Watch Aaron in the film Holy Wars

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Why the deity of Christ matters

There are many things that I love about Christmas. I love the cookies, the Christmas trees, and waking up early to open presents. I love the extra time with the extended family, seeing people that I don’t normally see throughout the year. I love all those things, but what I love the most about Christmas is it’s the one time of the year where even non-religious people find within them the desire to sing about the God who came to earth in the form of a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. Often during this time of the year I wonder how so many millions of people can sing songs like “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World” without considering the meaning of the words they are singing. Today on this Christmas day I’m going to ask you to do just that.

About six weeks ago, I was flying over the Pacific Ocean when a very nice guy about the same age as me decided to engage me in conversation. In the beginning it felt like I was talking to a fellow missionary and we were encouraging each other in our respective faiths, but not too long into the conversation I realized I was talking with a Jehovah’s Witness.

Let me say first that I have a lot of respect for Jehovah’s Witnesses. When I was in Senegal my wife and I, along with our faithful disciple Jean Pierre, used to go every week to the university to distribute Christian literature. One of the questions people often asked us is “Are you Jehovah’s Witnesses?” That my wife and I would be mistaken for Jehovah’s Witnesses speaks powerfully to the dedication that many people in this movement have for their cause. I also admire the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses stand for their convictions. Even though it’s culturally taboo to knock on doors, they still do it. Even though American culture praises people that vote, celebrate the holidays, and serve in the military, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse. Regardless of whether one agrees with these positions or not, that takes grit. They genuinely don’t care what others think about them—and I deeply admire that.

Even on the linchpin subject of “Who is Jesus?” Jehovah’s Witnesses are light years ahead of the vast majority of people in our culture that take their theological cues from books like “ The Da Vinci Code” and “Embraced by the Light.” Jehovah’s Witnesses will tell you that all things were created by Jesus, through Jesus, and for Jesus. They’ll tell you that Jesus holds everything together. They’ll even tell you that Jesus is the exact representation of who God is. All of these statements are Biblical truths. But even though they have a very high view of Jesus, in Kingdom Hall thinking, Jesus is still a created being, not God Almighty. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that Jesus is the Son of God, but they stop short of saying that He is God.

So why split hairs over a technicality?

Shortly after I got home from my trip, I called my good friend Dianne Kannady with Riches in Christ Ministries ( Dianne is one of the best Bible teachers that I know, so I decided to pick her brain for a few minutes about a question that had been nagging at my mind since the start of my dialogue with Nick (We’ve been corresponding with each other ever since). If you read the Book of Acts, one thing that you will notice is that more often than not, when Peter or Paul preached the gospel, they emphasized the humanity of Jesus when discussing His resurrection and His ability to forgive sins and grant eternal life (See Acts 2:22, 13:38). The question that had been gnawing at my mind is this: Since the Book of Acts records sermons that Peter and Paul preached where the deity of Christ isn’t explicitly mentioned, and we know that some of the people that heard their messages believed and were saved, how important is it then for someone to believe in the deity of Christ to be saved?

Dianne wasted no time in getting to the point. Here is a summary of what Dianne said to me. On this Christmas day, I think we all need to be reminded of these truths.

1. The Bible teaches that one of the primary points of deception, especially in the last days will be on the subject of the identity of Jesus. Many people will preach a different Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4, I John 4:1-3)

2. There are two traps that people tend to fall into when it comes to the identity of Jesus. One error is to undermine His deity. The other error is to undermine His humanity.

3. The sermons recorded in the Book of Acts are merely a synopsis of what was said, not necessarily the sermons in their entirety.

4. Peter and Paul didn’t necessarily have to emphasize His deity in their sermons. That Jesus claimed to be God was already a given. That was why He was put to death. In Jewish law, there were only a few crimes punishable by death, and one was blasphemy.

5. When Jesus claimed to be the “Son of God” the Jewish people of His day understood Him to be saying, “I am God.” In the language of their times, they didn’t distinguish between “God” and “Son of God.” (John 5:18, 10:33-36)

6. If Jesus isn’t God, then His blood doesn’t qualify to be the sacrifice for the sins of the world.

As true as the first five points are, it was Dianne’s last point that grabbed me in the gut. How easy it is to forget that essential truths of the gospel are all connected! You can have a beautiful glass of water, but if there is just one drop of arsenic, then the whole glass is poisoned. So it is with essential doctrine. If the deity of Christ is in any way undermined, then the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is undermined as well—and down goes the house of cards. If Jesus isn’t God, then He doesn’t qualify to be our Savior either. God says in His Word, “I, even I, am the Lord, And besides me there is no Savior” (Isaiah 43:11). This explains why the Apostle Paul used the terms “Jesus”, “God”, and “Savior” interchangeably (especially in the Book of Titus). You can’t have one without the other.

The central truth of the entire Bible is this: Only God can save. As tempting as it might be to attribute our salvation to anything other than God Almighty bearing the sins of the world in His own body on a tree, we must resist! As my friend Dr. Eddie Hyatt pointed out in a recent editorial, Jesus didn’t say that He would build His Church on the foundation of His moral teachings (as important as His moral teachings are). He told Peter that He would build His Church on the revelation of Who He is (Matthew 16:18). Jesus said, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

Although words like “doctrine” and “orthodoxy” are out of vogue with our postmodern culture, I would like to encourage you to take some time today and reflect on the claims that Jesus made about His identity. The doctrine of the deity of Christ matters whether we like it or not. It matters for the world and, according to Jesus, eternal destinies are determined by whether people believe His claims or not.

Lastly, to my fellow believers out there, I would like to encourage you to “Earnestly contend for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) Don’t let culture shake you from your faith in who Jesus is and what He came to do for you—no matter who is doing the talking! And to everyone reading this, believer and non-believer alike, I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

With lots of love,


Friday, December 19, 2008

What's wrong with this quote?

I just got back from Dakar Senegal this morning. Had an awesome time for the past three weeks breaking new ground for the Kingdom of God in West Africa.

And then I come home to this in my e-mail box.

First read this article here.

Now let's zero in on the quote

"When people respond positively (to missionaries), it is when they don't have their full freedom," said Yssef. "Once they recover their normal health and situation, they recover their ability to decide."

Remember that this is coming from a Muslim leader in a country that throws people in prison (and sometimes worse) for converting to another faith.

Anybody else but me see a problem with this logic?

Can somebody say Duh?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Oh the joys of traveling!

I'm writing this post in a hotel located in the very southwestern corner of Senegal, a country located at the westernmost tip of Africa. My wife and I lived here for about a year and a half in 2003 and 2004. During that time we led a young man to the Lord named Jean Pierre Coly. Since my wife and I left in 2004, Jean Pierre has went on to do great things for God in this country. Much of his ministry is focused on equipping pastors and evangelists in the southern part of the country with tools for evangelism, which is right in line with a direction our ministry has taken since we've moved back to the States. Today my wife and I co-taught about 60 people today ranging from pastors, elders, missionaries, to new converts. Our teaching on how to share God's Word to illiterates using simple Bible stories was very very well received. In that we rejoice!

But the journey getting here hasn't been as pleasant.

For starters, my father in law came with a team of six other people to meet in Dakar (the capital of Senegal) so they could travel to a country in the north together ( name omitted for security reasons). While Eliot and the team of Americans traveled to the North, Rhiannon and I stayed back in Dakar. During this time Rhiannon got very sick and I had to take her to a nearby clinic to calm her stomach. The team was in the North African country for four days and they were supposed to arrive back at the Dakar airport at 9:00 P.M. Well, the plane didn't arrive till 2:00 a.m. and for some bizarre reason, the workers at the airport didn't put their bags on the conveyor belt till 3:30 A.M. None of the team spoke French and neither was I allowed to go inside to help them. (I'd like to give my sincere thanks to my good friend Ralph Bowen who waited with me that night.)

Two days later Rhiannon, Eliot, and I flew to the town of Zinghinshour but when we arrived we discovered that our bags were left back in Dakar. We were told that we wouldn't be able to pick them up till the next morning at 10:00 A.M. Although it was inconvenient spending a day without basic necessities, we were glad that our bags actually did arrive the next day.

But wait, the drama doesn't stop there. We put our bags in a taxi and when the taxi got back to the hotel, the taximan wasn't able to open the trunk. The man had to go to a locksmith to open the trunk of his car so he could retrieve our bags. To top things off, I got locked in the bathroom in our hotel room last night. It was bizarre. I don't think that's ever happened to me before.

Why am I telling you all of this? Because today at the conference I issued a challenge for the pastors and evangelists that were present to use the training that they received at our seminar to share the gospel in at least one new village over the next year. Eight people raised their hands and made the commitment, and judging by what I know about the character of the people that raised their hands, I believe they are actually going to do it. What if as the result of our coming here this month, eight new fellowships are planted next year? Would it all be worth it? I think so.

Think about it. What's a few hours of inconvenience compared to the possibility of just one soul spending an eternity in heaven? The Apostle Paul said "For our light affliction is working in us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Paul was beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked for the sake of the gospel. What's a few hours of lost sleep compared to that? Or a few minutes locked in a bathroom?

I don't know about you, but sometimes I think that if Paul's affliction was light, I'd hate to see a heavy affliction! Now that I think about it, what does that tell us about the affliction that Jesus suffered for us on the cross? The affliction that Jesus suffered for us on the cross makes Paul's affliction look like cotton candy. Yet Jesus willingly suffered for us so that we could have eternal life.

