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Provision at a Time of Need

Almost Empty Bread Shelves 19th March 2020

It started a couple of weeks ago, we all remember it, the shelves were stripped of bread, flour, pasta, toilet roll, and anything else that would keep, and enable a family to survive without having to go shopping. The coronavirus pandemic was starting to hit our shores and people were worried, really worried. They loaded up their trolleys with vast amounts of whatever they felt would help them to survive.

We were asked to keep calm and not to panic buy. Though the temptation is always there to protect ‘me and mine’ by stocking up, I tried my best to keep calm. I didn’t buy any large quantities of anything, trying to be mindful of others who need to eat & wash too. But there were a lot of empty shelves, lots of things I couldn’t get. Somehow, we made it through that first week. Our local bakery had bread as they bake throughout the day so no one can strip them of their whole stock at once.

But there was a niggle for me. I’m intolerant to gluten, dairy, corn/maize and soya. They each have some rather unpleasant effects on my digestive system (it’s ok, I won’t go into details) and it’s worse if I’m stressed. But in that initial rush, all the eggs and the particular type of flour that I depend on to make anything resembling bread had been taken. I’m told that when the normal flour and pasta had gone, people turned to the gluten free stuff.

I had one bag of that flour left and no eggs.

My bread, it’s sunk a little more than usual, but it’s still tasty!

I managed, after visiting several shops, to find half a dozen eggs. (My gluten free bread is rather like a brick without an egg.) I rationed eggs in my household and made a loaf of bread.

Two thirds of a bag left.

Through that week, whenever I was out and about, and passing a store that I thought might have it, I’d check, telling myself that it wouldn’t be long before things got back to normal and I’d be fine. I was grateful that it was only bread flour I was short of, I had other things to eat, I wouldn’t go hungry, but it’s not the easiest of things to go without. (Crackers etc are off menu to me too.) But that anxiety deep down, it’s difficult to shake, and it was starting to niggle at me.

Then I heard Him. Some people will think I’m a bit crazy, but I believe that God speaks to me from time to time. You see, He loves us, and doesn’t want us to worry, but He knows we do at times like this: After all our lives are turning upside down and there is a huge amount of uncertainty. What did God say? He brought to mind a passage from the book of 1 Kings 17 where the prophet Elijah asks a widow to give him bread from her last portion of flour and oil, and then assures her that the flour and oil will not run out until the current famine comes to an end.

“For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There will always be flour and olive oil left in your containers until the time when the Lord sends rain and the crops grow again!”

1 Kings 17:14

I felt that he was reassuring me that my flour would not run out until I found more. That was very reassuring. For a couple of days, I just left it, but then had to make another loaf.

One third of a bag left.

I started to worry again, was it just wishful thinking on my part that I’d heard that promise? So, I posted on Facebook to friends and a local group to ask people to look out for my particular brand of flour. I received lots of advice and even some very kind offers of different brands of flour, but all contained corn so would have been no good for me.

The flour I needed was nowhere to be seen despite me checking all the local shops again and one shop trying to order it for me too. They did however manage to get me some baking powder, and some tapioca starch. In my mind I rationalised that I hadn’t run out, I had all the ingredients to make the bread flour, I just needed to experiment with quantities until I found a recipe that worked. Job done? But not really a miracle. And how many failed experiments until I found a flour blend that did work?

That morning I was walking our dog when I felt another prompt. When I got home, I needed to watch the live stream from our church that morning. Our Pastor, Sam is doing a wonderful job trying to keep his flock together by livestreaming services and prayers from the church. I’d missed the live streaming but it was still available on YouTube, so I sat down listening with the headphones on to avoid disturbing other family members working in the house. Sam read an old Testament reading, and it was 1 Kings 17 – the same passage I’d felt the LORD had given me a few days before! My heart leapt; I felt a real burning in myself as I listened to Sam reading the story. That was confirmation wasn’t it? There was going to be a miracle and I just needed to trust.

But the days continued to tick by, and the loaf disappeared, the trust and anxiety continued to jostle inside me, taking my attention from other things. It gives me a better appreciation for those who do have to live hand to mouth.

