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

Not Sure?

Being a writer of “short books” pertaining to spirituality from a Christian perspective, there are times when I’m not totally sure if a particular subject should be addressed. To proceed, I must first have an honest and pure “desired result” in mind otherwise I become part of the problem.

My question to myself: What is to be gained by bringing attention to that which should likely be ignored? Let’s face it, the underbelly, guttural, and obviously prevalent, “un-pleasantries” of my faith, is very “un-flattering” to my Lord, so why mention it?

Do I think for a single moment that “speck inspectors” will cease because I find them distasteful and grotesquely un-representative of the heart of Jesus that I so love? No! Apart from a divine intervention they can’t stop based on the “why” they do what they do. They have a powerfully addictive motive folks. FLESH!

So this book isn’t written for “speck inspectors” but rather those who innocently fall under the “cloud” of their spiritual toxicity. If a person hasn’t yet truly experienced the wonderful heart of Jesus, how can they differentiate flesh from spirit?

While thankfully having nothing to do with Jesus, this never-ending dilemma does reflect on Him, leaving lasting negative impressions regarding Him and His church, thus my conclusion to have a little chat about it.

To be honest I’m not a “writer” in the truest sense of the word, but more of a “talker” in print. So let’s talk about this very unfortunate issue on the basis of: “For what it’s worth”.

This book’s intent is not to cast dispersions but rather cause us to soberly consider this truth: We are accountable for what we say! Our walk with God is not a free-for-all of one-upmanship. We each have been given gifts from God. We are responsible for their application.

We’re not a political party. We are the sacred spiritual body of Jesus Christ! While politicians are allowed to “grip it and rip it” with no accountability for their statements, that’s not us. I’m not convinced we believe that!

A Pharisee will always represent one of two entities. Themselves or the temple but never God! It was from both, that we find the resource by which Judas was paid his thirty pieces of silver!

Caution: We being humans, all have a little D.N.A. of a Pharisee in us, some more than others. Having it isn’t the problem. Allowing it to rule the day is! Make no mistake: A Pharisee is not a person but rather a spirit that is far from new. It ruled the day when It killed the prophets of old, crucified Jesus, and executed His followers. Thus, it’s not to be entertained as innocently religious.

The strange thing is, this spirit is obvious in its vocabulary. It doesn’t hide itself very well at all. Its dialogue is always centered around elitist speck-like fault finding with no fair accounting for “praise worthy” information regarding its target. You see, that’s not its point for existing. We mentioned political parties earlier. Can you see the similarity in conduct. Never praise the one you are attacking! Never give credit when credit’s due. You see, that would defeat the purpose. My goodness, what a terribly sick purpose to attach to one’s existence!

Sorry - Wrong Day

Matthew 12 - 1 & 2: On that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this they said to him: “Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath”.

Matthew 12 - 9 > 14: Going on from that place He went into their synagogue and a man with a shriveled hand was there. “Looking for a reason” to bring charges against Jesus they asked Him, “is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath”? He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath. Then he said to the man, “stretch out your hand”. So he stretched out his hand and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other. But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.

The key six words in our scripture as indicators of a Pharisee’s mindset: “They were looking for a reason”. They couldn’t have cared less that a man had his withered hand healed. Who cares and not the point! That wasn’t giving them “their reason”.

I’m so thankful that Jesus healed the man knowing it was going to cause trouble. It tells me that there is no Pharisee on this planet that can impede God from doing what God chooses to do! Toxic “Speck Inspectors” do not intimidate nor sidetrack our great and mighty God, although they can leave a distasteful residue on the palates of our souls with their dark intrusions. We are responsible for what we ingest. They will provide a “feeding frenzy” with their banquet of discoveries, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit at their tables and eat!

Mis - Click

By now you must be wondering what in the world got me so uptight regarding the subject. Well my distaste goes way back and has never truly died ( why would it ) but only a week ago I got an infusion of energy into my disgust for the mindset.

I accidently came upon an internet link concerning a highly respected ( by me ) Pastor. One who has truly ministered to me and has enhanced my walk with God greatly. I was simply searching for his most recent message and clicked on the wrong link.

There it was in all its ugliness! An absolute tearing apart of a man and his ministry in an article written by a very young man for a “Christian” publication. The man being ripped, has more fruit hanging from his branch than I can even imagine on mine, on my very best of days so needless to say, I was somewhat shocked at the attack.

I should have had the sense to move along but decided instead to observe the others involved with their responses to the article.

A few challenged the writer. Their viewpoints were summarily dismissed as being inferior on an intellectual level and for the most part the others were up to their necks in the muck.

By the way: When did “mega church” become an all-inclusive derogatory label and what is the sacredly prescribed number of attendees to retain “Holy Status” in our buildings? I think we’ve forgotten that “multitudes” followed Jesus. Wasn’t it also the Pharisees that found that to be intimidating and a source of jealousy? Here’s another one: Televangelist, as in “has to be bad”. Why? Would we prefer that all gospel content be removed from TV viewing?

