Large and In Charge

Welcome to Journey 4 – Large and In Charge

Continue your Omniallinfinitude™ Journey Here

 

Large and In Charge is the fourth of the twelve Omniallinfinitude™ Journeys.  Each Journey is presented through 16 blog posts.  Even though we are now pausing or blogging a different Journey,  we highly recommend completing the journeys in order at your own pace.

Each Journey is made up of Journey Elements  (click for more information).  You can also view or download the PDF version of this Journey by clicking the Large and In Charge graphic at the top of the right sidebar.

 

Here’s how to participate:

  1. Read each blog post in the order they were posted.
  2. Complete the Journey Elements contained in each post.  Each Journey covers one attribute group and one spiritual practice.  All of the Elements relate to these in some way.
  3. Return to the Blog Post – we encourage you to comment based on the specific assignment.  Read other’s comments and engage in an online conversation.  These posts and comments are ongoing.
  4. For more information see How Does This Work on the Main Omni page.
  5. Then move on to the next post.  You can access the individual post pages from the top menu bar under Journey Elements,  or by clicking the links below in this post.
  6. When you complete a Journey – move on to the next Journey.  The format and Element structure will be the same in all the Journeys.
  7. Each Journey will also have its own blog,  and each post will have its own page,  in addition to appearing in the complete blog.  This will make it easier to complete the blog at your own speed,  as well as for others who start later.   We will eventually have 12 active blogs with people participating in all of them at the same time.

 

Complete the Blog Posts below in this order:

Click on the links to go to the individual blog posts with their respective comments.  Once you click to the Journal pages, scroll up to get to the beginning of the blog post.  Each Journal post will also appear on the Journey Element Page that it follows.  For example,  Journal 4.1 will appear on the same page and directly under Remember and Read.

 

Large and In Charge: What comes to your mind?

Large and In Charge 1: Remember and Read

Large and In Charge 2: Journal 4.1 – Collision Course

Large and In Charge 3: Analyze – Making It Personal

Large and In Charge 4: Journal 4.2 – Control Freaks

Large and In Charge 5: Investigate – Sovereign and Omnipotent 10 Things

Large and In Charge 6: Journal 4.3 – Well, What do you know?

Large and In Charge 7: Practice – Simplicity and Slowing and Why?

Large and In Charge 8: Journal 4.4 – The Big “But”…

Large and In Charge 9: Inventory – Your Stuff

Large and In Charge 10: Journal 4.5 – Look in the Mirror

Large and In Charge 11: Adventuring – Clean Sweep

Large and In Charge 12: Journal 4.6 – It’s Not Over ’til it’s Over

Large and In Charge 13: More Cool Stuff – Evil FAQs

Large and In Charge 14: Journal 4.7 – Nitty Gritty

Large and In Charge 15: Lyrics

Large and In Charge 16: Closure

 

While we encourage you to leave Comments,  we totally understand if you want to participate anonymously.  This format also works well for small groups meeting in person.  It’s ok to print out the PDF – just remember to keep a copy on your computer so you can use the links.

 

Credits for quotes,  music,  lyrics and videos appear in the Credits section in the back of the PDF.   Omniallinfinitude™ material may be reproduced as long as credit is given.  There is no fee for using this material.

 

Enjoy the Journey…..take your time….but take the Journey!

 

Large and In Charge – What comes to mind?

What comes to your mind?

 

It seems there’s always been someone bigger – telling us what to do
Dad or Mom,  and older siblings,
Then teachers,  playground bullies,  coaches,  cops and bosses,
And even self-help gurus,  TV commentators,  internet bloggers and politicians.

 

 

They tell us how to act and vote,  where to live,  what to eat,  buy and think,  how much to pay,  and who to hang out with.
They have the power to take our money,  our children,  our jobs,  our spirits,  and our lives.

 

 

We think of Generals and Tyrants,
Bouncers and Bodyguards,
Presidents and CEO’s,
Gang Leaders and King Makers,
All potential Knights in Shining Armor – the Leaders of the Pack.

 

We look to them for rescue and protection,  provision and inspiration.
But often all we get is restriction,  and intimidation,  dependence,  and desperation.
Fear breeds suspicion,  so we keep our heads down
Hoping to survive,  as we wait for the other shoe to drop – on us.

