Sprinkles (a PINK Tuesday re:post)

Close-up of cupcake with pink frosting and spr...

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Sprinkles was originally posted as part of the Trek to the Manger 2010 at Pink Shoes Ministries.

No matter how hard I try to avoid it, the illustration of cake keeps surfacing as I search for ways to connect with you on this PINK Tuesday (sorry)! I’m not sure that the Apostle Paul would have jumped right to food in order to paint a word picture to accompany his letter to the Corinthians, but I’m the first to say, “if the boot fits…”

And this ‘boot’ is a good fit. Even if it is edible.

Hear these words from Paul on this PINK Tuesday:

“I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don’t complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple – in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things – your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out. I want you to live as free of complications as possible.” 1 Corinthians 7:29-32 (The Message)

As free of complications as possible… Is that even POSSIBLE?

What makes it so ridiculously difficult to grasp what Paul is suggesting is our fondness for what my friend Nancy Whitney-Reiter calls “sprinkles.” In her book, Now Is The Time To Do What You Love, Nancy explains the benefits of downsizing:

“…most of us are surrounded by “sprinkles.” Using the analogy of a cake: the cake itself has flavor and so does the frosting. But what do the sprinkles really add? Empty calories. Take a good look around you. Chances are, you’re surrounded by things that you no longer use and likely never will.”

Go ahead – do it. Take a look around the room you’re sitting in right now. Think about the space you live in – your shelves and cupboards and closets.

What are your preferred “sprinkles”?

What are the things that make your proverbial cupcakes look colorful and cute but fail to add anything of substance to your life? What constitutes “empty calories” – things you consume that fail to nourish your soul?

I seriously doubt that the Wise Men of old traveled with sprinkles. I suspect that they limited their luggage to that which gave them nourishment, sustenance and protection for the journey. Surely they kept it simple, in order to be footloose enough to travel as the star led them. In order to keep up with God.

Personally, I fail the sprinkles-test every time I pack for a trip.

I might need this.

I could want that.

If it’s cold, I’ll need that.

If it rains…

You’ve been there, too. I can’t even stomach the thought of going camping because the what-ifs end up creating such an intimidating packing list. Either the stuff goes, or the kids go. Both won’t fit in the car!

It takes discipline to pack a week’s worth of personal items into a carry-on. And it takes discipline to simplify a life that has been complicated by the things the world thrusts on us. Even if we were willing recipients of those things, you’ve got to agree with Nancy when she reminds us that “you expend energy on your possessions. Simplifying your possessions allows you to redirect that energy…”

I don’t know about you, but I sure could use some energy to redirect as the school year comes to a close and summer ‘vacation’ begins! Maybe I could channel that newly-found energy toward the process of freeing up space in my head and in my schedule for the Spirit of God to come in and move me. Or maybe I have friends and family who need my attention, but I just haven’t seemed to have the time to spend with them.

Sprinkle-maintenance requires time and energy and attention that Paul tells us is better spent on the things that matter to God. In fact, Paul says that:

“All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions.” 1 Corinthians 7:35 (The Message)

I have a dear friend who just moved from an enormous house into a much smaller home – not unlike many of us who have been adversely affected by our country’s economic state. She was forced to downsize her estate within a very short time frame, creating stress and using up precious energy that could have been directed toward holding her family together in a season of emotionally challenging events.

What if we could choose to live in the same way that the Wise Men traveled – limiting our possessions to those which give us nourishment, sustenance and protection for the journey of this life that we are on? Wouldn’t it be great if we could keep it simple, in order to be footloose enough to travel as the Spirit leads us? In order to be able to keep up with God?

Take stock today of your sprinkles. Pay close attention to those possessions which drain your resources – time, energy and money. Consider asking God to help you give away these empty calories (or sell them on Craigslist)!

NOT so that you can turn around and shake some new, different colors on your cake, but so that you can direct more energy toward time spent together with the One who gave up everything for love of YOU.

