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Ambassadors of the Kingdom Come

June 2, 2012

Have you ever consciously enjoyed the benefits of citizenship? If you’re like me, maybe you get a thrill out of wearing “I voted today!” stickers on election day. Or another example: I’m a huge fan of the Wheaton Public Library (can I just take a second to rave about how their free Microsoft Office workshops helped land me a job?), and it’s one of the benefits of living in Wheaton that I have access to the library as a free resource (best public library in the western suburbs, imho). Or perhaps you’re poignantly aware of not being a citizen somewhere, either here in the States or overseas. There’s a tangible difference for those who aren’t legal members of a society. They are, in some sense, outsiders without access to the full rights and benefits of citizenship.

Now, when you think of church membership, how do you think about it? What image first pops into your brain? For some, the word “member” has club-like connotations. In fact, sometimes joining a church seems almost disturbingly like joining a country club. Or maybe you think of membership like you think of being a prime customer at your favorite retailer (that would be us, right?). Church is kind of like a service provider where the customer (you) is king. If you’re a member, you’re a part of a higher echelon of special investors who have the “right” to have their needs met and prioritized. That’s why we tithe, right?

If this is where you’re at in how you’re thinking about your relationship with the local church, I have another Crossway recommendation for you: Church Membership by Jonathan Leeman (Crossway, 2012).

Some folks will recognize the 9Marks imprint on the cover of this book. 9Marks is a ministry directed towards leaders in the church to help them re-evaluate what efficacy looks like in church ministry. Instead of using big numbers or emotional highs as a gauge of success, the people at 9Marks have come up with nine marks of a healthy church; a biblically based rubric for evaluating the faithfulness and health of church bodies (one of the marks is membership). It’s an extremely helpful framework to work with, and my only problem with it is that since it’s geared toward leaders, most lay people don’t know it exists.

Because this is a 9Marks book, it’s been sort of set apart for leaders, but let me press this book on you if you’re a lay person, and especially if you’re a lay person struggling to understand the value of church membership. The back of the book is ironic to me because it seems like most of the pastors quoted in the blurbs are kind of saying, “Well, duh,” about what Leeman is trying to say. But the thing is, there’s a huge gap between what pastors think about membership and what members (and definitely regular attenders) think about membership. This is exactly the kind of thing the laity needs to help them understand what it even means that they are the church.

Leeman has a super-helpful analogy. When you’re a student studying abroad for a semester and your Visa runs out, you have to go to the US embassy in whatever country you’re in to get it renewed. The embassy has the authority to recognize and affirm your citizenship, even though it doesn’t have the authority to generate it. In this way, the church is very much like an embassy. It is the “authority on earth that Jesus instituted to officially affirm and give shape to my Christian life and yours” (p. 24). One of the church’s roles is to recognize and affirm who is a citizen of God’s future Kingdom here in the present. It is the embassy of the Kingdom Come, the safe-haven for the citizens of that nation to come together and worship their king here in this world.

Though we don’t do it perfectly, the church has a special authority to be the means through which the world knows who represents Jesus (see the subtitle of the book). It is, indeed, an “institution” (some of you are breaking out in hives at the very mention of the word); the embassy of King Jesus that he has commissioned to identify and support the citizens of his kingdom, and to spread the good news of his Gospel: that He is, actually, the King of the world. When you think of it in these terms, the church looks a lot less like a benign but totally irrelevant club for older people and a lot more like a counter-cultural movement devoted to a coming King. It also looks a lot less like an optional “add on” that we can take or leave in our Christian practice and a lot, lot more necessary for representing Jesus to the world.

Leeman goes on to describe how the lives of the members of a church define love to the world. I haven’t time to discuss how Christians who are not members of a church are impoverishing themselves of the loving care, support, and discipline of a local church body. It’s not a long shot to say that these folks are malnourished. It seems that Holy Spirit chooses to work in a particular way through the church with a power that he doesn’t use when a Christian goes out on his or her own like some kind of a vigilante. Jesus wants us to be together.

Listen: there is a lot of ridiculous nonsense that happens in local churches (after 27 years of attending various churches every Sunday I feel like I’ve definitely experienced a measure of it). There’s also incredible, profound potential for the Holy Spirit to move through what is weak and feeble to accomplish God’s purposes and will. When it comes to how we think about church, many of us need to intentionally submit our experience to Scripture. Sure, you’ve had crazy experiences or have even been straight-out betrayed by members of your church. This is one of those times where what the Bible says has to trump your experience. You may discover that you need to leave the church body you’ve been a part of because it’s propounding a false or an incomplete gospel. Some people even need therapy to overcome wounds they’ve experienced from people in church. But, if you’re a Christian, you aren’t permitted to dismiss the importance of it because you’ve had something unpleasant happen to you. It’s a central aspect of following Jesus, and the Bible will not shut up about it.

Leeman’s book got me fired up about being a member of my church.

The book is something like 130 pages-short enough to read in a day but transformative enough to make you completely reevaluate what the church is all about. For me, a regular lay person and member of a local church, the content was incredibly helpful for casting a vision of what it is we’re doing as the church. The gates of Hell will not prevail against us.

Mention this blog post at Johnsen & Taylor and get 20% off the book mentioned! (Offer ends 6/31/2012).


Studying Scripture

May 28, 2012

Several weeks ago on the Gospel Coalition Blog, Jen Wilkin wrote a compelling post on why Bible study doesn’t transform us. She discusses ineffective habits of Bible study, and points out that if the Bible isn’t transforming us, it’s not the Bible’s fault:

There is no deficit in the ministry of the Word. If our exposure to it fails to result in transformation, particularly over the course of years, there are surely only two possible reasons why: either our Bible studies lack true converts, or our converts lack true Bible study.

Wilkin’s point flies in the face of most contemporary sensibilities regarding the study of Scripture and even our approach to corporate worship (or anything at all, really). We generally approach most activities with a consumer mindset- how is this going to affect me? How will this benefit me? How is this going to make me feel better?

Though it’s true that reading the Scriptures will often make us feel better, it’s worth it to ask if that’s really the point of reading them at all. Often, reading the Bible will make us feel pretty uncomfortable, and sometimes, that’s appropriate.

What if the Bible isn’t a self-help manual, or a magic 8 ball that exists to help you make tricky decisions? What if it’s a grand and compelling narrative that we find ourselves in- a true story in which we play a part, but aren’t necessarily the main characters? What if it’s God’s means of communicating with his people?

I wonder if it would’ve been helpful, after pointing out the six ineffective habits of Bible study, for Wilken to address six effective habits of study? There are ways of reading the Bible that are truly helpful for any lay person.

Have you heard of the Charles Simeon Trust? If you’re a Wheatonite, or just a young restless reformed geek, you may have. The Trust exists to train folks to read the Bible using the principles of exposition (linked here for your handy reference), and interestingly, there are six principles to help us “read the Bible for all it’s worth”.

If you’re feeling landlocked in your approach to Scripture, or you feel like it takes some kind of guru to understand it at all, you’re not alone, and you’re not stuck. It’s true that the ministry of the Word is effective, and that ministry isn’t relegated to people with MDivs or collars around their necks. It’s for you.

If the principles of exposition themselves are a little intimidating for ya’, check out the good old-fashioned classic How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart (Zondervan, 2003). I had a customer walk in to the store the other day and explain that he’d been reading the Bible for quite some time now but struggled with feeling like it was really inaccessible for him. This is always my first go-to suggestion. Check out the blurb on the back of the book:

Understanding the Bible isn’t for the few, the gifted, the scholarly. The Bible is accessible.

It’s true- this handy reference is a good thing to keep by your side as you crack open the Bible for yourself. As you learn to read it, you begin to see that there are all kinds of crazy rumors about the Bible and “what Paul said” and “what Jesus really meant”. Only when you start to read some of these things in context, using your brain and listening to the Word on its own terms, do you begin to see that there are lots of really wild misconceptions about the Scriptures. Is the Bible really misogynistic? Was St. Paul terribly intolerant? Did Jesus really think he was God, or was he just a really great moral example? Until you take the time to sit down and see for yourself, you might never know, and you might never realize how many crazy rumors have been keeping you from encountering the living and active Spirit of God in the first place.

