Excerpt for In It Not Of It by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


IN IT NOT OF IT


AUTHOR - BILL TAYLOR

COPYRIGHT 2017 - BILL TAYLOR

PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT SMASHWORDS



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



Tricky Equation

“In the world but not of the world”. What a paper-thin “fine line” we are encouraged to walk as we sojourn on this planet with Jesus under the authority, guidance, and tutelage of His teaching and leading! It can be a spiritual juggling act to navigate, with us finding ourselves challenged to seek the right answers as opposed to those deemed “standard” and “safe” by the majority.

Living outside the box of status-quo, cliché-ism faith is a “hand full” no doubt. Going against the flow of the majority can be awkward but it’s that narrow road journey that transforms faith into fact. With experiential replacing theoretical we become magnificently uncomfortable, much like the young boy, who for the very first time, gleans from within the courage to climb the ominous ladder attached to the “high diving” board.

Motivated only with his theory, that justifiably reeks of timidity, he fearfully elevates himself with palms sweating, one shaky step at a time, noticing that ground zero is being replaced with a higher place. He senses his apprehension being progressively over-ridden by his anticipation.

The youngster having victoried to this lofty “penultimate” aspect of his journey, “penultimate” meaning “next to last”, observes from on high his long awaited theorized visual of reward for his radicalism. An irresistible invitation from below calls out, “Jump”! His theory, substantiated by years of watching the “non-faint-of-heart” throw themselves into the mystery had provided for him a path of inspiration that led to his “next to last” status. But he noticed upon his arrival that the platform atop a high diving board is not crowded with cheerleaders. In fact, this young lad could hear those dissenting voices who were sitting far from the action in the safe comfort of their grassy picnicked areas proclaiming his idiocy. Thus, as is always the case, it would have to be him that made the “ultimate” choice to transcend the “penultimate”.

But, he didn’t embark on this adventure to discover the joy of climbing a ladder. No there was an “ultimate” in his mind that accompanied the dream’s first step! Without its included finale, the boy knew the climb itself would dissolve into a state of disappointed irrelevance over time seen as an old crusty memory to be regurgitated as one that failed to produce its desired result. I’d rather die trying was this brave young one’s conclusion and he jumped! In a second in time, he chose to “experience” rather than “assume” based on other’s experiences.

Other’s testimonies exuberantly shared, were no longer sufficient sustenance for his hungering soul. He thirsted to tangibly know his “as yet unknown”, personally, relationally, and intimately thus de-mystifying the mystery! He “had to” experience his theory! With one final deep breath of what was now considered by him, non-optional bravery, he detaching himself from his perch of assumed safety. The young man, risking all, including the possibility of embarrassment at the hands of the jeering not cheering side-line folks, he catapulted his fragile frame into the air and ceased at that moment, to be “of the world”, while still “in the world”! He had experienced the amazingness of “another world”! One he had previously not known, he now knew. One that he discovered was limited only by one’s attention to its profoundly meaningful existence! A world fluorescently immersed in all the heavenly colors of improvisational spontaneity, as walked out hand in hand with its Creator! In a word: Reality!



When In Doubt - Love

If we are going to truly love the world and its inhabitants as our Lord did, and commands us to do likewise, we will need to be “in it” to do it. But, the problematic catch that accompanies that truth is: If in the process, our behavior is that “of” the world, then our witness will justifiably be in vain leaving us being perceived as easily dismissible hypocrites. Just another generic group of religious folk to discard in the trash heap of religion in general.

If we find ourselves showing no obvious fruits of realism, ears will be deafened and hearts will be closed shut to God! Jesus didn’t say: They will know you are mine, “by how much you know” but rather, “how much you love”! You see that dynamic is indicative of “Who you know”!

I’m reminded of the very well-known biblical story where Jesus cautions against walking by the needy with a “God bless you” as your feet keep moving. “Inappropriate behavior” for one who claims to be Mine: Jesus would say! Christ’s viewpoint reigns, in that it is Him we represent not ourselves nor our label!

Let’s say I, with my bible proudly displayed, boldly said grace over my restaurant lunch for all to hear, after screaming at the waitress for taking so long to bring my food, equally for all to hear. Does it really matter what I do after abusing the lady? Do I not deserve the “really?”, I get from those observing?

I could share many more examples but let’s leave it there, convinced we have sufficiently made the point. And that point is? Our actions/behaviors speak much louder than our words. In fact, they can either nullify or verify what we have to say. They are very powerful from both sides of that equation and are likely being observed constantly! Feeling pressured? You truly shouldn’t feel that way, but rather privileged to be entrusted as one of our Lord’s reflectors to the world!

Therefore, being “doers” of the word, keeps us from being “of” the world, while being “in” the world. Thus impactfully different and deserving of ears to hear!



