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

Verbs Are Atmospheric Changers

We all know that a verb, by its grammatical nature is an action word. Thus verbs change things dramatically based on their activity.

On the other hand, a noun can innocently be mis-interpreted as verb-like when attached to the same subject matter. For instance and in regard to our walk with God: “Believe” is a verb while “Belief” is a noun. A noun left as such, is inanimately un-impactful.

The dictionaries meaning of inanimate: “Not having the qualities associated with active, living organisms. Not animated or energetic.”

Jesus “didn’t say” in “John 20 - 29 “: Blessed are those who have a belief but rather those who believe. Jesus “did say”: Be doers not just hearers of the word. He also directed His disciples to “go and do”. To paraphrase: Don’t simply have a belief in Me but rather act like believers in Me. Here we are exposed to what could be, an easily missed fine line of distinction, and yet one that emphatically alters the purposed trajectory and reality of our ongoing lives in Christ!

If when launching a space ship from earth to the moon its course is accidently off a single inch, it’s target of desired arrival will be missed by miles! It’s miscalculation will become more acute as the journey continues! Thus its “fine line” becomes “less fine” by the moment!

If I have a “belief” that by flipping the light switch to the “on” position, light will be my reward and experience, in itself my “belief” changes nothing. I can exist in my home all day, day after day in the dark, with my “belief” intact. It is only when I actually activate my belief and flip the switch does my “theory-belief” become “fact”. Now I “believe”! So to “believe” is a life altering experience while to have a “belief” is no more than a theory that I have intellectually agreed to but my heart has not come along for the ride.

In the biblically documented account of Peter disembarking from the boat to join Jesus on the water we clearly see this thin line of distinction portrayed in the events of the story. Activated by his faith and after the fact, Peter “believed” based on his experiential stroll, while those who remained in the boat had a “belief”, based on Peter’s experience but not their own.

“Believing” therefore, is meant to be personally, dynamically, intimately, spiritually and actively experiential. A profound lifestyle, accompanied by Jesus that on a moment by moment basis is immersed in the welcoming warm and luscious waters of His loving heart. Waters we bathe in without ceasing.

In short: If “belief” is where our journey begins and ends, we are very likely walking in “religious behavior” while being completely satisfied with “knowing” all the right things.

By comparison: “Believing” transposes that rather mundane existence into the florescent reality of “experiencing” all the right things!

Repeated as our example: The boys in the boat compared to Peter on the water? Not the same!

How Much?

Comfortably or casually assuming that “belief” and “believing” are one in the same, is the thin line that only gets thicker in its resistance to change, causing our course to become increasingly more distorted over time!

Having said that it must also be stated: These two can dovetail in a progressive sense, as in one promoting the other, but only after I ask and answer this personal question as honestly as I can on a fairly regular basis: “How much” do I believe my belief? Why on a fairly regular basis? That question serves as my correction when the trajectory for my life goes a little off it’s meant to be destination. And that destination would be? To die to self and be conformed to the image and nature of Jesus! A “belief” on its own as a dormant dust collector will never get me there!

I must experience Him to emulate Him, otherwise I will emulate myself while holding on to my belief as a comfort blanket or worse, insurance policy! If that is the case, Jesus will become no more than a non-relational, un-impactful. religious icon, that hangs on the rear view mirror of my life if as if being a good luck charm of sorts.

That’s a seriously challenging query reserved only for my heart. My mind has a way of deceiving me with its overinflated opinions. When I humble my heart, it will tell me the truth. Do I have a belief or do I believe? The answer will determine the intimacy and seriousness of my walk with God! It’s that important!

That Was Shocking!

Here’s a personal real life example to clarify my point: Out of a seriously lost life that involved pretty well everything imaginable and at the age of twenty seven I became a follower of Jesus. I’ve documented the dramatic circumstances surrounding my decision in a previously written book entitled: “Amazing Grace-Amazing Savior”. Suffice to say: The word “dramatic” is not an over statement in the slightest.

With euphoric excitement I rushed home, by-passing my own residence to get to my parent’s house feeling they should be the first to know. After all they were the ones who endured my craziness all those years including having to visit me in prison. How amazed they would be to hear this unexpected good news, I thought.

My Dad was standing alone in the driveway when I arrived. I shot out of my car like a bullet out of a gun to deliver what I thought would be the most exciting words to him he had ever heard. To my shock his response? A cool and collected: “That’s nice Son. Just don’t go getting all crazy about it”. I didn’t understand the comment so I said: “Dad, ice cream is “nice”, this is amazing! God spoke to me”! End of chat with Dad!

I proceeded inside the house to share the news with my Mom who went “crazy”, completely unable to contain her joy! It was only then, I realized that my parents had two very different relationships with the Lord. It was chillingly revealing to be honest. You see, I didn’t know!

To be clear: I’m not wanting to unfairly cast dispersions on my Father, realizing he was “old school” to the utter most, with reasons for being so. In my Fathers defense, his childhood was non-existent. Being the oldest sibling of three and having his abusive alcoholic Father abandon the family, he was pulled out of school at eleven years old, joining the work force full time to support his Mother, Brother and Sister. But to be equally fair, my Mother had a similar story having been shipped to Canada from Ireland by her family on her own at a very young age to basically fend for herself.