Cooking Flatbreads on a Skillet

So, on Friday, I decided to use the last of the bread flour, I combined it with an equal amount of gram flour & some oil to make flat breads, possibly a bit like the widow in the story would have done. That way I’d have twice as much bread available to eek it out until I could find more. But my flour had run out and I felt that the promise hadn’t quite lived up to what I’d expected.

But God had other plans. Just about the time I started making the flatbreads, two friends messaged me (though I didn’t see the messages for several hours!), both had managed to find my bread flour at the same time, in other towns nearby. One of them had bought two bags for me! (Thanks Sarah and Angie!)

Bread flour – exactly the type I needed, bought by a wonderful Christian friend!

Did I ever need to worry? No. But I’m human, and it’s hard not to, though God does remind me from time to time that I can trust him! Sometimes I have to be in a difficult situation to learn that lesson though.

“So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

Matthew 6:31-33

Just a note, if you’ve bought gluten free flour ‘just in case’, but don’t normally use it; you may well find that it’s actually quite hard to work with unless you are used to it – it doesn’t have gluten in it to hold it together. Perhaps, if you are symptom free, you might offer an amnesty for someone else who really does need it? It would be a shame to see a lot of this food go to waste (and harm our planet even more) because food gets unused and goes off.

Can you Step Up for Our Planet?

What more can I do after Recycling?

The good news is that most people already recycle their waste so, for example, around 27 million tonnes of glass are recycled worldwide each year: Each tonne recycled saves 315kg of CO2 emissions from the atmosphere. We’re learning the importance of preserving the resources we have. But did you know that there are other steps we could take that could be even better for the planet?

A man walking up steps depicting the steps we can take for the climate: Recycle, re-gift, repair, re-use and reduce.
These steps represent the steps we could take for the climate: Recycle, re-gift, repair, re-use and reduce.

Recycling (1) takes the original item that you had, breaks it down into the raw material and then re-forms it into new products for us to buy. It’s a great first step, but it still uses a lot of energy for our councils to collect our recycling, for them to be melted or processed into the basic materials and then re-formed with transportation to and from factories. Often manufacturers have to add a lot of virgin material to the process in order to get a product that is considered acceptable, or simply for the process to work. Many other items just cannot be recycled effectively as they are made from mixed materials that are difficult to separate. Currently only about 9% of plastic is recycled and 21% of glass, so, although most people do recycle, clearly a lot more can be done to improve.

So, what else can we do?

The steps picture (above) gives us other ideas, many of which can save a great deal more energy than simply recycling. Here’s a run-through of the ideas:

2. Re-gift

A gift of tomatoes from a gardener to a friend.
A gift of tomatoes. Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

A t-shirt can ‘cost’ 15kg of CO2 and a pair of Jeans 33kg of CO2! So, giving them to someone else if they’re not completely worn out could save a lot of CO2 emissions (and water). Can you give something to a friend or arrange a clothes swap party. Can you give them to a jumble sale or charity shop? Re-selling sites like e-bay or local free and for sale sites can be a great help in finding a new home for items that we no longer need, and keeping it local can also save on transport emissions. Because the items don’t need to be re-processed then a lot of energy can be saved compared to someone buying the item new.

3. Repair

Repairing a smartphone
Repairing a Smartphone – how long can you make yours last? Photo by Kilian Seiler on Unsplash

Most of us still get washing machines repaired if they are broken, they are a big investment, but we have got into a throwaway culture where we think it’s cheaper to replace something than repair it. Did you know that about 152 million phones are thrown away every year! This is a huge waste, both in terms of natural resources needed to replace an item but also in greenhouse gasses emitted in manufacturing new items. If we can repair many more items then this could have a huge benefit for our environment.

There are now many videos online showing how to repair items, could you look up how to repair your phone, learn some other repair skills? Think about whether there are repair shops or facilities near you. A great new movement is the repair café movement where local people get together to help repair electronics, bicycles, clothes etc for free – try seeing if there is one near you. It’s also worth investing a little more money when you buy an item to try to get one that lasts longer and let the manufacturers know that is what you want! Oh, and please buy a protective case for your phone – mine has survived many falls due to its protective case.

4. Re-use or Re-purpose

Gift pouches made from an old table cloth found in a charity shop. They have already been used several times but have plenty more life in them.
These gift pouches are made from an old table cloth found in a charity shop.. They have already been used several times! Photo by Author.

