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The Silent Gift

Hearing loss would seem a curse to a musician, but it could be a gift. At age 30, Beethoven complained that he was losing his hearing. “From a distance, I do not hear the high notes of the instruments and the singers’ voices.” It enraged him. At times he even contemplated suicide. He would lay on the floor with a pencil clenched in his teeth. With it, he would bang on the keys to get the vibration through the pencil. Some pianos he left in ruins. It would prove to be a gift. After his hearing loss, Beethoven created his best work, including his Ninth Symphony. One scholar wrote: “It seems a mystery that Beethoven became more original and brilliant as a composer in inverse proportion to his ability to hear. Deafness freed Beethoven as a composer because he no longer had society’s soundtrack in his ears.” The noise of our world rattles our souls. We cannot think, grow, or respond to God over the din of competing voices. Jesus knew no soul develops in the noise. With crowds thronging and requests flowing constantly, he told his disciples: “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.” (Mark 6:31) In our world, we need to turn off our phones, leave Netflix dark, and spend time alone with the Master. As Beethoven learned, it might be what our souls need most. -Robert G. Taylor-

By |2021-07-28T15:26:57-05:00July 28th, 2021|Blog|

Warning

MyShake is an app with a single job—to warn of an earthquake. It works through receiving information from local authorities and then alerts people to the impending earthquake. This allows for people to quickly find a quick spot to endure the shaking. Residents of the Pacific Northwest are alerted to massive quakes. These alerts allow for up to a minute and a half preparations. Earthquakes originating from the Cascadia Subduction Zone can send shock waves and tsunamis as far as Japan. Wouldn’t you want to receive a warning before an earthquake? Then, why do people not heed warnings of even more profound events? In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story of the reversal of fortunes involving the beggar, named Lazarus and the unnamed man of wealth. The rich man finds his torment too much to bear and begs Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers. But Abraham refuses. “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ” (Luke 16:31) God provides the warning of judgment and destiny through the words of Scripture. We heed it to our delight and ignore it to our peril. Are you listening to the alarms? -Robert G. Taylor-  

By |2021-07-20T21:09:28-05:00July 19th, 2021|Blog|

Free

Lee Horton knows a sensation that few experiences. He knows what it is like to be free. In 1993, Lee and his brother Dennis were convicted of armed robbery and murder. They received a sentence of life in prison without parole. It looked hopeless. Even though they pleaded they were innocent, they spent years behind bars. They were model prisoners who became role models for so many others. In December of 2020, the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons recommended a commutation to the governor who granted it. Lee walked out of prison free. What’s it like to be free? Here is how he describes it. I'm going to tell you honestly. The first thing that I was aware of when I walked out of the doors and sat in the car and realized that I wasn't handcuffed. And for all the time I've been in prison, every time I was transported anywhere, I always had handcuffs on. And that moment right there was … the most emotional moment that I had. Even when they told me that the governor had signed the papers … it didn't set in until I was in that car and I didn't have those handcuffs on. And I don't think people understand that the punishment is being in prison. When you take away everything, everything becomes beautiful to you. ... When we got out … we went to the DMV to get our licenses back. My brother and I stood in line for two and a half hours. And we heard all the bad things about the DMV. We had the most beautiful time. And all the people were looking at us because we were smiling and we were laughing, and they couldn't understand why we were so happy. And it just was that - just being in that line was a beautiful thing. I was in awe of everything around me. It's like my mind was just heightened to every small nuance. Just to be able to just look out of a window, just to walk down a street and just inhale the fresh air, just to see people interacting. ... It woke something up in me, something that I don't know if it died or if it went to sleep. I've been having epiphanies every single day since I've been released. One of my morning rituals every morning is I send a message of ‘good morning, good morning, good morning, have a nice day’ to every one of my 42 contacts. And they're like, ‘how long can (he) keep doing this?’ But they don't understand that I was deprived. And now, it's like I have been released, and I've been reborn into a better day, into a new day. Like, the person I was no longer exists. I've stepped through the looking glass onto the other side, and everything is beautiful. Paul told the unappreciative Galatians: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves [...]

