Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This in-between period from Christmas to New Year's is kind of an 'off' time for blogging - re-grouping, thinking, etc. I'll get back to the 'serious' stuff in early '09. For now, it's kind of random, but it's great for me to end the year on this note.

We were in Minneapolis a few days around Christmas time visiting our older daughters and their husbands. Our youngest daughter, Olivia (18), was with us. We had a great time opening gifts, going to the Mall of America, visiting the St. Paul Conservatory, riding the light rail (train), going to the movie "Valkyrie," more shopping, eating out, hanging out together, etc. It was awesome. I wish we lived closer to one another.

One evening, we stopped for pizza at a swanky little joint where the pizza was 'smokin'' - and I mentioned to the waitress that 'we would take the check for the whole group.' By "WE," I meant Joelene and me. But the waitress pointed to my youngest daughter, Olivia (18), who was sitting right next to me and said, "Oh, you two are going to cover it?" And she was completely serious. You should have seen the look on Olivia's (18) face. It is the second time at a restaurant that a waitress has put my youngest daughter and I together as a 'couple,' which according to my youngest daughter is - well - GROSS. The last time was five years ago when we were out for a special 'date' at Olive Garden. She was 13 and I was 44. That, in fact, WAS gross.

I told her it was a way big compliment for ME - and maybe even a way big compliment for her (that she looks far more 'mature' than her years). But she didn't buy that. Or maybe it was a combination of both. In any case, it was a nice pump-me-up for a guy about to become a Grandpa. (VOTE AT RIGHT - see the 12/28 blog)

Just as a side note: After the pizza, we caught the light rail to get from downtown back to the Mall of America. We had some extra pizza left over in a box. Joelene saw a man who appeared to be homeless walking the streets. She offered the pizza to him. His question back to her was: "What kind of pizza IS it?" Apparently he preferred MEAT on his pizza (which there was).

Just another DAY IN THE LIFE.

Happy New Year --- and be blessed.

Monday, December 29, 2008


Please participate in the "GRANDPA NAMING" poll at right (see the 12/28 blog).

I was at TARGET today getting some links taken out of a Christmas watch when someone from church approached and we chatted for awhile. She had both of her young children with her and we talked about what Christmas had brought them this year. Turns out they got a Wii, which is way cool.

The truth is - (despite the new 'grandfather-to-be' status) - I've never really been all that good around children other than my own. The joke around the church staff is, if the kid doesn't cry at child dedications when I pick him up to pray, well - that's a big WIN for me.

So the really funny part of the impromptu TARGET visit today was - out of the clear blue, the little girl said to me: "Would you babysit us?" Just like that. "Would you babysit us?" Which really caused the confidence in my new status to soar.

So thanks to that family (you know who you are) for the conversation in TARGET today - and for the little girl. I'd babysit you, by the way.

I'm still watching that GRANDPA-NAMING POLL very closely. Please vote.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

NONNI & ???

Since the news has now officially been posted here (yesterday) about Joelene and me being soon-to-be grandparents, the debate now begins about what we'll be called by our grandchild. Or rather, what I'LL be called.

Joelene has decided she is to be called 'Nonni' (pronounced 'NO-NEE') -- which is Italian for Grandma. So that's settled. It's actually "Nonna," but I'm told that "Nonni" is the more colloquial version for 'Grandma' over in Italy. She knows. I don't argue with her.

Now - there's ME. I would go with the Italian version myself, even though I'm hardly Italian. Some people say I LOOK Italian, but I'm not. Anyway, Grandpa in Italian is 'Nonno' (pronounced "NO-NO"). I think you see my problem.

I could go with some of my OWN heritage - which would be a little American Indian - but the word for Grandpa in Cherokee is 'Edudi' (pronounced "E-DOO-DEE"), so again - I think you see my problem.

So I am in a quandary as to what to have myself called come mid-August when my granddaughter/grandson (or both) come into this world. Because of that, I'm throwing it out there to all of you. Please - vote in my poll at right and help me decide. (You can vote for more than one.)

