Saturday, April 23, 2016

Minimalism For The Rest of Us

For many, the terms minimalism or minimalists may conjure images of vegan yoga fanatics living in sparse apartments, people traveling the world with all of their earthly belongings in a backpack, or the guy choosing to live in a van down by the river. Yet, there are different forms of minimalism, including the type promoted by Joshua Becker in his book The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own. I consider his form “rational minimalism for the rest of us.” Becker’s blog Becoming Minimalist has been instrumental in my minimalist/essentialist/simple living journey over the last year and I was excited to read his new book.

I can relate to Joshua. Like me, he is a husband, dad, homeowner, has a career, passionately involved in church ministry, and around the same age. These factors helped make the teachings from his book accessible and reasonable for me. Becker defines minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them” (Page 18) and clearly unpacks it in about 220 pages.  

After sharing the story of his launch into minimalism and the benefits of it, Joshua provides well-researched background about consumerism and advertising. This was both eye-opening and convicting. It is also important to note that the author stresses that minimalism and the minimalist lifestyle will look differently for each individual or family. There is no “cookie cutter” approach, but many clear strategies and techniques are presented throughout the book.

In his clear and enjoyable writing style, Josh provides strategies on getting started in reducing the number of possessions cluttering our lives, addressing difficult areas (e.g. mementos and papers), and sustaining a minimalist lifestyle over time. He primarily focuses on the physical minimalism, and doesn't devote much attention to calendar or electronic intentionality and minimalism. Finally, in the last three chapters, Becker details the abundant/purposeful life that minimalism can create. These chapters were outstanding and probably my favorites.

Having started exploring minimalism about a year ago and reading many different blogs, not many of the strategies presented in the book were truly new to me. However, they were great reminders and encouragements to persevere in the journey. I picked up several great tips in the chapters. The testimonies included throughout the book were also very helpful. Finally, while it is not a “Christian book”, it is written from a biblical worldview, something that I deeply respect and appreciate.

Whether you are on the minimalism journey already or just exploring the concepts, I whole-heartedly recommend Joshua Becker’s The More of Less.

Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy of The More of Less from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased book review.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

T4G Reflections

Last week I attended Together for the Gospel ( in Louisville, Kentucky. The three-day conference was packed with teaching sessions, breakouts, worship, and a huge bookstore/exhibit hall. It was intense. I returned home mentally and physically exhausted.

The speaker line up included many of my favorite authors and radio/podcast preachers, including  Al Mohler, John MacArthur, Matt Chandler, Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, and David Platt. As expected, each boldly proclaimed the Word of God, challenging the nearly 10,000 attendees in their ministries and lives. While I deeply respect these men and their ministries, I left with a deeper appreciation for my pastors and the “local pastor” as a whole.

Like most pastors, mine have not written best seller books, have widely read blogs, or have popular podcasts. Outside of my church, they are not well known. Nobody is rushing up for Sunday morning selfies with them. Yet, Gary, Dave, Ben, and Aaron faithfully proclaim the Word of God each week as they have been called by God to do. They dutifully study, prepare, and lead their respective ministries, while balancing other commitments and family responsibilities. I am grateful for them.

It is easy to get enamored with the “celebrity pastors”. Yet, let us thank God for our pastor(s), shepherding our churches each week. Be sure to express our appreciation to them also.