The Simple Guide to Finding God’s Will

So the end of the mat­ter is this: Live for God. Obey the Scrip­tures. Think of oth­ers before your­self. Be holy. Love Jesus. And as you do these things, do what­ever else you like, with whomever you like, wher­ever you like, and you’ll be walk­ing in the will of God.

Occa­sion­ally I like to read through the whole book of Eccle­si­astes in one sit­ting. At first it’s pretty depress­ing as you read about how every­thing we do is all in vain, but at the very end of the book, the author brings it all around and leaves the reader with a very sim­ple and some­what inspir­ing (depend­ing how you look at it) mes­sage. In Eccle­si­astes I believe I have found an answer to the age old ques­tion of find­ing God’s will for our lives.

Life is pointless.

Van­ity of van­i­ties, says the Preacher,
van­ity of van­i­ties! All is van­ity.
What does man gain by all the toil
at which he toils under the sun?
A gen­er­a­tion goes, and a gen­er­a­tion comes,
but the earth remains for­ever.
The sun rises, and the sun goes down,
and has­tens to the place where it rises.
The wind blows to the south
and goes around to the north;
around and around goes the wind,
and on its cir­cuits the wind returns.
All streams run to the sea,
but the sea is not full;
to the place where the streams flow,
there they flow again.
All things are full of weari­ness;
a man can­not utter it;
the eye is not sat­is­fied with see­ing,
nor the ear filled with hear­ing.
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is noth­ing new under the sun.
Is there a thing of which it is said,
“See, this is new”?
It has been already
in the ages before us.
There is no remem­brance of for­mer things,
nor will there be any remem­brance
of later things yet to be
among those who come after.
(Eccle­si­astes 1:2–11 ESV)

Your life sit­u­a­tion is not unique.

Did you see that part in the pre­vi­ous pas­sage where it says “there’s noth­ing new under the sun?” So often we like to think we’ve got a prob­lem that no one else can relate to. The truth is, all prob­lems can be cat­e­go­rized and boil down to a few things. Stop think­ing your prob­lem is this huge thing that can’t be solved. When you think your prob­lem is unique, we tend to down­play the advice we receive, even of those who are much older and wiser.

The first step in find­ing God’s will is rec­og­niz­ing that His will is sim­ple and so is your prob­lem (in one sense). Don’t over think.

Do what­ever you love.

So every­thing is point­less and noth­ing we do is new. We just keep rein­vent­ing the wheel and think we’re doing some­thing novel when in real­ity we’re not. So, the author boils his con­clu­sion of life down to this.

I per­ceived that there is noth­ing bet­ter for them than to be joy­ful and to do good as long as they live; also that every­one should eat and drink and take plea­sure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. (Ecc 3:12–13)

The author con­tin­ues to say this:

There is a van­ity that takes place on earth, that there are right­eous peo­ple to whom it hap­pens accord­ing to the deeds of the wicked, and there are wicked peo­ple to whom it hap­pens accord­ing to the deeds of the right­eous. I said that this also is van­ity. (Ecc 8:14)

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. (Ecc 11:9)

Basi­cally it’s knock­ing the idea of karma. Good peo­ple some­times suf­fer what we think bad peo­ple deserve and some­times bad peo­ple enjoy the ben­e­fits that we think are befit­ting of good peo­ple. There­fore, the sec­ond quotes con­cludes that the whole mat­ter is van­ity and there­fore we should just do what­ever we enjoy doing. Whether it’s morally good or bad, it doesn’t humanly matter.

You will be held accountable.

Chris­tians might freak a lit­tle bit at the thought the Bible would tell us we can do what­ever we want. Don’t get too hung up on that. The point is that it’s all van­ity. In real­ity, the author says in the very last sen­tence of the book, “For God will bring every deed into judg­ment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Here on earth, what you do doesn’t hold much weight, but that’s not to say it doesn’t count for some­thing in eternity.

The bot­tom line is to fear God and keep His commandments.

The end of the mat­ter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his com­mand­ments, for this is the whole duty of man.” That’s it, that’s all there is to say. You can share your story with me and make out your life sit­u­a­tion to be as com­plex as you think it is, but my response will always con­clude the same way. Are you fear­ing God and keep­ing his commandments?