May we all learn to imitate Jesus in the way of self sacrifice, even if the sacrifice is little; it's the heart that counts.

Until next time,


P.S. Quick update. I'm back home now. Rhiannon got sick a second time in Guinea Bissau. And then just before we flew back to the U.S. from Dakar we were in a vehicle that ran over a curb and the impact was so hard that my father in law accidentally belted Rhiannon on her side and knocked one of her ribs out of place. We were really under attack this trip!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The world must act now to stop genocide in Burma!

Soldiers entering villages and killing people on sight. Landmines blowing pregnant women to smithereens. There’s no way this is really going on. The world would never tolerate this. How come I haven’t heard about this before? These were the words flashing through my mind as I watched the fourth installment of the Rambo franchise 10 weeks ago. The film portrays the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign in Eastern Burma targeting the Karen people, a situation that is every bit as bad as what’s happening in Darfur (Some argue that it’s worse) though frightfully few people know that it’s happening. Little did I know that in just eight short weeks, I’d actually be standing on the same soil as the Karen people, talking with victims of the junta’s atrocities and listening to their stories.

My wife and I are freelance Christian missionaries. In a nutshell, we travel the world and look for ways to share our faith and/or help people in practical ways. About a week after I saw the Rambo movie, I met a missionary at a conference in Texas that lives in Thailand and works among the Karen people living in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border. At the conference an invitation was given for volunteers to go to Thailand and teach an oral communications workshop at a Karen Bible School. At the time my wife and I were already scheduled to spend three weeks in Brazil in November, so we didn’t think we would be able to make it. Within three weeks the door we had to travel to Brazil was slammed shut—providentially I think—and we were able to credit our tickets to travel to Thailand instead.

While in Thailand we spent six days at a Bible School with Karen pastors in training. Many of the young men and women had been driven out of their homes when they were little children. Some told us stories about their home villages being burned to the ground. Others were too young to remember life outside of the refugee camp, but longed to return to their homeland nonetheless. The constant theme we heard over and over was that the junta troops are continuing to systematically drive Karen people out of their villages and are placing landmines in the villages to keep the people from coming back. Many of the people fear that if the world doesn’t act soon, there will be a final campaign in 2010 that will wipe their people off the map forever. That’s the year the Burmese government has given the Karen National Liberation Army an ultimatum to lay down their arms—or else.

Speculation aside, here are the facts:

• In Eastern Burma, the military regime has destroyed, burned, or relocated over 3,000 villages;
• At least one million refugees have fled the country;
• An additional million people remain inside the country as internal refugees. They face abuse in the forms of rape, torture, extortion, and murder. Many are also forced into forced labor for government projects and army
campaigns – a modern form of slavery;
• The military junta in Burma has recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world – up to 70,000;
• Sexual violence is used as a weapon of war in Eastern Burma, terrorizing thousands of women and their families;
• The United Nations Security Council has remained shamefully silent in the case of Burma, even though it has passed many resolutions on other countries in similar situations;
• The longer the UN Security Council remains silent, the more people will die.

Amazingly, we were able to go into Burma and visit a camp for internally displaced people. Though the camp is comprised of 820 people, the week before we arrived 87 new Karen entered the camp after the junta attacked their village and planted landmines to prevent the people from returning to their homes. This tells me that the killing is not only ongoing, it’s worsening. History shows that when brutal regimes are denied the money and the weapons to carry out their atrocities, the people are able to rise up and take back their country. The U.N. must play a crucial role to make this happen.

You and I can make that happen. Go to and sign the petition to tell Ban Ki Moon to pass a resolution to stop the genocide in Burma. The clock is ticking. God have mercy on us all if we stand by and do nothing.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Live from Thailand it's Tuesday Night!!

As I write this letter, I’m sitting at a Bible school in Western Thailand, just a few miles from the border of Burma. Rhiannon and I have just finished assisting a five-day workshop designed to teach tribal Christian leaders how to communicate the gospel to illiterate people using the stories of the Bible. A handful of students are watching the film “God’s Story” and sitting next to me is the director of the Bible School explaining the plight of the Karen people.

For those of you who haven’t seen the latest Rambo movie, let me first say that I absolutely do not recommend watching this film, especially if you have a hard time looking at blood, because it’s probably the most violent movie you’ll ever see. The film portrays in graphic detail the suffering of the Karen people and how the Junta troops in Burma are systematically attacking villages, killing people indiscriminately, and then planting land-mines so the people can’t return to their homes. Those who escape alive usually spend years hiding from the troops scraping out a meager existence from the land. The fortunate ones end up in IDP camps (camps for Internally Displaced People) near the Thai border and the even more fortunate ones escape to Thailand and end up in one of three camps for Karen refugees—which is where we are at right now.

Some of the students that we’ve taught this week have seen their parents killed. Others are separated from family members still living inside Burma. All of them are living in dire poverty, spending their lives in a refugee camp with little contact with the outside world (including Thailand), having little opportunity to determine their future.

And yet they continue to sing! The thing that touches me the most about the Karen Christians is they are probably some of the most beautiful singers in the world. The other day we visited a home for injured veterans of the Karen National Liberation Army. The room was filled with men whose arms and legs had been blown off, and yet their existence (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) is devoted to singing and praising God. Though they live off of handouts from the outside world, these men are in no way spiritually poor. I think that we in the West have a lot to learn from these Karen brothers in the Lord.

Yesterday we actually crossed the river into Burma and visited an IDP camp that’s hidden from the rest of the world. The people live on donated rice and yellow beans (and the occasional fish or vegetable). Every family gets one cup of yellow beans a month, which is about a half a teaspoon a day for a family of four. Imagine that! Thanks to your giving, Rhiannon and I were able to contribute significantly towards purchasing 17 large bags of rice and one large bag of yellow beans, plus a bag of chili peppers. (A side note, for $60 a month, we could double the amount of beans the camp receives) The team asked me to give a gospel presentation using a multi-colored soccer ball, something I was glad to do. Five people raised their hands to accept Jesus as Savior.

All in all it was a very fruitful week. The students displayed keen insight into the Scriptures and even though Rhiannon and I were here as teachers this week, I think I learned just as much from the students as they learned from us. That again, is the beauty of the Simply the Story program. With Simply the Story, the teacher tells the Bible story and then explores the story together with the listeners, inviting participation. That way everyone learns together. Isn’t that what the Kingdom of God is all about? People from different races and walks of life loving each other and mutually encouraging each other in their faith?

You may be reading this and think, “But Aaron, I’ll never be able to go across the world and experience another culture like you do.” That may be true, but what about the town or city that you live in? Is it possible that God may want to break down racial walls in our own backyards?

Something to think about.

While there is still time,


P.S. Please pray for us as we travel to Senegal and Guinea Bissau next week. We’ll be leaving for this trip about 6 days after we get back from Thailand. Only this time, we’ll be teaching the STS method solo, just enough to wet the pastors’ appetite so that we can come back and do something more official next year.

P.P.S. If you’d like to make an online donation to help cover the costs of our trip to Africa, please go to

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Dialogue--Should Christians use politics to achieve moral ends?

The following is an e-mail I received from Pastor Tim, a friend of mine who pastors a very radical church in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri. Tim's son, Levi O Brien was one of the main characters in the popular film, Jesus Camp. After the quote, you'll see my response. I've given Pastor Tim an invitation to dialogue on this, and of course as always, talk amongst yourselves!!

In light of recent events, I thought you would enjoy this. Like I think you have been saying, the Church's main impact on the world is its own spiritual transformation, not its impact upon politics.

From: Hassett, Dan CIV USA TRADOC
Sent: Friday, November 07, 2008 10:35 AM
To: Obrien, Timothy M MAJ RES USAR TRADOC
Subject: Option for Evangelicals (UNCLASSIFIED)

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

from his FOX News bio: Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. Thomas is the author of more than 10 books, including, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That Is Destroying America" co-authored with Bob Beckel.

Thomas is FOX News political contributor who joined FOX News in 1997. He also appears as a panelist on "FOX News Watch."

Thomas is a 40-year veteran of broadcast and print journalism. He has worked for NBC News in Washington, D.C. and hosted his own program on CBNC that was nominated for a Cable ACE Award in 1995. Thomas is a graduate of American University.

He makes some good points in this column:

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2009, he will do so in the 30th anniversary year of the founding of the so-called Religious Right. Born in 1979 and midwifed by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, the Religious Right was a reincarnation of previous religious-social movements that sought moral improvement through legislation and court rulings. Those earlier movements — from abolition (successful) to Prohibition (unsuccessful) — had mixed results.

Social movements that relied mainly on political power to enforce a conservative moral code weren’t anywhere near as successful as those that focused on changing hearts. The four religious revivals, from the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 1740s to the Fourth Great Awakening in the late 1960s and early ’70s, which touched America and instantly transformed millions of Americans (and American culture as a result), are testimony to that.

Thirty years of trying to use government to stop abortion, preserve opposite-sex marriage, improve television and movie content and transform culture into the conservative Evangelical image has failed. The question now becomes: should conservative Christians redouble their efforts, contributing more millions to radio and TV preachers and activists, or would they be wise to try something else?

I opt for trying something else.

