The latest buzzword going around the homesteading crowd is "sustainable." We are supposed to be working toward a sustainable lifestyle. What does that really mean? Should sustainability be our great goal? From a Christian standpoint I would say no. To spend our energy only to achieve sustainability falls short of the glory of the great God we serve! Yes, a sustainable lifestyle would allow us to go on and on, living, in some fashion, on this earth forever. Since we know that we won't be here forever, that there will be a new heaven and a new earth and this earth will be burned away with a refiner's fire, then God must have a greater plan than mere sustainability.
We are to have life abundantly, filled to the brim and overflowing! How can we settle for sustainability? As homesteaders, close to the earth, we are constantly aware of God's abundance. God seldom adds; He multiplies! You plant a few seeds and reap a bountiful harvest. Look at weeds and insects. They proliferate magnificently!
There is a danger in God's abundance. In the Bible we see again and again that one great hinderance to a glorious walk with God is having great abundance. When we have plenty it is easy to turn our backs on the Lord and forget that all we have comes from his hand. How do we combat this tendency?
In Randy Alcorn's tiny book, "The Treasure Principle," he answers the question. (I recommend all of Randy's great books. In my opinion he's one of the finest Christian writers working today.) His answer is that we give away the extra that God provides. It's as simple as that. This is God's plan: His people are to work diligently; He will bless them abundantly; they will give freely and joyfully to those in need. When we have much, we shall give much. When we have little we will give what we can. Think of the beautiful logic of this plan! It's perfect because it's God's idea! No need for welfare. The government doesn't need to be involved; it would only mess things up. No socialism or communism required. When the government gets involved they steal from those they designate as having too much and they give to whomever they please, always after they take a generous helping off the top. Ever notice how Commie and Leftie leaders live? They ride in limos while their people can't afford shoes!
And so, my friends, we don't work merely to sustain life on this earth. We are looking to Eternity. Our job is to glorify the one who created the heavens and the earth! May our homesteads be blessed by His hand and may we give away truckloads of His abundant provision!
…Simplify, simplify, simplify…before you go any further, figure out what you really need in your space. Get rid of everything else. No matter what tricks you use to maximize space, if you pack it with too much junk, it will be cramped and cluttered. Consider building a shed for your seldom used stuff that you just can’t part with. Think priorities. How do you want to use your space? Do you work at home? Do you entertain? Are you an avid reader with a need for a big, soft chair? Think necessities. Decide which things are essential, which would be great to have, which you can live without if necessary.
…Colors can add space…light colors, cool colors (light blues and greens, buttery yellows) use tone-on-tone color techniques. Paint furniture and recover with cloth that matches the room’s colors. Avoid wallpaper borders and darkly painted moldings in small rooms; they tend to outline the room’s dimensions and can make your space seem smaller. Painting moldings and trim a slightly lighter color than the walls can make the room loftier and more spacious.
…Eliminate obstructions…the farther you can see into and through a space, the larger it will seem. Arrange furnishings to open up areas of floor. Avoid blocking views to windows and doors. Low benches, ottomans and armless chairs are good choices.
…Bring in more light…banish room darkening shadows by uncovering windows and adding more light fixtures. (L.E.D. Lighting will not use very much homemade electricity). Consider cove lighting, uplights, rope lights, bookshelf lights, etc.
…Use mirrors…mirrors can add sparkle and dimension to any room. Use mirrors for table tops. When you hang mirrors on a wall, make sure they will reflect something you want to see.
…Use glass and lucite…furniture made of these materials will add see-through style.
…Use sheer fabrics…for window treatments and tablecloths. Lets light shine through while adding softness. Avoid heavy, fancy window treatments that cut out light and make the room feel fussy.
…Use larger pieces and accessories…reduce visual clutter by using fewer pieces. Lots of small pieces can make a room look cluttered. Clutter takes up space, lots of space.
…Use plain upholstery…cover sofas and chairs with plain cloth rather than vibrant prints. Neutral tones in lighter colors will make the room feel larger.
…Use closed storage…to cut down on clutter.
…Use smooth surfaces…avoid sharp corners. Round edges of walls and furniture. Use sleek handles, or no handles at all, on furniture and cabinet doors. Avoid gross, bold textures.
…Create visual lines…use floor patterns that extend the path of the eye. Let windows take the eye outside. Create a smooth inside to outside transition with plants and ground coverings.
