Monday, August 30, 2004

Children & WW II Generation

Right now I teach 5th and 6th graders (with Jill) on Wednesday nights and WW II generation class on Sunday mornings called "Joyful Class." I've found they--and perhaps everyone in between--like some of the same things:
  • Stories with suspense
  • Sticking to the Bible and its core messages and not tangents
  • Personal testimonies or ways of bringing the text of Scripture to the here and now
  • Remembering their names and hearing what they have to say
  • Seeing and hearing the point with audio/visuals
  • Being challenged to go deeper into the word themselves

What are other things that help all ages learn?

Friday, August 27, 2004

Questions about videos in worship

ZOE and Wineskins have had a lot of requests for several important and moving videos. Let me explain about a few of them:
  1. Give Me Jesus - Leonard Sweet (, according to his office, bought the rights to put a Fernando Ortega ( song, Give Me Jesus, together with art photos of Christ images and other images related to words in the song. Sweet's office said they owned the copyright for the music video for about three years and no longer own it. The song itself can be played publically if a church has a CCLI license but the song and the video cannot be used together. There is no known availability of this music video that many of the ZOE conference attendees saw at our conference in October 2003.
  2. Baptism video - I have shown this at Pepperdine and ACU, and several have asked about the source. I purchased the DVD from Granger Community Church in Granger, Indiana ( tel 574.243.3500. The video was done in 2002 at a baptism ceremony for the Granger Community Church and shows many baptisms set to a song that says, "Living Water, Jesus, More of Thee." One of the most unique features of the baptismal experience of Granger is that they baptize some couples or families simultaneously with locked arms.
  3. That's my King - From the jacket of the Vertical Sky Productions Igniter Vol 1 DVD: "The late S.M. Lockridge once presented an incredible message, describing God and who He is. Though God can't be described with just words, this is as close as you can get this side of Heaven." Makes you want to get up and shout, "That's My King!" Find this and four other videos on the Igniter Videos Vol. 1 available on DVD from The ZOE web site.
  4. Team Hoyt - From the DVD jacket: "Together, Dick and Rick Hoyt have run in marathons, competed in triathlons and once even trekked 3,700 miles across America. Together, what they have accomplished is simply amazing, even more so when you consider that Rck cannot walk or talk." Mike Cope uses this video and shares his own family's experience with their daughter, Megan, who died in 1994. Vertical Sky Productions this Igniter Video Vol. 2 available next week on DVD from The ZOE web site

One of the best connections a church can make in the use of video is CVLI (Christian Video Licensing International). I spoke to a very helpful David Weighman this morning, and I have available for anyone who requests it an application for a church license to use major studio films and faith-based production films. The license should cost about $600 a year but check with for more details.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Hotter than...August

A repairman and I went into our attic the other day to check some wiring. “It's hotter than hades up here,” Stron Johnson, the large African American man, said.

“You can go ahead and say hell, though I’d say hell’dbe worse," I said.

“Makes you wanna be good,” Stron said.

“Problem is,” I replied as I crawled on the itchy fiberglass insulation, “none of us is good enough—only way any of us can be good is through the Lord Jesus Christ.”

“You got that right,” Stron said.

We wiped sweat from our brows, itched, and checked the wiring.

Though the prospect of these talks having any real impact on the dire circumstances of nearly a million refugees in Sudan, please pray for the talks and continued international and Sudanese government support for giving the refugees relief.

Straw demands action in Darfur. The UK foreign secretary touring a refugee camp urges Sudan to do more to make the Darfur region safe.

[BBC News News Front Page UK Edition]

[comment - imported from my Radio blog]
The problem with these peace talks is that they are just talking while chemical weapons are being used on people. I wish countries (other than us for a change) would do something besides "deplore in the strongest possible terms." Stop the killing, beat the bad guys and then decide the peace. God Bless.
Ed Harrell • 8/28/04; 5:11:13 PM #

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Prayer from Ghana

From An African Prayer Book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

O Lord, O Ruler of the world, O Creator, O Father

This prayer is for Africa, for our brothers in the South, our brothers in the North...

We know that our White brothers have made their Black brothers second class people. O Lord, this hurts us so much. We suffer from this.

You have given us a dark skin so that we may better bear your strong sun.

Why have our brothers done this to us? They are not better than we. And we are not better than they.
What comforts us is that you always love most those who suffer most.

We call ourselves Christians on both sides, but we go to different churches as if there were also different heavens.

The White men still have power in parts of Africa. Help them to use their power wisely and accept us as brothers. Take the mistrust out of their hearts and minds and make them share with us. For this is our continent, or more truly, Yours. For you have marked us for this continent and them for the North.

