Rational Minimalism

I recently meandered onto a couple of blogs which have grabbed my full attention.

Far Beyond The Stars | The Art of Being Minimalist, by Everett Bogue

which led me to…

Becoming Minimalist, by Joshua Becker

Wow. It feels like home.

Exposure

Sometimes when I finally “get it” it hurts. My heart hurts from the joy, sadness, relief, wonder. I am in disbelief that God just talked to me. Little ol’ me. He just put things into place in front of me in a way that clicked. The best kind of learning. The joy of dots being connected in my mind and heart. No, not the discovery of the meaning of life, but almost.

I had one of those moments this morning. My heart hurts with the joy of wanting to just tell everyone exactly what happened, how it happened, in the hopes of sharing that kind of moment with others. I know I can’t re-create it. I think it was the infinitesimally brief moment of connection with God. Any more than that and I think it would literally kill me.

Several nights ago I got another brief message that I recognized as “from God”. The message was simple. “Expose yourself” (in relation to Him). I’ve started to realize that these mini messages can mean any number of things. Does that mean “expose” in the sense that I need to be more brutally honest about myself TO God? Or does that mean “expose” in the sense that I need to be more exposed to God as a form of input – face time with God. Though I am trying to improve on both areas, the latter seemed the more important.

Since I don’t have a regular morning devotional book, and I’m not currently using any kind of regulated Bible reading plan, I spent a day or so mulling over what more exposure to God would mean. I settled on reading the Gospels. I haven’t spent time there in a long time.

As I’ve recently shared, I struggle with legalism, and yet any mention of the Law in the Bible throws up a mental road block. Today I was reading in Matthew 5. Verses 17-20 are where I found my “a ha!”. I want to share my journal entry because, well, I want to put it out there in case someone else needs the same message I got today.

The verse I read in my version of the NLT

Matthew 5:17-20 NLT
[Jesus talking here – giving the “Sermon on the Mount”] “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to fulfill them. I assure you, until heaven and earth disappear, even the smallest detail of God’s law will remain until it’s purpose is achieved. So if you break the smallest commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. but I warn you — unless you obey God better than the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees do, you can’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven at all!”

My Journal Notes:

“September 19, 2008
Matt 5:17-20
Did Jesus say all of this to highlight the “old way”? He’s talking about your/our ranking in the K of H, then closes saying unless we’re perfect following the law we’re out of luck anyway…

It’s hard sometimes because Jesus’ death changed it all, so it is confusing to me to read his words to know if what he says is part of the old or the new.

God has absolute requirements (the law). Those requirements have literally no way of being met.

God can’t change who He is. Those requirements are facts. Laws of God are Laws of Nature. He didn’t arbitrarily choose them, they just are. Jesus came to fill the requirement so we could have that relationship with God.

This is the part that swirls my brain.
— God and sin can’t coexist – it’s one of the “rules”, “laws”, “facts”.
— God’s “laws” are just examples of many many ways to illustrate what sin/evil/wrong is.

Jesus, in the rest of chapter 5, was establishing that he wasn’t a dissenter, a rabble-rouser, a radical trying to change the truth about God. He was telling the people that the God of the Jews is still the same God, his laws are even more difficult (impossible) to keep, but still to be desired. They [the laws] were still in force and always will be. Laws = Right. But he came to fulfill them because we are not capable. He is the SOLUTION to: How can God and I be in a close relationship when I am a sinful human and God cannot be connected with sin?”

Legalism in my life is when I think that I somehow can work harder to meet God’s requirements of perfection. Any striving I do in that area leaves me bitter and angry. I will NEVER be able to modify my behavior in a way that is good enough. Never. If I end there, then I’m miserable.

God so badly wants to be with me (us) anyway that he worked up a plan that would take care of his laws and would restore our relationship. That plan was Jesus. Jesus fulfilled the requirements (laws) with his perfection, took the (undeserved) punishment for sin FOR us. Because of Jesus, I do not have to struggle to live up to anything in order to be connected to God. God is not repelled by my sin any longer. If I accept all this (everything I’ve written here), then Jesus’ life and death are EVERYTHING to me. It’s my way out of legalism. It’s my restoration. It’s my hope.

Hey, guess what! That’s “Good News”! 😉

Seriously, though, I know what I have written is very simple to some. Being stuck in legalism is nasty. It’s a place of “not getting it”. So many voices saying “But it CAN’T be that simple…”. I think it is.


– – – – – – – –

Post Script:
The K-Love verse of the day…

This is real love — not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
~ 1 John 4:10, NLT

Legalism and Me

[Cross posted from my SoulRevolution.net mini-blog. Currently on day 28 of the 60-60 Experiment.]

I want to be perfect. I want God to love me because I earned it. I want to be entitled to all kinds of good things because I worked hard and did a good job.

There is a whole lot of hurt in these wants of mine. They’re not the way the world really works. Not God’s world. God’s world is completely different. I didn’t realize that getting into this Experiment would not always be blissful. There’s some pain involved.

