Friday, September 30, 2005


Two of the sweetest people I know are Pam and Marcy. Two sisters who grew up in Brazil and learned to love and serve the Lord Jesus in the process. Their father, Byron McCartney, is in heaven and I am sure he is proud. Their mom, Ruth McCartney, is in Hollywood, Florida and I know she is proud, too.

This morning when Marcy arrived in Brazil to visit with us it was such a wonderful moment to see these two sisters enjoying what God has done in their lives. Their lives have not been easy but they have become women of God through everything.

There should be some kind of an award given to great sisters. If there were, I would nominate these two for sure.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I am on my way to counsel a young pastor who recently fell into temptation and sin. He is a wonderful young man with a great wife and son. He is also a broken man who is being deeply loved by the church where he sinned.
Counseling this young man has forced me to see up close and personal the impact of such a sin on the entire world of a young family, a church and all of his friends. One would think this kind of firsthand knowledge of the power and pain of sin would be enough to stop any of us--including me--from sinning. It is not.

We must be delivered from sin. We cannot overcome it. We cannot control it. We must pray each day that God would not lead us anywhere near it and He would deliver us from it.

I think God left Israel in Egypt for 400 years so they, as a people, would know without a doubt that they could not deliver themselves from their slavery. God leaves us to deal each day with our flesh to teach us the same thing. I cannot deliver myself.

I think Jesus said we should cut off our hand and pluck out our eye when we find we cannot control our sinful desires to illustrate that we need solutions that are painful, public and permanent in order to ever deal with what causes us to sin.

This young man is now very hurt, very public and very permanently marked by this sin. He is in a good place now. He is ready and willing to be constantly delivered. I, too, need to join him in his weakness or I could also join him in this kind of pain.
It is by the grace of God any of us stays away from sin. We have been delivered. We have not conquered.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Yesterday I attended a funeral service for an 82 year old member of our church here in Brazil. She was a very deeply respected member of the church, our city and the Japanese immigrant community. In the state where Pam and I live there are over 2 million Japanese immigrants who have been coming to Brazil over the past 80 years.

During our brief time here I did not get to know this tiny, yet powerful woman of God. At her funeral I learned that she was a very influential woman. It was obvious by the crowd and by the comments. This very petite woman had true power that came from her walk with God.

I often reflect on Jesus' words about the greatest in the Kingdom of God being a servant or like a little child. Yesterday's funeral was an illustration of how true influence often appears weak in this world. The pastor who conducted the funeral recalled how this woman's feet never hit the ground when she would sit each week in the same chair at church. Her frame was small but her life was large.

I would like to think I really understand this weak being strong teaching of Jesus. I know this little woman understood it much better than I. I could tell by the crowd and the comments. Even in death she was influential.

Sunday, September 25, 2005


I remember being told when I was in my early 20's that a man who managed to have more than one or two friends was a rich man. At that time I thought that kind of evaluation of finding and keeping friends was pretty pessimistic. I have since seen that for many people the presence of true friends is indeed a difficult accomplishment.

I have learned over the years that the developing of friendships has a lot to do with shared intentions. Once we have our life intentions truly formed it seems like those intentions are what attrract friends that stay. Intentions are a powerful force for creating enemies or friends. Enemies read your intentions as a threat while friends read your intentions as an inivitation to come closer.

This past week Pam and I were surrounded by people with intentions like ours. We were surrounded by people who intend each day to glorify God with their lives. The interesting thing was the range of age, social status, education and nationality that existed among those whose intentions drew them together.

As we followed this week's path of Glorifying God we became friends with Brian and Jayne Mentzer from the Riverdale Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. Brian is the Senior Pastor of the church and Chancellor of the Christian School there in Maryland. This was Brian's fourth trip to Brazil to bless Brazilian pastors and their wives. Anyone who intends to love Brazilian pastors and their wives is one the page with our intentions!

Pam and I ended up hosting Brian and Jayne for a few days here in Sao Jose because Russ and Diane Dean, fellow missionaries and dear intentional friends, had to return to the States for medical treatment. So, out of nowhere we became friends with Brian and Jayne. We became friends because our intentions matched and God created the friendship.

We also renewed friendships with Gary and Janet Tomberlin. Pam and Janet both arrived in Brazil in the early 1950's.
I have know Gary since the mid 70's. We are intentional friends. We know and care for one another because we have mutual intentions in Jesus.