And before you mark "NONE OF THE ABOVE" and suggest your OWN name on the comment page -- please note: Grandpa, Granddaddy, Grandpop, Gramps, Grand-Dude, Pops, Pap, Pappy, PawPaw, PeePee, Nana-Booboo, Nemo, Ninny, G-Diddy, Dumpy, Butch and Charlie are all OUT.

Please vote. I'm desperate.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


The miracle of reproductivity is really THAT, isn't it? A miracle. At left is a picture of an embryo about 6-7 weeks old. It's amazing. A wonder. A miracle.

After the egg is fertiilized, the embryo, which has been free-floating for the first few days, comes to rest on the lining of the uterus and burrows in. The embryo is now a round mass of cells. By week 2, the embryo receives nutrients from the rich blood supply and develops both 'insiide' and an 'outside' layers. At week 3, a third cell layer has appeared - a 'middle' layer. These layers are destined to become different tissues in the developing child, such as skin, nerves, intestines and muscle. The heart has begun to pump; the brain and spinal cord begin to form. By week 4, the disc-like embryo now has a head and a tail, with buds that will grow into limbs. The embryo is about 4 to 5 millimeters long -- a bit less than 1/4 inch. By week 5, eyes are starting to form, a mouth-like opening appears and fingers and toes begin to take shape. The brain now has three recognizable divisions just as it does in the fully-developed baby and adult. At week 6, a nose and palate appear and eyelids cover the eyes. The brain is now growing rapidly, making a prominent bulge in the head region. The length is not quite one inch - about the size of a pea. At weeks 7-8, there is significantly more brain growth. Intestines, liver, kidneys, lungs and heart are all taking shape. The first muscle movements take place.

It's a miracle.

That picture you're looking at up top there --- that's a picture of our new miracle. It's what our grandson/granddaughter looks like about now. Joelene and I found out this week - or rather, got permission to SHARE this week - that we are going to be GRANDPARENTS in mid-August sometime. Our oldest daughter, Whitney, and her husband, Sam, are pregnant. I know some of you who are regular readers and friends of ours guessed our 'unraveling and late-breaking news' ahead of this post.

So, I guess I'll be a grandfather before I turn 50. I don't know if that's good, bad or neutral, but it's true.

So we're enjoying the last couple of days up here in Minneapolis with our 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law and 1 grandchild on-its-way.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


At times like these, the greatest joys of our lives aren't the Christmas perfumes/colognes - sweaters - hoodies - comptuer cases - ipods - kitchen goods - weights - wristwatches - shoes - gift certificates - and everything else received in packages and bows ----- not even close.

The GREATEST joy is being with people you love - grown daughters - sons-in-law - eating together - watching the faces as they all unwrap (it took us 3+ hours today) - laughing - watching a movie with each other - just 'being,' if that makes any sense. It does. It makes a lot of sense.

I trust that is YOUR greatest joy as well and that you had the equivalent of it today.

Check back in tomorrow for that 'unraveling and late-breaking wonderful news' from the Taylors as promised on the 12/23 blog - and check out our VIDEO CHRISTMAS CARD below.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


We'll be in Minneapolis visiting our daughters and sons-in-law over Christmas. So from our family to yours -- A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS -- and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Check back here over the next few days for some unraveling and late-breaking wonderful news from us --- are you in suspense yet? Hang on.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


This was the final installment in our weekend series highlighting some sentimental Christmas songs - today was "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

The drama given this morning was absolutely riveting and moving and gut-wrenching real. The cherry on top was the people who came forward to be prayed with, not only to give themselves to God for the very first time, but also those who had walked away from Christ coming back 'home' to re-commit their lives.

What a perfect season to do just that.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


When we have been looking around to purchase homes in the past, the mantra of all the various realtors was “location, location, location.” Similarly, Brad Bright says those who wish to bring about change with the way people think in today's culture know that the mantra is ‘reframe, reframe, reframe.’

Often there is a temptation to overreact to the naysayers who throw curve balls at you to try to knock you off message and distract you from your goal. Many times we allow ourselves to be put on the defensive at such questions and statements. But reframing challenges us to stay on course by re-stating those questions with a good and positive OFFENSE.