 

 

We pray for somebody,  anybody,  who will lead from the front,
Sacrificing themselves,  taking ownership and making the tough decisions,
Instead – we get thrown under the bus,  while they blame others and make excuses

 

 

We yearn for someone to rise to the occasion,  someone good in a crisis,
Instead – we get  “Off with their Heads”  and  “My Way or the Highway”,
While they cover up and try to be all things to all people,
At least for the photo ops.

 

We don’t need the Wizard of Oz,
We need a real King!
One who looks out for our best interests,  who will be the wind beneath our wings,
One who will fight for us,  empower us,  believe in us –
Not use us,  chew us up and spit us out,  tossing us aside when we serve no further purpose.
Holding us down,  holding us back,  keeping us under their thumbs.

 

 

Next to Large – we feel small and inadequate,  powerless,  insignificant.
If we’re not In Charge – we get nervous,  fearful,  stubborn,  and selfish.
But what if there’s One who really is concerned about us,
What’s beneficial for us,  what’s best for us,

 

 

Who knows where we’re going and what we’ll need to get there?
Who has only goodwill towards us and is oh – so – patient.
He lets us learn the hard way – that our way…..is not always the right way.
And then….He gets in the wayin order to show us the way.

 

He’s everything we ever wanted,  and needed,  and hoped for.
He has no competition – The Buck Stops with Him.
He has the Final Word – and presides over the Court of Last Resort.
He is Large and In Charge.
And we’re not – and that’s a good thing.

 

COMMENTS:

 (In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Before you begin Journey 4,  what comes to your mind when you ponder Large and In Charge?

 

Large and In Charge 1: Remember and Read

remember

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,”  declares the Lord,  “plans to prosper you and not to harm you,  plans to give you a hope and a future.” (NIV)

 

Additional verses to remember :

Romans 8:28 – We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,  who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

Job 42:2 – I know that you can do all things,  no plan of yours can be thwarted. (NIV)

Genesis 50:20 – You intended to harm me,  but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done,   the saving of many lives. (NIV)

Acts 17: 26-27 – From one man he made every nation of men,  that they should inhabit the whole earth;  and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so men would seek him and find him and perhaps reach out to him,  though he is not far from each one of us. (NIV)

 

We always begin by memorizing the theme verse for each journey  (including Book, Chapter and Verse).  Think of this as the necessary foundation for future excellence – like practicing scales on the piano or doing wind sprints or swimming laps,  or taking your vitamins,  or eating your vegetables.

What is that I hear? – OH NO!  Not memorization….

We actually recall or remember all kinds of things we’ve memorized without really even trying.  Can you think of any?

How about your phone number,  email address,  street address,  zip code,  social security number,  birthday,  names of your family,  how to get to work,  how to drive a car,  that secret recipe….or how to spell or multiply,  song lyrics,  movie scenes,  jokes,  what someone was wearing,  what car they drove,  sports statistics,  what chocolate tastes like,  what the ocean smells like,  and on and on.

That’s why we call this element Remember – it’s the remembering that is important.

 

Why do we remember what we remember?

Actually,  recollection is just the tip of the memory iceberg.  Within our marvelous and mysterious brain the memory works in collaboration with us and the world – it uses all our senses and emotions.  We associate smells,  colors,  places,  rituals,  symbols,  landmarks,  even people,  with memories and when we sense the trigger,  we remember.

For now you will just have to take my word for it – there are tremendous spiritual benefits from Remembering Bible verses:

  • Strengthens our faith
  • Shapes how we view the world
  • Makes God’s Word immediately accessible
  • Guards our minds

Here are some hints to help you get started.  We all learn differently – so don’t be afraid to try some of the more unusual methods.  Plus – some of them are just plain fun.  And not only do we need to remember the verse,  we need to remember to work on remembering the verse….double whammy!

  • Write the verse on several post it notes or index cards and put it where you will see it such as the car,  the bathroom mirror,  the kitchen sink,  a bulletin board,  your computer screen saver,  your cell phone,  your Facebook status,  by your bed…..Or use one of the many Scripture Memory APPs now available for phones and tablets.  Scripture Typer is one of our favorites.
  • Make plans to spend five minutes,  twice a day  (usually as you get up and before bed)  to review.  Review often…..
  • Say it slowly,  15 times in a row,  emphasizing each word.
  • If you have already learned it in another translation,  review that one.  Once you know it in one,  look it up in a couple of others to see what is different.
  • Review it when you are waiting in line,  or on hold on the phone.
  • Sing it – make up a tune to go with it,  or say it with an accent.
  • Rap it,  paint it,  draw it,  doodle it,  or diagram it like in Pictionary
  • For extra credit,  add the verse before and the verse after.

