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Dive Deeper Into Creation Care

Title: Dive Deeper Into Creation Care
Artwork by: Emilia Ting (@lightcollector)
Description: Do you find yourself tossed back and forth on the topic of creation care?

Due to our human activities and negligence, creation is suffering. Floating plastics. Oil spills. Polluted seas.

Regardless of what we do, creation will never be fully restored by our human effort. But God can, and  He has promised that He will bring about complete restoration―a new heaven and earth (Revelation 21:1).

But this does not mean we should stop caring for creation. What we do now matters to God and the generations after us. After all, we are to be responsible stewards of the earth as God has commanded us in Genesis.

How can you and I do something to care for creation today? Share your thoughts with us! 

 

 

 

Creation Crafted For His Glory

Creation reveals God’s invisible qualities to us (Romans 1: 20). Through nature, God speaks to us, and reveals His infinite power and glory.

How has God spoken to you through His creation?

 

 

Creation Chokes With Sin

God gave man dominion over His creation. Even after the fall of man, He continues to give us this responsibility and hopes for us to continue to take care of His creation.

Do we care for our environment just as we care for the lives and souls of people?

 

 

Creation Contaminated By Man

Man’s advancements have affected creation in both small and big ways. Some of our greatest inventions have come at the expense of the environment.

How can you and I play our part to care for creation?

 

 

Creation Cries Out To Be Restored

Since the fall of mankind, creation has “been groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Romans 8:22). But we can wait expectantly on God to come again to restore and redeem all of creation—including both you and I.

The Day I Stopped Hiding My Gift

Written By Shelley Pearl, New Zealand

 

“I look at your work and the intern’s, and I cannot see the difference between the two,” my former editor said.

Those were the last words I wanted to hear, especially since I had worked hard to be where I was. At that point, I had clocked in four years of working experience as a reporter, three of which was spent in a community newsroom writing about 100th birthdays and lost pets, but felt it was time to experience life as a hard news reporter.

I have always enjoyed reading and writing, so choosing a career in writing was an easy choice for me. By the time I was 12, I had my heart set on being a journalist. I started by writing short stories for my dad to read, and later wrote lengthy letters to pen-pals and friends. Writing got me through horrible days. It is my therapy, and I live for it.

When I was in high school, I chose journalism and English as two of my core subjects. I wrote everything from book reviews to reports on animal abuse for my school newspaper—sadly, only one article ever made it to my school’s newspaper. However, I was undeterred, and a story I read in a Times’ magazine on the treatment of women under the Taliban regime further cemented my desire to be a reporter. I wanted to shine a light on social injustices and human sufferings.

It was a journalism scholarship, with a year’s study and two years’ work in a newsroom, that secured my chance to be a reporter (my parents had wanted me to an accountant). I fastidiously went through the Pulitzer Prize list, reading award-winning stories, picturing myself covering in-depth stories for a big news organization such as the BBC, The Washington Post or The New York Times.

Therefore, once I had done about three years in a community newsroom, I decided if I were to one day report stories worthy of a prize, I’d have to move into a daily news environment.

When I first accepted the job in a daily news environment, I harbored hopes of being coached by senior reporters. I imagined my name listed on the annual media awards list for best feature story or best breaking news. I pictured covering stories on poverty, hunger, and struggles of the everyday person. I tacked the front page of The New York Times to my bedroom wall to keep my vision before me.

However, nothing like that came to pass. Instead, working life turned into a waking nightmare of painful meetings with my editors, battered self-confidence, and long evenings crying in cell group or alone in bed. Between being told that I wasn’t suited for a bigger newsroom (even though I thought I’d been doing a decent job covering different news stories), to being reprimanded for apparently overstepping a boundary in the way I handled a particular inquiry, to having all my grammatical or spelling mistakes magnified, I felt like a constant failure.

And any hope I had left was crushed that afternoon when my editor claimed my work was barely distinguishable from someone who wasn’t even a fully-fledged professional. Adding insult to injury, he also said I had only been hired to fill in the lack of ethnic minorities in the newsroom. It was as though the hard work I put in for other stories were forgotten.

