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

If You’re Breathing You Matter!

It’s truly interesting how God reveals “Ebook” titles complete with their subject matter. They tend to appear from the simple act of living, as is the case with “You Matter”. I have found over the years that a radiant walk with God is emphatically experiential in nature. To be invited by Him as a participant in His will for others, while being immensely appreciated, can be daunting.

Just imagine, the Creator of the Universe privileges us to be His hands and feet to a world He so loves as He orders our footsteps in alignment with His desires. Footsteps, we are entrusted to walk in, under the umbrella and enablement of His presence. Complete reliance on His Spirit’s leading is imperative, keeping in mind: “Apart from Him we can do nothing”!

Does anyone remember as a small child standing on your parents large feet with your tiny feet, as Mom or Dad danced you around the living room. Walking in the Spirit is kind of like that. It’s a God led spiritual dance.

Our Creator, being the One who possesses the larger feet, is always the determining factor to the success of the dance! He leads and we follow. As we follow, He makes us matter and it’s in our mattering we discover our divine purpose. We daily come face to face with our reason for having breath: “To be His perpetual representative, whenever and wherever”.

His beauty is at its most glorious, within the context of those un-announced interactions with others. Impromptu from our perspective, but most assuredly orchestrated by God.

Spontaneous & Planned?

“Spontaneous” and “planned” are not oxymoron’s in a spirit led life. I see them as paralleled with our scriptural descriptive of Jesus being “full” of grace and truth. Not fifty percent of each but one hundred percent of both! Heaven’s math is certainly different than ours! As we see it exposed on a daily basis through our much valued involvement this becomes obvious: Its width, height, and depth are without limits. It resides in a higher reality of measurement. One without restrictions nor needed adherence to “the natural”.

The experience which inspired this book happened recently. It so reminded me of the biblically documented story regarding Peter and John “on their way” to the temple. They didn’t wake up that morning with a prophetic vision of the crippled man they would encounter “on their way”. No, they were simply “on their way” to their desired destination and without warning, walked straight into an “already orchestrated” by the Holy Spirit scenario which they “responded” to.

God never reacts but rather initiates, thus “planned”. We on the other hand, never initiate but rather respond, thus “spontaneous”. One hundred percent of both “Us and God” is required to complete this mysterious equation of heaven, as we are simply, “on our way”.

Available Equals Qualified

It’s a lifestyle of choice that is breathtaking to the extreme and available to us all if we will walk with our eyes and hearts wide open to potential opportunities to bless. Oh how often my “real life performance reality”, hasn’t dictated my allowed by God participation in other’s lives. If it were so, I’m afraid the side-lines would be my normal place of residence.

Have you ever had “those days” when being used by God, seems almost irresponsible from His perspective. “Don’t call on me today Lord, I’m in no place to appropriately respond. Do yourself a favor and come back later when I’ve gotten my act together”, can be our mis-guided mindset and confession, as God responds with: “And when might that be, just so I know”!

I have found, my availability on “those days”, are the most important times to be available. My involvement tends to cause whatever dark clouds that might be lingering in the atmosphere of my life to dissipate.

It’s never a “bad time” to bless! It’s never wrong to be honest and say: “I feel like I’m running on fumes Lord, but whatever is left in the tank, You are welcome to it”. It’s always correct to embrace: It’s not by might nor by power but by His spirit that all things are accomplished that get accomplished. As we walk in an awareness of God’s leading in our “iffy” moments, we find ourselves reminded that success is not contingent on our “state” but rather His “Spirit” in and through us.

On some of my most regrettable days, the most incredible things have transpired. I’m so very thankful that ME and MY shortcomings, do not disqualify ME as usable to God!

As we peruse the Bible and its characters, we don’t discover “perfect people” but rather a “Perfect God”, working His gracious mastery through imperfection to create perfect results.

God referring to King David said: “He is a man after My own heart”. Could David have possibly been more imperfect? God never retracted that declaration while never condoning David’s sin!

The character of Jesus being: “Full of grace and truth”, keeps me qualified as usable, while “HE” and “I”, continue to work out the discrepancies of my reality in Him. I simply cannot afford the luxury of including or excluding myself to active or side-line status based on ME, for it is in my voluntary usability that I am changed to become more like Him as I experience Jesus being His wonderful self to others. Seeing and experiencing the love of God in action, creates an internal desire within me, to be more reflective of WHO I see and experience!

