politics is no longer important – the critical issue in D.C. is character

May integrity and uprightness protect me,
    because my hope, Lord, is in you. – Psalm 25:21

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Derek Maul writes from North Carolina

One of the primary ways I manage to write inspirationally is to keep my heart open to be inspired myself. Reading scripture; listening to life; paying attention to the beauty that surrounds me; listening to music; listening to Rebekah’s messages; reading books, meditations, devotions, and more.

This morning I perused the WFPC “Leaflets” – the weekly newsletter our church circulates every Friday. In it my friend Ray had written this week’s “Officer’s Column,” and he was reflecting on the dynamic, nonstop, irrepressible sense of life that defines our faith community.

Ray mentioned – with enthusiasm – this year’s confirmation class, drawing an important line of connection between the principles, ideals, and vision that gave birth to America, and the critically important work WFPC is doing with children, youth, and families. Here’s a segment from Ray’s letter:

200 years ago the Founding Fathers had this group in mind when they determined the future of the U.S. was dependent on “virtuous people,” describing character and service. In fact, Ben Franklin wrote that nothing is more important than to train youth in wisdom and virtue and added, “…talents for the education of youth are the gift of God…” The Founding Fathers would be pleased with the advisors, mentors and teachers of the Confirmation Class. (WFPC elder Ray Evans)

I’ll write more on the confirmation process after these young people make their public commitment to follow Jesus this Sunday. But this morning I’m thinking about the fact that “the future of this great country is dependent on virtuous people.”

Virtue:

I’m all for the separation of church and state, and I believe America needs to be governed by people of all perspectives and persuasions when it comes to faith, but there is absolutely no substitute for virtue, and character, and integrity, and honesty, and trustworthiness, and incorruptibility… and – to use an extraordinarily powerful word that doesn’t get much mileage nowadays – uprightness.

Uprightness, America! That’s what we need to be talking about.

Let’s not use a litmus test based on political leanings, or social standing, or denominational affiliation, or race, or ethnic background, or “what will you do for me once you’re in power?” Instead, let’s dig a deep moat around the U.S. Capitol and White House, and only let people in via a door marked “Uprightness.”

Granted, politics has been fraught with hypocrisy and corruption and graft and immorality and more since – and including – the Founders back in 1776. But that doesn’t mean we have to like it, or excuse it, or stand for it today!

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us. – Titus 2:7-8

Pardon me for sounding idealistic. But isn’t it about time we were? And in’t it past time to place the future of our nation in the hands of women and men who are rooted in virtue, practiced in integrity, and committed to moral uprightness?

I believe it’s a question we must pay attention to – DEREK

Bagpipes, dancing girls, a ladies’ tea, and Frozen

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Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Sunday photos:

The Ladies’ Tea; The Ladies’ Tea II; The Kirking of the Tartans; Grandma learns about “Frozen.”

IMG_9472Coming back from the weekend wedding, Rebekah and I were not present with our church family at WFPC for worship. So, as we were hitting the Raleigh area late morning, we attended church at St. Andrews Presbyterian. The first Sunday in May happened to be their annual “Kirking of the Tartans” celebration. The church engaged the services of the NC State bagpipe troupe, along with drums. St. Andrews is a beautiful church, the pipers were made an impressive parade, and it was quite the spectacle.

We were back at WFPC before 2:00. Rebekah was busy teaching elders, and I sang a couple of songs at the annual Ladies’ Tea event. Several of the guys dressed up in tuxedos to serve, and the CLC was comfortably full with dignified conversation and elaborate hats.

Chrome Legacy Window 572017 91749 PMMy songs went off well – but I was helped by three little girls who decided to dance around me while I played. One song – Somebody’s Praying” – included the line “Angles are watching, I can feel them…” So I changed it, on the fly, to “Angles are dancing, I can see them.” And, “Angles are dancing around me….”

It doesn’t matter what you do, little girls dancing around you while you do it is guaranteed to make it better… and cuter… and more adorable.

Later, in Richmond, our grandchildren couldn’t believe their grandparents had never watched the movie Frozen. So, snuggled on the sofa with Rebekah, they patiently went through the entire move with us. We may be a couple of decades behind vis-a-vis Disney (by design), but, yes, we are now bona fide Frozen converts.

more of the good stuff!