I like to think of this remember process as Texting or Tweeting My Brain and then having my brain Text or Tweet me back.

 

Also,  remember there is a downloadable PDF available for this Journey – click on the graphic at the top of the right sidebar.  You can download it and save it on your computer where it will link to the online Bible,  a dictionary,  the videos and the songs for this Journey.  You can also type into it and of course you can print it out.  We highly encourage – however you chose to record your discoveries and experiences – everyone to periodically comment online and read each other’s comments.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

Don’t forget the REMEMBER verses from Journeys 1, 2 and 3 – What were they?  Keep reviewing them daily.  Try to use them in conversation and to encourage others.

 

read

 Psalms 23, 24, 91, 139

(you can change translations after you click the blue chapter links to read in other translations)

 

Please read through these four chapters in one sitting,  on three separate days;  once from a modern translation,  once in a modern paraphrase,  and then finally with a pad and pencil by as you record your thoughts and observations.  It is also helpful to read the selections aloud.  As you read,  underline words that describe who God is or the names He is called.  The blue Bible Chapter links above will bring up an online Bible and you can change the translation to whatever you want.

This element is about reading what it says – try to put aside any preconceived ideas about what you think it says,  or what you may have concluded based on other studies or classes.  We are not saying those ideas are wrong,  but for this Element,  we just want to read it as if for the first time.  Please read for the storyline – and see if you can then faithfully retell it in your own words.

 

Since you cannot type into this blog – we suggest you record your answers in a journal or download/print the PDF version.

First Reading:  Modern Translation – which one did you use?

Second Reading:  Modern Paraphrase – which one did you use?

Third Reading:  Reading Notes

Psalm 23:

Psalm 24:

Psalm 91:

Psalm 139:

Descriptions of God:

Names used for God:

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.)

Share with us any names or descriptions of God you discovered.  Also share any personal observations or experiences from just reading to see what it says.

Our next blog post will be Large and In Charge 2: Journal 4.1 – Collision Course

 

Large and In Charge 2: Journal 4.1 – Collision Course

 

Let’s catch up… God,  the transcendent One,  has revealed Himself to us
He’s left Proof of Life everywhere –  otherwise known as general revelation.

We choose What we believe and How we respond to this revelation
This becomes our Worldview – whether we realize it or not.

Our Worldview impacts all areas of our life.

 

Because General Revelation can only take us as far as Theism
God provided The Bible – the Word of God.

The Bible reveals the Rest of the Story…. God’s Special Revelation to Us
ALL we need to know about the Triune,  Almighty,  One and Only God of Christianity.

The Bible is true,  grounded in history,  trustworthy,  unique and accurate.
The probability that the prophecies it records would come true … which they have… is astronomical.
It’s inspired by God and as such it becomes worthy of study and belief.

 

Our journey so far has revealed that the transcendent One and Only God – the God of the Bible
is also infinite,  eternal,  immutable and omnipresent.

Or in simpler words,  He exists beyond and outside of time and space,  there are no limits to any of his attributes.

We live in space traveling through time.

He created both and lives beyond them,  which allows Him to be everywhere,  at the same time,  in all time.  He never changes because change comes within time.

That brings us to this point.

Now we start to get personal as God’s attributes and our lives collide.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

In what ways have you experienced or do you believe God impacts your life?
Of the attributes of God we have studied so far,  which one has caused your view of God to change the most?
Explain the concept that all the attributes apply to all the other attributes.  Can you give a few examples?

Our next blog post will be Large and In Charge 3: Analyze – Making It Personal.

 

Large and In Charge 3: Analyze – Making It Personal

analyze

Making it Personal

 

Pick one of the four Psalms from this week’s Reading  (Psalms 23, 24, 91 or 139.)

Your Psalm:

Next give it a Title:

 

Now answer the following questions about the Psalm you chose. 

  1. What does it say about God?
  1. What does it say about you and mankind in general?
  1. Is it true for you?

 

Next, pick a couple of verses from the same Psalm.  Ask and answer your own “Do I?” questions.

See the examples below:

Example:  Psalms 91: 2 – I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge,  and my fortress,  my God,  in whom I trust.”

Is this true for me?

Do I say this of the Lord?

How is He my refuge and fortress?

How Do I trust in Him?

Example:  Psalms 139: 17-18 – How precious to me are your thoughts,  O God!  How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, t hey would outnumber the grains of sand.  When I awake,  I am still with you.

