Image "My Friend" by Helen Thomas Robson (Used by Permission)
Minimalism from a Biblical Point of View —

Biblical Minimalism is "a complete, whole-person release of anything unlike Jesus, a letting go of everything that hinders us from following Him wholeheartedly and single-mindedly, and a relinquishing of all that brings us under bondage to this earthly, very temporary life." Cheryl E. Smith

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

"Why You Should Stop Trying to Conform to the Molds of other Minimalists" at No Sidebar

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

God's plans and path for each one of us is personal and unique.  He does not require or expect us to try to contort ourselves to fit into the mold of anyone else.  He created us all as individuals, and He has a blueprint for each one of our lives.  Finding and walking in our true identity in Him brings abiding peace.

Click HERE to read my latest article published at No Sidebar, where I talk about the reasons we should stop trying to follow anyone else's path to a simpler, more minimal life. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Are You A Slave to Your Spending Habits?

"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  Jesus Christ  Luke 12:34  (KJV)

Modern society is saturated with a materialistic focus.  Consumerism is at the heart of every TV commercial, magazine advertisement, and online marketing banner.  To not be drawn in and succumb to the power of the temptation to buy takes a continual, diligent effort.  Far too often, we find ourselves on the other side of buyer's remorse because we bought something on the spur of the moment without giving careful thought to purchasing decisions.

Never before, in the history of time, has it been easier to buy things.  At the click of a mouse, we open a whole world of spending opportunities and find an unending supply of enticing, eye-catching expenditure possibilities.  An abundance of credit opportunities make our spending capabilities simple and quick and only add to the appeal of the temptation to buy things.

All of this power to consume and have the things this world offers seems very liberating, doesn't it?  It is thrilling to get new things in the mail, carry multiple bags around the shopping mall, and continually experience what "new" feels like.  But, is the pleasure long-lasting?  Is the binding misery of ensuing indebtedness worth the freedom of buying what you want even it if means living above your means?  Does the feeling of elation bring a deep sense of peace?  Does it contribute to our inmost joy?  Does the fun feeling of buying things come unaccompanied, or is there an underlying, co-existing shadow and aftertaste that lags along behind it?

Things of this world will never be able to fill the longings of the heart because God created us for more than what this world can afford.  We are travelers passing through then passing on to an eternal home.  Only the things of that world can truly satisfy the cravings that occur deep inside each one of us.  Peace comes when we uncover this truth and embrace the reality that no matter how much we amass in this life, we will leave it all behind one day and it is best to not set our hearts on the things we cannot hope to keep.

Just because you are offered a steady diet of flesh-appeasing, shallow-filling buying attainability does not mean you have to fall prey to the propositions.  Just say no.  Click out of the website.  Avoid window shopping.  Stay away from temptation's ground.  Make a budget, and make up your mind to buy only what is within its parameters.  Pray and ask God for wisdom and strength to follow that wisdom.  Seek His Word, and become acquainted with His heart and desires for you.  As contradictory as it sounds, true freedom comes from giving up our rights to the One Who created us and who paid all for our redemption.  Thank God, we don't ever have to live our lives enslaved to anyone or anything else.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Responding to Jesus' Call to an Eternity-Focused Life

"Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.'  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.  Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them.  Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him."  Matthew 4:18-22  (NASB)

How does reading about the call of Jesus to His disciples make you feel?  When I read it, I feel a deep sense of longing—a yearning to have been one of the original twelve Jesus called as He walked this earth.  His call is so compelling—so intense—so impossible to refuse.  The appeal of Jesus' call was constraining enough to cause twelve grown men to drop everything they were doing, leave it all behind, and follow Him.  Their lives, from that day forward, would never be the same.

The longer they walked with Jesus, the more like Him they became.  The closer they drew to Him, the farther removed they were from what bound them to earth.  The deeper they ventured into the spiritual, the greater the distance between them and shallow, unintentional living.

Jesus' call draws to what is most important—to the forsaking of what is temporal for the sake of what is eternal.  As we respond to the call to follow Him, life as we know it will never be the same for us, either, and the longer we walk with Him, the less we will be attracted to what is unlike Him.

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  2 Corinthians 5:17  (KJV)

Biblical Minimalism is the laying aside of the old and the picking up of the new life Jesus has for each one of us.  He didn't promise it would be easy.  Doing what is right seldom takes the path of least resistance, but He did promise He would walk with us every step of the way.

Do you hear His call?  How will you respond?  As you contemplate the way He lived His life, what do you identify as being something you may need to minimize?

In closing, I hope you enjoy listening to my sweet friend, Sarah Davison of High Road Music, sing a song about laying down the old coat of sin and picking up the new coat Jesus offers.  If you would like to read an interview I did with Sarah, please click "The Inner Views of Sarah Davison."

