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Living With LessAn Unexpected Key To Happiness 2012 Joshua Beckergroup.comsimplyyouthministry.comAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any mannerwhatsoever without prior written permission from the publisher, exceptwhere noted in the text and in the case of brief quotations embodied incritical articles and reviews. For information, visit r: Joshua BeckerExecutive Developer: Nadim NajmChief Creative Officer: Joani SchultzEditor: Rob CunninghamArt Director and Production: Veronica PrestonUnless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from THEHOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION , NIV Copyright 1973,1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reservedworldwide.ISBN 978-0-7644-8660-910 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 120 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12Printed in the United States of America.

Joshua Becker is about to introduce you to a differentway of thinking: Your life is too valuable to waste itchasing stuff. The idea isn’t one you’ll hear very often inour culture, but it is one that could change your life andeven more importantly change your heart.Joshua GriffinHigh School PastorSaddleback ChurchJoshua has created a resource that is challenging andthought-provoking! If students (or even adults) arewilling to engage with it, the ideas can transform howthey look at “stuff” .starting today.Scott RubinJunior High PastorW illow Creek Community ChurchJoshua’s work in this book serves as a voice callingparents and students to live for more than just“stuff.” Living W ith Less is a reminder that there issomething else.something better.Mike BurnsPastor of Family DevelopmentThe Chapel, Getzville, New York

Today’s teenagers are pitched this and that all daylong, but rarely are they exposed to a truly compellingand contemporary way of living that is somehow bothcounterintuitive and so obviously biblical.Mark OestreicherPartnerThe Youth CartelI love to promote simple living, but it’s become trendy—so trendy, in fact, that it’s easy to write it off as justanother lifestyle fad. But it’s so much more than a fad;it’s a way of life prescribed to all Jesus-followers. I wishI was encouraged more to pursue a life free from stuffwhen I was a teenager. In other words, I wish I’d had thisbook. Joshua challenges teens to free their hearts fromthe pursuit of stuff, and his words are gold.Tsh OxenreiderFounder and Editor of SimpleLivingMedia.comThere are times in our lives when powerful truths hit usstraight on with force. Joshua’s book was one of thosetimes for me. If you need a facelift on your life this is amust read.Nate ParksExecutive DirectorCamp Berea, New Hampshire

Living W ith Less has the potential to change thenext generation, to show them the futility of chasing“stuff” and make them step back and really evaluatethe decisions they make in light of Christ’s teachings.In a world where the pursuit of happiness has becomesynonymous with the pursuit of stuff, it’s time to turn thetide and rediscover lives of simplicity and freedom.Mandi EhmanFounder & EditorLife Your Way (life.yourway.net)There’s a lot to look forward to in life. Joshua is right onwhen he encourages readers to pass on consumerism andlive for Jesus. No need to worry about returns or nextseason’s fashion. Living for Jesus means no regrets.Dave BrunoAuthor of The 100-Thing ChallengeThis book invites teens to practice minimalism inresponse to God’s life-giving invitation to live with less.Joshua Becker shares his story and leads by examplewhile offering practical ways to discover what is mostimportant in life.Courtney CarverAuthor of Be More W ith Less

Minimalism is often dismissed as a trendy lifestyle for20-somethings without the burdens of married life,children, or responsibilities. Joshua Becker debunksthis misconception by telling his story of his suburbanfamily of four’s journey toward simpler lives, embracingminimalism and enjoying the benefits of living moreintentionally.Joshua Field MillburnBlogger at theminimalists.com

DEDICATIONspecial thanks to my wife, Kimberly.dedicated to my beautiful children, Salemand Alexa.these words originated in the grace of God.by a life invested into by countless godly menand women.and are written for an audience destined tofind full life in Christ alone.

