Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Receptivity and Gratitude


At the moment of our conception we are what we have received through no merit of our own. We have arrived in this world having decided nothing, sustained nothing and done nothing. All we have done is receive well.

Whatever we are are at that moment of our conception is the biological best we have received from those who conceived us.  From this unique beginning called ‘me’  I move outward into my experience of this world while continuously finding myself supported by things I did not produce and things I do not sustain. I breath air I did not create or sustain. I drink water I did not create or sustain.  I eat food I did not create or sustain.  I live and move among others who were brought to life here and sustained by others as I have been.

To not acknowledge my debt to things and people I did not create and I do not sustain is the most basic of sins against reality. And it is from this lack of gratitude for what we have received that so many evils grow in us and around us.  Where a spirit of ingratitude is strong, so is sin which is the inability to love as one should love.  

Where love stops ingratitude is always in the background.

Regardless of one’s vision of life and reality can anyone truly defend a human spirit that has no gratitude?  Would it be too much to ask all humans to be grateful for the good things they have not created or sustained?

A society that is not thankful wants to die while God wants us to live.
 “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God concerning you.” I Thess. 5:18

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Conversion


"You must be born again"
John 1:17

The first contact with Jesus always produces an initial conflict.  To be face to face with God's love in flesh and blood has always been like coming out of a darkened room into the blazing sun at noon. It hurts our spiritual eyes!  To be in the presence of Jesus and have Him looking at us for the first time is always a shock. 

Contact with Jesus calls our own existence and behavior into question. When our existence and behavior are called into question, it is normal for us to want to rush back into the dark and shut the door.  We may even want to attack the light which is hurting our own view of ourselves. 

Many people who call themselves Christians have never moved from contact and conflict with Jesus to conversion.  They shade their eyes and say they have given themselves to Christ yet at the center of their spiritual lives the room is still dark and their eyes remain closed.  Until Jesus has access to our center and we let His light in we, will never experience a new birth conversion.  We must invite Him into our darkened center.

 Jesus will only truly have us and we will only truly have Jesus when we meet Him in the light at the very center of our life.  Conversion is a new history lived in the light with Jesus at the center.  Half measures only make us miserable.  Jesus needs to be formed in us over time as we adjust to the light.

A cry from the center that says "Jesus is Lord!"  is a sign of conversion and Holy Spirit revelation.  Conversion belief is more than mental assent to ideas about Jesus.  Conversion belief is to commit to Jesus like one  saying  to the noon day sun, "Come on inside with me. I desperately need you at the center."


Give Him the center and you will be free.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Repentance


"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Matthew 4:17

Repentance is an admission and an adjustment.  When we repent we admit we have personally behaved in a way that offends God and the reality He has prepared for us.  We admit we have been headed away from God and away from reality. When we repent we also make an adjustment in direction. We turn toward God and the reality He created for us and away from the lies about God and reality that we have been living.

When Jesus called His first followers He simply said "Follow Me."  Whether they understood completely or not the disciples were repenting as they followed Jesus. It is impossible to avoid repentance while following and adapting to Jesus.  It is impossible to avoid repentance while following Jesus because Jesus is the reality we have offended with our wrong thinking and actions.

To become a disciple is to admit and adapt to what is true in Jesus.  Jesus is not a new idea. Jesus is the reality of what has always been and will always be best for us. Jesus is what is supernaturally natural in the universe. All true repentance is made possible because Jesus came near to walk among us so we could walk back toward God together.

The longer we walk with Jesus the more we perceive how much admitting and adapting lies ahead for us. As maturing  disciples we settle in for the long walk back to what is supernaturally natural with Jesus.  Being a disciple of Jesus is not boring!  Every day something is shown to us in Jesus and adapting to what we now see keeps us engaged and growing.


There is no going back once we truly see where Jesus is taking us.  In Jesus it is all good up ahead. There is no good reason to go back.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, March 02, 2017

One Greater



Matthew 12:6

In our search for answers we accept the fact that we must be open to finding something greater than what we now consider great. We understand that one great discovery will probably lead to another great discovery, so we adjust.  When we stop adjusting we run the risk of rigid boredom. Remember typewriters?  They were great, but now...

What we now consider great can, in fact, be great but not the greatest.  To find out that what we think is great is not the greatest does not mean we abandon entirely what we now consider great.  We adjust.

