on being minimalist

Let me start off by saying that this post, contrary to what the title states, is not a how-to on being a minimalist. Nor will this be a post on my decision to become a minimalist. While I respect minimalism, and I also respect people who have a natural inclination toward minimalism, I am not that person. I don’t wish to become that person either.

I do wish to unclutter my life though. I wish to unclutter my brain, my heart, my home, and my storage space.

With Joe in barber school we are posed with the challenge to find creative sources of revenue. Obviously our garden and home-grown meat will supplement our food budget nicely. We have a little bit of savings to work with, so that is a great blessing. But we also don’t have a whole lot of wiggle room for the unexpected hiccups that come our way financially.

Recently we have had to get some unexpected car repairs. Nothing major, but still pricey.

Reflecting on my recent posts and studies on dominion, I am considering all the things we have hanging around taking up space and rarely (or never) being used. Maybe I have some things to sell. Maybe I have things to toss. Maybe we need less “stuff” and more simplicity. I need to be a responsible keeper of my home, not constantly collecting “stuff” that I don’t need, use, or can’t fit into my space (which happens to be super tiny).

As I said, I am not a minimalist, nor do I wish to be. I am a realist with children. I want my children to have imaginations and learn to play on their own. But I also wish for them to have lots of books, art, music, and whatever outlet for creativity their personalities direct them. Which means that I will need to have important clutter in my life sometimes. But I need to learn the difference between what is important and what is just clutter.

Which brings me to minimalism. I love how the minimalist thinks!

I have been online looking for examples of questions the minimalist asks him/herself. At this very short season of my life I need to think like one if I am to rid my life of all my clutter. These are the questions I plan to ask myself:

  • Do I use it?
  • Do I need it?
  • Do I love it?
  • Will I miss it?
  • Does it have a home?
  • Is it broken?
  • Can it/will it ever be fixed?
  • Can someone else use this?

I am only working on my mess and my kids’ mess. I am hoping that by doing this Joe will at least be able to figure out what he owns as it tends to get buried in the rest of the family’s mess (sorry honey!).

Getting rid of the things that are taking up space and not being used is part of being a good steward of my home. My home is not my own space, but a space I share with my family. My family should be able to enjoy that space and not be crammed or cramped inside of it (if it can be helped). I don’t want to be embarrassed by my “stuff” or ashamed to have friends over because I can’t keep my mind off my own clutter.

It’s still a work in progress. I’m chipping away a little bit at a time. I pray that eventually I am pleased and God is pleased with the condition I am keeping the home He has loaned to me for the time being. I pray I will learn to be faithful with the little he has given me.

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a dominion attitude.

I have been thinking a lot about dominion, and the way Christians should view it. Dominion applies to so many areas of life, and it feels like a pretty daunting  idea to tackle. In fact, most of my conclusions and convictions on it are only just recently being fleshed out. I’m very excited about it, which is why I want to share my discoveries, but at the same time my mind is exploding with the possibilities and responsibilities that come along with it.

Dominion does not extend only to the earth, but to all of creation. If you think about all of creation then you must include mankind: families, the church, the homeless, orphans, widows, the unborn, unbelievers, and [place your demographic here]. You must include the behavior of mankind, and the effect of Christianity upon it – government, media, the education system, the church, humanitarian causes, etc.

Are we as Christians loving the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, and with all our minds? Because the Bible teaches that this is the first and great commandment. I don’t mean love as a mushy-gushy, ooey-gooey, Jesus-is-my-boyfriend feeling. I mean love as an action, love as a hard choice you make, love as defined by the Bible.

1 Chorinthians 13 describes love in this way:

  • If I have not love I am a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. (just a lot of annoying noise)
  • If I have not love I am nothing
  • If I have not love I gain nothing
  • Love is patient and kind
  • Love does not envy or boast
  • Love is not arrogant or rude
  • Love does not insist on its own way
  • Love is not irritable or resentful
  • Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth
  • Love bears all things
  • Love believes all things
  • Love hopes all things
  • Love endures all things

Are God’s law, commandments, and His will more important to us than the opinions of the pagan culture or our own desires? What is our attitude toward Him when His ways are contrary to what feels comfortable to us? What are our actions when His commands don’t coincide with our lifestyle?

Are we seeking God’s will in every area of our lives? Or are we relying on Dr. Phil, the medical community, the food industry, pharmaceutical companies, popular nutrition, the opinions of our friends, the news, etc. to tell us the best advice, choices, decisions for our lives?

Really think about this.

It is easy to be flippant without intending to be.

1 Corinthians 16:19-20 (ESV)
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

According to these verses (not my own words), we as Christians are vehicles of the Holy Spirit. We are carrying God’s spirit around inside of us wherever we go!

