Lent Daily Reflections from Wineskins

You can sign up on this page for a Daily Lent Email or just go to this page for the daily meditations.

What do you think of Lent. Overall I think it’s a good practice, though it seems weird to do in a community that is not doing it and in some cases is against it. Here is a comment from a Wineskins reader I post with his permission.

I agree with a lot of things coming from wineskins, but lent?  I don’t see where it’s part of a New Testament culture to encourage time sensitive religious rites like lent.  I appreciate your concern, but could you spend your efforts and resources keeping us off the track of secular thinking and focus? Try not to drag us into the same ol’ pool of habits and thinking that bind us to ceremony and ritualistic traditions – that’s not the wineskins I started reading 10 years ago (or longer!)
just a thought.

What do you think?

By Greg Taylor Posted in Uncategorized

Top 10 redemptive films

This is a good piece on redemptive films by Christianity Today.

Found myself humming B flat today after a fun-cinating story on NPR.

Learning how to not be an overbearing father.

Will start Harry Potter 3 and race to the finish against my two youngest kids also reading. We have three copies from library, etc. One copy my daughter bought and gave to the school library, then my son checked it out.

By Greg Taylor Posted in Uncategorized

Valentine’s Day 2007 – My brother wins song contest!

My brother, Toby wrote this love story for a K-LOVE contest where the winning entry gets a song written by Mark Schultz for Valentine’s Day. Toby’s and Debbie’s story made the top five and this morning . . . THEY WON!

Congratulations, Brother! Debbie and Toby agree, Tobe has set himself for Valentine’s gifts for the rest of his natural life. All he has to do is play the song and she’ll melt every February 14. They are a beautiful couple and romantics to the marrow.

We’re so happy for you, Toby and Debbie, but we also know much more about the goodness of your lives than people on the radio hear. One example of their love is their work with CareNet. Toby has run two marathons to benefit CareNet, and both Toby and Debbie go to public high schools to teach an abstinence program and about what true love really is.

They know true love and we salute them today, Valentine’s Day 2007.

K-LOVE on iTunes

Dr. Toby’s Blog

Here’s the story that won the contest and the basis for Mark Schultz’s song. I don’t have access to the song yet. Someone let me know if you find it. They’ve played it on radio a couple times. The song is called, “I’ll always love you.”

A Warm Summer Morning
By Toby Taylor for Debbie Taylor

On a warm summer morning in 1986, I saw my wife for the very first time. I had just finished my second year at Harding University and had flown a thousand miles from home to spend the summer as a counselor at Camp Hunt, a Christian youth camp in Upstate, NY. Being a “home body”, I didn’t like traveling away from my home and family in Oklahoma. But, a friend from Harding, Bob, talked me into 6 weeks of camp in the green hills of central New York.

By providence, another friend from New York told me about a girl that was to be a counselor with me that summer. He had been to Camp Hunt and knew several people from the area and just a month before I left, he told me about Debbie. Brown hair, cute, short, a lot of fun and a devoted Christian; was how he described her. She was someone special from the way he talked. I knew that I would look for her that summer.

When I flew into NY, Bob picked me up and I entered the countryside. I marveled at the beauty of cornfields, cattle and farmhouses on rolling green hills and meadows. Camp Hunt was set on a hill overlooking a valley of trees and more farms. A large green wooden building stood in the center of the camp and served as the mess hall. A cut tree erected in the grounds served as a flag pole and just behind the flag pole, the lodge. Deihl Lodge was a picture of camping Americana. Surrounded by pine trees and painted brick red, it also stood over the valley. Inside was dim lighting and musty smelling furniture in a common room where we had our counselors meetings.

It was here. I sat miles away from home, not sure what I was getting into. I sat on the old dusty couch and while others visited around me, I gazed out the open door facing east and the morning sun. There was a mist in the valley that was slowly rising and dissipating in the warmth of the sunlight. My trance-like state melted away as she walked into the doorway.

I knew it was her right away. Her smile, auburn hair, small nose and freckled face were immediately recognizable; Debbie. But it was the warmth and kindness and joy she carried that told me this was the girl I had heard about. As she stepped into the lodge in front of the morning sun, sun beamed through her hair and danced around her smiling face, the face of an angel. Never had the sun been adorned with such beauty as when my future wife carried it’s rays around her.

I can’t say I knew then that I was going to marry this bright, happy girl, but I knew I’d try. The vision above soon ended as her boyfriend walked into the lodge behind her. But, 6 weeks of counseling camp and then attending Harding together in the Fall, our friendship grew. We took a class together, “Hebrew Poetry”. Studying together, we memorized verses from Psalms and Song of Solomon at the college Laundromat. Our fondness for each other was natural and pure. Our first kiss was on a Sunday evening standing on a sidewalk and under a light on the Harding campus in January 1987. We were married June 25, 1988 at the Church of Christ in Utica, New York. We now live just 25 miles from Camp Hunt. We often spend a week or two in the summer teaching Bible class at camp. I often venture back to the lodge and look out the doorway to the valley below. But, many times my mind doesn’t see the beauty of the valley, instead I see my wife again for the very first time.

