Earth Day Encouragement

Earth Day is less than a week away, and as I was reflecting on some of the earth/nature related Bible verses, the earth related events I know about coming up this weekend, about tax time, and still about Easter which is only a few weeks ago, I was reminded that it all eventually circles back to one thing: community.

Let me explain. Yes, the Bible tells of God doing things for just one or a few people, but Easter is really about everyone, not just one person or a few people. Everyone pays taxes, because it’s too big of a burden for just one person to take care of. The earth is something we all share and we’re all going to either keep it or lose it depending on how we live on it. As much as we’re all individuals and God sees us that way and has individual relationships with each of us, we’re all still part of a body of believers and called to meet together, care for each other and love each other.

Earth Day is one of those things that individually we’re responsible for doing our part to pay better attention to how we live on the earth as well as make sure we give back to the earth. But it’s only when we look at our collective effort that we can really see the difference over the years since 1970 when Earth Day officially began. It’s only when we recycle all year long, and not just on Earth Day, that we’ll make a difference. It’s only when we consistently choose the environmentally friendly choices that we begin to see a difference.

The same is true for our faith communities. You may not think you’re doing much only talking with one person about what faith means to you, but when many people are talking with others about their faith, not only does the Great commission not seem so overwhelming, but it actually looks like we’re making progress spreading the word.

So today I encourage you not to give up. Don’t be disheartedned if you don’t see your personal efforts having huge effects. Take the time to be part of your community and see what your community is doing to make a difference in the world, both your local community for Earth Day and your church community for the Great Commission. I’m not suggesting that when you see everyone else is doing the work that you let others do all the work and don’t give a personal effort, but rather be encouraged that the work you’re doing in connection with the work they’re doing is making a difference.

“Sometimes—by sheer determination–we can just kick the stone away from the door of the tomb and march out triumphantly into Resurrection Life. More often, we must wait: wait for circumstances to change, wait upon on God, wait on others for help. When Lazarus was called out of the tomb, Jesus said: “unbind him.” You –you friends and family of Lazarus—you unbind him. Sometimes we cannot unbind ourselves, but have to wait for others to help us into freedom.” Br. Mark Brown

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Earth Day Wisdom

Yesterday was Earth Day, I hope you spent some time in nature or made time to help nature.  Since Earth Day is really about all of us coming together to support the world we all share, I thought I’d share a few quotes about the earth with you today.

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”  John Muir

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”  Gandhi

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachel Carson

“Look deep into nature and you will understand everything better.”  Einstein

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.”  Henry David Thoreau

“Now I see the secret of making the best person: it is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.”  Walt Whitman

“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”  Lady Bird Johnson

“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

“He that plants trees loves others beside himself.”  Thomas Fuller

“The world is not in your books and maps, it’s out there.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

“Not all those who wander are lost.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

“Man is still the greatest miracle and the greatest problem on this earth.”  David Sarnoff

“Dear old world…You are very lovely, And I am glad to be alive in you.”  Lucy Maud Montgomery

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”  Albert Einstein

“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”  Karle Wilson Baker

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the wind longs to play with your hair.”  Khalil Gibran

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”  J.R.R. Tolkien

A Little Love for Everyone?

As we think about this month’s topic of love and the celebration of Earth Day later this week I wanted to share a verse that will challenge us on both topics: Psalm 24:1 says:

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”

First this verse reminds us that if we really care about God and are following Him, we’ll take care of what He has given us.  That means being a little more aware of what you’re buying and doing and how you’re interacting with nature and the impact you have on it.  We all have an impact, but we can make smarter choices to minimize that impact and protect the gift God has given us.

Second this verse reminds us that God created everything in the world, all of the plants, animals, creepy crawlers, and people.  I know it’s hard to imagine the God that created you and me also creating things like scorpions.  It’s also hard to imagine the God that created Billy Graham created Hitler too, but according to this verse, He did.

Which brings us to our challenge.  It can be really easy to be sloppy and lazy and not take care of the earth, after all there’s a really good chance that it will last through our lifetimes regardless of the damage we do.  It can also be really easy to just focus on the nice and good people and ignore those who display their faults and imperfections more than the rest of us do.  But this verse challenges us to remember that God has called us to care for that which is His; all of it.  That means attempting to remove our judgements, preconceived notions, prejudices and opinions and trying to see things from God’s perspective, which can be easier said than done.

But just like with caring for the earth and making earth-friendly decisions, treating all others with respect and courtesy, and maybe even love, is something you can get into the habit of doing.  God didn’t say it would be easy, but He called us to set the example for our fellow man.  So as we move away from Easter and toward Earth Day, I encourage you to consider how you can be more considerate of “everything” that the Lord has created.  What ways will you choose to show love today?

Trees for Tomorrow

I can remember as a child the town I lived in planting evergreen trees to hide water containment units.  Some towns are proud of their water towers, but we didn’t have pretty ones or ones with our town name or mascot on it, they were simple green cylinders.  While I don’t live in the town any longer I still drive through occasionally to visit with friends and work with clients, so I see how things change and grow.  Some of the most remarkable growth in the town is with the trees that were planted at the edge of the property where the water units are: it’s almost impossible to see the units anymore unless you’re at the (short) driveway of the property.  It’s the best result they could have hoped for when they planted them, many towns aren’t as successful with trees they plant and replant each year hoping for better results.

