Monday, December 27, 2010

An Amazing Promise

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

There is a way for every disciple of Jesus to experience sustained victory over their flesh. There is a way for every Christian to be free from every habit pattern we developed to manage our own lives apart from God.

The Apostle Paul described this way of overcome the flesh as walking in the Spirit. To walk in the Spirit is to be habitually inspired by God’s perfect presence in us instead of being habitually inspired by our own understanding of ourselves and our personal plans for survival.

Every day you can observe what continuous inspiration by God looks like by observing the habitual behavior of birds. Birds begin each day inspired by the creative inspiration God placed in their nature. They simply awaken and begin moving about receiving from God’s generosity what they need for that day.

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? Matthew 6:25-27

At the end of each day you will see the birds calmly ending their day by finding a place to rest for the night. They show no fear, anxiety or frustration. They slow down to a complete stop and wait for the generosity of the next day.

The economy of the birds is amazing. They find what they need by simply being what birds are inspired to be by the Creator. The key to their lives is not how hard they work. They are living from the Source that created them in the beginning. Birds are successful because they are inspired by God.

To walk in the Spirit as a Christian is to learn to live from the original Source of human inspiration—The Holy Spirit of God. To walk in the Spirit is to return to paradise—to Genesis. To walk in the Spirit is to renounce your own inspiration and receive His.

The key to the victory over the flesh is not effort. The key is inspiration. Walk in the inspiration only God can provide. What an amazing promise an inspired human being can be.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Power of a Single Thought

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Psalm 23:1

Among all of the statements in the Old Testament, this one is perhaps the best known and remembered. It is also one of the most powerful thoughts ever spoken by a person of faith.
To have come to this statement David had to have seen God in a way that few men ever do. Someone once said: “No man can see God and live---live as he once lived.” David had seen God and he never lived the same way as before.

This single thought concerning God’s constant generosity had changed David. This single thought changes all who can say it with real faith.

This single thought changes everything about the universe in which we live day by day.

Men and women are not born believing that God is continuously generous with mankind. All men and women are born afflicted with the fear of lacking what is needed to live. This thought about never “wanting” for what we need must be given to us from God’s own generosity and patience.

We may hear a thousand sermons and be unchanged. We may read our Bibles time and time again and nothing changes. It takes a thought like David’s thought to become truly ours for our lives to change forever.

When such a thought comes from God to us, we are changed. Pray for this single thought to be yours right now. When this thought is truly yours, your soul will rest and you will be changed to live as you have never lived.

Then pray that the rest of Psalm 23 will come to you one powerful thought at a time.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Further Instructions

The story is told of a missionary in New Zealand who had a bold approach to planting churches. He would go from village to village, locate the local bar where the roughest men gathered and begin his ministry right next to the bar. The missionary was fearless and knew from personal experience that God could reach those that seemed unreachable.

One day a very rough and tough drunk from the local bar confronted the missionary with a Bible question. He asked the missionary if it was true that Jesus had said when someone hit a Christian the Christian was required to turn the other cheek. When the missionary agreed that Jesus had taught such a thing, the drunk immediately struck the missionary in the face knocking him to the ground.

The missionary got up and turned the other cheek to the drunk. He was struck again on the other cheek and once again fell to the ground. When he got up the second time, he hit the drunk with a powerful blow and knocked him unconscious.

When the drunk awakened he asked the missionary why he had hit him. He said it was because the instructions of Jesus only covered the first two blows to the face. After that there were no further instructions.

I like this story. It appeals to my desire to finally be able to strike the last blow in God’s name. It appeals to my human, fleshly spirit and my respect for human discipline.
The problem is that there are further instructions.

Matthew 5:10-11 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

The further instructions for persecution are “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad….”

That does not sound like a great plan to my fleshly spirit because rejoicing in the face of persecution is a reaction born of the Spirit of Jesus and not the spirit of man. Jesus’ teaching and behavior only make sense when we begin at the level of His Spirit and not at the level of the human spirit and self control.

To truly understand and obey Jesus’ teaching we must move beyond the letter of human control and live inspired by the Spirit of Jesus. We need inspiration not personal self- control. There is an enormous difference between the two.

Only by abiding in Jesus, the True Vine, can such an inspired shift in human behavior occur. Jesus doesn’t call us just to turn the other cheek. He calls us to let the Spirit that inspired Him all the way to Calvary inspire us all the way to rejoicing and being exceedingly glad when persecuted.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

Be sure to read all the inspired instructions of Jesus no matter how good it may feel to have the last blow be yours. Selective obedience is not inspiration.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Monday, December 06, 2010

Forgiven, At Peace and Healed

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

For those who know Jesus as the Messiah, this is one of the most beloved verses in the Old Testament. I love these words!
The focus on forgiveness is crystal clear. The offer of peace is powerful and perfect. Healing is guaranteed.

Unfortunately the words “And by His stripes we are healed.” have been a place of great debate among the disciples of Jesus.

Do the words “By His stripes we are healed” mean that I can claim physical healing for my body on the same level that I claim my forgiveness and peace with God? Should I awaken every day as sure of being healed of every physical sickness as I awaken assured of my perfect peace with God and my perfect freedom from condemnation?

What does a human being who is “cured by Jesus’ stripes” look like and behave like in this world?
I have personally seen God cure people of all kinds of illnesses. I have seen the joy in a church when a physical healing is announced. I have participated in that joy. I hope I see this kind of healing many more times. I have also done funerals for people I once saw healed.

What I know is that no cure of our physical bodies here on earth can reverse the fact that these bodies of ours are temporary and will eventually give in to their inevitable decline and death. There will come a day when the permanent cure of our bodies will be to die. For Christians that is not something to fear!

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. II Cor. 4.16-18

A pastor suffering from cancer here in Brazil said to his church, ‘If I am cured you will see the glory of God. If I am not cured I will see the glory of God.”

Could his words be the true meaning of the words “By His stripes we are healed” ? Could this pastor’s fearlessness, complete confidence God could heal him and His desire that others would see God be the cure of Jesus’ stripes being manifested?

I have seen people use the words “By His stripes we are healed” to put enormous pressure on believers who cannot seem to receive their cure from serious illness. Those who see this verse as a guarantee of healing for those with enough faith often leave those who are sick with the distinct impression that to be sick and remain sick is to be lacking faith and a failure to receive all that is ours in Jesus.

Here is what I know. Regardless of what is happening to me, I am healed by His stripes. My healing means that the glory of God can and will be seen in my situation no matter which way it goes. A human being who can glorify God in any circumstance in this fallen world is a person Jesus has healed by His stripes.

Illness can no longer claim the victory over us just as surely as death can no longer claim victory over us. Illness can no longer claim the victory over us just as surely as we are all now at peace with God. No physical cross or illness can ever again destroy our ability to glorify God. Jesus has seen to our healing once and for all by His stripes which revealed the glory of God when He died and will continue to reveal His glory in us.