Thursday night Pam and I hosted a small group with 7 couples in a home here in our neigborhood. The host home is the Cardoso home. We have been friends with the Cardoso family for 25 yeears. Once again, our intentions drew us together.

This morning Pam and I attended a get together for the telephone ministry of our church. We met a whole new group of friends whose intentions match ours. We made some new friends today.

I think friendship is not as hard as we make it. If we would simply get our intentions on glorifying God we would soon find that friends are made by sharing intentions. If your intention is to get friends you might want to switch your intentions to glorifying God.
The results will surprise you. You will be surrounded by intentional friends and they will last a lifetime because the glory of God is the most powerful of all forces to bind people together.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

the same

Have you ever considered trying to keep something the same a challenging goal? For me, most of my life has been about trying to make things better--not the same.
Today I woke up to the thought in Hebrews 13:8 that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. The verse in Matthew 10 that says it is enough that a disciple be as his teacher speaks to the same issue. To always be be the same is quite an accomplishment.
To be able to forgive 70 x 7 is to be the same. To be able to turn the other cheek and go the extra mile is to be the same. To be loving others--even enemies-- no matter what is happening is to be the same. By their same fruit you will know them.

I was given a beautiful potted plant for my office when I arrived here in Brazil. Poor plant! For a plant to be given to Bud McCord is a death warrant. I always forget to water them and give them light. Even so, they never change. They keep trying to please me and produce beauty in my office. They don't judge me or hate me. They remain the same. They keep on being what God intended no matter what I do. They suffer and they may even die, but the will be the same from start to finish.

I am going to spend the rest of my life trying to be the same--the same as Jesus. That will be enough.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The power of a lie

Pam and I are living with an interesting situation right now. All of our material possessions are in the port city of Santos in a 20 foot container. It is strange to be our age and have everything we own reduced to a container! We are living in a nearly vacant apartment in a nice building, but we have nothing that regularly reminds us of our past.

Aparently what is holding up our container is a lie. Either the people in Miami are lying or the lawyer here is lying. Either way, our past is held up by a lie. Until the lie is revealed and resolved we will have to live with what we have today.

I know God has allowed this but it is still a really strange to be so impacted by one lie. I am beginning to realize the power of a single lie to hold up things we desire to have in our daily lives.

The whole world is held up by multiple lies. Jesus is the truth. When we listen to him, little by little we regain what has been held up in the corrupt world system.

When we receive our things it will be like Christmas. Kind of reminds me of what it has felt like in my life every time some lie that has held me captive has been destroyed by the truth in Jesus. It is like someone finally gave me a beautiful present which had been held up by some lie.

Can you imagine what it will be like to live in a place where there are no lies? We won't need customs at all!

Friday, September 16, 2005

The education of our faith

Oswald Chambers once observed "God orchestrates our circumstances to educate our faith." He does! Every day He brings events into our lives to teach us to receive from Him with an ever more open heart.

Yesterday I was in Sao Paulo to do a radio interview with the people from VOZ CRISTA, a brazilian radio team based in Miami.
I have been recordiing weekly broadcasts in Portuguese for the past two years with Edson Bruno who has a 3 hour a day live broadcast to all of Brazil over shortwave and internet radio. It was a God orchestrated moment for me to be able to connect with Edson here in Brazil so we could work out details to keep my prograrm on the air.

As I arrived at the radio booth in the convention center where hundreds of Brazilian Christian ministries were sharing their ministries and materials, I unexpectedly ran into Pastor Juan Romero. Juan Romero is from Mexico and he has spent his entire life preaching all over Latin America. His daughter, Aurora, is a member at First Baptist in West Hollywood.

We gave each other a huge Brazilian-Mexican hug and stood there amazed that we would meet in a city of 20 million!
He was giving an interview at the same time I was to arrive at the booth. Juan is 76 years old and still preaching. He had just arrived from an all night flight and was there ready to work.

God orchestrated my meeting with Edson and Juan. God is educating my faith. You can be sure He educatiing yours, too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A dream

It was on this date last year that God clearly revealed to me that He wanted us back in Brazil. I was returning from speaking in a conference in Brazil when God confirmed this dream in my heart. At the moment it became clear to me I was flying back to Miami somewhere high above the amazon jungle. Those who know me well know that I don't like to fly. The good news about flying is I pray a lot.

