Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Freedom of Simplicity

Ten or eleven years ago I read Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline in which two chapters (or disciplines) profoundly affected my life. One was on solitude, the other simplicity.

Last week I came across another Foster book, one where he expounds on the topic of simplicity. As I read, I realized I had forgotten how much this discipline has shaped what I teach, especially in the area of time management. It's also why I recently deactivated my Facebook account. I desire

Simple home.
Simple clothes.
Simple speech.
Simple schedule.
Simple dedication to God.

It's not about being rigid, inflexible, or legalistic. And there is no one perfect standard for all. I definitely still have my areas where I'm not simple!! It's a process. But pursuing simplicity has resulted in greater peace and productivity. I'm looking forward to incorporating the concept more intentionally into my writings and speaking.

Richard Foster has been a great influence in my life through his books. I thank God that he took the time to write what he has learned.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Morning by morning

For several years I've subscribed to Leadership Journal. When my new issue arrives, I eagerly turn to the article written by Gordon MacDonald. MacDonald is, and has been, a key spiritual guide for me.

In the latest issue, his article, "Your Most Important Conversation," talks about the importance of taking time to debrief with ourselves and God. In it, he shares a quote by William Wilberforce that I thought I'd share with you:

"In the calmness of the morning before the mind is heated and weary by the turmoil of the day, you have a season of unusual importance for communing with God and with yourself."

This is true. About 12 years I started spending time with Jesus from 6-7:30am. It is my sweetest time of the day and anchors me before my "mind is heated and weary." Toward evening, I begin to look forward for morning to come.

I wasn't always a morning person. But now, that precious time has made me a morning by morning (by morning) person.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

God even speaks through 80s music

Every morning I wake up with a song in my heart. Sometimes it's a hymn, other times it's a song from Christian radio, and still other times it may be an old worship chorus from the 70s :) It's always the start of my devotional time.

This morning's song -- are you ready for this -- was "Words" by Missing Persons. In case you aren't familiar with this song, it was a hit in 1982. It wasn't one of my favorites, and it definitely wasn't recorded in the Christian market. I looked up the lyrics, wondering just how in the world this song could fit into my time with Jesus, and to my amazement, this is what I read:

Do you hear me? Do you care? Do you hear me? Do you care?
My lips are moving and the sound's coming out.
The words are audible but I have my doubts
That you realize what has been said.

What are words for, when no one listens anymore?
What are words for, when no one listens what are words for?
When no one listens, there's no use talking at all.

Currently I'm reading through Jeremiah - yes, the prophet who gives Israel the bad news: God is fed up and He is going to judge them. But no matter how hard Jeremiah pleads with them to repent, they still won't listen to him.

Amazing. God will even use a secular song with words I didn't know. How creative He is. Next time, I'll tell you about the time I lifted my hands in praise to a Guns 'n Roses song...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Thursday (just Thursday) to you!

Today I'm struggling to keep "just today" in mind. I have a lot of things on my plate - tomorrow, and Sunday, and next week - but God hasn't asked me to think about all of those things today. He says, "Do not worry about tomorrow. Today has enough worries of its own. (Matthew 6:34)"

God teaches us to live one day at a time. Think about creation. He could've created everything in the world in an instant (snap!), but He didn't. Instead He created something and then called it a day. Think about the manna. He provided only what was needed for the day. When the Israelites tried to gather extra for tomorrow, it rotted.

19th Century author and preacher, Andrew Murray, writes: "If time had been given to man in the form of one long unbroken day, it would have exhausted and overwhelmed him. Broken small and divided into fragments, he can bear them; only the care and the work of each day have to be undertaken -- the day's portion in it's day. We are so easily led to look at life as a great whole, and to neglect the little today."

And so here's to today. All 16 (or so) waking hours. From the rising of the sun to its setting. What has God asked you to do -- just today?