Re-purposing is finding a use for an item that isn’t what it was originally intended for, like using old jam jars to store screws or buttons. There are a huge number of really creative ideas out there for how people re-purpose items. The Re-Use database includes over 100 ideas and is growing as people add more ideas. Please have a look, whether you are not sure where to begin, or have lots of ideas to add! This way, we can save more things from going to landfill.

However, the average person gets through 156 plastic bottles every year, and with the best will in the world, we aren’t going to be able to re-purpose every single one of those! So, what’s the next step?

Refillable jars
Refillable jars can save a lot more greenhouse gasses and plastic waste than disposable packaging. Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Often even better than re-purposing is to re-use an item for its original purpose. Why not take your own water or drink bottle when you go out, or find a refill shop near you that will refill your own jars, some supermarkets will also refill some of your own containers (our supermarket has loose eggs to refill your own egg box). You might like to make your own jam or chutneys. Of course, there are many products which are designed for re-use where we might have slipped into using single use products: Washable cloths, hankies or sanitary products are some great examples. We are gradually adding more of these to the re-use database too.

5. Reduce

Soap bars and bamboo toothbrushes.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This has to be the ultimate goal for all of us – to reduce the amount of new stuff we get, in order to reduce our impact on our planet. Do we really need another t-shirt or pair of jeans? Do we need the latest smart phone or smart watch? Can we make do with what we already have? Can we live in a way such that we don’t need so many clothes, toys and gadgets? Some of the steps above can actually help us to reduce the amount of virgin materials we use, so these steps can all work together.

Can you step up for climate? If you are already recycling – Thank you! How about asking yourself “Can I take another step to reduce my impact?”

Our man with his steps again ... Recycle, regift, repair, reuse and reduce.
What steps are you taking? What more could you do, and encourage other people to do?

The 3 R’s of the Bible

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle … and more!

We’ve all heard of the 3 R’s for reducing the waste we produce: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Some enterprising people have even come up with six R’s! How about a list?

The waste hierarchy triangle, from the top: Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, re-gift, recycle and rot.
The 6 R’s Waste Heirarchy: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Re-gift, Recycle and Rot.

The actions at the top of the triangle will save the most resources and are best for our beautiful planet. Lower down the triangle are things that save less of our resources. So, if we want to help our planet, and our fellow citizens (as the Bible asks) then we should be trying to aim as much as possible for the top layers of the triangle!

Waste should be the last resort!

Do not pollute the land where you are. Numbers 35:33

“Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees …”  Revelation 7:3

Anything sent to landfill effectively forces production of new materials. This produces a lot of pollution, including greenhouse gasses, with all the mining, transport and industrial processing that is involved. In addition, anything biodegradable will produce methane as it rots in landfill. This is a powerful greenhouse gas, but most of it is not captured and escapes to warm the world.

Can we step up?

A fun man walking up some steps - representing the steps we can take to reduce our waste: The steps are labelled Recycle, re-gift, repair, reuse and reduce.
Steps to reduce our waste and our impact on the planet.

I like to look at the usual triangle another way though, as steps. The bottom step, recycling, is probably the easiest and is where most of us start. The challenge is, can we move up the steps? We will have a look at these steps and what the Bible says about them (the links with the Bible get stronger as you go up the steps!) Hopefully that can help us to make some changes.

1. Recycle – what we can’t reuse

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Jeremiah 18:1-4 (NLT)

A picture of a potter at work in his traditional shop, making a pot on a potters wheel, with other pots on the wooden table. This one is in Turkey.
A potter working at his wheel, if it goes wrong he will recycle his clay. WePhoto by Iraj Beheshti on Unsplash

The potter didn’t throw away the clay, as God doesn’t throw us away when we’ve made a mistake, he re-formed the clay into something new and he will lovingly help us to change if only we let him.

Recycling can be a good way of preserving resources when we absolutely have no other use for an item, and can save quite a lot of energy compared to just throwing things into a landfill. But the next steps are even better.

2. Re-gift or re-home

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.’ Luke 6:38 (NIV)

Giving possessions that you no longer need to others (providing they really want them) can be another great saver for the earth. Try local free and for sale sites, or local charity shops, swapping with friends or simply giving things to a friend in need.

Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 1 Timothy 6:18 (NIV)

If we share more of our possessions, there is less need to make more which means less pollution. Could you share books, tools, even cars with friends? Could your church set up a community library, not just for books but infrequently used tools, get creative and think about what you can lend?

3. Renew or Repair with a little TLC

Six times in the Bible, it talks about a promise of a New Heavens and New Earth. But did you know that the word used here can also mean to renew! That creates, for me, a beautiful picture of God lovingly restoring and renewing the earth that he created.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. Revelation 21:1 (NIV)

Mending a mattress protector on my sowing machine.
I love the sense of satisfaction I get from repairing things. Photo by Author

It can be really rewarding to take something that is broken or looking a little tired and breathe new life into it with a little glue, varnish or paint or a few stitches here and there. Is there anything, that with a little TLC could be renewed, repaired, in your house, to save something new being made? Try looking online for repair ideas or look for repair shops near you or even a local repair café.

4. Reuse / Repurpose – everything we can

Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch,
    but the diligent make use of everything they find.
Proverbs 12:27 (NLT)

After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” John 6:12 (NLT)

Solomon and Jesus both agree that it’s important that nothing is wasted. Reusing things in the form they were originally made can save a great deal of energy, much more than recycling can. My grandparents were great at reusing things, my Grandmother made her own jams, reused her stockings to tie up plants in the garden, Grandad used old bits of wood to build and create things in his shed and I loved his shelf with jam jars attached underneath for him to store his different sizes of screws and nails.

Nowadays we live in a culture of convenience where whenever we want something we head to the shops (or the internet) to find something new. It’s far better for God’s creation if we can find something we already have to use for that project. I love to visit our zero-waste shop to refill jars and pots without having to create new waste … Now I wonder what other uses I can find for plastic bottles?

Why not have a look at our Re-use database? It’s got over 100 ideas for re-using or re-purposing items and other ideas for buying or making re-usable items instead of single use throwaway items. New ideas are being added regularly. You can browse for ideas or even add a new idea of your own – all ideas are really appreciated!

5. Reduce – to only what we do need

Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NIV)

God warns us about seeking to gain more and more things. We know we need some things to be happy and secure, but will the latest gadget, or another designer outfit really make us happy? In reality, this happiness rarely lasts for long, whatever the advertisers may tell us. Actually, having less things and a less cluttered life can create a happier place than always striving after the latest gadget. Learning to appreciate the little things in life can be very cathartic! And if we aren’t striving after these things it can leave us more time to enjoy what we already have.

The bright lights and advertisements of a street in Tokyo, busy with shoppers.
Can we resist the lure of the adverts to buy, buy, buy, and only buy what we actually need?

Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15 (NIV)

At the end of the day, the greater our income, the greater our carbon footprint will be. Every pound or dollar has a carbon footprint! Reducing the amount of excess we buy can really reduce the waste that we produce. Howabout, planning meals and making a shopping list from the plan to cut down on food waste. Buying things with reduced packaging. Shopping locally and using local services can significantly reduce the amount we travel which will have a great effect on local pollution and potentially our own health. The opportunities are endless if we stop to think about it.

6. Refuse – what we don’t need

 “You must not covet your neighbour’s house. You must not covet your neighbour’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbour.” Exodus 20:17 (NLT)

It’s so easy to see what other people have and become more and more dissatisfied with what we don’t have. God doesn’t only warn us about coveting like this because it leads to feelings of jealousy which is unhelpful for us; it can also lead to us wanting more and more things which uses more of the earth’s resources and produces more pollution. In richer nations we consume far more of the earth’s resources than it can currently sustain, so we need to cut back. How can I do that? Thankfully there’s an antidote to this consumer culture:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)

God asks us not to desire more and more things, but this comes with a promise: He will be with us in those moments, he is sufficient to provide for our needs and we don’t need all those other things. I now often deliberately ask myself “Do I really need that?” Often that’s enough and I can turn away, I can usually avoid those aisles in the supermarket that I don’t really need to visit. But sometimes I need to come to God and ask him to help me with those feelings of jealousy and desire, and he will.

