Thursday, October 29, 2009


My conclusion is that the biggest issues and concerns that we carry in life should not be our own.

I don’t want to trivialize the reality of the pains, problems, stresses and other issues that we face in life. And especially not the genuine tragedies of life such as the death of a loved one, a marriage break up and other such crises. However, in regards to most of the problems that we face most of the time, I just think we need to put them into perspective. This in no way causes them to disappear but actually puts us in a better head, heart, and faith space to deal with them.

The plain reality is that most of our worries are just not that big a deal. If you are reading this post you probably accessed it on your own personal computer, or the computer you use at your job, or on a computer in a shopping mall that you just paid a few dollars to check Facebook with. All of which hints at the fact that whatever issues you have in life at the moment they are not likely to do with finding clean drinking water, getting some food for your children before they die of malnutrition, or the impossibility of obtaining medical treatment for an easily curable disease.

These sorts of issues are not our issues. Thank goodness. However they are the issues of around 2.8 billion people in the world that are trying to live off less than $2 a day. They are the issues of the 30,000 children that die every day because of hunger and malnutrition. They are the issues of another 6,000 children that die each day because they lack clean water and sanitation. They are the issues of the parents of these children, if the parents are still alive.

Understanding these sorts of crises, genuine issues that face millions and millions of fellow Image bearers every day, helps puts our issues into perspective. In honesty my own personal concerns and worries look insignificant, certainly not worth losing sleep over, and defiantly not insurmountable. I thank God for his goodness, his faithfulness, his blessing, and his favor on my life. I move forward in the power of the Spirit and I deal with that which is in front of me.

More important than gaining perspective on my own worries in life is the challenge to make the worries of others my own. When I do this, those issues don’t just help me with that which I am facing, they change the whole way that I live my life!

- My reliance and trust in God is deepened.

These issues are overwhelming. I am forced to look to God, to put my trust in God, to cry out to God. I can’t carry them or solve them on my own despite the burden I feel. My devotion and relationship with God is deepened and grows. I can make those issues my concern but I can’t carry them. I have to look to God. I pray more. I am more aware of our need to be saved.

- My life style is challenged.

I am forced to ask big questions. In a world with so much, why do so many have so little? Where should I spend my money, what is truly important in life, what is simply noise and clutter? Am I a part of the problem or a part of the solution? I depend on the Holy Spirit to guide me as I push forward. I determine not to brush things over as being too difficult or complicated. It’s too big a deal to do nothing. I find I am challenged to change my priorities in life, the way I consume, that which I value. I discover a simpler way to live. A more right way. I discover a different path, the Way of Jesus.

- I find freedom.

Rather than feeling lost in problems too big, I find freedom to live unconcerned with that which consumes society so much. The rat race doesn’t matter. The ladder doesn’t matter. The house, the car, the boat, the clothes, the status, accolades, fame, fortune, and anything else society holds to be significant fade away. I’m no longer trapped in a game that counts for nothing. I’m no longer concerned with the perspective of others who judge from a set of criteria I no longer live by. Rather I am free to be who God called me to be, to live as God called me to live, to be consumed by that which is on His heart rather consuming that which society declares necessary.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Freedom of Simplicity 3

Chapter 3 - The Biblical Roots: The New Covenant

This astonishment (of the disciples in Matt 19:24) was due primarily to their belief that the wealth of the rich young ruler was a sign of God’s special favor upon him.

And Jesus perceived how bruised and trampled in spirit people were because they were poor and felt that God was displeased with them. Repeatedly he opposed this false and destructive doctrine, showing instead that in the economy of God, the poor, the broken, were special objects of his blessing and concern.

Jesus further saw the wearisome burden upon those who had gotten riches and were trying to hold onto them.

Riches are deceitful precisely because they lead us to trust in them and Jesus saw that trap and the spiritual destructiveness which attends to it.

The life of Christian simplicity is necessarily tied to concern for the poor and defenseless.

Love is well-reasoned concern for the good of all. Love does not have tunnel vision. If I bring the needy into my home and destroy my own family in the process, I am driven by something other than love. These commands of Jesus must be understood with the broader context of the law of love. The biblical instruction is not meant to destroy us, but to set us free.

