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*Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration*

The Talk

Deuteronomy 6 - 6 &7: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”.

OK. I admit to being a little quirky! I love to talk about my Lord “incessantly”. The dictionaries meaning of the word: “Continuing without interruption”. Yup, that’s me! The few who tolerate my dialogues constant desired location will confirm its reality. Everything else sounds to me like “moving noise” waiting to arrive at a place of meaning, that truly matters to my heart.

Quirky perhaps, but in a very real way it makes sense to me on the highest of levels. Out of the heart the mouth speaks therefore I talk the most about the One I love the most! Equally, I talk the most about the One who loves me the most.

Extreme or appropriate? Well, that depends on who is doing the evaluation. I know Jesus is fine with having His name included in all the chatter, so I’ll lean towards appropriate until proven otherwise.

I never feel close enough to Jesus and yet I always feel sufficiently close. I’m immeasurably thankful for where I am in Him and yet simultaneously, I’m always sensing an internal drawing, prompting me to immerse myself more deeply into the waters of His loving heart and reality.

I’m always appreciative and yet never completely satisfied, knowing in my heart there’s much more to experience in God. Content and yet always desirous for more of Jesus!

Rather strange dichotomy to live with don’t you think? Strange but amazingly wonderful! You see, I believe that walking with God was designed by Him to be experiential to the extreme. I also believe that the ‘’walk” is meant to be an actively moving dynamic. As in all meaningful relationships, there is no such thing as neutral. It’s forward or backward.

I actually believe: Matthew 18 - 20: “For where two or three gather in My name, there I am with them”. I consider that as being a promise from Jesus of extreme value but one with an attached qualifier: “In My Name”. He being voluntarily established by us as all-inclusionary and at the center of all thought and behavior ensures His participation, thus experiential .

Here’s the concern I experience that accompanies my beliefs. It’s found more so in what I don’t believe. I don’t believe Jesus stands on the perimeters of our conversations waiting in line for a few crumbs of attention as if being an optional add-on to OUR story rather than He being THE STORY itself. A walk with God is HIS story that He has written US into! Getting that backwards is an illusion I don’t have the luxury to accommodate.

Perpetual intimacy with His reality is all I have of true value and all I need! Everything I am and everything I hope to be, evolves from that sacred place of relationship where He and I talk and walk. Somewhat reflective of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden as they, in the most natural of ways, relationshiped with their God and designer.

A combination of the created intersecting with the Creator, with both mutually co-operating thus perpetually producing, a divinely desired net result. A loving, real, and active communion between both! Sounds simply delightful doesn’t it? Well it should, in that we were created FOR GOD to live with Him in intimate relationship! That is our “meant to be” destiny!

Psalm 30 - 12: “That my heart may sing Your praises and not be silent. Lord my God I will praise you forever”.

Psalm 35 - 28: “My tongue will proclaim Your righteousness, Your praises all day long”.

The Walk

Matthew 22 - 36 > 38: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law’’? Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment”.

Psalm 119 - 35: “Direct me in the path of Your commands, for there I find delight”.

The textured content of a walk with God, while admittedly not being easy and often unique to the individual, is not complicated. It can’t be nor has God designed it to be exclusive ground for the intellectually elite to walk on, otherwise only the select few could sojourn its path.

There are times in life, based on a need to clarify, that exposing what something isn’t helps to un-muddy the waters and un-clutter the confusion regarding what it actually is.

Let’s face it, we humans love to complicate, with all manner of inclusions, to what has already been made crystal clear by God !

Walking with God is first and foremost an every step immersion and inclusion of me loving Him with all my heart, soul and mind. Apart from that being it’s foundation and motivation, nothing else truly makes sense. Our walk with God will never fit comfortably without that pre-requisite being firmly established. It’s a walk of the heart! It’s a walk of love! It’s a walk of grace!

One very important thing it isn’t is a religious walk. At Smashwords, we who publish books are asked to choose a category from a long list of options, that reflects our books content so that it can be included in our books short description which appears next to the book cover.

For example: Fiction - Non-fiction - Self-help - Romance, etc. I’m not casting dispersions on my valued friends at Smashwords and completely understand the complexities involved, but for me to include Christianity as a category I have to do so by clicking on the only available selection of “Religion and Spiritually”.

Not wanting to be picky or small minded I tried to simply go with the flow, thinking that most folks don’t see those as different, so what’s the harm. I tried and then stopped because I know those two descriptives have nothing in common with each other. A little like hot and cold. It’s one or the other but not both.

How can I be so sure that a walk with Jesus isn’t religion based? Because He wasn’t religious and it is He we are following as our leader, guide and Shepherd. We follow Him on His terms adopting His nature, not our own. You see religion, across the board regardless of its name is our man made terms applied to Him! There’s nothing spiritual about it!

In essence, religion is void of grace and love, having replaced those two imperatives with rules, ritualistic practices, and formulas that suggest we can earn or manipulate God into doing for us. Religion, is pretending to the extreme that what you have is real, while knowing it’s not.

