Jon Hanes on a Christian Approach to Environmental Concerns Such as Climate Change

I lead a small group at my church, CrossWay Community Church (Milwaukee), called “Christ & Culture,” where we examine various social and cultural issues of our day and try to consider how we might engage these things Christianly and Biblically.

Last night we had the privilege of hosting my dear friend, Jon Hanes, who delivered a talk on a Christian approach to environmental concerns with particular attention on the example of climate change.

Jon Hanes is an adjunct geography professor at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM) and a deacon at Lake Drive Baptist Church on the northside of Milwaukee, where I was a member with him for approximately eight years.

Many folks who were not able to attend asked me to record his talk, which I’ve provided below. We had some additional discussion and helpful conversation after the close of this recording. But the audio below reflects the “lecture” portion of his talk.

Dr. Jon Hanes
January 16th 2019

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Jon in this audio are his own and are not representative of his employer or church.

Books Jon mentioned in his talk:


Immigration & Refugees — Small Group Discussion Questions

The following is a list of discussion questions composed for a CrossWay Community Church small group, Christ & Culture, for use throughout December 2018 and January 2019.

  • Understanding ourselves:
    • What influences are at play in your own life shaping the way you react to and approach this topic (e.g., experiences, sources of news, upbringing, neighborhood, relationships, political views, etc.)?
    • What concerns do you have / what things are important to you in this controversy and subject matter?
    • What are our biases?
  • Understanding our Christian starting point:
    • What values, priorities, and principles should we, as Christians, be applying to this situation / question?
    • What Bible passages speak to this issue?
    • Are there any seeming tensions? If so, how do we resolve or reconcile them?
  • Understanding the role of government:
    • From a Christian perspective, what is the government’s obligation to immigrants and/or refugees.
    • As Christians, what should we hope or strive to see realized in our government when it comes to policy on immigration or refugees?
  • Evaluating society’s approaches:
    • What are the common approaches and reactions to immigration, immigrants, and refugees we find in our society? What messages are we hearing?
      • On the Right:
        • “A government needs law or order” (e.g., controlled borders). And with that, “If you come here illegally, you need to face the consequences” (e.g., deportation or sanctions of some kind).
        • “Immigrants need to assimilate to our culture and learn our language.” Or, resistance to immigration/immigrants on the grounds that, “We need to preserve our culture.”
        • “We need to spend our resources taking care of our own before we take care of others.”
        • “We might let in terrorists” (in the case of refugees).
        • “They are violent gang members and drug pushers” (in the case of immigrants).
        • “We’re not saying you can’t come here. We’re just saying, ‘Do so legally like other people.’ Follow the process that’s in place. When you come here illegally, you undermine those those who seek to come here legally.”
        • “They’re taking our jobs” (referring to immigrants, legal or illegal).
      • On the Left:
        • “Borders are an arbitrary or outdated concept. We don’t need them. It’s a human rights issue — people should be free to migrate and move as they please.”
        • “These folks are simply seeking a better life here.”
        • “It’s okay to break the laws” (e.g., sanctuary cities) “if those laws are unjust.”
        • “It’s not realistic to deport all these people who are here illegally.”
        • “This is the only life and country they’ve ever known” (speaking of illegals who have been here for quite some time, or who have grown up here). “They are American for all intents and purposes, even if they are undocumented.”
        • “You can’t punish children for the crimes of their parents” (speaking about so-called DACA individuals).
        • “You’re tearing families apart” (e.g., by deporting parents who are illegal, but who would leave behind legal children, or by not allowing individuals into the country who have family members here).
    • Why do you think folks think these ways? What concerns are at play in these sentiments? Can you see how these expression could be (or could seem to be) reasonable, or come from a place of genuine good-interest and sincerity (even if misguided or erroneous)?
    • How might we analyze, assess, or critique these arguments, beliefs, reactions, dispositions, etc. from a Christian perspective?
  • Considering policy questions:
    • How can we justly, fairly, and compassionately treat migrants seeking to enter our country?
    • How should we assess policies that demonstrate partiality towards would-be immigrants based on where they are from? Is this justifiable?
    • Should we build a border wall, as the Trump administration is seeking?
    • What do we make of the Trump administration’s policy of separating families at the border? What is a Christian response to this policy?
    • What policy changes could be made to improve the immigration system in our country?
  • Considering our responsibility:
    • What is the church’s responsibility in addressing or engaging these matters?
    • The individual christian’s responsibility?
  • On the ground:
    • What are some practical things we can do to make a difference here?
    • What are some ways we can helpfully speak to others (Christians or non-Christians) about these matters?

You Don’t Have What It Takes (MRM Graduation Charge)

You Don’t Have What It Takes
Graduation charge
New Journey program at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission
December 28th, 2018


Kevin was one of my first client’s when I began working in the New Journey program at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission back in March. A little over 9 months later, he’s now also my first graduate — the first man to graduate who was assigned to me as his advocate.

As many of you know, as of November I’ve since moved on from employment at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission; I’m now working for my church, CrossWay. But I’ve been able to stay connected with Kevin, through my volunteer teaching at the Mission, and because Kevin attends CrossWay.

I’m incredibly proud of what Kevin has accomplished thus far, or more properly, the changes that God has worked in his life over the course of this past year. He’s an entirely new person today, even as God continues to do work in his life. I can look back at old habits that he has since identified and continues to change. He plans on pursuing education and job training, even as he’s already done, to further advance his career opportunities. And he is heavily invested in his church, with a deep appreciate for the role of the church in his life. Most importantly though, he places his faith in Christ.

