Five Minute Friday: Simplify

The word for this week’s Five Minute Friday free-write is “simplify.”  (Click on the image above to find some other great posts in the linkup too.) Here goes:

Sometimes we can make our faith too complicated, don’t you agree? At times it works better to simply things and go back to the basics of our walk with God.  To simply our faith doesn’t mean to make it simple though.  No, not at all!

I guess when I’m thinking about all this one instance comes to mind the most.  In college I worked quite a bit with international students at Talk Time where they practiced their conversational English skills and then were invited to take part in a Bible study if they wanted as well.  Remembering about helping to lead this Bible study is what made me think of the need to simply our faith.

Up until that point I hadn’t shared what my faith was all about with many people, let alone with those from another country who had never even heard about the Bible and Jesus before.  I remember struggling to boil down concepts learned from years of growing up in Sunday school and church into basic tenets that would make sense to the international students I was teaching.  It was a learning experience for us both, to say the least!

That experience made me realize all the arguing and discussion about theology and Christian morals and such that had happened in my youth group or Christian college group didn’t really matter all that much.  And it certainly didn’t prepare me for the kind of questions I was getting from the international students.

This is what I meant by simplifying our faith is not making it simple.  Their questions were deep and thoughtful and stretched me in ways I never had been before.  Most of them weren’t wanting to debate or argue but were genuinely curious what I believed and why.

And so before I could answer them I had to sit down and take a good look at this for myself (more deeply and honestly than I ever had before).  What did I believe and why did I believe in it?  Being forced to finally figure out the answers to those questions turned out to be far from simple but oh so worth it!

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31 NIV)


Five Minute Friday: Motivate

The word for this week’s Five Minute Friday free-write is “motivate.”  (Click on the image above to find some other great posts in the linkup too.) Here goes:

What motivates people to change – to make real, lasting changes in their lives?  What motivates someone to share deeply and vulnerably with people they barely know?  What motivates people to stick to their goals and resolutions with tenacity?  In all this, what is the motivation?

I’d have to say that everyone’s motivations in these areas are each as different as the snowflakes that fall softly to the ground.  But, unlike these snowflakes, there also has to be some similar staying power among them as well.  I believe it is the desire for true transformation.

There is a quote I have up by my bed which says this: “Change is inevitable but transformation is a choice” – Bianca Olthoff. This sentiment is what I think motivates some people deep down.  We can simply sit by and let life move along around us (and it will!) or we can become motivated to become a willing participant in the process.

Therefore, let’s take this verse to heart: “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV)