Category Archives: One Word: Ephphatha

Minimalism or Organization: What’s the Real Problem?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

I’ve been aiming to become a minimalist for a few years and I have yet to get it right. I place too much value on the things I have and anxiety keeps me from throwing unnecessary items in the garbage (or not bringing them into the house in the first place).

In my mind I keep telling myself I need a trip to IKEA with a $4,000 budget and I’ll finally be a minimalist. I’ve convinced myself that I can’t possibly be a minimalist with out “minimalist” style furnishings. The truth is, I might actually be desiring large “minimalist” storage oriented furniture so I can hide all my clutter and not think about it.

Ikea Wardrobe

After much failed attempts at minimalism I realized I actually like having lots of stuff; what I don’t like is having large amounts of clutter.

I want to have 30 pairs of foot ware, but I don’t want all 30 of them at the front door.

I want to have 10 pairs of jeans, 40 shirts, and 90 pairs of dress pants to choose from; what I don’t want is laundry.

I’ve been going about minimalism all wrong, because my core issue wasn’t about how much belongings I had or any emotional attachments to what I did own. My actual core issue was learning how to organize what I had. I do have to work hard at decluttering on a regular basis, but organization, not minimalism is what I have to focus on.

I have a feeling this might be why some people have been failing at minimalism.

Making Changes: Things to Think About

When you decide to make changes in your life, it’s good to ask yourself some questions before moving forward:

-What is it you actually want to change? Name it.

-Why do you want to make these changes?

-What is happening in your life that has led to you wanting to make changes?

-Acknowledge any negative feelings you have about what you are hoping to change.

-Remember, change is step-by-step and is never instant.

-You’re not changing your entire life, you are changing something about your life. Change isn’t always meant to be an overhaul. Sometimes change is simple, yet effective.

-You’re not only changing your mindset, you are changing your behaviour. There is a difference, but sometimes it’s not easy for us to differentiate between the two.

 

God’s Will and Your Waistline

“… in general, it is God’s will that we ourselves should have a great part in determining our path through life. This does not mean that he is not with us. Far from it. God both develops and, for our good, tests our character by leaving us to decide. … God is preparing us for a life of initiative, so I know that God will be with me even when he does not tell me what to do. His presence is known in ways different from his specifying what he wants done.”  Dallas Willard, Hearing God.

I recently encountered someone who felt the need to determine God’s will regarding her health. This person was obese, had gained a considerable amount of weight in a short amount of time, needed a sleep apnea machine due to effects of her weight, and could barely walk a short distance without huffing and puffing. As I listened to this person speak, I wondered exactly what she thought God might say to her, “My dear child, remain intentionally unhealthy, it is my will for you that you not be able to breathe at night. It is my will that you eat your feelings instead of turning to me, your comforter.

When is it ever God’s will for us to self-harm? The answer is never. It hurts God to see us hurting. His love cannot stand to see his beautiful creation living with emotional pain.

I don’t believe God created us to be empty headed believers, lacking the ability to make sensible decisions. People tend to seek “God’s will” despite knowing what the sensible answer to their dilemma would be. Instead of seeking “God’s will”, I wish people would be more honest and admit that what they are actually seeking is God’s guidance and a sense of personal peace.

We are sometimes so desperate to have God approve decisions which we know are not good for us. We stall by engaging in what I refer to as spiritual procrastination. Spiritual procrastination involves engaging in honest spiritual disciplines without the right intentions. We pray knowing that we are asking for something that is against the will of God; we seek the advice of fellow Christians whom we know are not in a right relationship with God and who are likely to give us the answer we want; we start reading scripture with the hopes that after thousands of years, God’s commandments might have some how changed over night in favour of our dilemma; and we start quoting guilt scriptures such as, “thou shalt not judge”, “ye without sin cast the first stone.”

I didn’t want to be hard on the person seeking God’s will for her waistline. Sometimes we are not ready to hear or face the truth about our situations and how we got there. If I could say anything to her, I would say, it is never God’s will for us to harm ourselves. Seek God’s guidance on how to best care for one’s self. He will place people in your path to provide encouragement, guidance, and solid information. If you want to talk about God’s will for our lives, it is always God’s will that we listen to the messengers He sends us.

Questions and Reflections:

-What do you think God’s will is for yourself specifically and for all of humankind?

-When was the last time you sought “God’s Will”? What were you hoping to hear from God?

 

 

 

 

Hope for the Helper

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;” Isaiah 61:1

Reading this verse used to fill me with strength and hope; it fueled my passion to follow the calling God had on my life. However, over time, this verse began to feel more like a curse than a blessing. When things because almost unbearable the following passage of scripture became my reality.

“’If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town. See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.  Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you’.” Matthew 10:14-20

I became aware of the destructive things that your own fellow believers were more than willing to do to you; but I had forgotten two important parts of this passage, “…shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town” and “do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time,”.

Instead of heeding the sound advice from Christ that is written right there in scripture I disobeyed both instructions. I stuck around too long and I didn’t wait for the Holy Spirit to guide me in what to say to those who made it their goal to attack and destroy.

