Excerpt for Saying Goodbye To Self by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


SAYING GOODBYE TO SELF


AUTHOR - BILL TAYLOR

COPYRIGHT 2018 - BILL TAYLOR

PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT SMASHWORDS



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



Pre-Requisites

Repetition, for all the good that it provides, can also lead to the diminishing of our sensitivities towards what should be “alerting truths” imputed by Christ for our own long term well-being. How easy and dangerous it is to develop a habit of offering a passing nod of acknowledgement to the massively important “total content” in our Lord’s teachings without as much as a pause for serious personal evaluation. Therefore, we can over time, become accidently comatose to the cautionary “red flags” found in God’s word while carrying on as usual, with these seriously profound non-negotiable inclusions exiting our minds with the greatest of ease.

These “red flag cautions” tend to agitate our well entrenched spiritual comfort zones, thus it’s perfectly understandable that our flesh/self doesn’t like them very much. While not desiring to admittedly verbalize our dis-comfort, we then assume our adherence to the difficult aspects of walking with Jesus.

The problem being: What if that which we’ve become numb to are pre-requisites that we are ignoring? Precepts that leave the transaction awkwardly incomplete? Inclusions that can’t be excluded? Directives that once altered, alters out entire trajectory into a totally different orbit!

I’m finding the phrase “Got It Lord” more and more difficult to flippantly express as the days of my life tick away. The Holy Spirit convicts my conscience with His gentle rebuke of: You read it, you repeat it, but you don’t “get it” until you can honestly say, “I’ve applied it”.



Mis-understood Purpose?

Perhaps this is where the error is birthed. Innocently we can miss the paramount point of our walk with Jesus. Surprisingly perhaps to some, it’s not to become better versions of ourselves. “I use to be and now I’m not” testimonies are no doubt important but only as a part of Christ’s desired end result. Don’t get me wrong: The stories of God’s intervening hand in our lives have a profound purpose, as we share them with those who don’t know Jesus personally.

I used to be one of those “dregs of society” before God got a hold of me so I’ve experienced the power of “my past” being exposed for the benefit of others.

But the question is: Is it “to be a better me”, why I’m here, or is that God’s gracious outworking of me being here? Is there something much bigger in the works than “being better”? Far more dramatic and far more life changing in content. Higher, wider, and deeper than perhaps we’ve ever imagined!

So, what is this amazing “purpose” that heaven has entrusted us with? Well first of all, it’s only we who can fulfill it. It’s not at all complicated, thus understandable to all. But it is challenging to the core. It involves a narrow road thoroughfare of residence forsaking the wider variety for the more long term valued one.

Ladies and gentleman I invite you to peruse your purpose: To live lives that expose the heart of Christ to others. As Jesus came in “purposed servitude”, to reveal the loving heart of God to the world, we are to replicate Christ’s “purpose” by revealing His heart to the same world. In every word and deed, we are to be representatives of Jesus every step of the way with every inhaled gifted breath we take. This is our calling, which calls for a “Saying Goodbye To Self”.

You see, self with never fully co-operate. It has its own agenda and will produce a spiritual “tug of war” scenario. The dictionaries meaning of “tug of war” is profoundly interesting: “A struggle for supremacy in which two tug on opposite ends of a rope, ( in our case “a purpose”) with each trying to pull the other across a dividing line”. That is a shockingly accurate descriptive, when it comes to things of the spirit verses the flesh! Could it be that the Me in the We is the weak link in the relational chain. Perhaps HE should be running the show? What do you think?



It’s Not Easy Nor Popular

If our journey with Jesus isn’t purposed to become better versions of ourselves then why are we here? Why were we chosen? Why were we called? What is our heavenly directive if it isn’t to be better people? Are you sitting down with seat belts engaged? You may not like this but:

At the epicenter of God’s mandate for our lives is “one” singular purpose. That we completely abandon self-likeness, replacing it with an overwhelming desire for Christ-likeness. Humbling I admit, but gloriously magnificent if thought through to its inevitable conclusion!