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[The Lord of the feast] said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” – John 2:10

This morning I’ll share a slice of Rebekah’s message from Saturday’s marriage ceremony. The wedding was – as I already explained in yesterday’s post – full with positive energy and the kind of encouragement this world needs, going forward. So when the homily so nicely dovetailed with all the goodwill I wasn’t surprised in the least.

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Kaitlyn and Jacob

Rebekah told the story of Jesus blessing the wedding – it’s the first miracle recorded in the Gospel of John. If you remember, the wedding host ran out of wine and Jesus came to the rescue by turning water into the best vintage they’d ever tasted.

With Jesus, everything is always the best ever. So it’s really no surprise that’s how things go down at the wedding. Anything we’re involved with – relationships, work, art, church, mission, serving others  – no matter what, is going to be over-the-top good if we invite Jesus to be involved.

Rebekah said she likes to imagine that the couple who were married at the wedding Jesus attended and blessed took some of the wine home, and had some every year thereafter, to remind themselves not only of what a fabulous wedding they’d enjoyed, but how Jesus continues to make their life together sweeter and more precious.

IMG_9443Of course the real miracle is how Jesus brings new life, and a new flavor to our lives, each and every day. That’s not just a nice story, or a look back into history – it’s a present reality that we can continue to celebrate.

This morning our church will share the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Wide open doors, everyone welcome, grace abounds. Don’t miss this opportunity to share some of the good stuff, the Jesus quality of celebration, and get the ball rolling in terms the very best.

This is what it means to follow Jesus.

cold french fries do not define your story!

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Tyler Run Park – We live in a beautiful world

The old rule is now ended because it was weak and worthless. The Law of Moses could not make anything perfect. But now a better hope has been given to us. And with that hope we can come near to God. – Hebrews 7:18-19

This week has turned into – thus far – one of the busiest of the year. Beyond my typical writing and teaching responsibilities, I’ve picked up a couple of big tight deadline articles (due in the next few days), plus I’m prepping to lead a Sunday-Tuesday retreat where I’ll be giving five major presentations, and then Rebekah has a 6:35 flight out of RDU tomorrow morning as she heads to Minnesota for Sandee’s funeral.

However, rather than rush headlong into the details, I intend to begin work this morning by spending some deliberate time with God. It’s kind of like the “measure twice, cut once” principle; only this is about measuring my life, my work, my intentions, my trajectory – my story, and making sure I’m in sync with my Creator rather than wasting time, and energy, and substance; because everything I’m doing is worthy of my very best.

For the retreat I’m encouraging participants to do exactly what I have done this morning in preparation for my day: slow down, step outside of every detail and deadline the constant momentum of life brings – relentlessly – into their path, and consider re-framing their journey from this point forward.

You see, we all live a story. And – in much the same way the main idea of a novel works as a consistent thread that drives the narrative – our story plays out in response to certain fixed points of reference, assumptions, faith, motivation, and points of view. Our journey forward is framed by these ideas, and our narrative is shaped by what we believe.

The Big Picture:

Sometimes – much of the time – we become so caught up in the details we forget the big picture. I remember being upset once at a restaurant, because my seat was uncomfortable, the waiter inattentive, and the french fries wlukewarm, and I became obsessed with getting the waiter’s attention… but then I remembered I was on my way to Italy for a wonderful adventure.

Once my narrative was reframed, the cold french fries lost their power to unsettle me, and when the waiter did show up – finally – I simply thanked her, smiled, and left a generous tip.

Everything I’m doing today takes its meaning from my understanding of the journey I’m on. “The mission I have been given,” I wrote on a slide I’m sharing Sunday evening, “is to speak encouragement, hope, faith, and inspiration into this fragmented, broken world.”

That’s the story I am living in, and it’s the story I want my life to tell.

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I’m the one on the left….

The pile of stuff (the details and the distractions and the problems and the often tedious tasks) that we have to move aside – sometimes with a snow shovel, sometimes with a bulldozer – because it blocks our path and clogs our vision does not define us! What defines us is the story we’re living.

This life is a great adventure! We’re pilgrims in progress every one of us, and we’re on an amazing journey. Everything else is just lukewarm french-fries and poorly trained wait staff; be generous anyway….

