The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Serve the poor, serve the Earth

Helping the poor and caring for the creation often go hand in hand. From Scott Sabin of Plant With Purpose: The Connection Between the Poor and the Earth.

Here are a couple quotes:

I frequently get asked how we, as Christians, choose between caring for the poor and caring for creation, as if we have to choose one or the other. As often as I have been asked that question, it still catches me by surprise because my own concern for the earth first grew out of a concern for the poor.

As someone told me recently, creation care seems like a cause for bored middle-class Americans who want to have chickens in their backyard, whereas the poor don’t have the luxury of worrying about their environment. The idea is that environmental issues are primarily aesthetic and fall pretty high up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

However, if you live in a world in which water comes in plastic bottles and food comes from the supermarket, it is easy to see the environment as purely decorative. In the US, we have been able to use our material wealth to purchase several layers of insulation from the earth. Therefore, I believe we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters in rural communities throughout the world. They recognize that there is a direct connection between environmental quality and the most basic of needs: food, water and air.

——————————

We quickly learned that the problem was not one of ignorance, but rather a lack of opportunity. I have had more than one poor, illiterate farmer give me an elegant description of how a watershed works. But, as I was told recently in Haiti, they also have a saying that translates to “Either this tree must die or I must die in its place.” Nonetheless, they are aware of the long-term stakes and would do more to care for the environment if they had the opportunity.

Thus, helping to create opportunity – serving the poor – helps to serve the environment and helping to restore the environment serves the poor. Both activities serve the Creator. We need not make a choice between the poor and the earth.

HT: Flourish

Grace and Peace

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Creation Care, Environment, International Development, Missions, Nature, Quotes | | Leave a comment

Toilet or telephone?

If you could choose between having a cell phone, and having a toilet in or near your home, which would you choose? I think I could live without the cell phone.

From Yahoo News/Associated Press: India: Land of many cell phones, fewer toilets.

MUMBAI, India – The Mumbai slum of Rafiq Nagar has no clean water for its shacks made of ripped tarp and bamboo. No garbage pickup along the rocky, pocked earth that serves as a road. No power except from haphazard cables strung overhead illegally.

And not a single toilet or latrine for its 10,000 people.

Yet nearly every destitute family in the slum has a cell phone. Some have three.

The article describes the extreme poverty in the slums of Mumbai. Many don’t have the basics of life: adequate food, clean water, sanitation, health care.

But they have cell phones. They are dependent on an undependable government for the basics of life, so live in destitution. But cell phones are cheap and available.

Pray. Be thankful for what you have. Give generously.

Grace and Peace

October 30, 2010 Posted by | Missions | , | Leave a comment

The books that have most influenced me

Here are my “top 10” books that have had an impact on my life. Some of them have impacted millions of other people; a few may not be on the “top 10” list of anyone else on the planet.

I would put the Bible as the #1 book, but it needs to be on its own list. None of the following books would even be in the same category in terms of their influence in my life.

  • Knowing God, by J.I. Packer — This was the first major Christian book I read, back when I was twenty years old. It laid an excellent foundation for my life and doctrine. A lot Christian books are fluffy or ephemeral; this one will still be read centuries from now (if the Lord’s return is delayed that long).
  • Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis — Another 20th century author whose works will still be read a few hundred years from now. Lewis’s work helped to solidify my faith as a college student.
  • Operation World, by Patrick Johnstone (new edition is by Jason Mandryk) — This is subtitled “The Definitive Prayer Guide to Every Nation.” This book helped to establish a lifelong desire to pray and work for the day when people “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9 NIV) would stand before the throne of Christ.
  • The Pursuit of God, by A.W. Tozer — “The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One.” I received this as a graduation present from Grace Bible Church in Bozeman, Montana.
  • The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer — Bonhoeffer, martyred by the Nazis, offers the most Christ-centered theology of life and discipleship I have read.
  • Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, by Ronald Sider — The title is a good description of the book. Not all would agree with Sider’s policy solutions (some would say too liberal or even socialist), but the heart of the book—an overview of poverty in today’s world and in the Bible —is solid. This book opened my eyes and heart to the deep poverty that much of the world lives in.
  • In Six Days, by Charles McGowen — I read this short presentation of young-Earth creationism when I was in tenth grade in high school, and was thoroughly convinced. Now I can see that just about everything in the book was utterly, totally, completely wrong, but it did get me started down the path that led to me majoring in geology and writing this blog.
  • Earth, by Frank Press and Raymond Siever — A university textbook on my “most influential textbooks” list? When I was a college Freshman, a friend was majoring in geology, and he had this book. I paged through it in his room, and changed my major to geology (though not right away like I should have).
  • Evolution: Nature and Scripture in Conflict? by Pattle Pun — I was still a young-Earth creationist when I started studying geology as an undergraduate. This book, from an old-Earth Christian perspective,  may have helped prevent me from having a crisis of faith when I saw that most of what I had read in YEC literature quite simply did not work as an explanation for the geological record.
  • Pollution and the Death of Man, by Francis Schaeffer — To care about the Earth is not something we should do in addition to Christian discipleship; it is part of Christian discipleship. Schaeffer is still very popular among conservative Evangelicals, but most of them, unfortunately, have not read or taken to heart this work.