His stripes have healed us. We are cured to glorify God in all things.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Bud McCord
Abide International

Abide International is an organization dedicated to helping Christ-followers worldwide
understand and experience true satisfaction in Jesus as a moment by moment reality.

Abide International - 17701 N.W. 57th Avenue - Miami, FL 33055
Web: - Email:

2010 Retreat Season

Our 2010 retreat season finished on the weekend of December 4-5 in Campos do Jordão. Planning, promoting and executing 9 retreats in 9 months is a challenge, but the joy of seeing people learn to rest in Christ in order to release His love is worth it.

Each group is a unique collection of disciples who experience the oneness Jesus promised to all who will start everything from His perfect presence.

A special thanks to all who have supported the Abide International ministries this year! We make a great team!

Bud and Pam

Monday, November 29, 2010

Customized Cross and Customized Prosperity

Customized Cross and Customized Prosperity

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 6:33

These are Jesus’ words concerning God’s provision and Christian prosperity. We should listen carefully to these words. They answer some questions Christians around the world are asking.

Just how rich should great faith make us? Should there be a direct link between what we have in our bank account and the quality of our faith? Should Christians pursue growing wealth as a sign of growing faith?

Around the world among evangelical Christians there is an intense interest in making faith work for making one’s financial life better. Entire denominations are built on the idea that faith is the path to great prosperity.

As with everything any church promotes as the way, the truth and the life, all such ideas need to pass the Jesus test. The Jesus test is: Is that how it worked for Jesus? If it did not, it is not the right view of how it will be for us.
Jesus is the final test of all teaching. Jesus’ life and the life of His first disciples, the Apostles, show us the way, the truth and the life in action concerning prosperity.

Looking closely at Jesus and at the Apostles it is impossible to see faith being used as a tool to avoid pain or accumulate riches. Looking at Jesus and the Apostles it is clear that their faith was for the delivery and sustaining of God’s love.
Faith does impact one’s prosperity. Faith allows us to have our prosperity customized to fit our customized cross.

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27

The cross we carry is not Jesus’ cross. His was customized just for Him. The cross we carry is our customized cross. Our cross is the exact amount of Divine love we are expected to deliver into this world as the result of seeking first the Kingdom.

When we deliver God’s love, God pays the bills. He customizes our prosperity to fit our task of carrying our customized cross. Just as no two crosses are identical, no two financial realities will be identical.

Jesus’ prosperity was a perfect, customized fit for His mission to die for the sins of the world. Jesus was exactly as rich as He needed to be. Clearly Jesus’ cross carrying needed little or no material support!
The Apostle’s prosperity was a perfect, customized fit for their mission to be the foundation of the New Testament Church. The Apostles were as rich as they needed to be. Again, they had little, but they had what they needed.
Our prosperity will be perfectly customized for us, too, when we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness by carrying our customized crosses.

There is no “one size fits all” prosperity formula in the New Testament. As we live by faith, we will have the prosperity we need and ask for to deliver customized love to those God has chosen for us to love.

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7

Customized is always a perfect fit.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Don't Block My View

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Living on the ninth floor of an apartment building here in São José dos Campos, Brazil, Pam and I have a beautiful view of the nearby mountains. In fact, one of the main reasons over five years ago I agreed to live in an apartment and deal with the elevator was the view.

Well, here in Brazil’s booming economy, views don’t last. There are dozens of buildings in construction around us and over 140 high-rise buildings are in the permitting process in our city right now. Many of these new buildings are blocking my view and more are coming. Every day my elevator ride, which I still dislike, is taking me to less view, not more.

I know this is hardly a complaint that merits any tears, but it does illustrate a reality about life. The only view no one can take away from us is our personal view of Jesus. When we build our life in a place with a view of visible things, we always run the risk of having someone block our view. When we keep our eyes on Jesus who abides in us we have an constantly improving view guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who lives in us to make Jesus more clear and beautiful every day.

I guess I could move to another building so I could keep my view. The problem is that the view I rented 5 years ago now costs about 3 times what I paid back then. That’s right. Views in this world are always for sale. In this world, men have made a great view a commodity. When a great earthly view is suddenly in limited supply, men raise the prices.

Thank God my inner view of Jesus is not for rent or for sale. It is received by grace and every disciple can have a perfect view every day. Enjoy your personal, inner view of Jesus. Only taking your attention off of Jesus and valuing outer, visible things more will block your view of His beauty.

“…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Cor. 4:18

Bud McCord
Abide International

Abide International is an organization dedicated to helping Christ-followers worldwide
understand and experience true satisfaction in Jesus as a moment by moment reality.

Abide International - 17701 N.W. 57th Avenue - Miami, FL 33055
Web: - Email:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A New Way of Seeing

Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. II Corin. 5:16

The young wife sitting in front of me tearfully told the story of her husband’s infidelity two years earlier. The pain poured from her as she repeatedly said: “My life ended that day.” “My life is ruined.” “My life cannot be fixed.”
What do you say to a Christian who thinks their life ended, is ruined and cannot be fixed? With tears in your eyes you gently tell them their life has not ended, is not ruined and does not need to be fixed. You lovingly tell them that their life is Jesus and He is perfectly alive, unchanged and at work right now. You firmly and lovingly tell them “Your life is perfect. The state of your world is another matter and we need to immediately address your world, not your life.”

Seeing our world as our life is seeing according to the flesh. Seeing your world as your life is like looking at Jesus and not being able to see that He is God with us. Jesus is God with us, whether we see it or not. As believers, our life is Christ whether we see it or not. When our world comes crashing down we must not see our life crashing with it. Jesus does not crash.

When we see ourselves, another person or another’s behavior toward us as our life, we commit a deadly spiritual mistake. We have placed our faith in imperfection and that makes us vulnerable to thinking our problems are life issues instead of a world issues.

Attaching our life to the behavior of others and their weaknesses is to live a lie. Lies always are revealed as useless and when they are revealed as useless we feel used. Believing the lie that my world is my life can make me think my life is over, ruined and broken beyond repair. The creates depression and anger.

Here are few very dangerous worldly thoughts….
1. My friends are my life.
2. My body’s current health is my life.
3. My child is my life.
4. My husband or wife is my life.
5. My ministry to others is my life.
6. My work is my life.
Here are the right thoughts…..
1. For to me to live is Christ.
2. It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.
3. Jesus is perfect, therefore, my life is perfect.
4. In the world I will suffer troubles.
5. My world right now may be a mess, but there is life in me that can overcome it.

The young pastor’s wife left my office repeating with me these words…
“Jesus is my life. My world crashed horribly two years ago, but thank God I am alive in Christ to face this disaster and overcome it because my life can handle it.”
This way of seeing is not easy for us, but we must learn this new way of seeing if we are to deal with the world as it really is.
By the way, how is your life? How is your world? Can you see the difference?

