RobSmal 08-05-66  

Small Footprint: Big Handprint

How to live simply and love extravagantly


Tri Robinson

Ampelon Publishing, 2008, 158 pp., ISBN  978-0-9786394-8-8



Tri Robinson is the founding pastor of the Vineyard Boise Church in Boise, Idaho, a growing fellowship of more than 3,000.  He is the author of Saving God's Green Earth and Revolutionary Leadership.  When Tri and his wife met in the 60s they were looking for life answers in the simplicity movement as expressed by Emerson and Thoreau.  They lived for 20 years on an isolated family ranch where they provided most of their own needs from nature.  Tri urges simplicity in life to allow room to serve God. 


Footprint is used in reference to the environmental term "carbon footprint," meaning how much fuel is consumed daily because of our lifestyles, the size of our vehicles, the expanse and efficiency of our homes, and the waste we leave behind.


"It became my goal to leave a smaller footprint with my life and a bigger handprint of God." (13)


Debilitating complexity can be monetary, emotional, spiritual or relational.  (12) 


"Most Americans have too much stuff; stuff that often weighs them down and ultimately keeps them from a more simplified, freeing life." (13)


Chapter 1.  Small Footprint - Rendering down our lives

Everything was on the top shelf of my life's priorities.  It was too complex, too busy and too out-of-control.  "I realized that the great things that truly gave me joy and the things I deeply desired to invest my life in were being pushed aside for dozens of merely good things." (17)


Definition: "Simple living is a lifestyle that allows us to focus on the things that are most important to us, such as relationships both inside and outside of our families, without being encumbered by an inordinate amount of responsibilities that demand our attention." (20)


Simple living touches all areas of our lives: time, job, finances, hobbies, possessions.  "Has the great American dream become a living nightmare for too many of us?" (21)


Leaving a small footprint…is about creating space in your life to do things that matter." (24)


Action Point: Keep a daily log of how you spend your time for an entire week and begin to rate what's most important to what's least important." (25)


Chapter 2.  Big Handprint - Making a lasting positive impact

"But no matter where we are in our life's journey, we can always readjust our vision and begin seeing the world around us through the lens of an eternal perspective." (30)  "Is what you're doing today going to matter tomorrow?" (31) 


"Leaving a big handprint occurs when we make ourselves available to be used by God for his plans and purposes." (31) 


Many are tired of they way they are living.  They want their lives to be significant.  They want a positive answer to the question, "Will the world know that I was here?"  (33)


The three most important events in our human experience: (34)

1.  Discover the Creator for yourself

2.  Discover why you were created

3.  Do what you were created to do for the rest of your life.


"If we want our lives to count for something, we must leave a handprint that points people to the heart of Christ."  Let's love the unlovable and serve people in ways no one else is serving them.  "…resist culture's norm to serve ourselves and learn how to serve others in meaningful ways that transform their lives." (38)


Questions to Ponder:

1.  How are you currently impacting the world in which you live?

2.  In what ways can you increase the handprint of your life?


Chapter 3.  Pathway to Adventure - Seizing opportunity at every turn

"When it comes to adventure, there's nothing artificial about living a life of radical faith; however, we don't choose our adventure--it chooses us."  "Adventure with God begins with simplicity."  "You can't embark on a treacherous hike with 200 pounds of gear strapped to your back…." (44)


"Radical faith is best expressed when we're living simply, unencumbered by the things of this world." (45)


"Now more than ever, people who profess to be followers of Jesus must resist casual Christianity in lieu of coming to the aid of a world in decline.  Everywhere we look, there are images of a suffering humanity just begging for the practical demonstrations of the Gospel." (45)


"The world needs to experience a practical demonstration of the Gospel in order to realize that there is a God in Heaven who not only knows each person's name but also knows each person's pain." (46)


Some major issues:  dependence on oil, climate change, poverty, gap between rich and poor, human slave trafficking, worldwide epidemics.  Christians must be proactive and that means downsizing and simplifying our lives so that we're more free to proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel to people in crisis. (47-8)


Chapter 4.  A Simple Solution - The answer to two daunting commissions

"It feels like many adults are engaged in a life-long game of 'Bigger is Better.'  Some people's favorite word is 'upgrade.'" (55)


Jesus gave us two important commissions: 1) Care for creation. (Gen 1:28) and 2) Make disciples. (Mt 28:19) (57)