I left his office with my tail between my legs, my emotions drained and my spirit broken.

Unwilling to let my superiors and my circumstances get the better of me, I hung on a little longer. It wasn’t until another reporter complained to my chief reporter about how she had to correct my mistakes on a daily basis that I realized I had to leave. What she was claiming was untrue and had the potential to damage my career.

By the time I resigned, I was completely broken and downtrodden. I swore I would never write again, and ignored all emails when a Christian organisation emailed to ask if I would contribute my writing skills.

I went into hiding for months, and refused to go near anything that resembled writing.

However, I was forced out of my hiding place when I attended my church’s annual leadership event. An American pastor, John Bevere, was the guest speaker.

He spoke on the Parable of The Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), about a master who had entrusted his servants with his property, and each were given talents according to their ability. While some of the servants used their talents wisely, one decided he would hide his. Needless to say, his master was very unhappy when he realised what his servant had done.

And what Pastor Bevere said next had me quaking: the master scolded the servant for being wicked, and took away his talent.

My heart went cold and I felt God’s voice booming right at me, saying the gift would not be returned once it was taken. I did not want to show up on Judgment Day only to have God tell me off for being a lazy, wicked servant. I promised God that I would no longer hide my gift.

The end of the sermon was the start of my venture back into writing. I emailed the Christian organization to say I’d be happy to contribute, and also contacted another organization to see how I could go about volunteering my writing skills.

Writing again has helped me overcome my insecurities of a failed writer. I was stunned when the first article I wrote for one of the organizations, a short 500-word piece, was declared ready to publish, without too many edits. Buoyed by the encouragement, I turned in my second piece, and by the third, was invited to join their panel of volunteer writers. I was especially delighted when my articles were translated to different languages for the organization’s various international sites. When I was a reporter, my sphere of influence was restricted to my local area, but I am now able to reach out to people in different countries.

While it’s not always easy giving up my weekends and evenings to write, I think of my articles touching the lives of readers who may be in need of a word of encouragement. Friends, even non-Christians, who read my articles online often said they felt they could relate my story, and a giant smile would spread across my face. It has also shown me that God is not done with my writing. While my journalism career may have gone up in smoke, God is able to use what is broken for His purpose.

My name may never be in the limelight. I may never win a Pulitzer Prize or any prestigious media awards, and I may never earn copious amounts of money as a writer. But I remind myself that I have been tasked by God to write and obeying Him carries a significance greater than any prize on earth.

Stewardship Is Not Just About Money

My daughter will turn two this summer, and she has a new favorite word. “Mine!” seems to work its way into her limited vocabulary at a pretty regular rate.

I find myself wondering where she picked up this need to stake her claim on her toys and possessions. And then I realized that I have the tendency to do the same, and that perhaps this desire to cling to and hold on to what we have, is innate in all of us.

What does Scripture have to say about this? Prevalent as a theme in Scripture, stewardship seems to be the resounding answer to that topic.

Stewardship means to take care of something. The Bible tells us that this first involves a mindset—an understanding that everything we have has been given to us. The psalmist reminds us: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Psalm 24:1). All my “possessions” aren’t really mine to begin with—they are on loan to me from a gracious God who gives us more than we could ever deserve.

A second thing stewardship involves is action. Knowing that all I have is a gift, I need to ask myself what I’m going to do with it. Remember the parable of the bags of gold? Jesus tells his disciples a story in Matthew 25: Before a man goes away on a journey, he gives one servant five bags of gold, another two bags, and yet another servant just one bag. The first two men use what was given to them to make something more, while the third servant hides away his one bag of gold.

When the master returns, the first two show the master all that they earned during his absence. They’d used their time and resources well; they had been good stewards of the gold given them. But the third servant has only the original bag of gold to offer back. He had been stingy and ungenerous; he’d protected his resources instead of using them.

