T.L.P. Episode 47: Create a Sustainable Home that Glorifies God

What is Sanctified Sustainability and why should you care? Join AMBrewster as he discusses just how much the average family wastes and what God thinks about it.

Click here for Episode 47 Notes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Transcript

Have you ever been stung by a bee? Me too! Awesome!

I’ve been working on my openings, and according to an internet article I read, it’s good to build rapport with my audience. And so now, based off what I learned in high school English, you (the listener) now want to keep listening!

Seriously, though, I purchased my first beehive in 2012, but not quite for the reasons you may think.

Sure, there’s nothing so delicious as eating honey straight from the hive, and the educational aspects for my family have been Ivy League-ish.

Did you know honey bees are the only insects that make food edible to man?

Did you know honey never spoils?

Did you know the language of honey bees is the second most complex language in the world (second only to human language)?

But there was a more dynamic reason for my leap into beekeeping. I must admit the concept wasn’t fully formed when I began, but it has since taken shape into a full-on personal movement

But more on that in a minute.

LSR

The internet is a tricky place and people with something to share find they have to spend more time researching “meta data,” “seo,” and “responsive websites” than they do crafting their message. At Truth.Love.Parent. we try hard to be good stewards of our time and still be tech savvy, but we found that the single best way to get God’s message about parenting into the lives of Christian moms and dads is to create a quality show, and then encourage our listeners to remember just three letters: LSR. LSR reminds our listeners of six important ways they can be a blessing to their families and Truth.Love.Parent. at the same time. There are two “L’s,” two “S’s,” and two “R’s.” Three of these things you can do all the time and the other three you only have to do once!

  1. The first two are Listen and Learn. These are action steps we think you should do all the time. When you Listen, God’s Word has the opportunity to engage your mind. And the Learn step happens when you take what you learned and put it to use in your families. Beside glorifying God, helping parents Listen and Learn is our highest goal.
  2. The two S’s in LSR are Subscribe and Share. In order to keep Listening and Learning, you should then Subscribe using your favorite podcast player (we prefer iTunes ourselves). And — the nice thing is — you only have to Subscribe once! And here’s where you have the opportunity to help other parents just like you find God’s Truth for their parenting. The second “S” is “Share.” We encourage you to share each of our shows on social media. Every Tuesday and Friday we post our new show on Twitter and Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
  3. And the last two things you can do are Rate and Review. And, again, you only have to do these one time. Both can be done in almost any podcast app, but we strongly encourage you to do it in iTunes as well — since they’re still the largest podcast directory in the world. Rating Truth.Love.Parent. on any and all platforms tells other people how valuable you think we are. If people just like them find us valuable, there’s a good chance they’ll find us valuable too. And Reviewing is an opportunity for you to personally share the impact TLP’s had on your family. You know what it’s like to check out the reviews for a product. They’re so helpful.

 

Now, that’s the most I’ve ever said about LSR, but I hope you’re up for the challenge. Will you commit to — at least — do the three one-time steps. Will you Subscribe, Rate, and Review us? And, if you’re really into the growth of your family and others, we suggest you Listen, Learn, and Share.

Alright, now let’s figure what beekeeping has to do with your family.

Topic

I keep bees for the same reason I have a vegetable garden and recycle. I care very much about Creation.

I know it’ll be easy for some people to reach for the pause button right now because they grew up in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s and were taught that only hippies and liberals care about the environment. But, in the words of Jack Sparrow, I need to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket.

In the very first book of the Bible, in the very first chapter, to the very first man and woman, God outlined His 5 step plan for man in relation to the earth: be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over it.

And the very first job He job ordained was a gardener.

You see, God created this earth, and He commanded man to care for it and use it for His honor and glory.

God, not Green Peace, has called us to ecological stewardship.

But you may still have your reservations about me. You sat down to listen to a parenting podcast, and now you’re wondering what this tree-hugging, dirt-worshipping fanatic is trying to brainwash you with. But, really, friends, we need to acknowledge some of God’s truth on the subject, and genuinely see how it may affect our families.

The Creation is Good

Contrary to ancient philosophers, this mortal coil we carry is in fact a beloved creation of God. The Creation account dispels any notion that this universe was anything other than “good.” Yes, since then it’s been mangled by sin, but nowhere in the Bible does God lead us to believe that His creation has somehow lost the value it had when it was perfect. Yet there are two things in particular that drive many Christians away from creation.

