Source: Le Temps
After Charlottesville, I thought again about when I heard Ruby Bridges give not just a great speech but what may have been the best speech I’ve ever heard in person by anyone.
Ruby Bridges is a credible witness to speak about good and evil. She had to be escorted by U.S. Marshalls to her school because of the evil of racism, expressed in white supremacism. But later her own son was murdered by another African American. That’s the background of her life truth: “Good and evil looks exactly like you and me.” She also experienced deep support and love from a white teacher, after hearing unrepeatable slurs on her way up the sidewalk to the school.
Here is an excerpt from some of her writing that shows one of the most memorable moments about her speech for me: that good and evil looks exactly like you and me, that it cannot be reduced to a particular political party view, race, or even hate group.
“The most important lesson that I took away that year [at William Frantz School] was that Mrs. Henry, who came from Boston to teach me, looked exactly like those people (hate-faced, white supremacists). I didn’t know what to expect from her. But she said, ‘Come in and take a seat. I’m your teacher.’ And she showed me her heart. She became my best friend. And I believe to this very day in my heart that she was put there for me. And that shaped me into who I am today. I am not a prejudiced person. The lesson I learned in first grade is the very lesson that Dr. King tried to teach all of us: ‘You should never judge a person by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’
Then I went into the schools to try to actually share my story. Everyone was familiar with the Norman Rockwell painting. They knew of that painting, but they did not know who that person was, even if that person was a real person, or what that person’s name was. It is very, very important that we share those stories. That is our shared history. It’s the Good and Evil that is in the world. I have to remind you, Good and Evil comes in all shades and colors. Good and Evil looks exactly like you and me. You see, I also know that first hand because I lost my oldest son. He was murdered. He was murdered by Evil. An Evil that stood over him and shot him eleven times looked just like me. That is what we need to be concerned about. It has absolutely got nothing to do with the color of our skin. So we need to know our history… So that we make sure that those kids–the next generation–that they want to strive to be exactly like these people (the humanitarians of Remember Them: Champions for Humanity).”
As Ruby Bridges went into schools to share her own story to students, she has remarked on the children’s acute interest in faith:
“When I speak to kids in schools across the country I’m amazed that they really want to know about this thing called faith and the belief in God. I believe, and that is going back to my faith, that good will always prevail. That love will conquer hate. I think I see more than most people because I’m in the schools across the country, talking to the children and that is the children’s faith.”
Malcolm Gladwell has a podcast that sheds new light on the period of school integration, and I haven’t heard this angle before. You probably haven’t either. Listen.
When I write a book, it comes after years of experience, research, and writing in a particular area. I wrote a novel set in Uganda where I lived seven years and listened for hours on end to stories of ordinary and extraordinary Ugandans. I wrote a book on a doctor in Honduras after interviewing and conferring with more than one hundred people.
I’m researching for an upcoming book and I need your help to understand the wide range of experience people have with the Bible.
My experience with the Bible began in the 1970s when I was given my first King James Version Bible by my parents, Terrel and Charlotte Taylor. In the featured image of this post is the title page where my Mom wrote, “[Presented to] Gregory Taylor [by] Dad and Mom: We love you and pray that you will always want to study God’s Word and follow what it says. May God bless you. November 6, 1975.
While I heard Old Testament stories from Bible class teachers as examples of faith, that two thirds of my first Bible seems untouched, unread. I read and marked New Testament passages about belief and baptism. For those first few years of my experience with the Bible, I wanted to believe and be baptized so I could go to heaven when I died and not go to hell.
To say that I read the Bible with confusion and fear would be an understatement. Anselm’s motto, “Faith seeking understanding” is a good description of my search for God as an eight year old. My early experiences were also marked with what felt like failure. We were given reading plans and encouraged to read the whole Bible. I never did, and tripped up weeks into any plan, growing bored, confused, and feeling like I was missing something.
One last and important thing: As Adam and Eve had a competing desire and sinned, so also in those early years I was introduced to a competing desire and sinned. I was living the early Bible story already and didn’t realize it. Television images, girls, and a magazine that my neighbor, aptly named Adam, pulled us breathlessly into the woods to show my brother and me competed with the words of God for my imagination. Doubts would come later, and I’ll write more about doubt and this competing for my imagination in my book.
What is your first experience with the Bible? I’m looking for brief responses about your first experience with the Bible, and I may contact you for an interview by phone about your other experiences. You are welcome to respond on comments below, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Answer the question, “What was my first experience with the Bible?” as deeply and honestly as you can.
