Friday, January 26, 2007

The Gospel of Wealth

I reject the Gospel of Wealth and any and all adherents and illusions thereto.

Now before anyone gets confused, lemme explain. The Gospel of Wealth was a little (big) essay that Andrew Carnegie wrote back when he was alive that said alot of things. One, that a rich man's duty before God was to make the world a better place. This is a great idea. However, no one followed it, not even Carnegie. Sure, he built hospitals and libraries, but he was also notoriously ruthless in his dealings with workers.

Carnegie had some great ideas about what to do with wealth, unfortunately, he lived by the motto that the ends justify the means. He thought that what he did with his money at the end of his life would make up for how he got it to begin with. I don't think this works. Lying, cheating, and stealing do not a Godly business make, no matter how much of the profits go to the church or missions or the poor.

I think Jesus was right when he said it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Not because it rich people find it hard to be believers, but because I think believers find it hard to be rich. Every one of the more wealthy people I've met all have the same attitude about money. God gave it to me, God has blessed me, it's mine. I have never known any wealthy believers who lived humbly, though I know that some do exist. The quickest way to find out is by the car. Toyota or Lexus, Honda or Porsche, Ford or BMW. I'm not saying it is wrong to have money or a nice car. I'm just saying, I have never known anyone who has simultaneously presented a positive Christian life, lived humbly, and gave generously. The best I've seen is two out of the three, and usually only one in my opinion.

The wealthier men I have been close to present a nice face at church and around town, but often use foul language. Have great business, but have a few small hidden shady business practices. Throw money around like everyone has it. Drive fast in fast expensive cars. But the thing that bugs me the most is that it appears that they think their opinion is worth more than yours. Why do people not realize that they are no better than you, they just have more money.

God doesn't truly bless people with money, I believe he truly blesses them with contentment.

I am disgusted with myself for even writing this but it just bugs me so much. I'll admit, I may just be writing these things out of jealously. But, I have heard it so many times that God gives wealth to his people, and I just don't think this is true. God gives rest and contentment to his people. He gives them peace, not money. He gives money to some to be given to others, and he gives money to the wicked to prove his point that money is the root of all kinds of evil.

So what do I do with money? I really have no idea, but I know what not to do with it.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Maximize the Space.

Many of us are stuck in houses with small yards. Quite a few of us have no yards. So what do we do?

There are some real interesting sites regarding vertical gardens. Vertical gardens are grown on the faces of walls utilizing a mat of some type for the plants to take root onto. Unfortunately, there arent too terribly many of these yet, but I predict there will be, not only for looks but for food. Take a good look into these if you have some wall space and some ingenuity. Ingenuity is what feeds the world.

Another awesome idea that some use is the window box. This is very useful for people who have no yard, or even a roof. For those with a roof (flat roof), you have an especially useful space. You could raise rabbits, pigeons or chickens (check local laws) and keep an enclosed type composter. You should have plenty of space for planters and large pots where you could grow all kinds of things. Interesting fact, in Sweden I think it is, when you build a new building, you are required to replace the green space your building sits on with green space on the roof.

If you live in a basement, you are stuck in a basement, then use grow lights, they double for regular lights, and you'll be laughing when the police with the infrared cameras bust into your house and realize that those really are tomatoes.

The real thing here is that it is all up to you. You can grow food just about anywhere. And that leads to sustainability.

Still Growing,

Thursday, January 11, 2007


One of the most important parts of sustainable living is composting. With all that organic matter out there to be had, we cant just sit and let it rot. Yes we can, but it need to be in our yard to rot because not only will you have the nice compost when you're done, but the soil under the pile will benefit real good too.

There are lots of arguments about how to compost, whether to layer, or shred, or mix, or use worms. In this area I am a pluralist. All composts are good. My philosophy is get that stuff in my yard, it will all work out in the end.

This reminds me of a concept I've been trying to work together. It involves adding more organic matter to your soil than is taken away. For instance, you have a garden and a compost pile, and composting toilets. Your garden produces food, you eat the food, you redeposit the food in the toilet, which creates compost that you add to your garden where your food grows. At times, you don't redeposit the food in your own toilet, or you eat food that didn't come from your garden and deposit it in your own toilet. This creates an average 360 degree cycle. But, it is good for you to add organic material to your system that came from another system. For instance, collecting your neighbors leaves and composting them.