If I’d rather have Jesus than anything, then it makes sense that I’d also rather be like Him than anyone else, including me!

I warned you in advance that it’s not popular as confirmed by perusing the Christian landscape culture of today with its “me” gospels of plenty to entrap our hearts. “Selfless” is blasphemous in some circles my friends!

And yet, if we get squeamish over Christ’s pre-requisite of self-denial, we’re being very foolish. It’s for our own good! It frees us from a lot of “self-dwelling” issues that tend to get in our way as we navigate our “narrow road” sojourn with Christ. Decisions are made easier when the only “will” that matters is God’s will. Sweet simplicity at its finest can be our lot in life if we choose!

The “us” factor within the relational content of our walk with Jesus has and always will be the problematic component in our daily lives. “Self” needs to “go” for the sake of our inner peace. That internal battle of supremacy that rages within, is an exhausting exercise to accommodate. Death to self is its only antidote! I liken it to getting that rotten tooth extracted. Oh the relief! Well, just like the rotten tooth isn’t our friend, neither is “self” and shouldn’t be seen as such. We are our own worst enemies!

Luke 9 - 23: Then He said to them all ( which includes us ): “Whoever wants to be my disciple MUST deny themselves and pick up their cross daily, and follow Me”.

You’ll notice that Jesus doesn’t differentiate between disciples and followers in this scripture. They are one in the same to Him. He also mentions ”picking up our cross” as a daily qualifier regarding discipleship, not a onetime long ago visit to an altar.

But the phrase that interestingly prefaces the entire statement is “deny themselves”, with the non-negotiable imperative of “MUST” attached! “MUST” is one of those “cautionary red flag words” spoken of previously? It’s as if Jesus is trying to make clear that if “self” continues to be enthroned in any fashion, the rest that follows can’t proceed in a functional sense. The famous saying of: “the tail wagging the dog” comes to mind as an appropriate descriptive. We can be that backwardly out of sync at times with our gratitude’s and attitude’s.

Remember the story of the rich young ruler asking Jesus: “what must I do to be saved?” We can operate in that same mindset. His “must” had a different connotation. “What is the least I have to do to be saved”, was his real query of interest.

Can any of us imagine Jesus, before embarking on His journey to this sin sick world, asking His Father: “What is the least I have to do to SAVE”! No? Me neither! And He was and is, the Holy Son of God. Who are we to think such thoughts?



Free From Me!

I’m not near enough enamored by myself to not bite at my Lord’s offer. WOW! Free from me and immersed in Him sounds like a spiritual vacation. I’m not a fan of me but I’m a huge fan of Jesus.

I love Him for a multitude of reasons that would fill an Ebook all on their own and can’t imagine anything more delightful than to be like Him. Whatever the cost, the quality is worth it! Jesus is “altogether lovely”. I think that biblical descriptive is an understatement of biblical proportion!

He’s so much more to me! He’s everything I’ve ever wanted or needed. I love being His sheep. I can’t even imagine loving Him more and yet I wake up every morning more in love! Perhaps His mercies being new every morning are matched by the ongoing revelation of His love for me and my heart reacts to the newness of what it feels.

You see, I don’t want to be a better me. If I did I’d check out the latest “positive thinking guru” on the market and try to convince myself of the illusion that I’m amazing.

Folks, I’m aiming way higher than that. Jesus or nothing! He is the only part of me that has real value and oh what value He has!

I only desire to be like Jesus and no other. I so want to wear His image and nature in the most obvious of ways for all to see and experience as I sojourn on this planet. I want His essence to be the only essence that is noticed in my life. For that to happen I MUST die! I’m the blockage of His potential in and through my life. I’m the stench to His fragrance. I’m the contaminate to His fresh water. When there is a problem, I’m it! All things considered, why would I even want to spend time with me when my Shepherd calls “come Bill”, spend all of your time with Me my beloved sheep and I will provide for you an abundant experiential life in Me!