Is this true for me?

Do I even think about God’s thoughts?

What do I think about when I first wake in the morning?

 

What verse did you choose?

What are your  “Do I?” questions and answers?

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post.) 

Share your answers to the above questions and what impact the process of Making It Personal has had on your ability to see how the Bible relates to your own life.  What parts of this were challenging to you?  Our next blog post will be Large and In Charge 4: Journal 4.2 – Control Freaks.

 

Large and In Charge 4: Journal 4.2 – Control Freaks

 

Ahh….Freedom….

We all yearn for it,  demand it,  try to control it,  fight for it

We protest for it,  even die for it.

We are all control freaks

We were created with free will;  the ability to choose,  to go our own way,  to be stubborn,  to make the same mistake over and over,  to not listen to the benefit of another’s wisdom,  and to suffer the logical consequences of our actions……

And then there is God,  who has the ultimate freedom to do what He wills,  unhindered.

No one can compel Him or stop Him.

He does not need permission,  all authority is His,  it all belongs to Him.

He can do what He wants with it.  It’s His stuff.

 

Yes,  He is in control and He has a Plan:  the only plan and He is working it.
He governs His creation like a King but provides sustenance and love like a Father
He establishes rules and laws and rewards and punishments
Yet,  His Sovereignty is tempered by his grace,  love and mercy as well as his wrath and justice.
He is permissive,  long suffering,  but in the end,  His holiness will win out.
He is Absolutely Sovereign and this requires all authority,  power,  knowledge and wisdom.

 

Of all the attributes,  we have the most trouble with this one because we want to be in control over our own lives and think we know better.

So the battle between the Free Will of man and the Sovereignty of God continues.

Who is really in control?

Are there limits on our free will,  the amount of good or evil we can create?

 

Since we are finite beings there are limits to the havoc we can cause.  But as great as our ability is to effect evil,  so is our ability to do good.  And yet,  we are only free to exercise our free will because God IS in total control.  A God less than sovereign would be afraid to let us do so.

 

Remember,  free will is only the freedom to choose which side we will be on,  but not the freedom to negotiate the results of that choice.  We may repent a wrong choice and alter the consequences by making a new choice.  But that is as far as we can go.

 

Human choices can never obstruct the purposes of a sovereign God.  In fact,  He uses the free choices of humans to accomplish His purposes.

 

COMMENT:

 (In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

What kinds of things cause you to doubt whether God is sovereign?  Why?
In what ways do we judge God’s sovereignty and control?  What information or perspective does He have that we don’t?
If we really believed God is sovereign,  how would our behavior change?

Our next blog post will be Large and In Charge 5: Investigate – Sovereign and Omnipotent and 10 Things.

 

Large and In Charge 5: Investigate – Sovereign and Omnipotent and 10 Things

investigate

Sovereign and Omnipotent

 

Define:  Please write a brief definition for each word below in your journal or the PDF using a regular dictionary,  not a Bible dictionary.

(Click on any word to link to dictionary.com for the word’s definition) 

 

∞      Sovereign

∞      Rule

∞      Providence

∞      Authority

∞      Will

∞      Control

∞      Almighty

∞      Omnipotent

∞      Create

∞      Power

∞      Knowledge

∞      Information

∞      Omniscience

∞      Wisdom

∞      Discretion

∞      Discernment

 

Now write your own definition for Large and In Charge.

Share it as a COMMENT.

 

Review:

 Read the verses below and then make the two lists below in your own journal or the PDF:

What God Knows and What God Can Do

 

(click on each verse to read online)

Deut. 32: 39-41 Isaiah 42:16 Luke 1: 37
Job 21: 22 Isaiah 44: 6-8 John 21: 17
Job  33: 26 Isaiah 45: 7, 12-13 Acts 17: 26
Job 42: 2 Isaiah 46: 9-10 I Cor. 2: 11
Psalms 33: 9-10. 13-15 Daniel 2: 21-22 Ephesians 1: 19-20
Psalms 94: 11 Daniel 4: 35 Ephesians 3: 10-11
Psalms 135: 6-12 Amos 5: 8 2 Timothy 2:19
Psalms 139: 1-4, 13-14 Nahum 1: 3-5 Hebrews 1: 3
Psalm 147: 5 Mark 10: 27 Hebrews 4:13
Proverbs 3: 19-20

 

Conclude:

Record the answers to the following questions based on the two lists you made above.

