A Little Bit of This and That

1. We’re praising God that Samuel’s nephrology appointment yesterday resulted in an “all clear” report. He presently has no discernible stones or calcium deposits in his kidneys! The only thing that remains is for him to be tested to see if he has a genetic predisposition toward kidney issues. As a closed-adoption adoptee myself, I have no knowledge of any family medical history that I can add to the discussion, so I’m hoping the genetic test is conclusive. I’m going to miss him over the next 10 days as he took his parents to the Outer Banks for vacation. He promises to FaceTime me once in a while. 🙂

2. My summer camp speaking tour was exhilarating, even if tiring. All told, I had the privilege of sharing 20 messages at 3 different camps over 19 days. These messages included:

  • Three Hearts on Calvary (Luke 23:32-34, 39-43)
  • As Secure as You Can Make It (Matthew 27:62-28:16)
  • Our Father, Who Art Incredible (Isaiah 55:6-9)
  • Bride Life & the Church (Gen 2:18-24; Eph 5:25-33; Rev 21:1-5)
  • Negaholics & Complainiacs (Philippians 2:14-18)
  • The Leading Edge of Love (1 Corinthians 13:4a)
  • David’s Prayer for Mercy (Psalm 51)
  • Abandon Ship (Luke 5:1-11)
  • Yom Kippur, Part 1 (Leviticus 16:21-23)
  • Yom Kippur, Part 2 (Leviticus 16:21-23)
  • A Life That Counts (John 12:26b; 1 Cor 15:58b; Heb 6:10)

As I noted a few days ago, all three camps went well, and I appreciated those who prayed for me, as well as for those to whom I was blessed to speak. God was at work all over the place! As a mostly left-brain kind of guy, I don’t typically emote during messages, but I lost it several times during a 2-part sermon on Yom Kippur at the one camp. All seven feasts powerfully point to Christ and what he has done for us. I may eventually turn that study into a book. I also deeply appreciate the wonderful staff and volunteers I have who kept things running while I was away. What a blessing to serve on this team!

3. I haven’t gotten to spend too much time landscaping this summer, or posting pictures of our efforts, but the yard still looks decent. My new Japanese maple is doing well. So are the geraniums and the marigolds. A little bit of (post-dissertation) shaping and pruning next year will likely make things look even nicer. The older I get, the more I enjoy this kind of cultivation. Alas, the baskets are subpar, and my cherry tree is not healthy for some reason. Win some, lose some.

4. Speaking of dissertation, I had the privilege of chairing a ThD dissertation committee for a student who successfully gave his oral defense on Thursday afternoon. His accomplishment was remarkable in that English is his third language! The title of his dissertation was: A PHENOMENOLOGICAL STUDY OF A LONG-LASTING EVANGELISM PRACTICE IN A MULTICULTUAL COMMUNITY. His ministry context is Toronto, Canada, and his research produced some helpful insights for the church at large. He is going to take a well-deserved break and then consider turning his academic work into a popular-level book.

5. My mother-in-law’s geriatrician informed us last week that Lorena is steadily heading toward Stage 7 of Alzheimer’s disease, which is the final stage. She still knows who we are most of the time, but other than that, she’s in a perpetual haze and doesn’t remember that she lives with us. Her cognition and motor skills are declining fast. The only thing she does well anymore is eat. Extra grace will be needed over the next couple years.

6. The winding down of summer always used to be a sad time for me when I was in school—largely because it meant the end of the outdoor pool season, which I loved. Times change, though, and I now look forward to the unfolding of each new season, especially as we start moving into fall, which is just around the corner. The sights, sounds, smells, and tastes are divine.

7. There are many other joys and tidbits to share, but duty calls, and the pile is high. I’m several weeks behind on sermon summaries, so I’ll be trying to catch up next week. Some of the new friends I met at camp this year have said they would like to stop by from time to time and see where we are in the Word. The more the merrier! 😊 

May God richly bless you with an enjoyable weekend!

And the real voice of Jenny Lind in the show…

Eight Months and Counting

My camp speaking schedule has prevented me from posting regularly this week—sorry! And I’m a few days late on Samuel’s 8-month birth anniversary, so I need to get cracking! Happy belated birthday, dear one! You are deeply loved! 💙 💙 💙 Here are a few shots of the SamJam, who now loves to army-crawl, giggle, drool, and “sing.” (He did not want to sit still for this photo shoot!) Oh, and he still loves to play “Samuel Sandwich.” 🙂

Both camps have gone very well, so thanks to all those who have been praying. As a left-brainer, I don’t typically emote during messages, but I lost it three times last week during a 2-part sermon on Yom Kippur. All seven feasts powerfully point to Christ and what he has done for us. 

