Tag Archives: Creation

Extras! Be Green Wrap Up

So how can we live in gratitude to God for his amazing creation? How can we discover more about God through his world? How can we embrace Scripture’s call to stewardship? How can we care for people through our creation care efforts?

Check out these 12 organizations, resources, and links to find out more:

be green photoA Rocha — A global, Christ-centered conservation organization. Find out about hands-on opportunities to get involved! (Click here to read my interview with A Rocha USA’s Tom Rowley over at Relevant.)

Blessed Earth — Great biblical resources for how the church can mobilize to care for the environment. (You can also read a TCW article I wrote with insights from Nancy by clicking here.)

receive with gratitudecharity: water — Works to save lives and prevent disease by engineering clean water wells and sanitation.

Compassion International — Along with their child sponsorship work, Compassion seeks to address environmental degradation affecting the poor.

Earth-Wise — My favorite Bible study resource on creation care. I highly recommend this study guide by Calvin B. DeWitt!

experience god creationEvangelical Environmental Network — This organization inspires and equips evangelical Christians to care for creation. You’ll find podcasts, Creation Care magazine, and more.

John Ray Initiative — This British web site provides TONS of resources exploring the science behind critical environmental stewardship issues, all from a faith-based perspective. (P.S. If you’re skeptical about climate change, this is a great place to get more info you can consider.)

Local Harvest — Interested in finding farmer’s markets or CSAs to “green” your eating a bit? This web site will point you toward sustainable family farms in your community.

embrace scripture's callNational Wildlife Federation — Support conservation efforts by getting NWF’s fantastic kids’ magazines like Ranger Rick and Your Big Backyard.

Plant With Purpose — Help the poor through reversing deforestation! Plant With Purpose addresses poverty in the name of Christ by planting trees and other environmental efforts.

love least theseWorld Vision — World Vision addresses many environmental issues in their work among the poor, including engineering clean water and advancing sustainable farming techniques.

3 Amazing Women: Read my interviews with Leah Kostamo, Tracey Bianchi, and Nancy Sleeth —  Christian women who are each incorporating environmental concern into their faith, their sense of mission, and their daily life.

 

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Reflect and Respond, Be Green Wrap Up

In our “be green” exploration, as we focus on how creation care has direct implications for the lives of others–especially the global poor–consider this Scripture to guide a time of meditation and pick an action step to try.

Reflect: Matthew 22:37-39

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”–Jesus

love least theseRespond with Action:

• Meaningful Meal: As a family or on your own, fast by eating a very simple meal such as rice and a bowl of broth or some beans. Use the experience to think more deeply about the daily experiences of the global poor. Conclude your meal by reading or praying through a passage (such as Isaiah 58) that illustrates God’s heart for the poor and vulnerable and God’s desire that his people stand up with justice and compassion.

•  Pray: We can’t always see the effects of our lifestyle upon others. For example, we may not see how our energy consumption contributes to emissions that pollute rivers and fish with mercury that then threatens the life and health of the unborn. This is just one of many examples! So we can ask that God open up our eyes. Pray a daily prayer: Today show me one way to love the poor and vulnerable through my care of creation. And as God shows you one way to be a better steward, consecrate your act by praying: Lord, I care for creation out of love and obedience to you. And I make this small choice as a way of loving others in your name.

 Research: Read more about the effects of environmental degradation upon the poor. I highly recommend the document you’ll find here from the National Association of Evangelicals. (Take time to click on and read the whole pdf.)

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Leah Kostamo: Care and Keep

In honor of Earth Day today, I’m excited to welcome author and conservationist Leah Kostamo. Leah’s book Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Community tells the story of her and her husband’s pioneering Christian environmental stewardship work in Canada. She’s a transplanted Arizona girl, a mom, and–as I discovered as we laughed and talked–a kindred spirit. Join our conversation . . . 

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leahheadshotLeah, let’s start by hearing a bit about what you do in your work.

About 10 years ago we started the first Christian environmental center in Canada with A Rocha, an international Christian organization that works in 20 countries around the world. For people who haven’t been to our center before, I describe it like a youth hostel meets the Sierra club and then wrap that all up with Christian hospitality on an organic farm.

We focus on doing three things: First is environmental education. Then we do conservation work—basically just studying the habitat where we are and working to preserve it. (We’re on a stream that has four species of salmon so we do a lot of work on the stream). And then the third thing we do is we have a big organic garden and we have an organic box program where about 100 families get food from our farm, along with food banks and other means of help for those in poverty.

On my blog this month, we’ve explored environmental stewardship from several angles. I realize not everyone is as enthusiastic about this issue as you and I are, Leah! So if you were talking with someone who had concerns or was skeptical about the idea of environmental stewardship, what would you most want to say to that person?