By |2021-06-27T14:51:09-05:00June 27th, 2021|Blog|

The Shoes

Daverius Peters came to graduation to get his diploma. But when he entered, he only received humiliation. The attendant turned him away for wearing the wrong shoes. The rules called for dark-colored dress shoes. The only shoes Daverius owned were black sneakers. He had worn his white shirt and dress pants, but the school would not budget. That was until a teacher on hand to escort his own daughter to graduation saw the dilemma. John Butler pleaded with the attendant, but he refused to move off his “no.” So Butler did the only thing he could. He took off his size 11 shoes and let Deverius slide his size 9 feet into them. Butler went sock footed, but Daverius slid across the stage to have his diploma handed to him. Butler showed the essence of sacrifice. He gave up his own for the sake of another. It is what Jesus did for us. On the night of his betrayal, he explained the near future to the tired and bewildered men. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” (John 15:13–14) Jesus gave more than shoes. His life provided our life. That is the ultimate sacrifice. Never take for granted the shoes. Sometimes they tell us more than we notice. -Robert G. Taylor-

By |2021-06-21T14:31:25-05:00June 21st, 2021|Blog|

Unclaimed Inheritance

Cathy Boone died in January 2020 after living on the streets. She was homeless, struggling with drug abuse and mental illness. That is a tragic story, but it is made even more wretched by a single fact. Her mother had died and left her an inheritance of $900,000, which Boone left unclaimed. Think of the difference that inheritance might have provided. Life would be so different if only she would have claimed what was given to her. Cathy Boone is not alone. Billions leave an inheritance on the table. It is not a pile of cash but something more valuable—life as God intended it to be.   Paul reminds us that many live with the promise of an unclaimed inheritance. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23–24) Do you serve the Lord? If not, you are ignoring the inheritance God has set aside for your eternity. Cathy Boone’s plight and passing are melancholy scenes. More catastrophic is to lose all life can be by ignoring God. Have you claimed your inheritance? -Robert G. Taylor-

By |2021-06-17T18:29:38-05:00June 14th, 2021|Blog|

The Notes

Army Staff Sergeant Philip Gray deployed to Afghanistan. His tour of duty would last for 270 days. It would also separate him from Rosie, his 7-year-old daughter. Before he left, he wrote a note to Rosie for every day he would be away. In them, he encouraged her in her school work and to do her best in whatever she did. On October 7, 2019, he left home, and every day, while he was gone, his wife put the notes in Rosie’s lunch book. They were replete with small drawings of holidays, such as pumpkins for Halloween. The whole time that Sgt. Gray served his company, he thought of his family, especially his child. It’s no different for God. He is a father to children and shows the same love to them. As the psalmist observed, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13) A good father keeps in touch with his children. Through the Bible and prayer, God the Father keeps in communication with his children. God is never far away. Sgt. Gray arrived home on August 8, 2020, three days before Rosie’s birthday. She asked her father, ‘Dad, are you going leave me and mom a note?’” Philip said. “I say ‘Yes bug, I will leave you a note.’” And God does the same. He still leaves us his notes in his word. Are you getting your note today? -Robert G. Taylor-

By |2021-06-07T11:13:58-05:00June 7th, 2021|Blog|

The Cure

Mark Grenon and his son are in trouble. The problem is their “cure.” The father-son duo sold what they called the “Mineral Miracle Solution,” which was marketed to cure “COVID-19, malaria, and cancer.” What was this “miracle cure?” It was nothing but ordinary household bleach. People bought it and used it. Many were hospitalized, and some died. The Grenon made over a million dollars selling it, even setting up a “church” called The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing.” They are not the first to offer bogus cures. Snake oil salesmen go back to the time of the Bible. Judah’s leaders refused to acknowledge the nation’s sin, with the Babylonians coming as punishment for sin. Instead, they offered hope when there was none. Jeremiah chided them: “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14) Our world wants to smooth over sin and guilt. We offer therapy, self-help, and morning affirmations as cures for what ails us. Preachers preach prosperity and comforting words. And people feel better, but are not right. The only medicine that works for our deepest ailment is to take Jesus at his word, trust him in complete obedience, and let him change your life. It won’t be a miracle drug but simply God’s miracle. The Grenons are awaiting trials for their fraud. But in truth, we all are awaiting trial for employing false remedies to our spiritual emptiness. Take your medicine, and you will be well. -Robert G. Taylor-