I would like to add a few honorable mentions:

  • Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, by Ralph Winter (ed.) — Why do we do missions? How do we do missions? Etc.
  • Evidence that Demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell — Some parts of it are better than others, but it certainly had a strong influence on me in my college days. Today I would recommend The Reason for God by Timothy Keller instead.
  • A Survey of Bible Doctrine, by Charles Ryrie — Not quite my theology on some points any more, but still a good introduction. Today I would recommend Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology.
  • For the Beauty of the Earth, by Stephen Prediger-Bouma — Much more comprehensive than Schaeffer’s Pollution and the Death of Man.
  • Life Together, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer — The best book on having fellowship in Christian community.
  • The Silence of Adam, by Larry Crabb — Christ-centered perspective on being a man. Realism rather than triumphalism.

Pick one and read it!

Grace and Peace


For the opposite end of the spectrum, here are a few dishonorable mentions. These are books that were highly recommended to me, and I just couldn’t force myself to complete them:

  • Revival Lectures, by Charles Finney — Sin, sin, and more sin. Repent of everything before you can come to Christ. Sin no more if you want to stay in Christ. Spiritual perfectionism. About a third of the way into the book I started to ask myself, “Once I do everything Finney wants me to do, what do I need Jesus for?” This is Christ-less Christianity. To Finney, Christ is an example, but not a sin-bearer.
  • The Bondage Breaker, by Neil Anderson — A demon behind every problem. Extraordinarily speculative. But the solution is Jesus, not finding and casting out demons.

On the same note, a life goal of mine is to never read any of the Left Behind series or The Prayer of Jabez.

October 27, 2010 Posted by | Apologetics, Christianity, Environment, Geology, Old-Earth creationism, Young-Earth creationism | , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Lessons from Haiti

Christian geologist Charles Carrigan has written an article about the earthquake in Haiti on the Olivet Nazarene University’s blog: Guest Feature: Tragedy and geology in the recent Haiti earthquake.

Some of my thoughts after reading this (not all directly related to what Carrigan wrote about):

  • Earthquakes do not have to kill. The 2010 Haiti earthquake had a magnitude of 7.0, and the death toll is now estimated to be in the 150,000 to 200,000 range. The death toll in the 2001 Puget Sound earthquake in Washington (magnitude 6.8) was zero.
  • The difference is largely building codes. Rich countries can build earthquake-resistant structures (I wouldn’t say “earthquake-proof”); poor countries cannot.
  • 25,000 children die per day of poverty-related causes. This is a tragedy of Haitian proportions every week.
  • Christians working in the Earth sciences can play a role in disaster relief and in longer-term community development work among the poor of the world.

Carrigan highlights the role that Earth scientists have in making the world a better place:

There are some things about the Earth that we cannot change. There will always be earthquakes in seismically active zones, and some of them will be very large. Geology can tell us where they are likely to occur, but of course cannot predict them perfectly. We can only make ourselves aware of the risks that nature at times presents to us, and work to protect ourselves and our neighbors accordingly.

Unfortunately, many of our neighbors in lesser developed nations do not have this information, and may not have the means to do what is necessary to protect themselves even if they did. Beyond earthquakes, many other natural disasters represent risk to ever-increasing human populations, and many also lack access to basic necessities such as clean water and other natural resources. There remains incredible opportunity for professionals in geology and related scientific fields to use their skills to impact the world for the betterment of all people.

Grace and Peace

January 26, 2010 Posted by | Geology | , , | 1 Comment

What to get Dad for Father’s Day: a goat

From World Vision:

On June 21, honor your Dad with a meaningful gift in his name from the World Vision Gift Catalog. Because let’s face it — Dad doesn’t want more stuff. He wants the satisfaction of making a difference.

Supply self-sufficiency. Goats nourish families with protein-rich milk, cheese, and yoghurt, and can offer a much needed income boost by providing offspring and extra dairy products for sale at the market. Goats even provide fertilizer to help increase crop harvests!

WVGoat

Grace and Peace

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Environment | , , , | Leave a comment

Hunger increases

For most of my lifetime, world hunger has been decreasing. It has still been a serious issue, but many countries like China and India have been able to increase their food production at rates that exceeded their population growth.

The current global economic situation, however has reversed that trend. From Yahoo News: World hunger reaches 1 billion people mark.

What are we to do about it, as individuals and churches?

One small contribution on the individual level is to support a child through organizations like Compassion International or World Vision.

6 “Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

8 Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you;
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.

Isaiah 58:6-10 ESV (emphasis added)

Grace and Peace

June 19, 2009 Posted by | Christianity, Environment | , , , | 2 Comments

More compassion

“The perspective of Scripture is not the survival of the fittest, but the protection of the weakest.”

–John Stott

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Christianity | , | Leave a comment

Compassion Sunday

Today was “Compassion Sunday” at our church, Red Rocks Fellowship. The text for the sermon was 1 John 3:16-18:

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (NIV)

The compassion focus was on the ministry of Compassion International, a Christian organization that provides food, clothing, medical care, education, and hope for over 1,000,000 poor children worldwide. Here is the promotional video that was shown:

There are lots of children waiting for a sponsor. Your sponsorship gift of only $32 per month will lift a child out of the grip of poverty.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. (Proverbs 31:8, NIV)

Grace and Peace

April 26, 2009 Posted by | Christianity | , | 1 Comment