I have always had this attitude of – just tell me what to do and I’ll go do it. I don’t like to be corrected, so if I sense I’m doing something not right or not good enough, I want to go fix it before you can lecture me on it.

I think that’s one of the harder things about being raised in the church, and in a conservative religion. I got no real “conversion” experience. No newly discovered relationship. God’s been a very familiar and pre-set entity. His expectations are set. I wasn’t taught relationship. I have a lot to learn…

God and People

The message last week in church (will post a link if I can find the video) was inspired by John Ortberg’s book, “When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box“.  It’s had me thinking this week, as I struggle with priorities.  There’s just too much to do in my life, how do I decide what the important stuff is?

The answer is: God & People.  These are the two things that do not “go back in the box” at the end of this game we call life.  I don’t know why I was surprised to learn this considering Jesus said that very same thing when asked what the most important commandment was:

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

– Mark 12:29-31

That’s got me asking myself what I am doing to improve my relationships in these areas.  The 60-60 Experiment is all about me and God.  Last night, before bed I read this verse, which just affirmed this idea:

You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.

– Psalm 16:11

That’s the “way of life”.  Having the joy of God’s presence, living with Him.  Forever.  Pretty cool.

The rest is about helping other people to find that out too.

Day 5 – 60-60 Experiment

There’s a lot going on in my head, in my life, in my spirit.  I have wanted to blog about it several times, but I don’t yet have the words.

This Experiment has, so far, been the most profoundly impactful thing I’ve done.  It’s bringing things to the forefront that I haven’t really dealt with yet.  It’s humbling me and refining me.  It’s also giving me a level of connection with God that I don’t know if I’ve maintained very often, but don’t want to do without.

I got a copy of Soul Reflection yesterday (Thanks, Mike!), and I can tell you this…when it’s released, I’ll be recommending it to anyone who wants to change their life.

God is good.  God is here among us.  And he’s ready for you, whenever you ask!

Tidbit

I read Dave Ferguson’s blog entry last night on hearing from God everyday.

I watched portions of a video on the DARPA Grand Challenge, a competition to create driverless cars.  In the video they explained how the software had to be written to handle the plethora of course corrections needed to keep the vehicles on course as things in the environment changed around them.

I realized that we’re made exactly the same way.  We can’t expect our weekly “church fix” of guidance from God to keep us fed and motivated and guided through all the “stuff” that comes up throughout the week.  Goodness – try all the “stuff” that comes up throughout a single DAY!

Not unlike the satellites that feed directions to the GPS units, we have a Father who has the birds’ eye view of life as we know it.  Why WOULDN’T I tap into that?  He’s free.  He’s available 24/7.  No hardware needed.

Yeah.  Just a thought…

NaBloPoMo – Day 16

Ann V. posted this on her blog a few months back, and it is something I plan to spend some time thinking on. Won’t you join me?

A Question:

~from Mary Oliver’s Summer Day from a Poem a Day for American High Schools :

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”

When in doubt, bring on the music!

I don’t know what took me so long, but I finally got out my Christmas CDs. I played one song and it was like the switch was flipped. It’s one that took me a while to find. It’s David Foster’s Instrumental, Carol of the Bells. I turned it on this afternoon and played about 4 times in a row, each time dancing more and more. J5 thought I was crazy at first, but by the end he was spinning in circles with me.

The first time I heard/saw it was on our honeymoon at WDW (the mouse place). A beautifully lit arched walkway in Epc*t was orchestrated to it. John and I went again in 2003 and I caught most of the show on video. I get goosebumps every time I watch it.

Observations

One of the things that I am doing as part Thin Within is practicing what they call “Observation and Correction”. I have written about this before. I have read it many times. I have tried to think the way I *should* about things. Mostly, it didn’t work for me much in the past.

I think part of the reason for this is that my observations were hasty “yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I’m totally wrong and bad and I *promise* I will do better next time” sort of observations. Defensive, guilty, embarrassed, humiliated, wanting to move on kind of observations.

This time I want to try to do some detached, practical, “let’s see what we can do different” kind of observations.

Over the past two or three days, I can see that several of my overeating behaviors are directly tied to work, and to TV. It seems that if I am going to do either of these things, I feed the overwhelming urge to eat. And even more recently, I have started watching TV episodes on my second monitor while I work…which is a double whammy!!

Now, I could try to just say, “I’m going to go cold turkey” and not watch TV, and not work (LOL!) but that doesn’t seem to be the right thought. I can’t just stop doing things that put me in eating moods or I would never visit my relatives again either!! So, correction. What needs to be corrected?  Are there any plans or approaches that can rewire my brain when it comes to food and stressful or recreational situations?

Hm.

I get it.

I get it. The Good News. I think I’m finally getting it.

Romans 5:1-11 (NLT)

Faith Brings Joy
1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

My precious Jesus. I get it. Please, please, please, help me keep it!