The Lord has been teaching me so much, yet I still have so much to learn. I guess when you really start seeking the Lord (and not just His "will" for YOUR life), then you start seeing more and more that needs to change. Of course, you also really start seeing that without the Lord doing the changing, it can't be done. I have always been one to focus on every circumstance and freak out when it didn't go the way that I thought. I worry and have anxiety problems about so much. God is working on this sin that I have been struggling with. Only through spending time with Him daily do I start to see that it can be overcome with His power. I am reading a book, The Celebration of Discipline, and it is amazing. I've only read a few chapters but I'm already beginning to see that with spiritual discipline comes freedom. Of course I have a long way to go, but I can at least see a glimpse of it! We're actually doing this study as a church. Each week Brian (one of the pastors) teaches on one or two chapters. The first week it was on meditation and solitude, the second it was on simplicity, and last night it was on submission. I just read the chapter through the week after he speaks on it. This is the first topical series that our church has done. We usually go through a book of the Bible at a time (which is the best way so you get the full context). But, the elders and pastors of the church felt that they needed to equip the saints to grow stronger every day on their own so that they weren't relying on the Sunday "buzz." It's very cool.
Anyway, the chapter on simplicity has stood out to me so far out of the chapters that I have read. I never thought simplicity to be a spiritual thing, but it very much is. It talks about how attachment to "things," addictions (even to simple things like tv, internet, coffee, sodas, etc), greediness, covetousness, and mainly just focusing on things that don't have any eternal value, bring bondage. It's not that it is bad to have things, you just need to put those things in proper perspective. Focus on the kingdom of God, and all the other things will fall into proper order. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, Matthew 6:33. The context of this verse is Jesus speaking at the Sermon on the Mount and telling everyone to not be anxious about what you will wear, what you will eat, etc but to seek first the kingdom of God and he will take care of the rest. Of course, it's easier said than done, but spending time with Him every day is where you begin. He talks about the 3 inner attitudes of simplicity are: To receive what we have as a gift from God (we don't deserve all that we have!), To know that it is God's business, and not ours, to care for what we have (it's okay to protect things like locking your doors, but trust God to take care of things), and to have our goods available to others.
He gives 10 ways to have an outward expression of simplicity (not laws by any means, just a way to live a life of simplicity and freedom from fear and anxiety):
1) Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status (including cars, homes, clothes)
2) Reject anything that is producing an addiction (even nonnutritional drinks, chocolate, radios, magazines, money, etc). If it has a grip on your heart get rid of it, cut down, give it away, etc.
3) Develop a habit of giving things away, it's not yours anyway (teach your kids this discipline!)4) Refuse to be propagandized by the custodians of modern gadgetry (you don't need a brand new cell phone if yours works just fine!)
5) Learn to enjoy things without owning them (go to the park, the library, the beach, etc)
6) Develop a deeper appreciation for the creation (Walk, listen to the birds, enjoy the grass and leaves, smell the flowers, etc)
7) Look with a healthy skepticism at all "buy now, pay later" schemes (don't get into debt because it truly produces bondage!)
8) Obey Jesus' instructions about plain, honest speech. "Let what you say be simply 'yes' or 'no;' anything more than this comes from evil" Matthew 5:37
9) Reject anything that breeds the oppression of others.
10) Shun anything that distracts you from seeking first the kingdom of God (job, position, status, family, friends, security, etc). Those are good things, but they should never be our focus (this is a hard one for me!)