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

a five minute challenge

Life moves quickly.

The pace of things in our contemporary world is astounding. Within seconds of an event, millions find out about it on Twitter. Within moments of an idea, friends or co-workers around the world receive an email. Years and months seem like passe measures of time in a world where everything is instant, always on, and continually connected.

Give me seven minutes of your precious time–two minutes to read and five minutes to practice something. I think you’ll be amazed.

Our challenge–slow down. Just for a few minutes.

Part of simple living is slowing down. Slowing down in order to be aware of what is going on around us. Slowing down in order to enjoy the little things in life that bring joy on a minute-by-minute basis. Slowing down to focus on what is important in the midst of the noise and busyness of life.

Part of the Christian life, at least in today’s society, involves slowing down. Slowing down to be aware of the needs around us we might otherwise miss. Slowing down to give thanks for the simple blessings we’re given each day. Slowing down to be deliberately led by Christ instead of blinding following only our to-do lists or calendars.

As simple as is the idea of slowing down, it is also revolutionary and counter-cultural.

Do it anyway.

Specifically, sometime today, take five minutes and do this:

  • put down your phone (you’ll live, I promise)
  • go outside
  • walk, slowly
  • still the noise in your head
  • breathe deeply
  • look
  • listen
  • feel
  • smell
  • relax
  • enjoy

It doesn’t matter if you live and work in the country or in the city. Get outside and slow down for a few minutes. Autumn is upon us most places in the States…look around and see the reds, yellows, and oranges. Listen to the birds sing or the dogs bark. Feel the sunshine, which feels good this time of year. Notice the breeze blowing on your face. Smell the scents of Fall.

A few minutes outside is a good thing. It relieves stress. It gives your eyes a break from your computer screen or your books. It stretches your legs. It gives you time to focus. It lets you think about things that are really important instead of only things that are urgent.

Hopefully this little challenge will somehow become part of not just a routine but part of what it means for you to live simply, Christian.

So…how’d it go?

stumbling along: thoughts on worship

For the times when we have…
…read the liturgy extra quickly to get on with our day,
…used a shorter creed just because it was shorter,
…omitted lectionary readings because they were too long,
…skipped verses in our hymns because we didn’t want to sing that much,
Lord, have mercy.

For the times when we have…
…changed historic prayers for the sake of worldly political correctness,
…edited the creeds instead of taking the time to explain them,
…littered our sermons with jokes for a quick laugh and personal approval,
…caved to the false god of relevance at the expense of faithfulness,
Lord, have mercy.

O Lord, “we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror,” and we stumble.

Our worship looks less like the communion of the saints than it does children at daycare.

We are selfish about our preferences,
impatient when you have called us to be still,
immature when you have exhorted us to maturity,
concerned more about ourselves than you or others.

As a loving Father, have mercy on your children until we “see everything with perfect clarity.”

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