We also pray for ourselves: O Lord, keep our hearts from hatred, and help us also to be grateful for what missionaries have done here too, for government and the economy. Let us become brothers again, as it should be among your children.

You have died for all and risen. Hallelujah! We praise you, our Father. Who is greater than Europe and Africa, who loves where we hate, who long ago could have destroyed us. But you love us so much, and we have not deserved it. Praise be to you, O Lord.


[comment imported from my Radio blog]

Interesting prayer by ole Tutu. I wonder what he means when he says "You have marked us for this continent, and them for the North."

I think this is one fundamental view that will have to change for there to be peace in Africa. As the son of a son of Africa, I resent the inference that "we" (aka white people born and raised in Africa) somehow don't belong there. Look at what's happening in Zimbabwe. Do we justify that because white people were marked by God for the North? If we do, then we must sit back idly when and if the Cherokee and the Sioux start taking back their lands and forcing us off of farms and land our ancestors have owned for generations.

I think it is imperative that "spiritual" leaders like Desmond Tutu should be at the forefront of reconciliation between whites and blacks in Africa. The sort of divine division that he seems to propose here in this prayer (and I hope I am mistaken), will only lead to more animosity and, like Zimbabwe, more bloodshed because of the color of people's skins.
Greg • 8/24/04; 2:45:46 PM #

I wondered about that phrase--"marked for the North"--as well. There is an implication that White people belong in the North and Blacks in the South, which may have worked in previous centuries but does not work, nor is it appropriate nor the reality today. Thanks for your thoughts and well taken. gt
Greg Taylor • 8/26/04; 12:07:44 PM #

Monday, August 23, 2004

Oblivious Dads Anonymous

In the last month our family has gone through a challenging transition. Jacob, our last of three, entered kindergarten, all our children are in new schools, and Jill started back teaching. Though I'm the only one not in a school, I have been learning not to be an oblivious dad. Just when I think I'm doing pretty well, another wide open plain of needed growth in this area lies before me...

Jill is teaching algebra, geometry, and general math in an inner city middle school. Probably more than half of her students are African American, and regardless of race nearly half are living with a single parent. She daily asks for prayers of anyone willing to offer one for her and her mission.

Meanwhile our children are experiencing more of dad's awareness of their daily needs--to many concerns, programs, daily lunch money or prep and homework, I have been traditionally a skosh oblivious. Things like sports--I'm coaching all three in soccer this year--and formally trying to pray and read the Bible with my kids are more naturally on my mind, but it's those daily concerns of a child's life that I constantly have to remind myself to connect with. And with Jill now teaching, I've needed to take that torch more.

The Lord is so very good to us and all is well, but we would appreciate your prayers in this transition. Even for the guy who is learning out of school to be more aware of those around him. Is dad awareness something all men fight uphill to conquer?

[comments imported from my Radio blog]

"Dad awareness" is a good term. I think in our important world with our big problems it is hard for us to see our children's lives from their perspectives. Thanks for being a part of a powerful minority ... Dads who care about being good dads.
John Dobbs • 8/24/04; 3:18:59 AM #

hey Greg, my husband and I have had this very same conversation. I also went back to work and I had always stayed on top of all the kids' needs. My husband and I have very different styles and I had to learn to back off and let him do in his own style. Very hard for me to do and many times I lapse into my complaining mode. Just keep your antennae up and try to be aware of all the little stuff. Ask every day to see their backpack and check for any correspondence from school...and make sure you read it all. That can save lots of headaches later. I know that you are a great dad. Shared stories about you this summer with Mark and Marnie....they love you! grace, Julie
julie danley • 8/25/04; 2:56:00 PM #

Friday, August 20, 2004

Lost one and broke the other

When I'm trying to fix one thing, I usually break another.

For example, while wiring a CD player for Jill's van (our first auto CD player!), I plugged the connector in wrong and had to pull it out. As I pulled, two tiny wires popped out of the plug like plucking dandilions. What should have taken two hours took four, because I had to replace those delicate little wires first before I could get back to the original installation.

You could tell the old mechanic joke on me: Gave two hunks of galvanized steel to the mechanic. Came back the next day and he'd lost one and broke the other. That's me. I have hard contacts. A few years ago I literally broke one and lost the other within a week's time.

Yep, many times in my life I've broken something in the process of "repairing" something else. Anyone relate? Our lives are full of frustrating broken places, whether by our own fault or with the "help" of someone else. Sometimes we labor to patch the places we've broken in order to get back to the business of our original installation--our dominant vision or mission.

