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Keeping up with the Mondays
Cap Stewart has discovered a cure for “the Mondays.” It’s called Sunday. In this post, he provides a principled, positive, and practical look at Sabbath keeping.

The 11 Greatest Enemies of Creativity
“Here are 11 factors that often vaporize folks’ creative juices.”

Technology is changing how students learn, say teachers
Two research studies that confirm experience.

Brothers, we should stink
Thabiti: “The apostle understands that shepherds should smell like sheep. The sheep’s wool should be lint on our clothes. Our boots should be caked with their mud and their mess. Our skin ought to bear teeth marks and the weather-beaten look of exposure to wind, sun, and rain in the fields. We belong among the people to such an extent that they can be called on to honestly testify that our lives as messengers commend the message. We should be so frequently among them that we smell like them, that we smell like their real lives, sometimes fragrant but more often sweaty, musty, offensive, begrimed from battle with the world, the flesh, and the devil.”

The free offer of the Gospel
Jeremy tag teams with Thabiti.

Small-Town Mercy Ministry
“We can look at the needs in our little community and bunker down, feeling too tiny and ill-equipped to respond. But the church that Christ is building is never small—and it’s a church always meeting people at their points of need and crisis.”

The most overlooked doctrine?

One of the most overlooked doctrines today is that of God as Creator. You’d hardly think so with all words spent on the Creation v Evolution debate. However, one of the casualties of that debate is that when people hear the word “Creation,” they immediately think of what opposes it, rather than working out the positive practical everyday implications of having a Creator and being a creature. The doctrine of Creation is “hijacked” by the Apologetics department, while Practical Theology accelerates past it and on to “the Christian life.”

Yet, there’s a more fundamental and foundational life than the Christian life: that is, “creature life.” Before we are Christians, we are creatures; before God is our Savior, He is our Creator. And He’s not just made us, but in His Word (via sound interpretation) and in His world (via sound scientific research), He instructs us how to care for the apex of His creation – our body-and-soul humanity.

A renewed understanding of our full-orbed creatureliness, with due place given to the body, will produce safety, piety, productivity, and creativity.

Starting with salvation rather than creation results in a dualism that views the soul as the only important element of our humanity, the body being either a hindrance or an irrelevance. All our problems are “spiritual problems” and the almost exclusive focus is soul-health.

In general, those who cultivate healthy souls enjoy healthier bodies. However, God did not just give us souls to protect our bodies; He gave us bodies to protect our souls. If we sleep well, rest well, exercise well, eat well, and so on, our minds will be clearer, our resolve will be stronger, our emotions will be steadier, and our moral defenses will be higher. When we are tired or stressed, we are much more susceptible to temptation than when well-rested and well-fed. Why do you think the devil assaulted Christ after 40 days of fasting in the desert?

While we cannot neglect our bodies and expect our souls not to suffer serious consequences, conversely, increased body-care should boost soul-care too.

An excessively soul-focused Christianity also tends to end up with a narrow view of Christian piety and devotion, where worship becomes associated only with “soul” activities such as prayer, Bible reading, and praise.

However, when we include the body in our “spirituality,” the opportunities for piety and devotion are multiplied beyond church and quiet times. By caring for our bodies in accordance with God’s instructions we worship and serve our Creator rather than the creature. Restful Sabbaths, sensible sleeping and eating habits, regular exercising, etc., may then be transformed into conscious acts of worship.

Yes, that means a sleeping Christian may be worshipping God more sincerely than a pastor vainly burning the midnight oil to perfect his sermon (Ps. 127:1-2).

If living as a creature with a limited and needy body means taking a day off and working shorter hours, will my productivity not take a hit?

Apart from the fact that even secular research is now revealing significant productivity loss if we work more than 40 hours a week, we may find that trusting our Maker’s instructions for our bodies actually produces greater long-term productivity. The 19th century Presbyterian pastor, Thomas Murphy, wrote words about the ministry that apply to every walk of life:

The minister must have his resting day as well as other men or he will suffer the consequences. His physical constitution demands it. If it is denied, in time he will break down in health, as hundreds are doing. Nor must it be supposed that devoting one day of the week to absolute rest will be a loss of time in the end. No, the work of the other days will be more vigorous; the physical and mental tone will be kept up, and at the end of the year far more will be accomplished.