Thank you, and I look forward to your responses!
Two years ago, my son watched my daughter, Anna, graduate from Broken Arrow High School. That night Tram Le gave a speech because she was the top student of the class of 2015.
Jacob decided that night he wanted to be a hero like Tram Le.
Two years later, May 15, 2017, Jacob gave that speech in the same slot in the program as Tram.
He called seniors to choose: be a villain or a hero. There is no middle ground.
I’ve gotten a front row seat, an inside look these last two years as Jacob has struggled to live out this decision. There was no middle ground in the last two years of many sleepless nights as Jacob set out to study and do well in AP classes and on the PSAT in order to become a National Merit Finalist. There was no middle ground when he decided night after night to stay up late and finish studying. There was no middle ground when he decided to not only study but also serve and lead in school, church, and community.
There was no middle ground when he ate healthy food and went running–he told me one time that studying is “dynamic” and sometimes an idea comes clear to him while running.
This reminds me of the Chariots of Fire story where Eric Liddell says when he runs he feels God’s pleasure. I can tell that as Jacob learns and grows, he’s feeling God’s pleasure, and he’s not just a student of science and math but also Scripture. And he knows his own wisdom and knowledge is not enough. He seeks God’s direction and Spirit’s guidance in daily prayer.
So Jacob gave a speech along with two of his classmates. All three of the speeches Monday night worked well together. Lexi Bagrosky spoke about senior memories and her laugh line was, “No one has all the answers, unless of course they cheat off of Jacob Taylor.”
Noah Osborne spoke about living with a passion for a cause bigger than ourselves. Then he said a line from the senior class motto, “Remember, if anyone is interested, I have some free love to give.” He followed that by saying, “But the only reason I have that love to give is because God sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, and I can’t help but express my love back to my one King without an act of worship, so if you know this hymn sing along.” Then he sang “Amazing Grace” and many in the crowd of 10,000 sang along. He stopped singing to listen as the crowd finished, “was blind but now I see.”
Jacob grabbed most of the guys’ attention with his speech when he started, “In my favorite movie, The Dark Knight . . .” He quoted Harvey Dent: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.” What he meant, Jacob said, was that there are two paths in life. Then he quoted “a man he admires,” who said, “You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. There is no middle ground.”
There was no middle ground when Jacob decided to join a team of young engineers developing a sustainable way to feed fish in Kenya.
There was no middle ground when Jacob has stood up as an example for other students, even when he felt embarrassed or wanted to see others awarded or congratulated as well.
Jacob has made his choice. He has chosen to be part of the solution. Another example: the day after graduation, Jacob traveled with a school group to help with Special Olympics in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Jacob has taught me so much in his eighteen years of life. He’s the first to coin the term in my hearing at least of a “missionary-engineer.” I’ve gotten a front row seat to watch Jacob as he’s been preparing himself to change the world, to be a hero.
One of my favorite things to watch over these last few years is the relationship Jacob has with his mother and my wife, Jill. She is the AP lead at Broken Arrow High School and teaches calculus and Algebra 3 there. It has been fun listening (without comprehending) to their conversations about calculus and the learning environment of Broken Arrow High School. Jill has had a greater role in Jacob’s academic success by far, and not just by genetics but also by her hard work and dedication to working with Jacob over many years of school.
One of the things we have talked about with Jacob since he was old enough to understand–which wasn’t very old for Jacob–is this: “Jacob, God has blessed you with a great mind and heart. Now give back to Him by using your gifts for God’s glory.”
I believe Jacob is doing that. Yes, I’m proud of my son. But I’m also a student of my son’s life, work ethic, courage, and wisdom. Though my son, Jacob is also my hero.
Watch this video as my hero celebrates with some of his friends!
On his deathbed, St. Francis freed his brothers by saying, “I have done what was mine to do, may Christ now teach you what you are to do.”
Source: Richard Rohr quoting Bonaventure, The Life of Saint Francis, trans. E. Gurney Salter (London: J. M. Dent, 1904), 150.
After hearing Randy Harris speak at the 2016 Pepperdine Lectures, I wanted to share the message of the lectures in print form, got his permission, transcribed, then re-worked the material into five articles, with deft editing help from Karissa Herchenroeder.