  1. Fear Modern technological advances have reared a generation of young people completely detached from the living creation. I was the director of a camp for seven years and cannot tell you the number of children I’ve seen blanch at the thought of sitting in the grass to eat a picnic lunch. It’s sad that nature has become this place that must be tolerated in the few short seconds it takes to get from building to a vehicle and back again.
  2. Ignorance – Another consequence of our post-industrial age is that most of us don’t need to know how anything is made in order to enjoy it. I’ve joked that in the advent of a zombie apocalypse, I would be relatively no good in trying to rebuild this country in that I have no skills in carpentry or building cell towers. But I do know about food production . . . and I think that’s more important. Unfortunately, most people I run into have no idea about farming, gardening, hunting, fishing, beekeeping, or anything else that can meet the basic needs of human sustenance. Sometimes the ignorance is understandable in that the person has never had to think about it, but sometimes the ignorance is intentional, and that’s sad.

Steward the Earth

Part of God’s stated purpose in creating man was that we should “rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” The Hebrew word translated “rule” means literally to exercise dominion over and subdue. It’s a strong word with a precise definition.

Man was created (in part) to possess this creation. This mindset, removed from the entire canon of Scripture may produce an abusive ecology of stripping and wasting. But the Christian knows he cannot subtract a single verse and interpret it apart from the rest of God’s revealed truth.

For this reason we must dig deeper than the common passages concerning the environment.

  1. I want to talk about Intelligent Stewardship. Leviticus has much to say about rotating crops, letting the land rest, and allowing plants to grow in healthy, profitable ways. Nothing should be attempted ignorantly. We see in Scripture that wisdom learns, understands, applies that learning to life, and learns some more. We must be knowledgable about this earth and how God desires it to work.
  2. But we also need to talk about Efficient Stewardship. It’s true that I Corinthians 14 is talking primarily about the use of spiritual gifts in the church, but it’s also clear from the entirety of Scripture that God is a God of order. This cannot apply only to speaking in tongues and prophesying. He created the world in an orderly fashion, He desires worship and service to be orderly, and He commands us to redeem the time and count the costs. When we disrupt the normal created order to mass-produce unhealthy products for the grasping fingers of consumer-oriented mini-kingdoms, we dismiss the way God intended His creation to function.
  3. We should also talk about Gentle Stewardship. Our concept of fairness is generally not biblically informed, and yet the command to be gentle applies not only to people, but has application even to our animals. In I Timothy, Paul acknowledges the practice of not muzzling an ox as it threshes because even the animal is deserving of remuneration for its work. He was specifically quoting Deuteronomy 25:4. Please understand, we have the right to kill animals in order to put food on our plates and provide for our necessities, but I believe the Lord is not glorified by inhumane treatment of animals. There is no reason to cause an animal to suffer by spending its entire life lying in its own feces just so everyone can have bacon on Saturday.

So, with this kind of stewardship in mind; stewardship that is intelligent, efficient, and gentle, I developed the concept of Sanctified Sustainability.

This is less a movement about the earth, and more about the biblical principles concerning wastefulness. The ideas are not perfectly formed yet, but I’d like to share with you some of my goals for creating an atmosphere of Sanctified Sustainability in my home, and what that teaches my kids.