Here’s my personal favorite: The “feel good gospel”. As opposed to the “feel bad gospel”? It all sounds a little Pharisaic to me at times. We need to be careful throwing around inflammatory clichés at random and without thought!

It’s all covered over nicely by recruiting the word ”discerning” into our actions but I think the Pharisees were thinking along the same lines as they “looked for a reason” to “discern” Jesus. Besides, I have no idea what we are hoping to accomplish with all of this. Isn’t it reasonable to assume, we must have something better and more productive to do with our time, like “bless someone” rather than “attack someone”.

Back to my internet experience: The internet is accessible to anyone including non-believers. If one had happened onto what I saw, they would conclude: “No thanks” and justifiably so! Do we care is the ultimate question, or does our incessant need to vent get top priority in our alleged minds. We are called to be representatives of the Holy Son of God folks! This isn’t some foolish, ego driven, intellectual game we’re playing. People’s eternity and souls hang in the balance!

What I observed on-line the other day was as sadly mis-representative of Christ as it gets and yet condoned by a “Christian Publication”. That should scare the daylights out of any thinking person! We not they, are responsible for ourselves and what we partake in. We should be very careful to think before we speak. Think what? Am I representing Jesus, or myself, or the temple label I am affiliated with. If the answer to that question isn’t Jesus and Him alone, please allow me to share one more quick story that may get your attention:

The scene is the post resurrection “shoreline” encounter between Jesus and Peter. Jesus has asked Peter three times: “Do you love Me”? Peter answered each with the affirmative: “Yes Lord I love You”. The third time Peter, getting a little frustrated with the same question being repeated, responds differently with : “Yes Lord I would die for You”.

Jesus prophetically confirms what Peter has said with, and I paraphrase: “You are right Peter you will, and here’s how” referring to Peter’s upcoming crucifixion. Peter then turns to John and asks Jesus: “What about him”?

And here it is folks as Jesus responds to Peter’s query: “Who is he to you”? I paraphrase: He’s none of your business Peter, he’s My business. Poor Peter, always stepping in it. He had just been forgiven regarding the “denial” issue. I have an affinity to Peter so I can relate.

But I wonder if there isn’t a huge lesson in the story for us? Could it be that far too often we invest ourselves, with questionable motives, in things that aren’t our business and in doing so neglect that which is? Could it be that we sometimes go “looking for a reason” simply because we don’t happen to like someone, their denomination, or their ministry. Could it be that Jesus has given us something of importance to do and it’s being ignored as we choose to spend our time scrutinizing others as if thinking that “talent evaluator” is a legitimate ministry.

When we set off on our “fact finding missions” are we purposely blinded to the “good” we observe in order to stay focused on our desire to find fault. “Looking for a reason” is a “speck inspectors” addiction. Like a drug it satisfies the flesh while hiding itself in alternative Christian terminology. It’s not judging according to the participants, merely discerning. Boy we discern a lot! If we only loved as much as we discern! I think Jesus mentioned that as a commandment.

I’ve often wondered what the point might be, in that nothing changes based on one’s findings. I now believe the satisfaction is found in the “finding” not the “changing”.

The concluding statement in the scorching article spoken of, written by a very unwise and full of himself young man was this and it really does say it all: “It’s not so much what he said but what he didn’t say that is my problem”. Really? And who would you be?

Communications are like never before in the history of the world folks. Instant everything is on the menu for our perusal every minute.

The “death to self” teachings of Jesus and their application have never been more needed. We must pause before speaking or writing and ask ourselves this important question: Can I imagine Jesus saying or writing this? If we hesitate, more often than not the answer is no. If that be the case then perhaps it would be in everyone’s best interest to pass!

“Death to self” means: I’m not here to represent myself nor my opinions but rather the heart of Jesus, and His heart alone! That’s a serious calling folks!

Pharisaic spirits cannot be eliminated but they can be ignored. They exist in every building we attend on Sundays. They co-habit everywhere Jesus is. They followed Him two thousand years ago but not as “followers”. Nothing has changed!

In closing, a quick lesson on how to deal with them. Many years ago while attending a certain church, a young couple walked through the doors with their two little ones in tow. They looked ruff so I greeted them and stayed close throughout the service in that they were brand new to the church or any church for that matter. Post service I had the opportunity to hear their story which included drug rehab and all kinds of drama. It seems they were walking by the church and wondered if God could or would help them. Isn’t that amazingly and beautifully innocent! Nothing planned just hi God can you help us, we’re a mess but we don’t want to be.

Well, I assured them that God was very interested in their well-being and applauded their courage for walking through those doors. I gave them a hug and my phone number with an open invitation to call whenever they needed anything. And off they went with me thanking Jesus for the opportunity He had provided. Lovely story don’t you think but then it happened.