II Corin. 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Safe Place

Our inner life can become our refuge.
Let this thought sink in for a moment. Now say to yourself “My inner life with Christ can become a place of peace and stability in this troubled world.”
If this statement is true, then it would follow that the care of our inner life should be our first priority. Thomas Kelly described such an inward life like this…
“There is a way of life so hid with Christ in God that in the midst of the day’s business one is inwardly lifting up brief prayers, short ejaculations of praise, subdued whispers of adoration and of tender love to the Beyond that is within.” A Testament to Devotion pg. 98
It is in our inner life that we do the works Jesus called “First Love” in Revelation 2. I believe that is what Thomas Kelly was describing in the quotation above.
It is in our inner life that we receive the inspiration directly from the Source of Source, the Fountain of Fountains. This is the oneness Jesus described in John 17.
It is in our inner life that we meet with God and experience the righteousness, peace and joy that is the kingdom of God.
“…for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17
Jesus is our example of how we are to live. He lived from his inner union with His Father and with the Holy Spirit.
When the storms of life hit we must have a refuge. May the safest place we know be our inner life where God meets us with His love.
It is in our inner life that our faith in Christ overcomes the world.

Bud McCord
Abide International

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Loyalty or Love?

Loyalty or Love?

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. John 13:1

In John 13 Jesus washes His disciples feet because he loved them from beginning to the end. Peter does not understand that Jesus' only motivation in washing their feet was love. Peter really did not yet understand the power of love is greater than the power of human loyalty.

It appears that Peter thinks that letting Jesus wash his feet is some sort of test of submission and loyalty. He gets this so wrong that he eventually offers to let Jesus wash his hands and his head as well. It is as if he is saying "I am completely loyal! Wash away!"

Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!"
Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!" John 13:8-9

As his confusion about what Jesus wanted deepens Peter insists that he would be so loyal to Jesus that he would be willing to die for Jesus that very day. He thinks Jesus wants his loyalty. Jesus wanted Peter to receive His love so Peter could love. Jesus tells Peter that he will not be loyal and he would deny Him three times before the night ends. So much for human loyalty!

Loyalty is not what Jesus wants from us. He wants us to receive His love. His love is what will inspire us to love. Jesus wants us to receive His love and release it to others whether they are loyal or not. That is what Jesus did for Peter and the others when he washed their feet. He was loving them out of His Father's love for them.

I have been around Christian organizations that make a bigger deal about loyalty than they do about love. I have also demanded people be loyal to me as if being loyal to me proved they were loyal to Jesus. I know what I was after when I demanded their loyalty was for a good purpose. What Christian organizations are after when loyalty is made the goal is also something good.

By asking for loyalty I was seeking a guarantee from others to quiet my fears that they would fail me and our holy task. Over time I discovered that what I really needed to quiet my fears and complete the holy task is Jesus' love for me and for them and not their promised loyalty to me and our holy task.

Only God supplied and inspired love in Jesus will quiet fears and complete the holy, loving task we are called to complete. Helping people be loved by Jesus more and more is the only way we can find the kind of lasting relationships we dream of having.

Christian organizations would do better to make a great deal about how much Jesus loves us all and how He calls us to love others like He did. They would do better to let Jesus love them deeply and then love as Jesus loves. This kind of love creates loyal connections and efforts that last. It is great love received from Jesus that produces great loyalty and unity. Human loyalty does not produce or sustain love. Peter tried to make that formula work and failed miserably.

It was great love from Jesus that restored Peter after he denied Jesus three times. Loyalty did not send Jesus to find Peter and restore him. It was great love.

If you have any hope for experiencing true loyalty from others, pray that they will receive Jesus' love moment by moment. When they receive His love they will wash your feet even if you fail them.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Cultural Christianity

Cultural Christianity

"While sitting on the bank of a river one day, I picked up a solid round stone from the water and broke it open. It was perfectly dry in spite of the fact that it had been immersed in water for centuries. The same is true of many people in the Western world. For centuries they have been surrounded by Christianity; they live immersed in the waters of its benefits. And yet it has not penetrated their hearts; they do not love it. The fault is not in Christianity, but in men's hearts, which have been hardened by materialism and intellectualism." Sadhu Sundar Singh - Indian Evangelist and Thinker.

Does this observation ring true where you live? If it does you must live in a culture where Christian thought and values once thrived and benefited you. You should thank God for having lived "immersed in the waters of its benefits". I lived immersed in its benefits as a child growing up in the USA in the 1950s. I thank God I did. It has been hard to see the water of its benefits drying up in the last 50 years.

Even so, I can attest to the fact that much of that external Christian culture I grew up in never reached the hearts of those who enjoyed it. It was outside/in Christianity for most people and not the real inside/out Christianity. There is an enormous difference between being immersed in the benefits of Christian culture that surrounds us and having a spring of living Christian water inside us.

Jesus explained the difference to a Samaritan woman who certainly did not live immersed in a supportive benefits of a Christian culture.

"Jesus answered and said to her, 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'" John 4:13-14

External Christian cultures have a way of drying up over time when the inner flow of this living fountain is diminishing in the masses of people. People who fight to sustain the benefits of Christian culture are well intentioned, but missing the difference between outside and inside Christianity. If they want to help others enjoy "immersion in the waters of its (Christianity's) benefits" they should abide in Jesus from the inside/out and lead as many as they can to do the same.

Whatever genuine Christian influence that actually makes it to the outside culture had to have begun from the inside of thousands of lives where Jesus dwells. We need to multiply inner fountains to restore external rivers of influence. When a river suddenly goes dry we must go back to the source that created the flow. Screaming at the diminishing flow will do little good.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Abide Dialog

For the past 5 years Pam and I have been sustaining a dialog with followers of Jesus about abiding in Christ. In settings as diverse as home meetings, counseling, retreats, events and church services we are sharing with others that our inner life is where the entire Christian life now lives.

It has been a learning experience! Here are a few things we have learned along the way.

1. Every believer in Christ really does want to be like Jesus. They really do have new hearts and new intentions!
2. Believers struggle greatly with the idea that a perfect life dwells in them and is the source of everything that God expects of them for day to day life and love.
3. In American and Brazilian church life many have become addicted to never ending recipes for living the Christian instead of moment by moment dependence on Christ who is our Christian life.
4. Church leaders need to see spiritual formation of Christ in us as the most pressing need in the church and make a commitment to addressing this need urgently.
5. All preaching, teaching and counseling needs to begin and end in Jesus if we hope to equip Jesus' followers with the true power to live the Christian life as salt and light in this world.

There is an expression in Portuguese that is often used by participants at the end of our retreats to describe what happenned to them by seeing Jesus as the perfect Chrisitan life God expects them to live. They say "Este retiro foi um divisor de águas na minha vida!" What they are saying is... "This retreat was where the water was divided." They are communicating that this is where the river of their life took a new direction. This is where God opened a way through to a new future like He did when the Red Sea was opened.

I know exactly what they mean. When I finally saw clearly the perfect provision God had made for me to live the Christian life I, too, saw the waters divide and the Way open before me.


"All authority has been given unto Me in heaven and on earth." Matt. 28:18

To have authority is the ability to impose one's will on others. Every day we are surrounded by others who can legally impose their will on us. Just try arguing with a fire marshal about how many people can be in your public building and you will see who has authority on that subject.

