Body Theology For Teens

I’m on my way back from The Calgary Reformed Conference where I gave three addresses on A Practical Theology of the Body. I also led a Youth Group discussion on the subject and left with them ten words to ponder when thinking about their bodies.

1. Study: God has revealed truth about the body in His Word and in His World (through science). In order to thrive physically, learn what you can from these sources and also by observing your own body’s strengths and weaknesses.

2. Exercise: Bodily exercise does profit – not as much as spiritual exercise but a little is more than nothing (1 Tim. 4:8). In order to serve God well, you need to work to keep your body in good health.

3. Fuel: Just as you take care to put the right kind and amount of gas in your car, do the same with the food and drink you put into your body. This is a stewardship issue with your most valuable resource. Remember the value that God put on your body (1 Cor. 6:20).

4. Rest: God made you to flourish best by working six days and resting a seventh. He also made you to thrive by sleeping. You really can Sleep Your Way to Success.

5. Protect: As the believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19), you should care for it better than you would your own home or even the White House. Defend your body by avoiding substances that damage it and experiences that can deface, injure, or even kill.

6. Submit: Although we should do #1-5, we must also accept that our fallen bodies are never going to be ideal or perfect. We must therefore submit to the unique and wise way God has designed us and accept our limitations, weaknesses, sicknesses, aging, etc.

7. Cover: God did not only make your body, he also made clothes to cover it for your own protection and also that of others (Gen. 3:21). And remember there are no prizes for covering in such a way that more is revealed than concealed. But neither is there a prize for covering with the ugliest fabrics, colors and designs.

8. Control: Your body has been imbalanced by sin and can easily take good passions for beauty, sex, strength, food, etc. and turn them into destructive lusts and obsessional desires. Be aware of your own particular weaknesses and take care not to fuel them so that they become your tyrannical master (1 Cor. 6:12)

9. Dedicate: Your body is from God and for God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

10. Worship: Remember that Jesus took a real human nature, including a complete body with all its weaknesses and limitations (apart from sin). He also laid down that body to suffer and die for sinners like you, so that He could say, “This is my body, broken for you. Take, eat, in remembrance of me.”

What other words would you add?

Any books you would recommend on the subject for this age group? There are some good chapters in Matthew Lee Anderson’s book Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter To Our Faith, but I don’t think it’s very suitable for this age group.

Check out

31 Things I Wish I Had Learned In High School
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A 23-Year-Old Gay Marriage Opponent Explains Herself
It’s hard to believe we’ve got to the point where this is news, but a gay-marriage columnist at the Atlantic publishes correspondence from “Mina, who describes herself as a 23-year-old African-American college student, a strong Christian who believes in the Biblical definition of marriage.”

99 Resources to Make Your Personal and Business Life Hum
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Preaching Wisdom Literature
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I Will Praise You in This Storm
Wow! Just Wow! READ THIS.

I may not be Billy Graham but I can serve God in a blue collar job (HT: Ann Voskamp)

Children’s Bible Reading Plan

Here’s 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 year of the children’s Morning and Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf. And this is the second year in Word and pdf.

The first 12 months of the Morning or Evening Bible reading plan in Word and pdf.

Here’s an explanation of the plan.

And here are the daily Bible Studies gathered into individual Bible books with Genesis and Matthew now complete (explanatory note).

Old Testament

New Testament

Thrive: Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder

thrive-huffingtonIf you awoke one morning in a pool of blood, you’d probably change your life.

That’s what happened to Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post fame after collapsing from exhaustion and smashing her cheekbone on a table as she dropped to the floor.

She was at the peak of her success, with money and power in abundance:

But I was not living a successful life by any sane definition of success. I knew something had to radically change. I could not go on that way.

Thrive is Huffington’s account of how she redefined success and turned her back on the workaholic lifestyle that had almost killed her. Using the illustration of a stool, she diagnosed what had happened to her:

Over the long term, money and power by themselves are like a two-legged stool—you can balance on them for a while, but eventually you’re going to topple over. And more and more people—very successful people—are toppling over.

She then goes on to prescribe a third leg for a stable stool, or a third metric as she puts it:

To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric, a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.

  • Well-being is physical, mental, emotional, and relational health.
  • Wisdom seems a bit nebulous, but it’s some kind of inner wisdom that we can access by “centering ourselves.”
  • Wonder is our sense of delight in the mysteries of the universe, as well as the everyday occurrences and small miracles that fill our lives.
  • Willingness to give is generosity or charitable giving and serving.

Thrive is built around these four pillars with most space given to Well-being.

So, is this a book worth buying? I would say so, and here’s why:

1. You’ll find out a lot about one of the most talented and influential women in our culture. Huffington weaves her own story throughout, narrating both her successes, and her sadnesses, including her divorce and her daughter’s drug addiction.

2. You’ll learn lots of useful facts, research, and data about how to thrive. Huffington’s popular presentation of scientific research into human flourishing was the highlight of the book for me. Unlike Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project which didn’t have one footnote or reference for any of the myriad facts she cited, Huffington’s claims are well documented with over forty pages of endnotes.

3. You’ll be persuaded by her diagnosis. It’s painfully convicting, but Huffington will convincingly demonstrate many connections between the way we are living and the lack of life we are experiencing.