TABLE OF CONTENTSIntroduction. iPART 1: JESUS’ STORY . 1Chapter 1: Jesus and the Offer ofAbundant Life. 3Chapter 2: Jesus and Possessions. 17PART 2: MY STORY . 27Chapter 3: A Pretty Typical Story ofToo Much Stuff. 29Chapter 4: An Introduction to a NewWay of Life . . . 37

PART 3: YOUR STORY . 43Chapter 5: Our Actions Follow Our Heart . . . 45Chapter 6: The Life-Changing Benefitsof Owning Less. 53Chapter 7: The Heart Impact ofChoosing Less . . . 69Chapter 8: A Word to the Skeptics. . . 75PART 4: THE INTERSECTION OF YOURSTORY AND JESUS’ STORY . 79Chapter 9: Maybe Jesus Has BeenRight All Along. 81Chapter 10: Making Jesus’ Story Yours . . . 89Chapter 11: Your Life Is Too Valuableto Spend Chasing Possessions. 101ENDNOTES. . 105CONTENTS

introductionNobody really believes it Nobody really believes it. Nobody reallybelieves possessions equal joy. In fact, ifspecifically asked the question, nobody intheir right mind would ever say the secret to ajoyful, meaningful life is to own a lot of stuff.Deep down in their heart, nobody really thinksit’s true. Yet almost all of us live like it is.From the moment we are born, we are toldto pursue more. Advertisements from everytelevision, radio, newspaper, magazine,billboard, and website scream to us on adaily basis that more is better. As a result,we spend countless hours comparing ourthings to the person next to us. We measureour family’s success in life by the size of ourhome. And we end up looking for jobs that payenough money so we can spend our adult livespurchasing the biggest homes, fanciest cars,trendiest fashions, most popular toys, andcoolest technologies.i

But we all know it’s not true. We all knowhappiness cannot be bought at a departmentstore. More is not necessarily better. We’vejust been told the lie so many times we beginto believe it without even noticing.Consider some of these statistics: The average American cardholder carries3.7 credit cards. 1 The average American household carriesover 15,000 in credit card debt. 2 The average U.S. household debt is 136percent of household income, which meansthe typical American family owes far moremoney than it makes in an entire year. 3 The number of shopping centers in theU.S. surpassed the number of high schoolsback in 1987. 4 Women will spend more than eight yearsof their lives shopping. 5INTRODUCTION

The average size of the American homehas more than doubled over the past 50years. 6 One out of every 10 households in ourcountry rents a storage unit to house itsexcess belongings. 7We live in a world that loves accumulatingpossessions. And while nobody would everadmit that they are trying to purchasehappiness at their local department store,most people live like they are.But what if there was a far better way to livelife? One that recognizes the empty promisesof advertisements and consumerism. One thatchampions the pursuit of living with only themost essential possessions needed for life.One that boldly declares there is more joy inowning less than can be found in pursuingmore.That truth would change everything about us.It would change the way we spend our hours,our energy, and our money. It would changeiii

where we focus our attention and our minds. Itwould change the very foundation of our lives.In short, it would free us up to pursue thethings in life of lasting value. It would bea completely life-changing and life-givingrealization. And it may just line up witheverything your heart, deep down, has beentelling you all along.INTRODUCTION

PART 1:JESUS’ STORY

Chapter 1:Jesus and the Offerof Abundant LifeOne Saturday afternoon, we took our youngson to a large (and famous) toy store to spendsome gift certificates he had received for hisbirthday. He wanted a skateboard. I liked theidea of having a boy that could hold his ownon a skateboard, so we climbed in the car andmade the drive to the local shopping center.As soon as we walked into the store, myson noticed the almost limitless shelvesof shiny, colorful toys. I saw his eyes getnoticeably large as we began making ourway through the store. He began consideringall the possibilities. I had hoped to make abeeline for the sports section to pick outhis skateboard, but I immediately realizedthat this shopping trip was not going tohappen as I’d envisioned. He had becomefar too distracted by all of the possibilities.3

Every single toy seemed to bring bigger andbrighter smiles to each child playing withit—at least, that’s what was depicted on thecolorful packaging.As we continued walking (I mean, as I waspulling him to keep him moving), my sonquickly noticed an aisle with dinosaurs. Righton the end of the aisle, he spotted a pop-uptent that was designed to look like a cave. Onthe package was a young boy smiling fromear to ear while playing with 15-20 dinosaursaround the cave. At that very moment, myson decided that he no longer wanted askateboard; he wanted a pop-up tent thatlooked like a dinosaur cave instead.As his father, I had to step in. After all, I’msmart enough to realize that this pop-up tentwas not a wise use of his limited birthdaymoney. Anyone could easily see that thischeaply made tent would get played withonce or twice and never again. It would likelybreak right away. But even if it didn’t breakright away, my son would have quickly realizedit wasn’t really that exciting (I mean, thejesus’ story

