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

Running On Fumes

OK. A show of hands. How many can relate? Thank you, just as I thought. What an unenviable position we so often find ourselves in, when we push the envelope a little to far. We knew we were running out of gas but we kept ignoring the fuel gauge and then the inevitable happened, “fumes”.

Lately I’ve been wondering if the envelopes that we push need examining as to their content. I do believe that God gives us more than enough energy, time, and strength to accommodate His desires and will for our lives. So if pending “burn out” feels very much like a part of our soon to be future, could it be that we are taking on more than God asked or licensed. From our earlier ‘‘show of hands”, mine is still in the air.

You see, the thing I’m writing about, is the thing I do, on a regular basis. I know it’s wrong but as long as I’m getting away with it I continue until I hear the car “sputtering” and “gasping”.

Well, in five months I turn seventy therefore this should have happened a long time ago, but applying the “better late than never” theory to the exercise, it’s time to check what’s in those envelopes. Care to join me? Hopefully we will discover that much of what we carry, was never meant for us to carry. With a lightened load and a sustainable spiritual equilibrium, maybe we can go forward to be even more effective for God. Sometimes less is truly more!

Spiritually Sidetracked

True confessions. I do this all the time but with good intentions. The road to “burn out” is paved with good intentions. The question is, are they God’s intentions for my individual life?

If so He will orchestrate, enable, empower, and anoint those involvements every time without exception, as I am led by His Spirit and not by my emotions. And that’s my persistent “fly in the ointment”. My “emotions”, accompanied by my “good intentions” always tend to lead me into places I don’t belong and away from where I do.

As is the case in my own life and likely is like-wise in yours, God has clearly given me something to do as a ministry from Him to others. He has asked me to honor this trusted privilege with my undivided and complete attention. He has graciously given me the wherewithal to complete the task at hand. I forget my specific instructions and allow my mind to wander off into areas that I have no God imparted encouragement to enter. I accomplish nothing constructive by doing so!

While expanding my horizons he said sarcastically, I mis-use the gifts God has given me and in doing so I use the imparted by God ‘’wherewithal” where it wasn’t meant to be used. I forget!

The net result: I become ”sidetracked” and the thing God asked from me doesn’t get done near as well as it should. Running on fumes is no way to exercise a ministry! Running on fumes is the result of distracted “wilderness wanderings” into the existing negatives. In the process I lose my focus on the more than enough positives that God has provided for my daily perusal. I forget what is truly important when I get entangled in that which isn’t.

The negatives while being real and plentiful, will never lead me into the joy of the Lord which is scripturally described as my place of strength and refuge.

As previously mentioned God has given me sufficient strength but if I choose to waste it mulling over things I have no ability to alter, my eventual spiritual exhaustion will be my own fault!

I find it experientially interesting, in a painful sort of way, that negatives never create positives but rather give birth to more of their kind! Slippery slopes are called slippery for a good reason! Here’s a question I ask myself: If I insist on running my head into immoveable walls, do I also maintain the right to complain about having headaches?

The bible clearly directs me to “encourage myself in the Lord” not spend my time discouraging myself in the obvious prevailing negatives. I believe that directive is in place for my well-being and not to be forgotten!

Here’s a fact that never changes in my life: God’s intentions, not good intentions, is a discipline much needed to maintain my spiritual health! Selectivity regarding granted access to my mind is therefore of paramount importance and a spiritual dynamic I can’t afford to forget! There’s a high cost in doing so!

It simply can’t be considered as wise to keep stubbornly running into walls and crashing into fits of dismay, discouragement, disillusionment, disappointment and at times, depression! That just doesn’t sound like our Lord’s promise of “abundant life” to me.

I consider it to be “good intentioned”, self-induced torture but thank God, one with an answer and antidote. “Good intentioned” because we care. “Self-induced” because we weren’t asked to invest our hearts in it, whatever that “it” might be.

The Antidote

Philippians 4 - 4 > 9: “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again rejoice. Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you”.

May I suggest, some of the “whatever” Paul is speaking of “putting into practice” is found in verses four to eight, with the reward of complying, exposed in verse nine. I’m guessing non-compliance doesn’t achieve the same result. To me, that’s serious and to be taken seriously.

I am convinced to the uttermost, that if I were to use this scripture as my “determining factor” as to appropriate content in all conversations and communications, I just might become the most spiritually heathy man on this planet.

But I don’t. You see, I forget and get careless, allowing my ‘’good intentioned” emotions to take control. Always? No. But more than often enough to have a major impact. One lost day is one too many!

The things that annoy me take center stage, as if worthy of such prominence and the wonderful things Paul talks about evaporate as if not existing, leaving me with the toxic negative filling my mind ad-nauseam.

Rejoicing in the Lord always, becomes at best a fantasy! And it’s all self-induced! Here’s the real danger: It can become a “good intentioned” habit!

Not to make light of mine or other’s concerns. There are certain things within the context of our faith that do annoy and are legitimate but allowing them to side-track me for a moment is spiritually ridiculous. These are things that have been bantered about endlessly for centuries with no resolve. I highly doubt one more opinion added to the already established weight will tip the scales, correcting all that is wrong with the church and its people.