My dog Milo, laying nicely with his biscuits in front of him spelling out Leave it. He's being such a good boy!
A lovely trick that my dog does! – can we be as good as Milo and leave those temptations in order to help others?

It is very clear that God wants us to look after this home of ours, it’s also very clearly in our interests. Can you step up for the planet? What more can you do to preserve God’s wonderful creation?

Our little man on his steps again as a reminder of the steps we can take: Recycle, re-gift, repair, re-use, reduce.

The Re-Use Database

The sustainability community is incredibly resourceful when it comes to ideas for reusing things to cut down on our environmental footprint. This is an opportunity for us to share those ideas with each other. I’ve made a simple database of ideas for reusing everyday household items that we would otherwise throw away and would love you to add a few ideas if you can.


If you’ve visited before then

View the database here

please use these shortcuts

Enter a new item here

If not, please read instructions below.


Can you Help? This is a simple concept that is getting a lot of interest and I’d love to improve it. If you have the skills, ideas and a bit of time to help me improve it, please email me on faiththegreenway@gmail.com. Thank you!

A reuse idea. An old tablecloth made into reusable gift pouches with reused ribbons for a drawstring closure.
An old table cloth made into reusable Gift Pouches

View the Re-Use Database

Please click here to view the Reuse Database list. (If you would like to add an idea, please add via the form link below).

This link will open a google sheets page where you will see a list of ideas.

Ideas for using the database:

  • Use the filters (3 line triangle on each column title) to sort a column in alphabetical order. eg sort main material alphabetically and scroll down to find reuse ideas for fabric.
  • Use the filters to filter categories: eg under item category click clear to clear all categories and then select ‘garden’ to view all ideas for using in the garden.
  • Turn off filters in the tool bar – right hand side – the symbol looks like a funnel.
  • Press Ctrl+F to search for keywords on the current sheet.
  • At the bottom of the sheet there are two tabs. One tab for reuse and repurposing of items, and a second sheet for reusables. Click on the tabs to switch between the two.
An Ice Cream tub and toilet roll tubes repurposed as a wire organiser (for USB wires etc).
An Ice Cream tub (or shoe box) and toilet roll tubes or small pots make a good wire organiser

Please Note: This is a fairly new site so I’d love to hear your feedback of your experience of using the database to help me improve it. (There is a space on the form, via the link below, if you enter a new re-use idea, to give feedback, or please use the contact info at the end of this page).

Add an Idea to the Re-Use Database

Please click here to add an idea to the Reuse Database.

Please feel free to share ideas with us. We are not collecting any personal information. There is space to credit your blog if you give more details or instructions there, but please no sales websites. Each idea will be moderated before being added to the main database so please don’t worry if it doesn’t appear straight away.

Any comments?

If you have any comments, or if you have the tech skills to help me improve this database then please email me at faiththegreenway@gmail.com or on Twitter at @FaiththegreenW1.

An old steamer base with wobbly handles makes a good dog bowl.
An Old Steamer base makes a good dog bowl.

Thank you for your help!

God’s Wonderful Provision … Again and Again

A month on into the lockdown, and there was still no sign of gluten free bread flour or yeast in the supermarket. It had been a real struggle to find these ingredients and my options were severely limited as I’m intolerant to quite a few foods. I really begin to appreciate the struggle that others face when they don’t know if they can put bread on the table each day, and how draining that can be.

A loaf of gluten free bread from my bread maker - it has a lovely texture as long as I remember the egg and yeast!
Gluten free bread – it has a lovely texture as long as I remember the egg and yeast!

My last blog told how, God wonderfully promised me that I wouldn’t run out of ingredients while the problems persisted. Also of how He provided for me the first time, just as I’d run out of flour and yeast: But would He do it again?

Each time I visited a supermarket, I always checked for yeast and flour, but those shelves were always empty. As time went on, my own stocks dwindled. I made the best I could of the ingredients I had: Making some flat breads (which make the flour go further, but are very time consuming) and some loaves of bread. Friends were looking out for me too, and I had asked two local shops to try to order the flour for me, but it was to no avail. I heard rumours of yeast here and there, but whenever I visited there was none in sight.

The yeast shelf at the supermarket has been empty for months during the coronavirus pandemic.
This shelf has been empty for months!

