Living with your eyes wide open

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In this week’s episode of The Connected Kingdom, we talk to Steve DeWitt. Steve is the author of Eyes Wide Open, (Tim’s review and my review). It is a book about beauty, about learning to enjoy God in everything. We talk to Steve about:

  • Getting married (just a few weeks ago) at the age of 44 and after 20 years in ministry
  • Why God created this world to be beautiful
  • How beauty is meant to motivate worship
  • Whether beautiful art is objectively good or whether there needs to be an explicit gospel message
  • Why beauty can be so closely associated with lust

And lots more.

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Soul Care Garage: Rest & Recreation

Yesterday we visited the first two bays in the Soul Care Garage. Today we visit Service Bays 3&4.

Service Bay 3: Recreation

In the garageBodily exercise is profitable (1 Tim. 4:8). Moderate physical exercise helps to expel unhelpful chemicals from our system and stimulates the production of helpful chemicals. Outdoor exercise has the added benefit of the sun’s healing rays. Spurgeon said: “The next best thing to the grace of God for a preacher is oxygen.”

John Wesley attributed his great age and remarkable usefulness even in his eighties to God’s power, prayer, and his regular exercise in the fresh air! William Blaikie said: “It is very certain that due attention to physical exercise is an essential condition of sustained vigorous preaching. The command to be ‘strong in the Lord’ includes strength of body as well of strength of soul.”

Is God glorified in our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20) when we rob them of what they need to function properly? Do we glorify our Creator when we remain willingly ignorant of or reject the knowledge He has kindly provided in His created order, information that we need to keep our re-create our bodies and stay healthy?

Service Bay 4: Rest

Open

A Christian psychologist said to me that he starts most depressed people on three pills: “Good exercise, good diet, and good sleep!” That’s great advice, and I would encourage you to make use of the plentiful resources available today on these subjects.

Daily rest

As regular sleep patterns enable the body and mind to repair and re-charge, set fixed times for going to bed and getting up, and try to get at a minimum of seven, and an ideal of eight hours, of sleep per night.

Weekly rest
And remember God’s gift of weekly rest. Secure a weekly intellectual Sabbath to refresh your mind. The devotion of one day to rest will not lose you time but rather help you to gain it as the other days will be more decisive and vigorous.

My wife has forced me to take one day off a week throughout my ministry; usually it was a Monday as we were home-schooling. Perhaps twice I managed to persuade her that I really needed the rest day to be a work day, but both weeks were a disaster. Overall I accomplished less than I would have had I taken the day off and properly rested my body and mind.

Small print for pastors?
It doesn’t say, “Six days you shall labor…unless you are a pastor who must work seven.” It’s a command…”Six days you shall labor, but the seventh is to be a Sabbath of rest.” It takes faith to obey this. Reason and society says, “If you work seven days you’ll get more done!” But as you practice weekly Sabbath, you will begin to see how gracious, merciful, and wise God’s commands are.

Tomorrow we’ll visit another two service bays in the Soul Care Garage.

This is an edited version of an article that was first published at Gospel Centered Discipleship.


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7 Service Bays in the Soul Care Garage

As with your car, if you regularly service your soul you are far less likely to experience burnout, breakdown, or a crash.  So let me take you to the Soul Care Garage and show you round the seven service bays, starting with the first two today: Routine and Relaxation.

And if you’ve failed to service your soul, if you’ve already hit the wall, crashed, and burned, you need to visit the same seven service bays. You just need to spend longer in each of them.

Service Bay 1: Routine

Service BaysRegular routine is one of the first things to fall by the wayside when we become too busy. We respond to increasing demands by increasing our accessibility and availability. Our regular daily routine is squeezed, then disrupted, and then displaced.

We end up feeling like passive victims waiting for things to happen – emails to arrive, phones to ring, and requests for help to knock on the door. We are knocked from pillar to post, running from one crisis to another.

Weakened wills
Even when we get some quiet, uninterrupted time, we are so tired and wrung out that we lack the will and discipline to use that time wisely and well. We end up doing only what we feel like doing – which is not very much – as our wills and decisiveness are so weakened.

The first question I ask burn-outs is: “Tell me your daily routine.” Usually the answer is “I don’t have one…Every day is different.” I press further, “Is there nothing constant from one day to another?” Again, usually the answer is “No.”

Basic routine
The first thing I do is to get them to draw up a basic routine of sleeping, worshipping, eating, working, studying, etc., that they then commit to. God is a God of order, not of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), and as His created image-bearers we glorify Him when we live regular, orderly lives. He has made our bodies so that they flourish

when they have a rhythm and regularity.

Now, of course, there are elements of life, and especially of ministry, that we cannot predict or regulate, but we can usually do a lot more than we presently are. Start with regular bed times and rise times. Read and pray in the same place at the same time each day, preferably in privacy, and before you see or speak to anyone else. Set family meal times and stick to them. The more regularity you can build into your day and your week, the more your body, mind, and soul will flourish.

Service Bay 2: Relaxation

Esso Garage @ Ground Level 2

We need to incorporate times of relaxation into our lives. This may involve finding a quiet spot at regular times throughout the day to simply pause for 5-10 minutes, calm down, and seek the peace of God in our lives. Unstretch the band, let the tension go, breathe deeply, pray and remember God.

Jesus recognized His disciples need for relaxation when He took them “apart into a desert place, and rested a while” (Mark 6:31).

Learning to relaxe
You’ll find lots of websites and books that outline many varied relaxation techniques. These are usually effective and easy to learn. Once you try some of these you’ll soon learn straight how tense you actually are. Many of us are living like a flexed muscle, coiled tight from tip to toe. Is it any wonder that we’re exhausted and feel aches and pains all over!

Many of us actually need to learn how to breathe properly again. When we are stressed, anxious, and tense, our breathing becomes shallow, starving our body and brain of oxygen, increasing the difficulty of physical and intellectual work. Again, websites abound with helpful exercises that will help you to become conscious of your breathing habits and re-train them if you’ve learned bad habits.

Computer or communion sermons?
As I mentioned before, many creative breakthroughs are made in quiet downtimes. I believe many preachers could do with working less on their sermons. What I mean by that is getting away from scanning commentaries and hammering away on the computer, and communing with God in quiet reflective walks. There are computer sermons, and there are communion sermons! There are sermons that collate others thoughts and there are sermons that flow out of communion with God in His Word.

Tomorrow we’ll visit another two service bays in the Soul Care Garage.

This is an edited version of an article that was first published at Gospel Centered Discipleship.


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