• Visualization Shows Changes in God's Creation since 1880

    January 31,2012, 11:33 AM

    NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) released a new study tracking changes in temperature from 1880

    In the animation of (below) temperature data from 1880-2011, reds indicate temperatures higher than the average during a baseline period of 1951-1980, while blues indicate lower temperatures than the baseline average.

    (Data source: NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Visualization credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

  • The Vision of Narnia

    January 31,2012, 11:14 AM

    by Dean Ohlman

    It was in preparation for this post that I first saw the amazing parallel between Psalm 148:1-6, 11-13 and Revelation 5:5:11-13. Each passage offers hymns of praise to the Creator"the Psalm written almost a thousand years before the first coming of Messiah and the Revelation envisioning a celebration in heaven as Messiah ("the Lamb who was slain") is honored before His coming back to earth to reign forever as Lord of the universe.

    KEY SCRIPTURE:

    Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise Him in the heights above. Praise Him, all his angels, praise Him, all His heavenly hosts. Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars. Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; He gave a decree that will never pass away.

    Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children.

    Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted; His splendor is above the earth and the heavens (Psalm 148:1-6, 11-13).

    I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

    Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5:11-13)

    Each passage also has a simple two-part structure: First the beings of heaven (who have always been intimate with the Creator/Savior) offer up their praise. Then the creatures of earth"elements, animals, and people (who have often spurned intimacy with their Creator/Savior)"offer their praise. Central to it all is the recognition that the Lord is above both heaven and earth.

    But how do the cosmic elements and animals praise their Creator? Theological tradition says they do it by carrying out their God-given functions within the creation. That's probably true; but is that all the truth? In the Revelation passage we see more than mere utility in the non-human creation. There we see content and some level of consciousness in nature. By all appearances, all things created have within their different natures some capacity to respond to their Creator. This was also alluded to by the apostle Paul: "The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:19-21).

    There is expectation and hope in the non-human creation, expectation and hope tied directly to people"those who were made to be creation's stewards, guardians, rulers, and keepers. Forty years ago, Francis Schaeffer encouraged us to be involved in a "substantial healing" of all the rifts created by the Fall"including the rift between people and nature. How have we been doing?

    For those who are familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia and The Cosmic Trilogy, it does not come as a surprise to understand that Scripture in many ways hints at the reality behind these works of fiction so artfully crafted by C. S. Lewis (and more complexly by Tolkein): the evil and the good of human behavior are tied directly to the state and temporary fate of the creation. Creation's ultimate fate, however, awaits the coming again of Messiah, who will ensure that justice once again reigns on earth"justice not only for those people have given themselves faithfully to the cause of love, goodness, and stewardship through the power of the Holy Spirit and have accepted the atoning sacrifice of the "Lamb who was slain," but justice for all His creatures who have suffered at the hand of those who have not been given to love, goodness, and faithful stewardship.

    Take courage, His people. Take courage, His suffering creatures. As the excited hosts of heaven already know, justice and reconciliation is on the way! (Colossians 1:20)

    [You may want to read a PDF article on this website related to this devotional: The Lion, the Curse, and the Evangelical.]

    Dean Ohlman is a statesman of the creation care movement. You can follow his excellent work at the Wonder of Creation site.

  • on discipleship, transformation & "making all things new"

    January 31,2012, 10:53 AM

    by Patrick Watters

    When we started we were strangers
    barely knowing each other's names.
    Now we love as brothers and sisters
    and we will never be the same.

    Now we have seen and we have heard
    that our God is full of love and grace,
    for the wilderness that was our hearts
    He's transformed into a holy place.

    God called forth this people
    and responding to His call,
    they rebuilt the ancient ruins
    and restored the city walls.

    The live as holy people
    redeemed from the fall.
    For God and His Christ
    have become their all in all.

    (based on Gerry Tuohy's ""God Called Forth A People")

  • Increased Mercury Exposure in Wildlife

    January 24,2012, 15:34 PM

    A new study by the Biodiversity Research Institute sheds newlight on the level of mercury in ecosystems throughout the northeast. The study titled "Hidden Risks" found dangerously high levels of mercury in several bird species across the Northeast. The study indicates that mercury is having a devastating impact across the ecosystem as exposure levels were high among bird species despite the distance from coal burning power plants.

