Why I love my wife

Jill TaylorThis is my wife, Jill Smiley Taylor. We have been married since 1989.

Jill teaches math in high school and college. She tutors students.

She teaches children at our church and has always taught our children. She even bought a “flannelgraph” to teach our children.

I’ve never seen someone with as much courage, tenacity, talent, smarts, logic, sensitivity, beauty, sense of humor, world view, teaching ability, motherhood, discipline, joy, grace, goodness, spunk, sarcasm, faithfulness.

She and I have made decisions side by side about moving to Uganda in 1994. We have parented side by side. We lead our family together, side by side. I do not consider myself as the leader of the family. We are co-leaders.

She has made me a better man. Jill is my best friend.

I love you, JT. Happy 25th Anniversary.

Between fear and hate: a response to shooting in our church

This 9:32 minute audio is Greg Taylor’s response given the morning after a shooting inside the building of the church where he preaches, Garnett Church of Christ.

Click on play button to listen

We chose the following media link because it more effectively shows the Hmong community response.

Shooting at Hmong Party in Tulsa

The Hmong leader interviewed in the story, Linda Lor, had just spoken to me minutes before she was interviewed on camera and she assured me that the Hmong community is coming together, that this is a wake up call for them and for us in many ways to pay closer attention to Hmong (and all) youth, anger, forgiveness, love. She said, “this shooting was due to an unforgiven grudge,” a targeted shooting toward one man in particular within a family clan.

That clan is planning a gathering at our church this weekend. Please pray for love to reign in this place where a shooting took place last weekend.

The audio above states what we want to say for now: blessings, prayers, support, love for and to the Hmong community. We also want to thank all those in our church and community and the nation who have been praying for us here. We feel and value your prayers and know the Holy Spirit is working through us as we seek to respond in ways that Christ would want us to respond, not with fear nor with hate but with love for all, including those who try to do us harm.

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Review: Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity

Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity
Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story of Global Christianity by Miriam Adeney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part travelogue, part missionary handbook of best practices, part person experience of Adeney’s travel and teaching in primarily Hindu and Muslim countries. With the insight of an anthropologist and the faith of a global Christian, Adeney’s Kingdom Without Borders is a must read for anyone traveling (or thinks they shouldn’t travel) and trying to be a global Christian.

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Review: Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship

Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship
Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship by Ted A. Kluck
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Award-winning author (Why We Love the Church, co-authored with Kevin DeYoung) has a teamed up with an ex-con he is mentoring for what Publishers Weekly calls “an odd-couple Same Kind of Different As Me feel-alike.” What makes it unique is that both guys write, in much different styles. Dallas Jahncke writes much more reverently and straight than Kluck’s cheeky freeform banter complete with footnotes he seems to use more as thought clouds to squirrel away humor he’d like his editors to overlook. The book is not very well organized or tidy, but it seems this reflects the outlook of the authors–life can be a broken mess that needs God and one another to repair. In spite some weaknesses, Dallas and the Spitfire is a “Triumph!”

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Humility in a Sea of Tranquility

I was almost 2, I would have been tagging along behind Brent doing all he said in this post.

Bespoke

orangemoon2

Neil Armstrong used to tell dry punchless jokes about the moon and then follow them up with, “Ahh…I guess you had to be there.”
.
Well, I was there…at least I felt deep down in my soul I was there with Neil. It was Sunday evening, July 20, 1969 and I stepped out of the back seat of a white Buick in our driveway which was surrounded by a cluster of canopied scrub oak. Walking out into the center of our front yard to escape the trees, I peered into the gathering of the evening as it mingled with day, orange and blue and white melding into dusty shades of infinite space. And I saw Neil Armstrong in the Sea of Tranquility planting the American flag in moon cheese. At least I thought it was him. The shadows may have fooled me. I rushed inside to confirm my suspicions and…

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About Greg

This is my blog and author page. You’ll find more about my life than just my writing, but the focus is on what I write, how we live, the things I’m up to. I try not to just post re-hash from my books. I would love for you to read one of my books that appeals to you.

What’s your interest?

Ask Greg a question

Read book excerpts

Read magazine articles

Read more about Greg’s family, work, and play

Interested in writing? Click here

Review: Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity

Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity
Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity by Mark A. Noll
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read several of Mark A. Noll’s books, and he is a thorough and honest scholar and historian. Turning Points is one of his best books, in my opinion, because more than any other book he’s written, he sweeps through Christian history and shows why certain points in history, these “turning points,” are important. Two examples of turning points: church councils and the nailing of the 99 Theses on the wall of Wittenberg by Martin Luther. He explains why these things are important. It has been many years since I read the book, but I judge good books by their ability to stick to the ribs of my brain and never let go.

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Which son?

In January 1977, when President Jimmy Carter was inaugurated, the press asked his mother if she was proud of her son, and she asked the press, “Which one?”–Citizen Carter

How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions

How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions

by Anne-Geri’ Fann and Greg Taylor

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Can I drink the water?