A long time lady attendee at the church came up to me and said: “I can’t believe what those people were wearing to church”, deeming it completely disrespectful. And then she asked me: “what do you think”?

Remember the story of the woman caught in adultery and the Pharisees wanting to stone her as they brought her before Jesus with the million dollar question: “What do you say”?

This felt kind of like that, leaving me wondering why I was being asked. So, I responded: “You can’t believe what they were wearing and I can’t believe you even noticed. That you did notice says far more about you, than what they were wearing says about them”. She never spoke to me again! That’s how you deal with a Pharisaic spirit!

As I rummaged through this despicable internet display of egos salivating over their pound of flesh, I thought to myself: Is this what Jesus had in mind for us when he hung on a cross? That His body would go out of their way to cannibalize each other in public for all the world to see!

Perhaps the spirit that drives those who participate in such behavior doesn’t much care what Jesus had in mind anymore that it cared that a man’s withered hand had been healed on the Sabbath. Having found their “speck”, their addiction is satisfied for another day. As they rejoice in their discovery, the world laughs at what they perceive as a galactically dis-functional faith.

A group of irrelevant, self-absorbed, “nit-pickers” who can’t get their act together long enough to truly care for a desperately needy world, sadly becomes our mantel of wearing. We, being seen as much too busy finding fault with each other to care for the lost, is the perception left for others to ponder. They wonder: If I do commit my life to Jesus, is this the monstrosity that awaits me? Those who don’t fit the mold of “speck inspectors” are left to explain those who do. Trying to explain the un-explainable can be an exhausting waste of valuable time.

In thinking themselves wise, they become fools! While promoting themselves as scripturally knowledgeable they conveniently ignore Paul the Apostle’s words of clarity: “The ONLY thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”. From the same pen: “If you have not love you have NOTHING”. Equally ignored is our Lord’s words: “By THIS they will know you are Mine if you love one another”.

Is it not fair to say, what I saw on the internet the other day, which is only the tip of the iceberg, can be correctly translated in this reverse fashion: By THIS “they” will know you aren’t mine!

My remaining concern: Will “they” be able to discern flesh from spirit? By God’s all-sufficient grace, I pray it would be so.

As for our young writer: He “demanded” an explanation regarding that which “wasn’t said” to his liking. There’s an old saying that rings true: “For those who demand explanations, none will suffice. For those who don’t, none is necessary”.

When we think things through, within the spirit of fairness ( fairness meaning no questionable motives ), we seldom need explanations! If we are simply looking for fault, we will find it. But I wonder if we are equally willing to use the same measuring device on ourselves as we do with others? Jesus said: As you have been treated by Me, treat others in the same manner.

Critical is The New Spiritual

It’s so very easy to sit behind the comfort and safety of our laptops constantly scrutinizing those in the spotlight. We judge, evaluate, and share our lofty opinions regarding their every syllable, while never having experienced the pressures of the spotlight ourselves. If God were to put us in their shoes, most of us including me, would fold up like a cheap suitcase in ten minutes. They would find us in the “fetal position” cowering in a corner somewhere! Let’s be honest, it’s true! Is it even imaginable what it would feel like having every word you “say” or “don’t say”, policed by the denominationally motivated religious elitists demanding that you explain yourself?

Church: Our faith is like none other. It was purchased on a cross through the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus and gifted to a group of unworthy sinners. A group we are now privileged members of “by grace”. We should be more cognisant of representing His sacrifice in a manner appropriately worthy of its worth and not dragging it into the gutter of back-biting.

God would have been legally “correct” in condemning us all to an eternity in hell. He certainly would have been justified in doing so but He chose to meet His holy requirements by being the fruition of those requirements Himself! His compassion for our hopeless state superseded His need to be correct and in doing so, remained “perfectly” correct. Jesus said: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”. Perfect in this context means to us: I have my feelings about certain things but they do not transcend nor have prominence over Your feelings Jesus. Thy opinion not mine! Thy love, not mine! Thy will, not mine!

Brothers and Sisters: We above all others, should walk and talk within the context of sweetly fragranced humility rather than the awful stench of fault-finding, prideful “arrogance”, keeping in mind, our first allegiance is not to ourselves nor our denominational affiliation, but rather to Christ and Christ alone! We aren’t here to justify any other “relevance” apart from His!

A recent quote I heard from a young man while sharing his parents advice as he embarked on his gospel music career: “Don’t honor God first, honor Him ONLY”. Powerful advice folks! It offers a simple antidote to the dilemma if so desired. Hopefully food for serious consideration! Bottom line and perhaps the greatest truth of all: We are called by God to inspire not inspect! Perhaps investing “more time” being thankful, will leave us “less time” to be critical?

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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