While I commit my mind and attention to them, I’m already keenly aware I won’t be changing them with my annoyance, so what’s my point. What am I hoping to accomplish that so many others haven’t? In magnifying the negatives, I’m doing no more than profoundly relegating my God’s sovereignty over them. I then wonder why I feel the need for a very long spiritual shower.

Here’s the caution: In doing so I run the risk of missing what I’m actually here for. Sharing the love of Jesus in word and deed to His creation who quite frankly don’t care about what annoys me but they care about being loved as does God care that they are. While needing to express my grievances, I just may be grieving God! Ironic don’t you think, where “good intentions” can lead?

Breathe - “The Church” Is Fine!

Have you ever felt like you can’t? Breathe that is. I get it! It’s almost as if we know too much to ingest it all without being swallowed up by it all.

Talk about a diet promoting the spirit of anxiousness while dismissing the spirit of celebration!

News and the internet give us never ending layers of toxic garbage to ingest if we choose to. Then we regurgitate it through-out our days, wondering why we feel sick.

The “National Enquirer” exists profitably for a good reason folks. People buy it! So, whose fault is it for its existence?

Well, at times the “church” news can be just as toxic. Some of it isn’t untrue just toxic as it removes our spirits from Paul’s prescribed content for our meditation. Good intentions again promoting its sharing but once shared is anyone honestly better off or simply worried as a net result.

So how do we manage to breathe when we feel like we’re being smothered by the latest news regarding the latest flavor of the month, teaching something strange. Well, first of all we should acknowledge that it’s not strange as in “new”.

Paul talked about those who were profiteering from the gospel thousands of years ago so let’s not think as though it just arrived on the scene. I’m pretty sure, throughout post-cross history, there has always been investors with a keen eye for opportunity cashing in on the gospel. It’s a terrible thing no doubt but remember, like all other terrible things, it only exists because people buy it.

Feeding sheep sugar is big business folks! But the sheep have to co-operate to maintain its profitability so who’s to blame for its existence? All the outrage we can muster will not stop those who have chosen to drink the Kool-Aid.

They’re drinking it because they want to. Who thinks that if I spend my time at the corner store screaming at those purchasing the “National Enquirer” they will stop? They won’t until they get sick of it. In the meantime I lose my voice. A voice that has been asked to declare the goodness and grace of God to a world that needs to know it is loved by its Creator!

When we attack, we not only waste our time but worse, we cause the people sitting in the pews to defend, pushing them deeper into the insanity. They need to sit there until the day arrives when they get sick of paying for their pastors mansion. Having your “ears tickled” is expensive. Sooner or later I’m thinking “some of them” will get tired of it and leave. And who would those folks be? The Church! Which leads us to our key to breathing:

Matthew 16 - 18: “I will build My church and the gates of Hades ( Hell ) will not overcome it”. Folks it’s His church and He’s building it and the latest whoever, teaching whatever, will not alter our Lord’s control over “His church” being built one iota.


What are we going to do with each other? We have been called to love one another with the love of Christ but we don’t. We spend most of our time complaining about and being annoyed by each other. Again not new! With hundreds of denominations actively in play, one ponders the improbable likelihood of oneness in Christ as we argue to justify the existence of our group. That’s what we do. That’s what we’ve always done. You’d think by now we would be better at this.

We trivialize our central commonness of “Christ crucified, buried, and resurrected” and immerse ourselves in the divisive trivial in the process.

I mentioned in a previous book the cost of needing to be right, so we won’t go down that road again but suffice to say: It’s huge!

So what to do? Well, until God’s people truly want change there will be none. Perhaps just like the other mentioned folks, we will have to sit in our pews until such a time arrives when we get sick of the status quo, age old, approach which has defiled our Lord’s “greatest commandment” for centuries.

Or perhaps we as individuals, one at a time, can take the lead leapfrogging our denominational authorities biases and just do it ourselves without permission. Radical eh?

Our book title is “I Forget”. So, I’m wondering if the answer to all our relational church woes is found in “Remembering” that the one sitting next to me, has been deemed loved and accepted by God regardless of their denomination and I have been commanded by Jesus to love them all equally without hesitation or reservation.

All of us are on a journey and none of us are standing in the exact same place on that journey. But each place is called “holy ground” based on the One we sojourn with. We should relate to all our places with the sacredness they so deserve.

At the cross we all stand on level and common ground looking vertically not horizontally!

Bottom Line

We have choice when it comes to our spiritual well-being. We aren’t slaves to our feelings and emotions. We can discipline them to adhere to Paul’s teaching. We can choose to fully meditate upon that which edifies, encourages, and inspires ours and other’s hearts. We can choose to “forget not” all His benefits! Benefits too innumerable to count.

If our souls feel contaminated perhaps we should check as to what we’ve been feeding them? Our conversational and thought life will determine our inside-out relevance to the world! We are not the point in God’s heart, they are! Let’s not forget, THEY are the reason we are here!

Perhaps over simplified, but does anyone actually think the complicated version has worked?

The definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result! We as followers of Jesus are not immune from that descriptive. That being true, it would seem obvious to me, that I have some serious work to do. I better get at it! Care to join me?

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

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