He shouldn’t have to share His Temple with my “filthy rags”. It should be a totally co-operative dwelling for Him to reside in, not an argumentative one nor one of superficial pretending. Full supremacy, voluntarily imparted by me, opens the door to full immersion in Christ. There’s no other way. Is Jesus being narrow minded? No! Narrow roaded, based on His worth!

He knows His value with no ego attached. The question is: Do we? If we do, we won’t dare to hesitate for a single solitary second before jumping into the deep end of His inviting heart! Oh what a heart it is! From whatever perspective you admire Jesus from, He radiates a beauty this world cannot produce and yet amazingly, He has chosen us to radiate in and through!

Matthew 10 - 38: ” Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of Me”. Can we even consider that statement to be metaphorical or hypothetical? No, it’s real to the extreme and leaves no grey area for conjecture. “Our cross” is a more than clear indicator of our prescribed by Jesus death. How else can it be interpreted?

A famous “prosperity gospel” proponent said recently and idiotically: “I don’t know about you but I don’t want to go to heaven broke”! His large congregation sadly applauded his foolishness as they stood to their feet in euphorically jubilant approval of his tickling of their ears.

Well, that’s what the man said, but I say: “I don’t want to go to heaven and have to ask which one is Jesus”. I want to know Him so well as my Lord, throughout the varying circumstances of life whatever they may be, that the question itself would be unnecessarily redundant, as I race to His nail pierced feet and fall at those beautiful feet in utter worship of Him! I’m not going to talk about bank balances, but rather the “privilege” He gave me to give myself away as He gave himself away for me! It is a “privilege” you know.



What You Give Away You Can’t Lose

Matthew 10 - 39: “Whoever finds their life will lose it and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it”.

Sounds a little backwards doesn’t it until you factor in the phrase ”for My sake”. The gift of life we’ve been given will only reach its full and purposed potential when placed in the hands of the Giver, as we let go with both hands and give Christ full reign.

The term “shared supremacy” with God, regardless of its shared allotment, is no more than an illusion. It doesn’t exist nor does it work! The bible says: “A little leaven leavens the whole loaf”. We are the “leaven” folks!

One life imparted by grace with the privileged option of giving it all away. The only currency we can take with us on our departure from planet earth are the things done “for His sake”. Storing up treasures in heaven is therefore wise! After all: We don’t want to show up “broke”. Pardon my sarcasm!



I No Longer Live?

Galatians 2 - 20: Paul speaking: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”: Can we pause for a sobering moment? Being honest, and we mustn’t ever develop an allergy to honesty, does that which is being described in those first sixteen words accurately reflect our present day status as individuals in Christ and if not, why not?

Do WE “no longer live”? The obvious is, if we have been crucified we should be dead. Have we said “goodbye to self” and hello to Christ in the most dramatic of ways? Do we sense the worth within the content of that transaction. Me for Him as it was Him for me well over two thousand years ago. Does that sound like an endeavour worthy of pursuit or does our flesh re-coil at the thought? Do we love to brag on Paul, while having no appetite to be like him? Are we still firmly pedestalled as the enthroned of our lives while quoting these scriptures verbatim, as if quoting them makes them so?

As earlier mentioned, I struggle with these scriptural challenges to my integrity in Christ. There is no finer example of a crucified life than that of The Apostle Paul apart from Jesus himself. Let us see what else he has to impart to us as we conclude verse twenty.

“The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me”. You see Paul is helping us understand the reason behind dying to self. ”Who loved me and gave Himself for me”. It’s Paul saying: I need to give myself a way to this one named Jesus who gave Himself away for me. We and Paul are in exactly the same boat with exactly the same reason. If we choose to skirt around the perimeters of faith with self-preservation as our goal, I don’t know what that says about us, but it isn’t good!

