>Planetwise prt 4

>To see the other post click here

The fall : Creation’s groaning

The fall is ultimately a story of broken relationships, and not just between us and God.

Adam and Eve can not be blamed alone for the entrance of sin into the world, every human being (except Jesus Christ) has made the same choice. Which is why Paul wrote ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23).

The Fall not only spoilt our relationship with God & God’s relationship with us but also our relationship with the rest of creation & God’s relationship with the rest of creation.

The very relational interdependent nature of creation means that one broken relationship affect all the others (page 38)

Will admit that I have always thought of the fall as only affecting our relationship with God, which after reading this chapter I have seen to be a very selfish thought. And that selfishness is ultimately the reason the human race has seemly cared so little for what we have been doing to the environment.

The Fall in fact affected 4 different relationships

– between God and humanity

– between human beings; I have never considered this, Adam blames Eve (battle of the sexes), further breakdown through Cain & Abel (Jealousy & murder), ultimately causing misunderstanding & enmity between different cultures & language groups (tower of Babel Genesis 11)

– between humanity & the natural environment

– between God & his creation (The curse has even affected creation’s ability to recognize it’s own creator. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him (John 1:10)).

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat plants of the field. By the sweat of you brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return. (Genesis 3:17-19)

Pain and suffering in a fallen world

Natural disasters on a vast scale = groaning of creation

The world is suffering alot of pain and suffering because of the broken relationship between us and the relationship with God, but at the same time certain suffering and even death is a necessary part of life.

The roots of the environmental crisis

Environmental crisis = Spiritual crisis

I think that can be seen as a bit of a radical statement, especially to those who blame Christianity for the way that human beings have used and abused the earth for our own selfish gains, and those who just don’t believe in God in the first place.

I loved this quote that Dave Bookless used from Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew;

‘Science alone will not be able to resolve the situation because it is a moral, spiritual and ethical issue requiring major changes in our behaviour’

Wow! Honestly I see that as a call to action for Christians. Great opportunity for Christians as we understand the root cause and the cure (Jesus Christ)

Judgment and hope

Revelation 11:18

How God feels about the rebellion that has led to the devastation of creation

Creation groaning is not a world in decay (worldly view) but the pains of childbirth, the hope that God has given us that ‘better’ is coming. That God is not going to leave his creation or us for that matter.

However damaged God’s works are by human folly, they still witness to this great God, and God still sustains his creation (page 45).

Questions
1. What examples can we see in the world today, and in our own lives, of the breakdown in relationships between humanity and creation?
The droughts, then when the rain comes the floods that follow probably are the most recent example. The only personal example is probably the fact that I get sunburn alot, and am allergic to grass.

2. How far can we attribute all suffering and pain to the fall and sin’s entry into this world? Think of some actual examples from recent news or your own experience.
Ultimately sin entering the world in the beginning is the reason we have all pain and suffering. But you can’t blame an individuals sin for things like the Victorian bushfire’s or the Earthquake in Haiti, they happened because of the broken relationship that we all have with creation and God.

3. The World Wide Fund for Nature writes of encouraging faith communities to ‘enlarge the significant role they play in caring for the environment’. Are there ways you could engage in this process?
Starting a group at church which prays for the environmental issues and also gets involved with organisations that are doing projects in the local community.

>Planetwise prt 3

>To see the other post click here

God: committed to creation

To some god is viewed as the ‘Divine Watchmaker’, god started (wound up) creation then just let it go & moved on. I do think to some degree this was my view of God, that he is very hands off with us and defiantly the rest of creation.

But as you read this chapter you discover that correctly this is not the behaviour of a relational God. How can God walk away from something that he created in love?

God is a sustainer, continuing to uphold, care for and renew his creation.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep. O Lord, you preserve both man and beast (Psalm 36:6)

Psalm 65

The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon. It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter. (Psalm 74:16-17)

God loves this world deeply and is involved with it intimately (page 23)

He is involved because he made the universe in love and continues to uphold it in his love and power (page 24)

We are living in very unstable times with news about the running out of non-renewable resources and natural upheaval (earthquakes, tsunami’s, floods, droughts, etc…), it would be so easy to lose hope. Sustainability is the hope that we seek, Dave Bookless refers to sustainability as the new Holy Grail. Which it is, but you can’t forget who the sustainer in sustainability is….God. But we still need to play our part, as Christians we can’t just sit back, watch and except God to do all the work.

God speaks through two books

  1. his word (the bible)
  2. his works (creation)

Through both books we can get a much fuller picture of God then if we focused on just one, a mistake I think alot of people tend to make.

There are a number of example in the bible of God using creation to speak directly with people, an example being the story of Jonah, he was swallowed by a large fish who deposited him where God wanted him to be and where he had been running from.

I think that many churches miss teaching and worshipping based on both of the two books God uses to communicate with, it is time for us to rediscover the joy of simply spending time enjoying and learning from God’s world.

