Sunday, May 17, 2015

Prayer Request

    Well, tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow I leave my beloved Republic of Texas for Italy to compete in the World Taekwondo Championships. So, that said, I will be away from my computer for two weeks. Yes, that means no blogging. So, if you just can't stand being away from here for this long, look up some old posts!

     In the mean time while I'm gone, I can't tell you how much I would appreciate your prayers, both for safety in traveling for my dad and I, and for safety (and success) at the tournament the 26th-31st. Please pray that I would represent my country, my school, and all the people who have supported me with encouragement and prayers well, and that I would keep Christ as the center of my focus during the whole time!

     Go Team USA!!!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Good Quote

    I was recently given a 1942 book by George Wiseman called Life Begins with Jesus, counterpart to his earlier book Life Begins with Faith. Here's a great quote I ran across tonight while flipping through it.

    "Of course He recognized the value of physical relaxation. He rested and insisted that His disciples do likewise. But this invitation was different. It was not the spirit of repose, but rest in the midst of turmoil. Work we must do. It was not His spirit to encourage laziness. He knew that this was the source of weariness. There is nothing as boring as an empty life. He was continually calling people to do something, and His commands were always hard- far harder than that which the most active and alert wanted to undertake. But in Him rest can be found in the midst of the most exacting toil. That is more in keeping with the Spirit of God and the life of the Master than a shiftless, indolent existence."

                                                        -George Wiseman, Life Begins with Jesus

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Live Dangerously (Part 2)

    Well, my previous post (here) turned out to be one of my post popular articles yet. So, since I didn't put everything I wanted to say into that post due to a lack of time, I thought I'd put out a follow-up post detailing some other things I wanted to say.

    First off, Ryan from over at A Message for the Messenger shot me a quick email bringing up something I had thought of but hadn't addressed. Hebrews 11 brings up an incredible number of what we as Christians would consider the heroes of the faith. The first half of the chapter details all these incredible tales of faith, courage, and miracles. We walk away from v. 1-34 feeling like we could walk on water and swim through land. Seriously, v. 33 says that they, through faith, "conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight."

    That's quite a list of incredible things, times God came through for His people in incredible ways. Think of David's mighty men. These were men who God used so mightily that He would use a single man to turn back an entire army. Samson who God used to crush the power of the Philistines. Or Gideon who God raised up in order to annihilate the Midianite hordes with a tiny band of farmers. Moses, a terrible public speaker, who stands up and defies the Pharoah in his very own thrown room. Joshua, who marched a nomadic group of fearful men into a land dominated by over 30 different kingdoms, and destroyed them. David, a teenager who killed a giant, then turned warlord who dominated the war-torn region of Canaan for forty years. Shadrach and his friends who walk through flames with the Son of God and testify before world conquerors of His greatness.

    But then the chapter changes focus. The final six verses are much less up-lifting and much more sobering. Rather than listing a long list of miracles and great acts of valor and victory, we see instead a list of tortures, stonings, beatings, mockings, imprisonment, and martyrdoms. Horrific tortures and terrible deaths, listed and catalogued for us to read.

    "But, Taylor," you say, "you said God will come through for us if we trust Him." I did say He'd come through for you. But not necessarily in the way you meant. Or wished. God never promised to fulfill your desires, but His.

    We place ourselves in a position of risk, positions that place our comfort and security outside the realm of our control, and then what? We wait on God. We rest in Him, and the knowledge of His goodness. Yes, that includes the terrible thing listed in Heb. 11.

    When I say that God will come through for you, I don't mean He is my celestial errand-boy who I summon for aid whenever I'm in over my head. Rather, we should knowingly place ourselves in positions of risk that demand God's aid, and if He chooses to give it in the manner I would rather, excellent; and if not, it is to His glory, that He might be preeminent in all things!

    So, how can we focus on doing risky things, crazy things even, for Jesus if we're not guaranteed safety, just His presence? Well, the author apparently is following the same thought process because, as chapter 11 closes, chapter 12 opens with these words in v. 2. "Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."