What we discover in the New Testament witness is the combination of penetrating criticism of wealth with a carefree, almost light hearted attitude toward possessions. It is a combination seldom found today.

In regards to the New Testament church sharing all things together: Please remember, we have no indication that what occurred in the early days of the Church was commanded of that it was even the right thing to do. This is not some pattern to be slavishly imitated. What we see is an incredible freedom to experiment with practical ways to flesh out the meaning of love for God and neighbor.

‘Why all this talk about miracles, divine power, and spiritual preparation? Can’t we just get on with the business of simplifying our lifestyles with all the God-talk?’ I answer that you are welcome to try, and God help you – because you will sorely need it.

There once was a time when I urged simplicity of life upon people indiscriminately. I would cajole,, shove, push, and often they would indeed change their lifestyle; but I found that it was all quite destructive. I discovered that simplicity is just another anxiety-laden burden until people experience God’s gracious power to provide them with their daily bread. Only as kingdom power breaks in are we free to live in trust.

My major takeaways...

1. Material wealth is never an accurate measurement of Godliness, of favor, of being in the will of God, or of living according to the will of God. Godly principles indeed bring increase they are a poor measurement of Godliness though.

2. The simple life makes room for the poor. Simplicity doesn't mean lack of resource, you can live a profoundly simply life while working in a job that earns plenty of money. Simplicity is the grip that the money has on you and your choices with that resource. The simple life makes room for the poor and chooses to bless and to include and to stand in the gap. We should never confuse simplicity for lack.

3. Simplicity has to be guided by the Holy Spirit. The simple life is so counter culture that it has to be Spirit led. You can't talk people into it, force people into it, or instantly embrace the concepts. The quite leading of the Holy Spirit is required.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Skydiving Simplicity

Check out this video. You don't even need a parachute!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Freedom of Simplicity 2

Chapter 2 - The Biblical Roots: The Old Covenant

Simplicity of the heart can flourish only in the fertile soil of trust (in God).

The creation story is the starting point for our understanding of simplicity. We are part of the created order and hence totally dependant. We are dependant on God for even our sense of worth as individuals. Our uniqueness and dignity are rooted in our creation in the image of God. Our value is not tied to wealth, status, accomplishments, or position. It is a gift. Obviously, this wonderful truth flies in the face of the modern tendency to define people by what they produce or have.

Notice how the fourth commandment of the Sabbath rest strikes at the heart of the everlasting itch to get ahead. We find it so very hard to rest when, by working, we can get the jump on everyone else. There is no greater need today than the freedom to lay down the heavy burden of getting ahead.

At the hear of the sin of covetousness is the inner lust to have. Covetousness is the idolatrous worship of things. The problem is that we, like the alcoholic, are unable to recognize the disease once we have been engulfed by it.

My major takeaways...

It is so easy for us to measure our worth and also the worth of others based the measurements of 21st Century society rather than on the truth of God's word. Wealth, status, accomplishments, and position so easily become the yard stick. It's ingrained in us. We have to break free from this and commit to not measuring ourselves or the worth of others by these things. Unless we do so we are trapped. We must do, achieve, and become, before we can simply be. Rather it is out of being (a person of worth created in the image of God) that we should be doing.

This changes all the doing. It is no longer a striving, no longer a means by which to feel valued. It is no longer a means by which to increase, accumulate, and consume. Rather it becomes the doing that is the good works that we were saved in Christ Jesus for. Doing that brings blessing, impacts lives, and reflects the love of God. It becomes a simple doing, grounded in faith, hope, love, justice and righteousness.

How many cups have you used?

Read this today 'One Life, One Cup' about a Japanese man who has been using the same cup for his tea for the last 30 odd years. How many cups have you used in your life?

Japan has always been a country and culture that fascinated me. This man's attitude towards his cup is simple but has profound impact when multiplied across other areas of life and also by multitudes of people.

It's only a short read but well worth the read. Click here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Freedom of Simplicity Chap 1

Have just started reading Richard Foster's Freedom from Simplicity. Will post some thoughts chapter by chapter.

Chapter 1 - The Complexity of Simplicity

Simplicity helps us to see material things for what they are - goods to enhance life, not to opress life. People become more important than posessions.