There are other really awesome resources for approaching the Scriptures in our store. Related to the Simeon Trust is Vaughn Roberts’ God’s Big Picture (subtitle: “Tracing the storyline of the Bible”) (IVP, 2002). This is a great overview and a favorite of some of our staff for understanding, well, the storyline of the Bible- how the different parts fit together and how it’s all about Jesus.

Speaking of the different parts, it’s also worth it to check out Fee & Stuart’s companion guide to How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. The companion book is How to Read the Bible Book by Book and helps readers navigate the many different types of literature in the Bible. Did you know that the Bible is a collection of different books and different types of literary genres? Do you read a letter the same way you read a story? Do you read a pithy, wise, saying the same way you read poetry? If not, then it’s important to know when you’re reading which kind of literature, right? This is a great reference for that.

And speaking of how it’s all about Jesus, there’s a new addition to the Fee/Stuart collection: How to Read the Bible Through the Jesus Lens by  Calvin prof. of Old Testament Michael Williams (Zondervan, 2012). Williams goes through the Bible book-by-book to help readers see how all the Scriptures find their “yes” in Jesus. We hope to have an event in the store sometime to support this title and really hear how Williams–an Old Testament professor nonetheless–sees all the books of the Bible as connected to Christ.

We hope that you don’t avoid the Bible because of archaic language or just a plain feeling of inadequacy. As you explore the Word for yourself, you’ll find that the metaphor of a deep, deep ocean is a fairly apt one for approaching the text. No matter how many times you’ve read it, there are always new depths to sound.

Mention this post at Johnsen & Taylor and receive 20% off any of the listed titles! (Offer good until June 30, 2012).

Books Change Things

April 25, 2012

Something we’re trying to do here at the store is offer a huge selection of books. Our inventory is constantly getting wider and more diverse. You can order just about anything in print from us and we’ll get it for you if we don’t have it on our shelves. What that means, however, is that the selection and curation of our stock happens in our heads and on this blog. In other words–I know this is a shock–some books are better and more worth your time than others.

As much as we’d like to believe that everything that comes from a Christian publishing house is worth its weight in gold, these days, that’s just not true. Christian publishing is a huge industry, and with something like 1 million books published each year (source), it’s a challenge to sort out the sheep from the goats. We’d love our store to be a place where readers engage with a text, not just glibly consume everything an author (or a musician, or an artist) has to say. We want you to sit down, crack the book open, and examine the author’s thesis. And then we hope that you use truth, which is founded in Scripture, to act as your hermeneutical guide in reading.

So as a Christian bookstore, we do believe that there is one Book that you can trust- one collection of words that will not fail in what it sets out to do, and that’s the Word. If you’re in a place where you’re having a hard time seeing the Bible as being freighted with that kind of reliability, we have some really good resources that might help build your confidence in the Canon. I’m going to go ahead and throw just one out there: Words of Life by Timothy Ward (IVP Academic, 2009) (Feel free to blow up the comments section with other suggestions). We actually have a sizable Bible Reference section, and if you can wrangle Peter away from helping someone else, he’ll spend time with you in deciding which resource best suits your needs. Cast your anxieties upon him and he will give you rest (just kidding, just kidding, but only a little).

Why do we need to be cautious in our reading? These days, we should be happy if folks are reading anything at all right? Well, maybe. But the point is, books change things. They are hugely formative in how we frame what we think about the world. If we didn’t believe that, we really wouldn’t be here.

I’ll give you a real-life, up-to-the-minute example. Yesterday, on my way home from work, I was talking with my husband on the phone. We chatted about this and that, and during a lull in the conversation, I confessed: “So I signed a petition today.”

“You did?” he asked, “And what are you petitioning?”

I went on to explain that earlier that morning, as I perused our shelves in search of the perfect inspirational title to share at staff morning devotions, I came across Wendell Berry’s New Collected Poems (Counterpoint, 2012). (The collection is new, not really the poems). If you know Berry, you know that his poetry doesn’t mince words and he uses a lot of them to critique current agricultural trends in America. As I read, I knew that these lines were going to rattle around in my brain for the rest of the day (a stanza from his poem Questionnaire):

1. How much poison are you willing

to eat for the success of the free

market and global trade? Please

name your preferred poisons.

