What’s Your Red Line?

Why So Syria_

Pardon me for paraphrasing Heath Ledger, but “Why So Syria?”

I mean, why are we on the brink of war in that country?

I know that 355 people died last week, in an attack.

But so what?

I mean, any death is terrible, but a few hundred deaths is a drop in the bucket for Syria.

Since July of 2011, over 100,000 people have died in that country.

Half of them were civilians.

So what’s changed now? What’s pushed us to the brink?

Apparently it’s not just that they died, but also how they died.

The group Doctor’s Without Borders identified what appears to be 355 deaths as a result of a neurotoxin being released. (With thousands injured)

It appears to be iron clad proof that the Syrian government has used Chemical Weapons against civilians.

And so, as I write this, U.S. cruise missiles are poised nearby, ready to punish President Bashar al-Assad for using such a horrid weapon.

You, reading this later will know better than I how it turns out, but here’s a question to ask yourself:

What is your red line?

U.S. President Obama declared last year that the use of chemical weapons was his red line, a point where military retaliation from the U.S. would come into play.

Why so Syria? That’s, in part, why. This was Obama’s red line.

So what’s yours? At what point, if ever, is the use of military force warranted?

Do you measure it by a body count? Or a time line? Or an ethical imperative? Or a vested interest?

These are decisions you and I may hopefully never have to make, and yet, as Christians, these are questions we mustn’t avoid.

At what value do you place human life? At what point is taking human life an acceptable alternative for the sake of preserving it?

If you were in Obama’s shoes, what would your line be?

Christians typically range from pacifism to “just war” thinking. What about you?

I notice that as I get older, I find myself slowly moving from the pacifism side, somewhere into the mushy middle, where ethical considerations like this become so difficult.

I continue to pray for the people of Syria, and for our elected leaders, but I also pray for clarity of my own beliefs.

I pray to know not just “What Would Jesus Do”, but perhaps the more pointed question, “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”

I think I need to know where my red line is. Do you?

One thing is for sure,

that line becomes more and more blurry

when it seems the whole word is seeing red.

Have a good week,

Mitch

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Images from http://images.cryhavok.org/ and http://microcosmpublishing.com/catalog/title/452

CHOCOLATE FILLED

Chocolate

God made the apricot.

And in the center of the apricot, God placed a Hershey’s Kiss.

The same with the apple.  And the cherry, and the peach.  Delicious, sweet fruit, and in the middle, a nice lump of chocolate.  Or warm caramel.  Maybe nougat?

No, this is not a game of Candy Land.  (Or Candy Crush.)

It’s just the way I think things ought to be.   Doesn’t it make sense that if God created everything, and called it good, and created us to enjoy the bounty of this earth, there might have been a few more gumdrops and a few less pits?

I think so. However…

Do you know what’s really in the center of those fruits, listed above?

CYANIDE.

That’s right.  Right in the middle of your favorite fruits, a deadly toxin.  It boggles the mind.

Now don’t worry.  The cyanide comes from the seeds and kernels and pits, and you’d have to ingest A LOT of those innards to get sick.

Still…

It seems like a strange arrangement for creation.  Something tasty and sweet and lifegiving on the outside, but poisonous at the core.

It sounds like the kind of a gift a wicked witch might give in a fairy tale, but not the sort of thing a Loving God would create.

Apparently, God is more complicated than I thought.

Apparently, God is not Willy Wonka.  God did not create a world where we can eat every bit of the scenery, and lick the wallpaper too.

Apparently, God did not set the world to be our buffet, where everything is just laid before us, easily accessible.

I’m not just talking about food, now.  I’m talking about Life on Earth.

It did not come gift wrapped for us.  In fact, we come crying and innocent to it.

Our lives have pits in them.  Tough places.  Toxic places.  Challenges and cautions that we must face.

Life, the way God designed it, is not chocolate filled.

Life has pits.

But somehow, in the confronting of those daily perils, have you noticed?

Life is sweeter.

Have a great week,

Mitch

Apricot_and_cross_section

JESUS vs. SPOCK

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HOST:  Welcome to today’s theological olympics!