    How can we keep hope when we place ourselves at risk? 1.) Fix your eyes on Jesus. Imitate Him. Follow Him. Watch His every movement.

    I was out running tonight in training for upcoming World Championships, and I began thinking about training. What do I use to motivate me? I mean, seriously, I've pushed until I've cried, thrown up, bled, and so on. What is it that pushes me to do that?

    On a lesser level, it's things like family and friends. I push myself for them. They're praying for me, they're encouraging me, I owe them this. On a larger scale is my pride and my country. This competition, I'm representing my country against other countries. My country is relying on me to train my hardest and do my best.

    But, the ultimate reason I train so hard is for one simple reason... I want to win! I want the medal! The prize is worth it the blood, the vomit, and the sweat that I've invested. The risk of losing or injury is worth it to me because the prize is worth having.

   But how much sweeter is Jesus Christ! So the first method of staying the course and daring greatly for God is to fix our eyes on Jesus. Adore Him. Emulate Him. Study Him. Fix our eyes on Him.

    The next method? 2.) Consider Him. Think about the cross. Never let the gospel fade out of your mind, because without it, our focus switches to something else, something less important. And when we consider the cost to Jesus that His death cost Him, it puts the cost of our own abandonment to Him in perspective.

    So, God calls us to live dangerously, like the men I listed earlier. It may mean God will use you to accomplish great things for Him, like Joshua or David. Or it may be that you'll die at 15 like Rachel Scott at Columbine High School, before you get the chance to do those "great" things you've dreamed of.

    But it's not about the size of the things we do for Christ. It's the service, the love, that counts. It's our love for God, our desire to serve Him, and our fixed consideration of the gospel and of Jesus Christ that pushes us to hazard all to follow Him.

Monday, May 11, 2015


    My friend Lauren over on defyingdepravity posted an excellent post today on overseas missions! I thought I'd put the link out over here. Way too often we consider our acts of service or love for God to be something I do when I'm older and finally doing what I feel to be my "calling". But what we often do instead is put off serving God during the time now, where I'm at this point in life. God doesn't call us to serve Him only in the future and in other places. He calls us to serve Him now, here.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Excellent Sermon

    Hey, y'all! I haven't felt like posting a long, in-depth post for several days, but I thought I would post the link to a really good sermon I listened to tonight by Pastor Scott Kay from Atlanta. It's the sermon entitled, "Only the Good Die Young". I know most of y'all (if not all) don't have the time to listen to an hour long sermon, but for those of you who do, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Thursday, May 7, 2015


    I ran across this quote last night that fit perfectly into what I was saying with yesterdays article. Maybe Francis Chan can say it better than I did!

    “But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.”

                                 -Francis Chan, Crazy Love

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Live Dangerously

    In case you hadn't realized it from the three posts I've already written about my trip to Malawi (here, here, and here), my January missions trip to Malawi deeply affected my life and my relationship with Christ. I learned a ton that I could not have learned as clearly in the USA. It truly was extraordinary.

    I'm going to tell a fairly long story below, so bear with me, because there is a point I am trying to make with it!

    When I first voiced my desire to go on this particular trip, the missionary heading up the team that was going asked me what I intended to do there. My first thought was, "Huh?" I hadn't prepared for that (thinking back, what did I think he was going to ask, my favorite food? I mean, c'mon, Taylor!).

    So, I told him that I could help teach youth and help with some school evangelism projects. I've done several such youth ministries in the US, so I figured I could do the same there. Ha! I had not correctly estimated this particular missionary's drive to push me outside my comfort zone!

    Somehow, when the words came out of my mouth that I wanted to teach youth, Mr. Kershner heard that as "I want to teach pastors." (I have the greatest respect for Mr. Kershner, by the way. None of this is negative toward him, just a part of the story.) So, three weeks before I leave for Malawi, I'm on vacation over Christmas at my sister's house, and I get an email that tells me to prepare for about six hours of preaching to pastors!