The dream God confirmed in my heart was to help Brazilian believers--especially pastors and their wives--learn to lead while abiding. I know from personal experience that leading from abiding is the most powerful way to influence others for God's glory. God has burned this message into my life and I want to share it here in Brazil.

A part of the dream is to have a place in the mountains where people from Brazil and around the world can come and learn more about the abiding life of Jesus. Pam and I have been dreaming of such a place for several years now.

Yesterday Pam and I drove up to the mountains to pray and dream. Will you pray and dream with us? Someday such a place will become a reality, Lord willing.

Monday, September 12, 2005

It is true!

I know that everything that Jesus said is true. I have believed that ever since I began to follow Him.
Over the years I have had the wonderful experience of not only believing what Jesus said is true but also experiencing what He said as true.

Thirty four years ago my wife made certain promises to me and I believed them. Now I can say I have experienced what she said as true. The same has happened with the promises Jesus made to me when I began following Him in 1967.

One example is the promise Jesus made to anyone who would leave mother, father, family, friends or homeland. (See Mark 10:28-31) He said we would find ourselves with a life that was filled with much more than we left behind. In fact, He said we would keep what we left and gain in the process. After all these years I can say it is true.

My life and the life of my entire family would be much poorer if we had not left when Jesus asked us to leave. Today I could literally find a place to sleep, eat and enjoy deep relationship all over the world-so could my children. The reason is leaving. Leaving must be the closest thing to dying that we experience this side of death itself. When we leave it feels like we will never get back what we are leaving behind.

I was greatly influenced in my youth by the staement of Jim Elliot "He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." He was right. We are also no fools to leave when everything we truly want to have depends on it.

Jesus said a grain of wheat must fall into the earth and die. Only then will it bear fruit. It must leave where it is to come back with so much more.

This weekend my life grew richer because of leaving. My family's life will becme richer because we left and they let us leave.
I have some new family friends. Three from Nigeria. Justin Adams, the worship leader from Saddleback Valley Community Church in California. Gerald Sharon, one of the lead pastors with Rick Warren. I would never have met these dear brothers apart from leaving. My entire family just expanded!

Jesus always tells the truth. Over time we get to experience it firsthand.

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Here at the First Baptist Church of Sao Jose dos Campos we are in the middle of our annual worship conference. This year over 1,100 delegates from all over Brazil are participating. The energy is off the charts. If you have trouble with volume do not come to Brazil! Everything in Brazil is young and noisy. Your ears will never be bored.

Yesterday a young pastor gave a message that took the idea of pastoral transparency to a whole new level. Honestly, I have never heard anyone be so open about their battle with sin. I would tell you what he said, but I am not that transparent!

Seriously, as he spoke I think I understood more clearly than ever what Jesus meant when he told us to "cut off a hand" or "pluck out an eye." If we did, our weakness would be clear to us and everyone else who ever met us. As the young Brazilian pastor spoke I felt embarrassed for his weakness but at the same time I felt he had dealt with it just as Jesus had told him to.

He made his weakness obvious to all and he clearly stated that his weakness could never bring him any satisfaction.
One thing is for sure about our "flesh". It never gets better. If it did we would not need to "cut" and "pluck". We would "train" and "manage". The young Brazilian pastor had tried to "train" and "manage" his sin. He failed. It was time for the knife and the forceps. He used them!

I, too, have had to learn to see my flesh as unchangeable. It will never go away until I am in Jesus' presence and it will never satisfy me here or anywhere else. I, too, have had to "cut" and "pluck". Self help is no help.

Picture yourself standing in front of a table loaded with all your favorite desserts. You know you should not eat them but your hands keep picking up more and more. Now, picture yourself without hands. Everyone who saw you standing at the table without hands would know you had given up on self discipline and gone for a more deadly dealing with your lust for food. The young Brazilian pastor stood before us with no hands and no eyes. He was a totally transparent sinner but he was in the light.

When he gave the invitation for others to come forward and confess their weakness, the altar was full. Transparency was everywhere and in the spiritual realm their was a lot of "cutting" and "plucking" going on.

It was really wonderful to see how this man's weakness was used of God to bring strength to others. I guess we are always impressed when the weak are made strong by weakness. Kind of reminds me of the Cross!

