Healthy Rhythms

Alan Burdick is a time researcher and the author of Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation. In a recent interview with Gretchen Rubin he was asked what was his most significant finding. His reply:

Until I began working on Why Time Flies, I hadn’t realized how deeply time is embedded in us. Each of our cells is basically a clock that beats out a firm twenty-four-hour rhythm; together these form bigger clocks — the liver, the kidneys — that also keep a twenty-four rhythm, and as group they’re responsible for running our physiology.

Basically, the sum of me, and you, is a clock, and respecting its rhythm is essential to one’s health. So, for instance, I’ve stopped eating late at night, as that’s the least efficient time of day to metabolize food. And I try to get outside for at least a few minutes every morning, because exposure to daylight at that time of day ultimately helps me sleep better. It’s a matter of listening to the clock that is me.

God has not only put eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11); he’s put time in our cells!

When I counsel depressed people, one of the first questions I ask is, “Tell me your daily routine.” In many cases the answer is, “I don’t have one. Every day is different.”

Now sometimes there’s a good reason for that—perhaps it’s shift-worker or a mother nursing a baby. But these are rare exceptions. Usually there’s no good reason, which means that it can be rapidly fixed by establishing a do-able daily schedule—often with rapid improvements in mood.

Another article over at Mashable, How Weird Sleep Schedules Can Affect our Mental Health, notes how a growing number of studies in recent years indicate that maintaining our internal rhythm is important for our overall health. This has spawned a new range of depression treatments in the field of chronotherapy, which tries to help depressed people align their 24-hour circadian rhythm with the solar day.

This “natural” truth also transfers into other areas of our lives. My wife and I have often noticed that our marriage and family life goes best when we are all in a good routine, when life is predictable and ordinary. Boring is best!

It’s also true in our spiritual lives. The most holy Christians I’ve known are men and women whose spiritual disciplines are the most rhythmic and routine. “Routine” here does not mean formality. It means regular and predictable times of prayer bible reading, family worship, and church worship.

God is a God of order not of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33), and, as his image-bearers, we flourish when our lives reflect God’s orderliness.


Check Out

Blogs

Does Christology Matter? | Sinclair Ferguson, Ligonier Ministries 
“…Jesus Christ Himself is the gospel. Like loose threads in a tapestry—pull on any of these views, and the entire gospel will unravel. If the Christ we trust and preach is not qualified to save us, we have a false Christ.”

Where does happiness come from? | Denny Burk
“It is not an overstatement to say that happiness comes from the Bible—not the Bible as an end in itself, but the Bible as God’s written revelation and as our only means of knowing Him.”

GREEKONOMICS: How to set goals, manage your time, and grow your Greek | Robert L. Plummer
Robert L. Plummer gives you the tools and encouragement to keep your Greek New Testament open.

5 Types of Mental Health Professionals: Title, Education, and Purpose | Brad Hambrick
“The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recognizes at least five areas of independent professional practice for the diagnosis and treatment of Mental Health issues. While NAMI’s recognition of professional Mental Health Practitioners may not be exhaustive, it is perhaps the most concise and descriptive of Mental Health services provided by different disciplines. It can be helpful for churches to be aware of the education and primary purposes of each type of mental health professional.”

How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Sermon | Marty Duren, LifeWay Pastors
“This post is not concerned with things outside the pastor’s control: people having coughing fits that go on for several minutes, children (or adults) making repeated restroom visits, Sister Sue clipping her fingernails, or someone snoring. We are considering only things the pastor/preacher might do to ruin a perfectly good sermon.”

The Sabbath Day Brings Real Rest and Refreshment | Sean Michael Lucas, Ligonier
“The grace of the fourth commandment is that God promises to give us real rest and real refreshment when we find our rest in Him. As we remember the Sabbath day, as we keep it holy to the Lord, we find that we begin to enter into the rest that God offers and gain a foretaste of the heavenly rest to come, the rest of the new heavens and new  earth.”

Kindle Deals

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story by Michael Horton ($2.99)


A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering by Michael Horton ($1.99)


Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ by Andrew David Naselli and J. D. Crowley ($2.99)

Video

UW-Madison students support freedom for Muslim singers. What about Christian photographers? | Alliance Defending Freedom


“The Real Threat to the Human Future”

What do you think it is?