[comments imported from Radio blog]
GT, been there done that........more than you want to know! Good to know someone else has that same struggle! Hey, I meant to tell you that I spent some time with Brent Abney in the Northwest a few weeks ago. He sends his love to all you Uganda folks! It was great to get to be around him again, even if it was for a few hours. I wish he lived closer to Searcy.
Come see us! David
David • 8/21/04; 9:13:36 AM #

A CD player? What's next? A telephone?
What I hate is when I am all prepared for a project and realize I don't have the most important thing. Most of mine have to do with paint. Saturday I painted a shelf in the garage. I had the paint, the trays, the dropcloth, etc. Then, I looked for the roller brushes. Nothing. Regular paint brushes? Not a one. Keys for the car for a trip to Lowe's? Ah, there.
I find myself doing the same thing with big projects for God. It is frustrating to get all the pieces in places and then realize I'm missing the most important element: GOD himself. Can't count the times I've dropped everything and ran for that element. However, there have also been times (like the time I painted the bookshelf with a windshield wiper) that I go off on my own tangents and end up with a shoddy result. Hmmm.....can't blame God for that one.
Anne-Geri' • 8/23/04; 9:42:56 AM #

Thursday, August 19, 2004

God's Neighborhood

Today I interviewed an inspirational man named Scott Roley.

Scott grew up in D.C., privleged son of a Washington attorney and advocate for civil rights. He wanted to be a rock star but he didn't have what it takes, to sort of quote Third Day. He wanted more than music.
In the next week I'll prepare a written interview for Wineskins from the tape that I recorded while talking to him, and we'll see if it makes the cut with Mike, Darryl, Thom, Lynn, Rubel, and Larry.

Turning points for him throughout his life led him closer and closer toward ministry of racial reconciliation: he heard firsthand Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech; an African-American woman told him he loved the world too much; he visited his first Black church worship in Detroit (and he said it wouldn't be his last--he was captivated)...

Years later, Scott moved with his wife and five children (three adopted, one African American, one Hispanic) into an area mostly Black neighborhood near Nashville called "Hard Bargain," a neighborhood where drug deals are made and many meals on wheels are served to poor widows. They moved there to "re-neighbor" or "re-locate" at Jesus did when he relocated from heaven to earth, the incarnation.

I have much more to tell you about this incredible person, Scott Roley, and may post more later. See his book, God's Neighborhood: A hopeful journey in racial reconciliation and community renewal, and look for interview in the Sep-Dec 04 Wineskins.

Kindergarten Conversation

Jacob, when asked if he made any friends yesterday in Kindergarten...
Jacob: "I played with a boy..."
Me: "What's his name?"
"I don't know."
"Did you ask?"
"Yes, I asked him his name and he said, 'I'm not going to tell you unless you tell me yours.' I told him we had name tags."
"So neither of you told your names?"
Kids don't care about names...neither do their dads--here's a sample adult conversation:
Another guy: "How ya doin?"
Me: "Great."
Pause. Silence.
"I'm Greg."
"Greg, I'm Bill."
"What's your last name?"
"Taylor--Greg Taylor. Yours?"
"Good to meet ya."
Silence. "So, what do you do?"
Blah, blah, blah, blah back and forth.
Before taking leave of one another: "So, what was your name again?"
While walking off: "What did he say his name was?"

[comments imported from my Radio blog]
isn't it written somewhere in Leviticus that all adults MUST wear name tags? I think that's right. When shall we begin enforcing this?
Brandon • 8/18/04; 1:22:11 PM #

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Connecting worship with discipleship

"The Christian church in America is comprised of many converts, but shockingly few disciples," according to Barna Group Research. The research goes on to point out that "less than 1 percent of all believers perceived a connection between their efforts to worship God and their development as a disciple of Jesus."

Some say part of the response to this is to move from program-driven churches to disciple-making churches. How do we do that without making another program out of discipleship?

[comments imported from my Radio blog]

My guess is to slowly extinuish our educational models and try an intentional experiential live that is lived out in discipleship. A lot easier than said. This may be the intent on church plants that arise in the future and even now. But we should pray for the Holy Spirit to engage us toward our true and only allegiance, Jesus. Check out the Ekklesia Project on the web.
Clark Christian • 8/18/04; 10:19:00 AM #

Perhaps as long as we approach discipleship as another task to do, then we will programize it and end up not finding the discipleship we were seeking. Analyzing the problem and strategizing about solutions will inevitably lead to programmatic answers. The process is human-centered and will lead to human-centered ends . . . which isn't discipleship! The same thing happens when modern churches adopt a new model of doing church to supposedly become less modern. It can't happen that way.

