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

Natures Metaphors

If we walk out our lives on planet earth with our senses engaged, God has an amazing way of showing us His truths through nature, with nature being His metaphoric tool for exposing the depth of those truths. Jesus was the King of metaphors as He taught His listeners precepts that previously would have been culturally and religiously foreign to them. Some of what He shared would have been received as downright offensive!

To make mention of one such instance that comes to mind: The story of the “Good Samaritan”, being told to Jews with the Samaritan getting the applause! Yike! The Jews hated Samaritans! A little insight as to how little “reputation” meant to Christ, never letting it get in the way of truth.

He had come to reveal His Father’s Heart to a world that had distorted it. He wasn’t here to win a popularity contest so censoring Himself based on the content of His crowds was never in play. To Jesus it was always about quality not quantity. Disciples not a fan club was His desire, as was verified in His final words before ascending to heaven: Go and make “disciples”. Seeing as Jesus doesn’t change, nor does He back-track, I have to believe those words ring as true today as they ever have.

Back to metaphors: Giving His early students “familiar visuals” to embrace was of paramount importance if they were going to get the connection. That which they were hearing was new and massively radical. This wasn’t a massaging of anything they had ever heard before while visiting the Temple!

As if coming from another galaxy, this was dramatically inside out and upside down to what they were taught to be true from birth! Is it any wonder they needed a little help in connecting the dots? So Jesus, knowing the urgency to be clearly understood, made use of the metaphors at His disposal to help make His heavenly points.

How very often we hear Him preface His messages with these two words: “It’s like”. You can almost see the crowds leaning in with ears wide open as His “two word” alert suggested they were about to learn something they didn’t previously know.

I Love My Walks

I have a well-entrenched routine. Being retired, walking is a must so walk I do. My well-trodden route has within its every day content a tree. That tree houses more birds than I could possible count. You can barely see the tree for the birds. The other day, rather than hurriedly passing by on my way to nowhere in particular, I paused to take notice of the non-stop chirping that was reverberating in my ears through natures provided housing development for our fine feathered friends. I rather suspect that it was likewise every day, but I really hadn’t been paying that close attention to anything other than my own personal walk that was going nowhere in particular.

Many moons ago I mentioned the reality of “Holy Nudges” in my writings and confirmed their truth through the sharing of my own life’s experiences. “Holy Nudges”, to be seen as heavenly promptings that gently alert a person that God has something to say, be it to someone else or in this case, Me!

While standing perfectly still, with a gaze of amazement that suggested to passers-by that I’d never seen a tree before, I listened ever so carefully to the sound. Not being an interpreter of chirping, I had no idea what the song was but I did realize this much: It was beautiful as if being sung as a perpetual expression of worship to its singers Creator!

Well, God had something a little more personally reflective to teach as I sensed His query while watching and listening: “Do you know why they do that Bill? Are you aware that they do that in and out of season regardless of circumstances? Apart from sleeping, they never stop”.

To be honest, I’m not a bird expert so my answers were as follows: “No, No, and Really”! Have you ever gotten the feeling you were being led by God to a place you weren’t intending to go? You know that internal wondering when the other foot is going to drop, all the while sure it will with a lesson attached.

Back to God: You know Bill, those birds are hardwired by Me to naturally behave as you have witnessed. Within that behavior, they are their most fulfilled. It’s who they are and what they do, by divine design. They instinctively “chirp” based on their created by Me status! Dogs bark and Cats meow. When they do so, they are living within the context of their purpose. How very strange it would be perceived if Dogs and Cats “chirped”. There’s a profound reason they don’t! They’re not supposed to and they know it! That is unless you actually think this phenomena is a coincidence?

You as well should instinctively behave in a fashion that reflects the “newly purposed heart” I have given you”. I have removed your heart of stone and replaced it with a heart of flesh. I have gifted to you a “newly purposed nature”. Mine! A nature that was designed by Me to serve, not be served!

It’s Who We Are - It’s What We Do

When we as disciples of Jesus don’t do, what we’ve been hardwired by God to do, we can find ourselves living uncomfortably and awkwardly outside of our divinely purposed existence. You see, we don’t get to choose our reason for existing. It has already been inscribed on our hearts.

If birds decided to cease chirping they would be behaving “counter-clockwise” to God’s divine time piece. Likewise, if our purpose were to be ignored, our valuable time spent on earth would be experienced out of step, as if having two left feet, with what God intended. Awkward to say the least. Miserable to say the most!! You see, walking in alignment with our “purpose” is the prerequisite to contentment, regardless of what that purpose is.

The Apostle Paul said he had learned to be content in “all things”. To him “all things” included some very unpleasant circumstances. So, why would he be content in them? Because Paul was walking within the context of his purpose. When that is the case, circumstances don’t impede contentment!

So, what is it that we disciples do? What is our divinely appointed positioning in God’s story? A story, we’ve been written into by grace as privileged participants. Our place must be amazingly lofty in that we are much more valuable than birds to God! Jesus said so!

Well, He also said when queried by His disciples regarding their mis-placed curiosity as to which of them would be the greatest in the Kingdom: “The last shall be first”, was His response.