Globalization? Population growth? Terrorism? Inequality?

Nope. None of these.

Technology.

Oh, Murray’s off on one of his digital tirades again, is he?

Nope. Ross Douthat, New York Times columnist, actually.

In his most recent column, Resist the InternetDouthat argues that Internet enslavement is the biggest threat to the human future.

He highlights how “our day-to-day, minute-to-minute existence is dominated by a compulsion to check email and Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with a frequency that bears no relationship to any communicative need.”

Used within reasonable limits, of course, these devices also offer us new graces. But we are not using them within reasonable limits. They are the masters; we are not. They are built to addict us, as the social psychologist Adam Alter’s new book “Irresistible” points out — and to madden us, distract us, arouse us and deceive us. We primp and perform for them as for a lover; we surrender our privacy to their demands; we wait on tenterhooks for every “like.” The smartphone is in the saddle, and it rides mankind.

He calls for “a social and political movement — digital temperance, if you will — to take back some control.” Only a movement, he says, can save us from the tyrant in our pocket.

Some of the measures he advocates are:

  • Create more spaces in which internet use is illegal, discouraged or taboo.
  • Toughen laws against cellphone use in cars.
  • Keep computers out of college lecture halls (I’ve already done this in my classes).
  • Put special “phone boxes” in restaurants where patrons would be expected to deposit their devices
  • Confiscate smartphones being used in museums and libraries and cathedrals
  • Create corporate norms that strongly discourage checking email in a meeting.
  • Get computers — all of them — out of elementary schools and let kids learn from books f
  • The age of consent should be 16, not 13, for Facebook accounts.
  • Kids under 16 shouldn’t be allowed on gaming networks.
  • High school students shouldn’t bring smartphones to school.
  • Kids under 13 shouldn’t have them at all.
  • “Voice-only” phone plans available for minors.

That’s not just a movement; it’s not just a digital resistance; it’s a revolution; but one that’s sorely needed.

Resist the Internet by Ross Douthat.

For more resources on Digital Detox, click here.


The Pareto Principle for Churches

Most of us have heard of the 80/20 rule, sometimes called the Pareto principle.

It was named after it’s “inventor,” Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who noticed about 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

To put it more generally, it says that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. to put it more concretely:

  • 80% of property is owned by 20% of the population
  • 80% of sales come from 20% of the clients
  • 80% of complaints come from 20% of a company’s customers
  • 80% of problems come from 20% of causes.

Unless companies are aware of the 80/20 law, they can unwittingly expend 80% of their time and efforts on the 20% of customers who are producing 80% of the complaints and problems. This leaves only 20% of their time and effort to expend on the customers who are producing 80% of their sales and profits.

But churches and pastors can also succumb to this tendency of devoting the majority of their attention to problems and complaints at the expense of the vast majority who are living steady godly lives and serving the Lord fruitfully.

While we must not run away from problems and we must address legitimate complaints, church leaders must be resolute in their determination to prevent problems and complaints setting the agenda and dominating their time and attention.

Perhaps we could re-write the Pareto principle for churches. Give a maximum 20% of your time to the problems and a minimum 80% of your time to the fruitful and the faithful. 


Check out

Blogs

The High Cost of Free Porn
Three ways porn hinders Jesus’ mission in the world.

Saved and Depressed: A Real Conversation about Faith and Health
Touching and teaching:

When most people look at me, they see a successful, 20-something-year-old woman who is giving of herself and her time. In the past, they would only see a bubbly, out-going, praying and saved young lady who is grounded in her faith. When outsiders look at me, they often see someone with two degrees from two of America’s most prestigious institutions, an entrepreneur who prides herself on inspiring others to live life on purpose, and simply lets her light shine despite all obstacles.

However, what so many do not know is that there was a time when I was dying on the inside. On a beautiful summer morning, at the tender age of 25, I suddenly felt sick. It was not the kind of sick where one is coughing with a fever and chills. I felt as if there were a ton of bricks on top of my body and I could not move my feet from the bed to the floor.

Should We Preach like the Puritans?
Joel Beeke says “No!”