Christ’s provision of a radiantly new reality in Him was therefore available to both by the same measure. One chose to drink more deeply than the other and the outcome was obvious. I pray “the reasons” behind my Dad’s hesitations are covered by God’s amazing grace. I must believe that to be so.

He thought all he “needed” to know was “John 3 - 16”. His “belief” reminded me of the man in the bible who came to Jesus asking the question: “What must I do to be saved”.

My personal take on that scripture? “What’s the least I have to do, to be saved”. I assume Dad chose the “least” option while my Mom was obviously head over heels in love with Jesus every day of her life. Her life “oozed” of her Savior. She was my initial introduction to Jesus, so much so that when He and I officially met, He didn’t seem like a stranger. I had already observed Him in and through my Mother’s life!

That was my first experience as a Christian regarding the difference between having a “belief” and “believing”. I’ve had many since and have come to understand these two totally different mindsets can and are being lived out within the same “Christian” family dwellings and within the same “Christian” church buildings, regardless of the “sign” outside. This spirit of Christian cultural casualness has no denominational preference it would seem. It lurks in the shadows with its constant encouragement that we don’t need to get “too crazy” about Christ! Religion will do quite nicely and comfortably, while “reality” is an “over the top” concept, is its mantra!

I consider it to be the most serious spiritual “condition” that the Church suffers from today in that it can be easily hidden from obvious sight if one knows the right things to say at the right times . I call it “Simon says Christianity”. You say praise the Lord and I respond with an Amen without necessarily meaning or understanding a single word spoken, and everyone’s happy.

Within the realm of the non-persecuted free world church, this “condition” always has been problematic with the need for sincere and concerned pastors to plead, beg, and coax those in attendance to get serious concerning their walk with the Lord.

It has certainly been around as long as I have and to be honest, it can make one feel spiritually nauseous at times. I’m far from angelic and still have a long way to go in my journey with Jesus but, I’ve never understood why anyone who attends a church would “need’ to be “talked into” loving the One who loved them first and voluntarily allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross on their behalf. It’s always disturbed me! As you can probably tell, it still does!

How And Why Does “It” Happen?

The “it” being: Not taking our walk with Christ as seriously as it deserves to be taken in the light of how seriously Jesus took us and our hopeless state pre-cross. There are many reasons for the dilemma but let us first preface this chapter by saying something that’s absolutely, profoundly, and inescapably true. That which we won’t acknowledge as broken, God can’t fix!

How many times have we heard this heart wrenching story from parents who are at a loss as to what happened: “My children were faithfully in church with us every Sunday since the day they were born. They sang in the choir. They taught Sunday school. They were educated at the finest of Christian schools. They went away on Christian week-end retreats attended by their Christian friends. And now they’re gone as in, they have broken off their relationship with Jesus. What in the world happened?” That heart-felt concern is often followed by this statement: “If we could just get them to return to church”, as seen by those who wear the issue, as an answer.

The problem? They were already in church and immersed in church activities so how is that an answer? I guess it would make “us” feel better so in desperation we cling to the old saying: ”At least they’d be under the sound of the gospel”, as a cure. What were they “under the sound of” before, would be my question? Many things would be my well experienced answer. We’ll get to those in a minute.

Perhaps the reason they were so thoroughly wrapped up in church life in the first place was to simply make “us” feel better, so “us” feeling better can no longer be the point. We have to go a lot deeper than that for our answers.

It is not uncommon for people, especially those who have spent their entire lives in church, to live out an im-personal “belief”, vicariously through the atmosphere of church culture without ever embracing the only true reason for church being Christ. It’s easily and innocently done. It sounds crazy I know, but you can go to church your whole life and never meet Christ. You can become “churched” without becoming “the Church” and mistake them for the same thing.

For those who have left: They have heard a lot of rhetoric with very little “believing” substance to back it up and over time have dismissed the advertised “reality” as no more than man-made “religion”. They therefore found no need to take it or leaving it, all that seriously. Their exposer to “church culture” also exposed them to the folks who are living a “belief” while not believing. These are those who love to inappropriately comment on pretty well everything.

Those who left were privy to it all and were unable to detach un-Christ-like conduct from Christ himself. They bided their time and when the opportunity presented itself, as in adulthood, they left. Is that true in every story? No. But in the majority it is.

Here we see the damage that can be inflicted on others by those who don’t see the necessity to take their walk with Jesus seriously. Some of those others are our loved ones. Just as those who do, can be inspirationally contagious, the other side of the equation can be equally impactful in a discouraging manner.

In closing and as a prayer for those we know who have decided to leave: While church in itself can be a wonderful dynamic in a life, let’s focus our prayers for the missing, to be drawn into a fresh or perhaps first time encounter, with their “personal” Savior thus transforming them into “BELIEVERS” to the extreme. Radiant “VERBS” for God to display His glory through! Amen!

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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