What exactly is Jesus' authority over us? What authority did Jesus use to accomplish all He did while on earth? Jesus' authority came from His love -love that never stopped.

The entire time that Jesus was on earth He established this authority as His and His alone. He ignored all other kinds of earthly authority and focused only on the authority of love. Like a fire marshal who only looks into how people are threatened by fire, Jesus focused only on how people are destroyed when love stops and saved when love does not stop.

Jesus took upon Himself the role as the One who would speak and live with the authority of love to all mankind. In order to gain this authority He lived without sin and died for all of us who have every stopped love for even a moment. He became love to gain the authority of love. So, too, must His disciples.

Jesus could have used other kinds of authority on earth, but he chose love as His authority. His church must choose love as her authority as well.

The church needs to resist the temptation of trying to exercise other kinds of authority in the world. Our only authority is our love. We, too, must carry our crosses in order to speak in His name with authority.

We exist to love. If that doesn't give us authority like Jesus had, nothing else will.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Christian Mystic

Would you be offended if someone called you a "Christian Mystic"?

For most of my life I would have felt being called a Christian mystic would put me out on the fringe of Christian society. I would have avoided the label Christian mystic for fear of having others look at me as one wandering too far into the internal, invisible world. I was too busy leading a church to be thought of as mystical. I was convinced being called mystical was a nice way of calling someone useless.

To me, a Christian mystic would be someone practically living in a passive trance. That would have been the last thing I would have wanted to be known for while leading a church and school with over 130 people on staff.

Quite frankly I developed this negativity toward what a mystic is without ever having seen a definition of what a mystic actual is. That was poor study on my part. I let popular culture form my opinion instead of careful thought.

Just today I came across a definition by a Quaker scholar name Rufus Jones that has challenged my concept of what a mystic would be. Here it is...

"The essential characteristic of mysticism is the attainment of a personal conviction by an individual that the human spirit and the divine Spirit have met, have found each other, and are in mutual and reciprocal correspondence as spirit with Spirit." Rufus Jones.

I feel I must now confess my ignorance. In light of this definition I would be happy to be called a Christian mystic. Why? Because...I have happily attained a personal conviction that the Spirit of Christ dwells in me, has found me and I have found Him, and we are in a mutual and reciprocal relationship of my spirit with the Spirit of Christ. I call this mutual and reciprocal relationship abiding because Jesus called it abiding.

Listen to Paul's words to see if you, too, might just be a Christian Mystic according to Jones' definition.

"The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Romans 8:16

"But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His."

"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Gal. 5:16

"Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." Eph. 5:18

The title "Christian mystic" may be too compromised by popular culture to be of any practical use in most church contexts, but this definition gave me comfort today that an intense interest in the unseen spiritual world is not weird but needed - especially among strong leaders. Again, listen to Paul:

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." II Corin. 4:16-18

Sounds a little "mystical" doesn't it? Sounds exactly like the mutual and reciprocal spiritual exchange that Rufus Jones was describing.

I don't plan on going around calling myself a Christian mystic any time soon, but if someone calls me a Christian mystic, I guarantee that my reaction to that title changed today under the definition used by Rufus Jones. In fact, I pray every believer I know will attain a deep conviction that their spirit has made an eternal connection with the Spirit of Christ, that they are forever found by His Spirit and can carry on a reciprocal relationship of love and filling with God's Spirit every day. I pray we will all abide.

I pray we might all walk in the Spirit so much so that someone might actually accuse us of looking too deeply into unseen things. That would be a good change for all of us - especially church leaders.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


How do you discern God's love for you?

How do you see God's love for you right at this moment? On what level of your being are you enjoying His love today?

Most of us attempt to discern and enjoy God's love through a careful and constant evaluation of our visible life circumstances. If the circumstances seem to add up to a plus we see this as proof we are being loved by God. When our circumstances add up to what we perceive as a minus, we wonder where God's love went and how we can get it back.

Did Jesus evaluate His Father's love in this way? If He did, so should we. If He didn't, then it is time to adjust how we measure God's daily love for us. Too much is at stake in our mental, emotional and volitional world to be looking for God's love in the wrong place. We need to know we are loved right now in order to love right now.

On many occasions I have heard people celebrating the love of God because their world adds up to a big plus. It is certainly fun to hear people recognize that blessings have entered their lives because all good things come from God. We should rejoice with them but should we join them in seeing their visible blessings as the proof of God's love?

I have also heard people weep with despair because their world is filled with negatives and they assume that negatives can only accumulate if God's best love steps away and lets the visible negatives accumulate. We should weep with them, but should we weep for them because they have obviously lost God's love?

This formula for seeing God's love seems to be - Good things accumulating equals God loves me very much. Bad things accumulating equals God is not loving me as much right now and it is probably my fault or He changed His mind about me.

Again, measure this formula against the life of Jesus or the life of the Apostles. Does this formula work as you measure their lives as the loved ones of God? Can you in any way make Jesus' visible life experience add up to more positives than negatives? Can you in any way make the Apostles' lives add up to more positives than negatives?

This accumulation formula is not useful because it measures God's love in the visible and the temporary. God's love is measured in the Spirit and that is where we need to go in order to measure God's love for us.

Leave the visible, accumulating measuring system completely alone for a moment. Whether you are in a plus or minus season right now, leave it alone. Now go into the very center of your being - your spirit - and ask the Spirit of Christ "Do you love me?" "Do you love me deeply?"

If you do not hear a "yes" it is likely that you have become addicted to the visible, accumulation equation of love and you need a spiritual renewal and a new equation. If you think you do need a renewal, ask God to open the eyes of your spirit so you can discern the things of the Spirit of Christ in you. Ask God to help you walk in the Spirit so you can see how much you are loved right now.

In Romans 5: 5 we see where God's love is meant to be discerned: "Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." Look for God's love in your spirit (heart) and you will not be disappointed. Look for it in the visible realm and you will find yourself lusting for the positives and afraid of the negatives. God's love never produces lust or fear. God's love faces whatever comes as it casts out fear and delivers love.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

Other Options

Other Options

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also." Matthew 5 38-39

Jesus' words about turning the other cheek are among the most famous and universally known words ever spoken. They are also among the most ignored.

I remember reading the Sermon on the mount shortly after becoming a follower of Jesus. I thought to myself "This is the part of His teachings I will never be able to follow!" My deep need for self protection and self vindication was one of my most cherished defense mechanisms. I was good at verbally guarding my personal space.

My mistake in my way of thinking was that I felt that I would be turning my cheek out of my own resources instead of doing this in and through Jesus. I thought turning the other cheek was about will power.

I am learning to turn the cheek by following a simply spiritual rule - I listen to Jesus in order to turn the other cheek. Jesus' will is the power.

Here is how it works. Imagine that you are being verbally offended by someone. It hurts. Before you begin to become defensive, turn you mind back to Jesus' presence in you and ask Jesus "Should I defend myself? Should I hit back?" The answer will come clearly and quickly because every believer has the mind of Christ.