Also, although famous pastors who worked twenty-five hours a day, eight days a week are often held up as examples, what’s usually ignored is that long-term ill health or early death limited their productivity.

Human beings bear God’s image. Part of that means being creative in our callings, whether that be as teachers, parents, students, mechanics, gardeners, etc. We all have opportunities to invent, innovate, and improvise.

Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine! begins with an analysis of how the most creative people make breakthroughs. He found that most “Eureka” moments came during “downtime,” in periods of resting, relaxing, and recreation. It’s not called “re-creation” for nothing!

So, if you’re looking for fresh ideas, your first step should be to rest and refresh yourself. The more we live as dependent creatures, the more creative we will be.

An edited version of this article first appeared in Tabletalk, the monthly devotional from Ligonier Ministries.

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4 Lessons from God’s Interrogation of Job
Justin Taylor summarizes a section of Andy Naselli’s book.

The Writing is on the Wall for Handwriting. Right?
“A recent survey by Docmail in the U.K. found the average person hadn’t handwritten anything for 41 days and a third hadn’t written in six months.” So how would you like to own Parker Pens?

Answering that Abortion Question
Barry York with three simple tips.

Lectures on the Relationship between the Old and New Testaments
I’m looking forward to working my way through these lectures by two great teachers, Dale Ralph David and Greg Beale.

One Story of Salvation
On the same theme, here’s an interview with Nancy Guthrie about her latest book, The Lamb of God: Seeing Jesus in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Stop Being a People-pleaser
As The Harvard Business Review  reminds us, it’s not just pastors who struggle with this. Some helpful principles in this article.

The Testimony of an Unlikely Convert

Download here.

There are some stories that just need to be told—some testimonies of the Lord’s grace that are so unusual and so encouraging that they will bless everyone who hears them. This is exactly the case with Rosaria Butterfield who recently authored The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Tim and I recently interviewed Butterfield for an episode of the Connected Kingdom Podcast. At the very least, make sure you listen to the first ten minutes or so where she shares the way the Lord saved her. After hearing how she came to know the Lord, we also talk about issues related to the church and homosexuality.

If you would like to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.

A New Reformation Begins…On Our Own Doorstep

I’ve been closely following the Reformed African American Network (RAAN) since it was launched a year ago today. RAAN exists “to fuel modern reformation in the African American community and our multi-ethnic nation beyond.” Its enthusiastic founders, Jemar Tisby and Phillip Holmes, have chosen Reformation Day to release a video thanking God for all the progress that’s been made over the past year and to ask for support heading into the future.

I have huge admiration for Phillip, Jemar and others who work with them in this worthy cause and pray that you too will catch their passion and support this modern Reformation on our own doorstep. Apart from the salvation of my own family, there’s nothing I long for more than to see multi-ethnic Reformed churches established throughout the world. We’ve got a long, long way to go to achieve this, but I believe RAAN could be a tremendous catalyst to inspire and motivate churches and Christians to work and pray towards the realization of this brave and beautiful vision. Watch the video and catch the fire!

You can follow RAAN at their blog, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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6 Changes in 6 Years of Blogging
Trevin Wax reviews 6 years of blogging.

How to bottle pastoral encouragement
What do you think of Erik’s third suggestion? “In order to help myself to be cognizant of God’s continued work of grace in his church I have created a label in my Gmail account entitled ‘Pastoral Encouragement’. This label functions like a folder in many other in box systems. It is a drawer, if you will, where I can keep these snapshots of gracious encouragement.”

I’m not much of a reader”
Hope I’ll have the courage to say something like this, the next time I hear this phrase.

Bono’s Humbling Realizations about Aid, Capitalism, and Nerds
“He said it had been ‘a humbling thing for me’ to realize the importance of capitalism and entrepreneurialism in philanthropy, particularly as someone who ‘got into this as a righteous anger activist with all the cliches.’”

Should I stay or should I go?
John Van Eyk uses Matthew Henry to help pastors decide whether to accept a call to a new congregation.

Embracing the thorn that bleeds you dry
Stephen Altrogge writes a beautifully and brutally transparent post about his struggle with anxiety (which is NOT worry!)