Sanctified Sustainability

  1. God is to be worshipped, not nature. Please hear my words: DO NOT MAKE AN IDOL OF CREATION. I don’t care how worthy the cause, if you devote more time and energy and money to it than you do to Christ, you are worshipping the creation instead of the Creator. Romans has some very uncomfortable things to say about people in that position. Our ecology must be motivated by our love for God. We must reduce pollution because we love God. We must protect endangered species because there’s absolutely no Christ-honoring reason we should wipe them out. God must be at the center of all we do. He is the motivation. His glory must be our sole goal.
    • This approach teaches our kids that nothing is more important than God’s will. Everything we do needs to conform to His purposes.
  2. Waste is to be avoided at all costs. Waste is a sin. We are to do our best at all times in all things. Wasting food, money, time, and resources is a sin. This is reason enough to cook only what will be eaten. This is why we shouldn’t buy clothes simply to throw them out when our favorite designer creates a new line. This is why we use the technology God has blessed us with to spread His truth, not merely go on hour long temple runs. I need to sit on this point for a few minutes because humans are, above all things, most wasteful. Let us count the ways:
    1. We squander the basic resources God generously bestows on us to accomplish His will. Our heavenly Father lavishes us with money, land, houses, appliances, furniture, vehicles, devices, recreation, and food. Our family  scrapes pots, keeps bees, grows food, shops at resale stores, reduces, reuses, and recycles because God has commanded that we be stewards of this world. We want to be intentional, sustainable, stewards of God’s creation. All forms of wastefulness are sin. Whether its money or time, we must redeem it.
    2. We waste the time and talents given to us to praise our Savior and point all eyes to Him. I am daily burdened by the people I meet pouring their entire beings into sharpening their minds, building their skill-sets, and earning their degrees just to get a job. It’s sad. We have such a higher calling. Have you ever noticed that in the Bible it doesn’t matter whether they are a king, evangelist, beggar, or prophet? No one’s vocation means anything outside of its usefulness in accomplishing God’s plan. This doesn’t mean a singer has to sing only sacred songs, but it does mean that God had better get the glory.
    3. We fritter away the daily grace and Spirit empowerment the Lord provides. God has promised moment by moment escapes from temptation. Every morning a daily helping of mercy waits for us beside our beds. The Holy Spirit is constantly interceding for us with petitions we don’t even know we need. Jesus is our perpetual advocate before the Father. And yet despite all that, we return to our sin-vomit. And then we ask God where He was when we “needed Him most.”
    4. We waste His absolute truth in the market place of ideas, hastily trading it for pathetic lies. From the words “In” to “Amen,” the Bible contains every command, principle, proverb, and answer to life. But instead of washing our minds with Its truth, everminding Its precepts, and utilizing Its life-changing power . . . we log on to Twitter to be told how to live. We’d sooner pattern our lives after our favorite fictional characters than after the God-Man, Jesus Christ. We bow at the shrine of the PhD and offer incense to our professors even when they speak contrary to God’s revealed will.
    5. Lastly, too many people throw away God’s gift of salvation by rejecting it or hiding it under a bushel. This is the greatest waste of all. Of all the beauty in the Bible, the Gospel stands as the pinnacle of all-encompassing truth. Yet, we hide it under the commonplace bushels of our cubical walls, backpacks, and status updates. Even worse are those who take the shed blood of Christ and pour it onto the ground as an act of rebellion toward God and hatred of His sacrificial act of love. The greatest waste in the universe is the rejection of salvation.
    6. This is a big part of why we’re having this conversation. Whether it’s a patch of land I can cultivate, a device I can refine to spread God’s truth, or a single human being I can help become spiritually productive for God, I believe it is our calling to do so.
      • When I teach my kids that waste is poor stewardship, it engrains in them a mentality that’s all too foreign to America. It not only teaches our kids to use their resources wisely, but it also instills contentment. Instead of destroying their toys because they’re too rough and inconsiderate, they learn to cherish what they own. Instead of buying the newest game system and just throwing the other away, they learn to some business skills as they sell the old system, or  — better yet — they learn to bless others by giving it away. Instead of filling their rooms with toys and clothes and technology they rarely use, they learn to enjoy what they have to its fullest. Instead of squandering spiritual realities like protection from sin, peace, grace, and the plethora of other promises God offers, our children learn to thrive in them.
      • Alright, so Sanctified Sustainability says that God is to be worshipped, not nature, and waste is to be avoided at all times. But it also teaches us two other lessons.
  3. Resources must be used to the best of their ability. Why do we spend so much money on grass? Have you ever really considered the resources you pour into keeping your lawn looking like a shag carpet? To what end? Aesthetics? What if each lawn became a garden with multiple purposes? What if it not only was a gorgeous display of God’s creation, but also produced food and encouraged beneficial animals and insects to flourish there? I’m sure your money could be used in greater ways for the cause of Christ than merely keeping your lawn pretty.
    • This mindset is as valuable for our kids as the last because they learn to weigh carefully what they’re going to do with their money. I love challenging my son and daughter to consider the spiritual realities behind their purchasing. Do they need it or want it? If they want it, is it a good use of the limited funds they have? If they purchase it, do they realize what their responsibility is to not waste it because they’re bored with it two days later?
    • Please understand, I don’t prohibit my children from buying trinkets, but I do help them navigate the mental labyrinth necessary to live in light of God’s Word in an advertising soaked society trying to exaggerate their discontentment and coax them to purchase things that will be a waste of God’s resources.
  4. Abuse must stop; conservation must start. I dislike animal mills because not only do they mass produce unhealthy, low-quality meat for the protein-packed menus of obese Americans, but they also subject the animals to appalling conditions. Again, I don’t support PETA, and I think people go way too far personifying animals, but I don’t believe the Christian can truly glorify God when he eats if he blithely ignores the fact that God’s creation is being abused to provide his heart-disease on a bun. This is also the reason I keep bees. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating up to 3/4ths of the food we eat, and yet no one can figure out why all the bees are dying. I say ,“no one,” but of course, I mean “no one with something to lose by admitting what’s really killing the bees” has any idea. Conservationist and environmentalists seem to know that GMO’s and pesticides are to blame, and yet we turn a blind eye to the problem because the average Christian American is too lazy . . . to learn. What needs to happen before we step up?
    1. I love the repercussions of this philosophy in our homes because, not only does it teach kindness, generosity, and gentleness to God’s Creation (including humans), but it also demands that we research. You see, the Christian must never commit to a life-choice without knowing the spiritual implications. We really like sheep. We just do whatever the sheep in front of us did without questioning why. But the Bible repeatedly demands that we be wise, discerning, thoughtful, and careful. Eating or wearing or buying or utilizing something without researching can land us in compromising situations.
    2. I believe this is why so many professing Christians are okay with homosexuality and abortion. They haven’t really studied what God’s Word says, so they parrot the talking-head they like the most. We mustn’t do that, and we mustn’t teach our children to meander through life that way.
    3. I love to hear my daughter present biblical rationale for her choices. I thrill to watch my son weigh the worlds thinking against the Bible’s wisdom. We need to teach our children to enjoy learning and excel in research, or who knows what they’ll embrace.

