Get going. Be useful, generous, moderate and self-denying in your manner of life. Treat the lack of positive action on your part as sin. If God chooses to bless you with material prosperity, don’t use it on the absurd task of keeping up with the current trends and fads. By using your money modestly and without display, show that you are not a slave to fashion. Be an example of someone who uses his or her wealth for purposes that are more important than showing off or making a big impression. Demonstrate through the way you live that worldly things are not even close to the value of heavenly things.

— William Wilberforce, quoted in Advent Conspiracy 

Worship is not for the purpose of remembering the Reformation, hailing the founding of America, saluting mothers, boy scouts, girl scouts, or grandparents. Worship does not celebrate Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Labor Day. No. Worship remembers the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ… . All that goes into an actual service of worship must pertain to the event of God revealing Himself to us, becoming incarnate in our history, and redeeming us from the power of the evil one, setting us free to enjoy Him forever.

— Robert Webber, Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation 

Whenever Scripture talks about praising God publicly, it’s talking about something extremely dangerous. This is because announcing his praise is nothing other than opposing the devil, the world, our own sinful nature, and everything evil. For how can you praise God without first declaring that the world is guilty and condemned? All who condemn the world are asking to be hated and put themselves in a very dangerous situation.

— Martin Luther (LW 12:393)

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?