Category Archives: Simplicity

Don’t consult your greed

scrooge mc duckEpic. Strategic. Helpful. Wise.

Max Lucado’s chapter “Don’t consult your greed” contains some of the best life advice that we could ever receive!

Here’s his punch line: when attempting to identify your ‘sweet spot’ don’t consult your greed. The God-ordained niche for your life will be outrageously significant; however, it probably won’t satisfy every greedy longing in your soul.

Mine won’t be fully satisfied either—no one’s greed ever is. As Epicurus, Greek philosopher from 300 BC, noted, “Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” Similarly, when John D. Rockefeller was asked, “How much money does it take to satisfy a man?” he replied, “Just a little more.”[1]

Perhaps your sweet spot will provide a comfortable living for you, but perhaps it won’t. Some people get paid to pursue their sweet spot, while others touch that place through volunteering. The primary goal is not to get rich by doing what we love, but rather to passionately and honorably pursue what we love, and then practice contentment with its results. Indeed, some people in their longing for more have accepted job “promotions” that have elevated them right out of their sweet spot. Consequently, rather than doing what they love, and learning to be content therein, they have gained a little “more” but have become miserably out-of-place along the way.

I know this perspective flies in the face of our American quest for “more,” and yet I wonder if our longing for more has caused us to become negligent or ungrateful for what we currently possess. Remember, Jesus said that tomorrow’s promotion is often tied to faithfulness today. “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 13:12).

Success is not defined by position or pay scale, but by doing what we do best as often as we possibly can.[2]

Grace Church summer reading program, The Cure for the Common Life, Chapter Five: “Don’t consult your greed.”

[1] Max Lucado, The Cure for the Common Life, Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2005, 43.

[2] Ibid., 47.

Eating Summer

Have you started yet?kids eating ice cream

My brother, Cheyenne, recently posted a picture of himself swimming up out of a pool with his mouth opened wide for a bite. His caption read: “I’m eating summer.”

I hope you’ve been doing that too. Whether or not you’re fortunate enough to have an official summer vacation, I hope you’ve been able to savor the taste of evening walks, bicycle rides, warm morning devotions, day trips to Newport Beach, and moonlit conversations under the Tiki Torches.

Summer is a complex season. For some, it’s so busy that’s it’s gone before it even begins, while for others it’s a crash pad where they try to recoup from a year of overcrowded schedules and workloads. Some people hang all of their hopes for fun on a measly one or two-week getaway, others expect the whole season to be fun, tropical, and memorable, while somehow remaining affordable.

We sure put a lot of pressure on our summers.

I think our summers might be a little healthier if we approached them with some specific objectives.

Stay on mission even while we take a break. Even while we plan our weekends away and set out to enjoy some well-deserved leisure time, let’s not forget our calling to love and care for our world, and let’s not forget the suffering people who we’re growing attached to through our ministries and our reading of The Hole in our Gospel. Staying on mission won’t diminish our sense of fun it will enhance it and keep it in a healthier perspective.

Don’t let the mission keep you from taking a break. Just as we shouldn’t abandon the mission when we pause for a break, neither should we allow the needs of the mission to cancel our break. Rest—do you remember what “rest” is—was God’s idea, and if we allow ourselves to drink deeply of His Sabbath rest we will be much more likely to stay on mission for the long haul.

Finally, eat a bite of summer every day.

My Buddhist goal for the summer

kobe_philI just finished Phil Jackson’s basketball memoir, Eleven Rings: the Soul of Success, and in it he espoused the Buddhist philosophy of learning to live in the moment. According to Phil (who probably knows a thing or two about basketball), it is essential for successful basketball teams to stay highly focused in each moment of activity. Even the slightest distraction can result in disastrous turnovers and missed opportunities.

If the ability to live in the moment is important for winning a basketball game, I wonder how important it is for winning at life?

In recent years I’ve become tragically inept at living in the moment. In my desire to reach my personal goals and remain highly productive, I have developed the bad habit of never being fully present in a given moment.

  • When I’m coaching soccer, I think about my work that’s piling up.
  • When I’m studying, I feel like I’m not taking enough appointments.
  • During appointments, I fear that I haven’t studied enough.
  • When I’m with my family, my mind races with ideas for my job, and when I’m at my job, I lament the fact that I spend so much time away from my family.

Something needs to change.

Martyred missionary, Jim Elliot, once said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live every experience you believe to be the will of God to the hilt.”

That’s how I want to live this summer—to the hilt! Whether I’m praying, preaching, counseling, surfing, getting sun burned, or enjoying quiet moments with my family, I want to be all there.

I’m probably not alone with these issues so let’s make this a collective summer goal: to honor God and our loved ones by savoring each moment as it comes instead of ever rushing towards the next task, goal, or event.

Lamps or Lasers

The 2.7 meter Harlan J. Smith Telescope of the...

