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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
Showing posts with label Physical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Physical. Show all posts

Monday, June 11, 2018

Minimizing Physical Possessions

How is it going with The P.O.W.E.R. Tool©?  Have you picked it up yet?  Are you using it?  If you missed the last post and wonder what this is all about, you can download your own FREE P.O.W.E.R. Tool© by clicking HERE.  Several of you have joined me on my journey, and I cannot begin to say how grateful I am to have you on board.  All are welcome!  If you decide to join in, please let me know by emailing me privately or commenting here on the blog.  And, remember, even if you don't need to minimize excess pounds, the tenets of The P.O.W.E.R. Tool© will lead you closer to Jesus and to better physical health, too!

There are two parts to the Physical Slice of the Whole-Person Pie©.


We have talked in-depth in this post and this post and this post about minimizing the seven categories that make up the Physical Slice.
We've covered addictions, habits, obesity, our hands and feet, what we see, what we hear, and what we speak. 

Now, we will move forward to the 2nd part of the Physical Slice of the pie—the minimizing of our physical possessions.  

At first glance, how do things look in this area for you?  Do you feel suffocated and overwhelmed by stuff?  Is your home cluttered?  Do you have a hard time finding things?  Do you continually feel that you need a bigger house?  Are you faced with too many product choices when cooking a meal, getting dressed, or doing household chores?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, chances your physical possessions exceed what you actually need.  When it all boils down, we, as human beings, need very little. 

As we go through the writing of this new blog, my main goal is to point you only to Jesus Christ.  He is the Word of God that became flesh and lived in a human body for 33 1/2 years so that we could see who God is, how He thinks, and the way He wants us to live our lives.  How blessed we are that four men named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John took the time and effort necessary to write His precious spoken words down for us!  How grateful we should be to Him and the many who have sacrificed through the years to make sure our Bibles were preserved and passed down to us!  How sad that we pick them up and read and study them so infrequently! 

Every answer to every problem of life can be solved in the Word of God.  It was written over the span of approximately 1500-1550 years (from around 1450 B.C. to around 95 A.D.) through the Holy Spirit inspiring around 40 different authors.  Though the last book of the Bible was inspired and written down over 1920 years ago, it is every bit as relevant and up-to-date and applicable to our daily lives as it was the moment dear Saint John penned the final words of the book of Revelation in 95 A.D.

As we work through the process of minimizing our lives and trying to bring them into alignment with the will of God, His Word is our roadmap to Heaven and our instruction manual on how to live our lives on earth.  I am continually amazed at Its practicality and the way It can be applied to every, single circumstance of our lives no matter how much time has elapsed since it was written.  As followers of Jesus Christ, we are so blessed to have the Word of God in front of us and the Spirit of God within us.  The Word and the Spirit always agree, and if we continually yield in obedience to the guidance of the Word and Spirit of God, we will live a successful Christian life and reach our goal of Heaven when we leave this earth.

When I first began to write the book, called "Biblical Minimalism," I dove deep into God's Word because I truly have nothing of eternal value to offer of my own.  I only want to operate on the premise of the eternal, unchanging Word of God and to figure out what its precepts look like lived out in a functional way.  I began to research what the Bible says about the subject of physical possessions, and I paid special attention to the red letters in verses like these—

"And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."  Luke 12:15

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:  but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  Matthew 6:19-21

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys."  Luke 12:33 (NIV)

"And, behold, one came and said unto him, 'Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?'  And He said unto him, 'Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.'  He saith unto him, 'Which?' Jesus said, 'Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honor thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'  The young man saith unto Him, 'All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?'  Jesus said unto him, 'If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me.'  But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions."  Matthew 19:16-22

I also looked closely at the way Jesus lived His life.  Because, with every fiber of my being, I SO long to be and live like He did!  I have felt so drawn to a simple, eternity-focused life, and for a long time, I didn't understand why.  One day, it hit me that it is HIM—I feel so compellingly called to follow Him and emulate His walk as closely as I possibly can. 

Jesus was unencumbered.  He was fully available in each moment.  He was completely present in every circumstance.  He traveled light.  He didn't hoard.  He had only what He needed at all times.  He shared everything He had.  He gave until His dying breath. 

Remember, everything springs from the spiritual, including what motivates us to have so much stuff in the first place.