 I would start with Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” That’s our starting point. I think it is also important to primarily use the word creation instead of environment because “creation” assumes a “Creator.” If there’s a Creator, then we turn to the biblical narrative in Genesis and see that it assumes stewardship. The two words used in Genesis 2 are care and keep. These are the same words used in Aaron’s blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you.” It’s critical that we understand this is God’s charge to humanity: to care and keep creation. Continue reading

Love the Least of These

Being green and caring for the planet is about a lot more than caring for fish or trees or birds or rivers or dirt or air. As Christians, we care for creation as a means of loving our neighbors (Matthew 22:36-40). We believe that human life is of inestimable worth—far beyond the value of diamonds or gold or rubies or dollar bills. Because of our belief in the sanctity of life, we take seriously Scripture’s call to protect the vulnerable (Isaiah 58), care for the “least of these” (Matthew 25:31-46), and do unto others as we’d want others to do unto us (Luke 6:31).

love least these

It’s a basic biological fact: Human life is inextricably tied to the health of the created world. The harsh reality is that environmental degradation directly and negatively impacts human lives! All over the globe, people are getting sick, remaining mired in cycles of poverty, and even dying as a result of environmental degradation. Air pollution, water pollution, deforestationclimate change, and many other factors are directly hurting humans whom God created, whom God loves, and whom God has called us to love like he does.

So as Christians we care that unborn babies are born with toxic levels of mercury in their blood as a result of the pollution caused by certain forms of energy production. And we care that other babies are born with birth defects linked directly to air pollution. Continue reading

Extras! Be Green Week 3

I’m very excited to share an amazing resource with you to enrich your exploration of what it means to embrace Scripture’s call regarding the created world.

Check out this video called “Our Father’s World” — it’s a powerful 27-minute Christian documentary all about environmental stewardship. It features some really important evangelical Christian leaders today, including Bill Hybels of Willow Creek and others.

This is worth your time, friends. It really is. And once you watch it, share it with others . . . and pop back in to let me know what you think!

embrace scripture's call

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Reflect and Respond, Be Green Week 3

We’ve covered a lot so far in our “be green” journey! 1. The idea of receiving the good gifts of God’s created world with gratitude. 2. Experiencing God’s presence & character in his created world. And now, 3. Embracing Scripture’s call.

So this week, as we focus on answering the Bible’s call to steward God’s created world, consider this Scripture to guide a time of reflection and pick an action step to try.embrace scripture's call

Reflect: Genesis 1:26-28 from The Message

God spoke: “Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth.”
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God’s nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
“Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.”

Respond with Action:

• Enjoy your own piece of caretaking and stewardship by starting a backyard garden, potting a tomato plant on your porch, or tending a houseplant. Have fun with both the joy and the work of this process. Consider what God might be teaching you through it.

• Think through practical steps you can take as a steward by using this free worksheet from Blessed Earth. Pray about the ideas God may be leading you to implement.

• Commit to reduce the amount of trash your family sends to the landfill. You can do this by: buying less, utilizing more reusable containers, composting biodegradable waste, and recycling. What’s one gradual step you can implement to curb your trash production?

• Read and consider several more ideas in the article I wrote a few years ago highlighting “7 non-weird and non-political things you can do to care for creation.”

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Embrace Scripture’s Call

In Genesis 1-2 we find a beautiful poetic narrative full of imagery, sights, sounds, colors, light . . . wonder. Here, at the beginning of the Story, we also find the starting point for some of the deepest and most enduring questions of the human condition: How did we get here? Who am I? Is there a God? Why am I alive? Do I even matter? What is the purpose of life?

embrace scripture's call

Bible- believing Christians may draw different conclusions about the scriptural genre and interpretation of Genesis 1-2. For some it is a literal, historical, and scientific account describing exactly how God created this earth. For others, it is a divinely-inspired literary, historical, symbolic, and poetic description of critical theological (rather than scientific) ideas. (If you’re unfamiliar with the idea of literary rather than literal interpretation of Genesis 1-2, you can read more about this perspective via BioLogos or from pastor and author Tim Keller here.) And for some, it’s somewhere in between — understood as partly literal/historic and partly literary/symbolic.

Whatever one’s view of the scriptural genre of Genesis 1-2, however, all who uphold Scripture’s authority and primacy in our lives can find compelling common ground and agreement in the call God immediately placed upon humanity from the very start: to “rule over” and “subdue” the earth and it’s creatures (Genesis 1:26, 28). It’s restated in Genesis 2 as the first man’s first job in the Garden: to “work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).

And how ought humans do so? Should we “rule” as sin and selfishness entice us to? Should we model ourselves after the rulership of many human kings and leaders—domination, power-grabbing, destruction, self-centeredness, greed? Is it all about taking what we want when we want it?