    The New York Times also had a piece on the report and quoted Dr. David Evers, the Executive Director of the Institute as saying, "We're seeing many other species in a much larger landscape of harm from mercury."

    In the case of the wood thrush bird the study noted that the decline "may include forest destruction and fragmentation, as well as acid rain. The combination of high mercury levels in areas with acid rain may combine to create a '1-2 punch' that is more damaging to the population than either effect in isolation."

  • Pro Life Means Anti Abortion and A Lot More

    January 20,2012, 15:10 PM

    EEN issued a public statement this afternoon:

    The Evangelical Environmental Network will be marching again at the Annual March for Life on Monday to stand up for the conviction that the unborn need to be protected from abortion, mercury and other toxins.

    "EEN is a pro-life organization dedicated to the opposition of abortion in all its forms, and to the degradation of human life. We believe standing up for the unborn and protecting our children from toxins like mercury is biblically pro-life and whole gospel," says the Rev. Mitch Hescox, President of the Evangelical Environmental Network.

    Medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics have said mercury is a harmful toxin. The unborn and children face severe harms from toxins, therefore we at EEN must biblically stand in the gap to protect them.

    The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) has long been critical of the work of the Evangelical Environmental Network, and recently criticized EEN by saying that our work on mercury and the unborn was morally ambiguous and diluted the pro-life message. We welcome a discussion on what it means to truly be engaged with matters of Life. We believe this conversation can be accomplished in Christian love and not divisiveness. We believe our ministry represents a biblically unifying whole life message.

    Jesus embodied and demonstrated integrity, mercy, unconditional love and blessing, truth and justice, healing virtue and good humor. He pointed to and celebrated the fullness of Life. He went forth and visited. He ate and socialized, encouraged and comforted. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and taught through nature stories and parables. But He also pointedly proclaimed, testified, and pressed the claims of His Father. Nearly 40 times in his gospel account, John notes Jesus declaring that the Father had sent Him. Jesus said he had come to bring "abundant life."

    Jesus puzzled the rich and successful. He provoked the proud, the pretenders, and the self-righteously religious. The authentic, non-gutted biblical gospel is all about all of Life. It is an Evangel, a whole gospel for the whole person. It is an integrated redeeming "glad tiding" for the whole world and the whole of creation. By carrying Christ and His Evangel forth in our daily lives, we are living witnesses, carrying forth hope, redemption and healing for the human family and for an abused and degraded planet.

    EEN believes fighting poverty, preaching the gospel to the lost, standing up for the least of these, protecting the unborn all fall under a complete ethic and regard for life. This is the high view of life that the scriptures and Jesus himself call us to. In essence, to be "pro-life" is to be "pro-whole gospel."

    You can view our release by clicking here.

  • Faithful Worship

    January 16,2012, 12:31 PM

    by Alexei Laushkin

    Wanted to bring forth an excellent older hymn that reminds us that Jesus himself has set us aside for the work of the kingdom. The hymn echoes Psalm 1:3 when the psalmnist talks about the way of the righteous:

    3 He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
    that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither

    Jesus has rooted each of us into the true vine of the kingdom and placed us beside an ever flowing stream of water from which we can draw the strength and wisdom we need to accomplish the work set before us each day. The faithfulness of God is reflected in the Creation itself to bring life and fullness in every land.

    As a Tree Beside the Water

    Words & Music: Al­fred H. Ack­ley, 1906

    As a tree beside the water,
    Has the Savior planted me;
    All my fruit shall be in season,
    I shall live eternally.

    Refrain

    I shall not be moved,
    I shall not be moved,
    Anchored to the Rock of Ages,
    I shall not be moved.

    Though the tempest rage around me,
    Through the storm my Lord I see,
    Pointing upward to that haven,
    Where my loved ones wait for me.

    Refrain

    When by grief my heart is broken,
    And the sunshine steals away,
    Then His grace, in mercy given,
    Changes darkness into day.

    Refrain

    When at last I stand before Him,
    Oh, what joy it will afford,
    Just to see the sinner ransomed,
    And behold my sovereign Lord.

    Refrain

  • Promoting a Culture of Life

    January 10,2012, 13:23 PM

    by Alexei Laushkin

    "Children who suffer the most from environmental exposures are those yet unborn because they are the least capable of fending themselves from toxic exposures." So writes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. View the full statement here.