(No, I didn’t end up sharing this poem at morning devos, but the words haunted me nonetheless. If you know Berry, you probably have a hard time listing anyone more authentically consistent in living out what he actually believes. And yes, it’s always ironic to blog about someone like Wendell Berry, because he shuns the internet pretty strongly, but I digress…). I shelved the book and went about my business.

Later in the afternoon, I got a notification that my aunt had posted a link on her Facebook wall (again, Berry would have an earful to say about Facebook, I’m sure), sharing that she had recently signed a petition encouraging congress to write the Farm Bill in favor of small farmers, organic farming, and environmentally sustainable agriculture. Berry’s words still ringing in my ears, I signed right up.*

I really probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t sifted through New Collected Poems that morning. But a small part of me wondered if my happening across that title in our shelves wasn’t pure accident. Maybe there was a some activity of the Holy Spirit guiding me to it, and then placing across my path the opportunity to share with Peter Roskam something that I do believe to be true: that small business and small farmers need to be prioritized in our economy and country.

Either way, I think it’s a great example of a book having a direct influence in a person making a decision for change. Books-even (or maybe especially!) poetry-can change the way we interact with the world in a seriously influential way. Because this is true, they can sometimes be a little bit dangerous. As Christians, however, who believe that there isn’t a square inch of creation in which God does not have ownership, we are equipped to engage with the world of books with confidence and without fear. As we pick up a text and engage with it, we have multiple resources to process what it’s saying.

As our inventory continues to diversify you might see some surprising texts on our shelves. We hope you come and play with us-probing and questioning, affirming and critiquing. Meanwhile, we’ll do our best to point out some gems and share some truly transformative titles. We’re excited to provide them, and hope you enjoy what you find.


*In case it needs to be said, any opinions or actions expressed in this blog are purely my own, and don’t necessarily express the opinions of the rest of the folks associated with Johnsen & Taylor.

Locality and the Kingdom of God, or, What Jeremiah 29:7 has to do with our event tonight…

April 13, 2012

Tonight’s the night! Shayne Moore, Helen Lee, Keri Wyatt Kent, Caryn Rivadeneira, and Terri Kraus will be at the store this evening at 7 pm signing books and hosting a free workshop on The Secret Writing Lives of Moms. If you’re a mom, or ever want to be, and you sense a vocation to write, this one’s for you.

Later this month (April 28th, to be exact), Shayne and Helen will be the plenary speakers at Motherhood: Redefined, a conference on developing a theology of motherhood that keeps God’s global (and local) purposes in focus. Both events are very, very cool, and our hope is both events will help the women of our community realize there’s a large, local network of mothers thinking about the Kingdom of God and working out their salvation in fear and trembling as they pursue God’s calling in the lives of their families. For Helen, just one of the ways that works out is in home schooling her children and supporting the causes of One Day’s Wages through a portion of the proceeds of her book. For Shayne, it means pin-pointing the wealth of resources available in our affluent suburb and directing them towards resolving the AIDS crisis in Africa (and elsewhere) in partnership with ONE. (And never, ever, quieting down about how important our involvement is, or drawing a clear connection between being a Christian and serving the poor). Their books are combination memoir and practical guide, and you can get them signed here tonight.

What is so exciting for us is that Shayne, Helen, and the rest of their colleagues that will be here tonight are local. Local authors at a local, independent business just makes our heart glow with community-development love. But beyond the warm and fuzzy feelings, we’re starting to amp up the loud-speaker on why buying local is so important. We know it’ll be a little pesky to some of you, but we can’t apologize, because really, these things are at the heart of the Gospel too.

Yes, we’re getting listed on IndieBound, and yes, we’re pursuing a stronger relationship with other locals in our community. Beyond the awesome character and uniqueness that being local brings, there’s some important economic and theological considerations to weigh as well, as Christians and members of a local community.

Are you a big Timothy Keller fan? We at J&T are, and if you’ve ever heard his sermon on loving the city, you know that he reminds New Yorkers what we in the Western Suburbs and greater Chicagoland area can say to ourselves: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer 29:7). If you have a high view of God’s sovereignty, you agree with us that it isn’t accidental that you are placed in a specific geographical location at this time. Instead of longing to be somewhere else and getting all your resources from far away, God tells us to remember our neighbors, the people close by, and to invest in them and care for them, even while we’re waiting for him to restore all things. Because when Jesus comes back, he’s not taking us out of the world but restoring all things in it. As citizens of that Kingdom, we can live according to that vision now. Part of that means seeking the transformation of our neighborhoods, towns, and cities. And part of that transformation is economic. And like Shayne points out, part of that transformation is in the healing of the nations, and like Helen points out, part of that transformation is in our homes (they both have lots of other ideas as well).

