Children’s Bible Reading Plan

This week’s morning and evening reading plan in Word and pdf.

This week’s single reading plan for morning or evening in Word and pdf.

If you want to start at the beginning, this is the first 12 months of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s the first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

And here’s an explanation of the plan.

Creationist Quarterbacks

Imagine a football coach who only works with the quarterback. Every day he devises training plans, tactical strategies, and plays for him, while hardly saying “Hello” to anyone else at the club. And – surprise, surprise – the team is losing games. The other players are growing fat and lazy. When they get on the pitch, they don’t know what to do or where to go, and even if they wanted to, they couldn’t because of their lack of fitness.

That’s how I see the state of play in the Creation v Evolution debate. We’re training a few creationist quarterbacks, and scoring the odd touchdown, but we’re at risk of losing the game (the doctrine of Creation) because we’re ignoring, neglecting, and forgetting the wider picture, the rest of the team.

Diversion by concentration
Although the Devil has so far failed to win the Creation v Evolution debate (largely due to the skill and courage of our creationist quarterbacks), by concentrating the church’s attention almost exclusively upon this issue, he’s often successfully diverted our attention away from the size, scope, and significance of the Bible’s teaching on what creation is, who is our Creator, and what does it mean to live as His creatures in His creation.

I’m all for training the quarterback debaters and apologists, and for supporting the ministries that do this vital frontline work. But I want us to build a much fuller, wider, and deeper understanding of creation, and to work out its massive implications for the Church, for society, and for our personal lives.

A creationist creates
I want to train the whole team and bring more players into the game. I want our apologists and debaters to continue their valiant fight, but I want ordinary Christians to move from being mere spectators of the debaters to being active participants in other creation-related areas.

To put it simply, I don’t want just a few Christians fighting for the doctrine of creation, I want all Christians to be creative. Or to put it another way, while some are called to defend our Creator, we are all called to image our Creator, to create like our Creator.

Being a “creationist” is a much larger calling than defeating evolutionists. A real creationist creates.

Previous Posts in Created to Create series
Competitive Creativity
“But I’m just a Mom!”
Creatorless Creativity

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Creatorless Creativity

For all the creativity enthusiasm evidenced in multiple creativity websites, blogs, books, conferences, and talks, there’s a black hole at the center of most of them.

There’s no Creator.

There are multiple creators but there’s no Creator. It’s a Creator-less creativity. It’s creativity hovering somewhere in mid-air, neither grounded in the creative work of God, nor aiming at the glory of our Creator. It’s a creativity that worships and serves the creature rather than the Creator (Rom. 1:25).

Crippled Creativity
As long as it remains such, it’s going to be a crippled creativity. How can it be otherwise? If we deny or ignore the source of all creativity, and if we take to ourselves the applause for any and all creativity, can we expect the Creator to keep sharing His creativity with us?

Or to put it more positively, how much more might we create, discover, and invent if we started (and continued) by acknowledging our 100% dependence on our Creator, and if we gave the glory of our discoveries, inventions, and creations to Him alone?

Who knows how many diseases we would cure, how many energy problems we would solve, how many new masterpieces would be painted, how many new technologies would be invented, how many innovative businesses would be established, etc? On a more ordinary level, who knows how much more satisfaction we would get in our everyday callings by more consciously living as our Creator’s image-bearers.

Ground, Glory and Gas of Creativity
In future articles, I want to demonstrate that the ground, glory, and “gas” of all creativity is our Creator God. I want to pull creativity out of its present precarious mid-air uncertainty and to connect it, and all creatives, to our Creator.

It’s hard to understand anything without connecting it to the foundational biblical teaching on   creation. But it’s especially hard to understand creativity, or make any progress in it, without our Creator.

Creator denial
And, of course, if our Creator is not only ignored but his very existence denied, then we can’t reasonably expect Him to share much of His creativity with us, can we?