As I used my last sachet of yeast, and the last of the bread flour, I wondered how I would manage if I couldn’t get more. I wanted to trust God’s promise, but this was getting close to the wire again. I decided the following morning I would cycle down early to the local supermarket to see if they had any before the shelves emptied again (i.e. to see if I’d been missing out by shopping in the afternoons). The next day was a fine morning, so I got going early try to beat the crowds and cycled down.

Long queues forming at the supermarket, but I only needed two items!
Long queues forming outside shops – but I only needed two items!

As I approached the store, my heart sank: The queue was longer than I’d ever seen it. I knew that in that supermarket there was a one-way system; so it was likely to take over an hour just to see whether they even had the two items in stock that I needed. Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite OK to wait in the queue for my weekly shop, but for two items that probably were not in the shop? The feeling was overwhelming, I just couldn’t stand in the queue. Should I go to another store? The queues may be just as bad at all the stores and it could take me all day to go around them all, increasing the risk of catching or spreading coronavirus as well.

I decided to approach the security guard at the exit to the shop. Fighting back tears I explained my situation briefly. The guard was very understanding and brought out a member of staff to help me. She was wonderful and checked the shelves for me, but sadly there was no yeast and no bread flour. However, she did take my number and offered to check whenever she was in and text me when any came in.

I cycled home via a small local shop for bread and milk, and took our dog out for a walk. I’m very blessed to live in a lovely neighbourhood with a green area running through it alongside a stream, it’s always calming to walk along the stream and listen to the birds.

Our lovely local cycle and walking path with Milo our dog.
Our lovely local cycle and walking path, and Milo, our Dog,

A little later, I took one of the bottles of milk to a neighbour who was unable to go out to the shops because of the lockdown. I happened to mention the yeast problem whilst I was there and she piped up that she had some. She no longer needed it so was happy to give it to me. What a relief!

I walked down the hill to my home wondering what to do next. In no time, I received a message on my phone from our local zero waste shop: Their delivery had arrived and they had a sack of gluten free bread flour! Wow! Both things in one day. I seemed to fly to the shop this time on my bike to collect the flour with my own container, pleased to be able to support Pete and Kate in their venture.

Once again God provided me with the ingredients I needed: Flour and yeast.
Once again God provided me with the ingredients I needed: Flour and Yeast.

The morning had been pretty hectic but I was relieved, I had enough to keep making bread at least for a while. Imagine my surprise when I turned over my Spanish calendar for that day and found this …

The page from my Spanish calendar reads "Yeast helps bread dough rise" in english and Spanish, quite a "Godincidence"
My Spanish Calendar on that day read “Yeast helps bread dough rise” – Quite a ‘Godincidence!’

God does like to remind me that he had it all planned out in advance, if only I could fully trust Him!

Since then He has continued to provide for me. The supermarket shelves have remained empty of yeast and GF flour, but each time my supplies were dwindling, someone else would come up with what I needed: A friend from housegroup let me have some of her yeast when I asked them to pray about the situation, on another occasion my husband found some online, and another time my neighbour brought some over as her daughter had found some in her local shop. So I am truly grateful to each of my friends for their help: Pete and Kate, Sara and Rosemary and most of all to God for looking after me and keeping his promise!

Yeast - Isn't it amazing that these tiny strands of yeast make such a difference to our bread!
Isn’t it amazing that these tiny strands of Yeast make such a difference to our bread!

There is a Planet B

But it’s Not an Excuse to Trash This One!

Ok, sorry, I have to admit I’m not talking about Mars or Proxima Centauri B or any other rocky earth like planet that scientists have discovered. There is a chance that we might, with a huge amount of investment and time and energy, be able to send a few people to one of these planets within a century.[1] But what about the rest of us?

Actually, the planet I’m talking about is far better and doesn’t mean going anywhere!

Gift of Planets, painting of sunrise over the earth with the moon also catching the sunlight. From a series on Climate Change celebrating the beautiful planet that God has given us.
‘Gift of Planets’ from a series on #Climate Change, celebrating the beautiful planet that God has given us, by Andy Smith. follow him on Twitter @aplsmith5

A New Heaven and a New Earth

God makes some wonderful promises through the Bible. One that gives me a lot of hope is that it talks about Him creating a new heaven and a new earth. This is mentioned not just once, but four times. Here are two of them.