For "who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. I Corin. 2:16

We really do have the mind of Christ. Will we use His mind or ours when the slap comes?

If I use my mind, I seldom if ever can stop my natural urge to protect my space and demand respect. If I use His mind, I turn the other cheek and all kinds of other options for love immediately appear. A slap seems to produce only one option - hit back. A turn empowered by Jesus opens up love's options.

Get in the habit of asking Jesus in tough moments and all kinds of new options for love will appear in your life.

"The Golden Rule for understanding spiritually is not intellect, but obedience." Oswald Chambers

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pain and Shame


What is it about pain that gives it so much power over men? Why do we universally feel pain is an enemy to be avoided at all costs? Could our fear of pain lie in its power to shame us because it makes us seem so weak? Could it be that pain connected to a sense of shame causes us to be filled with a sense of disappointment and hopelessness which is what we most fear?

Paul says in Romans 5:3-5 "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

The words "now hope does not disappoint" have also been translated "does not make ashamed" or "we're never left feeling shortchanged."

Is there a link between pain and being ashamed or being disappointed that makes pain much worse? I believe there is and I believe that is why Jesus "despised the shame."

Hebrews 12: 1-2 says of Jesus, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (emphasis mine)

The words "despising the shame" do not mean He was resisting the pain. He certainly did not run from His pain! "Despising" means he separated the shame from the pain. By despising the shame He was able to embrace only the pain as God's purpose even though the pain made Him seem weak. He saw his weakness in a context of hope. Having hope is what separates pain from shame. Hope in God overcomes both pain and shame.

As I watch people in pain it seems clear to me that what they most fear is not the pain. What they most fear is the disappointment (loss of hope) of appearing so weak and being in need of so much help. In their pain they begin to feel "shortchanged." Great dependence seems to shame us and make us lose hope. Should great dependence shame us? Does it have to? Did it make Jesus ashamed?

The human struggle with shame has roots in our independence from God that go back to the eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Since our rebellion against God's love we are easily made ashamed when we are growing weaker. This shame appeared quickly in Adam and Eve. They fled from God out of the pain, fear and shame. Shame made them do foolish and deadly things. It makes us do the same.

Genesis 3:8-10 "And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, 'Where are you?'

So he said, 'I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.'"

Pain can be transformed for God's purpose when we say with Paul "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." II Corinthians 12:9-10

The next time pain comes into your life, despise the shame and face the pain. Embrace your growing weakness without shame and believe in the strength of God to overcome and even use all pain for His purposes. In other words, have hope and you will not be disappointed.

Shame is not our friend. Pain need not be our enemy. Pain can become a part of God's purpose as we deliver God's love by carrying our cross. To transform pain remove the shame of your weakness with hope in God. Despise the sense of being "shortchanged" by pain and see the hand of God's purpose in your pain.

John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Monday, June 14, 2010

Abide Retreat II--June 12-13

Sometimes people ask what keeps a person abiding moment by moment in such an agitated world. I believe the power to abide comes from is works of "first love" Jesus mentions in Revelation chapter 2. These works include listening, worship, thanks, confession, affirming, intercession, petition and action. Learning to practice these works as we live our daily lives is what some have called "practicing the presence of God". This is learning to live from the inside out.

Our abide II retreat walks people thru these habits of spiritual attention so they can begin to enjoy Jesus' perfect presence in their daily walk. It is wonderful to see people spend a weekend fully focused on simply loving God and loving others.

The weekend of June 12-13 was a wonderful time of enjoying Jesus together.

E-devo Inner LIfe

Inner Life

The visible world is a reflection of what is going on in men's souls. This is why Jesus said "by their fruit you shall know them." Matthew 7:20 The fruit men produce day to day is inside before it is outside. What we see men doing or not doing is coming from their inner life. The inner life is the real battleground of the human drama.

Our inner life is where our true reality is taking place.

Our inner world is our real home.

Our inner life determines the true quality of our life in the world.

Our inner life is where the victory for joy, peace and love is won or lost.

To miss this truth of the centrality of the inner life is to find Jesus' words and actions as recorded in the Gospels almost incomprehensible. Jesus lived from the inside and His first concern for us is our inner world. This is why he offers as His highest gifts things like "peace" and "cheer" as He let's the world's tribulations continue on. Miss the inner life and you will conclude God has failed to do what He could have done for the world in Christ.

John 6: 33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Miss Jesus' focus on the inner life and you will never understand His experience in the world and you will never understand your own experience in the world.

Think of Jesus' experience in the world. What part of that external experience would you like to live? Now think of Jesus' inner world. What part of that inner life would you like to live? If you follow Him and abide in Him moment by moment you will find you will have both His inner world and His outer world. This is how we take up our cross and follow Him. This is true discipleship. This is exactly what every disciple should expect to experience Jesus' inner world and Jesus' outer world.

"As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world." John 17:18

This is also why Jesus says in John 15: 9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love." He is directing us to His inner life where He lived from the love of His Father. Jesus never directed us to an outer experience as the key to experiencing the love and joy of God. He would never direct us to the failures of the world. He directs us to the unfailing love of God in our inner life. "Love never fails." I Cor. 13:8

The development of our inner life is what Paul calls "Christ formed in us" or "Christ in you the hope of glory." This was Paul's passion for each believer because this was Jesus' passion for each believer. The inner life should be our passion, too. We must live from our inner life if we are to be of any help to ourselves, help to others or of any use to God.

Is your inner life your passion? I pray it is. Your inner life is where Jesus lives right now. It would be a real loss for you and for all those who need your love for your inner life to be ignored as you focus on your outer life as your real life.

To abide is to live the inner life. All the fruit that really matters and helps others comes from this inner life with God in Christ. Abide.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Oswald Chambers

I have been reading Oswald Chambers daily devotional My Utmost for His Highest for over 35 years. Reading today's reading (June 11) reminds me why this man has blessed me so deeply. With Him it is always "Come to Jesus".


Where sin and sorrow stops, and the song of the saint starts. Do I really want to get there? I can right now. The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words— “Come to Me.” Our Lord’s words are not, “Do this, or don’t do that,” but— “Come to me.” If I will simply come to Jesus, my real life will be brought into harmony with my real desires. I will actually cease from sin, and will find the song of the Lord beginning in my life.
Have you ever come to Jesus? Look at the stubbornness of your heart. You would rather do anything than this one simple childlike thing— “Come to Me.” If you really want to experience ceasing from sin, you must come to Jesus.
Jesus Christ makes Himself the test to determine your genuineness. Look how He used the word come. At the most unexpected moments in your life there is this whisper of the Lord— “Come to Me,” and you are immediately drawn to Him. Personal contact with Jesus changes everything. Be “foolish” enough to come and commit yourself to what He says. The attitude necessary for you to come to Him is one where your will has made the determination to let go of everything and deliberately commit it all to Him.
“. . . and I will give you rest”— that is, “I will sustain you, causing you to stand firm.” He is not saying, “I will put you to bed, hold your hand, and sing you to sleep.” But, in essence, He is saying, “I will get you out of bed— out of your listlessness and exhaustion, and out of your condition of being half dead while you are still alive. I will penetrate you with the spirit of life, and you will be sustained by the perfection of vital activity.” Yet we become so weak and pitiful and talk about “suffering” the will of the Lord! Where is the majestic vitality and the power of the Son of God in that?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Perfect Overcomes the Imperfect

The only hope for our restoration to true humanity is to be constantly exposed and connected to true and living humanity. Perfection must overwhelm imperfection. Nothing less than perfection can or will. That is why "Christ in you" is the only hope of glory.

