Chapter 6 of Becca Ehrlich’s “Christian Minimalism” A Sneak Preview


This Sunday night we will hold our 3rd Book Study discussion on Becca Ehrlich’s new book, “Christian Minimalism: Simple Steps for Abundant Living.” Each and every chapter for me has been enjoyable and compelling. And yes, challenging too. But the two chapters that we will be discussing this Sunday are, perhaps, the two most important.


Chapter 7 is called “Vocation.” It’s about our calling from God, something every follower of Jesus should be reflecting upon and praying about all the time. But it’s Chapter 6 – “Spiritual Growth,” that I want to highlight in this article.


Below I will offer you a few excerpts and statements from that chapter in order to provide a sneak-preview of the kinds of things we will be talking about Sunday evening – and individually should be thinking about often.


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Let’s start with this statement that opens up the chapter. As you read it, I want you to think about this: “Do I believe in my heart every word of each of these sentences?” Here it is:


Being a Jesus follower means cultivating our relationship with God. It’s a natural part of who we are. Jesus himself took time to pray, even when He was busy traveling and teaching and doing ministry. Because we have the Holy Spirit living in us, we are able to listen to the Spirit’s leading and inspiration even as we go about our everyday lives.


What do you truly believe in this statement? Which parts of it are harder to answer than others? Do you consider yourself a Jesus follower, even after reading this? Why, or Why Not?


Ehrlich claims that all the stuff we accumulate is actually garbage. She says that “we keep material possessions and bad habits and toxic people because we think we should, or because we are scared of what will happen if we get rid of it all.” Keeping these things “stinks up our lives” and builds a wall between us and God. Her point is that we need to put God first in our lives … not just by saying it, but by actually living it.


To emphasize her point, she quotes the Apostle Paul from his letter to the Philippians. Compare Paul’s view of the value of God in his life with your own view of God in your life, as you read this excerpt from Philippians 3:7-8.


Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.


Have you ever experienced the “infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus”? If yes, how has that affected the way you live in a culture where more is always better? If not, what are the things in your life that may be keeping you from “gaining Christ” and becoming one with him?


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When discussing how we use our time and money, Ehrlich uses an example that she says shows up in a lot of TV shows and movies. Read this and see if it could be a description of your own life.


… someone who works more and more hours to gain more and more money or recognition and has too little energy or time for loved ones.


Can you relate to this in your own life, or in the lives of friends and peers around you? Does this hit close to home?


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In the section called “Be Still,” Ehrlich proposes that God gives us a different way to live our lives, in contradiction to the lifestyle our culture promotes. Are you looking for an alternative lifestyle? Have you ever thought about it? Have you ever heard that Jesus promotes an alternative lifestyle? See if you agree with her statement below:


God offers us a different way of life. How are we to be still and listen for God if we are never still? How are we to exalt God and put God first when everything else in our lives crowds into our time? God did not create us to run full-speed through life, never noticing God’s actions. We were made to listen for God and notice what God is doing.


When is the last time you sat still and just listened for God? Did you hear anything? Did you feel like you had to hurry up because you have so many other things to do?


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In the section on “Surrender,” Ehrlich talks about the difficult challenge of surrendering to God. She describes her own struggle below. See if you can relate to her journey to surrender.


My whole life, I have struggled to surrender to God. I usually think my plan is better than God’s and charge ahead, never taking time to listen for what God’s plan might be. This has gotten me into trouble many, many times. You would think I’d have learned my lesson after each time, but clearly I am a slow learner.


Do you share that same experience with Becca Ehrlich? What is your aversion to surrendering to God caused by? This is how she describes her own challenge:


Since I had previously lived my life one way for over thirty years, grasping at control wherever I could, surrendering has been hard work. But here’s the thing: surrender = freedom.


What do you think Ehrlich means by “surrender = freedom”? Do you believe that? What things in your life are you perhaps over-controlling, but don’t really stop to notice it?


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My last example is from her section on “Fasting,” although for Ehrlich, the practice of fasting can (should?) apply to almost any part of our daily lives. One area she focuses on is that great American pastime, shopping. She describes her year-long fasting from shopping experience, and then offers us her “3 Biggest Takeaways.” See if any of these resonate with your life.


Takeaway #1: We often buy and consume on automatic pilot.

Takeaway #2: We regularly mix up our needs and our wants.

Takeaway #3: We need less than we think we do.


If these do relate to your own life, do you have any motivation to change? Why, or Why Not? Have you ever fasted? If not, would you be willing to try if it meant a closer connection with God?


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I hope you can join our little group this Sunday at 6pm in the overflow space. Even if you don’t share a word, you will still soak in a lot of good and useful wisdom from those gathered.


Stay well. Stand strong. Keep your eyes on Jesus –                                            Pastor Bob <><