And the disciples likely thought as they cringed: “That wasn’t the answer we were looking for. Sorry we asked”. Pardon my paraphrasing but I’m sure you get the point!

I wonder how many of us would admit to having a distaste for those kind of, “backwards to us” answers, from Christ? My hand is already up. Anyone care to join me? Have you noticed in your journey with Jesus, how quickly and concisely the flames of our pre-conceptions can be doused in a heartbeat once heaven’s perspectives are applied. Ouch!

Well, truth can create the occasion “ouch” but if that’s the cost, then the reward out values it. So with that in mind, can we all take a breath of courage and search the scriptures to discover what God has to say on the matter of our “what we’re meant to do”? How can we possibly do, what we don’t know to do, so let’s find out.

Let’s be honest folks. There are many voices out there saying many things. This is addressing a topic we “must know” the clear truth regarding. Seeing as all birds sing, we can be assured that our findings will be singular in nature and highly applicable to all while leaving plenty of room to be expressed within our God created uniqueness! While it’s true that all birds sing, they do not vocalize the exact same melodies the exact same way. But their voices in one mighty chorus do beautifully complement each other’s.

Our hearts are to be as “one” in the body of Christ. A body with many different appendages for many different usages. Cookie cutter disciples as a heavenly desire, is not the goal of God. Our differences when embraced with maturity can be our greatest strength. Our praise, when sung in multiple harmonies pleases the ears of heaven, with God applauding each and every note as to their individual importance.

As a prime and personal example: Shila and I have an amazing friendship that has only grown over the seventeen years of its existence. With God at its center, it’s truly triune in nature. We each have an equal love for our Lord, but within the content of our triune spiritual relationship, we have been given different responsibilities that when enacted, complete the desired by God picture.

I am admittedly, the “bold as brass mouth piece”, while Shila provides the fragrance of sweet grace that permeates the atmospheric conditions of our much appreciated gift from God.

When encouraged to blossom, differences that are unique to the individuals, create a scenario whereby God exposes His love to the other, through the other, while continually providing His glue-like presence to the overall product! Triune relationships are amazing and are amazingly effective!

This is true: When Shila and I have the opportunity to spend time with others, I make her seem like an extravert on steroids, “by association”. She’s actually quite quiet in the company of folks she doesn’t know and even some she does. I on the other hand, have no idea what quiet is! If I get on an elevator that’s empty, I’ll talk to myself while I await a fellow passenger to share with.

Here’s the best part from my “blessed” perspective: Shila makes me, “by association”, seem far more impressive than I actually am with her natural, internal, and external loveliness on display for me to behold. A loveliness that “quietly” challenges me in the shadows of my life, and in the most encouraging of ways, to be better. I’m a work in progress and Shila’s cross to bear! Those are my duel identities. Oh, I’m also Irish which doesn’t help!

Feet Washers - The Last Supper

John 13 - 4 & 5: “So He ( Jesus ) got up from the table, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that He poured water in a basin and began to wash His disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.

John 13 - 12 > 17: “When He had finished washing their feet he put on His cloths and returned to His place. “Do you understand what I have done for you”, He asked them. You call me “Teacher” and “Lord” and rightly so for that is what I am. Now that I, your Teacher and Lord, have washed your feet, you should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do, as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you that no servant is greater than his Master nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you DO them.”

Scripturally confirmed folks: Wash feet is what we do. Tired feet, blistered feet, confused feet, abused feet, misused feet, old feet, new feet, broken hearted feet, disqualified feet, homeless feet, disillusioned feet, disenfranchised feet, ALL FEET, that cross our paths, we wash! It’s why we’re here. It’s what we do! Not quite the “ivory tower” calling we may have thought. But oh, it’s a glorious calling because Jesus did it.

Question: Who are the “one another’s? We could say, Jesus was referring exclusively to those in the room that evening. We could also say by expanding our minds a touch: All-inclusively but equally exclusively, other Christians. But my heart tells me there’s a more accurate answer. One that sits in my spirit without conflict. The “one another’s” are those: Who God so loved that He gave His only Son for. I prefer that answer, in that it eliminates man’s tendencies to be selective when it comes to the feet he will and won’t wash!

Why do I say that so vehemently? Because Jesus washed the feet of Judas that night knowing full well that those feet would soon go for a walk of betrayal! Christ’s betrayal!

Does Knowing It Make It So?

I can know in my mind I’m supposed to love but if I don’t, my knowing it doesn’t make me a lover of people. You see it’s in “the doing” that our true sincerity concerning what we know finds itself revealed. I call “knowing without doing” the “grand illusion”. An illusion we ought not to think we can afford to entertain. Christ said: ”Now that you know these things you will be blessed”: Jesus stop there we plead. You’ve said it and we know it. Oh no, He’s not finished: “If you DO them”! And the other foot drops with the qualifier!

