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For those of us who are of the Christian faith, Matthew 6:19-43 is one of the clearest passages about Christian simplicity in the Bible.  Take a moment and read it through by clicking on it above.

The words of Jesus are radical as he instructs us to vow, “I trust that God will take care of my basic needs and I do not need to be anxious about anything.”  For me, it is an invitation to live radically different than I do.

I am trying to live more simply, and discovering it’s not about simple answers as much as it is about defining my priorities of what is most important.  I want to live more simply so that I can live my life with more purpose.

My problem is I don’t really stop long enough to know what my priorities are for living today.  Do you?  How do you do it?  What is your secret?  What are your priorities? How do you get on track to know if this action, or this purchase, or this way of thinking or living is in alignment with what is most important to you? Please share with me below.

I think it was my Dad who told me one time that you can tell a lot about a person’s priorities by looking at his or her bank statement.  No matter what we say our priorities are, it’s about how we live our lives that is the naked truth.

And this naked truth is, quite frankly, embarrassing to my faith. I have more of almost everything that I need.  I probably have more than 90% of the human families on this earth.  And maybe you do too.

So is living simply about feeling guilty, because I have walked that path before?  If I embrace guilt too tightly, it will surely lead to discouragement and giving this whole idea of simplifying up.  I don’t think the guilt alone is the answer.  We are called to act.  So where do we start?

In order to live more simply, I am going to set two priorities as a first step.

1.  I will spend time daily with God. This will mean sitting in silence and not asking God for things I want, or the way I want things to be, but rather asking how I can give away what I have to offer.  This will be priority number one or I will truly be lost on this journey.

2.  I will spend time with people I love. Relationships are important and foundational to a meaningful life.  I will say yes to time with my loved ones and no to that which takes me away.  I think this means not only saying no to other commitments requested by other people when it conflicts, but even saying no to this computer at times.

I don’t have all the answers for how to live simply today. I do know I want to take a look at my priorities and how I spend my time and resources based on what I say is important to me.  What about you?

This is a journey towards simplicity, one priority at a time.  I haven’t arrived yet, but I’ll keep moving, and I will also sit still.

What are your priorities for living a more simple life?  Can you name one, two, or three?

I hope you will teach me something along the way. I need you.

My wife is sitting down on the dock right now by the lake reading by herself. It is the most beautiful 63 degree sunny day we have had in Alabama since October.  And here I am writing at my computer.  I have to go.  I want to go sit in silence next to my wife near the water, and let the bright light of the sunshine and the gentle breeze melt my anxieties away.

Until Monday, peace (not anxiety) be with you,

Malcolm

___________

Today’s Simple Invitation: Do something today that feeds your soul and doesn’t cost a dime.

Freedom from a fast-paced life: (from Richard Foster)
Change to a less stressful job
Work fewer hours
Slow down at yellow lights and drive the speed limit
Pray or talk to others in line rather than trying to get in the shortest line at the store
Say “no” to activities that take me from my current and central commitments
Eat more slowly – savor tastes
Take time for meals or coffee breaks (not on the go)
Stop to smell the roses or watch birds
Spend a leisurely evening with family or friends not worrying about the time
Take a restful vacation time rather than harried sight seeing

Keeping it Simple:

John the Baptist said, “He who has two coats, let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him (or her) do likewise.”  Luke 3:11

Be radically generous.  Give away a coat or anything else you have is a start.  Generosity is a step towards simplicity.

8 Responses to “Choosing Priorities — Day 4”

  1. Danny Calloway says:

    Oh, how I’ve longed to live more simply. Some of the barriers to that are mine, while though I hate to cast stones, much of my/our failings on trying to leave the simple life, are mostly related to my partner of 18 yrs. who is an antiques/collectibles dealer. Quite literally one can barely make a way through our home for all the, “stuff.” And rather than cast blame on myself or others, the real problem lays, I think, with so many, especially those here in the good ole U.S.of A, our desire to own, “things,” whether it’s a Jaguar or Callaway golf clubs. I won’t go on, as I most certainly can, other than to write that for me, this Lent I’m trying awfully hard to live as simply as one can.

