Friday, February 27, 2015

Jesus’ Love - Invincible and Vulnerable


What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 
Romans 8:31-39

The earliest Christians understood that their conversion to Christ was a conversion to invincibility and vulnerability. They understood that love would never again be only an option in their lives which were rooted in Jesus. They knew the invincible love of Jesus would also be their vulnerability in this world.

Since the beginnings of Christianity in Jesus’ incarnation and sacrificial love for us at Calvary, disciples of Jesus have been taught that to love with His love is to be continuously invincible and vulnerable. All disciples have been taught that they will carry a cross. All disciples who love with Jesus’ love do carry a cross. Whenever any disciple loves with Jesus’ love they are both invincible and vulnerable in this world.

There is, however, a difference in begin taught that love makes one invincible and vulnerable in the world and actually living this reality in the face of cultural and religious violence toward Christians. There is a great gulf between a Bible study about the invincibility and vulnerability of living Jesus’ love and living both during expulsion from one’s home and rejection from one’s culture.

Some verses in the Bible and some stories of Christian persecution can only be truly understood when the reality of living the invincibility and vulnerability of Jesus’ love comes to where we live. And it always comes in some form because it is the normal Christian life.

Jesus showed us that His love makes us invincible and it also makes us vulnerable. Only those who see His love in them as invincible will be able to endure the levels of vulnerability that have come to our time. We knew this time for us would come. It is here.
 


Bud McCord
Abide International

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Rooted



As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.Col. 2:6-7


The health and development of a tree depends on its capacity to receive all it needs from its root system. The tree must be deeply rooted in its source of life to be all it can be. The quality of a tree depends on its roots and receptivity.

In the Christian life the disciple must be rooted deeply in Jesus to live and manifest the Christian life. The Christian life is 100% Jesus and only those rooted deeply in Him can live His life.

Author E. Stanley Jones who was a missionary in India for over 50 years speaks of a process the Japonese people developed to control the development of certain beautiful trees by limiting the normal receptivity of the tree’s taproot.

In the forest the trees grew tall. Because of their height the beautiful trees could not be used as decorative trees for home gardens. The Japonese farmers discovered they could limit the tree’s growth by tying off its taproot. Less receptivity meant less height.

Jones saw in this practice of tying off the taproot a perfect illustration of modern Christianity. He could see that the world had discovered how to tie off the taproot of Christians and domesticate them for the world’s use. Without deep roots in Jesus the Christians could never hope to attain the stature of Jesus.

To be an authentic manifestation of Jesus in our world there must be nothing that interferes with the taproot of our spirit going down deeply into the life of Jesus. We must be forever rooted deeply in all that Jesus is.

We were not born again and connected to Jesus to be decorative trees for the world’s gardens. We were born and rooted in Jesus by the Spirit to reach His beauty and height. We were born for the forest of liberty in Christ and not for the gardens of men.

 


Bud McCord
Abide International

Monday, January 26, 2015

Face to Face with Jesus



Yesterday I had the privilege of helping a lady at church have a face to face encounter with Jesus where she accepted Him as her Savior.  To hear her pray to receive Jesus’ forgiveness and life was truly an emotional and special moment.  I believe leading another person to see Jesus face to face and receive Him as Savior and Lord is one of life’s greatest joys.

Once again I realized that all God asks of me as a believer and as a pastor is to take each person to a face to face meeting with Jesus.  I must never get between Jesus and the person I am leading to Him.  For Christianity to work, there must always remain an unobstructed view of Jesus.  All I do is lead people to Jesus and leave them focused on Him.

This morning I left my car with a mechanic and called a taxi to  bring me home.  As I talked to the young taxi driver I took him toward a face to face meeting with Jesus.  I was surprised how easy it was to get beyond issues like churches and dishonest pastors and finally arrive at Jesus.  I was deeply impressed at how much he wanted to focus on Jesus and make his own decision about Christianity.

I told Him Jesus is all the Christianity there ever was or ever will be.  I told him he could never go wrong if He focused on Jesus and chose Him as all of Christianity.

As I paid my fare I gave him my cell phone number and said I would love to continue our conversation about Jesus.  I know he was face to face with Jesus as we drove the crazy streets of São Paulo
.
Now I pray that other disciples who are willing to focus him on Jesus will be led to him and not obstruct his view of Jesus.

I believe millions of people are waiting for someone to lead them to an unobstructed view of Jesus.  I pray that all of us who believe Jesus is all will be led to all of them.


Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying,
“Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” John 12:21

 


Bud McCord
Abide International

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One Elevator A Day



I do not like elevators.  When I enter an elevator I feel closed in and anxious.  I know I am not the only person who feels this anxiety. One elevator a day is more than enough for me.