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K.I.S.S. L4L.10

Keeping it Simple

Image by mike cogh via Flickr

The WORD

‘Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple. And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.’” Mark 6:6b-11 (The Message)

The disciples of Jesus had been walking in His dust for awhile now, paying attention to His teachings and learning how to be like their Rabbi. Now it was time for them to put on their sandals and walk in His footsteps. Let’s read their commissioning and instructions again, in the New International Version:

Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. These were his instructions:

‘Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra tunic. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.’”

This had to be an exhilarating AND anxious time for the followers of Jesus. On the one hand, Jesus thought they were ready to do what He did! The chicks were ready to leave the nest! Try out their wings! Go on a field trip!

On the other hand, Jesus wasn’t going with them. What if they were met with a demon that wouldn’t leave, or a sickness that wouldn’t be healed? What if people questioned their authority or snubbed their witness, saying that they were only wanna-be-ministers (after all, they were fishermen and tax collectors by trade)?

At once they had to feel energized and empowered, inadequate and concerned. Did Jesus really know what He was doing?

Religious tradition has always dictated the procedures by which ministers are prepared and approved. Some are based in Scripture. Some are the ideas of men. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.

Jesus set the precedent with these students of the Gospel – a precedent we would do well to pay attention to.

The APP

He’s the BOSS!

The authority by which men and women are called into ministry belongs to God alone. In this story of preparing, commissioning and sending, we can identify four qualifications of a minister of Christ. He/She must be:

  1. Filled with the Spirit’s authority and power
  2. Called to this particular work
  3. Instructed in the nuances of this particular work
  4. Commissioned to GO as a witness, testifying to the Gospel and grace of God.

Are you surprised? Where does it say I need to attend Bible College? Don’t I need an M.Div. behind my name? Isn’t there an internship program I need to sign up for? What about the certificate that should be hanging on my wall?

Who does the filling? God does, through His Spirit.

Who does the calling? God does.

Who does the instructing? God does. In the case of the Twelve, it was Jesus – the Word become flesh. In our case? The Spirit & the Word.

Who does the commissioning? God does. As it was with the Twelve, He’s the only One who can know when we’re ready to GO.

Let Him Bring Home the Bacon!

One of the names of God from Scripture is Jehovah Jireh – The God Who Provides (or, literally, The Lord Who Will See To It). Jesus’ instructions to His inner circle set them up to see first-hand that God will meet all of their physical needs while they minister in His Name. Food? He’ll take care of it. Money? You won’t need it. Extra clothing? Unnecessary. If you have a need, it will be met. Because God is just that good.

K.I.S.S.

Keep It Simple, Sister! (Well, that may not be exactly the way you remember it, but you get the idea.)

Jesus’ instructions to the Twelve weren’t very complicated, were they? Not much room for guess-work. Not much room for confusion. The call to ministry – any area of ministry if it comes from God, is almost always going to be simpler than we thought it would be.

The parameters set by Jesus for this ministry experience were short and sweet:

  • You have authority.
  • Carry a stick.
  • Wear sandals.
  • Stay in the first place that makes sense.
  • If people listen, keep talking.
  • If people don’t listen, walk away and don’t look back.

It’s hard to imagine that Jesus’ youth group could mess this one up! We, on the other hand, make it SO COMPLICATED… Don’t you see that if the details of our ministry boggle our minds, maybe it’s because that ministry is OURS, not GOD’S?

No Drama Queens, Please

Rejection smacks. It hurts! It stings! And it often brings out the worst in us.

Jesus says, don’t take it personally. It isn’t about you. It’s not your concern. Do your best. Speak the truth. That’s your mission – leave it at that.

  • If they listen, stay.
  • If they don’t listen, leave.

No tears, no heavy sigh, no big scene. No Drama Queens, please.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen some pretty intense theater in the church; some painfully complex ministries; some extremely ‘fat’ program budgets; some terribly bossy followers.

Is it any wonder that what we do instead fails to heal bodies, send demons packing and restore the spirits of the broken?

If we believe that Jesus’ way is best, I don’t understand why we continue to do life (and ministry) our way.

Do you?

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