Tag: South Sudan

Tax yourself: July 2017 Post

Discover the Voluntary Tax Fund

Hey, there’s $1.95 gas at Pilot (or Sheetz, etc.)! your spouse or friend tells you. Or, do you use Gas Buddy to locate the best price? Frugality, of course is recommended and not the issue of interest here.

Recently, my nephew’s wife missed a family gathering to go to Venezuela to help her mother get medical help for a heart condition. Finding the medicine she needed was difficult due to rapid inflation. That was a result, in part from corruption, but also due to the dropping price of oil.

A friend has been in South Sudan doing trauma relief with refugees from the religious/ethnic war with (North) Sudan. Much of the funds for the relief funds for food and housing come from government revenue from oil income. Gas buyers in Europe pay$5.00 or more for gas. Money going to the military, in effect, subsidizes the artificially low cost of automobile gas.

What can we do? Tax ourselves! Use the funds for energy saving projects. My favorites were solar panels for Gift & Thrift and Bicycles for Refugees. Here’s additional information from the website:

Gas Tax Club – Home


Totally voluntary! Or a tax that you can decide to … The Voluntary Gas Tax is a campaign that was initiated in November of 2000 by a group of concerned citizens in Harrisonburg, VA.

“Here’s where our tax has gone so far:

  • $50 to buy bicycle lights for the guys in a local half-way house
  • $368 for an 8 foot bike trailer for a local university to use as a recycle vehicle
  • $450 for earthquake victims in Pakistan
  • $500 to Blacks Run Greenway Partnership, a local group planning and promoting a bike path/walking trail as a linear park along a stream through our town.”

For another example:

Voluntary Tax Dollars shade Goshen Streets


This project does not solve the basic problem. Participation in the voluntary gas tax action reminds us we must still deal with our use/overuse of irreplaceable resources.


Peter and Peace

John 13:36-14:4

Sometimes we see a scripture passage in a new way. That happened to me not long ago. (Remember, the gospel writer John did not put in chapter divisions.) Read these verses together.

John 13 36 Simon Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”  And Jesus replied, “You can’t go with me now, but you will follow me later.”  37 “But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.”  38 Jesus answered, “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.  14:1“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” [New Living Translation].

Connection Peter’s words & Jesus’

What connection does Jesus expect the disciples to see between Peter’s “die for you” announcement and Jesus’ assurance that they could trust God, trust Jesus and remember the welcome to be found in the Father’s House?  How do his activities in the Garden help us understand what he means here? (Jn. 18:11, Mt. 26:52) What kind of misunderstanding of Jesus way does Peter show earlier leading Jesus to call him “satan”? (Mt. 16:23)

What did Peter mean to do while “dying” for Jesus?  Didn’t Peter intend to do more than die? His likely heroes are the Maccabees* who liberated Judah from the Syrian Seleucid oppression some 150 years earlier. They used similar language to support their military activity, believing that they achieved some kind of redemption through death defending the land and people of God.   They did defeat the Syrians, freeing Jerusalem and re-establishing pure worship.

On the other hand, opposing the violence of the Maccabees, the editor/writer of the Daniel stories and visions focused on activities that upheld the covenant, encouraged repentance and continued faithful worship, but showed a willingness to defy oppressive rulers. Daniel and friends were willing face death (Dan. 3:17-18) as did the Maccabees, but did not turn to violence. As Daniel 12:3 puts it:

“Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.”

The “wisdom teacher” who wrote of Daniel and friends would have understood the connection between “trusting God” and “more than enough room in my Father’s home”. The way of peace could lead to death. Those “rooms” were especially for disciples who were willing to follow Jesus’s command. Reading first Peter confirms that Peter had moved away from the Maccabean idea that one could gain redemption through death against the enemies of God. He understood the words of Jesus:

You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Mt. 5:43-47 (New Living Translation)

*The Maccabees became active around 163 BC. The Seleucids, an empire headquartered in Syria for some years tortured, killed, sold Jews into slavery and burned of copies of the Torah. In response, a family of five sons, later called the Maccabees, led a rebellion against them. After several years of war and with an alliance with the Roman Empire, the Maccabees (later known as the Hasmonians, their family name) overthrew the Syrians and set up a free Hebrew state. The last of the Hasmonians was a wife of Herod the Great of New Testament times.