    In a similar vein Pope John Paul II writes:

    The most profound and serious indication of the moral implications underlying the ecological problem is the lack of respect for life evident in many of the patterns of environmental pollution. Often, the interests of production prevail over concern for the dignity of workers, while economic interests take priority over the good of individuals and even entire peoples. In these cases, pollution or environmental destruction is the result of an unnatural and reductionist vision which at times leads to a genuine contempt for man.

    How is it that the most pro-life of the candidates running for the Republican Nomination for President who has a tremendous record of protecting the unborn from a full range of harm, has missed clear Christian teaching when it comes to toxins and their impact on the unborn? Long time pro life activists are asking the same question see this piece in Forbes.

    We realize that the pressures of the campaign put a large burden on any candidate, so that any statement has to be assessed against a career in the public square.

    In total the environment is not a regular focus of the Santorum campaign for President and was never really a top focus while he served in the U.S. Senate. More recently he has spoken out against the EPA's Mercury and Air Toxics Standard saying that the rule was not based on "any kind of science." The science is clear and compelling. Mercury emissions from coal fired utilities harm children. Medical groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics have been calling for mercury reductions for over twenty five years, and they strongly support the MATS regulation.

    His campaign has called for the elimination of all energy subsidies, we agree, that 60 billion dollars annually could go a long way to protecting our children, yet his proposals to reign in the debt includes this line:

    Cut EPA resources for job killing regulations and return focus to commonsense conservation and safe and clean air and water.

    We believe that you don't get much more commonsense than implementing conservation measures that help to protect the unborn. Up to 700,000 children a year are born with too high levels of mercury in their blood. Our mercury and the unborn position based on the leading medical research clearly demonstrates that mercury poisoning lowers IQ, impairs neurological function, results in developmental delays, and is linked to cardiovascular disease.

    There is no known "safe" level of mercury in our unborn children. Unborn babies and infants are extremely susceptible to mercury, as the blood brain barrier is not yet fully developed. Unlike adults, unborn children have no way to excrete mercury. It just keeps recirculating inside their mother's womb. Medical research indicates that mercury cord blood is twice that of their mothers' blood. Therefore, even if a mother's blood remains below "risk levels" doses, the unborn child's blood does not.

    Beyond mercury, the environmental impact on our children is immense; a 2011 study in the May edition of Health Affairs by Dr. Lonardo Trasande and Yinghua Liu estimated that the health impacts on children in the U.S. was upwards of $76.6 billion annually.

    The unborn are the weakest members of our society. We must protect them and insure their right to an abundant life. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards promulgated in December will provide significant reductions, over 90%, of the mercury contained in the coal that is burned.

    The Evangelical Environmental Network worked with the National Association of Evangelicals and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to get these important safeguards for the unborn. Our prayer and hope is that candidate Santorum long a champion for the unborn will see these efforts as if for the first time.

    Alexei Laushkin is the Senior Director of Communications for the Evangelical Environmental Network.

  • Climate Coverage Falls Precipitously, But Belief in Global Warming Rises

    January 06,2012, 16:18 PM

    by Jim Ball

    Recent articles by Climate Wire and Daily Climate showed that media coverage of climate change was at a low ebb in 2011 even as belief in global warming by the public increased. This dip in coverage occurred despite the facts that we had record-breaking drought and other extreme weather events across the country, and a Presidential primary season marked by continual reports of climate denial or climate back-tracking by Republican candidates.

    In other words, climate coverage didn't match newsworthy climate-related events -- but the public could be making the connections despite the lack of coverage.

    From the ClimateWire and Daily Climate stories (and the reports they cite), here are some facts on the dearth of coverage:

    • There were 20 percent fewer stories in 2011 compared to 2010, and 42 percent fewer than in 2009 (the peak).
    • There were also 20 percent fewer reporters on the beat, and 20 percent fewer outlets publishing stories.
    • Less than half the number of editorials by newspapers (589) were published in 2011 compared to 2009 (1,229).
    • The three nightly newscasts only had a measly 14 stories in 2011 (compared to 32 in 2010 and the peak of 147 in 2007).

    Despite this, a recent poll found that belief in global warming had gone up in 2011 compared to 2010, 63 percent compared to 57 percent. Part of the reason may be because more people are starting to connect global warming to changes they are seeing in the climate. The poll found that 65 percent believe that global warming is affecting the weather, and a majority believes this about many of the extreme weather events of 2011. A Rasmussen poll conducted Jan 3-4, 2012, found similar results, with 64% believing that climate change is a serious concern.