Glory is man becoming what he was meant to be by the Creator. Glory among humans is God's perfect character continuously expressed with skin on. Glory is grace and truth made visible and available from Him through me. Glory is God's perfection overwhelming imperfection like light overwhelms darkness. Glory is good and the world needs it now.

All of our attempts to deal with the deadening effects of our human imperfection and sin are doomed to failure apart from a guaranteed accessibility to an overwhelming human perfection moment by moment. The presence of Jesus by His Spirit in us as believers is the only perfect cure for our diminished, damaged and imperfect humanity. Since Jesus died for us and abides in us we lack nothing to be human. Rivers of living water can flow from believer's lives. Generous fruit can appear. Love birthed and sustained in Jesus can be continuous again since the source of this perfect love now abides in us.

The amazing thing about most Christian attempts to free men and women to be real men and women is our insistence in using our imperfect methods or programs as if they are superior to practicing continuous connection to His perfect presence. I, for one, still must take my wandering focus by the neck each day and, by God's grace, turn away from the illusion of my own human self potential and point my eyes squarely at the one who said "without Me you can do nothing."

Only with a stubborn return to my true poverty without Him do I once again discover the overwhelming perfection that is Christ in me. Some days I am like Israel in the desert hanging between the two worlds of the illusion of my self potential and glorious perfection His presence. On other, better days His Perfect presence overcomes my imperfect illusions and efforts and I get a glance of me being gloriously human because of the Perfect human who abides in me as my life.

On the days when the perfect presence of Jesus overwhelms the imperfect, I can be as truly human as He allows me to be. On those days everyone around me would agree that I am much more enjoyable to be around. When His perfection has its way with me love is always the fruit.

May the good days when His perfection overwhelms my imperfection increase! This is called abiding and it is the perfect Christian life having His way in me and through me moment by moment. It truly is glorious and it is a glimpse of our glorious future in Jesus. Abide.

"It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me."

Monday, June 07, 2010

e-devo: Jesus See HIm. Hear Him. Love Him. Live Him

Jesus...See Him. Hear Him. Love Him. Live Him.

Have you looked closely at Jesus lately? Have you listened to His words as if you were hearing them for the first time? Have you experienced His presence and love as it was when you first met Him? Are you living His life as your life today?

See Him. Hear Him. Love Him. Live Him. This is believing. This is our work. Are you working at this work?

John 6:28-29 Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."

The powerful effect of Jesus on the human mind, soul and heart is confirmed by nearly 2000 years of church history and by millions of transformed lives. Even so, some who call themselves disciples seem to experience Jesus like a tiring habit. Fortunately many also experience Jesus like an acute fever, like first love. The difference in the experience of Jesus is in the seeing, hearing, loving and living. The difference is in the believing. Some work at believing and some do not.

Jesus described what really coming to Him with faith looks like when He said in Matthew 11:29 "Take my yoke upon you and learn of will find rest for your souls." Taking a yoke is a total surrender to His life. It is what some have called going the "second half" with Jesus.

There comes a time when we need to grow very still and just take a new look at Jesus. Are we afraid to look too closely? Are we too busy to look?

There comes a time when we need to listen to His words again. Are they believable? Are they still inspiring?

There comes a time when we need to love Jesus more deeply. Are we afraid of what that might cost? Are we open to having Him love us more?

There comes a time when we need to live Jesus more consistently. Are we afraid of where such living may take us? Are we willing to be more alive than we already are?

This time comes every morning when we wake up. This seeing, hearing, loving and living Jesus is our work. Don't miss your work. If you do, someone else in this world will have to carry the love you were meant to carry.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

E-devo Enough

"Jesus is not only the heart of the Gospel message, He is the entire Gospel message." Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust: The Ragamuffins Path to God

Jesus is the good news - all of it. Whatever good comes from the Gospel to mankind comes in, from and through Jesus.

Let this thought settle deeply into your mind, soul and spirit. As it does you will finally rest in the "enough" of God in Christ. Only this essential truth of Jesus' complete sufficiency is enough to make us relax and begin to experience true life. Why? Because we never rest with less than perfection and Jesus is that perfection for us and in us. "Christ is all and is in all." Col. 3:11b

More than something to be studied and understood, Jesus is someone we meet, receive and enjoy. He is the life that is enough. He is the treasure hidden in the field. He is the pearl of great price. He is the last thing we search for because finding Him is enough.

Just as we eat our bread and drink our water, so too we eat and drink Jesus. Bread and water are not subjects we study. They are satisfaction we receive in order to be ourselves and live from day to day. Bread and water are enough for today.

So too, we can find Jesus to be enough each day as we eat and drink of His life as the original, abundant source. As we abide moment by moment in the "enough" of God, we finally come to believe He is, in fact, enough.

Enough. What a wonderful word! What a wonderful experience!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

Someone passed this on to me I thought you would like to read it on this Memorial Day weekend in the USA.

"I put my carry-on in the luggage compartment and sat down in my assigned seat. It was going to be a long flight. 'I'm glad I have a good book to read. Perhaps I will get a short nap,' I thought.

Just before take-off, a line of soldiers came down the aisle and filled all the vacant seats, totally surrounding me. I decided to start a conversation.

'Where are you headed?' I asked the soldier seated nearest to me.
'Petawawa. We'll be there for two weeks for special training, and then we're being deployed to Afghanistan

After flying for about an hour, an announcement was made that sack lunches were available for five dollars. It would be several hours before we reached the east, and I quickly decided a lunch would help pass the time...

As I reached for my wallet, I overheard a soldier ask his buddy if he planned to buy lunch. 'No, that seems like a lot of money for just a sack lunch. Probably wouldn't be worth five bucks. I'll wait till we get to base.'

His friend agreed.

I looked around at the other soldiers. None were buying lunch. I walked to the back of the plane and handed the flight attendant a fifty dollar bill. 'Take a lunch to all those soldiers.' She grabbed my arms and squeezed tightly. Her eyes wet with tears, she thanked me. 'My son was a soldier in Iraq; it's almost like you are doing it for him.'

Picking up ten sacks, she headed up the aisle to where the soldiers were seated. She stopped at my seat and asked, 'Which do you like best - beef or chicken?'
'Chicken,' I replied, wondering why she asked. She turned and went to the front of plane, returning a minute later with a dinner plate from first class.

'This is your thanks..'

After we finished eating, I went again to the back of the plane, heading for the rest room.
A man stopped me. 'I saw what you did. I want to be part of it. Here, take this.' He handed me twenty-five dollars.

