if they look and sound like you. Perhaps they even walk and move like you do, they are still not exactly like you.

You are thinking unique thoughts. Those thoughts can be for a good reason or not. Not every thought needs to be for the betterment of the world. Dreams and fantasies exist to help our minds cope with a world that is not like we are.

There are people out there who hear the word Christian and automatically think of stereotypes brought about by a small, but visible/vocal minority. It’s kind of like when they have that local on the ground interview about a robbery or natural disaster and for some reason the news reporter picks the most illiterate and socially inept person they could find to put in front of the camera. That’s what happens with Christianity. We end up with the vocal and media seeking individuals representing us.

Christianity is a personal thing. One on one. It’s not a group think, or a group mind thing. It’s not the exact same thing for any two people. My thoughts differ from others in my own home. I have a more understanding nature than some. I look at things below the surface and don’t pass judgement. Yes, I will say something is bad when I believe it is bad. Beating a child is bad. If you say it is good, then I think you have a problem. If you say that it might be okay for the society that person doing the beating lives in, then I say that society is bad. If that is being judgemental, call me guilty. I generally take things on a person by person basis.

Change. Do you want to change how you think, what you think, what you think is acceptable? Renew your mind, however you want to. Hit your reset button about what you think is acceptable. I’m not saying become a Christian. I’m saying reset your humanity button. Do you watch porn? Do you look at images on the internet? Do you watch or listen to things promoting degradation of women? More than likely you do and don’t even think you are. That means you support it.

The rest button is a hard thing to do. You’ll hit it several times. But eventually—eventually, the habits you develop from your intentional training of your mind will lead to a permanent change in your heart as well.


You can check out my other Change post on the prompt post HERE, as well as seeing links for other entries.


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Intentionals happen.

I’m a praying man. At times in my life I had lists of names and specific needs to pray for. These days I don’t pray as often as I should. I still have my conversations with God, but not nearly as many as I need to have.

When I had those, not only daily but deeply and intentional, prayer times, my world was good. That isn’t to say everything went my way. By having the talks, I was reminded that God was bigger than me. God knows more. God understands more. God knows where things lead in the end. God isn’t the reason things go bad.

I’ve seen where a decision is made and the result be disaster while at the same time seeing where it would be if the other decision had been made. I was able to accept things as they happen, knowing in the end I’m okay, and that one event may be disaster but not oblivion.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5)

Many people don’t like the idea of praying. They don’t like the idea of God. Conversely, some don’t like the idea of meditation because they see it as anti-God. For the latter, let me say this, what do you think having quiet time with God is? What do you think Jesus did for those 40 days?

I like to combine prayer and meditation, talking to God and cleansing the mind and soul. While some of you focus on the breath, others focus on God.  You can see a breath in winter. You can see God in action around you.

When I was praying without ceasing, continually, I began to recognize the voice of God, and his handwriting, around me. Solutions to problems became clearer because I was able to bypass the clutter and noise of the world.

Prayer is one of my favorite subjects. I talk about it here on RW sometimes. Call it what you like. I enjoy talking to God. I enjoy having that best friend who listens without a judgmental tone of voice or look of eye. After all, God already sent Jesus to sacrifice for us. I accepted Jesus, thus I have no qualms about telling God everything. I mean, really, who already knows everything anyway?

Sometimes getting things off my chest helps. Sometimes it takes longer than a quick prayer, or even several long prayers. That’s my fault. I’m the one needing to deal with it, not God. There may be some feeling of remorse inside me that I have yet to realize God has forgiven already. That’s one place where ‘pray continually’ comes in. By praying continually, we keep in mind the forgiveness of God. We then let those problems we have inside.

When I was fully engulfed in my prayer like, the world was the most beautiful place it could be. I would take a walk and see the beauty of God’s work all around. I would see what some called coincidences, and I called intentionals happening. You see, I don’t believe in coincidence. There are two forces in the world. Either the good or the bad is happening at any given time. The simplest action we may see as being nothing has some repercussion somewhere else or some-when else. The question is, is that for good or bad?

With my prayer life in the right place, I am more closely in tuned with God and no better what the best decision will be. I may not be right every time, no one is, but I have a better chance at it.


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Leadership at Every Level.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10).

Throughout your life there will be people in leadership positions you’ll look to, entrust in part of your wellbeing and future. Some leaders we are involved in selecting. A great way to determine a leader is to look at what they do with what they already have.