I hope you will continue to follow along as we explore these motivations and lots more about releasing our excess physical possessions!  God bless you on your minimizing journey!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Minimizing The Physical ~ Part Two

If this is your first time visiting here, I'd like to extend a hearty welcome to you! If you have been faithfully following along, thank you from the bottom of my heart!  I hope this blog will inspire you to let go of this world and pursue a more eternity-focused life as you press closer to Jesus and the way He lived His life on earth.

Picking up from the last post, we will continue studying the Physical Slice of the Whole-Person Pieˆ©.


We already discussed how the Physical Slice can be divided into two categories —the Physical Body & Physical Possessions.


Today, I wanted to provide yet another pie chart to give a visual and divide the Physical Body category into seven areas that may have need of minimizing.


Before I say anything else, I want to say that there is NO judgment here. Everything said comes from a heart of love and from a person who is extremely broken. I am not, in any sense of the word, an expert, nor do I come close to having the answers. My only means of making it through this life is to cling, with everything I've got, to the mercy of God and to stay low at Jesus' feet. Nothing that is published on this blog is meant to condemn or to make anyone feel hopeless or judged. I speak as one who struggles and fails immeasurably and who is still learning what grace is all about.

Today is a new day, and even if you find that there are things in the physical "slice" of your life that desperately need to be minimized and/or cut off completely, don't lose hope. You are not alone! We are all in the same fallen, human condition, and our God is with you, He loves you intensely, and He is the chain breaker. There is nothing too hard for Him.

"And Jesus looking upon them said, With men, it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." Mark 10:27

"Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:27

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear." Isaiah 59:1

As you think of the seven physical body categories —what are the first things that come to your mind? Do you readily identify any excess? Are there any areas that need to be minimized to come into alignment with the way Jesus lived His life?

Addictions
We talked about several common addictions in the last post. Addiction is a powerful force that wreaks havoc on a physical body, destroys marriages, alters brain chemicals and personalities, prompts erratic and aggressive behavior, and has been the cause of innumerable untimely and premature deaths.

That sneaky, little thing called food, when overindulged in holds equal power to other addictions to land us in an early grave. To justify gluttony, try to invalidate and downplay its seriousness, and pretend it is less "sinful" than the other addictions is just plain denial.

Addictions become things/substances that control our lives. They are cruel taskmasters that bring us under bondage to their demands. We follow where they lead, and usually, without Divine intervention, we cannot overcome them on our own.

It takes a strong hand to undo a stronghold, but there is no addiction more powerful than the strong hand of our God.

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds." 2 Corinthians 10:3,4

When you feel like your situation is the exception to the rule and you see no way out of the chains of addiction, I'd like you to think of one thing. Remember the Old Testament Israelites? The bondage they were under was brutal and seemed impossible to escape. It had started years before and through no fault of their own when their ancestors, the sons of Jacob, sold their brother, Joseph, into slavery. From that point until 430 years later, they were bound under a cruel yoke to the Egyptians. If you want to read something that will give you hope and greatly increase your faith in God's ability to break chains, read Exodus chapter 13, especially verses 3, 9, 14, and 16 because these verses double down on and emphasize the strength of God's hand.

God can pull down ANY stronghold, no matter how long it has been a part of one's life or how severe the power it wields.

Habits
At first glance, habits sounded a lot like addictions to me. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that a habit is something that has become a routine from a consistent action. Habits do not necessarily dictate or control your life, and you can certainly live without them. Habits can be positive or negative; healthy or unhealthy; detrimental or helpful. You have the power to change them or stop doing them at any time, simply by ceasing or altering a certain pattern of behavior. It will take a measure of self-control to minimize habits that are not pleasing to God, and we need His help always, but a habit is not as hard to release or minimize as is an addiction.

Obesity
Excess body weight is an area that is WAY out of balance and in dire need of minimizing in my life. Since I am writing from a place of intense personal experience, I have a lot to say about this subject and will share the thoughts God is giving me in a future post. I can't wait to delve into all of it with you in case anyone else struggles in this area. We can not only struggle together through this process, but we can overcome together, too, by God's grace!