Going Missional

Leadership Journal and Wineskins Magazine feature articles in their current issues on the Missional Church. Wade Hodges and I wrote a piece called “We can’t do megachurch anymore” for Leadership Journal. An interview with Calvin Miller talking to me by phone is on ZOE/Wineskins A Life of Worship Podcast and if you’ve not read Shaping of Things to Come by Frost and Hirsh, you need to read the “Conversation with Fred” featuring Michael Frost.

Two voices of Henri Nouwen

If you’ve never heard of Henri Nouwen or you’ve read many of his books or you’ve heard of him but only read excerpts, in any case, I believe you’ll be moved to look more deeply into his life and writings when you click the link to the left and watch the short video clips and follow the link to the Henri Nouwen Society website. I was particularly struck by the clip of Nouwen talking about the two voices.

Super quote

“I’m proud to be the first African-American coach to win this,” Dungy said during the trophy ceremony. “But again, more than anything, Lovie Smith and I are not only African-American but also Christian coaches, showing you can do it the Lord’s way. We’re more proud of that.”–Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy following last night’s 29-17 Super Bowl win over the Bears and protege Lovie Smith, Chicago Bear’s head coach.

AP story by Steven Wine

Short-term missions

Adam Langford joined a long-term mission in Jinja, Uganda, in part, because of short-term experiences in Honduras and Uganda.

My friend, Johnna Raymond, said, “We challenged our interns to give it over to God, all of it. Adam did.” Adam Langford and Moses Kimezi died January 16 as they worked to take good news to the poor and proclaim the joy of Christ. Both Moses and Adam were like that: the spirit of Christ oozed from their pores and their quick laughing smiles.

Literally millions of people in the United States and worldwide are preparing right now for short-term trips, particularly on spring and summer breaks.

Missionary hero of mine, Sam Shewmaker, asks, “Who are the 50 who will ‘replace’ Adam Langford in the mission field?” And who are the 50 who will ‘replace’ Moses? Indeed, we can’t replace Adam or Moses, but they have inspired us, called us once again to missional lives, to suffer with those who suffer, to take fresh water, healing balm, words of comfort, listening ears and learning hearts and serving hands.

Will you hear God’s call through this tragedy? Jason and Jody King already have. They had already made a short-term trip to Jinja and have been planning to go back for two years to Jinja and work with the team that Adam and Moses served with. Jason and Jody still need support. Will you hear God’s call to help support them? Will you either support short-term missionaries or long-term if you can’t go yourself? Or will you go?

Please, please do not go into a short-term trip light-heartedly or with the flippant spirit of “tourism for Jesus.” You need more than a passport and shots. You need the humble spirit of one who is willing to die for others, willing to be a transformed traveler, an incarnational presence of Christ as you discover the amazing diversity and learn deep truths yourself from Christians and God-fearers worldwide.

Here are some resources for you as you prepare. May God bless you, and please write me to find out more about short-term trips that make long-term missionaries. If you have any questions about how to support short-termers, train them, or go yourself, feel free to write.

The Kibo Group
Partners with creative people in both short- and long-term mission capacities to develop solutions for sustainable and community development in East Africa.

International Mission Internships (IMI)
Places university students with experienced missionaries for six-week-long internships that include a two-night bonding experience with locals.

Harding University at Tahkodah (HUT)
The HUT training village offers economic and cultural learning games to show what real life is like in a developing nation.

Mission Alive
Experientially trains mission teams and Christian leaders as evangelists and church planters.

Youth Works
Provides weeklong youth mission trips throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico

Youth With A Mission (YWAM)
Sends out twenty-five thousand short-term missionaries each year. Participants make God known through evangelism, mercy ministries, and discipleship training.

Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI)
Seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. HFHI invites people of all backgrounds, races, and religions to partner with families in need through house-building projects.

Short-Term Evangelical Missions (STEM)
Offers training events, consulting, and publications to help churches and sending groups achieve maximum impact in their short-term mission programs.

Mission Year
Sends young people for one year to work in a poor urban neighborhood. In that time participants partner with a local church, volunteer at a social service agency, and develop relationships within the community.

Beyond Borders
Organizes reflective journeys and long-term apprenticeships that create opportunities for dialogue between the visitors and their Haitian hosts.

Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO)
Helps those working internationally with the poor be more effective, particularly in the areas of agricultural advancements and developing technology.

Casas por Cristo
A nondenominational ministry addressing the needs of the poor in Mexico through partnerships with churches in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (Casas por Cristo is Spanish for “Houses because of Christ”).

Source: How to get ready for short-term missions (Thomas Nelson, 2006).