(either as a Comment below, or in your own journal or the PDF)

What does God know in general?

What does God know about mankind?

What does God know about you?

What can God do in general?

What can God do with respect to mankind?

What can God do with respect to you?

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your journal,  or the Comment section for this post.)

Share your definition for Large and In Charge.  Then share some of your answers to the questions in the Conclude section for this post.

 

 

10 things

Large and In Charge

 

  1. El Shadday is the Hebrew name for God translated God Almighty,  the one for whom nothing is impossible.   The literal translation is  “God,  the Mountain One”  and just like the mountains,  God is seen as strong and unchanging.   God is not only seen as the creator and maintainer of the universe,  but also the One who keeps His promises to his people.
  1. Adonay is the Hebrew name for God translated Sovereign Lord or Lord God.  This is the God of all power  and strength,  the One who is in charge,  who sees the beginning from the end,  who watches over us,  sustains us,  and knows what is best for us.
  1. There are some things God cannot do.  He cannot lie,  tempt us to do evil,  or deny Himself.  He cannot do anything that is inconsistent with His nature and purposes.
  1. J. I. Packer “Wisdom without power would be pathetic…power  without wisdom would be frightening.  God’s wisdom is not,  and never was,  pledged to keep a fallen world happy,  or to make ungodliness comfortable.”
  1. A. W. Tozer – “Because God knows all things perfectly,  He knows no thing better than any other,  but all things equally well.  He never discovers anything.  He is never surprised,  never amazed.  He never wonders about anything nor  (except when drawing men out for their own good)  does He seek information or ask questions.”
  1. Stephen Charnock – “The power of God is that ability and strength whereby He can bring to pass whatsoever He pleases,  whatsoever His infinite wisdom may direct…..God’s power is like Himself:  infinite,  eternal,  incomprehensible;  it can neither be checked,  restrained or frustrated by man.”
  1. Arthur W. Pink – “Before man can work he must have both his tools and materials,  but God began with nothing, and by his word alone out of nothing made all things.”
  1. David L. Hocking – “The circumstances of our lives are all known to Him,  not only in terms of the event that is happening,  but also in terms of why it happens.”
  1. A. W. Tozer – “Science observes how the power of God operates,  discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a “law”.  The trustworthiness of God’s behavior in his world is the foundation of all scientific truth…Religion,  on the other hand,  goes back to the nature of God and is concerned with the One who is the source of all things,  the master of every phenomenon.”
  1. Wisdom is choosing the right means,  to the right ends,  for the right reasons.  In God’s case it involves infinite power,  knowledge and all authority.  He never needs to ask permission or apologize for making a “mistake”.   His ultimate Glory and our ultimate Good are His eternal purposes.

References for the above quotes can be found in the back of the PDF version of Large and In Charge.

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your journal,  or the Comment section of this post.

Pick one or two of the above quotes or statements and share any insights or challenges it presents to you.

Continue to review the Remember Verses and make sure you are up to date on all the prior postings.

Our next blog post will be Large and In Charge 6:  Journal 4.3 – Well, What do you know?


 

Large and In Charge 6: Journal 4.3 – Well, What do you know?

 

God knows it all – everything.  He’s omniscient.

He knows the future,  the purposes of everything in all time and beyond.  He knows you and me and Himself perfectly.  He has all the answers, all the time.

He knows Why and the answer to every question you’ve ever asked.  He also knows those who belong to Him,  the true believers,  as well as every sin ever committed,  and everything we have ever done or thought or will do or think.  He knows what is going on in the spiritual realms and He knows what is going on in Heaven.

All knowledge belongs to Him.  (1 Cor. 2:11I John 3:20Ps. 139:1-4Acts 1:24,  Jer.16:172 Tim. 2:19)

 

God can also do anything anytime,  anywhere.  He is omnipotent,  all powerful.

Nothing is too hard for Him,  He doesn’t need our help.  But he only acts in ways that are consistent with His nature He only does what is meaningful and possible.  (Matt.4:1-11)

 

You could say there are some things God does not do – ever:

 

Wisdom is choosing the right means,  to the right ends,  for the right reasons and requires the ability to see the end from the beginning and everything in proper relation and focus.

No one can do this like God.

An all powerful,  all knowing God adds His perfect wisdom,  then creates both the means and the ends worthy of Himself.  He orders events to obtain the highest goals and purposes with flawless perfection.