Hands & Feet
Where we go, how we use our bodies, our conduct and behavior —these all have to do with our hands and feet. Following Jesus brings about a change in every part of our lives.   2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

As a Christian striving to live an eternity-focused, Biblically minimal life, there are many things that have to be shed from our lives. The places we go, the things we do, the way we act and interact with others, and everything about our behavior should look like Jesus. A lofty ambition, I know, but required if we are to live a holy life.

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." I Peter 1:14-16 (NIV)

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these, the wrath of God is coming. In these, you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator." Colossians 3:1-10 (ESV)

Seeing
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. That applies not only to a person looking into the eyes of another and seeing what is going on inside of them, but it is equally applicable to the fact that what we take in through our eyes directly affects our soul and spiritual walk. The things we watch, the things we read, the things we look at...are they things Jesus would watch, read, and look at? Would we allow ourselves to see them if He were in the room seated beside us? Could they be called "holy"? Do they edify our souls? Do they incite lustful thoughts? What reaction do they spark?

Hearing
What do music, slander, gossip, evil surmising, and preached sermons have in common? All of them enter our bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit, by way of our sense of hearing. As we think of the type of music and lyrics and the conversations we allow ourselves to hear while communicating with others, how does it all line up with the things Jesus would listen to? Does anything need to be minimized or completely cut off from our lives? How is our spiritual "mood" affected after listening to our favorite type of music? Are we drawn closer to thoughts of God and worship, or do we feel more distanced from Him after allowing it to filter through our minds?

Speaking
Oh, the tongue! That little, tiny member of our bodies. Oh, the trouble it can cause! Oh, the blessing it can be! "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." Proverbs 18:21

James says it much more eloquently than I ever could. "For in many things we offend all. If any man offends not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they are so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so, the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh." James 3:2-12

What we allow our eyes to see, our ears to listen to, our routines/habits to include, our bodies to ingest and become addicted to, our tongues to speak, our hands to do, and where we allow our feet to carry us absolutely and widely affects the temple in which God dwells. Remember, as Christians, our bodies are not our own. Jesus Christ laid down His life and shed His blood by means of the most brutal, cruel means of death known to man to redeems us and enable us to live a holy life.
I Peter 1:18,19 says, "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot." (Berean Study Bible)

If we will come before Him with an open and honest heart, He will faithfully shine His light upon our path, pointing out the areas that need to be pruned, minimized, and laid aside.


Remember this. You are not expected to do this alone. We are in this together, and our God is a Chain Breaker!

 

Stay tuned for the next post where I will be getting personal. That is never easy for me, but if we are going to make any progress, the first step is, to be honest and embrace reality. I hope you will take my hand and walk this journey with me!

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Minimizing The Physical ~ Part One

There are a lot of things that make up the "physical" part of our lives.  For the sake of Biblical Minimalism simplification, we will divide them all into two basic categories —the physical body and tangible, material, physical possessions.


"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 3:13,14

Before we go a step farther, let me reiterate once again that I have NOT arrived, and I fall very short of God's glory.  I fail miserably.  I see the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, but I am nowhere near attaining to it.  As I weigh myself (pun somewhat intended!) against the Word of God and how I should be as a follower and lifetime disciple of Jesus Christ, I feel pretty hopeless.  I long to be like Jesus and walk in His footsteps, but there is still so much excess in my life that holds me back and hinders me from being "all-in."  I am working on it, though, and just the pressing toward that mark gives me a sense of hope.

One of the key points in these verses is to forget those things which are behind.  Today is a new day.  We are starting a new page.  Never mind the times we have tried and failed in the past.  We are going to forget about what happened yesterday.  God has forgiven us, and we are going to forgive ourselves and move forward.  No more wasted energy on regret and wishing we had done things differently.  God's grace covers all, and we are going to walk in the light He is shedding on our path.

Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge."

Sometimes, we see the excess in our lives, and we are paralyzed from doing anything about it because we simply do not know where to start or how to begin.

Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."  John 8:32

Finding the truth and facing up to it are the first steps toward making a change.  This requires a great deal of courage because uncovering the knowledge of where we really stand can be intimidating and overwhelming.  Ignorance can be bliss, but life cannot be improved if we insist upon burying our heads in the sand and not owning what is real.  There is real freedom in knowing the truth and embracing it for what it is.

Our Physical Bodies

This is a subject that many of us try to avoid.  Yet, next to the spiritual slice of the Whole-Person Pie© it is the most important and comprehensive part of us.


