Between the Ditches of Manifestos and Non-Sense

Ditch. Neatly cut ditch

Image via Wikipedia

Blogs fall into the ditches of either trying to write Manifestos or blithering over non-sense and slathering opinion about everything from politics to sports to fashion. I’ve tried over the years not to fall into these ditches. Granted, I write about a variety of things, and I try to keep this blog filled with original writing not just copied or quoted stuff, but I’m attempting to keep it to my experience.

Let me give an example. When I was a missionary in Uganda, we missionaries would often observe the nation we lived in and ask why the government didn’t just do this or that. We probably felt we had some answers, but the fact is we weren’t in position to really solve national problems. We had enough trouble just helping a small band of Christ-followers in a handful of churches to move forward.

In the same way, the blog I write ought to be about things I am experiencing, whether in my personal, family, work, reading, recreation, or prayer life. So I’ll try to spare you long manifestos about how to solve problems in your organization or non-sense about my favorite foods. What I try to offer here is something of a life that can inspire you to reflect on your own and how to be more human, more like Jesus, more of the person God is making you to be.

Life Pyramid

Baptism of Christ. Jesus is baptized in the Jo...

Jesus is baptized in the Jordan River by John, affirmed as "beloved Son" by the Father, and blessed by the Holy Spirit's presence.

If you could boil down the teachings of Christ and all of Scripture to 10 words and put them in a pyramid, what would they be? Put one on top, two below that, then three, then four on bottom. Be creative, don’t cheat . . . much.

I’m going to pick a word to begin that means God, Christ, Spirit to cheat a little, but what I mean by that is what theologians have meant by it for centuries: that God is relating in three persons and out of that relationship we are created and invited into that communion.

Here’s my Life Pyramid that will continue to be revised. I’d be interested to see what you would put in your Life Pyramid.

Triune
Love  Sin
Justice   Rescue  Covenant
Transformation  Resurrection Creation  Kingdom

Crying Indian and Recycling

Do you remember this commercial? If you grew up in the 70s and watched TV, it’s part of your consciousness. But have you really done anything about it either personally or on a large scale? I think our society has done a lot, but we’re also still lagging both on personal and national scales.

I know it’s weird to say this, but recycling and composting is a spiritual discipline for our family. That will make sense to some. For others that are squinting their eyes and cocking their heads, consider this: spiritual disciplines don’t all happen on your rear with a book laid across your lap. In fact, most don’t.

Brother Lawrence found spiritual meaning in the mundane and normal of life. Recycling and composting both helps us reflect on our consumption and also do our part to help tend God’s creation.

Recycling is a hassle that we don’t do for ourselves. We don’t make any money from it. It’s a chore that we all pitch in to do, and we do it for the sake of God’s creation that we are called to tend and restore, not constantly consume.

We have a friend in Nashville who works for a school and encourages recycling by having a company keep bins at the schools and giving part of the profits to the school. She manages the children in the lunchroom to divide all the garbage into categories and gets children and parents to help work Saturdays when the community comes up to recycle.

It was this friend who converted our family to recycling. After composting kitchen scraps and recycling, we typically have two bags of regular trash a week for a family of five and the rest goes into recycling.

Today’s recycling from approximately one month of collecting:

45 pounds of newspaper, magazines

6 pounds of glass (mostly spaghetti/pizza sauce, one jar of Durango, Colorado honey)

5 pounds of plastic (milk jugs, soda, etc.)

15 pounds of cardboard

2 pounds of tin cans

3 pounds of aluminum cans

The bulk of this fills up our van with seats down, about a dozen bags that garbage collectors don’t have to fool with, that stays out of landfills, and that recycle into products and save using new resources.

Are you constantly consuming and throwing away without a care? I used to but will no longer.

Want a LIVE Christmas tree this year?

My mission teammates Mark Moore and Clint Davis, with the help of Kibo Group supporters, continue to come up with creative ideas and funding for development in East Africa. Clint is just back from a trip to Rwanda where he joined other board members of the Imbabazi Orphanage to set direction after Roz Carr’s death. Being involved and supporting the orphanage is one way Kibo impacts East African development, and another way is through a creative and earth-renewing tree planting project. Click the picture below to find out more.

kibomvuleproject.jpg

10 tips for a simpler more meaningful Christmas

From one of my favorite Advent resources, Alternatives for Simple Living:

1. Plan ahead. Instead of going on auto-pilot the day after Thanksgiving, hold a family meeting to decide what the group really wants to do and who’s going to do what.

2. If you need a symbol for giving (in addition to Jesus and the Three Wise Ones), learn about St. Nicholas. Santa Claus has been completely taken over by commerce.

3. Avoid debt. Refuse to be pressured by advertising to overspend.

4. Avoid stress. Give to yourself. Don’t assume that things have to be the same way they’ve always been.

5. Draw names rather than everyone giving something to everyone else in your giving circle. Set a ceiling for each recipient. Give children ONE thing they really want, rather than so many gifts. If need be, pool funds.

6. Give appropriate gifts. Get to know the recipient. Give what they want to receive, not what you want to buy.

7. Give alternative gifts. Give 25% of what you spent last year to the needy… individuals or groups locally, nationally or internationally. Buy crafts and clothing from developing countries at alternative gift markets, not from commercial importers, so that the artisans receive a fair price for their work. Give of yourself, not just “stuff” – a coupon book for future services (such as baby-sitting or an “enchanted evening”); something baked, sewn, handmade, composed, etc.; or a family service project, such as working together at a soup kitchen.

8. Celebrate Advent for four weeks before Christmas.

9. Put the gifts under the tree shortly before opening them. Then take turns opening them around the tree, not all at once, so that each gift can be admired and each giver thanked.

10. Make changes slowly but persistently. Don’t try to change everything and everybody all at once. The resistance will make you feel defeated and lonely.

For more help and a free catalog of ideas, contact Alternatives for Simple Living at 800-821-6153.

©1997 Alternatives for Simple Living. Used by permission. (recycle paper)