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Singapore Students take Creation Care Seriously

We are often asked if all of our work at Care of Creation is making a difference in the world.  Are people listening? If so, what are they doing about it?  The following report out of Singapore by way of the IFES Prayerline newsletter answers that question.  Yes, people are paying attention.  And they are developing their own movements along the way!

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So you’ve just attended a conference or camp. The fellowship was fantastic! The worship was amazing! You’re excited and enthusiastic about the future!

But then… back to reality. There are essays to write, problems with relationships, families to keep happy, fun times and difficult times. The conference excitement and the lessons learned start to grow dim.

FES Singapore students are determined this will not happen to them. They want a recent equipping conference to be just the beginning of challenge and change in their lives. At the close of the conference they wrote their pledges on origami paper, folded them into aeroplanes, and flew them. Then they all picked up a plane and committed to pray for the person and their pledge.

They have also organised a follow-up journey together. Their aim is to bring ‘organic, self-propagating, bottom-up change’. Local projects focus on topics discussed at the conference, such as migrant workers, social media, social entrepreneurship and conversations in the public square. Two projects that will be promoted nationally focus on rest and creation care.

One of these projects centres around Psalm 24:1-2 – ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.’ If we really believe this verse, FES asks, how will its truth affect our lives? How can we be responsible caretakers of God’s world?

Here are three suggestions:

1. Spend time outdoors.
As a community, explore and enjoy the wonders of God’s creation. If you take time to be ‘in’ the natural world, you will see what a marvellous gift it is. This will help you want to take care of it.

2. Stop pursuing ‘gadgetry’.
Constantly buying new devices may be a form of idolatry. Furthermore, only a small percentage of discarded items are recycled, creating mountains of e-waste – over 3.4 million tons in the US in 2012 alone! Sadly, poor countries are importing e-waste in order to recover the valuable bits, but the salvage process creates hazardous liquids and gases that are impacting the health of people and the environment.

3. Minimise wastage.
If you buy only what you need, you will waste less. This equates to a smaller carbon footprint, but is also being a good steward of resources – all part of loving our neighbour.

Another initiative is called Sleep Singapore Sleep. Students are finding creative ways to encourage themselves and others to get proper rest in order to better deal with stress. As the university year starts they will give out inflatable pillows to incoming students with a verse from Proverbs written on them: ‘When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet’ (3:24). They want to work with the student affairs department in the university to open discussions about meaningful rest in a stressful environment.

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Keep up the good work, Singapore!

How do you pray about an oil spill?

Today is the 45th celebration of Earth Day.  Monday of this week was the fifth anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in US history, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The damage to the Gulf was more severe and longer lasting than even the pessimists predicted:

Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Gulf Restoration Network, says that after five years, there are more questions than answers about what the lingering impact of the spill means.

“Dolphin deaths continue, oil is still on the bottom of the ocean, tar balls keep coming up,” she says. “And nobody really is able to say what we may find in five years, 10 years. It’s really distressing to me.”

Sarthou says there’s no certainty the spill won’t be a problem for generations to come. (NPR)

So, five years after this disaster, and 45 years after the nation started trying to do something about this kind of thing, we ask again, “How long?”   Below is a repost of one of our original commentaries on the oil spill from May 20, 2010.  The oil well had been gushing for a month already, and we asked:

How do you pray about an oil spill?

It’s a legitimate question:  The news is getting worse by the day for those of us many miles away, and no doubt by the hour for those living in the area of impact.  This morning we learned that some experts believe the amount of oil leaking may be much more than even the revised estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. More worrisome than that, there is now real concern that the oil may join the Gulf stream ocean current, which would send it around the tip of Florida and all the way up the East Coast of the United States, staining beaches and killing wildlife as it goes. Continue reading

After winter, spring… After despair, hope: An Easter Devotional

Tulip tip in springtime
An early sign of spring.

I’ve just come in from a walk around our office’s neighborhood.  Even though winter is technically over, the landscape is brown and dead.  There are no leaves on the trees.  There are no leaves on the bushes.  Flower beds are empty, some still covered with winter mulch.  If you dropped in from, say, Florida, your reaction might well be, “Why do you guys live in a place like this?  It feels so… dead!”

But it isn’t winter any more.  The air is warm.  Those bare branches are teeming with birds whose songs seem even louder in the stark, brown landscape.  And if you know where to look, you can see buds on trees and bushes getting ready to explode with new green leaves, and pointed green sprouts in otherwise dead flower beds.  It isn’t quite spring, but it isn’t winter any more – and we, having lived through another long, cold Wisconsin winter, breathe deep and rejoice.
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On living on a finite planet

Originally posted January 6th, 2011.  

 

Do we live in a world of limitations or one of potentially inexhaustible resources?

Wayne Grudem, writing in Politics According to the Bible, makes this rather astounding statement in an attempt to persuade his reader that there’s really nothing to worry about with regard to the global environmental crisis:

“Long term trends show that human beings will be able to live on the earth enjoying ever-increasing prosperity, and never exhausting its resources.” (p. 332)

I’ll be doing an in-depth review of Grudem’s book in the near future – let’s just say for now that it’s kind of hard to believe that he and I are living on the same planet.  Case in point: two different news items over the last couple of days: Continue reading

Countdown to Cape Town: Redemption and Creation Care

Originally published 9/27/2010, this post is at the heart of our core convictions at Care of Creation.

This is a continuation of a series of articles leading up to the third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization that begins in Cape Town South Africa on October 15.  Today’s post is a continuation of the last as we move from the Fall to Redemption. Find the whole series to date here.

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Like many kids, young and old, I used to enjoy playing with dominos.  Not playing the game, you understand, but playing with the tiles.  Setting them up in long chains, and when all was ready, carefully knocking the first one over.  If all went according to plan, each domino would knock the next one in the line, and one by one, all would fall over.  We used that image above to describe the series of relationships shattered by Adam and Eve’s disobedience.  As we think of how they are restored by redemption through Jesus, the same domino imagery is useful again.  As the domino tiles fall, each pushes on the next, and eventually all are lying flat.  But if you want to pick them up, you have to start with the first one that fell over, not with the last one. They have to be set up in the order in which they fell. The same is true as we begin to restore relationships broken by sin. Continue reading

Intimations of Mortality

Originally published August 13, 2010.

William Wordsworth’s most famous work is Ode: Intimations of Immortality From Reflections of Early Childhood.” It is one of my favorite poems, exploring the lost pleasures of childhood that Wordsworth believes are hints of the immortality we left behind:

It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
Turn wheresoe’er I may,
By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

And again,

Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Setting aside theological mysteries and controversies for another day, what has preoccupied me for that last month and a half has not been immortality, past or future, but increasing intimations of mortality:  My own,as I have experienced an unusual and thought provoking spell of genuine illness, something unusual for me; but also increasing intimations of mortality in the world in which we live, highlighted by the Gulf oil spill but buttressed by a host of other events. Continue reading