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What Started All the Chaos
The Lord God called to [Adam], "Where are you?" Genesis 3:9
Things were pretty peachy in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had the best salad bar in history, and they lived in peace with God's creatures and his creation. Everything worked just right together. God asked only one thing of the first humans: don't eat fruit from this one tree. Guess what? They did. When Adam and Eve disobeyed, everything stopped working together. Four things happened:
1. Humans were separated from God.
2. Humans were separated from each other, and they began to disagree and argue.
3. Every human was separated from himself or herself. People no longer felt good about themselves (Adam and Eve were ashamed). They were confused about their own thoughts and feelings.
4. Humans were separated from God's creation. They no longer lived in peace with it.
Then God did an amazing thing. He sent his Son, Jesus, to build a bridge between himself and us. Even though our sin has separated us from God, Jesus died so that we could reconnect with God. When we followJesus and let him be in charge of our lives, God's bridge reaches all the way from him to us.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were without shame until they sinned and stopped following God's plan. Then Adam was so ashamed that when God came to see him, as he did every day, Adam hid (see Genesis 3). Adam was no longer close to God. Jesus provides a way for us to get close to God, and as we learn more about God and get closer to him, we become more like Jesus. Love becomes the way we operate in life as the separation between humans and God (#1 on the list) is mended. This doesn't happen all at once; it's a lifelong journey that begins to heal the separation of humans from each other and from themselves (#2 and #3). The last separation, between God's creation and us, is what this book is all about. Like with #2 and #3, the healing of this one takes time. But with God's help, we can reconnect not only with him but also with his creation.
What Can I Do?
Relay your thoughts to God. We stay close to God by talking with him and listening to him. He speaks to us through his Word. Sometimes he shows us the way through events and circumstances that happen to us. Stay close to God, and he will help you make wise decisions about his garden, the world.
Q: Why do potatoes make good detectives?
A: Because they keep their eyes peeled.
Q: What vegetable do you need a plumber for?
A: A leek.
Made in God's Image
God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them. Genesis 1:27
We are made in God's image. That means that we have free will and that we have the ability to make choices. He has given us the ability to know what is right and what is wrong. We can live a life that reminds people of God by showing others love, patience, and kindness.
Knowing that we're made in God's image, how should we live? How should we treat his world? Let's think about God's qualities as they relate to his creation:
God creates; he does not destroy. God cares for the weak. God rescues the helpless. God renews instead of "using up." God brings beautiful order, not disorder. God restores the damaged and broken.
Here are some names of God found in the Bible: the Shield, the Healer, the Gardener, my Helper, my Song, my Source, the Spring of Living Water, our Resting Place. These names of God show us that he wants the best for us and the rest of his creation, and that he protects and loves us.
As we learn in the first chapter of Genesis, Creation is designed for us to enjoy and care for, working hand in hand with God. He has desired a relationship with us ever since the beginning of the world. He's saying, "Work with me, people!"
What Can I Do?
Reflect on who God is. Think of some of the things you appreciate most about God, such as his patience with you, his willingness to forgive you, or his constant love. Ask him to make you more like him in those areas.
* No one knows for sure how many different kinds of creatures God has created, but there are 1.5 to 1.8 million different kinds that have been named. Each species, or kind, has its own unique characteristics. About half of all species are insects.
* There are more than 300,000 different species of beetles.
* There are about 4,500 species of mammals. Scientists have found more than 400 new species of mammals over the past 15 years.
To Serve and Protect
May the Lord bless you and protect you. Numbers 6:24
Have you ever noticed the words on the side of a police car? In many cities, the door of a patrol car says, "To Serve and Protect." Genesis 2:15 says the Lord put people in the Garden of Eden to "tend and watch over it" (NLT) or to "work it and take care of it" (NIV). The original Bible words (in Hebrew) are abad and shamar, which actually mean to "serve and protect." Many law enforcement people don't realize their patrol cars are quoting the last part of a Bible verse!