Sure, the town could have come up with a different plan, maybe painting the units, having the town get involved in painting them (perhaps something patriotic) or just telling people to deal with it like many other towns with a visible water unit do.  But instead they took the time to think about a solution that would be visually appealing and good for the environment, even if it might take a little extra work.  Trees do require some care, they need watering especially when they’re in their early years, and they could look scraggly if they aren’t cared for, which would defeat the purpose of having them.  But the town has taken the time and put in the effort to care for them and grow them into trees any tree-hugger would be proud of.

These trees are a great reminder for us that some things take work and time.  We may start something today that won’t show a lot of fruit until our children or grandchildren are our age.  We may not even live to see some of the great results.  If you think about the men and women who sailed on the Mayflower and other ships, they didn’t know all the trials and tribulations we would go through to reach this point, or the great things and people that have happened and been part of the journey thus far.  Don’t give up because you’re not seeing a great result today, keep putting in the effort day by day and don’t give up on your dreams.

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”  Warren Buffett

Reality Reflection: The Setting Sun

This week I’ve been thinking about changes and happened to see a beautiful setting sun.  We all have seasons where the sun sets on parts of our lives.  Sometimes it’s the death of a family member or close friend, sometimes it’s a job or career change, sometimes it’s a new place to live and other times it’s smaller like the end of a brand or product we loved.  The transition time isn’t something we do well with or enjoy all the time.  Endings and partings aren’t things we always enjoy either, and they can be difficult and painful, and sometimes confusing especially if you weren’t expecting it.

Some of us get stuck in the change and transition process, others of us can’t let go of the past, and some of us are so busy moving forward that we don’t grieve and let go of the past.  I think in most cases it’s important to take time to remember the past, work through the transition and move forward.  I don’t think we should skip any of these steps, whether our past was bad or good.  Learning from a bad past is helpful, but it’s also important to take time to cement the memories of the good things you have had or experienced.  Yes, life is about moving forward and living to the fullest, but part of that fullness is the past that has brought you to this point.

This weekend, this summer, I encourage you to take time to enjoy the setting sun as well as the rising sun.  With the late summer nights and early summer mornings there are lots of opportunities to see the sun and remember it as part of your life.  I remember lots of trips as a child where we would watch the rising or setting sun while driving and a few thunderstorms too.  Those are treasured memories from my childhood and I am thankful for them.  Choose to find the beauty in the endings in your life this summer, not just the joy in the future or relief of leaving the past.

A Summer of Celebration

Today is the summer solstice.  It’s a day of celebrating the summer ahead, reflecting on the seasons past and celebrating being alive and having the sun to warm and feed us. Many groups of people take time on days like the solstice to stop and reflect or have a practice or something they say to honor the transition, and it got me thinking about taking time to thank and honor God.  So today I thought I would share a few verses to inspire and encourage you to recognize God’s presence in your day to day life and in larger moments like the solstice.

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24

“Sing praises to God and to his name!  Sing loud praises to him who rides the clouds. His name is the Lord—rejoice in his presence! Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”  Psalm 68:4-5

“The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.  Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known.”  Psalm 19:1-2

“O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!  Your glory is higher than the heavens…When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them?”  Psalm 8:1, 3-4

“Sing out your thanks to the Lord; sing praises to our God with a harp.  He covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, and makes the grass grow in mountain pastures.  He gives food to the wild animals and feeds the young ravens when they cry.  He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse or in human might. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.”  Psalm 147:7-11

I encourage you to look and see where God is working this summer.  Don’t give up hope because it seems like all you see is sorrow and hate.  And if you can’t see God working, maybe He’s waiting for you to do something to share some joy and sunshine with someone.

Reality Reflection: Delight in the Earth

Do you remember what it was like to run through the fields as a kid or play on the beach for hours? I enjoyed those care-free days so much! Do you get jealous watching your kids do that or have you not introduced them to the joys of freedom in nature? I believe the earth enjoys this play time as much as we did as kids, and it’s important time for both of us. I don’t believe the earth could be as awesome and creatively created if it wasn’t supposed to be enjoyed by us.

Earth Day is really about getting back to our roots and how we were created. Whether you are a person of faith and believe the story of Creation in the Bible or take a scientific approach, we’ve been all been created with very organic means. God didn’t wave a magic wand to create man and woman, and science can prove that we’re made up of organic components. It makes sense that one of the places we feel safest and happiest is in nature (one of the others is with family).

This weekend I encourage you to take time to get in nature with your family, whether your family by blood or the one you’ve created. Maybe you’ll play a football game, maybe you’ll go on a hike, maybe you’ll take paper and pencil and get creative together, or maybe it will be a great opportunity for a picnic. Don’t see Earth Day as just the obligation and reminder of damage that it is, see it as an opportunity and reminder to get out in nature more often, to enjoy nature more and take time for the things that make you enjoy living and make you happy.

Rediscovering the joys of nature can revitalize and reenergize you and help inspire you to work through frustrations you may be facing in your life, and just might remind you of what exactly we’re fighting to save on Earth Day.

“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair.” Kahlil Gibran