Just Like Jesus

Aren’t you glad we have an amazing standard to follow. Our Holy template Jesus and a pattern of behavior He has left us to study . The name of Christ for us to represent, and His behavior for us to emulate. What could be a better combination for success? Thus, we need not live with the “hit and miss” hopefully getting it right approach. Enabled to know rather than guess, is a gift of great value that has been provided for us. Jesus was most certainly “in the world” but never “of the world”, so may I enquire, who better to get our marching orders from than Him. Our Lord’s historied lifestyle of ministry is well documented for all to see. But, before we burst into our life long marathon, let’s pause at the starting blocks to listen to a cautionary word from the disciple John who also knew a thing or two about “in it not of it”.

1 John 2 - 6: “Whoever claims to “live in Him” must live as Jesus did”. Is it just me or does “live in Him” sound a little 24/7 permanently radical? Kind of like: Having our entire “being in Him” as a prescribed starting point for the race.

John further states in verse 28 of the same chapter: “And now dear children continue “in Him” so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming”.

There’s that “in Him” again. Here’s what I’m thinking: A: “In Him” isn’t a Sunday thing. And B: It’s the needed inclusion to enable us to be “in it” affectively and not “have it” affect us, thus not “of it”!



Hello Matthew

The bible is crystal clear: Jesus ate with sinners. Lots of sinners. Sinners from every genre of sin imaginable, often found themselves in His welcoming company, all under the watchful scrutiny of the Pharisees. Pharisees, being the religious hierarchy of the day, seemed far more invested in entrapping Christ rather than embracing Him for who He was. Always lurking in the shadows, they “religiously” followed His every step, remaining belligerently deaf to His words, motivated only as accumulators of evidence to have Him and His followers extinguished.

I’ve mentioned in previous writings my emphatic conviction that Jesus was not religious nor did He conform to the prevailing religiosity that permeated the atmosphere of His day. He “did not” come to this earth to set up another religion. The world needed a Savior, not a new oppressor! To confirm my belief: The religious folk hated Him with a passion simply because He wasn’t “at all” like them! His version of holiness was displayed transparently genuine for all to experience, exposing there’s as pitifully synthetic at best, which is true with all religions without exception!

If we consider Christ and the act of following Him within the realm of religion, we utterly miss the point and sadly diminish His amazing life and excruciating death! I wonder at times if we’re aware of this: Being considered religious is not a compliment! Religious is the opposite of real! It’s a descriptive that strongly suggests phoniness! It’s an insult! A slap in the face! Religion is a dark and dreadful spirit that has left innumerable deaths in its wake over time. It’s not a term that should ever be associated with Christ nor His followers! Jesus said: “Love your enemies”! All others say: ”Kill them”! See, diametrically different in its opposition to the status quo!

Well, we better get back to Matthew before he thinks we’ve forgotten him.

Tax collectors, within the culture of the day, were seen as the worst of the worst. Much worse than your garden variety sinner. They were branded by the Jewish community as being utterly disgusting. A labelling they most certainly earned! These were Jews who while collecting taxes as an occupation, would rip off their own people with a little extra demanded to enhance their wallets. These insidious dregs of society were despised by all! Well, not quite all it would seem.

Jesus actually invited himself to Matthew the tax collector’s home for dinner only to discover that Matthew had friends who were also tax collectors. “Distained birds of a feather flocking together”, was the scene that our Lord walked into with His disciples “timidly” in tow.

“Timidly”, because they had to have been horrified. We know Peter was far from thrilled with the idea! They all must have thought, what little remained of their reputations was now gone officially. You can almost hear them mumbling under their breath: ”This following Jesus isn’t cool anymore! What’s next, people with leprosy or perhaps prostitutes?” With Jesus thinking: “Should I tell them now?”

Well, Jesus shared with and cared for these “unlovables” but to be noted, He didn’t become a tax collector in the process but they became His followers with Matthew highlighted to author a book in the bible. Let’s just say that Jesus was neither in it or of it. That story doesn’t happen and we don’t have “The Gospel Of Matthew”!

There have been a few groups over the years, who based on their cultural convictions which I respect, have leaned heavily on the “not of it” aspect while choosing to ignored the “in it” part. They’ve secluded themselves as much as possible, thinking that partitioning a separation from the outside world will keep evil out. Folks, evil is a spirit and there’s no wall on earth that will guarantee its exclusion in the hearts of humans. Besides, how can we take the Gospel to the world if we won’t leave our fortresses of seclusion.

The answer? We do leave “in Him”. That’s our protection not some “hide in a hole and maybe evil won’t know we’re here”, mindset! Whatever happened to “take heart for I have overcome the world”, spiritual radicalism? How about: “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world”? How about it indeed! If that is true, then the he in the world should fear the “He” that is in me, not the other way around! Make sense?



Immeasurable Love

Here's a little something purposed to enhanced your day and hopefully your every day! I've always believed: "You can't measure our Lord's love", but felt strangely challenged today to make the attempt. 