Peace and blessings – DEREK

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why “normal” is meaningless and “moderate” means everything…

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Warning: this is an unedited stream of consciousness post – there are many loose ends

So I’m sure we’ve all noticed it’s a little damp today… and yesterday… and the day before that… and the day before that too. We needed the rain, I know, but this is another classic case of “enough already!”

The shift from drought to plenty has made me think about the extremes we run into every day. We say we want “normalcy” but I understand statistics well enough to know that what we describe as “normal” (and consequently expect) doesn’t really exist – it’s typically little more than the average middle point between extremes:

  • An erratic golfer could post nine eagles and nine double-bogies on a round. Par on any given hole is then the most predicable outcome but also the least likely.
  • For April 24, Wake Forest’s normal high temperature is in the low 70’s. But in 1960 it reached 93, and the low stands at 31 (1986). Yesterday it rained all day with a high of 57.

The average annual temperature here is a close to perfect 62.65-degrees, so why would we ever need heat or air-conditioning? But of course we run one or the other every single month.

Moderate is better than average:

IMG_9233The point of heating and air-conditioning is moderation. We can’t really live with average, what we want is moderation. We want to moderate the temperatures because that’s how we’re more comfortable. And we’re all fine with having to pay for that level of comfort.

  • We’ll pay to moderate temperature (our new HVAC system is a great example);
  • we’ll pay to moderate our water supply (storage in reservoirs to hedge against drought);
  • We understand we need both rain and sunshine for plants to grow;
  • we happily pay into retirement and social security plans to moderate income so we’re not destitute when we turn 70;
  • and we pay to moderate risk when we drive (rather than save a few dollars a month and then be on the hook for tens of thousands in an auto accident)….

Yet we seem unable or unwilling to pay anything at all when it comes to moderating our political climate?

Most Americans want moderate leadership, where politicians are willing to compromise for the benefit of the nation. But being politically active tends to force candidates to highlight their differences, and people with extreme views are more likely to vote. In consequence, we are governed by men and women who feel obligated to play to their politically active base and the country is held hostage to polarization, even though 90% of us don’t want it.

Nobody is always right!

IMG_9234So why won’t we compromise? Why aren’t we willing to pay (and by “pay” I mean balance, cooperate, trade-off, give and take, quid pro quo) in order to guarantee a tolerable “normal” for everyone in America?

Take medical care, for example. I’m very healthy, and over the past thirty-five years my insurance company has made literally tens of thousands in profits because all my body parts are still working fairly well; I understand that’s extreme – it makes me an outlier. At the other end is someone who has gone through several major surgeries, struggles to stay healthy, and also deals with a chronic disease. They are another outlier – someone who fiscally puts medical insurance profits in the hole.

Do I begrudge the medically challenged individual the money I could have saved if I wasn’t in the program? Not at all; not if I am intelligent! Resentment would be ludicrous. There is no moderation without the extremes; and there is no normal without people on the statistical margins.

When it comes to medical cost, the average American simply does not exist. This is why the only way to provide any kind of moderation for any one of us is to put one hundred percent of our population in the same risk pool. The alternative is much the same as removing the new HVAC system from my house and hoping we’ll be comfortable. But we wouldn’t be comfortable for a minute; we’d be anxious, stressed, irritable, immoderate, and unproductive probably 90% of the time.

Unwillingness to compromise isn’t just impractical, it’s un-American:

  • Our amazing Constitution wasn’t framed because people stood their ground! No, it was perfected via epic compromise.
  • This nation hasn’t endured because those who were so right refused to give an inch! Not on your life, it has endured because those who are smart have understood how arrogant, unsound, incorrect, imprecise, and mistaken we are when we insist everyone else is wrong.

Okay, so I watched it rain for three days, then these eight hundred words spilled out!

Bloggers! They’re so wordy! What are you going to do?

(everything is saturated around here)

Postscript to a Beautiful and Courageous Life

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Sandee Hagen

A short while ago, and after an escalating illness, one of the brightest lights in the constellation of our friends faltered, flickered, and then passed into eternity.

The news tore a hole in our hearts. It’s a huge blow for those of us who love her, and a sad loss for our world. But Sandee was one hundred percent confident that this life is just the beginning of the journey, and so am I, so in that sense she’s been freed up to shine more than ever before.