Let me be clear. God’s pleasure is not based on how much we can produce or earn. We all know that no amount of good works can earn God’s approval (Ephesians 2:8-9). But this parable leads us to ask an important question: if everything we have is a gift, how can we use what we’ve been given to further the announcement of God’s kingdom? How can we value all He’s given us by making much of Him?

When we hear of stewardship these days, it is usually connected to the idea of money. But I have learned that stewardship is about much more than our finances—but every aspect of our lives. Here are some personal ways that God has taught me more about what it means to be a steward.

 

Stewarding My Resources

Growing up, our neighbor Lee had a pick-up truck. Lee would offer this truck to our family anytime someone was moving. There were four kids in my family, and come college-time, it felt like someone was always moving in or out of a dorm. So we borrowed this truck from Lee a lot over the years. I remember that he wasn’t stingy or overprotective of his car, or even annoyed with the time it took to help us. Once when I thanked him for letting us borrow his truck, he said, “Oh, it’s not my truck. This is the Lord’s pick-up truck, and it is for His people whenever they may need it.”

This happened years ago, and I still think about his kindness. How easy it is for us to hoard our possessions in the name of “taking care of them.” How ungenerous I have been with things like my car, home, or my computer.

After that conversation with Lee, I began reframing my thinking and asking myself how I could use what I have to bless God’s people, and thus bless Him. I remember when my husband and I bought our first car. He had heard Lee’s story before, and so we had the same mindset that day.

We sat in that car and thanked God for entrusting it to us, all the while recognizing that it wasn’t really ours at all. We prayed that we would be faithful in our stewardship of that vehicle, that it would be used, whenever and however, to love and serve the people around us.

That car was borrowed here and there while we had it, but after a few years of driving it, we lost it in a terrible accident. This is definitely not what we had hoped for this car—we wanted it to be a car that we could continue to steward for a long time. But even so, buying that car and praying that prayer was a sincere and humbling experience. It was not our own; it was the Lord’s car. And then, when we lost it, we were reminded again just how temporary all our possessions really are.

 

Stewarding My Health

The last few years, I have become more and more convicted that we need to be good stewards in taking care of our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20). And I’ve worked hard toward a healthy weight by exercising consistently, eating right, and drinking enough water every day. Only when I am healthy can I pick up my ever-growing kid, work the ground in my yard, or carry wooden pallets to the dumpster at a volunteer project.

Learning to take care of my body has not been easy—it has been a long journey and a lot of hard work, and maintaining it sometimes feels like the hardest part. But it is worth it, because the body that God has given me is a gift, and I believe He has work for me to do with it.

 

Stewarding My Life

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus talks about being salt and light in the world. Eugene Peterson paraphrases verse 16 this way in The Message translation, “Keep open house; be generous with your lives.” I love this.

I am a teacher, and sometimes I get a class that I find difficult to connect with. A few years ago, I took on a class like this, which was probably the most difficult of my teaching career. The students and I simply couldn’t get along, and as a result, I was very closed off with them. But when I read Peterson’s paraphrase about “being generous with my life,” I was immediately convicted—I was not being generous with these students. I was holding them at arm’s length. I was not letting them in.

I don’t even really remember what I said that next day in class, but I made an effort to tell them an anecdote and connect with the students on a personal level. I’ll never forget a student saying, “What’s going on with you? You’re so much happier today!”

I am embarrassed to even write that, and my heart still breaks a little when I think about it. I was not keeping open house with my students, and they could tell. I regret that I was not generous in the way that mattered most—with my very life. How was I to mirror a gift-giving God to my students if I myself was not being generous? When we live out His generosity, we bear His image and allow others to see Him more clearly.

 

Stewarding My Time

I was recently at the funeral of my cousin’s husband. He was just a few years older than us, with two young children. It was sobering to realize how quickly this temporary life can come to an end. People often say “time is precious” and “time is money.” Time is viewed as a commodity, and we are cautioned to guard it closely. So, if time is so special, we need to start moving, friends. We need to realize that each day we’ve been given is a gift.