A great DEFENSE, though important, will not move us forward. Jesus never accepted His opponent’s terms of debate. He always reframed the issue so He could make stay on OFFENSE.

When William Wilberforce stuck to his guns for twenty years, the slave trade was finally outlawed. Because Vladimir Lenin was totally committed to hammering his message home, he took over one of the largest nations on earth. Because the apostle Paul preached his message without deviation, even though there was opposition and danger, history was changed forever.

When we are willing to stay on message no matter what, we too can change the world. But it requires wisdom, focus and perseverance – and it requires consistently being on offense, not defense. And to do THAT, we have to reframe, reframe, reframe.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 19, 2008


Honestly, a couple of my least favorite things on this planet are snow and cold winters. Sorry if you're a dyed-in-the-wool-white-stuff-lover. Why I have been situated in the Northern tier of states for the past 27 years is beyond me - known only to God. He has a purpose, eh?

Having said that, on a brutal Wisconsin day like today when more than a foot of snow falls, there's not much else to say but this:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I don't know if your brain ever just disengages or not. Chances are, if you're like a lot of people I've talked to, yours does. Mine certainly does.

I can be sitting in my office listening to someone talk about some issues they're having and --- I guess you'd have to understand that my office has one very long glass wall that looks to the outdoors, which means the sun can really come beating down on me while I'm facing the windows and listening to someone pour their heart out to me --- and all of a sudden, I feel myself staring into the sky not having heard anything they just said. Once I nearly fell asleep right in the middle of an office counseling session. OK, I've done that two or three times. Disengaged.

Sometimes I'm driving along in my car and the next thing you know, I'm blocks and blocks past the place where I should have turned. I don't know how I got there in the first place and don't remember any of the past five minutes of driving -- which is really frightening. Disengaged.

Take today for instance. I was returning a wiper blade to Auto Zone because the one I bought didn't fit on our SUV (that's a whole 'nother story - actually, I broke the wiper blade assembly that was part of the vehicle trying to get the new blade on). So, I ended up taking back one of the wiper blades for a refund. I did the transaction with the guy at the cash register, got my money and was at the exit doors when the cashier said: "Sir, were you returning that item?" And I was kind of thinking to myself: 'Yeah. Duh. We just did a transaction on that, didn't we?'

But do you know WHY he said that to me? Because I had picked up my cash credit from the counter AND picked up the returned wiper blade package and was attempting to leave the store with BOTH. I was all the way to the door with my hand pushing it open ready to leave with the returned item when he called out after me.

To which, when I realized what I was doing, very sheepishly replied: "Umm. Sorry about that." Disengaged.

I wonder if God ever disengages when we talk to Him like He we have something more important on our minds -- or like He doesn't matter -- or like He's not really the Creator God of the universe - or like He's our Errand Boy - or like He's a Magic Genie. I doubt He does, but I DO wonder.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Imagine Paul arriving at the Aeropagus in Athens in Acts chapter 17 - we're told that he was 'distressed' at all the idols he saw there. But instead of going off on the Athenians and condemning them for worshipping the idols, he sized up the situation and responded accordingly. Walking thru the streets, he saw an altar 'TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.' He could have reacted negatively to that, but he decided to use it as a springboard to explain to them who the Creator God really was. He even complimented them for being religious and then quoted their own Greek poets in an effort to establish some connection with those far from God and ultimately win access to them to build the case for Christ.

He knew his audience. They were Greeks, not Jews --- polytheists, not monotheists.

He began with common ground in order to build a pathway to help His audience understand and accept his message. Paul was deeply offended by their idolatry but chose to use it to his advantage, not condemn them for it. He didn't even use the name "JESUS," possibly because they might not even have had a context for the word/name. Even so, he did not water down the essence of his message. He gave his audience an unmistakable and clear choice.

Knowing your audience and tailoring your message to them is standard and required practice for any of our missionaries around the globe. This same principle applies in reaching the unchurched of America.

We speak differently to an adult than to a child; my vocabulary is different when I speak with a philosophy professor than when I talk with my daughter's former kindergarten school teacher; speaking in a fraternity house is far different than speaking in church on Sunday morning. Even if the core message is the same, the language is far different - adapted to the audience.