Too many conservative Evangelicals have put too much faith in the power of government to transform culture. The futility inherent in such misplaced faith can be demonstrated by asking these activists a simple question: Does the secular left, when it holds power, persuade conservatives to live by their standards? Of course they do not. Why, then, would conservative Evangelicals expect people who do not share their worldview and view of God to accept their beliefs when they control government?

Too many conservative Evangelicals mistake political power for influence. Politicians who struggle with imposing a moral code on themselves are unlikely to succeed in their attempts to impose it on others. What is the answer, then, for conservative Evangelicals who are rightly concerned about the corrosion of culture, the indifference to the value of human life and the living arrangements of same- and opposite-sex couples?

The answer depends on the response to another question: do conservative Evangelicals want to feel good, or do they want to adopt a strategy that actually produces results? Clearly partisan politics have not achieved their objectives. Do they think they can succeed by committing themselves to 30 more years of the same?

If results are what conservative Evangelicals want, they already have a model. It is contained in the life and commands of Jesus of Nazareth. Suppose millions of conservative Evangelicals engaged in an old and proven type of radical behavior. Suppose they followed the admonition of Jesus to “love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and care for widows and orphans,” not as ends, as so many liberals do by using government, but as a means of demonstrating God’s love for the whole person in order that people might seek Him?

Such a strategy could be more “transformational” than electing a new president, even the first president of color. But in order to succeed, such a strategy would not be led by charismatic figures, who would raise lots of money, be interviewed on Sunday talk shows, author books and make gobs of money.

Scripture teaches that God’s power (if that is what conservative Evangelicals want and not their puny attempts at grabbing earthly power) is made perfect in weakness. He speaks of the tiny mustard seed, the seemingly worthless widow’s mite, of taking the last place at the table and the humbling of one’s self, the washing of feet and similar acts and attitudes; the still, small voice. How did conservative Evangelicals miss this and instead settle for a lesser power, which in reality is no power at all? When did they settle for an inferior “kingdom”?

Evangelicals are at a junction. They can take the path that will lead them to more futility and ineffective attempts to reform culture through government, or they can embrace the far more powerful methods outlined by the One they claim to follow. By following His example, they will decrease, but He will increase. They will get no credit, but they will see results. If conservative Evangelicals choose obscurity and seek to glorify God, they will get much of what they hope for, but can never achieve, in and through politics.

Dan Hassett
ITDD editor
Lincoln Hall, Rm. 2647
Fort Leonard Wood, MO 65473
(573) 563-7245

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Amen! Amen!

Thank you for sending me this. My only caveat would be is that I do see a role for the church for advocacy in addressing structural injustices that perpetuate poverty. I would agree that even this role, however, is a secondary role. The problem with the religious right is that it seeks to address private morality issues through legislation (like gay marriage and abortion) when, if I'm understanding Scripture correctly, it's not necessarily the role of the church to try to force those outside our ranks to adhere to these standards. The Church is to be an agent of grace, not condemnation. When it comes to social morality issues however, like addressing labor and wage issues, I think the Church can play a political advocacy role in addressing these issues, much like the Biblical prophets did (e.g...Woe to you who write unrighteous decrees that rob the needy of justice). Even this, however is secondary to preaching the gospel and addressing issues of exploitation and greed from the pulpit of our churches.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Dear Mr. Obama

The following is a letter that I've sent today out to President Elect Obama. I also sent the same letter to my congressman, Russ Carnahan.

Dear President Elect Obama,

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you on your win to the White House. That our nation elected the first African American president is truly historic and as an American citizen, I’m proud that our nation has taken this historic step undoing centuries of oppression and injustice towards our nation’s black citizens.
You have said you want to unite us as a nation. An excellent place to work for such unity would be for you to put your full support behind the Democrats for Life initiative known as the Pregnant Women Support Act (its goal is to reduce abortion by 95 percent over a 10-year period).
This bill would:
• Establish a toll-free number to direct women to places that will provide support during and following their pregnancy.
• Provide child care to low-income and student parents.
• Provide parenting education in maternity group homes.
• Make the Adoption Tax Credits permanent.
• Ensure that pregnant women are not denied health care by insurance companies and that coverage is continued for newborns.
• Codify the regulation that extends coverage under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) to low-income pregnant women and unborn children.
• Increase funding for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program.
• Provide grants to institutions of higher education to fund pregnant and parenting student services.
• Provide new mothers with free home visits by registered nurses.
All of these measures would help fulfill the pledge made in the 2008 Democratic Party platform, which “strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.”

I urge you to take moral leadership in this matter.

Aaron Taylor


I also sent a letter to both men urging them to ban partial birth abortion. I'd like to urge my readers to do the same. Remember that these men work for us! This is how we serve as a prophetic witness to speak truth to power. We write to them.

Stop the violence in the Congo!

I received this e-mail from the local Amnesty International group here in St. Louis. I wasn't able to get through, but I'll be sure to try again later.

This isn't really an Amnesty action, but it could be. I hope you will all consider doing this in addition to anything you are doing on this issue already. The situation in the eastern DRC has deteriorated rapidly recently. I don't have much faith that it can be stopped, but we have to try.


Stop the Violence in Congo

Dear Friend,

The renewed rebel offensive in the eastern Democratic Republic of the
Congo threatens to return the region to all-out war and has already
displaced at least 200,000 additional civilians. The UN mission in Congo
(MONUC), while the largest UN mission, is not able to protect civilians
from atrocities without immediate reinforcements.

Call Secretary Rice and tell her that you want stopping the violence in
Congo to be a priority during her final days in office: (202) 647-5291.

The ten-year war in eastern DRC led to the deaths of 4.5 million people,
as well as tens of thousands of rapes before a peace agreement supported
by the international community halted much of the violence. That peace is
now breaking. The international community must reinforce MONUC and
urgently deploy the diplomatic resources necessary to save the peace
agreement and prevent a war that will again lead to mass death,
displacement, and rape of civilians.

The international community is beginning to mobilize. France and Britain
have sent their highest-ranking officials to the region. Unfortunately,
despite her earlier efforts to end violence in Kenya, the U.S. Secretary
of State Condoleezza Rice has not engaged on a comparable level in the
DRC and her efforts are needed.

Secretary of State Rice's efforts were critical to ending the violence in
Kenya earlier this year. Her efforts are needed today in Congo.

Call Secretary Rice and tell her that reinforcement of the UN Mission and
high level diplomacy are needed to ensure the safety of civilians in the

Take Action Now:

Call Secretary Rice's office at (202) 647-5291 and tell her that:

* you want stopping the violence in Congo to be a priority during her
final days in office

* reinforcement of the UN Mission and high level diplomacy are needed to
ensure the safety of civilians in the DRC

To all my fellow Christian brothers, small actions such as this is part of our prophetic duty to speak truth to power. Every little bit helps.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Hurray for Richard Land!

I was going to write a post with a sample letter to our newly elected president, but this provides a much better example of what I'm talking about.

Richard Land is the President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and one of the most influential voices in what is known as the Religious Right.

I want all of my readers to read a letter he wrote to President Elect Obama yesterday entitled Abortion Reduction is the Key to Common Ground.

Something that is not mentioned in the letter is that Obama was the key person pushing for these reforms within the Democratic Party, so what Land is doing is holding Obama accountable to the promises that he's already made, which is something that all of us can do.

Remember that advocating for life doesn't stop on November 4th. We live in a democracy. Any one of us can also write a letter to our congressmen and our newly elected president.

Thank you Mr. Land for holding our newly elected president accountable. Let's hope that more will do the same.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Thoughts and clarifications--let's still love each other!

I’m writing this on the fly. So here goes. My post entitled “I’m a pro-life Christian, that’s why I’m voting for …??” has generated some passionate debate and has obviously stirred some raw emotion in a lot of people. Some have written me and/or commented that just because I feel that a person can be a genuine, bona-fide, Spirit-filled, born again Christian and vote for Obama, that somehow means I’ve either backslidden or I’m one of the “elect that’s been deceived.” Others feel that I’ve taken a condescending attitude towards McCain supporters, as if I somehow feel that my world travels allow me to sit on an intellectual high horse and stare my nose down at everyone else. Looking back at what I’ve written, I can see why some would feel that way. The truth is I’m still figuring a lot of things out as to how to live a Christ-like life, caring about the things that He cares about, confronting important issues head-on, and speaking the truth in love. Jesus was an activist par excellence for the poor and the downtrodden (more on that in another post) but He was also able to speak truth to power in such a way that He stayed above the fray of partisan politics. That’s how He could have a Herodian and a Zealot as part of His apostolic team—without the two killing each other! I haven’t quite figured out how to speak my mind the way that Jesus did. I invite all who love me and care for me to pray that I’ll have the mind of Christ in all matters—especially when it comes to when and how to speak my mind. I also invite you to examine my entire life and ministry before making personal accusations against my motivations and character.

Some feel that I’ve lost my moral bearings because I believe that Christians should expand their definition of what it means to be pro-life. Others have said that I’ve downplayed abortion as an important issue, so let me clarify. I believe that when it comes to how Christians are actually supposed to live and the values that we are supposed to espouse in the Body of Christ, we always, always, always, always, always, must side with life over death. So, if a 14 year old girl comes up to me and tells me she’s pregnant but fears that if her father finds out then he’s going to molest her and kill her, because of my conviction I’m going to have to tell her “I’m sorry, but as a Christian I can not counsel you to have an abortion.” If a married woman suspects that if she keeps a pregnancy, then her husband is going to make the child’s life a living hell (use your imagination), then I’ll still have to say “I’m sorry, but I can not as a Christian counsel you to have an abortion.”