The paradox is that the more one tries to figure out HOW to be a disciple through methodologies, the less one will be a disciple. Discipleship is walking along a path that is God-directed without trying to figure out where it goes. It is not deciding on a destination and then strategizing on how to get there.
Greg Newton • 8/19/04; 8:54:46 AM #

I wonder if we can define the difference between nominal Christians and disciples?
I tend to think of the former group as just 'growing up in the church' a product of systematic tradition or a recent 'convert' who is swallowed up into a cold mechanical system and doesn't know that there are living churches out there.

The later group (maybe I'm over simplifying) falls head over heals in love with Jesus. They fully accept His love, and therefore stop hating themselves and their neighbors. They have probably been broken, and in their brokeness have become humble (teachable).
Carlos Aleman • 8/19/04; 12:47:23 PM #

I couldn't agree more with the assertion that discipleship cannot be programmed into the church's weekly schedule. To borrow an old phrase, discipleship is more caught than taught. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be intentional about our discipleship efforts. We ought to think about how our programs can support discipleship, but this is different than thinking our programs are the best means by which we nurture disciples. We just need to broaden our horizons and think outside the box. With all of our emphasis on church programming, we have somehow convinced ourselves that adequate spiritual growth can take place 2 or 3 hours on Sundays and an hour on Wednesday night. Most of this time we are sitting in large groups facing forward listening to one man we pay to do our Bible study for us! In reality, we learn how to be disciples of Christ by living life as a community of disciples. We do it by community reflection and Bible study, and we do it by lots of time together- serving, laughing, crying, loving, playing, singing, and praying together!
Danny Freeman • 8/19/04; 12:52:29 PM #

Monday, August 16, 2004

School...of prayer

All my children started school this morning in two new schools. Jacob began kindergarten. Jill began teaching Algebra and Geometry today as well after 10 years out of teaching to be with our children.
I'm the only one not starting in a new school. With all these changes and me left out of the school scene, maybe I'll read Andrew Murrary's With Christ in the School of Prayer.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Olympics opening ceremony

Olympic opening ceremony was dramatic. The most moving moment for me was seeing the North and South Korean athletes walking together as one Korea, holding hands. For any athlete walking into that stadium, it must have been emotional and spectacular.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Desperate need of exercise

The Olympics in Athens open today. I've posted some entries below from an Olympics blog you may be interested in. I enjoy the Olympics, watching till midnight, dragging the next day, someone saying, "you look tired," and me saying, "yeah, I tell ya it takes it out of a guy to watch those Olympics."

Reminds me of this great quote by Bud Wilkerson, former Oklahoma Sooners football coach, who was asked if football is good exercise. He replied,"No. In football, there are 22 people on the field in desperate need of rest. And there are 50,000 people in the stands in desperate need of exercise."

Hey, wait a minute. Was he talking about football or church?
wade • 8/13/04; 7:02:37 AM #

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Things that my mother-in-law and I both like

Patsy Cline's "Walking After Midnight" (get some eggnog streaming through your veins at Christmas, crank this song, and see if you and your mother-in-law don't start dancin')

  • My wife
  • Good foreign films like Chocolat and The gods must be crazy
  • A well-constructed sentence
  • My mother-in-law's grandchildren
  • Good coffee
  • Jesus Christ
  • Third Day
  • Making a difference in the public education system

What do you and your mother-in-law enjoy?

[comments imported from Radio blog]

Cool post, Greg. I'm blessed with wonderful in-laws (and there is no chance they'll even read this).
We like:
* My wife & daughter * Eclair cake (hers is the BEST) * Laughter * Games with the whole family * Singing * Also making a difference in public education--She just retired from teaching special ed. I am from a family of three generations of teachers, principals and superintendents. * Jesus--I thank the Lord for her example of faith and godly parenting.
James • 8/12/04; 7:21:06 AM #

Thanks, James. Enjoyed your list and thanks for response. I visited your blog and commented--God has blessed us richly with good family!
Greg Taylor • 8/12/04; 7:46:34 AM #

Olympic Games Athens 2004Olympic opening ceremony to kick off Athens Games. "The Olympics are returning to their birthplace, putting a new twist on old traditions for the extravagant opening ceremony: The last will be first. The first will be last. And they'll all be Greeks. Greece, as host of the inaugural... [Athens Olympic Games Blog]10:30:20 PM

Myths and Olympic Games in AthensOlympic organizers, church at odds on mythology's role at games. "First out will be the drummers, playing to the rhythm of a beating heart. Then a meteorite will streak across the night sky. Later, a centaur will gallop to center stage with a javelin, followed by the ancient Greek demigod... [Athens Olympic Games Blog]

An education is...Anatole France. "An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don't." [Quotes of the Day]

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Do you like your spouse

I'm convinced we all need to decide we like our spouses, our mother-in-laws, our parents, our neighbors.
It may sound overly simplified, but one prerequisite to divorce is one or both spouses deciding they really don't like each other and one another's family. Preventing divorce is, of course, not as easy as simply liking one another (not to mention loving) but it's often overlooked and undervalued. Like being 50 yards from the green and pulling out a driver, that's the wrong approach.