How do we know it’s not? Because knowing about God isn’t at all the same as actually knowing Him. Knowing about God changes nothing while knowing Him intimately changes everything. Religion, understandably so, can’t provide the desired result in our hearts: The blessed comfort and assurance that we are loved by our Creator.

You can’t get there via religion with its performance related statutes. That’s a path that goes in circles, always leading us back to where we started, EMPTY! It’s not designed to be in our best interests but rather for the best interests of its creators. Religion is not meant to set you free but rather control you with its never-ending fear inducing tactics. Jesus said we haven’t been given the spirit of fear. How interesting it is that the spirit of religion can’t survive without it!

It’s why the Pharisees of our Lord’s day were so very anxious to get rid of him. They were losing control because fear was being banished by the presence of Jesus from the hearts and minds of people who were once controlled by it.

The final nail in the coffin regarding religion verses reality is this. You can’t be born a follower of Jesus! You can and are born many things but not that! Jesus said to Nicodemus: “You must be “born again” of the Spirit”. You can’t be a disciple of Christ because your parents were. Equally important, you can’t be disqualified because they weren’t!

I don’t believe for a second that Christianity in its purest context is a religion at all, therefore I can detach it when saying, “all” forms of religion are “from birth” the vast majority of the time. Our walk with God in its least purest context, can be the same if Christians aren’t careful.

Attending whatever church with your family since you were in diapers does not by itself qualify you as being His. You may have been present and accounted for at all the Christian camps and Christian schools and Christian whatever’s one can imagine, but if “Christ’s reality” wasn’t at the center of your attending, you were simply hanging out “religiously” within the confines of a Christian culture while never really being one. You cannot be a disciple of Jesus vicariously by association.

This is not uncommon and far more prevalent than anyone wants to admit to. A walk with God is personal between WE as individuals and HE, with no third party involved. Jesus hung on a cross for us by name. That name isn’t on a building but rather on our birth certificate. It’s that personal, it’s that intimate, it’s that real!

If not aware we can easily, innocently, and unknowingly, fall into the comfort trap of being “churched” without ever truly realizing in a “spiritually sense” we’ve never become “The Church”, which is a spiritual entity that transcends buildings made with bricks and mortar.

I love my walk and I can’t stop my talk but I have never seen either as anything more elevated than simply “real”. Neither are perfect and both are at times messy. I admittedly have much to learn but my desire is that it be a learning of the heart. For that to be so, I must reside in “real”.

Folks, our talk and walk aren’t based on personality traits or “quirks”, but rather the One we are walking and talking with. Our reality is in fact completely reliant on His reality in our lives. While sounding obvious, that truth can easily get lost in the shuffle.

There is simply no religion nor religious behavior that can supply an independent, one to one, “reality based” walk and talk with God . Religion throughout history has made itself perfectly clear. We are here to justify our own existence, not to enhance yours!

If by chance you haven’t made the exchange of religiosity for reality yet, I would strongly encourage you to do so, Why is it such a big deal? Why isn’t simply being “religious” OK?

Well, it’s a lot like this: You can sit in the boat assuming the ability to walk on water or you can actually walk on it! Religion says: Just assuming is more than good enough. Reality says: With my Lord’s encouragement, I must experience for myself if it’s true! Reality has a vibrantly active energy while religion has a dormant complacency.

Religion encourages: Just knowing about God is fine. Reality inspires: I can, by His invitation know God personally which is finer than fine! Warning before you proceed: If you do so it will make you “quirky”. The attached blessing: “Quirky” is cool! Just ask Peter!

How interesting when realized: It wasn’t “religion” that got Peter to enter those waters. It was a person. His name was and is Jesus! He said “come’’, and Peter, needing to know, went. Peter being Jewish had a “religion” but on that day the exchange was made! Experiential had become Peter’s “new normal” to the point, where later on he would heal the sick and raise the dead, but it all started with Peter responding to a one word invitation to the reality of Christ: COME! The same invitation to “real” is on the table today! Jesus asks: How real do you want Me to be?

Folks, we determine our own reality! Those who stayed in the boat determined theirs. The nine who were healed of leprosy but didn’t bother to say thank you determined theirs as did the one who did return to express his thankfulness. What we end up with is what we choose. The offer itself is identical to all without exception.

Seeing as both “religious” and “reality” mindsets operate in the same buildings, how can we as individuals, know for sure which one we are embracing? Two simple but difficult introspective questions can lead us to a correct conclusion.

Do we want a small controllable God or a big God that controls us? Do we want a God who adheres to our terms which is an illusion, or a God who is impromptu and improvisational to the extreme? Let’s face it: Peter couldn’t have had “walking on water” as a part of his agenda on that fateful day when his eyes opened in the morning!