Creation : belonging to God

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it (Psalm 24:1)

I think the message from this passage and this section is quite clear, despite what we have been brought up to believe (even it many churches) the earth belongs to God.

for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the fields are mine. (Psalm 50:10-11)

But God has made an ‘arrangement’ with us

The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants (Leviticus 25:23)

We are Stewart’s & Caretakers

People: part of creation

I think the thing that stood out for me in this section is the statement about our DNA, our 99% shared DNA with apes is not about Creation vs Evolution (yeah!) but our relatedness as creatures before the Creator. Afterall all animals and us were all created on the same day (Genesis 1:24-31)

We were created interdependent with the rest of creation.

People: called apart within creation

Though is is import to recognise that we are apart of creation Dave Bookless does point out that the human species is a very important one, with a unique role to play in creation.

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4)

You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. you made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet (Psalm 8:5-6)

Our place in creation is not a right but a gift from God.

Environmentalists often blame Christianity for our current ecological crisis, using Genesis 1: 26-28 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

They argue that Christians believe humans exploit & destroy as they wish. But I think that it is a self-centered human attitude rather than one you can solely blame on Christianity. Though it is pointed out that too often Christians have been so ‘other-worldly’ as to be of no earthly use.

Questions

1. What practical difference does it make to everyday life if we believe either that the earth is God, or that the earth belongs to God?

I think that believing that the earth is a gift as aposed to an entity then we have a greater responsibility towards it. Because it was made for us, we are not just happening to be exsisting ontop of someone.

2. How should the biblical insight that ‘the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it’ (Psalm 24:1) affect attitude to possession and property?

It should make people repect and take more ownership of the earth, especially when through our own actions cause a species to be wiped out or a waterway to be polluted. We are ultimatly renting our little corner of the earth from God and eventually he is going to return and want to do a rental property inspection.

3. Why does Genesis emphasize that humans are made both ‘from the dust of the earth’ and also ‘in the image of God’? What are the implications of each for our realtionship with the rest of creation?

To remind us that we are apart of creation but have a very special purpose as we were choosen by God to be in his image and do his work he on earth. The implications of this is that we can not just ‘do what we will’ with creation, use and abuse it for our own pleasure and enjoyment, we have a responsibility to look after creation.

>Longest birthday ever!

>My birthday is in the beginning on February, but this year my birthday began in late January and has only finished today. My husband bought me a horse trail ride for my birthday, something I have always wanted to do, the trail ride happened while we were on a weekend get-a-way in a little country town called ‘Grandchester’ near Ipswich. My little brother bought me and my husband tickets for Movieworld on the Gold coast, and that is where we went today (my brother and sister came too).

We had a great day, my husband and brother went on the Superman ride (and loved it!), we all went on the Scooby Doo Spooky Coast, saw the Stunt Car show, the Shrek 4D movie, watched the All star parade, and my husband, me and my sister went on the Batman 2 ride. We all had a great time!

The only downside was lunch, you can no longer bring food into any of the theme parks on the Gold Coast, which does make it more expensive to go to a theme park. But in Movieworld the food they have on offer (that you have no choice but to buy) is to be frank awful. My husband had an Angus burger and after eating it felt sick enough that he had to stop going on any rides, I had ‘chicken’ which didn’t look, smell or even taste like chicken and we paid alot of money for the food as well. Next time we will be bring fruit in with us so that we actually have something decent in our stomachs. The website said that you could bring in fruit, bottled water and any food for special dietary requirements, but my husband was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to bring the fruit in inside a cooler so we left it in the car. BIG mistake. I don’t think that I would necessarily mind so much that we can’t bring our own food in if what was on offer was actually worth the money you paid for it.

Well that is my little rant for the week. Still waiting to hear the outcome from my job interview yesterday, I do feel that I did well and could really see myself working in the store and am ever so excited about the possibility of working in the scrapbooking industry. Best thing is that these lovely people who own the store have gone about things alot better then the last scrapbooking store I worked in. This store is in a great location and in highly visible with pink windows, they already have people anxiously waiting to get into the store and papers are ringing wanting them to put ad in. The best thing is that this store isn’t the only form of income, and it is something they have been working towards for the last 10 years. I really don’t want to get too excited about this job, I have been soooo very hurt before, emotionally. I am just trying to keep reminding myself that it is all apart of God’s plan and if this is the path for me then it will happen, if not…..then it won’t.

>The drought has broken

>I’m not referring to the amount of rain that we have been having lately, though nice to have a full tank going into winter. But the job interview drought that I have been experiencing. It has been quite a few months since I have had an interview for any position. But this week I got two!

First is was a group interview for Smiggle that is on next Wednesday, then the very next day I got a phone call about a job interview that happened today. They are both casual positions and I would love either position. Being unemployed for 6 months is really wearing thin.

I think that I did quite well at the interview today, it is for a scrapbooking store about 30mins from my house. I might even be able to commute by the train which would be great. I am big into using public transport as much as possible, especially for commuting to and from work. It just doesn’t make any sense for us to be driving both of our vehicles to work everyday. As much as I would like to think that I have nailed the interview and the job is practically mine, I have been down that road before. I think that is the hardest thing, the disappointment when you were so sure that you have the job in the bag. I made that mistake once and emotionally it almost destroyed me when they decided to go with someone else.