So, before moving on and to highlight the point and purpose of our book: Regardless of who you are, you matter. In your most imperfect of states, you’ve always mattered. Two thousand years ago on a cross our Lord established, in no uncertain terms, and at a very great cost: You matter! So that’s settled forevermore! To be crystal clear: You’ve never “not mattered” to the heart of Jesus.

But here’s the “discipleship” catch. The contingent follow Me inclusion, to being His follower. From heaven’s perspective “mattering” is a two-way, non-optional, always present, meant to be, dynamic in every disciples life.

So today Jesus has this reciprocal query for us to ponder: Do “all others” matter to us to the same extent that they matter to Him? Are we available to be “imperfect” vessels as dispensers of His “perfect” love to others?

Folks, discipleship isn’t really as complicated as we have made it out to be. We can spend far too much time meditating on our lack of qualifications, instead of focusing on our Lord’s all sufficiency, in and through us. A disciple is simply a person who has died to self so that Christ can radiate His life through them. That’s it. That’s the qualifier!

Simply stated Jesus said: “As I have loved you, love others likewise”. It’s also true: He loved us as “imperfect”. Why would He change the standard for usability qualifications? Common sense tells us that if Jesus only used the “squeaky clean”, the “very dirty” would never get clean!

So what’s “the point”? If the previously mentioned commentary is accurate and it is, then every face you come in contact with throughout your daily sojourn on planet earth, equally matters. If you do, and you do, then they must!

We mustn’t be delayed, stymied, intimidated or impeded, waiting for “good enough” to arrive before becoming involved in heaven’s pre-destined purposes for our lives . We can’t internalize what is meant to be externalized. We must not get caught assuming tomorrow’s opportunities, when today’s is all we truly have.

The legitimacy of believing all the right things, is only confirmed by the implementation of those right things! “By THIS they will know you are Mine”: said Jesus! Not by what you believe nor by what you say but rather, what you do. Thus, “doing” is the conformation regarding discipleship! The Apostle Paul later would add: “The ONLY thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. “Faith expressing itself”, translated in the simplest of terms, means “doing”.

It’s rather easy to grasp but very tricky to implement. To deeply understand that it’s not you doing the doing, but rather Christ doing it all through you, is of paramount importance. He is the “Vine” and we are the “branches”. When we stay connected to the Vine, we don’t produce fruit, we bear fruit, and the “others” get to share what we bear!

Back to Peter and John regarding their stroll to the temple: Do we think they made that walk in a state of “good enough”? Do we think there might have been a chat over their morning coffee with John asking Peter if he was “feeling” that “healing thing”? Quick answer being no and no. Peter himself said: “We did nothing on our own authority or power, it’s in the name of Jesus of Nazareth this man walks”.

But here’s the key, as we reveal “the state” these two men were in: “Available Enough” and “Connected Enough”? As temples of the very essence and power of God they knew they were qualified by heaven. On that fateful day, a very crippled man was the grateful recipient of the fruit that these two branches named Peter and John bore, as they were simply “on their way”.

On a cross the Holy Son of God bore our debt. He now asks us to bear His fruit. Two-way is only fair and not sacrificial, but rather appropriately reciprocal. It’s not a question of earning, but rather an expression of thankfulness for being given that which we couldn’t earn. Two-way doesn’t demean “grace” but rather highlights it! The second dynamic tangibly confirms our true understanding of the first.

Grace begets grace. Forgiveness begets forgiveness. Love begets love. And “mattering” begets “mattering”!

Church At The Dollar Store!

Last night Shila and I met a delightful lady named Cathy. Shila had worked all day and after we had finished watching the movie “The Gospel Of John”, it was time to eat with a quick stop at the Dollar Store to pick up something Shila needed. Over our very long friendship, when Shila leads, I’ve learned to follow. The Subway or the Dollar Store first, was the question. I voted for the Dollar Store while Shila was experiencing heavy leanage toward the Sub Shop. So, without hesitation, and realizing she was likely starving, subs it was!

With stomachs now full, we proceeded to our final quick stop then home. At least that was the plan. We promptly found our item of need and were ready to leave when I noticed a lady in her “late forties” standing by herself, about ten feet away from where my “leader” and I were.

Have you ever sensed extreme “sadness” emulating from a perfect stranger who hasn’t said a single word? It’s as if there’s a capitol “S”, tattooed on the person’s forehead that simply can’t be ignored. After a moment or two of being unable to take my eyes off this lady, my feet began to move in her direction with no clue what I might say on my arrival. I just knew I had to talk to her and it felt very important.

