When people talk about simplicity, the concept of “simple pleasure” is often overlooked. I’ve introduced simplicity, shared some symptoms of it, talked about simplicity and stuff, and how the person of simplicity is a generous person. In my estimation, one of the things that hold us back in our adrenalized and advertised culture is how we choose to pursue pleasures which are decidedly not simple.
God, it’s been said, is no prude. For tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing, and touching he installed in the human hardware what we might call “pleasure receptors.” He isn’t offended by or afraid of his people enjoying themselves. In fact, he likes it. But we function best when we follow the Hardware Engineer’s guidelines for maximum, lasting, and deepest pleasure.
Soren Kierkegaard said, “Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” In this brief list of passages and the more complete audio podcast of this teaching I propose an alternative to that culturally dictated frenetic pursuit.
I think there exist sinful pleasures, spiritual pleasures, and simple pleasures, and biblically encouraged responses to each. Continue reading →
You might’ve discerned by now that “simplicity” is a recurring theme of mine as well as something I aspire to live out in my own life. In terms of money and the material it affords, I think the Western Church has migrated to lands unimaginable to the first followers of Jesus. The way we view the material and how we use it would be as foreign to them as their ways, if we’re honest, are to us. It’s not bad to have a lot of money. In fact, it’s good to have a lot so we can help those who don’t have enough. If you think about it from a biblical vantage point, that’s the real value of money, to share it. “He must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”
You say, “Yeah, but Paul said that God ‘gives us richly all things to enjoy.’” A crowd favorite verse in many churches.
That’s true, but then Jesus said “It’s better to give than to receive.” So if we blend those two together it seems clear that God gives us things richly to enjoy, and the best way to enjoy them is to share them with people who don’t have enough. I don’t know about you, but receiving makes me pretty happy, but if giving is even better than that, then I want to get on with giving! Continue reading →
I gave a primer on the topic of Simplicity in both blog and podcast form. After that I shared two symptoms of a simple life: sincerity and spontaneity. Here I share in outlinish form about Simplicity and Stuff, you know, possessions, money, and just stuff. I put some meat on these bare bones in a podcast talk by the same name (Simplicity and Stuff) if you’re interested to know more.
It’s not particularly fashionable to talk this way these days, especially, and unfortunately in Christian circles. So many of us have overlooked this major theme in Scripture and have gone the opposite direction. In the name of God, many have pursued and accumulated more and more stuff.
This is the second in the series on the theme of simplicity, which is something I’ve felt strongly about for many years. Since living simply is not a particularly popular or sought after topic in most Christian circles it’s difficult to preach, but much more difficult to practice. But I’m trying to do both.
In the introductory blog post & podcast I shared what I think simplicity is, what it isn’t, and how to get it. This time I’d like to talk about two components to simplicity: Being real and living free. In other words: Sincerity and spontaneity. As with my primer, this post is in “outline-ish” form.
If you’re looking for a little more meat on those bones, you might want to look into the Podcast by the same name: Some symptoms of simplicity.
The first thing you’ll notice about these two qualities is that they are more inward character qualities than outward characteristics. They’re not “make-up” to make ourselves look better than we really do. Instead, they’re part of our essential “make up,” the way we are. Sincerity and spontaneity are valuable and desirable inward virtues. Simplicity, as I see it, is the way Jesus is, and the way he is in us. Continue reading →
In the early 2000’s I became increasingly intrigued by the biblical theme of simplicity. Actually it began much earlier than that, probably way back to my fascination with the hippie lifestyle in my teens. Then in the 80s I read Celebration of Discipline by the Quaker writer, Richard Foster. His chapter on Simplicity called to something inside me. Some years later he wrote an entire book on the subject called, The Freedom of Simplicity. I was stoked to see that simplicity wasn’t just for hippies and that a value I’d carried since my youth was a biblical value and one that could/should be cultivated in my life.
By 2006 or so I couldn’t hold it in any longer, I studied the Scripture on the spiritual value of simplicity and gave a series of messages on the subject. I can’t say that it was particularly well-received by our predominately white middle class church, in fact, I got a fair amount of push back on some of the things I taught. But I can’t blame my friends since our culture has so consumed us with consumption, and made our Christianity more complicated than it was ever meant to be. I think the Church has been sort of hijacked by consumption, complexity, and clutter; and identifies more with the American Dream than with God’s. Continue reading →
[Practicing the Way of Jesus – Free: Spending Your Time and Money On What Matters Most – When Helping Hurts]
Practicing the Way of Jesus, by Mark Scandrette
Mark, who has a quite radical approach to church and spiritual development, is an acquaintance of mine here in San Francisco. If you wonder about how we do church, and wish (pray) there were another way to do it that would facilitate more application and action to our spiritual profession, read this out-of-the-box book. Continue reading →
Even after over 30 years of living a life of service, I’m still learning new things, lots of them actually. Jesus said that teachers of the kingdom should “bring out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” My paper called, “Learning Leadership Lessons From 2 Corinthians” (http://barneywiget.com/files/learning_leadership_lessons_2_cor.pdf) would be my best effort to date on “old treasures.” But the things I share in these brief posts represent more of the “new treasures” that I’ve been blessed to acquire in the last few years. Since three decades of planting and pastoring churches, the forms of service in which God has been merciful enough to include me these days have taught me some things I guess I couldn’t “see” when serving as a shepherd of a local church. Continue reading →