AUTHOR – BILL TAYLOR
COPYRIGHT 2017 – BILL TAYLOR
PUBLISHED BY BILL TAYLOR AT Shakespir
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Special thanks to Shila and Pragna for their encouragement and inspiration
I was born a citizen of Canada. At twenty seven I was “re-born”, and given by God a completely different citizenship. I was never encouraged to entertain dual-citizenship. There was a one for one exchange. I was inspired to emphatically surrender the old to fully embrace the new!
I had been “purchased” therefore owned by heaven. Heaven is where I actually belong. As we speak, I’m in the world but only as a sojourner. I’m simply passing through on my way HOME.
The Holy Spirit reminds me daily that my obvious sighted reality is not my truth. This world is not my home and I know it! It’s been said and correctly so: “Home is where the heart is”. As I think about that, I then understand my discomfort with my present residence. That’s not to be misconstrued as a complaint, but merely an acknowledgement of my understood eternal home.
The Apostle Paul explained it perfectly in Philippians 1 – 23 & 24 : “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far, but it is more necessary for you that I stay in the body”.
Radical With A Reason
Paul understood this world wasn’t his home nor did he invest himself in it as if it were. Oh its inhabitants as candidates for heaven no doubt, but not IT. The IT was no more than simply the geography he found himself walking on. The “why” he was here became his all-consuming fire! He was most certainly radical but not for the sake of radicalism. No, he had a reason! HOME!
The bible is clear: “Absent from the body is present with the Lord”: Repeated from Philippians: “Which is far better”! Until Paul had lost his sight, He had seen the resurrected Jesus for a short time on the Damascus Road.
He sincerely missed the visual and spent the rest of his life longing to see Jesus again! To Paul, heaven wasn’t so much a place but rather a Person! On that dusty Damascus Road, Paul had his heart stolen by Jesus and his home truly became where his heart was. Even though the Apostle committed the rest of his life to the peoples of this world, he never again invested in the place itself. His lot in life became irrelevant to him, as he walked and talked within his understanding of its temporal value and dismissed it as such. “I count it all as nothing”, would be his locked-in mindset.
The same Paul would leave us with this beautiful phrase of clarity, in Galatians 5 – 6: “The ONLY thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love”. Magnificent! Paul invested in his home and he knew this world wasn’t it! He was armed with the “surpassing worth” of knowing Christ! That made him radically dangerous to the religious leaders and politicians of his day. You see he couldn’t be intimated by the threat of worldly loss. Whatever the world withdrew from Paul, he considered himself to be “surpassingly” rich! He knew where his riches were. Safe and sound at HOME!
They say in all genres of “leaving”, the heart leaves first and eventually the body follows. Could there be a more appropriate description regarding Paul’s life? Paul’s heart left planet earth long before his body! He lived like a sojourner, not an inhabitant! Comparatively speaking he looked at the riches of this world with distain and most unworthy of his bent knee of adherence.
Colossians 3 – 1 > 4: “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not earthly things”. Not surprisingly, Paul wrote that!
Before Paul was Paul he was Saul. A massively prominent and greatly feared persecutor of the followers of Jesus. Arrests, imprisonments, and executions were his claim to fame. He proudly and with a red-hot zeal, hunted down Christians. That was his job! A job he enjoyed thoroughly.
And then he met Stephen! Oh I’m sure he didn’t know at the time that Stephen was anyone of special interest to him personally. He hated all Christians and Stephen would have been seen as no more or less important than “the next one” to be dealt with harshly.
Although the young Stephen was no small catch with his already established reputation, it was more than likely Peter, as the perceived ring leader of these Jewish outlaws. Being the first to preach at Pentecost will put you in the spotlight. I’m guessing there would have been a lot of: “Peter said”, going around town for the ears of the annoyed to hear!
But for Saul, Stephen would become his first “Thorn In the Flesh”. Better stated: “Thorn In The Spirit”! With Saul residing over Stephen’s stoning he is exposed to these words as a prayer from one who had already had his heart removed from the world and placed in its true, reality laden, residence: “ Father, do not hold this charge against them”. Unnaturally profound words spoken just before his body joined his heart!
Stephen, while already being spiritually gone was now totally absent, and left in a blaze of glory with his final words! Massive words that Saul would be unable to negotiate in his mind, as they haunted him all the way to the Damascus Road. The proud hunter Saul, was now the haunted! He would in due time encounter Jesus on the Damascus Road and become Paul, and the rest is history. Miraculous history!
Even though he lived much longer than Stephen, this young man described as, full of the Holy Spirit and grace with the face of an angel, left an indelibly inscribed template on his heart as to the value and spiritual freedom of detachment from the world with all its temporal offerings.
While being interrogated by the Sanhedrin just prior to his stoning, Stephen sees something no one else is privy to, and shares his vision in front of his already annoyed and disinterested false accusers.
Acts 7 – 55 & 56: “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus “standing” at the right hand of God. “Look” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man “standing” at the right hand of God”.
Even though Stephen said “Look” no one saw it. Far too attached to this world to see the divine, I’m thinking! I’m also wondering if Saul would have been present at Stephen’s inquisition. Could it be his sharing was for Saul’s benefit?
My sense is yes, in that Stephen was immediately dragged out of town to be stoned to death with Saul as the overseer of his death sentence. He had to be in close proximity to the event.