Soon after I returned to my seat, I saw the Flight Captain coming down the aisle, looking at the aisle numbers as he walked, I hoped he was not looking for me, but noticed he was looking at the numbers only on my side of the plane. When he got to my row he stopped, smiled, held out his hand and said, 'I want to shake your hand.' Quickly unfastening my seatbelt I stood and took the Captain's hand. With a booming voice he said, 'I was a soldier and I was a military pilot. Once, someone bought me a lunch. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.' I was embarrassed when applause was heard from all of the passengers.

Later I walked to the front of the plane so I could stretch my legs. A man who was seated about six rows in front of me reached out his hand, wanting to shake mine. He left another twenty-five dollars in my palm.

When we landed I gathered my belongings and started to deplane. Waiting just inside the airplane door was a man who stopped me, put something in my shirt pocket, turned, and walked away without saying a word. Another twenty-five dollars!

Upon entering the terminal, I saw the soldiers gathering for their trip to the base.
I walked over to them and handed them seventy-five dollars. 'It will take you some time to reach the base.. It will be about time for a sandwich.
God Bless You.'

Ten young men left that flight feeling the love and respect of their fellow travelers.

As I walked briskly to my car, I whispered a prayer for their safe return. These soldiers were giving their all for our country. I could only give them a couple of meals. It seemed so little...

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America ' for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'

That is Honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.'

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

e-devo. Sinless


Matthew 6:26 "Look at the birds..."

Every day we live among creatures that do not sin. These remarkable creations of God have never stopped glorifying God. They did not follow man into sin. Thank God!

These creatures are moment by moment doing exactly what they were doing in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve fell short of the glory of God through sin.

Among these sinless creatures are my favorites, the birds. Their simple presence and profound beauty surely explain why Jesus chose them and told us "Look at the birds..."

It is heartbreaking that Jesus could not point to a single human being except Himself with such confidence.

One of my favorite ways of considering the birds is to see how long it takes me each day to either hear them or see them. It never takes long. They are everywhere.

The birds seem to have this incredible ability to rise above mankind's cruelty and ugliness and simply be themselves. They seem to be able to find exactly enough satisfaction every day in order to never rebel, panic or accumulate out of fear. How different they are than we are!

They thrive among us and in spite of us. They are living proof that there once was a world at peace in the presence of God. Surely they miss the garden, too.

As I watch the world's stock markets rise and fall with every rumor and trend, I also watch the birds go about their daily existence without fear or lack. Their economy has outlasted all of men's best attempts because they truly are satisfied one day at a time.

Look at the birds. As you do, you will find yourself longing to sin less and abide more in the satisfaction that Jesus is each day.

Campo Grande

I have just returned from a trip to Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul. The Brazilian city is located just a few hundred miles from Bolivia and Paraguay. Like most major Brazilian cities it is in a phase of rapid expansion and development. Brazil is on the move and so are its churches.

Pastor Claudio and his wife Eloar were my hosts for an Abide Conference. What wonderful people!
I was treated like a visiting celebrity and the 90 people that attended the seminar could not have been more gracious and open.

God is at work in Brazil in amazing ways. The people of this relatively new Brazilian state and this growing city are cooperating with Jesus. They are abiding and it shows.

Monday, May 17, 2010

E-devo. The extent of His love

The Extent of His Love

John 13:1 "He now showed them the full extent of His love."

Discipleship rightly understood is a process of revelation. It was never intended to be a process of accumulating information. To miss this distinction is to confuse the useful resources about Jesus with the essential revelation of Jesus.

By the time we reach John 13, the disciples have been led from revelation to revelation about Jesus. A day at a time God had revealed through Jesus the existence and quality of His love. As the final moments with Jesus physically among them arrived, it was time for Jesus to reveal the "full extent" of His love.

Jesus rises from his place of honor and leadership at the Passover meal, dresses as a slave and begins to wash the disciples' feet. Peter reflects the shock of all the disciples by saying emphatically "No. You will never wash my feet." This is not humility. This is blindness.

Peter speaks for all mankind when faced with the extent to which God's love must stoop to do what only God can do for mankind. We do not want God to go as low as our feet because we do not really know who He is and how far removed we are from Him. We are prepared to be loved but not to this extent.

Sometimes I hear Christians celebrating Jesus' death on the Cross because His singular act of love forgives us and will take us to heaven. This is good! It is, however, an entirely different thing to have revealed to us the full extent of God's love on Calvary. This includes foot washing. Included in His death was the washing of our feet for all eternity. We do not want to see Jesus go as low as our feet. To forgiveness by grace we say "yes," but to touching our feet we say "no."

If Jesus had started the discipleship process with the revelation of foot washing I am almost sure no one would have followed Him. What we have in mind for our Lord loving us is not washing our feet. We want His love but we also want to retain some sense of our own worth and dignity even if it is just our feet. We want to be loved but not to that extent.

Have you received the revelation Jesus gave to Peter? "Unless I wash you, you have no part with Me."

Most of us have been with Jesus for some time, but you can be sure we will all need to have revealed to us the touch of His love on our feet. When He finally touches your feet, be prepared to weep. Weep because His love had to go so low. Celebrate because He did go so low. Obey Him when He sends you to do the same for others who will not understand. The kind of love they need from you will also be a revelation that is hard for them to accept and hard for you to deliver.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Too busy

When you are too busy to blog does that mean your are too busy? It seems to me that I am busier than I have ever been. That is good and bad. It is good in that it means doors are opening. It is bad in that I can't seem to keep up with all my "social networking." I didn't even know that "social networking" existed until a few years ago. Oh well, enough complaining. Busy is good and bad and God gives grace to know the difference one day at a time.

Here are a few pictures of the most recent "busy" in southern Brazil. It was a very good kind of busy as I ministered to students and church members in the beautiful city of Londrina. What precious people one meets here in Brazil. They are so open and so hungry for God's word and God's will in Jesus.

I am honored to have met Pastor Carlos, his family and the students at the seminary.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Abide Retreat II

This past weekend, April 16-18, we hosted our first Abide II retreat. The focus of this retreat was Devotion and Action. We used for our study guide our recently published Prayer and Action journal. The journal takes a person through 8 spiritual disciplines which we call "The eight habits of First Love." The habits are Listening, Praise, Thanksgiving, Confession, Affirmation, Intercession, Petition and Action. These "habits" are born naturally whenever we are in love. They are not for "super saints." They are for all disciples who want to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength and love their neighbor as they love themselves.
The retreat was attended by 47 with 40 coming from northern Brazil.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Forced or Inspired?

I live in a part of the world where socialism and communism are the controlling views of most of the governments.
By this I mean that governments here believe that people must be forced by the government to be collectively good to others. There is no Fox news in Brazil or in most South American countries to debate this point.

