Monday, April 27, 2009

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Last week we celebrated “Earth Day,” reminding one another to protect our natural environment. I support this premise, but it’s not easy being green.

I patronize the restaurant/deli of a local natural foods grocery store. They have an array of menu items that would pass muster (if not mustard) on any nutritional diet list. They also encourage recycling trash used for meals. That’s where it gets difficult.

Their disposal area features several receptacles, and diners are instructed to discard waste according to category: glass and cans; plastic bottles and containers; paper (clean cardboard, newspapers and magazines); miscellaneous trash; and a bin for plates, silverware, cups and plastic glasses.

The first time I attempted to dispose of my trash, that took longer than it did to consume my meal. I confess putting my plastic glass in with the plastic bottles and containers (an understandable mistake, right?), and started to put paper napkins in the paper receptacle, until a friend pointed out the error of my ways. I tell you, this recycling stuff isn’t easy!

I endorse environmentalism: We should try to keep our world as healthy a place as possible. I don’t worship “Mother Earth,” but do worship the God who created it. In the creation account, it states, “Then Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). In other words, we’re to be good stewards.

When I’m a guest in someone’s home, I feel obligated to leave it as nice as it was when I arrived. The Bible says one day the earth as we know it will come to an end, but that’s God’s job, not mine. In the meantime, we all have a responsibility to be conscientious caretakers – even if being green isn’t always easy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The People We Meet

My friend Jim passed away last week. He hired me in 1978 as editor for his newspaper in suburban Houston, Texas, and my three years there proved pivotal for my career. Jim was a hard-working, multi-faceted individual whose exploits ranged from Marine pilot to director of photography for National Geographic to entrepreneur.

I learned much from Jim about newspapering, photojournalism, business and perseverance, and I’m a different person for having known him. Thankfully, I was able to talk with him by phone a week before he died and again express appreciation for his impact on my life.

Someone has suggested that years from now we’ll be the same except for the books we read and the people we meet. (Another person has added “the food we eat” – but that’s fodder for another blog.) We don’t read books as we once did – thanks to the Internet, cable TV and myriad other forms of communication. However, the idea that our lives are greatly influenced by the people who cross our paths still holds true.

Throughout our tenure on earth, dozens – perhaps even hundreds – of people leave their imprint on our lives. I can think of family members, teachers, friends, pastors, bosses and coworkers that each have touched my life in unique, invaluable ways. They have helped in molding and shaping me into the person I have become.

Ultimately, I believe this is the measure of our lives – our legacy. It’s not about the money we earn, stuff we collect, titles we hold, or awards we win. It’s about making a difference. Even if we can influence just one life in a positive way, our own lives have significance and meaning.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Whose life is better today because of knowing you?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Identities in Crisis?

At one time or another, we probably all have thought, “Someday, I want to be somebody!” I remember thinking how nice it would be to be included in the “Who’s Who” listings of important people. Alas, I recently discovered I’m still stuck in “Who’s He?”

Thanks to the Internet, all would-be somebodies have the solution. Anyone can become somebody almost without doing anything.

You can make a name (and face) for yourself on sites like Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Plaxo. If you like to perform, you can download a video of yourself on YouTube – whether it be reasonable or outrageous, whichever you prefer. You can do a personal blog (imagine that), hoping people will actually read what you have to say! You can even “Twitter” to the world via cell phone.

Instead of waiting for recognition, we can achieve it on our own in many ways. Years from now, some people’s main claim to fame will be their attempt to attain a measure of fame.

Yes, you can find me on Facebook, and I blog away. But I don’t have to await the world’s verdict. In some quarters, I’m already somebody – a significant one at that.

I’m important to my wife, my children and grandchildren. I have friends who actually think enough of me to give me a call or send an e-mail once in a while. And most important of all, the Bible clearly states that to God I am indeed somebody.

It says God so loved the world (including me) that He gave His one and only Son (John 3:16). And in Isaiah 43:4, God declares, “…you are precious and honored in my sight and…I love you….”

Those and many other passages assure me that, even if the publishers of “Who’s Who” never call, I truly am somebody!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bunnies, Baby Chicks and Jelly Beans

Through the years, Easter has become associated with bunnies, baby chicks and bonnets; eggs, jelly beans and baskets. But the two preeminent symbols of Easter are neither cuddly nor colorful: a cross, and an empty tomb.

The cross, as Christendom has confessed through the centuries, represents the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for mankind’s sins – a sacrifice once for all, as Romans 6:10 states.

The empty tomb represents Christ resurrected, victorious over death, offering the same to all who trust in Him. As wonderful as that is, one essential element of the resurrection remains too often forgotten or ignored.

Preachers assert the resurrection assures our sins are forgiven and believers will join God in heaven after we die. But what about the meanwhile – the time between the moment of receiving the Lord’s forgiveness and the moment of experiencing life after death?

In pondering the Scriptures over the years, I have learned the resurrected Christ promises not only the “sweet by and by,” but also provides the key to dealing with the “nasty now and now.”

“How do you live the Christian life?” someone once asked me. I responded with a to-do list – pray, read the Bible, go to church. My friend shook his head: “It’s impossible to live the Christian life – the only one who has ever done it successfully is Jesus.”

Years later, I understand what he meant. Religion is mankind’s best effort to reach God. Jesus is God’s best effort to reach mankind. We can’t live the life He demands, not even close. But He, through His Spirit that dwells in every believer, can live His life through us.

As it affirms in Galatians 3:3, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”