Ahhhh!!!

We are not, as the culture tells us, our own person. Nay, we belong to Christ and were bought at a very high price. That price was the death of a perfect, innocent, sinless life. Are we glorifying God in our bodies, presenting them as sacrifices to God? Are we being transformed by the renewal of our minds, subjecting them to Christ? Or are we following our own pursuits and inviting God to sit shotgun?

We are not owners. We are stewards. Everything we have in the world is on loan. Lets take care of our lives, our time, our money, our families, homes, yards, etc. as though these are God’s possessions. As God’s possessions we should be seeking how God requires us to treat His things. He gave us an Owner’s manual called the Bible with strict and loose instructions on how to do just that. We need to be good investors in His Kingdom. If God lent it to you, take care of it like He wants you to. You may not be able to take it with you to heaven, but you are responsible for it for as long as you do have it. Treat it well.

Jesus told this parable:

Matthew 25:14-30  (ESV)

The Parable of the Talents

 “For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.  He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them.  And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’  His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’  He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest.  So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents.  For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

And I’m not here saying I’m doing this right either. Oh no. I’ve got just as bad an attitude about it as the next person. I get apathetic…and a lot of the time just plain pathetic. I have bad attitudes. I rely on convenience. I flat out sin all the time. I’m not here writing some self-righteous tirade about how I’ve figured it all out and everyone else is a complete idiot. Ha. What a hypocrite that would make me.

But I’m excited.

I am learning things.

I want to share.

These things are going to hurt a lot when I act on them. They are going to go against a sinful nature, a rebellious heart, and a selfish flesh. I’m not going to be good at it.

But I’m going to try to be a good and faithful servant, so that when I meet my Maker, He tells me, “Well done.”

starting at the beginning, part 1: take dominion

Since I vented a little last week, I’ve been struggling at where to begin my newly acquired, long list of posts. Today I just decided I would start where it makes sense: at the beginning.

As homesteaders and Christians, we turn to the Bible to instruct us on what we should do in all parts of life (or at least we should). So what does the Bible first say about homesteading? To the very first man and woman, who he created in a garden full of vegetation and animals, He gave this charge.

Genesis 1:27-28 (ESV)

“So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Then God destroyed the earth with a flood, preserving one man and woman and their progeny. Again, He charged them,

Genesis 9:1-3 (ESV)

“And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered.  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.”

Later on, the Psalmist, David, would sing in praise of the mandate God has placed upon mankind.

Psalm 8:3-8 (ESV)

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
 what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?

 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under his feet,
 all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,
 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.”

The prophets prophesied about what manner we are to respond to the creation, fellow man, and the Lord.

Micah 6:8

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

What can we learn about homesteading through these verses?

“…subdue it, and have dominion…”

When we think of the words “subdue” and “dominion,” several thoughts may come into your mind. You may be thinking of “dominance,” which may in turn cause you to think of “abuse” and/or “slavery”. I believe this is a very toxic way of viewing this mandate. God did not charge mankind with abusing and enslaving the earth, men, and animals. However, since sin entered the world, it seems as though that is exactly what mankind has done.

We have seen how barbaric some of mankind has been. Over the course of history up until present time we have seen slavery in many forms, and toward many people groups, along with various kinds of abuses including prostitution, human sacrifice (both child and adult), fighting to the death, warfare, etc. Testing, fighting, and other kinds of abuses in the name of both science and entertainment have been inflicted upon animals. Finally, there is earth abuse which we can see plainly from landfills, oil spills, air pollution, radiation, nuclear warfare, etc.

This is not dominion. This is sickness.

Christians should be the remedy instead of contributing to the problem.

Dominion comes from the latin dominus, ‘lord, master.’ In other words, humankind is to take charge of the earth and all that dwells therein. Furthermore, God destroyed the earth with a flood when men became corrupt and wicked, preserving the one man, Noah (and his family), who still obeyed Him. God wants His people to obey his mandate; to be benevolent caretakers of the earth He created. “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly…

It’s sad to say that the tree-hugging hippies and environmentalist pagans are doing a better job advocating for “mother earth” than the Christians who were given this charge.

Jesus told this parable:

Luke 12:35-40

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Do you think Christ, at His return, will be impressed at that you were waiting at the door of your house reading the book of Revelation? Or do you think he would rather return to His people who are working hard at obeying all the commands of His Father who sent Him.

Love God above all (obey him, not man)

Love others (do justice, love kindness)

Take dominion

Be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth
(have sex and babies! make sure there are more babies than parents – this is how multiplication works in case you forgot. if you can’t make babies, adopt!)

Make disciples of all nations (not just witnessing, but training)