I have worked in a scrapbooking store before, only for a couple of months, the business wasn’t run all that well. Wrong location and lack of the right kind of advertising mean that people weren’t coming and there wasn’t enough money coming in to justify my position. I understand that the store officially closed down last year, not surprised that it didn’t last in the GFC (global financial crisis). That history made me alittle nervous about this job, it is again a new store, but this time is seems to be in a much better location (right on the road with pink windows so you can’t miss it), the people running it have been working towards this for the past 10 years, they have a website (at this stage just informational, but still really great to see) and they are planning on doing advertising in a range of places and not relying on word of mouth. I think that this store has alot of potential, just have to pray that I am going to be apart of that potential.

>Planetwise

>Creation Calls

Creation cannot tell us all we need to know about God, only we were created in God’s image (So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27). Creation emphasizes God’s uniqueness & otherness (don’t quite get ‘otherness’).

Talk of ‘mother nature’ or ‘mother earth’ confuses created with creator, and is contradictory to Exodus 20:3 You shall have no other Gods before me.

The world around us communicates important message about God, creation is in many ways Gods first chosen means of telling us about himself. Romans 1:20 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.

The fact that we have a relational God is probably one of the most easily seen qualities of God that can be seen in creation, through the interdependence of the world. Plants and animals rely of each other from food and survival and we rely on them too for clean air, food, clothing, etc…

Job 38:25&26 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no on lives, and uninhabited desert. God cares and values us as well as the creation that he created.

This statement really got me God has made us to depend on himself, each other and the whole of creation.

>God’s Megaphone (Word 4 U 2day, Wednesday 24th March)

>Pain speaks volumes. Headaches tell us we need to lie in a dark room; backaches tell us we need to lift safely; stomach-aches tell us to step away from the Doritos. Yes, pain tells us somethings not right.

Pain captures our attention. It can be the same with our lives, sometimes pain is necessary for change. the pain of depression can lead us to seek help. the pain of loss can help us re-evaluate what matters most in life. The pain of emptiness can bring us back to God.

CS Lewis rote, ‘Pain in God’s megaphone’. Maybe, this year had been tough for you, life seems a bit pointless and you’ve been left wondering, ‘Where is God in all of this?’ The Bible says,’…don’t be surprised at the fiery trial you are going through…Instead, be very glad – for these trial make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.’ (1 Peter 4:12 – 13 NLT) Pain is never easy! Actually, life isn’t easy, but one thing we can count on is God hasn’t just left us to it. God id on the job: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ (Romans 8:28 NIV) Sometimes God has to use his megaphone to shout: ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ (Isaiah 30:21 NIV)

My daily devotional today really spoke volumes to me today. I have personally experienced alot of pain over the last few years and particularly in the last 6 months. Being without work has left me feeling lonely and quite empty. I really do feel that I have taken this time to refocus my relationship with God, I do feel the benefits and am extremely thankful. God has brought many things and people into my path to fill my life while I am on the search for work. I am so thankful for that.

Daily devotional is from Word 4 U 2day from UCB, www.word4u2day.com.au.

>Book Club

>I have joined a book club, was a bit concern about having to buy a book (not something we can afford to do alot of at the moment). But thankfully I suggested one of my personal favs that I already own and everyone agreed. Woo hoo. So we are reading ‘Planetwise’ by Dave Bookless (great name for an author!).

I am going to be blogging my thoughts and answers to some of the questions that are in the book.

Introduction

1.Do you agree that ‘as human beings we have got our relationship with the planet all wrong’? What evidence can you find to support this view?
I think that I defiantly agree with this statement, for too long we have taken everything that we can from the planet. Without consideration for the consequences. Mining and logging being two big examples. Digging huge holes, and completely stripping the land of trees have huge consequences. Mining poisons waterways and makes the earth almost dead so it is almost impossible to grow anything, land clearing for logging destroys habitat, weakens the earth by removing the roots that were holding the soil together so when the first heavy rain comes along mud slides happen.

2.Where would you place yourself in the spectrum of Christian attitudes to environmental issues: are they insidious, irrelevant, incidental or integral? Why?
Become stronger in the integral, I have always had a passion for the environment, but havn’t been all that sure that being a Christian and an environmentalist actually went together. But the more I read the bible and books like this one I am happily understanding that infact it is an integral part of being both and environmentalist and a christian.

3. The chapter concludes that the bible is not just the story of God and humanity, but ‘the story of God and the whole of creation’. Why do you think Christian have often only emphasized the ‘human’ elements of the bible, and neglected the wider creation?
Because humans are inherently selfish beings, which I don’t think is helped by the messages we receive everyday. Messages about that we are the centre of our own world, that we should put ourselves first, etc. And also because it is easier to focus on ourselves, the ‘what can one person do?’ attitude.