Photo Journal: Love Your Neighbor


“‘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

 

 

Photo Journal: Thoughts on Luke 2:19 head or heart?


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-WaiparaWaikariHurunuiCulverden-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.

Journal: thoughts on John 16


Last night I had the pleasure and honor to be present at the baptism of one of my star students. A joyful occasion indeed, bringing good memories of my own baptism (see above) at Harmony Church

Prior to the baptism the pastor spoke about what baptism meant and words such as giving your life to God, living for His purpose, according to His plan, guided by the Holy Spirit.

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.

A Chat with a Friend: Thoughts on Trust and Guidance, John 14 and Proverbs 3


Credits: Michael Pokocky

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.

 

Photo Journal: Evening Picnic in Sumner


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

or small.

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.

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Pen and Paper


Someone asked me today if I had taken it easier in the writing here at the Desk of the Renaissance Man, in terms of writing. At the same time I had the feeling that I had been writing more than ever lately. But on closer examination, I guess the person was right in asking. While I have been entrusting a lot of ideas and thoughts to paper, somehow I ended up doing that in my notebook as opposed to here on the computer.

I don’t know about you but for me pen and paper seems to work best and work it out on the computer after that. I am curious now, how is that with other bloggers or writers? For some reason it seems that there I get a better flow and less distractions when  write in my journal. I still have trouble entrusting things to the computer straight away. If you want to maintain a blog on a regular basis that does pose somewhat of a hassle as you are basically doing everything twice. At the same time, I find it helpful to do it like this where the computer version is often a more refined version of what initially went in the journal.

  • What is the process for other bloggers out there?
  • How do you avoid distractions when you write straight into the computer?

Lately I have been wondering about the option of speech recognition software, whereby you avoid using paper altogether? Do any bloggers out there have any experience with that and if so please share. As for me, I am off now preparing some new posts for the coming week, so keep coming back.

The picture above here is one that sorta reflects how gather my ideas, a journal, books or articles, coffee and (less and less) cigarettes.
The picture is available as a postcard in my zazzle shop here >>>

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CURBSIDE BEAUTY a new series started


No no no, this is not a series about prostitutes ( although you never know what the future might bring, the step from flowers to the proverbial butterflies of the night may well end up falling exactly within the scope of this series).

When started using a camera more and more and it developed into a hobby, it struck my how it brought about such a different perspective on everyday things and the world around me. I started seeing things  I would normally not have noticed or would not have left a lasting impression. I remember well how, just before I was about to head back for the Netherlands, we came back from Hamner. I was quiet and sort of mentally preparing to leave all this beautiful scenery behind and than I looked back one more time, to see this:

I asked my wife to stop the car immediately and so we did I walked back as quickly as I could to get this moment captured. And there on the edge of a cliff, dangerously close to the road and passing traffic it was as if God him- or herself was trying to tell me something; this light coming through the clouds ( symbolic in various senses), the heavens opening up to poor some divine light over the scene I was capturing. This has been an image I could not get rid of all, the time I was in the Netherlands. Long story short, in three weeks I was back to stay and to this day I think that the image above had something to do with it.

This new series: Curbside Beauty is all about little things that sort of make an otherwise ordinary thing like a curbside into something special. So far it seems that flowers especially seem to have this ability and power to transform their environment.  Humans are considered special because of their ability to adapt to all these different circumstances but most of all because they can change their natural environment to their requirements. While that is true, we humans do not always seem to manage to do this in the most aesthetic way. That it seems is where flowers come in, nature’s way of restoring the aesthetics where we humans failed to preserve it.

Just what to think of this little blue flower, alone at the edge of a parking lot. It’s easy to park your car over but really it was amazing how it transformed an otherwise dull strip of grass at the end of the parking lot.

There is already something about blue flowers but this certainly was one small, actually tiny  flower with a lot to offer taking into consideration its environment.

Or what to think of this mini-violet, making a strip of concrete slabs to serve as a driveway all of a sudden look so much better.

Here we are, a line of concrete slabs, dull, grey and with dirt, sand and earth in between them where they have started to shift over time.

And here is this little violet that seems to think:

It’s easy in a nice well kept garden, but this grey area needs a little color, and since nothing else seems to be doing it, I will have to do it by myself.

Well I think this little violet did a great job if you are willing to see it.

And then there was the yellow high dandy lion or something like it. Here was a patch of grass, kept short and meant for nothing more that to separate footpath from road. A place you use to park your garbage containers

On it’s fifty centimeter high thin stalk this otherwise simple dandy lion dominated and transformed the impression of this strip of grass along the road completely all by itself. Who would dare to put his garbage container on top of that and not feel guilty. A beautiful pest.

But I was most impressed by this bunch of incredible gerberas transforming a similar patch of grass. In fact they attracted so much attention that it could have ended in accidents I have seen people that literally hit the breaks to check out this incredible and isolated bunch of attention seekers.

I got so caught up lying in the gutter for a different perspective that a car almost ran over me: dangerously beautiful.

There are more images in this new series that can be found here >>>, or you could of course have a browse around in my complete photostream on Flickr here >>> where there are over 600 more photos. All favorites for some reason or another. And if you see something you like do leave me a comment.

Martin Luther,  the initiator of the Protestant Reformation once wrote:

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and starts

Looking at these curbside beauties does this make sense all of a sudden?  Bringing beauty and joy to otherwise overlooked, at times desolated and neglected places. Who does that remind you of?