In this corner, looking positively radiant, we have The Savior of the Universe, Jesus!

And in this corner, with eyebrows raised, we have everybody’s favorite Vulcan, Mr. Spock!

Gentlemen, are you read for today’s question?  Here we go:

“You have 100 sheep.  1 is missing.  What do you do?”

JESUS:  Well, I actually told a story about this.  I would go after that lost sheep. And then rejoice after finding it.”

SPOCK: Fascinating.  Logic would dictate that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one.

HOST:  Ahh, we have a moral conundrum!  I’m curious, folks at home, what do you think?

Which is more important — reaching out to the lost, or feeding and caring for the flock?

It’s certainly a question that has gripped Christianity in the last few years.  For decades, many of our churches have turned inward, which means they stopped looking for the lost.  Nowadays, some have advocated drastic changes in our churches, so that virtually all our efforts would go towards reaching out.

JESUS:  That is the Great Commandment I gave, after all.

SPOCK: It seems illogical to pursue those on the fringes at the detriment of those at the center.  Does it not make more sense to sacrifice that one lost sheep so that the flock can continue?

JESUS:  Actually, Mr. Spock, I know a little something about sacrifice.  I was willing to sacrifice myself, for the good of the whole.

SPOCK: As was I.  My point exactly.

JESUS:  Yes, but my sacrifice was to show that love of the lost, the forgotten,  and those on the fringes is so important so as to be worth dying for. It is that kind of love, in action, that must animate any flock that bears the name Christian.

SPOCK:  (Pause)  Fascinating.  (Nods, slowly)  I believe, Jesus, that your proposition is highly logical.

HOST:  And there you have it!  Even Mr. Spock can see that, as Christians, “The Needs of The Many” can only truly be met when they are caring for “The Needs Of The Few.”

That’s it for this edition of the theological olympics.

Live Long And Help Others Propser!

Have a good week,

Mitch

image17(http://www.sundayschoollessons.com/pen15les.htm

I’d give this devotion a 4.

Cootie_catcher

Come in!

Have a seat.

Allow me to predict your future for you.

You have two options:

BEST CASE SCENARIO: What’s next for you will be AWESOME and lead you to a lot of happiness in your future. Congrats! OR…

WORST CASE SCENARIO: Whatever is next for you will be AWFUL and lead to a lot of struggle in your future. Sorry!

That’s about the extent of my ability as a fortune teller. See, I’m one of those “either/or” types. When I think about life, it tends to be in either/or terms. Black or white. Good or Bad. Thumbs up or Thumbs down.

Anybody else do this?

Well, I know you’re out there. Here’s a great example:

Nowadays, if you watch a video on Youtube, you can give it a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down”.

Do you know why?

Up until 2009, Youtube videos used to be rated on a 1-5 scale. But time and again, this is what happened:

A few people would give the video a “1” — as in terrible.

A whole bunch of people would give the video a “5” — as in awesome.

And pretty much NOBODY rated a video a 2, 3, or 4.

Those middle-of-the-road numbers were all but useless. In terms of liking or not liking something, this anecdote would at least suggest that people seem to be pretty dual-minded about it.

Now, does this translate into how people approach their own lives? I don’t really know, but it makes sense to me.

I think there are people for whom gray is a very uncomfortable color. Life seems so uncertain these days. With black or white, you know where you stand and you know what your options are.

1’s and 5’s are easy to discern — it’s those subtler shades in the middle that take real work.

I, for one, believe it’s valuable work, even if I’m not particularly good at it yet.

We must face the possibility that, whatever’s next for you and I may be….just okay. Or maybe there will be good parts and difficult parts. Or maybe it will be really hard at the time, but looking back, we’ll be so glad for all we learned. Or…

Whew. Giving up either/or thinking adds so many dimensions to life. But it may allow us to live more fully and more deeply.

Life is more than a best or worst case scenario. In fact, life is so much more than a “scenario” — It’s a rich and unfolding journey, and the more we accept the nuances, the more we can enjoy the ride.

But if it’s hard for you to let go of the lingo, hold tight to this:

Faith makes any next thing in your life…

A Blessed Case Scenario.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

godward