When it comes to preaching an ethic of life and living an ethic of life on the part of a Christian, I believe that Christians should always side with life, and yes, that includes other areas besides abortion. From the womb to the tomb. That’s what I mean by a consistent ethic of life. I realize there are a lot of Christians that disagree with me that the term “pro-life” should extend to issues such as war and the death penalty. I haven’t laid out my case for that, so I don’t expect the bulk of my readers to understand. For many, it's a perspective they've never heard. All I’m asking for right now is to give me a listening ear, be patient, and after I’ve made my case, decide whether you agree with it or not, and then embrace me as a brother if you continue to disagree.

Here’s where things get difficult. It’s one thing to say that I as a Christian must always choose life in matters of my personal behavior and how I would counsel others to live. It’s quite another thing to say that I as a Christian have a Biblical mandate to translate these convictions into public policies that force others to agree with my convictions. My point is that the values that Jesus lays out for the Body of Christ don’t necessarily translate into public policy without nuance and ambiguity—and neither were they intended to. That’s why elections are usually about choosing the lesser of two evils. One can not translate the values of Jesus into public policy without a considerable degree of compromise.

Take for example the issue of abortion. Some have written me and said that John McCain believes that humans are entitled to human rights at the moment of conception. Actually, that’s not completely accurate. John McCain favors abortion in the case of rape or incest. Apparently John McCain doesn’t believe that a baby conceived as a result of rape is entitled to human rights. Why not? Maybe he feels that it’s wrong to put a rape victim through the emotional pain of childbirth. Maybe it’s a political compromise. I don’t really know. Obama on the other hand is the first democratic candidate that has actually made it a part of the Democratic party platform to institute policies aimed at reducing abortions. Is he sincere about that? Maybe he is. Maybe he’s not. A sincere Christian can go to the polls and ask himself or herself a question. Is my vote about making a moral statement or is it about actually saving human lives? Some say that from a purely pragmatic point of view, given that conservatives already have a majority in the Supreme Court and haven’t overturned Roe V Wade (and even if they do, abortion will still not be illegal) that the best way to save unborn babies is to elect someone who will institute policies to make it economically feasible for a woman to keep her child.

That’s a legitimate, honest debate and I don’t think that Christians should slander each other for whichever decision they make in this regard. And neither do I think that Christians should blindly believe every single forwarded e-mail because a candidate doesn’t toe the party line on a narrow set of issues.

So why have I decided to write about this? Because I’m bothered by the fact that so many Christians are questioning other Christians’ salvation based on how they vote. This is a serious error, and given the way some have responded to my post, it’s a pervasive error. We all say that “God is neither a Republican or a Democrat” until it comes right down to it and we actually meet a Christian on the other side of the political aisle. That’s when the gospel all of the sudden becomes faith in Jesus + vote for John McCain. I thank God that my pastor hasn’t fallen into this error, but that’s the way it is in many churches. And that’s also the way it is beneath the surface even if it isn’t necessarily lambasted from the pulpit. There are a lot of sincere seekers out there that feel they can’t join an evangelical church for fear that they’ll be mocked and slandered if they don’t toe the party line. While we’re busy slandering each other for our political opinions, babies are dying and people are going to hell. And that’s not okay with me.

I haven’t said all that there is to say, but I hope this is enough to create an atmosphere of grace for Christians to disagree on important issues without fear of slander and personal attacks.

Stay focused on Jesus!


Monday, November 03, 2008

Taking the heat. This might clarify.

I've taken some real heat for my last post. Some feel that I've downplayed the abortion issue as if it's not important. Not true! I think the abortion issue is very important. One of the things I'm trying to say is that when it comes to this issue, it's not necessarily black and white the best way to save babies. I argued that overturning Roe Vs Wade will not make abortion illegal and even if abortion does become illegal, making it illegal isn't necessarily going to save babies. Voting for a traditional pro-life candidate definitely makes a moral statement, but from a pragmatic point of view, it might not be the best way to save lives. There are some people that feel that Obama's policies regarding economically depressed mothers will actually save more lives than a theoretical vote declaring that abortion is wrong. That's a moral argument that I feel Christians can honestly disagree on without maligning each other.

Here's an article that sheds some light on the issue.

May we all work together to build a culture of life!

I'm a pro-life Christian. That's why I'm voting for...??

My name is Aaron D. Taylor and I’m a pro-life Christian. You may not recognize me now, but 8 years ago I attended a Pentecostal Bible school that openly encouraged their students to fast and pray that George W. Bush would defeat Al Gore in the 2000 election. I did. For forty days I skipped dinner after work so I could go to my friend Nick’s apartment and cry out to God for a man in the White House committed to overturning Roe Vs. Wade.

That was then. My current incarnation is a far-cry from the politically self-assured black and white no nonsense God is a republican fundamentalist I used to be. The fact that I won’t declare my allegiance to a political party—be it republican or democrat—is something that I’m reasonably certain has annoyed the snot out of certain friends and family members. Most of the time when the subject of politics comes up in my family, I just smile and nod. (So how about those Rams?)

The odd part about it is, my ambivalent attitude towards all things political isn’t because I’m less pro-life than I used to be, it’s because I’m more pro-life than I was 8 years ago. I’ve come to realize that if I’m going to call myself pro-life and be consistent, then I’m going to have to have just as much respect for human life after the womb as I do before the womb, otherwise, all I really am is pro-birth.

It’s precisely at this point that things get murky. Throughout the decade of the 90’s, sanctions imposed by the U .S. government denied the Iraqi people access to medical supplies and basic sanitation and, as a result, killed about a half a million children. As I look back on it, I can’t recall any high profile “pro-life” Christian leader speaking out against children dying in Iraq as a result of U.S. sanctions. Neither do I know of any Christian leader voting solely on the issue of abortion speaking out against the use of depleted uranium and cluster bombs by U.S. coalition forces in Iraq. Both of these directly affect not only babies, but adults as well—even after the troops leave. My question to single issue voters is this. Does your concern for babies include Iraqi babies or is it only American babies that you’re concerned about?

I can hear the half-screams already. “But Aaron, don’t you know that the sanctions in Iraq and the U.S. invasion were for the protection of the American people?” Well…not everybody agrees with that—and that’s exactly my point. I have no problem with my brothers and sisters in Christ voting on issues that they care about, as long as they recognize that, unless one of the candidates is running against a potential Hitler or Stalin, every vote in a fallen world for a sword-wielding politician is an imperfect vote, therefore Christians have no business trumpeting a particular person or party as the only morally acceptable choice. The reality is Biblical values cannot be translated into the political sphere without a considerable degree of ambiguity—and neither are they intended to.

Take for example the issue of abortion. For all of the charismatic “prophets” and “apostles” declaring Sarah Palin the next Esther because of her opposition to Roe Vs. Wade, the truth is Roe Vs Wade could be overturned tomorrow and it will not make abortion illegal. All it will do is send the issue back to the states and, given the current political climate, most states are unlikely to outlaw it. But let’s temporarily assume that I’m wrong and by some magic-wand (or an act of God) abortion is declared officially illegal in the U.S.A. Will that stop abortions?

No it won’t. Nearly half of all the abortions in the world are performed in countries where abortion is illegal. The reason is because the greatest factor contributing to the number of abortions world-wide is not legality, but poverty. You want to know where the fewest abortions are taking place in the world? Western Europe, where abortions are legal but rare because of policies that “spread the wealth around” much to the chagrin of the USA’s most prominent social scholar—Joe the plumber.

And that’s just the abortion issue. A family member the other day told me that God only cares about the moral issues, meaning abortion and gay marriage. I agree that God cares about these two issues, where I disagree is the idea that God only cares about these two issues. Why? Because there are about 2,000 verses in the Bible that speak to poverty related issues and, last time I checked, I can’t find one verse in the Bible that speaks to the abortion issue—or for that matter the gay marriage issue (which McCain and Obama virtually agree on)—as a matter of public policy.

If the prophets Micah, Isaiah, Amos, Malachi and James the brother of Jesus are going to have any influence on my vote, then I have to conclude that wage related issues are certainly in play for what constitutes as a moral issue. Even more, when I take nearly all the prophets into consideration, I have to conclude that God cares a whole lot about the treatment of refugees. That being said, I now have to ask myself the question of whether God would consider the 2 million Iraqi refugees barely surviving in Syria and Jordan a moral issue (not to mention another 2 million internally displaced people living inside Iraq) and who actually has a plan to help them. At the time of this writing, only one candidate is talking about that and—hint hint—it’s not the “pro-life” candidate.

After an insane amount of thought and study, I’ve decided that I’m going to vote tomorrow. Do I have doubts and fears about the person that I’ve chosen? Yes I do. Is the person that I’m voting for the Messiah? Not by a long shot. Is the person that I’m voting for an imperfect choice? The answer is absolutely yes. But what bothers me is I wonder if my fellow believers who vote for the other candidate are willing to admit the same? I wonder if at the end of the day we can all recognize that thoughtful Christians can be found on both sides of the political aisle? Does God care about more than two issues? To borrow a phrase from a popular American governor, you betcha!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Brazilian financial advisor gives heavenly advice

Below is a response I received from a good friend of mine Paul Perry regarding my latest post "There's an Upside to Economic Disaster." Paul is a missionary to Brazil.