Even as I write this, I recognize that time is probably one of my weakest areas as a steward. At the end of my life, will my time have simply passed, or will I have used the time to make much of God and love His people? How are we using those hours in which God has kept us alive? I encourage you, friend, if God has sparked an idea in you, make it happen. Don’t let another month or year go by without acting on what He’s ignited in you.

On my birthday this year, I went to lunch by myself and mapped out the year ahead and some of the dreams and ideas God has given me. I set a specific plan for prioritizing what He has kindled in me, to be proactive in obeying His calling in my life. I’m doing my best (and asking for His help all along the way) to make good use of the time He’s given me.

 

Friends, I hope and pray that we will continue to recognize God as the Gift-Giver, and that we would endeavor, with great anticipation and pleasure, to make much of Him by employing the many resources He’s granted us.

Is Dressing Modestly Overrated?

Written By Hannah Spaulding, USA

I’ve always felt uneasy about the topic of modesty.

Growing up in church, I heard many different rules and principles about modesty. However, I often had difficulty accepting some of them—something I know other Christian girls have dealt with as well.

In high school, I witnessed the shame and degradation my friends felt when they were punished for dress code offenses, such as wearing leggings or shorts that were too short. They were often sent to spend the day in the administrative office or forced to wear clothes from the lost and found box over their offensive attire.

I never saw any of my male classmates punished for dress code offences, and the females punished were often of a larger body type. To me, this made the dress code system seem incredibly unfair. Seeing my friends humiliated for wearing the “wrong” type of clothing led me to conclude that strict principles of modesty were unfair, and their application resulted only in unnecessary shame.

As I grew older, I continued to struggle with these ideas of modesty. How were we supposed to know where to draw the line? And why? Some principles about modesty made sense and were easy to understand. For example, dressing with the purpose of seduction is clearly wrong.

But other reasons for dressing conservatively didn’t make sense. For example, I was told that I needed to cover up so that people wouldn’t assume the wrong things about my reputation, because my body belonged to my future husband, or so that the men around me wouldn’t be tempted to sin.

But that’s where the problem begins—when a woman is held responsible for the thoughts and actions of the men around her. In many societies, when a woman is sexually assaulted, she is told it is her fault because of how she dressed. I cannot disagree more. In fact, studies have shown that most people are sexually assaulted by someone they know, and that clothing is almost never a factor. Teaching young women that they need to cover up so the men around them will not sin contributes to a culture that normalizes and diminishes the significance of sexual assault and blames the victims.

Some ideas about modesty also suggest that the way a woman dresses can indicate how promiscuous she might be. This kind of thinking is dangerous, because it can encourage judgment and condemnation over mercy and grace.

So, is modesty important then? Though I’ve struggled with some of the principles and ideas that I’ve heard about modesty, I believe that modesty is important—but not because of what I’ve been told. Rather, it’s important because God calls us to be good stewards of the things He has given us, including our bodies.

I act and dress in the knowledge that my body is a temple to the Lord and a gift from Him. I choose to honor God and myself by dressing in a way that is appropriate, but also in a way that makes me feel confident in the skin God has made for me. This means I wear clothing that I feel confident and beautiful in, and yet keep certain parts of my body covered up. As the steward of my body, I have chosen to save those parts of myself for my future husband. I do this not because my body belongs to him, but because I want to be a responsible and wise steward of my body.

Proverbs 31:30 states, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” While this verse is not saying that wearing cute clothes and looking good on the outside is wrong, our main concern must be with inner beauty. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes the “wife of noble character” as a woman who is compassionate to the poor, trustworthy, wise, kind, and provides for her family.

When it comes to being a Christian woman, the way I dress is important, but it is only one aspect of living the life of a Christian. Being a Christian—man or woman—is about so much more than clothing. It’s about living each day as passionate, creative, intelligent, merciful, and generous image-bearers of God that we are created to be.