In critiquing Puritan preaching, we do not dishonor the Puritans as faithful servants of God, but only acknowledge that they were mere men, fallen and fallible, and men of a particular time and place. Even as we disagree with their methods, let us admire their zeal and effectiveness under the blessing of God’s Spirit.

Divine Affections Yes; Divine Passions No
Here’s a helpful distinction:

The post-Reformation Reformed theologians (late 16th and 17th centuries) approached the subject using two different term: affections and passions. They flat-out denied that God had passions, a word which strongly suggests “vehement commotions.” But they were able to talk very sagaciously about God’s affections.”

The Distinction between Deacons and Elders | Gentle Reformation
Hand this out to every elder and deacon in your church.

Psalms: When Our Words fail Us
Join Carl, Aimee & Todd as they discuss their own experiences wading through the Psalms seeking (and finding!) solace and strength through them.

Kindle Books

Finishing Our Course with Joy: Guidance from God for Engaging with Our Aging by J I Packer $3.99.

Caring for a Loved One With Cancer by Jane Hunt $1.99.

Disability and the Gospel: How God Uses Our Brokenness to Display His Grace by Michael Beates $2.99.


Digital Detox Roundup

US psychologists claim social media ‘increases loneliness’
We hardly needed psychologists to tell us this but in case you doubted it:

A report suggests that more than two hours of social media use a day doubled the chances of a person experiencing social isolation.

It claims exposure to idealised representations of other people’s lives may cause feelings of envy.

This Is Not A Show – Propel Women

Here are some good lines in this article:

All this being in the public eye, constantly under a spotlight of our own making, it doesn’t just share our faith. It also distorts it.

Social media turns faith into a show, and it ends up shaping our entire spiritual lives, both online and off.

Sharon then shares three practices that have helped her use social media in a healthy way:

1. Take a social media fast.

2. Practice the discipline of secrecy.

3. Embrace your hiddenness.

Five Reasons Why Pastors Are Getting Fired Because of Their Social Media Posts
I’m sure churches are checking a pastor’s social media use before hiring. But social media is also leading to some firings.

With greater frequency, more pastors and church staff are losing their jobs because of what they post, particularly on Facebook and Twitter and, to some extent, their blogs. By the way, churches will not always tell the pastor the specific reason for the firing. But, once we begin to infuriate our church members with our posts, many will find a myriad of reasons to give us the boot.

5 new brain disorders that were born out of the digital age

1. Nomophobia: No-mobile-phobia, the panic felt when one is separated from their phone.

2. Technoference: When tech devices interrupt our leisure time, conversations, and meals with our significant other.

3. The phantom ring: The perception that one’s mobile device is ringing (or, more precisely, vibrating) when, in fact, it is not.

4. Cyberchondria: People who research and diagnose their own illnesses online. They get neurotic, and go down a Google wormhole, frantically reading about every dreaded disease that matches their symptoms.

5. Truman Show Delusion: The spooky feeling that someone’s watching you, the false perception that our lives are being broadcast.

Are You Suffocating Your Creativity?
If your creativity is suffering, two of the solutions may be:

3. Don’t engage in technological distraction.

4. Embrace the boredom.

Five Warnings On Christians’ Thoughtless Use of Technology

David Prince reflects on a recent interview with Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains. Among many excellent points he notes:

♦ When we use a tool, not only are we shaping the world around us, but our tools are shaping us. The value systems embedded into our digital tools shape how we think and act, which even has a physiological effect on how our brains work (see Carr’s book The Shallows). Christians must actively interrogate the technologies they use  and determine whether the value system the tools encourage align with the Bible’s value system.

♦ We often have an illusion of connection via social media, but for most, no one really knows us. This has huge implications for Christian community. Christians who unthinkingly use digital technology will struggle to create and maintain deep forms of Christian community.

♦ When we constantly use tools that train us to value efficiency and convenience above core aspects of our humanity, we begin to blur the definition of humanity itself. And if the definition of human is blurred, it is suddenly possible to mold the definition of human to exclude certain groups

Reset Your Child’s Brain: A Four-Week Plan to End Meltdowns, Raise Grades, and Boost Social Skills by Reversing the Effects of Electronic Screen-Time by Victoria L. Dunckley MD. I haven’t read this book yet but it gets rave reviews.

More Digital Detox Resources here.