Sandee Hagen was one of the most courageous people I have ever known. We became friends back in the early 1980’s, when Rebekah and I launched a ministry for young families at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Pensacola. Sandee, her husband (Bruce), and their son (Nicholas), were a key part of the beginnings of what became an epic crowd of great friends.

Then, in an unimaginable tragedy, both Bruce – forty-one, and Nicholas – a vivacious six-year-old, died in a terrible car accident. Something like that leaves a wound that will always remain open, but Sandee made the choice – every day – to live. Not just to live but to live graciously, and creatively, and generously, and lovingly, and faithfully.

That’s what I mean when I say Sandee lived courageously; it takes not only great faith, but great courage, and honesty, and persistence, to continue to shine in the way that she did; and this world is a brighter place today because of her constant, insistent, faith-charged, luminosity.

That’s what I mean when I say Sandee lived courageously; it takes not only great faith, but great courage, and honesty, and persistence, to continue to shine in the way that she did; and this world is a brighter place today because of her constant, insistent, faith-charged, luminosity.

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Naomi, Rebekah, Sandee

Where many people would have built a wall to protect themselves from the danger of more pain, Sandee allowed us to love her, and she loved us back; she became a very real part of our family. She loved our children, and she allowed them to love her; she served countless others through her counseling practice; she became a Stephen Ministry leader at our church; she cared for people with a sensitivity and a depth born out of her own pain.

Sure she was hurt, and sometimes angry, and confused at such outrageous and impossible loss – but she trusted her Creator enough to work through the hard times without letting go of God’s hand.

  • Sandee convinced me of the truth of Psalm 23“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”
  • And she demonstrated the reliability of those first few Beatitudes in Matthew 5“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth.”
  • And she illustrated the authenticity of Paul’s words to his friends in Philippians 1: “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

In many ways, Sandee’s work (here) is complete, and those of us who love her feel privileged and grateful to have been witness to her eloquent testimony to grace, and faithfulness, and God’s unfailing love. But God’s work through the rest of us remains ongoing – an invitation, really.

Each one of us is a work-in-progress in our own way (me especially), and it is my prayer that we will be encouraged and inspired to live this gospel truth out loud, to the very end of our own days here on this Good Earth.

So I’ll wrap up these thoughts by continuing in Philippians 2:14-16

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.”

Our imperative is to shine – and then shine some more – as we hold firmly to the word of life.

Thanks, Sandee, for everything. In Love, and because of love – DEREK

It’s the second week of creation!

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Jesus said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” – Luke 24:41

Since moving to North Carolina, we’ve had Easter sunrise ice, we’ve had Easter sunrise rain, and we’ve had Easter Sunrise “spring forward” time-change. This year we had clear skies and perfect temperatures. What a beautiful day.

IMG_8992Rebekah preached about another question Jesus asked, and this time it was, “Do you have anything to eat?” Sharing food together was a vital part of Christ’s public ministry, and he wanted to make sure that the deep intimacy of breaking bread together was not lost in the disciples’ new life together, moving forward.

(watch one of the services – Rebekah’s Message starts around the 20-minute mark)

It’s as if Jesus was saying, “Don’t just stare at me with your mouths hanging open like you’ve seen a ghost, invite me to sit down with you and become a vital part of your day-to-day lives!”

“Don’t just stare at me with your mouths hanging open like you’ve seen a ghost, invite me to sit down with you and become a vital part of your day-to-day lives!”

This is the heart of the Easter invitation – and especially for those of you who only come to church for these special occasions: Take Jesus home with you; invite him to breakfast, and lunch, and dinner. I know you don’t intend leaving Jesus on the cross – but let’s not leave him in the tomb either, or even in the church.

I know you don’t intend leaving Jesus on the cross – but let’s not leave him in the tomb either, or even in the church.

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image from John Akerman

It’s the first day after Easter Sunday, it’s the beginning of the second week of creation. Jesus is waiting for us to enter into all the fullness and the promise!

So hold on, this should be quite the ride!