Jesus almost ALWAYS began conversations with illustrations his listener could relate to. With the woman at the well, He spoke first of water. With the theologian Nicodemus, He raised the most profound theological issue: "You must be born again." With the hated tax collector, He first granted social acceptance by inviting him to have a meal.

HOW we say something is nearly as important as WHAT we say. "Grace," "salvation," "born again," "sinner," and even "Christian" are all great - even accurate - words; yet, they are not always words our audiences readily understand. Moreover, often they may even be misunderstood.

We must NEVER compromise the message; but we desperately need to become experts at communicating using words and illustrations our audience clearly understands.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Today, in the second of three installments in our "Songs of Christmas" weekend series - I talked about the song 'Oh, Holy Night.' The lyrics were written by a Frenchman in 1847 who defected from the Catholic church and the music was written by a man who was a pagan. That kind of history enhances a song like that for me because it reminds me that the Gospel is SO POWERFUL that it can be channeled thru IMPERFECT people.

Just like 2 Corinthians 4:7 that says: “We have this treasure (the treasure of the presence of God) in jars of clay (that's US - frail, breakable humans, with cracks and leaks) to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (Paul's focus here isn't on the CONTAINER so much as it is on the CONTENTS - God's power inside us).

The lyrics in the song remind us of some things: that there is a reason for our hope ('long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth') --- that we need to have reverence for God ('fall on your knees') --- and that we need right relationship with others ('truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace').

On Christmas Eve, 1906, for the first time in history a man’s voice was broadcast over the airwaves. Reginald Fessenden, a Pittsburgh University professor, spoke into a microphone and radio was born. The first words transmitted on a radio broadcast were: "And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.” A University professor read from the gospel of Luke. He didn’t know people were rushing to radios all over to catch this Christmas Eve miracle. Then, after finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, the NEXT thing Reginald Fessenden did was pick up his violin and play “Oh, Holy Night,” the first song ever sent through the air waves.

And every time you sing it or hear it sung or played this season, maybe you'll remember the reason for our hope -- maybe you'll remember to give reverence to God -- and maybe you'll remember to share in the example of Christ by loving one another.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 12, 2008


I thought I would make it personal on the day I wrote my 200th blog post -- so here goes ...

I love GOODWILL. I don't mean the 'peace on earth, goodwill toward men' goodwill - although I'm in favor of that, too. I'm talking about the GOODWILL INDUSTRIES INTERNATIONAL goodwill ... the place you go to buy other people's throw-aways. I'm SOLD on it.

I would say that the percentage of Goodwill items I wear on a weekend to church (at least from the waist up) is easily 50% purchased from local Goodwill. If you just count what I wear to the office during the week, that number rises to 75%, conservatively speaking. Whenever I tell people that, they seem incredulous. "YOU shop at GOODWILL? ... You bought THAT at GOODWILL?" Yes, yes - I really did. Looks pretty good, doesn't it? I bought six shirts there today.

I don't know what the big phobia is -- all you need to do is give the item the 'once over,' checking it for wear, tear, zippers, buttons, stains, etc. before you buy it -- and then have a good washing machine -- and you're set. Almost every shirt is $3.99, period. They sell Perry Ellis, Hilfiger, Polo, Armani, Cole Haan and others. $3.99.

And the last thing you hear before you leave the store is this: "Thank you for supporting our mission." Every time.

Goodwill International was founded in 1902 in Boston by Rev. Edgar Helms, a Methodist minister. Rev. Helms collected used household goods and clothing in wealthier areas of the city, then trained and hired those who were under-resourced to mend and repair the used goods. The goods were then re-sold or were given to the people who repaired them. The system worked, and the Goodwill philosophy of "a hand UP, not a hand OUT" was born. Rev. Helms' vision set an early course for what today has become a $3.2 billion non-profit organization. Even with a laudable history and record of accomplishment, Goodwill won’t be satisfied when so many people still need their services. They have a goal to improve the economic self-sufficiency of 20 million people and their families by 2020. Times have changed, but Helms’ vision remains constant. “We will press on till the curse of poverty and exploitation is banished from mankind.” Nice.

