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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Selflessness, Soul Care & Simplicity 11-16-14

Since 2009, I have tried, in large and small ways, to simplify my life. Examples:
  • I try to eat locally, organically and sustainably, seeking to eat more according to what God has provided to me in my context, rather than what I "want." 
  • I sold my car in 2010, and rely on my bike and scooter for all local transportation (with an occasional bus ride, and car rentals for out of town). This has taught me a lot about the luxury we have as First World people to be everywhere we want to be on our own terms. 
  • Whenever I purchase something, I do my best to get rid of something. If I buy a pair of shoes, I give away a pair of shoes. If I buy a new coat, I give away an old one. And if I find it too unbearable to part with something, that indicates to me that what I have is just-fine-thank-you-very-much, and I do not need that other "thing."
  • I seek after Sabbath weekly in order to STOP, slow down, reflect, rest and reboot. Life can get going so fast that I can quickly forget my priorities and even my core identity. 
I have found that in simplifying even a little bit, and slowing down, that I can cultivate more discipline in my life. In other words, if I seek after ways to respond more carefully and according to what I truly need rather than what I want, I find that I am that less self-absorbed and more aware of those around me. This in turn also deepens my appetite for God: as I grow in self-control (not trying to meet my every whim), I am able to respond to still, small voice of God, who speaks truth and peace and love into my life in so many ways. Yes.

The quotes that struck me this week all tended to speak to this pursuit of simplicity. Hope you enjoy them.

Fifth-century monk Nilus of Ancyra wrote, “We should remain within the limits imposed by our basic needs and strive with all our power not to exceed them. For once we are carried a little beyond these limits in our desire for the pleasures of life, there is then no criterion by which to check our onward movement, since no bounds can be set to that which exceeds the necessary.”

"This [1 John 4:19] is the sum of all religion, the genuine
model of Christianity. None can say more: why should any one
say less? or less intelligibly?"
(John Wesley, 1703-1791)

We love because he first loved us. 
1John 4:19

Check out this powerful blog by the former president of InterVarsity and Columbia Theological Seminary, Steve Hayner, on his battle with cancer and what he's learning about
faith, God and calling.

Twentieth-century peace activist A. J. Muste often said, 
“There is no way to peace, peace itself being the way.”

There is a manifest want of spiritual influence on the
ministry of the present day. I feel it in my own case, and I
see it in that of others. I am afraid that there is too much of
a low, managing, contriving, maneuvering temper of mind among
us. We are laying ourselves out, more than is expedient, to
meet one man's taste, and another man's prejudices. The
ministry is a grand and holy affair; and it should find in us a
simple habit of spirit, and a holy but humble indifference to
all consequences... The leading defect in Christian ministers is want of a
devotional habit.
    Richard Cecil (1748-1810)

Desert father John Cassian wrote, “If we go into the desert with our faults still hidden within us, they no longer hurt others, but our love of them remains. Of every sin not eradicated, the root is still growing secretly within. If we compare our own strict discipline with the lax practices of another and feel the slightest temptation to puff ourselves up, it proves that the terrible plague of pride is still infecting us. If we still see these signs within, we know that it is not the desire to sin but the opportunity to sin which has vanished.”

If you want to know who you are, watch your feet. 
Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.
Frederick Buechner

We will not doubt that that kingdom has existed from the
moment of creation and will never end. It cannot be "shaken"
and it is totally good. It has never been in trouble and never
will be. It is not something that human beings produce or,
ultimately, can hinder. We do have an invitation to be a part
of it, but if we refuse we only hurt ourselves.
    Dallas Willard (1935-2013), The Divine Conspiracy

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