But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness. 2 Peter 3:13

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. Revelation 21:1

This is a lovely promise for us, we’ve made a real mess of this planet and it can be difficult to imagine sometimes that we can do enough to ‘save’ this planet. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to start over again?

It’s a re- word!

Before we move on, there is a note about the language used here. When we look at the Greek word used for ‘new’ in these two passages, it is the word ‘Kainos’. This word can mean either to create something new, or renew something. Many people feel certain that this means that God will renew the heavens and the earth.

The 6 R's of the Bible - Refuse, Reduce, Renew, Re-gift, Recycle, Rot - There's another blog post in there somewhere!
The 6 R’s of the Bible – Refuse, Reduce, Renew, Re-gift, Recycle, Rot. – There’s a Blog Post in there somewhere!

As environmentalist, I love the thought that he may renew the earth. As a re- word, surely has to be pretty high up our R’s triangle! He may not throw it all in the bin, but he may restore the earth to make something new and wonderful again.

Certainly, the descriptions given in these (and other) passages are of something very beautiful. The new Jerusalem is described as being like a bride. This isn’t a description of a shabby half-hearted effort to renew the earth, but of an earth that is beautiful and at it’s best, even better than what we have now.

Some people interpret these passages and others that refer to the future earth as suggesting that God will create something completely new. That seems to be a possible interpretation. However, I don’t believe that should affect how we treat the earth that we have now: Whether it’s new, or re-new-ed, the following will show that I still think we need to look after our current earthly home.

It’s Not Our Property

The Bible is very clear that we don’t own this earth.

‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;’ Psalm 24:1

The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me. You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me. Lev 25:23

If it belongs to God, not to us, then surely we should have respect for the owner. This blog is-it-odd-to-be-a-green-Christian, also shows that God takes joy in what he has created, if we are borrowing something that doesn’t belong to us and the owner regards it as precious then we really need to take care of it.

Good Stewards

The Bible also frequently talks about stewardship, telling us to look after what we have been given. In the parable of the talents (Matthew 25) Jesus makes it clear that if we look after what we have, then we will be blessed.

‘His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:21

Nowadays, we tend to interpret this parable in terms of money, sometimes we also recognise them as applying to spiritual gifts or abilities, but we also have to remember the context: In a subsistence economy, it’s really about looking after the land. Issues about the land were intimately connected to issues about people. There wasn’t the disconnect that we feel today. The Israelites were relying on the land to produce their food, so why would they not look after it?

Hands planting a plant - why would we not look after our Land?
Why would we not look after our Land? Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

We will be Accountable

This article (Are-christian-values-at-odds-with-environmental-values) shows that environmental problems are also social justice problems. God tells us many times that Social Justice is of paramount importance to him, so if we are looking after social justice we are actually looking after the planet.

A protester holds aloft a sign asking for “Climate Justice Now!”

One day we will come face to face with God, it is clear from the parable of the talents that God has put us here to manage what we have got and that we will be held accountable for our own actions. In this, it’s worth looking at Revelation 11 again.

The time has come for judging the dead,
    and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your people who revere your name,
    both great and small—
and for destroying those who destroy the earth. Revelation 11:18

This implies there are two distinct groups: Those who revere God’s name will be rewarded, but those who destroy (corrupt, lay to waste) God’s earth will not. Our actions in burning fossil fuels, encouraging deforestation etc are certainly laying waste to the earth and we need to make every possible effort to avoid this.

The Little Children

Jesus valued the little children at a time when that was against the cultural norms:

‘Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.’ Luke 18:16

Most of us find it hard to plan very well beyond the next few weeks. We talk about global warming causing problems in the future and this can seem very distant. However, our actions in burning fossil fuels and not looking after the earth (and its people) are harming people now and harming our children’s futures. This passage shows how important the children were to Jesus, and this speaks to me that their future matters too – why would you fail to act if you could see that something was going to make your child’s life miserable?

A small child looks through balcony glass at a city, black and white photo. Can we not make changes for his sake?
Can we not make changes for his sake? Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas on Pexels.com

The changes to our planet’s climate may (or may not) make life very difficult during my lifetime, but it will certainly become very difficult during my children’s lifetime. The next generation matters & we need to plan for their future. That means not using up the resources that they will need and not polluting the air to the point that we leave a planet that is not fit for them.

