Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry …

Incarnation Celebration!

Elyse Fitzpatrick (@elysefitz) tweeted this a few weeks ago:

“In light of the fact that we so consistently forget the point, I’m going to call Christmas the Incarnation Celebration this year. Join me?”

I’m joining in.

Also, on an Incarnation Celebration note: read Isaiah. Isaiah, I think, captures the meaning of Christmas a lot more fully than the “Christmas Story” in the gospels. Not that I’m opposed to that Christmas Story. But I think the story starts earlier, and lasts longer, than the parts the gospels relate.

Specifically, 54:8:

In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer.

Also, I hope you had a good one.

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What I Mean By Being ‘Green’

I am not an environmental activist.

I’m letting you know this because in the last six months or so, I’ve had a lot of people assuming that I am. There are reasons for this. For example, my husband and I have recently switched to cloth diapers and wipes for our eighteen-month-old. I am finishing off my last bottle of shampoo and will be switching to baking soda when it’s gone. We avoid unhealthy food ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG). We bought reusable shopping bags and a to-go cup to get coffee in at Dutch Bros.

We’ve been making these changes for various reasons. Cloth diapers are much cheaper than disposables, and food additives have been linked to all sorts of health problems. The one result which has put the single biggest smile on my face is not one I expected: we’re producing about half as much garbage as we were six months ago, and I’d say about eighty percent of that output is biodegradable material like food scraps and paper. We also waste about half as much food as we used to.

I love that.

But the reason I love it is not because I worry about the landfills dotting the globe, or about the ozone, or global warming, or any of that stuff. I’m not happy about those things, but I don’t worry about them much. God’s got it under control, and if the earth is going to have a catastrophic breakdown, I trust Him with it. By that, I do not mean “Trash the earth – who cares, since it’s just going to burn?” Instead I mean that, if it’s true that we’re headed for a massive ecological disaster, while that certainly is going to be a rough time in history, if not the very end of history, it’s still part of God’s plan.

I certainly don’t advocate destroying the planet, whether intentionally or by sheer neglect. But saving it isn’t a high priority of mine, either. I don’t feel called to that (but kudos to you if you are – there’s certainly nothing wrong with that).

So, then, we come to a question. If I’m not mainly concerned with saving the planet, why do I bother with all these environmentally-minded lifestyle changes?

There’s a little experiment that I really wish I could do. I wish I could take a cross-section of twenty people in my city, strip them of all their cultural bias for or against environmental activism, and show them their own personal pile of trash. Maybe a years’ worth.  The pile of yuck that they and only they are responsible for. I wouldn’t include their family’s output. I wouldn’t include the output of social functions they went to. Only each person’s individual trash.

My hypothesis is that each and every one of them, when separated from their cultural biases – from their stubbornness – would be disgusted by their wastefulness.

Not by their negative impact on the planet, but by their own selfish, greedy wastefulness.

Part of me wishes I could see my pile. Part of me is glad that I can’t. One thing’s for sure; I want to make it smaller.

By these lifestyle changes, I’m not advocating – or opposing – environmentalism. I am opposing consumerism. Here’s an example: next time you buy yourself lunch from a fast food chain, look at the packaging before you throw it away. Imagine that multiplied by however many millions of fast food meals are consumed in America each day (64 million at McDonald’s alone). Don’t worry – not right now – about all the plastic winding up in landfills. Right now, I have a different question.

How much money do you think was spent on that packaging?

Fast food has a purpose, to be sure. When I’m in a rush and don’t have time to cook myself a meal, I’ll hit a fast food joint, and I’m not ashamed of it. But what if everyone in America limited those trips, to only the days when they really had need of that convenience? Imagine how much money we’d save on packaging alone. How many impoverished kids do you think we could feed with that money?

I am not, therefore, an environmental activist. I don’t do what I do in order to save the planet. I do what I do because I want to be a good steward of the resources I’ve been entrusted with. 

Among the resources God has entrusted to me: money, time, space, skills, grocery stores, electricity, the internet, friends, the Bible, the Holy Spirit. (There are many more.) I combine these resources to achieve various desirable results: a picnic, clean laundry, spiritual maturity. (There are many more.)

In this process, there are two things I aim to not do:
a) reach non-desirable end results (eg: making drugs instead of making dinner), and
b) waste resources (eg: spending money on paper towels, when I could just use a washrag to clean up that mess or to hold my sandwich).

Because when I waste resources, I minimize desirable end results. That is, all the money I’m saving on diapers can go to buying Action Packs to send to Pakistan or Iran. And that’s a good use of resources.

Appendix A:
I’ve decided, after some thought and  lot of prayer, that I’m going to start a new series called Living Chartreuse. I thought about calling it “Living Green,” but as we’ve discussed, I’m not ‘green’ in the traditional sense. So chartreuse it is. I’m going to discuss ways that you and I can be good stewards of our resources. By nature, the series will focus pretty heavily on being a Christian wife and mother – you’ll probably see a lot of Proverbs 31 coming up. Hope you enjoy!

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God’s Champions: Adel, Methu and Christina

“Only God can separate you now.”

Adel and Methu, married in 1989, lived in a small Christian village in Indonesia. They had two children – Christina and Christiano, who went by Anto. In 1999, their village was overrun by Muslim jihadists. The family, along with Adel’s and Methu’s mothers, was forced into the jungle, where they survived for a few days before the jihadists found them and killed both grandmothers and young Anto. Adel, Methu, and Christina were separated; none of them knew if either of the others had lived.

