Posts Tagged ‘frugality’

Let Us Lay Aside Every Weight

September 14, 2016

Let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us . — Hebrews 12:1-3

Bill Hybels at Willow Creek Community Church often talks about having a “life verse”–a verse from the Bible that is a statement of your faith.

This is not a concept I had been taught. But if I had a life verse, this one might be it. It was the theme for the Emmaus team I was on once.

Let us take this verse in relation to the spiritual discipline of simplicity. Just think of all the “weights” we carry around.

Let’s think this way as I was taught by a co-worker once. He lost 16 lbs. once. He was a big guy, but you could really tell he was down some. He talked about how much better he felt. “It’s like I was carrying a bowling ball around with me all the time, and now it’s gone,” he explained.

Sometimes our weight (as in excess body weight) is the result of carrying other weights–anxiety, depression, worry, fear, low self-esteem.

Sometimes we carry the weight of a past sin–something we did or said that we wish we had not done or said. How it would be so great for that weight to be laid aside.

Some may be carrying an addiction–sex, food, porn, drugs.

Often the weight is just simply too much “stuff”. We accumulate more stuff. We need more money to get more stuff.

But there is forgiveness. God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice. It is there for us.

As we experience that forgiveness deeply, we can shed some of those weights. We can live more simply. We do not need more stuff. We lay aside, true with much work, the weights of addiction or emotional illness. We begin to heal.

We learn that living simply is possible–and healthful–and spiritual. We are lighter, as if the bowling ball or two we were carrying around was gone. We have more energy.

We can now run that race that God set before us, doing what was intended for us from the beginning. And we take a step, and another step, and another, until God says Well done.

Why Practice Spiritual Disciplines of Abstinence

March 17, 2016

Remember the old Southwest Airlines commercial “Wanna get away”? For my international readers–Someone would be pictured in a position, for example, a football referee before a big match for the coin toss and he forgot to bring a coin, who wanted to get away. It resonated no doubt because we all want to escape at times.

The Desert Fathers were men who sought deep spiritual experiences and encounters with God. They thought that by going off alone into the deserts of Egypt, Sinai, Syria, they could get away from society and focus with every second of their being on God.

The movement began in the mid-200s and lasted into the 400s–but in some sense still exists in the monastic traditions.

They practiced the spiritual disciplines of abstinence–solitude, silence, simplicity, sacrifice, fasting–almost too well. The monastic movement struggled for centuries against excesses of this practice.

The disciplines of abstinence are meant to prepare us to encounter and engage with God. Jesus, for example, went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days following his baptism. Then he encountered temptation. It wasn’t because he was weak from lack of food that he had the experiences. It was actually because he was now at his strongest so that he could deal with The Tempter.

Spiritual literature loves the metaphor of the jar.

You have something you need to store. You search for an empty container. There are many containers in your cupboard filled with now-useless stuff. But you have no container for your precious stuff. You empty a jar of its useless contents, and now it is ready to accept the new.

Just so is your mind and soul. When it is full of thoughts, worries, plans, and more, it has no room for God.

Now we intentionally pursue disciplines of abstinence to pour out the extraneous stuff of our lives. Only then is there room in our soul for God.

Dallas Willard puts it this way, “Abstinence then makes way for engagement. A proper abstinence actually breaks the hold of improper engagements¬† so that the soul can be properly engaged by God.”

That’s why following silence with study is so powerful.