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Simple Delight?

Updated: Jul 26, 2018

This article is part 1 of why we chose Simple Delight as the name of our web site and what minimalism means to me. I've included a couple of reflection questions at the end.


I’d like to take my first ever blog to share the story behind naming our web site.  We had a list of words that we were hoping to find an available domain that we could register to launch our next assignment and commemorate our 30th wedding anniversary.  We want the name to encapsulate what we're about and the core values that will guide us to finish well in this life.  After a dozen tries it became apparent that domain squatters are very clever and well-funded.  Unless we are willing to fork over a stack of green backs we will just have to give up on a dot com domain.  We came upon dot life (.Life) domain by serendipity one evening and landed on within minutes.  It was more than dumb luck. it was a gift from Papa.

Simplicity is not so simple

When I surrendered my life to Jesus at MIT, Christ followers around me were talking about radical obedience, changing the world and voluntary poverty.  Keep in mind these people are educated, rational and knew the Bible well.  I recall being deeply impacted by attending World Christian Conference and was challenged to prayed through a stirring manifesto penned by Gordon Aeschliman.  Here are some of the words that are as rousing as when I first heard them 33 years ago.  

Then I read Viv Grigg’s Companion to the Poor about how he gave up everything to live with the urban poor in the “garbage mountain” near Manila so that he can be the Good News to them.  God didn’t end up leading me to work with the poor, but these ideas formed the foundation on how I view wealth and stewardship.  

Over the years, I struggled with the idea to “Live simply so others may simply live.”  In my 20's I judged those who enjoyed wealth. I told my fiancée that she would never get a diamond ring from me, I paid off my student loans as quickly as I could so that I could go to the mission field debt free, I tithed consistently, served the poor, and kept my possessions to a minimum. My college pastor and mentor, Ray Lee, taught me to give until it hurts.  

In our 30's we have cleaned out our bank accounts, given beyond our means and have even watched people occasionally misuse the money we gave them.  It all has been a great adventure of trusting God but somewhere after the kids came and my income grew, we became complacent.  In our 40's we ceased to budget.  We spent with less restraint and enjoyed nice meals because we could. Our house was filled with stuff and I let myself have the latest gadgets.  Although our giving increased during this period, we have gone soft on Randy Alcorn’s Treasure Principle: “God didn’t increase our income to increase our standard of living but to increase our standard of giving.”   

Recently I came across a thought provoking documentary on Netflix, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  It’s not a Christian production but Papa used it to gently remind me that my life has become cluttered with things that I have to track, manage and maintain.  I have allowed things to take time away from what is truly important in this life, things such as spending time with family, growing in my intimacy with Papa and serving my neighbors. I know I need to get back to living intentionally and to get back to the roots (radical) of who God made me to be and the work He has prepared for me to complete in this life.  

One of the minimalists interviewed in the documentary was Josh Becker, he wrote in a thoughtful Christianity Today article: “I’ve come to define minimalism as the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. I’ve found it to be a lifestyle that offers not just a tidier home, but a more intentional spirituality.” 

I was convicted, which led to doing some soul searching, Bible study and reflection.  You won’t find minimalism in the Bible but the idea is hiding in plain sight.

  • Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Tim 6:6)

  • Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. (Proverbs 15:16)

  • Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth (Mt 6:19)

  • Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have (Heb 13:5)

  • Let your yes be yes, no be no. (Mt 5:37)

We have moved around a bit, so we are not unfamiliar with decluttering.  During our sabbatical in 2013-14 we managed with possessions that can easily fit in the back of an SUV.  When we finally unpacked the belonging what we shipped back from Asia, we realized that we have done just fine without all the stuff we thought we must have.  

Since moving to Seattle and buying a house we have once again found our lives cluttered with things.  We plan to take the next little while to reduce and refocus.  Many in the minimalism movement are counting items in the wardrobe or the square foot of their tiny house but for us this is about spiritual renewal and making space for relationships.  It's about spending less on ourselves and investing more in the kingdom of God.

We’ve started with giving away wardrobe items we haven’t used in a while.  We put a freeze on buying things other than groceries and gifts.  We will do the same with all the stuff in the house, room by room in the coming months with the goal that we would downsize when our youngest goes off to college next year.  Reducing stuff and cutting expenses are just the baby steps in our goal to live simply and in contentment.  One area we will struggle with is about food and dining out. 

I am thankful Rossana is on the same page but we will each define what simplicity means and not impose numbers or rules on each other.  Stay tuned as we embark on this journey to simplify every aspect of our lives.  In Part 2, I will address Delight.  

For your reflection:

  1. Do you find your life cluttered with stuff that's taking time and energy away from what's truly important?

  2. In what area in your life can you simplify or declutter?  

Please log in up top on the right to leave your comments – I’d LOVE to hear from you. 

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Monte Zhu
Monte Zhu
26 juil. 2018


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