Osama is dead. Obama is celebrating. Mother’s day is just around the corner. What a roller coaster of emotions. Mother’s day is a lot like this week. One moment you are laughing at a child’s funny moment, the next moment you are overwhelmed that you have no idea what you are doing. Imagine the challenges of being a mother to Osama Bin Laden. Imagine the complexities of mothering a known terrorist. Imagine the prayers, the pain, and the horror of seeing the world celebrate your son’s death. Imagine the smile and proud look of Obama’s mom, knowing her son caught the worlds most famous terrorist.
Jesus spoke of the complexities of both war and emotions of motherhood. He said:
Luke 14:28-3128 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
Jesus notes that a leader and wise builder will weigh the cost of battle before going into war. Why? First, to ensure victory. Second, to consider the huge cost in human life, financial commitment, and loss of young men and women.
The Bible takes a nuanced view on war which explains why Christ followers can disagree. While the Bible clearly teaches us not to murder, the word murder is different from the the Hebrew word kill. The Bible forbids murder: unjust killing. The Bible makes exceptions for self-defense and lays out ethics for war taking a realistic view of our broken world and the reality of evil.
I once spoke with a dear friend, a Quaker, who was a strong pacifist… Until he got married. His wife once asked him, “If an intruder broke into our house and attacked me, are you saying you wouldn’t fight him off?” My friend said, “No, I am a pacifist.” He told me the look in his new bride’s eyes will haunt him till the day he dies. She was horrified that her husband wouldn’t love her enough to protect her from evil. He made a decision that day to take evil more seriously and relook at his position on “just” violence vs “unjust” violence. He changed his position and provided his wife with the security she needed and hoped for.
War is terrible. My father in law still aches from the things he saw in Vietnam. My grandpa fought in WWII as a marine; my other grandfather was in the army. They fought the forces of evil and did “the loving thing” by serving in the military and fighting off Hitler. I know first hand the challenges to mothers and grandmothers who see the complications of war on their sons and daughters and long to hold them tightly. Jesus knew this feeling well when he referenced feeling like a mother and grieving like a mother hen seeing the coming war and destruction of his people in Jerusalem.
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! ’”
Should we rejoice in Osama’s death? Should we celebrate Obama’s military strategy? A follower of christ can have mixed emotions. They can celebrate that evil is judged and innocent lives will no longer be victims while grieving the lost of a human life. They can support a war that punishes evil while questioning the cost of it. They can support just war while questioning if this particular war meets the criteria.
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Remember Scrooge McDuck swimming in his vault of gold coins. It’s easy to demonize Mr McDuck and his lack of generosity, instead of looking in the mirror at the Scrooge in your own heart.
By this time tomorrow, 187,000 meals will be on their way to feed starving children in the Phillipines. I watched the last two nights as 700 volunteers from our church: families, children, teenagers, and singles. Young and Old. Religious and Non religious. Politically blue and politically red. They all came together to express the radical generosity Christ calls us to engage in.
Our church worked with a group called FEED MY STARVING CHILDREN to pack meals for children who are literally dying by the day. What a horrible tragedy, especially when it takes so little to do so much. Over half the world lives on less than $2 a day. Half of them live on less than $1 a day. We lose that much in our car seats. I must confess that too often I identify with the fat EARTHLING in the movie Wall-e. I am so insulated in my own comfortable and well fed life that I forget the real poverty and starvation going on all over the world.
Corinthians tells us that Jesus who was rich became poor for us -so that in Christ, we can be rich as an heir to all the treasures of heaven. The response to that truth is life changing. We choose to draw near the poor -just as He drew near to us when we were poor. We choose to give away lavish amounts of our money to the hurting -knowing that our real treasure is in Heaven.
Christians are commanded and called to be radically generous to others. We are called to examine every crook and cranny of our hearts for self-centeredness and greed. We are called to feed all the starving children by building our budgets around the Three “P”s of generosity.