A business man here just got an sms on his cell phone while I was standing
there.. It read "what is a safe place to invest my money" "I just lost
XX%..." a pastor standing on the other side replied "The only safe money you
have is what you have already given away...." the business man was a
financial advisor and immediately typed the exact words as his response to
the client. We discussed it for a moment as it was quite clear the only true
safe investment is in Gods kingdom!

Could you imagine you financial advisor telling you this? Lord increase our faith!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

New Presidential Candidate... It's someone we know!


There's an effort to elect an unknown random person as President...
and it's someone we know!

Watch this online video about the surprising
new nominee

Jot back a note to let me know what you think!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

There's an upside to economic disaster

The first line in Charles Dickens classic novel A Tale of Two Cities seems appropriate for what’s likely to come in the days ahead. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Unless you’ve been living in a cave (sorry Geico man) you’ve probably been affected by the current fiasco on Wall Street and Capitol Hill. Within the past week 401K’s have evaporated into thin air, life savings have slipped through the cracks of who knows where, and now that it’s clear that even a $700 billion dollar bailout from Uncle Sam can’t save the stock market, some financial gurus in the media are now using the dreaded “D” word signifying in no uncertain terms that the next president is going to inherit a financial depression. The prognosis is in. These are scary times indeed.

In times like these it’s very easy to become fixated on venting our frustrations against—take your pick—the Republican party, the Democratic party, Wall Street fat cats, predatory lenders, gullible first time home buyers, low income minorities that took advantage of sub-prime lending rates. There’s plenty of blame to pass around. We all know we’re in a mess. The question is what do we do now?

As for what Moses recommended in terms of an economic bailout—debt cancellation and land redistribution—I’ll let the economists and the theologians duke it out over whether that applies today. The Bible may not be an economic textbook—as much as Secretary Paulson could use one right about now—but it is a message from God to humanity and when you read it from cover to cover there’s an underlying message that speaks loud and clear. God is the defender of the poor.

So what’s the upside to an economic disaster? The upside to economic disasters is that economic disasters spur moral reflection. They serve as a wake-up call to remind us that the economic decisions we make every day really do affect other people. They serve to remind us that a day of judgment is coming and that God takes very seriously how our lives affect the poor. And I’m not just talking about how much we give in the offering plate on Sunday mornings or how much we give to our favorite charitable organizations. Sure it’s nice that we tip God with our tithes (or spare change depending on our level of piety), but how many of us think about how we earn our money and whether our jobs and our investments coincide with the values of Jesus?

I’ve heard a lot of Christian leaders use the bully pulpit to decry private morality issues like homosexuality and abortion, but few and far between are the voices that call us to repent from social morality issues. As a life-long member of the Pentecostal/charismatic tradition, most of the teaching I’ve received about money is “God wants you to have a lot of it, as long as you’re generous and use it for charity or to advance the gospel.” Big houses, nice cars, bank account surpluses are all signs of God’s approval in this vein of thinking. With the exception of pimping and drug-dealing, the question of how to attain this money, and the morality associated with it has been left to a fairly generous interpretation. Questions like “Should I really be investing in weapons manufacturers when I don’t know who those weapons are being sold to?” or “Is the oil company in my 401K propping up the military dictatorship in Burma?” rarely make it to the surface.

I invite you to join me in a moment of reflection over the words penned by James the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ:

“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury, you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you” (James 5:1-6).

In an age where CEO’s make 400 times the wage of what the average worker makes in a day, I wonder if James might be talking about some of the companies I’ve invested in the past. Even worse. I wonder if he could be talking about me?

Friday, October 03, 2008

An Election Prayer

I can remember when I was a student in Bible school, the leaders of the institute asked the students to skip at least one meal and fast and pray for 40 days that God would have his way during the 2000 election. Between George W. Bush and Al Gore, everyone knew exactly what that meant. My friend and I got together every day after work and prayed that God would elect Bush to the White House.

Now that I'm eight years older, and hopefully wiser, I no longer presume that I know who "God's man" is for the country. Who knows? God may want to judge our nation and give us a not so good leader. For some, that would be Barack Obama, being that he's the antichrist and all. For others, God's judgment is the last eight years under the Bush administration.

Do I still pray for the elections? Absolutely! God commands us in His word to pray for political leaders (I Timothy 2:4), He just doesn't tell us exactly what to pray.

I've decided to let my readers in on how I've been talking to God lately about this upcoming election. I know it's a private conversation, but I don't think God minds too much letting others in on our conversation.

So here goes.

Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ. I want to thank you for the leaders of our nation. I pray that you will give them wisdom to make good decisions for this country. I pray that you pour out your Holy Spirit on our nation's capital and draw men and women in Washington D.C. to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I pray that in this upcoming election, you will grant us leaders who will "Do good, love mercy, and walk humbly with their God." I pray that you will grant us leaders who will respect human life and execute justice for the poor. I pray that you grant us leaders that will serve the interests of the people and not merely use people for personal gain. I pray that you will give us leaders that will do what is right both for America and for the world. I come against any attack of the enemy that would seek to thwart your plans and your purposes during this election. I declare the plans of the enemy null and void in the name of Jesus Christ. Most importantly Father, I pray that your kingdom come and your will be done.

No, this isn't an eloquent prayer. I know it'll never make the Paul Harvey show. But I believe it's Biblical and I mean every word of it. For those of you at a loss for how to pray during this upcoming election, I sincerely hope this helps.

Come Lord Jesus!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Pastor idolizes Palin--is this really prophetic?

I don't normally put forwarded e-mails on my blog, but on this one I couldn't resist. Whether this really happened or not, I don't know. will have the answer on that. Regardless of whether this happened or not, I want my readers to notice a few assumptions the pastor that forwarded this e-mail is making. The first assumption is that God has indeed "annointed" Palin as a modern day Esther, but here's a question I'd ask the pastor in return. How do you know that Palin is God's choice for V.P? Did God speak to you personally and tell you? The second assumption is actually quite hilarious if you think about it. Here's a man speaking to candidates at a political rally designed to rally their base, and somehow he thinks that just because a candidate sheds a few tears and says thank you for praying for me that means they're actually taking the man to heart personally. I can understand the Palins getting a little teary-eyed at a "prophetic" word given their Pentecostal background, but John McCain? Puhleeasse!! Is there anything in McCain's behavior in the story that isn't exactly what any political candidate would do out of sheer politeness to a potential voter? You be the judge.

Dear Friend:

This past Tuesday, the McCain / Palin Bus came thr ough a little town called, Lebanon, Ohio. The LORD allowed me to go to the Rally giving them a message that He wanted me to personally deliver.

Sunday Night - a burden hit me that would only shake me to my knees - I prayed and wept for our Nation. Never has my heart been so broken before God. I literally interceded for these wonderful people who do not deserve all the hate against them. The GOD-Haters are going to try everything to stop them, but they will not succeed!

God is not pleased with the "bashing" in the News of this "Anointed" person. He has called her for this time! I promised God that I would pray and hold them up in prayer. I would "listen" out and be mindful of where they were. The following day is important in this time-line...because I didn't even know until God spoke to me...
Monday and into Monday Night - the burden of prayer was so heavy that I was literally shaking and could not stop weeping. I didn't know that they were coming to Ohio. I prayed and walked and wept and walked. I prayed and prayed and wept and prayed...

Tuesday at 2:00 A.M. - God spoke these words to me - "...Go turn the Radio on!" Immediately the the Reporter's Words were - "McCain & Palin Bus to be in Lebanon later this morning for a 10:00 A.M. Rally!"

Immediately on hearing that news, I heard God again...
God said, "You are to go. You will meet them and give them a message for Me!"

I prayed as an intercessor and went to a place in prayer that I don't think I've ever been...because the LORD had just visited me...and I knew I was on a "Mission." I had now been up since Sunday NIght...and now it's Tuesday and I've got to go on the "WORD of the& nbsp;LORD." He sure became My Strength as this unfolds...

I didn't stop praying until I drove over to the town and parked the car The News would later report they were expecting 5,000 people and the actual head-count of those who had been scanned was more than 10,000 people.

I simply obeyed...and God actually told me where to stand, who to talk to...and when to be on the move. I had sure learned on the Mission Field, when God wants to open a door, He will do it at the appropriate time. He always has someone to assist...and even those standing beside you may just be an Angel.

I struck up a conversation with an agent on the ground - he simply said, "I can't allow you to stand here!"
Here is where the bus was going to actual pull up to. They had to make a much larger perimeter so the entire area was now being moved back several blocks. The o nly other thing he told me to do was to go through the metal detector zone and just watch from the back. So, that's what I did.

Due to sensitivity of the internet..I can't share much of the story as to what happened next was a definite GOD THING ALL THE WAY. Looking over the shoulders and backs and heads of all those people...I knew it would take a miracle for what GOD told me to do.