Every year, literally millions of tons of leaves fall, and most in residential areas are cleaned up and disposed of. What a huge wasted resource. I read a story a while back where a man collected leaves using a giant vacuum attached to a horse trailer and put them in his garden. He had a free source of nutrients and his soil was awesome. I have really wanted to do this because I live in Arkansas, and most of the trees are deciduous but the equipment would probably cost a few thousand dollars to make new.

Another really awesome piece of equipment is a wood chipper. I have three trees, and in the process of pruning in the last 6 months, I have taken off nearly a cord of wood not including small branches and leaves. A wood chipper can turn a good portion of that to a nice organic wood mulch that you can put on your flowerbeds and walkways or include in your compost piles as brown matter. Unfortunately, to get a good one of these, you'll shell out a thousand or more new. It will probably be more economical and useful to borrow or rent one when your wood pile grows to be too large. There are also lots of older outdoor power machines with broken engines that it may be economical to buy a new or used engine to put on them. Part of living sustainably is taking care of your equipment so that it lasts the absolute longest amount of time possible. Use synthetic oil!!!

Lets review. Composting the the natural process by which organic material is returned to the earth providing nutrients and conditioning the soil so that it can better support life.

Do it.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Backyard Farm, and Why Organic?

First a little (true) story.

Back in the early nineties when the Soviet Union collapsed, there were far reaching consequences to Cuba who relied (because of blockades and sanctions) on the USSR for alot of stuff including 90 percent of their oil supplies. When that pipeline (ship line) was cut off, Cuba quickly found itself in a great state of hurtin'. Not only was driving everywhere no longer an option, but the entire infrastructure which relied on trucking was screwed. In response, people began growing their food on their rooftops and backyards because it was no longer available in the markets. Without access to cement, buildings in disrepair were torn down to make room for small city gardens. Squatters were no longer trying to find places to stay, but places to grow food on abandoned land. Taxi's upped their carrying numbers to 6 or 7 people per ride, and instead of buses, the government utilized semi trucks to carry upwards of 300 people at a time, standing room only. Power supplies began to fluctuate, and blackouts lasting 16 hours were not uncommon, so the government installed solar panels on important buildings such as schools so that power supply would be more constant.

This kind of thing WILL eventually happen in the United States. Peak oil has passed, and we are now on the slow decline in supply. It probably wont be sudden like in Cuba, but we will eventually run out of oil. Biofuels are a good idea, but in order for them to support us, we must drastically cut our usage. But, I am not here to lay a fear trip on you, I am here to teach.

So, it is up to you. Your mission should you choose to accept it is to not rely on the supply of vital resources by other people, but to produce these resources for yourself, saving yourself money in the process. Today, we will be discussing the most vital resource (behind water): Food.

Because food prices have dropped in recent history, food is something we take for granted. A hundred years ago, a person may have spent 50% of their income on food. Now that number hovers around 12%. This is why there are far fewer people who raise their own food than there used to be.

A small backyard garden will benefit you an innumerable ways. First, you can provide yourself with virtually free ORGANIC food. Everyone knows organic food is better for you, it's a natural fact, but it costs a lot of money. In a speech, I recently theorized that if organic food were cheaper, many more people would buy it. Now I say, why buy it when you can make it. Secondly, that food is healthier, and you will be empowered by knowing that you produced it yourself.

First rule: Don't till your soil. There's this thing called a food web that consists of all kinds of organisms that live in the soil. Till these up, and they wont be able to provide proper support to your food plants until the food web builds back up again. But what about all that grass and weeds in the space where I want my garden to be? you say. Lets kill several problems with one solution. If you have deciduous trees, you have to get rid of leaves. This fall, pile those leaves where you want your garden to be. Next year, rake it all back and make it into a compost pile, and presto, no weeds, no grass, and if you have a sufficient worm population, it will appear as if the soil had been tilled. No leaves you say? Use old nasty hay, shredded paper, manure, I do. Anything organic in nature will do.

