living for today and the future

“A [Christian] should always act as if he was going to die tomorrow; yet he should treat his body as if it was going to live for many years.”

— Evagrios the Solitary, 4th cent. AD

The encouragement to ‘live today as if it was our last’ is somewhat trite and only partly correct.  While we should be motivated to act toward others as if today was our final day, we must always act towards ourselves as though we would live to be one hundred.

The first motivation keeps us from passing up opportunities to serve, to grow, to forgive, and to love.  Indeed, when looking back from our deathbeds, our lives will seem short and our missed opportunities many.  Carpe diem.  Let us seize the day, redeem our time, and make the most of each day–recognizing each as a gift that we dare not take for granted.

Simultaneously, the latter truth prevents us from neglecting our own health and wellness, without which it is impossible to do those things inspired by former.  We must care for ourselves–physically, emotionally, spiritually–precisely that we might seize today and act as though these hours were our final ones on earth.

Unfortunately, our society tends to reverse the truths taught by Evagrios.  We act as though we would live forever–putting off indefinitely those things we ought to be busy about right now.  At the same time, we treat our bodies as though we would die tomorrow–neglecting wellness in favor of the immediate satisfaction of gluttony and sloth.

We must get the order right, that we might make a real difference in the lives of those around us.

for the good of all…

We have no right to our possessions; they have been entrusted to us for the good of all.  Let us then invest with the Lord what he has given us, for we have nothing that does not come from him:  we are dependent upon him for our very existence.  And we ourselves particularly, who have a special and greater debt, since God not only created us but purchased us as well; what can we regard as our own when we do not possess even ourselves?

– Paulinus of Nola (5th cent monk), in Common Prayer

"it doesn’t have to be epic…"


It doesn’t have to be epic…

“It doesn’t have to be epic.”  Ev Bogue wrote those words in his 30 Dec email newsletter…and I completely agree with him.  While simple and sane, this advice is completely contrary to most of the motivation-speak in the world today–whether in books, blogs, G+, TV, or elsewhere and regardless of whether secular or sacred. The buzz of the world, even ironically among those writing about simplicity/minimalism or even Christian living, is fixated on the superlative.

The buzz is wrong.  It doesn’t have to be epic.
Your life doesn’t have to be the most amazing.  Your house doesn’t have to be the biggest.  Your minimalism doesn’t have to be the most spartan.  Your blog doesn’t have to have the most readers.  Your charity doesn’t have to be the most well-funded.  Your children don’t have to be the most involved.  Your devotional life doesn’t have to be the most perfect.  Your ministry doesn’t have to be the most ‘successful.’  Your church doesn’t have to be the most influential…get it?
What matters more than ‘epicness’ is faithfulness.
Faithfulness to be (i.e. to do), even if you are afraid.  Faithfulness to act, even if you aren’t the best.  Faithfulness to try, even if you fail.  Faithfulness…as Christians…to Christ, even if the world laughs.
Ev was right.  It doesn’t have to be epic.  It has to be, and it has to be faithful.

(Pssst…If you enjoyed this post, I’d be grateful if you shared it…thanks!)

photo courtesy of stock.xchng

resolution or inspiration?

This is the time of year when people are into making resolutions…resolving to change this or that in the new year, typically along the lines of losing weight, getting in shape, eating better, or something like that. Unfortunately, for most, these resolutions will be little more than speed bumps along the status quo. In a few weeks, things will be right back to the way they were before.

I don’t make resolutions.

Resolutions look the wrong way–backward, to what might have been.

Inspiration, on the other hand, looks the right way–forward, to what might be.

Instead of beginning the year dwelling on what might have been, if only you had some something different last year, seek inspiration and focus on what you might achieve this year. Pursue a dream you’ve been putting off because of it’s supposed impossibility. Take up a new hobby or skill you’ve wanted to do but haven’t.

Start making a difference in the world right where you are.

Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets and “The Road Not Taken” one of my favorite poems. It is all about what happened when the author found inspiration and courage to do something new…

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In 2012, instead of resolving to ‘fix’ the problems of last year, focus on finding inspiration, take the road ‘less traveled by,’ and start changing the world.

It will make all the difference.

(Pssst…If you enjoyed this post, I’d be grateful if you shared it…thanks!)

simplicity and note taking, a lesson

I have long wrestled with the best way for me to keep track of bible notes.  Should I keep them electronically (via Olive Tree BibleReader) or in hardcopy?  Currently, I keep them as hardcopies…original language notes in my Greek and Hebrew texts and all others in my HCSB with the super large margins.  If it sounds rather cumbersome, it is.  But I REALLY like writing notes down, scribbling them in my bibles, marking them up, underlining, etc.  There is—to me—a certain satisfaction from using a well-worn bible, and it seems (perhaps it’s only in my head) that there are certain advantages to paper note taking over against electronic means.
Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had this debate with myself, so it is about time to have it again.  This time, consider that I’m doing extensive work in the LXX and Byzantine Greek texts; starting to refer more and more to my Orthodox Study Bible for English work; and still using my host of BHS, NA27, NLT, and HCSB bibles.  The time may well have come to start putting my bible notes in electronic form.  ’May’ have come?  OK, it’s here.
As much as I love the ubiquity of electronic notes, I’m a little saddened by the inevitable relinquishment of  paper notes.  Honestly, I’ll probably keep my paper copies alongside my electronic ones at least for now.  It’s extra work, I know…but I don’t care.  Putting a real pencil on a real sheet of paper is satisfying in a way that moving electrons around on a screen (computer, tablet, or smartphone) is not. What does this have to do with simplicity?  Well, my current hardcopy setup is NOT very simple.  It uses multiple sets of notes across multiple texts which requires me to lug around a not-so-small pile of books if I want to be sure I have access to ALL my notes.  Electronic notes just makes sense.  And yet, it’s hard for me to give up my old ways.  That’s the lesson that goes beyond just note taking and expands to just about every other area of life.  We resist change, even change that is obviously for the better.  
So, as we strive to lead simpler lives, we must realize…it’s work.  Hard work. Keep at it. Live simply, Christian.