Adel endured interrogations and beatings, and she witnessed the mutilation and murder of a friend from her village. After several days, she was reunited with Christina – and then they were told that if they didn’t convert to Islam, they would be burned alive. They refused, and miraculously were spared. In the village where they were held captive alongside many other Christians, they were threatened with rape, and Christina, only a child, was brutally circumcised. Still, they refused to convert.

A few weeks later, Adel received word that Methu was alive. She managed to send him a list of the names of all the captive Christians she was with. A guard caught her; he wasn’t quick enough to intercept the list, but Adel was badly beaten.

When Methu received the list, he and a group of other Christian men, with the government on their side, went to the camp where Adel and Christina were being held to collect them. But it was not so simple; to be allowed to go with him, Adel would have to testify to the officials that she and Christina were being held against their will. The jihadists’ response: “If you tell them you don’t want to stay here, we will kill every one of the other Christians.”

For the first time in three months, Adel saw her husband face-to-face, and she was forced to tell him that she did not want to go with him.

Soon after this encounter, Adel’s captors forced her to marry a jihadist, claiming that her first marriage was invalid because Methu was a Christian. It was not long before she became pregnant.

During her pregnancy, Adel’s despair reached a new low, and she attempted to commit suicide with a kitchen knife. Christina caught her and stopped her, asking, “If you go away, what will happen to me?” Heartbroken, Adel prayed for forgiveness and for the ability to forgive.

The next morning, Adel wrote Methu a six-page letter, smudged with tears. It explained everything that had happened; it asked for his forgiveness; it expressed depths of love beyond words. Adel had no way of getting the letter to Methu. She put it in her pocket.

After baby Sarah was born, Christina told Adel that she had to find Methu. She begged her mother to leave with the baby, find Methu, and come back for her if she could. Adel didn’t have an answer.

Six months after writing her letter to Methu, Adel had opportunity to send it. She saw a child she had known in the village she’d lived in before the attack, and she asked her to relay the letter. She was in anguish; how would Methu respond? Could he forgive her? Could she blame him, if not? Would he take her back? Would he fight for her?

Methu’s response came in just a few days. Adel could see from the tattered state of his response that it had been written months before – long before Methu knew anything of Adel’s situation. It was a simple letter.

Adel, it said, you could have ten children by ten men, and you would still be my wife. Don’t you remember what the pastor told us at our wedding? Only God can separate us now. 

Adel managed to escape and found Methu. Upon their reunion, seeing baby Sarah, he said, “So this is our new daughter?” He later returned to the camp and rescued Christina. Together, the family works with the government – under assumed names – to help rescue captive Christians.

 

Summarized from Hearts of Fire, released by the Voice of the Martyrs. 

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My Habitual Levity (And Its Demise)

I read this tweet, from John Piper, a few weeks ago. And it stung.

Have you ever read a convicting Bible verse or been chided by a mentor, and it hit so hard and true that it hurt, so you just put it out of your mind? I did that with this tweet. I honestly thought, when I first read it, “Boy, B, you needed to hear that. You should put that on a Post-It and stick it to your mirror.”

And then I moved right down my news feed and forgot about it. Well, I tried to forget about it, anyway. God had other plans. (How often does that happen, right?)

Last night my husband and I were talking about Facebook. He has an account, but he’s not an avid user and most often when he logs on he’s so disgusted by what he sees that he logs off just as quickly. Me, on the other hand – I can lose hours on Face.

Now here’s my defense. I’ve clung to this line of reasoning since the beginning of MySpace.

Facebook is designed to do nothing more or less than what you’d do on a coffee date with a friend in real life. You’d share what’s happened in your day, you’d show off pictures if you had them, you’d laugh together over jokes you’d heard. When you interact with a local friend via Facebook, perhaps someone who you really do have coffee dates with, it’s really no different than talking on the phone, texting, or e-mailing. And when you interact with a friend who lives far away, it’s like having them for pen pals, minus the postage, which is convenient. Of course, when you don’t interact with friends on Facebook, but only ogle their pictures and absorb their day-to-day life because you feel like you need to know, well, that’s unhealthy. But I don’t do that.

Right?

So here’s  the deal, though. This is what I realized last night. If it’s no different than the phone or e-mails or writing letters: then why do I need it?

Here’s my biggest issue, personally, with Facebook: it sucks my day away. When someone posts something funny, I can’t help but follow the link, and the link is usually to a website which contains a lot more funny. Then I’m in the vortex and I usually don’t resurface for hours. Or perhaps someone uploaded a picture, but once I’ve seen that picture, I have to see the rest of them, too, even if I’ve looked at them all a hundred times already. And once I’ve checked my notifications, answered any messages and read my news feed, boredom usually compels me to sift through old posts and old conversations.

And if I don’t need Facebook in order to communicate with friends – which we’ve already established, I don’t – why do I expose myself to the temptation to waste all my time? With that time, I could clean the bathroom or read my Bible or sing a song to my son. In fact, I could probably do all three.

Facebook is my habitual levity. It’s my lack of seriousness, my disregard for what really matters in life.

(The biggest issue being that I ignore my Bible and prayer in favor of sifting through pictures I’ve seen already and jokes that I’ll forget by tomorrow morning.)

So, I’ve decided it’s time.

My household is more important.
My family is more important.
My God is more important.

Facebook is getting the axe.

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