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Seven Ways to Tap into the Resourceful Spirit of our Ancestors

Not so many years ago, our ancestors lived very different lives.  Even though they had far fewer choices than we do, they were content.  They used what they had, however meager, without even a thought of the possibility of having more.  Their homes were much emptier, but their lives were full.  Families ate together around the table, without distractions.  They went to bed early and slept soundly because they were gratifyingly tired from doing what they needed to do to survive.  There was no room for laziness and no time for an idle mind.  Everyone pulled their weight, and a family was, by necessity, a team, in which each member knew their part and played a valuable role in the mechanics of everyday life.  Times were hard, but a rare sense of accomplishment and productivity made it all worthwhile.

Pleasures were simple back then.  It was a treat to have a glass of lemonade or something sweet to eat. Summer evenings were spent with adults seated in rocking chairs on front porches watching barefoot little ones chasing fireflies.  Winter nights were spent indoors reading God's Word, studying, playing music, and singing around an old cookstove or fireplace.  Genuine hospitality was the norm, and visits from neighbors were a welcome reprieve.

Oh, for the simplicity of days marked with such clarity!  Looking around today, we see no resemblance to the primitive, yet peaceful lives our ancestors lived, but what if we discovered that the chasm between their lives and ours isn’t as wide across as it seems?  What if we dug deep, through the external layers of excess, busyness and modern-day expectations to find that their courageous, inventive spirit still remains and is the very bridge that will span the gap and lead us back to where we long to be?

Sure, we can’t turn back the clock and land ourselves in the day and time in which our ancestors lived, nor am I implying we should start washing our clothes on a washboard or living life without the convenience modern inventions provide (though it would certainly help to cure some of the issues resulting from the sedentary lifestyle they encourage!)  But, what if we could come closer to living through the lens of their mindset?  What if we could tap into their resourceful spirit, transform the way we live our lives, and annihilate stress?  What if we dared to swim upstream and refuse to get caught up in the fast-moving pandemonium that pervades modern society?

Here are seven simple two-word steps to renew our minds and breathe new life into the steel-resolve, improvising spirit of our ancestors buried deep within every one of us.

1.  Slow down.  Defy culture.  Life may be moving at lightning speed around us, but who says we must participate?  Look for ways to reduce debt and expenses so you don’t have to work so much, even it means selling what you have to pay what you owe.  Quieten noise.  Unplug.  Turn off.  Step outside, stargaze, and listen to nature’s symphony.  Sit still.  Thank God for your many blessings.

"Stay on the path that the LORD your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy."  Deuteronomy 5:33  (NLT)

2.  Spend less.  Challenge yourself to find contentment in what you already have.  Don’t bring unnecessary clutter and useless junk into your home.  Rein in the urge to splurge, limiting luxuries to rare occasions like they did in the olden days.

"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5  (ESV)

3.  Give more.  Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."  Acts 20:35  Give lavishly of your money, time, energy, excess possessions, talents, and resources.  Reach out to others from a place of authentic concern.  Your excess is someone else’s bounty.  Instead of buying things you don’t need, give the money to someone who is in need.  Pay a debt you don’t owe.  Buy groceries for a widow.  Mow your neighbor’s lawn.  Pay a college student’s car payment.  Pay a compliment to a struggling child.  Breathe hope into the life of an underprivileged teen.  Spend an afternoon listening to the stories of a neglected grandfather.  The fulfillment of benevolent goodwill far outshines the cheap thrill of self-indulgence hands down.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."  Luke 6:38  (KJV)

4.  Realign priorities.  No matter what we accomplish or how much we accumulate, it means nothing if the price to acquire and maintain it requires the sacrifice of what matters most.  Clear your schedule of all that is preventing you from nourishing and pouring your energy into relationships with the ones you love.  Say no to all that is unnecessary.  Time is a limited commodity, and every window of opportunity has an expiration date.  Prevent tomorrow’s regrets by making wise choices today.

"Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:15 (NASB)

5.  Release excess.  Clear your home of anything that vexes your spirit.  Keep only what you need, use, and love.  Discover the beauty of living within the boundaries of the basics.  If you have two of something, give one away.

"He answereth and saith unto them, 'He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."  Luke 3:11  (KJV)

6.  Remove temptation.  Our ancestors lived within their means out of necessity, yes, but it was also due to limited shopping opportunities and little to no credit temptation.  They lived without credit cards, and we can, too.  Cut up every credit card you own.  If it isn’t in your wallet, you won’t be tempted to use it.  If self-restraint is an issue, avoid window shopping.  Throw catalogs away before even looking at them and go to stores only when necessary.  Do what it takes to live within your means.

"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."  I Corinthians 10:13  (ESV)

7.  Be kind.  We all have at least a few skeletons in our closets when it comes to some not-so-nice branches in our ancestral family tree, but even so, an overall spirit of human kindness was a whole lot more prevalent in their day.  The golden rule was still taught in school.  Prayer and Bible reading was an integral part of public education curriculum.  A deep sense of underlying conscience produced honesty and caring interaction with others.  Children were raised to know that respect of parents, elders, and others was a natural, non-negotiable part of life.  What if we tapped into that spirit of kindness and began to allow it to flow into every, single thing we do?  What if we dared to forgive and love everyone?

"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  Ephesians 4:32  (KJV)

Who knows?  Maybe the good old days are still ahead of us.