So, Aaron, are you saying I should keep bees?

Um, some of you won’t be allowed to keep bees because where you live, and some of you shouldn’t do it because you’re deathly allergic to stings. There are others of you who have absolutely no time in your schedules because you pour yourself into the work of God.

But for those of you with plenty of space and a sliver of time I ask, “Hey, why not? At least research it.”

But, this isn’t really about bees. I was just using that to build rapport, remember?

The broader question is, are you going to take seriously God’s command to rule over this world with all of the biblical requirements of a faithful steward?

For many of you, this may be a call to buy organic, raise bees, have a garden, or start a blog to teach people about sanctified ways of eating, living, and sustaining what God has given us.

But for most of us, the call to Sanctified Sustainability is a call to do 3 simple things:

  1. Know God’s Word. If you don’t know God’s thoughts on our stewardship responsibilities for this planet, how can you keep them?
  2. Understand the truth about your food. Can you “eat or drink . . . all to the glory of God” if you don’t know your food has been abused, made unhealthy by over-ambitious genetic engineering, or created in a wasteful manner?
  3. Don’t waste. There is no excuse for any of us to add to landfills because we feel we “need” a new couch when our old one is perfectly fine. Sell it. Give it away. But consider whether or not that’s the best thing God want’s you spending your money on. Dave Ramsey shared a simple article to show us a tiny sliver of the things average people throw their money away for. It’s called, “10 Things Americans Waste Money On.” I’l link it in the description so you can check it out, because I fear most of us do not think about this the way we should.

Imagine the sadness that will overwhelm our hearts when we stand before our Lord and find that though we cared very much for sharing the gospel and providing for the needy, we greatly displeased our God by not glorifying Him in our eating and drinking and day to day living.

Conclusion

This is not a call to celebrate Arbor Day. This isn’t a diatribe about recycling. This is an admonishment to teach our children how to worship God in every moment of our days at work and home, whether we’re creating, cultivating, or throwing away our garbage. Because the Christian life isn’t just about going to church and reading our Bibles. It’s about taking the Truth we learn from those activities and actively applying it to everything we do. Because if God’s Word isn’t sufficient enough to help me in the hallways and bathrooms and closets and wallets of my life, what is It sufficient for?

As always, you can find today’s episode notes linked in the description.

And I’m looking forward to our next episode: “When to Raise Your Voice: is yelling ever appropriate?” There’re a lot of differing thoughts out there in parenting-advice-land, but we need a clear word from God on this one.

And don’t forget to LSR today. One of the easiest ways to share our episodes is on social media. You can Like and Follow T.L.P. on Facebook and Twitter, and you find me on Twitter as well @AMBrewster.

II Peter tells us that God has provided everything we need for life and godliness. When we apply His Word to every area of our lives, we teach our children just how precious it is.

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