We published the five articles about the church and politics in a series called, “Electing to Follow Jesus,” and we ran these articles at Charis Magazine during the run up to the election and shortly after.
We kept the principle names of candidates out of these articles. Why? We want these articles to be more timeless and serve a generation as a primer for understanding our own baggage, how we can take a prophetic stand but still be wrong, and how some Christians have chosen to engage or not engage politics.
We believe the articles will have a long-term impact. Thank you to Karissa Herchenroeder and Charis, the Center for Heritage and Renewal in Spirituality (CHARIS) at Abilene Christian University (Abilene, TX, USA).
Here are the links to the articles on Charis Magazine.
This series represents a collaboration between Randy Harris and Greg Taylor, co-authors of Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.
Randy Harris is spiritual director for the Siburt Institute for Church Ministry and College of Biblical Studies. He also teaches theology, ethics, preaching, and biblical text courses in the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry at Abilene Christian University. Randy speaks at numerous conferences and churches throughout the year and has authored and co-authored several books, including the newest, Daring Faith: Meeting Jesus in the Book of John.
Greg Taylor is preaching minister for The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Greg is author of several books including “Lay Down Your Guns: One Doctor’s Battle for Hope and Healing in Honduras” and “High Places: A Novel,” and has co-authored several books.
Begin praying for our president elect today.
The peso will buy you fewer enchiladas today, pollsters are leaping from tall buildings, stocks are limit down, and my son is moving to Canada, which wasn’t the reason for the Canadian Immigration web site crash, but rather an interesting coincidence. What an election evening and I’m fairly apolitical.
I sat watching the wide-eyed dour commentators and began to wonder what kind of moment I was watching in American history. Clearly it is a watershed moment. But it is unclear at this moment if the water is flowing downhill or back up the mountain. Time will tell.
I’ve lived with a Republican president 29 years. I’ve lived with a Democratic president 28 years. I’m certain that I will adjust to life with another president that gives me indigestion.
Forty-nine per cent of our country feel like it’s the end of the world. The other fifty-one don’t feel much better. Here’s…
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A. Murray: Avoid ”right-hand error of counting separation alone as holiness . . . the left-hand error of seeking holiness w/out separation.”
I missed the publication and signing of this letter linked below, but by posting it here, I also endorse and agree with the contents.
Do you like Thai food and live in Broken Arrow? Try Amazing Thai Cuisine. I enjoy eating at locally owned restaurants serving food from around the world, and if you enjoy Thai food like Yellow Curry, search no further.
Visiting is like walking into a friendly home, with Thai cooks and servers greeting you warmly and serving great food. The atmosphere is very warm and enjoyable, clean, service is great, and food is amazing.
Mark and Pam Rushmore are great friends and beloved Shepherds of The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ. A Shepherd means they watch over the flock and staff and make sure we follow Jesus, God’s word, and love and pray for every person who calls on the Lord and the church for help.
Mark and Pam have been members of The Journey, like the Taylors, since mid 2000s, so we’ve been through a lot together.
Watch this video about Mark and Pam’s story. What I love about Mark and Pam is they are so good at what they do, but they follow what one of my friends calls the “unforced rhythms of grace” in their lives. They are in business to add value and worth to people’s lives, what they call “Life Lived Better.”
Like many of you, I love local businesses of all sorts. You need running shoes? Even if you walk, work on your feet, Drew and Carol Martin at BA Runner are the people who can customize the best fit for your arch and step. Tell ’em Preacher Greg sent you. Doesn’t mean you’ll get a discount, just that I want them to know how much I care about them and love what the Martin’s do!
William Barclay says in his book, The Gospel of John, “The secret of the life of Jesus was his contact with God; again and again he withdrew into a solitary place to meet him. We must keep contact with Jesus. We cannot do that unless we deliberately take some steps to do it.” Arrange your life, Barclay continues, so that “there’s never a day when we give ourselves a chance to forget him.”
Listen to this audio devotional today and “remain” in His love. The Bible reading is from John 15:1-11, NIV.
Tired of the political talk? Listen to Jesus direct you instead!
Follow along as Randy Harris and Greg Taylor lead you through the amazing Gospel of John in order to meet Jesus and learn Daring Faith.
Daring Faith is a brand new book and video companion new for the summer of 2016!
You can get the book content — which is great for personal, group, or church studies — in three forms: book, video (trailer below), audiobook (sample below).
Audiobook coming soon. Hear a sample below, narrated by Greg Taylor.