What are the commandments?

Let me gen­er­ally list off the com­mand­ments for our life.

  1. Live/​pursue a life that mir­rors God’s holi­ness (Look at Exo­dus 20 and Gala­tians 5)
  2. Be involved and actively serv­ing in a local body of believ­ers. (Hebrews 10:25)
  3. Evan­ge­lize and dis­ci­ple peo­ple around you. (Matt 28:19)

Bring­ing it all together.

As an exam­ple, you may ques­tion if cos­me­tol­ogy is some­thing you can jus­tify doing as a Chris­t­ian for a liv­ing and how that fits into God’s plan. Well, my first ques­tion is if you ‘re actively being faith­ful in keep­ing the 3 com­mand­ments above? If you are and your desire to do what­ever it may be isn’t sin­ful, then that’s all I want to know. In fact, I encour­age peo­ple to be inte­rior design­ers or cos­me­tol­o­gist (often thought of as vain occu­pa­tions when in real­ity every­thing is vain) because you have an oppor­tu­nity to relate and there­fore min­is­ter to other peo­ple in those occu­pa­tions whereas it may not be as easy for me.

Fear God, keep his com­mand­ments, and do what­ever you desire. This is the chief end of man. You don’t need a writ­ing on the wall. God has given us the lib­erty to do what we love and it doesn’t have to be directly spir­i­tual, we just have to be inten­tion­ally spir­i­tual wher­ever we are, doing what­ever we’re doing.

6 people who taught me how to be happy

I had a friend recently com­ment that I seem sat­is­fied and happy with every­thing in my life. I responded by say­ing it wasn’t always that way, but through life expe­ri­ences I came to a place a cou­ple years ago where I am truly happy. It made me start reflect­ing on some of the most influ­en­tial peo­ple that have brought me to that point. Here’s my list.

Ricky Hill — “Don’t worry”

This was my col­lege room­mate who hailed from St. Vin­cent. He embod­ies the laid back cul­ture of the Caribbean. We’d have long dis­cus­sions in our room about life and per­sonal respon­si­bil­ity. He walked around cam­pus seem­ingly with­out a care in the world. I use to despise that atti­tude until one day it hit me that life is what it is and there’s lit­tle you can do about it, so don’t worry.

Jacques Paganel — “Enjoy it!”

Jacques Paganel is a char­ac­ter in the old Dis­ney film “In Search of the Cast­aways.” Don’t know why but there’s a scene that’s stuck in my mind. They were in this huge tree and trapped by flood waters. Jacques begins singing a song enti­tled “Enjoy It” which talks about see­ing the sil­ver lin­ing. Here’s a few of the lines, “A hur­ri­cane comes your way, enjoy the breeze. You’re stranded in the jun­gle, enjoy the trees. Voila, that’s life, enjoy it!”.

William Bor­den — “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets”

I read this guy’s biog­ra­phy in mid­dle school. It has had a pro­found affect on my life as I learned about a man who had incred­i­ble ambi­tions in life and died at the age of 29 before accom­plish­ing what he set out to do. In his Bible he penned, “No reserves. No retreats. No regrets.” Was he per­fect? No. I resolved a long time ago never to have regrets but to real­ize that expe­ri­ences, good or bad, are all good ulti­mately, depend­ing on what you do with them. I have no regrets. To me, what doesn’t kill me, only makes me stronger. One of my tag lines is, “Life is what you make it to be, and I choose to live extraordinarily.”

Mary Pop­pins — “Make life a game”

Another Dis­ney char­ac­ter we all know well. If you know me per­son­ally, you might have heard me say that life is a game or one big joke. It’s not to say I don’t take life seri­ously but I try to be light hearted as I make my way through life. Mary Pop­pins taught the chil­dren a les­son one day while they were clean­ing their rooms how to make it a game. I’ve tried to employ that prin­ci­ple by mak­ing the most out of what I do and make it fun.

Reepicheep — “This is an adventure!”