Part of serving God is taking care of the "garden" he has given us to live in-the world around us. We can take care of his creation by being careful of where we put our garbage, how we use our water, and how we make and use energy. But what's this bit about protecting? God also calls us to care for his creatures and their homes, to preserve clean water and air, and to not use up all the wilderness. Is the whole Earth too big to protect? Is it too late? There are things that all of us can do to be better Earth keepers. A lot of people think the problems are too big. They say, "What can I do? I'm just one person." But God has used a lot of "just one persons" to do some amazing things.
As we see in Genesis 2, "The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it." That is one reason God has put us here: to watch and tend his "garden," the world. Each of us can do our part to care for creation, and when we work together, big things can happen! An African proverb says, "Many little people in many little places doing many little things can change the world." A multitude of people just changing the way they do one or two things can have a major impact. So you don't have to do huge things. Believe this: with God's help, every little bit that you do makes a difference.
What Can I Do?
Respect the land. Make a game of picking up one piece of trash every time you are outside. One of the best ways to protect the land and water is simply to clean up! Trash not only clogs rivers and makes wildlife sick but it also takes away from God's beauty around us.
Q: What promise did Adam and Eve make after they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden?
A: They promised to turn over a new leaf.
I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these ... you did for me. Matthew 25:40, NIV
There's a story about a little boy at the seashore. As he walked along the sand, he noticed hundreds of starfish that had been washed high up onto the beach the night before by a fierce storm. He knew they would never make it back to the water on their own, so he started picking them up one by one and carrying them back to the water so they would live. His older brother came along and said, "That's stupid. Why are you even bothering to do that? There are so many of them, it's not going to make any difference." The little boy looked down at the starfish in his hand, dropped it into the water, and said, "Well, it makes a difference to that one."
Even little kids can do things to help take care of God's world. The boy carrying the starfish back to the water was doing what he could to help some of God's creatures who were in trouble.
In Matthew 25:40, Jesus was talking about taking care of other people who need our help. But fish, birds, and animals-even the Earth itself-need our help too, as we learned in Genesis 1:26. Are you going to do every single thing that we mention in this book to help the planet? Of course not. But even if you only do one thing, it will make a difference.
What Can I Do?
Relay your thoughts to God. "Lord, there are 6 billion people on this Earth, and I am just one of them. Please show me what you want me to do to make your world a little better. Thank you."
Q: What fish always gets asked for his autograph? A: The starfish.
The Real Creator
Turn from these worthless things and turn to the living God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. Acts 14:15
The world is full of ideas about God. Some are right; others are not. Some people have the mistaken idea that God created the world but then took a vacation. In other words, they think God made the universe to be like a giant machine and then sat back to watch it run down like an old clock. People who believe this think that God is not interested in what happens here on Earth. But that is not true. Genesis tells us that at the end of the creation week, God looked at all he had made "and he saw that it was very good!" (Genesis 1:31). He put his stamp of approval on the whole universe; he is very interested in what happens to it!
Another wrong idea is that God and creation are the same thing. Some people think that God is in the trees and flowers and creatures and air. But Genesis, the first book in the Bible, tells us that God existed even before the world was made and that he is separate from it. God tells us not to worship anyone or anything besides him. And that includes nature.
God is better than all those ideas. He's greater, bigger, more awesome and amazing than his creation, but he also cares about the world he has created.
When some people do things for the environment, it is because they love the Earth. This isn't a bad thing, but it's not the whole story. When Christians take care of God's creation, we have an extra good reason: we do it out of love for our Father in heaven-the one "who made heaven and earth"!
What Can I Do?
Reflect on who God is. We can make sure we have a clear view of who God is by studying his Word, the Bible. We can trust the Bible to be true because it is "God-breathed" (2 Timothy 3:16, NIV). That means the words in it are just what God wants to tell us. So if we hear something about God, we should always check in with what the Bible says about it.