Coming from Miami, where even a small hill seems like a mountain, when I first saw the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee, I thought they were great. Then I saw the mountains of Colorado!  I didn't lose my admiration for the Smokey Mountains.  They are still great, but as mountains go they are put into perspective by the mountains of Colorado.  I am sure there are other greater mountains beyond Colorado so I am prepared to adjust even more when I see them.

Jesus, on the other hand, is the final greatness when it comes to human beings.  There may be many great people we meet along the way.  Jesus, however, is the final demonstration of   what human greatness looks like.  Some of the people of Jesus' day missed His greatness and would not adjust. They preferred the Temple. How sad for them!

I am sure I have not even begun to know just how great Jesus is, but I am happy to know beyond Him there is no greater human greatness. This fact gives me comfort, focus and excitement about continuing to adjust to Him.

I have been adjusting to Jesus' greatness for over 50 years and I feel my admiration of Him growing day by day.  I believe I will never get to the end of greatness no matter how long I adjust.  The Jesus I see is never rigid or boring!

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Seven "Bottom Line" Thoughts



Every believer has the entire Christian life living in them right now.
Christ is all and is in all.
Colossians 3:11

The only way to grow the quality and the reach of our love is to grow in Christ as the center of our life.
"My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in in you..."
Galatians 4:19          

There is a difference between my soul and my spirit. My spirit is sealed and secure in eternal  connection to Jesus. My soul is imperfect and in the process of learning to love again.
Hebrews 4:12
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

There is nothing the presence of Christ in me cannot cure.
John 7:37-38
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.

Jesus is my life, therefore, my life is perfect.  The sum of my experience in this world is far from perfect, therefore, my experience in this world is not my life.  
Philippians 1:21
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
John 16:33
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will[a] have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Whatever gets my attention gets me.
Matthew 6:22-23
“The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Underestimating Jesus leads me to my greatest losses.
John 15:5

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Jesus - Invitation or Innovation?



For many people Jesus was simply a teacher of moral innovations and an agent of change.  Many people give Jesus credit as one of history’s most influential moral forces and innovators. Attributing to Jesus any power or sustainability beyond his ideias and innovations does not fit the modern view of Jesus. He died, they say, but his ideias and innovations live on among all the other competing ideias and innovations.

People who see Jesus in this way have never come to grips with the Jesus of history or the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible and history never called people to his ideas and innovations. and he never said he was an innovator ready to compete.

Jesus called people to Himself not  to His ideias.  In fact, He did not traffic in ideas or innovations. He stated facts over which he claimed to have total authority given to Him from His Father. He was singularly focused on His own facts as the facts that matter.

Perhaps to best way to see Jesus is as a personal, loving invitation given  to each of us written in flesh and blood.  Everything Jesus said and did is an invitation to us to come home to the original idea the Creator has always had for humanity which is Jesus.  Jesus embodied this original human ideal and turned it into a personal invitation to live Him.

One does not evaluate the ideas of an invitation. One evaluates the one who invites.  Take a good look at Jesus. See Him and listen closely to Him.  If He appears to be generous, loving and caring, say ´yes´ to His invitation.  There will never be a better one that comes to us.  He is the God we all hoped exists!


Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Will of God




Doing the will of God is food for the human soul and for human strength and development.  We were created to do God's will and in the process live well.  Not doing God’s will  may be normal for humans at this time in human experience, but sin entered human experience as something unnatural when humanity failed to do God’s will.  Doing the will of God is what was once natural for human beings.  Adam and Eve tasted the food  and strength of doing God's will before they tasted temptation's illusion and pain.

When Jesus said doing the will of His Father was His food, He was saying doing the will of God is good and sustaining for humanity.  Jesus showed us what should be normal for humanity. Normal is doing God's will every day just like we need to eat every day.

We are surrounded then by unnatural human behavior that the Bible calls "sin".   Sinning adds nothing to life, but it most certainly subtracts from life.  Sin does not feed anyone. Sin steals food from life and moves us closer to death.

As we abide in Christ we begin to experience Jesus' continuous flow of life and love passing to us and through us as fruit.  When doing the will of God becomes as natural as eating we are heading  back to normal in the Kingdom of God.


Bud McCord
Abide International