When God has given you a calling to work and minister in certain environments it is not often easy. Our society has convinced us that anything that involves God will be smooth and easy, as if it were the only sign that you were in the right place doing the right thing.

“In the Vincentian Family, I had the opportunity to meet many missionaries (religious, ordained and lay) who were slandered in their missions; priests that had to leave their parishes due to the internal ecclesiastic [ordained] incomprehension or to the lack of understanding from their own parishioners whom they served; consecrated [ordained] forced to abandon their projects of service to the poor because ‘they were so effective in their service that they caused envy’; lay Vincentians who were called self-interested or corrupt and who had to leave their vocation. Many times we are misunderstood by the poor that we serve! We build their house and in the following week visit, we do not find them anymore, because they sold the house that took so much effort for us to build! Sometimes we feel that we are fighting with all our strength for the mission of service and total dedication to the Poor and that nobody understands us.”

Source: http://en.ssvpglobal.org/Spirituality/Spiritual-Reading-Week-starting-on-May-15-2017

Christ asks us to join him in carrying his cross. Carrying a big wooden torture device over our shoulders is not easy; it was never intended to be. Sometimes we are called to do something that is fun, exciting, and almost effortless; this might be a calling, but it is not the same as carrying a cross. Carrying a cross will always involve pain, hurt, decrease in strength, battling our weaknesses, and many other challenges to our emotional well being.

Does this mean that we will always be defeated in carrying our cross? Not at all. Why? Because God is the one who gives us strength to be able to be co-carriers of the cross alongside Jesus. Jesus is with us, his experience with the cross reminds us that in the end we will have overcome the cross; but until we depart this earth we will always have some type of cross to carry.

When your calling involves carrying the burden of the cross turn to God. Ask him to reveal to you when to dust off your sandals and carry on verses when to stay as a guest and servant. When the attackers come for you, pray, ask God for wisdom as to what to do next. Do you stay, do you go; and what do you say while you are in the midst of the mess. God always has an answer, it will be up to each of us to listen, trust, and follow.

 

 

 

Work for What You Want

(Picture Source: homemade life)

I recently signed up for a six-week community activity program. People can choose to join a team or register as an individual. The goal is to get Canadians to be more physically active. Participants can choose whatever activities they like so long as they commit to the minimum number of recommended hours of physical activity per week.

I sent an e-invite to an acquaintance from church. She declined. I’m not upset that she declined but the reasons this person gave for not wanting to participate were, in my opinion, excuse making. We all make excuses about something in our life: exercise, healthy eating, hours and quality of sleep, over or lack of commitment, etc. But where I draw the line with excuse making is when people want something they are not willing to work for.

If you want to be fit, you need to exercise. If you want to be a doctor, you need to attend medical school. If you want to be a hero, you need to do something extraordinary. If you want to be a winner you must compete in a competition. Some things are non-negotiable.

If you are not careful, excuses can become a source of pride and stubbornness. You eventually stubbornly refuse to do what is required and you pridefully convince yourself that you, unlike the others, don’t have to do what is necessary.

(Source: Biblical Counselling C.)

Some simple, yet still challenging ways to stop making excuses and accomplish and achieve what you need:

State verbally and in writing what you want.

e.g. I want to become an accountant.

State verbally and in writing what you need to do. What is it that must be done? These are non-negotiables.

I must attend school and training sessions because it is the only option for becoming a certified accountant. I have to pay for these classes, pass all of the mandatory courses and exams. I will them need to apply for jobs.

State verbally and in writing what will likely happen when you do all that is required, mandatory, and non-negotiable.

I will have the mandatory requirements for becoming a certified accountant and can apply for jobs as an accountant.

I get people to do this exercise so they understand that mandatory and necessary processes are not our enemies. They are not something to be dreaded or hated. There are people who have a tendency to misapply the words have to, need to, and mandatory to things that are not; and as a result they begin to see these words as something automatically bad.

None of us like being “told what to do”, but every single day you do something because you have been told to do so, are required to do so, or have been forced to do so.  What might some of these things be: stopping at a red light, feeding your children, paying your employees, not punching someone in the face even though you really feel like doing so.

Have to, need to, must, and mandatory can be words of freedom and bring accomplishment to our lives when we learn to adhere to them in proper circumstances. Don’t allow your dreams or goals to remain unaccomplished in your life because you couldn’t bring yourself to do what was non-negotiable.

Proverbs 18:12 “Before destruction one’s heart is haughty, but humility goes before honor.”

Proverbs 11:2 “When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

QUESTIONS and REFLECTIONS:

How do you feel about the words “have to”, “need to”, “must”, and “mandatory”? Are there any emotions that you attach to these words?

What is your usual response and thoughts when you are told to do something you don’t want to do?

Take some time to meditate on a verse of your choice regarding stubbornness or pride. Ask God to reveal to you any area where instances of pride and stubbornness might be preventing you from doing things in your life that are necessary.

When doing so, remember to be gentle with yourself and remember that God reveals the wrongs in our lives to correct them and change them. He does so from his love, mercy, compassion, and kindness towards us.