Are your weaknesses transparent to you? That is the place to begin. You may never need to give a discourse on living without hands and eyes before a thousand people, but those closest to you need to know you have dealt with your weakness according to Jesus' method not man's methods. Your flesh will never change, but there is a new you that is born of God that is connected to the Vine and will produce much fruit as you allow the words of Jesus to do the cutting and the plucking they most certainly will do. "You are already clean by the Word I have spoken to you." Jesus John 15

Friday, September 09, 2005

Course on counseling

I have never considered myself a great counselor. You can imagine my surprise when upon arriving in Brazill I was assigned a 16 week course entitled "counseling".

I accepted the challenge as from the Lord and I have been pleasantly surprised by the response of the nearly 60 Brazilians taking the course. We are all learning together. We are learning that the greatest of all counselors lives in each of us. If we will simply receive His wisdom, we can be of help to hurting people.

Once again, my desire to control was getting in the way of my availability to those in need. It is truly a blessing to still be learning and growing at age 54. I think leaving one's country makes learning come alive again. Maybe you should try it, too!
Even a short missions trip will work.

Take a missions trip. That's my counsel. See, I can counsel!


There is something very special about being welcomed. It is one of those special moments in life to be included by a group of people who really want you to be there.

When we arrived in Brazil on August 15th, 2005 we were welcomed by over 100 people after 10 P.M. on a cold Brazilian night.
We had left our country and family in the morning and we were feeling the pain. The welcome by such a loving group of people made the pain easier to bear.

Someday we will be welcomed into heaven. To be included there will be awesome.


As God has continued to work in my life certain things have become more and more clear over time. One thing that has become clear to me is the difference between a desire to receive versus a desire to control.

My desire to control is self-protective and completely contrary to the life of Jesus. Jesus clearly accomplished what He did by receiving from the Father and not by seeking to manage or control the lives of other people. In simple terms, Jesus was a servant not a master.

One would think that ministers, like me, would get this very clearly in their minds and make servanthood their calling. Unfortunately, the lust to control is too strong in leaders. We think we know too much and we feel we must control others for their own good--translation---our own good.

This desire to control is a subtle and dangerous form of legalism. I once felt legalism was easily spotted by watching out for people with conservative styles in music, dress and entertainment. I was wrong. The most dangerous form of legalism is found in those who appear to be open, generous and contemporary. Their openness, generosity and up-to-date life is really just a cover for their desire to build their own kingdom.

As is always the case, the reason I can see this so clearly is because I have at times been a legalist with contemporary styles. It takes one to really know one.
(Remember Jesus' words about taking the log out of your own eye?)

Here are a few signs of a contemporary legalist.
1. They have no sincere questions. They only have answers--answers for everything and everyone.
2. They think they know what God's will is for you. God agrees with them--always.
3. They will flatter you as long as you are changing according to plan. If you stop changing you become excess baggage and the object of their public prayers and concern while at the same time the object of their private scorn.
4. They love institutions that they control and the people who will serve the institution--translation--love their agenda.
5. They protect the church--translation--they protect their area of control.

What should one do with a legalist? Absolutely nothing. They are not listening and any attempt you make to change them is seen as a threat and an obvious sign you are out of God's will. Just remember that no legalist has ever succeeded over the long haul. Those who crucified Jesus were legalilsts and no one remembers their name.
Don't bother sharing precious spiritual truth with a legalist. (Remember Jesus' words about pearls and swine?)

He is the good news. Legalists are useful to God's purposes. Eventually they serve to help free people from the lust of control. As we see how ugly such control really is, we can be freed by God from this recurring lust.

Legalists are always internally tired. Controlling others is very tiring because the job is never done. Many legalists become great tools in God's hands after their conversion from legalism. (Remember Peter with the sword on the night of Jesus' arrest? He was a legalist that night, but he was converted)

I think I will start a group called LA--Legalist Anonymous--care to join? The only requirement is to be able to say "I failed to control anyone--especially me--and now I want to receive, rejoice and release instead of controlling."

Friday, September 02, 2005


Today was one of those memorable days. Since it was so memorable, why is it I will not remember it like I should?
God was super evident in today's happenings. If he isn't tomorrow, why won't I remember today like I should and behave like Jesus would?
It frustrates me that my memory of God's love and provision seems to slip from my memory so easily. God has made Himself so evident to me that my memory banks should be full.

I suppose the proof of growth in one's spiritual life is to be able to behave like Jesus when God's love is not evident.
I am in training as one of Jesus' disciples. I am being trained to trust God when He is not evident in ways that I would like.

Today was one of those days when God was highly visible in my life. I pray my memory will not fade as quickly as the next tough day. God's patience is unlimited. It is a good thing!