As I was standing there, two Boy Scouts came running up my back...literally, they almost knocked me to the ground because they were running so fast behind me...up my back and over to the right. These Boy Scouts were about Junior High Age. Their Scout Leader and several others were behind them...but as the two out front was trying to push through the crowd, saying they were late..the smaller scouts were left in the dust. The Scout Leader who was with a McCain Rep from the State grabbed me and told me bring the other Scouts up front as they try to keep up with the first two that just came through.

I just became the leader of the rest of the Scouts to l ead them right up front and center. As the Rep was shouting back at bring the Scouts forward...the people parted just like God parted the Red Sea.

I marched them boys right up front and to the right of the stage as one was looking from the back. When I got there I was fifteen feet from the podium. GOD said, "Stand here, and don't move from this spot."

Within five minutes...the bus pulled up and around the other side McCain, Sarah Palin and her husband Todd stepped up and the speeches took off. I was where God placed me...and even Sarah Palin and Todd were
standing on my side of the stage. I made eye contact, I gave them thumbs up gestures...and I knew the y were just happy to see me standing there. Ha Ha

When they came around the podium and started on the other side, I knew they were coming right toward me, a little lady who stood by me, reached up and told the Rep that they had promised a Picture with her because she was the one who had lost a son in Iraq, recently. The Rep confirmed she would get a pic with them and they would talk to her. When McCain came to hug her... he immdiately shook my hand and following his moment with her, I shook his hand as he grabbed my hand, now for the second time, and I said, "God wants you to know that I'm praying for you, Sir!" He thanked me and kept smiling. I repeated that phrase to him five times. He grabbed my hands and looked right into my eyes and said, "I won't make it without prayer. Sir, Thank You for praying for me, and don't let one day go by that you don't pray for me. I need all the prayers that I can get. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!"

As he moved to my right, Sarah Palin, came over to my left side...standing over the crowd and then looking at the little lady who had lost the son. It took a moment for her to shake some hands and people were pushing in all around. Sarah came and got on her hands and knees on that side of the stage and hugged that little Mom, telling her, " was not in vain." She promised her support.

It was at this moment Sarah Palin, reached out for me to help her up and as I was assisting her to stand I was now face to face with her and GOD said, "Open up your Mouth and I will fill it."

Here is what came out...

"God wants you to know that you are a present day Esther!"
[She immdiately began to cry]!
"God wants to tell you that you are Chosen for such a time as this!"
"You are c alled, and chosen to be a leader."
"Don't lose heart and don't fear man."
"The news and nay-sayers and criticizers are going to be very hateful
toward you...
and in the days ahead they are going to turn up the heat...but do not
"You are a present day Esther." You are an Esther. You are an
"Keep your eyes on GOD and know that He has chosen you to Reign!"
"Stay strong...don't tire. Don't be weary in well-doing.
Be strong."

Her husband Todd came over and I told him what I told her. He began to cry. I emphasized the fact that he was to guard her at this time...and know that
"...she is GOD-CALLED and GOD-ANOINTED." "...this is a GOD-THING and your wife is a Present day Esther... she is for God to use at this time...She is an Esther...she is an Esther...she is an Esther."
"You will be hated...but stand strong...GOD has called both of you to stand!"
"We are praying and I am praying for you...!"

At this moment, McCain came right to where I was finishing talking to Todd and I told Mr. McCain exactly what I told to Sarah and Todd Palin.

"Mr. McCain, ...they are called of God and she is an Esther."
"Don't lose hope and don't lose heart."
"We are praying for all of you!"

He shook my hand and with a deep look of understanding what I had just said, he said, "Thank you for your prayers and support...I really do mean that!" And he turned and shook more hands...and I watched them as they went through the crowd.

When I got to my car I sat there for quite a long time...knowing the GOD of the Universe had just used me to deliver a message confirming to Sarah and Todd to realize they are truly chosen vessels of God. I wept. I have not stopped praying and crying. My heart is full knowing they had to have all the staging and all the hype and all the crowd...but the GOD of Heaven and Earth...wanted to give the m a Divine-God-Appointment!

To God be all the GLORY and HONOR.

If anyone wants to know if I believe God can speak Yes...Absolutely, is my Answer!
Be praying for me...and let me know what you think about all of this.
Burdened for all of our Leaders!

Can somebody say idolatry?

Friday, September 26, 2008

So that's why I can't remember the pastor's sermon!

Yesterday I drove back to Missouri from a week long workshop in McKinney, Texas called Simply the Story. I thought the training would be a breeze, but boy was I wrong! It turned out to be one of the most intense spiritual/mental exercises I've done in a long time.

In a nutshell, what I learned is that the vast majority of preaching and teaching in the world (especially in the U.S.) is designed for people that are literate, and yet, a shocking 80% of the world is, in fact, illiterate. Further augmenting the problem is that we in the literate world tend to look down on the illiterate world, thinking that just because someone can't read, that somehow makes them spiritually ignorant. Because we tend to look down on oral learning methods as inferior, not only are the world's illiterate people largely cut off from hearing the gospel in a meaningful way, but also many of the world's literate people are as well. Why? Because when we factor in the fact that a good percentage of literate people prefer to learn through oral communication methods, it becomes clear that most of the world's gospel material is written by people that are not only literate, but by people that prefer to learn by literate means. So that's why you and me find it so difficult to remember the pastor's sermon from week to week. And we all thought we were just dense! (Okay, maybe just me)

Enter Simply the Story. The brilliant strategy that Dorothy Miller from The God's Story Project figured out is that when you take a story from the Bible and focus on just that story (hence the name Simply the Story), without pulling in abstract concepts from here, there, and everywhere (including other passages from the Bible), then the story itself will speak to the people. In the STS strategy, the job of the Christian communicator (aka pastor, evangelist, missionary) is to tell the story accurately, and then facilitate group discussions by formulating questions designed to lead the listeners into discovering the treasures of the stories for themselves.

For five days straight I practiced this method with about 50 other people, mostly missionaries, who were all learning this together. As easy as it might sound, the reality is it can be very difficult for people that have been preaching and teaching one way for so many years to learn a different style of communication, even if it's the mode of communication that Jesus most often used! I found that once I practiced reading stories out loud to myself, I picked up on a lot of details that I'd missed even though I may have read the story a hundred times before. Then once I started asking myself a set of questions about the story, truths started jumping out of the pages of Scripture like never before.

For example: In Luke 18:18-27 there 's the story of the rich young ruler that asked Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus responded with a question (like He almost always did) "Why do you call me good, no one is good but one, and that's God." Jesus proceeded to give a partial list of the 10 commandments (curiously omitting the vertical commandments) and just when the man thought that he was justified, Jesus told him to go and sell all of his possessions to give to the poor--and follow Him--and then he would have treasure in heaven. When the rich man went away sorrowful Jesus dropped a verbal bombshell on the rich by declaring that it's more difficult for a camel to go through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. But at the very end, He throws another curve ball into the equation when the disciples asked Him, "Who then can be saved?" and Jesus answered with, "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." I've always found this passage difficult to interpret, but after asking a series of questions about the characters in the story, I think I've discovered the point of the story and it's simply this. There's no goodness or salvation apart from God.

I wonder if this might be one of the reasons why so many of our young people today are being lost to secularism and postmodernism. Perhaps they've never heard the gospel in a way that they can understand. What if instead of trying to saturate our young people with catchy phrases (WWJD?) and slick media campaigns, we started retelling the stories of the Bible and let God's Word speak for itself? You mean God actually knew what He was doing when He put the story of Jonah and the whale in the Bible? Imagine that!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barack Obama visited my house!

The strangest thing happened the other day. I know this may sound like a stretch, but Barack Obama actually visited my family to personally elicit our support for him. Let me tell you that the experience was otherworldly. The whole time I’m thinking why is Barack Obama visiting us? I live in a middle class neighborhood and don’t have any connections with rich and influential people. What’s Barack Obama doing in my house?

Two days later, another bizarre incident happened. After saying goodbye to an old friend that came to visit my wife and me, I looked outside and saw that our visitor had accidentally totaled my car while backing out of the driveway—and then fled the scene of the crime! The next thing I remember happening is I called the local repair shop and guess who answers the phone? Ron Paul! I actually haggled with Ron Paul on the phone for about five minutes only to find out that my car was irreparable. The whole time I’m thinking is it really that easy to get a hold of Ron Paul?

If you find these two stories unbelievable, you can breathe a sigh of relief. The universe is still shifting on its axis. For the record, the above incidents never happened—except for in my dreams—literally. I’m reasonably sure that the whole Barack Obama dream comes from a CNN episode I watched the night before about John McCain’s first run for congress where he literally knocked on people’s doors to solicit votes. Now as to why Ron Paul is working at a local auto repair shop and living in my aunt’s old house, beats me!

It seems like since the start of the Democratic National convention, and the Republican convention that immediately followed, politics has invaded nearly every area of our lives. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to escape! Watching bits and pieces of the conventions over the past few weeks, I couldn’t help but notice the glitz, the glamour, and the adulation that goes into elevating our political leaders to near godlike status—and how their star-struck fans so easily bask in the glory of their would be saviors.

John McCain’s adoring fans seem to believe that if only they can get their guy elected to the White House, righteousness and morality will be restored to the land, America will be spared the horrors of a left-wing socialist panzie—and how could I forget—evil will be defeated. Barack Obama’s adoring fans seem to think that all they have to do to end poverty, heal the nation’s racial divide, and save the nation from Bible toting war mongers is put a check mark next to a drawing of a donkey in November. Can it really be that simple?