I’m commuting daily for this third camp gig, so I get lots of time in the car to think, pray, and worship. My playlist is so uplifting! Last night I was worn out after the evening session, so I vegged out to Enya’s Dark Sky Island on the way home. I forgot how much I like this album.

Enjoy the rest of your week…and for those in this neck of the woods…I hope you can endure the sweltering heat!

Back in the Saddle after a Brief Mini-Vacation

1. Well, my mother-in-law did it! She made the trip to Hickory, NC and back again, with only about four stops each way. After a lot of coaching, re-directing, and sign making, Lorena pressed on and did what few people thought she could do. She successfully attended part of the 2021 Taylor Family Reunion. Yes, she was confused by much of what was going on around her, but she did recognize her brothers and sisters when she got to speak to them. That alone was worth taking the trip. (Eleven of the 13 remaining siblings were able to attend this year; one has since passed away.) We’ve often said that Lorena is most like herself when she prays. Maybe that’s why she was asked to close the family worship service in prayer on Sunday morning. That was a precious moment. We usually stay for the whole week and participate in all the reunion activities, but this year we came back after a few days so as not to overwhelm her. There are a few snaps below, and we’re trusting our cousins to fill in the gaps for us. As always, my son Andrew is capturing the event on video.

Taylor family worship service at the Rex Allen theater.
Lorena Moore worshiping the Lord.
Lorena and her sister-in-law, Judith Taylor.
Lorena closing the worship service in prayer.
First-generation Taylors who were able to attend the reunion this year.

2. Mercy. Grace. Covenant. Love. Hope. Those were the broad themes I spoke on last week at one of the camp meetings in our region. There was a wonderful response to the message each night, and on several occasions, the altar service lasted well over an hour with dozens of folks responding in prayer, gratitude, and/or repentance—just quietly singing, praying, hugging, and waiting on the Lord. Happily, the leaders were not being manipulative at all; they just said, “Come if you feel led, or pray with others in your seats, or leave quietly if you’d like. Just spend these moments with the Lord in whatever way the Spirit leads.” It was beautiful to watch the grace of God melting hearts and renewing hope. (The Apostle Paul reminds us that it’s the kindness of the Lord that leads to repentance, not the harshness of preachers and other believers.) I was especially moved by the willing response of the young people. Oh, and I may have “ugly cried” once or twice while singing Jenn Johnson’s “Goodness of God.” 🙂

A glorious shot of the camp cabins.

3. Seldom does this sort of thing resonate with my spirit (because of its inherent potential for abuse), but a brother spoke a word over me on the final night I spoke at camp. He said, “While we were praying, God gave me a vision of you as a shiny trumpet, and God playing his sacred song through you, blowing his breath of life through your voice when you teach and preach. He’s using you to play his beautiful song of grace for many people, even as he continues to polish out any remaining discoloration in your own trumpet. There’s an accuser trying to call people’s attention to the discoloration rather than to God’s song and the polishing he continues to do for you. Don’t ever be discouraged by that accusing voice. Just keep letting God give the clarion call of his kingdom through you.” Alrighty, then. So be it.

4. My head and heart are exploding from all that I’m learning in my dissertation research. My working title (which will almost certainly change over the next several months) is: “Thresholds of Eternity: Tracing the Veil of Yahweh’s Sanctuary from Its Creation and Consecration to Its Destruction and Obsolescence in the New Age of Living Temples.” I estimate that I have about four more months of intense research, followed four months of principal writing, followed by two months of refining and defending. The only frustration is watching my workout schedule getting squeezed out. I have got to remedy that. Oh, and I’m going broke buying books for this venture. But I suppose that that’s not too terribly frustrating. After all, this fall we’ll be renovating the basement and creating a home library/podcast studio. If there’s any money left. 🙂

Artist’s rendition of Israel’s tabernacle in the desert.

More from the 2021 Taylor Family Reunion (Hickory, NC)

Got to attend a Crawdads game Sunday night with my kids and a whole bunch of other relatives.
After the game we oooo-ed and aaah-ed at the Independence Day fireworks.
Uncle Tommy Taylor in the original homestead barn. He’s the kindest man you could ever meet, and he turns 90 later this month.
This year, instead of the Monday morning hayride, we replicated chores the first generation did on the farm, including hoeing a row, milking a cow, moving rocks, stacking hay bales, etc. It became a contest to see which team could do them the fastest.
One chore was to carry water from the spring house to a tub and then “take a bath” in it. The rules required that one team member get their feet, knees, and shoulders completely wet. Sonya was the good sport on our team.
One of our tasks was to line up the school pictures of the original 14 kids in their birth order. We in the second generation could handle that, but it was fun to watch the third generation try to do it.
The well-loved “field day” activity is in full swing today, and social media lets us catch some of the highlights from a distance. Those who are able will be traveling to Lake Fontana tomorrow for the rest of the reunion.