    Now, I'm going to take a second and explain some of the irony here. Somehow, I, a 16 year old American who had never preached more than a Sunday School lesson, was supposed to go to Africa and preach to pastors! Seriously? What am I supposed to say?

    So, at my sister's house, I took a little time by myself and began arranging some notes, getting some ideas and references, writing out some notes for myself. However, try as I might, I got one sermon outline done. I came back over the course of several days, and I could not get down what I needed to. My mind wouldn't focus, I couldn't think, and all in all, I was panicked!

    Fast forward a month. I'm sitting in Malawi with an American college student and a 23 year old accountant at a preacher's conference. And, I'm up to speak first. In the last few days, I'd been praying and reading the Bible a lot, but still no more lessons. So, walking into this, I was nervous. More like, downright scared.

    So, my first preaching experience was to a group of African pastors in a mud brick church during a thunderstorm. But what caught me off guard was that God led me completely off what I had written to say words I hadn't written down, and things I hadn't planned to say. I was flabbergasted (pleasantly)! Where was this coming from?

    I finished my sermon, and in true African style, there is no break. They don't get opportunities like this often, so when it comes, you better be ready for some preaching! Both my partners got up, and preached, giving me about an hour and a half to start internally sweating again. So, after my second partner preached, the pastor of the church got up and led us in one song before the next preaching section, which would be mine. Keep in mind I had nothing to say!

    There, during that song, God gave me a lesson. I've never had anything like that happen before. As I was listening to them singing, a reference came into my head. Then points, other verses, ideas, analogies, and so on. God not only gave me a sermon five minutes before I got up to speak, but he also kept me going, giving me words to say, for forty minutes. With about four sentences scribbled down as notes.

    When I got down from preaching that second time (what a way to get introduced to preaching!), I was empty. I was pushed to the max, emptied of myself, and exhausted. So, I went outside the church while one of my buddies preached, and walked through one of the cornfields, just crying out to God that I was done. I couldn't do it by myself. I needed him.

    So, when I finally came back inside the church, it was almost time to preach again. Yes, that's right, a third sermon. Keep in mind that I still had no idea what I was going to preach on. But now I had an inkling of what might happen!

    Sure enough, while the church was singing, a third sermon took shape in my mind. Verses, ideas, and thoughts came together into about four scribbled sentences that would serve as my notes during that final sermon. Once again, God supplied not only a sermon, but the ability to preach it and to keep speaking for about forty minutes.

    This was the highlight of my trip to Malawi. Not only was this my first preaching opportunity, but I had never had the Holy Spirit so actively work in my thoughts before as to guide me, while I was speaking, as to what I would say next. It was incredible.

    But it led me to begin thinking. My first thought was, "Why hasn't this ever happened before? Why haven't I ever experienced the Holy Spirit's aid, help, and comfort with such reality before?" At first, I felt as if God had somehow held back His guidance before. Why?

    But the thought process that started in Africa continued back to America. I've been thinking about it ever since, and I believe I've found the answer. It's really simple really. The Holy Spirit wasn't noticeably active in my life as Comforter and Guide in the past because I had never realized I needed it!

    Why would I need God's guidance and strength when I'm doing just fine on my own? Why?

    Why would God include so many promises that He would be with us, protect us, guide us, help us, etc. if He never meant for us to benefit from these gifts?

    The answer is very simple. God never intended us to spend our lives comfortably strong in ourselves. When we are strong in ourselves, we don't need Him. We nearly never put ourselves in a position where we are lost if God doesn't come through for us.

    But the vast number of promises regarding the idea of God's Holy Spirit's role as Comforter and Guide seem to reflect the concept that we should require God's aid. Unfortunately, what I do, and what most of us tend to do, is to live life that's so comfortable, laid back, and normal that I don't "need" the Holy Spirit. We don't ever put ourselves in a position of risk that requires God to come through for me.

    Think about Elijah's challenge with the priests of Baal. We see no promise from God beforehand that He would prove Himself. However, Elijah jumped forward, and placed himself in a position that would get him killed if God didn't come through for Him. He purposefully placed himself in a position that he couldn't get himself out of, and required God's aid.