How do they take care of what they have?

What are the results of what they have?

Do they always try to put their best foot forward for the good of those they are leading?

The amazing thing about this day and age is we can see into every facet of a person’s life. There is very little anyone can hide. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not, even for someone wanting to be a leader. People make mistakes in their private lives. What they do with their public lives is another matter.

If a person has a history of dishonesty and disaster on one level of leadership, why would we think there would not be blunders at a higher level of leadership?

Trust and Faithfulness



Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling on Amazon

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Be still … know … breathe.

I’m tired. It’s been a long year in many ways. Many years ago, I went through a phase like this. At that time, I had a good support system in place. I was heavily involved in ministry. The type ministry and how many types don’t matter.

One night there was a gathering of the church leadership for prayer. We divided into small groups in the sanctuary, and within the group, each one of us had to pray for another person, and pray specifically. My partner was the youth minister and worship leader I had help bring to the church.

My problem was I didn’t know how to say no. I was the young and willing man in the church as well as business. In church if you are in your 30s your consider one of the young folk, that can even extend into the 40s. This inability to say no and wanting to help ended up with a very frazzled and sick Ronovan.

The youth minister prayed for peace to come into my life. The next week I was leading the youth on a concert trip to see Steven Curtis Chapman, arguably the king of contemporary Christian music. He sang a song that night, and I knew it was no coincidence.

Ever sense that night, one of my life verses has been Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

We forget sometimes and worry about things way beyond our control. Stress hits us from every angle. Do you ever think, after the fact, of how insane some of the things we worried about were? Life is too short to worry about everything. What the Psalmist means is to remember God is in control of the ultimate outcome of the world. Bad things happen because of bad people and being in the wrong places at the wrong time. Put your eternal life in his hands. Nothing can take you from the hand of God once you give yourself to Him. When you pass own, you are with God. Nothing here on earth can stop that. Hurt me, harass me, do all types of damage to me, and I will still end up fine because I know God has me.

I may stress for a moment, but then I center myself, shake the stress off, and get back to my core.

John 16:33 Jesus speaks to the disciples.

 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus never said life would be easy here on earth. He never said that to his disciples or anyone that ever heard him speak. He said the exact opposite. Christians would be persecuted because of him. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:11. As part of the beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, you know it must be serious.

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I try to take away something good with every situation. My son and I were throwing the baseball a couple of weeks ago, as I am sure some of you saw the picture. Man did it get bad. I never got upset. I thought it was funny. I even looked at it as a learning experience I could use for my writing. I never had a black eye before. I now knew the pain of it, the coloring, and all of the things that goes with having a black eye.

My lack of stress helped with my son handling it as well.

Working on a positivity habit is tough sometimes. Habits take time to acquire. Eventually they take. I’m almost back in my zone now, and can breathe again. Now for the creativity to start up and have fun.

I don’t often speak about my faith here on the site lately. Life’s been busy. I do try to live my faith through what I do on my site. My faith is important to me. It’s important in every aspect of my work I do. Even in books I either plan to or have published, my goal is and was to put out something that has a core to it that will show the humanness of people and the war they wage with life and how sometimes they can’t win alone but need upbringing they have had, lessons they have learned, to turn to that will help them succeed.

Have a great Sunday, week, month, year, life, and eternity.

Ronovan

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Moments of Challenge.

As you all know, I don’t participate in may of the various pass it on blog things. You know, as in ‘do this and then have people do the same thing.’ One I don’t mind doing is the Three Quote Challenge. I’ve done it once before and I’ve been asked to do so again.

Susan Langer has asked me to join in this time. Many of you know Susan from her blog Susan’s Personal Blog where she enjoys doing various challenges and offers services to help other bloggers and writers.

I’ll give the rules and such at the end of my run of quotes. If you want to know them right now, click HERE to visit Susan’s post and quote. Do so anyway to support her blog.

My quote today:

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.”-Psalm 73:26
Asaph, Worship Leader for King David.

Lately, life seems to be throwing things my way to challenge me in my writing life.

  • Where is the time for it?
  • Do I take short cuts?
  • Do I resort to the tricks and gimmicks to make things more successful?
  • Do I devote even more time to blogging and writing than I do now?
  • Do I compromise my beliefs and character for gain?

Those moments of challenge may come at you from any direction. Asaph was talking about looking around and see people of less than respectable practices seemingly prospering while those who lived on the straight and narrow path struggled.