To be sure, not comfortable questions to ask of one’s self, but ones I see as a necessary part in my own life. Those are the questions I need to ask of myself each day in that “each day” both options are available for my choosing. Regardless of my answer I have concluded, it’s better for me to know “where I am” than to pretend I’m somewhere I’m not.

So, for the sake of clarity: Wherever it is found, religion is the man-made “reasonable facsimile” to real. It’s like eating “a picture” of an apple while never truly experiencing a real apple’s taste. That’s a description of “religion” at its least ugly. Here’s a true story indicative of its most ugly.

Recently, out of curiosity, I checked out another distributors presentation of the books that have been published just to see how things looked from a different perspective. I noticed an available review from a reader. Thinking it might interesting I scrolled down to give it a look.

I don’t want to misquote others so I will share, word for word, what was written from this “Christian” lady and her friends minds. It’s not meant to defame her but rather provide an example of how ugly things can get when a “religious spirit” rules a life.

Rachel writes: Example of a book NOT to read for inspiration. On a Sunday warm morning after church we have group reads in our devotions so I thought I would read this first and then second parts of a book by Bill Taylor. I was sadly wrong for my choice of books to read out loud because later I as asked: “Why a Godly man’s only reflections are based on two woman, he must have other friends from church”. So please don’t choose to read these books for inspiration. Bill, please ask the people from your church to provide their comments.

Nice eh? Now don’t get me wrong. No one has to like anything I write and that would include Christians. It’s still a free world to freely express our opinions. But that’s not what Rachel and her friends did. They didn’t question my writing, they questioned my relationship to God based on my references to Shila and Pragna. That was their issue and they totally disregarded all other content in the books they referred to, along with their suggestion to NOT read any of them.

A little extreme don’t you think? It seems Shila and Pragna’s name being mentioned a little too often offended the ladies. Perhaps it was more Pragna’s name being obviously Indian. I can’t be totally sure of exactly what the ladies were inferring but I do know this: It wasn’t good!

But here’s my concern and my point: They have no idea who we are and yet felt completely comfortable in voicing their ugly sarcastic opinions about us: By the way and not to be missed as the point: After church and during their devotions on a warm Sunday! That’s chilling but equally reveals they have no idea who God is and yet speak on His behalf!

It’s an old saying but seems to be as recent and reliable as our next breath: “Going to church no more makes you a Christian than going to MacDonald’s makes you a hamburger”.

I used to laugh at that as being “dark Christian humor” but it’s getting less funny by the day!

The religiosity tolerated in our churches, is the reason the world finds us laughable! It’s too often self-inflicted folks. In doing so they’re laughing at our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by association. That concerns and offends me!

Talk and walk. Be as real as you know how to be folks. It’s emphatically important! What the “religious” Rachel’s of this world don’t understand, is that they are accountable for what they say because of Who it reflects on, being Jesus!

I’ve concluded that Rachel’s comments say far more about her and her friends than they do about three lovers of God from Canada named: Bill, Shila and Pragna, all of whom are major miracles of grace who wear their cross purchased status in God with great thankfulness!

Folks, religious “fault finding” Pharisaic spirits, will always miss the beauty in a story, but not by accident. You see, they’re not looking for it!

My Ministry Into Our Ministry

Mark 6 - 38 & 41: “How many loaves do you have He asked?” “Go and see”. When they found out they said, “Five and two fish”. Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to His disciples to DISTRIBUTE to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all”. ( Five thousand plus, were fed that day! )

In the biblical story of the “fishes and loaves”, I so clearly see three dynamics in play to achieve the desired completion of the heavenly orchestrated equation. The young boy GAVE what little he had, our Lord then MULTIPLIED it, and the disciples then DISTRIBUTED it.

It’s interesting to note that Jesus, after the multiplying didn’t say, “Come and get it”. What He did say was, “Everyone find a place to sit on the grass and I’ll bring it to you, through my own”. Folks, He loves to involve us. He loves to make us matter! We are blessed beyond measure to be written into, His stories! Just imagine: Invited by Him to participate in His plans for others!

From the inception of the idea of writing books to be made available to “all freely”, there has never been a moment when I haven’t been aware of its ministry context. I could easily be seen as the “young boy” in the story. Jesus has most certainly multiplied my meager offering to Him.

So may I invite and encourage you to be a distributor of that which He has multiplied, thereby elevating “My Ministry” into “Our Ministry”, thus completing “His Ministry”. There’s something about that idea that sounds “perfect” to my heart!

We all have friends, family, work mates, school mates, etc. I’ve included a simple directional on “how to find” the “fishes and loaves”. Please feel free to share “what you eat” with others. You have no idea where it could lead to! That young boy’s mother could never have dreamed, what that little lunch she had prepared for her son on that fateful morning, would produce!

Thanks in advance. Bill Taylor

To find a full complement of “Free Ebooks” I’ve written: Google - “Smashwords About Bill Taylor”. The provided link can be saved to “favorites” for easy and convenient future use. The link will take you directly to my “Bio” where all titles and covers are displayed. Thanks again for your much appreciated support!

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