I know a pastor who used to be regularly invited to speak about theological and moral issues in universities and colleges. In one debate, the initially friendly reception turned hostile the moment he told the students that research did not involve creating facts or truths but only in discovering the facts and truths that God had already created.

The room temperature wasn’t helped when the pastor went on to argue that we were all dependent on God for revealing these truths and facts to us, and that without His revelation, we wouldn’t find out anything new!

But that’s the truth. And I firmly believe that if we acknowledged our Creator more and practiced such dependence upon Him, creativity would flow and flood, and our labs and workshops would be unable to contain the discoveries and inventions He would give us access to. It would also elevate the more mundane creativity we exercise in our daily callings.

Next we’ll we look at Creationist Quarterbacks!

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Previous Posts in Created to Create series
Competitive Creativity
“But I’m just a Mom!”

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“But I’m just a Mom”

“But I’m just a Mom!” “But I don’t have a PhD!” “But I work in an office!” “But I’m only 15!” That’s what you’re thinking isn’t it. Creativity is for boffins, eccentrics, artists, novelists, designers and geniuses. “Jobs, Gates, Ford, Edison, J.K Rowling, Gucci…me! My name doesn’t belong in such a pantheon.”

Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Every single one of us is a creator. Whether we are a plumber, an architect, a farmer, a secretary, a homemaker, a student, or a preacher, we are all creating something every day of our lives:

  • I see a muddy plumber creating a water-tight waste disposal pipe connection.
  • I see a suited architect creating an energy-efficient office.
  • I see a sweating farmer creating hundreds of perfect furrows.
  • I see a stressed secretary creating an efficient filing system.
  • I see a bedraggled homemaker creating a beautiful meal in the kitchen.
  • I see a diligent student creating an entertaining presentation on electricity.
  • I see a faithful preacher creating an engaging and attractive sermon.

Creators all!
And that’s how God views us too. If we could catch even a glimpse of how God views us as His image-bearing co-creators, it would not only revolutionize the way we view and do our ordinary everyday work, it would also inspire us to exercise our Creator’s creative gifts in all of life.

That’s because nothing is more powerful in our lives than the way we view ourselves. If I view myself as a passive cog in a machine, I’m unlikely to take much initiative, and I’m probably going to blame others for my problems. If I view myself as the center of the world, then I’ll spend my time trying to get others to serve me and to meet my needs. Neither of these self-images will help to produce personal creativity. Indeed they will block and stifle it.

Miss or Dismiss
Sadly, the Church has often failed to articulate our image-bearing in positive and practical terms. For example, if you look up commentaries on Genesis 1:26-28, where humanity made in God’s image is introduced, you’ll find that most of them get thoroughly bogged down in philosophical and existential questions about what “image” and “likeness” mean. However most miss or dismiss the connection between these two words and the immediate context of “filling” and “ruling” the earth.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism defines the image of God as follows:

God created man male and female, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Although this answer mentions our creation-dominion, most expositions of the catechism focus on knowledge, righteousness, and holiness, and pay little attention to the last phrase “with dominion over the creatures.”

Such a one-sided focus on “knowledge, righteousness, and holiness” produces images of books, classrooms, and church services. However, when we add “filling” and “ruling,” we extend our image-bearing to the home, the office, the factory, and the yard, and in fact to “the whole earth” (Gen. 1:26, 28).

While the New Testament confirms that the image of God includes knowledge, righteousness, and holiness (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), it also connects that spiritual likeness with practical Christian living that manifests itself in managing and thriving in life’s multiple relationships and responsibilities (Eph.4:25ff; Col. 3:11ff). In other words, image-bearing creativity is exercised and demonstrated by ordinary people in everyday life.

Creativity Fuel
By including “filling” and “ruling” in our understanding of being made in God’s image, we pump gallons of creativity-fuel into our lives. For Adam, imaging his Creator meant innovating and pioneering in managing animals and cultivating the soil. For us it may mean displaying creativity in cooking meals, in administering an office, in building a house, in growing a garden, or in writing a term paper.