Even worse and should be mentioned: In the process we cheat ourselves of an amazingly “real” immersion into the heart of Christ himself as we grovel for crumbs off the floor when a banquet table of spiritual delights has been prepared for us to perpetually ingest. Can anyone think that highly of themselves to abstain from a feast of manna catered from above?

Paul’s got more to say that will hopefully enlighten us to what we may have been missing. It’s never too late to pull up a chair and eat from the table of life my friends! The invitation is open to all and for all!



It’s A Question Of Worth

Philippians 3 - 8: “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the “surpassing worth” of knowing Christ my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage that I may gain Christ”.

Wow! Paul lost a lot folks. As pre-Christ Saul, he was highly touted within the temple culture of his day. An up and coming star for sure. He was very well educated and likely wealthy. Then he met Christ on the Damascus Road and everything changed. Fittingly, even his name!

All Paul had, he subsequently lost. His well-nurtured reputation was in tatters. He was now the hated hunted rather than the appreciated hunter. Multiple incarcerations in prison, chained in the bottom of a slave ship, beaten and left for dead, stoned, and ridiculed. If he had never met Christ, none of this would have happened to him.

He would have been living in the lap of luxury! Likely paid well for his professional persecution of these nasty “followers of Jesus’, whom he hated at the time. Needless to say: Life was good for young Saul until that fateful day.

But now it was all gone. Totally up in flames and torched by heaven with only the remnant of ashes from his previous status remaining to peruse from the Holy Fire that had consumed his life. To repeat: Life was good for young Saul until that fateful day. And then, according to the man himself, life became “great”!

Are any of us seeing the “great” in this story yet, or are we simply trying to catch our breath? Let’s let Paul continue to enlarge our insights into the matter. Deep breath and here we go!

So Paul does the math for us and concludes: It’s all been worth it. In fact surpassingly worth it! I consider all that I’ve lost to be garbage in comparison to “Who” I’ve gained.

Well, in the end God must have re-established Paul’s vanished wealth and standing with Paul living happily ever after in his now well-deserved mansion as a reward for his faithfulness. Isn’t that the way the story is supposed to end? Isn’t that the way the formula is supposed to work? Isn’t that what we tell unknowing souls and then have to back track with the “rest of the story” that was excluded in the beginning but now needs to be revamped to include the seriousness of their decision?

No, none of that happened. Paul died! His enemies beheaded him! But here’s the transcendent beauty in the accounting of an amazing life. Truth be known: Paul was “dead” before they killed him. His earlier refrain of “It is no longer I that lives” was embraced by him without wavering, to the very end. Christ’s “surpassing worth” never dissipated based on Paul’s circumstantial life or death.

Beyond impressive don’t you think, considering that Paul was a human! It’s tragic to admit that Paul would be seen as a “quirky misfit” today by most. Certainly not someone we would want to pastor us in our churches for sure. He would educate not medicate. I’m not at all convinced that would work anymore and yet it’s what we most need.

I’m also left to wonder why the words of Jesus that formulated the original early church gospel worked amazingly well back in the day but for some unknown reason, wouldn’t work anymore? Does that make sense to anyone? And does changing it to suit the times, not create an illusion that fills buildings but does not make disciples? Serious stuff, don’t you think when we consider that the word “illusion” is a polite way of saying: Lie!

The “white elephant” in the room named: “MUST” : MUST be talked about folks! It’s not going to go away just because we pretend it isn’t there! If Jesus said it, we don’t get to remove it. The same Paul we highlighted earlier cautioned us, not to be deceived. Galatians 6 - 7 & 8 : “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction: whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

So, a question in closing: Did Paul meet a different Jesus than we did or did he understand the worth of knowing Christ far better than we do? He gladly cashed in his entire life to follow his beloved Lord. Do we see Christ’s worth as “surpassing” everything else, or have we diminished it to a more tolerable to “self” status.

It’s an important question, although admittedly heartbreaking to ask. It does need an honest answer though. Let’s face it: The bar has been set and exampled shockingly low for us all! But, God’s word hasn’t changed a bit and that’s our measuring stick not the status quo.