My own personal reasons for shopping there aren't quite so lofty. I'm there more for the $3.99 - but I love the friendly atmosphere and the 'Hellos' and 'Merry Christmases' from the cashiers. Today, the woman in line ahead of me was so excited at buying an entire teapot and saucer set (it was beautiful) for less than $10. I could tell from the way she was talking that it was destined to end up under someone's tree - except she probably won't be divulging that she got it at Goodwill. She had an ab roller, too. I'm not sure who the unlucky recipient of that will be, but ......... then, another woman was standing up near the front door, having purchased her items and waiting for a friend, and she was whistling at the top of her puckered lips the tune to "Winter Wonderland." She was pretty good, too. If my whistler was working (which it never is), I would have whistled some harmony with her. But she was going to town on it like she was at the Grand Ol' Opry and didn't care who was listening or not listening. I was listening.

So, it's reasons like that (plus the $3.99) that I love shopping at Goodwill. I wonder what Joelene would like for Christmas from there this year.

Here's to you, Goodwill. Way to go!

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


I was reading Robert Grossman, who is a lawyer and professor of management studies at Marist College. He was talking about how many employers across the country are weaving religion and spirituality into company cultures.

'Most business leaders are faith-frosty, convinced that the less religious expression there is at work, the better. The U.S. educational system and other organizations say you should "compartmentalize faith ... folks who are willing to live out their faith and talk about it Monday thru Friday are often viewed as fanatical. Someone can go to a football game and scream and holler ... but at work, if you mention you should love one another and live right every day, it's like, 'What's wrong with you?'"

And then, there's the Coca-Cola Bottling Company. They are a faith-focused company. Did you know that? Organizations like Coca-Cola proactively conduct business in a way that embraces the faiths of its leaders/owners.

In addition, there are companies called faith-friendly companies. They value inclusion and promote diversity and religious self-expression. They don't align with any one religion, but rather invite workers to bring all manners of religious expressions to the workplace. Ford Motor Company is one such organization. Workers' religious groups have access to facilities after hours for meetings and/or communicate thru newsletters.

No real data is available, but many experts say the number of companies that promote or encourage religious expression is trending up. David Miller says, 'We've reached a tipping point where the conventional wisdom that you keep your spiritual side at home is about to collapse.''

According to a recent Barna survey, 55% of believers said they had shared their faith with unbelievers during the past year in at least one of the following ways:

* Offered to pray with someone in need of encouragement or support
* Engaged in 'lifestyle evangelism,' descsribed as living in ways that would impress unbelievers and cause them to raise questions about the believer's lifestyle
* Engaged in 'Socratic evangelism,' intentionally asking unbelievers what they believed concerning a particular moral or spiritual matter - without telling them they were wrong, but challenging them to explain their thinking and its implications.

Some good news there.

And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Results of the COLOR POLL that has been up for the past week:


Red - 25% of respondents

Blue - 21%

Green - 19%

Purple - 12%

Orange - 8%

Brown & Yellow - 4% each

Black & White - 2% each

So - what does all that mean? Not much really - I just find it interesting. Thanks for participating.

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Be encouraged to participate in the poll at right, based on the December 4th blog.

It's way too late in the year to even be talking about it, but I miss the SUN. I was out shoveling snow tonight and it made me think about how much I miss summer already. I can't imagine what people in upper Alaska and Sweden and Norway and Russia do when the sun disappears for months at a time. Some definite cases of Light Deprivation Therapy needed. That isn't even our situation here, yet already I'm mourning the disappearance of the Wisconsin sun. And winter isn't even here officially.

I should be talking about the beauties of the SNOW right now, I know - because it IS beautiful in its own right - but I miss the sun. For centuries the sun has been a cultural obsession. We flock to it for vacations, turn our faces to it at lunchtime outdoors - and if we can't get to it often enough, we pretend we've gotten it by lying in tanning beds or spraying ourselves various shades of orange. Today, there are three times as many tanning parlors as there are Starbucks franchises.
And all of that is true even though we know full well how dangerous the sun is. 93% of Americans know too much exposure to it is harmful to their skin, but 81% think they look better after they've been out under it.

