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.

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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

materialism and mission

Materialism is all but killing the mission of the church. The churchlacks resources for mission, not because things are tight, but becauseChristians spend money in much the same way as any old atheist. Thelifestyles of most Christians are no different from non-Christians inthe pursuit of more. The only difference is that in the church we arethe hypocrites because we condemn materialism while wallowing in it upto our armpits, justifying our way of life by pointing our fingers atthe person who has more than we do. The materialists are always thosewho make more money and have more expensive things than we do. Thus we can make our prophetic pronouncements directed at someone else andcontinue to live as if nothing has changed…

Read the rest here On Living Heretically: Some Wisdom for the Church

blogging reinvented

Just over a year ago I dreamed up and launched “simply, Christian” as an outlet to write about living the simple Christian life—a mashup of simple/minimalist thought and a Christ-centered life.

I wanted to change the world.

I wrote steadily for a while but then, like so any others, I tapered off.  At some point, I pretty much just stopped, jumped over to Tumblr, and started reblogging cool stuff that other people wrote.  Why?  Ironically, I was too busy.

Pretty hypocritical for a blog focused on simplicity, no?  I thought so, too.

Maybe it was hypocrisy.

Maybe it was just a false start.

Maybe I wasn’t committed enough.

Maybe my scope was too big.

Maybe I was just scared.

I’m not sure exactly why I failed, but that’s okay.  The fact is, I still want to change the world.

So, how exactly am I planning to go about this?  After tons of off-line brainstorming, doodling, rambling, and filling up pages of my trusty ecosystem notebook, I think I’ve crafted a model, a vision, a plan both for life and for blogging.  It’s a simple approach…

be. share. encourage.

Expanded just a little: be the change…share the change…encourage the change

Will this ‘succeed’ in the eyes of the world?  I dunno.  I don’t care.
Will this succeed in glorifying God, sharing in the work of Christ, and building a community that encourages others to do the same?  I hope so.

Will you join me?

live simply…simply live

The Blessing of Discomfort

I found this great post from Michael Hyatt while clearing out my Instapaper inbox today.  He cites a benediction forwarded to him by his wife.

To describe it as counter-cultural is an understatement.  It’s revolutionary.

May God bless you with discomfort

At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,

So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger

At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,

So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears

To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,

So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them

And turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness

To believe that you can make a difference in the world,

So that you can do what others claim cannot be done

To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen

Can you imagine a world of Christians receiving this blessing…and then acting on it?  A continent?  A nation?  A congregation?  It would change the world.