A Child's Prayer
A mother overheard this bedtime prayer by her little boy: "Dear God, please take care of my daddy and mommy and me. Oh, and please take care of yourself, God. If anything happens to you, we're going to be in a big mess."
What Do You Love?
Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." John 21:16, niv
Hanna loves music. There is one band that is her absolute favorite, though. She loves their music. She listens to it all the time. She goes to the band's concerts whenever she can. She owns all their music, and she collects their posters and T-shirts.
Hanna takes good care of her music, posters, and T-shirts because they have something to do with the band she loves. She knows the band puts a lot of work into their songs, and Hanna honors her favorite band by taking care of what they have made.
God is the great musician. The song of his creation drifts on the winds, thunders in the clouds, and lilts in the voices of birds and bugs. He's not distant from what he has made. God created and is redeeming this world, and he is healing it through the power of Jesus. He cares for our planet. If we love God, we'll care for it too. If you love the Creator, care for his creation. It's just that simple.
In today's verse, Jesus tells Simon Peter that if he truly loves Jesus, he will take care of Jesus' "sheep." Jesus' sheep are his followers. If we truly love God, we will take care of his family, his creatures, and his world.
What Can I Do?
Respect God's world. One way we can show God how much we love him is to care for the things he loves, whether that's people or other parts of his creation. Even when we feel frustrated with a friend or family member, Jesus wants us to treat that person like a treasure, with care and love.
One of the most common musical instruments mentioned in the Bible is the lyre. It had eight or ten strings and a sound box, much like a guitar today. Lyres that are 4,750 years old have been found in the ancient city of Ur.
Son: Mom, I want to grow up and be a rock 'n' roll musician.
Mom: Well, Son, you've got to pick one or the other. You can't do both.
Excerpted from I Love God's Green Earth by Michael CARROLL Caroline CARROLL Copyright © 2010 by Michael and Caroline Carroll. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted April 17, 2010
When I opened up this book, I loved the introduction. I resonated with what the authors shared. It was right up my alley! I was excited to read this book.
The first time I read it when it arrived I was only excited about the introduction. I had read things out of order, picking and choosing random entries. That was a bad choice on my part.
I had my mind made up after that first reading, but couldn't articulate what I didn't like it. So, I just picked the book up and started at the beginning instead. I started to see past the very minor things I didn't like and see how this devotional does explain exactly what I want my kids to know and think about taking care of this world! The devotional entries build upon each other from the beginning to explain why we should take care of the earth (and they even explain what an ecological footprint is in the first 10 entries). There are 90 devotional entries in all.
For each entry, there is a Bible verse, devotional entry, connection to the verse, jokes or interesting facts and something you can do to care for the earth. I like all of the parts except for the something you can do for the earth. There are 2 things I wish the authors had done with this part. 1) I wish they had simply used the word "pray" rather than "relay your thoughts" about talking to God. I understand they were staying with an R theme, but for some reason, it just rubbed me the wrong way. I suppose it's because it reminds me of the way a lot of "new age" cults express the idea of talking to God. When I read it to my children, I will use the word Pray instead. 2) I wish there had been more practical, physical suggestions of things that my kids could to do to take care of the earth. Outside of those two minor issues, I enjoyed all the other parts of the daily devotions. The jokes were fun and silly and I like the facts. They are opportunities to talk about the world we live in and ignite their curiosity about God's creation.
I am impressed with this book and I do really like it. I've read several devotions and a lot of them are just okay--good, but if you're only buying 1 or 2, they aren't what I'd recommend. This devotional addresses a very special issue. As a homeschooling parent, I think it's perfect for integrating into your science curriculum when you teach your children grades 2-6 about caring for the earth. I look forward to doing that next year! My daughter at 6 years old is still a little young for it. I think that it would be best for 6-11 year olds (6 year olds if they have older siblings).
Please note that I was given a complimentary copy of this book for review.