    What about David and Goliath? Again, we see no promise from God that He would protect David. Instead, we see David put God to the test, walk out onto the field, and place himself in a position of danger if God didn't come through. David trusted that God would come through for him.

    So, what are we seeing here? That OT guys just trusted God more than we do today? Why?

    Well, because they put Him to the test! They placed themselves in positions that required God to come through, and when He did, their faith was strengthened. Why do I trust close friends of mine? Because they've proved themselves worthy of my trust! They've been trustworthy and reliable!

    How is God any different? As long as we go through life safely and comfortably, we will never be in a position to require, even demand, God's guidance/protection. So how would I ever develop a trust and faith in Him? As long as I never have to rely on Him, I will never learn to trust Him.

    As Christians, I believe we are called to place ourselves in positions that require God's help, positions that are risky if God doesn't come through for us. Because God will come through. But until we see it happen, and experience it ourselves, it's hard to believe.

    If we truly believe that God can do anything, and He wants us to serve Him above all, don't you think our lives might be a bit more radical and a bit less "normal"? If we truly thought that God would come through for us, don't you think we'd place ourselves in positions that would require Him to more often?

    I don't have this mastered, by any means! But it's something to strive for. Live dangerously for God. Learn to trust Him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Good Quotes

    “Sometimes, I hear people talk about the different men and women of the Old Testament, and there is a hint of jealousy. They may say it, or just insinuate it, but here's what they communicate...'What would it have been like to hear God's voice and see him move in such powerful ways? I wish it was the same for us as it was for those whose stories we read about in scripture. When I get to heaven I can't wait to ask David, Elijah, or Moses what it was like.' But I think it will be just the opposite in heaven. Before we can ask David what it was like to slay a giant, to win the battles, he'll say, Tell me what it was like on earth to have the Holy Spirit inside of you, giving you strength when you are weak. We might say to Elijah, What was it like to call down fire from heaven before the prophets of Baal and to raise that boy from the dead? And I think Elijah might say, yeah, he actually ended up dying again. You tell me what it's like to have God living inside of you. What was it like to live life on earth with the Holy Spirit giving you joy when you're depressed or giving you the power to overcome that sin in your life? We might say to Moses, What was it like to follow the cloud by day and the fire by night? What was it like to meet with God on that Mountain? And Moses might say, I had to climb that mountain to meet with God. You tell me what it was like to have him dwell in you everyday. What was it like to have the Holy Spirit giving you directions when you didn't know what to do or where to go?”

    "These religious types were the fans that Jesus seems to have the most trouble with. Fans who will walk into a restaurant and bow their heads to pray before a meal just in case someone is watching. Fans who won’t go to R-rated movies at the theater, but have a number of them saved on their DVR at home. Fans who may feed the hungry and help the needy, and then they make sure they work it into every conversation for the next two weeks. Fans who make sure people see them put in their offering at church, but they haven’t considered reaching out to their neighbor who lost a job and can’t pay the bills. Fans who like seeing other people fail because in their minds it makes them look better. Fans whose primary concern in raising their children is what other people think. Fans who are reading this and assuming I’m describing someone else. Fans who have worn the mask for so long they have fooled even themselves.”

                                    -Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan

    It looks like I have another book to add to my reading list! 

Sunday, May 3, 2015


    Hey, y'all! I just wanted to keep everyone posted on here as to what was going on. I will probably be a bit sporatic the next few days with posting. I've gotten a bit behind in school, and I am trying to make a concerted effort these next few weeks to buckle down and get done what needs doing. I also have some life decisions to research these next few weeks too, so it will be a busy time. Plus, I'm coming down to the final couple of weeks of training for World Championships. I'd appreciate y'all's prayers immensely!

    Hopefully, I'll be able to post on Romans 8 soon. Until then, it wouldn't be a bad thing for y'all to get a head start and start reading Rom. 8 on your own. Just saying!