Try praying for your spouse and then liking him or her. When Jill and I decided we'd just enjoy and like one another and we grew together over the last 15 years, we've experienced joy inexpressible.

CAUTION: prayer and liking each other is a start but there are many resources that can help. Some need competent Christian counseling. Don't be afraid of this. Jill and I have been to counseling at times when we needed to work through some deep issues. One of our favorite "marriage" books is Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages that details how we love and desire to be loved through one or a combination of quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

[comments imported from Radio blog]
I like MY spouse! We began as close friends, then came love and marriage, then the wars of the early years. Now we've gotten back to being friends again -- it's the best.
Clarissa • 8/12/04; 7:33:26 AM #

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The un-Atkins Diet

This morning I ate a piece of Milton's bread with my coffee, and perhaps it is the best store-bought bread I've ever put in my mouth, a whole grain bread with black sesame seeds and a variety of textures and twice the calories of regular bread. I enjoy bread, daily. I'm on a high carb diet, making up for all the carnivores tipping the planet with their angus and jerky eating.

After all, Jesus teaches us to ask, in the Lord's Prayer (or Disciples' Prayer), for daily bread, not daily meat. My meaty tongue is in my cheek, but still it is true that bread is the chosen metaphor of the Lord and implied daily food of humanity.

Yet eating meat is not without significance. The Levites ate meat as part of the sin offering. Israel ate their share of the fellowship or well-being offerings as joyful celebration of God and the community.
The idea of daily bread takes on incredible importance, however, in that we are a people who have been given manna from heaven, the sun, water, air, bread from the ground. And bread is a vital part of passover, the Lord's Supper, and it is not only a symbol but a real food that we put in our mouths as we remember that Jesus is the living word, the bread of life.

I'll close with a poignant quote from St. Francis of Assisi about bread and God:

Surely we cannot be left unmoved by loving sorrows for all this; in his love,
God gives himself into our hands; we touch him and receive him daily into
our mouths.

[comments imported from my Radio blog]
Hi, Greg--remember me, the foreign exchange Christian in a Babtist Church choir? I've written a hymn-here are the words. The tune and 4 part harmony if you want it.
Manna from Heaven, how you feed your people. Bread of your word feeds my heart every day. Give us our daily bread, Jesus the Bread of Life. Jesus the Word of life, feed me today.
Hungry for you! Oh, feed me Lord! Here at your table, a feast for my soul. Hungry for you! Abba I cry! Nothing else satisfies, you're my delight.
Just as a deer pants for streams in the sesert, So must my soul drink of you to have life! River of Life, may I drink of your goodness. Jesus, the Water of Life, flow in me!
Thirsty for you! Oh, let me drink! Streams of pure water flow down from your throne. Thirsty for you! Abba my own! Pour out your spirit, oh fountain of grace.
Hungry for you! Thirsty for you! Jesus the Bread of Life, Jesus the Word of Life, fount of all life, nourish me with your love.
We sang this once at Highland with Thom Lemmons leading, and never again for some reason. Everyone in the chorus wanted to do it again, but Mike never heard it, so it's never gotten "air time" again. You're welcome to the whole thing if you want it.
sarah l stone • 8/11/04; 6:55:42 AM #

Great thoughts. I've long desired to have daily "communion". I remember hearing Don Finto once talk about how eating bread at a meal can become a holy moment where we can commune with God. Ever since then, I've longed for that experience. Perhaps my wife and I need to share daily bread (perhaps a glass of wine) together in order to daily draw us into the presence of our Sustainer.
Great St. Francis quote!
Travis • 8/12/04; 10:26:25 AM #

Monday, August 09, 2004

By the tender mercy of God, dawn will break on us

By the tender mercy of God, the sun rose again this morning. The morning is a glorious time, precious in so many ways. The sun is something we ought never to take for granted. Light pours on us because God tells it to, just like he spoke the creation--"let there be light"--into existence ages ago.