…Use one type of wood…for trim and furnishings.
…Use simple floor coverings…with monochromatic tones. Wall-to-wall coverings are better than area rugs that break up a room’s space. Low pile carpets provide less obtrusive textures. Tile laid on the diagonal fools the eye and makes space appear larger.
…Think multi-function…a cedar chest (or other chest) which can be used as storage can also be a coffee table. A kitchen table can also be a desk. A chest of drawers can hold office supplies, linens, CDs or even stereo components.
…Use built-in storage…built-ins can be squeezed into any nook or cranny. They often take less floor space than regular furniture.
…Think vertical…the most underused space in any room is the two or three feet below the ceiling. Instead of a three or four foot tall bookcase, think about a seven foot one. Mount shelves high up on walls, over windows and doors, or above kitchen cabinets.
…Be creative with sleeping space…consider lofts, futons, pull-out couches and day beds. Go visit some newer college dorm rooms where beds are often placed above study/eating spaces.
…Pare down on clothing…pick two coordinating colors of basics (for instance,navy and tan). Try to have no more than two each of these: pants; jackets; sweaters; skirts; dresses; and two pairs of shoes.
All of the ideas above were taken from numerous sources. Below is a reading list:
Big Ideas For Small Spaces By Christine Brun-Abdeinour
Compact Living By Jane Graining
Designing For Small Homes By Dylan Landis And Donna Warner
House Beautiful By The Editors Of “House Beautiful”
Living In Small Spaces By Lorrie Mack
One Space Living By Cynthia Inions
Spaces For Living By Liz Bauwens And Alexandria Campbell
Studio Apartments: Big Ideas For Small Spaces By James Grayson Trulove And Il Kim
Public education in America is under fire. Parents and taxpayers are aware of getting very little for all the effort and money put into state-run schools. I would postulate that public schools are not just a poor investment. They are, in fact, undermining the mental and moral health of students and their families.
What I’m sharing here comes from twenty-five years spent working in schools. I have been a classroom teacher, a consultant, a custodian, a maintenance man and a parent of three students. My wife was also a teacher. Our experiences have led us to a sad observation: Public education is broken. It cannot be fixed with reasonable effort because it is built on a rotten, faulty foundation. It is time for parents to seek other solutions for their children.
If you don’t think that public education is fouled up beyond all recognition I challenge you to volunteer for one week in the state-run high school of your choice. Don’t go to an elementary school. The results of diseducation will not yet be evident. Watch the students in action. Is there discipline in the building? Watch the students interact with each other. Would you want your children to act like the students you’re watching?
I contend that state schools are built on non-Christian ideals which have led to the mess that we see today. Teaching our children at home, on the homestead, is one very logical solution to the failure of public education.
What’s Right with Homestead Schooling?
The Christian homesteading parent can base educational decisions on the Bible. Public educators sought from the very beginning to rid themselves of all godly influences. They have succeeded, with disastrous results. Here is the State’s educational premise boiled down to its essence: All children have the potential of goodness. They are not sinners. Children will learn and prosper if they are taken away from their homes (where there may be religious influences) and placed among their peers in large groups. Children should be taught, not by their parents who may believe in antiquated Bible stories, but by professionals who have been properly trained to avoid all things religious.
Let’s look at the State’s position through a Biblical lens. God tells us that we all are sinners. We have a potential for good only by submitting ourselves to Him. He gives us clear instructions for educating our children. You will see that God’s plan is diametrically opposed to the plan of public education.
1. God says that education is the responsibility of the parents, not the state. Speaking of the Ten Commandments, a good starting place for all learning, God says to parents in Deuteronomy 6:6+7: "These commandments that I (God) give to you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Homesteaders have an opportunity to spend more time with their children. That is one of the reasons we homestead. We can keep our children by our sides and teach them.
2. God says that , "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child…" Proverbs22:15. Why would any sane person place 25 or 30 foolish children in a room with one adult and assume that the foolishness of the majority would not prevail? Indeed, we have seen that it does, as peer pressure becomes the guiding light of young adults who have spent their formative years in public schools.
I encourage all parents to take off the binders. Quit thinking that state-run schools will get better. They can not. They are built on a crumbling foundation that denied God. Those of you who are homeschooling are on a good and godly path. The personal costs of homeschooling are great. The rewards for your family and for the nation in the future are incalculable.