 

The Goal of His wisdom is to order the events of our lives for a double purpose:

  • Our Good – reclaiming the image of God in our being – Rom. 8:28
  • His Glory – fulfilling our appointed purpose in the lives of people of God –  I Cor.10:31

The question then becomes,  not so much Can He do it?,  but Will He do it?

The can is omnipotence,  the will is wisdom.

 

Perfect Power used with Perfect Knowledge governed by Perfect Wisdom

Allows a Sovereign God to rule his creation

Perfectly.

 

COMMENT:

(In the PDF,  your journal,  or the Comment section for this post.)

If we really believed God is omnipotent,  how would it change our behavior?
Once again,  if we really believed God is omniscient,  how would it change our behavior? 
And finally,  if we really believed God was all wise how would it change our behavior?

Our next blog post will be Large and In Charge 7:  Practice – Simplicity and Slowing.

 

Large and In Charge 7: Practice – Simplicity and Slowing and Why?

practice

Simplicity and Slowing

 

The Spiritual Practices put us in a place where we are better able to interact with our environment and God.  Then God can reach inside our spirits and transform them.  Just as our body needs to eat,  breathe,  exercise,  drink,  sleep,  etc.,  so our spiritual self needs to make sure it is being sustained,  cared for,  and trained.  The results include spiritual growth,  a life controlled by the Holy Spirit,  evidence of the fruit of the spirit, and the ultimate goal – living life like Jesus did.

The Spiritual Practices are not:

  • Meritorious laws that earn favor with God
  • A way to show how spiritually mature we are
  • Unpleasant or difficult

Instead, they are:

  • Intentional
  • Activities we do that when practiced allow us to do activities we cannot now do.
  • Adaptable to work with our temperaments and gifts
  • Adjustable according to the rhythm and seasons of our lives

 

There are two kinds: 

Abstinence –  when we stop doing something that is perfectly normal to allow ourselves to focus more on God,  His Word,  and growing in godliness.  These also help us resist our tendency toward sins of commission  (when we do something we shouldn’t do).  We withdraw to breathe in all that God can provide to us,  breaking the hold that the world has on our lives.  Practices of Abstinence help ready us and create room for the Practices of Engagement.

Engagement – when we do certain activities that help us grow in Christ and obey his commandments.  The Practices of Abstinence have opened up the time and broken up the preoccupations so we are now free to learn of,  focus on,  and practice those things that God commands us to do.  These assist in keeping us from our tendency toward sins of omission (not doing the things we should do).  We engage to breathe out all that God commands us.

This Journey Element requires more time than most to complete so break it down into sections.  The three opportunities to Comment provide obvious breaking points. 

 

Simplicity

Focusing on the One Thing

 

Before we discover what Simplicity is,  we need to rule out what it isn’t.   It is not The Simple Life.  It is not selling all your possessions and living in a cave somewhere.  It is not taking a vow of poverty.  It is not asceticism. 

 

Seek First

It is focusing on the Kingdom of God,  living out Matt 6: 33,  “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”   It provides perspective,  focus and the ability to prioritize between many good things.  Nothing comes before the Kingdom of God in a lifestyle of simplicity.  We simply cannot serve two masters. 

 

Visibility

Simplicity is one of the most visible practices and as such,  becomes open to corruption,  temptation , and legalism.   We tend to focus more on what others are doing,  or not doing outwardly,  and make judgments as to motives,  when we have no idea what is going on.  Just because someone has been blessed by God with wealth or riches,  should not cause them any guilt or any condemnation from others.  It is the inner attitude that governs the use of the riches that determines whether simplicity is in force.

 

Material Struggle

Simplicity reveals our struggle with the materialism in our society.  If we don’t have it,  we want it.  If we have it,  we want more of it,  or a newer model.   We need to begin to pay attention to why we have things,  and try to stop using them to gratify any desire for status,  control,  or luxury.

 

Trust Issues

Who or what are we trusting in?  Our bank accounts,  stocks,  retirement plans,  jewelry,  cars,  homes,  balance sheets?  Or the One who has provided us with all we have?

 

Ways to Begin to Practice Simplicity

Simplicity is a lifestyle attitude and will often only be known to you and God.  Here are some ways to begin to refocus on the One thing.  Give it time.

  1. The next time you want to buy something nonessential,  stop and pray about it.  Ask God to either provide it for you or to take away the desire for it.  Then wait and see what happens.  What happened?
  2. Try #1 with something essential.  What happened?
  3. Is there anything you own you would struggle with giving away to someone else in need?
  4. What do you have right now that you could and would share with someone in need?
  5. Ask God to reveal to you someone with the need for something you have.  What did you do about it?