And yet - there is the 'other,' numerically-growing crowd ... those who approach summertime with big, floppy hats and seventeen coats of PH sun protection just to go to work. In an office. I don't think they're WRONG necessarily. Skin cancer IS the most common form of cancer in America in 2008. A couple of states out East have passed laws making it illegal for children under 14 to even be in tanning beds, period.

NOW - to make matters worse - we have GLOBAL WARMING talk ... supposed thinning ozone layers ... more susceptibility to dangerous rays ... etc. etc. etc. We can't win, can we? Now in future generations we're just going to get hotter without the benefit and comfort of knowing that at least we're also getting tanner.

I just needed to say that right now - today - even though the full winter still lies in front of us and it will be months before the actual warmth of the sun comes back to us. I just had to say it.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Please be encouraged to take the poll at right, inspired by the December 4th blog.

I was listening to Gabe Lyons, founder of the Fermi Project and author with Dave Kinneman of the book, "UNCHRISTIAN." He has begun these 18 minute talk sessions that discuss innovation, mission, culture and vision known as 'Q Talks.'

Listening to one of his sessions with our staff the other day, here's what he pointed out:

'Culture is everything ... air, buildings, art, conversations, language, actions ... everything is culture. There are seven channels that create culture and change. They are: media, arts and entertainment, business, government, education, social sector and church.

Your actions today create the future. The CHURCH is constantly being shaped by the Holy Spirit – the church is fluid, incarnational, alive – and it has huge power to impact the culture.'

I'm believing and trusting that's true.

And be blessed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Please be encouraged to take the anonymous poll at right - based on the December 4th blog.

We started a 3-week series today called "Songs of Christmas," highlighting 3 different popular Christmas songs. Today's song? "Mary, Did You Know?" by Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene.

Mary had a lot to THINK about … pregnant - not married - poor - carrying the Son of God in her belly. She had a lot of UNCERTAINTIES ... just like a lot of us. She had a lot to DEAL with … just like a lot of us. And yet, she put her TRUST in GOD … just the way a lot of us need to do.

But thru it all, Mary seemed to know about God's all-powerful arm. Do YOU know that? Our heavenly Father is omnipotent. It doesn’t matter what you’re facing, HE KNOWS. HE CARES. It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is that stands in front of you – HIS ARM is ALL-POWERFUL.

Mary knew that God's will is perfect. Do YOU know that? The problem is … we want God’s answers right NOW. If we got everything right when we wanted it, it wouldn’t be TRUST, would it? So we have confidence in our Heavenly Father that He will reveal His will in His time and tell us what we need to know when we need to know it.

Mary knew that God's timing is precise. Do YOU know that? We try to figure out God’s timetable but usually we’re OFF. The REASON we’re off is because we have our own timetable in mind and very often it doesn’t match up with God’s. But God’s timing? Never late; never early. Always right-on.

Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

Mary trusted even when the future was uncertain. But, as it always is with the Scriptures, that story is NOT about Mary. It’s about YOU. So when the 2009 fire heats up for you, to WHOM will you cling? Because if we don’t trust when things are uncertain, then we don’t trust at all.

And be blessed.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Please vote in the anonymous poll at right, based on the December 4th blog.

Joelene was the guest speaker today at the NEW VIEW'S SIMPLY CHRISTMAS event. She talked about keeping Christmas -- well -- SIMPLE. Simple decorating, simple entertaining, focus on the simple message, keeping the main thing the main thing. It was great to be able to sing again with her --- we don't do that much these days. Funny how nervous you get now that you're not singing all the time.

I noticed the COLOR theme for today's SIMPLY CHRISTMAS gathering was PINK. It sure goes with lady-stuff, but honestly, I hadn't associated PINK with Christmas before today, but there it was.

So, because i'm naturally inquisitive about things like these, it caused me to ponder how we came to associate certain colors - most notably green and red - with Christmas in the first place. Here is what I found:

Conventional Christmas colors weren’t inspired by holiday characters or festive decorations. Red didn’t come from candy canes or Rudolf’s nose or Santa Claus’s suit. And green wasn’t inspired by Santa’s elves, holiday wreaths or sprigs of holly.