By |2021-06-01T10:52:33-05:00June 1st, 2021|Blog|

The Changed Plaque

In 1947, something changed in American sports. It rocked American society. In that year, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play professional baseball. Robinson was a star, not an attraction. At the end of his career, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, inducted him into baseball's royalty. Robinson made a request. He only wanted his playing statistics recorded on the Hall of Fame plaque. He refused any mention of the “first African-American.” It was that way until 2008. That’s when the Hall of Fame changed the plaque. Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said, “The time is right to recognize his contribution to history, not only as a Hall of Fame player but also as a civil rights pioneer.” Too many times, we see life through the prism of accomplishment. We measure titles, positions, and awards. Yet, God sees through the hollow accolades of human beings. He told Samuel, who was looking for a king “But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7) The Lord doesn’t measure accomplishment, but character. Who you are is more important than what you’ve done. Remember what is most important. It’s not the advancement but transformation. What will God see in your life? -Robert G. Taylor-    

By |2021-05-29T20:57:37-05:00May 24th, 2021|Blog|

The Bridge

In 1968, war broke out in Northern Ireland. On one side were Irish Protestants. Their opposition was Irish Catholics. For thirty years, bombings and murders committed in the name of faith terrorized the country. It was so divisive, it split apart cities. The River Foyle divides one such city. On one side, are Catholics and on the other are Protestants. The citizens don’t even agree about the name. Some call it Londonderry, while others insist its name is Derry. It is only one sign of the tension and strife that tore apart a small nation. No one crossed the river…until 2011. In that year, a unique 900-foot bridge that curves like a snake spanned the river. Architects designed it for joggers, walkers, and bicyclists. If people can cross to the other side, they may find some reconciliation. The name of the bridge is the Peace Bridge. We all need a bridge. God in his holiness is distant and unreachable by sinful man. So God built a bridge. Paul describes God’s construction of his own peace bridge: “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” (Romans 5:10) God built a bridge that, if we will walk it through submission to his will, God welcomes us home. God’s love built the bridge for us. Will you cross it? -Robert G. Taylor-  

By |2021-05-09T13:51:10-05:00May 9th, 2021|Blog|

Mistaken

Some opportunities you wish you had back. The Lil Thompson’s Steakhouse owner had a frequent visitor who was a friend to the owner. He got free food for years before he was famous. One night, the steakhouse held an Elvis Presley Impersonator context. The place filled with eager spectators and hopeful singers. One by one, performers stepped to the microphone, belted out their best Elvis tune, and sat down. Finally, the owner’s friend decided to take a whirl. He told him, “I’m going to mash this.” He sang Elvis’ trademark song “Love Me Tender.” The people were polite. He came in third. The final almost-good-enough performer was none other but real Elvis Presley. People important moments by mistaking them for something ordinary. Two men walked on a road, discussing the current events in Jerusalem. A man fell in with them as they walked. He seemed ignorant about the recent death of Jesus of Nazareth and the dashed hopes of the pair who talked. Once they arrived at their destination, they ate together. And Luke tells us the story. “And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:31–32) The one they walked with and ate with was Jesus himself. And they had not recognized him. We meet Christ in strange places….hospital rooms, street corners, and even hurting friends. And yet, we miss him. We see the moment, not the Master. Yet, Jesus shows up, and only the spiritual discerning can see past that moment. Have you missed Jesus in your life? He’s here in plain sight for those who want to find him. -Robert G. Taylor-

By |2021-04-26T11:08:35-05:00April 26th, 2021|Blog|
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