This morning at the breakfast table we thanked God for the sun the Father causes to shine on the evil and the good and rain that falls on the same...for our very next breath.

Jill emerged from the prayer singing Police's "Every breath you take."

Zechariah's song in Luke 1, in praise of God for bringing John to prepare the way for the Lord--though perhaps not so immediately catchy in our minds as the Police--is more meaningful to the God-reality we live today.

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to
give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our
feet into the way of peace.
May he guide our feet into the way of peace today, by his great light.

Friday, August 06, 2004

How are we ever gonna use this?

My wife, Jill, is returning to teaching after a 10-year break to have our three children. "Break" is not the right word.

So our lives will take some new twists and turns as Jill picks up the vision of sharpening the Algebra and Geometry thinking skills of a new crop of public middle school children. Lord, bless her, not only for this new mission but also because she's surrounding herself with adolescents on a daily basis.

But that's one place where Jill shines: kneeling by a desk to connect with one student who's struggling to get it and guiding them through to solve it themselves, explaining on the board more clearly than they've heard math before, demonstrating through endless visuals the big question we all asked: "How am I ever gonna use this?!"

How will they use self-worth, problem-solving skills, the pre-requisite math skills for millions of jobs, and mathematical facts that are always true? I'm happy one more light is shining in the public arena, where leaders of tomorrow are learning. She will show them how they're gonna use this.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Why is Jesus of the Gospels silent about homosexuality?

So much for earthy details in Bible stories.

Telling the children more about Lot's plight in Sodom, I thought to tell them about the bizarre event of Lot's wife turning to salt. Decided to read them some backstory about why they were leaving Sodom, forgetting temporarily and stupidly what the men of the city wanted to do with the two angels (Genesis 19). I, uh, had to pause a lot and, uh, "whitewashed" the story.

But our children already detect homosexuality in media, hear "homo" and "gay" at school. We've already had to talk to our 8 and 10 year olds about homosexuality because of this exposure to the world.

Why is Jesus silent about homosexuality? Does the fact that Jesus never once spoke of homosexuality say anything to us out of the silence? The African bishops of the Anglican church were not silent about the ordination of an openly practicing gay bishop. Politics is not silent. Will our choice of president--George W. Bush or John Kerry--make any difference in this area or is it we who are called to make a difference? Will our churches continue to be silent? What is our stand? Perhaps more properly put: What is our relationship with homosexuals in our midst and in our communities?

Lynn Anderson's son, Jon, wrote an excellent article, How do we respond to homosexuality? for the Jan/Feb 03 Wineskins. We're working on another piece for the Fall '04 print issue (yes, we're still doing print until we phase completely out of current subscribers--we haven't been taking print renewal money for more than a year) on homosexuality and how the church responds. Also, Tony Campolo's new book, Speaking my Mind, is also a good resource for a different angle from the Fundamentalist hardline view.

[comments imported from my Radio blog]

While it is true that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality in the Gospels, his silence probably doesn't suggest anything except, perhaps, that the subject was not a controversial issue between Jesus and the Jewish leaders — which would imply, in turn, that he agreed with their judgment that homosexual acts were sinful. It is probably for this same reason the Gospels do not record Jesus commenting on the sinfulness of child sacrifice, bestiality, domestic violence and various other behaviors.
Those who act as spokespersons for the Christian church, whether as teachers or writers or preachers or evangelists, should make it clear when they speak about homosexuality that sexual sin is an essentially universal problem in the human race. By no means is homosexuality the only, or even the most prevalent, form of sexual sin in our society. For every person who engages regularly in homosexual acts, there are at least five (and probably more than that) who are regularly engaging in adultery or other "heterosexual" sins. Hardly any adult in America today, it seems, can honestly claim to have lived a completely chaste life. (Sometimes it seems hardly anyone even knows what "chaste" means!) Worse, the vast majority of the people who commit sex crimes — rape, incest and the like — are heterosexual males.
To ignore these facts when dealing with the issue of homosexuality skews the discussion and prevents legitimate criticisms of the homosexual lifestyle and movement from being heard.
John Alan Turner • 8/5/04; 1:58:27 PM #

Well put, JAT. And I should add that the New Testament is not silent about homosexuality, nor is Scripture by any means, silent. Leviticus sets the tone against homosexuality in the clean/unclean passages and holiness codes, even in the Gospel of Mark is reference to a list of vices that could include--though not specifically--homosexuality. Romans 1:24-27 is a strong denouncement of the homosexual lifestyle.
Certainly these should be discussed and, as you mentioned, JAT, brought into the mix so that the discussion is not skewed. And perhaps the silence, as you note, doesn't say much other than it may have not been a controversial issue in Jesus' day, but shouldn't the pitch and volume for all sins of immorality match that against homosexuality? I think you are correct to say that hetersexual sin is more prevalent yet more overlooked in favor of crying out against something that those doing the speaking are not publically tempted by or guilty of.
I appreciate the insights and welcome further comments by others. gt
Greg Taylor • 8/5/04; 3:38:57 PM #