I discovered that I do not have anxiety in every elevator.  I feel anxious in elevators that are completely closed to the outside world.  If I enter an elevator that has a view to the outside of the building I feel no anxiety.  I am totally calm.  The elevator can even stop between floors and I am fine.

The perspective we have during our day to day reality really does impact our level of anxiety.  When people like me who do not like elevators find one that has a view we are fine. No view to the outside equals anxiety.

Everyone feels some level of anxiety during their day.  All of us eventually feel closed in and anxious.  Everyone has their “elevator a day.” One’s “elevator” may be public speaking, traffic, doctor’s visits or just leaving home.  It is when we are going into our “elevator a day”  that we must look beyond our immediate environment for relief.

Someone described faith as “opening the window of the soul in God’s direction.”
I agree!  Opening our soul in God’s direction when our “elevator a day” appears before us is our daily cure for anxiety.

Each day will have its “elevator.”  Open the window of faith and you will win the battle one day at a time.

 
 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matthew 6:33-34


Bud McCord
Abide International

Saturday, January 10, 2015

“Je Suis Charlie” “I am Charlie”




A terror attack against free speech rocked France as 2015 stumbles to a violent start.

The staff of a small magazine dedicated to satire and stinging social commentary was killed in a burst of gunfire.  France’s passion for free speech came under attack.

Almost immediately the French people took to the streets declaring “I am Charlie”.
They painted a bullseye on themselves and said we now are the ones you killed. Come for us!

Everyone holding a “I am Charlie” sign knows that they are not the ones who died.  Everyone knows, however, that for those who died to live on thousands upon thousands will need to live on as lives of free speech just like the lives that were so violently taken.

This explosive social reaction signals a change in the landscape of Europe and perhaps the world.  From the death of freedom of expression  in some comes life of expression in others.  Only time will tell if the fervor of the moment will last and reverse terrorism’s  advance across the world.

As I watched these incredible moments unfold in Paris,  I found myself  thinking of Jesus’ crucifixion at the hands of sinful men 2000 years ago.  He was brutally killed in an awful public display of hate for God’s presence and love.  His only “crime” was love.

There was no immediate street demonstration for Jesus on the day of His death.  It took well over a month before His small group of followers would stand openly in Jerusalem and say  “We are Jesus!”.

All who stood for Jesus in Jerusalem painted a cross on themselves and said “Come for us!” They knew they were not really Jesus but they knew He was living in them and wanted to express Himself through them.

Nearly 2000 years later as disciples  of Jesus we are still here publicly saying to the world that Jesus’ death was not an end but a beginning.  Every disciple is a manifestation of His life .

“Le Suis Jesus!”  “I am Jesus!"

Lift up your cross publicly and say “Come for me!"

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20

“For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Phil. 1:20




Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Starting Point




Habits are hard to break.  Once we settle into a habitual pattern of behavior it is as if that pattern takes control of us. We would like to think we are still choosing the behavior but any attempt to stop the behavior lets us know that something has settled in and we are now tied to the behavior.

What has “settled in” is not the habit but the power of a starting point.  As humans we were meant to live with God as our starting point.  We were created to begin each day settled into God. 

When Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of God and evil they opened the door to hundreds of  potential starting points.   The history of humanity is the sad story of the failure of all of these starting points apart from God.  They just do not start and sustain life.

When Jesus called His first disciples to follow Him, He was offering Himself as the new starting point for humanity.  He was calling us to break the old habit of starting at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and begin again to start in God. 

There is a direct link between the quality of our life and what we choose as our starting point.  There is a direct link between Jesus and life because He is the tree of life-the starting point.


Start each day with words that establish Jesus as your starting point.  Even before you get out of bed say  “Jesus, you are welcome here in me!”  Let Jesus become the habit you do not want to break.  He is life!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

This Christmas Do Not Underestimate Jesus




No one knows for sure how many people actually held in their arms the baby Jesus.
What we do know for sure is that none of them fully understood the quality of the life they held in their arms.

There is one story in the book of Luke where an elderly Jewish man received from the Holy Spirit a revelation of at least a part of Jesus' true worth.

And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,  he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
And Joseph and His mother[h] marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.  Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Luke 2:25-25


Simeon did not know everything about Jesus but he did not underestimate him.  He confidently spoke what He knew was true of the child he held in his arms.

Every disciple of Jesus holds Jesus in the arms of their interior life.  Every disciple is a Bethlehem where the presence of Jesus rests waiting to be revealed.

This Christmas ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you exactly who it is that you hold with the arms of  your inner life.  He will.

To underestimate Jesus is the greatest mistake we can make as humans.  We may not know all that He is but what we have received from the Holy Spirit about Him we can affirm this Christmas.

This Christmas do not underestimate Jesus.  He is all and is in all who believe. Hold Him and declare what you know.


 

Bud McCord
Abide International