“So, You Want to Be Like Christ?”: Five Sources of Mind Clutter

I’ve been reading through Chuck Swindoll’s “So, You Want to Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials to Get You There”. I’ve been using his section on prayer as we study this in our small groups on Wednesday evenings.

It is a relatively small book, numbering 188 pages. But this morning I came across an excellent chapter on simplicity. Toward the beginning of his chapter he wisely states, “Christlikeness is a journey, not a destination….” [Swindoll, 2005]

I think that we often forget that our journey is one of a lifetime. In our society our goal is efficiency, productivity, the mastering of each and every second. I am wired this way. I miss so much because I feel as those I am wasting time if I am not doing something. I can’t just sit and rock in the rocking chair. I have to read, write, plan. And while there is definitely wisdom in capturing every moment (Ephesians 5.16) there are times when we simply need to sit. Just sit and listen. 


Imagine yourself as the individual in the picture. Hear the birds chirping, the cicadas as the sing to each other, the wind rustling the leafs, and the waves lapping the shore. This is simplicity. Imagine hearing that still, small voice of God speak peace to your heart (I Kings 19.11-13, cf. Mark 1.35).

So what keeps us from this simplicity? What “clutters” our minds, as Swindoll discusses? He offers “five sources of mind-clutter common to the twenty-first century.” [Swindoll, 2005]

  1. First, most of us today say yes to far too many things. -How often do we say no? I mean simply say no? We almost think it is rude to turn down that lunch invitation, that movie request, that hang out time with a friend. But it’s okay to say no. And in order to simplify our lives, we must become more accustomed to saying no.
  2. Second, most of us do not plan time for leisure and rejuvenation. – My wife is one of the most organized individuals I have ever met. She schedules everything. And once she has made a schedule she sticks to it. I love that! I was fairly organized before we got married, but I’ve learned so much from over over the past six years from her. And one thing she schedules is down time. Now I used to think that was insane. Like, why do you need to schedule that? Don’t you just simply take a break? But the problem is that we don’t take breaks. We find more tasks to be completed, more projects that need starting, and so on. So, if you are a planner, plan time to rest.
  3. Third, most of us rarely experience the joy of accomplishment.– Swindoll references Proverbs 13.19. How true is that? When was the last time you completed a project? Finished a book? How many times have we started something only to leave it to begin another? Simplifying our lives means focusing on a given project, assignment, or desire to its completion. 
  4. Fourth, most people living in wealthy countries owe more than they can hope to repay. –This is something a vast majority of Americans struggle with, including myself. The desire for more and the ease of credit cards has helped create a society built on covetousness and greed. We work to pay bills for items we purchased to have no time to use or enjoy. Simplifying our lives means enjoying the things we have, taking time to enjoy that cup of tea, watching the sunset, or simply sitting in stillness. 
  5. Fifth, most of us fool ourselves into thinking that with out modern technology, we have simplified our lives. –Swindoll writes, “In an age when, thanks to technology, most everything requires a tiny fraction of the time it did just a century ago, we have less unoccupied time than ever!” [Swindoll, 2005] I often lament this fact. My wife and I love watching Andy Griffth, and one of the things I love about that show is the pace of life. Now certainly they were busy, and assuredly they had busy seasons of life. But in more than one episode you find Andy reading a newspaper while drinking coffee, Opee sitting in the floor playing with a toy, and Aunt Bee knitting. It seems so peaceful. Now we are all on our smart phones, multitasking between emails, texts, the latest breaking news, planning that trip to the parents, paying that electric bill, all while binge watching the popular show on Netflix. What a vast difference! And while I love many of our advances in technology, I often wonder what we have lost for the exchange of convenience

So what needs to be eliminated? How can we simplify our lives? Life is a journey. Don’t become so bogged down on the road map that you miss the amazing people, places, and perspectives you come across.

‘If You Can Keep It’, A Review

Eric Metaxas’s addresses a vital need for the hour of this country. The views that one holds of one’s own country will affect how one lives. How one lives affects how a country functions. And how a country functions determines the lives of countless others.

There is no doubt that Metaxas loves the United States of America. Almost every story is told with attention to detail, but more than that, a love of the people who helped shaped this land for over two centuries. He writes with the tone of a mother who is grieving for a wayward son. He writes in the introduction, “We have a charge to keep. This book is about seeing that we understand this again—and that we keep that charge, that republic, that glorious promise.” [Eric Metaxas, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (New York, Penguin: 2016), 15]

His book reads as if he is sitting across from you, briefly taking sips of steaming coffee before continuing his discussion about the country he loves. He tells you of stories about many men and women who have stood firm in the face of unsurmountable difficulties, who forged ahead on uncertain and challenging roads, and who made incredibly tough decisions. From great men like Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King Jr., Eric Metaxas draws on an even greater idea, that of self-government. In fact, more than the individuals he addresses, Metaxas’s focus is on the basis of the greatness of this country and the wild requirements to maintain such a place.

The book encourages the reeducation of Americans, whether they are Jewish or Muslim, whether agnostic of atheist. He draws on personal experience and history from America to help create a hunger for the rich diversity that is the United States.

One drawback is the lack of citations. There are only eight notes, and of those only four are citations. If one is familiar with the writings of Metaxas, particularly of his historical biographies, one may feel disappointed. However, it is more of a manifesto for a revival of love for America. So it suits his purpose to provide a more readable and less dense work.

Eric Metaxas is a Christian, so it should not come as a surprise that his work is filled with Scripture and references to accounts of the life of Jesus. For some this may be an issue, particularly to those who tend to hold negative views of religion. But it is written from a neighborly perspective, and not as one who is simply speaking to one to make a proselyte.

If you would like to know more about America, this is a great start. Addressing everything from our beauty to our warts, Metaxas presents a magnificent view of the United States. If you have lived in this country for long, then it is more than likely that you have ill-feelings toward this nation. Metaxas’s work is a wonderful reminder of the genesis of America, a birds-eye view of arguably the greatest nation in the history of civilization.

Purchase your copy now!