1. Percentage Giving
Don’t just give away a few dollars. Move your heart and budget toward percentage giving. Start at 1% and start growing toward a higher and higher percentage. Find the joy of giving up a Starbucks to feed a child for a month. Find the power of seeing your giving to ‘the least of these’ as a ministry to God Himself.
2. Priority Giving
Give to God’s priorities. As you examine your giving, give to his bride, the church. Give to the poor. God has so many strong, compelling, and stern warnings to those who ignore the plight of the poor and hurting. Build a budget to provide for your marriage and family knowing people are God’s top concern.
3. Progressive Giving
Every year my wife and I look at our budget and see how we can be more generous. Is there a way to organize our spending, our lifestyles, and our budget to give more money away.? I made a decision back when I was 21 years old to move toward becoming a progressively generous person. My wife and I decided to habitually move from giving a few bucks weekly back in college to giving away a large percentage of our money. And 17 years later, God has blessed that endeavor personally and corporately.
Our church sends medical doctors and pharmacists to Belize each year to give away free surgeries, medicine, and homes to the deeply impoverished. We are able to build a home for a family from the ground up for less than $5000. Imagine how the world could change if we all moved into the realm of deep sacrificial joyful generosity. Imagine if we all looked at the McScrooge in us and the Wall-e Earthlings in us…. And instead responded to the incredible grace of God
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How to Face a Dead Zombie Lion of Temptation. When Faced With Temptation, Say to Yourself or EVEN out loud, “THIS LOOKS LIKE HONEY, BUT IT’S ACTUALLY A DEAD CARCASS!!”
This will cut through the lies. This phrase will cut through the compromise and self deception we all use to justify and rationalize our bad decisions.
Proverbs 25:27-28 It is not good to eat much honey; So to seek one’s own glory is not glory. 28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit Is like a city broken down, without walls.
I remember a few years ago before our building was built, there was a little shed out by our old lake. I was playing with the kids and happened to go into the shed looking for some wire to fix a fishing pole. What I found was pornography scattered all over the floor. I quickly got out of there knowing that I was around a Dead Lion that would tempt me, flash images onto my brain that would negatively affect my marraige… And these women were God’s children, not objects for my infatuation… So I quickly ran from the Lion. But, a few minutes later… My kids were playing a few yards away… I felt the lies, the fear, the honey of temptation… I remember the voice of the honey and lion, “Just one look…” “It’s not a big deal…” “No one will ever know…” At that moment, What I should have said is, “This looks like honey, but it’s a dead carcass…” But I didn’t… I gave in… I went in a picked up a few pages and looked at them… In the short glance, i felt the voice of conviction and truth saying, “This is not good, you are looking at a dead carcass of temptation…” I put them down and put back outside and asked God for forgiveness for giving into temptation. To believing the lies of the Lion.
When I lived in Georgia, we had a business owner who had his own Safari Zoo with a real Lion. And the lion was enclosed in a two stage fence to keep the lion “safe.” I remember he brought me over to the lions and said, “So, Daniel got in a den of lions…. Do you have the same amount of faith preacher?” I laughed nervously and said, “NO, I do not!!” I stay away from Lions. This guy built his house right around the corner, 50 yards at most from the lions cage. He was in very close proximity to lions. I wanted to keep my distance. That’s good advice. Stay away from lions, even ones that look safe and taste like honey. About 9 months later a tornado came through our town and a tree fell across both fences and created a way for the lion to get loose. This lion was literally on the loose around his home and in his business… He had to go and hunt and kill it. That same year, I had a business friend who pulled me aside to tell me he had let a lion loose on his family. He told me he had an ongoing affair and that the truth had come out, he got his mistress pregnant, and now everything he cared about: his faith, his family, and his future was coming unglued. He wished he had hunted the Lion before it got loose in his family, but instead hunted it after it had caused carnage on the people he loved. He wished when he had first met this woman, “This looks like honey, but is actually a dead carcass….”
Temptation is a Lion that is Lion (Lying) to us with Honey and Fear… He Lies to you.