D.L. Moody once said, “Give me a man who says, ‘This one thing I do’ not ‘these fifty things I dabble in.’”

He was highlighting the incredible power of focus. The only difference between a flashlight that emits a flickering glow and a laser that can cut through steel is focus.

Successful Christian living demands that we consecrate (set ourselves apart for our purpose) and then concentrate with an unshakable focus.

Living a focused life doesn’t mean that we’re ultra serious about everything and never enjoy any hobbies or activities. It simply means that we’ve identified our priorities and we don’t deviate very far from them. We may have a wide array of interests and passions, but we know where we ultimately need to hone in with a laser-like intensity.

We don’t need to be a laser in every area. Flashlights serve a definite purpose, and it definitely wouldn’t do well to shine a laser in to the eyes of a stumbling camper at night; however, to succeed where it matters most in life requires focus.

It’s been said that if we chase two rabbits, both will get away. Let’s not chase distracting trivia. Let’s be like the Apostle Paul who said, “One thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

How to not be disappointed on vacation

English: Mavericks Surf Contest 2010. Français...

English: Mavericks Surf Contest 2010. Français : Édition 2010 du concours de surf de Mavericks. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many times have you heard someone say, “We need a vacation to recover from our vacation”? How many times have YOU said that? Certainly there are reports of the perfect vacation where the time away exceeded expectations; however, it’s more common to try to cram a year’s worth of fun in to a couple of weeks, and then end up experiencing a mixture of stress and disappointment, while vowing to do it differently the next time around.

Here are a few suggestions on how to not be disappointed on a vacation:

  1. Don’t suspend your daily devotions—the biblical purpose of times of rest is to restore our connection to God.
  2. Set realistic expectations—your visit with the kids and the in-laws won’t be a repeat of that time you were alone in Mexico…
  3. Don’t pack too much in—leave a little margin to catch your breath on either side of your days away.
  4. Don’t suspend the routines that bring happiness to your every day life—if you’re a morning person who loves to jog, then wake up early and enjoy your run.
  5. Try to integrate “vacation” in to your every day life—if we can maintain a rhythm of worship, work, rest, and play in our daily lives, then our vacations are less likely to be rushed attempts at recovering what we’ve lost throughout the year.
  6. Surf. Enough said.

Time is my friend

Have you noticed that time keeps passing by, regardless of what we do with it?

Mickey Mouse Watch 1959

Image by Wasabi Bob via Flickr

In the middle of this crazy, fast-paced world of ours, I seldom hear people expressing gratitude and respect for the gift of time. More often than not, time seems to represent something that we are fighting against or that we have too little of. We’re stressed because we’re out of time, or we’re fighting to make the most of our time.

I get all of that—I am huge in to time-management principles, and, having lost a loved one in her childhood, I am all too aware of how fleeting our time here on earth really is. Even so, I sometimes think that we approach the concept of time all wrong.

Time is our friend.

  • It allows our failures to fade in to the sunset, and it gives us the hope of redeeming things that have been lost.
  • If we squander it today, a fresh twenty-four hours will greet us tomorrow, and we’ll have a chance to spend it more carefully than we did the day before.
  • If we use it wisely today, it will compound and pay great dividends in the future (in MANY more areas than just finances).

When Bill Philips, author of Body for Life, is urging people to take his twelve-week physical fitness challenge, he says: “At the end of twelve weeks will you say, ‘I wish I would have’ or ‘I’m glad I did’?”

What will we say at the end of our life? Right now, time is our friend. Let’s treat it as such so that when it’s over we won’t be wishing we “would have,” but instead will hear the words “well done” coming down to us from heaven (Matthew 25:21).

A blank page

You should see her. Her blue eyes twinkle, her lips part in a mischievous smile, and she turns her body slightly so I can’t quite see what she’s drawing. She’s cleared the table and given herself plenty of room to spread out her crayons, markers, and pencil sharpener. I asked her what she was going to draw and her only response was a knowing smirk—I’m not even sure she’s decided yet. She’s just glorying in all of the potential of a clean, unspoiled, blank page.

The sixteen Crayola "glitter" specia...

Image via Wikipedia

Madelyn’s paper is a lot like a New Year—a chance to start over and allow God to begin writing out His goals and aspirations for our lives. I wonder what He will do with us this year? I wonder who we’ll meet? I wonder if this will be the year that some of our dreams come true? Maybe some of our deepest prayers have been post-marked for 2012! We can’t control what God will write on the pages of this New Year—but we can decide on several things:

  • We can decide to give Him the pen
  • We can commit to follow whatever marching orders He writes out for us
  • And we can choose to look away from the wrinkly, smudged pages of last year and start hoping and believing for His good plans to be accomplished in 2012!

God bless you seek God’s plan and purpose for you during this holiday season and beyond!