Friday, January 13, 2012


I don't know when it happened.  It certainly did not happen all it once.  It was not even a conscious decision.  Over the years I have just gradually transitioned into living a simpler life.  I have always had a thread of yearning for days gone by, for things to be slower and simpler, but it certainly was not evidenced in my lifestyle.  However as of late, the transition from consumer to minimalist (I have discovered the name of my increasing condition) has become more obvious.  So much so, that a panicked messaged from a beloved Aunt and a resulting conversation has warranted this post.

As 2012 ushered in, I began ushering out the clutter in my home.  Not a result of a New Year's resolution, as I did not make any of those, figuring my 36-4-36 challenge was more than sufficient.  I certainly had made no preconceived conscious decision to start getting rid of stuff, but that is what transpired.  

It began with purging my closet full of clothes.  Full to the point that I was always looking for hangers I didn't have, and physically forcing jeans to hang in the slight crack that remained beside the sweaters.  Then on to my dresser - up till now having to squish the shirts down so I could close the drawers.  Next my coat closet, hats that I have never worn, falling from grace as I slid open the doors.  In the end I had filled 3 boxes with stuff I didn't need, and still had more than I needed left over.  I posted a pic of my accomplishment on Facebook, thinking there may be someone in need who could use these things, and guess what - there was, the clothes are now being donated to a worthy cause.

I was fueled by the sense of freedom I had attained, endorphins compelling me to keep going, so next was my DVD's.  I went through them all - keeping only a few of my favourites.  I was able to sell 60 of them and pay off a bill earlier than I had expected, the remainder I donated to my church's lending library.  My CD's were daunting, hundreds of jewel cases, filled with everything from Techno and Rave to Opera and Classical and everything in between.  20 years+ of accumulated musical therapy, most of which I had not touched in 15 years.  Again I sorted through them, keeping a few favourites and boxed up the rest for interested individuals to take as they pleased.

There in my living room it loomed - the entertainment centre.  Which leaned just enough to the left to make it noticeable. Big - bulky - unnecessary, so out it went, along with the 5 disk CD player (which I am pleased will be put to good use by my Nephew's mom in her child care centre).  Both my DVD player and laptop work just fine for playing CD's.

Finally - at least for this round of decluttering, was to tackle my hope chest.  An antique trunk, filled with great memories and lots of junk.  As I went through, disposing of the clutter so as to better preserve the valuable memories it contained, I was taught many a lesson.

#1) Catching wedding bouquets is not a good indicator of your chances of being married (I found at least 3 in there) 

#2) The glory and identity that comes with winning medals will fade long before the writing on the medals 

#3) Grandmas are experts in grace when it comes to their grandchildren, and they make the best baby outfits (maybe one day I will get to use the one she made and gave me for when I have a daughter) 

#4) The McDonald's Flintstones T-shirt I placed in there in 1994 is now worth $30.

It was after posting these little anecdotes, that things became concerning for some. My Aunt, had been following my progress via Facebook and was the one to vocalize her concern by way of a message.  What is going on?  Why are you getting rid of all your stuff?  Do you need money? 

I panicked!  How do I explain the why?  She's going to think I am crazy.  I didn't need money, in fact except for the few DVD's I sold, I was giving everything else away. Admittedly,  I started out not knowing exactly why I felt compelled to do this - but as I went through the process it became very clear to me.  I was choosing freedom, I was choosing to take control over my life.  I was choosing what was important to me, I cherish memories far more than I do things - So I would rather expunge myself of stuff, so that I might have more resources available to create fabulous memories.  More than this I do not want money and things to become the stumbling blocks to my being able to do what I love.  For example, as a pastor I do not want my salary or a church's finances to determine whether or not I can afford to be in full time ministry - because that is what I love to do. So I choose to live in such a way that I have the freedom to serve regardless (more finances more opportunities to bless - less finances I can transition into a lifestyle that allows me to continue to serve regardless). 

After my Aunt and I talked she was comforted, knowing that, I've not gone off the deep end, I'm too young for a mid life crisis, and I wasn't under any compulsion or coercion.  In fact after I explained it, she could understand my motivation.  This transition is simply one of choosing what is important to me, and then creating a lifestyle that will afford me the opportunity to grab hold of it.  The process is no where near complete, there are many more drawers and cupboards to clean out - and many more lifestyle changes to be made, purging distractions, unnecessary accumulation & stuff from my life. Throwing off anything that hinders, or robs others. It has been a process free of regrets - and perhaps long overdue, with undoubtedly many more lessons along the way :D

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I was struck by a verse I read in my devotions.  It was from Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ."  It caused me to consider, do I live a life, privately and publicly, such that I'd be comfortable encouraging others to follow me because I'm faithfully following the example of Christ?  As a pastor, (or perhaps for you as a parent, as a friend, coworker, or as a family member) do I serve God and others, in such a way that I could have the confidence to offer such an invitation, trusting that it would bring God glory and be to their spiritual benefit?

Christ is our ultimate example, no man or other example will ever take precedence, however I am thankful for the couple truly faithful examples of great pastors, God has placed in my midst.  Those who demonstrate simply by way of their living, what it means to love and serve God and others well, not perfect but pressing in and pressing on. Pastors, who I know in following, will lead me closer to Christ.  Pastors who in following,  will demonstrate for me, what in means to walk in His will and ways.

I pray to this end, that God helping me, I may live my life, so that I could say with ever increasing confidence & authenticity: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ."


I am not a great pastor, though I'm trying to be, God helping me. I recently spent the afternoon in visitation with a widow of a great pastor, and I found myself longing for what seems at times, to be the wisdom and ways of days gone by. I left our time together, keenly aware of just how important certain areas of ministry really are, and trying to discern what it is that makes for great pastors. I deduced it to 4 qualities that I believe are integral if one aspires to be a great Godly pastor.

1. Learn - A love of learning, specifically as it pertains to God's word.  Knowing how to think is arguably more important than knowing what to think.

2. Live - Living out all that we learn through God's word, striving to live as Christ lived, walking in His will and ways.  I've always respected pastors whose lives preached a better a sermon Monday to Saturday than their message Sunday morning.

3. Listen - The ability to hear the heart of God and others. That means faithful, intimate prayer in order to hear from God. As well as visitation and/or fellowship in order to hear the heart of others. I believe relationship building both with God and others, is integral to discipling and thus to being a great pastor.  Furthermore I have come to experience that relationship building only enhances our preaching, teaching etc, causing it to be more effective.

4. Love - Love for God and others, a real love evident by actions, a love without thought of return.

Nothing profound, quite simple really: LEARN-LIVE-LISTEN-LOVE