1. Simplicity is both a grace and a discipline.
2. Simplicity both easy and difficult.
3. Simplicty is both an inner reality and an outwardlifestyle.
4. Simplicty affirms both the goodness and the limitation of material things.

Misery also arises when people try to make a life out of provision. While it is an essential ingredient in the good life, it is by no means the only ingredient, nor is it even the most important one. So often the biblical teaching on provision has been taken and twisted into a doctrine of gluttonous prosperity. All the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, coaxing to 'love Jesus and get rich' reflects our failure to see the biblical limitation on things. Incarnated in our theology are covetous goals under the guise of the promises of God. And the interesting thing about all these little gimmicks to blessedness is that they work; they really do work. That is, they work if what we want is a little money; but if we desire the abundance which God gives, they fail.

My major takeways...

I've been reflecting on and attempting to live a simple life for a number of years now. Opening this book and reading the first chapter reminded me again how easy it is to slip into the pursuit of material possesions, wealth, and accumulation, even when you think you are trying to live contrary to those pursuits.

We have to live intentionally in life otherwise we just get pulled along and caught up in the same rat race as everyone else, not realising that God offers a totally different way to live.

I also appreciated thinking of simplicity as both and inward reality and an outward life style. A simple, relaxed, peaceful, at ease, content, inner world is an awesome way to live life. As we chose to trust God, practice Sabbath, learn to let go, and develop faith, its amazing the sense off peace that is inwardly possible and its incredible effects on the way we interact with the world!


If you haven't been watching Eco-Trip on the Living Channel over the last few weeks you should be. It is an outstanding series which takes a closer look at the 'truer' cost of some of the things we take for granted in life. Bottled water, paper napkins, salmon, mobile phones etc. It is presented by David de Rothschild. I have found it fascinating, eye opening, challenging and inspiring.


All plenty which is not my God is poverty to me - St Augustine

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Simplicity and Complexity of God's Word

It is relieving to recognize that the basics of God's revelation of himself (including his Creator role) are easily skimmed off the surface (of the Bible), but not surprising that God's Word contains infinite depth and that it should require constant attention to study with all the tools we have available. God is not superficial, and we should expect that knowledge of him and his Word would be mined rather than simply absorbed. This means that all of us will be dependent on others with particular skills to help us succeed in the enterprise of interpretation. This is not elitism; it is the interdependence of the people of God as they work together in community to serve one another with the gifts they have. The Lost World of Genesis - John H. Walton

I love this extract from Dr John's book! It beautifully sums up so many of the things that I appreciate and value in life.

- the simplicity of God's Word. At one level it is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth

- the complexity of God's Word. There is so much depth and breadth to the Bible and to its true implications for humanity and the way we live life. Not because God tries to be complicated but due to the realities of God speaking to finite people at a particular time and place. This makes God's Word a treasure trove to be explored and interacted with. Not for intellects sake, and not for some spiritual high found in a 'deep truth' moment, but rather because of the divine nature of the text. The reality is that literature thousands of years old still carries weight and meaning for life today; as much as ever before. With the help of the Spirit and with the skills and fellowship of community this is possible.

- that God is not superficial. God desires to know humankind on a deep an intimate level. God speaks and desires to relate with us in the midst of the most complicated and trying experiences. Not with throw away lines and quick fix verses but in a real and personal way. A way that can at times be summed up with simple rhema words but that also often involves deeper rational and faith filled interaction.

- that deeper study or understanding of God's word is not in order to create elitism. The opposite is in fact the case. PhD understanding is not for PhD sake but rather for faithful, trustworthy, applicable, and life changing everyday application. What an awesome challenge that is to all in the academic world.

- that God's word is best approached and interpreted in community. Together we discover truth for life when we come to God's word. This stands in the face of society's individualistic attitudes and tendencies and requires humility, teachablity, openness, conviction, good will, and love. All of which are admirable qualities.

I fall in love with God and God's word more and more every day. I hope you do to.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Whole Gospel

Came across this today on a blog I have never seen. A good article on The Whole Gospel, something that I am passionate about. Enjoy

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Confrontation of Justice

My friend Michael Frost just posted these thoughts on his blog that really resonate with me. Well worth a read.