Noticed He didn’t say: Now that you “know” you will be blessed”. Jesus acknowledges in His statement that, “they now know”. But He then emphasises His directive with: “Now DO what you know to DO”! Thus, fulfil your divine purpose. Complete the equation. Say yes to your high calling. Don’t leave it dormantly hanging in the air as if seen as optional. Seal the deal and DO! By “this”, they will know you are My disciples! And perhaps one day the “one another’s” will know what you know, and DO it? Heaven’s rippling effect in action folks!

The “one another’s” are the blessing of being a “feet washing disciple”! An eternal blessing that will never fade into obscurity over time! Those “one another’s” that opt in because they sensed the love of God being lavished on them as we washed their feet, are the heavenly reward!

We could call being “foot washers” demeaning. Society would. We could consider ourselves as worthy of something a little more elevated in Kingdom status. It would be natural to do so. But we are radically different. We aren’t natural. We don’t dance to societies’ drummer. Partakers in Christ’s divine nature is who we are. A nature that elevated servanthood above all else, thus “high calling”!

Untouchables from the filthiest genres of society got touched by our Lord. The list is a veritable whose-who of whoever’s. Prostitutes, an adulteress, the blind, the lame, the sick, the women who was bleeding to death, the dead, the lepers, tax collectors, Samaritans, the possessed, the oppressed, the distressed, the depressed and some very smelly fisherman, all of whom found a place in the “foot washing waters” of our Lord.

You see “washing feet” is simply another metaphor. Jesus would declare: Every set of feet has a heart that also needs to be washed in love. It’s all about the head to foot caring, about the “one another’s”. We serve a Lord who spent his entire ministry with dirty hands while making others clean. Why would we think ours should be differently applied and appropriated by heaven? The dictionaries meaning of appropriated is so very appropriate: “To set apart for a specific use”!

It’s interesting to note: Those who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus, and He liked them. We know that by the less than illustrious company He insisted on keeping. Equally interesting: The religious folk were the exception. You see they knew it but didn’t DO it!

For us, this is the overriding truth that cuts to the heart of the matter as I see it. “Knowing and doing” is our calling. If we know the quality of love that has been poured into our lives by Jesus, then our response of freely loving others likewise should need no coaxing or prodding.

If washing feet is “our high calling”, so be it. Jesus did it and that makes it an honor! After all, we should be aware that our Lord washed our feet, in a futuristic way, on that dark Passover night! While immersed in the solemn atmosphere of that room, I believe Christ peered down through the corridors of time and washed ours. I believe His instructions were meant for us as much as they were meant for those in His immediate, we being Christ’s future.

I also believe He likewise saw us from His cross and thought in His heart: This is for you. All of you! In a few thousand years you will know that to be true because you will know Me and love Me the way I now love you! His visual of us, all of us, kept Him hanging on that cross! Sorry if that’s shocking to anyone, but it’s true! Oh what love. No greater love!

Folks, “Disciples Wash Feet”. That’s what they are hardwired to do. Their joy and contentment is found in the priceless thrill of knowing they are in step and alignment with God as they fulfill their “from the beginning” pre-ordained, destiny and purpose. Wherever they are, it feels like home!

They don’t need the roar of the crowd. They have the smile of God to enhance their days. They walk by trees full of chirping birds and chirp back: Me too my fellow creations!

Once adhering to the call of heaven by doing, they suddenly find themselves going “somewhere specific” rather than “nowhere in particular”!

Follow The Leader Is The Gospel

Meet our Leader, as Paul exposes this heavenly One to the church in Philippi. Chapter 2 - 6 > 8:

“Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage. Rather He made himself nothing, by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death. Even death on a cross.”

Chapter 2 - 12 & 13: “Therefore my dear friends, as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation in fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil His good purpose.”

Does anyone remember the children’s game, “Follow The Leader”? I clearly do. The premise of the game was as follows: You had to do “without exception” exactly as instructed by the leader when prompted. Thus: “Follow The Leader”. It wasn’t called “The Leader Follows You”. Imagine the chaos if that had been so, considering the multiple children playing simultaneously.

Interestingly, that children’s past time is a microcosm of “the gospel”. While playing you were never asked “what would you like to do”. No, following the leader was the terms of inclusion to the game. They were etched in stone and you as a child knew your immediate “purpose” was to adhere, without the luxury of infusing your terms into the mix.

Oh what child-like joy would ensue when you had completed the tasks as led. Some of which would leave your extremities a little sore but you knew in your heart, your best interests were served in their completion. Just like Jesus said: “You will be blessed if you DO them”.

Friends: We have an appointed by God Supreme Leader. His name is Jesus. Let’s be sure, that we are following Him according to His example. Jesus said: “My sheep hear My voice”. Jesus also said: “Wash Feet” and “Feed Sheep”, if you love me!

In closing: Heaven’s desire for us as disciples is to invest ourselves in “Follow The Leader” not “Simon Says”. There’s a lot of Simon’s out there with a lot of viewpoints, not all good. It is our responsibility to discern whether the Simon we are listening to is also “Following The Leader”.

Finally: A special mention of gratitude to my greatly appreciated “Gumba” and Brother in Christ “Basil Fazio” who inputs more inspiration and encouragement into my daily walk with God than he could possibly be aware of. So to Basil, I dedicate this book with my eternal love and thanks!

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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