 

Personal Reflections on Simplicity: 

  1. Simplicity is a practice of engagement and abstinence – what normal activities could we stop doing that would help us practice simplicity?
  2. Then what kinds of activities could we start doing?
  3. What do you think it means to  “Seek First the Kingdom of God” ?
  4. In what ways are we tempted to legalize or make rules about simplicity?
  5. Many people believe that only the wealthy need to practice simplicity.  How might a less well off person also benefit from it?
  6. Are material struggles and trust issues dependent on how much money or material things you have?  What different kinds of struggles would the Haves and the Have Nots each have?
  7. Simplicity can also apply to other areas of our lives.  Which areas of your life could use a little simplifying?
  8. What struggles or rationalizations do you have with beginning to simplify your life?

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the PDF,  or the Comments section of this post)

Record any insights or struggles,  any new things you learned from this practice of Simplicity as Comments.  Also share some of your answers to the Personal Reflections on Simplicity section and the questions in the Ways to Begin to Practice Simplicity section.

 

Slowing

Obtaining the Unhurried Life 

 

Learning to Wait

Slowing is the practice of cultivating patience by deliberately choosing to place ourselves in positions where we have to wait.  We have become slaves to the pace of our culture,  which with the advent of time saving technology has allowed us to fill our lives with ever increasing demands to go faster so we can get more done,  faster,  so we can then do more things,  faster.   As a result we have less free time,  we are scheduled to the hilt with no margins or buffers for the unexpected,  we are unavailable,  distracted,  multitasked to death,  stressed,  frazzled,  impatient,  angry and afraid. 

 

Unavailable in more ways than one

We would all agree that life is more than just hurrying from one task to another,  but in reality we have no idea how to make it work in our own lives.  Hurry is one of the great enemies of spiritual life.  We have no time for God,  our families,  other people,  for unexpected emergencies or for unexpected encounters with God.  We aren’t looking,  listening or paying attention.  There is no time to help.  We are unavailable.  The Do Not Disturb sign is on the door.

 

 Ways to Begin to Practice Slowing

Here are some suggestions of ways to practice Slowing during this journey unit.   Pick a couple and try to do them as often as possible.

  1. Drive in the slow lane for the entire week.
  2. Chew each bite of food 15 times before swallowing.
  3. Get in the longest line at the grocery store and then let someone go ahead of you.
  4. Don’t wear your watch for a whole day.
  5. Review your calendar or schedule and see if you can plan to leave an entire day or evening with nothing to do. See what God has planned for that time.
  6. Plan realistically.  Say no if there is no realistic way for you to add something into your schedule.  Take into consideration prep time,  driving time,  time to get ready,  etc.
  7. Spend an entire day or evening without using any time saving technology such as microwave,  cell phone,  computer,  tv,  PDA,  email,  etc.
  8. Do something spur of the moment.

 

Personal Reflections on Slowing:

  1. What did you notice about your response to participating in any of the activities above?
  2. What do you have trouble waiting for?  Why do you think that is?
  3. How do you create margins in your life?
  4. What happens when you don’t create margins in your life?
  5. Slowing is a practice of abstinence – you are stopping the rushing,  the hurrying,  the over scheduling of the time in your life – so you can be available.  What could and should you be available for?
  6. Do you ever see delays,  cancellations,  interruptions,  detours,  or changes in plans as divine appointments and not random accidents?  How could this perspective change your attitude?   What kinds of things could God be doing for you or through you?

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the PDF,  or the Comments section of this post)

Record any insights or struggles,  any new things you learned from this practice of Slowing as Comments.  Also share some of your answers to the Personal Reflections on Slowing section and the questions in the Ways to Begin to Practice Slowing section.

 

why?

Simplicity and Slowing

 

PaulBrothers,  I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 3: 13-14

St. Antony – “…both those who have lived in modest circumstances and those who had wealth and fame,  leave this life like an inn,  taking with them no worldly comforts or riches,  but only what they have done in this life,  whether it be good or bad.”

Dallas Willard – “Riches are not holy,  riches are not evil.  They are creations we are to use for God.”

Richard Foster – “Simplicity is the only thing that sufficiently reorients our lives so that possessions can be genuinely enjoyed without destroying us.  Without simplicity we will either capitulate to the “mammom” spirit of this present evil age, or we will fall into an un-Christian asceticism.   Both lead to idolatry.   Both are spiritually lethal.”

