“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. James 2:8 NIV
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14
Last Sunday after a few very busy weeks I did not go to church and instead I drove out with a Bible, journal and camera and spend some time alone while picking up my son in Cheviot. The route: Christchurch-Kaiapoi-Amberley-Waipara– Waikari– Hurunui–Culverden-Rotterham via Mouse Point- Rotterham-Waiau-via Leader Road to Parnassus-Cheviot. Cheviot- Greta Valley -detour up and down to Motunau Beach-Amberley-Kaiapoi-Christchurch.
Amazing scenery that day.
In Balmoral Forest I stopped for some lunch that I had picked up earlier. Sitting in the back of the truck eating and enjoying my coffee I opened my Bible and Journal. Luke 2: 18, 19 seemed to stick out particularly.
19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 NIV
Now that stuck out to me because as I understood it pondering was something more of a head matter. In the Merriam-Webster it says:
ponder implies a careful weighing of a problem or, often, prolonged inconclusive thinking about a matter <pondered the course of action>.
It seemed to indicate a head matter. Yet, Mary pondered with her heart? It reminded me of something Santana said before one of the songs during a concert.
If we take the time to see with the heart and not with the mind, we shall see that we are surrounded completely by angels.
Again the heart prevails over the normal sensory course. Maybe there is something there? Could it maybe be that the eyes, the ears, the mind provide order to our sensations whereas it is the heart that gives it meaning, truth.
Is it not coincidental that the heart is as the one place in our body that is associated with love. We speak of knuckle heads the Bible of hardened hearts.
The heart as the place where connect knowledge and meaning, purpose, God‘s purpose by the guidance of the Spirit, the place from where the Spirit speaks, the heart as the pathway to wisdom, the truth about everything and anything, ourselves included.
Lunch turned out to be satisfactory in more than one sense and with a smile on my face I proceeded. Further down the road I was sure God was smiling back to me. Something to further explore and try on my journey of life.
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It is in these times amazing in itself to see young people make such commitments. Beautiful. I know I have been there and still am there, so I was also reminded as to how that sometimes poses serious challenges and it reminded me of the story found in John 16.
Jesus tells his disciples that he’ll be going back to his Father and all of them are said at his words, not because they did not allow him the joy of being reunited but because their own interests stood in the way… or so they thought.
Jesus however saw the bigger plan and understood not only that he would be going away but also that it was necessary even, so that “the Comforter, the Holy Spirit could come. Jesus understood that we would actually be better off with His departure.
It is so easy, despite the fact that you made a commitment to live your life His plan, for His purpose, to be blinded for the bigger picture, the picture that you may not be seeing (yet). I guess the story teaches us that quick relief is not always the best option in the larger scheme of things and that we may sometimes not be fully aware of what the true value or blessing is that comes with certain less pleasurable events situations in our lives. But He knows! Perhaps it helps to ask before being grief stricken straight away. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that a life in Christ is a guarantee for a challenge and trouble free existence. There may be a meaning of things that needs to be clarified before we put our own, worldly agenda first. All I can add is that I fail regularly, get better at it every day and that He has not let, me down so far.
The other day I was talking with a friend and not long after that I came across some Bible verses that felt quite fitting in the light of our talk. Let me share some thoughts with you.
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. – John 14:16-17 (NIV)
The Holy Spirit has is there to give us counsel and a pathway to truth. It is very natural for us, me especially, to think of truth as a body of knowledge to identify right from wrong. Jesus however was not referring to that. Earlier in John 14 Jesus advises that He is the way, the truth, the light.
So, truth appears not so much a set of answers; truth appears to be referring to a person: Jesus Christ!Truth is the tree of life, and not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We want clear, fixed solutions. It is part even of our survival mechanism. The Holy Spirit however wants to give us truth and with that life itself ultimately. But our human nature makes that we are almost naturally inclined to think that we can find that truth, on our own strength more often than not mixing up knowledge with life. I know I have been, and I still am regularly. This condition or human tendency is recognized and it is therefore no surprise that we read in Proverbs
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
(Proverbs 3: 5-7 NIV)
I remember all to well how I reached a dead end, some years back. I had been searching and either not finding or been disappointed with whatever truth, life I did think I had found. Christianity was no exception, and I was determined to expose it as a sham, a scam. It was at the time the last viable option. Ironically I ended up becoming a Christian and for the first time in many years, for as long as I can remember in fact, I have found the peace I was so desperately searching for on my own strength. It is beautifully worded in one Jewish song: Ruach (Spirit).
“Not by might or by power, but by the Spirit of God.”
The matter of being comforted and guided by the Spirit, to follow the Spirit‘s lead, not to find answers but to find life, is not a quest but a matter of trust. It is already available to everyone of us, its part and parcel of what being a believer is all about. It seems so obvious but in daily life it poses me challenges regularly. We are (I am) so used to living in a world in which we (are made to) believe that we have all the answers that it seems almost unnatural to place our trust completely in God. Yet that is exactly what Jesus did and while his life may have had some incredibly hard moments, he came out the winner. In all this and considering everything I remind myself of one thing: no matter how evolved we are as humans and as societies and civilizations, we have yet to find the answer as to why, if we are so advanced, pain and suffering are still not solved as a human problem? All the advances we made over the centuries did not solve this problem and the scale has as far as I can see it only gone downhill.
Even though I fail in respect of placing my trust in God, in letting myself be guided, I have not been disappointed wherever I did, even where I did not understand the calls being made on my life. Sometimes matters become more clear along the way, sometimes not (yet). I will try and am keeping on learning live with it and trust God, until one day I hopefully do see the purpose behind God’s way. In any event I am peace, that is more than I ever achieved on my own strength for such an extended period. Christianity is not a guarantee for a trouble free life, but it makes a incredible difference to know that it may serve a purpose, you are not alone and that help is at hand to comfort and guide you through any storm.
I for one am always in for eating in the open air. With winter coming up we best try to enjoy as much of the sunshine as we can. So earlier this week we took the boys out for diner at the beach. The day started relatively cold. A snail agreed on the nippiness and as soon as we opened the window in the morning he quickly came in trying to find some warmth.
Later that day it became time for diner at the beach. School uniforms off and beach clothes on, off for an evening picnic. Nice and simple: some bread, cheese, and other stuff to put on the bread and some juice.
The boys loved it, for one because the are very energetic and sitting at the table is not one of their greatest virtues. In between bites they now enjoyed the sand, water and all that came in with the tide, no matter how BIG
Me and my wife just enjoyed each other, the boys, the sound of the sea and the beautiful evening skies which at times looked like a painting.