– Peace, and more peace – DEREK

 

Is policing for us… or for them? #UnitedAirlines

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learn to do good.
Seek justice:
    help the oppressed;
    defend the orphan;
    plead for the widow. – Isaiah 1:17

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Not so friendly United (picture from the Internet)

This morning I intended to write a quiet, contemplative, devotional post in the spirit of Holy Week. But instead I find myself deeply disturbed by the overwhelming specter of violence – not only around the world, but in domestic news too.

Once particular incident is the recent United Airlines debacle, where a passenger – already seated and holding a valid boarding pass – was forcibly removed by security officers because the airline wanted the space for some of their own employees.

Here’s what’s bothering me (other than everything about it), and it comes up every time any policing agency acts this way, intimidating, bullying, using violence against the powerless at the behest of the powerful. Are the citizens of this country being served and protected… or those in uniform deployed as a kind of brute-squad in order to protect the interests of those who already hold power?

Are the citizens of this country being served and protected… or those in uniform deployed as a kind of brute-squad in order to protect the interests of those who already hold power?

Historically this turns out to be a huge question. What is the role of the peace officer? What does the militarization of policing say about the relationship of government to citizen? That’s the inequity what worries me when students in public schools are roughed up by uniformed officers when there is no threat of harm; that’s why I’m troubled at the ease and frequency with which the state deploys violence against minorities; that’s why this latest outrage against the common person rankles me so deeply.

My Experience:

When I taught exceptional education (students with emotional challenges) I participated in a school study designed to get to the bottom of a huge uptick in physical altercations between staff and students. We observed a consistent point of no return, after which order broke down and violence escalated. That point of no return came when staff chose to substitute bullying and intimidation for best teaching practices.

The off-kilter and politically-charged rational that seems to govern today’s conversations might say, “Double-down on those troublemakers, and teach them to respect authority. We need to make an example of anyone who won’t knuckle under.” But that’s exactly what was happening in some classrooms at my school, and the number of restraints, take downs, forceable removals from the classroom, and detailed “incident reports” skyrocketed in response.

So our administration tried something different. We took note of what was happening in classrooms where teachers were experiencing success. Then we retrained all the staff, taught a course in NVCPI (Nonviolent Crisis Intervention), instituted accountability protocols, and then documented a spectacular reduction in violence across the board.

Our job as teachers was to facilitate learning, social responsibility, and ongoing healing in our students. Instead, staff were using their authority to protect the institution and they started using their power to keep the powerless “in their place.” That wasn’t education, that was oppression.

Today, in like manner, we need to constantly examine and reexamine the practices of community policing, security forces, and any uniformed entity that stands in the space between the powerful and the powerless, to make sure we have not forgotten the purpose of such agencies.

We must constantly examine and reexamine the practices of community policing, security forces, and any uniformed entity that stands in the space between the powerful and the powerless, to make sure we have not forgotten the purpose of such agencies.

So I’d like to call out United Airlines, and pray that this unacceptable incident sparks a national conversation that results in a stop in this seismic shift in our society – a growing divide that seems intent on favoring those who have power, and doubling down on those who do not.

– DEREK

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living as Children of Promise in a difficult world…

Now we too, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. – Galatians 4:2

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leaving the hospital Thursday afternoon

So yesterday afternoon – in a quick update for those who are wondering – I was able to check my mum out from the hospital, and bring her back home next door. It was a long, grueling, often frustrating few days, full with tests and examinations and consultations, and the experience reminded me of A) what amazing resources, and care, and expertise we have at our disposal, and B) what an inexact science medicine is when it comes to understanding what’s going on in the human body!

The bottom line is that we now know a lot more about why my mother has not been feeling well, what to look for going forward, why going to the emergency room was exactly the right thing to do given her symptoms, and why we want to absolutely avoid being admitted to the hospital ever again if at all possible.

Faith and an easy life:

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my mother, more than ready to get out of there!

I also gained some more insight on how faith plays in to all this. Yes, I do believe that divine healing is something real that actually does happen in select circumstance; but – and this is an important point – we are mortal beings, we are susceptible to age and disease and decay, and our identity as Children of Promise (Galatians 4:2) is much bigger, far-reaching, challenging, and complete than good check-ups and an easy life.

In fact, I’d argue that accepting (and living into) my calling to be a disciple of Jesus is far more likely to set me up for a life of challenge than it is a life of ease.