dinosaurs weren’t even included). Throughsome heavy persuasion techniques, I talkedhim out of the dinosaur cave and back tohis original intent of a skateboard (thatexperience looks much better on paper thanit did in the store; the actual events includedmuch more kicking and screaming).I’m glad I was there to play the father role andsave my son from wasting his birthday moneyon that unwise purchase. I’ve been aroundlonger and I’ve seen firsthand which toysget played with and which toys don’t. I knowenough about craftsmanship to better judgewhich toys will last and which will break. AndI was able to make objective judgments aboutthe situation. As a result, I knew that in thelong run, he would find more enjoyment in askateboard than a pretend dinosaur cave.But this book isn’t about him, it’s about me—and it’s about you.The whole situation got me thinking. Whatabout me? Who do I have in my life to keepme from making foolish decisions with my5

money and with my life? Oh sure, I do havemore life experience and wisdom than my son,which gives me some discretion. But as I lookaround my house at all the things that seemedlike a good purchase at the time (outdatedclothes, dusty decorations, unused kitchengadgets), I can’t help but wonder if my house(and bank account) would look far differentif I had somebody looking over my shoulderplaying the father role, keeping me fromwasteful spending.But it’s not just financial purchases that Iregret; there are also life decisions that Iregret. Actions that I regret. Words that nevershould have been said. Who in my life hasthe wisdom, love, and relationship to help menavigate the difficult waters of life?Tragic MisconceptionsThere are many misconceptions about theperson of Jesus floating around our world. Isuppose this is to be expected. After all, aworld that is set against Jesus is going to tryeverything it can to turn people away fromjesus’ story

him. And if the world can accomplish this bymisrepresenting who Jesus is and what Jesustaught, it would make perfect sense that itwould do just that.One of the most tragic misrepresentationsthat the world will claim against Jesus is thathis life only holds value for the afterlife. Inother words, the culture will try to convinceus that he holds great promise for the future,but little significance for today. If the worldcan convince us that Jesus was right about lifein heaven, but wrong about life today, we willneglect most of his teaching that concernsour everyday life (morality, purpose, sacrifice,relationships). We may trust him for eternallife after death but believe his instructionsfor life today are wrong, outdated, boring, ordownright impossible.But Jesus told us otherwise. In John 10:10,Jesus made it very clear that he brought withhim a new life for us today—a new and betterway to enjoy our life right now. He said it likethis: “The thief comes only to steal and kill7

and destroy; I have come that they may havelife, and have it to the full.”Take a closer look at that statement. Jesusinvites us to a new and better life today. Hisinvitation was not just to enjoy God’s bestin eternity; it also was an invitation to enjoyGod’s best today. Jesus came so that we couldenjoy the best possible life right now!That is why the world’s misconception aboutChrist is so damaging. If the world canconvince you Jesus is not worth followingtoday, it can keep you from living a life thatexperiences full happiness, hope, peace,love, and abundance. But more than that, thislie can keep you from making this world abetter place and being an influence for God’skingdom during your life. If the world canconvince you its way of life is better, it haswon (at least for now).But it would be foolish to trust God forunparalleled joy and bliss for all eternity, butnot trust him for the best life today. If Godcreated us, he knows what is best for ourjesus’ story

lives. And if God loves us, he would desire tolead us to the best possible life. If those twothings are true of God, he becomes the bestfather figure ever, leading us wisely throughthe toy store of life to find the most lasting joyavailable.God Created UsWhen I was in high school, I was required totake a speech class. At the time, I hated it. Ican remember lying in bed the night before myspeech scared to death, unable to sleep, andpraying for snow. When the snow didn’t come,I can remember sitting in class hoping thatthe person in front of me would accidentallygive a 50-minute speech rather than a fiveminute speech so time would run out and thebell would ring. Needless to say, that neverhappened. And speech class has forever beenrecorded on my permanent record as thelowest grade I ever received in high school.But despite all the anxiety and terror thatthe class rained down on my life for thosefive months of my junior year, I still learned9

