Thursday, January 29, 2009

Who is abiding?

Once in a while I will hear someone say "I get this abiding thing, I just don't do it!" I have heard this so many times that this statement has begun to trouble me. The statement seems to say "Abiding is for special, not so busy people." It seems to say, "One of these days when my life calms down I will abide, too."

Not so! Every single person is abiding right now. There are no exceptions. Every single person at this moment is being stimulated by some source that they are counting on as the best way to navigate the situation they are currently facing. Every human being must find an adequate stimulus to face what they must face.

Imagine you are in a canoe going down a river that is picking up speed and heading for rapids. You must go with the river. That choice is already made. Whether you paddle, pray or jump out and swim is your choice. Not going with the river is not your choice. Even if you decide to drown, you will still go with the river. As reality moves on we go with it. It is how we abide as it moves that makes the difference. We must all abide in the reality in which we move.

Jesus in us offers a new way to abide. It is a living, abundant way as opposed to our normal coping. Coping is our normal abiding way that has gotten us this far. We get to choose to abide in Jesus. We do not get to choose not to abide at all. Read Jesus' wonderful words to the woman at the well in John 4 and you will see how He offers her a new way to abide--a living way that will work.

Mike Wells says "Whatever gets your attention gets you." We are always paying attention to our best hope to get through every day. We all are seeking the greatest satisfaction and the best solution as we live and move and have our being. We all abide through the day.

In reality we all get this abiding, attention thing since we do it all the time as naturally as we find food and drink every day.

By the way, abiding is not for some special breed of non-busy people who have time to do it. Abiding is what we are all doing right now. The only question is if we want to abide in Jesus as our only option to do more than cope the way we always have.

You are abiding right now. You can be reading this blog with your eyes and your mind, but in your inner person you are tenaciously guarding your connection to your greatest hope for a satisfying life. As surely as you breathe while you do everything else, you hold on to your greatest hope as you do everything else. Let Jesus be that greatest hope that you treasure and you will bear the fruit of abiding in Him.

Abiding in Jesus is beyond coping. It is overcoming the world moment by moment for the glory of God. It is not the hardest way to live. It is the easiest and most joyful way to live.

Never think you are not abiding. You are. The question is "At the very center of my being as reality picks up speed who or what gets my attention?" Discover the answer to this question about you and you will find out why you react to reality as you do.


One of the goals of the abide ministry is to help people realize that the Christian life is 24/7 and moment by moment. Once in a while a sincere disciple makes a commitment to abiding that is truly deep and very public.

Our sending church pastor Russell Johnson sent me this story about one such sincere disciple. This is really inspiring to me.

Hey Bud,

This morning at our men’s prayer meeting I was paired with one of our men, Gervacio. Gervacio and his wife, Carmen, are relatively new (less than 2 years) and they have really been going through it lately. They are a young couple who were brought to church by his boss who also attends the church.

Gervacio’s dad is dying with lung cancer and they have taken him into their home and they serve as his primary caregivers. In the last few months the construction business has dropped off so much that his company had to let Gervacio go. His wife is studying to get her Master’s degree but she can only work as a lawyer’s assistant at this time.

This morning I asked him how he was making it and he said he had started a small property management business. So far, he only has one 17 unit apartment building in a not so great part of North Miami BUT he told me he was able to really improve the looks of the place and all but 2 units were rented and the owner was really happy with his work. He is hoping that she will recommend him to others and that the business would grow.

After sharing all of that he looked at me with a sheepish smile and said: ”The name of my business is Abide Property Management.”

If we can keep them thinking about abiding during these tough times, maybe we can have it so ingrained in them that it will survive the good times also!

Just thought you would want to know.


I believe God is going to honor this commitment to obeying Jesus' last words to abide. Abiding is for the good and the bad times.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Super Love

In conversations with believers I often ask three questions to begin the dialog about what it means to abide. The questions are...
What is the Christian life?
Where is the Christian life?
Why is the Christian life what it is and where it is?

The answer to the first question is... The entire Christian life is a Person--Jesus
The answer to the second question is...The entire Christian life abides in every person who believes
The answer to the third question is---to make love continuous and unbroken like it was in Jesus' life.

The Christian life is meant to be made visible in real lives of real believers. Read this example of the Christian life at work in a wonderful way.


In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register 4. Kurtis was almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the
call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman (maybe 26, and he was only 22) and he fell in love.

Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to find out her name. She came into the break room, smiled softly at him, took her card and punched out, then left. He looked at her card, BRENDA. He walked out only to see her start walking up the road. Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she
accepted. When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work. She simply said it wasn't possible.

He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn't afford a baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter. Reluctantly she accepted his offer for a date for the following Saturday. That Saturday night he arrived at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him. The baby-sitter had called and canceled. To which Kurtis simply said, "Well, let's take the kids with us."

