Our 10% Deal With the Devil

This Blog Post Originally Ran as 10% Christian Living at:


Here it is again:

10% Christian Living

By Christian Buckley | Humanitarian Jesus

Recently during a radio interview for Humanitarian Jesus the interviewer tried to sum up the idea of living as a Christian humanitarian as follows:

"So what you’re really saying, what you really want people to do, is to take part of their tithe, you know the 10%, and direct that to social causes and need, right?"
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The Call to Cause

I wrote this article as a guest post for Josh Griffin's blog More Than Dodgeball.  You can read it there at this LINK.  Or you can read it below.

The Call to Cause 

This year alone Corporate America will spend 1.6 billion – yes billion – on marketing programs all designed to convince you and I that they care about cause.  Pepsi pulled their Super Bowl ads this year and invested the money in the Refresh campaign.  Chase and Target ask their consumers to help allocate millions of dollars each month to charity.  Virtually every brand you use has some charity affiliation – all because now more than ever – cause matters.  Teams, bands, clothing, restaurants, movies, and stars all align themselves with causes hoping that we will do that same.  Whether you know it or not Cause is Calling You.

Right now if I asked you what a white or yellow wrist band meant, I bet most of you would answer ONE and LIVESTRONG.  Not so many years ago it was WWJD that banded our wrists, but if popular behavior is any answer, these days What Jesus Would be Doing is wearing a wrist band or a lapel pin or a facebook badge.  We are living in an era when “doing good” isn’t just something for the few social activists in the crowd or the people looking to bolster their college applications or resumes – it is the expectation of everyone – everywhere – including the church.

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A Fish Needs Oil Like a Duck Needs a Shotgun

A Fish Needs Oil Like a Duck Needs a Shotgun


I was recently asked to give a quote on the gulf oil disaster.  This is what came out of my small but pliable head:

 “It doesn’t take a Christian environmentalist to realize that God didn’t create fish to swim in oil, it just takes a Christian who cares.  We can’t continue to sit in the cheap seats on environmental issues and expect anyone to care what we think about the other challenges that face our world.  It’s all connected -- Christ cared deeply about all sorts of suffering – physical, emotional, spiritual, economic. The Christian church can ill afford to continue to exhibit indifference in the face of human and ecological tragedy.  Sadly, that continues to frequently be our best and only apparent answer.” 

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Remaining Eternally Minded

The Eternal Mind

One of the risks of an eternal mindset is that we check out on this life.  As Christians we can be guilty of adopting an “us – versus – them” mentality, reminding ourselves that this world is not ours and that we are citizens of another land. These ideas are true.  But the point is not that our circumstances don’t matter in some nihilistic homage to ascetic fatalism.  The point isn’t that we can simply inform people that “God has a wonderful plan for their lives” so they shouldn’t worry about how rotten their circumstances are.  That is not biblical eternal thinking. 

Eternal thinking is realizing that our circumstances matter to God, but they matter in the context of eternity.  It is realizing that this life and how we physically and emotionally experience it is not all there is.  When we invest ourselves in the world, we should always remember that our investment must have an opportunity for eternal consequence in addition to its worthwhile temporal impact.    

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5 Good Minutes with: Mark Batterson (pastor and author)

5 Good Minutes with: Mark Batterson  

The Humanitarian Jesus Interview Series  

Mark Batterson founded and pastors National Community Church (NCC) in DC and authored three major books: Primal, Wild Goose Chase, and In a Pit with a Lion.  But I wanted to talk with him because his church meets in theaters across the city, operates a coffee house called Ebenezers (which happens to be next to the old row home that houses the church offices), and close to 70% of the congregation are single 20-something DC singles – almost half of which change every year.  Safe to say this is not your typical church.  Mark’s daily blogs are read that thousands more than attend the church and he sits within a block of Union Station, the SEC, and the Federal Courts building.  From that vantage point it is also safe to say that he might have a unique perspective on what is going on in the hearts and minds of Christians traditionally interested in social issues.  But NCC is not a cause driven church – and it stays that way on purpose.  We talked about it in his office…

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Would you rather be ashes or dust?

Would you rather be ashes or dust

Jack London is most famous for his books (think Call of the Wild), but for me, his most compelling work is a poem (Credo) that poses a simple question – ashes or dust – you choose.

As with all things interesting, there is some debate as to the authenticity of the text, but in the poem London touches on a point that has been a driving force in my choices for a long time. 

I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out
    in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom
    of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.
     Jack London (1876-1916)
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Chopping Wood Will Save The Earth - All Hail the Axe

I am not sure about this, but I think chopping wood might help us save the earth.  Follow the bouncing ball:

1. We live in San Diego and have a nice chunk of land behind our house thanks to the power line that runs over it and the power pole that is in the middle of it.  Once a year, the power company comes out to trim all our trees in the back area so that they don’t touch the power lines.  This year, they cut down a 50 foot eucalyptus tree and left the trunk and big branches in 2 foot sections on the ground. 2. Enter me, last Saturday, to the back yard with an axe, VERY VERY frustrated by the US v. England result in the World Cup (yes I love the World Cup and yes we need a new coach and yes I tried to cheer for the US instead of England and ended up frustrated with both sides).

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5 Good Minutes with: Gary Haugen – Founder International Justice Mission

The Humanitarian Jesus Interview Series

Gary Haugen

There exists an intensity behind the eyes of every great lawyer who knows what it takes to win.  It is that extra force of nature that quietly tells the opposition – “you can beat me or fight me, but you won’t outlast me.”  It was the first thing I noticed in Gary Haugen when we sat down in his DC office.  Gary started International Justice Mission, IJM, in 1997 after returning from his United Nations appointment to head the investigation of the Rwandan Genocide.  There is no question that he brought the credentials and experience to do the job, but he brought something else with him that palpably filled the offices and staff of IJM on the day I was there…

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Surfrider CEO Jim Moriarty - 5 Questions On Faith & Oil

Jim Moriarty (Surfrider CEO) Talks About Faith & Oil 

I have known Jim Moriarty for over five years now and I consider him a good friend.  He and I don’t always see eye to eye on every issue, but we do see eye to eye on Christ.  As the CEO of Surfrider Foundation, one of the biggest coastal environmental organizations on earth, Jim agreed to be a part of Humanitarian Jesus (one of only two secular non-profit leaders who are in the book) and I will share that interview later this month.  But, given the media coverage that the current oil spill is getting I asked him if he would answer 5 Questions on the topic.  He did and the answers are worth reading:

1.  What was your immediate reaction to the spill as someone that cares deeply about our oceans?

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Does God Grieve Over Oil Spills? Talking to Rusty Pritchard of Flourish on Restoring Landscapes and Lives

I met Rusty Pritchard (founder and president of Flourish) several years back when we were both at different organizations and I ended up writing a story on surfing and creation for his then journal Creation Care.  I found him to be profoundly passionate about the environment and the impact it has in our lives. 

Flourish exists to inspire and equip “churches to better love God by reviving human lives and the landscapes on which they depend” -- a decidedly de-political mission and message.  With a background in environmental academics, research, policy, ministry, and consulting he has touched and seen a lot; and it would seem that he continues to find the overwhelming truth that God through His creation is still transforming hearts and minds one person at a time. 

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This is about looking at truth from the other side of the road. It is about Why more than What and almost never about How. As for me, I just never want to look at the world the same way again.