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Pesky Tar Pits

The three keys to telling children stories of wonder and amazement are these:
  1. Suspense
  2. Suspense
  3. Suspense
Keep suspense in every story, move slowly and tell the details. Read Genesis 12-15 again and really think about telling the story as it's told in these chapters. Tell it over 1-2 weeks time. I ended one night with the story of Lot's choice of the Jordan land and parting of ways because their field hands were squabbling and they needed their own space for all the flocks and herds they'd acquired from Abram's deception in Egypt. I ended by saying, "Tomorrow night I'll tell you how Lot got carried off by four kings...and about the mysterious tar pits."

If you're like me, you've sometimes whitewashed the Bible stories for your children and churches. Consequently, Bible stories can even be boring for them. That's bad. I wrote earlier about a fellow Christian parent who told me after a class that her daughter didn't want to hear a Bible story one night--she wanted to hear a "fun" story.

That comment set my mind racing. While I don't think the point is making the Bible stories fun, as a child would describe it, I do believe we must keep the interest God's story by telling them in their full glory and humanity and suspense. Jill and I have witnessed a dramatic turn around in the way our children respond to Bible stories as we have built in suspense each night.

We try not to carve off all the rough edges, as some tellings do. We try to include important earthy details that send children's imaginations spinning with important questions such as, "Why did God tell Abram to leave his home and didn't even tell him where exactly to go?" and "Why did Abram lie and tell the Egyptians Sarai was his sister? That's not right!" To which we answered, "He was looking out for his own hide, afraid they'd kill him if they thought the beautiful Sarai--and was she ever beautiful--was his wife." My wife doesn't think the detail about Sarai's beauty need such emphasis from me. And, we often answer to such questions that we don't have the foggiest...

...seems some answers just get stuck in those pesky tar pits...but that's tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

More books to review

Here's another list of books available to review.
Let me know what book(s) you are interested in, and I'll send 1-3 to you. The easiest thing for me is for you to send me a self-addressed envelope (legal size) with $2 of postage per book requested. Send to Greg Taylor, PO Box 41028 Nashville, TN 37204.
Books with asterisks have been claimed already. By accepting a book, you accept the responsibility to write 300-600 word review (Can you write a book report? Same, but it has to be more interesting and better than you wrote in school). Keep the book as my thanks (and the publishers!) for writing the review.
Available Books for Review

Arp, David and Claudia. Answering the 8 Cries of the Spirited Child: Strong Children Need Confident Parents. Howard Publishing, 2003.

Beltz, Bob. Becoming a Man of the Word: A Seven-Week Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Bible. Navpress, 2001.

Benner, David G. Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship and Direction. InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Benrey, Ron and Jane. The Second Mile: A Novel. Broadman & Holman, 2002.

Dawn, Marva J. Joy in Our Weakness: A Gift of Hope from the Book of Revelation. Eerdmans, 2002.

Dekker, Ted. Three: A Novel. Thomas Nelson, 2003.

Fudge, Edward William. The Sound of His Voice: Discovering the Secrets of God’s Guidance. New Leaf Books, 2002 (newly revised and updated.)

Fuller, Millard. Building Materials for Life: Radical Common Sense, The Power of Right Thinking, Relevant Religion, Plowing New Ground, Persistence, and 35 other essays on how to enhance your life. Smyth &Helwys, 2002.

Gansky, Alton. Uncovering the Bible’s Greatest Mysteries. Broadman & Holman, 2002.

Giunta, Chaplain Ray. God @ Ground Zero: How Good Overcame Evil . . . One Heart at a Time. Integrity, 2002.

Guthrie, Nancy. Holding on to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God. Tyndale, 2002.

* Hauerwas, Stanley. Christian Existence Today: Essays on Church, World, and Living In Between. Brazos Press, 2001.

Ingram, Chip. I Am With You Always: Experiencing God in Times of Need. Baker, 2002.

Jeffress, Mike. My Sins, My Sins, My Savior! Embracing Your Freedom in Christ. 1st Books, 2002.

Jones, L. Wesley. The Real Russians. Publishing Designs, 1995.