She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not taking no for an answer, he pressed. Finally Brenda, brought him inside to meet
her children. She had an older daughter Jessie, who was just as cute as a bug, Kurtis thought, then Brenda brought out her son, Zachary in a wheelchair. He was born a
paraplegic with Down Syndrome.

Kurtis asked Brenda, "I still don't understand why the kids can't come with us?" Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman with two kids, especially if one had disabilities - just like her first husband and father of her children had done. Kurtis was not ordinary - - - he had a different mindset.

That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him. When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis. At the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with.

A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted Jessie and Zachary. Since then Brenda and Kurtis have added five children of their own: sons Elijah and Kade, daughter Jada, and twin girls Sierra Rose and Sienna Rae.

So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl? Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals and has his Cardinals in the hunt for a possible win in the Super Bowl. Is this a surprise ending or could you have guessed that he was not an ordinary person. Both Brenda and Kurt are active born-again Christians.

It should be noted that he also quarterbacked the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

He has also been the NLF's Most Valuable Player twice and the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

When real love stimulated and sustained by Jesus is made visible, even the skeptics have to get quiet.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Vineyards or Pyramids

There is a human tendency to create pyramids. Apparently we are impressed with pyramids and think the bigger the pyramid the more important the people are who are involved in the building of the pyramid. As impressive as pyramids may be, they are about death and not about life. The may point toward the heavens, but in reality they trap people on earth.

Here is what I mean about a pyramid.

1. The people who seem to have the most of whatever the pyramid stands for are always at the top of the pyramid system. They feed from the life and death of those who do the hard work of building the pyramid from its base.

2. The successful building of the pyramid is more important than the people who build it. People are expendable.

3. The only person who will be remembered is the owner of the pyramid and not those who built it.

Now contrast that with a vineyard.

There is a Divine desire to plant Vineyards. God is impressed with fruit that comes from individual branches. The bigger the Vineyard the more decentralized and equally distributed the shared power becomes. As unimpressive as a vineyard may appear, they are all about life and never about death. Vineyards may seem rather low to the ground and unimpressive, but their fruit points continually toward the heavens.

1. The people who work in Vineyards must always stay very close to the reality happening in each branch with their feet clearly on the ground.

2. The well-being of the vineyard is the joy of those who work in it.

3. The thing that will be remembered is the quality of the grapes and wine that came from a given year. Vineyards go on giving life from generation to generation. They are not built they are cultivated.

In church life and leadership we must constantly watch for our tendency to build pyramids. God is a farmer not a pharaoh.
Jesus certainly knew about pyramids, but it is impossible to visualize Him working His disciples to death in order to build a memorial to Him. See Him washing His disciple's feet in John 13 and you can see how close to the ground He stayed!

Metaphors are powerful. Am I working toward a Vineyard or a Pyramid? Good question for every leader. Choose your metaphors wisely.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Pam and I have been visiting with Rachel and Mark in Lynchburg, Virginia while recording a dvd series based on our marriage seminar Six Metaphors of a Happy Marriage. While here I have been experienced a theology course called "Grandkids".
Listening to our grandkids teaches me new things every day about how to be great in the Kingdom.

Six year old Reese expressed her happiness about recently receiving Jesus as her Saviour by saying "When I prayed to receive Jesus my heart was filled with joy!" She worshipped.

Five year old Rylan always is ready to eat when hungry. My favorite Rylan theological statement is "I hungry!" He knows how important satisfaction is to happiness.

Nearly two year old Micah has reminded me to ready to say " I can't!" when I am facing a challenge bigger than me. I also love Micah's use of "Yes!" and "No!" He never leaves any doubt about where he stands at any moment. Just ask him anything and you get an instant "Yes!" or "No!" No deeption in His little heart.

I love grandkid theology.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In God We Trust

"In God We Trust" is one of the most famous of all American declarations. The entire world knows what a dollar is and the words "In God We Trust" are clear to see. Could the words "In God We Trust" be put on the American dollar today if the words were not already there? I don't think so.

A society like the US society can only tolerate a certain level of hypocrisy before the society finally says "Let's at least be honest!".

The words "In God We Trust" were born in a different time and among a different kind of thinking. I don't know when they ended up on the dollar bill, but I do know that these words once meant a great more to the collective American mind than they do now. I don't believe today's American thinking would affirm a unified national trust in God as important enough to print it on the dollar bill.

The thinking that produced the American governmental behaviors of our history was not perfect at the beginning. It was, however, a deeply God influenced thinking. The idea of everyone needing to trust in God was clearly a national virtue if not a national reality.
The need to trust God for us to be a successful nation is no longer a nationally accepted virtue. In fact, it is an opposed national virtue and thought.