Buying local is an investment in your local community. We are all locals at J&T, from our cashiers to the president and owners of our company. I quoted this on Facebook yesterday, but it’s said that when you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays in your local community (and since we’re Christians, you can be confident a portion of that goes straight to local churches). When you spend $100 at a national chain, only $43 stays in your local community, and who knows how much any local church sees as a result (source). Do you see the connection to buying local and the advancement of the Gospel?

We’re still working out in store how we can compel you to shop local while also offering incentives to keep your money in the community. Thanks for your patience as we tally the numbers and think about what we need to survive, to keep our business going, and how we can develop prices and promotions that wont ring you out. If you have ideas about this, we’re all ears.

Meanwhile, stop by tonight and chat with us about understanding the connection between your calling as a parent and your gifts of writing. Who knows, maybe next year, you’ll be one of our plenary speakers, you talented local author you, inspiring your friends and neighbors to use the gifts God has given them to invest in their families, in their city, and in the world.

Motherhood: Redefined and The Secret Writing Lives of Moms

April 3, 2012

Lent & Art

March 13, 2012

Evangelical Protestants are skeptical about lots of things, but especially these two: Lent and art. The practice of extra-biblical spiritual exercises and the potential misuse of art as idolatry give “People of the Book” pause, and for good reason. Jesus spent his share of breath critiquing Pharisaic rules as heaped-up burdens on the backs of regular people, and warned against missing the spirit of the Law while keeping the letter of it. In church history we’ve noticed the danger of beautifying the outside of our churches while our inward spiritual state remained derelict, or of using our resources to adorn our sanctuaries and altars while neglecting the care of the poor.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new tide of evangelical young folks here in the States who are exploring ancient church practices as a means of connecting with the invisible Church–the people of God across space and time–and one of the ways in which we’re doing this is through observing the liturgical calendar. No, this calendar isn’t to be found in the New Testament, though it has roots in the Jewish calendar. But one of the characteristics of evangelicals is their commitment to the Bible, and in this developing interest in old church traditions there remains a desire to allow every practice to be shaped by the authority of Scripture.

“Perhaps,” some of us younger evangelicals ponder, “we’ve dumped the baby out with the bath water in our protestant, reformed fervor.” I’m convinced IVP has played a significant role in unearthing some old ways in which the saints who have gone before practiced their spirituality (do you know their Formatio imprint? click on the link above to take a look). I’m also convinced some of our favorite reformed theologians–Abraham Kuyper to name just one–have helped us out quite a lot in cultivating a worldview that sees God’s sovereignty over all of creation, including that which we have created, including cultural artifacts such as the church calendar, and artistic endeavors like, well, sculpture.

One of IVP’s latest is a lovely little book called Shaped by the Cross (Ken Gire, 2011). Gire’s desire is to guide us like a docent in meditating on the Suffering Servant pictured in Michelangelo’s Pietà. The sculpture is the text, Scripture is our lens, and Gire helps us read what’s being said through the powerful image of Mary holding the body of Jesus across her lap after he’s been taken down from the cross. Gire, who hasn’t actually beheld the work in person (it’s in St Peters Basilica in Rome), uses the photography of Robert Hupka throughout the book, and through a series of short chapters calls us to think again on the meaning of the cross, on the suffering of Jesus, and what it means to follow him. He does this, though, through reflecting on the artistic process in the creation of the Pietà and in exploring its historic and cultural context. In this way, this is a perfect Lenten devotional for the artistically inclined.

Check out this excerpt. If you’re a young Christian artist seeking to reconcile your vocation with a biblical worldview, hopefully it’ll scratch your itch:

“Becoming conformed to the image of Christ is the process God uses to free the stone from the self. Paul describes the process in Romans 8:28-29…

“God is using the circumstances of our lives, all the circumstances of our lives, as tools. He goes about his work the same way Michelangelo went about his. Within the rough-hewn stone of the self is trapped the image of Christ. To release the image, he chips away everything that isn’t Jesus” (Gire, 44-45).

