Keeping it Simple

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“The most important thing in life is knowing the most important things in life.” ― David F. Jakielo

One of Thoreau’s most-quoted sayings is “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” That message goes right to the core of what following Jesus is all about. For us, the simple life means serving God and God alone.

As we think about putting this into practice, most of us need to live more simply in several areas:

Speech: Sometimes our words tumble over one another in their hurry to get out of our mouths. For me, at least, I know I should speak less and listen more.

Clothes: My closet overfloweth. How about yours? Think how much simpler life would be if we spent less time thinking about, buying, cleaning, and storing clothes!

Possessions: Most of us own things we don’t use. Let’s pack up a carload and take it to our local charitable resale shop. It’s a great way to streamline our lives and to share with those who will treasure what we don’t need.

Activity: Maybe we need to clean up our calendars. What can we stop doing that no longer is helpful to us? Where can we create spaces in our week that provide room for making life less hectic and more meaningful?

Why simplify? One reason stands out: Making room for God to be the one and only intention in our lives. We cannot do that when we are surrounded by physical, emotional, or relational clutter. Maybe it would be a good idea this week to ask God to show us where we need to begin to live more simply – like Jesus did.

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” – 1 Timothy 6:16

Sacred Pauses

How often do you think about God?

"Life is not a series of events to be controlled. Life is a way of walking through the universe whole and holy." - Joan Chittister

“Life is not a series of events to be controlled. Life is a way of walking through the universe whole and holy.” – Joan Chittister

Followers of Islam pray five times a day. Jews practice morning, afternoon, and evening prayers. Benedictine monks stop seven times every day for prayer and worship. What about us? I have my morning devotion time, to be sure, but the activity of the day can draw me away from connecting with God unless I intentionally bring myself back to awareness of Him. You, too? God deeply desires for us to be in continual unbroken relationship with Him. It seems He is just waiting for us to respond to His loving invitation.

I’d like to propose a “sacred pause challenge” today. Most likely our work days or our pace will not allow us to pause seven times, but maybe we could make a small adjustment to schedule and pause one time in the middle of things to acknowledge our Creator. We might need a trigger point so we don’t forget: Maybe when we stop for lunch or when we get in the car to go home after work, we can turn ourselves toward God. Here are some ideas of things we could do with a sacred pause:

• Choose a verse from our morning devotional time and reread it a few times aloud.
• Thank God for at least three things.
• Praise God for at least three of His attributes.
• Sing Him a song.
• Take a few deep breaths, quieting the body and mind, then just be still before Him.

It’s that simple. How about choosing one of these to practice at least once today then maybe tomorrow and the next day, too? Once we develop the habit of a midday sacred pause, we could add another and another until we are in touch with God throughout our day – every day. He will be pleased and we will be blessed!

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.'” – Isaiah 41:13

Hanging Around the Holy

I didn’t know holiness was catching, did you? But maybe, in some way, it is.

“Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man.” – Oswald Chambers

In Exodus, God gives Moses detailed instructions for building the Tabernacle and all its furnishings and utensils. In 29:37 God says that whatever touches the consecrated altar will be holy. Then in 30:29, He says the same thing about the anointed furnishings and utensils, “ . . . whatever touches them will be holy.”

What things today seem to be holy in God’s eyes?

  • His church
  • Christian friendships
  • His Word
  • Prayer
  • Confession
  • Spiritual reading
  • Worship
  • Songs, hymns, and spiritual songs
  • Nature/creation

These are the kinds of things that are probably comparable to the altar in the Old Testament in terms of conveying holiness. The sacrifice on the altar granted forgiveness, but the proximity to holy things and holy people gave the growth in relationship to almighty God.

Do we want to be holy? Close to God? Knowing His mind and heart? Receiving His gifts? First, we claim forgiveness through Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice on the altar of the cross. Then, I think we need to hang around the holy. As we do, we find that we breathe it, we catch it, we grow in it, and we want more of it.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)