I am not sure if anyone can say how many Americans currently trust God. The huge majority may very well trust God. What I do think is clear to see is that more Americans than ever are being tempted to trust Government as their source of hope. Perhaps in this temptation we are the least like our founding Fathers. They came to this country convinced that government was not the hope. They were not tempted to build a powerful central government as a source of hope.

In these difficult financial times I am encouraged because I believe we will all have to deal with the issue of trust at a much deeper level than in recent times. For spiritual life and formation this is a very good environment to teach abiding in Christ.

I expect to be busier than ever in 2009. I predict the issue of trust will be the issue of 2009. In fact, the issue of trust has always been the #1 issue in any generation. If our trust in the dollar weakens in 2009, I pray our trust in God will not go with the decline of the dollar.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Can't!

Our seventh grandchild is little Micah. Rachel and Mark's third chid is a real take charge little guy. Yesterday as we were leaving for church he was standing at the door looking up at the door handle saying "I can't!". I couldn't resist. I opened the door and we got on with the next most important thing in his little life.

Jesus told us to seek, ask and knock. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matt. 7:7-8

God the Father finds our desire to move on to the next thing and our words "I Can't" as nearly irresistible, too. The only reason He would say "no" is if we were at the wrong door and headed into trouble. God opens the right doors when we say "I can't'.

Author Mike Wells once described Jesus as "the man who did everything by doing nothing." Jesus always attributed His entire life and success to His Father. Shouldn't we do the same?

Little Micah taught me to keep living my "I can't" life and God will show up full of joy to open the right doors. "I Can't!" is no sign of failure. It is a sign we are at the next door in our lives and going in the right direction.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Love and Order

One of America's longest running and most successful T.V. dramas is Law and Order. The actors who signed on for these programs many years ago have become a steady presence in the hearts and minds of millions. The human desire for a sense of justice runs so deep it can keep programs like these on the air for years and years.

It is a shame there is not a series called Love and Order. Such a series would be more in tune with the Kingdom of God and the life of Jesus. Law may show the way back to where things went wrong among us, but law has never created lasting order among us. The only hope for order is love, not law. Love produces justice and order. Law never has.

The Apostle Peter calls for a kind of love and order in the life of Christ followers in II Peter 1:5-9

"But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness and to brotherly kindness love.

For if these things are your and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins."

Love produces order. It produces order not as an end but as a means. Order in one's life is important because it allows for love to be delivered without competition or distraction. Love was meant to flow continuously from us like a river of life. Love must be continuous and without interruption-- in order--to truly satisfy. When love flows without interruption from us into other's lives in an orderly way, God is glorified. God's glory, continuous love, is made visible and available.

The order love produces is to continuously bless the relationships God allows us to enjoy and influence over time. The first order of love's delivery in my life should be between me and God. My personal relationship with God must be ordered in such a way that God receives from me the first and best of my attention and response. The next order of love's delivery in my life should be between my wife and I. Between Pam and I love and order should be an ongoing, continuously renewed experience. Next in love and order should come family and then all other relationships.
Love and order go together so nothing interferes with love's arrival from God to man.

Order must be produced by love. If it is not it will become a legalism and kill love. Law and Order is not he Kingdom of God.
Love and Order is.

The existence of the living body of Christ in the world is for Love and Order to be made visible and available as continuously renewed love. There may be no T.V. series called Love and Order, but there is a 2000 year old manifestation of Love and Order called the Body of Christ. Millions and millions have lived lives of Love and Order instead of Law and Order. God watches them night and day. God is not a fan of Law and Order. May the world take notice of Love and Order among us, too, since Love and Order will run forever.

Monday, January 05, 2009


The earth is a system of generosity. It is amazing to think what the earth is capable of producing that blesses us each day.
Perhaps this is the reason it is God's will that we are to give thanks in everything. Sun, rain, air, plants, beauty and food are just a few of the generosities of this world God created.

It is when we consider human beings that we see the breakdown of generosity on earth. If every human were as generous as the earth is 24/7 the difference would be dramatic to say the least.

Even so, we see incredible glimpses of human generosity that help us see what humans can be. I read this morning that a woman died while trying to save her dog. People can be so incredibly generous when they are in the grip of love.

Christians are to be the salt and light of the world. They are to be continuously generous like the earth God created. Christians are to live continuously in the grip of love. To abide is to live in the grip of God's generous love in Christ.

Generosity is the effect of love's generous grip on a human life. Jesus was abiding in His Father's love. Jesus is not just a glimpse of generosity. Jesus is what a human being looks and acts like when truly abiding in the grip of God's continuously renewed love.

Christians don't need to control the world to influence it. Christians need to be generous with love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness and the other fruit of the Spirit to influence it and overcome it.

Only by abiding in Jesus moment by moment can we ever hope to be human. To be human is to be generous.