Though we are separated from Adam by thousands of years, and aeons of technology, our self-image remains the key to productivity and creativity. “Who am I?” will determine “What will I do?”

Tomorrow we’ll look at a second major creative block: Creatorless Creativity.

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Previous Posts in Created to Create series
Competitive Creativity

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Competitive Creativity

How can America, and other Western nations, compete with the new, fast-growing, low-cost, economies of the Far East? “Creativity” is an increasingly common answer.  “We can’t compete on cost but we can beat them with our brains.” Invention, ingenuity, and innovation are what made America great, and can make her great again.

This is the nation that gave the world Ford, the airplane, Coca-Cola, dental floss, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and even the moon! What can’t America do? It’s the “can-do” and “will-do” nation. Pioneering is an American gene; exploration runs in American blood. When Americans meet boundaries, Americans always win.

Great history…but great future?
It’s a great history. But what about the present? And how does the future look? Maybe not so great.

It’s not that the creative American spirit has been extinguished; there are still many inspiring examples of that pioneering, exploring, boundary-breaking mindset in many American individuals, teams, businesses and institutions.  However, as we look ahead into the future, there’s a fear, an uneasiness, a concern that this historic competitive edge of creativity is not as sharp nor as cutting as it once was.

Sagging confidence
America’s confidence has been dented and shaken by multiple blows over the past couple of decades. The bursting of the dot-com bubble, 9/11, two long and costly wars, the sub-prime mortgage devastation, the stock-market crash, the soaring costs of college education, healthcare fears, the bankruptcy of social security, cancellation of the Space Shuttle program, and the rise of new powers like China, all have combined to deflate American buoyancy and optimism. Sagging confidence and gnawing fear do not dig fertile ground for creativity and innovation.

Alive and kicking, but weak and wobbly
And yet, the creative urge is still alive and still kicking, if a little weak and wobbly. Websites, blogs, and conferences on creativity still attract large audiences. Jonah Lehrer’s best-selling Imagine! presents some fascinating creativity science in a popular and inspirational fashion. And of course, the TED (Technology, Education, Design) talks have proven the enduring appeal and excitement of innovative and creative thinkers, speakers, and doers.

So, which way will it go? Will we see a new generation of American pioneers and inventors? Or will we only read of them in our history books? What’s hindering American innovation, and how can we remove some of the creative blocks? How can we re-sharpen the competitive edge of American creativity? Is Christian faith part of the answer?

These are some of the questions I’ll be trying to answer in a series of blog posts over the coming weeks. We begin tomorrow with a look at one of the creative blocks that obstruct the path to a better and brighter future – a wrong self-image.

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Gospel-centered = Creator-centered

You can read today’s blog post at Gospel-Centered Discipleship. It’s the substance of the first address I gave on “Soul Care” to the Plantr Network in Austin, Texas. The article begins:

Most pastoral problems, such as burnout, backsliding, depression, etc., begin with neglect of the body.

Let me say that again in a different way. From what I’ve seen and experienced, most pastoral soul-care problems begin with neglect of the body.

Soul-care problems do not usually begin with channel-surfing or with a click of the mouse, nor with wandering eyes or hands, nor with shortening or missing private devotions. They begin by neglecting the body, by denying or ignoring its many varied needs. The other problems inevitably and inexorably follow.

But this is not merely a practical problem or a physical issue. This is also theological problem, a problem that’s associated with a wrong view of God. And it’s not just a slightly wrong view. Its error is fundamental and foundational because it concerns the fundamental and foundational truth that God is our Creator.

That’s the very first truth that’s revealed to us in Scripture. And it’s first for a reason. It’s because if we go wrong there, we run a great risk of going wrong everywhere else.

The article is structured around four main points with practical applications under each:

  • We are Complex Creatures
  • We are Limited Creatures
  • We are Dependent Creatures
  • We are Fallen Creatures

I conclude with the good news that God is in the re-creating business; He is re-making creative creatures (and preachers!).

Read the whole article here.

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