Posted by BT

I had a remarkable conversation today.

A man named Don called Headquarters today (I have no idea how he managed to get patched through to me) and asked me if we could talk about his faith. "Sure," I said. Then he told me some things...He wasn't "raised" to believe in the Bible, he doesn't believe Jesus is the Son of God, he doesn't believe in Satan, but he has some friends who have been talking to him about sin and the need for forgiveness, who have told him what Jesus did for him (us), and who gave him a Bible. He asked if we could read some of it together.

Amazing. We've been praying in our small group for encounters with people who don't know the Lord, but rarely have I had one fall into my lap like this. Don and I had a wonderful conversation. He was (is) afraid to say the name "Jesus Christ," and he was afraid to say words like "repentance" or "forgiveness." (I had asked him to read some from the book of Mark aloud, and that's when he encountered these words and asked if he could skip them.) We talked for over an hour before he said he had to go, but I told him I was going to share his story with my small group and post it on my blog so my friends could pray for him. He begged me not to do this, saying he knew that he had been feeling guilty and was afraid that would make him feel more guilty. I shared with him that Jesus did not want him to have a spirit of fear, and that God wanted to free him from his guilt. He asked me what I believed about Jesus, and when I got to the part about the crucifixion, he wanted me to stop. When he read aloud the description of Jesus' baptism in the first chapter of Mark, he wept when he came to the part where God's voice proclaimed Jesus as His beloved Son, with whom He was well pleased. I told him that was also God's message for him, should he choose to accept it.

I prayed all throughout the conversation that God would give me wisdom and courage, and I believe He did. I told Don that I was going to pray for God to pursue him. I'd like to invite all of you to do the same. I told him his life would never be the same, but that it would be richer than he could ever imagine. I told him I loved him (which he didn't understand) and that that God loved him (which he didn't believe).

Please help me pray for my new friend, Don.

Now Reading: Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller
Cardinals: NL Central Champions; Magic Number: 11

Newest Projects  

Posted by BT

I've been excited the last couple days to learn about the new projects I'll be working on. Yesterday I received a call from Barefoot Ministries, the youth publishing company for the Nazarene church. They asked me if I would edit their teen curriculum based on the lectionary. Very cool. They're sending me a contract.

Then, in my email today, I received my next proofreading project for Youth Specialties: you can see it by clicking here. It's a re-release of a book, but it's one I've been wanting to read. I'm especially interested in one of the authors, Brian McLaren. I haven't yet had the privilege to read anything of his yet, so I'm anxious to get started.

Now reading: Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller.
Cardinals: NL Central Champions; Magic Number: 11

Blue Like Jazz  

Posted by BT

Kari and I are reading this book together right now, and we both are really enjoying it. The subtitle is so true: Non-religious thoughts on Christian Spirituality.

At the end of his chapter on grace is this wonderful statement: "In exchange for our humility and willingness to accept the charity of God we are given a kingdom. And a beggar's kingdom is better than a proud man's delusion."

Now Reading: Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller
Cardinals: NL Central Champions; Magic Number: 11

A Growing Transparency  

Posted by BT

I'm looking out my hotel window at half of the Gateway Arch...Quite a lovely view. I sure do miss my wife and son, though.

My time here in St. Louis has been good. I am here working for Nazarene Headquarters at the USA/Canada Nazarene Youth International District Leadership Conference (what a name!). But the best of my time has been spent in worship and in sharing my heart with a friend, James (his blog is linked to the right). Last night in the worship service we sang a song that repeated the line "Less of me and more of You," clearly sung to God. But, the worship leader threw us for a loop when he told us to sing it to each other. "Less of me and more of you, Brother." I was moved when James came from the complete opposite side of the room to hug me and sing it to me. And I sang it to him. And I so sincerely hope that I meant it.

Much was stirred up (and has been stirred up for some time now). James and I went to Starbucks this morning for breakfast and began talking about where we are, what we're doing, what we're thinking, what we're dealing with. James told me (very) briefly about his community, and I told him (very) briefly about ours. We talked of the existing church and the emerging church, friends and their thoughts, worship styles, pastors...We talked and we talked. We hardly even mentioned our two precious kids, Halle and Braden, both 3-4 months old, which gives you an idea of how prevalent these topics are in our minds.

