Thursday, July 26, 2007

July-August Update


ABIDE Prayer and Praise
August 2007


o We have completed two years in Brazil and have our permanent visas. God is good!

o Better health has replaced a phase of physical challenges.

o Construction in the mountains is coming to a beautiful conclusion.

o Publishing projects are just about finished and ready for use in the USA and Brazil.

o Our support has adjusted month to month through special gifts to offset the falling value of the dollar.

o Our daily radio broadcast will begin in August.


o Wisdom and balance in a very busy schedule.

o Continued health and safety.

o Expansion of Abide Brazil to other languages and countries.

o Publishing of materials here in Brazil and in the USA.

o More monthly supporters who believe in the Abide message and life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Matter of Life and Death

There is a man in our church who lost his left hand in an accident when he was a young boy. To see him in action using only one hand is to witness the definition of adaptability. He is amazing to watch. Still, I would never want to lose a hand unless it was a matter of life and death. In this man’s case it was a life and death situation that took his hand. His wonderful, adapted life is testimony to the choice he made to let the hand go in order to save his own life.

Jesus talked about losing a hand in Matthew 5:30 “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”

To me this has been one of the strangest of Jesus’ sayings. For some reason God has kept this verse on my mind for the past few weeks. Here is what He has shown me about the symbolism of cutting off one’s own right hand.

When it comes to sinning we are in a life or death situation. Sin requires that something drastic be done and we must choose to do it based upon the life and death choice that is before us every time we sin. There is nothing more serious than dealing with whatever it is that makes us sin.

Once I have identified how I repeatedly reach for sin with my right hand, I must publicly and permanently admit I cannot stop reaching. By cutting off the hand I make a statement of my public and permanent inability to stop reaching for something that I know makes me sin. Hand cutting is symbolic of public and permanent poverty of spirit.
Only public and permanent poverty of spirit can set the stage for no more sinning.
My missing hand says to me and to all who meet me “Bud couldn’t stop reaching”. The only way to stop sin is a life of public and permanent “I can’t” in the presence of Jesus.

All spiritual progress against sinning begins with the “I can’t” of the missing right hand. Still, the spiritual life does not stop at the cutting of the hand. I still need to reach for things. Only now, I have to ask someone to reach for me and with me. That someone I ask is Jesus.

When a desire to reach for something returns, I need to look at the permanent and public symbol of “I can’t”, turn my attention to Jesus and then ask Jesus to reach for me. It is amazing how quickly I know what He will and will not reach for once my right hand is gone! The painful, public and permanent “I can’t” makes the right kind of reaching with Jesus a public, permanent and joyful possibility. “I can’t” sets the stage for the “I can”.
As Paul said in Phillipians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

To abide is to live the life of a branch. A branch knows it is 100% dependent on the Vine for the reach of it’s life and fruit. The Vine reaches through the branch. The branch can’t reach on its own but the branch can reach if the Vine wants it to. That is why Jesus said “without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Do you have a missing right hand? Have you concluded what it is you cannot stop reaching for? Everyone one of us who sees sin as a life and death issue should have a missing right hand which is a public and permanent statement and reminder. Everyone of us should willingly admit we could not stop. When we saw stopping as a life and death issue. we decided to make the cut with our own ability and accept the fact that we can now only reach and enjoy what Jesus is willing to reach and hold for us and with us.

Abide Brazil ministries and our growing international outreach will only function through people who are missing their right hand. Don’t be afraid to make the permanent and public cut with your own attempts to stop sin. Go public and permanent with your inability and you will begin to release the reach of Jesus in the place of your reach for sin.

I would love to hear your comments!


Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Quiet Influence

July 15th marks two years since we arrived back in Brazil. What a ride these past two years have been!
July 11th also marked another birthday for Pamela Ruth McCord. What a blessing Pam is!

A group of Pam's friends surprised here with a small party. They recognize Pam's quiet influence. Truly, Pam's influence "sneaks up" on you. Without using anything but the quality of her life and words, Pam wins people over to a more godly life.

Just recently the head maintenance person in our building was saved and baptized. Can you guess who influenced him?
If you had been in our church a few weeks back you would have seen him being baptized. Pam went into the baptistry waters with him since it is the custom of our church for the person who most influenced someone to come to faith in Christ to do so.

It is no small thing for someone to give you this honor at their baptism. This dear man wanted Pam to witness his baptism since she was the quiet influence that made the difference.

I am so glad God reveals Himself in so many ways. I especially like Pam's style of influence. It sure has worked on me!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

A Flower's Life

Living on the 9th floor of an apartment building has its advantages. The view is great and I don't have to cut the lawn. There are some downsides to apartment living, too. Smelling the neighbor's lunch cooking each day gets a little old. All in all apartment life is what it is and adapting to it is part of the process of our life in Brazil.

One of the things I miss is being able to see plants like the ones that surrounded our home in the USA. I loved looking out the windows and seeing plants and flowers growing freely in our yard.

The architects of the building where we lived must have had this in mind when they built a small planter outside the main window of our dining area. The small planter is home to our small collection of plants.

These noble plants and flowers live between concrete, iron protection rails and a net we have up to keep small kids from falling through the window. Our plants live in a 12 inch space trapped inside protection that has nothing to do with them and their needs. Still, the plants are just as beautiful as any plants of their kind in the world. There nature has not been altered by the small space and the confining iron and netting.

As I see the plants each day, I am reminded that the life of Christ in me is able to thrive anywhere and bring beauty to any place.
At times I see Christians in such confined and cramped realities that I want to plant them in another place. Then I notice that they are there not for themselves. They are there because their beauty is makes a huge difference on the 9th floor of someone's life. The Great Architect put them there for now. He knows that the people who seem so bent on protecting themselves from everything have created crazy structures in which to live. So, He lets some of His prettiest flowers live their lives in tiny, cramped spaces. He knows they will be O.K. and He sees to their well-being every day.

Are you living trapped by other people's fears and need for protection? Let the life of Jesus bring beauty to that space right now. One day there will be no more cramped spaces for you. God is preparing your place in His Kingdom and there will be great views but no elevators, ninth floors or cramped lives. Thank God!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

This Moment

As Pam and I have been traveling with the TIME team from Miami, we have been reminded again and again how quickly our life passes by. It seems like only yesterday we brought our first team to Brazil back in 1976. Over thirty years ago we stepped off a plane in Rio with a group of young adults. Some of those young adults are now over 50 years of age!

It is easy to get discouraged with the passing of the years as one watches the energy of youth. Yet, there is a way to embrace the changes that come as time is flying by. We can learn to embrace each moment.

One sign of true spiritual maturity is to learn that the Christian life is one moment at a time. The Christian life is the life of Jesus in us. His life is forever the same in us moment by moment.

We look on the outside for support and affirmation. He is on the inside and He is our support and affirmation. He is the same and we can embrace this moment as just as important as any moment.

Our oldest son, Ken, Just turned 35 years old. I remember being 35 like it was yesterday. I believe a 35 year old man is at his very peak of development. For me, 35 seemed as if I was ready for whatever my calling from God would bring. Little did I realize at the time that being 35 was a moment with Jesus just like the moment I am living now. Right now is a moment for my calling and my complete life in Jesus.

The physical world is not the place to look for affirmation and support. The place to look is into the timeless and perfect life of the One who abides in us.