We find a clear and sonorous answer to this question before we even ask it. Right smack dab in the middle of God tasking humanity to rule and subdue the earth is this statement: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). The charge to rule, to subdue, and later to work and to care, all must be interpreted through this framework: We are made in God’s image and meant to reflect God’s character.

So what is God’s rulership like? If we are to mirror that image in our lives (including our stewardship of earth), then what is God’s character that we are to reflect? How does God himself rule and care for the earth and all his creatures (including us)? In what ways ought we pattern our stance toward the created world after his?

Scripture is full of answers, from Genesis to Revelation. In terms of the stewardship of this beautiful world that God madesustains, and reveals himself through, we can reflect God’s character in our stewardship: faithfulness, wisdom, gratitude, creativity, ingenuity, sustainable use rather than destructive use, frugality rather than waste, peacemaking, generosity, faithfulness, joy, blessing and goodness, self-control, redemption rather than destruction, and so much more.

God gave us this earth both to steward and to use its resources. So part of stewardship certainly is enjoying the ongoing gifts of this planet that sustain and bless us. This can and ought to involve industry, harnessing energy, scientific discovery, making things from earth’s resources (craftsmanship, manufacturing, etc.), eating and drinking from earth’s bounty, and so on! But, for the Christian, the manner in which we do all of these activities ought to align with Scripture’s call for us to reflect the character of God.

Do you believe that God has called you to be a caretaker of his created world? How might God be leading you to pray and think about your role as a steward of his very good gift? How is God calling you through his Word today?

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Extras! Be Green Week 2

2 fun extras I want to share with you this week as we consider how God reveals himself through the created world.

• Click here to listen to a radio interview I did for a national Australian radio show. In this interview I get a chance to share my passion for creation care and the biblical basis for it.

• Check out this amazing YouTube video, “Nature by Numbers,” about how math is just about everywhere in the created world. It’s really stunning and cool. It points to the intricate design throughout all of nature.

experience god creation

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Reflect and Respond, Be Green Week 2

During our “be green” journey, as we focus on experiencing God through his creation, consider this Scripture to guide a time of meditation and pick an action step to try.

Reflect: Psalm 19:1

The heavens declare the glory of God; 

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Respond with Action:

• Stargaze one evening or get up early to watch a sunrise. Focus your heart on how God is demonstrating his existence and his wonder through what you see.

• Pray, praise, sing, worship! Thank God that he speaks and affirms biblical truth to you through his “second book.”

• Pause to see God in nature by viewing the stunning images captured by my friend Dorothy Greco, a writer and photographer. Where do you see God in these snapshots? What is revealed about God’s character? (And if you feel inspired, grab your camera and shoot some of your own snapshots. Nature provides an abundance of divine beauties to ponder!)

experience god creation.

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Experience God through Creation

I don’t know about you, but for me there’s just something soul-healing about a deep breath of fresh springtime air. After the novelty of snow has turned into winter weariness, the first signs of spring’s new life fill me with joy, peace, refreshment, hope. And it’s not because the air itself has some magical power—rather it’s because God speaks to us through his world, ever reiterating his Word in echoing messages of grace.

experience god creation

Our natural world—from the dirt under our feet to the canopy of galaxies above our heads—proclaims deep and eternal Truth. What many theologians (and Galileo, by the way) have called God’s “second book,” the environment in which we live speaks to us.

It speaks to us not in a pagan or New Age or spiritualist way—but in the way the Bible makes abundantly clear, again and again. Consider . . .

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech; they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4)
 

And . . .

“[W]hat may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:19-20)
 

This truth coursing throughout all of Scripture is a foundational tenant of our exploration of “being greenWe can discover God, learn about God, and experience God’s presence in and through God’s created world.

For me, when I get busy or stressed or too self-important, time in nature sets me straight. Looking up at the clouds humbles me, reminding me of my smallness—and renewing my wonder at God’s love for me. (“What is man that thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).) Gazing at the intricate beauty of a flower leaves me in awe, reminding me of God’s artistry. Listening, in a bit of fear, to the tumult of a tornado-wielding thunderstorm renders me—Job-like—in a proper sense of fear, recognizing the power that is beyond, so beyond, my finite comprehension. Glimpsing a deer family through the trees in the nature preserve near my house speaks to me of God’s tender care for all of his creatures, from ants to eagles to whales to newts. And it reminds me, too, of my creatureliness—for I, like the deer, rely upon the God-made sustenance of planet Earth to live and to thrive.

be green photoHow have you experienced this biblical truth? How has God revealed his character, his values, his power, his very existence to you through his created world? How does time spent in nature (even just a 10-second pause to breathe deep spring’s bounty) re-align your soul to the reality of God’s presence and God’s love?

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