“Deny yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Me” is still in play. As previously mentioned, it has an order and we don’t get to change it nor has it gone out of style. It’s not selective in its directive. “Then He said to them all”, including us!

To think otherwise frightens me as to the possibility of living out an illusion and not knowing it based on comparatives to the lowered bar! In the stillness of our souls we must ask ourselves: What is Christ’s worth to us? You see we will only deny ourselves when we consider His worth to be far greater than ours, as was the case with Paul! Anything less makes Him no more than an add-on or insurance policy for heaven. Thus my fear of living an illusion. I have no reason to believe that Jesus would succumb to being an ad-on. He has His own scriptural standards as to “our worthiness” of Him.

Once more to be seriously considered: Matthew 10 - 38: “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me”. In that scripture, Jesus isn’t talking about becoming a nicer person but rather “a dead person”. A “crucified to self” person. Doesn’t it seem obvious, that to live a resurrected “new” life there MUST first be a death?

Can we not also re-word this statement from Jesus by having it read: Whoever “does” take up their cross and follow me IS WORTHY OF ME. Isn’t it overwhelming to think that Jesus made a qualifier by which we can consider ourselves as worthy of Him! Just let that thought marinate for a moment in your soul if you want to be thrilled! Imagine, the Creator of the universe says to us: There’s a way, but only one way to be worthy of Me! Love me back as I have loved you! Make me what I made you. Worth dying for!

”Self” cannot compete with that as a reward! Can you see the “surpassing worth garment” that Paul saw, and is available for our wearing if we will only say goodbye to say hello.

There is a heavenly order to be adhered to. We don’t want to get caught in the trap of trying to awkwardly live out part three while skipping part one and two with their incorrectly assumed dread.

So let’s finish with “good news” for us all: “He who the Son sets free is free indeed”! Free from what or who? Free from “self”, and freedom from “self” is free indeed! Your walk gets lighter when not accompanied by you!

Furthermore: The narrow road produces a Paul-like realty in Christ while the wide road can’t do any better than grunt out synthetic religious silliness at best. The narrow road provides us with the bonus of a heavenly correct perspective to help us deal with the circumstantial evidence of our lives. For example:

In the story of Paul and Silas being chained in jail, Paul saw it differently. The jail was chained to them! Was Paul a little delusional? Didn’t he understand his surroundings? Well, let’s put it this way: The jailer and his entire household became believers in Jesus that day! Check it out in Acts chapter 16. My point: On the narrow road you see differently and oh how desperately we need to see differently! More good news: The narrow road is illuminated by the radiance of our Lord. Far too bright for sleep walking!

In the 1992 movie classic: “A Few Good Men”, Jack Nicholson coined the now famous phrase, “You Can’t Handle The Truth”. I absolutely disagree! I believe the church can more than handle the truth but it must be “nothing but the truth”! Besides, where do re-configured gospels leave us and do we really want to find ourselves there? These flagrant disregards for scriptural truth work for a time, until they don’t and when they don’t they crash hard leaving messed up sheep in their wake.

I pray that our time together today causes us all to re-evaluate this truth with the seriousness it warrants: A hand-picked segment of the gospel to put our eternal hope in, is not only spiritually irresponsible but in fact, is no gospel at all!

I see nothing in scripture to conclude otherwise. If I’m wrong may I err on the side of: “All of me for all of Jesus”. I know this is definitely true: “Jesus is worth all of me and so much more”! Can I get a hardy, all in one accord, heartfelt, and sincere AMEN from my fellow sheep! Sheep, by the way, that I care about greatly! Otherwise I wouldn’t have written this book.

It’s a good thing to know you’re cared about by a brother from frigid cold Canada. We’re family folks. We’re supposed to protect each other. I sincerely hope you receive this attempt to clarify in the same spirit as it was written. Love to all, in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus Christ!



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!


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