Second rule: Go organic, use your worms. Worm castings from food scraps and other wastes is supremely nutritious for plants. Worm castings naturally contain plant growth hormones, and using castings as your fertilizers will yield you results rivaling those of Miracle Grow. Use leaves, mulch, and compost to keep weeds down. These things will also degrade into the soil providing nutrients for your fruits and vegetables.

Later on, I'll discuss some options for growing your own meat, but that is something not to be taken lightly.

But, we don't have to start this big. How about we start with just a pot or two with some tomatoes this year? You'll find they will probably taste much better than the ones you get in the store, and then you'll wonder what else could taste better.

Don't walk the beaten path, it's not good for the grass.

Environmental Christians

Why do many Christians not believe in global warming? Not because they don't care. Most Christians believe wholeheartedly in the teaching that we are to be good stewards of the garden God has given us. They don't believe in global warming because the politicians they elect and believe to be believers tell them not to.

There is an unfortunate belief that Republicans are also Christians. This is in many cases just not so. Look at how many Republican politicians have fallen from grace. Look at how many pastors and evangelists have fallen from grace. Christians often will believe anything said by anyone claiming to be a Christian. The sad fact is that many of these people are simply "cultural Christians" or "holiday Christians." They merely use the right jargon and support the right things in order to court the vote of the huge Christian voter base.

Meanwhile, they support industries that pollute and destroy our garden while preventing other groups trying to make our garden a more hospitable sustainable place. It is extremely unfortunate that conservatives and those supporting Christian values also have abandoned the environmental efforts to those on the left side and continued living like the earth is expendable.

I believe in the imminent Second Coming of Christ, but just as Paul said that we should not continue sinning even though we are under grace, we should not continue wrecking our garden even though we know that one day it will all burn. Jesus said no man knows the day or the hour, and in that vein, we should treat our garden like we may have to live here for a while longer, whether or not we actually will.

I think in the process, we may even reach those on the left side who think we don't care about them or the environment, and then it will be a win-win for everybody.

For Christians who like green things, I'm

What I Want to do I dont

Consider Romans 7 ESV

15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

How harsh life can be, to know what you want to do, but be inexplicably unable to do it. This problem faces me almost daily. For instance, I know I should read the Bible, contemplate it's words and teachings, and pray for understanding and help. I know to do these things, I know how to do these things, but it remains that I consistently fail to do these things.

That is why faith in Jesus is so important. To rely on him is more than just an idea or a concept, it is something that needs to be practiced. It is not as though I am asking to lift a car off someone, all I need is to have time and necessity to read and pray. These are the key to understanding the rest of what needs to take place for me to have a true relationship with Christ. Fortunately, I think He has a plan for all this. He gives me trials until I have no other choice to seek him because I know He is the only thing that can relieve my pain.

And hopefully He'll give me the ability to write a blog that interests more people than just me.

God save you, if it is right that He should do so.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Let's start with soil makers.

Sustainable living requires dirt. What if you dont have dirt? You'll have to make some. What to do, what to do. Ah worms. Worms commonly known as compost worms or red wigglers are a key part of a sustainable living plan. They can do many things, the best of which is eliminate waste.

In our blog, waste will be anything that leaves your residence that is not going to be recycled in a sustainable way. Basically anything besides metal. Paper doesn't count, plastic doesn't count, and neither do your children.

Fortunately paper doesn't have to be waste, because mixed with proper amounts of other things, worms eat paper. And what do worms make? Dirt. No matter what goes in one end of a worm, out the other end comes dirt. So, in my home, we shred the paper, mix it with food scraps, the worms eat it, and we get dirt. And considering the soil around here, we need dirt. Good dirt.

There are a number of ways to keep worms. A quick search will net you tons of websites that sell worm bins. I currently have a "Can-O-Worms." I recommend this or other stackable types of bins if you produce up to their rated capacity in food scraps. My household however makes a just a bit more than that, and the worms can't keep up all the time, especially when it is cold. Next, I am going for the Worm Wigwam, a heated flow through unit that costs a bit more, but handles alot more material.