    I think of those from Haiti to Columbia to so many countries in Africa and eastern-Asia and try my best at least at this time to consider do I really, really need those tickets to see EQUUS? Do I really have to have that new purple cashmere sweater that I want or the new Armani fragrance for men?!? I know that none of those things represent the true meaning of what Lent is all about, which to me represents the Sermon on the Mount from the book of St. Matthew. All I know right now for today is that sermon and all that goes with it, means for me, for today and tomorrow and on, is to try my best to live more simply and to believe more simply. If only I were some great seer or prophet, maybe then I’d know for sure what all this means.

  2. Spencer Thomas says:

    Bought my book today. Very excited to start reading it. Sounds like a great read. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. Teresa Caffrey Taylor says:

    Funny, I think I do live simply because we don’t have a lot of money and what we do have we are supporting our daughter who has a child.

    My moment to moment has to be lived in Christ. He is my best friend and most trusted advisor. I could not get through a day without having Him as the one I chat with constantly. He doesn’t care if I’m a motormouth and her never cuts me off. Yes, I do get very quiet and listen a lot. Priorites are always people.

    Steve and I are very deliberate about making time together, we are very deliberate about making time with our kids before they are out of the house. Lists and outlines and preparation are something that God has helped me to develop.

    I think one should ask where are your talents used in the highest concentration? Do that, drop off the watered down stuff. Drop the useless and ineffective stuff.

    You seeing your wife sitting out on the deck by herself and your waking up to the fact that you need to be there with her…..that’s dead center on target. Well, don’t know if you can glean anything from my ramblings, but I wish you God’s best, whatever that may be.

  4. Lisa Trentham says:

    In 2010 I have vowed to simplify my life. I haven’t read any “how to” books, I just started….cleaning out my closets and giving away shoes, clothes, purses. I also began cleaning out my jewelry box and letting go of “things”. I organized more areas in my home and that has made me feel better. Gotta love a “label maker”!!! I have also begun to let go of some things that have been taking up space in my heart, things that I need to let go of, like guilt, etc. God is helping me sort thru these feelings and emotions. It feels good to clean up and organize my home as well as my heart. Thru this process I decided to do something fun and out of the ordinary for myself, so I am taking beginner bellydancing. I love it! The music is great and the style of dancing is fun. It has added a different spice to my life!

    I will continue to go on this journey of simplifying my life with my hand in God’s hand along the way. That is the only way to do things! Hope all is well at Smith Lake. I sure do miss it there! Lisa

  5. Malcolm says:

    Danny, Spencer, Teresa, and Lisa,

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! Your words help all of know we are not alone and we can learn from each other. Lisa, it sounds like you are on a roll and you have inspired me.

    Thanks to all of you!
    Malcolm

  6. Beth says:

    You can never go wrong spending (purposeful) daily time with God. HE will take care of the rest. And if you think you don’t have time for the most important ONE in your life…think again. The key to simplicity starts with HIM on a daily basis.

  7. Malcolm says:

    Thanks Beth, for your reminder about taking time for meditation, prayer, with our Creator on a daily basis. It sounds so simple and yet we often allow other “priorities” to take over.

    Malcolm

  8. Isaac smith says:

    Funny… I was just cleaning out my sock and undies draw this morning as I got sick of the clutter. I have spent more than a year getting frustrated because I could never find the pair of socks I wanted or I had to go through a lot of junk to find a pair of undies.

    I had 30 pairs of socks. 10 pairs of gardening/old socks for one day and I don’t really spend much time in the garden. I got rid of a 15 year old bow tie and cumerbund set (why did I keep that) as well as a few bits and pieces we will give away or sell to pay off a little debt.

    Now I am outside on the verandah enjoying the sound of the rain and this heart felt plea for simplicity. I feel a little guilty reading the blog on my iPhone, but at least it let’s me be outside away from the computer. And I do use it every day for work, so maybe guilty is not the right word. I am challenging myself. Do I need it, yes I do! But what should I look at next?

    Thank you for your wonderful ideas! Time to enjoy some silence in the presence of the big fella!

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