Feb 23 2011

God, Mammon and Creation

Angel-Falls-Overlook-dawn-(v)-crYesterday I was thumbing through Warren Wiersbe’s book, Real Worship, when I came across this passage: “When we want to enjoy creation without honoring the Creator, we end up exploiting creation just to satisfy our selfish appetites.  We become covetous and idolatrous, and this is the root cause of the ecological problems the world faces today.  When we start to ‘play God,’ we end up destroying what God has given us ‘richly…to enjoy’ (1 Timothy 6:17).”  I believe Wiersbe’s words are prophetic in nature.

In recent weeks I have been deeply disturbed as I have watched Congress, as well as my own state legislature, seek to dismantle laws which were adopted to protect the environment—God’s Creation.  Much of what is being done is supposedly a response to the economic crisis our country is experiencing.  I don’t buy that.  I feel it has more to do with the fact that “we have become covetous and idolatrous.”  Many of our present environmental laws are being attacked because they are supposedly “bad for business.”  Does making an extra dollar trump God’s call for us to care for His Creation?  Does it override the health and well-being of that which He has created?  If so, it is clear to me that we are now worshiping Mammon and not God. 

Angel-Falls-Overlook-(v)-crI truly do want to see people succeed and prosper but becoming rich is not the ultimate goal of life in God’s kingdom.  Worshiping God and putting Him first will always be the primary goal.  We do not honor the Creator when we threaten the health of humans, the land and wildlife by lessening environmental standards just so a few businesses can make a greater profit.  Nor do we honor God when we “end up exploiting creation to satisfy our selfish appetites.” 

The group Sojourners is preparing to send members of Congress plastic bracelets that ask “What Would Jesus Cut?”  They, like me, realize that there are moral implications to the cuts being discussed in Congress.  Some of the cuts will hurt the poor badly.  Other cuts will hurt the environment and therefore all of us.  At this point all I know to do is voice my concern, pray for our political leaders and hope that they don’t ‘play God’ and “end up destroying what God has given us richly to enjoy.”


(Both of these images were taken at Angel Falls Overlook in the Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in Tennessee.)

Mar 10 2010

Worship and Creation Care

Cumberland-Falls-with-rainbow-2-(h)-crPresently I am teaching two small group studies on worship at my church.  The book we are studying is called Real Worship.  In one of the chapters we’ll be focusing on later today the author, Warren Wiersbe, offers some interesting insight on the correlation between worship and Creation Care. 

He writes, “If the church today were truly worshiping the Creator and not the creature, we Christians would be making better use of the precious resources God has given us.  The church would be speaking out against such sinful waste, and would also be setting the right kind of example.  If we really believed that we are stewards of God’s glorious creation, and if we praised Him sincerely for these bountiful gifts, we would never waste them, abuse them, or use them selfishly.  If God rejoices in His works (Ps. 104:31), then He must be deeply grieved by our works in destroying His creation.”

Later Wiersbe adds, “If worship transforms individuals and churches—and it does, if it is spiritual worship—then one of the evidences of this transformation will be seen in the way these individuals and churches use God’s gifts in creation.  It is not enough to sing on Sunday morning ‘This is My Father’s World’ and then live the rest of the week as though we were in charge.  This is idolatry.  This is turning God’s house into a den of thieves.”

These are strong words but they are true.  Worship and Creation Care cannot be separated.  On the back of my vehicle I have a bumper sticker that reads “If you love the Creator, take care of Creation.”  It might just as well say, “If you worship the Creator, take care of Creation.”  Worship implies that we acknowledge God’s “worth.”  As the world’s Creator and Redeemer He is worthy of our worship.  If we will recognize God’s true status we will give Him glory and praise.  We will, likewise, seek to take care of the world He has made.  It all goes together.  I just wish more people understood that.


(The image above was taken at Cumberland Falls State Park near Corbin, Kentucky.)

Mar 3 2010

The Wonder of It All

“The world will never starve for want of wonders, but only for want of wonder.”                                                          G.K. Chesterton

leaf on ice 605This past weekend we took our youth from church to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.  On Saturday we spent a number of hours at a tourist attraction called Wonder Works.  Since it is housed in a gigantic upside down building I figured the whole thing would be hokey.  I was wrong.  Wonder Works is committed to exposing people to the wonders of nature and science in a fun, hands on, sort of way.  I’m glad such places exist.

 Studies have revealed that a child’s creativity, which includes wonder and imagination, diminishes by 90% between the ages of five and seven.  When adults gets to be forty, they have only about 2% of the creativity they had when they were five years old. This is tragic for a number of reasons.  For one, wonder lies at the heart of worship.  For another, wonder adds much joy to life.

 In his book Real Worship Warren Wiersbe writes, “True wonder reaches right into your heart and mind and shakes you up.  It not only has depth, it has value; it enriches your life.  It is an encounter with reality—with God—that brings awe to your heart.  You are overwhelmed with an emotion that is a mixture of gratitude, adoration, reverence, fear—and love.  You are not looking for explanations; you are lost in the wonder of God.”

Wiersbe goes on to note that wonder is born of knowledge, not ignorance.  He says, “The more a truly reverent person knows about a flower or an insect or God, the more overwhelmed he is.  …truths give to the reverent saint a burning heart, a thrilling encounter with God.”

 I believe Dr. Wiersbe is on to something here.  All of us need more wonder in our lives.  It is, in fact, critical for our spiritual lives.  And I know of few things that will move us toward wonder better than spending time in God’s Creation. 

 If you are experiencing a shortage of wonder and awe, now might be a good time to head to the mountains, the dessert, a river or lake, or some quiet spot outdoors closer to home. Or as Rob has reminded us from time to time, enjoy the wonders of your own back yard.  Wherever you go, take in the wonder of it all and let your hearts be lifted in praise to the Maker of heaven and earth.


 (I spotted the beech leaf pictured above hanging on to the ice on a rock across the street from my church office. It caused me to wonder…)