Eventually, he figured it out. Although we see a visage of prosperity for a time in this person, in the long run, those who follow the right path, the right decisions will be more satisfied and happier because of how they have achieved what they have, and because of where they end up. We know we have not burned bridges or broken lives along the way. Our conscious and heart are clear.

Psalm 73:26 Image

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Newborn Hope.

The newborn babe brought,

Fresh hope of things yet to come,

beyond description.

Hope by Ronovan Hester

For my Haiku Challenge #80.



Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling by PS Bartlett and Ronovan HesterRonovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in February 14, 2016. He shares his life through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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Islam & Christianity,SHARING MORE THAN WE REALIZE.

I got a problem. Muslims and Christians. Anyone getting nervous yet from those two sentences? Wondering where I am heading with it?

You see Muslims and Christians have something in common. Both get blamed for some jacked up mess. Extremists on both sides do radical things and then the entire faith of both sides get slammed for it. I know Muslims. I am a Christian. Guess what?

We’re friends.

Peace TogetherMuslims can’t stand what terrorists acting in the name of Islam. You know what? Those terrorists murder Muslims too.

My fellow Christians, you aren’t feeling this? No?

How much do you hate getting blamed for the Inquisition and all those acts by past power hungry mad men using God as a tool for their on means? How many Christians died at the hands of Christians?

Feeling it now? Do you feel that part of history being thrown at you all the time? Do you feel how screwed up people used Christianity and God to their own means and now you have to answer for it and overcome it?

People are People. They mess you over, okay, then don’t like them. If a person doesn’t mess you over, then don’t have a problem with them just because they have something in common with someone who has done something.

We don’t have to always agree with someone’s beliefs but that doesn’t mean we have to be against a person. If they are nice to you then what’s the deal?

Done.

Ronovan

THE BIG RED CUP-A #BeWoW post. Kind of.

I felt a need to share today. #BeWoW, Writer’s Quote Wednesday #LinkYourLife? Whatever you choose. This really has nothing to do with those link shares I’m involved with that normally go out today. But it can apply.

Today I want to talk about the most idiotic thing ever. THE BIG RED CUP.

There are some vocal people out there who like to get their voices heard either through social media or actual media. So what do they do? Go after anything they can to be heard. Some even think this is doing some good. They are proud of themselves.

What does that do?

Makes them look, I’m trying not to say idiotic, they look like some ill informed fanatic and makes those loosely associated with them by a word be hated and ridiculed. When the truth is, the behavior of said people is about as stupid as it gets and does nothing to represent those who do truly live and act according to what is being spoken about.

I’m a Christian. Full blown, full force, faith believing, Bible thumpin’, Christian. But I could care less what a stimulant addict pusher does with their cups to push more of their product during the upcoming various holiday seasons. Christmas season in particular.

Don’t like the red cup with no pretty snowflakes and snowmen that have nothing to do with Christmas, then don’t buy Starbucks. But if you really care about your faith, your belief in Jesus that much then you may want to examine where you are spending your money in every way. Where is your money going? Who and what are you supporting by spending that money wherever you spend it?

But back to my rant. I hope that those reading my blog get a good idea of how a true Christian should act, or at least MY opinion of what one should be.

  • I share my faith at times.
  • I share my faith through all I say and do by not crossing certain lines I have set.
  • I try to maintain who I am at all times and what I believe.
  • I treat everyone the same, regardless of their beliefs. It’s your beliefs, not necessarily mine, so it isn’t bothering me.
  • I am honest in all I do here on my blog and other communications. It makes things so much easier in life. You ask, I tell. If you don’t want the truth, don’t ask. But I do answer in a nice way.
  • I respect everyone that shows up here.
  • I don’t force anything I believe on anyone.

Those of you out there who do more yelling about Red Cups and not even whispering about God and Jesus, I think you lost your priorities.

  • What are you representing?
  • Who are you representing? Support who supports you and your beliefs.
  • Do you know how much money Christians have? Do you know how much they should act what they preach
  • Do you think Christians shouldn’t support pornography? Do you purchase anything at a business that sells it behind the counter? Do you got to movies that have nudity and awkward scenes in it?

So which is worse?

Your yelling about a Red Cup and disgracing the teachings of Jesus Christ?

OR

Your disgracing the teachings of Jesus Christ by supporting other business endeavors that are blatantly against those teachings?

Or is it both?