4. You’ll be able to use some of her prescriptions. There’s a lot of common grace in this book, many insights into human nature, and lots of good advice about how to flourish as human beings. Yes, there’s quite a bit of nonsense too, but it’s relatively easy to separate the wheat from the chaff.

5. You’ll have a renewed appreciation for Christianity’s sufficiency and suitability. I found myself feeling sorry for Huffington as she combed world religions and philosophies for anything that she felt might help people. A bit of Bible, a bit of Yoga, a bit of Hinduism, a bit of Hollywood, a bit of this, a bit of that, and a bit of everything really. She is one confused lady when it comes to religion, I’m afraid. What a blessing to have a clear, consistent, and comprehensive Christian worldview.

6. You’ll understand our culture better, not just the pressures people are facing but also what ideologies and practices they are resorting to as they seek help to survive or even thrive in this stressed-out world.

7. You’ll realize how important it is to get your smartphone under control. Huffington comes back to this time and time again throughout the book. But given the evidence she marshals for the damage our devices are doing to us, the emphasis is definitely warranted.

8. You’ll get motivated to meditate by its multiple benefits. You won’t want to follow Huffington’s techniques for meditating, but the  scientifically proven benefits she presents are a strong persuasive to biblical meditation.

9. You’ll learn how important sleep is. Lack of it almost killed Huffington, and having survived she’s now a sleep evangelist, who’s added me to her list of converts.

10. You’ll think more about death. What? Yes, Huffington wants us to think more about death! Let me finish with a quite astonishing section.

In fact, there may be no single thing that can teach us more about life than death. If we want to redefine what it means to live a successful life, we need to integrate into our daily lives the certainty of our death. Without “dead” there is no “alive.” Death is the sine qua non of life. As soon as we’re born, we’re also dying. The fact that our time is limited is what makes it so precious.

I vividly recall all the preparations I went through during my pregnancies: the Lamaze classes, the breathing exercises, the endless reading on the subject. How strange, I thought to myself one day, to spend hour upon hour learning how to bring life into the world, but hardly a minute learning how to leave it. Where are our culture’s preparations for leaving life with gratitude and grace? (p. 204)

Doesn’t that pique your interest even a little?

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France Just Made It Illegal To Answer Work Emails After 6pm
Slightly overstated headline but now there’s a new lifehack for dealing with email 24/7: Move to France. Personally, I’m not that desperate.

Bible-Balance in Christian Ministry
Excellent, excellent from David Crabb: “You don’t hear a lot about it in seminary. It doesn’t get much discussion in pastoral theology books. But one of the more complex challenges of Christian leadership is cultivating a Bible-balanced ministry. What does it mean for a church, or a ministry, to be Bible-balanced? Why is it important?”

Not what you think. It’s mnemonic for a novel and appealing way of approaching church meetings.

Happy Birthday Jake
Some wonderful writing here. Just a sample: “Sometimes when I look into your silent eyes, I still connect with those quiet mornings in your nursery, when all our dreams were before us—so young, fresh and new. And I wait patiently, in hopeful anticipation of future grace, for the time to come when you are set free from your disability. A moment of eternity when we will walk steady and talk of deep things that fathers and sons discuss.”

You’re Waking Up Wrong
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Dog Detects Cancer And Saves Owner’s Life
This is quite amazing. Multiple studies have shown that dogs can smell the volatile chemicals given off by cancerous tumors. When Maureen Burns’ dog Max started acting differently around her, she went to her doctor and discovered she had the early stages of breast cancer.

The Quickest Way To Become a Better Teacher

Slow down.

That’s right, the quickest way to become a better teacher is to slow down.

How so?

Gallup asked “What attribute do Americans find most compelling in the teacher they have identified as having the greatest impact on their lives?”

Over 40% of Americans describe the teacher who had the most positive influence in their lives with words such as caring, compassionate, motivating, and inspiring; while just 17% of Americans thought  intelligent, knowledgeable, persistent, hard-working, and demanding were words that describe the teacher who had the strongest influence on them.

Caring and compassionate! Quite the caricature-smasher isn’t it.

Of course, there has to be content as well; we don’t want teachers just to cuddle the little darlings all day. But I must admit, although my own elementary and high school education was a nightmare in many ways, the two teachers who do stand out in my mind, one man and one woman, were exactly as described in this poll.

They were willing to stop teaching and start talking. They would sometimes stop in the corridor and chat. In the classroom, they were firm but warm and friendly. They often encouraged with words of praise and appreciation. They varied teaching and assessment methods so that everyone’s gifts could shine rather than just the best memorizers. They were more concerned with what we learned than with what they taught. Although, their lessons didn’t seem to be so full of facts and figures, I learned far more from them than in all the other classes put together.

Above all, they just seemed to have more time for students. And there’s nothing that communicates care and compassion better than time. To this day, whenever I think of them, I am inspired and motivated to be less focused on transferring data and much more on touching hearts.

All this perfectly fits what we know about the greatest teacher that ever lived:

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matt. 11:29).

His appeal for students was based on gentleness and humility not qualifications or results. His teaching methods were certainly not exactly the most “efficient”; but were they supremely effective and compelling!