a lot about public speaking, confidence,and persuasive presentations. Early in theclass, way before any of us gave our firstpresentation, we were given this piece ofadvice from the teacher: “Pick a topic thatyou are qualified to speak about. And early inyour speech, tell your audience why you arequalified to speak about it.” In fact, it waseven the first item on our teacher’s checklistfor grading our speeches: “Did the speakerexplain why he/she is qualified to give thisspeech?”It became an important principle that I havenever forgotten and have used throughout lifein writing, conversations, and public speeches:“Pick a topic you are qualified to speak about.And be sure to explain to your audience whythey should listen to you.”Perhaps, that is why God began the Bible theway he did. In the beginning God created theheavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1). In those10 words, God establishes himself as perfectly(and solely) qualified to speak on all matters oflife and death. God is the author and creatorjesus’ story

of life. By the simple sound of God’s voice, theheavens and the earth and everything insideof them were created. Paul later tells us inthe book of Colossians that everything wascreated by God and for God (Colossians 1:16).God alone is the great creator of all things.And this truth is entirely life-changing inevery aspect. It means God alone is perfectlyqualified to fix our lives, to direct our lives,and to enable us to make the most of them.After all, God made them in the first place!Because God created life and knows best howit should be lived, it makes sense that theadvice he gives concerning how it should belived would carry extra weight in our decisions.But there’s more. Not only did God createlife itself, he also loves us and wants us toexperience the greatest possible goodduring it.11

God Loves UsOne of the most repeated themes throughoutScripture is the truth that God loves us anddesires to be intimately involved in each ofour lives. God knows this truth is one thatmust be repeated until it is believed becausethe power behind this message is so lifetransforming.Assume for just a moment that you are aboutto get married. And you happen to findyourself in a most unique circumstance. Youhave the option of choosing between twopeople who you know want to marry you. Tomake the story even more interesting, let’ssay these two people are identical twins—identical in almost every imaginable way. Theylook exactly the same. They have exactly thesame interests. Exactly the same intelligence,personality, talents, skills, hobbies, wardrobe,and so on, and so on. And by the way, forthe sake of argument, they happen to beeverything that you have ever wanted in aspouse: physically attractive, tidy, love toclean, love to cook, love to shovel the walkjesus’ story

and mow the lawn (they even love to cheeragainst the New York Yankees). It doesn’tmatter—insert anything you want in the list tocreate your perfect spouse.Of course, now we know the situation ishypothetical because I’m already taken—just kidding.Your choice is between two virtually perfectpeople. There is really only one differencebetween them to help you decide: One lovesyou and one hates you. Twin A loves you withan incredible love. A love that you know is soabundant you can’t even get your mind aroundit, much less your arms. This person’s lovefor you is so great you cannot figure out whythey would love you so much—but they do.They know everything about you—yet love youunconditionally with an extravagant love. Theywill do whatever it takes to bring you joy andto bring you peace. They’d even go so far asto lay down their own life for you.Twin B, on the other hand, hates you. I mean,legitimately hates you. Hates you with the13

same passion and intensity that Twin A lovesyou. Twin B wants nothing more than to makeyour life miserable—to bring misery uponyou and ultimately contribute to your deathand destruction. And they are going to doeverything in their power to make that happen.Oh, they don’t come right out and tell youthat (that would be too easy)—instead, theytry to look similar on the outside by givingthe same promises as Twin A. But you’ve beenaround long enough to see this, you’ve seenthis twin’s effect on others, and you’ve heardenough stories that you suspect it to be true.So there you have it. Those are your choices.Which twin gets your wedding ring? Twin A orTwin B? This could be the easiest question youget asked all day.You’re going to choose to marry the one wholoves you and wants the best for you—thatwould be the best way to live your life. Itwould be foolish to marry the one you knowwants your destruction. Nice, fun story—Ilike telling it. But here’s the reality. We reallyonly have two options with our lives. We canjesus’ story

choose to follow our selfish desires broughton by sin and the Evil One and encouragedby this world. Or we can choose God. We canchoose to follow Christ. We can choose his willfor our life and his plan for our actions.And suddenly, our hypothetical situationbecomes a little less hypothetical and a lotmore real for every single one of us. Who getsyour life’s wedding ring? Wouldn’t it makeperfect sense to give your life over to the onewho loved you enough to give his own lifefor you?God loves you. God created you. God wantsyour best and knows what that is. God aloneis worthy of our trust. And God has invited usto enjoy the abundant life in relationship withhim today .15

3.7 credit cards.1 The average American household carries over 15,000 in credit card debt.2 The average U.S. household debt is 136 percent of household income, which means the typical American family owes far more money than it makes in an entire year.3 The number of shopping