Wealth is not for spiritual neophytes. 

John Ortberg – “ We have largely traded wisdom for information,  depth for breadth.  We want to microwave maturity.”

Meyer Friedman – “Hurry sickness is,  above all,  a continuous struggle and unremitting attempt to accomplish or achieve more and more things or participate in more and more events in less and less time,  frequently in the face of opposition,  real or imagined from other persons.”

John Ortberg – “Hurry is a disordered heart”.

Busyness boosts our self-esteem.   We think it proves how needed,  significant and important we are.  We wear it like a badge of honor.

There will be seasons of busyness,  but they should be short lived and the exception rather than the rule.

The opposite of simplicity is anxiety.

 Jesus“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  Luke 10: 41-42

References for the above quotes can be found in the back of the PDF version of Large and In Charge.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the PDF,  or the Comments section of this post)

Pick one or two of the above quotes or statements and share any insights or challenges it presents to you.

The next post is Large and In Charge 8: Journal 4.4 – The Big “But”….

 

Large and In Charge 8: Journal 4.4 – The Big “But”….

 

Wait for it….It always comes up……The BIG question… “But what about________ ?”:

  • The Holocaust,  Stalin,  Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • The Killing Fields of Cambodia 
  • Bosnia,  Rwanda,  the Sudan
  • Earthquakes,  tsunamis,  volcanic eruptions,  drought,  famine
  • Katrina and 911
  • Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot, Idi Amin
  • AIDs,  Cancer,  Poverty,  Hunger,  Homelessness,  Mental Illness
  • Divorce,  Infidelity,  Lies,  Bankruptcy,  Debt
  • Rape,  Child Abuse,  Domestic Violence,  Murder,  Serial Killers
  • Crime,  Greed,  War,  Corruption,  Slander
  • Hatred,  Death,  Destruction,  Despair,  Suicide
  • Fill in your own example

 

What about evil ?……. if God is Sovereign?

Here are some common questions:

  • If God is all-powerful why did he create a world with evil in it?
  • Why can’t God just stop evil and keep people from suffering?
  • What has God done about evil?
  • Obviously God is not really in control,  or if He is allowing it,  He must not be loving or good.
  • Who can believe in a God like that?

 

The answers to these questions begin at the beginning in Genesis.

So why didn’t God create a world without evil? He did.

Originally creation was good – it was paradise.  (Gen. 1-2)  There are no evil molecules or matter – and that is still true today.

Then He created mankind.   And Mankind wasn’t just good,  they were very goodGen. 1:31

Made in God’s image,  with high intellect and reasoning capacity,  mankind was the crown of His creation and He gave them something very special that nothing else in creation had. (Gen 1:27)

 

(c) Don Mason/CORBUS

 

He created them with Free Will – the ability to choose,  to make moral decisions – ultimately offering them the ability to experience the highest good – choosing to love and obey God,  living with Him forever in paradise.

 

But – one thing,  only one thing,  were they told NOT to do – eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  If they did this,  they would die.  They were warned.  They already had access to the Tree of Life,  which provided them everything they needed for life with God.  (Gen.2:16-17)

 

 

You know the story – all was paradise until the serpent approached Eve with his lies and convinced her it was ok to eat of the very tree God had forbidden.  The serpent appealed to her desires as well as demeaning God’s true motives.

As heaven watched,  she took that fateful bite. (Gen.3)  And moral evil entered the world.

Evil wasn’t God’s choice for them.

Our Free Will became the beginning of our Free Fall.

God didn’t create evil – but the potential had to be there.
By choosing it,  man created it.
And what was the result?
Spiritual separation from God because of that one sin – for all mankind to come.

Thank God this is not the end of the story.

 

COMMENT:

(In your own journal,  the downloadable PDF for this blog,  or in the Comment section for this post)

What is your first response when you run up against or become aware of something evil?
How do your determine if something is evil or not?

What are some of the ways evil impacts your life and the world?  How does it manifest itself?
Some people are enticed by evil – why do you think that is?

Our free will always allows us to choose and then live with the consequences.  Does the devil make us do it?  Are there any excuses or extenuating circumstances that would justify evil actions?  How could you stand against evil?

Evil masquerades as good.  Name some things that used to be considered evil that are now portrayed positively and even championed.

Our next blog post will be Large and In Charge 9: Inventory – Your Stuff