Having been raised in the USA at the height of Capitalism's confidence and the belief in individual, voluntary goodness, It has been quite an opportunity to see these two opposing views of greater goodness in action. Here is what I see. (Admittedly, this is an over simplification but hopefully it serves to make my point)

Socialists and communists are convinced that societies left the themselves to be good will always be more bad than good because the rich will oppress the poor. They are so committed to this view that they are willing to risk life and limb to put the socialist or communist government in charge of enforcing goodness. Once they take control of the government for good as they envision it, they will risk everyone else's life and limb to make sure their idea of good is forced on everyone from then on. Hugo Chavez comes to mind.

Pure capitalists, on the other hand, see being good as an individual option after individual earnings. They start with freedom to earn and then work at freedom to give. They want to be free from any interference with earnings or giving. They alone will decide what being good looks like. Bill Gates comes to mind.

Is either of these positions the Christian position? No.

Jesus taught us that true goodness is an inspiration that comes only from connection to God through Him. It has nothing to do with force or individual freedom. It has everything with love and living connection to God. Jesus made this clear when He said, "Without me you can do nothing." John 15:5 Jesus taught us that being good comes before either dominant government or unlimited earnings. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness..." Matt. 6:33

I personally believe that arrogant socialism and communism are more dangerous and destructive than self-centered capitalism. Chavez makes me more nervous than Bill Gates. I see less real good coming from governments who are filled with the arrogance that they control good and can force good out of others than I see coming from capitalists counting their money and thinking about maybe being good when they have enough. Simply put, I prefer having been born in Miami than further south in Cuba. I would prefer that for my grandchildren, too.

Which system does God prefer? Neither. He has His own Kingdom and will settle for nothing less than pure goodness. He will judge all men by the inspirational system of "Christ in you the hope of glory." Goodness is neither forced on left up to us to decide if we want to participate in it or not. Goodness is a Person named Jesus and He invites us to connect Him not to power or money. If we do not, then we will never know the goodness we all agree needs to exist among men.

Here is the interesting thing. I have now lived in both man driven goodness systems. I pay taxes in both systems. I have found that I can be inspired for good by Jesus in either system. In the end, inspiration in Jesus wins. The day may soon come when one system replaces the one where you live. If you are inspired in Jesus, you will find you can find inspiration to deal with either. I think that is what He had in mind when He said "Folow me" or "Abide in Me." That sounds good to me.

Pam's view

Over the years I have learned to listen to Pam. She has a way of seeing things that is amazing. Recently she sent a word to our family and friends about our first retreat of the year here in Brazil. I think you will enjoy her "view."

Hi everyone of my precious family and friends!

Here are some pretty pictures of the first Abide Retreat of this year, held this weekend at our Abide Retreat Center in the mountains of
Campos do Jordão. We had a smaller group than usual, but they were exactly who our Father God sent to us! Had a most refreshing
time and felt like we were constantly drinking from the rivers of living waters! In this group there were Brazilians, Americans, an Angolan
girl, a French lady, a Brazilian lady who was (and hopes to be again) a missionary to Angola. All are born again, and of all different ages
in the Lord, from months old (the Angolan young lady) to tens of years. As you can see, the range in age is also quite astonishing, which
happens often in these Abide Retreats. There are 11 hours of study based on John 15 and Jesus' metaphor of the vineyard. Everyone
stays engaged and interested the entire time, no matter their age! Bud and I never tire of these retreats, and by now we figure that about
700 people have come. Bud has taught the study for 4 1/2 years, with an intensity that goes beyond our retreats. I have had the privilege
of hearing the study maybe 50 times. It is fresh and new each time! Bud had a wonderful insight from our Lord this weekend:
"Only God knows just how much love He has for each retreat group to deliver during their lives as branches connected to the True Vine,
and for His glory."

The owners of the camp where we have the Abide Retreat Center, Josmar and Marisa, are not in this picture, though they sit in for several
hours of each retreat. They are doing well, and are as kind and engaged as ever. Marisa is in the midst of 4-6 months of strong chemotherapy,
to combat the rectal cancer that was surgically removed from her body on Jan. 12. As she says, she is abiding moment by moment as a
branch connected to the True Vine, Jesus Christ, and He is supplying her with the strength and hope she needs for each moment. She is
doing well in spite of some nausea, no real appetite, and quite a lot of weight loss since last Oct. when her treatment began. She has not
lost her hair, and that is a nice consolation for a lady. This couple is one of God's sweetest gifts to Bud and me! They really do feel like the
"family" that they are to us in Christ, as they are to hundreds of other dear friends! They are deeply loved by MANY people! We are all trusting
the Lord to work His healing will in her body, and restore her health so that she can have many more years of delivering His love here on
His earth, for the glory of our Father!

Our next retreat is in April, and it will be our very first Abide Retreat II. Now we will be distinguishing the retreats as I and II. Abide II will
focus on devotion and action, as these relate to abiding in Jesus Christ. The Abide I retreats focus on walking Christians through Jesus'
metaphor of the vineyard, and helping them understand the meaning of each component: The Vine, The Branch, The Vinedresser, The Fruit,
The World, The Pruning, The Seasons. They learn what Jesus meant when He told His disciples to abide in Him. Abide II will focus more
on how to keep abiding through practices of devotion, and how to act with Him once we receive what He wants us to release. Bud will use
his Prayer Journal, which is set up to teach the disciplines of devotion, and he is putting together a study guide for the weekend. Our first
Abide II Retreat in April is already filled up with 40 people coming by plane from the northeastern city of Recife, in the Brazilian state of
Pernambuco. They are coming with their pastor, Walter, and his wife, Karine, who came to an Abide I Retreat over a year ago. They have
held and taught three Abide I Retreats to the people in their church in Recife! We are sooooo excited for this group to come to our first
Abide II Retreat! Our capacity is 45-50 people, based on the size of our teaching room. The camp has a larger capacity, but then the teaching
would take place in the cafeteria, which is always a possibility. Our Lord has given us a wonderful team of volunteers who work hard at each

We are praying and asking the Lord to give us His design for our new branch, Abiding Women. Donna Faircloth is our leader for this branch
of the ministry. We have had one evening tea event, last Nov. and our next event will happen this month on the 29th. We would like this branch
to provide support for women of different ages, stages and walks of life, to apply abiding to their lives. So far we have the events happening,
but not the more personal venues. Praying. Asking. Waiting expectantly to receive from our True Vine.

Hoping each one of you is well and blessed in our Lord and True Vine! Remember to read John 15:1-11 every now and then to rediscover
Jesus' original and surprisingly simple design for discipleship and delicious oneness with Him and the Father!

Loving you each forever!
Prov. 3:5-7

Friday, February 26, 2010

Birthday 2010

There is a very special, small hotel in the mountains near our home in Brazil. The hotel Toriba has been a retreat for Pam and me whenever we have needed to make a major decision of just be "us". The Toriba has been our special place since 1980.

Pam booked a night for us for my birthday and surprised me with this special gift. Memories are good for a marriage. Sacred places are good for a marriage. As we walk around this beautiful setting we can see our kids here with us and we can remember major decisions we made in this place. We hope we have many more years coming here to make new memories together.

I wish our grandchildren could come, too!