We are Children of Promise in the sense that we are a Covenant People. Being in the hospital may be difficult and overwhelming, but the promise that we are not alone is completely secure. God does not steer us around the valley and the shadow, but God’s promise is, Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me” (Psalm 23:4).

These are words to live by; these are words to struggle by; these are words to struggle with; these are words to encourage us; these are words to give us courage.

Because what we need is not so much physical healing (even when we receive it it’s only temporary, even Lazarus died again later) what we need is courage. And courage is part of our identity as Children of Promise.

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Wake Med

What we need is not so much physical healing (even when we receive it it’s only temporary, even Lazarus died again later) what we need is courage. And courage is part of our identity as Children of Promise.

To live well is not to live pain free, and certainly not struggle free; to live well is to live into our identity as Children of Promise.

We are a people called to follow Jesus, called to live as God’s own children, called to represent light, and love, and hope, and grace. We are called to not only be disciples, but to look like – to be recognizable as – Children of Promise!

– DEREK

sorting out Caesar’s demands and God’s opportunities #IRS

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” – Matthew 22:21b

Tiberius1It’s always interesting to me to see how readily scripture interfaces with real life. I read the Bible daily, typically diving in many times while I’m writing. Always, without fail, the word speaks truth, wisdom, understanding, encouragement, inspiration, and more into my thinking and my living.

My Sunday morning discipleship class has been reading through the Gospel of Matthew for more than a year. When we started, we had no idea the study would go more than a few weeks. That’s why it seemed so providential when the first Sunday in Lent just happened to coincide with Christ’s Triumphal Entry at the beginning of chapter 21, nicely setting up Holy Week stories for the entire run up to Easter.

Give to Caesar:

withered-hand-manThen, this week, what should show up but the Pharisees trying to trick Jesus into a politically incorrect discussion about taxes! Yes, that’s right, I had just finished preparing my parents’ tax returns. And now there’s an open TurboTax file on my computer, constantly peeking around the other icons on my desktop, vying for attention, staring me down until I get my own taxes in order.

Matthew tells a great story, and it’s well worth reading all eight verses. But it’s this small statement by Jesus that keeps working its way into my consciousness right now: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

The Give unto Caesar part is a challenge, yes, but the tax software I use simply takes the facts of our income, our deductions, what we’ve already paid, plus our particular life circumstances, and then spits out a firm number at the other end. Simple; not very pleasant, but clearcut nonetheless.

Give to God:

It’s the second part that really demands our attention and our open-spirited consideration; “Give to God what belongs to God.” It’s a question that is crucial if we are to really understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.

People often consider a financial commitment to their church the same way they think about “pay to play” fees at the gym, the Y, or maybe neighborhood association dues. Disciples, however, wake up every day with a sense of, “I belong to God; everything I am and hope to be belongs to God; my self, my family, my home, my resources, my church – it all belongs to God.”

Once we begin to think about the fact that Jesus instructs us to “Give to God what belongs to God,” then it’s not longer a question of “how much can I spare each month to put in the plate?” but, “what am I doing with my resources that inhibits me from giving even more?”

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image from “Life of Christ Videos”

Christ’s words remind me that passing along my leftovers isn’t exactly a transformational spiritual discipline. Recognizing that everything already belongs to God, and understanding my role in partnership with God to reach the world with love… now that is life-changing, church-strengthening, and world-saving!

  • Recognizing that everything already belongs to God, and understanding my role in partnership with God to reach the world with love… now that is life-changing, church-strengthening, and world-saving!

Here’s the entire exchange, at Matthew 22:15-22:

Then the Pharisees left the place where Jesus was teaching. They made plans to catch him saying something wrong. They sent some men to Jesus. They were some of their own followers and some from the group called Herodians. They said, “Teacher, we know you are an honest man. We know you teach the truth about God’s way. You are not afraid of what others think about you. All people are the same to you. So tell us what you think. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus knew that these men were trying to trick him. So he said, “You hypocrites! Why are you trying to catch me saying something wrong? Show me a coin used for paying the tax.” They showed Jesus a silver coin. Then he asked, “Whose picture is on the coin? And whose name is written on the coin?”

They answered, “It is Caesar’s picture and Caesar’s name.”

Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

When they heard what Jesus said, they were amazed. They left him and went away.