Friday, January 31, 2014

It's a Wonderful World (Jan 31, 2014)

3 Good Things That Happened This Week Around the World

Don't watch too much of the news. You will quickly become depressed. Regardless of your political perspective your side is always on the verge of loosing. Calamity abounds. People are killed. Fortunes are lost. War is just around the corner. All news is bad news.

In his book "What is Wrong with the World," G.K. Chesterton discusses the problem with only focusing on the evils of the world. 
  The only way to discuss the social evil is to get at once to the social ideal. We can all see the national madness; but what is national sanity? I have called this book "What Is Wrong with the World?" and the upshot of the title can be easily and clearly stated. What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.
And there are a lot of things that are right with the world. Each Friday I will post 3 good things that happened in the world during the week, big and small along with links to articles about them. You may have heard of some of them already. Others might have gotten lost in the noise of all the bad news we are accustomed to hearing.

Take a moment to let the cares of impending war and financial meltdown fade away. Refocus on what is good in the world, following the advice of Paul the Messenger of Christ, "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." (Phil 4:8)

1. Toilets.  Diarrhea is the number one killer worldwide. The two big ways to bring it down are clean drinking water and proper sanitation. UNICEF reported this week that 2 billion people have gained access to toilets since 1990.  As a result of this and other factors, child mortality in developing countries continues to fall. We're winning the war, one toilet at a time.

Terrible weather brings out terrific people2. Snow. People came together across the ice covered south to help those stranded by the crippling storm. People provided food, shelter, and assistance to complete strangers. Businesses across the south such as a Chick-fil-a franchise near Birmingham also joined in to feed motorists stranded on the highway at no charge. One doctor even traveled six miles by foot to perform a life saving surgery. It turns out that there really are good people in the world. And even flawed people often do great things for others when the need arises.

3. Peanuts. For some people, exposure to peanuts can be life-threatening due to an extreme allergy to the protein in peanuts. This week, researchers in the UK announced that peanut allergies have successfully been treated with small doses of peanuts. Who would have thought? After six months of peanut therapy, 85% of participants were able to consume 5 peanuts without a reaction. Please note, this study was done under intense medical supervision. Don't try this at home!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stop Studying Theology

Stop studying theology if it fails to change your life. If it's a mere academic pursuit, then just stop it. It's worthless. Worse than worthless, it deceives you into thinking you are right about something. That you've found the way when you haven't. Academic knowledge is never the way. Following Jesus is the Way.

Stop talking about your beliefs if you don't act on them. So what if you understand the Trinity. You don't have the love of the Father, the leading of the Son, the fellowship of the Spirit. Admit you don't believe that God is good if you are going to repeatedly fail to do good when you have the power to act.

Don't tell me you believe people are made in God's image if you are going to walk out the door and ignore the people you pass by every day. Cease your rants about man's sinful nature if you do not mourn the sin in your own life.

Don't tell me about the doctrine of God's sovereignty and then go worry and fret, as if everything depends on you. Don't explain how man has freewill and then live as if you have no control over your own body.

Your knowledge sows death as you parse Greek tenses and debate textual differences. You are quick to condemn those who interpret your Bible differently than you. And the dying world looks on in wonder, glad to keep their distance from you and your theological correctness.

Don't deceive yourself into believing your lofty  teachings are a service. Avoid the delusion that correcting bad theology is a benefit to God and others. Don't fool yourself into thinking you can write a blog about following Jesus in place of actually following Jesus. More often than not our talk is just a waste of time. Our study is an exercise in futility.  Our teaching is hypocrisy.

God does not need any of us to explain Him, as if we even could. Here is what he wants from us.

"Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously."
(Micah 6:8, The Message)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I Don't Really Care About Global Warming

As I'm writing this in my warm cozy apartment, it's 3° Fahrenheit outside. It didn't get over 10° today, as we sit underneath a voracious polar vortex. I laugh to see people using this singular cold snap to prove global warming is a hoax.  I find it equally humorous when people see the deep freeze as sure evidence of global warming.  What?

I'm not a meteorologist, and neither are most of the people who make such brash claims. So I don't really know the truth about global warming. I don't know if the earth is warming, or cycling. I don't know if humans are to blame for the alleged warming. It doesn't seem unreasonable that we are. But it really doesn't matter to me either way. The threat of potential global warming will have no impact on the decisions I make about consumption, fuel, food, or waste.

But this is what does make an impact on my decisions about consumption, fuel, food, and waste: God said "Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air, for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth.” (Gen 1:28 MSG) God holds me responsible for the world he has made. God has given us a mandate to take care of that world. We are co-rulers with God. And if we reflect God's heart, we will rule in a way that blesses everything under us. We will be a blessing to the land, the plants, the animals, and the people who depend on them.

God's greatest gift to humanity up to the advent of Jesus was the world itself. Designed by a masterful planner, the world has given us resources to build and grow and make an easy life for ourselves. God gave us a world full of animals, fish, trees, minerals, and farm-able land and fossil fuels. And every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). But the gift was given along with the responsibility to rule wisely.

It blows my mind that people who allegedly believe the Bible are often the harshest critics of responsible care for the earth. They drive their big SUVs and drink water from disposable bottles, and throw away excessive amounts of garbage, while refusing to support policies that protect the earth from the destruction humans are capable of. This is not responsible rule of creation. This is not obeying God's mandate to be responsible for every living thing on earth.

Regardless of the latest scientific views on global warming or popular environmentalist fads, followers of Jesus should be leading the way in responsible care for God's creation. Christ-followers should be the first to recycle, even when it's not convenient. Those who claim to be Christians should go out of their way to reduce their use of fossil fuels and other polluting chemicals. People who love Jesus should be champions of green energy, public transportation and better urban design, biking, walking, and green space. We should be using the creative powers God has blessed us with to find new ways to protect His creation and preserve it for those who will come after us.

We can do better. I want to be a better ruler of creation, so I am dedicating myself to being responsible for the environment around me. I challenge all of my readers to make a resolution to pick up one new habit this year to improve the part of creation you rule. Perhaps you can reduce your waste by  recycling or composting. Perhaps you reduce your consumption of fossil fuels by biking to work when the weather is suitable or even using public transportation for the first time. You could start by getting a refillable water bottle to take around with you. The possibilities are endless, and we don't have to join Green Peace to do it.

Refuse to let the world pass by. Be the ruler God intended you to be. He has given you an amazing gift called the world. Use it well this year.