There are two generally accepted beliefs about the origin of traditional Christmas colors, one based on Christian faith and the other on historical fact.

Link to Christianity --- the color green is a natural representation of eternal life, specifically the evergreen tree and how it survives through the winter season. That’s why, in Christian belief, green represents the eternal life of Jesus Christ. The color red symbolizes Christ’s blood which was shed during His crucifixion.

Link to historical fact --- back in the 14th century, churches presented religious plays to educate the illiterate public. Traditionally on December 24, the church presented 'The Paradise Play,' the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. In place of an apple tree — since they weren’t available in winter — they fastened apples to the branches of a pine tree. Using a pine to represent the Tree of Good and Evil became a common practice among churches and they began incorporating the tree into their Christmas displays each year. But it didn’t stop there. Following the church’s example, people began assembling pine trees in their homes and decorating them with red apples. This act introduced two modern traditions: the Christmas tree and our seasonal colors, green for the pine tree and red for the apples.

So - now you know a COUPLE of explanations. Enjoy the season. And, oh yeah, while you're at it -- throw in a little PINK too.

And be blessed.

Friday, December 5, 2008


Please feel free to take the anonymous 'color' poll at right, based on the Dec. 4th blog.

Not long ago our staff pastors took The Color Code evaluation (http://www.thecolorcode.com/) to see how our leadership styles and personalities were spread out among the eight of us. It was extremely interesting and enlightening.

The Color Code introduces four personality "Colors," or driving core motives:

RED (Motive: POWER) — 'Reds' are the power wielders. They have the ability to move from Point A to Point B and get things done. They bring gifts of vision and leadership and generally are responsible, decisive, proactive and assertive.

BLUE (Motive: INTIMACY) — 'Blues' are the do-gooders. Intimacy, connecting, creating quality relationships and having purpose is what motivates and drives 'blues.' They bring gifts of quality and service and are generally loyal, sincere, and thoughtful.

WHITE (Motive: PEACE) — 'Whites' are the peacekeepers. Peace, or the absence of conflict, is what motivates and drives them. They bring gifts of clarity and tolerance and are generally kind, adaptable and good listeners.

YELLOW (Motive: FUN) — 'Yellows' are the fun lovers. The joy of doing something just for the sake of doing it is what motivates and drives 'yellows.' They bring gifts of enthusiasm and optimism and are generally charismatic, spontaneous and sociable.

Our staff pastors are represented in the following breakdown:
Reds - 4
Blues - 1
Whites - 1
Yellows - 2

MY color was: Red.

And be blessed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Please participate in the anonymous poll at right – related to today’s blog.

There's a forecast out there that yellow will be the influential color of 2009. I have no clue what that means but PANTONE, which provides color standards to design industries, specifically cites "mimosa," a vibrant shade of yellow as the top shade of the new year. That mug on the right is 'mimosa.' According to PANTONE, “it's connected to warmth, sunshine and cheer — all things we're in dire need of right now."
Favorite colors have long been treated almost like personality evaluations - associated with inner drive and qualities.

So – just for fun – I’m not basing my religion or faith on this – it’s JUST … FOR … FUN – and maybe a little insight. So, I’m wondering what your favorite COLOR is. Select a color in the poll at right. Start there. Maybe you’ll collect some interesting data on yourself from your choice.

RED – viewed as an exciting, dramatic color. Red also has a passionate feel. Characteristics of those who like RED are enthusiasm, energy, attention-getting, power, warmth, drama and strength.

ORANGE – gives off cheerfulness, boldness and excitement. Orange-lovers have a friendly, informal approach, as well as brilliance, spontaneity, robustness, joy, adventuresome spirit, daring and flamboyance.

YELLOW – the most visible color — trends are optimism, happiness, intelligence, cheerfulness, wisdom and expressiveness.

GREEN – nature’s favorite color (and mine as well, by the way). People who love green are thought to be soothing, versatile, peaceful, renewing, secure, tranquil, harmonious, flexible and restful.

BLUEAmerica’s favorite color. Think serenity, openness, trustworthiness, dependability, committed and calming,

PURPLEwealth, pageantry, refined, uplifting, respected and humble.

