The one thing that makes you most useless to God

I doubt there is any sin more prevalent in the hearts of fallen humanity, nor one so destructive than that of pride.
In fact, the other day, I began to wonder whether there was any person more useless to God than the one whose heart is consumed with pride.crumpled-up-paper_2540467

I doubt there is.

I know for myself that when I am focused on my own importance, on building my own kingdom in which I reign supremely as queen, I am about as useless to God and His Kingdom as I can be.

For the Christian who is genuinely focused ahead on the glory of heaven, one thing that should be most frightening is that we may get there, only to look back and discover that we spent our lives being largely useless to God.

As I reflected on this, I began to see, with joy, that God is in the business of destroying pride. In fact, as I look back on the greatest trials I have faced, I can see that God was using them to slowly chip away at this barrier that stands in the way of me being used for noble purposes.

It has made me realize that I should rejoice in any situation that causes my pride to be crucified. For it is in those moments of humility before the Lord, that He can use me for greater glories than I would ever be able to achieve on my own.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #4 – Oh the irony: When trying to avoid shopping costs you 50 bucks.

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How is that even possible? Well it is.

I’m traveling to Melbourne next week for a friend’s birthday. A few people are heading over for the weekend to go to the footy and shop and then they’ll drive back along the Great Ocean Road.

I decided to avoid the temptation to shop and just fly in on the Monday in time to do the drive back with them.

It all seemed like a good idea, until I booked the wrong flight. Somehow messing up the whole 24 hour time thing, I booked a flight that I thought was arriving at 2.55pm, only to realize it arrived at 22.55pm… long after my friends would have left the city.

Had I booked for any earlier day, it wouldn’t have mattered, but I’d tried to avoid the shopping.

So, I paid my $50 to change my flight, wryly acknowledging that it would have been way more fun to spend the money at a DFO, and I’ll look forward to another shopping-free weekend.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #4 – Sometimes I really, really want to break the rules

20150310_170422‘Umm, what is that?’ my sister asked me when she came to my house for the first time. ‘You’re not leaving that there are you?’

I have a floor mat. It’s pretending to be a rug, but it’s really just a mat. My housemate and I like it. The colour works in the room and, let’s be honest, the fact that everyone else seems to hate it makes us stubbornly like it more.

But I’ll admit, a month in to the mat pretending to be a rug, and it is starting to wear on me. The truth is, it does look like a panting drop sheet. It’s cream so it gets dirty within a week, and you can’t vacuum it because the vacuum just sucks it up. I’ve machine washed it twice already and it’s too heavy to iron so it just sits on the floor in a rumpled mess.

Whether we like it or not, its days are numbered.

And then I found a rug at IKEA. Like, an actual rug. One that would be vacuumable and that had colours that would work in the house. It was $99. Normally it would be a no brainer. It’s the smart choice. It’s the perfect replacement. It’s what would keep our feet off the cold floor in winter.

But I promised I wasn’t going to buy anything new. So really it should be a no brainer. But I’m agonizing.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #3 – It’s nice to have the decision made

A couple of weeks ago, just after starting my no-shopping challenge, I went into town with some friends. It’s Fringe festival time in Adelaide and the city is full of funky markets and cool hippie buying opportunities. I could have bought ten things.beauty_fashion_hippie_natural_fashion_photography_photography-620e571c7edba076f5a7d986c7f9e1ef_h

There was a beautiful scarf for $20 (which I totally didn’t need but it was pretty) and some cute coasters that would have gone well in my house. (Seriously, since when do I buy coasters??) There were little earrings with fragments of classic books pasted inside (I mean who doesn’t want quotes from To Kill a Mockingbird on their ears?) and second hand hippie clothes that I could surely pull off wearing (at least once a year at fringe time when all the weirdos come out.)

Every time I saw something I felt something familiar. Maybe it’s not normal, but it’s familiar to me. It’s a mild anxiety. It has an undertone of ‘I want. I want I want,’ and an anxious overtone of ‘I don’t know if I should spend the money. Do I really need it?’ BUT ‘I want. I want. I want.’

The familiar feeling was there. But there was no wrestling with it, because I already knew the answer. It didn’t matter if it was a one-of-a-kind-exotic-bargain; I wasn’t buying it. And it was actually nice. The decision was made.

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #2 – The difference between want and need

black-tea-1121435-mThe other week I learned the difference between want and need.

Here it is: I want a tea strainer. I need tweezers.

Somehow in the house move, my tweezers got lost. And it was my first anti-shopping crisis. I put tweezers in the category of cosmetics, and I wasn’t going to be buying those. I looked everywhere, and with every box that they weren’t in, the visions got more horrifying. I may not be the best eyebrow groomer around, but after a year of no tweezers, everyone would know just how good I’ve been til now!

I could not go the rest of the year without tweezers.

I consulted a friend. She offered to buy some to lend me, but I figured if I was going to cheat like that I may as well buy my own. So I did it. I bought tweezers. Maybe it was cheating, but I decided I don’t care. I really need tweezers.

