Tag Archives: poverty

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 . . . 

* * * * *  

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

Just 3: Erina Ludwig

I’m so happy to invite you into a conversation with 3 amazing women where I ask just 3 questions about what it means to live justly. Today meet my friend Erina Ludwig, a Londoner now living in Indianapolis. Erina is  half of the musical duo The Yellow Kites (with her husband Kendall) and is the author of Unnoticed Neighbors: A Pilgrimage into the Social Justice Story as well as the forthcoming book The Unnamed (coming September 2013). Join in on our conversation . . .

• • • • • 

1. Why are you passionate about biblical justice? www.bohemianredimages.com

When I hear the words biblical justice it conjures up images of divine wrath but also an unyielding desire to see every human being flourish.

I am in no way tied to rules for the sake of keeping up appearances. I don’t do things because they’re written down somewhere. I find compassion is written in my very core and I am moved to action because of it. I see us, human beings, as being capable of so much and yet bypassing it for other trinkets. And so biblical justice is remembering we’re all walking this earth together, to remember each other, to be kind, to feel anger but let it go and for the love of all that makes us human, to treat others with respect and dignity regardless of how different they are.

The few stories we have of Jesus’ dealings with people in the Bible best capture that desire. The woman caught in adultery and dragged to Jesus’s feet and his delicate but divisive response makes me cheer. He knew how to love others and what right to be done to them.

unnoticedneighbors2. Injustice in our world can seem so overwhelming and discouraging. Ever felt that way? And how can we overcome discouragement & inertia and move forward into hopeful action?

I have a quarterly crisis throughout the year as I try and work out how we get out of the mess we’ve made for ourselves here in life. I feel overwhelmed and simply weep. I used to think that was a pointless response, but I have since learned it means my heart is still soft and still feels — which is legions better than a calloused old beater! I think it’s best to pick one thing that hits you in the guts and makes you want to vomit. Grab a hold of that injustice and start working towards chipping away at it. Remember what we do won’t always be explosions in the sky, but every act of kindness counts and changes this world we live in. (Whether it wants to be changed or not.) Continue reading

Extras! Creation Care Week 4

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 10 organizations, resources, and links to find out more:

A 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. (This upcoming Monday Blessed Earth’s Nancy Sleeth will be here on my blog for some Q & A. Stay tuned! You can also read a TCW article I wrote with insights from Nancy by clicking here.)

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

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

Evangelical 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.

National 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.

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

Meditate and Act: Creation Care Week 4

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.

Meditate: 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

 

Respond 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.)

Loving the Least of These

diamonds

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).

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, deforestation, climate 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

Meet My Friend Connie Jakab

I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Connie Jakab. Her journey of re-envisioning God’s vision for her life is just plain awesome — I love the place God has led her to. Connie is the author of a new book called Culture Rebel: Because the World Has Enough Desperate Housewives. Keep on reading for some challenging, inspiring, just-plain-awesome stuff . . . 

Welcome, Connie! Please tell my readers a bit about yourself.

Hey there! My name is Connie and I live in Calgary, Alberta—yes that’s Canada. I have a hubby of 13 years and two precious boys; ages 6 and 2. I live off of coffee because I still get no sleep, and besides writing I’m a hip-hop dancer living out God’s mission in Calgary’s arts community.

What has God been teaching you lately about his vision for your life?

That’s a loaded question! I was in full-time pastoral ministry for ten years. I’ve been on a seven-year journey since that, for awhile, involved losing a sense of God’s purpose for my life. I struggled with the idea of “calling”. Wasn’t I “called” to the ministry? I felt like I had somehow blown it. I had just moved to Calgary with our newborn and found myself terribly lonely and depressed. I felt like my worth was taken and any gifting would be limited to breastfeeding. My husband’s salary increased so I started to find purpose in the mall: shopping, facials—anything that would get me out of my depressing state. I entered the new world of a moms Bible study where we would sit around and talk about our hard life as a mother, the lack of sex, our plans for a girls trip to Vegas, our newest shopping excursion . . . and maybe pick up the Bible on the occasion to study. This “new purpose” got old really fast. Was this all there was to life? I was desperate to rebel against it and create a new ideal—I just didn’t know how if it didn’t look like full-time ministry. God had to break down my mindset so a new one could form. Perhaps being used by God didn’t have to look “big”? Maybe the small things could matter? Perhaps intentionally finding needs and meeting them WITH my kids in tow was a possibility?

As you look back over your life so far, what have been some key moments when God has led you in new directions or helped you see a fresh vision for your life?

Moving to a new city and becoming a mother were key moments in my life when God stripped me of all I knew from before to give me a new mindset of living missionally in simple things. He gave me a new perspective that I didn’t have to “go big,” I could just serve people in simple, every day matters and teach my kids to do the same. I started to see my possessions as his to use to bless people, rather than for me to hoard. (Disclaimer: This is an ongoing process!) Continue reading

Creation Care Radio Interview

A brief departure from this month’s topic “Changing” with a throwback to April’s topic of creation care. I got to do an interview with a national Christian radio show in Australia about my interest in and passion for environmental stewardship. If you’re interested in hearing it, you can listen to it by clicking here.

Listen to the Global Church

4,200 evangelical Christian leaders from 198 countries gathered in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2010 for the 3rd Lausanne Conference on World Evangelization. Following on the heels of the first Lausanne conference led by Billy Graham in 1974, this most recent Lausanne gathering included evangelical leaders from a variety of denominations and traditions, from countries wealthy and poor, and from the many diverse cultures spanning the globe. As part of their gathering, they unified to express their goals in the Cape Town Commitment.

A powerful text, this commitment outlines key biblical convictions of the church and casts a vision for the church’s mission in today’s world. And one of the key components of the Commitment, driven by this diverse and unified body of leaders representing the global (not just the western) church, is environmental stewardship.

What in the world does environmental stewardship have to do with evangelism? To start, it’s a biblical and theological underpinning of our faith. But it is also central to global church leaders because of the many dangerous and deadly ways environmental problems are hurting the world’s poor. A true commitment to evangelism demands an honest and compassionate look at these brutal realities.

Continue reading