Enter into human history, Jesus of Nazareth. One of the things I love about Jesus is how He refused to be awed by the powers that be of His day. I would love to have been around when Jesus called Herod a fox, or when He referred to the religious leaders—who held a similar position to modern day mullahs in Iran—brood of vipers. Even more, I’d love to have been a peasant in the crowd watching Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Author Shane Claiborne in His book Jesus for President compares Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem to a U.S. president riding into the inauguration ceremony on a bicycle. If Claiborne is right, then Jesus was a lot more of a prankster than I’ve ever imagined Him to be. The question is why would Jesus go out of His way to mock power?

I’m not a psychoanalyst, but I’d be willing to risk a guess. I think that one of the reasons that Jesus came into the world was to crush the all-too-human tendency to look to political rulers for earthly salvation. When Jesus took up a towel to wash His disciples feet, His disciples were offended because they didn’t want their master behaving like a slave, but what they failed to realize is that was exactly Jesus’ point! In Jesus’ value system the powerless is superior to the powerful. Like His mother, Jesus embraced a value system that elevated the poor over the prince, where God puts down the mighty from their seats and elevates the humble (Luke 1:52). Rather than embracing political power to bring about earthly change, which is what Satan tempted Him to do, Jesus put His faith in the upside down Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that puts faith not in the power of the sword, but in the power of self-sacrificial love.

As tempting as it may be to be awed by the power of modern Caesars, followers of Jesus are never to forget that the Word of God tells us not to put our trust in princes (Psalm 146:3). Rather than trusting in the coercive power of the sword to effect moral change in the world, followers of Jesus put their faith in an otherworldly kingdom that rules not with the power of a sword, but with the power of a towel. As eloquent and sincere as they may be, neither McCain nor Obama are going to save the world, let alone America. True power flows from the cross, not from Caesar’s throne.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Do Christians have a Biblical mandate to outlaw abortion?

My name is Aaron Taylor and I’m a pro-life Christian. What I mean by calling myself pro-life is to say that I believe life begins at conception and no human being has the right to take another life. Period. If you ask me whether I believe abortion is a sin I’ll give you an unequivocal yes, and then I’ll be sure to point you to the cross of Jesus Christ if I sense you’re struggling with guilt over a dark past. On the other hand, if you ask me whether I think Christians should try to outlaw abortion, I’m not going to give you a straight answer. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m pro-abortion, and neither does it mean I’m pro-choice. It simply means that I can’t give you a straight answer, and the funny thing is, it’s precisely because of my Christian faith that I can’t come right out and say that Christians are obligated to pass laws to declare abortions illegal.

As a Christian and as a citizen I would love to see the abortion rate in the United States of America reduced to zero. But the question is how do we make that happen? Is it simply a matter of passing a law declaring abortion illegal? My conservative Christian background would answer with an immediate yes to this question, but these days my heart is telling me that passing a law outlawing abortion doesn’t quite solve the problem. For starters, we know that before Roe Vs Wade there were countless backyard abortions taking place. And given that little has changed in the past 30 years to address the root causes of systemic poverty in our nation, there’s little reason to believe this would change if abortion would be outlawed tomorrow.

Then there’s the question of rape and abuse. I think female rape victims that choose to keep their babies are saints, but as a man I have to wonder if I really understand the pain female rape victims that choose to deliver their babies full term goes through—even if they give them up for adoption later. And what about women—or young girls—in abusive situations? There’s been a lot of media attention lately about Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s 17 year-old daughter’s unplanned pregnancy and, make no mistake about it, I’m thrilled that Todd and Sarah Palin have chosen to love and support their daughter to guide her in the right direction to keep her baby. But let’s get real for a moment. Does anybody seriously think that every teenage girl has loving parents to come home to that can guide them through an unplanned pregnancy?

What about the girl who’s father molested her when she was young and fears bringing the child up under the same roof? Or what about the girl whose parents would kill them—literally—if they found out she had sex outside of marriage? Or how about the financially struggling woman that fears the father of her baby will abuse both her and the child if she decides to keep her baby? Even in these extreme cases, my Christian ethic on the sanctity of human life still demands that I could never counsel a woman to have an abortion, but the question is: Do I have an obligation as a Christian to take the further step and impose my view of morality on others by forcing them to do so?

The question isn’t just a moral one. It’s also a Biblical one. If the Bible commands Christians to implement God’s law over society through systems of laws and penalties, then by all means, Christians are obligated to declare anything that contradicts God’s law illegal. While we’re at it, if we’re going to be consistent, we might want to consider the death penalty for the 16- year old girl that takes the morning after pill. After all, life begins at conception and murder is murder. If, on the other hand, it can be sufficiently proven that Christians are not obligated to pursue political power to control other people’s behavior, then the question becomes how should followers of Jesus be salt and light in a world that’s gone mad?

I’m going to simplify this by answering my own question with a question. What would the Church look like if there were a universal consensus that our only moral agenda is to imitate Jesus? Throughout the three years of Christ’s ministry on earth, Jesus displayed the sum total of zero interest in pursuing political power to control other people’s behavior. Jesus was offered political power three times—once by Satan—and He turned it down each and every time. In the Roman culture of Jesus’ day, they had something worse than abortion. People could legally kill their children up until age two, but strangely we never see Jesus leading a campaign to outlaw this barbaric practice. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that the Apostle Paul could care less about how people outside the church behaved. His sole concern was for the moral lives of those inside the church. Those inside the church guilty of gross immorality were judged by excommunication, but those outside the Church, Paul made it very clear that Christians are to have nothing to do with judging them (I Corinthians 5:12).

I realize that what I’ve written so far challenges a deeply held notion in many Christian circles that God has called Bible believing Christians to be the moral guardians of society, but frankly, I don’t give a rip about offending religious people. What matters is what the Bible actually says, not the opinions of man. I ask the question again. What would Christianity look like if followers of Jesus decided that their only moral agenda in this life is to imitate Jesus? Would we condemn the sinner with a sword or would we serve the sinner with a towel?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is Isaac the father of Christianity?

Question: Aaron, is isaac somehow considered the father of christianity? or at least the head of the lineage? just trying to understand the whole isaac/ishmael xtianity/islam thing. any help would be great. thanks!

Answer: Thank you for the question. I'll try to boil it down the best I can
since this is a very fundamental issue and it's often misunderstood. Unfortunately, the question doesn't lend itself to a short answer.

According to the Bible, God promised Abraham that he would have a son through his wife Sarah and that it would be through Sarah's son that all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Between the time that God made this promise to Abraham and when the promise was actually fulfilled was about 22 years. During this period of waiting, Abraham got impatient and his wife Sarah suggested that he go into their maidservant Hagar. It was the result of Abraham's union with Hagar that Ishmael was born. Ishmael was conceived through Hagar and was the firstborn, but Isaac was conceived through Sarah and became the child of promise.

Unfortunately there was friction between the two women, Sarah and Hagar, so eventually Sarah cast Hagar into the desert at
which point an angel had mercy on her and her son and promised that Ishmael would also father a great nation. Interestingly, Ishmael was actually promised a much larger piece of land than was promised Isaac. According to both Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Scriptures, Ishmael became the father of the Arab people. Isaac is the son of promise in that it was through his lineage that Jesus the Messiah was born, thus fulfilling the promise that it would be through Abraham's seed that
all the nations of the earth would be blessed.

How does this relate to Christianity and Islam? In Galatians 4:21-31, the Apostle Paul allegorizes the story of Isaac and Ishmael to make the point that those who place their faith in Christ for salvation, regardless of their physical lineage, are the true children of promise and are therefore children of Isaac. Jews that don't believe in Jesus, on the other hand, even though they are physical descendants of Isaac, spiritually speaking they are descendants of Hagar because they're trusting in the works of the law to save them. Most Christians scholars, and I agree with this interpretation, would identify Muslims as spiritual children of Ishmael because there's very little theological difference between the path of salvation in Islam
and the path of salvation in Judaism.

Two more points need to be made. In Genesis 22, there's a story where God, in order to test Abraham's faith, asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac on an altar. Just as Abraham lifts up the knife to slay his
son, an angel intervenes, commends Abraham's faith and then directs Abraham to a ram caught in a bush to take the place of Isaac. Christians see the ram as a type of Christ in this story. Muslims actually have the same story in the Koran, but according to Islamic tradition, they believe it was Ishmael that Abraham almost sacrificed on the altar, not Isaac, although in the Koran it simply says the firstborn.

Lastly, some say that the story of Isaac and Ishmael means that Jews and Arabs will always be at war with each other. They say that Ishmael was a wild man and persecuted Isaac, therefore the Arab race will always be antagonistic towards the Jews. I strongly disagree with this interpretation. The New Testament makes it clear that Christ has broken down the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14), and besides, Arabs were present at the day of Pentecost. Whether a person is Arab or Jew, it's faith in Jesus that makes a person a child of Isaac, and Jesus calls His followers to be peacemakers!

I know that's a mouthful, but it's an enormous issue. Hope this helps.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Son of Hamas leader is now a follower of Jesus!

Here's a remarkable story I think you'll enjoy.,2933,402483,00.html

The son of one of Hamas's top leaders is now a follower of Jesus--and he gives Islam only 25 more years to survive as a global ideology. I think he's on to something. The more intolerant Islam becomes, the more it drives away it's own followers. Kind of reminds me of Romans 8:28. God causes all things to serve His purposes!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I've landed a publisher!

Sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Things have been crazy lately. A few weeks back I was in Guatemala with a team of 36 people from my church South County Christian Center. Most of the group was college and career age, but there were a few minors mixed in as well. Because of the size of the group, we divided into two separate groups and I was asked to lead the group of 18 people that went to Joyabaj where we worked with a missionary named Bill Vasey to construct a school. I first met Bill back in April when Pastor Ryan Stoops and I took a survey trip to explore our options for ministry. There was something about Bill that caused us to know right away that he would be a great person to work with. It turns out we were right. Although our group worked hard while in Joyabaj, the experience was a positive one for everyone involved. A big Thank you to all who prayed for us!

Shortly after I returned from Guatemala, Rhiannon and I packed our bags and moved out of our house in Hillsboro and into my parents’ home in Arnold, Mo. The day after our move, a friend of ours from Bethlehem came to St. Louis to visit us. Fadi is a Palestinian Christian that I met in the West Bank last year when I was on a delegation with Christian Peacemaker Teams. Showing Fadi the great cultural sites in St. Louis. We went to the New Cathedral, the Ulysses S. Grant Museum at Grant’s Farm, took him to a Middle Eastern restaurant where he could have a Falafel (a staple dish in the West Bank), and to top it off we took him to a Cardinals game at the new Busch Stadium. All of us got a laugh when we taught Fadi how to yell, “Charge!!!!” after the organ plays duh duh duh dat tada! It was a pleasure sharing our culture with our Middle Eastern friend. We know that his family will also be sharing their culture with us when we make our move to Bethlehem next year.

There’s a lot that Rhiannon and I have to do before our move to Bethlehem next year. The day before I left for Guatemala, I landed a publisher for my new book. We don’t have an official title for it yet, but I think it’s going to be something along the lines of “Stuck in a Room with a Jihadist!” I couldn’t be happier that I’ve finally broken into the publishing world, though I know that this adds to the workload that we have to do before our move next year. As part of the publishing agreement, we had to buy 2,500 copies of the book at a 65% discount, and I’m going to want the vast majority of my personal copies sold before we move next year. Our plan is to hit the road for the first 3-4 months of ’09 to speak at churches, conferences, promote my book, and raise additional support for the ministry. Our plan is to donate as much of the profits as possible from the sale of the book to go towards the radio station project in Guinea Bissau. But before any of that, we have two more trips before the end of the year. In November Rhiannon and I will be going to Brazil for three straight weeks to do nothing but preach the gospel. And then within a week after we get back, we’ll be heading back to Senegal and Guinea Bissau to strengthen the work of the ministry that we started in ’03.

Lastly, I wrote to you several weeks ago about a Pakistani pastor that was being pursued by bad people in his country. Several of you gave toward the purchase of a plane ticket so you deserve to know (without going into too much detail) that there’s been some complications, but the ticket has been purchased and the individual in question will be going out on the next available flight. Thank you so much to those of you who gave. I pray that God will use us many more times in the future to help those in need.

While there is still time,

Aaron Taylor

P.S. Last week our ministry printed hundreds of tracts in Nepal with your help. If you’d like to help our ministry bless native evangelists on the front lines of ministry, you can donate at

Friday, August 08, 2008

Is the Joker Right?

Here's another article by my friend Pastor Tim O Brien. I don't necessarily agree with Pastor Tim's view that seems to suggest that the Church is going to create a utopia before Jesus comes back, but I do appreciate his positive view that the earth will be renewed one day, therefore Christians shouldn't succumb to an escapist mentality. Enjoy!

For an equally stimulating philosophical review of Batman, check out Greg Boyd's article here!

The movie “The Dark Knight” highlights a contest of wills between Batman and the Joker. Both express their worldviews in poignant philosophical lines. The Joker’s worldview is that the world is given to chaos and anarchy with no redeemable value. Batman’s worldview is that the world has redeemable value and is destined for greatness.

What do the ancient Jewish prophets say about the destiny of the earth? What will become of this place? In all instances, the prophecies about the earth throughout the Scriptures point toward a positive ending. Habakkuk says, “the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth.” Isaiah says, “over all the glory will be a canopy.” The psalmist says, “I will make the nations your inheritance.”

The Book of Revelation speaks of a new earth and the old earth passing away. This is typical Jewish prophetic language. It does not indicate total destruction of the old. It is about renewal. Jewish prophets prophesied many times about destruction coming to Israel, but renewal was always the end result, not total and complete destruction.

The way some Christians talk, you would think they agreed with the Joker. They have no hope for earth. They only hope to get out of here. But Jesus said to the Father, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world.” If we are supposed to stay here, there must be something worth staying for.

Batman’s worldview fits the declarations of the ancient Jewish prophets. The earth has an ultimate purpose that will be fulfilled. The bringing forth of these purposes ought to be the heartbeat of every believer.

Paul said the creation itself waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. The earth right under our feet is groaning “has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” The Word promises that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

You may say that all this is supposed to happen after Jesus comes back. But the Bible is clear that the Church must fulfill all that she has been commanded to do before His return. Jesus also said that it would be better if He left and sent His Spirit. So, you see, it can’t get suddenly better if Jesus returns, because Jesus Himself said it would be better when He was gone. The Church is moving toward the “better” as she fulfills her great commission to make disciples of nations.

Check out how the Amplified Version words Philippians 1:6: “He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” That sounds like the Church is completed and perfected before Christ’s return.

[References: Hab 2:14, Isa 4:5, Ps 2:8, Jn 17:15, Rom 8:19-22, Rev 21:1]

By Pastor Tim O’Brien

Rock of Ages Ministries

For Daily Guide 8 Aug 08 edition

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hiroshima Day

In honor of Hiroshima day, take a look at this 30 second video.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Ice Cream man solves world hunger

I found this link on Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship's website. The founder of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream proposes an interesting solution to feed the world's starving millions.

I thought my readers might find this interesting.

It's time for the silent majority to speak up!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Note to self--never say yaaaahh!!!!!!

I just got back from Guatemala late on Tuesday night. Had an awesome time. I went with a team of 34 people from my home church South County Christian Center. Out of the 34 people, I led a group of 18 people to the town of Joyabaj. Although my wife and I have traveled all over the world, this was the first time, I've ever led a team that large, much less a team with teenagers in the mix. Thank God for grace, because I'm not sure what I would have done without it.

While we were in Joyabaj we met with a missionary named Bill Vasey who has been working among the Quiche people for 40 years. According to Bill, we were the first team he had ever hosted to come to Joyabaj. All the other teams Bill has hosted over the years have opted to stay in nicer cities. We didn't realize that what we were doing was anything out of the ordinary, but according to Bill, just our being there made a huge impact on the people. We didn't stay in hotels, but we did get to stay with local families. That made the trip all the more authentic for me.

For most of the group, it was the furthest away they've ever been from the modern conveniences of an American lifestyle. For me, Joyabaj was somewhere in between. Rhiannon and I have stayed in towns far less developed. Though I was uncomfortable sleeping on a mattress on the floor, I've been far more uncomfortable in the past sleeping without a mattress on solid wood in places like Pakistan and Cambodia.

The one thing that set this trip apart for me was the manual labor. Every day the team got up and hauled dirt with shovels and wheelbarrows for hours on end. The official reason why we were there was to help construct a Christian school--and that we did--though God allowed us to do much more. On the first day we arrived in Joyabaj a few of us decided to get a head start on the work, so we spent about two hours hauling bricks. We finished at about 5:00 p.m. and about the same time we noticed that the construction crew was putting away their gear and heading to the soccer field. We felt this would be a good way to bond with the locals so we decided to challenge them.

There was only one little problem with this idea. The only shoes I had on were rubber boots. Due to the fact that July is right smack dab in the middle of the rainy season, Bill had recommended that everyone wear rubber boots to the job site. That was a great idea, but it didn't help me at all playing soccer. I hung out in the back most of the game until one of my teammates challenged me to charge one of the opponents and yell yaaahh!!!! at the top of my lungs. To get a good laugh I decided to play along. I charged the opponent--wearing rubber boots and shorts mind you--yelling yaaahh!!! and before I could complete the word, I tripped over a rock and sprained my ankle. Even though I was in pain, the first thoughts that ran through my mind as I was going down were I bet that was hilarious!

It was. I'm okay now. A bit humbled but okay. I'm reminded of a verse found in Ephesians 3:10 where the Apostle Paul says that God's purpose for the Church is to display His glory to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. It's funny that I've never heard a sermon preached on this peculiar detail in Scripture. Have you ever thought about the fact that your life is an open screen in which angels have a front row seat in heaven--and God is teaching them through you? I know it's hard to believe, but every single moment of our lives are loaded with significance, even when it seems like no one is watching. God is actually teaching angels through our broken, wonderful, and sometimes hilarious lives. I wrote a book a few years back on this subject entitled "The Angels are Watching: How God Uses Your Life to Teach the Angels"

Kind of reminds me of the film "It's a Wonderful Life" when the angel Clarence watches a snapshot of George Bailey showing off his dancing while unbeknownst to him a swimming pool opens up and invites him to take an accidental plunge. I'm thinking I got a few heavenly laughs that day--literally.