Spiritual Discipline: Simplicity
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Spiritual Discipline: Simplicity


When someone says the word Simplicity, what comes to your mind? Simplicity sounds scary to a lot of Americans.  It also sounds like dream-stuff in our hectic, cluttered culture. Anyone who knows me knows that I have longed for it, yet it seemed to elude me.  Two people in our household had ADD, there were 3 children and ministry was added to the mix.  Nothing in all of that was simple!  Sometimes it seemed like shoveling snow in a blizzard as I would try to pare down schedules, sort stuff to send to Goodwill, sort through mail to pitch what needed pitched, picking up trails left behind,  and unpack from moving which happened quite often.  My husband said that we should throw away any box we hadn't opened in 2 moves, until we found something important in the top of one of those boxes!  Downscaling has felt good.  Very good. I like organization and low maintenance stuff!

As a pastor's family we were pulled to be at every church function to spend "face-time".  We looked at each other and decided to set limits on what we said yes and what we said no to.  Everyone seems to want the pastor's approval and presence at every church function.  They wanted me to be in every women's and children's ministry area even though my gifts and talents didn't fit their expectations. What they didn't realize is that most of those demands can tear pastors' families apart.  Some of the "powers that be" in the churches were unhappy with the choices we made.  However, we knew that if our marriage fell apart, we would have failed to obey God, that a pastor should be faithful to his wife and able to manage his household well( 1 Timothy 3).  When he passed away, it was amazing the great number of people who shared howmuch he and I had ministered to them.  Believe me, "face-time" wasn't it!!! It was quietly following the leadership of the Holy Spirit in what God had gifted and called us to do, hearing His promptings and obeying. Saying no was unpopular to a lot of people; however, it glorified God more importantly.

Why does simplicity seem so difficult?  It's probably different for everyone, but some things seem to continually show up: kids' activities and homework, work schedules, church calendars, late Uncle Ed's estate papers, important & not-so-important paper piles, overflowing laundry & an overstuffed closet, storage units, so the list goes on and on.  Scads of magazine articles are dedicated to de-cluttering.  They sell tons of those magazines.  I wonder how many of them end up in stacks of old magazines in the corner of people's living rooms.

The spiritual discipline of simplicity is about letting go of stuff and busy-ness that gets in the way of spending time in prayer, Bible study, and service.  It is about being freed from a crowded schedule to help a neighbor or serve with the church at the local food bank.  One thing we set in place in our home was the 1 major, 2 minors rule.  It meant that serving in a leadership position at church such as Sunday School teacher only allowed that person to help with 2 other things, not lead them.  Sometimes we rob other Christians the opportunity to serve because we take up too many positions in the church. If we feel that no one else could do it the way we want it, it is a rather selfish notion.  The ability to say, "No." is difficult to do yet empowering. Becoming less so someone else can become more is humbling.

Simplicity is freedom.  Freedom to pursue a call from God to serve Him.  Freedom to spend time with our families building a solid foundation full of fantastic memories with children.  Freedom to build a long-lasting, strong marriage that emulates what Christian marriage is about.  Freedom to share what we have with someone in need.  Freedom to spend as long as necessary praying over the things that break God's heart and our own.  Freedom to pour over the Scriptures to glean the gems God has placed for us to find should we care to find them. Simplicity is from God; cluttered lives is not. Author C.S. Lewis in his book, The Screwtape Letters, shows how Satan loves pulling Christians off-track with seemingly harmless distractions and busy schedules.  Are you being pulled off track?

Simplicity begins with heart-felt prayer asking God to show us anything that is getting in the way of time with Him, serving Him, glorifying Him. What has God gifted, talented and called you to do? Those things need to stay. As the Holy Spirit begins showing those areas of clutter, write them down.  One place to begin praying over is our schedules. How much junk could be cleared out? Make an action plan detailing the ones that can disappear this week and then those that will take 1-3 months. Begin clearing.  Don't think for once that you won't have a battle to protect your family and prayer time.  It will happen, so develop a plan to tactfully, lovingly, yet firmly deal with this. 

The next area is the stuff.  Set up boxes: Trash, Donate, Keep.  Take 15 minutes a day to tackle the stuff. What do you need? What is truly important to you? Do you have duplicates of things when only 1 will do?  Bless someone else by donating things that are in good condition to a thrift store.  If it is worn or outdated, throw it away! Give things to people through your church's benevolent ministry.  Remember, when you die, you can't take it with you!

This discipline can be found in Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. You can go to the Simplicity pdf file below to read that chapter.

Scripture passages dealing with simplicity:
Leviticus 25:23
Psalm 62:10
Luke 16L13
Hebrews 13:15
Ephesians 5:5
I Corinthians 5:11
1 Timothy 6:17-19
Deuteronomy 8:7-9


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May God richly bless you!


4 Comments to Spiritual Discipline: Simplicity:

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MaryAnn on Thursday, August 07, 2014 8:29 PM
Great blog - I need to start doing this 1 minutes a day! Thanks for putting this in writing.... I'm going to try and put it in practice!
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Charlaine on Thursday, August 07, 2014 10:33 PM
Good for you! I will cheer you on! We are on a schedule diet at our house right now. So far, so good!


Janet Bailey on Thursday, December 11, 2014 1:24 PM
I was just reading this blog, and cried. My husband owns a rental storage units comples. He has 4 that he uses 4 his "stuff" He has cars,boats, and more stuff. I cant keep up with him! He is going all the time to auctions, bringing home things that I am sure that will end up in one of his storage units. We are christian, but he refuses to give up on his stuff. I always tell him about Jesus's story of the rich man....but I am just so unable to reach him. I do pray for him, but sometimes the reality overtakes me...any help or suggestions! Janet
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Charlaine on Friday, December 12, 2014 10:18 AM
Hi, Janet, Thank you for reading my blog post. I am glad there was something of value to you in this post. In response to your concern, this certainly must be distressing to you. Oh, my! it has to be financially painful. Not only in spending money and hoarding stuff, but also in lost rent for those units. You certainly have a huge concern. I would suggest backing off from saying anything more about his issue. Nagging usually makes things worse. We can't parent our husbands. We don't usually think of it that way, but that is what we end up doing. There could be a number of reasons this is happening under the surface. Second, I would suggest that if this is causing financial stresses, moving any money you make into a separate account to make sure bills are being paid as best as possible. Then I would recommend some things for you to help you deal more effectively with your husband's issue. Seek counseling with your pastor or a Christian counselor for deeper insights. Third, begin some reading. There are several good Christian books that might help you: Boundaries in Marriage by Townsend by Cloud and Townsend, His Needs, Her Needs by Harley and Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey. Go to Proverbs 31 Ministries at www.proverbs31.org as resource for you also. Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey has a website www.financialpeace.org. It is important for you to be the best wife you can be because this brings glory to God. He will honor your behavior when you do. In no way does this condone your hubby's actions! It is simply being obedient to God. I think of how Abigail was the best wife she could be to Nabal, regardless of his behavior. Follow the Ephesians 5 passage for wives beginning at verse 22. We are first to submit to God, then to submit to our husband's authority in the home. In the areas your husband is not behaving appropriately, do what God says to do in those situations. In the areas where he is doing what is right, submit to him because he is honoring God. Continue praying for someone who will redirect him with this problem, to change his heart. You will be surprised at how God works behind the scenes where you thought nothing was happening. I have seen God work mightily in situations that could have torn the marriages apart. My husband and I are praying for a victory to happen in your marriage regarding his issue with auctions and gathering stuff. God will bless you in a big way as you follow His Word. If you want to continue the conversation, feel free to email me at totallyfit63@gmail.com.
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