 

I pondered for a moment: If the "unknown" distance between heaven and earth could be formulated, then that enormously numbered "finding" could be considered as a "close enough" measurement to form a "close enough" conclusion. We're aware of the distances between ourselves and other galaxies, so I chose the furthest away and quadrupled it just to be sure I wasn't underestimating, not wanting to short-change God on the matter.


Thinking myself "clever", I was paused by this reminder: For me to be "close enough" to accurate enough, there were additional elements I'd omitted, that had to be factored into the equation to reach a fully informed conclusion. To be specific:


The "difference" between the spiritual atmosphere of heaven compared to that of earth, thus  what Jesus "relinquished" in order to make possible that which He desired. 


Jesus didn't make a "side-ways" nor "higher" move of voluntary altered residence. No, Jesus went from a place of sin-less-ness to dwell amongst utter sin-ful-ness. From the pent-house to the out-house by choice! Jesus, the magnificently eternal "Perfect One" rubbed shoulders with the profoundly helpless im-perfect! One other major inclusion to my conclusion: He wanted to!


That "finding" once equated, instantly reverted everything back to the place I had begun my quest of folly.  Immeasurable! 


You see, the difference not the distance, was the determining factor of overriding importance when doing the math. It wasn't the journey but rather the cost of the journey, which Jesus paid for gladly! To be transparently honest within my inescapable understanding of who I am apart from Him, that’s still something my soul struggles to ingest, while knowing it's amazingly true!


This is the love we are loved with. Therefore, this is the love we love others with! Is it not true, that it’s not we who live but Christ that lives within us. A residing Christ who we take “into” the world in all of His gracious glory. Is it not Jesus shining through us that makes us noticeably and obviously unique! Seen as non-dismissably, undeniably, different.


That kind of love portrayed to the world will never be emulated by religious behavior but rather reality soaked conviction that our existence is divinely purposed to be “real” in an unreal world! When that’s descriptive of our “in it”, it will impact those who are “of it”!


Our Lord’s life example conforms the truth of that statement! Once again let’s hear from The Disciple John: “Whoever claims to be in Him must live as Jesus lived”. Folks, that doesn’t even sound close to optional! If we see it as such we need to take a second look. Deceiving ourselves has a season!



Last Book For 2017

Which translates into my final opportunity of the year to wish you all an amazingly blessed 2018 along with my sincere appreciation for your support in making the past year’s Ebook experience a wonderfully fruitful one!

I’ll be busy over the next week doing my usual New Year routine: Being reminiscently thankful for all that God has blessed me with throughout the year, then flipping my internal calendar to the new and exciting, what’s to come.



A Special Treat From A Special Lady

A past Ebook I wrote entitled “The Gift Of Life” highlighted a very special young lady named Nikita. During a recent pre-Christmas visit she generously shared this work of hers with me. I loved it and would love to share it with you! As a sixteen year old, Nikita wrote it as an entry into an on-line contest. She won and reaped the reward of having her writing published in a magazine! Pretty amazing stuff for sixteen! When I was her age I was still working on spelling “cat”. Oh, so it doesn’t have a “K”.

Well, here we are nine years later. Nikita is more brilliant and beautiful than ever and I’m more blessed for having the privilege of her friendship. I know what you’re thinking: Why do I always get the better part?! You’d be right, I do! The why? Chalk it up to grace!

Blessings to all and please enjoy Nikita’s immense talent equalled only by her lovely heart, as she writes her thoughts into the subject of “New Year’s” with an eloquence I have no hope of competing with!

3…2…1…

New Year’s Eve is a beacon, a source of inspiration, motivation and hope.

On this frosty evening, the hearts of many beat strong knowing that they successfully survived the past year’s struggles, adversities, burdens, hardships and heartbreaks. It is a time to dwell on one’s mistakes and regrets, as well as fairly reflect on one’s strengths and accomplishments.

Not only does this night celebrate the perseverance and strength of the human spirit, but it also provides an opportunity for a second chance and a fresh start for those who need it. New Year’s Eve is a time when multiple genres of people, from varying walks of life, gather amicably to look forward.

Regardless of gender, age, or class, they celebrate in one accord the start of a new beginning. On this one night, all strife, discord and hate is put aside, and feelings of love, unity, hope and determination for a better future are shared.

Millions of individuals are faced with the extraordinary opportunity to smooth over the rough aspects of their life – whether it be their work habits, relationships, or self esteem concerns.

Some choose to resolve to look past themselves, and focus on acting for the benefit of others. Over time, more of these types of resolutions hopefully evolve into everyday life style choices. As more such attitudinal adjustments compound, society becomes further saturated with open hearts and open minds, which ultimately will benefit the whole. In all, it is truly a privilege to be able to witness the celebration of New Year’s Eve. The remarkable shining light at the end of a long hard year!



My Ministry - 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!


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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