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
    do not be a willing party to their death. Proverbs 19 v 18.

We also need to teach our children how to live more sustainably, many of them know that there is a need for change, but don’t necessarily realise that we (and they) will have to make changes now to provide a better future for them. But remember that discipline means to teach or train and the best way to train them is to set the example ourselves. What does that mean?

Live more simply

Paul also tells us to ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ Philippians 2 v3-4

One quote I hear frequently in environmental circles is that ‘we must learn to live more simply so that others may simply live’. Many of us have so much more than we really need and all of the things that we own produce (or have produced) carbon emissions. Yet so many people who will be more directly and immediately affected by climate change, have a struggle to get what they really need for survival. With crop failures and other shortages increasingly likely in a warming world, environmentalists are recognising that we will need to share out our resources more fairly: for most of us in ‘developed’ countries, that means making do with less stuff and burning less fossil fuels in our lives.

There is Hope for The Future

But I have a hope that there will be a wonderful future for our planet.

“Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth,
    and no one will even think about the old ones anymore.
Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation!
Isaiah 65:17

A Beautiful Sunset. Photo by Author

The new Jerusalem is described as a beautiful place

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Rev 21:2

And a place where it will be wonderful to live.

God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever. Rev 21:3-4

Isn’t it worth a few sacrifices in our lives now to look forwards to getting to that wonderful place? I really hope to see you there!


“As surely as my new heavens and earth will remain,

so will you always be my people,”

Isaiah 66:22
The earth, a blue and green globe set in the blackness of space. It's our home for now, let's start looking after it!
Our Blue Gem. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

[1] Elon Musk’s plans suggest moving 1 million people to Mars within a century. It is expected to take 110,000 trips to send those people and their cargo. 1 million people might sound like a lot but that’s about 0.01% of the world population. What about the other the 7.799 billion people on Earth?

How Can We Encourage Sustainable Travel?

An e-bike is a great option for sustainable travel.

This is a list of ideas for encouraging people to switch to more sustainable modes of travel. I would welcome ideas to add to the list. If you cannot download the document attached, please let me know.

The document above is the meagre contribution to the Decarbonising Transport discussion from our Transition Town group. Please feel free to comment or message if I’ve missed anything or if other ideas could be added.

Cyclist in Traffic

Current road design is too car-centric, new pop-up cycle lanes and widened footpaths are welcome but much more is needed and changes need to be permanent. People are much more willing to change so we need to make the best use of that: https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/third-people-agree-they-could-ditch-car-favour-cycling

De-regulated Public Transport struggles to be competitive, so some re-regulation is needed, but also real-time information provision (particularly in rural areas) and even bus stop design could really improve our perception of the service.

The car culture traps us into a vicious circle. Add our dislike of changing habits and pressure to stick to social norms. Also designing roads to provide for predicted traffic growth, without suitable provision for cyclists and pedestrians traps us into ever increasing CO2 emissions too.

Providing ever more roads does not reduce emissions or congestion. Induced traffic ensures that congestion will always fill that new capacity. Even if we switch a significant proportion of people to Public Transport and active travel, it seems other traffic will still fill the road capacity with congestion (cf Netherlands per-capita transport emissions with our own! – graph in above document).

Congestion!

Simply providing extra capacity for cycling alongside our current network won’t be enough to reduce emissions. Rebound effects will also ensure that the amount of fuel consumed will not reduce without some form of constraint.

Provide for only the traffic that we can cope with under our carbon legislation? Actively constrain traffic levels? Whether that be through a tax system like the RoadMiles scheme or through agreeing to leave traffic pinch points in place? Many solutions are suggested.

Whichever system is used strong fuel efficiency legislation will be needed (even for EV’s) and we need to buy smaller cars or just hire when really needed. Planning, air travel and deliveries (especially free next day delivery) all have their parts to play and some solutions are considered.

These types of solutions alongside providing significantly improved cycling and pedestrian provision and much better bus services could provide us with a future that we could all look forward to. #BuildBackBetter

Much better cycle tracks could get many more of us cycling
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