We obviously only get one body to go through this life, and sadly there are no do-overs.  It is human nature to make allowances for excess in this category because we tell ourselves it is "our" body, and the things we do concerning our physical bodies only affects us and that we aren't hurting anyone else by indulging in sinful or abusive behavior.  As Christians, we could not be more wrong in making these justifications.

I Corinthians 6:19,20 says, "What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

Jesus paid the ultimate price for our redemption, and when we choose to follow Him, He deserves a whole-person surrender, with nothing held back.


We live in a day that the prophets of old only longed for and saw from afar.

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."  Hebrews 11:13

They saw, through prophetic eyes of faith, what you and I have the great privilege of experiencing.  In their day, God's glory would come down and fill a building, but He promised us something greater.  

"Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore.  My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  Ezekiel 37:26-27

"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things."  Acts 17:24,25

"For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,  And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.  Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.  2 Corinthians 6:16-18, 7:1

The Temple of God 
Words and Music by Daniel S. Warner & Barney E. Warren
Not in the temples made with hands,
Though beautiful by art,
But God in mercy condescends
To dwell within my heart.

Refrain:
Oh, glory to Jesus so sweet in me,
My body, Thy temple shall forever be.

How wonderful that He would take
This poor abode of sin,
And wash me in His precious blood,
And now abide within.

No more I think of God afar,
But see Thee, Lord, within;
Oh, shine in me, Thou morning star,
And keep Thy temple clean.

O Lord, enshrined within my breast,
My constant joy and peace;
My soul can now forever rest,
Secure in Thy embrace.

No longer do we view God from afar, but we see our Lord within!  When we present our bodies a living sacrifice to God, we relinquish total control to Him and our bodies literally become the sanctuary in which He dwells.  What a glorious thought and revelation to know that the very Holy Spirit of God lives within these mortal bodies!  

What a glorious thought, yes, but what a sobering thought, at the same time.  Imagine how differently we would live our lives, moment by moment, choice by choice, if we lived with the continual realization that the spirit of God is ALIVE inside of us, looking out upon every single thing we do, hearing every single word we speak, knowing every single thought we think, and observing every single thing we allow to come in to His temple!  Would we not be more careful?  What would we do differently?  With these thoughts in mind, what do you readily identify that needs to be cut off and minimized from the physical slice of your "Whole-Person Pie"?

 I Corinthians 3:16, 17 says, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defiles the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."

There are countless ways we can abuse our physical bodies, thus defiling the temple of God.  When I think of this, the first things that come to my mind are blatant sins and unhealthy habits that need to be laid aside and minimized, such as smoking cigarettes that have been proven to damage the lungs and heart; drinking alcoholic/intoxicating beverages that impair thinking, cloud judgment, stun senses, damage the liver/stomach/other organs; using illegal drugs that alter brain activity, cause aggressive behavior, modify personality, cause strokes and heart attacks, and inflict irreparable damage to all bodily systems; abusing prescription narcotic drugs that are addictive and lead to all sorts of health repercussions; participating in illicit/adulterous/unBiblical sexual relationships and activity; and pornography.  Of course, this "off-the-top-of-my-head" list is far from exhaustive, and there are many other individual acts of disobedience to God's Word that, if participated in, are detrimental to the temple in which God dwells.  

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us."  Hebrews 12:1

It is one thing to identify those "off-the-top-of-our-heads" issues and sins, but what about the "weights" that need to be laid aside?  Common sense things like overeating/gluttony, eating foods that are damaging to our physical health, not taking care of our bodies the way we should, carrying around excess literal "weight" in the form of obesity, not exercising, slothfulness, laziness, not getting enough sleep, depriving our bodies of nutritious foods, overindulgence in stimulants, salt, etc.  

This is where it cuts close, and I will be the first to tell you, that my heart is heavily convicted right now.  As God reveals things to include in the Biblical Minimalism Bible Study Guide that will accompany the book "Biblical Minimalism©", my heart is very stirred, and I am very much in need of His forgiveness and grace.  I feel very unworthy to write the book at all, for I fall so incredibly short.  I am learning and repenting as I go and doing my utmost to correct the areas in which I so sorely lack.  

We will delve into the physical category more deeply in the next post.  I hope you will stay tuned!