Not wanting to scare the lady, I “pretended”, which is not the same as “lying”, to be looking at the same whatever’s she was. Shila had held her ground, just in case! She’s a great leader but doesn’t follow very well! Probably wise considering who she’d be following.

Well there I was, now what to say? I thought “HI” would be a good start with a little how are you thrown in, while keeping my eyes fixed on the proverbial “whatever’s” neatly displayed on their hangers. So, “Hi, how are you today” was uttered with my keen awareness to not sound “creepy” in the process.

My greeting was met with complete silence so I spoke up a little louder assuming the noise in the store was drowning out my “hello”: “Hi, how are you today”, I repeated! The lady turned toward me rather shocked and what seemed slightly humorous at the time got deadly serious in a moment as she responded: “I’m sorry, I can’t hear very well, what did you say”?

Her voice had the tone of a person who is hearing impaired. She struggled to speak clearly so I turned up my hearing intensity to accommodate, and got a little closer to be more easily heard.

She obviously wanted to talk, which made me want to listen equally so. “Yup, this is you God”, I thought. So for the next 30 minutes or so we had “Church” in the middle isle of the Dollar Store.

Credit where credit’s due, to Shila’s impeccable leadership. If we had gone to the Dollar Store first as I suggested, we would have missed meeting a lovely lady named Cathy who “mattered” to God!

Cathy’s hearing impairment wasn’t from birth nor was caused by some strange infection she had picked up in her travels. Nothing quite so mundane I’m afraid. She had been beaten by her X husband so badly that her jaw had been shattered with ensuing damage to her hearing canal. For the most part, unfixable was her prognoses.

Cathy wore a hearing aid in her left ear and was waiting for the arrival of a different device to assist with the right. She now hears ringing and echoes constantly. She was such a gentle soul that one could only wonder why anyone would abuse her so viciously.

Cathy shared that she had a daughter, twenty one years of age. Obviously a source of great pride as she described Kinisha as very beautiful. I reminded Cathy that beautiful daughters come from beautiful mothers. I wasn’t at all sure she had heard that very often in her life.

Cathy smiled a lot as we chatted. The smile got wider as we continued which blessed me to no end. She mentioned the church she attends very glowingly and asked if I and Shila go to church.

I replied: “Yes”, and the location but added: “You know what is really wonderful Cathy, we are “in church” right now. Jesus has made a promise that where two or three are gathered together in His name, He would be in our midst. You, myself and Shila makes three Cathy, Jesus is in the Dollar Store with us no doubt”! Like a flower exploding into full bloom, her smile did likewise!

Throughout our conversation there was a reverberating of these inspiring words from scripture washing over my soul: “You shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover”: “In the presence of the Lord there is liberty”.

Many questions found their way to the surface as my internal conversation with God got a little more intense: “A crowded store, a perfect stranger, she may not believe that You heal Lord. My desire is not to step on denominational toes, sparking off a Dollar Store debate nor do I want to scare the lady. But: I sure would love You to heal her Lord! She matters to You Jesus and I know it, so she matters to me. Show me how and when and I will co-operate gladly”.

And then I thought of Peter and John as they spoken to the crippled man. “Gold and silver I have none but what I do have I give you”. To be honest I wasn’t sure how to execute my faith within the context of the atmosphere I was in. God by my request made a away and imparted it to me. If you’re willing God will always show you how.

When parting, I again mentioned how beautiful she was as I gently placed one hand on each side of her head covering her ears with what I pray is the healing virtue of God. As I asked God to touch my new friend Cathy, I believe He did. “According to your faith be it unto you”.

Yesterday, Shila and I had the privilege of meeting a lovely lady named Cathy, who “mattered’. We walked away from that experienced with a heightened sense of our own “mattering”.

Two-way always equals: Win-Win. One-way is merely half of what it could be. When we look in the mirror we see a reflection of someone who matters to God.

Can we then transpose that truth to “all other” someone’s, thereby voluntarily completing this magnificent heavenly designed equation? I believe we can. I believe we must! I believe that as disciples of Jesus we will. This world hasn’t seen us at our “best” quite yet, but they will.

What thinking person in their right mind would ever choose to settle for half of the fullness, of what something can, and was meant, to be? My readers are far too smart for that! Blessings to all and hopefully helpful!

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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