There are a few less professional but still effective methods. You can build a wooden box that sits on the ground outside, or you can use a big plastic tub. There are many options, and if you keep a few key things right, the worms are very forgiving. I challenge you to take an hour or so and do a little research into vermiculture and vermicomposting.

We'll learn later that worms can be used to great effect in composting toilets, another "sweet" sustainable living option, but we'll leave those to the imagination for now.

So, after you have worm composted your food, paper, grass clippings, and whatever else, what do you do with the dark rich worm castings? Put them in your backyard garden or potted plants. Well explore that option next.

Remember, dirt is important, get some.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Total Depravity of the Human Soul

One of the main tenets of Christianity is the total depravity of the human. We are bad, therefore needing saving, or something like that, I over simplify. There seem to be a lot of critics of newer church movements who complain that things like the Cross of Christ and Total Depravity of Man are not things that are taught often.

I agree. But the question to me

Friday nights when I go to Encounter and have some prayer time, these things do not concern me. Why? I know I am depraved. I know Jesus died for me. These are not things I need to be preached at me every Sunday. I am there to lay on my face and cry out to God that I suck and that I need help. The great thing: I'm not the only one there for the same purpose.

I think many of us in the younger Christian crowd are wandering around looking for a challenge. I think the newer philosophies of some churches give us that challenge, a challenge to be better stewards of our planet, to be vivacious supporters of God's work on our little blue dot, and to be joyful in all our circumstances. Anybody who reads the Bible will know why Christ came and what he did. It's clearly stated a plethora of times.

I doubt there are many who truly study the Bible and seek to understand it who are ever led astray. We were given the word for a reason. The only ones who will be led astray are those who only listen for the words, not the message. Those will be lost who read only the passages they think pertain to them, the wealth passages, the blessing passages, and not the persecution and poverty passages. One only needs to be an open minded thoughtful student of the Living Word. The Spirit can fill in the blanks.

There is no new Gospel anyway. "There is nothing new under the sun." Ecc. 1:9

Peace be with you.

Apologetics and Stuff (Fun!!!)

I used to really be into apologetics, that is the "defense of the faith." Turns out though, you have to be really careful because you can get severely legalistic and stare down your nose-ish.

Whenever you get into arguments, you always seem to be right (in your own mind) and the other person is always wrong. You have a list of verses to back up your point and obviously, their list isn't near as comprehensive or as understanding of context.

Who doesn't want to be right?

I still do believe in objective truth. But I also believe that the Word of God is alive (so to speak) and fluid as it pertains to the culture. It will always have effectiveness as a message and as the basis for a faith, but that means we have to allow it to say different things to different people.

Some believe in speaking in tongues, some believe in deliverance ministry, some think focus should be on missions, some prefer shepherding the flock. I think as long as we don't make Jesus out to be an anti-Semite (he was a Jew) white supremacist pimp, I think we are going in a good direction. What I mean to say is, major on the majors, minor on the minors, and don't tell me there aren't such things as miracles any more.

You are Loved

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Rob Bell's Critics

I just got done reading a bunch of critics of Rob Bell, the teaching pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan.

Rob talks about how people are always possessed with trying to figure out who's out and who's in. I find this to be especially true of Rob's critics. One guy had written a letter to Rob, you can find a copy of it here:

Lets say, I was more than disgusted with it and I'll tell ya why. This guy does not even claim to have read the entire Bible and is yet trying to school Mr. Bell who has a Masters Degree relating to the subject.

Unfortunately, my reply to the page will probably never be posted because the responses are moderated. But that is what we call life.

I do alot of research on movements, both past and present in the church, and it is always easy to find those who don't really care about the people's beliefs they are critiquing. They rarely state the other person's beliefs even close to accurately. I find it is best to read a critique that agrees somewhat and/or disagrees somewhat. They tend to be less biased, and actually seem like the person who wrote them cares about who they are disagreeing with.

I can be the most disagreeable person sometimes, but I will never discount everything a person says because of one thing I disagree with.

Be Blessed as you go out.