Another char­ac­ter who’s atti­tude has affected me is Reepicheep from the Nar­nia movies. His high spir­its and knack for adven­ture have become some­thing I try imper­son­ate. I try to look at life as one big adven­ture, never know­ing what the next turn will bring. I’ve come to appre­ci­ate the lit­tle things and get excited about them whether it be meet­ing a new friend or hav­ing a new expe­ri­ence. Every­day is an adven­ture because every­day is a blank canvas.

Paul (the apos­tle) – “I have learned in what­ever sit­u­a­tion I am to be content.”

Paul is an awe­some exam­ple to me. My favorite book in the Bible is Phillip­i­ans and it’s writ­ten by Paul who is in jail. He says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every cir­cum­stance, I have learned the secret of fac­ing plenty and hunger, abun­dance and need. I can do all things through him [Christ] who strength­ens me.” That’s ulti­mately the “secret” to my hap­pi­ness. I have Christ and he is all I need.

Stop Calling Me a Minimalist

I just finished reading Everett’s latest blog post “F*** Minimalism“. He’s come to some realizations that minimalism isn’t the end all. It’s a good reminder to those of us who’ve claimed the hip tag of “minimalist”. I specifically chose Live [Simply] Free because my life isn’t just about minimalism. That was just one part of living free through simplistic means.

Unfortunately, something about the reckless abandonment of minimalism attracts the most attention. Well, minimalism is part of who I am, but I’m done minimizing. I can’t go any further. I’d like to think there’s a lot more to my life than just getting rid of stuff. That reputation needs to change.

My blog’s name is Live [Simply] Free. If we’re to be known as anything, let it be this.

Live. I’m a Christian and therefore am compelled to live by a different set of standards found in the Bible.

Simply. To keep my eyes on the cross, it takes getting rid of distractions (material and mental)

Free. True freedom is found in Christ. And freedom equals happiness. And when living for Christ, life’s adventures are limitless, and the mundane becomes extraordinary.

On Spontaneity and Having Fun

Living simple is suppose to create happiness and freedom but sometimes that’s not enough. In my case I’m living more simple than ever before and yet I’ve noticed a significant diminish in my “cheeriness” level. If you asked me what’s wrong, I couldn’t tell you. Everything had actually been going in my favor. Yet something was missing in my simplistic lifestyle.

Even though I’ve set up my life to where everything I do is something I enjoy doing, it still can become an enjoyable routine. Every once in awhile there’s a need for spontanaity. Notice I said spontanaity and not just having fun. Because in my life everything I do is fun but there’s a certain level of normalcy about it and it’s all penciled into my schedule. I had a New Year’s Eve party at my house which was fun but it was still run of the mill because I had to plan it.

New Year’s Eve differs from last night when I just went out to eat with some friends, kicked back, and shot the breeze. Then after that a group of us got wind of place with a local band and went there for awhile. It was so relaxing and I felt that it being short notice made it more special than something being planned and thought over.

So what am I trying to say? Just don’t get caught in the tracks of your life. Every once in awhile leave space in your schedule not to be a couch potato at home but to text some friends and see who wants go to do something. What’s fun for you is probably different than what’s fun for me, but the point isn’t what you do but that you take the initiative to do something. After all, isn’t that part of why we’re trying to be simplistic so that it frees us up to live more of life? What good are those efforts if we don’t take advantage of those new found freedoms?

New Year “Resolutions” 2011

I wrote in my Christmas greetings how last year was all about getting established, and this year is going to be about building on that foundation in a number of ways. New Year resolutions are overrated, I’m more about New Year principals. I have a number that I pulled and made my own from Jonathan Edward’s resolutions.

Here’s my main goals I’d like to see happen in my life this year.

  1. Redefine Christianity for my life. (If you want to know what that means, keep reading my blog this year)
  2. Come to an end on my minimalist (not simplicity) journey (I’m well aware that my journey will restart if a variable changes in my life such as getting married, moving, etc)
  3. Find my own apartment
  4. Graduate Paramedic school

Here’s a link to a list of what I call my “Life Rules“.