But I don’t speak the language.

You want me to sleep where?

They eat what?

How am I going to raise that much money?

Is it really God’s will for me to go?

I don’t know how to share the gospel.

Are you ready?

More than one million people will go into all the world on short-term missions trips this year. Are you ready to be one of them?

Anne-Geri’ and Greg have been in the field and led teams there-and back. They will help you prep and pack for the trip, put their arms around you while you’re gone, and offer perspective as you reenter “normal” life.

How to Get Ready for Short-Term Missions will help you:

  • Pack your suitcase and prepare your heart
  • Build genuine relationships with the locals
  • Understand cultural differences
  • Deal with physical fatigue
  • Combat stretched emotions

There’s even a chapter for clammy-handed parents!

With humor and experience, Anne-Geri’ and Greg ask questions you can’t hide from and help you focus on your true mission.

Down in the River to Pray

Baptism is more important than you think. But not for the reasons you suppose.

Combining careful Bible study with enlightening historical survey and practical suggestions, this book provides a rich resource for deepening and renewing a central practice of the Christian faith.

Order from Leafwood Publishers

Gallery

High Places

Two cultures collide and embrace in this love story and coming-of-age struggle for life’s “high places.” After Tenwa burns his tribe’s religious shrine, he realizes that following the missionary may cost him his life. His father and the tribal leaders … Continue reading

Living Jesus

The Sermon on the Mount is more than great ideas by a great teacher. It is a way of life. Randy Harris invites you not just to understand these great teachings but to live them in ways you never before imagined.

This new book is a training tool for people who want to live the way of Jesus. Centered on the entire contents of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 5-7, it unpacks the sermon in hard-hitting, easy-to-understand, and practical ways.

G. K. Chesterton said Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried. Many people today view the Sermon on the Mount this way. They simply believe the teaching is too hard and give up in exasperation and guilt or confusion. The single most important interpretive key for the sermon, says Randy Harris, is to believe that Jesus really intended for us to live these teachings.

Martin Luther said the Sermon on the Mount is so difficult that we can only fall on the grace of God. The teachings are indeed difficult, and we can only fall on the grace of God, but this doesn’t mean the teachings cannot become a necessary guide for living the way of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount, says Harris, is livable and this book is a guide to the greatest teaching of all time that will change your life forever.

Order from Leafwood Publishers

Writing for Publication and Blogging

I have been writing for publication in printed magazines and books for fourteen years. I started a blog about a decade ago. A pattern emerges over time that when I’m on deadline for a book, you likely won’t see blog posts for a month or so. This is a combination apology-explanation of that pattern. Doesn’t help to give you any new content to read, but it does help me to realize that when I come up on deadlines, I ought to be aware and blog about what I’m working on.

The book I’m writing now is the first solo work I’ve done in ten years. I’m very proud of how it’s taking shape, but it’s a very complicated book that has required me to wake early most mornings to get 2-3 hours writing in before heading to my day job.

If you are an aspiring writer, get up early, stay up late, turn off the TV, carve out regular time, and write. Writers write.

The book I’m working on is narrative non-fiction, a story about a female doctor in Honduras who has fought a long battle in the mountains to establish medical clinics, only to have those facilities and staff members attacked by the rising influence of illegal drug trafficking. The murder rate in the mountain region where the doctor has helped establish clinics is that of a metropolitan area where the population is in the tens of thousands. How does the doctor face this challenge with weapons different from the cartels? Hers is a powerful story of courage and resolve to change the world, to put her life on the line for the sake of God and serving others.

The book is scheduled to be released by Leafwood Publishers September 2013.

Unique Ways Small to Medium Sized Churches or Organizations Can Help With Relief Efforts

Below I’ve printed a very recent text conversation I had with a member of Garnett Church of Christ and Girl Scout Mom, after the Moore tornado hit. I want to give this as an example of what we do to join efforts of others, rather than opening our own effort after a disaster.

My hope is that if you are part of a small or medium sized church or organization wondering what you can do, consider this approach and free people up to train, serve, learn more, do, give through established and experienced relief organizations. For example, after Joplin tornado, some church members wanted to go and help, and we asked them to join Red Cross or another official organization operating relief efforts, and they did. What they learned was that working through a large organization is most helpful, and donating money is usually better than clothing that needs sorted and creates a huge backlog and mess that needs managed. If clothing is donated, for example, we do it through an organization we know is on the ground consistently in these situations not one that arises just after the storm. Another time we helped with a major relief effort through our church was Katrina, and even then we worked through FEMA heavily.

What I’m saying is, our church body believes right now that there are other churches and organizations in town who do a whole lot better at large-scale relief efforts than we do, and so we joyfully join them rather than attempting to duplicate efforts. We had the same approach when we considered building houses a few years ago and we joined with other churches and Habitat for Humanity to build, rather than going out on our own and forming a new approach by our church.

English: President George W. Bush (R-TX) worki...

