Monday, October 27, 2008

Quiet Evangelism

For many, many years I have tried in subtle and not so subtle ways to modify my wife's behaviour.   Pam has lovingly refused to be made in my image.  

I have tried to convince Pam that submission means to let me make these changes.  She has consistently and quietly refused to buy this line of thinking.  How wonderful she lovingly refused!  The past 37 years of marriage has proven that she knew that God made her in just the right way.

Just yesterday another person received Christ as their Saviour because of Pam being Pam.
Pam's influence is the kind that lives out the words--"Preach the Gospel always.  When necessary use words."

I am still tempted to try the Bud definition of submission on Pam from time to time.  Both she and God smile and continue to rejoice in how God has made her to be her.

My ideas were not all bad.  It is just that God's ideas are always best.

Friday, October 24, 2008


When the message of Jesus perfect presence in us is taught to a group of believers, the result is amazing. Hearing this good news of Jesus' presence causes people to sense immediate hope and rest for their souls. Why is that?
I believe it is because the vision of a perfect life and perfect love abiding in us 24X7 and moment by moment raises the hope of permanent freedom from the tyranny of the secret evil impulses we all carry and we all hate. It raises hope that what the Scriptures calls "the flesh" can be dealt with.

For purposes of these brief thoughts, let's define evil as any impulse or stimulus that gives me permission to be unloving to anyone at any time. When I find in me a way to give myself permission to mistreat anyone I am in the grip of evil. That may sound extreme but a clear reading of the sermon on the mount will show that Jesus demands a no evil and complete love standard for all who would be salt and light. The sermon on the mount describes a life of no evil and a life filled with only love. The sermon on the mount describes Jesus and what he intends for all of us as we abide in Him. Evil must go.

With this thought in mind about evil being the ability to give oneself permission to mistreat, hate or abuse others, read the following article on the Austrian father who held his own daughter captive and had 7 children with her. Notice the power of this permission he found to mistreat. He says this permission came from the abuse he received at the hands his mother. Warning--the story is graphic.,2933,442925,00.html (Cut and paste this site into your browser if it does not appear as a link)

If we do not help people become stimulated by the very presence of Jesus in them (disciple them) , then they, too, will resemble volcanos that are just waiting to explode. Only a stimulus that is perfect love and stimulates to love 24X7 can conquer the evil stimulus that says I have a permanent and living excuse not to love. To love without stopping like Jesus did, I must be loved without stopping. Jesus abiding in me is that stimulating and unstopping love that changes everything.
Jesus in me changes my permission to be evil, into a permission to love.

This Austrian father could have been saved from the evil stimulus that was planted in him during childhood. He could have been free to love. Jesus could have set him free and still can. That is the power of stimulus and response.

In your own heart check and see if you have given yourself permission to mistreat, hate or abuse out of the pain of your past. Recognize that your will cannot overcome this permission that is driven by your past pain. Focus on Jesus and see His constant presence and love as your only hope. You are loved by Jesus. Abide in that love and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh which gives you permission to explode into other's lives without permission from them.

The Big Moment

What is the most important moment of your day? Is this moment predictable and repetitive? Is there something you can do to make this important moment your best moment of every day?

I believe that the most important moment of your day is your first moment of awareness when you wake up each morning.
It is that moment when all the stimuli of your world come rushing into your mind demanding an audience with the one they insist must take control.

Pushing these stimuli back and welcoming Jesus as the only true stimulus is the most critical thing we can do each day.

Here is how author C.S. Lewis describes this moment in his book Mere Christianity.
"Listening to that other Voice
That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes when people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment
you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each
morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting
that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings
and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
We can only do it for moments at first. But from these moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our
system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely
laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through."

I remember reading about the life of George Mueller. For many, many years this man of faith led an orphanage in Great Britain that managed to care for thousands of orphans without asking for help. George Mueller asked God and God helped.
Mueller had a habit of walking in the woods near the orphanage each morning. It was said of him that he would not come back to the orphanage until he was genuinely happy. Sounds almost impossible doesn't it?

A friend named Mike Wells taught me to start each day putting my hand over my heart and saying the words "Jesus, you are welcome here." Little did I know how profound that habit is for spiritual health and happiness.
Look back to your first moment today. Who got your first and best attention? If it was not Jesus, you missed the most important moment of the day. What did you say to all those pressing stimuli that wanted you to take control? If you took control because of their demands, is it any wonder you are tired and stressed by 10 A.M.?

The good news is, Jesus was there then and Jesus is still there now. Welcome Him now and let the burden of control lift.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Anyone who has known me for at least 20 years can recall a time or two (or three!) when I became irritated. (Perhaps upset or ticked would be better word choices) Well, by God's grace and abiding that is now a very infrequent sight in my life. (And all God's people said "Amen!")

Well, I need to confess. This past Monday I was ticked, upset and irritated. It all started with a trip to southern Brazil by air.
A friend had offered to take me to the airport which is an hour away from my home. I told him I needed to be at the airport at 10:15 A.M. He understood me to say I wanted to be picked up at 10:15 A.M. When he did not show up at 9:15 A.M. I tried to call him on my brand new cell phone. It did not work. I was ticked, upset and irritated.

I finally got through to him and we left for the airport at 9:45. I missed my flight. The next one was three hours later.
I was ticked, upset and irritated. I felt really convicted of this state of mind but it was like an itch I needed to scratch.
Finally, I gave in and went back to abiding. Immediately I was calm. It really works.

I had a nice lunch and then I got in line to board my plane. When I did I saw the pastor of Brazil's largest church. They only have 34,000 members. I had met him on many occasions and had given him my book in Portuguese. I really wanted to have a talk with him someday and here we were in line together. We exchanged the traditional Brazilian hug and entered the plane.

I was in 11D. He was in 11F with no one in 11E. We had an hour and a half to talk about the Christian life. He told me that he has had his entire staff memorize John 15 since reading my book and hearing me preach on abiding.

For this moment to happen God had to confuse my friend, make me late, block my cell phone and re-schedule my flight.

If you think this was just a coincidence, think again. God orchestrates our circumstances every day. God even let me get upset, ticked and irritated just so this moment could teach me to let Him control what only He can control which is everything.

The Work

In John chapter 6 Jesus tells a group of hard working seekers that the true work of God is to believe. These people had recently been fed by Jesus' miraculously and gracefully provided fish and loaves. Having received this wonderful gift of grace from the hand of God, they promptly decided they would work for more. They worked hard at following Jesus looking for more grace food. Things have not changed much since then. People still think the first taste of grace is free and then we must work for the next meal of grace.

The work of God, Jesus says, is to believe. We are to work from grace and perfection and not for grace and perfection.
Our biggest job each day is to come before Jesus believing He is as generous with us today as He was the first time we experienced His grace.

If the Christian life is a lot of work for you, it is not the Christian life. Do the real work of the Christian life. Believe Jesus is being generous with you right now and forever. We work from grace, not for it. What a job! Sounds like abiding to me.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Another Retreat

The Abide retreats continue to be our best method for having a great dialog about living moment by moment satisfied in the perfect presence of Jesus. Oct. 3-5 we had another great retreat.

One of the retreat participants was the president of the Angolan Baptist Churches from Angola, Africa. We have tentatively set late August for our first trip to Angola. Should be exciting!

To all of our abide supporters, this is your ministry, too. I can't wait for some of you to come to Brazil and join in a retreat with us. Some retreats are planned for the USA, too. We will keep you posted.

Notice the new deck that provides retreat participants to relax between teaching sessions. Abide supporters provided the funds. It works wonderfully.