The practical way we care for creation (see his earlier book, Saving God's Green Earth) is through a small footprint. (59)


"…discipleship is a verb.  Discipleship isn't about what you say you believe; it's about what you demonstrate you believe." (60)


"Once we are truly following Jesus and walking out his commission to make disciples, we will make a lasting impact on the world." (61)


"His creation is important to him; otherwise he wouldn't have saved it and given detailed instructions on how to do so.  People are important to him; otherwise he wouldn't have sacrificed his son Jesus to have relationship with us." (62)  "If we truly believe that god created this world and that he loves it, one of the ways we will express our love and appreciation of his love is caring for creation." (63)


Questions to Ponder: In what ways have you shown love toward creation?

Action Point:  Identify and eliminate one area of your lifestyle that you deem to be excessive, then…  (64)


Chapter 5.  Less External Complexity - How our stuff creates barriers to leaving a big handprint.

"…you are what you can't let go of."  (67, quoting Brian Scudamore, CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK) 


"Complexity has a way of distracting us from simple truth and peace." (69)


"One of the greatest tragedies in humanity is for a person to come to the end of his or her life and realize that it was misspent." (72)


Look at the snapshot of your life comprised of your time, energy, and money.  What needs to change?  (73) 


"Are you set apart?"  "But are you really that committed to Christ that your life reflects uniqueness in Christ or do you just blend in with everyone else?"  Do your time, energy, and money reflect your passion and commitment to Christ? (74)


"There are no 'roll-over minutes' with God…"  What time wasters can you eliminate?  What good is coming out of the way I spend my extra time?  (76)


What needs pruning?  What in my life needs to go? (74)  "Possessions have a way of taking ownership of our lives." (78)


Chapter 6.  Less Internal Complexity - Making more room for God to work

"To make a difference in any situation, you must make yourself available to hear God's voice." (84)


"Internal conflict is the great thief of tranquility." (85)  "Practicing spiritual disciplines allows us to get before God and hear what He has to say…." (91)  "We need to hear him speak to us both through his Word and through prayer where we take the time to listen for his voice." (92)


Chapter 7.  More Preparedness - Being ready creates opportunity for bigger handprints

"What do I want to accomplish in this window of opportunity called life on earth?" (102)


"…see the potential in every situation both good and bad.  "Difficulty most often sets a stage of opportunity for those who desire to make the biggest handprint." (102)


"Winston [Churchill] had ten ideas every day, one of which was good, and he did not know what it was." (105, quoting Churchill's chief of staff) (105)


"I need to seek God and get his revelation…" (105)


"In order to pour out God's extravagant love on people, we must be prepared to serve at a moment's notice, which is much more possible when our lives are simplified and we've planned ahead." (109)  Develop a seven-year plan for your life. (111) 


Conclusion: Beyond the Big Handprint - Reform yourself and the church--or languish in irrelevance

1.      Seven categories of present day global crises:

2.      Spiritual deadness and confusion

3.      Environmental decline

4.      Disease, health and sanitation

5.      World hunger

6.      Human injustice

7.      Illiteracy

8.      Moral, visionary and organizational leadership


"However, the message of the love of God can never simply say 'be warm and be filled'--it must truly demonstrate God's love in practical and functional ways." (117)


"In the days ahead it will be Christian activism that will proclaim the Gospel message the loudest."  (118)  "Simple sanitation training, well-drilling and stagnant water removal alone could save thousands of lives a day." (118) 


"The world needs a church that is unified, equipped and empowered to take the true message of God's unending love right into the very middle of the turmoil and crisis.  Consider what would happen if one third of the world population that proclaims Christ as savior would rise up in unity and address these life threatening issues." (120)


Four steps to reformation and the Big Handprint

1.      Consecration - giving ourselves fully to the purposes of Christ.

2.      Transformation - a new worldview by the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2)

3.      Sanctification - becoming Christ-like in our attitudes and action with a holy righteous passion for a lost and dying world

4.      Reformation - both individually and corporately ready and equipped to embrace change from a consumer to a simpler lifestyle in order to be free and empowered to leave the world a better place.  (123-25)


[My life would have to be a lot more complicated before several of the author's personal examples of planning and simplifying would have reduced or eliminated complexity for me, but I suppose each person must begin where he is.  dlm]


* * * * *

Your comments and book recommendations are welcome.

To discontinue receiving book notes, hit Reply and put Discontinue in the text.