    So what's up with the media? Are they scared to talk about global warming? Have they been successfully bullied by the deniers into failing to tell the truth to the public?

    The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is Executive Vice President at EEN and author of Global Warming and the Risen LORD.

  • Honor Your Father and Mother

    January 04,2012, 14:06 PM

    by Dean Ohlman

    I was thinking this past week of Christmas as a child in the late 40s and early 50s. In particular I recalled having received a new sled and the day after Christmas having left it behind a car in our neighbor's driveway. Dragging the crushed sled home in tears, I feared the wrath of my father"a fear enhanced by my mother's "Just wait until your father gets home!" I immediately "hid" myself under the covers of my sister's bed. Soon I heard Dad come in, heard some conversation in the kitchen, and heard heavy male footsteps on the stairs, down the hall into my bedroom, and then into my supposed sanctuary. But my wise and godly father gave me mercy instead of wrath. How relieved I was to be able to cry at his chest, and not receive a spanking.

    Family and friends remember Dad for almost all good reasons, but one physical feature they all recall was his big hands. Once when we were eating in a restaurant, a waitress stopped and commented, "Goodness, are those your hands? For a second there I thought you had your feet on the table!" And with that rude remark, she hustled off to the kitchen, leaving Dad in embarrassed silence.

    It seems like everyone noticed his large hands. Years after his death, a friend would sometimes say, "My, your dad sure had big hands. Whenever he shook my hand, it almost got lost in his big mitt!" The remarks of friends and relatives, however, were not unkind; they arose naturally out of their memories of a man with a heart as big as his hands.

    Henry was born into a family of eight children on a small farm in West Michigan in 1902. And it was the farm that was to shape his life"and his hands. Milking cows, wielding the ax, steering the cultivator, and reining horses helped to develop his stocky frame and broaden the girth of his growing hands. Formal schooling ended for him after eighth grade. The demands of the farm in the years of World War I meant that school could not continue: Americans needed to feed England and France. Dad did not marry until age 28, and I, the youngest of four, did not enter the family until he was forty. But soon those big hands were to have a profound impact on my life. With memory's eye, I can still see Elsie Egermeier's Bible Story Book cradled in those hands as he read to us after each evening meal. Even now when I read of Noah, Moses, David, or Jonah, I am transported back to those warm and secure times right after World War II.

    We kids used to chuckle when Dad's big, callused fingers struggled with the wispy, thin pages of his Scofield Study Bible. His Bibles wore out rather quickly, but not merely because of his hands: they were tattered by constant use. Along with his giant hands, he had a giant faith. The Bible was his guide in his worship, in his love for Mom, in his concern for others, in his generosity, and in his philosophy of child-rearing and discipline. Dad did not use a belt or a brush or any other implement when it was necessary to apply a little corporal punishment. He used those big hands"hard enough to smart, but never injure.

    Many child psychologists, with some justification, claim that parents should not use their hands to spank"for fear that a child might become terrified of their hands. Instead, they claim, some neutral object like a wooden spoon should stand as the symbol of punishment. Then the child will mostly fear the object and not the parent. Perhaps this is true in some instances, but since my father was just as quick to use those hands to pick me up, place me on his lap, and embrace me with arms of love and forgiveness, I never cringed in their presence.

    Those wonderful big hands, however, did teach me some valuable lessons about God: He is a God of love and mercy, but He is also my heavenly Father who must chasten me when I disobey, push me when I need help getting started, point the way when I need direction, lift me when I must get over the rough spots, stop me when I go astray, and clasp me in love's embrace when sorrow comes. That's what I can expect from the hands of God. No follower of Christ needs to fear the big hands of a just but merciful heavenly Father.

    My regret is that only one of our three sons knew Dad long enough to remember Bappa's big hands. To him those hands were the fascinating extensions of a loving heart reflected through twinkling eyes and a broad smile.

    When he died at age 73, it was only fitting that Mom should lean over Dad's casket, touch those hands, and echo the words of Catherine Marshall, "Good night, sweetheart, I'll see you in the morning."

    I don't know what Henry Ohlman's heavenly body will look like, but I hope God will allow him to keep those wonderful, big hands!

    KEY SCRIPTURE:
    "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12).

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