There’s a timeliness to this book for young evangelicals. As Abraham Kuyper’s works are slowly all translated into English and folks like NT Wright are revisiting our attention on the Kingdom Come and our future, general resurrection, we are ripe for this kind of help in forging a way forward in the development of a worldview that can inform all areas of our lives–that teaches us to read texts like Michelangelo’s sculpture made of marble through the lens of the Word made flesh.

Mention this blog post at Johnsen & Taylor and receive 25% off Shaped by the Cross! (Offer good until 4/7/12).


New Release: Loving the Way Jesus Loves

March 6, 2012

Loving the Way Jesus Loves

Phil Ryken, Crossway 2012

Name that tune: “Love is patient, love is kind…”

Are you singing along yet? Did you shout out “1 Corinthians 13:4!” in true Sword Drill fashion? If you did, then you recognize the challenge an author faces in saying something “new” about Paul’s famous passage on love in his letter to the Corinthians. When I heard that local worthy Phillip Ryken was venturing into the fray of 1 Cor 13 publications, it was hard to imagine that whatever he would have to say wouldn’t be a repeat of all the lovely (if redundant) wedding sermons I’ve listened to in the past.

When our staff sat down to explore Ryken’s latest, however, we were intrigued by his approach. Instead of simply exegeting 1 Corinthians (there’s that of course- a careful and faithful exercise) or simply encouraging the reader to replace “love” in the passage with her own name (ie, “Valerie is patient. Valerie is kind.” oh… Lord have mercy!),  Ryken takes the focus of 1 Corinthians off the reader and places it squarely on Jesus of Nazareth.

In the spirit of 1 John 4:8*, we approach the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 with Jesus as our lens. Each portion of the passage is attached to a narrative from the life of Jesus. In the chapter Love is Not Irritable, we pair “It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Cor 13:5) with Mark’s account of Jesus feeding the 5000+ with five loaves and two fish (Mark 6). Ryken points out the exhaustion the disciples felt after a fruitful season of ministry. On this particular day, they hadn’t had enough to eat. Jesus himself is likely emotionally drained after getting news of his friend and cousin John the Baptist’s execution. He’s probably pondering his own future destiny at Golgotha. He encourages the group to row out to a lonely place for some refreshment.

At this time in his ministry Jesus was exceptionally popular with the people, and once they get word of his itinerary, the crowds run ahead of the group and beat them to the other side of the shore. While the disciples might be irritated and exasperated with the throng (remember their lack of patience when the children are swarming around Jesus waiting to be blessed?), Jesus “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6: 34). He begins an all-day teaching session on the kingdom of God. As the day wears on, so does the patience of the twelve, and interrupting him, they command Jesus to send the people away so they can buy food for themselves (do you ever get bossy when you’re irritated?).

Jesus turns the command around and tells the disciples to do the feeding. In a sarcastic back-and-forth, the disciples point out their lack of resources to meet such a need (do you ever have a hard time being obedient when your patience is thin?). Jesus then performs the miracle I’ve loved since I was six: he takes five loaves and two fish from a child, says a blessing, breaks it, and there is food enough for everyone (with twelve baskets left over). And yes, he enlists the disciples to help pass out the feast and gather up the leftovers.

There’s a lot going on in the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus is performing a miracle like that of manna and the wilderness. There are allusions to the Messianic Banquet discussed in Isaiah 25, and echos of Psalm 23. But I love how Ryken points out Jesus’ character in responding to inconveniences in this passage. His patience, kindness, and the obvious lack of irritability toward the crowds is something we almost miss as we watch the miracle unfold. Indeed, Jesus is love, and his is a name we can substitute for “love” in the 1 Cor 13 passage without seeing it fall short.

Thank you Lord, for your patience toward us. Transform us into the image of your Son, and help us to exchange irritability for compassion, so that others may see your likeness in us. Amen.

*…”God is love”

Mention this blog post at Johnsen & Taylor and receive 25% off Loving the Way Jesus Loves(Promotion good until 3/31/12)

– Valerie