Jones, Sheila. Finding Balance from the Inside Out: Combining Spiritual Insight with Practical Input for Christian Women. Discipleship Publications, 2002.

Jones, Thomas A. No One Like Him: Jesus and Message. Discipleship Publications, 2002.

Kriete, Henry. Worship the King. Discipleship Publications, 2000.

Laing, Sam. Be Still, My Soul: A Practical Guide to a Deeper Relationship with God. Discipleship Publications, 1998.

* Lape, Irene. Leadings: A Catholic’s Journey Through Quakerism. Brazos Press, 2003.

Long, D. Stephen. The Goodness of God: Theology, The Church, and Social Order. Brazos Press, 2001.

Loveless, Caron Chandler. Honey, They Shrunk My Hormones: Humor and Insight from the Trenches of Midlife. Howard, 2003.

Musser, John and James and Marti Hefley. Fire on the Hills: The Rochunga Pudaite Story. Tyndale, 1998.

Ortlund, Ray and Anne. Lord, Make My Life a Miracle! Broadman & Holman, 2002.

Oster, Merrill J. and Mike Hamel. Giving Back: Using Your Influence to Create Social Change. Navpress, 2003.

Patterson, Dorothy Kelley. A Handbook for Ministers’ Wives: Sharing the Blessings of Your Marriage, Family, and Home. Broadman & Holman, 2002.

Pearson, Carol Lynn. Consider the Butterfly: Transforming Your Life Through Meaningful Coincidence. Gibbs Smith, 2002.

Rose, Floyd. An Idea Whose Time has Come. Brentwood Christian Press, 2002. (On the need for gender equality in the Churches of Christ.)

Russell, Bob. Jesus, Lord of Your Personality: Four Powerful Principles for Change. Howard, 2002.

Sandford, John Loren. Elijah Among Us: Understanding and Responding to God’s Prophets Today. Chosen, 2002.

Soelle, Dorothee. The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance. Fortress Press, 2001.

Soule, Richard. Peculiar People: Aquila and Prisca. Xulon Press, 2003. (A Novel.)

Spalding, Matthew. The Founders’ Almanac: A Practical Guide to the Notable Events, Greatest Leaders and Most Eloquent Words of the American Founding. Heritage Foundation, 2002.

White, Jerry. Making Peace with Reality: Ordering your Life in a Chaotic World. Navpress, 2002.

*Winner, Lauren. Mudhouse Sabbath. Algonquin, 2004.

Woodruff, Tim. A Distant Presence: The Story Behind Paul’s Letter to the Phillipians. Navpress, 2001.

Wright, Donald L. Beside Still Waters: 52 Reflections on the Divine Within. Pivot Point Books, 2002.

[comments imported from previous blog]

Hey Greg,
I've been trying to send you an email reply to your Leviticus/Holy Spirit email. I've been replying to the address you sent the email from,, but it comes back to me everytime. What address should I try.

Also, I would like the following books to review if still available:
Rose, Floyd. An Idea Whose Time has Come. Brentwood Christian Press, 2002. (On the need for gender equality in the Churches of Christ.)
Soelle, Dorothee. The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance. Fortress Press, 2001.
Travis • 8/3/04; 12:58:30 PM #

BTW, it's Tim WoodROOF, not Woodruff. You're welcome, Tim.
Clarissa • 8/4/04; 6:49:01 AM #

I can't write a review because I don't have time to read a book. I have referenced you as a role model for my growing boys--especially after reading the blog about the guys on the frisbee course (is that for real?).
There is an article about a personal courtship story that takes place in Bartlesville. I thought you might like it. It is at "How God miraculously brought us together." If I had your personal e-mail, I wouldn't clutter up your blog, but no time to look for it!
Give my greetings to your lovely wife. Tell her to call me this week.
Alice Griffith • 8/4/04; 6:56:46 AM #

Greg, are the Woodroof and Ingram books still available? Let me know and I will send SASE today.
thanks Tommy
BTW the frisbee blog was great! I started reading and thought... He has time to go play frisbee golf? and then you got me. God uses the most remarkable ways to advance his kingdom.
Tommy • 8/4/04; 8:50:14 AM #

Monday, August 02, 2004

Women Who Dared

Beverly Davies wrote this piece, "Women Who Dared," widely circulated around the internet without an attribution. I researched and found, it appears, that she published this piece in the Rock River Times (Illinois).

[comment imported from my previous blog]
Dear Greg,
Thanks for the article. It fits perfectly with my blog of today. I had never heard of Alice Paul. Shame on me. Judy Thomas
Judy Thomas • 8/2/04; 2:33:30 PM #