Learning to Seek First the Kingdom Everywhere

Pond in Back Yard
Pond in Back Yard

I’ve been living in this phrase, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” found in various places in scripture, trying to determine it’s sway and meaning for me personally. Ever since I wrote this post about my idea of what 2013 would look like, I’ve been asking myself the question, how… and where? It’s easier to look at my back yard and see the fog rising off the pond at sunrise and say, there He is, but seeking the kingdom above all else requires looking in those places of darkness where he is the only light that shines, and it’s not nearly as bright as it is above.

Realistically I’ve been walking down this path of making, what seemed like, several small and moderate lifestyle changes, really for years now. Over time of course they are more significant than perhaps they seem in the moment of the decision. In fact, collectively, they clear a path to allow more of God in and less of those things that distract and tend to pull us in the opposite direction. I still love reading about the drastic and dramatic though, like Paul Miller’s story, Paul Miller returns to the internet after a year away, where he took an entire year fast from the Internet only to find his demons (my words) followed him offline. The more I live in this phrase Jesus spoke the more I’m finding what I once thought was dramatic and impossible is now possible, and dramatic only to those who have ears but refuse to hear.

Right now I’m pouring over Jeff Shinabarger’s new book, More or Less, and I can’t wait to do a full review on this book. His book basically tries to answer the question, “What is enough?” For some reason it keeps reminding me of this scene from Wall Street when Bud Fox asks Gordon Gekko “how much is enough?” a question we get confronted with every day. Jeff has taken this to a new level, and is at the same time helping me understand new ways to “seek first the kingdom,” some of which I’m looking forward to sharing when I finish his book.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

Sun Rise on St George Island, FL
Sun Rise over the Gulf of Mexico on St George Island, FL

It didn’t take me as long to come up with an image for “merge” this week as a part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge (Merge), but it also looks like one of the more popular posts from the traffic as well. A sunrise might be a little more cliché than my previous posts, but we just got back from the beach, and this is what you shoot at the beach. I also have an extreme fondness for sunrises and sunsets. Twice a day we get such a unique view of God’s creation, and no two are ever the same. Last year I watched two sunrises and almost three sunsets in about a 24-36 hour period when I flew from Atlanta to Africa (which I actually don’t think I have posted yet).

I love the topic of photographically showing merge. There is no better way (to me) to photographically exhibit the topic of merge than a sunrise or sunset over the ocean, except perhaps a heavy fog. The night merging into the day. All the colors merging and blending all into one. Then the horizon disappearing or reappearing, marking a change in time from one day to the next. This shot was taken yesterday looking out over the Gulf of Mexico from St. George Island, FL just about 30-45 minutes after sunrise, just about the time all the color in the sky and water faded into dull blues. It was just as peaceful in person as it looks in the photo above.

I’m going to do another post later with just photos from St. George, so for now, here is my version of “merge” for this week. Be sure to check out some of the other entries below.

Other Related Posts:

  1. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « Ruth E Hendricks Photography
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Four Deer Oak
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge | Denise discovers…
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge… | Mirth and Motivation
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge « City Life Picture

This Week's Project 365 with Poetic Clouds and Bubbles

Project 365 [Day 241] Working on a Draf of a Poem on Prayer
Project 365 [Day 241] Working on a Draft of a Poem on Prayer
Another week in 2012 has gone into history, and the week was as unique as the previous one for Project 365. This is Day 237 through Day 243 of 366 photos for the year so far (you can see the full gallery on Flickr here). Seems I can’t get by a week without having some different sunrise or sunset photo. The weather here down in the south has been dynamic as far as the clouds go, just without much rain. This week was a hard week for different reasons, and for different people. Often it seems there are so many different people and situations that need and deserve prayer, yet it can quickly become overwhelming if you try to take it all on yourself. Of course that’s not the point of prayer, and thank God He is never overwhelmed by our prayer requests, or number of prayers we offer.

The photo above that leads off this post is a draft of a poem on prayer I worked on this week. Surprisingly, once I started working on it, the bulk of the verse came together faster than any other poetic attempt, and I really only had to rewrite it a few times. If you have followed this blog at all you will know I have tried to put my creative mind to work through photography, reading, and writing, which includes poetry here and there. Poetry is one of those art forms our culture has ignored to such a point that it captured my attention, maybe because it has been so highly ignored by my generation. This is not to say I am a poet, but I do make attempts. Poetry is like photography in that if I never took any photos, there is a 100% chance I would never improve.