On the same day as the tweezer incident, I decided to go into T2. Maybe it’s cheating again, but tea counts as groceries and if I can’t buy anything else, I can at least buy nice tea. But there was a problem. See T2 offers hundreds of tea varieties, but only about 8 come in teabags. I’m not sure I’ve ever in my life made tea without a tea bag, but suddenly I just had to be able to buy crème burlee, or red or special sleep tea. But I didn’t have a tea strainer. The friend I was with offered to buy me one (bless her, I have amazing friends) but that totally defeats the purpose. So for now I am loose leaf free. Because I really don’t need a tea strainer.

P.S. I have to make a confession. The day after writing this post I opened my cutlery drawer, and guess what I found? A tea strainer. One that I’ve probably had for years and never used. Case in point. I need to stop buying stuff. Except maybe some loose leaf tea…

Things I’ve learned from killing consumerism #1. Take care of what you’ve got

20150214_160930It’s been a week since I moved house, and a week since I quit shopping.

I have been surprised at what I’ve learned about myself already. Like how slack I’ve been about taking care of the things I have.

I have two pairs of running shoes. I’m the type who buys new running shoes about every 5 years. You’d think that could be testament to how well I look after them, but really it shows how often I go running.

Anyway, I have two pairs: One old one that sits in the back of my car in case I face an emergency muddy adventure, and one pair that is ‘new,’ that I wear to the gym.

A couple of weeks ago I was painting and gardening at my new house. I was wearing the new runners and the old ones were in the car; just right there in the car. And guess which ones I wore to get splattered with paint and caked with mud? Yep, the new ones.

The old me was willing to ruin her new shoes rather than change, because she could always just buy more.

The new me is kicking herself. The new me sat down and cleaned her shoes for the first time since her mum made her as a child. The new me will be wearing paint splattered runners to the gym for the rest of the year.

The new me will learn to take better care of what she’s got.

Programmed to respond to greatness

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I was thinking yesterday about how God is surrounded by mysterious living creatures who never cease, day and night, to say “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.” (Rev 4)

Why do they do that? Are they just mindless, broken-record-like beings that God has programmed to praise Him? It’s easy to think of them this way.

Much as I know very little about them, I think it’s probably more like this: These heavenly beings were created to respond to greatness.

On their creation, when they first encountered God, their immediate and natural response was worship; constant, intense, passionate worship, because they were so captured by His glory.

It makes me wonder, what is wrong with us? Were we not also programmed to respond to greatness?

We were, but we were given a choice too. We have left behind the wisdom of the heavenly creatures and are captivated with things of far inferior worth. Through the fall of man, it became possible for us to be passionately captivated by that which is not great, while completely ignoring that which is.

Claiming to be wise, we have become fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. (Rom 1: 22-23)

We would do well to learn a lesson from the heavenly beings, and not waste our worship on that which is not worthy of it to the highest degree.

My Australia Day Commitment

cut-expenses-1_21176251For the last four years I’ve been living with my parents. There were a variety of unfortunate circumstances that led to me having to move back in with them, but finally I’m moving out again under very blessed circumstances.

I’ve been able to save quite a bit of money living with mum and dad and it’s enabled me to renovate my apartment. Amongst the blessings though, I have seen my heart gripped by consumerism.

I love the adrenalin zip of the credit card. I love packages arriving in the mail. I love scouring the net for home wares and never turning away from a clothing sale. I love buying books at the click of a button and finding new and wonderful shoes.

Towards the end of 2014 I read this article about a woman who decided not to buy anything new for a year, and I knew that that is something I wanted to do.

So in a couple of weeks I’m moving house. Once that’s done this is my commitment: Beyond essentials and gifts, and until December 2015, I will buy nothing new, or even second hand.

No clothes.

No shoes

No cosmetics

No books

No home wares

Today is Australia day. I live in one of the most blessed countries in the world and I want to break the hold that consumerism has on me. I want to learn to be content with what I have.

Wish me luck, and I’ll keep you posted!

Remembering that your one wish has been granted

wishThere seems to be something in our human nature that drives us to always want more.

I’m an Australian. I have a job and a house and a bank account. Already I’m far wealthier than about 95% of the world’s population. You’d think I wouldn’t find anything else to want. And yet, as you could easily predict I find myself daily wanting things I don’t have.

Have you ever thought about what you’d ask for if you could have one wish? Anything? As big or crazy or costly as you want? What would you ask for?

I’ve often been struck by King David’s words in Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

If David, with all his wealth and power could have ONE thing, it would be to dwell in the presence of God all the days of his life.

It sounds like a pretty good one thing. In fact, if I didn’t already have it, signed, sealed and delivered, I’d probably be keen to ask for that too!

And there is the problem and the solution all in one. I have been given the greatest, most amazing, all surpassing gift that could ever possibly exist within this universe, and somehow I take it for granted and I pursue lesser things.

I have the one thing that David wanted. Maybe that needs to be enough.

Will you speak out for people entirely unlike you?

locked-green-door_434-19316046I’m half way through reading ‘I am Malala,’ the famous book by the Nobel Prize winning girl who spoke out for education and was shot by the Taliban.

It gives a lot of insight into the lives of Pakistani peasants in the decades following the September 11, 2001 attack.

Malala’s father was a man who courageously spoke out against the Taliban, holding truth above cowardice. Malala records that he used to carry the following poem with him in his pocket. It is by Martin Niemöller, who had lived in Nazi Germany. It has really challenged me.

First they came for the communists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,

And I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,

And there was no one left to speak for me.