English: President George W. Bush (R-TX) working on a Habitat for Humanity build site. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For example, this morning we sent out the following article from Tulsa World of ways to help rather than getting our own truck, which we believe would simply just cause more confusion in Moore. Tulsa World article about how to help Moore and surrounding area victims

OK, back to the text conversation. The text thread originated from a Girl Scout Mom, an adult named Holly Chiarello, who is also a member of Garnett Church of Christ, and she gave me permission to print our text conversation verbatim.

Holly: Hi Greg! Is our church doing any kind of donation drive or anything 4 the people of moore? My Girl Scout troop is goin 2 try 2 hold a drive sunday in BA!

Greg: awesome pls send that info to Beth W. so she can put
that info in bulletin — send before 12 thurs, tomorrow or text to
Beth at (number)

Holly: Ok will do! We will take anything! Monetary, clothes, food, water! All
i got left 2 do is get permission from a business in BA 2 use parking
lot 4 about 3 hours!

Greg: If you can’t find a place, use the church and you have my permission
for sure right now as peace of mind backup parking lot — I figure you
might want to use a Ba location but feel free to use ours

Holly: I’ll tell you what! Id be honored to use ours! Thats perfect! Thank you
greg! Im goin to say from 1pm to 4pm…longer if doing well! Is that
time okay?

Greg: Yes, time is perfect and if people know they can bring donations to
church so pls send plans ASAP so we can put in bulletin … our method
at Garnett is to partner with groups who already doing good, so if you
have a truck or place you are taking like Guts or somewhere that’s
great … who’s getting donations to Moore?

Holly: Were are trying 2 find a truck to take down or thinking to donate to
red cross here in town. or if possible a church of christ in moore is
my 1st choice! =) If you would like let beth know that we are for sure setting up at 1pm till 4pm. Taking all items..even gently used clothing and linens!Anything helps!

English: The official emblem of the Internatio...

English: The official emblem of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Suomi: Punaisen Ristin ja Punaisen Puolikuun yhdistysten kansainvälinen liiton virallinen tunnus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greg: My experience over the years, Holly, is to get a list from Red Cross and do not stray from it and insist people bring good items from the list and then take it to a distributor like Red Cross to transport but you have to be clear what you can bring and don’t try to duplicate
efforts … if Red Cross or Guts church doing something, get their list and have everybody bring what matches that distributor and take everything over there that afternoon after collection. The reason I’m directing you this way is because I’ve been in this situation many times and it always works better to work thru experienced
organizations already taking things and do collection together and arrange to take to the spot where a truck is already gettin filled … guts for example said they’ll keep filling trucks and taking when full so if you arrange enough folks just to take a few miles to guts at 4
pm that might work as long as someone on duty at guts

Holly: I sooooo appreciate your help greg! I didnt really want to have to try
to drive down there! And red cross is establisged…so is guts! I like
the guts idea! =)

Greg: cool

Holly: I value ur opinion and i like the idea of a couple trucks to guts!
much easier! Thank you Greg! I really appreciate the love & support!

Greg: I pray each day to let God show me someone to give empowerment, to
encourage to live out the calling of Christ where you are, so consider
this a prayer answered that both of us pray! Talk to you soon.

Greg: Holly, this is a strange request but would it be OK if I added this conversation to my blog and facebook just as an example of how we talk through relief efforts at our church?

Holly: Of course, sounds fantastic! I love the idea! We are the Three Feathers Service Unit from Coweta/Porter/Broken Arrow. Our Girl Scout troop is Daisy and Brownie Troop #301. I’m so happy!

On Reading Revelation

My friend and co-author of Down in the River to Pray has posted on a reading group at our former church in Nashville, Woodmont Hills Church, who are doing the same thing we’re doing at Garnett Church in Tulsa: we’re reading Revelation! The goal of a preaching series I’m doing is to prepare us to read Revelation and to have a different “reading” of Revelation, one that goes through the goal posts between the poles of flat and simplistic platitudes, as Greg Stevenson says, that make simplistic statements about Revelation like, “we win” as an excuse not to read the 22 chapters John wrote and the pole of finding a current event under every beast. It is a reading that tries to understand how the 7 churches read it and then through that context come to understand what it means today, but it’s very difficult to understand it today when we fail to understand what it meant to John and the 7 churches. I’ll post more on Revelation but wanted to go ahead and Reblog this from John Mark Hicks.

John Mark Hicks Ministries

Last Sunday I began an extended study of the Apocalypse of Jesus the Messiah with a studious, gracious, and interested group of Bible students at the Woodmont Hills Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee. It will be a long journey but, I’m convinced, a fruitful one. I will post along the way as I have other texts we have studied (e.g., Mark, Amos, Zechariah; these and others are available through the “Serial Index” menu).

In this initial post I will address three major questions that shape how one reads the last book of the Christian canon.

First, when reading Revelation, we are reading an “Apocalypse.” It is the first word in the Greek text and it identifies the genre of the document. We should read not this as a historical narrative (like Luke-Acts). It is neither history, poetry, or even letter, though it may contain aspects of it.  It is…

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