One thing I have learned about poetry is it’s every bit as difficult as I thought it was. It is difficult to understand at times, it’s extremely difficult to write, and overwhelmingly difficult to write well. Anyway, what I have learned about poetry is that when simple prose are inadequate to express the greatness at hand, poetry steps in and creates an entirely different level of expression, and that is incredible. Look for this poem later in the week, but this week, the images of the week include this attempt at poetry on prayer. If you are wondering about the bubbles image below, check out Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple, Oil and Water for an explanation.

This Week’s Project 365 with Sunsets and Storms

Abstract Sunrise Out My Office Window

For the last few weeks when I finally got around to reviewing the images for my Project 365 (see gallery of all P365 images here) I always seem to have a unique sunset or sunrise photo I like. The above shot wasn’t actually an official P365 image, but I really like how the abstract, somewhat pastel, sunrise turned out. This shot above was taken with my iPhone out of the window of my office-study around 6am while I was doing my daily routine of reading.

This week was a super busy week all around, and the images are really from all over the place. Two images in this set are part of larger posts, one of Deborah, which was posted yesterday, and another below is one image in a full set of images to be posted later in the week. These images represent my week well, and they are really all over the place, but my favorite image really has nothing to do with good photography, it has to do with the power of a yellow sticky note. I’m not sure I’ve ever received a more encouraging note on a computer left for me to fix. On a day I had almost no extra time to do anything I was handed a computer that didn’t work because of an unfortunate coffee spill directly on the computer’s keyboard. This note, and the fact that the computer was actually able to be cleaned up and get it fixed within about an hour was such a great end to my work week.

Blessed Are Those Who Believe Without Seeing :: Easter Sunrise

Easter Sunrise Service at Cornerstone Church

Easter Sunrise Service at Cornerstone Church

This morning we started off with an incredible sunrise service, of course just at the time the sun came up over the trees. It really was something to see. God’s creation displayed for all to see while we worship our risen Savior. That is my photo of the day today (and my P365 photo as well [Day 132]), looking right into the sunrise, glorious. I took a bunch of shots this morning, but I love the shot of Deborah and Bart with the sunrise in the background, and still a little cool for an outside service.

Today of course is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There are several accounts on the resurrection in Scripture, the classic Synoptic Gospels account like Matthew 28 and Luke 24, (see Why do You Seek the Living Among the Dead? but in John 20, Jesus makes two statements that I find really amazing. The first, in John 20:16, he calls Mary, by name, showing that after the resurrection, Jesus knows us, by name. The second is when Jesus was talking to Thomas and he says in John 20:29 “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Both of those statements show God’s care for those of us who are celebrating the resurrection in 2012.

Heat of Apalachicola and St George Island :: Friday Feet

Today we had a very last minute invite to St George Island, right across the bay from Apalachicola. This had to be our fastest trip ever down to the coast, no wait, second fastest… we once drove down to our Orange Beach marina for Thanksgiving in 2007 only to find out their wifi was not working and then made the 4-5 hour drive right back. We were there for about 60 minutes. This time we were down there for about 20 hours. It was plenty long enough to bake in the blasting heat, read another chapter in the Bonhoeffer biography (which is incredible), take a few pics for today’s Friday Feet, and make it back home.

Hard to believe how long it has been since Deb and I have been down to the gulf. We use to go down there about once a month but it’s been almost two years since we made the drive down there. I was instantly reminded why we use to go down there in December through February. The 100% humidity and 100*F weather going on right now was enough to make you run for cover.

Amsterdam Airport Photos and a 50mm Lens :: AMS-EBB

This is a continuation of my series, airports and a 50mm lens. Since I was in Europe this time I didn’t really get quite a much material as I normally do in a place like Atlanta. For one thing, once I get outside the United States shooting [photos] in an airport isn’t quite the same. The laws are different all over the world. I know what I can and can’t shoot in the U.S., and I can stand my ground in most cases in my own country. Not so much once I get outside the U.S., so this series changes a bit, to err on the side of caution.

Europe is usually ok about photographers as long as you aren’t obnoxious and you don’t look too suspicious but Entebbe is another story. I didn’t take hardly anything once we landed over there but on my next trip I know on the way back home there are a few things I would like to capture. I’ll see. In October I may be as tired as I was when we left in August, but EBB right now is about one single shot.

Here is a quick shoot of Amsterdam. There was a lot I didn’t get since our connection was so short, but next time I have a 5 hour connection so I should be able to improve upon this shoot. If you are wondering what’s the point… well, I actually consider this street photography, something I have really come to love over the years. Trying to capture a mood, or an expression, without someone standing in front of you going “smile” isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but sometimes it’s just more genuine. To me it shows a more realistic view of life. Everything in this (and all my 50mm airport series) is shot with one single focal length lens (obviously a 50mm), and to me, it tells a totally different story than the post from Atlanta 8 hours earlier told.