Ultimately, James helped me come to a conclusion that I probably have needed to confess for some time: That, especially during my most formative years in college, I mostly lived my life to meet the approval of certain people. Jesus was typically not one of them. Some of these people I felt never approved of me, and some I felt I managed to "win over." Only now do I see (admit) the silliness in it all. Sadly, though, I find myself still longing to meet with the approval of some of these people. Most of them are far ahead of me in this "post-postmodern" way of thinking, and I read their blogs and wish I were as "spiritual" as them. Sad. I think most of them would call themselves my friends (perhaps simply "acquaintances"), so is it my insecurity? Maybe there's a better word than approval...maybe it's respect. I want them to respect me so badly...My pride is clearly in the way. Funny how insecurity and pride so often go hand in hand.

There's a lot more rolling around in my head about the role of the existing church in this emerging church paradigm...but I don't know how to articulate it yet. I'm working on it.

If you have read this and are afraid you may be one of the people I mentioned earlier, please don't worry. I don't think those people are even aware I have a blog. (One of them stumbled upon a mutual friend's blog not long ago and talked about how happy he was to reconnect with him, and that he would be frequenting his blog as a place of refuge...I found myself undeniably envious of him, who clearly had been approved by one whose approval I had [have] so long been seeking...I apologize to both of you, if you read this and know who you are.) Either way, it is a change in my heart that needs to be made, not in yours.

I am tempted to skip all the evening activities and go watch Chris Carpenter pitch, but it's almost sure to rain, and I am at "work."

Now Reading: "Reflections on the Psalms," by C.S. Lewis
Cardinals' Magic Number: 2

A Guest  

Posted by BT

We Taylors have been privileged to have a special guest with us this week:

The Durek is Here Posted by Picasa

Bryan drove out to KC last Sunday to begin his in-service master of divinity degree at Nazarene Theological Seminary. He is staying with us and becoming acclimated to life in a girls’ dorm and life with a baby boy. Holly even flew out over this past weekend, and we enjoyed some fellowship with them before she flew back to Ohio on Monday morning. Bryan will be finishing up his first module course this week and heading back to Marysville Church of the Nazarene, where he is youth pastor, on Friday.

As we've been hosting our friend and Kari has been reading this fabulous book, we've been thinking a lot about hospitality. This from Nouwen in Reaching Out:

"Hospitality, therefore, means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left…It is not an educated intimidation with good books, good stories and good works, but the liberation of fearful hearts so that words can find roots and bear ample fruit…The paradox of hospitality is that it wants to create emptiness, not a fearful emptiness, but a friendly emptiness where strangers can enter and discover themselves as created free; free to sing their own songs, speak their own languages, dance their own dances; free also to leave…Hospitality is not the subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but the gift of a chance for the guest to find his own…Reaching out to others without being receptive to them is more harmful than helpful and easily leads to manipulation and even to violence, violence in thoughts, words, and actions."

No one says it quite like Henri. I've been moved by reading the thoughts of several of my friends in the wake of the terrible tragedy taking place in Louisiana and the surrounding states. I'd like to find a way to go there and help, too. Kari and I will contribute to the cause of Heart to Heart International, which has established a presence in New Orleans and is assisting refugees. Heart to Heart was founded by a gentleman at our church here in Olathe. If you are reading this and don't have a way to contribute, may I suggest this fine organization? By clicking on their name above, you can read about their core beliefs and find out how you can contribute.

May God bless those so profoundly affected by this awful event.

Now Reading: "Reflections on the Psalms," by C.S. Lewis
Cardinals' Magic Number: 11

Football Time in Tennessee  

Posted by BT

Well, the Vols managed to win their opener today, but, from the looks of things, they're going to have a mighty tough time at Florida in two weeks.

Here are a couple quotes from the book I'm proofreading that I found interesting and appropriate:

"The Scriptures are devalued when they’re used only to affirm and bless our culture and its characteristics. When the Bible becomes an “amen” to selfish politics, consumerism, individualism, the American way, and our many other cultural agendas, its radical message is silenced. The Bible becomes a weak-voiced pastor sitting at the cultural head table and offering a meaningless invocation—just happy to be in the room. But the Jesus who shakes up the religious authorities by healing on the Sabbath, scandalizes the norms of his day by conversing with a Samaritan woman, frequents the table of tax collectors and other marginal persons, and says we meet the eternal God in the faces of the poor—this Jesus is silenced and excluded."

"Yet the preeminence of systematic theology carries with it the danger that we may read the Bible for affirmation of our favored system, strip-mining the biblical narrative for verses, illustrations, and smaller segments that fit a prescribed theological package. The marvelous contours of the narrative forest are lost or ignored as we remove individual trees to be used as pillars of a theological system."

Just some food for though, I suppose.

Now reading: "Reflections on the Psalms," by C.S. Lewis
Cardinals' Magic Number: 16