** Shared with Kevin’s permission.

Bible Reading Plans 2019

The New Year approaches. And with it, a slew of recommended reading plans to the read the Bible in a year.

Why read the Bible?

Now… There’s certainly no mandate from scripture, “THOU SHALT READ THE BIBLE IN ITS ENTIRETY EVERY CONSECUTIVE YEAR.” In fact, no where in scripture will you even get the command, “You must read the Bible daily.” However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

As followers of Christ, we are to be “a people of the book.” Scripture, the preserved record of God’s self-revelation, is our access to understanding God’s will and his gracious self-disclosure. If we are to follow Christ, to know and love God, we must be students of his Word.

Some of us, due to past experiences with legalistic approaches to Bible reading (e.g., daily Bible reading = spirituality and putting yourself in God’s good graces) may balk against anything that resembles such approaches. But abuse of a good discipline doesn’t invalidate the goodness of the discipline itself.

And as those who live after the invention of the printing press, with easy access to printed Bibles that we can own for ourselves, that we can afford, that are in languages we understand — we’d be amiss to neglect such regular, habitual reading of God’s Word. It’s passing up, not just a Christian duty, but a Christian privilege.

Why read the Bible in year?

Again, certainly nothing in scripture requires it. However, over the centuries, many Christians have found value in reading the Bible for both “breadth” and “depth” — that is, reading the Bible in large chunks to get the “big picture,” the main idea, the “forest”; and digging into smaller sections of scripture to digest the details, the “trees,” the nuance, the particulars, and allow more time for concentrated meditation. It’s good to have a regular habit of doing both, since both provide their own value.

Reading the Bible in a year can be a good way to read the Bible “for breadth.” It’s not the only way; but it’s a good option. Just imagine… If you read the Bible every year for 50 years, that means that by that time you will have read every portion of the Bible at least 50 times! That alone is reason to consider this method. That is time well spent, time you certainly won’t regret.

And it doesn’t even take as long as you might think (see here, here, and here).

My reading plan

I’ve made a Bible reading plan for myself to follow this coming year. You can download a PDF or Word file of it here for your own use, if you like.

This 6-day (Monday-Saturday) plan follows a semi-chronological order of the Bible, and has the following benefits and rationale.

  • I’m not a huge fan of strict chronological reading plans. In order to put things in their proper chronological order, they often have to insert certain books into the middle of other books, thereby splitting them apart. So, for example, Job often gets inserted somewhere in the middle of Genesis, many of the prophets interrupt 1-2 Kings, the four gospels get blended, and Paul’s letters intersperse your reading of Acts. Now that’s not all bad; it has its value. But here’s my thing — the Biblical books were meant to be read as wholes. The point of the Bible is not so much about tracing the details of Biblical history along their chronological occurrence. If that was what we needed, God could have just cut to the chase and given us a chronological timeline of things. But God gave us individual books, each with its own unique message that contributes to the whole. So, in short, I don’t like splitting up the individual books. However, there is nonetheless value in following the general order of things in redemptive history so as to attend to the “overarching story.” Therefore, this reading plan I’ve composed follows a semi-chronological order of the Bible, at least in the Old Testament. That is, without splitting up books, it follows the general flow of the Old Testament’s story. (However, because the only “storied” parts of New Testament are the gospels and Acts, I organized the New Testament a bit differently than I did the Old Testament.)
  • Most reading plans have you read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John immediately one after the other. But I find it difficult to give them each my full attention when I read them one after the other, since they have many similarities. So I’ve split them apart and spread them across my New Testament reading.
  • In so doing, I’m able to keep Acts with Luke (note: Luke and Acts are both written by Luke, and were intended to be read together as a part 1 and part 2).
  • I’ve also kept all of John’s writings together. In this plan the gospel of John is followed by John’s epistles (1, 2, and 3 John) and the apocalypse (Revelation) he received, allowing one more easily to perceive the themes that carry over.
  • I chose Mark as the first gospel to be read, rather than Matthew, since Mark was likely the first gospel to be written and a probable basis for the others. Also, since Mark’s gospel is the briefest, reading his first, before the others, will allow one to better read Mark on his own terms and appreciate the Matthew and Luke’s added flavors later on.
  • I’ve organized the Old Testament prophets by their relationship to the exile — pre-exile, exile, and post-exile — and placed them in the reading plan according.
  • 1-2 Chronicles cover much of the same events as we find in 1-2 Kings. Therefore, to avoid the possible experience of feeling monotony, as well as to give the Chronicles their own distinct hearing, I’ve distanced them from Samuel-Kings. Furthermore, the original Hebrew ordering actually placed 1-2 Chronicles as the final book in its canon. In this position, the Chronicles serve as a great, cliff-hanger-type close to the Hebrew Old Testament. They serve to summarize the story up until this point, but also direct us to look for closure beyond the Old Testament. The Old Testament, in other words, as explained by the chronicler, is a yet unfinished story.
  • Finally, as many reading plans do, I’ve taken the Psalms out of the regular sequence and interspersed them to accompany one’s reading throughout the year. This is because the Psalter was not intended to be read straight through like a book, like the other books of the Bible. Rather, it’s a collection of meditative songs that in some respects, unlike other parts of the Bible, stand on their own and can be read individually.
  • This plan follows a 6-day schedule, allowing one to take Sundays off (as I’ve scheduled it) to focus on one’s time in the Word with their church family (or, I suppose, to catch up if you’ve missed a day or have gotten behind 😊).

Other reading plans

There are plenty of other Bible reading plans out there. See Ligonier’s list of Bible reading plans for 2019. In 2014, Justin Taylor put together this post with a lot of helpful information and links to Bible reading plans. Or you can search The Gospel Coalition for more up to date plans.