Top 10 Posts Worth Reviewing in 2010

It’s been a great year being able to write on this blog, and it’s been neat to see how it’s grown since its inception. Based on how many people visited, here’s a list of the top 10 most visited posts on Live [Simply] Free. Happy New Year!

10. How to Prepare for Minimalist Travel

9. Setting Up to Live Extraordinarily

8. The Ultimate Trick to Waking Up Early

7. A Look At What I’m Packing | Mission:Kenya

6. Traditional Minimalists Live in a Bubble

5. Reply to: Carry Less Stuff

4. The Harris Family Lives Simple in Kenya

3. Christmas Greetings 2010 from Andrew Randazzo

2. Not Your Average Minimalist

1. Oh The Places You’ll Go

Christmas Greetings 2010 from Andrew Randazzo

It’s been a good year, the best in my life actually. So much has happened in the past year that it feels like it’s been 2yr. A year ago I graduated from college and was determined to transform my life. It all started with this idea of simplicity and minimalism, and everyone thought I was crazy and that it was just a passing fad. People still think I’m crazy, but now a year later, people are getting the idea that this isn’t just a passing fad.

I started a 1-year internship in January with my church, Calvary Community. It really turned out to be mentorship and it was a huge personal growing experience more than anything else. I also had the opportunity to be baptized in February after realizing I hadn’t been baptized after my true conversion back in high school. Some of the more visible things I did during my internship included organizing fellowships and putting together a kid’s Bible camp.

I also got a job working at Apple which was a great experience and really broadened my horizons in a lot of ways. That job also helped me really get connected to people and things going on in this area. Coming from school where I had built up a large network, now I was back at square one. So, one of my goals was to build up my network.

The beginning of the year was a challenge as I transitioned out of college mode into the young-working-adult-phase. It was a whole new world to me as I learned how to interact and relate with other people in the same phase of life and also the families in my church. I also began defining my life by narrowing down my activities to a few specifics. So, over the course of a year I’ve devoted myself to my church first and formost, my job, and blogging. I also picked up a couple hobbies including swimming and wake boarding.

In the Fall, I made a career change and moved from retail to the medical field as an EMT for an ambulance service. This is the field I plan to pursue. I went through a rigorous application process to get into Paramedic school, and God blessed by allowing me to get in and a full year of medic school starts in January of 2011.

Part of my life transformation was composing a motto for my life, and mine says “Life is what you make it to be, and I choose to live extraordinarily.” There has not been an exception to that, and I can say that everyday of this year has been an incredible adventure. One of those unique adventures was traveling to Kenya for a month in November. The first half was spent by myself and the second half was spent with a group from my church. I documented everyday of that trip and you can read more about some of my crazy stories at Mission:Kenya.

Near the end of this year, I’ve been asking God to put some godly friends into my life, and He has been faithful to that request and I’m beginning to build a core group of friends. So here I am, finally planted in my new phase of life and ready to take on the new year and keep moving forward. Now that I’ve got my feet on the ground, hopefully this coming year will be my time to bloom.

Here’s some pictures for everyone. You can click on them for descriptions. I hope all of you will have a sensational up and coming year. God bless!

Society Wants Opinions They Don’t Want

I’m in the car last week with my siblings and we all decided that we wanted Taco Bell.  So, we pulled off at the nearest exit that had one.  After getting back on the road, a few miles later my sister recognized an exit and said, “We should’ve stopped here. There’s more options at this exit.”

There could’ve been 100 options or just 1, it didn’t matter as long as it had a Taco Bell.

That kind of thinking, though, is so typical of our American culture.

We instinctively want more without realizing all we really want is 1 “thing”.

A Lesson From “Forest Gump”

I watched Forest Gump (all time favorite) this past weekend.  Not exactly about minimalism, but here’s some lessons I think every person should consider.

  • Integrity is above all else
  • Kindness generates loyalty
  • Your passion for something is what inspires the most (so don’t try to inspire, just LIVE)
  • Never moving up the ladder and enjoying work is better than becoming miserable as a CEO because in the end we all die and all that stuff we accumulated won’t matter.
  • Don’t be quick to let go of an old friendship
  • Be unassuming
  • Look outside yourself and serve others, it’s more rewarding