Simplicity, Part 2

As promised here are the other two quotes from the chapter on Simplicity from Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster (If you’ve jumped into this post without reading my first one titled “God’s Kingdom”, you may want to read that first.):

  • “The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions.”

I love the wording “joyful unconcern” because of the complexity of those two words being put together.  They don’t seem like they should be in the same sentence, but in this context it is a beautiful way to put possessions into proper perspective.  It doesn’t say I shouldn’t care about possessions, but they should not be a concern that I spend my time focusing on.  I interpret “unconcern” as being good with what you’ve got and not focusing on what you don’t.  Freedom to be content with your gifts from God reflects a healthy soul. If my heart is co

ntent with my current reality and circumstances, no matter how difficult, I am free to experience joy.   When I put this together and apply it to my life, it really connects to putting God before ‘things’.

If I’m really honest, I don’t struggle as much with what I don’t have, but sometimes my initial response isn’t one of being joy filled when other people get things. That sounds really ugly to say out loud.  Most of the time it is relational or position based, but there is still something wrong with that.  When I check my heart I have to ask, “Where is that feeling coming from?”  I don’t have a great, insightful answer to that question and clearly need to dig deeper with God.  In the deepest parts of my soul, I know I don’t deserve anything that God gives me and I am thankful for all He does.  I want my first response to be

excitement for what God gives to people in my life.

Here is the next quote that I love:

  • “Freedom from anxiety is characterized by three inner attitudes.  If what we have we received as a gift, and if what we have is to be cared for by God, and if what we have is available to others, then we will possess freedom from anxiety.”

Which of those three attitudes are easy or challenging?  I’ve been most focused on “cared for by God”.  When it comes to finances I’ve had the perspective of me caring for what God’s given us (Mike and me).  If we make a bad investment and lose money, I’m not caring for God’s resources well.  The thinking isn’t much different, but what it means for me is that I need to be more prayerful so God is directing what I do with His gifts.  By putting my trust and faith in His provision, I am free of worry about holding on to what I have.

 

My friend Paul gave great perspective in Philippians 4:11-13 when he said he learned to be content in all things. He had the experience of both humble means and prosperity. Gosh, Paul was in jail when he wrote this letter to the church in Philippi. He continued to say, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Paul didn’t do it alone and we don’t need to either.

What next steps do you need to take to put the two quotes above into reality if you want to simplify your life and seek God’s Kingdom first? Answer that question and then do it.  It may start with listening to the series on Simplicity from Willow Creek Community Church.  Here is the link: http://media.willowcreek.org/weekend/simplify/#content

simplifymedia

 

XO, Michelle

Simplicity Part 1-God’s Kingdom

One of my favorite books (besides the Bible) that has had the greatest influence on me spiritually is Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster.  I would recommend it to anyone who craves to go deeper; deeper with God, deeper with who God created you to be and deeper with those God’s put in your life.  It teaches how to create a space in your life where you can know and be known by the One True God.  If you are up for practicing the Spiritual disciplines, I would highly recommend reading it with a friend.  The first time I read the book was with my accountability partner and dear friend, Deb in 1995.  Everyone should have an accountability partner!

Currently, I’m in a woman’s Bible study and we are studying the book.  This is not a light, easy read, but a meat on your ribs, deep, rich, life changing study and like my sweet niece, Olivia, said at the age of three when Uncle Mike gave her a sip of his Mountain Dew, “I like it!”

This week we read the chapter on Simplicity.  I love, love, love to journal, so as I read I write down what reaches out and tugs on my heart or challenges my mind.  There were three quotes that I wrote down.  This first one challenged my heart and mind:

“The person who does not seek the Kingdom of God first does not seek it at all.”  Go ahead and reread that quote.

I spent time cross referencing the Kingdom of God (on my new favorite website www.biblos.com) and learned a few interesting facts.

  • Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  The “things”, food and clothing, were clearly stated in the previous verses.  God’s righteousness goes along with His Kingdom.
  • I Corinthians 6:9- “…the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
  • John 18:36- God’s Kingdom is not on earth; it is somewhere else
  • Matthew 25:34- His Kingdom is for us! It has been our inheritance since the creation of the world.
  • Mark 1:15- Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news.”  I’m no Bible scholar, but it sounds to me like Jesus is the Kingdom of God.  He announced this in Galilee right when started His ministry.
  • Mark 8:31-9:1- Jesus was first talking to the disciples about His death, then to a crowd about salvation and He told the people if they were ashamed of Him in this world, “…the Son of Man will be ashamed of you when He comes in His Father’s glory.  And He said to them, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the Kingdom of God has come with power.”  Did the Kingdom of God come with power when Jesus was crucified?

What response do you have to the original quote I shared:  “The person who does not seek the Kingdom of God first does not seek it at all”?  Does it stir a craving to seek God’s Kingdom first, before the things in this world that rob us of simplicity?  What do you seek first?  Take some time, grab a piece of paper and process through that question. Go one step further and write out your weekly commitments and schedule specific times each day to “Seek God’s Kingdom”. This challenge comes from Bill Hybel’s message at Willow Creek Community Church on February 24, 2013.  Here is the link for the entire series. The message I referred to was week 2: http://media.willowcreek.org/weekend/simplify/#content

Don’t think I forgot about the other two quotes I mentioned from the book.  I’ll post more on those soon.

XO, Michelle