Perhaps the first of two God provided audios to be played over and over again by the Holy Spirit in Saul’s mind?
Interestingly, Stephen saw Jesus “standing” at the right hand of God. Usually in scripture, we read of Jesus “sitting”. Perhaps He was standing to welcome Stephen, HOME!
There has only been and will only be, ONE who has resided in heaven, came to earth to share its descriptives, and returned. He was in the beginning prior to creation, and in fact spoke the universe into being. Apart from His thirty three year walk on earth, Jesus has spent His entire, eternal, existence in heaven. It’s correct to say He’s an expert to the extreme in regards to this place we call “home”. He emphatically knows every square inch of heaven like no other. So I’m thinking, when Jesus speaks on the subject, it is in our collective best interest to pay heed, with our undivided attention!
Matthew 6 – 19 > 21: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moths and vermin destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.
Matthew 13 – 44: “The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it he hid it again and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought the field”.
Did you know that in the gospel of Matthew there are seventy six references to heaven! Jesus talked a lot about it! I think our Lord wanted us to think of heaven as our home long before we arrive. There should be an engrained sense of excited anticipation regarding our destination!
For that to be our earthly experience there must be a sense of detachment. A re-establishing of where our hearts are. A denying of one’s self , a picking up of one’s cross, and a following of the Creator of heaven and earth!
I wonder at times if we fully comprehend how Jesus spent His last three years on earth which was His time frame of ministry. He was introduced by John the Baptist at thirty and crucified at thirty three. He wasn’t nor ever was wealthy but his last three years is best described in Luke 9 – 57 & 58: As they were walking along the road, a man said to Jesus: “I will follow You wherever You go”: Jesus replied: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests but the son of Man has no place to lay His head”. Jesus wasn’t complaining but simply explaining what self-denial looks like. The early disciples would have lived the same way as they followed their leader! They were living what we sing: “I’d rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today”! Including a pillow! Talk about detached from the world and reattached to another and higher place! HOME!
True story we can all relate to. You know there are times when the things we give importance to can be transformed to instant irrelevance in a heartbeat, which should enlighten us to their true significance. I had one such experience back quite a while ago. I found myself in a moment I had never lived before. I was fifty seven and never really thought much about dying. I guess I was too busy enjoying life to entertain it. Heaven was my understood destination but it wasn’t like I was looking forward to it. These are the things we tend to ignore when all is well!
Twelve years ago I had a PSA test done and my count jumped abnormally high. My friendly doctor’s request for a biopsy ensued. With all due respect, I’m not fussy about doctors at the best of times, so it was quite the miracle that got me to agree. To be honest, that which would be involved in the procedure was dispensed on a “need to know” basis and my doctor felt the less I knew the better for all concerned. Well my biopsy felt like an autopsy without the dead part. Whew & Yike altogether!
I limped out of the lab feeling as thought I had been shot about a dozen times in the worst of places. Twelve samples? How big can a prostate be? I thought.
There would be an unavoidable follow up visit to hear the news regarding their findings a few weeks later. While trying to ignore the whole story until I “needed to know”, each day the fear of what might be, increased. I wanted to be emotionally prepared to hear either side of the end result. I had recently lost an acquaintance from prostate cancer so me laughing my way through this, wasn’t on the agenda.
The appointment date arrived and with my trusted support named Shila off we went. I don’t think I had ever felt so vulnerable in my life! A urologist was about to tell me something that could alter my entire existence! What ran through my mind during those moments leading up to my sit down with Dr. Woods was interesting and has never been forgotten.
All the things that so occupied my mind vanished in a second. I didn’t care about bank accounts or money or my X this or my X that. What will I tell my family if the news is bad, never crossed my mind. To this day I find that strange. So what was I thinking? I thought of my Mother and how courageously and victoriously she exited this earth draped in the dignity of heaven, after battling stomach cancer for three months. I was forty at the time of her graduation. She was excited and looking forward to seeing Jesus.
Now, I was fifty seven years of age and sitting in a doctor’s office thinking of nothing else but my sincere desire to emulate this incredible woman who had painstakingly throughout my life taught we how to live, but at forty, she taught me how to leave! It was all that mattered to me. To leave a testimony to the greatness of God and the reality of my purchased by Jesus HOME!
A very valuable lesson was learned that day as I entered the doctor’s private dwelling and sat down. I felt completely detached from whatever the results were and attached to my HOME. Not a single thought of “self” crossed my mind. I’ve tried to retain that mindset since. It feels good to consider others as better than yourself. When you think about it, isn’t that exactly the way Jesus lived. He didn’t come to be served but rather serve. When I adopt the role of servant it’s then I find my greatest freedom. It’s interesting how heaven’s way of living life, will always be diametrically opposite to that of the world and for that I’m thankful!
It was surreal and spiritually significant simultaneously. In short: I felt free from the things that had made themselves a distraction from where my focus should have been all along. I learned: The things you possess to tightly, may very well end up possessing you!
As it turned out, my fears were unfounded and the results came back fine but I wouldn’t trade those moments in the doctor’s office for all the money in the world!
It’s too bad that biopsy couldn’t have been skipped in the process! Part of the cost of revelation I suppose.
I have a home and this isn’t it. I don’t want to live as if it is! Things above are far more real than anything below! I want to be real! I want every day to count as if it’s my last. In doing so, I’ll be able to easily leave in comfort. Already detached, God won’t have to tear me off this planet!
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