Helpful Tidbits for Organic Church Life                                               June 2, 2008
The Discipline of Simplicity
My Reflections
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In 2001 I participated in a week-long retreat in Temecula, CA with a handful of doctoral students and Richard Foster. Since there was only ten or so of us students I got plenty of time with Richard, casual talks here and there, mostly around the dinner table.
While talking at dinner one night, Richard told me he needed a break from life, a "sabbatical." And right when he said that my mind darted to pictures of the beach, the get the point. So, I asked, "So where will you take your sabbatical?" In that classic Richard Foster voice, he said slowly, "Ohhh, Traver, I've arranged to live among those who make their living and live at the dump just off the Texas boarder."
I said the only thing that came to my mind, "You're not serious." To which he responded, "Yes, Traver, I am."

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION/TOPIC: The Necessity of Simplicity
The Discipline of Simplicity 
Excerpt from Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
The Christian Discipline of simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward life-style. Both the inward and the outward aspects of simplicity are essential. We deceive ourselves if we believe we can possess the inward reality without its having a profound effect on how we live.To attempt to arrange an outward life-style of simplicity without the inward reality leads to legalism.
Contemporary culture lacks both the inward reality and the outward life-style of simplicity. We must live in the modern world, and we are affected by its fractured and fragmented state. We are trapped in a maze of competing attachments. One moment we make decisions on the basis of sound reason and the next moment out of fear of what others will think of us. We have no unity or focus around which our lives are oriented. Because we lack a divine Center our need to security has led us into an insane attachment to things.
May God give you - and me - the courage, the wisdom, the strength always to hold the kingdom of God as the number-one priority of our lives. To do so is to live in simplicity.
My Reflections

How we live, the gadgets we use, and the cars we buy say a lot about us. No, those things don't say everything about us, but they should give us cause to pause, especially in a consumer-driven culture like the United States. And given where I live, I must continually remind myself that I am prone to consumerism, which, of course, has an effect on where I truly live: the world or the Kingdom of our Lord.
I must remind myself continually that to live organically (i.e. to live in the way of Jesus), I must live it through and through. If I think only missionally, only in terms of "house church," then I've missed the point entirely. The point is this: my life, outwardly and inwardly, must be a reflection of the biblical Jesus 24/7. Quite frankly, if I'm driving a nice car and stockpiling cash (as opposed to appropriately saving, which is biblical; see Prov 13:22) while my brothers and sisters in Christ struggle to put food on the table something is amiss.
But here's what we do. We secretly say, "As long as I tithe I may use my discretionary funds as I choose" or "Even if I helped that person, they'd be right back in the same hole tomorrow, so what's the point?" or "If they hadn't bought such and such they wouldn't be where they are now." This type of thinking is not Christlike.
Live simply. Give.
Paul writes to the Church in Corinth: "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: 'The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little'" (2 Cor 8:13, TNIV).
Hope this was of some benefit to you.

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table