My Writer’s Quote Wednesday this week on Colleen Chesebro’s blog SilverThreading.com is about Character. I had no idea I would be doing this particular post here today. But I’m going to share that quote here as well. If you would like to read what I originally said about the quote, click the link above.

Mark Twain on Character

To all of you that have seen the negativity about how Christians are reacting to the Starbucks issue, ignore it. The way a true Christian handles something like this is to simply not buy the coffee, if they even consider this a true attack on Christmas. Which I don’t believe it is. Personally, I think it’s cheaper to use a plain red cup than to put all those designs on it. And you can always use any leftover after the holidays. To me it’s economical. And if you know me, you know I wouldn’t say something like that about something that I truly believe was wrong in some way. I would have just left it at the don’t buy it part.

So please, any non-Christian readers, any on the fence about becoming a Christian readers, don’t let squeaky wheels sway you away from what Jesus says about how to treat things that are not willing to listen to his teachings.

If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.“-Jesus Christ, Matthew 10:14 NIV

Much Respect and Much Love,

Ronovan



Ronovan Hester is an author, with his debut historical adventure novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December of 2015. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.com.

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Life’s Plan-Life’s Purpose.

I have a lot of ideas. Too many of them actually. It’s very difficult for me to stay on one path to the goal of completion. The reasons are partly medical and partly a need to grab hold of that next big idea I have in my mind before it slips away.

Life's Purpose Image by Ronovan.

We do a lot of planning. Perhaps years or even decades are put in to a plan but then the plan comes to an end. The bad part about the end is that we didn’t have that in our plan. Although it isn’t  always a bad thing when your personal plan comes to an end.

Proverbs 19:20-21

Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
    but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

The many plans we make are not always for our best. We travel along, sometimes staring out the window at the monotony of life passing us by and are mesmerized into complacency and routine. We believe what is may perhaps be all there is.

I have moments of indecision. I don’t mean indecision of the mind, but of the heart. No, not about love, I am certain of those parts of my life. But there is indecision about creations and taking the right step that tear at my heart. My mind does a good job with decisions and filing them away properly. It knows what to do, but the heart is the part that throws plans into chaos.

Fortunately a verse came to me today, a verse of the day, the one above. Those plans in my heart that tear at me? I need to learn to let them go. God knows the best plan. He even tells me the plan, I just don’t either always know the language/manner he’s speaking in, or am just not hearing it.

A great many things have happened in my life. One is about a young man I played football with. He was a star athlete, super intelligent. He had it all. Then one rainy game he tackled a player and with the wet uniforms, field and everything else, his neck broke.

The young man was a leader in many ways. People looked up to him. There was a bright future ahead for him. He was also a Christian.

Our team was losing badly, it was late in the game, and the other coach had asked our coach if he wanted to call the game and end it early. Our coach said no. It almost would appear that things were working against my friend from fulfilling his purpose for God and for life.

He has graduated from college, is now driving his own van, still paralyzed from the neck down, and travels to do speaking engagement to sports groups and FCA groups. That’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He doesn’t drive himself to those events, just wanted to make that clear. He’s my age and just recently was able to get a van and go through everything to be able to drive.

But God has a purpose and he uses indecision, and attempts to take away a bright and shining star to make them even brighter, IF that star chooses to move forward and upward with the purpose and the plan. My friend could have went through life in his wheelchair and no one would have said anything about it. But he had a support group, his parents, and all those who knew him to encourage and be God’s language in my friend’s ear.

I didn’t know where this was going when I first began writing. I thought it would be about my efforts to write novels. Then I put the scripture in. After that the part about my friend came to mind. He leads a more enriched life than most of us do and he is a benefit to more people than all but a handful of us will ever have the opportunity to. Well, that is unless we realize what the purpose for us is.


Ron_LWIRonovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com.

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@RonovanWrites

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The Call Home: a #haiku by @greg_wolford

This weeks Haiku Family Reblog is @greg_wolford with The Call Home. Stayed true to his blog’s theme and himself and didn’t give in to that thought of having to go another direction. That’s being Real folks. Remember to click to to the original to show support.

Potholes in the Road of Life

Okay, I tried. But I couldn’t not write this one; it was the first in my mind.

clearly ringing out
Heavenly harps are sounding
the call to come home

Besides, I imagine that’s more what you expected from me anyway! 🙂

Also linked to Ronovan’s weekly prompt.

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