BROWN – the most common associations are informality, comfortability, organic, stable, earthy, reliable, approachable and wholesome.

WHITE – the obvious – purity and cleanliness along with neutrality and freshness.

BLACK – those who love black are thought to be authoritative, powerful, mysterious, dignified and sophisticated.

By the way, BLUE – more specifically – BLUE IRIS, a purple-tinged blue, was the 2008 color of the year.

What did you find out about yourself? Anything?! Did you vote in the poll?
And be blessed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


If you occasionally read these blogs then you know I'm always dreaming and writing about the future and where I believe God wants us to go and how He wants us to get there. That means I do a lot of thinking and reading as well.

Craig Groeschel, pastor of lifchurch.tv talks about 'busting barriers with mind shift changes.''

'Think differently about change. When you're strategizing, don’t say, “Our people won’t (insert situation)." Instead, you should say, "We have not led our people to (insert situation)."

Think differently about mission. Are you about the mission or are you about guarding people’s feelings?

Think differently about people who might leave the church. Who WANTS people leaving the church? Anyone? NO!!! I certainly don't. But --- the normal mindset is: “We can’t let anyone leave,” and that's a wrong mindset.

Think differently about limitations. Most of the time we say, “We can’t because we don’t have (insert situation)." But great leaders see opportunities where others see limitations.

If you're trying to apply some of these things in your own personal life, it works there, too. In fact, here are THREE ASSIGNMENTS FOR MAKING A PERSONAL MIND SHIFT CHANGE:

1 - Find someone one or two steps ahead of you and learn how they think.

2 - Identify one wrong mindset and ask God to renew your mind with truth.

3- Identify one painful decision you’ve been avoiding and commit to making the right decision immediately.'

And be blessed.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Last night was the conclusion of our year-long CHAMPIONS meetings - where ten men have met once-a-month to download a book together. It has been astounding to see how God has been working in the lives of these men, and now - at the end of the year - it all kind of comes into great focus.

I see a greater passion for God in these men -- a deepened love for their wives and children -- a desire to 'take up their cross and follow Jesus' and a commitment to 'be forceful men for the Kingdom.'

So - it's been a great year with these guys. We got to know each other - I believe a genuine LOVE developed between us - and now, some of them will go on to lead CHAMPIONS groups of their own this coming year.

Here are the books we studied together in 2008:

Maximized Manhood by Edwin Louis Cole

Every Man's Battle by Stephen Arterburn

Just Walk Across the Room by Bill Hybels

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

Risk by Kenny Luck

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

Who You are When No One's Looking by Bill Hybels

Getting Past Guilt by Joe Beam

Seven Secrets of Effective Fathers by Ken Canfield

One Month To Live by Kerry Shook

The final month we just pulled out the Bible and talked about what we had learned all year long. Thanks (Andy, Jamie, Levi, Kevin, Sean, Carl, Joe, Jon, Paul, Tim, Craig, Michael) for an amazing year.

And be blessed.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Today was a fun day. I didn't get much work done, I'll admit, but it was still fun. Today was our "baby's" 18th birthday.

OLIVIA PARKE TAYLOR - one of her elementary school teacher's once told her her name sounded like a movie star's name. She hates her middle name, but she didn't get a choice in that.

So - as we did with her older sisters before her - on the day of her 18th birthday, Joelene and I interrupted all of her senior-high classes one-at-a-time all day long (I'm sure her teachers loved that, but that's a perk of being the pastor at your own Christian school) to give her 18 things each hour.

1st hour - 18 flowers

2nd hour - 18 balloons

3rd hour - 18 dollar bills taped to cardboard in the shape of the 'number 18'

4th hour - 18 birthday cards

5th hour - 18 Starbucks cups (it's one of her favorite places to go)

6th hour - was lunch, so we let her eat in peace

7th hour - 18 cupcakes (right after lunch - PERFECTO!)

8th hour - 18 candy bars

9th hour - 18 chapsticks (she's constantly dabbing with those things)

Happy birthday, Olivia. You're now - officially - a woman!

And be blessed.