I've just finished reading Tony Campolo's "How to Rescue the Earth without Worshiping Nature". While I don't agree with all of his theology, the book is still a great work that adds real insight into the Christian's responsibility in ecology. The following are quotes that I really liked (I left out the ones I didn't!).
If you want to get a copy of the book, I highly recommend it. Published by Thomas Nelson, (c) 1992.
“...we are to take what God has provided, nurture it, care for it, and enable it to produce more than might be otherwise expected. Irrational abuse of nature is not permitted. Ignoring our responsibility to protect nature and failing to nurture nature to abundance are clearly sins. According to the Scriptures, as interpreted by the followers of Calvin, we are not only to preserve nature, but we are to make it even more beautiful and fruitful than it was when we received it from God.
“It is that kind of joyful, satisfying, caring relationship that God wills for each of us to have with His creation. God, according to Calvin's thinking, wants us to become partners with Him in making His creation increasingly beautiful and fruitful. He expects us to guard it and deliver it up to Him in glorious, renewed form at the end of history.” (pp. 24,25)
“...Christians worship a Jesus who could talk to the wind and the waves (Matthew 8:23-27), who considered lilies to be more filled with 'glory' than anything we humans might create (Matthew 6:28-29), and who is a spiritual presence through whom everything in the universe is held together (Colossians 1:16-17).” (p. 27)
“A world without God is not viewed with a sense of awe. A universe in which His presence is not felt is doomed to abuse. Such a world is primarily the creation of science. The theologians did not produce the chemicals that we have pumped into the air. Priests and rabbis did not create the plastics that clog our rivers and choke the dolphins. It was science -- or more specifically, a particular kind of science.” (p. 31)
“I [Tony Campolo] am suggesting that, just as the first Adam's sin permeated nature and fostered violence and death, so the righteous 'shalom' of the second Adam, as expressed through those who are willing to be channels of it, can permeate nature, bring healing to it, and restore something of its former glory.” (p. 81)
The Covenant —
- I commit myself to a life of personal purity and spirituality.
- I commit myself to being a co-laborer together with Christ in rescuing all of creation from injustices, pollution, and other works of the Evil One.
- I believe in the truths of the Apostles' Creed. Therefore, I believe that God created both the heavens and the earth and all the creatures therein. I will not kill animals needlessly nor for entertainment. Instead, I will care for animals and assure food and shelter for all creatures for which I have accepted responsibility.
- I promise to be loyal to the church and to encourage the local congregation to which I belong to be faithful in declaring God's salvation both for persons and for the structures of society.
- To achieve the aims of this covenant, I commit myself to regular prayer and to a support group that will keep me faithful to its principles. (pp. 105,106)
"If we in the church do not act, other religious groups, such as the New Age movement, will step in and usurp a cause to which God has called us. We know that the New Agers have already become identified with the call to ecological salvation. Their talk of "Mother Earth" and their theology of 'Gaia' have become part of the dialogue on environmental concerns. We cannot let those who embrace a pagan religion take charge of a movement that will be a major conern of most enlightened people for the next couple of decades.
Christians must set the agenda. We are the people who must declare the salvation of God for the cosmos. The church must lead the way for ecological renewal. God has commissioned His people to be the agents through whom He rescues this world from its polluted condition (Romans 8:19-23). Let us be faithful.“ (p. 153)
“Saving planet earth is God's work. He is the author and finisher of our salvation and the salvation of our planet (Hebrews 12:2). Any theology or philosophy that suggests that we alone determine the fate of the planet plays to our arrogant tendencies and leads us into sin.” (p. 185)
“I [Tony Campolo] believe that a repentant people who have yielded their lives to Christ will find the strength to exercise the kind of self-control that the world needs. In Him, we will be able to escape the bondage to the culturally prescribed consumeristic life-style that has brought us to the brink of environmental disaster. I believe that in Him, we will be able to reject the comforts which we wrongly believe are both necessary and desirable. I believe that in His power, we will be able to opt for a thoughtful, careful way of living which will make concern for others and a sensitivity to God's creation the basic motivations for all that we will and do.
Those who would save the environment must themselves be saved. Those who would see a new heaven and a new earth that is full of His beauty and glory must, themselves, be filled with His beauty and glory.
The environment has an awesome resilience if we just give it a chance.” (p. 199)