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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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.

What girls should know about guys (adult edition)

And finally, we come to the adult edition of what girls should know about guys, what my wife taught the girls at their workshop. Shona wanted me to make clear that she got most of her points from two books, including one survey of 400 guys all around US, ages 15-20:

For Young Women Only: What you need to know about how guys think by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A.Rice.
Lies Young Women Believe and The Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Again, usual qualifications apply. These are general observations, and are not true of all guys/girls. Don’t get too worked up if it doesn’t match you/her/him. Just because it’s not in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s not true; God asks us to “read” the world as well as His Word, etc., etc. These are only bullet points that were further explained and qualified in the workshop, and so on.

1. Guys need respect (that you trust them, believe in them)

  • For who they are not for how they do
  • Don’t knock a guy down in a group setting
  • Don’t try to humiliate him
  • Don’t compete

2. Guys are insecure, even if they appear cocky

  • Need affirmation

3. Guys do have feelings, even though on the outside they may appear tough

  • 86% of the guys in the study either always or sometimes withhold their inner feelings
  • Generally very guarded, don’t confide in girls and fear rejection.

4. Guys are visual

  • Look pretty without looking provocative

5. Guys are attracted to girls who are happy, not grumpy and nagging

6. Guys are more attracted to a girl with personality than a girl with good looks or a good body

  • BUT some physical attraction does play a part in initial relationship

7. Guys talk less than girls

  •  Guys are less likely to want to talk about their problems
  • They are more likely to clam up, whereas girls want to talk it all out

8. Guys are put off by fakeness, in personality and appearance

  • Your desire to be perfect may well be the major flaw that puts him off!

9. Work is VERY important to guys

  • When in a committed relationship, support and encourage
  • Don’t belittle how much work builds up their God-given self-esteem

10. Guys need guy time just like you need girl time. Don’t grudge it.

REMEMBER: Our differences are God-given, although the fall and sin distorts these differences.


Check out

Your desk is making you stupid
As if killing us is not enough.

Why creativity is important for ministry, and how to do it
Creativity is not just for creative types.

Best 5 Books on the Puritans
Not sure Joel Beeke would agree with this post (read to the bottom of this post), but it’s an interesting perspective.

The rise and rise of influence
“There’s even anecdotal evidence that Klout scores are being considered by some employers when looking at the resumes of potential new hires, which may be directly relevant for jobs in, say, social media marketing and a less-direct measure of your personality for other jobs.”

(Hardly) Shocking!
“This seems to be a week in which “informed opinion” has caught up with what conservatives have known — and said — for some time.”

How the Internet has changed women
For good and bad. Hasn’t affected men at all, of course.

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